Waternish, Skye, 14 May 1883 - Charles Mckinnon

CHARLES M'KINNON, Crofter and Fisherman, Lusta (47)—examined.

3183 The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected a delegate by your people?

3184. What statement have you to make on behalf of those whom you represent?
—That the land is too dear, and too little of it. I was paying £3, 5s. for a bit of ground. I could only keep one cow, and I had a heavy family. I was six years continuously that I had to kill the six calves to see if I could get a cup of milk for the children, for I could not keep them alive, for I had no grazing on which to feed the cow; I had no horse.(see Appendix A. VII)

3185. Is that the general condition of your neighbours?
—The condition of both my neighbours and myself at that time.

3186. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Have you given your place up?
—No, Mr Gordon Macleod was the landlord then, but Captain Macdonald is now the landlord. We got a little more land since. I got 8 or 9 yards breadth added to my croft, for which I paid 25s. of bare rent. I now keep two cows.

3187. The Chairman.
—What was the length of his strips of ground 8 or 9 yards wide ?
—There will be a good bit; some scores of yards.

3188. 100 yards?
—-Yes, or more.

3189. 200?
—-Near 200.

3190. Professor Mackinnon.
—How much do you pay?

3191. How many cows do you keep now?
—Two cows, but I have not got as much grass as would keep one sufficiently.

3192. There is no grazing on what is inside the fence?
—We have hill.

3193. How many are there of you?
—About forty in the township.

3194. And each keeps two cows?
—There are some who have only one cow. There are full shares aud half shares in the township. I have half a croft.

3195. And those that have the full share can keep four cows?

3196. About those that have only one cow, does that arise because they are not allowed to keep more than one, or because they are not able to keep more ?
—They are not allowed.

3197. They will have only a fourth of a share then?

3198. Have you any sheep ?
—About twelve or fourteen for my half share, but the hill pasture is so bad.

3199. The £ 5 of rent includes the rates?

3200. There is £ 5 and the rates as well?

3201. What do you think would improve your condition ?
—Oh, to get the land cheaper and more of it, to enable us to keep more stock.

3202. Is there more of it to be had ?
—Plenty in the Isle of Skye.

3203. But upon this estate ?
—I do not know, but there is a good deal.

3204. Is it more hill pasture, or more arable ground that you want?
—We want more hill pasture and more arable ground.

3205. You have not a horse?
—No, I have not; but there are those in the township who have horses.

3206. Those who have a full lot pay £1 0 1

3207. And their stock is one horse, four cows, and about twenty-four sheep ?

3208. Are any of them to be here to-day ?

3209. Do you consider their lot big enough?
—I do not know that it is ; they are complaining that the crop will not sow the ground.

3210. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Would you be satisfied with the full croft?
—I would not be satisfied with the full croft as it is to-day, for it is too dear.

* See Appendix A, VII.

3211. Professor Mackinnon.
—You think the rent of £10 is too high?
—Yes, I do.

3212. And you think the summing for it is too great?

3213. What would you consider a fair rent for it?
—About half, or a little more.

3214. What would you consider a fair summing for it to give proper summer pasture ?
—It would give me enough to do to keep one horse and one cow, and about twenty-five or thirty sheep.

3215. And the rent of that would be what?
—Half of the present rent.

3216. That is only £5?

3217. So you think really the croft is double its proper rent ?
—Yes, I do.

3218. Well, if each croft were doubled in that way, how would you dispose of the people who are in the place ?
—I cannot tell that, as there is not room for them.

3219. Is there not a place you could send them to on this estate?
—I do not know but there is, if it were well divided among them all.

3220. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Would any of the people here be anxious to emigrate if they got assistance?
—I do not know; I believe they would not be very willing. They are too much attached to the old places.

3221. Have they any friends in America ?
—I do not know.

3222. Or anywhere abroad,
—in Australia ?
—Some of them have, but I don't know.

3223. Professor Mackinnon.
—Have you not been born and brought up in the place ?

3224. Where were you ?

3225. How long have you been in your present croft?
—Twenty-three or twenty-four years paying rent, and altogether I have been about thirty-six years in this parish.

3226. Have there not been some people that went abroad from this district during that time?

3227. Are they doing well ?
—I am not hearing.

3228. Don't they write home to their people ?
—Very seldom. It is a long time since I heard of their writing at all.

3229. Then what do you propose to do with these people that would have to be put out of your place before the place could be made comfortable for the crofters ?
—Spread them.

3230. In Skye?
—Spread them over Skye. The one who preferred staying could do so, and the one who did not could go away.

3231. When they were talking over that question among themselves, I suppose they did not take up the question of some of them going away altogether out of the island?
—No, we had no idea of anything of the kind.

3232. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Suppose it were possible to give them larger holdings, does it consist with your knowledge that the people here have money enough to stock these larger holdings ?
—No, they have not money enough to stock larger holdings. They cannot have money to stock larger holdings. The most of them would not get a bag of meal on credit.

3233. Then, what would be the use of dividing the land in Skye among them ?
—No use, unless they would get help. They will only die as it is. Should I get the land I have for nothing it would not keep me alive.

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