STATEMENTS concerning Properties in Skye.
(1) From ALEXANDER MACDONALD, Esq., of Treaslane, Factor for Lord Macdonald, Macleod of Macleod, Major Fraser of Kilmuir, &c. -—
NATIONAL BANK, PORTREE,
ISLE OF SKYE, 27 May 1883.
At the request of Major Fraser of Kilmuir, Isle of Skye, I now send enclosed a letter from him addressed to the Commissioners, which please have put up with the records of the Commission. The letter, which is dated the 25th current, specially contradicts statements made by Mr D. Maclachlan at Portree to the effect that the present action is not due to Irish agitators. I may mention that I am able to corroborate what Major Fraser says in his letter.
While writing about Kilmuir, I am too add that in giving my own evidence, I was uncertain whether certain crofters removed from Glenuig had got new lands, or had got merely portions of lands held by other tenants. I have since ascertained that some of them got entirely new lands not previously under crofters, while others emigrated. I have also to add that at the time when the rents of the Macdonald estate were lowered about 25 per cent, in 1830, the estate of Kilmuir was then a part of it, and participated in the reduction, which of course shows that it could well bear a rise of rent in modern times. I have also to add that in 1870 Major Fraser supplied his crofters with corn and potatoes to the value of about £700, and in 1877 he supplied oats to them to the value of £850, of which £250 remains still unpaid.
Macleod of Macleod supplied his crofters with oats and potatoes this year. Lord Macdonald supplied them with potatoes, and Mr M'Alister of Strathaird and I supplied our crofters with oats and potatoes; all to relieve the destitution of the present year. These supplies have been made on the understanding that repayment is to be made, but the purchase and supplying were effected at no small inconvenience to the proprietors named, and will no doubt be attended with loss. In addition to former supplies mentioned, Major Fraser of Kilmuir this year supplied his crofters with com and potatoes on the same terms as the proprietors first mentioned.
With reference to Major Fraser's letter enclosed, I send enclosed copy of a memorial addressed to him on 17th April last, signed by his tenantry, large and small, clergy, schoolmasters, & c , which could hardly have been signed if the sentiments of the people were at the time those indicated by Mr Maclauchlan in his evidence.Trusting that you will be good enough to publish this letter along with the rest of the evidence given, and statements handed in, as it is important that both sides of matters should appear before the public.
(2) From Major WILLIAM FRASER of Kilmuir and Newton.
NEWTON MAIRNS, 25 May 1883.
I observe in to-day's Scotsman, that at yesterday's sitting of the Commission Mr D. M'Lachlan stated that the present agitation is not due to Irish agitators, but that it began more than twenty years ago on my property, and that it broke out again at Valtos three years ago; further, that the discontent had been mainly nourished on Major Fraser's property. Now, I am quite aware that there are parties who have been endeavouring to promote discontent on my property, sometimes one, and then another. For instance, in 1878, I had occasion to raise an action against the Highlander newspaper, which had made certain statements with reference to myself and my secretary, and under which that paper was fined £50. The interlocutor in my favour states :— What then has the pursuer to fear from the mendex infamia which coins false facts and false motives, from all that falsehood and malice can invent, or the credulity of a deluded populace can swallow.' No disturbance, however, was raised at the time on the property, and it was not until 1881, the year of Irish legislation, that an attempt (if it could be called such) at disturbance took place at Valtos. Now I quite admit that Mr M'Lachlan may know more of any ramifications of discontent on my property than I do, yet I cannot admit the accuracy of his statements, made, I suppose, in reply to my statement read on Wednesday last, which stated that in my opinion the present disturbed state of things in Skye is very much due to agitation in consequence of late events in Ireland, non-vindication of the law in certain parts of Skye, and bad seasons, whilst likely their hopes have been much raised by expectations of certain changes. Now, if there had been the discontent which Mr M'Lachlan says, I ask, is it likely that, with what went on at the Braes and Glendale, that I or my factor could have been able to keep my people quiet or orderly as they have been. Not wishing to take up your time too much in the midst of so much work, I just enclose copy of a memorial sent to me last month, before the general agitation of this month was got up; it is extracted from the Inverness Courier of 17th ult., and I beg to submit that the sentiments my tenantry express therein are incompatible with what Mr M'Lachlan states. I may add that, if desired, I can produce the original document, which is signed by the tenantry large and small, clergy, professional men, schoolmasters, and others throughout the district. I do not suppose that Mr M'Lachlan will venture to gainsay the truth of the statements as expressed in it.
Memorial for a Quay at Uig
The following memorial has been signed by upwards of a thousand tenants and fishermen on the Kilmuir estate, and is in a few days to be sent to Major Fraser. A largely attended meeting was held in Uig Inn on Monday last—Mr Urquhart, farmer, Glenconnon, in the chair. It was unanimously resolved to make every effort to bring the views which are embodied in the memorial before the Government.
The memorial is as follows :—
We , the undersigned, tenants and others on the Kilmuir estate, Skye, desire to convey to our esteemed proprietor, Major Fraser, our best thanks for the kindly interest he has always taken in everything calculated to promote our welfare, and at the same time to lay before him the views of a meeting recently held by a number of us. It was the unanimous opinion of the meeting that concerning nothing would so much promote the interests of residents on the Kilmuir estate as the erection of a quay at Uig, for the following reasons :—
1st The fishing fleet of Uig being the largest and most valuable in Skye it is of the utmost importance that it should have harbour accommodation which would prevent the recurrence of such a disaster to boats and fishing gear as that of November 1881.
2nd People travelling ten or twelve miles to send and receive goods by steamer, often have to return without having effected their purpose, and goods left for several days in winter in an open boat in the loch are often damaged, and sometimes totally destroyed. All this would be obviated by the erection
of a quay.
3rd. To vessels of large tonnage running in for shelter, as they often do, and vessels coming with cargoes, a quay would be a great boon. It would increase the safety of both, and enable the latter to discharge cargoes at any time—a thing which can be done at present only during favourable conjunctions of wind and tide. We are the more encouraged to lay this before our respected proprietor, as he has given ample evidence of a sincere desire to improve our condition in every practical way, and by giving this matter the attention which we think its importance demands, he will add to the many benefits he has already conferred on us, and command our lasting gratitude. We are aware the construction of such a quay as we propose will cost a large sum of money, but Uig being a place of importance, a good natural harbour, already supplied with roads, and being a telegraph terminus, no doubt, in a very short time, it would become one of the best fishing stations on the West Coast; so that we hope you may think proper to bring the matter before the Government, and that they may take a favourable view of our application.
May I request that if Mr M'Lachlan's remarks are entered against me in evidence, that this letter and memorial may also be so entered; and further, may I respectfully ask acknowledgement of this communication.
WM . FRASER.
26th October 1881.
We also wish to express our regrets that you are prevented from visiting your estate of Kilmuir oftener, and to assure you that none of your tenants would be more glad to see you coming and going among them, and that from none would you receive a more loyal welcome than from your Valtos tenants. We hope you will soon find it convenient to visit Kilmuir again. We remain, sir, your grateful tenants.