ALEXANDER ROSS, Crofter and Fisherman, Fasach, Glendale (48)—examined.
6815. The Chairman.
—Were you freely elected by the people of Fasach to be their delegate ?
6816. Have you got a statement to make on their behalf?
—Yes ; but I am very desirous that I should have the assurance of the landlord that nothing will be done to me on account of anything that I may say here. I heard it from the factor, but not from the landlord. We have not confidence in the factor, for everyone on the property put their names to a paper that they would not accept him as factor, with a few exceptions.
6817. This witness has expressed reluctance to accept the factor as representing the landlord, and would be more comfortable if the landlord would give a personal assurance.
[Rev. Hugh A. Macpherson:
—Certainly; on behalf of the trustees, I guarantee that any of the crofters on the estate may give their evidence in the fullest and freest way possible with perfect confidence.]
6818. This is the statement of the Fasach tenants which the delegate has handed in:
— Sixty years ago the whole of the hamlet of Fasach was tenanted by twelve tenants, each tenant paying £6, 9s. Of the £ 6 9s., only 3s. was paid in money, the six guineas being paid by each tenant manufacturing two tons of kelp for the proprietor, Macleod of Macleod. Mr John Tolmie of Uignish rented it from Macleod of Macleod, divided it into sixteen crofts, and though he deprived us of a great tract of hill pasture, imposed on us a rental of £8 each, total, £128. Subsequently Macleod of Macleod himself divided it into twenty crofts. Most of these have again been halved, so that to-day there are thirty-one crofters in Fasach, and six cottars. Now a crofter holding 1/40th of the whole hamlet, pays from £5, 5s. to £5, 9s., whereas sixty years ago, one holding 1/12th part only paid £6, 9s. Of these thirty-one crofters, two have been sent from the parish of Bracadale, five from the hamlets of Ramasaig and Lowergill, which two hamlets forty years ago were tenanted by twenty-two tenants; now only three cottars remain. Both hamlets are now under sheep. When Macleod of Macleod divided it into twenty crofts, each crofter had to give him one day for cutting peats. His factor, Donald Maclean, thirty-eight years ago, engaged two friends of the ground-officer to cut them, and we at next Martinmas had each to pay 2s. 6d. of additional rent. we have continued to pay 2s. 6d., even though Macleod of Macleod has sold it long ago. Sixpence was also annexed to our rents for sea-ware, but every time we obtained any we had to pay to the ground officer, Mr James M'Raild, Is. 6d. per cwt., and very often we only got eighteen creels of ware for the Is. 6d. One crofter in Fasach, Mr Angus Macleod, fell one year in arrears. Next April he got no notice of removal, but was forced to leave the house and croft by Mr Macdonald, factor. Mr William Macdonald from Ramasaig was put in his place. This William Macdonald has also been evicted—he is now one of the cottars in Fasach —and Mr Donald Cameron, also from Ramasaig, has his croft. When the hamlet was divided into twenty crofts, we obtained an extensive hill pasture to the south of the Glendale river, for which we paid £15 yearly. This extensive hill pasture was that which we ourselves formerly possessed. Thus we were compelled to pay £15 for that which was once our own. After six years we were deprived of the half of it, but were still paying £15 for the half left. Thus for the last thirty years we have been paying each year £7, 10s. which we had no right to pay: total, £225, excluding interest. Last year, however, we re-obtained the half which was taken from us, but what about the £225 ? Besides, when any of our stock strayed to this piece of pasture which we ourselves paid, the shepherds would pound them, and we had to pay Is. for each sheep, and 2s. for each horse, as poundage money. Within sixty years then, the rental and the number of crofters of Fasach, have been about trebled; while the land is becoming, year by year, less productive. The delegate, Mr Alexander Ross, will give instances of the oppression to which we were subjected by our late factor, Mr Macdonald :
(a) Case of removal not for arrears :
(b) The ways and means he devised for killing the dogs we had for herding our flocks; in particular, the placing of poisoned eggs and poisoned doughs about our dwelling places.
The delegate Mr Allan M'Caskill, who was removed from Ramasaig to Fasach, will relate the peculiar circumstances under which Mr Macdonald, factor, compelled himself and his fellow crofters to quit Ramasaig. we would therefore respectfully lay before you the urgency of our obtaining—
(a) Larger holdings at reasonable rents;
(b) Neither proprietor nor factor to have power to remove us except for arrears;
(c) Compensation for improvements in the case of removal; and
(d) Assistance to enable us to erect commodious dwelling places on our so-increased holdings.Signed by twenty-six crofters and four cottars.
6819. In what year was the township divided into twenty crofts?
—About thirty-eight years ago.
6820. Was that in the time of the present M'Leod ?
—MLeod of M'Leod was the proprietor then.
6821. Was it during the tenure of the present M'Leod of M'Leod
—In the present M'Leod of M'Leod's time.
6822. Was he quite young—was it before he attained his majority ?
—He had attained his majority, and had possession of the estate when this was done. I have here an extended story which I produce as the story of Allan M'Caskill, who is mentioned in the general statement. It is as follows : The Statement of a Fasach Crofter evicted from Ramasaig four years ago.
—I remember of Ramasaig and Lowergill being occupied by twelve crofters in each township; the crofters who were settled at Lowergill were evicted from Bracadale, also some of the Bracadale crofters settled in Ramasaig; these were all evicted to make room for sheep. Four years elapsed, when some of the Lowergill crofters were again evicted for the same purpose, to make room for sheep. As the south side of the Lowergill burn was added to Dibidale, the nearest sheep farm, six crofters were left on the north side of the burn. They lived pretty comfortable, as they were not overcrowded. Later on Ramasaig was subdivided into twenty-one subdivisions, instead of twelve. Hugh M'Caskill was the first factor. There was a market held on the hill of Lephin, near Ramasaig. By the order of the factor, the crofters had to send their cattle to this market, so that his manager would value them. Some of the men put two and some three cows to this market My father put a good young cow and a two-year-old quey to it. My father and many more besides him never heard the valuation, and never got any thing for them. Mr Harry M'Donald succeeded Mr Hugh M'Caskill as factor. There was no change of any consequence during his time as factor, only he was bound to lift the rents whatever way, though the rent was so high and times so bad that it was impossible that poor crofters could make both ends meet; but he never interfered with stock or land to make room for sheep. Mr Macdonald, Tormore, succeeded Mr Macdonald as factor. The first thing he did against our will was a joint stock of the sheep which we previously individually held. This joint stock was marked when the men were from home in other countries, trying to earn what would support their families, and pay their rent and every other demand. Women and children, and few old men were at home to resist, but little could they do, but some of them hiding themselves with fear. The crofters of both Lowergill and Ramasaig were warned or summoned for resisting the joint club. We did not understand so well at first what he had in view when he carried on his purpose; but I for one have suffered by this system; I had to deliver my share of sheep for another man's arrears; the share of sheep came to £20, 12s. At the same time the factor had three or four bolls of meal against me. I asked him would he be kind enough to cancel one boll of the meal for the £20, 12s., but nothing of the kind. It was not long after this when I had to remove from Ramasaig as well as my fellow-crofters; I had to take the place offered to me, or else want. The half croft which I took is the one-fortieth part of Fasach. There was a kind of a house on the half croft which I took, but after hand it became known to me that there were three families in this one house on my croft, therefore it was impossible that I would think of depriving these three families of their own humble dwelling, and expose them to the elements, though I had to be so myself. I had to accept of the other half croft, and build a house of my own; and although I asked assistance from Mr Macdonald, factor, he would not give any. Only a month was allowed me in which to build it, and transfer the roof of the old house in Ramasaig to Fasach. There was no public road between Ramasaig and Fasach then, so I had to carry it a mile to the shore, and bring it round the wild point of Waterstein by boat, and again carry it from the Glendale shore, a distance of a mile and a half up hill. During this time, my mother, who was eighty years of age, a half-witted brother, and I, had no place of abode, the new house being unfinished, and the old one pulled down; consequently that year I could not get to the fishing. Both this and my expense in building the house greatly reduced my circumstances, besides being now settled in a place far inferior to the place I left, though we complained there of high rent, and had reason. And when we had cause of complaint in Ramasaig, we have three times the cause now. Any man needs not ask a surer sign of poverty than that Highlanders are come to the state that they would reveal, confess, or expose their poverty as they now do, and all caused by the smallness of their crofts, and high rents, which are not sufficient to keep or sustain two persons for two weeks of the year, especially if one or two cows are on the croft;—these poor cows suffer far more than ourselves, being always half-starved with want of grass. We have the name of having cattle, but a stranger would think it incredible that in some cases these cows have calves once in three years. Also in some cases they come to six and seven years of age before they are in calf. Even at this present day it can be ascertained by witnesses that this statement is true. The crofts are so much exhausted by turning, digging, ploughing, and delving since the memory of the old people of the place, that it yields no crop of any onsequence—only useless weeds, not fit to be used for man nor beast, therefore we derive not much profit of the cattle, being too scarce of wintering and no grass in summer—this keeps only the life in them. People are obliged to rear the calves with eggs till they come to chew the cud, then have to feed them with porridge, &c, because the cows have no milk to nourish them. We need not expect to have good strong-boned cattle while they are not nourished with milk when young. We have to buy the meal we consume from the south, not only what the families consume, but what keeps cows when other provender is done. All this is the result of too small holdings and high rentals. Having been elected by the Fasach crofters to represent them as a delegate, I have consulted them as regards the remedy they think proper for the prevailing distress among the people. The mind of the people is, that although the land is bought by their forefathers and themselves, still they only want—
(1) An increase of holdings;
(2) Fixity of tenure;
(3) Fair rent, and the land valued by competent men of good report, irrespective, and qualified for the office, not landlords nor factors;
(4) Compensation for improvement when removing; and
(5) Power to buy the land as their own, after paying rent for so many years as honest and trustworthy men deem proper.
I am an eye-witness of evictions that took place five years ago. Of the last five crofters who were evicted from Lowergill, two were sent to Ramasaig and settled there. At the end of a twelve month, one of them had to carry his furniture, goods, and all he had back the same way to Lowergill, not to stop in it, as it was then a sheep farm, but to get the said furniture aboard the craft loaded with wool for Tormore, and this crofter is now in a small island on Lord Macdonald's estate. The other crofter already mentioned was evicted at the end of the eighteen months, and is presently in Glendale.—ALLAN M'CASKILL.'
6823. Mr Cameron.
—It is stated in this paper that sixty years ago there were twelve crofters in Fasach, and that afterwards Mr John Tolmie of Uignish rented it from M'Leod of M'Leod. Will you explain what he did rent. Did he rent the whole of these crofts, or what was it ?
—It was not in crofts when Mr Tolmie rented it. It was a runrig system that was in force when Mr Tolmie had it.
6824. How long ago was it when Mr Tolmie had it
—I am not very sure.
6825. Was it subsequent to this period of sixty years ago ?
—It was long after the period of sixty years that I speak of.
6826. But it is stated Mr Tolmie divided it into sixteen crofts. What did he divide into sixteen crofts ?
—I am told it is forty-six years since Tolmie divided it.
6827. But I want to know what exactly he divided ?
—It was M'Leod of M'Leod who divided it into crofts.
6828. But it is stated here that Tolmie divided it into sixteen crofts ?
—We are meaning to say that Mr Tolmie was renting it—that the rents were raised by him.
6829. Was renting what ?
6830. The crofts ?
—It was not in crofts at all then. It was made into crofts when Tolmie lost it, about thirty-eight years ago.
6831. Who were those twelve tenants who had Fasach forty-six years ago, before Tolmie got it?
—Some of the descendants of those twelve crofters are here to-day, and I am one of them myself.
6832. Then it was divided into crofts before Tolmie got it?
—It was a runrig system that was in force during Tolmie's occupancy of Fasach and subsequently.
6833. What became of those twelve tenants when Tolmie had it ? Did they pay rent to him ?
—Yes, they paid rent to Tolmie.
6834. Then it was divided afterwards by M'Leod into twenty crofts, on the present system, each crofter having a separate holding of arable and a common hill grazing. Was that the case ?
6835. How did MLeod get it back from Tolmie ?
—I don't know. I don't know if Tolmie had a lease of it or not.
6836. Did Tolmie hold any other land besides Fasach?
—He had Uignish, and I believe he had Skiniden also.
6837. When MLeod established these crofters and took Fasach away from the tenant of Uignish, was Uignish let to another tenant without Fasach ?
—Mr Tolmie remained at Uignish after he lost Fasach.
6838. Do you know what change was made in Tolmie's rent by losing Fasach ?
—I don't know anything about Mr Tolmie.
6839. You say that there were originally twelve tenants in Fasach, and that subsequently, some time after MLeod established it as a separate crofting farm, there were thirty-one crofters. There were twenty first and then thirty-one ?
—There were twenty when the crofts were at first portioned out, and they were continually coming in and increasing, until there are now thirty-one families and six cottars besides.
6840. Now, it is stated here that of these crofters who came in two came from Bracadale and five from Ramasaig and Lowergill, which makes seven ?
6841. That added to the twelve makes nineteen?
—When these came in there were twenty families.
6842. Then where did the eight come from that increased it from twelve to twenty ?
—Partly the natural increase of the township, and that they could not get any other place to go to.
6843. And you say that the families of the crofters who were already there established themselves as separate crofters ?
6844. Then there are four crofters to account for still. Where did they come from ?
—I don't know. They were coming out of everywhere when they could not get places elsewhere.
6845. Did they come from outside, or was it owing to the natural increase ?
—I believe it was to the natural increase of the township that these four are attributable.
6846. How did the six cottars come there ?
—Some of the crofters of the township who came to poverty, and one who came from Ramasaig, and one who came to poverty in Fasach.
6847. So five of them were crofters, and belonged to the place, who were reduced in circumstances, and became cottars, and one came from Ramasaig. Now will you explain about the poisoned eggs that the factor put down for the dogs ?
—They were saying it was the gamekeeper who was in the place that was laying down these poisoned eggs.
6848. What was his name ?
—Duncan M'Lennan, I think.
6849. When was this done ?
—About seven years ago.
6850. How many dogs were poisoned ?
—I don't know—many a dog. I myself saw some of them dying.
6851. How near to the houses did he place these poisoned eggs?
—I don't know how close to the houses of others it was, but poisoned eggs were placed within sixty or eighty yards of the house of my neighbour, and the poisoned doses also. The poisoned doses were like little rolls of meat with poison laid in them.
6852. Did you complain to the factor or the keeper?
—Yes, and I complained to the sheriff also.
6853. What did the keeper say when you complained?
—The game keeper was denying placing the eggs with the poison.
6854. What reason had you to suppose the factor did it ?
—It was the factor who settled the gamekeeper here, and I myself put the question to the gamekeeper who was in the place before him, and the gamekeeper's reply was
—If it was I who gave it to him, it was themselves who gave it to me, requesting me to give it to him.
6855. That is rather mixed, who is I and who is him?
—It was I who gave it to M'Lennan, the gamekeeper.
6856. Did the keeper say he employed poison for killing vermin, such as hoodiecrows, and the like of that ?
—I did not ask him, neither did he tell.
6857. Are there any rules on the estate about keeping dogs?
6858. Then if the factor could enforce these rules, why should he have gone to the extreme measure of poisoning ?
—He enforced the rule upon my dog, when he shot him with his gun in the well, and the well is dry since then, although it was one of the best wells in the country before then, but since then it has denied water.
6859. Sheriff Nicolson
—What was the dog doing in the well?
—My dog was following my wife, and she was coming home from my brother's house to her own house, and the dog following her. The dog was lapping the water of the well, and there he was shot.
6860. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—He killed the dog and he killed the well ?
—I do not know what he did to the well; but likely if he could kill the well, he would do it.
6861. Mr Cameron.
—If there are rules on the estate which the factor can enforce about keeping dogs, why do you suppose he would poison them secretly, when he could insist upon their being removed ?
—I cannot judge a factor's heart by the heart of any man.
6862. With regard to the £15 for the hill pasture which you got at the time of the land being given to the twenty crofters, you say that hill pasture
was extensive ; how many cattle would it keep ?
—I don't know, but it was a place where we were keeping horses and farrow cows, and a few sheep.
6863. Have you any idea of the stock they kept ?
—No, I never tried to ascertain strictly.
6864. How many persons kept stock there ?
—There were twenty lots, and also the half lotters. They would be placing half the summing on it, and the herd also had his summing.
6865. The whole thirty crofters had their beasts there ?
—Yes, if they had stock to keep on it.
6866. They sent their yeld cattle and some horses and some sheep ?
—Yes, some of them, but some did not.
6867. Will you explain what you mean by wishing for assistance to enable you to erect dwelling houses?
—I mean that the houses which we had formerly were broken down and made into sheep fanks, and it would not be easy for us, should we get the land now, as we are in such poverty, to build new houses, but if we got the land, we would try in some way to build our houses. It is the land we want.
6868. That is exactly what I want to find out. What is the nature of the assistance you would like to build the houses ?
—Money or material— wood and lime.
6869. What proportion of the house would you do yourself, and what proportion would you wish to get in the shape of assistance ?
—We would try to build the walls at any rate. There are plenty stones and rocks in the place, and we would desire to burden our helpers as little as possible.
6870. Would you like to get the wood and the slates, or would you rather roof the houses with some other material ?
—Slate would be the best for us, if we could get it.
6871. As I came up the hill I saw some houses roofed with felt. Do you approve of felt for roofing houses ?
—Felt is better than thatch at all events, which lets in the rain, and thatch is not to be had. Our ground does not yield crop to enable us to thatch. It will not feed the cattle. We have to supplement it with feeding stuffs from Glasgow.
6872. Does the felt make a sufficiently warm roof ?
—I don't know. I never spent much of my time under it.
6873. What do you consider the cost of building the house would be, everything, included ?
—I believe it would cost up to £50.
6874. But you would be satisfied if you got the wood and roofing material—slates, or whatever else was used?
—We would be striving with it
6875. Could you manage to buy the lime yourself ?
—Some could, and some could not.
6876. What is the price of lime, landed here per barrel ?
—2s. 6d. for unslacked lime here.
6877. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—How many years is it since Macdonald, Tormore, came to be factor ?
—Nineteen years last spring, to the best of my recollection.
6878. When did he leave it ?
—A year ago.
6879. What lands or farms did he take when he was factor upon the estate ?
—Duisdale, Dibidale, Lowergill, Ramasaig, Hamara, and some tell me he had Waterstein.
6880. Were there people removed,
—I will not go into particulars, because we had some of them already.
—Were there some tenants and crofters removed from each of these places
—From Lowergill, Ramasaig, and Hamara, there were small crofters removed.
6881. What has he in his hands now of any of these towns
—Some say that these townships are in the hands of the trustees, and some say they are in the hands of Mr Robertson, the factor.
6882. But all these townships have not been restored in any way to the small tenants ?
6883. Do these lands, including Waterstein, comprehend a very considerable proportion of the whole estate of Glendale
—Yes, the best part of the property.
6884. Do you know Waterstein property well ?
—Yes; I have been in the habit for the past twenty years of walking over it.
6885. Is there or is there not a good deal of land that was once in cultivation, and that is now gone out, upon that farm ?
—Yes, a very great deal.
6886. Good land ?
—Yes, as good as can be got this way.
6887. Were there persons of some importance living upon Waterstein and farming that land at one time ?
—Yes, but I don't remember. One Mr William Beaton was staying there. Mr Beaton was succeeded by Mr Kenneth M'Rae.
6888. Was Mr Beaton a clergyman ?
6889. Who was in possession of the part of the hill that was taken from the Fasach people, as they complained of in their petition ?
—It was restored to us last year.
6890. Have you then the whole that originally belonged to the town ?
6891. And who had this part that was restored ?
—The first man who deprived us of it was the factor for M'Leod of M'Leod when he was under trustees. He was Hugh M'Caskill. Then Captain MLeod, Orbost, took it from Hugh M'Caskill. It was then in the possession of Tormore until it was restored.
6892. Who was the tenant of Waterstein until last year ?
—Dr Martin had it.
6893. Is Dr Martin the proprietor of considerable land in this neighbourhood?
—Yes, he has a large estate.
6894. He does not seem to have had enough of land, and therefore he comes and tenants the land of a neighbouring proprietor?
—It appears that he did not think that what he had was enough, on his own property.
6895. Which is the largest estate—Dr Martin's or Glendale ?
—Glendale is the largest. Both properties were included in Glendale as it belonged to M'Leod.
6896. The Rev. Mr Macpherson's property is greater than Dr Martin's ?
6897. Have the Fasach people been complaining of their circumstances for some time ?
6898. Did they present ever a petition to Parliament ?
6899. Who gave them back this hill land ?
—The heir and Mr Macdonald, Tormore.
6900. Have they applied to the heir lately to redress the grievances of which they are now complaining, even after they got back the hill? Have they made any application to him personally or otherwise ?
—We sent such a request to the trustees before the young heir came into possession.
6901. But he is now in the country, and is here present; have you made any application to himself personally ?
—No, I don't think they did.
6902. Considering he is a young man, and also a clergyman, everything thus telling in his favour, don't you think their proper step now is to make a proper application to him to redress their grievances ?
—We had good hope concerning the trustees, and they did not do anything to improve our condition, and I myself spoke to the trustees concerning my condition, and how I should be used, and Professor Macpherson replied to me, I will take your holding off your hands,and there was no word of what I was to get instead. I said to myself there was no use doing anything further about it—that it would only be the gallows succeeding the fever?
6903. No doubt that was a very disheartening answer, but, notwithstanding all that, don't you think they would do wisely to go under the circumstances to their young laird ?
—I don't know what the people's ideas may be on that subject. They were waiting till the Commissioners came among them, and as the case has gone to the Commission let the Commission do what they themselves think proper. If the proprietor is for dealing justly with them, I don't know but our people will be willing to accept that from him. He looks like a real gentleman, if he will not be spoiled.
6904. Sheriff Nicolson.
—There was a case of a man whom the gamekeeper brought into the sheriff court for some difference that took place between them about a dog. Was that you ?
—Yes, I was the man, and no wonder should I remember him.
6905. Were you summoned by the gamekeeper ?
—No, but I summoned him.
6906. For the killing of the dog ?
—Yes, and for firing a gun in the direction of my wife.
6907. What was the decision?
—The gamekeeper was fined 10s., with the alternative of three days imprisonment
6908. There was a man who gave evidence in that case who was afterwards deprived of his croft ?
—Yes, and I will show you a letter which he sent me to give up his own state, to lay before the Commissioners how he was dealt with. This is the first letter I got from him since he left, and I did not write to him.
6909. This is a private letter, but it contains this statement, speaking of some friend of yours :
—He told me you were to be one of the leading men here to meet the Commissioners, and I trust I will see your statement before Lord Napier, as I read all the reports in the Mail. Tell him about the way Tormore put me and you about for bearing witness in the court house at Portree against him for your mistress, and the way he thrust me out of my country with bad law, having my rents and debts cleared with all customers.That is dated 10th May 1883, Ayrshire. Are you sure there was no other reason for putting him out of his croft except his being a witness in this case ?
—He was the best neighbour ever I had at any rate.
6910. And to your personal knowledge, he was not in arrears ?
—I know he was not in arrears.
6911. And how soon after that sheriff court case, was he put out of the croft ?
—He gave evidence in the beginning of May at Portree, and next year both he and I were warned to remove.
6913. Are you a member of the Glendale Land League ?
—What land league do you mean ?
6913. Those who bound themselves together not to pay rent until they should get more hill ?
6914. Is there any such league ?
—I don't know.
6915. But we have been told that there is, and that the members are bound under penalties not to pay rent ?
—I don't know. The Commission should put it to proof.
6916. Is there no such thing in Fasach?
—I am not aware of such a thing. They are not wanting the land without payment at all.
6917. Do you know or have you heard of anybody who refused to join others in refusing to pay rent, and who suffered any injury in his cattle or his implements ?
—I heard there were such.
6918. Do you not know yourself of any particular instances?
—No; I don't even know if it is the case.
6919. The Commissioners have heard of such things, and are desirous to ascertain the truth. Can you not assist us?
—We are hearing so many rumours that we don't know what to believe. we are reading things about ourselves in the newspapers which we did not know before.
6920. Have you found news in the papers about things which happened in Glendale, which took you by surprise ?
—Yes, and reports which we know to be false, and we are quite troubled by them. we are hearing such reports even down from London. They are imputing to us in London, that we are a lawless people, and I will give you one case of the law which is in force here. Two steamers came to this parish for the past two years, and the place is very straitened with poverty, and want, and you may know that when the steamers are coming twice a week they are bringing plenty to eat, but there is no store-house in the place. The goods have to be placed on the shore in tarpaulins, and I never heard of a penny -worth being stolen of these goods during that time. There has been a policeman sent among us about a year ago, and he has not had a case yet except about one old teapot which he took from a tinker. The tinker's horse had eaten some corn belonging to a woman, and the policeman went for the woman to get him to pay for the damage.
6921. The Chairman.
—Have you heard, not through the newspapers, or from outside, but in the place, of any case of persons suffering injury in their property or in their employments on account of not joining the popular cause in this matter—not joining the other crofters ?
—If I heard such I don't remember; but I heard of a man who went to plough in Waterstein, and some of whose implements were taken from him, but I don't know if that is true or not. I did not say anything to that man about it
6922. Would you state the name of the man whose implements were said to have been injured or taken away?
—Roderick Campbell. That is all I heard about it.
6923. You have stated that a number of things are said in the newspapers and in London and elsewhere of which you know nothing here. Here is one of the statements, taken from a newspaper—the The Daily Free Press:
—About the same time the following warning was put up :—
Notice.—Any one of the tenants of Skiniden who will pay his rent, not only his house and property, but his life will be taken, or any one backsliding.
—I never heard a word about it till now.
6924. You never heard a rumour of such a notice?
—I never heard a word about it, and I am very close to Skiniden. We march with Skiniden, and I did not hear a word about it till this moment.
6925. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—I wish to ask, as to the assistance for building houses, whether you want it from the Government or from the proprietor ?
—We would have more hope of getting it from the Government.
6926. And do you expect to get it for nothing, or on payment of interest ?
—We never get anything without paying for it, and we don't expect to get such help otherwise.
6927. You would be glad to have the power of borrowing money to build houses ?
6928. In this paper reference is made to the rent sixty years ago. Is it a matter of complaint that the rent has been raised at all, or is it a matter of complaint that the rent has been unduly raised ?
—We are complaining that the rent has been unduly raised.
6929. You don't think it improper that the rent should have been raised in the last sixty years, to a certain extent ?
—No, but we don't think that the increase that was made on our rents was right, and I will give you proof of that if you wish.
6930. Can you give it ?
—Sixty years ago the township was valued, and there were only at that time twelve families cutting peats. There were just twelve fires in the village, and there are now thirty-seven fires kept burning from that peat moss from year to year, and any one may understand how the pasture has been burned with that consumption of peat since that time.
6931. If the number of the families had not been increased, would you have thought it unfair that the rent of the land should have increased in like proportion with the price of cattle ?
—That is right enough. It would be right enough, if we had the land in such a way that we could live upon it.
6932. I understand from the complaint here that you object to any rise of rent whatever, but you do not object to any rise ?
—We don't object to a small rise, but yon is out of the question altogether.
6933. Professor Mackinnon.
—Do you possess a whole croft or a half croft ?
—A half croft. I have had a whole croft since I came to Fasach.
6934. There is another family on the croft—a cottar?
6935. Then you pay the whole rent of the croft yourself?
6936. What is the rent ?
—The last factor informed me that the rent was £5, 6s. 2d. including assessments.
6937. Now, what is the summing of the croft? How much stock are you allowed to keep ?
—Four cows, but it will not keep two; I have two.
6938. A horse ?
6939. And sheep ?
6940. How many sheep ?
—Twenty sheep is the summing.
6941. You have one horse ?
6942. And two cows ?
—Two cows and a three-year-old, and eight sheep.
6943. Why don't you have a full stock of sheep ?
—It defied me to get the sheep to put on the hill.
6944. For want of money ?
—Yes ; it is just a year since we had the half of the hill pasture restored to us.
6945. Would you consider your arable land is about two and a half acres or so ?
—I think so, and it is very shallow.