DONALD M’LEAN, Galtrigill (48)—examined.
7366. The Chairman.
—Are you a crofter?
—I am a crofters son. I have been paying the rent with my father for the past ten years.
7367. Are you a fisherman too?
—Yes, my father is Alexander MLean.
7368. Were you freely elected a delegate?
7369. You have a statement to submit to the Commission?
The Grievances of Galtrigill Crofters, one township of Dr Martins Estate. To the Royal Commissioners of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
—When Malcolm Nicolson, Esq., the proprietor before the present one, got this estate, he raised our rents before he took the arable land and hill pasture from us. He cut the small patches left for us in crofts. Some of the people had to leave for the want of land. When the land was in the crofters possession they had four milk cows, and three or four barren beasts on the hill, two horses, and from thirty to fifty sheep. When they were deprived of that by Mr Nicolson they were allowed to keep three cows and six sheep, each crofter on Borroraig hill pasture, as he put Galtrigill and Borroraig on one hill pasture. They were not allowed to keep horses any further. Our present proprietor, Dr Martin, allowed us to keep three cows, no sheep, no horses; and the six sheep allowed us by Mr Nicolson, we had to put them away three years after he got this estate. Up to forty years we had no sheep. He took from us three times part of the hill pasture left us by Mr Nicolson, and added to his own sheep farm. AH the hill pasture left for Galtrigill crofters was 100 yards broad and one fourth of a mile in length. No reduction of rent has been given, but raised our rents. Some of the crofters, their rents were raised since fifteen years, some others their rents were raised since eight years. Also we were forced to work ten days a year—a man or woman from each croft—such as planting potatoes, shearing corn, drying and shipping fish, and landing salt, for nothing; and if we would not attend to all the aforesaid labours, we would be in danger of eviction. Also we had to buy hooks from him to shear his own corn, and pay for them ; and if we would not attend this labour, we would be charged 2s. 6d. a day; and if we would get work from him for payment, it is Is. and Is. 6d. a day we would get. The produce of our holdings would not maintain our families one-third of the year. We are always under the necessity of buying. Our desire is plenty of land for a fair rent, or, in other words, what would make us comfortable ; the summering of six cows, from thirty to fifty sheep, and one horse; compensation for improvement; fixity of tenure. Some of us have two cows, very few have three cows; and we are so deep in debt to our creditors that we cannot say that they are our own. Some of us will be upwards of £ 20 in meal yearly, some others a little less; also we have to buy wool for day clothing and night clothing, which will come to a number of pounds; and therefore our earnest desire is that our circumstances would be considered by the Government. Also there is twelve families on ten lots, of which three of them are subdivided. Our rent is from £4, 5s. to £8. Also there are other four crofters in Sheader in the vicinity of Galtrigill, on Dr Martins estate. Their grievances are similar to ours. Their rent is from £3, 5s. to £5. The produce of their crofts will not maintain them the third part of the year. They are always under the necessity of buying. They will be upwards of £ 20 yearly in meal. Their desire is plenty of land, six cows, from thirty to fifty sheep, one horse, compensation for improvement, fixity of tenure.
All the aforementioned grievances are true, and will be signed by the crofters.—
1. JOHN CAMPBELL, sen., crofter, Galtrigill; 2. JOHN CAMPBELL, jun., crofter, Galtrigill; 3. ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, crofter, Galtrigill; 4. MALCOLM CAMPBELL, crofter, Galtrigill;
5. JOHN MLEAN, sen., crofter, Galtrigill; 6. JOHN MLEAN, jun., crofter, Galtrigill; 7. KENNETH MLEAN, crofter, Galtrigill; 8. CIRSTY MLEAN, crofter, Galtrigill; 9. DONALD MLEAN, crofter, Galtrigill; 10. CHARLES CAMPBELL, crofter, Galtrigill; 11. JOHN MlNNIS, crofter, Galtrigill;
12. DONALD MLEAN, crofter, Galtrigill; 13. MALCOLM MKENZIE, crofter, Sheader; 14. RODRICK MKENZIE, crofter, Sheader; 15. JOHN MKINNON, crofter, Sheader; 16. DONALD MKINNON, crofter, Sheader.
7370. Have you any further statement to make ?
7371. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh
—About the ten days work. They were to five ten days work of a man or woman at a small sum. Is that still exacted?
—Since William Campbell, the factor that was, we have not been asked to perform that service.
7272. The Chairman
—How long ago is that ?
—A year or one and a half year ago.
7273. You complain of the hill pasture as being only 100 yards broad and one quarter of a mile in length. Have you any idea what extent of hill it is in acres ?
—Not more than seven or eight acres altogether.
7374. What extent was taken from you ?
7375. What was the extent of what you originally had?
—We had a great stretch—the whole side of the hill
7376. As to the question about the hooks—buying hooks from Dr Martin for shearing his own corn—does that grievance still exist ?
—We didnt do any shearing for him during the past two or three years.
7377. And had you to pay any penalty for not doing so?
7378. How many families are in Galtrigill and Sheader altogether?
—Twelve in Galtrigill and four in Sheader.
7379. How many souls may there be in the two?
—I dont know.
7380. Will there be nearly 100 ?
—I think there are 100, at any rate.
7381. You speak of the large quantity of meal you have to buy in consequence of the scrimpness of your holdings. Are you all very poor ?
—We are poor, and will be poor unless we get land.
7382. Are you going back from year to year?
—Yes, every one of them.
7383. Apart from the special year—last year, which was so very bad—are you going back from year to year?
—Yes, but there were some years we were getting on better than others; the years of fishing on the east coast went well with us.
7384. If you got back that part of the hill winch was originally yours, would that satisfy you ?
—No ; out of what could we grow crops even should we get the hill.
7385. Were there people put in Galtrigill and Sheader within the last forty years from other places?
—No; no family would go to Galtrigill unless they were transferred.
7386. At what period would you say that the people occupying Galtrigill and Sheader were in comfortable circumstances?
—They were well enough off before the lots were cut out, when, at that time, there was only left to them about one-fourth of the township.
7387. Would they be as numerous then as they are now?
7388. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is Galtrigill near to Sheader?
—Galtrigill marches with Borroraig. It is between the two townships.
7389. Has Sheader any pasture of its own ?
—I dont think it has.
7390. Are the cattle pastured on the Galtrigill hill?
—No, they pasture on the Borroraig hill.
7391. I dont understand the conjunction of fixity of tenure and compensation for improvements. Do you want compensation for improvements without being turned out ?
—We do not want compensation for improvements unless we are removed.
7392. Would you be satisfied with compensation for improvements without fixity of tenure ?
—No, we wont be satisfied with compensation for improvements, unless we are sure we would never be removed.
7393. And if you were sure you would never be removed, under what circumstances would you get compensation for improvements?
—If we would get the land, and money for working it, then we would pay the interest of it.
7394. Professor Mackinnon.
—Tell me exactly what the summing of your croft is ?
7395. Is Campbell beside you?
7396. Is his summing the same?
7397. And J. MLean?
—The whole in the township are the same summing.
7398. No stirks or anything?
—No stock would be allowed in the summing but the three cows.
7399. How many cows have you got?
7400. Any small beasts?
—I have two small beasts.
7401. That is more than the summing ?
—Yes; we buy the grazing from those who have it, and who have no stock themselves.
7402. To whom are you paying for the grazing?
—To my neighbour, John MInnes, Galtrigill.
7403. Mr Cameron.
—Would you like to have fixity of tenure on your present holding, supposing you got no more land ?
—We would wish to have a fixed holding in our present lots for a home. Our old people would wish that. A man who has been paying rent for fifty years would not like to leave the place in his old age.
7404. Have there been any evictions in your place lately?
7405. Are you afraid of any eviction ?
—We are not afraid.
7406. Would you rather have a better croft on the present system of tenure, or your actual croft with fixity of tenure ?
—We would rather have plenty of land with the present law, for the croft which we have is no use
7407. Is the general demand among the people not only in this township but throughout Skye rather to have more land than to have fixity of tenure in their present small holdings ? Which of the two do you desire most ?
—That is a very hard question for me to answer.
7408. The Chairman.
—How many years have you been paying rent along with your father ?
—Ever since I could work.
7409. How many years is that ?
7410. Has your rent been raised during that period ?
—Yes, it was raised about seven years ago.
7411. How much?
7412. Has that £1 been reduced again ?
7413. Was it exacted in the last year ?
7414. Then your rent last year was the same that it was thirty years ago ?
—No, that £ 1 of rise in our rents we have been paying for the past seven years.
7415. Did you pay your rent last year ?
7416. Do you know of any one who paid his rent in your township ?
7417. Have you heard that other parties elsewhere have had that £1 reduced ?
—I heard it was taken off some of them in Borroraig,
7418. Do you remember in these thirty years any one who has been evicted on Dr Martins estate who has paid his rent ?
—I dont know of any being removed except two who went to Waternish, and I dont know whether they were in arrear or not.
7419. Have you ever heard it reported here that any one has been molested or had his property or his implements injured in consequence of not taking the part of the people in the public agitation ?
—No, but that three or four cas-chroms were broken last spring.
7420. Have you ever molested anybody yourself on that account ?
—I dont think I have.
7421. Did you on any occasion stop a cart which belonged to Dr Martin and search his cart ?
—We stopped a cart, but did not search it.
7422. What was the object in stopping it ?
—There were a great number of us people on the public road at the time the warnings were coming. Dr Martins carter was going to Galtrigill with meal for the shepherd, and we asked him to take it easy till he should get through the crowd, and when he heard that he stood up in the cart and took a bite of the reins, and commenced to lash the horse through the people; and when we saw that, and the women and the children in danger, we took hold of the horses reins until the people got cleared off the road. That is all I saw done to any person.
7423. You did not injure anything ?
—No, we did not touch man or beast.