ANGUS BEATON, Manager, Skeabost (47)—examined.
9350. The Chairman.
—In consequence of what was said by delegates at Skeabost on a recent occasion, a statement has been placed in my hands which I am now about to read:
—- We, the undersigned tenants in Glen Bernisdale, on the estate of Mr Macdonald, do hereby certify that we are exceedingly sorry to hear of the incredible evidence Mr William M'Lure, our representative, stated before the Royal Commission. In the first place. the tenants who were removed from Skeabost to Bernisdale were provided with new houses at the cost of £15. He gave them these houses gratis, without interest or any charge. Moreover, he gave them half a share of the Bernisdale joint stock of sheep to the amount of £6, 10s. gratis, without any charge. Likewise he gave them compensation for improvements made on land in the year 1873. Likewise he gave us potatoes and seed oats this year. Moreover, he gave us as much hay as we could manage, which saved us from selling our cattle last winter. Moreover, he made roads for the convenience of the people to carry home their peats.Have you any knowledge of this statement having been drawn up?
—Every word that is in the paper is true, and I understand the people have sent it in.
9351. Were you aware that this paper was sent in or about to be sent in ?
—The men were telling me it was about to be sent in.
9352. Do you know that this paper is the spontaneous production of the people, and that no influence from any quarter was used to induce them to send it in?
—There was no effort of any kind.
9353. And the substance of the paper is to your knowledge quite correct?
9354. It is signed by five or six tenants. How many tenants are there in Bernisdale?
9355. In whose writinp is that paper ?
—I do not know.
9356. Do you not know the writing of all the people in the place?
— 9357. It is not your own writing?
—No, I never put a pen to it.
9358 Have you any statement you wish to make of your own?
—In the first place, the first delegate who came in made a charge against me with regard to a horse. In the second place, he complained that the soil was thin and poor, 1½ inches to 3 inches, and in many parts 6 inches. I measured the soil in presence of the man who gave this account of the land, and I got it from nine inches to three feet. The second delegate, Mr John Bethune, made a complaint against me in regard to two horses. In the first place, I had permission to keep a horse, and the horse had particular work to do, as there were no other horse in the town but itself. It had to convey or carry the wool from the town to the port, and to carry the smearing material back to the township from the port, and when a death occurred, this horse was employed to convey the dead body to the grave. John Bethune complained of seeing this horse of mine on the ground. There were five crofts on Bernisdale that were put under wood. The summing of these crofts was ten cows and ten stirks. The people of the township were getting the profits of the grass of these ten cows and ten stirks, with the exception of the consumption of my horse. Over and above, I had to keep the road in repair on the west side of the country. I had to keep a van for the men who were engaged in repairing the road, and two horses were required to convey it. It was for the road that it was used. The horse that I had a right to hold on the ground was not there at all. It was on another part of the ground for a part of the year working
at the roads. It seems that the people of the township did not want my horse there, for there were other three horses in the town, but they were not mentioned to the Commissioners—none but mine.
9359. Is that all you have to say?
—That is all I have to say.
9360. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Did you ever at any time turn off the Free Church minister's horse from the hill?
—To tell the truth, I scarcely remember.
9361. Try and remember?
—Yes, such a thing occurred.
9362. At the time the delegates were to be appointed to come before the Commission, did you attend any of their meetings? Did you attend the first meeting?
—The meeting was nearly over before I arrived.
9363. Did you take any part in it?
—Yes, I put in a word like the rest.
9364. Did you consider it consistent with your position as a representative of the proprietor to interfere with the people in the circumstances?
—The proprietor had nothing to do with it ; I was acting for myself in that case.
9365. Was the proprietor aware of your acting?
9366. He knew nothing about it?
9367. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You hold a share of the land like the other tenants?
9368. Was it in virtue of holding that share that you took part in that meeting?
9369. Did you upset any of the arrangements that had been before you came in?
—I told them they had not a full meeting —there were only fifteen present—and that they had better adjourn till they had a fuller meeting.
9370. Did they adjourn, or did they elect their delegates?
—I did not know that they made delegates. If they did so, they were appointed before I went in.
9371. When were the delegates appointed, then?
—-The next night, when the men were all assembled.
9372. Were you present then?
9373. Were the delegates chosen on that occasion, the delegates whose names were sent up to us?
—Yes, except one man.
9374. Why was that change made?
—A gentleman from Inverness, named Mr Mackenzie, came down, and I understand that he and the minister of the Free Church took a considerable part in the work. Mr Mackenzie gave an insight to the men, and said he could appoint any delegate whom he chose, and that they were at liberty to say anything they liked against proprietors, ground officers, and factors.
9375. They made an alteration in one of the delegates?
—Yes, in one.
9376. Why did they alter one delegate?
—They thought that this man would speak matter containing less substance and less sense than the others.
9377. Professor Mackinnon.
—It was entirely as a tenant in the place that you attended these meetings?
—Yes, every one of them.
9378. Were you chosen at any of the meetings as a delegate yourself?
9379. But you agree in all the statements in this paper?
—Yes, everything in it is right.
9380. Why did you not sign it?
—They did not show it to me.
9381. How was that? You are a tenant as well as they?
—That paper is from the people in the glen.
9382. Did they take no part in the meetings for electing delegates?
—They were present.
9383. Why did they not elect a delegate to represent their views?
—They did so, but this Bethune was elected by the minister and Mr Mackenzie.
9384. And the delegate they elected was put out in his favour?
—No, their delegate was also in, but they resent the testimony he gave.