JOHN M'LEOD, Tacksman of Monkstadt (60)—examined.
10124. The Chairman.
—Have you any statement to make ?
10125. Did you come here by invitation of the Commissioners?
10126. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Are you a native of Kilmuir?
10127. Have you lived all your life in Kilmuir ?
10128. Do you see much difference in the condition of the people since you were a young man ?
10129. What part of the parish were you born in ?
10130. And you have now gone to take up your residence next door to Kilmaluag again ?
10131. Do you think the Kilmaluag people are in as good circumstances as they were when you first remember ?
10132. Do you think the land returns as much crop as it used to do ?
—I think not; but I think there is more money in the place than there was when I was young.
10133. You have occasion to know that?
10134. Do you deal in meal at all?
—Not just now.
10135. What reason have you for thinking there is more money in the place than there used to be ?
—They are getting better prices for stock.
10136. But, on the other hand, they must spend more money than they used to do ?
—Yes, in dress, and so on.
10137. Then, though they get more money, if they spend more money, perhaps there is not more money left in the place after all ?
—As to that I cannot say.
10138. You cannot say whether they are more in debt to the meal merchant than they were ?
—I don't think they are.
10139. We were told that the people were in debt for meal to the extent of £700. Do you think that is a true statement ?
—I don't think it is true at all.
10140. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Something like that was also told us about Glenhinisdale. They were said to be in debt £600, chiefly for meal. Do you think that is an exaggeration ?
—I think so.
10141. I suppose you heard most of what was said at Uig and Stenscholl?
10142. Did you see it in the newspapers?
—A little of it.
10143. Was there anything which you thought decidedly incorrect?
—About that debt, I think it was not right.
10144. Do you think the rents are too high ?
—Well, when they get better prices for the stock, I think the rise in rent is nothing in comparison with the rise in prices.
10145. I suppose your own rents have been raised a good deal also?
—No; of course there were additions.
10146. We were told about grass that was taken from the people to be added to your farm?
—I never removed a tenant since I was born.
10147. But did Captain Fraser did?
—He gave them as good places as they had in compensation for that.
10148. But since you got Monkstadt a good many of them were shifted to other places ?
—No, not in Kilmuir.
10149. But I suppose you remember that a good many were removed?
—Yes ; but they got as good places as they had in payment for that.
10150. They say themselves that the places are not so good?
—I think they are.
10151. Do you think the amount of their pasture is the same as it was?
—I think so. They went to the two best places I knew of on the estate—Kilmaluag and Balmaquien.
10152. Were there no crofters on these two places before ?
—Yes, in Kilmaluag; but some of them went of their own accord to America about that time.
10153. Were there crofters at Balmaquien before?
10154. Was it new crofts or old ones that these crofters got?
10155. Professor Mackinnon.
—Do you remember the last forty years back?
10156. We have been told there were a large number of people removed and a considerable number of crofting townships cleared in Kilmuir during that time. I suppose there are a considerable number of townships that were peopled then which are not peopled now?
—That was forty-three years ago. It was in Sulister and Erisker.
10157. You don't remember a single township of crofters cleared on Kilmuir at all?
—No, except Graulin.
10158. Do you remember hill pasture being taken from townships that are not cleared yet?
10159. So that the amount of land occupied by crofters now in Kilmuir is very much less than it was when you first remember?
—No, except a wee bit hilly ground.
10160. It is less by the two cleared townships and the amount of hill pasture that was taken away?
—They got the offer of a hill, I am told, but they would not pay the rent.
10161. Has the population of Kilmuir increased or diminished within that time?
—I am not sure. I think it is fully as large as it was.
10162. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Did you ever advise Major Fraser to raise or to lower the rents?
10163. Did you not advise him to lower them?
—No, I had no business to speak to the major about a matter of that sort.
10164. Did he not sometimes get advice from you?
10165. I have been told that he himself said you had advised him to lower the rents : perhaps you forget it. I suppose you can truly say that you never gave him any bad advice?
—I believe he would not take it well if I would do so.
10166. Did you ever give him any advice against the people?
10167. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Have you been all your days in Skye?
—Yes, I may say so.
10168. What rent was your father paying for his place in Kilmaluig?
— I cannot say, but the first rent I paid was £34.
10169. What have you been paying of late for Monkstadt?
10170. You are not in arrears?
—Not a penny, except what is due since Martinmas last.
10171. Then you are one of the few men in Skye whose circumstances are better now than they were forty years ago?
—I know small tenants who pay only £12, and who have £800 lying in the bank in Portree.
10172. Do you find sheep-farming now as profitable as it has been in past years?
— Yes, except the wool.
10173. Then you do not quite agree with your neighbour Duntulm, who said he was going back a good deal upon sheep?
—Well, cattle would pay fully as well as sheep—good Highland cattle.
10174. Have you a good number of cattle yourself?
—I have over three hundred head of black cattle. I wish to state in regard to Donald Nicolson, that when he got the place he evicted a poor man named M'Innes, who had a delicate consumptive son. This young man was sent off to a barn, and he lived only three days. Then Nicolson allowed his horse to stray with my milk cows. He came and offered me 7s. 6d. He left his horse six weeks there with the milk cows, and when he came and took it away he never gave me a penny.