CHARLES M'LEOD, Crofter and Fisherman, Arnish, Raasay (60)—examined.
7624. The Chairman,
—Have you been freely elected a delegate of this place?
7625. Have you got a statement to make on the part of the people whom you represent?
—Yes. It is with the view of getting deliverance from bondage into liberty, that we have come out here to-day. We would take the example from those who were in bondage, and who were sighing in their bondage, and wishing for liberty. The Israelites before were in bondage, but there was One above who heard the sighing of those in bondage, and fixed the time for coming for their deliverance. We are oppressed with cultivating bad land, which yields no crop, which does not return to us the value of our work. There are many reasons for that, the way the island is circumstanced. In days gone by this island was called the island of the big men—the island of strong men, and it deserved that name. From the days of John M'Gillicallum of Raasay, it was rearing able men, until within the last few generations. They would defend their islands and the islands about. They were raising fighting men in this island to defend their own homestead and the kingdom. And now, what has caused the people of this island to come down to their present condition? I remember from the time of my father, they were rearing their families. My father reared five sons, and now the land which my father had is occupied by three families; two of them are occupying the land which my father had, and each of their families is as heavy as my father's family was. They have no more arable land than my father had. The rent of the township was £18, 10s., and it is now two townships.
7626. Was that the rent of the township, or the rent of your father's croft?
—The £18, 10s. was the rent of the township, and my father had one-fourth of it.
7627. How many families were in it when the rent was £18, 10s.?
7628. How many are there in it now?
—There are now seven lots in the township.
7629. But how many families?
—The township is now divided into seven lots, and each of these seven lots is rented at £5 of bare rent, besides rates. Now, how are seven families to be in comfort upon what only supported four families in the days gone by?
7630. You say there are seven lots at £5 each. Are there seven families on these seven lots? Has each family a whole lot?
—When the township was made into seven lots, one man had three of the lots on one side, and there are four lots on the other side, on each of which there is a family.
7631. Then, there are five families altogether?
7632. Leaving out the man who has three lots, and taking the families each of which has one lot, what is the summing of each lot?
—Two cows to each, with their calves. We have no summing.
7633. Have you any sheep?
—We have a few sheep.
7634. About how many on each lot?
—I could not exactly say, and I will tell you the reason of that. The hill pasture, which was for the
summering of the sheep, is on the side of the man who has the three lots.
7635. About how many sheep are there to any lot? Eight or nine, or how many?
—I don't think that each has more than six.
7636. How many have you got yourself?
—Eight, and another man may have only four.
7637. No horse?
7638. What is the rent of a lot for two cows, the follower, and seven sheep?
7639. And the one who has three lots has three times as much?
—The one with the three lots pays three times as much rent as the single lots do.
7640. Has he three times as much stock?
—I cannot be sure.
7641. About how much arable ground has each lot?
—I cannot say what the acreage would be. I can tell how much crop I put in of potatoes and oats. The way the ground is, —in spots here and there—it could not very well be measured.
7642. How long ago is it since it was divided into seven lots?
—More than three years ago. It was in Mr Mackay's time, the former proprietor, and k was Mr Mackay who raised the rents in the island.
7643. Was the rent fixed at £5 in Mr Mackay's time?
—Yes; it was Mr Mackay who raised it to £5.
7644. Has it been raised since?
7645. Has anybody been evicted since you recollect?
—No, I don't recollect a case of eviction in our township.
7646. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Have you and your fathers before you been long in the island? Have they been there from time immemorial?
—All our forefathers have been on this island from time immemorial.
7647. In regard to the depopulation of the island in former times, was not Raasay at one time full of people?
7648. When did the people first begin to be put out of the island?
—It is forty years since the first removings.
7649. Who was the proprietor then?
—M'Leod of Raasay.
7650. How many people, roughly speaking, were removed at that time?
— I cannot be sure.
7651. Was it a whole ship-load?
7652. More than one?
—Not at the first removing. These all went to America.
7653. A ship-load at least went to America the first time?
—To the best of my recollection.
7654. How long ago is it since the second?
—Thirty years ago.
7655. When did your present proprietor come?
—About six years ago.
7656. Have you, or the people of your township, made any complaint to him or remonstrance against the amount of the rent you are complaining of to-day?
7657. What answer did you get?
—When the township was settled a family came from Eilean Tighe, and there was no place open for that man, and he was settled in our place for a year.
7658. But have you made any remonstrance to Mr Wood, the present proprietor, against the amount of your rent?
—Yes. This man from island Tighe was settled for a year in our midst, as there was no other place for
him, and £5 additional was laid upon us, and we were wanting Mr Wood to take off this additional £5. Mr Wood promised to do this, and when the fence was put up between us and the man who has got the three lots, the £5 was left as a set-off against the interest of the fence.
7659. You complain you have not enough land to work?
7660. Where could you or your co-crofters get land?
—On the property of the island.
—In the townships which are waste.
7662. In whose possession are they?
—Under sheep belonging to the proprietor.
7663. Is there any big tenant? There was a farmer named Mackenzie there a few years ago. Who has got that farm now?
—The proprietor has got it.
7664. Has he a great deal in his own hands under sheep?
7665. Has he all that Mackenzie had?
7666. And more?
—I am not aware he has more.
7667. Is there land in the proprietors' hands convenient for them without necessitating the removal of some of them from their houses?
—There is the hill pasture, which we might get plenty of. There is no arable land near us, which could be added to our lots where we are, but there is plenty of hill pasture.
7668. Would yon be satisfied if you got more hill pasture?
—We would try to put up with it. Our lots are spoiled with game, pheasants, and rabbits, so much so that it is not worth our while sowing our ground at all.
7669. Have you remonstrated against that to Mr Wood?
7670. What relief has he given you?
—We got no relief, and the feeding boxes for the pheasants are placed at the end of our arable ground.
7671. Have you liberty to kill rabbits or to trap them?
7672. Mr Cameron.
—How many barrels of oats do you sow on your arable ground?
—Three and a half barrels of seed oats.
7673. And how much potatoes?
—Between four and five barrels of splits. We are putting down as much seed as would serve our families if the ground were at all good.
7674. Do the people get much work from the proprietor?
—Yes, those who can work got work. So far as I am concerned I have to attend to the tillage of my lot with my only son. The ground will not yield oats after potatoes unless it is freshly manured.
7675. But the people, as a rule, get plenty work?
7676. Do they get more work than they did in the time of the former proprietors?
—They were getting work in the time of the former proprietors, but matters are heavier upon us now than then.
7677. In what way are they heavier?
—It is worse with us, the more we have to work our lands without getting a return; and in former days, we were not losing our crops with game as we are at present.
7678. Would you rather go back to the times of the former proprietor, without the game, or be under Mr Wood, and get the work, with the rabbits?
—Mr Wood is a kind landlord to us,—in fact, kinder than any man we have seen here—and he is showing kindness to us in many ways ; more than we have experienced from his predecessors. He is sending us a doctor.
7679. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—There are five people in your township. Did they all gather to send you here, or was the man who had three shares not one of them?
7680. Were they all five gathered to send you here?
—Only the four sent me here. The man with the three lots was at first delegated to come and speak for the township.
7681. Why did they change their first arrangement?
—It was changed outside to shorten the list of delegates.
7682. They appointed two to begin with?
7683. You mentioned something about a deer fence. Is there a deer fence cutting you off from the proprietor's lands?
7684. Is that a matter of complaint that that fence should be there?
—It is a cause of complaint, for our cattle cannot get to our own pasturage, owing to the roughness of the ground leading to it, and the fence is in the way. They are shut in in their own hill pasture by this fence.
7685. Have they their own hill pasture behind this fence?
7686. You would like to cross part of the proprietor's land to get to a remote part of your own pasture?
—The fence was fixed so close to rocky ground that our cows cannot get between these rocks and their own ground to their pasturage.
7687. The Chairman.
—If the line of fence was altered, would that satisfy you?
—That is what we were wishing to be done —to have it put back for a few yards. We were wanting this when the fence was being put up. There is no port for hauling up our boats on our ground.