Barra, 26 May 1883 - Allan McIntyre

ALLAN M'INTYRE, Cottar and Fisherman, Castle Bay and Glen (nearly 60)—examined.
10843. The Chairman. Have you been freely elected a delegate?
— Yes.

10844. Have you got any statement to make on behalf of the people here?
—Castle Bay in my first recollection was tenanted by ten families. They kept a stock of from two to seven cows each family, and their crofts provided them with food. Now they have only about the fourth part of that place, and there are twenty-two families paying rent in it. There are thirty families in addition to these, without land at all, located among them. They have no way of living unless they get a piece of land to assist them, whether it be great or smalL They cannot do without land —those who can afford to take a larger portion to get a larger portion, and those who can only afford a small portion to get that portion. We were promised a piece of land this year, which was cleared for us and which we had before, and we got permission to prepare some of it for potatoes; but we did not get power to take possession of the land, only that we would get this potato ground in it and permission to graze a cow upon it, and to build a house outside its bounds upon the other land that was adjacent. We paid 10s. 6d. of rent for the site of that house. We have no way of living unless we get some of that land by which people were able to live formerly in comfort. Some additional land that was promised to the people they were speaking about to the factor, and they sent some of their number to Aberdeen to see what answer they would get about Vatersay. I am not quite certain of the details of what passed between them and the factor about that place, but there is one present here to say a few words on the subject in my stead, and he can tell all about it.

10845. Sheriff Nicolson.—How many crofters round Castle Bay do you represent?

10846. Are there cottars besides?
—Thirty or thirty-two cottars in addition.

10847. What rent do you pay?
—I have no land.

10848. What do you pay for your house?
—Nothing; I have no house but one built between sea water and land, which is only habitable for six months of the year. It was dry when it was good weather.

10849. Do you get any ground to put potatoes in?
—No, only I got a little this year to make potatoes in the place I have spoken of.

10850. Do the other cottars live in like manner?
—They must needs do so.

10851. Do they not pay any rent either?
—Some pay and some do not.

10852. How long have you been there?
—I was born in this villige. I am fourteen years in my present house.

10853. Had your father a croft ?

10854. In Castle Bay ?

10855. Who got the croft when he died?
—I had it myself for a while.

10856. How did you lose it?
—Another man was put down alongside of me on a portion of it, and then what was left to me was so small that it was not worth while to be looking after it.

10857. Did the other man get the whole of it?
—No, he had not it himself for a long time, when other two were placed upon him.

10858. How many cottars have been added to the population of Castle Bay in your recollection ?
—The whole of them. When my father had the land I never saw a cottar—only the ten who held the land.

10859. Did any of them come from any other place, or are they all natives of Castle Bay?
—Some of them were born here, others came from elsewhere.

10860. How do you make your living yourself?
—By day's wages.

10861. What work do you get?
—Curing fish with Mr Macneill for the last four years. Before that I was a fisherman.

10862. When you are not curing fish, what work do you get?
—I am a fish-curer during the whole year.

10863. I suppose you buy all the meal and potatoes for yourself and your family?
—It is six years since I ate anything that grew in Barra, whatever may happen with regard to the small patch that I planted this year.

10864. You have no cow ?

10865. Have any of the other cottars cows?
—One or two of them have a cow.

10866. Where do you get milk if you get any?
—I know no such thing as milk. I don't know what it means for a number of years. There is not a place here where milk can be had. Can I get it from the man who has it not?—who requires it as much as I do.

10867. Then of course you are obliged to take tea, sugar, treacle, and such things, instead of milk ?
—We are obliged to take gruel.

10868. Are things worse than they were when your father was alive?
—We are just able to live.

10869. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh. What family have you?
—Four children.

10870. Are some of them young?
—One of them is a lad of 16; then there is a girl of 12, a girl of 9, and lad of 6, besides my wife.

10871. Do your children know what milk is?
—They are more ignorant of milk than I am, because I knew it once.

10872. Mr Cameron
—Do you know why the cottare were put into that place among the crofters as you have described? —Because there was no other place for them to go to clearing the places in which people were before and putting them in here as into a fank.

10873. Was it not for the purpose of following the fishing?
—No, some of those who were sent here would be of no use for fishing.

10874. Have any of the cottars sheep?
—I am not quite certain, but I believe two or three have a sheep or two.

10875. Have they any stirks ?

10876. And horses ?

10877. Then they have got some stock?
—It is not known whose that stock is. It is really stock that is dying upon the place—they have nothing to support it.

10878. Then in that case there is no use inquiring?
—Well, I believe it would be very difficult to determine accurately to whom it belongs.

10879. Where is it that this stock lives or starves as you describe it?
—Upon the pasture of the place.

10880. Is any rent paid for that?
—I believe a little is paid.

10881. To whom?
—To the crofter that gives permission to them.

10882. Where does the wintering come from?
—It is very difficult to tell—scouring the country to get a bit of fodder from one there and here as one can buy it.

10883. I understand that what you want is more ground?
—We cannot do without land anyhow.

10884. What was the ground you set your hearts upon?
—We don't care except to get land that will yield crops.

10885. You mentioned first a piece of land which you had right to, and then you mentioned Vatersay. Why was it that you wanted to get?
— It is the island of Vatersay that the crofters specially wanted. I don't know whether the crofters particularly wanted it.

10886. What stock does Vatersay carry?
—I cannot say.

10887. Do you think that the Castle Bay tenants would be able to purchase the stock of Vatersay, or to put a full stock on Vatersay ?—Yes, that was their opinion.

No comments:

Post a Comment