South Uist, 28 May 1883 - Donald Mackinnon

DONALD M'KINNON, Crofter, Garraheille (about 45)—examined.

11049. The Chairman.
Have you been freely elected a delegate by the people of Garraheille ?

11050. Do you wish to make a statement?
—I was born at Dalebroge. I remember from the time people were settled down there,—at the time which the former delegate spoke of, the removals for the tack of Chisholm, and when the people were squatted here upon our lands. We have never experienced that we got any reduction of rents for those squatters. The lands upon which these people were squatted belonged to the township of Dalebroge. I am resident iu Garraheille, but have beeu only seven years there. The complaint belongs to Dalebroge.

11051. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—How many people were placed upon Dalebroge ?
—The number which the former delegate gave.

11052. But there were only forty altogether. How many of the forty were put upon Dalebroge ?
—I cannot remember how many came, but they were comiug from all quarters upon that land which belonged to Dalebroge. I was only a young boy at the time.

11053. What rent were you paying before these people came? How much per croft?
—We were paying £ 4 for the half of a croft.

11054. And although these people were put in and squatted upon you, you got no reduction of rent ?
—I never experienced that we got any reduction.

11055. There was no rise, I presume?
—I am not aware there was.

11056. Did you get any increase of your hill land when these people were put on ?

] 1057. What rent are you payiug for the place you are in at present?
—I pay £ 2 , 8s. of rent.

11058. Is it a croft or half a croft ?
—Half a croft.

11059. What stock do you keep upon that half croft?
—A cow and a horse, and a yearling horse, and a calf, and a stirk.

11060. Have you any sheep?
—One sheep.

11061. Have you any hill ground except at the will of the neighbouring tacksmen ?
—Small bits between lochs, between peat banks. That is supposed to belong to us. It will not support any animal, but we occasionally send them there.

11062. What are the people of Garraheille exactly complaining of? What would they like to have?
—A few of them are satisfied with lots of land which have been recently increased.

11063. Some of the lots have been increased ?
—Yes ; some of those in my township have recently acquired increased lots of land, and they are satisfied.

11064. Why did they not all get increased lots?
—They were not able to stock them or pay rent for them.

11065. From what laud did the people get the increased lots?
—From the township.

11066. Where was it cut off from?
—Two of them got pieces from the side of the tack off Askernish. Others had less than they had before, and
others had more than they had before. Some got it by the reducing of their neighbours' lots.

11067. I suppose in consequence of inability to pay their rents?

11068. How many families are there in Garraheille?
—Ten families for a long time payiug rent. One or two recently settled down there.

11069. The Chairman.
Are there any cottars ?
—The two families whom I mention now are cottars, and it is for those that the lands were taken off the neighbouring tack.

11070. What are the rent and stock of the crofters who have been enlarged and who appear to be satisfied? What is the biggest rent that is paid by any one ?
—I don't know the rent or the acreage.

11071. Or the stock?
—I cannot speak with certainty.

11072. Have they got five cows?
—One of the tenants of the large lots has just one cow, one stirk, a mare, and a year-old horse.

11073. Professor Mackinnon.—What stock has the other tenant?
—I think the other has four cows and three or four followers

11074. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—How many horses altogether?
—Two horses and a year-old.

11075. Any sheep?
—I don't know anything about sheep, but I know there are sheep.

11076. Have you any idea what the rent is these two brothers pay between them ?
—Perhaps they don't themselves know, as the lots were only cut out last harvest.

11077. Was the factor willing to give land to enlarge the crofts to the whole of the people if they were able to take them?
—The factor was desirous to give according to their ability to take land.

11078. Do you go away and fish now, or endeavour to get a little money so as to improve your position ?
—I was not accustomed to fish, but I was accustomed to be a railway navvy or any other labour about quays and docks, and I think I will require to take to that labour this year.

11079. Don't you think it would be wise for you to go vigorously into it, when the factor is kind enough to offer additional land so as to earn a little money ?
—Our land is so small that we cannot live upon it. If the land we had was sufficiently large, as our parents had it, and from which our parents took their food, it would be then worth while to work upon it, and we would also take our food upon it, and we would not be necessitated to labour out of the country.

11080. But my question was, seeing you have the prospect of getting land, is it not worth while to go and labour in the south and gather money for the purpose ?

11081. And then, of course, when you got a larger croft, you would not require to leave home ?
—My forefathers were accustomed to be supported in the country; they were never obliged to go to earn money in the south, but had plenty of sheep, grain, meal, aud food of all kinds. At home even at this time of the year, and after this time.

11082. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.—Was the size of your lot changed this year?
—My lot was made less this year.

11033. Do you know if your rent has been reduced, or to what extent it has been reduced ?
—We don't know yet about these matters. Sufficient time has not elapsed to enable us to know whether our rents are reduced or not.

11084. Did you not expect, when the size of your lots was changed, to be told the amount of change that would take place in the rent ?
—I cannot tell. I believe that the rent will be less on account of the reduction.

11085. You say your forefathers were accustomed to have plenty of food. I suppose you allude to the time before the potato disease came into the country ?
—Yes, before the potato failure.

11086. Even the same land would not produce the same crop at the present day?
—Yes, it would yield as much crop.

11087. Are you getting as good potato crops as you used to get in the old time ?
—Yes, with rare exceptions.

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