Benbecula, 29 May 1883 - John Mcdonald

JOHN M'DONALD, Gramisdale (75)—examined.

12191. The Charman.—Have you been freely elected by your people?

12192. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—How many crofters are living in your township ?
—I am of opinion that there are seventeen or eighteen.

12193. Are there any cottars ?
—I am not aware that there are any.

12194. What are they complaining of in your township ?
—We are complaining of the smallness of our holdings.

12195. Anything else ?
—The kelp with which we used to pay our rent is not now manufactured by us.

12196. Do you mean your rent is too dear ?

12197. Was any of your grazing land taken from you?

12198. What became of it ?
—It was added to the tack of Nunton.

12199. How long was this ago?
—Some forty years ago.

12200. Did you get any reduction of rent in consequence ?

12201. How many crofters were in Gramisdale in your younger days ?
—I am not quite sure of that, because I was brought up in the town of Griminish.

12202. But at the time you first knew it?
—Only three or four when I first recollect the place.

12203. How did this great increase arise, from three or four to seventeen or eighteen ? Were there people put in upon you from other places ?
—They were in this country at first.

12204. Did any come from any other township ?

12205. How many came from any other township apart from the natural increase ?
—I am not quite sure.

12206. Would half of them come from the outside ?
—No, not the half.

12207. How long have you been in this township itself?
—Twelve years.

12208. Were the people better off then than they are now?
—Yes, they were better off than they are now.

12209. Is the township generally poor?
—The vast majority of them are as poor as it is possible for them to be. The children of school age who ought to be attending school are sent out to the north ford to gather cockles for food.

12210. Were you aware there was some money collected by charitable people in the large cities for behoof of the people in destitute circumstances ?
—We did not hear a word of it.

12211. And I presume therefore, you did not get any?
—I am not aware we got any of it.

12212. Do any newspapers come to any of the people or to any public place ?
—There is no one in my township sufficiently well off to pay for a newspaper.

12213. Do you often travel from your own township, or do you just hear what is passing in your own township?
—It is very seldom indeed that I go on any journey from home.

12214. Do you go to hear Father M'Coll or any other Roman Catholic clergyman ?
—I don't belong to the Catholic communion. I know perfectly well there is a large portion of the population of Benbecula who are unable to attend church, either Protestant or Catholic, for want of proper clothing and shoes.

12215. Do you go to church?

12216. What clergyman do you attend?
—The minister of the parish, Mr Roderick Macdonald.

12217. How often does he come to Benbecula?
—Once a fortnight or once in three weeks.

12218. Is there any catechist regularly resident in the island?
—I am not aware that there is.

12219. Mr Cameron.—Is there any work going on at the place where you live ?

12220. How long is it since there was any?
—I am not aware that there was any work since four years ago, except some little that is done about the tile work.

12221. Do your neighbours sell any of their stirks ?
—I don't know.

12222. Do you not sell any cattle at all ?
—Not this year.

12223. But you do so in other years ?
—I sold last year.

12224. Who buys them ?
—Ordinary drovers on the market.

12225. Do they come round here once or twice a year?
—They come about the summer market and also the September market.

12226. Where is the market held?
—About one mile north of this—in the island.

12227. Is there any competition for your cattle, or do you depend only on one or two drovers ?
—Plenty of drovers come.

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