Barvas, Lewis, 6 June 1883 - Donald Mcleod

DONALD MCLEOD, Crofter and Estate Constable, North Shawbost (62)—examined.

15112. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Who appoints you as constable?
—The ground officer.

15113. What are your duties as constable ?
—To keep the affairs of the township in order.

15114. Your duties are not those of an ordinary policeman ?

15115. Then what otherwise do you do to keep things in order?
—When people quarrel or disagree they require to be looked after, and that is part of my work. If they differ about marches or anything of that sort, it falls within my duty.

15116. Are you left to dispose of those matters yourself, or do you act under authority from the ground officer ?
—If we are able to settle the matter among ourselves, well and good ; if not, we must go to the ground officer to have it settled.

15117. And if anybody is not satisfied with the law which you administer among them, to whom do they appeal ?
—To the ground officer, if the matter affects land or anything of that kind.

15118. And if they are not satisfied with the ground officer's judgment, what do they do then ?
—They go to the factor.

15119. Do they often appeal from you to the ground officer?
—Yes, they do.

15120. And from the ground officer to the factor ?
—I believe they do sometime appeal to the factor also.

15121. Do they ever get your judgments reversed, or those of the ground officer?
—Sometimes. My decision is now and again reversed by the ground officer, but, so far as I have been able to gather, the practice of the factor, when an appeal is made to him against the ground officer, is to remit it back to him for further consideration.

15122. I believe the people think the ground officer is really the most important man for them to have to do with. Is that so ?
—They consider the factor the superior man.

15123. But I suppose, if a man had the judgment of the ground officer against him. he would not have much hope of getting it changed by the factor ?
—I doubt whether he would.

15124. You are a crofter as well as a constable ?

15125. Is that what you get for your services as constable?
—I don't get the croft for my services.

15126. Are you not paid for your services ?
—Very little.

15127. Is it in money or is it only the honour of the thing you get ?
—To tell the truth, I used to hear that when a local constable paid his rent he got back 5s-, but I never got anything.

15128. Is there a constable in every township the same as you are at Shawbost ?

15129. All over the island ?

15130. You were chosen by the people of North Shawbost to represent them here to-day ?

15131. Did they tell you to say anything particular on behalf of them here ?
—The previous witness has brought forward the affairs of both the towns, North and South.

15132. Have you no different complaints in North Shawbost from what they have in South Shawbost ?
—I do not say that the grievances of the two towns are exactly the same, but there is one special matter which affects the whole town that has not been brought forward. I am not sure the practice prevaded in the other portion of the township, but it prevailed in ours, that a certain amount of money was accepted from a man when he was being settled in a croft of new. He paid £ 5 before he got it.

15133. Was that separate from rent?

15134. Do you know any case in which that has been done ?
—I know two men who paid it. They told us in public before all the inhabitants that they did pay it.

15135. How long ago was that ?
—About five years ago—not when the present ground officer was in office.

15136. Will you name those two men and their residence ?
—Kenneth Macrae, North Shawbost, and Colin Macaulay, North Shawbost.

15137. To whom did they pay that £5 ?
—I don't know to whom one of them paid it, but the other man declared that he paid it to the factor. I only repeat what the man said.

15138. Where did these men come from ?
—They were in the place at the time. One was born there. The other man came from the parish of Uig.

15139. Where were the new crofts they got?
—It was not new land they got, it is only when they enter upon possession of a croft.

15140. Was that not for a payment of arrears of rent?
—I can say nothing as to that.

15141. How many families are there in your township of North Shawbost ?
—Ninety-three in both Shawbosts.

15142. How many of these are in North Shawbost?
—Of the ninetythree, forty-eight are in what is called North Shawbost proper, and the rest in New Shawbost.

15143. What rent do you pay yourself?
—About £3. I dont know what the township pays.

15144. Have you any taxes besides that ?
—£2, 11s is the bare rent.

15145. What stock have you?
—Two cows, one stirk, twelve sheep, no horse.

15146. A good many of the other people have horses, have they not?
—Yes, some of them have. There are not near the half of them that have a horse.

15147. Do you do all your tilling with the garden spade?
—Yes, we have disused the crooked spade.

15148. Have all the Shawbost people done so?
—There is not one in the township that uses the cas-chrom.

15149. What sort of soil have you ?
—It is stony, rocky ground ; some moss, some clay.

15150. What crop do you chiefly raise ?
—Potatoes, barley, and oats.

15151. Do you raise enough to keep your two cows ?

15152. You have not to buy any fodder for them ?
—No, I never bought any fodder for them.

15153. Do you raise potatoes enough to feed yourselves during tho most of the year ?
—Some years the potatoes keep us going ; other years we have very little We had nothing to speak of this year.

15154. Have you to buy meal every year?

15155. How many bolls have you bought already since autumn
—[illegible] 9½.

15156. What do you pay for it ?
—18s. per boll for oatmeal.

15157. Which do you use the most, oatmeal or flour ?
—We use both.

15158. Do you use tea in every house in Shawbost ?
—Very little.

15159. But do they use it in every house ?
—Well, there may be some houses where no tea can be found.

15160. I suppose these have milk?
—Some of them may have milk; others of them have not a drop of milk.

15161. How many cottars are there in Shawbost?
—There are very few without land.

15162. How many are there that have no cow ?
—I know only one who has not some head of cattle.

15163. I suppose there are some who have no sheep?
—Yes, there are some without sheep.

15164. Where do these people get their clothes ?
—They buy them.

15165. How do they make the money to buy them ?
—Where there are families who have sons and daughters able to earn money.

15166. Do all the young men go to the fishing?
—Yes, they go to the fishing.

15167. Have you any good fishing at home?
—Very little. We have no proper place for landing.

15168. Would it be possible to make a good place for the boats to come in at Shawbost ?

15169. Could it be done without great expense ?
—I cannot say as to that. I don't think it would be very expensive. There are plenty of stones whatever. They woidd not require to quarry a single stone ; there are plenty on the ground.

15170. Would a rough pier without any hewing or lime be of any use if it were large enough ?
—Yes, it might be of use; but there is no question that it would if it was well fastened and of hewn stone.

15171. Have any of your people in Shawbost big boats in which they go to the herring fishing ?

15172. What do they fish for chiefly?
—They fish for cod and ling.

15173. Who takes the fish from them?
—The curers.

15174. Do the curers provide them with boats and lines?
—Yes, they buy them now from the curers, and get credit till they pay them in fish.

15175. Where are these fish cured ?
—In Stornoway, but there are, one or two local curers.

15176. What is the cost of one of these boats and of a set of lines ?
—I am unable to tell.

15177. What price do they get just now for the cod and ling?
—1s. for the ling and 6d. for the cod.

15178. They are getting much better prices now I suppose than they Donald were getting twenty years ago ?

15179. What was the price then for the ling and cod?
—The ling could be had for 6d. twenty years ago.

15180. And the cod at 3d. ?

15181 Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How long does it take to pay up these boats ?
—In the year before last they bought some old boats, and they paid them within that year.

15182. What size of boats were these ?
—25 feet long, with a crew of seven or eight men,

15183. Is it with long lines that they fish ?

15184. What bait do they use ?
—Eels and herring when they get them.

15185. Where do they get the eels?
—On the lines.

15186. Are they plentiful?
—Yes, they are pretty plentiful

15187. Have they a quay at Shawbost ?

15188. Had they ever a quay there ?
—There was once a sort of quay, but the sea washed it away.

15189. Would they be the better of a similar quay?
—It was not much worth, and it was in a bad place. If a new quay was built, it would be built in a different place.

15190. Is there need of a quay at all, or is there a good enough harbour without it ?
—Yes, there is great need of it, and it would be of great service. There is certainly no good safe place for boats.

15191. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—With regard to the reclaimed land in your township, did the people who got that reclaimed land pay for the expense and the reclamation ultimately, over and above paying their rent ?
—I cannot tell.

15192. Have you ever heard that they did?
—I hear things, but I cannot say what they are unless I am certain.

15193. Did you hear that the total expense of the reclamation that was made was paid by the tenants ultimately over and above what they paid in regular rent?
—I never heard that. The reclaimed land is of two classes. The greater portion of it was done either at the expense of the proprietor or the Government. There are others again here who have reclaimed a bit of land at their own expense.

15194. You have not got any of the new land?
—No, except what I may have reclaimed myself.

15195. Did some of the people in Shawbost get Government meal when they were building houses?
—I heard of some that got meal and some that did not. It was the proprietor who gave the meal, so far as I am aware—at all events, it came through his hands.

15196. Was that meal repaid?
—It was very little they got. I am not aware that they paid it back.

15197. Did you hear it was paid back?
—No. I know that the little I got myself when I was building my house I never paid back.

15198. About the £5 which you say you heard was paid by two men, did they get any equivalent for the £5 ?
—One of them told me he never got a penny.

15199. Did he not receive buildings, or did he pay anything to the outgoing man for the timber or otherwise ?
—One of the men is my own next door neighbour. He came in upon the place of a man who had run into arrears. He built a new house himself upon that place, and the former tenant is there still, sitting in the old house on the same property. I don't know whether he had made any arrangement with that tenant.

15200. To whom was it that the man gave the money ?
—To the factor.

15201. What factor?
—He told me it was to the factor. Tho thing occurred five years ago

15202. Is the man here?
—I don't think he is.

15203. What is his name?
—Kenneth Macrae.

15204. Was there a rumour through Shawbost that some time ago the former ground officer was in the habit of exacting those sums on his own account without the knowledge of his superiors ?
—It was the ground officer that actually imposed this sum of money upon that man, but he himself says it was for the factor. [Question repeated.] I used to hear a rumour of that kind, but I cannot say for certain that there was any foundation for it.

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