Breasclete, Lewis, 5 June 1883 - Donald Macdonald

DONALD MACDONALD, Crofter and Fisherman, Dun of Carloway (50)—examined.

14697. The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected by the people of Dun of Carloway

14698. Have you got a statement to make to the Commission?
—Yes, a verbal statement.

14699. Will you be so good as to make it?
—We, the people of Dun of Carloway, were in a township at the other end of the parish of Uig, called Mangersta. Now, a shepherd lives there. Our ancestors were there for 110 years. It was as good land as was in the whole countryside, but the sea destroyed their crofts now and again. No tacksman in the country would have cows and sheep better than ours, or that would secure higher prices at market. We were thus enabled to keep ourselves going from year to year without falling into any debt whatever. In one year, in particular, our crofts were destroyed by the sea, and we asked the Rev. Mr Campbell, the Free Church minister of Uig, to speak to Sir James Matheson in order to get an exchange from Mangersta, where we were, to Dun of Carloway, where we now are. This township of Dun of Carloway was for the space of nineteen years before that under sheep. A tacksman gave up the place that year. The proprietor had brought in five parks before that time above the dwelling-houses, right across the township. There was a slated house, a barn, and a byre built there. When we went to arrange with Mr Munro, the chamberlain, about an exchange of township, this matter of the parks and the steading stood in the way of our being able to agree. We returned to Mangersta, a distance of thirty miles, on foot, without coming to terms. Then we were asked to go to Stornoway. We went to Stornoway, and agreed there; and Mr Mackay, our present chamberlain, was witness of our agreement. He gave us the township as it was held by the previous tenant, with the exception of four out of five of the parks and the steading—that is, the slated house, the byre, and the barn. We were afraid that people might come and occupy these parks, and that to our injury, and because we knew what set of people the shepherds were long before—what a bad set they were—we were afraid of them. He promised to us that these parks and that steading would not stand in our way in any way whatever, and that he would fence them round, so that what was within the fence would be within and what would be without the fence would be without. There were two men sent from Gara-na-hine, who got one of these parks to each man. The fence was never set up. It has not been put up to this day. These two men began to pasture their stock upon our grazings for which we paid rent. Mr Munro, the chamberlain, gave us a written agreement. When these two men from Gara-na-hine began to encroach upon us with their cattle, we went to the chamberlain. The first thing ho asked us was to produce the written agreement. Well, the agreement was sent for and produced. He read the paper to us Mangersta people and the two Garana-hine people as well. When he read the paper, he told those two men that they had nothing to get except those two parks. The two men said that if they got nothing but that they might as well go away. Mr Munro told them that was the agreement, and if they were not pleased with it to go. He put the agreement into his pocket, and we have not seen it since.

14700. How many years is it since all this occurred?
—We came eleven years ago, and this occurred about eight years ago.

14701. Does the same difficulty still exist, or have you settled it?
—The end of it is, that these two men with all their stock are still a burden upon us and upon our grazings, with the authority of the proprietor. Our land pasture up to one hundred sheep in winter, and they have reduced to such an extent that no one can believe what a state of poverty we have been brought into.

14702. When you came to the farm of Dun from Mangersta you found Dun had been under a tack. What was the rent paid by the tacksman for Dun?
—About £80.

14703. How much is paid now under the crofters ?
—If you include these two Gara-na-hine men of whom I have spoken

14704. Excluding these two men?
—The crofters pay about £75, exclusive of these two men.

14705. How much do these men pay?
—They pay £9 between them. The ground officer has the rest, the house and steading, and two of the parks, but I don't know how much he pays. The ground officer has not injured us in any way.

14706. The ground officer lives in a good house, and has two good parks ?

14707. How many parks had these two men?
—A park each.

14708. About how much is each park?
—About six acres.

14709. What class of men are these two men ? Are they just crofters like yourselves?
—They are the same, except that they have money.

14710. What stock do these two men keep?
—One of them has over forty sheep, and the other has nearly forty sheep. They have each one horse, and each have six or seven heads of cattle.

14711. And your complaint is that these two men are allowed to run their cattle and their sheep upon the common pasture, which ought to be reserved for the crofters alone?
—That is our complaint.

14712. But do you complain that they are allowed to run any cattle or any sheep, or is the complaint that they run too many of both kinds ?
—Our complaint is twofold. We consider they have no right to put any stock there, and at any rate they have too much stock there. We think our own stock could overstock it.

14713. How many crofters are there now paying rent outside of those two ?
—Twenty-one are on the rent roll.

14714. How many complete crofts are there ?
—There is one upon which there are four families, and there are two subdivided—under twenty-one families.

14715. Have you a full croft or half a croft?
—A full croft.

14716. About what extent of arable ground have you?
—Judging by the size of these parks which are said to contain six acres, my croft would be about three years.

14717. What stock do you keep?
—I have no sheep at all. I have one cow and two young ones; I have no horse.

14718. Is that your summing, or is it what you actually possess?
—The summing would be three milk cows, three stirks, and fifteen sheep.

14719. Do any of the crofters possess that amount of stock?
—Yes, but there is some of them who pay £6 of rent.

14720. How much is the rent for the summing of three cows, three stirks, and fifteen sheep ?
—£3 of bare rent is my own croft, for which that is the summing.

14721. Why have you got no sheep ?
—The excellent sheep which I had In Mangersta, nineteen in number, I brought there, and they all died on that ground. I have not been able to buy any since that time.

14722. Have you represented to the factor your claim that these two men should not put any stock on the pasture ?
—We have twice sent a petition to Stornoway.

14723. What answer does the factor give?
—I could not exactly say what answer we got, but we did not get the pasture.

14724. Is this question of the pasture your only complaint, or have you any other complaint ?
—This is the only complaint for which I was sent here.

14725. The Chairman.
—Have you anything else to state?
—I have to say that there are very many people upon our places. There are twentyseven crofters there to-day. I don't see how they can live at all. It is sufficiently plain that they cannot live by the fishing, and that they cannot live by the amount of land they have.

14726. How many families are there altogether upon your township?
—Twenty-six or twenty-seven.

14727. Including the two men who have parks?
—Yes, but excluding the ground officer.

14728. Are there any cottars or dependants?
—There are not any without more or less of land, but there are some on the land not on the rent roll.

14729. When you came to Dun from Mangersta did the proprietor assist to build your new houses?
—Not a penny.

14730. Did you bring the wood for the roofs with you?
—Yes, and it was a difficult task.

14731. Has the proprietor done any improvements in building dykes or anything else
—Nothing whatever since we came there. He built fences round the parks of the ground officer, but none round us.

14732. Were those fences put up during the tack, or during the crofters time?
—The dykes were built before we came.

14733. Have any of the people availed themselves of the regulations of the estate with the respect to building better houses ?
—We built houses as well as we could. We know the regulations of the estate on that matter, and we built the houses as well as we were able.

14734. But have any of them since availed themselves of the printed regulations in regard to building better houses or improving houses ?
—These regulations were read to us four years ago, and since that time we have improved our dwellinghouses to some extent.

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