Breasclete, Lewis, 5 June 1883 - George Smith

GEORGE SMITH, Crofter, Callernish (70)—examined.

14894. The Chairman.
—It is stated in the memorial submitted to us from Callernish that a few years ago a charge was made for collecting whelks upon the shore, and that a sum of £15 was paid as rent for doing so. Have you any knowledge of that ?
—Donald M'lver, who wrote the paper we have given in, has himself told me that he paid money, and that the sum charged for the liberty of collecting whelks was £15.

14895. How long ago was that?
—I cannot say exactly—a dozen years at any rate.

14896. Was it since Sir Jamea Matheson became proprietor of the island ?

14897. Did you yourself ever pay?
—No. I used to collect whelks, but I paid nothing for the liberty of doing so. I sold them to M'lver before mentioned, and he was charged that tax as a licence for taking them,

14898. Then the people who collected them on the shore were never made to pay ?
—We had nothing to pay.

14899. Were you and the other crofters allowed to sell the whelks to anybody you pleased, or were you obliged to sell them to M'lver ?
—We were allowed to sell them only to the men who paid the duty for the privilege.

14900. Were you at liberty to take them and consume them yourself, without paying anything ?

14901. Does that system still continue, or is it all done away with?
—It is still maintained.

14902. Who at the present time is the tacksman to whom you sell the whelks ?
—There is another man this year buying the whelks; a man named Neil Mackay used to buy them.

14903. When the Gara-na-hine people were brought to Callernish, were they settled on arable ground of other crofters or upon hill pasture ?
—Not upon the arable ground, but upon grass. Their lots were cut out of our grass.

14904. Were the lots prepared and trenched for them by the proprietor?
—No, they did it themselves.

14905. Was no preparation made for them by the proprietor?
—Nothing. Some lots were cut out where we had our peat ground, and we were obliged to go elsewhere for our peats, and our peats are now nearly exhausted.

14906. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Has any money been laid out by the proprietor for this township of Callernish during the last twenty years ?
—I never knew that he spent a penny upon it. Our grazing was taken from us and we were then obliged to build a dyke between ourselves aud the pasture that we have. A cow must go three miles before she can bend her head.

14907. In those circumstances I presume a cow that has to travel six miles will not give very much milk ?
—No. We complained once or twice to the factor to restore the grass that was our own, and I believe he was minded at one time to do so, but the thing fell out that it was joined to another bit of land, which was the best of the place, and made into a small tack occupied by Mr Macrae.

14908. The Chairman.
—What is the rent of that tack?
—I don't know. When the grazing was taken from us, we were asked to value it before the chamberlain. He told us that we would either get the grazing or a reduction according to the value of it from our rent, which we valued at £10, but we have not got either.

14909. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Would you give £ 10 to get it back?
—We would indeed be very glad to do so. I had ten hoggs this year, and I lost them all for want of grass.

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