Breasclete, Lewis, 5 June 1883 - John Mackenzie

JOHN MACKENZIE, Crofter, Callernish (60)—examined.

14879. The Chairman.
—You have a written statement ?
—Yes. The Callernish Crofters complain of being deprived of two points of their ground, namely, Orosay and Aird, since a long time, and still paying rent for it, as also muir and pasture in common given it to Carloway people. Twenty-eight crofts taken from us and others put on them, some from Garrynahine, and some from Uig, and still the rent rising. Nothing but dykes on every side of us. The crofters must keep the half of them up, or else the factor will take money from them at rent time for it. This township's former rent was £60 ; now its £118. A few years ago, paid for liberty of collecting whelks, and sending them to market south, £15 rent. We are living yet at Callernish that can testify on oath with clear conscience that our eyes saw this taken from us, if we are wanted to do this.

14880. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Do they gather whelks at Callernish yet ?
—Yes, they gather all they can. They think them little enough.

14881. Does anybody ask them rent for that right now?
—I have not been asked to pay rent myself, but I have heard others say they have, and I think some of them are perhaps here.

14882. How many families are there in Callernish?
—About sixty.

14883. Have they any other means of livelihood except this land for which they are paying £118?
—We have nothing else to live upon here, except the help that some of our young people give that go fishing.

14884. How long is it since they lost the land which is spoken of here as taken from them ?
—I barely remember when Aird was taken from them.

14885. It will be fifty years ago?

14886. And the rest of it was taken before that?
—Yes. Orosay was taken from us some little time before that.

14887. When were these Gara-na-hine and Uig people put upon your crofts ?
—Twenty-one years ago.

14888. Why were they taken from Gara-na-hine and Uig?
—I don't know.

14889. Who got the land round Gara-na-hine and Uig?
—It is now a part of the land of the innkeeper, and another part of it is a park occupied by the doctor.

14890. How long has your rent stood at £118 ?
—For a long time.

14891. And what you want is more land at a reasonable rent I suppose ?
—Yes. We have no pasture at all, only the ground that we till. Our cow must go three miles before she can bend her head to grass.

14892. Who has the grass above Callernish ?
—It is in the hands of Mr Macrae. I have to say further that there was no reduction of our rent when the Aird was taken from as.

14893. Then the £118 has stood since that time?
—There was no reduction of our rent when the Reef people was sent in upon us and the Aird was taken from us. There are some of us, of whom I am one, who have within the last thirty years, when we got these new lands, taken in and reclaimed new ground, which we have done our best to make productive, but we have no grass.

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