Breasclete, Lewis, 5 June 1883 - Norman Macphail

NORMAN MACPHAIL, Crofter, Upper Carloway (64)—examined

14922. The Chairman.
—This is the statement on the part of the people of Upper Carloway :
—At a meeting of the crofters of Carloway on the 21st ult, it was agreed to lay the following statement of their grievances before the Royal Commission. Our principal grievance is overcrowding and curtailment of holdings, without corresponding reduction of rent. Thirty-one years ago, there were only twenty-four crofters in our township paying an aggregate rental of £80. There are to-day sixty families, exclusive of paupers. Since the year 1852, or thereabout, our holdings have been considerably curtailed by the gradual formation of new lots out of our common or outrun. At present the number of such new lots amounts to IS, paying a rental of £40. Though so many new lots have been formed out of our common, and the cattle of the holders of these new lots allowed to graze on our pasture laud, no reduction whatever has been made on our rent. The holders of these new lots came for the most part from districts that were cleared in order to make room for sheep farms. Our pasture land is very much damaged by another township cutting peats on it. The estate compelled us to work 180 days at making a road, to enable the people of the township referred to to reach their own peatground, and after all they are allowed to cut their peats on our pasture land. For the last thirty years we have been compelled by the estate to send aU our grain to be ground at Breasclete mill, six miles distant. We had two mills of our own at Carloway, but the estate ordered them to be destroyed. We, in common with the people of the surrounding townships of Borrowston, Knock and Garinin, who also send their grain to Breasclete mill, are thus deprived of about the eighth part of our grain, between mill dues and our own trouble and expense in going to Breasclete. The extent of our holdings, including cultivable land and pasture land, is scarcely two miles long and one mile wide. In 1871 the population of our township was 310. On account of the small size of our lots, we crop the whole of them every year, though we are well aware that such perpetual cropping is calculated to render the soil less productive. The yield of grain from our crofts is not sufficient to supply our families with food. Generally we require to buy on an average ten bolls of meal, while this year we need about eighteen bolls on an average. Our comforts and chances of livelihood as crofters could easily and conveniently be secured by annexing Dalmore to our present small holdings. Dalmore was at one time inhabited by fourteen families, all of whom were removed, and the place given to a tacksman. As Dalmore is contiguous to our township, we would be prepared any time to give for it the same rent that the present tenant gives for it.

14923. Is Dallmore held by a single tacksman, or is it united to a large tack?
—It is joined to Dallbeg under one tacksman—John Sinclair.

14924. Are you obliged to carry your grain to be ground at the mill?

14925. Could you have it ground at any other mill if you pleased ?
—No. Querns are still used in some of our houses. If we did not do so, we could not live.

14926. Have you anything further to state that is not mentioned in the paper?
—Nothing more.

14927. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Is the meal equally well done in the old mills as in the new one ?
—The old mills ground our meal as well and much better than the new one.

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