Meavaig, Lewis, 4 June 1883 - Angus Macarthur

ANGUS MACARTHUR, Crofter, Kirkibost, Bernera (55)—examined.

14053. The Chairman.
—Were you freely elected a delegate ?

14054. Have you any statement to make on the part of the people of Kirkibost ?
—Yes. We were formerly at Bosta, in the north end of the island, and all the lots in that part of the island, when I was there, were rented at £3, 10s. When I left it the rent I paid was £4, 17s. 6d. There were twenty-two families in the township, of whom twelve were in the rental book. We were so crowded there that we did not know what to do. The cottars that were with us there were in such a state that they reduced us to the same state as themselves. We then spoke to the tacksman on the south side of the island, Mr Macdonald, to make an exchange with us, and when Mr Mackenzie and Mr Mackay heard of it they met with us here at Meavaig. The exchange we wanted could not be made, but we were to get Kirkibost, which Mr Mackenzie had. When we removed to Kirkibost the whole stock we had was reduced in the proportion of five to three of the sheep, and there was one year kept from us of the cattle. The place we had was so dear that we had two meetings with Mr Mackay, and we were refusing to take the summing he was putting upon us. We then went home and put our heads together, and determined to send two of us to Stornoway to see Mr Mackay, and get relieved from the summing he was putting upon us, and I was one of the two. We argued with him how small the summing was. He would give us no more, and so we took what he offered. Wre came that year to Kirkibost. It had been fifty-seven years fallow, and we were taking in the ground during the whole winter, and we did not get one stone of meal of assistance. We were wanting also the island which had formerly belonged to Kirkibost, but we could not get it, and we understood also that £20 had been added to the rent of it, which Mr Macaulay had been paying before. (See Appendix A, XLI) We had been paying £48 of rent in Bosta, and in Kirkibost £120, and we have not a foot of hill pasture on that island more than we had before at Bosta. When we were at Bosta we had to erect a dyke between ourselves and the forest, and we could not put a beast upon it till that dyke was made, the extent of which was calculated to be from five to six miles. We took ashore our boats, ou which we lived, and all the men and women had to go and work at that dyke. One shilling a yard was promised us for making that dyke, and we never got anything for it. It was also promised that a paling should be erected ou the top of the wall, which was never done. We have not been allowed to send our cattle or sheep to the pasture enclosed by that wall. That was pasture we got in exchange from Sir James. He took our former summer pasture from us, and we got this pasture in exchange.

14055. How long is it since you or your people came from Bosta to Kirkibost ?
—Four years.

14056. Did you leave Bosta voluntarily, or were you obliged to leave it ?
—We were obliged to leave it because we were overcrowded.

14057. But still you were not turned out ?

14058. You came voluntarily to Kirkibost ?

14059. You say you made a fence or dyke round the ground at Bosta to prevent the deer coming in ?
—It is on the mainland. It is not on the island at all; it is on the mainland where we had our summer grazing.

14060. You made a dyke round the summer grazing between yourselves and the forest ?

14061. Did the people of the township make it all at their own cost?
—Yes, all the islanders,

14062. Did they get no wages for it ?
—Not a penny.

14063. Was that an efficient fence against the deer ?
—Yes, but the wind and weather were taking it down for some years.

14064. Did the factor promise that a paling should be put on the top?
—We were told that by the ground officer.

14065. When it was not done, did you ask the ground officer to have it done ?

14066. Why did you not ask him?
—We were understanding there was no use doing that.

14067. When you left Bosta, did you get any compensation on account of the fence ?

14068. Did you ask for any?
—Not that I know of.

14069. When you came to Kirkibost four years ago, and entered the ground at Kirkibost, did you pay rent for the first year, or was the first year given you free ?
—We paid the first year we came to Kirkibost at the rate of Bosta which we had left.

14070. Was there anybody living at Kirkibost, or did you build your own houses?
—We built all our own houses.

14071. Did you bring the roofs of the houses from Bosta?

14072. Did the factor give you any assistance to build the new houses ?
—Not a penny.

14073. He gave you no assistance ?

14074. Was there any road to Kirkibost?

14075. Did you ask for a road?
—This year; but it was to the school we asked it.

14076. At Kirkibost how many families are there now living?

14077. All paying rent to the proprietor?
—All paying rent

14078. Have you got a full share ?

14079. How much do you pay?
—£9 of rent besides taxes.

14080. What is your summing? How many beasts do you keep?
—I had six cows.

14081. How many sheep?

14082. Horses?

14083. Any other beasts?
—Yes, there are two or three younger.

14084. Have you got the shore of the sea?

14085. Plenty of sea-ware?
-—We don't complain of that at all.

14086. Do you consider the rent at Kirkibost higher than the rent that used to be paid at Bosta ?

14087. Why did you come to Kirkibost?
—We came that our neighbours might get some relief, as there was more ground for us.

14088. Is there any ground on the tack which courd be given to you? Are you near a tack at Kirkibost ?
—No, we are on an island.

14089. Have you got the whole island?

14090. Who has got the rest of it?
—There are three other villages, and there are two villages under tacks.

14091. Do you fish

14092. Has the proprietor helped you with boats or nets?
—No, not the least.

14093. What is it you wish to have now?
—That the people should get land.

14094. Which land?
—The land that is not cultivated in the parish; and that we would get summer grazing for our stock, and that we would get our rent reduced. If not, we would be worse than ever.

14095. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh
—How many people are upon the island of Bernera altogether ?
—I cannot tell.

14096. Will there be 500?
—I believe there are more.

14097. And it is all occupied by crofters and small tenants?
—Yes, except the village we left and another village.

14098. Who has got these two places?
—Mr Mackenzie, Linshader, got Bosta and Macdonald got Croir.

14099. If you got back these two places, would they help you?
—Yes, a little.
14100. Some years ago there was a little disturbance in Bernera ?

14101. What was it?
—That we were all summoned out of our holdings and the summer grazing, and we could not make out why in the world this was done to us. There was not a penny of arrears in the island. And we do not know what would have become of us if we had not gone to Sir James.

14102. You never got any satisfactory reason why they intended to take these things from you ?
—The best idea we had was that they expected to take this grazing from us, and give it to some of the tacksmen that were in the island.

14103. How many of you went to Stornoway Castle in a body?
—Between 300 and 400.

14104. And did you go?
—Yes, I was speaking to Sir James.

14105. And you have not been troubled about your grazings again ?

14106. You never heard more about it?

14107. What can you sell of your stock in a year out of your six cows and followers and eight sheep ?
—I could not sell more than one three-yearold, and if I sell that in the condition I am now I will suffer for it

14108. Suppose you were obliged to sell it, what would you get for it in the market ?
—I got £ 5 for a three-year-old last year. I have not sold any this year.

14109. You cannot afford to sell any sheep?
—No, if I had money I would buy them.

14110. Do you make your rent of £ 9 out of your land?
—No, I am only taking it out of the sea in the summer time.

14111. Do you go to the fishing upon payment, or have you a boat of your own ?
—I don't go now. I used to go to the east coast, but now I cannot go because I must be working at the lobster fishing.

14112. Although you are representing here the township of Kirkibost, I suppose what you are saying is very much the position of all the people of Bernera ?
—Yes, about the summer grazing and about the fence.

14113. Have you got a church on the island?
—Yes, one that was built two or three years ago.

14114. Is there a clergyman regularly settled there?
—No, there is a missionary there at this time of the year.

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