Meavaig, Lewis, 4 June 1883 - John Ferguson

JOHN FERGUSON, Crofter, Carishader (67)—examined.

14367. The Chairman.
—Were you freely elected a delegate?

14368. Have you got a statement to make on behalf of the people of Carishader?
—Yes. They complain that when the township was lotted out the rent was about £28. Some of the lots were as low as 8s. each, and it was arranged that those who paid only 8s. of rent should be raised to £ 1 , so that they might carry some stock more or less. There was a piece at the end of the town which was not calculated in the lots, and it was arranged afterwards that this should be added to the smaller portion of the lots, and that no rent should be paid till they took a crop out of it, because it was uncultivated ground. Now this portion was valued at £ 1 , and belonged to the township. It was taken from them, and added to another place, and they pay the £ 1 to this day. Old men told me that the township had it for sixty-five years at a rent of £ 1 , and the lots that paid formerly 8s. and 12s. now pay, the one £2, 6s. and the other £2, 7s. Again, six or seven years ago, although we ourselves had such small holdings—one having £1 worth and another 6s. or 7s. worth—a man was brought in upon us, and given a place upon the other end of the township. The passage that our cattle had for going from the township to the hill grazing was given to this man, but we continued to send the cattle through this passage as of old. We did not wish to be deprived of this portion, though we could bear to be deprived of the rest. The men that were sending their cattle by this passage were sent to Stornoway, and had to pay £6 there for trespass.

14369. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Where did the man come from who was put in upon you ?
—An Irishman.

14370. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Is he there yet?

14371. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—What was his employment?
—A hawker.

14372. Was it by the factor that the hawker was settled there ?
—It was the factor told us he set him there.

14373. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—How many people are there in this township altogether?
—Seventeen families.

14374. When was it originally lotted out?
—About thirty-five years ago.

14375. How many people were there then?
—There were eight before that time. It was made into twelve lots then.

14376. Do they complain of overcrowding ?
—Yes, that is the complaint. How can it be otherwise, when the poor people cannot get either food or clothing out of it?

14377. Do some of the young men go away to earn wages?
—Every one that can move.

14378. Have you yourself been in the habit of moving?
—Yes, I have ten of a family. I have been thirty years going though the whole country to obtain a livelihood.

14379. Are they in arrears of rent in the township?
—No, I am not aware the town is one penny in arrears.

14380. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Have you any sheep ground away from the township altogether, away on the hill ?
—Yes, we have some away in that way. They are all mixed up in that district.

14381. There is a common hill ground for the sheep of the whole district ?

14382. Then have you cows grazing nearer hand that belong to the individual township?
—Nothing outside the fence. Once we send them outside the crofts, then they are upon the hill pasture—cows and sheep together.

14383. Do they not send the sheep away from the crofts altogether to this hill in the distance ?
—We keep a man standing in front of the arable ground to keep them away from the crofts.

14384. I see the sheep all down upon the low pastures? Would it not be right at this time of the year, to send the sheep up into the hill ground ?
—We are not allowed to send them there.

14385. I thought you said you had a large common hill ground?
—We cannot very well do that. Supposing we should send a man with a dog to chase them away any considerable distance from our arable ground, they would be sure to be over our march upon the neighbouring tack, and the tacksman's shepherd would poind them.

14386. Have you got the hill fully stocked, as much as the hill will carry ?
—Rather overstocked than otherwise.

14387. If you had more arable land, then, you would not be able to keep more cattle?
—No, unless we get more pasture, though it would be a great advantage to get it, still without more hill pasture we could not keep more stock.

[Mr Mackay.—It was stated that it was for trespass that the people were fined £6. It was no such thing. The people assaulted the Irishman while he was building a dyke, and it was a fiscal matter before the sheriff, with which I had nothing to do.]

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