Meavaig, Lewis, 4 June 1883 - William Mackay

WILLIAM MACKAY, Chamberlain on the Lewis Estates (56)—examined.

13926. The Chairman.
—You may probably have some statement which you wish to make in consequence of what has passed to-day ?
—There are a few things I wish to make a remark about. I wish to explain about this kain money and the 5s. that have been spoken of. At the time the estate was purchased by Sir James Matheson the rent was estimated to be about £9000 odd, and each crofter paid 5s. or a week's labour at roads or mill dams, or carriages for churches or manses, or anything of that kind, which Seaforth had converted into a payment of 5s. That was paid by the tenants previous to 1844, as Seaforth's books which I have can show. The kain money it seems was an old custom of bringing a couple of fowls and a dozen of eggs to the laird, which Seaforth converted into a payment of 1s. It was continued to be exacted, either a week's labour or the payment of 1s., for some years. Sometimes the week's labour was expended in the way of making the township's roads. About the time the Valuation Act came into operation, or some years after that, it was represented to the factor for the time being that this 5s. and the Is. of kain money should be added to the rental and returned in the valuation roll. Accordingly it was added to the rent. Suppose a man were paying £1 of rent, he was paying 5s. and Is., making £ 1 , 6s. It is only £ 1 that would be returned in the valuation roll, but it was represented that the 6s. should be included in the valuation roll, which was done, and it is now included in the rent. About the years 1850-51-52 the whole island was lotted. It was formerly on the run-rig system—at least a great part of the island—and then it was lotted by Mr Cameron, an assistant to the factor at that time. Most of the townships were lotted, and after that I maintain there was no increase of rent.

13927. In whose time was the lotting done ?
—In Sir James Matheson's time, 1850—51—52. There have been townships in which there was some Government drainage money expended, on which they are paying interest. One man talked about the fence at Breanish which was put up by the destitution meal. They were not charged 4s. for that, but there was Government money expended on fencing, for which they were charged interest. As to the total increase upon the crofters since 1844 with the 5s. and 1s. added, the rental to-day is only £89, 3s. Id. higher than it was then upon the crofters. The increase upon the tacksmen, which, of course, includes the interest on dwelling houses and offices that were built for them, is £401, 2s. 8d.

13928. What is the aggregate increase from the time Sir James Matheson bought the property till the present moment, without the shootings ?
—It is the land I am speaking of altogether. I cannot give you that at this moment. It is only the crofters and tacksmen I am speaking of.

13929. I am asking the aggregate increase upon crofters and tacksmen from the time of the purchase of the property till the present moment ?
—About £490.

13930. Professor Mackinnon.
—On the whole estate ?
—I am speaking of this parish only. There is Aird Uig, in 1844, £32, 8s. ; to-day it is £32, 5s. The township of Valtos in 1844 was £163, 4s. lOd.; to-day, £159, Is. The township of Uigshader, £32, 8s.; to-day, £32, 5s. Township of Lochganvich, £19 in 1844, and now it is £19. Earshader was £15, 4s., and is now £15, 4s. The number of crofters in this parish on our rent roll is 419, with thirty-eight joint tenants. There are two names perhaps entered. There is no such thing as three names entered. That makes 457 recognised tenants and crofters in Uig.

13931. Is that to-day or in 1844 ?

13932. You have not the number of 1844 ?
—Not for the parish. Then there are subtenants or cottars. They have the land, but not paying direct to the proprietor. There are 147 in this parish. The rental of the crofters and cottars is £1533.

13933. The Chairman.
—And of the tacksmen?
—Of the tacksmen paying above £30, the rent is £1274, 5s.

13934. Professor Mackinnon.
—How many are there of them?

13935. The Chairman.
—Now, what is the area under crofter and cottars, and the area under tacksmen?
—There are 63,829 acres, measured off the recent Ordnance Survey map, under crofters paying under £30 of rent, at the rental of £1533, that is 5d. per acre. Under tacksmen, 39,992 acres, at a rental of £1274, 15s. 7½d . per acre.

13936. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—May I ask what is comprehended in the forest in Uig?
—Morsgiel, 15,872 acres, and Scaliscro, 2875.

13937. Is that land completely cleared of stock, or is there stock belonging to the proprietor on it ?
—It is cleared of stock. There may be a few sheep and a few cows kept, but it is a regular deer forest.

13938. The Chairman.
—What is the rental of that?
—The rental of the two is £1100.

13939. Mr Cameron.
—Is it under the same tenant?
—No, not the same tenant—two separate tenants.

13940. The Chairman.
—Are both of those in the parish of Uig?

13941. Will you state what is the character of the ground in the deer forest—whether it is in general similar to the land held by the tacksmen
or crofters, or whether it is distinctly of a different character ?
—In 1844 it was a sheep farm.

13942. The whole of it?
—There were two farms. Scaliscro had part of it, and Mr Macrae of Huishnish had Ken Resort. His lease was out in 1849, and it was converted into a deer forest, and in like manner Scaliscro was under a tacksman. There were no tenants removed from any place in Sir James Matheson's day or for many a year before then.

13943. What was the rental of the whole area when it was in two farms ?
—I believe the whole thing at that time was rented at about £200.

13944. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Does that rent include the farms or merely include the forest?
—For these 18,747 acres.

13945. Has the tenant the right of shooting over other lands besides these?
—He has the right of shooting beyond. This is what is purely cleared.

13946. The Chairman.
—I understand that when this area of forest was let in two farms the rental was about £200 as against £1100 now?
—Yes, quite so.

13947. When was the forest first formed?
—In 1849 or 1850 with this Morsgiel farm.

13948. Was it before Sir James Matheson's time?
—No, it was in his day.

13949. You heard that one of the witnesses stated that a large proportion of the forest was taken from one of the townships—Valtos. Was he correct in stating that so large an area was taken from the township of Valtos?
—Well, I cannot answer that, because in 1849 the tenant was then at the end of his lease of nineteen years. But I believe the proprietor formed that place as a sheep farm even before the tenant that occupied it—Mr Macrae, Huishnish, who was the tenant up to 1849. The proprietor occupied it before that as a sheep farm.

13950. Can you state what the amount of stock kept upon those two sheep farms was ?
—I cannot answer that question.

13951. Is there anything you wish to state voluntarily?
—I should like to give the stock kept by the tenants and what is kept by the tacksman. In 1882, counting all heads of cattle returned as held by cottars and crofters, there were 1989 head. The sheep, including lambs, 7489; horses, twenty. Tacksmen: number of cattle including calves, 333; sheep, 3406 ; horses, 8. I should like to give the stock in 1881, because there was a larger number sold in 1882 than there has been for many a year. Cattle held by crofters, 2386; sheep, 8097; horses, 2 0 ; pig, 1. Held by tacksmen: cattle, 434; sheep, 4232; horses, 13. I have also to remark that I have not been able to get the crofts of the different townships measured, but of seven townships that have been measured—Breanish, Earshader, Crowlista, Aird Uig, Valtos, Kneep, Carishader—the area of arable land, excluding rocks and what is not possible of cultivation, is 750 acres, held by 145 crofters. The average rent per acre is 13s. 10d. That is with the hill pasture free. But inside these seven townships there are 105 acres that could be cultivated and that are not cultivated.

13952. Has any of that been cultivated in past times?
—It may have been.

13953. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Have you a note of the instructions you gave to the surveyor ?
—It was merely to have the arable land on each croft measured.

13954. Actually under crop ?

13955. You were careful to exclude rocks ?
—Yes; he excludes that, As a specimen of the number of acres in the crofts in the township of Breanish, one man has 7 acres 2 roods 28 poles, but a considerable portion of that is still uncultivated, and could be cultivated. There is another in the township at £ 5 , 7s., and the area 4 acres 2 roods; and
Norman Morrison and Angus Morrison pay £ 5 , 133. between them for an area of 7 acres 1 rood.

13956. They state that their aggregate payments amounted to £7, with all the different additions. They include in the rates some payments of a land nature, because they included the 5s. and the hen money ?
—That is included in what I have here—the 5s. and the hen money. Of course, there are taxes to be added.

13957. Does this survey hows how the lands lie, that they are not all contiguous—that there are rocks, and so on ?
—In his report he gives the whole area, and what is not fit for cultivation is deducted.

13958. It will not show how much is in one field, contiguous?
—No, it will just show the area of the croft.

13959. From your own knowledge—taking one of these crofts of 7 acres—how many separate pieces will there likely be in that croft ?
—There may be perhaps in some of them ten or a dozen separate pieces.

13960. No more than that ? I am afraid there is a great deal more ?
—No, I don't think there is in the place I am speaking of—7 acres. It is not so rocky as some others.

13961. The Chairman.
—You heard the delegates who have given evidence to-day, or two of them, complain that the local boards were too exclusively composed of persons in the proprietary interest or, as one of them said, in the aristocratic interest. Is it true that there is not on the school board or parochial boards a fair representation of the crofter class?
—Not on the present board, but formerly there were four of the crofters on the school board.

13962. What is the reason that at last election this change occurred, and that the crofters became excluded ?
—There is at least one crofter—I mean a crofter paying £ 9 of rent—still on the board. There was a regular election, and they had to return whom they liked.

13963. Was there no manifestation at all of any desire to have a larger representation of their own class on the board ?
—Not that I heard of or saw. At least, the first board I had to do with, I met with the people and allowed them to choose whom they liked to save a contested election. At that time they did agree on the persons to be returned, but at the last two elections it has been contested.

13964. In what sense were these elections contested ?
—I do believe that church matters had a good deal to do with it.

13965. It was not a question of the proprietary interest against the crofter interest at all?
—Not at all.

13966. Do you say that there never has been any influence exerted by the proprietor or by yourself in reference to the selection of candidates ?
—No more than this, that I always used my influence in advising them to send educated men—at any rate men who could sign their names.

13967. But among the crofter class are there persons of sufficient intelligence to make useful members upon boards of this kind ?
—There are very few.

13968. But there are some?
—There are some.

13969. Do you think it would be useful in the interest both of the proprietor and the crofter that there should be representatives of that character on the boards ? Might it not reconcile them perhaps to the taxation which is imposed ? Might they not understand the objects of the taxation better ?
—I suppose the ordinary crofters here would be of no great service on the board. An illiterate man who could do no more than write his name would be of no service.

13970. Might he not gain something by contact at the board with persons of a superior class and intelligence ?
—Well, they might have had it in their power to return crofters altogether, and if they were all crofters they would be quite unfit to manage the business of the board.

13971. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—How many members are there on the school board in this parish ?

13972. And there is one crofter ?
—So far as I recollect at present.

13973. Could you mention the occupation of the others'? You are the chairman I presume ?
—Yes. There is the minister of the Free Church, Mr Morrison; John Macrae, tacksman ; and, I think, Mr M'lvor, miller; the doctor of the parish ; Donald M'Donald, ground officer, Dun of Carloway; the Free Church minister of Carloway ; and Angus Gillies, crofter.

13974. Is he exclusively a crofter, or has he some other pursuit or trade ?
—I believe he keeps a small shop. He was in America for some time.

13975. Don't you think, on consideration, it would be more useful and more acceptable to the people to have a larger representation of the small tenant class?
—I believe if there were a majority of the crofters, there would be no prosecutions at all in the way of compelling the attendance at school

13976. But supposing there were two or three instead of one?
—I don't see there would be any objection to two or three.

13977. Mr Cameron.
—Did you not state that on a former board there were four of them ?

13978. They had a majority then ?
—They had.

13979. The Chairman.
—How did they use their majority ? Did they do any mischief ?

13980. Did they do any good?
—I daresay just as much as the other members of the board did, but in the way of visiting the schools and signing papers and the like of that they did not do much of that.

13981. Is your teaching given by male or female teachers ?
—We have both male and female in the parish. There are seven schools in the parish. Two of them are taught by females and five by males.

13982. Are they generally Gaelic-speaking people—the teachers?
—I think they are all Gaelic-speaking teachers, but I am not sure of one of the female teachers.

13983. Do you find the people generally desire to have a teacher capable of conversing and instructing in Gaelic ?
—Well, that is the general rule and try to get Gaelic teachers.

13984. You have heard a great deal said to-day of the clearances effected in former times, before Sir James Matheson became proprietor of the estate, and of the diminution of hill pasture, and the consolidation of pasture with large sheep farms, and of the consequent overcrowding of the crofters upon small areas, and consequent exhaustion of the soil. Is it your own feeling on reflection that that policy was carried too far, and that the people are now suffering in consequence of it ?
—Well, what happened previous to 1844 I cannot speak of. I don't know what took place in the way of clearances or what truth is in that, but there are some of the farms that are now under sheep that have the marks of being cultivated or that crofters have been upon, but I mean to say that in all the townships of
this parish there has been no change of the boundaries from what Sir James Matheson found there, with ths exception of perhaps straightening a march, when there was a fence to be built. There is one township that spoke here to-day—the township of Kneep. In straightening the march of the township there was a portion taken off it, but there was a corresponding reduction in the rent.

13985. I don't ask you the question with reference to the conduct of Sir James Matheson during the period of his proprietorship, of which we are quite satisfied, but I put the question to you as a matter of general policy, whether you think there was in former times too much clearance and too much consolidation, and whether you think that any portion of the arable and pasture ground formerly taken away might now with advantage be restored to the crofting class ?
—Well, it would be an advantage to the crofting class to restore it for pasture, but not for arable ground.

13986. Do you think that portions of the hill pasture might advantageously be restored to them for the benefit of their grazing ?
—Yes, in other parts of the island, but not much in this parish. They have more pasture land in this parish than in any other parts of the island, and better pasture land.

13987. I asked you before whether the land occupied as a deer forest was of a very different character, of a much wilder and less profitable nature, than the usual arable and pasture ground, or whether it is there the same as the rest ?
—I believe Morsgiel is the barest pasture land. I don't consider it fit for crofters—for arable land ; of course the pasture, such as it is, would be of great advantage if they got it. They could keep more stock.

13988. We are struck by the small proportion of the horses kept, and by some remarks made by the delegates as to a prohibition against keeping horses. Is there any such prohibition ?
—None whatever. I believe in 1844 there was not a horse in the parish, and I never heard of such horses being in the parish as I heard to-day. There were no roads in the parish that a horse could go on.

13989. But horses might be kept without roads—in fact, they were very common vehicles of traffic before roads were made—might they not be useful for carrying sea-weed and ploughing ground?—They might have been, but I am sure there was not a horse in the parish of Uig in 1844 on this side of Loch Roag.

13990. In fact, there is no prohibition about horses on this estate at all?
—None whatever.

13991. Professor Mackinnon.
—One of the witnesses stated that the township of Mangersta was cleared ten years ago ?
—The people of the township of Mangersta at their own request were removed to Dun of Carloway.

13992. As matter of fact the place was cleared?
—Yes, at their own request. It was not a place adapted for tenants. They were in misery and arrears, and then the place was exposed to the sea, and the sea spoiled the corn.

13993. With that exception the marches remain the same as in 1884?
—Yes, but there were other places cleared besides that Reef was cleared in 1850 or 1851. The people were offered their passages to America—such as were willing to go. A ship was engaged to carry so many of them. There were twenty-seven tenants at that time. A good many would not go, so to fill up the ship people were taken from any other part of the island, and those who did not go got the lots of those who went from other places, and a number were sent to reclaimed lands, and there are some I believe in the parish of Ness.

13994. My reason for asking the question is this, that you stated the increase of rent on crofters as £89 since 1844, and the increase of rent on the tacksmen as £401, and you said that the marches were the same ?
—I meant to say that the increase on the crofters that are now in possession of the land, in comparison with their rent in 1844—all the townships still under crofters—has been the sum I have said.

13995. And in the same way is the increase upon the tacksmen, £401, on the land they occupied in 1844, or on the land they occupy now in addition to what is cleared?
—The land the tacksmen occupy now, £401, in comparison with the land they occupied in 1844.

13996. Can you name the various places cleared since 1844 ?
—Carinish was cleared—there were twenty-one tenants there; Reef; the people of Gisla were removed from one place to the other at their own request; Ballygloom; and Gara-na-hine.

13997. What became of the people of these different townships ? What became of the people of Carinish ?
—A considerable portion of them went to America.

13998. Reef ?
—They are in the same position.

13999. The greater proportion went to America, and the rest were allowed to enter upon subdivided crofts in this parish and elsewhere ?
—Not subdivided, but lands reclaimed.

14000. So what the delegate said was not true that a croft was subdivided in his township to make room for one that came from another township?
—No. I say that 1850 or 1851 was the time that was going on. There were twenty-four tenants in Breanish in 1844, and to-day there are twenty-nine in our rental, but that arises perhaps from some additions ; and when we opened the new rental, and find a squatter or subtenant that has been paying rent not directly to the proprietor, but to the crofter, we enter his name.

14001. This man said that six additional men were thrown in upon them from the cleared places, and one man, from another township, and another man- from another ?
—I cannot see how there could be six, when there were twenty-four tenants in 1844, and only twenty-nine now. But there are a number of squatters in the township, which is by subdivision of their own crofts.

14002. When you state that the land under the deer forest is considerably rougher and wilder than that under crops and under large farms, is it the case that some of the land under the deer forest was formerly occupied by a crofter population ?
—So far as I have ascertained, it is not known to have been. As regards Morsgiel and Scaliscro, I believe that sixty or seventy years ago, or further back than that, there have been crofters there.

14003. Of course, the appearance of habitation and of cultivation is to be seen ?
—On Scaliscro and on the other side of Morsgiel and Ken Rasort.

14004. I have calculated the acreage and rental. It is a little over 1s. 2d. per acre of the deer forest?

14005. Could you give me any idea how many pay £9 in the crofter class?
—I know none except the one who is a member of the school board.

14006. So in that case he cannot be said to represent any one but himself. I find the average rent per crofter is about £2, 10s. A delegate here said that the number entitled to vote for the school board, that is those over £ 1 rental, were not in a majority in the parish ?
—I think they are. There are only seven tenants.

14007. You think if they agreed among themselves they could carry the day ?
—Yes, I think so.

14008. Was this man who has been on the school board elected a delegate to-day ?
—No, he is not here.

14009. They stated that the hen money was only put upon them fourteen years ago ?
—That is not correct.

14010. It has always been upon them, but not in that name?
—It was always upon them as kain money up to the time of the valuation roll.

14011. And then it was made rent, so that the difference is only a difference of the name ?
—Yes. We kept the rent and statute labour and kain money separate, and now it is all under one head.

14012. And the books were handed down from the former proprietor?
—Yes. I have the Seaforth ledgers, and I see it was paid then.

14013. Sheriff Nicolson.
—You exercise your authority as factor apart from your position as a member of the school board to get the provisions of the Education Act complied with throughout the island ?
—So far as I can, I try to get them to attend the school.

14014. Have you not issued an order imposing a certain penalty upon those who do not comply with the provisions of the Act ?
—I issued an order in this way, that if the children did not attend school and make up the attendance, their parents would have to pay what we estimated would be the loss to the board, 18s. per head.

14015. But where that is not done, what penalty do you impose upon them ?
—It was imposed one year in a few cases, not for non-attendance, but for absenting themselves on the day of examination without any reasonable excuse. The cases were extreme. The officer had gone to the house, and the parents would not give them up, and the boys would not attend. Instead of 18s. per head the grant was about 10s. 6d. in the parish of Ness.

14016. Have you found that that penalty has had any wholesome influence?
—It had a good effect that year on the attendance.

14017. But probably it has something to do with the opposition to school rates, which is one of the grievances peculiar to this island ?
—Well, the rates are high, but it is very much owing to the bad attendance at school. The grants would be much better if they attended school better.

14018. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How long have you been in the Lewis ?
—Thirty-eight years.

14019. Do you see any difference in the condition of the people during that time ?
—I do.

14020. Are they better off since you first came here?
—They are certainly better clad, and have more money amongst them than they had at that time. I mean they handle more money.

14021. But are they more or less indebted to the proprietor than they were then ?
—I think they are much the same. The arrears on the crofters in this parish on 31st December last were £809, 5s. 10d. I have seen them more than twice that.

14022. You occasionally remit these arrears?
—Every two or three years the rent roll is revised, and what is supposed to be worthless is wiped out.

14023. Do you know if there is any general complaint among the merchants of the increasing indebtedness of the people to them ?
—I believe there is.

14024. It is the opinion of the merchants that the poverty of the people is increasing ?
—Well, it depends very much upon the season and the fishing. If it is a good year, they sometimes pay two rents in one year.

14025. How long is it since there has been a good year ?
—I may say there is a bad year every two or three years.

14026. But is there never a good one?
—Well, since 1853 up to this season there have been, I think, seven or nine seasons when the proprietor had to advance meal and seed, different years, according to the season, from £200 to £2000 in some years.

14027. Has that been due to bad weather or to bad fishing?
—Bad weather and storms.

14028. Then, since 1853, you think the condition of the people really has been getting worse ?
—It is just the same almost. Every two or three years they are in need of seed.

14029. The Chairman.
—Do you think there has been an exhaustion of the soil on the smaller holdings—a progressive exhaustion ?
—I think the soil is as good to-day as it was the first day I saw it, from the system of manuring they have. But owing to the system of cultivation the crop
cannot be good. They crop it continuously, and never lay out any of it in grass.

14030. But you don't think the crofters are worse now except in consequence of the bad seasons ?
—The crops are as good ; it is the season.

14031. You mentioned five townships which had been cleared in Sir James Matheson's time. You stated that the persons removed from these townships were in a great measure migrated, and that others were placed upon land and wild land newly brought in. Are we to understand that none of the persons evicted from those five townships were placed on subdivided crofts in old townships, or very few ?
—I don't believe there was an existing lot divided and two put upon it, but there was land reclaimed by Sir James in different townships, and they were placed there, and then the people who migrated out of different townships were migrated into these lots.

14032. But they were placed on newly reclaimed land in different townships ?

14033. And then did not they share the hill pasture of the different townships ?

14034. So to that extent they did diminish the holdings of the old township ?
—They diminished the pasture.

14035. Mr Cameron.
—We had one of the delegates named Norman Morrison from Breanish, who complained that some pasture had been taken from the crofters in his township, and he was asked by the Chairman whether the rents were reduced. Can you explain that ?
—That must have been long before 1844.

14036. You don't know about the circumstance?
—I know there was no change upon the pasture boundaries since 1844. I know the rent has not been raised since 1844.

14037. What is the present school rate in this parish?
—2s. 8d.; that is 1s. 4d. upon proprietors, and Is. 4d. upon tenants. That was the rate in 1880 also. In 1881 it was 4s. 6d. ; in 1882 it was 2s. 8d.; and in 1883, 2s, 8d.

14038. What was the cause of this fall from 4s. 6d. to 2s. 8d. ?
—In 1851 we had not all the schools in operation, and we had little or no grant.

14039. Do you expect 2s. 8d. to be the normal rate ?
—If the attendance William improved it would be diminished, and then a great deal depends on the shootings being let. There may have been some shootings not let that year, which would add to the rate.

14040. Of course, if the shootings should not be let, that increases the rate upon those who remain?

14041. What is the parochial rate ?
—In 1880 it was 3s. 4d. ; in 1881, 3s. 8d.; in 1882, 2s. 6d. j in 1883, 2s. 4d. It was so in 1883 because the Uig shootings were let, which made a difference of 2d. in the £ 1 .

14042. What difference do all the rentals of the shootings make in the parish ?
—I have not made the calculation.

14043. I suppose you could easily do it?

14044. And what is the road rate?
—It is now 10d. It was 1s. last year. But the road rate is laid upon the whole island, and not upon one parish.

14045. So the rates in this parish are about 6s. ?
—The total rates this year are 5s. lOd. They were, in 1882, 6s. 2d.; in 1881, 9s. 2d.; and in 1880, 7s.—half by the landlord and half by the tenants. I have one other remark to make. It was said there was no compensation allowed for houses or improvements. In the rules and conditions of the estate issued in 1878 and 1879, it was provided that every tenant who before the term of Martinmas 1881 should execute in whole or in part improvements on his lands, and should also erect a dwelling house and offices, or make alterations on his premises, and who should further observe the other rules and regulations (a copy of which I hand in), should, on the completion of such houses and offices to the satisfaction of the proprietor or his factor, receive a lease of his present possession to endure till Martinmas 1893 without any increase of rent. Then follows, a description of the houses to be erected. They are to be built of stone and lime, or stone and clay harled with lime, or with stone on the outside face and turf on the inside; to be roofed with slate or tiles, or heather and divots, which heather and divots the tenants shall be at liberty to take from such places as shall be pointed out by the ground officer of the district. Each house to have two apartments, with glazed window, and closet with window in the gable, and the chimney open; the byre to be built at the back of the dwelling house, and to have a separate entrance; a gutter to be formed at the back for removing manure, and so on.

14046. Professor Mackinnon.
—I understand there was no complaint covered by that. The complaint was that they could not improve their dwellings because they had no hold upon the ground?
—But if they improve their houses they are sure of fifteen years from the date of this, without a rise of rent. Something was said about the poor rate books and school board books, but I shall refer to these on a future occasion.

14047. The Chairman.
—You might state at once why no publication is made of the revenue and expenditure which occur in these accounts ?
—The parochial board have published their accounts frequently. The school board have not done so, but the accounts were open to any one with the clerk at the time. I have been eight years factor, and I have never heard of any one in our township coming forward and complaining of being highly rented. I have had one in this parish, and I at once referred the matter to two men, and I never had but one in this parish. I think the rates can be explained very well, from the low rental and the large number of schools—seven schools in this parish.

14048. Do you think it might not be desirable to print the accounts of the school board for the satisfaction of the people, in case they lie under a misconception ?
—I am sure the board will have no objection whatever to publish the accounts.

14049. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Do you wish to make a statement similar to this in all the other parishes ?
—It will be quite unnecessary, except a few statistics. There is just one other thing to mention. In my day the tenants of Bosta, in the island of Bernera, at their own request were removed to Kirkibost, another place on the same island. The tacksman gave it up at a rent of £120. I was offered at the time £150, but these tenants of Bosta got it at £120. They got a lease of fifteen years, and with the right of sending to the moor pasture 80 head of cattle and 203 sheep, and they were allowed to hold upon their own ground at Kirkibost one cow and a follower, and three sheep for every £ 1 of rent. They were to build houses under the terms of their lease, but they have not removed the manure from the dwelling houses, or allowed the smoke to escape. They have now been complaining that it is too large, that they cannot pay ther rents, and wish to divide it.

14050. We have not heard the Bernera people yet ?
—No, but I daresay they are here. They have been four years in the place—twenty-six of them—and their arrears are £82, 10s. 9d.

14061. The Chairman.
—Is that a higher rate of arrears than on other parts of the property ?
—It is, in such a short time. They began free, and had no arrears at all. It has been said that the rent of the island of Lewis had doubled, and that it was now £28,000. I have the valuation roll, and the rental of the estate there was £18,163 including everything, made up in this way—seminary, £ 15 ; patent slip (which was £5000), £ 80 ; castle, £350; brickworks, £30; Gara-na-hine and Barvas hotels, £139; mills, £198 ; house property, £556 ; storehouses, £ 3 8 ; salmon net fishing, £145 ; shootings, £3754; curing stations, £145 ; leaving £12,713 as the rent of lands. The land rental in 1844 was £10,443, 4s. 7d., showing an increase of £2270, but against that increase there is outlay upon buildings.

14052. With your consent, we will take the general results of the administration of the property at Stornoway. We are obliged to you for the statement you make, but we think it fair to the delegates that we should go on with them to-day, and there will be ample opportunity for you to make any statement you have to make at a later period ?
—I have nothing more to say to-day.

No comments:

Post a Comment