Ness, Lewis, 7 June 1883 - Farquhar Murray

FARQUHAR MURRAY, Crofter, North Dell (51)—examined.

15962. The Chairman.
—Were you freely elected by the people?

15963. Will you make a statement on behalf of those whom you represent ?
—You already heard other delegates complain how the rent has been raised. Perhaps it should have been a matter of complaint in the first instance to the chamberlain, because he is a man who likes to see things put right. We have seen him put other things upon a proper footing when he found them amiss. That is all I have to say. There were some people who were removed in order to add to the land attached to the mill. I knew very little about it, and I declined to make the statement, but they sent it in in this writing. This is the statement:
—We the undersigned humbly beg to set before you certain facts and grievances in the following statements—to which we call your kind attention and consideration. Firstly, there stood in the village of North Dell, a slated house which became vacant nine years ago. We occupied one half of the village which contained about a hundred acres of good pasture and arable lands. The miller of Ness, who receives the 13th part of all the grain raised in Ness, envied the side we occupied ; and through promises that he never fulfilled, he persuaded us to take the land that this " house " stood on, telling us at the same time we were not to remove from our old houses, and that no dyke whatever was to be put round the land we were to give in exchange. This false promise of his didn't last long, for we were soon served by one, and then another summon to remove, and build ourselves houses elsewhere; then at once began dyke building, following by the pulling down of the slated " house," the stones of which were put in the dyke building—the rent of which "house" we pay till this day over and above our land rents. Secondly, the most part, or three-fourths of the grazing land by the sea-shore we are deprived of, which originally belonged to the tack where we now are, though the rent remains the same for us to pay. Nor is this all—for the last three summers Macfarquhar's (the miller) sheep eat the most of what we sow in the ground—in our space has been so limited, made between dykes, dogs, sheep, and a little over twenty acres of land instead of one hundred acres, that we can hardly make an existence, and we ever pray your Honourable Royal Commission to look into our grievances thoroughly.
—We remain, your most humble and obedient servants, ANGUS X CAMPBELL ; JOHN X M'DONALD ; JOHN X SMITH, representing Widow Smith ; NORMAN x M'RITCHIE, representing Widow Morrison and others.—North Dell, Ness, 7th June 1883.

15964. Have you any further statement to make ?

15965. Sheriff Nicolson.
—How long have you been in the place?
—Ever since I was born.

15966. Did these things happen that are mentioned in the paper?
—I know that the men were removed, but I do not know of any of the transactions between them and the miller.

15967. How many were removed?
—There were eight of them there that had land, but it is four who are concerned in this matter.

15968. How much of their land was taken from them and added to the miller's land?
—They were removed from where they were, and their place was added to the house that you have heard already was left vacant.

15969. Where were they removed to?
—From the one side of the march to the other side.

15970. Had they to build new houses for themselves?
—Yes, upon the new lots.

15971. Did they get any assistance in building these houses?
—I am not aware.

15972. How long is it since this happened?
—Nine years.

15973. Has there been any alteration in your own land or pasture?

15974. It is only those four people that have this complaint to make ?
—I did not hear anybody complaining except those four.

15975. Then have any of the rest of the people of North Dell any  complaint to make ?
—There were two or three of them that had a house on the other side of the street. It was taken from them—the house they had on the one side of the road.

15976. How many families are there in North Dell altogether?
—Twenty-three or twenty-four with land, and three without land.

15977. What do they ask you to represent on behalf of them here today?
—They ask me to state nothing except that they were paying the rent of that house that is mentioned in the paper.

15978. Are all the people of North Dell paying that?

15979. Only these four ?

15980. The Chairman.
—Have you any grievance of your own?

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