Obe, Harris, 31 May 1883 - Lachlan Munro

LACHLAN MUNRO, Crofter, Bernera (about 60)—examined.

13159. The Chairman.
—You heard the paper read by the preceding delegate ?

13160. And you heard what the previous delegate said?

13161. Do you agree with everything ?
— Yes, every word, so far as I know.

13162. Have you any complaint to make about the sea-weed ?
—No, we have plenty of sea-ware. The wind drives it towards us.

13163. Have you liberty to gather it on the shore of the tack as well as on your own ?
—That gentleman never prevented us.

13164. He never charged any money for it?
—He never charged us any money for it.

13165. Where do you get your peats from now?
—The island of Tay.

13166. Have you liberty to take it there without paying, or do you pay ?
—That island is our own ; we pay rent for it.

13167. Is anybody living on it?

13168. Is there plenty of peat?
—Yes, but it is falling off.

13169. How far from Bernera is it?
—It takes about three-quarters of an hour rowing on a good day with a favourable wind.

13170. Is there any peat on the tack?
—There is no peat at all on the island of Bernera.

13171. Do the tacksman's people get their peat from Tay?
—No, they get it from another island that Mr Macdonald has called Vacasay.

13172. Is that nearer than Tay ?
—No, Vacasay is a little outside Tay ; but another island where Mr Macdonald's grieve and some of his people live and get their peats is nearer than Bernera—the island of Stroma.

13173. Do you think, if you could get back the farm of Borv, it would make you all comfortable ?
—There is no doubt we would be. It is the scarcity of the land which leaves us in the condition we are.

13174. Have you anything more to say?
—I have to say of my own croft that the rent is £5. My family consists of my Avife and myself, and all we can raise on my croft will not support us for three months.

13175. What stock do you keep?
—Two cows and a mare.

13176. Any sheep?
—About six ewes, but it is on other people's land; I buy grass for them. I buy the seed which I put into my ground.

13177. Where do you get the thatch for your houses ?
—We formerly used to thatch our houses with straw, when we had more of it, but since then we chiefly thatch them with bent, which we mostly get from Mr

13178. Does Mr Macdonald make you pay for it with labour or otherwise, or does he give it to you for nothing ?
—That gentleman would take nothing from any poor man whom he could help.

13179. If you had more nets could you do more with the fishing?
—Those who are fit for it undoubtedly would. It is past my time.

13180. Had you more nets in olden times 1—We never did much with the herring fishery, and had not many nets for that purpose till within the last few years, when a few of them got nets.

13181. Mr Fraser-Macintosh
—Are the people in arrears of rent, or are they able to pay their rent ?
—I have not for five years sold a beast off my own lands till last year, when I sold a stirk to pay the rent.

13182. Is the landlord easy upon you in the matter of arrears?
—We can say nothing against the landlord. Many things can be done under a laird without his knowledge.

13183. You complain of paying for a doctor. Where does the doctor live ?
—He lives here at Obe.

13184. Does he sometimes go to Bernera?
—Very seldom.

13185. Is he of use to you?
—He must be doing some good, for we sometimes send for him or go to him.

13186. And you say you still pay for the old packet. What is this payment?
—There was formerly a packet which used to run between this and Uist, and also a packet that ran to Skye. There is no packet now.

13187. Do you say you have still to pay the packet money
—I cannot say positively, except that I heard some say it was so.

13188. Would you rather be without a doctor or pay this money
—Anyone of us might break his arm or leg, and then we would need a doctor.

13189. The Chairman.
—Do you make this payment about the packet distinctly, or is it paid along with your rent ?
—I pay £5.

13190. What taxes are laid upon you besides that?
—I am not very sure. There is 5s. of road money and 5s. for the doctor. I think they all pay that. There is so much in the pound for poor and school rates.

13191. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Do you need a road in the island?
—Yes, we are in need of a road from south to north.

13192. Have you any wheeled carts?
—There is one cart in the island.

13193. Would carts be useful to you?
—I don't know. On the west side of the island where I live it would be very difficult to make roads for us, it is so subject to the drifting of the sand.

13194. How do you bring your sea-ware up to the arable land?
—On horses. In the time of my father there was an assessment of 2s. 6d. for the minister, 2s. .6d. for the packet, and 2s. 6d. for the doctor, and when Sir Edward Scott bought the north end of Harris there was a doctor appointed for that part of the island, and 2s. 6d. was added to the former assessment on our island for two doctors—one for each end of the island. We would like to know the details of the taxes which we are called upon to pay, which are not specified in the receipts that are given to us.

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