Obe, Harris, 31 May 1883 - Roderick Ross

RODERICK ROSS, Crofter, Geocrab (63)—examined.

13195. The Chairman.
—Were you freely elected by your people?

13196. Have you a written statement?
—No. It is only four days since we got notice of this meeting, which was conveyed to us by the Rev. Mr Davidson.

13197. Then what statement have you to make on the part of your people ?
—It is now thirty-five or thirty-six years since I went to live in the Bays. There were eleven crofts or lots when I went to live at Geocrab. There was only one cottar's house there at that time. There are now twenty-six crofters, who have the same lands among them that the eleven had. I may call them all cottars except three. The rest have only bits of the land that their fathers had.

13198. How many families are there altogether at this moment?
—Twenty-six of all classes.

13199. Are the additional families the natural increase of the original families, or have they been brought in from other places ?
—There is one family that came from Sir Edward Scott's property.

13200. Only one?
—Another from Lewis. The rest grew up in the place.

13201. Since you came there, has any common pasture land or any other land been taken away from the people ?
—No. Before my time the land was divided into eight lots by a surveyor—Mr M'Lade. Then after that there were three additional crofts taken off these eight, increasing the number to eleven, and there was no reduction in the rent of the eight.

13202. But my question was, since the time of the eleven lots has any of the land been taken from you and given to the tacksman ?
—No. There was no land taken away in Geocrab.

13203. Has the whole rent of Geocrab been increased in your time?
—Lord Dunmore has not raised the rent one penny so far as I know, or his father or mother before him.

13204. What stock do you keep yourself?
—I have a right to keep four cows, but as I have only half a croft I can only keep two cows. The other half of my croft was given to a brother-in law of mine.

13205. No horses ?
—There is not a horse to be seen in the place. It is all rocks. We are so surrounded by rocks that sometimes we never see the sun at all. There are three hours of the day when we don't know there is a sun at all. There is no prohibition of horses.

13206. How many sheep do you keep?
—I have about a dozen sheep, but I might keep as many as I like.

13207. Is the common pasture very large?
—Yes ; our hill marches with Lord Dunmore's forest, but there is no prohibition how far we may extend our pasture. We suffer no injury or trouble from being on the same march with him.

13208. What rent do you pay?
—£6, Os. 6d. of rent, and 10s. of taxes. Up to four years ago I was paying 17s. 6d., now I only pay 10s. There was 10s. of road money at that time.

13209. Then what is the chief complaint ?
—The complaint is that at the time I spoke of first there were only eight or eleven crofters, when we had land enough to let a sufficient quantity of it lie fallow and recover its strength, which it cannot now do.

13210. Is there any part of Lord Dunmore's forest which would be useful as arable ground ?
—The forest is, for the most part, quite unsuited for cultivation ; the only ground near us suitable for cultivation is Luscantire.

13211. Sheriff Nicolson.
—But there never were any crofters there ?
—It is not suitable for crofters. It is mostly wild moor, and some pasture lower down.

13212. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Has not the farm of Luscantire had a reputation in former times for its cattle ?
—Yes, the lower part of it—Shellibost and Isibost—is very well situated. That is good land.

13213. You have stated that you only received notice that the Commission was to sit here to-day four days ago. Don't you receive newspapers in this place ?
—We heard there was such a Commission, but knew nothing of the time they would be here. Mr Davidson himself did not know.

13214. Are you not aware that notices were sent some considerable time ago, though there seems to have been some accident ?
—[Rev. Mr Davidson.—There was notice sent to me, but it was just on Friday last week that I received it from the secretary of the Commission.]
—I am not aware that the notices were sent any sooner.

13215. Would there have been more delegates appointed if there had been time?
—There might have been more, but they would have nothing more to say than I have told.

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