WILLIAM MACKAY, Chamberlain on the Lewis Estates—re-examined.
16833. The Chairman.
—You have a statement to make to the Commission ?
—Yes. I do not mean to reply to all that has been said either in the way of commenting on it or contradicting it. A great deal has been said that I know is not strictly accurate; and there have been statements made that I cannot say whether they are correct or not. As I did in other parishes, I shall begin by giving a few statistics regarding the parish of Stornoway, and afterwards make a few general remarks on matters connected with the management of the estate since it was acquired by the late Sir James Matheson. Of the total area of the parish of Stornoway, not including the burgh of Stornoway and the town lands, there are 41,747 acres, let to the crofters at a rent of £2,491, Is. 6d., or at the rate of Is. 1¼d. per acre, and there is an area under nine arable and grazing farms—not including the home or manor farm—of 16,851 acres, the rent of which is £1102, 10s. 6d., equal to Is. 3½d. per acre. The stock held by the crofters in 1882 was 2805 head of cattle, 5880 head of sheep, 201 horses, and 32 pigs. The nine tacksmen have 202 head of cattle, 2007 head of sheep, 29 horses, and 4 pigs. I may also give the stock of 1881, as there was a larger number of cattle and sheep sold in 1882 than there had been for some years. The crofters then had 3074 head of cattle, 5732 sheep, 213 horses, and 27 pigs, and the tacksmen had 192 head of cattle, 2047 sheep, 28 horses, and 7 pigs. In both cases the respective rents were those already stated. The Commissioners have asked me to furnish them with a statement of the rental now and in 1844. When Sir James Matheson bought the estate, the rental in 1844, exclusive of feuduties, but including salmon fishings and £200 for shootings, was £10,681, 2s. 5d. This includes the statute labour and 'kain' money, that was contributed by 2059 crofters—the number then in the island. The present rental, according to the valuation roll of 1882-83, is as follows :
— Industrial seminary, . . . . £15 0 0
The patent slip, which I may say cost £6000, brings . . • . £80 0 0
Gargnaline and Barvas hotels, . £139 0 0 „
mills, . . . .£198 0 0
House property in Stornoway, purchased by Sir James Matheson since 1844, £556 0 0
Fishing store houses erected by Sir James, £38 0 0
Salmon fishings, . . . .£145 0 0
Shootings, . . . . .£3754 0 0
Fish-curing stations, including taxes, .£145 0 0
Land rent, . . . . .£12713 4 10
Giving a total rental of . . .£18,163 5 8
or an increase since 1844 of £7482. The land rental of that year was £10,256, in 1882 it was £12,713, being an increase on the land rental of £2457. I am at present unable to say how much of this increase is on crofters and how much on tacksmen, not having had time to make it up. But I find that in 1852, £365, 18s. 11d. was charged against tacksmen a interest on improvements, and £202, 5s. 3d. on crofters. Some of the large farms as they were improved were for some time thereafter held by the proprietor, till he brought them into a proper state of cultivation, and thereafter let, so I am unable to show the total amount of interest charges for improvements. The increase in the land rental is, however, principally on tacksmen and on waste lands reclaimed, on which crofters were placed. Seventeen townships were partly reclaimed from waste land in different parts of the island, and on these about £1500 were expended. Besides these new townships, waste land was reclaimed and added to old townships. It has been said that the land for these new townships was reclaimed from the crofters' pasture lands, and that the townships from which such land was taken received no reduction of rent. I have to explain, that after the land was reclaimed, the townships in the island were adjusted and allotted and rented anew at what they were considered worth. The rents in some cases were raised and in other cases reduced, and many of them were left at the rent they stood at in 1844. This readjustment and revaluation was done in 1849, 1850, and 1851, when Mr John Munro Mackenzie was factor, and in the work, he had the assistance of a practical farmer and a land surveyor. The whole island was relotted and rented at that time; and with this exception—that the statute labour and 'kain' money was included in the rent, instead of continuing to be levied as a separate payment. There has been no rise of rent since that period. There were in all 890 acres of land reclaimed. Part of this was added to existing holdings, which were entirely remodelled, and the remainder given to cottars or squatters in the townships to which the new land was attached. There was expended in the reclamation of waste lands and in building farm houses and offices £99,720. Of this sum there was expended on the reclamation of land given to crofters the following sums:—At Barvas, £1320; Shader, £944; Lionel, £372; Port of Ness, £ 24 ; Cross, £ 13 ; Eorodale, £17, 10s ; Breasclete, £202; Doune Carloway, £273; Carloway, £260; South Shawbost, £52 ; F. P. Borve, £ 181; Mid Borve, £71 ; North Dell, £422; Newmarket, £676 ; Guershader, £ 85 ; Laxdale, £46 ; Jamesfield, £444, let now to the Sandwick tenants for £ 7 ; Steinish, £194 ; Knock, £214; North Galston, £615 ; Bayble, £576 ; SheshaderAird, £104; Port Voller, £39; Bragor, £ 71 ; Arnol, £ 62; Brue, £ 81 ; Swainbost, £251 ; Habost (Ness), £137 ; Skegirster, £107 ; Portnaguirin, £100; Shinlishader, £269 ; Islinich, £95 ; Brenish £138 = £8471, 10s. It has been stated here that the late Sir James Matheson never did anything for the island. Immediately after purchasing this property Sir James' attention was directed to opening steam communication with Glasgow. He offered a premium of £500 to any shipowner in Glasgow that would put on a steamer, but no one accepted the offer. He then took shares in a steamer named the 'Falcon,' which then commenced to run between Stornoway and Ardrossan. Her career, however, was short, and she took fire and had to be scuttled. I may mention an incident which occurred at this time in connection with the burning of this vessel. The merchants by that time had begun to depend on getting their goods regularly by steamer, but when it so suddenly ceased to run, before they could order their supplies and get them brought by a sailing vessel, the town of Stornoway had run out of almost everything. There was not one pound of tea or sugar or tobacco or snuff in the place. After the 'Falcon,' Sir James purchased the steamer 'Mary Jane,' and it was put on in 1845 to run between this town and Glasgow. This boat however, became too small, and in conjunction with the Duke of Sutherland he got another vessel, called the 'Marquis of Stafford,' which was stipulated to call at Lochinver on its way from Stornoway to Glasgow. Sir James subsequently gave up his connection with the'Marquis of Stafford,' and the steamer ' Islay' was put on by Mr Ramsay of Vuldalton. Thereafter Messrs Daniel Hutcheson and Co. took up the trade which is carried on now so efficiently by Mr MacBrayne. Before Sir James' time the island had been without any means of communication with the mainland, except a sailing mail packet to Poolewe once or twice a week, with a steamer plying regularly once a week to Glasgow. The inhabitants found in the south a ready market for their produce, and the prices of everything rose, particularly eggs. After the 'Mary Jane' was put on I have heard the merchants say that it was of such advantage to them that they could turn over their capital three times before their bills became due ; whereas formerly, when they depended on sailing vessels, their bills often became due before their goods arrived. The next thing I would like to refer to is what the late Sir James Matheson did for education in the island. First of all, there was the 'Female Industrial Seminary' in Stornoway, which was built and has since been kept up at the sole expense of Sir James and Lady Matheson. Besides this, there were new schools built at Knock, Borve, Lionel, and Bernera, and there were teachers paid at Back, Shawbost, Callanish, Valtos, Balallan, Steinish, and in other places, the names of which I cannot recollect at present. Free education was given in these schools, but the attendance was so wretched that ultimately Sir James handed the schools over to the 'Edinburgh Ladies' Association,' but he continued to give a subscription for each school to the society, and Lady Matheson still does so. The total amount expended on schools and teachers' salaries up to 1870 was £11,680. In 1844 there were about 45 miles of imperfectly formed roads in the island; there are now 200 miles, which with bridges cost £25,593. Even in 1845, of wheeled vehicles there was only one gig in the whole island, now there are 87 taxed conveyances. Among many other things Sir James did for the benefit of the people, I may mention that he was the means of introducing water and gas to the town of Stornoway. He expended in making the patent slip, £ 6000; curing houses, £ 1000; on bulls for the improvement of the crofters'stock, £1200; a quay for the steamer at Stornoway, £2225 ; chemical works, £33,000, and though that was not a profitable speculation for the proprietor, it afforded employment for a good many people. The Rev. Mr Angus Maciver stated that he did not know of anything that Sir James and Lady Matheson had done for the parish of Uig, except to give a £ 10 subscription to the building of a church at Bernera, and some clothes, shoes, and meal to the poor. I think the making of roads and bridges in Uig was of some benefit to the parish. There were also schools upheld by Sir James at Valtos, at Bernera, and at Callanish, and besides the grants he gave to the 'Edinburgh Ladies' Association'for other schools in the parish. There has been a large sum of money expended on Morsgeil forest; and from £500 to £ 800 are annually expended in upholding the place, which gives employment to people in Uig. The building of the lodge at Uig also gave employment to not a few people, it having been constructed of concrete, for which skilled labour was not required. I may also mention that Mr Maciver himself was one of the teachers paid by Sir James for many years at Shawbost; and it is perhaps not going too far to say that thereby Mr Maciver was enabled, in some measure at least, to prosecute his studies for the ministry and attain to the position which he now holds. I venture to say that a gentleman in Mr Maciver's position, before making the remarks he did on this subject, might have taken some pains to acquaint himself with the exact facts of the case. It was stated by many of the delegates who appeared before the Commissioners that the crofters of the Lewis were in a much more comfortable condition and better off many years ago than they are now. I find, however, in Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account, published in 1797, that the minister of Stornoway of that day says —' Some of the land about the town is let for 36s. per acre yearly. There are about twelve large farms in the parish, and what portion of them is not occupied by the tacksman himself is let to sub-tenants, who pay to him each person from £1, 10s. to £ 3 of yearly rent, and twelve days' service. Many of these sub-tenants are employed in fishing ling, which they sell to their masters at 5d. each, engaging on board the herring-busses at £1 per month; in manufacturing kelp at £1, 10s. per ton, and working at road making and other labour at 8d. a any. By these means and the produce of the soil they are enabled to pay their rents, and procure a tolerable subsistence.' He also says: —' In no season is the produce of the parish sufficient to maintain its inhabitants, who would often be in danger of suffering through want, were it not for the extensive importation of meal to Stornoway.' Again he says:—The inhabitants of this island might live in comfortable circumstances, were it not for the frequent and heavy rains which fall in it at all seasons of the year, and more especially in harvest, whereby the hopes of husbandmen are often blasted, and the fruit of his toil and industry lost.' As to wages, he says —'The wages of men-labourers are 8d. a day without meat, and 6d. with two meals of meat and a dram; women 6d. a day, 1 or 4d. with two meals of meat; manservants for farm-work from £2 to £5 per annum, and two pairs of shoes at 7s. For women-servants from 10s. to 20s. and two pairs of shoes at 6s. Herds for looking after cattle from 6 merks to 8s., with two pairs of shoes and other small perquisites.' The prices of cattle were from 30s. to £ 3 per head. Beef was sold in Stornoway at 1½d. to 3d. per pound, mutton at 5s. and 6s. per wedder; sheep 3s., 4s., and 4s, 6d. each; lambs Is. 8d. and 2s. each. Butter, 12s. and 14s. per stone; cheese, 4s. and 5s. per stone; fowls, 4d. to 6d. each. In a supplement to this account of Stornoway, written by another hand, it is said: —'The parish never supplies itself with sufficiency of provisions, and always imports a great deal from Caithness, Berwick, &c, and is at this time (1796) in great distress, without the probability of a speedy supply.' Again he says: —'The people are not fond of a military life, but early habit reconciles them to seafaring, and from that element they derive their chief subsistence. The common people in this island marry very early, and when death separates them, if the surviving party—whether male or female—finds it convenient to engage a second or third time in this state, some of them remain a few weeks, and some only a few days in widowhood. So that grief for the loss of husband or wife is an affliction little known among the lower classes of the people here. A woman in this country, whose husband accidentally shot himself, settled her contract of marriage in the way she thought fit before the body of her late husband was interred, and she married next day after she had performed the last duty to the deceased.' In the same book, statistics are given by which the stock of the island of that day may be compared with what it is now. In Barvas in 1796, in the whole of the parish, it was calculated there were 1050horses, 2670 black cattle, and 3392 sheep ; while now the crofters' stock numbered 549 horses, 3591 head of cattle, and 14,238 sheep. The horses then sold on an average for £2, 10s.; cows and stots at £2 5s.; and sheep at 3s. In the parish of Lochs the stock was 2488 black cattle, 4000 sheep, and 348 horses. There were now held by the crofters alone 50 horses, 3392 head of cattle, and 11,132 head of sheep. The whole stock in Uig was 3562 cattle, 5044 sheep, and 682 horses. To-day the crofters have 2386 cattle, 8097 sheep, and 20 horses. The minister of this parish also states that the parish never supplied itself with a sufficiency of provisions. From these extracts, it can hardly be said that the Lewis was in such a prosperous state long ago as many delegates have represented. Even at that time, with a small population, the crofters appear to have been in poor circumstances, and not unfrequently in a state of destitution. I have already mentioned that the island was lotted and rented in 1849, 1850, and 1851, and I believe that if each crofter had held by his croft as he then got it, and not have subdivided it with his sons, they would have been, comparatively speaking, comfortably off, to what they are now. Everything possible was done to prevent this subdivision of crofts. Many were served with summonses of removal for allowing their sons and daughters to squat on their croft, though these were not enforced. In some cases the son was obliged to pull down the house he had built, and go and live with his father again. Notwithstanding, in the course of a year or two, he would commence to build a second house; but the difficulty was, if we had obliged him to pull down the house again, what were we to do with him, for we could not drive him out of the Lewis. In my opinion, were there free emigration, this subdivision of crofts might be prevented, but not otherwise. Frequent complaints have been made about new crofters being placed in townships; what frequently occurred was this— a number of young married men would apply to the factor, and sometimes to the proprietor, to give them waste land outside the township— and waste such land too often was, in every sense of the word, as the surface was removed to form bedding to their cows. The crofters in the township would support this application, urging, possibly, that the applicants were their relatives, and that they would earn their living by fishing if they had even the site of a house. Now the original crofters make it a grievance that the application was granted. This policy was, in my judgment, a mistake. Very frequently, while driving along a road, strangers think that the land outside the villages could be cultivated, forgetting all the while that such as it was, it was the pasture of the original crofters ; and that to place additional crofters on it, was to put on additional stock upon the ground. The crofters themselves, in reply to such an argument as that, would say that their sons and their daughters were already on them, were married, and had families and stock, and that by putting them on waste lands outside the township they would not increase the stock more than there was on the ground. There was one such case in the parish of Ness, where some twenty young men applied for land in this way. It was represented that they were fishermen, and only required a site for a house and land to keep a cow each. They were fishermen, but to-day they are amongst the poorest in Ness. Delegates from the township of Lionel complained of new crofters being placed in Adabrock, but they took no objection at the time, and supported the application in every way. I stated in the parish of Uig, that I never heard of any complaint from any one in the parish of being highly rented. But I had a complaint from the township of Balallan, in the parish of Lochs, and I referred the matter to two practical men—one chosen by the people and the other by myself. They accordingly valued the place. At the same time, I added to the township a considerable stretch of moorland pasture formerly attached to the farm of Valtos, the farmer having given it up, as it was surrounded by crofters, and he could make no use of it ; and the result of the valuation, with the Valtos moor added, was a rise of rent of £11. There was also a deduction of rent given to the township of Limervag, in the same parish. I may say that I am at all times quite prepared to refer the rental of any township to the judgment of any two practical men.
Angus Macarthur, the delegate from Kirkibost, Bernera, stated that Kirkibost was a very dear place, and that he understood that they were paying £30 more than the tacksman. Now that is not the case. In 1827 Kirkibost was let for £138, and it has not been let for less until it was given for £120 to the crofters, who had, in addition, a right the tacksman of Kirkibost never had, namely, of grazing a certain number of stock on the mainland. One might also infer from that delegate's statement that they were forced to go to Kirkibost, but that is not the case. They applied for it, and did not consider it dear at the time. I have in other instances, where it could be done, added to the pasture of the crofters.
When the farm of Aignish was out of lease, a portion of it was added to the township of Garrabost, another portion was given to Melbost and Branahine, and I also give to Melbost a pasture park formerly held by John Macrae, a mason. I likewise added to the township of Holm pasture land, when the farm of Holm was out of lease. I added another portion of the same farm to Sandwickhill, and likewise a piece of Mossend farm and Jamesfield.
George Macaulay, the delegate from Hacklete, stated that the township would not support more than half of the people now in it. Some of the crofters in Hacklete were once in Croir, and were removed from the latter place at their own request. There were something like ten crofters in Croir and as many cottars. Well, when these were removed to Hacklete, they considered that it was too big for them, and that it would accommodate more tenants, and accordingly four or six families were taken from the township of Tobson and placed with them. Had the people of Hacklete not expressed a desire to have those crofters in the township, the other four or six would not have been brought in. They only paid the rent charged when the former tacksman had it.
Neil Maclennan, delegate from Breasclete Park, stated that they were formerly in Reef, that they had no arrears, and that there was no reason for their removal; now, the reason for the removal of the people of Reef was that the people were deeply in arrears, and that the soil was light and sandy, unfit for cultivation, but suitable for permanent pasture. For the same reason, viz., arrears of rent, the township of Carnish was also cleared. In fact, it may be said that all the townships cleared were so treated because of so many of the people being in arrears of rent, and because the land was unsuitable for crofters. It cannot be said with truth that any were forced to emigrate, for when it was arranged that a township was to be cleared, only those who were willing to go abroad were sent, the others were provided with crofts vacated in other parts of the island by parties emigrating.
North Galston crofters applied for aid to emigrate, and a ship was engaged to take off a number of people in the township; but when it came to about the time for them to leave, many declined to go, and in order to fill up the ship which had been chartered, people were taken from other townships in the island. Those who did not emigrate from Galston had vacant crofts given them in other townships. It was likewise stated that some of those who emigrated were not well off. Now, I know that there were several letters sent from them, to Sir James Matheson, thanking him for having sent them to America, and stating how comfortable they were. I believe that those letters are now in my office, though I could not lay my hands on them, but if I get them I will send them to the Commissioners. There were four tenants removed from Reef to Breasclete Park. There are now ten families there. Neil Maclennan, the delegate, was a son of one of those crofters, and the croft of his deceased father is now shared by three sons and their mother. This delegate is a shoemaker, and at first he applied for a site for a house in which to carry on his trade. When he got this, he and the other members of the family divided the croft among them.
Murdoch Macdonald, the delegate from Tobson, said that a dyke was built between them and Bosta, where their burying place is, but that there is no gate on the road, and that they had to carry the dead over the wall. I have to say that the burying ground is not in Bosta, but in Little Bernera, and that there is a public road across the island to Croir, where they take a ferry to Littie Bernera. The public road is quite close to them, and there is no occasion for them crossing the dyke at all. But they think they should always go that way, because the fishermen in rough weather, when they land at Bosta, come over the wall for a short cut.
Then as to the burying ground at Eye. The delegate from Steinish stated that the road to the burying ground at Aignish was closed up. Now, there never was a public road through the farm of Melbost to Aignish. That is just another 'short cut' to take instead of going round by the ordinary road.
Malcolm MacPhail, South Shawbost, stated that there were twice as many in that township paying rent to-day as there were when he first began to do so, and that people had been crowded in upon them from Dallbeg. Well, in 1819, Dallbeg was let on lease for £52, and South Shawbost was relotted and rented to thirty-seven tenants at the same time, at what it was considered worth. The boundaries and marches are still the same. In 1881 there were thirty-seven tenants and eighteen squatters in the township. As to the cow taken from him by the ground officer as overstock, for which he only got £2, though it was worth £ 6 , I cannot, without the date, trace if there is such an entry in the books, but I am inclined to doubt the statement that at that time a crofter's cow would fetch £6. The crowding in this township arises from the subdivision of crofts by the crofters themselves, against the regulations of the estate.
John Nicolson's statement about the woman and her house being pulled down is not correct in all its particulars. She, and her mother-in-law, it appears, could not agree, and her husband and she went to live in the barn. Her husband was warned not to occupy the barn as a dwelling house, but to live with his mother, but notwithstanding that the use of the barn was not discontinued. When the ground officer went to the place the woman was with her mother-in-law. The barn had the appearance of having been occupied. There was a fire in it, and there was communication between the main house and the barn. An outdoor had evidently been nearly closed up with turf, on learning that the ground officer was to be there. The fire was extinguished, and the parties told that they must not occupy the barn, but the barn was not pulled down, and the man and his wife are there to-day. Many say that this system of squatting should and could be prevented, but when an attempt is made to enforce the rules of the estate a ' hue and cry' is immediately raised about the cruelty and oppression of evictions. It should be mentioned that the woman referred to was the delegate's own daughter.
A delegate from one of the Shawbosts stated that a man in his township had to pay £ 5 for the arrears of the outgoing tenant. A man, Malcolm Maclean, was £25, 16s. 7d. in arrears, and was warned to remove. Kenneth MacPhail came forward and offered to pay £ 5 for the house and crop then on the ground if he got the lot. He accordingly did so on payment of £5, and the balance of arrears (£20, 16s. 7d.) was wiped off as irrecoverable. MacPhail thereafter built a house for himself and left MacLean to occupy the old house. In like manner Colin Macaulay in 1871 got Widow Catherine MacLean's oroft, and for the house and crop laid down in the spring of 1871 he paid £3.
Another case referred to was that of Donald Macdonald, Fevig (Bragar). This man and his step-mother, Widow Christina Macaulay, were joint-tenants on a croft rented at £3, and when his stepmother died there were £11, 8s. 2d. of arrears, for which as joint-tenants he was as much responsible as the widow. Macdonald became sole occupier of the lot, but it was arranged that instead of pressing for immediate payment, the man should pay it up by instalments of £1 annually.
In supplement of what I have said as to what Sir James did for the island, there are just one or two things more which I should like to mention. I forgot to mention, when speaking of the 'Mary Jane' and the 'Marquis of Stafford' steamers, that Sir James' loss by these was £15,000. Sir James was also the means of getting postal communication by steamer from Ullapool five times instead of twice a week. His loss by that contract was £16,800. He also endowed 'The Nicolson Educational Institution' with a sum sufficient to produce an annual income of £35, besides giving them a free site. I might also mention Lady Matheson's contribution of £1500 to the Ness harbour and £1500 to the destitution fund.
I do not think it is worth while to take up the time of the Commission in seriously considering the statements made by Mr Morison, the Land League delegate here on Saturday.
16834. Have you anything further to add to that paper? —I may state that the total area of island, exclusive of foreshore and water, is 404,476 acres; deduct for forests, 34,747; deduct again for farms, arable and grazing, 124,763; glebes, 2573; parks, including home farm and round about and town here, 1559; leaves 240,834 acres in the possession of crofters. The rental of that is £8463, being at the rate of 8¼d. per acre. I have only to add further, that the public burdens in 1880—poor rates, school rates, sanitary and public health, county assessments, property and income tax, stipends, and so on—amounted to £5051; 1881, £437, 1882, £4623.
16835. Professor Mackinnon.
—What were they in 1844 ?
16836. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You have told us that the rent per acre of land under crofters is 8¼d., but you have not told us what is the rate per acre on the remaining 163,000?
—I have not got that noted.
16837. Which is the most valuable land—the land represented by the 240,000 acres or the land represented by the 163,000 ?
—Well, there is some good and some bad in both, but the larger proportion of what is under the grazing farms is not of great value.
16838. Is or is not the cream of the island outside the crofters' possessions?
—Not on what I call sheep farms, apart from the arable farms about the town of Stornoway.
16839. How long have you been chamberlain?
16840. How long have you been a resident in the island?
16841. Have you been all that time connected with the estate ?
—With the exception of two or three years, I mean that I was not in the chamberlain's office for two or three years.
16842. But for thirty-five years you have been either in the chamberlain's office or chamberlain ?
16843. You were there during the whole time of the late chamberlain, your predecessor, Mr Munro ?
16844. You have given us some extracts from the Statistical Account of 1796. Are you aware that there is a later edition ?
—Yes, I am aware of that.
16845. Did you compare the statements in the later edition with those in the former ?
—I had not time to do so.
16846. Are you aware that they vary very much, I refer to the general statement for 1833 to 1842 ?
—I did not read that one.
16847. You told us that the number of acres reclaimed and given to crofters amounted altogether over the island to 890 acres ?
—Not the whole of it.
16848. How much of the 890 acres of reclaimed land was given to crofters ?
—I cannot say.
16849. The half of it ?
16850. Have you any idea what the average cost per acre would be of the reclamation so as to arrive at an approximation ?
—I have not made it up.
16851. Would it probably go from £ 10 to £20 ?
—Some would, but a large proportion of it would be less.
16852. Would you said £15?
16853. What I want to get at is this, what really has been expended, as it may be called, for benefit of the crofters ? There has been £99,000 expended by Sir James altogether, but I want to arrive at what was the amount expended by the proprietor upon those lands that are now in the possession of the crofters?
16854. That is for new townships?
16855. Is that all?
—Well, there is some done upon old townships, but not a great deal.
16856. Would there be as much again as other £1500 on the other townships ?
—It would not exceed that.
16857. You take credit for £25,000 having been spent by Sir James upon roads, but, according to the testimony of almost all the delegates, the sum of 5s. has been placed upon them for road money, which is paid to this day in the form of rent ?
—That is statute labour, but it is not included in the £25,000. They pay it either in labour or money.
16858. Upon what roads was that statute labour expended?
—Principally in making township roads for the crofters.
16859. But surely that has expired long ago ?
16860. But you are charging them 5s. ?
—It is included in the rental.
16861. I must ask you some questions about the statistics you gave at Uig. I want to ascertain a point with regard to a road as to which a great complaint was made by the people, and also about the position of the school. What were the circumstances under which the school was placed where it is at Uig ?
—The first School Board had selected a site to the west of the church. The school was contracted for to be built there, and at the time of commencing operations it turned out that the site was upon the glebe, and it could not be built there. The board had to select another site. A committee,of the board was appointed to select a site, and they did so by selecting a site some 200 or 300 yards to the east of the church.
16862. Is that the present site?
—That is the present site?
16863. Was the board unanimous about the alteration?
—They were not.
16864. Did this alteration postpone the building of the school for a considerable period ?
—I don't think it did.
16865. Did you lose a year's Government grant in consequence of the delay that took place?
—No, the school was contracted for on the glebe site, and the board could not change the site—that is, to put it further from the road—without paying compensation to the contractor.
16866, About the constitution of the board; you are chairman, I believe, of all the boards ?
16867. And I think you stated at Uig that you did not think the representatives of the crofting interest in Uig were people who gave very much assistance in the conduct of the business of the board ?
16868. Are you aware that some of the present teachers in Uig are the children of crofters ?
—Yes, I know two of them who are.
16869. Is there a member of the School Board at present who cannot read or write ?
—I don't think there is.
16870. Do you not think that it would be an advantage to have on the board some representative of the crofting interest who pay half at least, if not more, of the rates ?
—Well, I don't see they would do much good.
16871. Can you tell me the number of townships in the parish of Uig which have been depopulated and the crofters removed ? Am I safe in saying there were forty townships ?
—Not in Sir James' day.
16872. But can you say there were forty townships once in existence and not there now ?
—I cannot say.
16873. How often are the paupers of Uig paid their allowances?
—Every two months, I think.
16874. Are you sure it is not every three months ?
—It may be ; some of the parishes are two months and some three.
16875. Have any complaints reached your ear about the doctor at Uig?
—Not of late, but there were some time ago.
16876. Did you take means to put that right so far as you could?
—I took this means, that I wished the people to put in a formal complaint to the board, but it never came.
16877. And you have not heard any complaint recently
16878. There was a complaint made about a road. Will you explain how it was that you changed the road which had been at one time agreed to be made in Uig with some of the destitution money ?
—Well, the road is not made yet, but the difference betweeu us is just as to the line of the road. Mr M'lver, I believe, was for one line, and I was for another. That is all the difference, if it ever should be made.
16879. Did you yourself refuse any meal to people in the parish of Uig when they came to you on any occasion and under any circumstances?
16880. Will you explain why?
—What is referred to, I suppose, is the township of Kneep. There is a large fence between the township of Kneep and the township of Reef, which was blown down partly by a gale. I sent men to repair it, but what was built during the day would be knocked down during the night. It continued so for some time. I offered these people who applied for meal that they should go and work at this dyke, and I would pay them for it, but till they did so I would not give them meal.
16881. Were you aware at the time that they were in absolute destitution?
—No, I do not believe they were.
16882. You did not consider so at the time?
16883. And you have not now been made aware that they were?
—No, I have not.
16884. Was there any talk among those in authority who had the distribution of this destitution money that if it were paid back by the people : it should be used for the purpose of emigration?
—There was a talk as to what it should be applied to at the first public meeting, but the committee have not resolved upon anything. It has been left with the committee for future consideration as to what should be done with the money if any part of it is paid back.
16885. No resolution has been come to ?
16886. Are you aware that a good deal of dissatisfaction has prevailed with regard to the way the money was distributed in the different parts of the island?
—I quite believe that.
16887. You are the chairman of the fund?
16888. You, of course, could not see to the personal application of it yourself ?
—I have seen to the distribution of it.
16890. Did you refuse anybody at all?
—I have refused many.
—Because I knew they did not require it at the time. I had the assistance of others. I had the assistance of the inspector of poor, and the ground officer of the district, and any member of the committee who liked to be present.
16892. Did you give as much as nine or ten bolls to single families?
16893. And many got nothing?
—It is precious few who got not at all in the island.
16894. What is your opinion generally about the state of Uig? Do you consider that the people are very ill off there, or the reverse?
—There are many very ill off there during this year.
16895. Are the rents pretty well paid?
—Not so well as ordinarily.
16896. Are you aware that people have borrowed money to pay their rents ?
—I am not aware, but there may be such cases.
16897. Are your regulations so stringent about the payment of rent that people are obliged to resort to every shift to bring their rent ?
—Well, I must get in the rents.
16898. I suppose you have no such regulation as we have heard of in Skye, that no payment to account will be taken ?
—Oh, no; we are glad to take a payment to account.
16899. You have no farm yourself?
—I never had an acre.
16900. May I take it for granted that you have no interest in any of the tacksmen ?
—No interest whatever.
16901. With regard to the present position of the property, it is liferented by Lady Matheson ?
16902. With a destination to another individual?
16903. Who pays for the expenditure of the estate or any improvements of a permanent character that need to be done, or is anything paid?
—There is nothing paid unless Lady Matheson likes to do it.
16904. Then the position at this moment is that the liferentrix may draw all the rent, and is not responsible for any outgoing?
—She is responsible for the ordinary upholding of the premises on the estate.
16905. But nothing can be expended?
—She can expend what she likes.
16906. Bat there is no obligation or press are of estate interests is there is upon an ordinary proprietor?
16907. And no power to enforce it?
16908. Has the expenditure to a great extent ceased upon the property ?
16909. Did Sir James use to expend the full rental on the estate?
—Yes, and a great deal more.
16910. That is not so now?
—No; I believe he never pocketed a penny apart from the occupancy of the castle and the home farm. He spent the whole rental and a great deal more. Even now Lady Matheson would not pocket a penny off the Lewis estates were it not for the shooting rents.
16911. Can you explain how it is that the burdens have risen so enormously from £700 to £4600? The rent is only doubled, so at the most the burdens should be under £2000 ?
—There was no poor rate in 1844, no school rate, and no road assessment.
16912. And these have unfortunately turned out to be excessively high in all the parishes?
—They have been excessively high during the years I have mentioned.
16913. With regard to your teachers, how is it that so few teachers who teach Gaelic have been appointed in your schools ?
—Because we are glad to get teachers whether they have Gaelic or not. It is very difficult to get teachers to come to this part.
16914. Do you put into your advertisements when you ask for teachers, what is very common, that Gaelic is an essential, or is considered a great qualification?
—We generally put in that Gaelic would be a recommendation.
16915. But still you have not got any?
—We have some teachers, I think, who have Gaelic.
16916. Can you say how many teachers in the island have got Gaelic ?
—No; there are some, but I cannot say how many.
16917. Have you Gaelic yourself?
—A sort of it.
16918. Now, we are well aware of the great sums of money that have been laid out on the estate in one way or other, but I have not yet been able to get from you anything that has been done for the direct benefit of the crofters in the way of expenditure, except a sum of £1500 for new townships, and a similar sum given for old townships, and except the money spent on roads and bridges?
—And schools, and storehouses at different places to enable the fish-curers to prosecute the fishing.
16919. But rent is paid for those curing stores?
—Yes, but if there were no storehouses there would be no fishing.
16920. With regard to the schools that have now become sunk in the board schools, what may have been laid out on them,—on the buildings and on the teachers?
—I would not like to give figures.
16921. Would there be £5000 laid out on the buildings ?
—Not so much as that.
16922. Would the annual allowances to the teachers amount to £300 a year ?
—About £200 or £250.
16923. And probably the teachers have got croftland around their schoolhouses ?
—Some of them have crofts, but not all.
16924. Are you not aware that the state of the Lewis generally in the eyes of the public is critical ?
16925. In fact, you have so stated in public?
16926. And you have been obliged to go in consequence of that to seek aid from other quarters,—no doubt a most painful duty to you. Can you make any suggestion, whether agreeable or not to those who hear you?
—Well, I ascribe the present destitute state of the island to squatting or subdivision of crofts, and for that I know no remedy but emigration, and quays and harbours in several parts of the islands.
16927. You want quays and harbours, and emigration. Are you in favour of giving the people a chance of enlarging their crofts on some of the tacks as the leases fall out ?
—Not enlarging the crofts, but enlarging the pastures. I don't believe they could pay for large crofts of arable land, or that they could work them.
16928. Would you like to see their pasture improved?
—Yes, to increase their pasture.
16929. It was stated to us by Dr Macrae that he thought some land might be taken in on the west side of the road leading down to the Ness. What do you say to that idea?
—A good deal has been done there by reclaiming land outside the township, but I consider it was a very great mistake. It interfered with the old crofters that were below the road. At one time there was no croft outside the road from Galston to the Butt on the right hand side going towards the Butt. They commenced to reclaim lands there, and placed squatters here in the old township. I think that was a mistake, in this respect, that it reduced the pasture of the original crofters, and placed these crofters between them and the moor pasture. Instead of reclaiming it for new crofters, it should have been reclaimed for the original crofters, so as to enlarge their lots.
16930. You think it would be a proper step to enlarge the crofts of those already there ?
—Only in that district, because they have horses and they plough the land, but there are many districts where no plough can ever be.
16931. Do you think that by doing that they would be enabled to leave out a portion under grass, so as to recover itself ?
—Well, they might do that.
16932. Is that one of the principal hardships or grievances they suffer under, that the land is running out through not having rest?
—There is no doubt the land would be better of having a portion left out in grass.
16933. Is it not the fact that as you go along on the road to Knock, where there are now beautiful fields of grass, that was all bog at one time, or mostly so ?
—That was reclaimed long ago.
16934. But still it was originally bog land?
—It is quite possible it was.
16935. Is there any reason why a great deal more of that should not be taken in by small crofters, who can do it much cheaper than the proprietor can ?
—Well, they could not do it without being paid for it. They could not do much of themselves.
16936. Don't you think that if the landlord or anybody else fenced it for them, they would do all the rest themselves?
—I don't think they could do so at present, in their present circumstances.
16937. You were to give us a statement of the different points round the island where you think quays or harbours would be suitable. You have not prepared that yet ?
16938. The Chairman.
—Have not the crofters spare time at a portion of the year? Do they fish between January and sowing time?
—They fish in the spring, of course.
16939. Then they are at present occupied throughout the year, and have no odd time on their hands?
—Not the fishermen.
16940. You have been speaking of an expenditure of £1500 on the crofts, but your paper makes the expenditure £8470; which is the correct figure, £8470 or £1500?
—That was to 1853.
16941. Then up to 1853 £8400 had been expended on crofters?
16942. And since then there has been more expended?
—Yes, but not much.
16943. There has been a question about the representatives of the crofters on the School Board. Although there are not many of the crofter class on the board, are not the members representatives of the crofters ? They have been elected in the usual way ?
16944. Have there been contests in the parishes?
—There have been.
16945. Do the crofters form a majority of the electors ?
—They do in most parishes.
16946. Therefore, though the members are not crofters, they are in point of fact crofters' representatives ?
16947. With regard to Kneep, where you refused to give relief except in return for employment, if the crofters had accepted this employment, how long would they have had to go on working before they received relief?
—If they were even three days working they would be paid for it.
16948. Therefore, the offer of employment was in point of fact equal to an offer of relief ?
—It was applied as a test.
16949. In the statistics which you have given us you have not referred to the arrears on this property. Can you state what the arrears of rent are at the present time?
—The arrears of rent at 31st December last amounted to £6753.
16950. Can you tell me what they were twenty years ago?
—I believe they would be a great deal more.
16951. Then the arrears are. being gradually reduced?
—Well, twenty years ago we were purging the roll, as it were.
16952. And the £6753 will stand as a sort of average, year after year now ?
16953. What is the average remission of arrears of rent?
—It is not remitted every year, but perhaps every three years.
16954. Is it a growing quantity or a diminishing quantity?
—Since I took charge, I think it has diminished.
16955. Are you applying more pressure to recover rents than used to be employed ?
—No, I am not. I mean that I have no more summonses, but I perhaps ask it oftener.
16956. They are not threatened with eviction more frequently than they used to be?
—No, but they are told when they are two years past due, and third year running, that they must quit.
16957. Is it your practice to carry out that rule?
—No, I have not carried it out.
16958. Then what I want to arrive at is this,
—judging by their arrears of rent, do you think the circumstances of the people are improving or deteriorating?
—I don't think they are improving. There are a greater number of poor people among them now than there used to be.
16959. Mr Cameron.
—We have heard a good deal about evictions—not so much in evidence given before us as in the public newspapers; can you state anything with regard to evictions during the time of your connection with the estate ?
—Some have been deprived of land on account of arrears. For instance, when I began to take charge there was one tenant who had not paid a penny for twenty-five years.
16960. How many years is it generally the practice to allow arrears of rent to run before measures are taken to evict a tenant ?
—My instructions from Sir James were that when two years were past due, and the third year was running, the tenant must quit.
16961. Have any evictions taken place on a wholesale scale connected with the estate ?
—Not since I had to do with it—not for the last eight years.
16962. Has anything of that kind taken place during the last twenty years?
—No, except the emigration from the townships that were cleared. A proportion of the people of these townships emigrated.
16963. What became of the remainder?
—They were provided with bigger crofts in other parts—in this new land that was taken in.
16964. How were the people selected for emigration? Were they taken according to the age of the head of the family, or how ?
—I cannot speak about the townships that were cleared during Mr Munro Mackenzie's time, but the only township cleared during Mr Munro's time was that of North Galston or New Galston, and there was a petition from the people asking to be sent to America.
16965. Do you know whether that petition was largely signed or not?
—I cannot say.
16966. But it was considered bona fide at the time?
16967. How were the people selected for emigration?
—It was understood they were all to go, and a vessel was engaged to take them to America; but many of them latterly refused to go after agreeing to go, and they were taken from any township or any place. Any person who was willing to go was taken in order to fill up, and those who refused to go were placed in the crofts that were vacated.
16968. I gather from that statement that the emigration was purely voluntary?
—It was voluntary at first, but no doubt every means was brought to bear upon them to go after they had agreed to go.
16969. And this place was made a tack of?
—It was added to the farm of Galston.
16970. Were there any other wholesale clearances during the time you William remember? I think you stated that during your occupancy of the office of chamberlain there had been none at all ?
—That is so.
16971. But during the time you remember were there any others?
—Yes, there were Reef, and Carinish, and North Tolsta.
16972. Do you think this clearance at Galston has had any effect in making the people unwilling to entertain the idea of emigration ?
—I don't think it.
16973. You are aware that there is a very strong feeling against emigration in the island?
—I believe there is so amongst some; still, I believe, if there was free emigration, and people were assisted, they would emigrate. A number emigrated this same year.
16974. Don't you think there lingers in the mind of the people an idea that emigration means forced emigration, and that they do not draw a distinction between forced emigration and voluntary emigration ?
—I quite believe that.
16975. Do you consider that, provided an opportunity was offered to the crofters, with proper guarantees that they would be made secure in their holdings, they would be willing to improve waste land?
—No, I don't think they would.
16976. It was stated by Dr Macrae, that if money was found from some source or another, and the crofters were given security in the possession of the land which they were to improve, they would be found willing and desirous to occupy their spare time in bringing the land into cultivation? Do you concur in that view?
—Not at their own expense; if they were paid for it.
16977. You think that if they were paid for their labour,—that is to say, if they were encouraged to improve the land,—they would be found willing to accept any such offer ?
—What I mean to say is this,—if a man got payment for his labour on the land as he brought it in, without waiting for compensation.
16978. But if the land was improved by money found from outside sources, would the tenant be inclined to improve the land, and to pay interest on the money so expended?
—I believe he would, but it would be ultimately a very high rent. The improvements made by Sir James cost more than the tenant could do for himself had he paid for it.
16979. I presume improvements made by the proprietor are always charged with interest?
—I should think so, but there has been nothing done here on which interest has been charged for many years. Not since 1853.
16980. But if improvements are made, aud no interest is charged, it ceases to be improvements in the ordinary sense of the word, and then becomes pure charity ?
—So it does.
16981. With regard to subdivision, the great evils of subdivision have been fully brought before us, and we have endeavoured to ascertain how these might be prevented in future. Have you any suggestion to make on that head ?
—In regard to this island, I do not see how it is possible to prevent it without free emigration.
16982. The regulations of the estate, I presume, prevent subdivision, or are intended to prevent it ?
—They forbid subdivision, but how are you to prevent it ?
16983. I suppose a factor who endeavoured to enforce these regulations strictly, would be looked upon as very hard-hearted ?
16984. Do you think the people themselves see the necessity of helping the factor and authorities in keeping the crofts of a size that would support a family?
—Some of the old men, when spoken to by themselves, admit the impropriety of it, but still they give their consent to it when sons and daughters get married.
16985. With reference to Lady Matheson's position in regard to the estate, I suppose there is no obligation on any ordinary proprietor to make improvements, whether he holds in fee simple or under entail?
16986. You stated that Lady Matheson would derive no revenue from this estate, were it not for the rents from the shooting tenants. Can you tell us how the rates and public burdens are affected by the shootings ?
—The additional rate that would be required, if the shootings were not let, in the parish of Uig, would be 4s. 5d. per pound—2s. 2|d. on proprietors, and the same on tenants.
16987. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—But that is presuming that no use whatever is made of the ground?
—No, I am only deducting the shooting rental.
16988. Not the forest rental?
—Forest and shootings. In the parish of Lochs it would necessitate an additional rate of 3s. 7½d; in Barvas, an additional rate of Is. 2¼d; and in the parish of Stornoway, 10 3/4d.
16989. Does that mean, if you strike off the total rent of shooting and forest?
—Strike off the shooting and forest rent for the rental of the parish.
16990. But then don't you see that the deer forests might let as grazing ?
—But the rental would not be so large.
16991. Mr Cameron.
—It comes to this, that you would have to add something for the value of the grazing of the forest, but with regard to the other shootings it would be all clean loss ?
16992. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Has any one found fault, so far as you are aware, with the grouse shootings ? The general public don't want to drive away the sportsmen ?
—I never heard any complaints.
16993. Mr Cameron.
—You had brought under your notice a petition from the crofters of Lewis, and the third paragraph states that there are nine shootings and salmon fishings let to sportsmen who do not reside permanently on the island, and who pay rents ranging from £150 to £1000. You are aware that is one of the grievances?
—I am not aware that the crofters ever made a grievance of it, but it is a great advantage so far as the rates are concerned.
16994. Professor Mackinnon.
—You say there are over 240,000 acres under crofts, and 158,000 acres under forests and farms. All over the island, so far as we have gone yet, having heard the claim made by those who have crofts for double and treble their sizes, and of those who have no crofts to get crofts, are you prepared to say that these forests and large farms, if relotted out, would not provide every one of the present population with a suitable size of croft?
—No, I don't think it would afford crofts to the present population on which they could live comfortably.
16995. You stated you thought the policy of reclaiming the cul and giving it to additional tenants a mistake, and that you thought it would not pay as an arable farm. Dr Macrae stated that he thought if it was enclosed it would pay as grazing, and that the increased grazing would recoup the expense, more or less ?
—To the present tenants who are tenants in any township, if they themselves brought it in, or if it was brought in for them, but not if additional crofters were placed upon it.
16996. I don't mean that additional crofters should be placed upon it. Do you think it would pay to reclaim it for grazing ?
—I have no doubt it would, but I would not place additional crofters upon it.
16997. You would rather undo what in that respect has been already done in cutting out new crofts ?
—That was a mistake.
16998. And you would rather undo it?
—What I say is that the land should be given to the original crofters, increasing the original crofts.
16999. One great grievance of the crofters was that this piece of pasture was taken from them, and no abatement made in the rent. Do you not consider that that was a grievance ?
—I admit that. I admit it was a mistake to put the original crofters there at all.
17000. According to their own statement, it worked in another way. The pasture was made less, the number of crofts was increased, the summing remained the same, and now the one who can afford it has perhaps the old summing on the grazing at the expense of his neighbour who has less stock, and they complain that the cattle and the sheep are very much worse. Don't you think it would be a very desirable thing that the summing, even supposing things remained the same, should be reduced to reasonable proportions, so that no man should keep except what his grazing would enable him adequately to support ?
—Well, the summing was reduced when the new regulations were issued. Formerly people were under the impression that they were entitled to have five Cheviot or seven blackfaced sheep and one cow and a follower. As the regulations were read, it was one cow and a follower or five Cheviot sheep.
17001. Don't you think in some places, whatever the regulations are, some of them keep the cow and the five sheep ?
—And some of them a great deal more.
17002. Then it is not a matter of making new regulations, but enforcing the existing regulations ?
17003. According to the present rules of the property, one is not deprived of his holding till he is three years in arrears, and you stated tint even that is not carried into effect, so that practically, as matter of fact, there is the security that was asked for by legislation the other day, the statement being that it should be secured by statute that no man should be deprived of his croft till he was three or four or five years in arrear. The present rule is three years, and that is not even acted upon ?
17004. So you are better than the proposed law in that case?
17005. Are you able to tell us the rent of the shooting that has no stock upon it except deer—where crofters are not allowed to put their stock ?
—Morsgiel is in the valuation roll at £950; Scaliscroft, £160; Arnish, a small place the grazing rental of which before was £50, and which is in the proprietor's hands; and Aline, £400.
17006. That is all under deer, and no other stock allowed upon it, and it gives a rental of about £2000 in the various parishes. How much rent would you expect to get for that land, supposing it were let for grazing purposes ?
17007. You stated that so far as you were aware there was no extensive clearing made except either when the people were in arrear or except where the places were unsuitable for cultivation. Is it not the case that a considerable number of the large farms throughout the estate were cultivated as small crofts to advantage in former times ?
—I believe most of them had crofters at one time or other.
17008. And they could be cultivated to advantage yet in the same way ?
—Well, there are some of them in which there is very little arable land, or land which could be made arable. In others a considerable proportion might be cultivated.
17009. And others again have a considerable proportion of arable land that has been very much improved ?
17010. When you stated there was no forced emigration, I suppose you meant that the people were not removed through process of law ?
17011. The people who remained of course stated that those who went away went sorely against their own will, but still there was no process of law ?
—The only emigration I saw was from Galston, and I know there was not even a summons.
17012. You stated that there were letters in your possession which described the position of those people after they went away. Are any of these letters of recent date ?
—They are principally from tenants who emigrated in 1851 and 1852.
17013. A gentleman stated on Saturday his belief that the present condition of those who went away thirty years ago is worse than the condition of their neighbours in the island of Lewis at the present moment. Have you any means of forming an opinion as to the accuracy of that?
—It is inaccurate. I have seen many who returned from Canada to the island, and heard their statements as to their condition, and my opinion is that they are much better off than if they had remained in the Lewis.
17014. Have any of these returned permanently to the place?
—There were two men I know who returned, but one of them left his family there.
17015. There was just one statement of an alleged grievance in connection with which your own name was quoted. At Breasclete some tenants stated they were removed to Dun of Carloway, and because of their former experience they wanted to have a written engagement that people should not be thrown in upon them, and that they should not be deprived of pasture land, and your own name was quoted as being aware of that written agreement which was afterwards lost ?
—I am not aware of there having been a written agreement, but I am aware of the factor for the time being saying to them that whoever would be placed into those parks would not have the right of pasture below the road, between them and the sea.
17016. Has that agreement been kept ?
—Yes, it has been keep for nineteen years. These have no pasture below the road. The whole township lies between the road and the sea, and the two who were placed into the parks have not been allowed to pasture between the crofts and the sea, but they are to have the privilege of pasturing their cow on the outside.
17017. You heard the statement of Dr Macrae on education, and his belief that to secure regular attendance it would be better to try rewards for those who did attend regularly than to punish the parents of those who did not. Are you prepared to accept that ?
17018. Is that regulation as to punishing those parents by adding to their rent still in force ?
17019. I think you stated the other day that there was some money recovered under that process ?
17020. What fund did it go to?
—To the School Board.
17021. What would be done to any one who declined to pay that sum?
—I don't know what we might do in that case.
17022. All those who were asked paid it?
—Yes; but it was not for non-attendance that they were made to pay, but for withholding the children from the examination.
17023. Sheriff Nicolson.
—There was rather an extraordinary thing told us on Saturday about the destruction of the pier at Bayble. You heard what was said. Can you give any explanation of it ?
—The only explanation I can give is that the greater part of the pier was swept away many years ago. I saw that myself, and I have been speaking to some of the men since then, and they admitted that the outer end of it was swept away. The stones were strewn on the beach, and our clerk of works requiring some good stones took some of them off the beach, and that only improved the beach, because the stones might have injured the boats. He did not take any stones off the quay, but off the beach.
17024. Was the quay built by Sir James?
—Well, I know he paid something for it, and that he had a man working there. It was said here that every crew paid £1 to Mr Methven, the fish-curer. I cannot speak to that, but I know that Sir James paid a man for working there for a considerable time.
17025. Do you know how long the stones were so lying?
—For many years. The work was done about 1845 or 1846. It was a slip for boats.
17026. Stones are scarce in that district?
—Good stones are.
17027. So for the repair of the pier it would be difficult to get them anywhere else ?
—There is a good quarry at hand.
17028. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—All over the island we have had a very good account of you as chamberlain, but I am obliged to ask you this question ? Have you ever threatened to turn out a crofter for refusing to maintain a person whom he was not legally bound to support?
—I cannot recollect of doing such a thing.
17029. The person is John Matheson, tenant at Aird, Uig, and the letter is as follows : —Chamberlain's Office, Stornoway, 12th May 1881. —Sir, The fact of your having made a claim against the Parochial Board of Uig, for the support and maintenance of your idiotic sister's illegitimate child, I made known to Lady Matheson, and she was so horrified at the very idea, of you and your father making such a claim, seeing you are in position to support this child. I was instructed to make an entry in our books, that on the death of your father, should you survive him, that you are not to be continued thereafter as tenant of the croft you now occupy at Aird Uig, jointly with your father, in the event of your persisting in this claim against the board. Though you may not be legally bound for the support of this child, yet, considering the unfortunate circumstances connected therewith and your own and your father's ability to support the child, it was mean and unnatural to charge the board for the short period the child was left with its mother, and you should have been satisfied when the board relieved you of the child, which at first was all you wanted, not on the plea that you were not able to support the child, but that the child could not be left in charge of the mother, and there was no other person in the family who could take charge, —Yours truly, WM MACKAY. —Mr John Matheson, Tenant, Aird Uig.
—That is quite correct. I think it was anything but right in these circumstances to the party that they should have thrown that child upon the board.
17030. You said, in answer to my inquiry about what was laid out in the Parish of Uig, that there was a shooting lodge built there, which gave some labour at the time. Is it the fact that that lodge was built on the ground of the crofters ?
—No, it was built on the ground of the tacksman.
17030. And not on the ground of the crofters?
—No, it was not.