Tarbert, Harris, 13 June 1883 - Donald Macdonald

DONALD M'DONALD, Crofter, Grosaway (74)—examined.

18117. The Chairman.
—How many families are there in Grosaway?

18118. Do you come here to represent them?

18119. Were you chosen by them?

18120. What have you got to say on their behalf?
—The place was occupied by two men formerly. The rent was £15. Now there are eight crofters, and there is not one of them without cattle and sheep except one.

18121. What do they pay for each of the eight crofts?
—About £4, 12s.

18122. Are there eleven cottars?
—Yes, there are eleven families without land, and these are a great burden upon us; for we cannot see them allowed to go without any land at all. There are three without any children of school age, and these have to pay school rates, when it is those with plenty of children—the cottars—who reap the advantage of it. Now, this is a great source and injury. Then there are others who would be very glad to get land if they only got it, and who would be more able to take it than many who have it, and who sorely need it. That is what left our place so poor. I myself was born in Rodel. I saw my mother with her youngest child taken out of the house in a blanket and laid down by the side of a dyke, and the place pulled down. My mother was in child-bed at the time. The child was only born the previous night, and my father asked M'Leod, who was proprietor at the time, whether he would not allow them to remain in the house for a few days, but permission was not given, only he came to the dykeside where she lay and asked what this was, and when he was told he asked him to lift her up and remove her to an empty barn, and it was there she was put. If these cottars were to get land, the crofters who are on the rent roll would be very much better off, for these cottars without land are of no benefit to the proprietor or crofter or anybody else—rather the reverse.

18123. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—How many families were turned out at the time you refer to in speaking about your mother ?
—Nearly forty families. The half of it was under gentlemen tacksmen. It was the clearing of that place that destroyed the country, when they were sent up to the east side.

18124. Who got the place that these forty families were removed from?
—It was M'Leod himself that took the place and kept it for two years, and afterwards he gave it to Stewart.

18125. How long did Stewart have it?
—I cannot tell. It is about sixty-six or sixty-seven years since it was cleared.

18126. And it is now in the proprietor's own hands?
—The proprietor has it now.

18127. The Chairman.
—Where did the six tenants come from that made them up to eight ?
—An uncle of mine came there first. These two men had it, and there were three or four subdivisions of their own. Then, when the place was cleared that I spoke of, other two were brought in.

18128. Where did the cottars come from ?
—They belonged to the place. Some of them lost the land that they had—others sprang up there. These are able to take land now if they got it,—some of them more able than those who have land.

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