STATEMENT by WILLIAM MACKAY, Esq., Chamberlain of Lews.
STORNOWAY, 25th September 1883.
With reference to the evidence laid before the Royal Commissioners while in the island of Lews, I have already made some statements before you in each of the four parishes in the island, and would now respectfully beg to submit the following remarks in the shape of answers or explanations of statements made by certain delegates.
Murdo MacLean, delegate from Yaltos in the parish of Uig, stated that the statute labour was commuted in 1850 to a charge of 5s. This labour was commuted into a money payment long before 1844 ; but it was optional to the crofter to perform one week's labour or make a payment of 5s. in lieu thereof. He further stated that ' about 1827 the township was deprived of some islands, and a few years before that of moorland pasture, and for that deprivation they got an abatement of £40 of rent.' In the year 1823 the rental of the township of Yaltos was £239, 13s., and in 1828 the rent was .£169,10s., so that, if deprived of moorlands within that period, the crofters must have got a deduction of £70, 3s. The rental of this township in 1828, as already stated, was £169, 10s., and now (1883) it is only £159, Is., and the marches and boundaries are the same to-day as they were in 1844. and probably may be the same as they were in 1828. I merely refer to this to show that no dependence can be put on statistics or figures given by such delegates as Mr MacLean, who had merely hearsay for his statements.
He further stated that ' the people had no inducement to improve their dwellings. I consider they had every inducement to do so, when, by the rules of the estate and the conditions on which the tenants held their crofts, they are secured, in the event of being removed at the expiry of a lease, or otherwise quitting their crofts during the currency of a lease, in full meliorations for their houses, according to the valuation of parties mutually chosen, providing the house was not used both as a dwelling-house and byre, and that the smoke was allowed to escape by a chimney or other opening on the roof. It is not correct, as stated by Mr MacLean, that ' a number of people were evicted from Callanish about 32 years ago, and that in recent years there had been cases of arbitrary eviction at Crolovick. Grievous complaints were made against two crofters in Crolovick by their neighbours; and, after inquiry, these complaints being ascertained to be well founded, they were shifted to another township.
Norman Morison, delegate from Brenish, is reported to have said that about fifty years ago there were between 12 and 16 families in Brenish, and now there were 43, of whom 29 were on the rent roll.' The fact is that fifty years ago there were 25 crofters on the rent-roll in this township, and now there are 29, but there are other 15 families as squatters or sub-tenants, so that the overcrowding here has arisen entirely from the crofters themselves subdividing their crofts, and not from families from other townships thrown in among them. There was no increase of rent on this township since 1844, except interest on outlay by the proprietor on improvements and fencing. The rental now is £99, 6s., and the arrears outstanding at 31st December last were £188, 6s. 2d.
Angus Macarthur, delegate from Kirkibost, in the island of Bernera, stated that' they wanted an island which used to go with Kirkibost, but they could not get it.' On the 5th June, at Uig, and again on the 11th June, at Stomoway, I gave some particulars regarding the township of Kirkibost, and have only to add that these crofters were removed from Bosta to Kirkibost at their own urgent request, and were never summoned to remove ; that they did not consider the rent high, and would have given more for it if asked. There was no island attached to Kirkibost, and I never heard of such, nor did any of the crofters, at the time of negotiating for the exchange from Bosta to Kirkibost, ask for or say anything about an island. The crofters of this township got as much land as they could desire, and a lease of their holdings which provides for compensation for houses and other improvements. Still, their houses are nothing better than other houses in the island, nor are they in better circumstances than those who have no written leases.
George Macaulay. delegate from Hacklete, in the island of Bemera, said ' the people could never rise out of poverty, but would sink deeper into it unless their rents were reduced and more land given to them.' The crofters of this township were formerly in the adjoining township of Croir, in the same island. There were eight crofters in Croir, paying a rent of £33, 13s., and seven cottars or sub-tenants. All these petitioned to be removed to the farm of Hacklete when it was out of lease in 1880. Accordingly, they did remove to Hacklete, but considered the place too large for fifteen crofters. Consequently, there were five cottars taken from Tobson, in Bernera, and placed with the fifteen from Croir in Hacklete. The rent they now pay is the same as was paid by the former tacksman (£85, 8s.). They have also the privilege of sending their cattle and sheep to the Bernera summer sheilings or grazings on the mainland of the Lews island, which the former tacksman had not, though he paid as high a rent as the crofters now do. Still, if this delegate represents correctly the views of the crofters of this township, they now think they have not sufficient land, and that they are too highly rented, though they are unable to cultivate the whole of the arable land they have got. I think the case of this township, and that of Kirkibost already referred to, goes far to show that crofters who are also fishermen cannot pay the same rent for the same area that a tacksman can do, and that leases will not, in Lews at least, work out the marvellous improvements many ascribe to them.
Murdo Macdonald, delegate from Tobson, stated that' the people of Tobson wished to get the lands of Bosta, which were vacated.' But Bosta was not vacated, but given up in exchange for Kirkibost; and the main reason for making the exchange was that the peats were exhausted in Bosta, and that the crofters had consumed as fuel nearly the whole surface of their pasture lands, and therefore the place had become unfit for crofters. Macdonald further stated that' the hill pasture taken from them was added to the deer forest. It was eleven years ago that occurred.' There were no pasture lands taken from this township, or from Bernera eleven years ago and added to the deer forest; but the crofters of Bernera were shifted from their summer sheilings at Bealach-eaulan to the farm of Earshader, which farm is on the opposite shore of the island of Bernera, and therefore, nearer and more convenient for the crofters than their former sheilings, wliich were upwards of twelve miles from Bernera; and in going to and returning from their former sheilings or grazings they had to pass through the farm of Earshader with their stock. This delegate says ' they put up the dyke referred to in the course of a winter and spring,' whereas the dyke was put up in less than ten days.
The delegate from Borrowston stated that' fifty-five years ago there were 'only five crofters in the place, paying a rent of £42; now there are fifteen, and the rent was £61.' The fact is, that fifty-five years ago, in 1828, there were fourteen crofters in this township paying a rent Of £46, 4s. At this date there are sixteen crofters paying a rent of £48, 19s., showing a rise of only £2, 15s. in fifty-five years. The crofters of this township are not prevented from taking sea-ware from the shores of Limeshader, as was said by this delegate ; and there is no moss that could be used for fuel in Limeshader.
The delegate from Kerrivick stated that ' seven crofts had, since Sir James Matheson got the estate, been divided into fifteen, and besides there were five squatters, or families within the land. There were eight crofters in this township in 1844. There were no crofters or tenants from any other township placed there ; but the eight crofters subdivided their crofts amongst their sons and sons-in-law; so that there are now fourteen families on the eight crofts, besides other four families who have no lands. It was perfectly well known to those crofters that the subdivision of crofts was contrary to the rules of the estate, but they did so in this township in particular in defiance of factor and ground officer, as everything within their power was done to prevent it.
Murdo Mackay, delegate from Lionel, Ness, stated that' twelve or thirteen years ago, in the time of Munro, they had to build a dyke between the moor and the tack of Galson, and that the crofters did the whole work.' The proprietor erected the south and north march fences on the farm of Galson; and in 1871 a portion of mil pasture about six square miles was cut off the farm and given to the adjoining crofters. Between this hill pasture and the farm of Galson there was an old turf march fence known as the blackdyke, which the crofters undertook to repair on their getting this pasture, and thereafter to uphold the one-half of it, and the proprietor or tacksman of Galson to uphold the other half. This has accordingly been done, and the upholding costs the crofters 6d. each, and the proprietor pays an equal sum to that contributed by the crofters towards the upholding of this dyke, and both sums paid to the crofters' herd, who undertakes to uphold the fence, and this enables the herd to take less wages from the crofters for his herding than he otherwise would do had he not the upholding of the fence.
George Mackenzie, delegate from Laxay. stated at Keose that'Mr Mackay, the present chamberlain, had committed very gross injustice upon a blind and helpless sister of the delegate's, by cruelly turning her out of her croft, although she was not in arrear, and had kept her croft in order.' The woman here referred to was a squatter or sub-tenant on Roderick Ferguson's croft. I never deprived her of the portion of the croft she held from Ferguson; but Ferguson seeing that she brought a nephew—a son of the delegate's, to live with her; and that the nephew was likely to get married, he (Ferguson) deprived her of the portion of his croft which she held from him, for this reason that she was unable to pay the rent and had applied for parochial relief, but more particularly for fear that if the nephew was to get married and be on the croft, he (Ferguson) would never come into possession of the whole of his croft. This was perfectly well known to George Mackenzie when he made his statement, and that I never deprived his sister of the lands she held from Ferguson.
It was stated by some of the delegates at Keose that application was made by the crofters to Lady Matheson for the farm of Park or for part of it. Lady Matheson's first impulse and inclination was to put part of Park under crofters, even should it be at less rent than she could otherwise obtain; but after full consideration and consultation with friends and other proprietors she resolved not to do so for the following reasons :—
1st, That under present circumstances it would not be advisable to increase the crofter area in Lews until something is done to prevent the possibility of subdivision of crofts, which can only be done by having free emigration, and making subdivision of crofts punishable as a crime or misdemeanour.
2nd, No part of Park is well adapted for small crofters. With the exception of about thirty acres in Loch-shell, a plough cannot be used in the remainder of Park. What land there is fit for cultivation with the spade is situated at the heads of arms of the sea or lochs extending for some miles landwards ; and placing crofters at the heads of these lochs they would be too far from the fishing ground. Many years ago there were crofters in some parts of Park, and it has been said that for this reason (that is, that they could not prosecute the fishing), they had to be removed to other parts of the island.
3rd, Should such parts of Park as some may think suitable be put under crofters, the number thus accommodated would not be ' a drop in the bucket' in the way of relieving the overcrowding of crofters in the parish of Lochs.
4th, To increase the crofter area by placing crofters in Park would only increase taxation, poverty, and pauperism, and necessitate additional schools in a parish where there are twelve schools already with only an assessable rental of £4129. And lastly, the parties applying for Park are unable to build anything like decent houses, reclaim the land by trenching, or even to stock the land.
With regard to the evidence submitted at Stornoway, the delegates there made misstatements like the other delegates throughout the island, particularly as to rents, number of crofters now and in former years, lands taken from them, and rents raised, &c. I shall only refer to a few of them.
Roderick Mackenzie, Coll, stated that ' when the estate was purchased by Sir James Matheson four were put into their township, and when the township of Garrie-gorm was cleared four were put in upon Coll.' When Sir James Matheson purchased the estate, there were no crofters in Garrie-gorm. nor for many years before then. In 1844 there were forty-six families in Coll, and though no crofter was put there from another township, there are now eighty-nine families—all through squatting and subdivision of crofts. This township was lotted and rented in 1849, and there has been no change in the boundaries since then.
Roderick MacSween, Steinish, stated that' the proprietor deprived them of 120 acres of agricultural ground and moorland pasture; that the previous rent was £30, 17s., whereas it was now £41.' About 50 acres of waste land, from which the surface had been removed, and therefore of no use for pasture, was partly reclaimed and enclosed, and let to two tenants, at .£13, 6s. The other twelve tenants in this township are paying the same rent now as they did in 1844. The rent of the croft held by this same delegate is the same to-day as it was in 1829.
I have already referred to what this delegate says in regard to the want of a road to the burying-ground at Eye. It is a fact that there is a public road to the burying-ground, therefore he had no ground of complaint on this head.
With reference to the statements made regarding a quay at Bayble, ' tha the clerk of works on the estate had removed stones from this quay.' This quay or slip was originally built by the late Sir James Matheson. He never exacted dues for it. Mr Methuen, fish-curer, may have exacted £1 from each boat as was stated by some of the delegates; but if he did so, it is more than likely residence, that he extended, enlarged, or repaired the original quay. I can state for fact, from m y own personal knowledge, that this quay was almost wholly swept away by the sea, many years before the clerk of works removed a stone from it; and further, that the crofters themselves had taken stones from this quay for building their houses.
The Rev. Angus Maciver, minister of Uig, stated at Stomoway that' the crofters rents in the Lews had been doubled since 1843.' This is not the case, or anything like it. In my former statement, submitted to the Commissioners at Stornoway, I showed that the land rental in 1844 was £10,256, and in 1883 £12,713, being only an increase of £2457 in thirty-nine years—principally made up by interest on improvements and farmhouses, and new townships formed from reclaimed land. Of this increase, £520 is on the manor farm and castle grounds alone. It is therefore clear that Mr Maciver is in error in maintaining that the crofters' rents have been doubled since 1843.
The total area of the island is 404,477 acres, of which 240,831 acres is under crofters, at a rent of £8430, 3s.; 124,648 acres under tacksmen, at a rental of £3951, lis.; 34,747 acres under deer forests, and 4251 acres held by others, such as ministers' glebes, town-lands, school and church sites, feus, and pleasure grounds. The total number of crofters in the island, as entered in the rent-roll, is 2948, besides 804 cottars or squatters.
The total area of the crofts, exclusive of hill pasture held in common, as recently ascertained by measurement, is 14,758 acres, which on an average gives 5 acres to each croft. But from the total area I estimate there should be about 3000 acres deducted for uncultivated land, and land unfit for cultivation within the boundaries of the crofts. This would leave 11,758 acres under cultivation, at an average rent of 14s. 5d. per acre, exclusive of pasture lands.
With regard to the clearances that took place since Sir James Matheson purchased the island, I may mention that it was not for the sake of profit that any one township was cleared, but that the land was such, in consequence of the potato failure and other causes, that the crofters could not make a livelihood or pay any rent. As a proof that Sir James had no desire to remove the people, I may mention that some years before he purchased the estate, the Seaforth trusteea had rented to Dr Macaulay the farm of Ardroil, and the townships of Valtos and Kneep. The crofters in these townships were to be removed. The trustees did not remove the crofters, and therefore Dr Macaulay raised an action, or threatened an action against them for damages for not giving possession of these townships. Rather than see the people removed, Sir James offered to contribute £500 towards the damages claimed by the Doctor, and also to take all his stock and effects on the farm of Ardroil at valuation, for which he paid £933, which offer was accepted by the trustees, and the crofters were allowed to remain, the trustees settling with Dr Macaulay by a payment of £4700. The reason for clearing the township of Reef was that it was not suitable for crofters. The ground being sandy, and the potato crop having failed, they could not raise enough of other crops to support them. There were no peats in the township, and they had to go a distance of eight miles to cut peats. Their summer pasture was also a distance of eight to ten miles from them, and they were very much in arrear of rent. They got two years to remove. Six of them took advantage of free emigration to America, and the rest of them were provided with vacant crofts in other townships.
Carnish was cleared in 1850. This township was even more unsuitable for crofters than Reef. The ground being also all sand, was unsuitable for growing corn crop; and when the potato crop failed, the crofters were left destitute. They had disposed of almost all their cattle, and were supported by the Highland Destitution Committee. They were nearly three years in arrear nf rent; and though they got the land free of rent, they could not support themselves. About one-third of them emigrated, and the rest settled in other townships in vacant lots from which the people went to America.
Hacklete and Ballygloom—The half of these townships was occupied by a tacksman who emigrated with two of the crofters iu 1853. The five remaining crofters removed to other townships, as they had not the means of stocking and paying for more lands, and being much in arrears.
Doune Carloway—A large portion of the pasture lands of this township having been drained, trenched, and enclosed, and a farmhouse and steading built, it was found necessary to remove the crofters to more suitable vacant lots in other townships. One family emigrated. This township and the farm was in 1872 given to the crofters of Mangursta, who, at their own request, were removed there.
Dalemore—This was a most unhealthy place, and the people were glad to leave it. There was hardly a healthy person in it. Every crofter had been twice married. They were over three years in arrears of rent. Four families emigrated; the others removed to other townships, where they were accommodated on vacant lots. This village was situated in a valley, the drainage of which was blocked up by the heavy surf, and though opened, soon filled up again. This caused the unhealthiness of the place.
Melbost Borv.—The crofters of this township could not be got to pay their rents, and they were often warned that if they did not pay they would be removed, but to no effect. Eight of them emigrated, and the rest got lots in other townships and new lands reclaimed at Ballantrushal.
North Tolsta.—This township had been formerly occupied by a tacksman, but prior to 1853 by twenty-five crofters. Of these four emigrated, and twenty-one removed to South Tolsta, where they were accommodated on vacant crofts of people who had gone to America.
North Galson.—The crofters of this township petitioned to be sent to America in 1863, as they could not maintain themselves on the lands they held. There were forty-three crofters; twenty-four emigrated, and nineteen were provided with vacant crofts in other townships. The rental of the township was £154; and at the time of their removal they were £289, 11s. 11d. in arrears of rent, which was wiped off, and they got valuation for such of their stock as they could not otherwise dispose of.
There were no crofters evicted forcibly, and no legal proceedings taken except the notice of removal, and even this same was not given in the case of the Galson crofters. The people were allowed to remain in their holdings till they had fixed on another place—some one, two, and three years; and assistance in most cases was given to build new houses. There were no people removed to a vacant lot in a township, if a crofter in that township wished to take the vacant croft in addition to the one he held, and pay for it. Had these townships not been cleared, the land left vacant by the people who went to America would have remained so. as up to 1854 there was no great demand for land except in the parish of Lochs.
I send herewith extracts from letters sent by those who emigrated to America to their friends in the Lews, showing how much more comfortable and well off they were in America in comparison to what they were in the Lews. I also send, as I promised the Commissioners I would do, printed copy of letters sent by emigrants to Sir James Matheson. I have to add that, though it was said by certain delegates that nothing was done to assist the crofters to build better houses, to mostly all the crofters who built improved houses, the proprietor made loans in the shape of money or materials, that no interest was charged on these loans, and that a great part of these loans are still outstanding.
In 1872 the crofters in the township of Barvas were made to build improved houses, with two doors and a division between the dwelling-house and the byre, and doors, windows, and other woodwork was supplied by the proprietor, to be repaid as the crofters could do so; but these houses were no time occupied when they closed one of the doors, and they went back to their old habit of having one entrance for the inmates and the cattle. The same thirty occurred in other townships as well as Barvas.
-P.S.—The total number of crofters in the Lews, as entered in the rentroll, is 2948, and 804 cottars or sub-tenants—in all, 3752 families. Should the whole island be given to these 3752 families, it would only give 108 acres to each family—the total area of the island being 404,477 acres. It is therefore clear that, if a Lews crofter would require from 6 to 10 acres of arable land, and from 400 to 700 acres of pasture lands, the present number of crofters cannot be provided with this area in the Lews.
Extracts from Letters from Lews Emigrants in Canada to Friends in Lewis, 1851 and 1864
I.—From DONALD MACDONALD, Dundas, to GEORGE SMITH, Callanish.
DUNDAS, 12th August 1851
I have to inform you that we are working here since we came to this place on the railway, and about 60 families from the Lews, and the wages going here is from 3s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. per day. "We have very hard work, but good meat—beef, pork, bread, and butter—and we bought a house that cost 20 dollars, that is £4 , and a store for 10 dollars.
II.—From DONALD CAMPBELL, Lingwick, to his FATHER, Lews.
LINGWICK, 23rd September 1851.
I am working at the railway which is passing through the province to the States, 810 miles long, and there is plenty work for many hundreds, and good payment too. Workmen are paid 4s. 6d. to 6s.; joiners, 7s. 6d.; masons, from 7s. to 10s. per day, and they are thinking that the railway works will continue for ten years, which wiH be a great advantage to this province, for it will furnish Canada with many thousands of pounds, and is profitable for emigrants. I don't want you better used than I am here, for I came here empty, and now I have plenty money to sustain my family this year; and I must say that this is a good country, and I wish that my friends were with me. I tell you, but you won't believe me, for I know the nature of the old couutry; you won't believe the truth, but if I told you lies you would believe me. However, I will tell you the truth, and want you all to come that is able to work. Oh ! young men of Ness, I want you to come here, and be not afraid. Leave the poor fishing at Ness. Oh! my brothers and sisters, and all of you, be sure and come here, and don't Live starving where you are.
III.—From MALCOLM M'LEOD, County Sherbrooke, to JoHN M'LEOD,
27th September 1851.
MY DEAR BROTHER,—I work here for 4s. 6d. per day, my uncle for 9s., and the most of those who came to America with me are working at the railroad, some at 4s. 6d., others at 4s. 9d. per day. AR I can say of Canada is that I am glad I came to it. You can tell Angus M'Ritchie if he had come here that his family would earn 20s. per day, and it is a wonder when people can content themselves at home when there is such good pasture in Canada. My dear brother, if you are of the same mind as when I left, I hope, before you are done reading this letter, your mind will be made up, and that you will not hesitate for a moment to say you are going to come, and we shall help you, and linger no longer on the barren soil of the poor decaying Lews. Let courage have its place in every starving Lewsman. I have ate nothing worse than bread, beef, pork, and potatoes, and every other necessary, since I came here. M&L M'LEOD.
IV.—From ANGUS M'LEOD, Lower Canada, to MALCOLM M'RITCHIE,
13th August 1851
MY DEAR FATHER-IN-LAW,—The wages here is 27s. a week. Those that are cutting the grass have seven dollars a week. John, if you will come here you will get £30 sterling and your meat in the year, and although all the Lews would come here they would get work for 4s. 6d. per day.
V.—From DONALD M'LEAN, Lingwick, to NoR. MACDONALD,
20th September 1851.
DEAR SIR,—I am of Findlay's opinion. I hope you may depend on my integrity, and beheve me that I am not under any necessity to tell lies. I am aware that if you and your father's famRy had come to this country you could earn from twelve to sixteen dollars per month each. The wages on the railroad is from 4s. 6d. to 5s. 3d. per day. Now I don't attempt to give you the least invitation against your own accord, but I am of opinion that if you shall be removed from Kneep you should not settle in any spot of the island. Labourers in this country get bed and board as good as the common gentleman in your country. DoNALD M'LEAN.
VI.—From DONALD MACDONALD, Dundas, to DcN. M'LEOD, Dalimore.
23 September 1851.
DEAR SiR,—I have to tell you that myself, my father, and all the rest are working at the railway, and we have very good wages—3s. 6d. per day. I get a barrel of white flour here for 16s., 1 lb. butter for 6d., 1 lb. beef for 3d., 1 bottle whisky for 2s., a pair of shoes for 10s., which would cost me 20s. in Stornoway, and many other things accordingly. DONALD MACDONALD.
VII.—From NORMAN M'LEOD, Brompton,
to ALEXANDER M'LEOD, Lower Barvas.
30 September 1851.
DEAR SIR,—I am here on the road to the Scotch settlement, working at the railway, which will be a great advantage to emigrants, for there is good wages here and the work easier than at home. Single workmen are paid from 4s. 6d., to 6s. 6d.; joiners, 7s. 6d.; masons, of 7s. 6d. to 10s. So you can judge of that. Government land is given to people for nothing—50 acres—and as much more as you like, for 4s. 6d. per acre. This place is different from yours, and I know it will be better for you to come here. It is easier for a man to live here on the work than to be there a tenant. All things have dealt well with us as yet, whatever they may do hereafter, and the Gospel is preached to us here. Every one that has boys should come. We are much obliged to the proprietor for his kindness in sending us here, for we know that we will be better here than we were at home. We are better off here than we were at home. I have to say that they are expecting railway work here for ten years, but it is leaving the meat dearer than in former years. It is about the same as in Scotland this year, and the potatoes have a little disease, but not bad. However, they don't live here on potatoes as they do at home.
VIII.—From JOHN M'LEOD (elder), Sherbrooke, to ALEXANDER M'LEOD, Valtos.
24th October 1851.
The emigrant agent came to Sherbrooke with us. The work at the railroad is going on. We get very good wages—4s. 6d. per day, I got 5s. for acting as superintendent, and now, since I began to work on the 1st of August till this day, I made £15. This is a better country for people than Lews, and there is a great demand for boys here to drive carts. They would get six dollars a month. The women were working at harvest, when they get 2s. 6d. per day. We have a free house from the contractor. The people that are here for a time are well off. I saw Ken. M'Leod. He is a rich man. He told me he would not give his property for yours now. He has 200 acres of land, 100 of which is cleared. Every one of our country people who came here are in good health. I know my friends at Lochs will be thinking that I will tell them the truth about America, and I will do so as far as I know about it. In the first place, I tell you or anyone who may inquire, that all above eighteen years wRl get 4s. 6d. a day, and boys about ten, 5 dollars a month and his board. We have plenty to eat and drink ; anyone need not be without meat and clothes here if he has a mind to work. Women get 2s. 6d. a day at harvest work here and board. Wheat is 5 doRars per barrel; potatoes, 2s. per bushel; beef, 3d per lb.; butter, 6d. per lb.; pork, 5d. per lb.
IX.—From MAURICE MACFARLANE, Stratford, Upper Canada, to ANGUS MACFARLANE, Melbost.
26th September 1851.
DEAR BROTHER,—I cannot give you much news about this country yet, but we are seeing them that came to this place five years ago are as well off as gentlemen in Scotland. Every good worker would do well here ; the wages are from £2 to £2. 10s. per month. This country is not so cold as Lower Canada. The cattle and the crops here are out all winter. There are more swine here among the farmers than sheep; they give better victuals to their swine here than what most gentlemen keep to their servants at home. Don't you think I am telling lies—no, as I am before God.
X.—From MURDO M'IvER, Lingwick, to ALEXANDER M'IVER, Laxay, Lews.
11th September 1881.
My DEAR FATHER,—I have to say about this country, any who wishes to work can get plenty, and good wages, from 4s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. per day; and I would advise young lads and young women to come here. I am sure the country will not please you at the beginning; but there is no fear of any man who can work, although he came here without one penny.
XI.—From ANGUS YOUNG, Lingwick, to DONALD YOUNG, Callanish, Lews.
23rd October 1851.
DEAR FATHER,—I was employed at the railway mostly since I came here, at 4s. 6d. per day. I got a small house made on John M'Lean's lot, in order to pass the winter near the provision market, as the Government land is about eighteen miles from this place. I am very comfortable in the midst of the old settlers. I expect to begin on Monday at 5s. per day, which will continue as long as I shall be able to stop at the work. It is my intention to begin on Government land next spring, when I shall get land for 4s. 6d. per acre, and 50 acres grant to every individual above eighteen years of age. I freely state that my board since I came to tins country is as good as any gentleman in the land, so that it is a great pity that the young men have no courage to leave their slavery and come to this country, where they could live like men. The old settlers that came from the parish of Uig, Lews, are well off. I am very sorry you will not have the courage to come to a country where you can do so well. Tell John, my uncle, that I want him to come without loss of time. Girl's wages is from 2s. 6d. to 15s. per month. Tell Neil Macdonald that he can earn here 6s. 3d. to 12s. 6d. for making a coat. I wish to tell you, dear father, to prepare for migrating next summer; and I want you to tell all my friends to take the contents of my letter into consideration. ANGUS YOUNG.
XII.—From PEGGY MACIVER, Sherbrooke, to her Father, ANGUS MACIVER, Barvas.
DEAR FATHER,—I am now comparatively comfortable since I came here. I can send you better accounts than ever I could in Barvas, the best day ever I was in it. As soon as we landed, the agent sent us out in carts sixty miles, and there the most of the emigrants remained, where they got immediate employment at the railroad for 4s. 6d. per day. Our table can now be as well furnished as the minister's, and can have as much clear at the end of the month as the family costs. We got temporary houses put up for us, and are so far quite comfortable. Catherine, m y sister, and Angus, would do exceedingly well here. I am sure he would suffer more in one day's fishing than he would do here in a month. I would advise all my friends to come here, fully aware that it would be for their benefit. I hope you will all be preparing to come here. It is in my power to assist you even now.
XIII.—From MALCOLM SMITH, Stratford, to JOHN SMITH, Bragar, Lews.
29th September 1851.
DEAR UNCLE—I think that you will come here if you get the chance we got. You will be far better here than at home; and if you will come, bring my brother Murdo. Tell Murdo M'Lean if he and his family were here they would be very well off. John and Rosy would get £30 a year. Tell my aunt to try and come, and if I will be spared before her, she need not be afraid to come; and I would advise every one of you to come as soon as you can, for this is a very good country for food. There is no want of anything here and we are as happy here as the day is long. I repent very much because I did not come here before. Poor people makes great harm to themselves in stopping too long in your poor country. MALCOLM SMITH.
XIV.—From JoHN MACKENZIE, Lingwick, to NoRMAN MATHESON, Barvas.
DEAR BROTHER,—It seems, as far as we can understand, that all from first to last is a preparation for the poor of the Lews, as provision is cheap and plentiful, and the people that have labourers can get through without much hardship. All the railroad is going on at Sherbrook, and all who are able to work are working at it, and welcome. Dear Norman, I hope you will come ; and if you will not, send me John to prepare for you, by Sandy Morrison, as I hope Sandy will come any way, who would doweR here. Wages are from 4s. 6d. to 5s. per day. I was very sorry when I saw the rest coming, that you were not along with them, and I cannot describe how sorry I am; and if I was near you, as I am far from you, you might not be in such hardship.
XV.—From J. A. M'IVER, Brompton, to MURDO M'IVER, Barvas, Lews.
DEAR FATHER,—I have to praise God for being so well ruled by His hand, and in getting so many good chances since we left you—that is, a good passage; and when we came to Quebec, we were forwarded in steamers, and sent with our luggage to the Scotch settlements; but I have stopped here working, for there is good work going on, and good wages, being from 4s. 6d. to 6s: per day, and the work is not so hard as in the old country. I know that you will not repent coming here. J. A. M'lvER.
XVI.—From Rev. EwEN M'LEAN, Melbourne, to J. M. MACKENZIE, Esq.,
6th Nov. 1851.
MY DEAR SiR,—I and our family, in the good providence of God, arrived safe at Quebec, after a passage of seven weeks from the Clyde. I am here on the railroad, where I have taken up quarters during the cold months. The most of my flock have gone up to Lingwick, and mingled with Mr Gordon's people, which excludes my services. Others have gone up to Upper Canada, and the remainder are hereabouts on the railroad. The wages here are exceedingly good—35s. per week. This is a good country for labourers and tradesmen. The country is to be cut up by length and breadth with railroad, and will give abundance of work to all classes. Tailors, shoemakers, and merchants do well here. They live in the first style, and in habit most comfortable houses. I could give you no idea of the comfort. The country abounds with every good thing; it knows no want. You have only to look after the people for a few months, and you will make them
lairds in a few years. The atmosphere is most pure and healthy. Pasture is rich, and the sod excellent. Every man fit for, and willing to work, will in a few years be very comfortable here. EWEN M'LEAN
Copy correspondence as to Lews Emigrants in Canada, 1864.
I.—From A. C. BucnANAN, Chief Agent, Government Emigration Office, Quebec, to Sir JAMES MATHESON of the Lews.
24th March 1864
MY DEAR SiR,—It is some time since I had occasion to address you, and I do so now in consequence of a letter lately received by me from Mr Murray, of Glasgow, transmitting copy of a letter sent home by John Grahame, one of the emigrants, whom you assisted to reach Canada last summer, and now settled it appears in the eastern townships. This person's description of the hardships he endured induced me to forward his letter to the Rev. Mr Milloy, Free Church minister, who resides in that quarter, accompanied by a request that the facts of the case might be inquired into, and the truth made known to me. Mr Milloy's reply, which reached me yesterday, together with a statement signed by the heads of eleven families, I now enclose; and I think they sufficiently establish the falsity of Grahame's tale. At anyrate, I hope they will have the effect of removing from your mind any unfavourable impression that may have been entertained as to the welfare of your people in this their adopted land; I also forward a letter received from Mr Pope, M.P. for their county, the original of which I sent to Mr Murray a short time ago, containing a refutation of Grahame's statement witlr reference to himself, and corroborating Mr Milloy's. I think you should have those statements published in Lews as an encouragement to others. Although I have no direct communication with those families who went to Western Canada, yet from what I learn they have been successful, and are doing well.—I am, &c, A. BUCHANAN.
II.—Rev. Mr MILLOY to Mr A. C. BUCHANAN, Quebec.
LINGWICK MANSE, 21st March 1864
MY DEAR SiR,—I duly received yours enclosing a letter of Mr Murray's, Glasgow, also copy of a letter from one John Grahame, of Winslow, to Sir James Mathcson's factor in the Lews, Scotland; I herewith enclose both, and make the following reply to yours :—
I was not acquainted with John Grahame before your letter arrived, but upon inquiry I found he is teaching a school in Winslow, and that he suffered no hardship since he came here unless it be that his imagination troubled him. His necessities are not real, therefore, for I am credibly informed that the liberality of the people hitherto supplied all his immediate wants. He did not buy any provisions for himself since he came, and his barrel of meal is yet pretty well filled. The same thing is true of others of the emigrants who came here last summer. One of them, who has a family of seven, told me a few days ago that he did not buy a pound of provisions since he came here. The kindness and hospitaRty of the original settlers are beyond all praise. I believe there would be no real distress here, though one hundred families arrived among us last year, and if such a number were to come any year employment would be found for them. It is not true, as Grahame's letter says, that no work could be found last summer for the emigrants who arrived, and as to his remarks as to the quality of the land to be sold in this district, poor Grahame is no authority; perhaps my opinion, who has been here eleven years, and also travelled over Upper and Lower Canada, ought to be more correct, and I give it as my judgment that the eastern townships of Lower Canada are in some respects preferable to the best parts of Upper Canada. For barley, potatoes, and buckwheat nothing can beat it, and its grazing capabilities are remarkable—there is no part of Upper Canada to compare with the eastern townships for raising stock. If we had here some emigrants from the agricultural parts of the Highlands or from the Lowlands of Scotland, I am confident that they would produce native stock such as no other part of Canada would compete with. Then the quantity of land ; it will take a good many years of such numbers as Lews can send to fill it up. Provisions are very cheap and plenty—oats are sold at Is. 6d. per bushel; barley, 2s. per bushel; buckwheat, 2s.; the very best beef at 3d.; Hour, 5½ dollars per barrel; and butter 7½d. to 10d. per lb. I think I can account for the dark picture Grahame drew of the country. As a general rule, new comers are not on their arrival in. this country very good judges of what they see before them. The forest and everything that surrounds them is different from what they expect, and they are apt to fall into a gloomy mood which, however, the experience of a time drives away. But it is evident that Grahame wanted money from Sir James' factor, and thought the best way to get it was to tell a doleful tale. I hope, therefore, that his letter will not have the least effect upon Sir James' mind, and that he may continue his praiseworthy efforts to ameliorate the condition of his poor people by giving them facilities to come to this country as he used to do. I have caused a paper to be drawn up and signed by the new emigrants here, and the Rev. Mr Macdonald of Winslow, I believe, will also sign it. JOHN MILLOY.
III.—EMIGRANTS' STATEMENT referred to in Rev. J. MILLOY's Letter.
We, the undersigned emigrants from the Island of Lews, understanding that some persons have been sending bad accounts of this country to Sir James Matheson by which he may be influenced in his action hereafter in sending emigrants to Canada, and wishing that every facility may be given to our friends at home which, from motives of humanity, Sir James has been accustomed to afford them, to leave home and to come to this good and large land, would beg to make the following statement of our experience and feelings in the matter, trusting these will have the effect of nullifying the influence the accounts referred to might have on Sir James' mind, and on those of our own friends at home who may be deterred from the course we would wish them to take, viz., emigrate here as soon as ever they can.
1. We have no complaint to make about the way we were treated on the voyage, and on our arrival we received the greatest kindness from strangers, especially in Sherbrook, where the Mayor of the town and other benevolent gentlemen took the liveliest interest in our welfare, and supplied our wants liberally, and on our arrival at a Scotch settlement in Lingwick we met our fellow countrymen, who welcomed us with the utmost cordiality, and invited us to their houses, where we enjoyed their hospitality till we took up land for ourselves and had houses of our own to live in, and since we have been treated with remarkable kindness, and had all our wants supphed.
2. In reference to the country we are well satisfied with it. The land is good, and plenty of it; in the township of Lingwick alone there is land of the best quality to be sold sufficient to receive 300 families, and as many or more in the adjoining township of Bury and although all the inhabitants of Lews were to emigrate in a body, there is sufficient land for them here in the eastern townships of Lower Canada.
3. The climatc is most excellent, the winter especially, though somewhat cold, is very pleasant and healthy. We never were healthier or happier, and the work of chopping is the cleanest and nicest work we ever tried. We endured greater hardships by far at home from the cold than we do working in the woods here even in the coldest winter day.
4. The lands in Bury and Lingwick are owned by the British American Land Company. We prefer to settle on their land, though it is dearer than Government land, because we had not to go any distance from the old settlers, who came here not more than twenty years ago, and because the land is very superior. The company charges us 2½ dollars (about 10s. sterling) an acre in Lingwick, and the terms are very favourable. They do not push anyone to pay if he was twenty years in a place, as long as they get the interest, and they allow us to work for them on the roads, which they take as payment for the interest due on our land. Government land is only 3s. per acre.
5. Church and schools are quite convenient—the church about two miles, and to those furthest away not over five miles.
In conclusion, we wish that this report be communicated through A. C. Buchanan, Esq., emigration agent at Quebec, to Sir James Matheson, or his factor, and that our countrymen may be encouraged to follow us. The most of us sent encouraging accounts to our friends at home already, but we wish to make our views public to all our countrymen. We would say also that some of us have been working on the railway, but if we got one crop in the ground we will not need to work much after that. Those that are willing to work come to us, we have labour, and comfort, and abundance; but to all indolent people we say, this is not the place for you, for lazy folk don't get comfortable or rich in America no more than in other parts of the world.
(Signed as under)
Nor. Macdonald (x his mark)
Nor. Graham (x his mark)
Ewen Mclennan (x his mark)
We , the undersigned, testify that the foregoing paper was explained in Gaelic to those whose names are attached thereto.
JOHN MILLOY, minister.
JAMES Ross, postmaster.
IV.—From KENNETH M'LEOD, County Bruce, to his MoTHER-iN-LAw.
CANADA WEST, January 7, 1864.
I have great pleasure in telling you that we got here very successfully. Our fare was paid—I had only 15s. to pay for the distance of thirty miles; and we are living with Angus Mackay as yet. I have also to tell you that you need not be mournful about your daughter coming to Canada, for she has been dealt with very favourably since her departure from you. We have all plenty to eat and drink, and hopeful prospects for the future. There is three townships surveyed by the Government for emigrants to go to next spring, and the prices are from 1 to 50 dollars. The land is on the shore of Lake Huron, and I gave in my name the other day to take up 300 acres. We can get to the land in spring by steam or sailing vessel. In reference to the country, I have no hesitation in saying that anyone who comes to Canada will be satisfied. I am perfectly satisfied myself. Women and girls from the old country will find a great change from hard and slavish work, for they do not require here to do outside work in the way they do at home. There has been a great amount of false reports sent from this country in regard to cold and sickness which are not true in this part of Canada. We are within two miles of the church. Tell Mai. Mackay, Cralowick, that we are living with his brothers, and they are very kind to us. They have plenty of the world, such as stock and land. KENNETH M'LEOD.
V.—From the Same to his Brother at Callanish, Lews.
MY DEAR BROTHER,—I have to inform you that I am well. I promised to give you the circumstances and conditions of this country. It is my opinion that the country is very prosperous. I have seen a year-old heifer having a calf, and a year-old ewe having a lamb. You can tell Norman that I think he should not suffer in the old country but come to Canada, because I do believe that he could do far better here. I may tell you that my uncle and the boys are very glad and satisfied since they came here, and say they would not go back again. KENETH M'LEOD.
VI.—From J. H . Pope, M.P., to Mr A. C. BUCHANAN, Chief Emigration Agent, Quebec.
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, QUEBEC, 3rd April 1864.
DEAR SIR.—I have perused the letter of John Graham, late from Galson, and as you express a wish that I should inform you whether there were grounds for the complaints that he makes, I hasten to reply. The first matter of which he complains is that there is no employment to be obtained on roads, and that matters are very dull, and money scarce, &c. As to employment, I myself employ in lumbering operations every season several hundred men during winter in Winslow and adjoining townships, and have made a point of giving employment to new settlers as much as possible, and have done so this season to several Norwegian and Scotch settlers. There has been none refused who applied to me under such circumstances excepting one man, viz., Mr Walker of Bury, who applied too late. Of course, in all new settlements, where people have little to purchase money with except labour, it is not very abundant. Mr Graham goes on to say that he has applied to me for help. This is the first time that I have heard that he or any one of the emigrants who arrived last season were in want of assistance. On the contrary, when I was in Winslow about three weeks since, I was told by the Mayor and the Mayor of Whitton there, they were all well pleased and in want of nothing. They both expressed their regret that so few had come there during the last season.
As to provisions being high, you may be your own judge when I give you the prices at their doors—flour, 6 dollars per barrel; beef, from 4 cents to 5 cents per lb.; oats and barley, 1 cent per lb. ; potatoes, 25 cents per bushel. Now, as to the quaRty of the land, there are thousands of acres of good farming land in blocks, which only require industry and energy to convert into good farms. I further say that no man willing to work for a living can possibly want for the necessaries of life in this part of the country now ; for instance, when I was last in Lingwick, I was informed that five of last year's emigrants had settled in that township, that they had gone upon their lands with only their axe in their hand, that they at once commenced clearing land and making salts, that they have supported their families from the sales of their salts, and besides they would be in a position to get in a good crop from the land they had cleared while making their salts.
Finally, m y opinion is that no industrious man will complain, but in this as in other countries, men must work for their living, and I only regret that instead of the fifteen families which came there last season we had not got 300, as there is abundance of good land and food. I am sure they would do well.
—I am, &c., J. H . Pope.
I.—From JOHN MACDONALD, Mayor of Whitton (late of Callanish, in Lewis),
to Sir JAMES MATHEson, Bart., M.P.
WHITTON, LAKE MEGANTIC, C.E., February 21, 1866.
HONOURED SiR,—I hope that you will excuse me for the liberty of addressing you a few lines from this section of the country, to give you a true account of how the Lewis people are getting along. I am sure it will be gratifying to you to learn that they are all doing well. Fifteen years ago, I, with a great many others, came to this country, and I may say penniless. That was a hard thing, as we thought at the time, but we got plenty to do, and were well paid for it; and I may say that we did not know what want was since. We have roads and churches, and a post often follows us right into the backwoods. You would be surprised to-day to see the people that left Lewis fifteen years ago; there are some of them no doubt better off than others, but they all have enough to eat. To give you an idea of how some of them are getting along:—Murdo Macleod, from Back, that came here about ten years ago, sold already this year two tons of grain, and when he came here was as green about farming as any of us. The great help to a man here is to have a steady and respectable family; they are sure of success. I don't care if they would not have a shilling in the world coming here. If they don't like farming they can learn any trade they like, and get pay enough to support them while they are learning their trade. The greatest drawback to our country people is their children going out to work through the country for other people, in place of remaining in the family, and working on their own farms. This I know from experience. When my father landed in Quebec with seven children, fifteen years ago, there was only one solitary half-crown in the whole family. We thought it was hard, while no one in the family could speak English but myself and my sister. After working for two years we took up a farm, and carried seed eight miles through the woods. We raised, the first year, provision enough to support the family, and since then we had enough and to spare. My father died two years ago, but before he died he saw the comforts of Canada, and that his three sons had 100 acres of land each, three yoke of oxen, twenty sheep, and four milch cows, besides pigs, poultry, and so on. But, honoured Sir, we are under great obligations to you for the comforts we enjoy here, the great kindness you have done us in sending us here—only for you, it is likely we would be in Lewis yet. Through our own ignorance at the time, we thought that we were oppressed, but we learned to think differently of it since. It is a great blessing for any country that is over-peopled like Lewis, to have such a proprietor, and such a country as Canada open for them, and especially for Scotland and her loyal sons, where they have as much protection from the British Government as if they were in the Isle of Lewis; and a country, I may say, wholly governed by Scotchmen or of Scotch descent
Those who don't do well in Canada, are those who expect to find money on the streets when they come, and those who think that their friends ought to support them through life, because they advised their coming here. William Ross, from Shader in Lewis, came to my house lately and advised me to petition the Government to give the people provisions this year. I replied that, were I to petition Government, it would be to put them all in jail for 'loafing' about, since he and others came to the country in the summer, feeding on their friends when they ought to be working for themselves and families, independent of any Government. This made him change his tune, and he admitted that he had already 600 lbs. of meal in the house, and 24 dols. of money that he earned since he came here. Such men as these do a good deal of harm to this country, and, I am sure, send false reports home to their friends, and especially if they think that they can ' gouge ' any money out of them.
Another class thick more of a glass of bad liquor in a tavern at night than they do of their cattle in the barn, but I am glad to say that this class is few.
The statistics of the Municipality of Whitton were, in 1863 :—
Acres assessed, . . . . 2,781
Ratepayers assessed, . . . 118
Assessed value of real estate, . . $23,000
Liabilities, 4 dollars, or £1 currency,
Revenue, 260 dollars.
In these figures there is nothing set down for stock, and I may also state that the only capital that came into this municipality was the chopping axe and there is not a man in it but a Lewis man. I hope you will excuse this long and tedious letter ; and wishing yourself and Lady Matheson, in this world and the world to come, all happiness,—
I remain, very respectfully,
JOHN MACDONALD, Mayor of Whitton.
P.S.—Reference to J. H . PopE, Esq., -P.M. This letter is at your pleasure.
II.—Excerpt from Letter,—JOHN MACLEOD, Richmond, Canada East, to Sir JAMES MATHESON, Bart., M.P.,
dated 23rd February 1866—a native of Loch in Lewis, sent out by Sir J. Matheson.
As regards the Lewis people who were sent to the eastern townships, the greater part of them arc in the same neighbourhood, and number, I suppose, 400 families, and upon the whole are aR doing very well. It is true they have met with hardships in the outset, yet their circumstances are so much improved, and their prospects for the future so much better than they could have been at home, that they feel glad that they have removed hither; and they can never express the thankfulness they feel towards yourself for your kind part in their removal. They have two churches, with Gaelic ministers settled over them, and form the two largest Protestant congregations in the eastern townships.
The young folks of the settlement get plenty of work through the surrounding country; and so much are they thought of, as compared with others, that in two villages, not together as large as Stornoway, there are at present no less than fifty or sixty of the young woman employed as servant girls. They felt quite proud of their old proprietor, when I informed them with what great kindness you treated myself on the occasion of my visit of last summer; and as for myself, I shaR always feel myself under obligation for the friendly treatment which I experienced at your hand, and no less at the hands of Lady Matheson.
When at home, intentionaRy refrained from encouraging any of the people to this country, fearing that they might blame me should matters turn out here contrary to their expectations. Yet I hesitate not to say that, could they be helped in the outset, few persons, if any, would have reason to regret emigration to these parts.
—Excerpt from Letter.—JOHN M'KENZIE, Lake Megantic, Canada East, to his Brother, RORY M'KENZIE, Back, Lewis, dated February 1, 1866.
I am sorry to learn that you have made up your mind to leave poor Marion alone. After all, I am sure that you will be better here than there. Your children will have a chance to leam a great deal more here than there, and their future prospects, as far as worldly matters are concerned, look a good deal brighter; and you have a good deal better chance to get along, with the strong family you have than me that is alone. But, after all, I sold already eleven barrels of oats, and gave ten barrels of potatoes to the hogs—besides keeping enough for my own use. I have one cow and one heifer. Nobody need be afraid but that he will get land in this country; there is enough and to spare. If every man in Lewis should come, they would get all they wanted for the nominal price of half a crown per acre.
IV.—From NORMAN MACKENZIE to RORY MACKENZIE, Back, Lewis.
LAKE MEGANTIC, February 1, 1866.
DEAR BROTHER,—We got your kind letter, and were glad to hear that you were all well, as this leaves us at present. You wanted to know the state of this place; you know that I can't give you as good an idea of this place as those that came before me ; still, I ought to be thankful, and especially to the honourable gentleman that helped me to come here, as you know that I would not be able to come here without his help, for which he has my sincere thanks. I did not have very good luck since I came here. I lost two cows ; but now I have the third one. and a heifer, and one sheep, and plenty to eat; and if I landed in Lewis as empty as I came here, I would not be likely to have any of these comforts. But what spoils a great many—they come here with great expectations, thinking they will get the gold on the streets. Such men ought to stay at home; this is no country for sluggards. Bf a steady, industrious man comes here, he is sure to get along well, and that in a very short time. One great blessing we have here, we have always plenty to eat, and some to spare. That is all I am going to say about the country, except the greatest blessing of all, we have the Gospel preached to us in our own tongue. Donald, Sandy's son, had a saw-mill up and working when I came here, and he has along with that a turning-mill. Murdo, my brother, has got a young son. Marion is with him still, and she gave me more comfort in the education she got than in all I ever had in Lewis. She writes all her own letters now. Dear brother, I pity you from my heart—at sea day and night, and I may say, nothing for it, &c.—
Your dear brother, NORMAN MACKENZIE