Kinlochbervie, Sutherland, 26 July 1883 - Rev Duncan Finlayson

Rev. DUNCAN FINLAYSON, Free Church Minister, Kinlochbervie, Parish of Eddriachillis —examined.

26698. The Chairman.
—How long have you been settled in this parish?
—Two years only.

26699. From what part of the country do you come?
—Inverness-shire ; I was born there.

26700. Had you a charge there?
—No, this is my first charge.

26701. Have you a statement you wish to make in regard to the condition of your people generally?
—No, but I want to make a few remarks about secondary education. We are at a disadvantage about
that; boys that are getting up after thirteen, cannot be educated here. The teacher is willing to educate them if there was room to teach them, but the schoolroom seems to be too small. The boys last year wished to go for education during winter, and the teacher could not take them; he has enough to do to teach the children under thirteen.

26702. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Will you explain exactly why he cannot teach them?
—I heard it stated that the rooms are too small. Down here at Insheigra there are a great many past age, but there is no room in the school for them.

26703. There is no room for them to sit in the school and be taught?
—I was told so.

26704. How many scholars does the school house accommodate?
—There are sixty-six scholars within school age in the district.

26705. And is the attendance generally large?
—Yes, I think it is pretty large. I don't know as to the regularity of the attendance; I am not a member of the School Board, and have not been often in the school.

26706. But is the attendance so large that there is not room enough to teach any except those who come in for elementary education?
—Yes, I was told so by the boys. They went to the other school in this end of the parish and the teacher there has more room; but the parents in that end objected to children from this end of the parish going to be educated there, and sent in a petition to the teacher, so that he had to dismiss them
and not allow them into his school.

26707. What can these boys do in the way of prosecuting their education?
—They must be self-taught, I suppose. We have a very clever boy here at present. He was the first in the examination of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He used to attend school until now that he is over school age.

26708. And he cannot get the benefit of the schoolmaster's instruction except at the school?
—He is past the age now. I am not aware if the teacher would take him in after this, and be is too delicate, his father considers, to send him from home. I don't know what he is to do in winter.

26709. Is the schoolmaster quite fit to carry on the education of this boy?
—I think so, but I am not quite sure.

26710. So that, practically, secondary education is impossible in the school in this place?
—Yes, I think that is the fact.

26711. You spoke about the school in this place?
—There are two Board Schools in this district—one at Insheigra and the other at Old Shore.

26712. Which did you refer to?
—I don't hear any complaints of one of them being too small, but I have heard it repeatedly said that it is the smallness of the schoolroom at Insheigra that is the difficulty. It is quite crowded with children within school age.

26713. Wa3 it considered by the inhabitants from the beginning to be
too small?
—I am not aware. I was not here at the time it was built.

26714. Is there anything else you are aware of that the people have reason to complain of?
—No, except the doctor. We would join to get a doctor. That is a general complaint, although we are not so far from him as the Durness people. The doctor is about nineteen miles from us. Another grievance is that we have not a smith in this place, and have to send for him seventeen miles to Scourie. I have heard it said that no smith could be had without a croft.

26715. Is there any reason why there should not be a smith?
—I heard it stated that no one could be got —that he could not support himself with what he could earn at his trade without a croft.

26716. So the people have to go all the way to Scourie to get iron work done?
—Yes, seventeen miles. As to the means of communication, if we could get the railway which the former delegate spoke of, it would be of the greatest benefit to this district; and also a telegraph line.

26717. How far are you from the nearest telegraph station?
—Lairg, forty-six miles. I think the telegraph would benefit the fishing class. The telegraph and the railway would be the making of the place. The means of communication here are very bad. We have to get all our goods from Thurso by smack. The vessel goes round by Cape Wrath, and is often a long time by the way. Last winter the people sometimes ran out of meal, and had to use the seed they were keeping and turn it into meal.

26718. Is there no shop at all in this neighbourhood?
—A good many small ones, but there is not a general one which keeps a large stock of everything.

26719. Is there none that deals in meal ?
—Three of them deal in meal.

26720. But I suppose most of the people prefer to get their goods from Thurso?
—Yes, by the smack, and from Wick too. It would be a great benefit to have the steamer which goes in to Badcall three miles from Scourie.

26721. The Chairman.
—You stated you had the same complaint as the people of Durness, that you are very far from the doctor. How many miles are you from him?

26722. And how far are the Durness people
—Thirty miles.

26723. Do you happen to have had any cases of emergency, such as accidents, here, when there was great inconvenience felt from the want of a doctor ?
—Not since I came here, but I suppose there have been. He is very often needed down here. The doctor himself is not well this season ; he was nearly dead with going about so much.

26724. How far does his circuit extend on the other side ?
—To Kyle Sku, I believe. He has not many people on the other side.

26725. In cases of child-birth has the want of the doctor been felt?
—Yes, I believe it has.

26726. Is there any educated women in the neighbourhood who can attend to such cases?
—I believe not.

26727. You stated that want of accommodation for higher education is felt in the school at Insheigra?

26728. How far is that from here?
—Close on two miles.

26729. There is a school here?

26730. And there the same want is not felt?
—No; I think not.

26731. Is there the same demand for secondary education in the school here that there is at Insheigra?
—I should think so. There are a great many boys above school age.

26732. Do boys above school age avail themselves of teaching in the higher subjects there?
—Some of them did; I am not aware if they do now. Some boys would like to attend school in winter.

26733. When was the school at Insheigra built?
—It has been built since the new Act came into force.

26734. Have the people of Insheigra petitioned the School Board for increased school accommodation?
—I am not aware that they have. I have not heard that they did.

26735. Have you made a representation yourself to the School Board?

26736. Who was the chairman of the School Board here?
—Mr M'lver.

26737. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Kinlochbervie is part of the civil parish of Eddrachillis : how many schools are under the School Board?

26738. Two in this part and one at Scourie?
—One at Scourie.

26739. Have the School Board appointed any managers for these schools?
—I am not aware that they have. Is it the compulsory officer you mean.

26740. It is in the power of the School Board to appoint some of their number, or a gentleman from the outside in the neighbourhood, manager of a special school; and I thought they might have appointed you such a manager in this district?
—No; I was not appointed. Perhaps they have appointed the other minister, Mr Lundie, who is a member of the board.

26741. Has any representation been made to the board about the amount of accommodation?
—I am not a member of the board.

26742. But has any representation been made by the inhabitants of the district?
—I am not aware, but the parents have been often complaining to me about the want of secondary education.

26743. What have you done in consequence of their complaints to you?
—I did not do anything.

26744. You did not represent it to Mr M’Iver?
—Perhaps they have done it themselves before my coming here. I am not long here.

26745. Professor MacKinnon.
—Have you considered what effect it would have upon the rate? What is the school rate of the parish?
—Ninepence—fourpence halfpenny on tenants and fourpence halfpenny on landlords.

26746. I think you stated that one of the reasons for the defective secondary education was that the master could not give his time to the higher boys during school hours—that he has sufficient to do otherwise. What is the greatest difficulty—want of room or want of teaching power ?
—The teacher stated to me that he would have difficulty even if he had room.

26747. So that you want not merely a bigger school but a bigger staff of teachers?
—I suppose so.

26748. Would you ask that in all the schools?
—I don't know as to the other schools. I suppose Scourie school is very well taught. I think
there is plenty of room there; but I don't know.

26749. Do you think it would be reasonable to expect that a highly equipped school for secondary education should be placed in every locality whatever the number of people?
—I think there should be some way of getting secondary education. That would be desirable; there is
no doubt of that. We are so far away from any town here, to send them to, that the parents cannot afford to send their children should they be willing; and there is no one rising up. The people say that clever boys got on far better under the old system. Several boys from here became teachers and some of them preachers during the old time.

26750. Were the school houses bigger then?
—In the parish lay schools, and now there is no one rising above the common level.

26751. I am glad to know there are notable exceptions just now?
—I am speaking generally.

26752. You know various parts of the country very well along the western sea-board down to Mull and these places?

26753. Comparing that district with this do you consider that the condition of the people here or there is, take it all round, better or worse—take the south end of Mull?
—I should say they are better off here than in the south end of Mull—Ross of Mull.

26754. Better housed?
—No. The houses are inferior here, some of them.

26755. But, take it all in all they are better off here ?
—Yes. I should say so; they have more pasture.

26756. And as to the rents?
—I don't know as to the rents.

26757. Don't you know the rents in the south end of Mull?
—No, but there are some of the people very poor there.

26758. Is there any other district in the West Highlands which you know the rents of?

26759. Do you agree generally with the description the people give of their own condition here?
—Yes, I agree with what our own delegates stated, and I agree also with the statements of the Durness people generally as to the medical officer and so on.

26760. The remedy they themselves suggested in all cases was to get more land; do you also concur in that?
—Yes, I do, because it is impossible for them to winter their cattle; that is the great complaint. More arable land is what is needed; and I think their pasture land might be improved if it were drained.

26761. Supposiug they got more land they say themselves they are not able to stock it. Do you think some benevolent friends outside could help them in any way? Have they relatives abroad with means?
—Very few of them have, I think, but I think the houses should be improved, and that would increase the comfort of the people in every way. The cattle go in by the same door in some of the houses; and in some instances there are two families in one house, which is very undesirable.

26762. The Chairman.
—Have you yourself seen houses in which two families were living in one room?
—No, not in one room; I think they generally have two at least.

26763. But you have seen houses of two rooms in which there was a family in each room?
—In some houses there are the family of the father and of an elder married son. That seems to have been allowed by the laws of the estate.

26764. Living in two rooms?
—I think they live in family.

26765. But one family sleeps in one room and the other family in the other?
—-I think they live just like one family and have sleeping apartments. Some of them have a closet and two rooms.

26766. You stated that in some of the houses the people enter by the same door as the cattle, that is the house enters by the byre, the byre being separate?
—Yes, in some cases.

26767. Do you know any instance of a house without a slight partition between the byre and the dwelling-room?
—Yes, I know one in this very place, a pauper, and she lives in a house where there is no partition between her and the cow.

26768. Does the pauper keep a cow?
—Yes; her daughter is with her. It is her daughter who has the cow. The old woman is the pauper.

26769. Do you think that in some cases the lodging is so bad and dirty as to be prejudicial to health?
—I should think so at any rate; but I don't hear complaints. I would not like to live in such a place.

26770. Are you aware of any case in which a very bad house has been visited by the health officer, and denounced as a nuisance or dangerous to health?
—I am not aware that such is the case; I never heard of our having such an official as a health officer.

26771. Some of the houses are very inferior, but you have no inspector of nuisances or sanitary inspector?
—I never heard of his going round ; but there may be such an officer. The inspector of poor, Mr M'lver informs me, is sanitary officer.

26772. Who is he?
—Mr Chisholm, Scourie.

26773. How far off does he live?
—He lives at Scourie, seventeen miles from here.

26774. Does he often come here?
—He comes, I think, occasionally. I don't know him very well, yet.

26775. Did you ever hear of him inspecting the habitations of the poor, with respect to their sanitary condition?
—I have not; but he may have done it. I think he would get plenty of work to do in that way.

26776. Have there been any cases of fever?
—Not since I came here.

26777. Have you heard of previous cases of fever in the houses here?
—I have not, but I have never inquired about that. I suppose there has been fever,, but not in my time.

26778. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Do you know who are the members of the School Board of Eddrachillis?
—Mr Mackenzie, Established Church, minister of Eddrachillis; Mr M’Iver , the factor, chairman; Mr Louis M'lver; Rev. Mr Lundie; and the Free Church minister of Scourie.

26779. Is Mr Louis M'lver the son of the factor?
26780. Where does the Free Church minister live, who is a member?
—In Scourie.

26781. Is the Free Church of Eddrachillis divided into two branches—Kinlochbervie and Scourie?

26782. And there is an Established Church in each?

26783. The Rev. Mr Lundie is the Established Church clergyman who is in your part?

26784. Has he a large attendance?
—I don't know, I never was there ; but I don't think he has.

26785. Has the Established Church minister in Scourie a large congregation?
—I cannot say. I think the people belong to the Free Church generally.

26786. Considering that the bulk of the people belong to the Free Church, do you think they are properly represented in the School Board?
—I don't think so. Mr M'lver asked me to go on it, but I declined at the time, and gave my reasons to Mr M'lver. I had too much of it.

26787. The only representative of the Free Church on the Board is the minister of Scourie?

26788. Has Mr Louis M' Iver a farm of his own?

26789. Is he a ratepayer?

26790. Who is clerk to the School Board?
—Mr Chisholm.

26791. Are there not ministers from Scourie here to-day?
—Mr Lundie is here, but not Mr Mackenzie.

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