Rev. JAMES ROSS, Free Church Minister, Durness (66)—examined.
26291. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—The statement you were good enough to send in, has not reached us in time. Will you be so good as to state verbally the heads of it?
—It is not very easy for me to remember owing to the shortness of my memory. I stated the extent of the parish of Durness. It contains more acreage than any other parish around.—140,800 acres. I took that from what are said to be Government returns, and the rental according to the rent roll is £6615. All that the crofters from 5s. to £ 5 of rental pay is £224. The population of Durness is the smallest in this county, namely 987, and it has been always diminishing for several decades. There are 100 crofters paying, as I said from 5s. to £5. Their holdings are very small, some, I learn, having only one, or one and a half acres, to two and a half, and, perhaps, up to five acres. My own glebe, which I hold under his Grace, is about four acres in extent, and I pay £5 minus 6cL The holdings are small. No one family could make a livelihood on the produce of their crop, neither could any fisherman make a livelihood by his labour and the produce from the sea, according to the present arrangement—that is the want of road transit to the market, besides the wild nature of the coast and the want of sufficient boats and fishing gear. They have no road to the market, and the lobsters are often lost. If it is cold frosty weather they die while they are being sent to London, and often they lose them in the sea. In February last they lost their gear round Cape Wrath, and out of £70 which was returned to them from Billingsgate for lobsters they had to pay about £40 in replacing their fishing gear. The crofts are not subdivided. The system pursued is this, that where .parents get old and frail the son or son-in-law goes into the house with the understanding that he will support the parents; but this son and his young family growing up finds it hard and difficult to get on as the croft will not maintain one family and there are two on it. There are several complaints of shortcomings and tightness, and of tenants murmuring as to their being deprived long ago of strips of arable land which was added to the sheep farms. There was a case from Durini—a big park which they had thirty years ago for —putting in their lambs or calves—that was before the present management— and some scores of acres were taken from them and added to Balnoskail. The tenants resisted that, but without avail. They maintain that they got no reduction of rent or compensation for the loss of this park except that the Balnoskail farm dropped the custom of sending their sheep up the hill to a loch to be washed and dried on the grazing. I have also been told that in addition to the crofters and small farmers, the large farmers when they get arable land —that is the tacksmen—claim a share of the grazing on the hill. The tenants dispute their right and say part of the grazing on the hill was cut off and added to the large farms. These are disputed points between them. Last year also, they were deprived of grazing of their horses at Foinaven. They had an ancient right or privilege of sending a horse to the grazing ground, for the number of tenants is limited. Now, they had the privilege of grazing a horse on Foinaven for ages past, and they were deprived of that last year. They got an order, and some were to be ejected, and some did not obey. They got notice from the factor's office. I took part in this and helped to write the petition —not to send horses last year, but some did send them. Those who did send them were fined 5s. I assisted them in writing a petition to the Duke; but I quite forgot the matter when the Duke was in the parish last year, and did not speak to him about it. The result was that this 5s. tax was made perpetual for herding and grazing. Formerly the tenants paid Is. 6d. for each horse for herding them, and now they are bound under an obligation—they do not get a copy of it themselves, but there is a paper sent to them individually to sign an agreement of that sort—to pay 5s. yearly.
26292. The Chairman.
—If they paid that were they to get the grazing?
—The proprietor undertook then both to allow the grazing of a horse and also the herding for 5s. a horse. Formerly they paid Is. 6d. They remove the horses about the first week of August before the shooting commences. Some of the people demurred to sign this paper because there were some blanks in it not filled up. Then there was a threat that if they did not sign it they would be reported to the office as disloyal; and this frequently happens. I may say, however, that there might be explanations as to some parts of it; and those who had this right before any change was made in the law of the estate got their horses I believe for 2s. 6d., but there are very few of these surviving. The rest pay 5s. They paid it the first year as a fine. They thought they had the right to the grazing and the right was resisted. As to Sangobeg and Laidh, I am pretty familiar with the people and their circumstances. They are poor, and no family can live on their croft alone. They must provide the rent, large or small, and most of their livelihood they get from other sources, either at home or from home. The fishing classes go to the herring fishing in the summer, and they generally fish lobsters in the winter and spring. The land is not fit for cultivation. The people have no facilities for fishing but Loch Eriboll; and their stock are fed on the sea-ware on the shore and on the hill pasture—heather. Their stock have pretty fair advantages so far as the summer and autumn are concerned, and partly in spring feeding on the sea-ware, and also on the heather, but they will have very little off the crofts but provender to support them in winter, and they make very little. Their only resource, if the potatoes succeed and they get fish, is potatoes and fish, particularly if they succeed in the herring fishing. With the privileges of country air and home, and plenty water and milk, and potatoes and fish, they could live comfortable as to the necessaries of life; but when these fail the people are very badly off. Last year the potatoes failed and much of the little crop they had was destroyed by the severe gale of October 1st. The produce failed and the fishing has failed for two or three years, and the little meal people had last year they used in spring. They were accordingly in want of seed as well as meal. It was for seed that I was mainly apprehensive. We applied to the Mansion House Fund for aid, mainly for seed, but in some cases a few families are and always will be poor. We got £50 of a grant from the Mansion House Fund, £20 from the Duke of Westminster, and £ 10 from other sportsmen;—altogether about £100. We also got fifty bolls of meal from the Glasgow committee, and employment was given at road making. Some poor people, if they were in destitute circumstances, also got a little meal. Any little oats they grew, they must keep for their horses. The Durnie people have horses, but not the people at Sangobeg. Some of them have two cows and a calf, the same as myself. I keep no horse. Once or twice only have I put some bailey to the mill during the last twelve years. I am a member of the Parochial Board, and always have pleaded for having a doctor nearer than thirty miles off. Several cases of emergency would pass the crisis before the doctor could be got. Sometimes a foot runner is sent off to Scourie, and sometimes a rider, and it might be the second or third day before the doctor came, and several times the disease has been at the crisis, before the doctor could reach the place. Since I came here, eight sen years ago, we have had, I think, seven doctors. One died and the next had to leave—I was told he was ordered to leave—another, Dr Smith, had a dispute with the factor. The doctors stand on their professional etiquette, and do not like to take orders.
26293. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Even from a factor?
—Even from a duke, I suppose. I tried to make things quiet. The next one left too, in some huff or other. Dr M'Callum left of his own accord. Dr Ross left a year or two ago and went to Islay; and now we have the seventh doctor. The late General Scobie supported me always in trying to get a doctor for the parish, and we applied to the Duke, through the factor, to get a share of the grant which he gives. The Duke gives £40 to help to get a doctor for the two parishes of Eddrachillis and Durness. If we got £20 from the Duke and £25 from the Lighthouse Commissioners, we agreed that we would assist the parish to make up a salary for a doctor. Mr M'lver sometimes said—what would we do with Eddrachillis ? and I said that was their look out We pay half of the doctor's salary, and the doctor lives three miles from Scourie.
26294. The Chairman.
—How much would the gross salary be?
—We pay £55, I think, and I think Eddrachillis pays the same amount; at any rate we reckon the salary to be £150 or £180 besides his practice. There was a committee then appointed to look out for a site—Mr M'lver, Mr Clark and General Scobie—and get an estimate of the cost of a house, but nothing came of it. This was some years ago. We would be satisfied with the present arrangement, if the doctor were situated midway between the two parishes, but I never did, and the people do not, approve of the present system, for I represent the people on this point. The doctor lives at the extreme end of the parish of Eddrachillis. The people complain—they mutter—and they are afraid of uttering some of the causes of their discontent because they are under the fear of the factor and the ground officer. I beg to state at once and entirely that I have no feeling whatever against the factor or ground officer or officials. What I have in view is the system and the effect of that system on the minds of the people. As to making improvements, there are irritating influences at work. The ground officer gets an order issued from Scourie—and whether or not, I suppose it is his business really to write his reports to the factor—and sometimes a person improving his house or lot may be stopped, so far as we can see capriciously, and then he will be allowed to go on. But if he does not yield or obey, he will be reported as disloyal. Now this is an irritating influence. The ground officer is the only meal dealer
—I mention this to show his power—in the parish. He is very kind and considerate, and I am far from saying he is not the best who could do that, for he knows the capability of the people and knows their stock, and he gives them credit, and many are deep in debt to him. But that gives him such influence that the people are afraid to speak. As to the state of education, the whole officers connected with Durnie school are in the one family of the ground officer. His son-in-law is teacher and registrar; his daughter is female teacher; his son and daughter are pupil teachers, and all the officers are in one family; and the ground officer was himself until now compulsory officer. In some respects all these might be the very best people: —I am not saying they are not —-but I mean to say that these things have an irritating effect on the spirits of the people. I do not say a word against the teacher—he is present—I believe he does his best and does not spare himself. Notwithstanding education is backward, and there are no advanced scholars; and I tell the Commissioners there are children in my neighbourhood, some of them past thirteen years of age, who cannot read a syllable; and there are children elsewhere in the parish in the same condition, besides the families of some shepherds. I remonstrate against that. I am not a member of the School Board; I resigned after the first meeting. Mr M'lver came to the meeting after the election, and the returning officer was absent. There were five of us there, and I proposed that Mr Clark take the chair until we proceeded orderly to elect a chairman. Mr M'lver said, ' No, I must constitute the board first, and moreover I am appointed chairman already in other parishes, and none else will be mentioned here, or it will be a slur upon the Duke of Sutherland.' I thought that was assuming authority and superseding the statute. I had no objection at all to Mr M'lver as chairman, but I did object to concentrate the whole affairs of Durness parish in Scourie office, more than thirty miles off, and my opinion was no secret. I think I proposed that the meeting should be opened with prayer. Mr M'lver said, ' No, I have decided that already elsewhere.' Now, these were all matters decided, cut and dry for us. If it had been discussed and had been carried by a majority, it would have been all right and proper; but what was to be done, let it be done properly and not dictatorially. I did not leave the board at that time, but I resigned before the next meeting. There is no real representative of the parents of my people at the School Board with very few exceptions, and the rest are representing the estate and the sheep farmers and the Established minister. The Established minister and I are good neighbours and good friends, and we act without any discord or feeling. We quite agree upon all parochial matters.
26295. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Had you a contested election for the School Board?
—We never have a contested election for anything. The way that it is done is this, I believe, —the order comes up to Durness, and the ground officer gets two men, or his son, who is inspector of poor. Formerly we had not a resident inspector of poor, and I objected to that. He used to be resident at Scourie. He was given to intemperance, and when he came to pay the paupers at Durness he was very often incompetent, and I objected to that. We have now a resident inspector, the ground officer's son. That is another office which is in the same family, but I do not object to that at all. I am satisfied with the fact that he is resident.
26296. Had you a contested election?
—No, we had not at any time.
26297. Are your people dissatisfied with the constitution of the School Board?
—So far as I know they are not satisfied with the school arrangements, but as to the School Board they often wish me to return to it. They are not satisfied in that respect, but I did not return to it. Mr
M'lver wished me to return, but I would not.
26298. If there was any great dissatisfaction with the School Board would not some of your people nominate representatives to suit themselves, and contest the election?
—There are very few electors resident. I suppose they require to pay a rent of £ 4 before they can get
a vote, and there are very few of that class.
26299. There are 100 crofters, and they are principally your own parishioners?
26300. And very few of them paying £4?
26301. They would not have a majority of votes in the parish?
—No, very few pay £4—£2 and £3 is the usual. There may be a dozen paying £4, but not more.
26302. What is the constitution of the Parochial Board here?
—The Board was elected according to statute.
26303. How many elected members are there?
—Five, Mr M'lver is chairman.
26304. Is Mr M'lver an elected member, or does he represent the Duke of Sutherland?
—He represents the Duke of Sutherland on both boards.
26305. Who are the elected members in the Parochial Board ?
—Mr Clark, Emboli; Mr Swanson, Rispond; and myself.
26306. There are only three elected members?
26307. What is the number of ex officio members?
26308. The proprietor's representative and the minister of the Established Church?
26309. Have any of the elders of the Established Church seats at the Parochial Board?
—There are no elders in the parish.
26310. Those three elected members constitute the majority of the Parochial Board?
26311. And they can, if they choose, insist on having a doctor in the parish?
—I often said so, but it happened that it would be of no avail. At every change of doctor I voted for it, and once I made a motion, but it was not seconded. It was very near the renewal of the leases, and the large farmers quite naturally avowed they did not like to oppose the authorities at the time of renewal of the lease.
26312. It is not necessary then for the Parochial Board to have a doctor within the parish?
—It would be according to the requirements of the statute.
26313. Have you represented the case to the Board of Supervision?
—I am not aware at this moment j I am not positive that I can answer the question directly.
26314. As I understand the great complaint against the proprietor here is want of land?
—The smallness of crofts.
26315. They do not complain of the rents?
—Some do, that the rent is too high for them in this way—the rents are not considered very high,
but the toil and labour drawing sea-ware out of the tide and carrying it in a creel on the back
—the labour and work and toil arising makes the whole produce of the crofter accordingly dear. The rents, considering other matters, are not too high. As regards my own croft I would not cultivate it at all if I could get dairy produce. I am ordered to live on milk, and I keep a cow or two; but I pay for all the work on the croft, horse work and people's work, and the produce of the ground costs me double, more than I could buy it for anywhere else. So that the produce is very dear considering the labour, but the rents are not.
26316. Is the nature of the country such that the ground cannot be ploughed?
—Oh ! yes, mine can be ploughed .
26317. Then why should it cost so much more to cultivate?
—The subject is a very poor one, and as I have no horse, I cannot collect manure. The soil is poor and gets exhausted from continual cropping and sea-ware; the soil gets thinner and poorer, and consequently the crop is poorer and weaker, and is more subject to be driven by the gales in autumn. Some of the larger crofts now sow grass and turnips, but although they sow grass they would need to have lots fenced to keep the sheep off from destroying the young grass and corn. This was resisted.
26318. By whom?
—By the representative of the proprietor. I remember my neighbour putting a wire round to keep sheep off, and the ground officer came and insisted that it should be taken down.
26319. Was that at the instance of the neighbours?
—Some of the neighbours are opposed to fences, because all the crofts are not fenced, and if the croft of one were fenced their sheep would not get in on his grass to use it as common, and they hold that his sheep would get on to their ground that it would require all the crofts to be fenced.
26320. In fact it is the custom that the sheep that are on the hill, winter on the arable land?
—Quite so, on the arable land.
26321. Probably therefore the ground officer was acting on behalf of the people?
—In this case he was not. Those who fenced took in their own sheep in time of lambing, and kept them on their own ground, and if they have any yeald sheep they put them on the hill, and the people pay so much for a shepherd, and the ground officer has the management of the sheep. I lost all my barley this year at the time of clipping. The shepherd put all the clipped sheep west near my park, and went away to dinner, and when some person came they were all in my barley and they could not get them out. The ground officer has to keep up the sheep, and those who fence their crofts can keep the sheep at the time of lambing on their own crofts; and with regard to the yeald sheep, the ground officer, having a shepherd, it is his duty to keep them off.
26322. Is that the reason why the ground officer objects to fencing?
—I do not know his reason, but that is the reason so far as we can interpret it, and so far as we can learn it —that no one croft should be fenced because his ground was then shut out from the other sheep. The ground officer himself has a larger flock than several of the tenants.
26323. The last witness, Alexander Morrison, thought the same encouragement was not given to improving houses here as in Tongue. Was that one of the complaints mentioned in your paper?
—No. I was not so well conversant with that, but I heard of cases where they were improving and building houses; and I heard of cases where the ground officer stopped them for taking the drift sand along the sea-shore, and then he said they might go on with it. I know another where the ground
officer stopped a man from building his house, and afterwards let him go off.
26324. What are their names?
—It is a delicate matter, and I would not like to tell the names, because the people are under intimidation from the influence I mentioned; whether well founded or not, they are afraid of such influences. It was not the man himself who told me of the second case, but his neighbour; and as I am not well versed or grounded in it, perhaps it would not be wise to mention the names.
26325. Was there a large meeting at which your representation was drawn up?
—It was read at the meeting on Tuesday.
26326. Was it a large meeting?
—There would be about forty men present. The substance of it was mentioned at previous meetings at which there were fifty or sixty crofters present.
26327. You had more than one meeting?
—I had a meeting called about the Commissioners' visit. The people were hesitating—and I readily got a person to be a delegate. There was another meeting, at which I was not present. About nine or ten of them came up to my house; but the things in the paper were discussed at the meeting, at which there were fifty or sixty people present, men and lads.
26328. Have there been any gentlemen from outside Sutherland attending these meetings?
—Yes, Mr Murdoch of the Highlander was at one meeting last week. I knew him in Islay nearly forty years ago, and he wrote me, and came to my house. He was at the meeting for a short time. My mind is not cast entirely in his mould. I was for a short time at his meeting, but it was so heated that I did not stay long.
26329. Have you had Mr Mackenzie from Inverness?
—I saw him; he passed through. He wrote me a card, and I came up and saw him. I must have met him in Gairloch, when I was visiting the schools. I did not know who he was, but he thinks I must have met him at Gairloch.
26330. But he had no meeting with the people?
—No, but he had a meeting with the delegates. He saw some of them in my presence, and I heard that he saw others. I am not sure if he saw them all.
26331. Mr Cameron.
—You seem to be very much dissatisfied with almost everybody who lives in the place here?
—I am not aware of that.
26332. You seem to be dissatisfied with the factor?
26333. With the ground officer?
—No; I am dissatisfied with the system.
26334. But with their public conduct?
—I would not go that length. I do not think my statement would go that length.
26335. Are you satisfied with the teacher?
—The teacher I believe does his best, and does not spare himself.
26336. You are dissatisfied with the poor inspector?
26337. You stated so?
—No. I think I stated the reverse. I said I had no objection to the poor inspector.
26338. It was the former one ?
—The former one was intemperate, but I was dissatisfied with this part of it, that the late inspector, when the change was made, got a pension off Durness parish. He is still inspector at Scourie.
26339. But you were dissatisfied with him?
26340. Is there any class of persons who give you satisfaction, and do their work in such a manner as to give you no dissatisfaction?
—I am not dissatisfied with the people generally. I mentioned some things in the system, and in the actings that have, in my opinion, a prejudicial effect upon the spirit of the people.
26341. But you are dissatisfied with the public official conduct of those persons I have named?
—I won't go that length.
26342. Then I am not to take that for granted?
—No, it would not be right. I resisted a few things. I hope I am understood—I stated a few things arising from these influences and this system. They tend to deteriorate the minds of the people and discourage them. The factor is there. I am not dissatisfied with him—I think he is a competent man. I am not dissatisfied with him as chairman of the School Board; but what I am dissatisfied with, is his assuming authority without a fair consideration of the whole. Things seem to us as if they were branded in his office, and come cut and dry to us. I think him the most competent and perhaps the best man for the place, as I stated in my paper.
26343. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You stated that the population of Durness is decreasing every decade?
—Yes, for several decades.
26344. And it is now 987?
26345. And the acreage of the parish is the largest in Sutherland?
—It is the largest I have seen in the Government statement.
26346. With a fine rental?
—It is larger than the neighbouring parishes according to the rent roll. There are some in Sutherland larger, up to £10,000 or £11,000.
26347. You have just been asked if you were not dissatisfied with certain things; are you satisfied or not with this fact, that there seem to be 987 people only upon 140,000 acres of land, and that many of these people are very poor?
—I am not satisfied with that.
26348. Would it not seem curious to an outsider that it should be necessary in such a gigantic parish as this, with such a small population, to apply for outside charity to supply the people with seed?
—I presume it would be so.
26349. Had you something to do with the application to the Mansion House Committee?
—I did apply.
26350. Did you do so after very careful consideration of the circumstances of the people, and with a due sense of the responsibility of its going out to the world that it was necessary for you to do so?
26351. Has that money been of great service in the way of providing seed for the people in the parish of Durness?
—That is a thing I am not aware of as yet. The Duke of Sutherland supplied seed on the credit of this money, and I cannot say how far the money may be applied to the payment of this seed. Some of the people got employment, and the money they received may have been devoted to the payment of the seed or not; we do not know.
26352. What did you do with the £50 from the Mansion House Committee?
—It was banked, and the ground officer's son is treasurer. It is in the bank in his name for the Relief Committee.
26353. What is the name of the ground officer we hear so much about?
26354. Does he belong to the parish?
—He is not a native. He comes from Caithness, I believe.
26355. We have been told in another place that there is not a single Sutherlandshire man in the employment of the estate, from the ground officer up to the head factor —is that the case in your parish, so far as you are aware?
—I believe it is; but I am subject to correction in that.
26356. We were told also that the highest grade in which a Sutherlandshire man gets anything to do for the estate is earning days' wages as a labourer. Is that the case in Durness?
—Nothing else occurs to me except that at present.
26357. Does the ground officer, besides keeping a store, also deal in cattle?
—I believe he does, but I am not conversant with his dealings in that respect.
26358. Other produce besides meal?
—I am not aware at present. Formerly he used to keep tea and butter. He used to take cattle and
lambs and sheep; he used to sell these, and in some cases got the money; and any work that was going would be got from him.
26359. Is it not a fact here that the most of the business of the crofters with the outer world, in the way of buying and selling, is carried on through him?
—I believe that is the case, so far as I know.
26360. I think you made a remark that this ground officer is also a crofter, or is supposed to be a crofter?
—He has a pretty large croft, larger than ours.
26361. Can you tell me whether that croft is in the Valuation Roll?
—It is not on the roll so far as I can discover.
26362. It pays no taxes?
—It is not in the roll, so far as I am aware.
26363. If it is not in the Valuation Roll, it does not pay taxes?
—I believe not.
26364. Do you know whether the proprietor pays taxes for that croft?
—I am not aware.
26365. Are the holdings of the bulk of the people here of a very limited nature, and the very worst land in the parish?
—The Durnie lands are pretty good—three or four acres; but the other townships are of a very poor description and very small narrow strips.
26366. Are there any people in the central or inland parts?
—No, only at Loch Erriboll; but it is 7 miles up the loch from us. The crofter population is within 2 miles of the road, in a triangle —a small spot
26367. Were almost all these townships or crofts modern creations? were not they the result of people being cleared from other parts?
—Laid, Loch Erriboll, I believe, was gathered up from part of Rispond, and the land connected with it.
26368. With regard to the value of the crop, you stated, I think, that certain crofts are very severe on a man to labour, for their position, so that to work four acres of a croft in one place among rocks, and four acres of nice rich arable land, are two very different things?
26369. So that if you sometimes hear a man is paying a trifling rent for land, whether it is a high rent or not depends on the quality of the land. Except at Durnie is the bulk of the Land held by these people of a poor and scattered nature?
—Very poor, principally on the Loch Erriboll side.
26370. How was the £6000 of rental made up—sheep farms or shootings?
—There are four sheep farms and part of another. The largest sheep farm, I think, pays £1385.
26371. Who is the tenant of it?
—Mr Scott of Bulnaskail, but he is not there in winter.
26372. What is the next biggest?
—Erriboll pays £1250, I think.
26373. He is a resident?
—-He used to be, but he stays in Ross-shire a good deal in winter.
26374. What is the next?
—Keoldale. Mr Scobie, I think, is paying the same rent for Keoldale as Erriboll, but part of that is in Kinlochbervie.
26375. He is a resident?
—Mr John Scobie is, and his brother General Scobie was before him.
26376. These are Sutherland men?
26377. Good men?
—Well, yes. There are various standards of goodness.
26378. What is the fourth?
—Rispond, a smaller farm.
26379. It pays under £200?
—£157. The other portion of the rental is all over the side of Loch Erriboll and a portion of Melness. The portion belonging to Durness pays upwards of £700.
26380. How is it that the population is decreasing?
—There is no room to increase; there can be no marriages; no house or land can be got. It is against the law of the estate, and perhaps it is a good law? am not against everybody and everything, and although it is a hardship that young people cannot marry, yet the law of the estate is good, that they should not marry without a house and lands, and no houses or land can be got.
26381. So far as the younger members of the family of a crofter are concerned, they must leave?
—They must leave when they rise in the world; they cannot settle. If they were educated to trades they would leave. The land at present is tied under lease, and there is no room for extension of the population.
26382. In your opinion could the parish of Durness not support with comfort and advantage a larger population than 987?
26383. But there would need to be trade opened up—more room—sheep farms broken up?
—There must be slices taken off the large farms around both arable land and hill —share and share.
26384. Have these large farms been within the last forty or fifty years made larger; or were they constituted as big as they are at the time of the purchase of the estate ? This is the Reay country is it not?
—Yes. As to the dates of the historical part of it, I do not think I am competent to answer, as I was not resident here.
26385. But do you think the sheep farms have been getting larger and larger?
—They have not been getting larger since I came here. I am not sure as to the dates,—whether they were larger before the Sutherland family came into possession or under Lord Reay.
26386. Were the bulk of the crofters who are dotted along the east coast placed there by the Mackays or the Sutherlands?
—I rather think that many of them were placed there by the Reay family, but my memory does not serve me accurately upon that.
26387. You said you never applied to the Board of Supervision about a doctor for the parish?
—I did not myself.
26388. You are a ratepayer in the parish?
26389. Are you aware what powers the Board of Supervision have in regard to a medical officer in each parish?
—Generally I know the statute requires a medical officer, but in my opinion and that of a great many
the law of the estate is sufficient for many things. For instance, the superannuation of the inspector of poor. I used to see a discussion in Parliament to enable boards to grant a superannuation allowance. Durness did not need an Act of Parliament to do so. The Board of Supervision has large powers, I believe, but what they are I am not competent to say.
26390. Perhaps you will consider it more closely now. because this seems a point for yourself?
—My time is about done; I am an invalid.
26391. The Chairman.
—You stated that you were elected a member of the School Board with four other persons'?
—Yes, that was in 1872 or 1873.
26392. The other four members were either connected with the Established Church or estate management or the sheep-farming interest?
—There was the Established Church minister and factors and Mr George Clark. I forget who was the fifth, but I think it was Mr Swanson of Rispond.
26393. Did you look upon yourself as the only representative of the popular element or feeling?
—-Scarcely that, but I was more in contact with the parents of the children.
26394. Did you look upon yourself as specially capable of representing the interest and wishes of the parents of the children?
—No doubt I would think that.
26395. You resigned your office in consequence of the attitude taken towards yourself and the board by the factor?
26396. When you resigned your office, was anybody else nominated in your place?
—I suppose there was.
26397. Who was nominated ?
—I think for the time being it was Mr M'lver'a son, but I am not sure
26398. But there was a fifth member nominated by the Board, in conformity with the statute?
26399. How was your substitute nominated or elected?
—I think it was by the members of the board, as far as I recollect
26400. Did this new member represent the popular interest as it were?
—I cannot think that.
26401. You think he was also connected with the estate agency?
—I think so.
26402. Suppose you had remained on the board, notwithstanding these disagreeable features in your position, and fought it out, do you not think you might have mitigated any evils which you believed to exist, and so have done some good?
—I do not think so. I was getting into delicate health, and I did not think I would succeed in doing any good. If I thought it would be of any use I would do it.
26403. You mentioned there were no natives of Sutherland promoted to positions of trust or authority in the county. Can you state whether any of the Established Church clergy of the county are Sutherland men?
—There is one in Tongue, a native of Durness. His parents were attendants and adherents of my church.
26404. Are there any of the teachers in the county natives of Sutherland?
—I am not aware of any, so far as I recollect at this moment. There is none known to me. There is a side school to Loch Erriboll, which is taught by a pupil teacher from Durness School. He is three
months on this side of the Loch, and three months on the other.