HUGH MACKAY, General Merchant, Greenock (60)—examined.
27264. The Chairman.
—You were elected a delegate?
27265. By the people of what place?
27266. You are intrusted with a statement to make to us?
—My statement is very short, and something similar to what has been already said.
The general grievance in this parish is insufficiency and badness of land. This state of things was brought about by the Sutherland clearances which Sutherland men would like to forget. But one point to which I should like to draw attention is that in Assynt about the beginning of this century the great majority of young men joined the famous 93rd on the distinct understanding that their parents would not be removed out of their holdings during their life; but when the survivors returned, they found that the promise had been broken, and that the parents, for whose sake they had enlisted, had been deprived of their land, and were eking out a miserable life on barren spots along the seashore. The general size of holdings in Assynt before the clearances was the keeping of from twenty to thirty black cattle, a hundred sheep, from forty to fifty goats. They were not poor people; they had savings of money forby. Now their holdings are too small for that, and their cattle, although they are called cows, are only miserable beasts. The reform wanted is larger holdings, security against evictions and raising of rents, inducements to improve and reclaim land and build suitable houses, outrun for stock, and local harbours to encourage a fishing as distinct from a crofting class.' The want of that was the reason of so many people being cottars, being a burden on the tenants.
27257. Of what place are you a native?
27268. Did you leave it early in life?
—I left it about twenty-two years ago.
27269. Have you been in Greenock since that time?
27270. Have you been in constant communication with your native place?
27271. And have continued to take an interest in it?
27272. Have you from time to time, continued to return here?
27273. And have spent some time amongst the people?
27274. You have alluded to the fact, if it be a fact, which is an extremely interesting one, and which we have heard mentioned elsewhere, that is, when the Highland regiments were raised, those who enlisted only did so under the distinct assurance that their relatives should have some benefits and securities attached to the tenancy of the land?
27275. In fact, the people went out to the army in order to preserve their parents and ensure them a happy and safe life?
—That is it.
26276. In what year was the 93rd raised?
—They were enlisting here before I was born; but we have brought the tale down from sire to son.
26277. Do you know in what year the 93rd (or Sutherland) Highlanders were first raised and embodied?
—I cannot exactly tell the year; but it is a thing which is generally known.
—[Rev. N. N. Mackay]: About 1800.
27278. The Sutherland Highlanders were raised and embodied in 1800; that was before the great clearances?
27279. Can you tell me whether there had been clearances before that on the Mackay estate?
—No, I don't think it. There were no clearances of any note before that.
27280. The great clearances took place some years subsequent to the embodiment of the 93rd regiment. Are you able, of your own knowledge, to state that there were some or many recruits for that regiment raised in Strathnaver?
—Oh, yes; and a great many in Assynt. I mind of more than 40 pensioners in my younger days being paid in this parish; and now I question if there are two.
27281. Can you tell me where any record of this supposed assurance can be found; whether in any contemporary book or newspaper it is mentioned that this supposed assurance had been given by the proprietor of the Sutherland estate, or by the Mackay or Reay family?
—It was by the commissioners of the then Marchioness of Stafford, but she was not resident then.
27282. You state that this alleged assurance was given by the commissioners of the Countess about the time the regiment was raised in 1800?
—It was the general talk from sire to son since I recollect, and I have seen some of the soldiers when they came home going to the stances where their fathers had lived and shedding tears, and saying they would go and pull down Dunrobin Castle. I have no assurance that there was an exact statement made by the Marchioness of Stafford.
27283. That is an interesting point, and I should like to get any co-temporary evidence of it written at the time?
—I have no document to testify to that, at least, not within my reach.
27284. It is a tradition of the country?
—It is a general tradition of the country.
27285. Which you believe to be well founded?-
—Yes, I mind of the men to whom the promise was made.
27286. And they stated they had taken service on that understanding?
—On that understanding alone, and any man who had not a son to go on that understanding was paying £ 40 to get a man.
27287. You mean that besides this understanding, the relatives were receiving a bounty of £ 40?
—No; the tenants who wished that their sons should not go paid £40. My grandfather had only one son, and he would not allow him to go away, and he paid £40. They tried to get him enrolled again, and he said his man was killed in the army; my uncle said he was killed already, and if it had not been for that he would have been taken out a second time.
27288. But was the £ 40 paid to the proprietor, and did the proprietor purchase a substitute?
—He purchased a substitute.
27289. Or did the man himself who was to be exempted purchase the substitute?
—The recruiting sergeant got the substitute.
27290. But that was not a legal claim upon the tenant?
—No, it was not a legal claim; they paid it voluntarily when they would not allow their sons away.
27291. I would be much obliged to you if you could furnish me with any co-temporary document or evidence illustrative of this alleged contract between the proprietor and the men?
—I shall make my utmost endeavour, and I have no doubt it could be got in the county of Sutherland.
27292. You have spoken of the desirability of establishing a fishing class distinct from the crofting class, is that a suggestion founded upon your own opinion, or is it a suggestion which you think would be acceptable to, and approved of by the people of the country generally?
—I do think it would be approved of by the people generally in the country. I have suggested it two or three times since I came to the parish, and they were all approving of the scheme, and I know from my own experience it would prove very productive, and of benefit to the place.
27293. When you say a distinct fishing class should be established, do you mean that these fishermen and their families should have no land attached to their cottages at all?
—He would be a fisherman in this country, but would not have a cow's grass; but there are a great many cottars who have no privilege at all unless they get it from others, and I have seen them, before this 10s. came in, pulling down their houses, and the fishermen would be very glad to get the stones of the houses.
27294. Do you think yourself these cottages should have a cow's grass and a garden or a yard attached to them?
—I think so, in a place so far away from conveniences.
27295. Supposing a man had a cow's grass how would he support the cow in winter without a field to raise hay or com upon?
—He would need to have an acre of land.
27296. But the acre would not keep the cow and feed it in winter?
—They would need to do their best. The acre I referred to would be for winter provender.
27297. But he must have the right of pasture for the cow, an acre for provender, and potato ground?
—He would do better without potato ground; it would be far better for him to apply his time to fishing.
27298. A little kail yard?
—That takes in the grazing of a cow.
27299. A cottage, grazing for the cow, and a field to raise provender for the cow's winter keep
—what do you think would be a reasonable rent for such an establishment for a fisherman?
—I am not able to say. That all lies with the proprietor's manager to say. In some places it would be
worth double what it would be in other places.
27300. It would be worth a good deal in Greenock?
—Yes, it would. I am paying £300 rent, and I have not three yards of spare ground.
27301. Professor Mackinnon
—I suppose it was the belief all over the country side, that this arrangement was made about the soldiers who went away?
27302. And the money payment you adduce as further proof that the belief was well founded?
27303. The payment of the money is produced as more substantial evidence that the arrangement was made then, than the mere belief with regard to the people who did not pay. If you did not provide a man you had to pay £40?
—Or we would be threatened to be removed.
27304. When you said they paid that £40 voluntarily you meant that otherwise they would have to go?
—Yes, just that
27305. Do you think there can be any man found in the country who paid the £40?
27306. Or the son of any one?
—No, they are all dead and gone now, the old pensioners are dead and gone.
27307. You said there were forty pensioners in the parish when you were young, but there are now only two?
—If there are two there are no more. There is one, Kenneth M'Leod.
27308. This is a large stock which you say was held by the crofters in the old times?
—Yes, a fine stock.
27309. What is the best evidence that can be had of that now?
—There are people living to this day who can testify to that; children of men who were removed.
27310. Do you know if it was a common custom in this parish, that the large farmer had a whole stretch of country, and had small crofters under him?
27311. Would there be any of these sub-tenants who would have such a stock?
27312. These you have mentioned held their land direct from the proprietor?
27313. And they were scattered all over the country?
—Yes, from Aultnancealgach to Stoer Head.
27314. You have no idea of the rent that was paid for this average croft of which you speak?
—No. In the upper reaches of the parish it was by the merks that the lands were held. Five, six, seven, eight, and ten and twelve merks. I think the old merk came from the north, the merk Scotch. Down about Clachtoll in these days they were only paying from £25 to £ 30 of rent. But when the sheep system came into vogue that raised the land—5s. 6d. worth to £ 1; and shortly after that again, when they could not pay that it came down to 15s. a merk, and it is still at that I suppose.
27315. If there was a disposition to restore the old condition of things, do you think it would be practically possible to do it in this parish today?
—Yes, and there is not another county in Scotland better adapted for small crofting than the county of Sutherland, with its enormous ocean wealth, and rivers and lakes, and its natural harbours; its railroads are lying dormant which would give a great return to the house of Sutherland if the land had been cultivated and inhabited as it might and should have been.
27316. There is no use in asking you whether that should be done?
—No, for that has been my belief for 20 years.
27317. Conditions of life have been changed since 1800, how would you manage the education of the people if they were scattered about?
—I think this is the worst system of education that ever came to the Highlands. In my younger days the parish schools would, I think, prove better.
27318. But supposing the people are in the small communities they were in fifty years ago?
—Do as they did in those days —get a schoolmaster and pay him themselves. But that would not do now; schools are more fashionable than they were then.
27319. You think the education could be managed?
—Yes, there is no mistake about it.
27320. They would have very far to go to church?
—They could soon make churches.
27321. Would it be reasonable to expect that there are a considerable number of people in the place, who by their own means, or assistance from friends, could put the necessary stock upon such places?
—Not to-day; I believe not. But thirty-six years ago, when a petition was sent to the Duke of Sutherland, there were men in this parish who could have taken up the whole parish had it become vacant. But in 1847 or 1848, three ship-loads —the flower of the country, the most courageous men —emigrated to America, when they saw the deaf ear the Duke gave them. In 1856 a petition was sent to the commissioner, a copy of which I have here.
27322. Do you remember quite well that, before the potato disease, there were among the crofting community a considerable number who had means?
—I do. I remember when a man with an ordinary-sized family, would not buy more than three or four bolls of meal in the season.
27323. And was that the remains of the larger means they had before the clearances?
—The land was in better condition then. After forty years of working, land loses its virtue greatly.
27324. How would you propose that these places should be stocked?
—The only way I would propose, would be that when Ardvar falls out of lease, the Duke should advertise it, and on getting a suitable number to take it up at a reasonable price, that he should cut it up to the ordinary size—if he could get men able and willing to take it up. Then when another farm falls out, young men at home and abroad would be prepared and would help their friends to do the same. Not saying that anything of the kind was to take place in one or two years, but when the farms had fallen out of lease. And if the Duke could not get anybody to take them up, he would not be to blame.
27325. You think if a beginning were made, and there was a reasonable belief that it would be continued, young men would take that view?
—Yes, eagerly. There are three men belonging to Assynt who could launch out the capital the Sutherland family themselves put upon it. I don't say that they are in Scotland, but I would get them over the quarters of the globe.
27326. I hope men of the crofting class?
—Yes, of the crofting class.
27327. How would you propose that the rent should be fixed for this small farm or large croft?
—I won't say anything about that; I was never a tiller of the soil.
27328. As a mere matter of theory?
—Well the rent should be fixed according to the stock it would keep.
27329. Who would fix it; would you leave that to the proprietor?
27330. As a matter of fact, at present, where it is left to the proprietor, one cannot complain?
—-No; and I think it is no pleasure or advantage to a proprietor to have his tenantry too heavily rented. I think the greatest fortune a proprietor ever had, was a peaceable and happy tenantry who could pay their rents.
27331. Would you give them leases?
—Yes, perpetual leases; and if their land should be required for any other particular purpose give them compensation for their improvements.
27332. You mean that the rent, once fixed, should never be altered at all?
—I would not say that; times might change. Great changes have taken place since last century, and before another greater changes may take place. Say I was taking a piece of land at 5s. an acre; in twenty years a man would say it was worth 15s. Now, that extra 10s. is the tenants' property and that of his family, because it is the result of their labour, and I don't see it is proper and just that that 10s. should go at the end of the twenty years, into the proprietor's pockets. Compensation should be given for the improvements, and the ground should stand at its original rent, or if any reaction came on property, to make the land more valuable, raise it in a small proportion. I know, in this country, men who have become crippled, and have lost their legs and hands improving their father's lots. In improving land, there is great risk that a man who is helping his parents might break his arm or his leg.
27333. You would admit it to be reasonable that a slight rise might be made in the rent occasionally?
—Yes, say every fifty years.
27334. But securing the outlay the tenant may have incurred?
27335. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Do you think the people of the Highlands are likely to make good fishermen?
—No better out; you know that, Sir Kenneth, by experience.
27336. Being a native of this district you probably know the village of Ullapool?
—Yes, to my cost, some time ago. In former days fish were taken out of the loch, but things have changed, and they are taking herrings and fish now, half-way between here, and say, thirty miles away.
27337. Ullapool is a harbour, and not further away from the fishing ground than Stornoway, is it?
—It is not a place for fishing now; but supposing there was a small village at Stoer, or Gairloch Head, near a fishing ground, it would be very beneficial, and curers would come there to buy fish.
27338. I don't think you realise how far the fisherman go to the grounds. Now-a-days the fishermen of Stornoway go thirty or forty miles. Can they not reach the same ground from Ullapool?
—Yes; Ullapool is a very inconvenient place for early fishermen. The Sound of Handa is a suitable place, and make the island of Handa a stance for the fishing village.
27339. There are good natural harbours on the Ross coast? Do you know any place where people could make a good living by fishing, as the east coast men do?
—Not today; but I have seen the day in some of the townships here, when there were twelve houses of cottars over and above the tenants, and each of them that paid attention to the fishing, was equally if not better off than those who had land, because they devoted their whole attention to the fishing.
27340. But these fishermen want something besides a harbour, they want capital to procure large boats and tackle?
27341. How would they get them?
—I think they would get support here and there for that, and repay the money again.
27342. You think the curers would advance the money?
—I think so.
27343. And do you think they could work their way out of the curers' debt?
—I think they could.
27344. What is wanted is to induce the curers to establish themselves?
—I think so; and I think Stoer Head is a good place. They could lift herring much nearer at Stoer Head than Stornoway, but there is no place here for them.
27345. What is required at Stoer Head to induce curers to go there?
—A quay that would contain 200 or 300 large boats.
27346. That is a quay with a breakwater?
—Yes, the people of the place say it is a suitable stance, and in the middle of winter they could
run out anywhere.
27347. Would it not be very costly to make such a quay and breakwater?
—It would, no doubt.
27348. What number of boats would fish from it, if it were erected?
—No quay should be built for lass than 300 boats.
27319. Still it would be a speculation, would it not?
—It would be a good one, I think.
27350. But it is a question whether it would succeed or not?
27351. Would it not be a large outlay as a speculation?
—Yes, but it might give good revenue. The curers all pay for the stances of the boats and pay so much for harbour accommodation, as there is no other place—there is no harbour accommodation without paying.
27352. Apart from the question of revenue, it would be a great benefit if poverty could be relieved; but it would be almost necessary to point out cases of success in fishing by people resident here?
—But the want of success in this country is owing to the want of the like of that.
27353. Mr Cameron.
—You said that from your conversation and acquaintance with the people here, you had reason to believe they approve of this scheme of yours? That a portion of them should occupy the ground in the vicinity of the sea for carrying on the fishing and nothing else?
—Yes, I am distinctly of opinion, according to their conversation, that they would be agreeable to that.
27354. With regard to the number of stock kept by the people in former times, where did you get those figures?
—From my aunts, and cousins, and uncles. They told me that in bad seasons, they, perhaps, lost twelve or fourteen of their cattle in one winter, and that would not injure their stock —they just had stock as well as ever.
27355. Have you any written record to show the number of stock kept by the people in former times?
27356. You got that entirely by tradition?
—Yes, and from some living who have seen it. Of course it was not in my day —I don't mind
of it —but there are some alive who do mind of it.
27357. Do you think any record of the kind exists in the offices of the Sutherland estates?
—I don't think there would be any record of the stock of the people; but I don't know.
27358. Would there be any means of arriving at some accurate knowledge?
—The only means would be, just to get the Sutherland books of those times.
27359. What became of the stock at the time of these evictions? Was it taken at valuation?
—No, they just sold them as they best could. A great many of them took too heavy of their stock to the small holdings, and lost the benefit of their stock by that. They did not like to part with their stock, those who wished to keep them.
27360. When I asked the Rev. Mr Mackay about the offer which it was stated had been made by the crofters to the Duke of Sutherland, to take the farm which was out of lease, you handed me some papers; would you hand them to me again?
—To George Loch Esq., Commissioner to His Grace the Duke of Sutherland,
—The respectful Memorial of the undersigned inhabitants of Assynt, Humbly sheweth, that your
memorialists are informed that the farm in Assynt lately occupied by the deceased Mr Gunn, is advertised to be let. That your memorialists are gratefully aware of your desire to improve and benefit the tenantry of his Grace, of whose anxious desire for their welfare, they are also deeply and gratefully sensible; and with such a feeling they now venture to address you, as his Grace's commissioner, in the anxious and hopeful desire that you will give a favourable consideration to the present petition, that they be allowed to rent the said farm, in such proportions and at such a valuation as may be considered fair, your memorialists binding themselves to improve the land, and to submit to all the regulations of the estate. Your memorialists are confident that if you shall see fit to agree to this proposal, it would greatly tend to encourage and advance the people of the district, and much increase that devoted attachment to the noble house of Sutherland, which has ever been the glory of the people whom Providence has placed under his Grace.
—We are, Sir with great respect, your very obedient servants.'
The reply to this is contained in a letter by Mr Loch to Mr M'lver, of which the following is a copy :
—Uppat, Sept. 9, 1859.
—Dear Sir, soon after arriving here from the West Coast, I received by post, a petition signed by ninety-two persons, inhabitants of Assynt, requesting that the sheep farm of Achmore be divided amongst them, in such proportions and at such a valuation as may be considered fair. I now desire to send the Duke's answer to this, but there is a difficulty in knowing to whom the reply should be addressed. It is usually in my power to address my answer to petitions, to the individual whose name is signed first, by whom it may be communicated to the others. This course, however, cannot be followed in the present instance, as the petitioners belong to thirteen or fourteen different townships, some of which are divided from each other by considerable distances. If the paper actually received the signatures in Assynt, they must have been collected by some one who took the trouble of going round to each district to obtain them. I should have been glad, had this opportunity been afforded me, to place myself in communication with any one so much interested in the prayer of this petition, as to take this active part in promoting it, but as it came to me in a blank cover, I am prevented doing so, and must address this answer to you, with a request that you will furnish the petitioners with a copy of it. Their application has been considered by the Duke of Sutherland, and I am directed by his Grace to express the regret he feels that it should be one with which he cannot comply. He desires me at the same time to state the satisfaction and pleasure given him, by the expressions of attachment towards himself, which the petition contains. Those who sign this paper, do the Duke no more than justice, in attributing to him an anxious desire to promote the welfare of all who live on his estate; it has ever been the leading aim and object of his life, steadily followed out with untiring perseverance, and rewarded with very great success. I am much obliged to that petitioners for their kind expressions towards myself, but I cannot recommend to the Duke's favourable consideration, an arrangement such as that sought by this petition, for it could not be attended by advantage or success.
—I am, dear Sir, yours faithfully. GEORGE LOCH.
27361. Was no reason given at all for his Grace's not complying with the request, except this letter?
—Nothing more was known about it.
27362. Did the crofters who asked to have this farm make any suggestion as to the process by which they would take the stock which was then on the farm?
27363. I suppose there was a sheep stock on the farm?
—Yes, sheep alone.
27364. Do you know what it would be worth?
27365. Do you know about the numbers of the sheep?
—I cannot exactly say, perhaps about 4000 to 5000 if not more.
27366. Do you think that the crofters were in a position at that time to take that stock in the usual way at a valuation?
—They could tax them, and make money of any part of it that they did not require.
27367. The value of the stock would be much less than at the present time?
—It would be one-half.
27368. But even at that rate, do you think the crofters could have found the money, or got security to give the out-going tenant for the stock?
—I cannot say; but one thing is sure, there would have been no difficulty in making money of the sheep and giving it to him of any overplus they did not require; because I should say one-half the stock would have done them, with black cattle.
27369. And you think they would have sold one-half the stock at once and put on their own black cattle to supply the place of the sheep?
—Yes, that is what they would need to do.
27370. Are you aware whether it is the practice on the estate of the Duke of Sutherland that the out-going tenant is allowed the valuation of his stock?
—I know that. It is the practice of all Highland estates, or most of them.
27371. You think it would be much easier to make those arrangements suggested to us since we came to Sutherland if that rule had not existed?
27372. The regulation which is extant in the Highlands that the outgoing tenant has a right to valuation for his stock must interfere considerably with our making such alterations as have been communicated to us by the crofters—that is to say, give the sheep farm to the crofters?
—Yes, but that would not be a stumbling-block now-a-days, and even Auchmore farm if it were put down for tenants to-day and the stock sold at the market, I question if the incoming tenant would lose
more than £100 by it.
27373. Would not that depend on the valuation?
—They would sell at high prices.
27374. And would not the valuation be equally high?
—Of course it woidd but nothing but what they could make.
27375. If the crofters were to get the sheep farm they would like to put part sheep and part cattle upon it —to put what they like upon it. Under the present system of valuations they would be burdened with the stock which they would be obliged to take over from the out-going tenant. Would not that form a great difficulty in the way?
—A great difficulty.
27376. Can you point any way out of that difficulty?
—Yes; that is what I would propose, to sell the stock in the market, and it might diminish £100 or £200 on the 4000 or 5000, the tenants would be at that loss. There might be a difference between the valuation and the market price to that extent.
27377. And would the tenants like that loss?
—They would need to expect some loss; they would not get everything their own way.
27378. You said outside help might be given to the crofters to stock their farms?
—Well, I am very delicate to say they would get Government money.
27379. Do you think any wealthy persons in America would do it? Are you aware there is a wealthy man in the state of Nevada an owner of silver mines?
—Yes, a namesake of my own.
27380. Do you think you could induce him for the sake of the name to come forward and help the crofters?
27381. The Chairman.
—Do you think the valuators would value the stock lower because they had a feeling in favour of crofters coming into the farm?
—I question that. I do not know whether they would or not; but one thing I would like to see would be the Duke condescending to come to that point to meet the tenants so far, that stocking would be the
27382. Do you think if the Duke showed an inclination to make an experiment of the nature you refer to, it would be received with great gratitude by the whole community?
—I do; I am firmly of that opinion and have been for many a year.
27383. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You have taken a great interest in matters connected with the Highlands and your own county for many years?
27384. Where were you educated?
—In this house.
27385. Have you from your position in Greenock, been able to push on a large number of Highlanders who have applied to you?
—Yes, Highlanders are very warm to each other in that way.
27386. And although you have been so many years out of the country you have been closely connected with the Highlands?
—Very much so.
27387. It has been stated, in other places, that the agitation which is now so prevalent with regard to the acquisition of land is quite modern, and has been fomented. Is it your opinion that it is of modern growth?
—Yes, so far; in 1874 I asked Grieve in Greenock if he would be inclined to support an inquiry into the conditions under which the landlords got the land off the Crown.
2738S. The wish of the people to get back to their old places is not a modern one?
—No; although this movement is modern, as you know.
27389. And you yourself nearly ten years ago, moved in the matter?
—Yes, and the following year I went to Inverness.
27390. As an illustration of the desire of the people to get the large farms reduced you have referred to two cases, the one in 1846 and the other in 1859?
27391. How did you fall in with this copy of the reply to the petition?
—It was sent to the first name on the petition from Mr M'lver's office by the ground officer, and William Matheson was the first who came to me as I was the writer of the petition, and when Mr Loch regretted that the writer did not put himself in communication with him, I wrote another letter giving him my name and address, to make any inquiry of me he might wish.
27392. You received this letter from Mr Mathieson?
—Yes; the ground officer of the parish went personally to Mathieson with it, and Mathieson
came to me.
27393. This letter is a longish one?
27394. And I rather think the only reference to the petition in this long letter is in these words: ' Their application has been considered by the Duke of Sutherland, and I am directed by his Grace to express the regret he feels that it should be one with which he cannot comply.' There is a good deal about the duty and attachment to the house of Sutherland?
—Yes, sweet words to please the people; of course they would need something to butter them while refusing the request.
27395. Mr Loch says it is his Grace's 'anxious desire to promote the welfare of all who live on his estate, it has ever been the leading aim and object of his life, steadily followed out with untiring perseverance, and rewarded with very great success.' What did he mean by saying it has been rewarded with very great success?
—I cannot point to one case of success regarding crofters that he could make any reference to, on
this side of the county of Sutherland.
27396. Are the people of Sutherland within your recollection as poor now as ever they were?
—Poorer than ever I recollect them to have been. When Mr M'lver came to this estate the inhabitants of this district were worth in courage and means fifty per cent, more than they are to-day.
27397. They are generally very poor?
27398. Is it also a fact that the population of the county, and particularly of these parishes here, has decreased considerably?
—I cannot say; I am twenty-two years out of the place, and for the statistics of the county I cannot speak.
27399. But it is a fact?
—I suppose it is a fact.
27400. Can the administration of an estate be said to be a ' great success' when after fifty years, the result is increased poverty among the people and decreased population —can that be said to be a 'great
27401. You stated that, in your younger days, there were some forty pensioners or thereabout?
27402. Had these pensioners any other privilege besides that of being pensioners?
—No; and I remember some who were paid off at 4d. a day, but by the influence of some gentlemen who were coming to the fishing here, they got their pensions increased before their death.
27403. You are aware that in those days the period of service before you got any pension was very considerable?
27404. So that in point of fact, some of those who were in this way here may have been twenty years in the service?
—No, not twenty years. Those who were paid off had small pensions, and they got paid according
to the time; but after conversation with those gentlemen who were coming here they got something more.
27405. You are speaking of the pensions of those who were paid off after the battle of Waterloo ?
—Yes; and those who wanted off on certain conditions.
27406. One of the great tests of the improvement of the country is increased cultivation, is it not?
—Yes, of course, it is.
27407. Taking in land and developing it to the uttermost?
27408. Increasing the value of the cattle upon it and so on?
—Yes, increasing the produce of the soil and the resources of the country generally.
27409. What benefit to the county was the introduction and constitution of large sheep farms in Sutherland?
—It was no benefit to the country at all; I don't think that for a moment. To-day I think they say it was the greatest mistake that ever was committed on the estate. The land has deteriorated in value, and won't give the same crop of sheep as it used to do. If this shooting system had not come into vogue these gentlemen would get very little rents for sheep.
27410. When the sheep farm is out of lease and nobody comes forward what is its fate—forest?
—Yes, when not given to small tenants.
27411. But there is no reason why it should not?
—I think not.
27412. In most cases?
—In most cases.
27413. How long has Assynt been in the possession of the LAND. family?
— I think about 200 years.
27414. So that the family must be held responsible for everything. done in this parish in this century?
— Yes, they bought this parish off an individual whose right to sell it I question.
27415. Was that a person of the name of Macdonald?
—No, Lady Mackenzie.
27416. Was there a man named Macdonald hereabout?
—That man had nothing to do with the estate. He had only a house and garden from the company who owned Ullapool.