WILLIAM MATHIESON, Crofter, Clashmore (63)—examined.
27155. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Were you appointed a delegate to appear here to-day by the people of Clashmore ?
—I was appointed for that purpose.
27156. How many people were present when you were appointed?
—A considerable number.
27157. What did they tell you to say here to-day, or what have you to siy for yourself ?
—What we have to say is that we feel a scarcity of land and that we have no elbow room. We have no room for cattle, or even to take crops off the bits that we have.
27158. Had you plenty of room in the place twelve years ago?
27159. Where were you before the clearances took place?
27160. Can you tell us anything about the clearances of Clashmore?
—I was in Clashmore when it was cleared. It was out of a croft in Clashmore that I went away to where I am now; I was removed to that place.
27161. How many people were turned out of Clashmore?
—About eighteen families were removed off the farm which has been made since. Thirteen of these paid rent; five or six were not paying rent.
27162. Why were they removed; did they want to go?
—They were all sent out of the place but three. There were only four who left the place. One went to America. The rest were disposed of by crowding them in corners of the place near about, upon others. Some new pasture in the place itself was taken in and occupied by them; I have some of that pasture land myself, and I would be batter without it; it has been a source of expense to me ever since I got it.
27163. Who has the land now from which they were removed?
—-Mr Brown, the innkeeper of Lochinver.
27164. Who got it when they were put away?
—It was in the occupancy of the Duke.
27165. How long did it continue in his own occupancy?
—Four or five years. He cultivated it for four or five years. I could not speak exactly to the year; it was at least three years.
27166. Were all the people who were removed put into smaller holdings than they had before?-
—-Every one of them.
27167. Were they fairly well off in the old times there?
—They required it all; but they are worse off since.
27168. Was there anything mentioned to you at the time you were told to remove, why the Duke was removing you? did he give any reason for it?
—The only reason given was that the land was to be made into an arable farm.
27169. Were you obliged to go to another house?
—Yes, and to be at great expense before I got possession of it, and loss connected with it.
27170. Had you a good house before?
—It was not very good.
27171. Did you get any value for it when you left?
—I got £10 for the expenses of removal, and for building the new house, but £50 would not cover my outlay in that matter.
27172. Does that remark apply to the rest of the people who were in the same position as yourself?
—All those that were removed got from £5 to £ 10 in order to cover the expenses of removing, and building their dwellings. Three of them had slated houses and these got £10.
27173. What rent were you paying before?
—I paid first £1.
27174. And what are you paying now?
—I am paying now £4, 10s. I was paying £5, 10s. until these two years back, when it was seen that
the soil was bad, and £ 1 was taken off the rent. I pay now £4, 10s, but it is not worth £ 1.
27175. What stock do you keep on it?
—I may say I do not keep stock upon it at all. I keep two cows, but not on the income of the lot.
27176. You are obliged to buy?
—I am obliged to buy summer and winter.
27177. Have you any hill ground at all?
—I have just a share of the hill ground of the place; but it cannot pasture a milk cow.
27178. Generally speaking was a piece of the farm of Clashmore taken away from you?
—Yes, a piece of it was taken away.
27179. Are you and your neighbours struggling away in impoverished circumstances to make both ends meet?
27180. Are you or the people in the township in arrears of rent?
—I have not been in arrears yet any way, whatever may befall. I don't think there is much arrears in the place.
27181. You received a reduction of £1, but I understand that there was an abatement given last year, being a bad season. Did you get the benefit of that?
—No, there was no abatement, beyond the £ 1 of reduction I stated before. There were three new lots made upon the bad ground at the back of the township. One of the tenants fell back in circumstances and could not keep up his lot; nobody could be got to go into the place; and when nobody could be got to take up the croft the three crofts were reduced each by £ 1 until they got a tenant for the vacant croft.
27182. Have you heard that the large farmers on the estate have got an abatement?
—Yes, but nothing was taken off our rent all the same.
27183. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—What was the rent of Clashmore altogether before the improvements began?
—I could not tell exactly the rent of the township. We knew our own rents well, and we did not look
much into the rents of our neighbours.
27184. What rent were you paying?
—Up to £ 4; the old lot was worth that rent as compared with the one I have now.
27185. Did the Duke of Sutherland take this piece of ground off you for the purpose of reclamation?
—-It was by the orders of the Duke that it was taken from us.
27186. What did the Duke do with it after taking it from you?
—Put it under crop by his own paid servants.
27187. Did he increase the extent of the arable land by reclamations?
—Yes, they added to the arable land.
27188. How much?
—Twenty acres, perhaps.
27189. Did that double the former extent?
—He did not near double it; perhaps there are 100 acres now.
27190. Is the land you have been placed upon the newly reclaimed land?
27191. If you had leases could you have reclaimed this land yourselves?
—There is no soil, and it would not come under profitable cultivation within the lifetime of man.
27192. Do you think the landlord has made a mistake in attempting reclamation, even putting tenants out of consideration?
—We found it a great mistake anyhow.
27193. Is it not in addition to being a mistake for them, a great mistake for all parties?
—Probably it was.
27194. Did you get any material for your house besides £ 10 of money?
—I got a roof and lime.
27195. Did you get slates?
—No, I paid £ 5 for a thousand slates which I put upon it. The slates cost £17, 10s., here at Lochinver, and cartage of 10 miles besides.