Lochinver, Sutherland, 27 July 1883 - Alexander Mcleod

ALEXANDER M'LEOD, Unapool (68)—examined.

27450. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Have you a statement to make?
—When the township of Unapool was cleared sixteen families were removed to a corner which is not more than a mile broad. Five families paid rent, but they have not had a sheep for the last 65 years. There are four families who do not pay rent at all They have very nearly stripped the whole surface of the land for peats and divots that are required; it is almost all bare now. Five families are paying rent and four not.

27451. What became of the other seven families?
—Some went to America, some to various other places and some went to the Reay country.

27452. Are the Unapool people fishers now?
—Yes, they follow fishing.

27453. Is it out of the sea they take their living?

27454. Have they boats of their own, or do they work as hired men?
—They had boats of their own, and they also go as hired men. They have no boats now; they used to.

27455. How is it they have no boats of their own?
—The fishing at Lewis and Wick went back and got worse, and so they found themselves unable to foHow the fishing with profit in their own boats. They were losing all the proceeds of the fishing.

27456. Used you to prosecute the cod and ling fishing when you had boats of your own?

27457. Would it not pay you if you had boats to fish cod and ling?
—I saw a boat belonging to Culkin that was following the cod and ling fishing, but they had to give it up; it did not succeed.

27458. Did they go far to sea?
—Ten or twelve miles out to sea.

27459. Do you think it possible that the fishing can be prosecuted to advantage on this coast at present?
—Perhaps some years they might succeed—some might. There is no doubt some of the Lewis people
come quite close to this shore prosecuting the herring fishing.

27460. You don't think the herring fishing would be a safe trade to depend upon as a source of livelihood?

27461. Is it more land that you and the people of Unapool desire?
—What we want would be to get a strip of the place where we were, if such were the good will of the proprietors or the Commissioners.

27462. Do you rent land?

27463. Is it hill land that is spoiled by taking divots and peats from it?
—Yes, the pasture land,

27464. And the additional strip you want, is it pasture or arable land?
—Of course the land most adjacent to us would be the land most convenient for us, and whether arable land or not it is the most we could get.

27465. Is there arable land near?
—Yes, quite near.

27466. What extent of arable land do you think would suffice for a person in your position?
—I might have a difficulty in paying the rent for it until I got it well stocked and that; but the more land the easier it would be for me to pay the rent.

27467. In the meantime, situated as you are now, how much land would it be to your advantage to take—what could you afford to take?
—As much as would support 150 sheep between the five, and two or three cows.

27468. What rent would that be worth as rents go?
—The rent should be much about the same as all over the country; but there is no place so poor as our place.

27469. If you got as much land as would enable you to keep this stock, what rent do you think it would be worth?
—£6 or £7 each.

27470. What do you propose should be done with the four cottars?
—Just give them land as we get ourselves.

27471. And is there land adjacent to the farm which would be sufficient for their agricultural purposes?
—Plenty of it. The lease will be out next year.

27472. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Were you pretty comfortable before this, or was it before your time that these people were put into this place?
—My forefathers were there, but my younger days were not spent there, my next neighbour, who has come along with me, was at the clearing of the place.

27473. Did you hear if your father and grandfather were in good circumstances when they were there?
—They were; they had full stock and had saved money—plenty of it

27474. Was not the placing of these people upon this place and the taking away so much of its land, dooming the remainder to perpetual poverty?

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