Bonar Bridge, Sutherland, 9 October 1883 - Adam Mackay

ADAM MACKAY, Crofter, Bardarroch, Strathkyle (60)—examined.

39818. The Chairman.
—What is the name of your proprietor?
—Mr Mackay. G. G. Mackay.

39819. Mr Cameron.
—How many crofters are on this property of Strathkyle?

39820. Are you a delegate from them?

39821. What are their average rents?
—From £30 down to £10.

39822. What is your own rent?

39823. What amount of land do you hold?
—-About eight acres of arable land and twenty-three of meadow.

39824. Any common pasture amongst the tenants?

39825. Each tenant is, so to speak, self-contained. He grazes his own beasts on his own land, summer and winter?
—Yes. The hill pasture was all taken from them as soon as the old lease expired.

39826. Now, how do those of the tenants who pay £ 10 work their land; do they work it on a five-shift rotation?
—Well, they do something like that.

39827. Do they leave one field out two years in permanent pasture?
—Yes, they require to do that for their cows, when there is no hill pasture.

39828. Is each croft fenced off from its neighbour?
—Yes, not by a wire fence, but by a stone fence.

39829. Don't you consider a stone dyke superior to wire?
—Yes, if it is put up right.

39830. I suppose you mean the stones are apt to tumble down?

39831. But it is not a very serious matter for a tenant to put up the stones when they tumble down?
—They put up the stones they take off their fields as a protection between man and man.

39832. These are not built dykes?
—No. There are some put up by the proprietor, and some that the crofters themselves put up.

39833. And which are put up in the best way?
—The proprietor's.

39834. Are those put up by the crofters not sufficient to keep their neighbours' cattle from trespassing on their arable ground?

39835. Are there any stones on the ground for the crofters to make the fence sufficient if they chose to expend a little money on it?
—No, they have not time to do it. The land is so dear that they cannot get them to do that.

39836. Do the crofters consider themselves too highly rented?
—Yes, mostly double what they ought to be.

39837. Is your holding now an average specimen of the crofters' as to rent, looking to the size? Is yours a fair example of the rest?
—They are just about the same thing.

39838. You say you have eight acres arable ground?
—Eight and a half.

39839. And twenty-three of meadow pasture?

39840. What do you consider the meadow pasture to be worth an acre?
—It is charged at 10s. an acre by the proprietor.

39841. Do you consider that too much?

39842. What do you do with the meadow pasture? Do you pasture it all, or take crops of hay alternately?
—We take crops of hay, and we take crops of corn sometimes, but the Kyle of Sutherland comes over it and destroys the corn.

39843. It is more suitable for pasture or hay?

39844. Do you take hay off it the whole of the year, or do you take hay off it alternate years?
—We take hay off it yearly.

39845. And what number of stones or tons do you get to the acre? Have you ever made any calculation?
—About fifty or sixty stones of natural hay.

39846. And after that you get the pasture for the cattle during the winter?
—It is no use for the cattle, because very often the water goes over it in winter, and spoils it.

39847. So all you get is the hay off it?
—Most of it; and it grazes cattle in summer.

39848. After the hay is taken away?
—No, there is hardly any grass growing on it after the hay is taken off.

39849. Do you graze your cattle upon it before your hay is taken off?

39850. Then you get the hay off, and for the rest of the summer you graze your cattle upon it?

39851. So you get fifty or sixty stones of hay per acre off it, and you get the after-grass for the cattle until the floods come and render it unfit for that purpose?

39852. Do you consider 10s an acre too high for land that can be treated in that way?

39853. What would you put it at?
—At 5s.

39854. Then is the eight and a half acres of arable good land?

39855. What is it calculated at per acre?
—More than £1.

39856. Do you consider that too high?
—Well, it is too high by a long way, the rest of the acres are so bad with the flood.

39857. But the arable acres are not covered by the floods?

39858. Then do you consider £1 per acre for the eight and a half acres is still too high without reference to the other?
—I think that £1 would do if the rest were good.

39859. In point of fact, you would not complain of the eight and a half acres if the meadow were reduced?
—If the meadow were not flooded, I would not complain of it at all.

39860. Would it pay to erect any protection against the floods?

39861. Is that the principal complaint of the tenants you represent?
—The principal complaint is that their hill pasture was taken from them, and instead of taking down their rents, their rents were put up higher. It was all planted.

39862. What year was that in?
—About 1873.

39863. Who bought the property then?
—Mr G. G. Mackay bought it from the late laird of Novar in 1870. The tenants had a lease up to 1873.

39864. And when their leases expired?
—He deprived them of their pasture, and planted it

39865. Was any valuation of the land made—the lands that remained with the tenants at that time?
—I think there was.

39866. What was the result of it?
—That they had to pay a higher rent.

39867. What was your croft rented at before?
—£20, with the hill pasture.

39868. And in 1873 it was raised to £ 30?

39869. And the others in proportion?

39870. Did Mr Mackay value it himself?
—He valued it himself.

39871. Had he any meetings with his tenants to satisfy them that he was putting a fair increase upon them, or did he just give notice that it was to be raised?
—He told them at once that it was to be raised.

39872. Did he not take them into his confidence, or explain how it was too low before, and why it was to be raised?
—Well, I didn't hear. I have come to the estate since then.

39873. Did your predecessor pay £ 30?

39874. Then you must have been satisfied yourself that the place was worth £30, or you would not have taken it?
—But when Mr G. G. Mackay bought the estate he sold part of it to Mr Hadwen. I was a tenant there, and Mr Hadwen deprived the tenants of the hill, and I was evicted, and I was two years without a place at all.

39875. Was this place close to the place you have now?

39876. You must have known all about it?
—Well, I didn't know. It was put into lots, and I thought the place was better than it is.

39877. But still you would know more than if you had been a complete stranger?
—Yes, but I thought it was better than being in the poorhouse.

39878. Any how you took it with your eyes open. Don't you think the other tenants had, perhaps, more reason to complain than you had?
—They are as bad.

39879. They had no choice given them at all?
—No choice at all.

39880. Have you any other remarks to make about the estate or the management of it?

39881. The Chairman.
—Is it not usual on these larger crofts from £ 10 to £30, to have fences between the crofts or between the fields?
—The proprietor put some stone dykes between some of the lots, but not between the whole of them.

39882. If the proprietor would put up substantial fences between the different lots, or between the different fields, would the tenants co-operate with him and take part of the labour or expense, or do they not consider fences as of any importance?
—For these stone dykes they had to gather the stones themselves. The proprietor would only be at the expense of building them.

39883. Would the tenants be willing to take the trouble of gathering the stones if the proprietor would build them?
—Yes, they would.

39884. And they would consider that was an advantage to the croft?

39885. You said it would be of no use, and that you could not fence your meadow land against inundation; where does the water come from?
—From the river.

39886. Is there no dyke along the river side at all?

39887. No turf dyke?

39888. Do they never in this country build river fences to prevent the river overflowing?
—In a little part, but it was of no use. The water broke through.

39889. Perhaps it was not strong enough?
—Oh I yes.

39890. Would it not be possible to make a proper dyke?
—I don't think so; it would not pay.

39891. Does not the proprietor help in this country to make river dykes?
—I am not sure.

39892. Does this meadow lie pretty well above the common level of the water, or is it quite low down?
—Quite low down.

39893. Have you a lease now?

39894. How many years?
—Nineteen years.

39895. How many years have you still to run?

39896. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Are there any feuars on Culrain estate?
—There is one.

39897. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Is there anybody else from the estate with you to-day?
—Yes, George Ross and David Rose.

39898. You mentioned you were evicted from Mr Hadwen’s estate; is it you who has a great grievance against Mr Hadwen?
—The only thing is that he evicted me away from the place where I was born.

39899. What is the name of the place?

39900. Is there a man commonly called the Bard?
—Yes; he is here.

39901. You are not the Bard?
—No, his name is Alexander Ross, Achnahannet.

No comments:

Post a Comment