Golspie, Sutherland, 8 October 1883 - John Matheson

Written statement
John Matheson, delegate for Greenhill, Dalchalm, and East Brora, parish of Clyne.

The principal grievance of the districts is the smallness of the crofts, and the general desire is for more arable land. The crofts run from about two to six acres, and the pasture is very poor sandy links, overstocked with rabbits. The soil of the whole district is very poor and sandy, and in dry seasons will scarcely yield the amount of seed sown. Part of the land is fenced by the crofters themselves. The proprietor grants the timber required for improving the houses of the crofters, the rest must be provided by themselves without any prospect of compensation for their outlay. There is also a general complaint about the rise of rent when a relative of the former tenant succeeds to a croft. The rents are being raised from 10s. to £2, and from 15s. to nearly £4 on the death of parents or predecessors. Although the lots have been curtailed by the passing through of the railway line, no compensation has been given to the crofters for this. Although the rents are raised so high, many of the crofters are obliged to 1 thrashing whins for several months in the winter and spring to keep their cattle alive. There is about 150 acres of poor arable land in this district, and about fifty families and about 196 of a population. The average stock of the district is one cow and follower and one horse; and part of the district get pasture for one cow each during the summer and autumn in a park held by the proprietor for 15s. each. The grazing is not good as a rule. The crofters are not afraid of being evicted, but they like to get some kind of reasonable security for their holdings, more pasture, and, if possible, more arable land at a fair rent; they also wish that ground officers and other officials would not interfere with them in the exercise of their rights as voters. My own rent was raised from £2, 11 s . 6d. to £4, and the two best parts of my lot given to other crofters without any given reason.'

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