Golspie, Sutherland, 8 October 1883 - Andrew Sutherland

ANDREW SUTHERLAND (72)—examined.

39496. The Chairman.
—Are you a crofter ?
—No, I am only a sojourner. I was a crofter on the Sutherland estates from 1835 to 1854, and then I emigrated to Australia, where I remained for twenty-seven years.

39497. Have you got a written statement to make?
—I have.
—At a meeting of crofters of Lower and Upper Doll on 14th September, Mr Andrew Sutherland was delegated to represent our grievances before the Royal Commission to be convened at Golspie on 8th October, which are these, viz.
(1) Want of pasture sufficient to graze our few cattle;
(2) the smallness of our crofts;
(3) no fixity of tenure;
(4) no remuneration for improvements;
and lastly, being taxed for improving our holdings, a tax which we consider unjust, and for which we pray our legislators to repeal.

In the Doll district there are fifty crofts, average seven acres, and only two of these are able to keep a team of horses. All this area is cultivated by manual labour, and the major part of which is bleak and
gravelly. Population of district at census 1881 —112 males, 127 females—total, 239 (which speaks strongly of the anti-amorous disposition of the Doll bachelors).'

39498. If the proprietor was inclined to enlarge the pasture, are there farms from which it could be taken—adjacent farms?
—The Duke has plenty of land in South Brora.

39499. Is it adjacent to your township?
—Quite adjacent, and the people are willing to take it

39500. You have been in the colonics for a long time?
—Yes, I was in Victoria for twenty-seven years.

39501. Do you think it, on the whole, better that a man should have a new croft or an enlarged croft in this country, or that he should emigrate and take up land in Australia?
—It is much better for those who emigrate to go to Victoria—all those who can better themselves —but it is much worse for those they leave behind, because every shipload of emigrants that goes from this country there biiugs a shipload of grain here, so that the American and Australian farmers will be able to undersell the English growers in their own markets. Then I see these sheep farms in Sutherlandshire, from which there have been exported millions of tons of wool and carcases. Of course the pasture must be deteriorating. Unless you replenish the land, you may calculate upon your produce being very low. I say the same in regard to sheep pasture. Hundreds of tons of wool and carcases have been taken from the Sutherland estates, and the land must be deteriorated of course.

39502. But you think it would be an advantageous thing for their own interest for the people to emigrate ?
—Undoubtedly; it has been my experience.

39503. May I take the liberty to ask why you have come here; was it to see your friends?
—I suppose it was to get a consecrated grave in my native country.

39504. You feel attached to your country ?
—I do.

39505. How long have you returned ?
—Two years.

39506. Are you living with your own people?
—Yes, with a sister.

39507. Do you find the people improved since you went away ?
—Considerably in dress and in manners, but in regard to pecuniary matters I don't think they are much better. The daily wages are considerably improved. I was surprised to hear a brother delegate from some other parish say he thought the Duke could do no wrong, but it is vice versa in our parish. The people are under the impression that officials can do no wrong, because if I am a servant of the Duke I am answerable to him for anything I do. My impression is that the officials of the Duke do their duty.

39508. You think they do their duty?
—I think they do.

39509. But I am interested to hear that you think the people are, on the whole, improved?
—Much improved in dress and in manners, but if I speak of morals I am afraid I will have to say different. I can say this in regard to Sutherlandshire—and I say it for the youths, because I am sure the press will take it up and give it publicity, and the Royal Commission will not meet another case of the sort in all broad Scotland, England, and Ireland. The Duke of Sutherland is one of the best landed proprietors in Scotland, and he has the best law-abiding people to deal with. My grandfather was born in 1735, and from that day to this there was no man or woman belonging to Sutherlandshire hanged or transported but one man, and a white flag was waving over our county jail without one man either for debt or crime, and the Royal Commission will not find the like of that in all broad Scotland.

39510. Mr Cameron.
—About those who emigrate, you say it is not a benefit for those who remain behind, because those who go to the colonies help to lower the prices of grain and cattle on those who remain?
—They do.

39511. At all events, you admit the people themselves who go obtain a benefit?

39512. Then one portion of the community receives a benefit —those who go?

39513. Now, supposing that these people did not go, and that their places were filled up by foreigners
—Germans, Swiss, and so on—both portions would suffer loss —those who did not go and those who remained?
—Yes, but when you see that those people who were evicted to the barren shores of Sutherland could make homes for themselves, don't you think that those who emigrate to a land of milk and honey make a comfortable home ?

39514 But I am talking of those they leave behind who suffer loss, because the price of grain and cattle is lowered on those who remain. What I want to draw attention to is this, that supposing the emigrants did not go from this country, and that their places were filled up by Germans and Swedes, both parties would be losers —both those who might have gone and those who remained, and who still have the prices of cattle and grain lowered to them; so it is a benefit to the whole community that some should emigrate?
—Yes, but if the thing continues a few years longer, every shipload of emigrants that goes to Australia and America will be able to send shiploads of produce and cattle here, so that the American and Australian farmers will be able to undersell the English farmers in their own markets; and more than that, I know that in a few short years, if things continue as they are doing, the crofters will have more land on their hand than they want, and the landlords will have more land on their hand than they can dispose of.

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