House of Tongue, 3rd September 1883.
John Crawford, aged 71. I have been factor for the Duke of Sutherland in the Tongue district since Whitsunday 1859. The district extends from the March of Caithness on the east to Loch Eriboll on the west, and from the sea on the north to Benhrinin on the south. The population of the district under my care is, by last census, 3900 souls. Rental shown by the Valuation Roll of the county is £17,959.
For the convenience of the Commissioners, and in the interests of the inquiry, I propose to deal categorically with the statements of witnesses at Bettyhill on 24th and 25th July last, so far as they relate to the property under my factorship.
I. The Rev. James Evidence, Cumming, witness, made statements as to what he was pleased to call oppression and misrule on the part of the factor, and illustrated these acts by references to—
I herewith submit copy of Estate Regulations in force before the Reay property was purchased by the Duke of Sutherland. These have been continued with considerably less stringency until now. Being sixty miles from a law court if order is to be maintained amongst a crofter population, the landlord must establish suitable rules to enforce it other than by formal process of law. Small fines of 2s. 6d. or 5s. are inibcted for repeated transgressions by cutting peat on green ground, for improper peat cutting or for subdivision of the lots, and taking in permanent lodgers.
2. Harsh treatment on the part of Officials, of which the following are instances :—
(1.) As to Thomas Morrison and Angus Rankin in a case of removal. Rankin was tenant of a lot of land at 1s. per annum of rent. He was an old man living alone. About 1865 he applied for and obtained permission to take in Thomas Morrison as a lodger, whose wife was to keep house and attend to Rankin. This arrangement continued until 1878 when Rankin's condition, from Morrison's neglect, was found to be lamentable, and the old man was placed under the charge of the inspector of poor, who had him attended to until his death. By estate rule it is inconsistent for a man to be both a tenant and a pauper. Rankin and his lodger were therefore asked to grant a voluntary renunciation of the place that a new tenant might be selected. By advice they declined—mentioning Mr Cumming as their adviser—and formal steps were taken to obtain possession. On the term day the key of the house was asked and refused. Ejectment was about to be enforced when Morrison, for the first time, intimated his wish to take the lot. I stopped proceedings, and told Morrison the terms on which I was prepared to recommend him as tenant, viz., on his paying the expense of legal proceedings, amounting to £4 . That the old rent of 1s. would be the rent for crop or downlay 1878, and that the new valuation of Messrs M'Donald & M'Kenzie of £3 , 7s. would be his future rent for crop 1879, and thereafter during the Duke's pleasure. He agreed to these terms at once, and has continued in possession, paying from and after 1879 the rent of £3 , 7s. as mentioned.
(2.) The case of George M'Kay (More), Talmine.
This man also occupied a lot for over forty years at 1s. per annum of rent.
He applied tor permission to take m a relative as joint-tenant and successor. Consent to this arrangement was given on the condition that the new valuation of the croft, £3, 1s. 6d. per annum, should be paid from and after the term of Whitsunday 1878, when the joint-tenancy began. He and his relative had free option to accept or reject this proposal. They voluntarily accepted the joint tenancy on the terms mentioned, and paid the rent accordingly until 1882.
In consequence of one of George's sons being drowned in Talmine Bay, and another who went abroad not being heard of for some years, by which the old man was left without help other than by his late son's widow, the Duke of Sutherland has reconsidered this case, and has reduced the rent to a nominal sum of 10s. per annum, on condition no other party is admitted to an interest in the lot other than his son's widow.
(3.) Case of Hugh Munro, Talmine.
This man occupied for a similar period at 4s. 10d. per annum, and having made a similar request for the admission of a friend, he got a similar reply. He and his friend William Munro agreed to pay the new valuation,£2, 18s., as from Whitsunday 1877 ; and they have since regularly paid it without complaint. In each of these three cases above mentioned, according to the practice of the estate, no change in the rent would have been made so long as there was no change in the tenancy, and so long as the sitting tenant chose to continue in possession by himself.
3. Improvement of houses and lots which Mr Cumming confines to the last few months, and were instigated, as he alleges, by the appointment of the Royal Commission.
I have to state that in 1862 I applied for and obtained a grant of £150 for purchasing lime and timber by way of assisting the crofters in building division walls between their families and their cattle. The only condition required of the tenant in order to share in this grant was that he should supply the necessary labour ; and in cases where slates were used for new roofing of cottages, they were supplied by the landlord at cost price, and the tenant was allowed three or more years, according to his circumstances, for their repayment These grants, and the conditions on which they could be shared in, are well known since 1862 to the tenantry in this district. This allowance of £150 was annually continued by the Duke, but for ten years the grants of lime and timber were only very partially taken advantage of by the tenants. In 1873 the allowance was slightly exceeded, but for the next five years the full amount was not applied for by the tenants. From 1879 to 1882 inclusive, very considerable progress was made in improving existing dwelling-houses and in erecting new ones of a superior character, and, by way of encouraging this movement, the Duke, with his usual consideration for the comfort of his people, more than doubled the annual allowance. For dwelling houses of the better class the crofters were allowed from 30 to 50 bolls of lime, timber for roofing, flooring for parlour, closet, and attics, partition and door standards, and glass for windows ; slate at cost price on three or more years' credit. State showing annual allowance and grants applied for from 1862 to 1882 is herewith submitted.
4. Improvement of lots
Improvements, as a rule, are very imperfectly executed by the crofters, especially drainage. I prefer that improvements be done by the landlord, because they are better done. A crofter rarely possseses sufficient capital, or the practical experience requisite, for carrying on such works with expedition or benefit to himself. When the landlord improves, the tenant, as a rule in this district, executes the work either by contract or on day's pay, and he has a special interest in having it well and cheaply done. While maintaining his family by his daily earnings, he at the same time secures the foundation for future profit as well as comfort.
5. Mr Cumming refers to the persecution of people on the estate for poaching. I not remember more than four, or at most five cases, during the whole twenty-four years of my factory here. Two of these were of trivial character, and were dismissed with an admonition. Two were of more serious character —one being combined with a charge of theft—and these more serious cases were prosecuted by the procurator-fiscal, and resulted in conviction and sentence. One of these cases was referred to by William M'Kenzie, delegate from Strathhalladale.
Cumming complains that I am eyes and ears, hands and feet, to the Duke of Sutherland. I have to thank him for this no doubt unintentional compliment, for I always consider it my duty so to act for His Grace in his absence.
The next witness examined was William M'Kenzie,Trantlemore,Strathalladale. This witness did not by any means represent the majority of the crofters in the Strath, nor even a respectable minority of them. He gave a very inaccurate report of the hill-grazings in connection with the Strath lots. The grazing is fairly good, some of it very superior, and on an average quite equal to
the general grazing on that side of the country. The average extent is estimated at about 90 acres per croft. The people of this Strath are considered on the whole about as comfortable and independent as any in the county. There are, no doubt, poor people amongst them, as there always will be in every community, but this does not arise from any peculiarity in the management.
Adam Gunn, delegate from Strathy, complains of smallness of lots and high rents.
The Strathy-point and Totegun lots average 7¾ acres arable and pasture, besides hill-grazings. There are thirty tenants, occupying a cumulative rent of £73, 5s. 3d.—average per tenant, £2, 0s. 10d. Ne w valuation of this township is £97, 10s. 6d.
Last year the Duke made a township road of two miles in length for this place at a cost of £184, by which the crofters will be much benefited ; and this year His Grace has made another road to the township of Brawl, over a mile in length, at a cost of £160, which will also be of great service to the tenants of that place, while at the same time it has—in connection with other works of reclamation of land going on in the district—provided labour during a season of local pressure. These reclamation works consist of draining and trenching waste land for the crofters, to some without interest during first five years, and to others at 2½ and 3 per cent, on' outlay, according to the quality of the land and expense of reclamation. The following are the present rents charged in the townships said to be represented by this witness, and the new valuations by Messrs M'Donald & Mackenzie, from which the Commissioners can draw their own conclusion, viz.:—
Strathy: Present rent: £98 4s 8d, new valuation £134 11s 6d
Balligall: Present rent: £23 9s 5d, new valuation £38 15s
Brawl: Present rent: £19 4s 10d, new valuation £26 10s
Altiphuerst: Present rent: [illegible] 0s 18d, new valuation £16 11s 6d
Laidnagullin: Present rent: £18 12s 6d, new valuation: £29 6s 6d
Other townships are on a similar scale.
John M'Kay, Melvich, delegate for Melvich and Portsherray district.
This person's evidence is grossly inaccurate and misleading. I will refer to his own case first.
He obtained his present lot in 1873. See letter of 4th August 1873, and minute of agreement of 8th August and acceptance of same date. M^Kay by these missives got 20 acres of arable land, with hill pasture in addition, for the annual rent of £10 sterling (valued at £14, 3s. 6d). He was bound to erect a dwelling-house and offices, with right to the usual building privileges. He had also by these missives the option to improve and take in 9 acres adjoining his lot, at a nominal rent of 2s. 6d. per acre. He has been in possession for ten years since his entry in 1873. During this period he built office houses but not a dwelling-house, and he lives in what is properly the barn. During the same period he has not improved any part of the land put at his disposal; while, on the contrary, I have more than once spoken to him on the subject of improvement, and offered to improve for him on the terms that he should pay a small interest on the outlay. These offers on my part he always declined, stating that he already had as much land on hand as he had means to manage. The land by the river side to which he refers is not suitable for tillage, inasmuch as it is subject to being from time to time flooded. It is singular, and worthy of observation, that if the crops in Melvich district are so poor and high rented as this witness describes them, how the valuators could have considered them of so much more value than the tenants presently pay for them. The following example may suffice:—
The township of Melvich presently pays £95, 6s. 1d. The new valuation amounts to £175, 2s. 3d. Portsherray presently pays £112, 14s. 4d., while the new valuation amounts to £155, 2s. 6d.
Hector Munro, delegate from Scullomie. His statements are quite inaccurate. The township contains 57¾ acres of fairly good land. The cumulative rent of the township in 1859, including hill-grazing, was £61, 7s. 7d. In 1882 it was £57, 15s. 4d., including hill-grazing. The new valuation is £60, 15s. In 1878 a waterspout did some damage to the banks of a small burn he refers to. The Duke spent a small sum in executing repairs, and an offer was made by me last year to cut a new channel, so as to direct the stream another way, on condition the two tenants interested would pay interest on the expense. The amount would probably not have exceeded 3s. each. This offer was refused.
The Rev. John Ross M'Neill, delegate, Strathtongue. Mr M'Neill came recently to the parish of Tongue, and an entire stranger to it. He has hardly had time to know much of the people, and his knowledge of the working arrangements between landlord and tenant must be very slender indeed. Finally, it is not too much to say that his evidence is obviously founded on mere hearsay, which has not been by any means carefully sifted. It is not true that the Coldbacky rents have been doubled, or even to any extent increased. On the whole, they have been reduced, at my solicitation, within the last twenty years. The current rent of Coldbacky is £40, 18s. 2d. The new valuation is £44, 11s. The township of Rhitongue is presently rented at £29, 15s. 11d. The new valuation is £35, 8s. The township of Braetongue is rented at £57, 14s. 10d. The new valuation is £95, 9s. 10d. In every instance the new valuation is higher than the actual rents charged. This witness refers to a new activity he has observed in the building of houses within the last six months. There has been nothing special in this way to my knowledge. The improvement of dwelling-houses has been going on since 1862, but with more activity within the last five years, as my separate Enclosure statement of expenditure will show.
Peter M'Kay, builder, Strathtongue, delegate, complains of losing employment, of high rents, and oppression by the factor.
On my appointment in 1859 I gave all the old contractors the first chance of work, and afterwards retained the services of those whom I found most reliable.
Sutherland. I wished to impress on the contractors that their real interest, as well as the
Duke's, lay in the honest discharge of their duty. That people who did inferior work, and charged exhorbitant rates, would not be employed by me as contractors. Mr M'Kay^s croft consists of over 13 acres arable and over 5 acres pasture. Rent £5, 5s. 4d. as stated by him. He, however, omitted to mention in his evidence that he has a relative living on the lot with him, whose stock of sheep is probably equal to his own. I am not aware of ever having interfered between this man and the Duke. I have no knowledge of the Duke's desire to remit his rent for the remainder of his life. The new valuation of this lot is £12. The other townships referred to by this witness
are Blandy, rented at £16, 6s. 10d., and valued at £20, 5s.; Strathtongue, present rental £23, 19s. 10d, new valuation £31, 0s. 8d.
Angus M'Kay, Cattlefield, crofter's son, delegate for three townships of Farr. His complaint is as to the smallness of lots, high rents, and acts of oppression on part of officials. The present rental of the townships said to be represented by this delegate are all under the new valuation. The land is of fair quality. I deny in toto the alleged cases of hardship mentioned by this witness.
1. As to the erection of a store on the late Angus Gordon's croft.—It became necessary for the convenience of landing lime, timber, &c. in the Naver River, for both large and small tenantry improvements going on, to erect a storehouse on the beach. This was done in a creek just above high-water mark and opposite the late Angus Gordon's lot. A cart track was made, sloping down a steep bank, mostly outside the arable land, for access to this storehouse, and to which the tenant consented. The track admits of the crofters carting sea-ware from the river in place of carrying it in creels on womens' backs as formerly. The actual quantify of arable land taken up by road is not more than 18 square yards. The Duke has no interest in the storehouse beyond the convenience it affords to the improving tenants of the district for storing lime, timber, & c , allowed by the landlord for their new houses when unable to cart these materials direct from the ship.
2. Cases of oppression and unjust treatment to two old women.—
Previous to 1862, John M'Kay, a crofter in Airdneiskich, deserted his lot—leaving two old sisters upon it. One was in delicate health. They were quite unable to do anything with land, and voluntarily agreed to remove after the crop of 1862 was reaped. I gave them a house elsewhere. They were afterwards placed on the roll of paupers and supported by the parish. From whatever source this young man may have got his information—for the event he refers to so pathetically took place about the time he was bom—there is not one word of truth in it. There was no written renunciation ever asked or obtained from these old women, neither was there the slightest act of compulsion exercised, far less deception, as he alleges. The transfer from one place to the other was strictly voluntary and beneficial to the parties concerned. The land thus vacated, with other land thereafter voluntarily given up, was partly divided amongst the tenants of the township, and a new arrangement of marches made, which has very much added to the harmony of the place for the last twenty years.
Rev. Donald M'Kenzie, Free Church Minister, Farr, delegate, complained of oppression by officials, and undue interference at School Board and Parochial Board elections. I emphatically deny every statement this witness makes relative to oppression or undue influence at School or Parochial Board elections. I never interfere with people going to the Duke about their matters.
It is well known that I rather encourage this course. The Duke is as easy of access to the poorest tenant on his estate as he is to me. His Grace entertains a parental regard for the well-being of all his people, and would not tolerate any antagonistic feeling or action on the part of his officials. As regard His Grace's enterprise for the benefit of his estate, I have only to point out the fact that there has been spent in my district alone within the last thirty years the sum of £140,826 in permanent improvements. This sum has been disbursed to the extent of about two thirds in the form of wages amongst the resident population during the last twenty-one years.
I have never solicited, directly or indirectly, a single vote at a School Board election, but I have notwithstanding always been placed at the head of the poll by the free will of the electors. The memo I beg to submit to the Commissioners will show the amount of work I have undertaken for the Board. My services have been given gratuitously from first to last, and, except by Mr M'Kenzie, have been gratefully acknowledged.
Hew Morrison, schoolmaster, Brechin, delegate for Torresdale district. Mr Morrison's statistics are rather at fault. There are, as he states, eighty tenants in the district referred to, occupying 316 acres of arable land (in place of 246 acres as stated) at a cumulative rent of £264, 14s. 6d., equal to 16s. 9d. per acre (not £ 1 , 2s.), but with hill-grazing only 8 ½ d. per acre over all. New
valuation of the township embraced £304, 13s., being £40 per annum more than the rent exacted.
Ewen Robertson, delegate for Tongue and Invemaver, refers to cases of oppression.
Inchverry case. —In 1861 George M'Intosh went abroad and left his sister on the lot without help, and unable to manage the land—upwards of 10 acres in extent. The lot was divided—the sister retaining 3 ½ acres, with out-grazing, at £2 per annum of rent (new valuation £ 4 , 13s.). The remainder was let to John Munro at £6 per annum (new valuation £6, 14s.). This arrangement was willingly accepted, and the rent has been regularly paid to this day.
Braetongue case.—Widow George M'Kenzie had two sons and a son-in-law living with her. They went to Canada last year. Neither of them ever applied to me for the lot. The widow came to me about the middle of February last and asked me to take the lot off her hand as she could not
manage it. I did so, and same day re-let the place to a neighbour, reserving a parlour and two bedrooms for the widow's use.
Invernaver case.—Some time ago the tenant of Invemaver applied for a section of Achnabourin Farm adjoining their township. This could not have been granted without sacrificing the farm house and offices pertaining to the farm, as they were situated on the section of ground asked for. An additional inquiry would have arisen from cutting off a portion of upland grazing ground, of which there is already too little for the benefit of the stock. If these tenants had asked the whole farm, and agreed to manage it as a joint-stock concern, I believe the Duke of Sutherland would have favourably considered such an application, providing they could have given satisfactory evidence of their ability to stock the farm and pay a reasonable rent for it. This probably would have been too heavy an undertaking for them; besides, there is reason to believe that their ideas of managing a club farm were very far from being matured. In an Appendix to the foregoing statement will be found the various documents alluded to in it, and others relating to general statistics of estate matters bearing on the question at issue, which will, I trust, afford the Commissioners the material for forming an accurate opinion as to this district management.
The Commissioners will find from these documents that the Duke of Sutherland has expended between 1861 and 1882 in the permanent improvement of the estate in this district about £133,000, and that the increased rental is only about £1757 per annum, or equal to about 1⅓ per cent. The chief benefit of this large outlay has accrued to the local tradesmen and labouring population as already stated. From my personal observation and knowledge I can confidently affirm that the condition of the crofters has greatly improved and is improving. They are better clad and better housed; and I am certain they are in all respects in a better condition than they were thirty years ago. I may add, in conclusion, that since the inquiry at Bettyhill, I have received many verbal and written communications from crofters, denying that the delegates who appeared there correctly expressed the true views of the population, and I am satisfied from my own experience, gained from personal communication with the tenants during these many years, that they are, as a body, as happy and contented as any in Scotland.
Finally, I have to express my sincere thanks to Lord Napier and the other Commissioners for granting me the privilege of making this statement, after reading the publication of the evidence, as my infirmity of deafness prevented me from hearing the statements tendered by the delegates at the meeting of the Commission, and of giving rebutting evidence on the spot, as I should otherwise have done. JOHN CRAWFORD, Factor.
REGULATIONS for the Estate of Reay, as referable to the Small Tenantry and Others Possessing at Will.
1. It shall he at will, and the term of entry to any holding is understood to be at Whitsunday as to the houses and grass, and to the arable land at the separation of that year's crop.
2. That the rent shall be fore-rented; that is, that at the first term of Martinmas after'entry, and so forth yearly, the year's rent from the Whitsunday previous to the Whitsunday following shall be payable, with every other burden effeiring to that rent, of schoolmaster's salary, statute labour assessments, & c , as provided for by law.
3. That the straw of the waygoing crop shall be left in steel-bow for the benefit of the landlord or incoming tenant.
4. That it shall be optional in the proprietor to take the benefit of any tenant's manure, and downlay of waygoing crop, on paying half-rent, unless when value or rent of such holding is constituted more than usual from the extent of grazing, in which case an abatement for same shall be made from the said half-rent.
5. That it shall be optional in the proprietor to take waygoing tenant's dwelling and other houses at the valuation of such sworn appraisers or others in the place as are accustomed to such matters, such appraisement to extend over moss, fir, and foreign timber only ; and, where the proprietor declines taking the same, the tenant shall be at liberty to dispose of them, for his own benefit, taking care, however, not to demolish or injure the walls or other wood in said houses, which at all times are considered the landlord's own property, unless otherwise provided for in writing.
6. That every tenant shall be bound to perform gratis the usual services in repairs to manse, manse offices, school and schoolmaster's houses, mills, smithies, and kelp houses, when and in such manner as may be appointed by the proprietor or his officers. [These services are all abolished long ago]
7. That every tenant shall manufacture such a quantity of kelp as may be allotted him on the shores of the estate when, where, and according to such rate per ton, and other regulations, as from time to time may be adopted. [No kelp made now]
II. Cattle herdings
1. That in every township the factor for the time being shall have power annually, or oftener if he sees proper, to appoint one, two, or more persons for taking charge and giving directions for the proper herdings of the township's stocks ; for attending to the repair of the town dykes; for settling all petty disputes amongst neighbours; and, in short, for settling every little matter tending to the peace and welfare of the community, and whose orders or award must be considered final by the parties until after performance, when it may be competent to appeal therefrom either to the ground-officer or factor.
2. Such person or persons so appointed shall have full power over the herding of the towns' stocks, and shall engage a shepherd or shepherds for that purpose, and shall assess the different parties concerned, in proportion to their respective stocks, for defraying the expense of such shepherds, and the same to be levied annually before the term of Martinmas, and the wages paid.
III. Erection of houses.
No tenant shall erect, or permit others to erect, any dwelling-house or other house upon his holding without leave being first asked and obtained from the ground-officer of the district, or factor.
IV. Quantity of stock.
1. No tenant shall be permitted to keep a greater quantity of stock than what may be considered by the ground-officer or factor as a fair rate for the holding.
2. That no tenant, on any account whatever, shall take in any summering or winter stock without leave first asked and given by the ground-officer or factor.
REGULATIONS FOR THE POPULATION IN GENERAL.
I. Cutting of peats and turf.
1. No turf for houses, or any other purposes, shall be cut unless when it may be ordered through application to the ground-officer, or through any depute or deputies he may appoint, such as the men appointed for regulating the cattle herdings.
2. The cutting of peats shall be under the control of the ground-officer, and on no account whatever shall any new moss be broke up without his special instructions, or of any depute or deputies he may appoint for that purpose, such as the men having charge of the cattle herdings ; and the ground-officer or his deputies shall not permit irregularity in such cutting, and shall take care that the bottom of the moss is regularly and neatly covered with the turf taken off before the cutting is commenced, and 6uch turf so placed as the peats are dug out, taking care at the same time that no water is allowed to stagnate thereon.
II. Searching for moss fir
1. No wood shall be permitted to be taken up for sale.
2. None other than a tenant shall be permitted to search for or take up wood without the permission of the ground-officer.
3. Any person who does search for and take up wood shall at all times cover in the pit neatly and closely with swarded turf, and so as that no water will stagnate thereon.
All woods, young and old, natural and planted, are considered sacred, and shall on no account be entered or touched on any pretence whatever, saving in the manner following :—
1. By an order (written) by the ground-officer or factor.
2. No order to be effectual unless on the first Wednesday of any one month,
3. No order to be effectual unless eight days' previous notice be given to the wood-keeper by the person holding such order.
[Orders 2 and 3 cancelled, office always open for business]
4. No wood shall be cut on the day appointed, on any pretence whatever, unless in the presence of the keeper or one duly authorised by him.
5. It shall be optional in the keeper either to permit such order to be executed or otherwise as he shall deem fit [Cancelled]
6. The keeper shall have supreme command in the woods of which he has charge, and every party must be satisfied to accept of such quality or quantity of wood as he may permit.
7. At all times when wood is cut, the branches or refuse must be collected
8. Where no woodkeepers are established, it shall be competent to the ground-officer to accompany any party thither, and act in the capacity of keeper.
9. It shall be competent to the ground-officer, either in the season of kelp or in any other case of emergency, to grant wood at any other period of the month, but in all such cases he must accompany or meet the parties personally in the woods, and act in the capacity of keeper. [Cancelled, see 8]
1. All smuggling, making of malt or whisky, or in any manner being connected with the infringement of the Excise laws, is strictly prohibited.
2. Every tenant or other householder shall be held as responsible for their household.
3. Every tenant or other householder who , either by himself or any of his household, are detected in such practices, shall forfeit all protection on the estate, and shall be removed therefrom as soon as possible. [Restriction not enforced; all parties held responsible for misconduct under Excise law]
4. Every miller making or permitting malt to be made in his mill, shall be held as acting art and part, and will incur the same penalty as mentioned in the foregoing article.
V. Sheep stealers, plunderers of wrecks, deer, salmon or black-fish killers and other delinquencies.
All and every person who is detected in any practices coming under this clause, or in any other act not therein enumerated detrimental to society, will be severely punished, either as the law directs, or failing, in such other manner as may be thought advisable for the interest of the estate.
VI.Statute labour assessments
Every tenant shall be responsible for every personal assessment on individuals, either in his own house or sheltered by him in his holding; and householder otherwise shall be considered as responsible for his household.
[Cancelled, except for payment of road assessment, of which tenant pays half]
Belongs to the proprietor, and shall not in any manner be interfered with unless for and on his account; and any person finding and saving the same, must without delay report to the ground-officer of the district, and such person, or persons concerned therein shall be entitled to be paid salvage thereon according to use and wont.
[Cancelled, now under Board of Trade regulations]
VIII. System of fines.
[Fines now restricted to cases of divot-cutting on improper ground, improper peat cutting and taking in lodgers without authority. Cancelled; now under Board of Trade regulations]
In furtherance of the due performance of the above-written regulations, it is laid down as a rule that, in all cases of delinquency, it shall be competent to factor to take cognizance of the same, and either exact fines on the party offending, or otherwise as he may deem proper,—such fines, however, not to exceed (in any case) 10s. or be less than 1s. sterling. And in respect that have been in the habit of not turning out to kelp manufacture on the day appointed, and of deserting their posts whilst in the manufacture, and others of authority, adulterating their kelp and otherwise destroying it, it shall be understood that the principle of fine shall in that department more especially be established, and the same deducted from the price of manufacture.
IX. Days of business at Tongue House.
Weekly ; on the Wednesdays, the office at Tongue will be open for business, and on no other days of the week, saving or excepting at the rent collections, or any case of emergency.
The factor shall at all times be ready to receive petitions, either directed to himself or proprietor.
XI. Authorities and powers of officers
Every person or persons appointed under these regulations, on this and the six preceding pages, shall be understood to represent the proprietor or his factor, and disobedience thereto taken cognizance of accordingly; and it is farther to be understood that all inferior officers, in their respective departments or duties, shall be under the control of the ground-officer, who shall hold superior authority immediately under the factor on the estate ; and it shall be competent to the said ground-officer to make such bye-laws and minor regulations affecting his duty from time to time as he may see fit. [No such powers now exist]
XII. Duties of ground-officers on the Estate of Reay.
On reference to the preceding regulations of the tenantry and others, the officer's duty is defined : in respect that his charge will consist in seeing said regulations put in force, and in general attending to every interest of the landlord in his district; to ensure which it will be his business to be constantly visiting the different parts of his district, and giving such orders as from time to time may be necessary.
His Superintendence over the kelp manufacture in all its details will be a principal object; and not less so to prevent and detect all thefts, smuggling, and wood-cutting, with other delinquencies; and to put a stop to the three first will require the utmost attention and perseverance. He will take care to have all repairs on kelp-houses and others duly and sufficiently executed before the term of Martinmas annually, and every other part of business performed in its proper season. [No kelp now made]
Integrity, impartiality, and the most upright conduct in performance of his various duties will be expected ; and,
Lastly, a monthly report will be required at Tongue on every matter connected with his office.
(Signed) JOHN HORSBURGH.
TONGUE HOUSE, May 15, 1826.
Sutherland Estates (Tongue Management).
Systems of Melioration for Tenantry Cottages.
31ST December 1831.
To the tenant in the district of Assynt, Reay country, Farr, and Strath Halladale who, within one year from this date, builds a dwelling-house according to the plan and specifications signed as relative hereto by the factor, and in the hands of the respective ground-officers, and on a site approved of by the factor, wood will be furnished gratis by the proprietor for roofing; and
The terms of melioration to be allowed for the same, in case of removal of the tenant at the instance of the proprietor, are as follows, viz.:—
1. Full melioration, saving on furnishings by the proprietor, if such removal takes place within seven years from Whitsunday 1833.
2. Two-thirds if within fourteen years from Whitsunday 1833.
3. One-third if within nineteen years from Whitsunday 1833; and,
Lastly, exceeding nineteen years from said period, all claim of melioration to cease.
COPY CORRESPONDENCE with Inspector of Tongue relative to
Case of Angus Rankin, Talmine.
Tongue School House
Saturday, 2nd March 1878
DEAR SIR,—I herewith enclose you two letters which I received from Mr Cumming, Free Church minister, Melness, relative to the case of Angus Rankin, Talmine. I would have sent the first sooner had you been at home. Please let me know if I will render any assistance, or take any further steps in the matter.—I am, dear sir, yours faithfully,
(Signed) A. M'NEILL, Inspector.
John Crawford, Esq., House of Tongue.
House of Tongue, 2nd March 1878.
DEAR SIR,—I have your letter of this date, enclosing two from Rev. Mr Cumming, Melness, regarding the case of Angus Rankin, tenant, Talmine. You must exercise your own discretion in the matter, and see that the man is not neglected. This is clearly your duty in the meantime, and until the first meeting of your Board, when the case will most likely come up for discussion.
Mr Cumming is wrong in looking upon Rankin as Morrison's lodger. The reverse is the case. Rankin continues tenant and Morrison is the lodger, and was admitted as such with the view of taking charge of Rankin, which it now suits him to lay aside in a great measure.—Yours faithfully,
(Signed) JOHN CRAWFORD.
Mr A. M'Neill, Inspector of Poor, Tongue.
House of Tongue, 25th May 1878.
DEAR SIR,—Referring to the case of Angus Rankin, Talmine, about which I wrote you to-day, I find Morrison is about to leave the old man alone ; and to prevent any such neglect, it will be necessary to take immediate steps—if you have not already done so—to have the old man looked after. To prevent any trouble to yourself or the Board, I have no doubt you will see the propriety of immediate action in the matter.—Yours faithfully,
(Signed) JOHN CRAWFORD.
Mr A. M'Neill, Inspector of Poor, Tongue.
Tongue School House, 27th May 1878
DEAR SIR,—I went over to Talmine on Saturday and visited Angus Rankin. He is in a very weak state, and still confined to bed. I told him he would require to remove to another place, but I fear he did not understand me, as his mind appears to be wavering from age and frailty. I with difficulty got a nice place for him with that young woman, Mrs William M'Kay, (Don) Skinned. She is willing to take him into her own house, provided he will be allowed to take his own bed with him, and that she will receive 3s. per week for keeping him clean, free from vermin, and taking proper care of him. This is exclusive of his own aliment of 10s. per month. He is so weak and emaciated it is necessary that I have a medical certificate stating that he is in a fit state to sustain the fatigue of being removed in a cart from Talmine to Skinned (about half a mile). If, however, the Morrisons are removed, Widow M'Kay will at once go to his own house and attend on him there, until arrangements are made for his removal.
I will call a meeting of the Board, immediately after the Communion, to consider his case and a few other cases.—I am, yours faithfully,
(Signed) A. M'NEILL, Inspector.
John Crawford, Esq., Tongue.
House of Tongue, 27th May 1878
DEAR SIR,—I have your letter of this date regarding the case of Angus Rankin, Talmine. It is absolutely necessary that you should obtain a medical certificate as to the capability of removing the pauper to proper lodging, and the sooner this is done the better. Be good enough therefore to lose no time in having this done, and act on the certificate if favourable, taking every caution to effect the old man's removal as quietly as possible. You, of course, take everything belonging to him with him. The rate to be paid for his caretaking must be such as you can best arrange until first meeting of your Board, when the matter can be arranged finally.—
(Signed) JoHN CRAWFORD.
Mr A. McNEILL, Inspector of Poor, Tongue.
MELIORATIONS given to Crofters for Dwelling-Houses, from 1862 to 1883.
3rd September 1883
The following annual grants have been allowed by the Duke of Sutherland for—
1. The purchase of lime for building partition walls between the family and the cattle, and for providing timber and glass for otherwise improving existing dwelling-houses.
2. For purchasing lime, timber for roofing, joisting, flooring, lining, glass, & c , and slates in cases where superior dwelling-houses were erected.
Allowance from 1862 – 1878 (incl): £150
Allowance in 1879 and 1880: £200
Allowance in 1881: £250
Allowance in 1882 and 1883: £300
Amount accepted per year.
1862: £43 10s 3d
1864: £6 6s
1865: £39 8s 5d
1866: £45 4s 7d
1867: £49 4s 2d
1868: £63 12s 11d
1869: £61 7s 10d
1870: £80 3s 4d
1871: £98 2s 8d
1872: £126 9s 6d
1873: £271 0s 8d
1874: £53 2s 4d
1875: £70 14s 10d
1876: £55 13s 2d
1877: £124 7s 3d
1878: £69 17s 3d
1879: £206 2s 7d
1880: £222 5s 8d
1881: £345 13s 8d
1882: £485 14s 3d
TOTAL: £2533 0s 6d
1883: Expenditure will exceed my allowance this year, which makes expenditure over £3833
In addition to the above allowance of £300 for houses this year, the duke has allowed £500 for improving tenants’ lots by draining, trenching, &c, the crofter in every case being employed in the execution of the work. Since 1862 upwards of sixty superior new dwelling-houses have been built, over twenty more have been improved and made good dwellings, while a considerable number more have been improved and made more comfortable.
JOHN CRAWFORD, Factor
Offer of Melvich Park to JOHN M'KAY, residing at Bighouse, Strath Halladale.
4th August 1873.
Mr JOHN M'KAY (Gow),
Bighouse, Strath Halladale.
SIR,—You applied to me some time ago for a lot of land. I have one now at Melvich to dispose of: the large park at east end of Melvich, some time possessed by the late Mr Donald M'Donald, Melvich.
If this would suit you, I can let you have it at £10 per annum, with hill grazing included, and you will receive the usual allowance of timber, lime, and glass for a dwelling-house, and rough timber for offices. Free access to Portaherry Quarry for stones.
I can give over the crop to you on reasonable terms, and the straw you would have free—leaving it in the same way. Entry at Martinmas first, or as soon as the crop is taken off the ground. Let m e know if this will suit you by return of post, as I have other applicants and must let the place at once. I could give you nine or ten acres of muirland adjoining to improve at 2s. 6d. per acre ; this would make your farm up to thirty acres in extent—a nice little place. I expect to hear from you in course.—Yours faithfully,
(Signed) JOHN CRAWFORD.
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT with JOHN McKAY GOW, for Park at East End of Melvich.
8th August 1873.
I, John M'Kay Gow, residing at Bighouse, Strath Halladale, do hereby offer His Grace the Duke of Sutherland the annual rent of £10 sterling for the field at east end of Melvich, sometime occupied by the late Mr Donald M'Donald, merchant, Melvich, and that during His Grace's pleasure. I am to have hill privileges in common with the other tenants, and in like proportion to the rent I pay. I agree to erect a dwelling-house and offices on the park according to plan and specification approved of by your Grace's factor in the Tongue management; and in consideration of my doing so, I am to receive from your Grace timber for roofing said houses, lime for the dwelling-house, and also ass. If the dwelling-house is slated, I am to have the slates at prime cost at Tongue, and three years to pay them by equal instalments. I agree to take the crop on the park, and also the dung at the valuation put on the same by Mr Crawford, Tongue, and Mr Gunn, Swinny Mains, viz., £89, 17s. 6d., being the proportion effeiring to this park ; but if I get the crop of the upper small lot also, I agree to take it at the value of £ 1 , 18s. 3d., and will pay the said price at the term of Martinmas next, 1873—the date of my entry to the said park. And if the said Duke of Sutherland allows me to take the crop presently on the ground home to my father's lot, seeing there are at present no houses on the place where it can be managed or the straw consumed, I do hereby engage to lay down the ensuing crop in a proper manner with artificial manures, to the satisfaction of the factor on the estate. I also do hereby engage and bind myself and my heirs to conform to all estate regulations now or hereafter imposed for the proper management of the property, and shall never infringe any rule laid down or in use for the regulation of the small tenantry of the district. In witness whereof this Memorandum, written on this and the preceding page by John Crawford, factor at Tongue, is subscribed by m e at Tongue office, before these witnesses,—the said John Crawford, and John Crawford, junior, also residing at Tongue, this eighth day of August 1873 years.
(Signed) John Crawford, Witness. (Signed) John MACKAY.
(Signed) John Crawford, jun., Witness.
Copy LETTER—J. CRAWFORD to JOHN MACKAY.
House of Tongue, 8th August 1873.
DEAR SIR,—On behalf of the Duke of Sutherland, I hereby accept your offer of this date for the park in Melvich, lately occupied by the late Mr M'Donald, your entry to which will be at Martinmas 1873, or at the lifting of the crop, as suits you best.—Yours faithfully,
State of expenditure from 1853 to 1882—30 years
Woods and Nursery: £2,001
Roads and Bridges: £2,574
Kirks, Manses, and Schools: £2,002
Farm Buildings, Lodges, & c: £12,172
Reclamations and Improvements:£1,936
Woods and Nursery: £3,060
Roads and Bridges: £2,717
Kirks, Manses, and Schools: £1,974
Farm Buildings and Lodges: £11,490
Reclamations and Improvements: £8,067
Woods and Nursery: £5,816
Roads and Bridges: £6,727
Kirks and Manses, & c: £1,033
Farm Buildings, Lodges, &c: £41,507
Reclamations and Improvements: £45,750
TOTAL (1853-1882): £148,826
NB—Expended by late Duke of Sutherland from 1853 to 1860 inclusive: £15,883
Expended by present Duke from 1861 to 1882: inclusive: £ 132,943
JOHN CRAWFORD, factor
3rd September 1883
CIRCULAR showing School Board Expenditure in Parish of Farr.
The following statement, issued to the ratepayers of Farr previous to last School Board election, will show the full extent of my interference in that parish. With respect to Tongue, the ratepayers nominated and elected me without my consent, and without my having either directly or indirectly solicited a single vote.
To the ratepayers of the parish of Farr: —As m y tenure of office as a member of the Farr School Board is about to expire, I deem it expedient, as well as a duty to you, now that the school buildings have been completed, to lay before you a state of the total expenditure incurred in the erection and equipment of these schools.
After the introduction of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1872, the Education Department issued plans for new schools requiring to be built, and these being found of a character so expensive, that a heavy burden would have devolved on the ratepayers, I suggested the propriety of adopting buildings of a more simple exterior, but equally substantial, and after considerable correspondence and consequent delay, the Department yielded the point, and new plans were agreed too. The erection of new schools and teachers' houses, with other improvements, were sanctioned, and Government grants awarded on production of statutory certificates that the school buildings were completed in terms of the plans sanctioned and sealed by the Education Department. To avoid a large outlay by the immediate existing ratepayers, the School Board, after consultation, resolved on obtaining a loan of a sum sufficient to meet the estimated expenditure, which I submitted for their approval, repayable within a term of fifty years, as being the least burdensome. I accordingly negotiated a loan for £2700 with the Government Works Loan Board on the above terms. I then obtained plans and estimates for the respective works, which were in due course submitted to the School Board for approval, after which the works were let, and from time to time inspected by me as well as by the architect, and I now have in my possession letters from the Government Works Loan Board, and from the Secretary of the Educational Department, acknowledging the certified statutory statements sent them from time to time showing the expenditure of the loan, and signifying their satisfaction therewith.
The last of these letters are dated 26th January and 28th February 1882.
The former is to the following effect.—
"I am directed by the Local Government Board to acknowledge receipt of the statutory declaration and return relating to the expenditure of the loan of £2700 advanced by the Public Works Commissioners to the Farr School Board ;" and the latter reads thus—
" The Lords of the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland are satisfied from the certificate presented to them, that the condition on which their lordships' grants were awarded in the above named cases have been fulfilled.*
The following abstract of the expenditure on the respective school buildings in the parish of Farr will show you the total cost, and the amount of Government grant obtained on behalf of each school, & c
I. Loan from Public Works Commissioners: £2700
1. Cost of Strathy School: £609 6s 3d
2. Do. Teacher's house, '&c, £553 2 0
3. Do. Armadale school and teacher's house £841 17 0
'4. Do. Kirktony do. £748 2 0½
5. Do. Farr school class room and offices £252 6 9
6. Do. Two small schools in Strathnaver £124 18 1
Gross total expenditure: £3129 12 1½
II. To Government Building Grants received—
1. For Strathy school: £99 6 10
2. Do. teacher's house: £65 0 0
3. For Armadale: £119 10 10
4. For Kirtony: £101 0 0
5. For Farr: £39 18 9
£424 16 5
Total expenditure: £2704 15 8½
Excess over estimated expense and over loan, and paid from rates: £ 4 15 8½
I need scarcely say, that having had the honour of being intrusted with the management of Farr School Board business, which has been considerable, from 1873 until now, I have had no other object or interest to serve beyond what I felt was for the general good of the parish, and, I trust, the lasting benefit of the rising generation. My time and labour have been given gratuitously and without a grudge. Insinuations of a very unworthy character, I hear, have been made in reference to me in regard to the discharge of my duties as clerk and chairman of the School Board. I treat all such innuendoes with the contempt they deserve, knowing full well that a majority of the members of the School Board will equally repudiate them.
The whole of the Board's financial transactions have passed through the hands of the Board's treasurers, first, Mr Coghill, and, latterly, Mr Cameron, both of the Commercial Bank, Thurso (not through mine), who had kept the Board's accounts and relative vouchers. These accounts and vouchers have been annually submitted to and examined by the Government auditor and docqueted as correct, so that the ratepayers have the most perfect assurance of the accuracy of all the Board's financial affairs. But if anyone has the least doubt regarding the above statement of accounts, they have ample means of satisfying themselves regarding their accuracy by examining the registered records of the Board's transactions.
As the school buildings are now completed, I had resolved to retire and not to solicit re-election, leaving some fitter person to take m y place. I find, however, that I have again been nominated for re-election, and, if returned, I will, if spared, endeavour to act as in the past to the best of my ability ; but if the ratepayers are in the least dissatisfied with the past performance of the duties I have had to discharge, they have only to express themselves publicly to this effect, and I will have the greatest pleasure in intimating m y retirement previous to the day of election [I was, as formerly, placed at the head of the poll]. Thanking you all for past favours, and for your indulgence In regard to m y many shortcomings, I remain, your faithful servant,
(Signed) JOHN CRAWFORD.'
Memo of expenditure in draining, trenching, and fencing crofters’ lots, and also in outgoing meliorations, from 1853 to 1882
1. Expended in Drainage Works: £529 6 3
2. Do. Trenching Land: £461 8 4
3. Do. Fencing Crofts: £102 10 6
TOTAL: £1093 5 3
Meliorations paid to outgoing or retiring tenants, being value of timber or erections made by them during their occupation, and within the period fixed by estate regulations: £75 6 9
TOTAL: £1168 12 0
(Signed) JOHN CRAWFORD, Factor
House of Tongue, 19th September 1883
Arrears of rents remitted to small tenantry by the Duke of Sutherland at Whitsunday 1840:
£2857 14 4
Arrears of rents remitted to small tenantry by the Duke of Sutherland from 1853 to 1883 (1st January 1883): £893 2 1
TOTAL: £3750 18 5
Memo of Comparison between 1853 and 1882, with a few facts added for the Information of the Commissioners.
3rd September 1883.
Rental 1853 (£)
Rental 1882 (£)
Deer forests, gross rental
Crofters’ holdings including hill grazings
House property &c
Cottars paying rent
Total, as per special return made
Cottars from whom proprietor receives no rent
Public assessments, consisting of parochial, school and road rates, one half of which is payable by landlord and tenant respectively. Rates presented as per £ sterling.
Parish of Reay: 2s (1853) – 1s 6d (1882)
Parish of Farr: 2s 10d (1853) – 1s 2d (1882)
Parish of Tongue: 3s 6d (1853) – 2s 1d (1882)
1872: 3d in all three parishes
Parish of Reay: 10d.
Parish of Farr: 6d.
Parish of Tongue: 1s 6d.
Road rate in all three parishes: 7d in 1872, 8d in 1882
—Crofters and cottars paying under £2 of annual rent are exempted from paying poor and school rate, of which in parish of Reay there are 65, in Farr 121 and in Tongue 39, totalling 225 for whom the landlord pays the assessments.
The game rents have reduced rates about 25 per cent.
Previous to 1872 the crofters paid no school rate, and previous to same date the annual road rate was 3d. per sterling as the tenant's proportion.
Area of Tongue Management, consisting of:
1. Crofters' holdings—arable land: 3,068 (1853), 3,136 (1882)
Do., unreclaimed within boundary of croft: 692 (1853); 624 (1882)
Total area of arable and pasture: 3,760 (1853 and 1882)
Total area of hill pasture attached to crofts: 62,118 (1853 and 1882)
Total combined area under crofts: 65,878 (1853 and 1882)
2. Deer forests—total area: 200 (1853); 7,880 (1882)
3. Large farms under sheep—arable and moor: 344,111 (1853); 336,431 (1882)
Total area of estate: 410,189
Average, extent, rent per croft and rent per acre of crofters’ holdings as undernoted.
Parish of Reay:
Average area of croft: 3.11 acres
Average rent per croft: £3 3s 10d
Average annual rent arable: 12s 1d (1853), 14s (1882)
Parish of Farr:
Average area of croft: 3.65 acres
Average rent per croft: £2 5s 2d
Average annual rent arable: 8s (1853), 10s 2d (1882)
Parish of Tongue:
Average area of croft: 4.87 acres
Average rent per croft: £3 11s 4d
Average annual rent arable: 17s 1d (1853), 14s 7d (1882)
Average rent per annum, arable and hill: 4d (1853), 7½d (1882)
Average rent of deer forests per acre: nil.
Average rent of large farms, including arable and moor as let together on the basis of number of sheep each farm is estimated to keep: 3½d (1853), 8¼ d (1882)
N.B.—The land lately reclaimed for the large tenants realises an average annual rent of about 20s. per acre, and this in addition to the average rent of 8¼ d. per acre as above calculated.
Remission of crofters' rents, being arrears cancelled by the Duke of Sutherland at Whitsunday 1840: £2857 16 4
Ditto. from 1840 to 1st January 1883: £893 2 1
TOTAL: £3750 18s 5d
33 horses (1853), 405 (1882)
2379 cattle (1853), 2282 (1882)
5583 sheep (1853), 5165 (1882)
30 pigs (1853 and 1882)
Large Farm hill stock
Sheep, estimated numbers on which farms rated, 42,200 (1853) 40,400 (1882)
N.B.:—To make the comparison mere intelligible, it may be stated thus—
Crofters’ stock: Horses 405, equal to 5 sheep each =2025 sheep,
Cattle 2282 each, equal to 3 sheep = 6846 sheep
Sheep kept : 5165
Total, 14,036 sheep,
or equal to about 3 ½ acres to the sheep on the extent of ground occupied, or 3s. per sheep in the shape of rent. The stock on the large farms will be equal to about six acres per sheep, and 5s. 1¼d. per sheep as rent
Memo of extent and expesnse of land reclaimed from heather on the following sheep farms from 1869 to 1882 inclusive.
Cost per acre (£)
Expenditure on old arable land
Rate of interest
£117 18s 6d
£252 12 11
£44 11 8
£415 3 1
£31 14s average
Expenditure made under agreement per lease 1870—equal to 2½ % of outlay.
AlRD, 13th March 1863.
J. CRAWFORD, Esq., Tongue House.
SIR,—I write these few lines to say that I agree to the arrangement you made with regard to the land between myself and George M'Kay, same time I expect to be allowed to enclose the ground below the house and the patch at the back of the house together, I thought proper to let you know of this before I commence.—Meantime, I remain, your obedient servant,
We, the tenants in Airdneiskich, do hereby consent and agree to your making any change you may see fit in the line of Road from the Icehouse at Naver towards the post on the shore westward where we lift sea-ware, on condition said alterations are pointed out on the ground before we begin to lay down our crops. In witness whereof we, George M'Kay, Angus Gordon, and Jane M'Kay for widow John M'Kay, and Janet M'Kay for brother John M'Kay, subscribe this Minute, written by John Crawford, Factor, Tongue House at Bettyhill, this 17th day of December 1861 years, before these witnesses, John Barclay, Accountant at Tongue, and John Ross, Ground Officer, Fiscary. (Signed) J. Barclay, Witness. (Signed) GEORGE MACKAY, , John Ross, Witness, „ ANGUS GORDON, JANE M'KAY, JANNET X M'KAY (her mark)