STATEMENT by the Rev. John MACPHERSON, Free Church, Lairg.
Lairg, 20th October 1883.
In giving evidence before the Royal Commission at Inverness on the 12th current, Mr Thomas Purves, sheep farmer, Rhifail, made the following statements:—
“The sole object, he believed, of the improvements in Sutherlandshire, was the desire of the Duke to make provision for the small crofters, but His Grace found that the small farms were not taken up by the class of people he wished, and recently larger farms had been made.” Continuing, Mr Purves repeated explicitly the statement that the Duke of Sutherland's object in making the reclamations (the old reclamations) at Lairg, was to encourage the living on that land of small tenants. He laid out holdings of about £10 a year each, but they were never taken by the class for whom they were formed. If they went to Lairg to-morrow they would find many of the cottages attached to those holdings empty.
The only part of Mr Purves's evidence of which I intend to take any notice is that in which he refers to the land reclamations at Shinness. His statement in regard to these, as every person who resides in this part of the country knows, is without any foundation whatever. The state of matters is the very reverse of what Mr Purves told the Commission, The small farms on the land reclaimed by the noble Duke were at once taken ' by the class for whom they were formed,' and the cottages attached to them have all been occupied, whereas the several large farms on the land reclaimed, and, as I have good reason to believe, because they are so large, remain on the Duke's own hands, with the exception of one of them, winch, it is understood, has been taken over recently by an Englishman whose shooting grounds are contiguous to the farm.
The valuation roll for the country, having the names of the tenants on the land reclaimed recorded in it, will show that Mr Purves's statement is entirely without foundation.