Bunessan, Mull, 8 August 1883 - Donald Macdonald

DONALD MACDONALD, Crofter, Lee (82)—examined.

35378. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—What have you to say?
—I began farming in 1834, and I never heard a complaint scarcely against the Duke or factor until the end of 1846 or 1847. I was acquainted with three factors, and I paid rent to two of them. When I got the land it was in a place where there were no removals or evictions then unless it would be for being a bad neighbour, or not paying rent, or being a smuggler. There was one from Creich made an example of, and two defied the chamberlain to give up distilling whisky, and I got the croft one of them had. All the grounds and houses were included, and I was to begin draining and begin to build a house; and I built a new house there, and all the crofters were at the tune budding their own houses They were getting no assistance. I had to send a man and boat to Lismore for lime, and I built the house in the year 1838, and a barn and byre. Now the house was good, and Alexander Campbell is living opposite here. Lord Clyde's father was lodging with Mr Campbell the whole of the last years he was in Mull; and the very kitchen he had in that house was his room. His daughter came for him then, and took him to Edinburgh; and he lived only about six months after he left this country. After this I was removed from that place where I built the house, and was obliged to leave my sash windows, twelve panes in each, and I was removed to Ardachy, and those people were emigrating, and I had to buy two common windows; and then I began to drain in Ardachy and improve the ground, and some of the houses too. I made about 340 drains of Scotch measure in Ardachy. The first two or three years I was there I was buying meal for my family, because the manure was taken to another farm, and the ground was ploughed down by the man who went away with the manure. But the last two years I was selling meal. Then I was removed in 1859 to Lee, the upper part of Ardtun, over the hill. I was working the two worst crofts on the estate. My son and other men began to drain there, and he has made 400 odd drains there, and a lot of blasting. It is twenty-four years now since I was removed, and another croft was promised me when I was removed—a croft better than the two I have, especially in those bad and wet seasons we had.

35379. Were you removed four times altogether?
—Oh, no; only twice.

35380. Did you get anything for the house you left ?
—Not a single sixpence.

35381. Did you get anything for the drains you made in the second place ?
—No; his Grace the Duke of Argyll does not know what we were suffering; he does not know we were ploughing ground to him without wages or meat, except the lunch at noon —bread and cheese and a glass of
whisky, or perhaps a bottle of beer—a glass of whisky or two. My eldest son, who died lately, was in Ardachy ploughing, and other crofters with him, another day, with a pair of horses. The ploughing was not finished, and I was pointed out, and my eldest son went the second day, and was there all day without a morsel for himself or horses except what his mother sent.

35382. What rent are you paying just now?
—You speak about the drains; I was drain measurer in Ross, and the drains were opened, and there was £ 1 , 11s laid out upon my own croft for opening the drains. We had to close them with stones ourselves, and I had to pay 11s . of interest. I was five years before I was removed in 1852. £2, 15s. I paid in five years for the 31s. laid out. In another case —and I never heard a murmur before that against the family of Argyll or the factor; but in Suie there was a man of the name of Macdonald, and he was evicted, and the croft given to the parish schoolmaster, who was in Bunessan. There was some murmuring about that; but when he left, another man, Alexander Livingston, came in, and it was £3, Is. 8d. that was laid out upon his croft, opening the drains and closing them. And then the chamberlain had no clerk at the time, and the sheriff officer was here, opposite here living; so an old clerk and he had the rent taxed, and showed me before my eyes—rent 18s. for the £3, Is. 8d.; 6s. in the pound, but mine came to 7s. 8d. I was then removed to Lee and a croft was promised me, and I never got it.

35383. Where are you stopping just now?
—Just at the place where I was—Lee.

35384. Have you a croft there ?
—Two small crofts.

35385. But you say you never got a croft?
—Not the one that was promised me. I had overstock when I left Ardachy.

35386. Your complaint is that one croft which was promised you was not given to you?
—No; my complaint is the high rent. £7, 10s. was my rent when I went there. In the year 1862 it was raised to £58. There were eight crofts in that.

353S7. What was your share of the rise?
—£7, 10s. was the principal rent, and it was raised from £32 to £58. Now I have not a word to say against Mr Wyllie as to favouritism or partiality, but about the rent.

35388. What did Mr Wyllie do in 1876 when ah the others were put up ?
—It was then the rent was raised.

35389. I thought you said it was in 1862 ?
—That was the first rent from £32 to £58. Now in 1876 it was raised from £58 to £87.

35390. What is your own share?
—My share is £18, 10s.; with assessment, £20, Is. 6d.

35391. For two poor crofts?
—Yes; and it is not rent altogether, but the bad ground. I had no potatoes for the last five or six years, but the year 1880, except a few.

35392. Did you get any of the seed potatoes that were going?

35393. And you will have a good crop this year ?
—It is better, and it is the dry weather that makes it better.

35394. You are complaining of your heavy rent?
—Yes; we have no complaint against the Duke, factor, or ground officer.

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