DONALD BEATON, Blacksmith, Creich (48), assisted by ALEXANDER MACFARLANE, Crofter, Creich (75)—examined.
34486. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Have you been sent here by the tenants of Creich ?
34487. Was there a gathering of the township ?
34488. Were you all present ?
—Yes, with the exception of one.
34489. Have you any written statement to submit on behalf of the township?
—The statement produced is a common statement.
34490. Have you anything further to say on behalf of the people of the township ?
—Nothing more than what is stated in that paper, excepting that the crofts are too small to maintain a family on them.
34491. (To Macfarlane).
—How long have you held your land ?
34492. Do you remember Donald M'Lachlan and Donald M'Gillivray who were crofters in the township thirty years ago ?
—Yes, I remember them.
34493. Are they still living ?
—M'Lachlan is alive.
34494. Is he here to-day?
—No ; he is not on the estate now.
34495. Why did he leave the estate ?
—The place was taken from him.
34496. He was a tradesman?
—He was a smith; Beaton is his successor.
34497. You remember the state of the country thirty years ago; do you consider it poorer now than it was then ?
—In a certain sense, matters are worse now ; the crop does not turn out well, and rents are more than double.
34498. But what I want to know is whether your food is scarcer or worse, or your clothes or houses are worse?
—I cannot say that our houses are worse, for the Duke has given us some thatch and lime to make them more comfortable. I am dependent upon my family for a supply of clothing; but for them I would be naked.
34499. My question relates to your knowledge of the country, and not yourself personally ?
—The houses are better, but the mode of living is not better, for they grew themselves, thirty years ago, what was requisite for food.
34500. And in consequence have they less of it now than they had thirty years ago ?
—I have less to eat now than I had, for this reason, that I am dependent upon others for it, and my credit is not so good.
34501. The Chairman.
—Wre were told that in the year 1850 the rent of the croft was raised about £1 ?
—Yes, between 15s. and £ 1 .
34502. Do you remember the bad years between 1848 and 1851 ?
—I remember these years.
34503. Were the people very much impoverished by these bad seasons ?
—They were as poor as could be, but relief came from other quarters.
34504. Did they receive much relief from outside quarters ?
—Yes, a great deal of relief came to the country from other quarters.
34505. Did not the proprietor about that time make very large remissions of rent and give large sums for the assistance of the people ?
—I never saw anything that reduced the rent, but rather to increase it.
34506. But were not large arrears of rent forgiven ?
—I never got a penny reduced.
34507. But perhaps your family never was in arrears ?
—I was in arrears so much that I had to sign bills.
34508. In the year 1850 were the people already recovered from the bad years, or were they still very poor?
—The people were still very poor.
34509. How long was it before the people had recovered from the bad years of 1848-50, and got into the position they occupied before?
—Whatever improvement took place in my circumstances arose chiefly from what was given to me by my family who were in service.
34510. (To Beaton).
—I have questioned Macfarlane because he is an old man ; have you anything to add ?
—I have nothing new to say, but I concur in what has been said by Macfarlane.
34511. Sheriff Nicolson (to Macfarlane).
—Were you in this place some time before 1850?
— Since 1842.
34512. What rent were you paying before 1850?
34513. Was the rent raised in 1850?
—The hill was taken from us, and the rent was raised in that very year.
34514. The hill was taken from you, and the rent was raised after the very worst years you had ever had ?
34515. Are you sure there was no remission of arrears to the people at the time the rent was raised ?
—I cannot say for others, but there was no remission in my case.
34516. What was your rent raised to then?
—From four guineas to £5 ; 16s. were added to my rent.
34517. How much is it now?
34518. Is the land better now than it was forty years ago?
—No, it is much worse now. Forty years ago the ground was strong, but it is now so much reduced that it does not yield a right crop.
34519. Was there not some drainage done to improve the land ?
—No drains were made for me; others got their land drained. £3 were laid out in drainage on my croft, and I am paying interest for that. This interest paid for drainage is now swallowed up in the rent; you cannot
distinguish the one from the other.
34520. You don't know how much it is per annum?
—It is included in the rent
34521. Do you expect to be paying it as long as you are alive ?
—I think I will have to pay it as long as I am in possession.
34522. Did you get much benefit from these drains?
—Yes, I got benefit.
34523. Did it not improve the land ?
—Yes it improved the land, and will improve it as long as the drains remain good.
34524. Are they not in good order ?
—A drain does not last long, and if not looked after it chokes.
34525. Why don't you look after them yourself?
—I am looking after the drains and opening them up and sorting them wherever required. I have made many drains myself, but the £3 mentioned is all that ever got.
34526. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Although you suffered very much in those times, would you not have recovered your position and not now
been a poor man were it not that your pasture was taken from you and your rent almost doubled ?
—Yes, no doubt.
34527. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Are you employed in the quarries?
—No; I never worked in the quarries.
34528. But many of your neighbours do ?
—-Very few are working in the quarries altogether.
34529. Why is that ?
—There is no employment; they only employ a few.
34530. What wages do they get?
—If they work full time they have from 18s. to £1. None of the crofters have work in the quarries that I
34531. The Chairman (to Beaton).
—Is there an understanding upon the Duke Argyle's estate here that no revaluation is to take place for
ten years ?
—I don't know that such is the case.