JAMES WYLLIE, Chamberlain to the Duke of Argyll—examined.
34867. The Chairman.
—How long have you been chamberlain here ?
34868. Does your authority extend over the whole of this parish ?
—Yes, so far as it belongs to the Duke of Argyll.
34869. I am afraid I must ask you some questions referring to things long before the period of your administration; were you employed in any other capacity on the estate in previous years ?
34870. Had you any personal knowledge of the place at an earlier period ?
—No; I am afraid I cannot answer anything before my own time; I know nothing about what took place before.
34871. You cannot, for instance, explain why there was an increase of rent on some of the townships, or at least in one township, in the year 1850?
34872. But there was a larger increase of rent in the township in the year 1876 ; have you any knowledge of that transaction?
34873. What was the consideration which justified the increase of rental in the year 1876?
—The great advance in the value of sheep and cattle.
34874. Was it a general rise all over the crofting lands of this estate ?
34875. What did it amount to per cent.; 30 per cent. ?
—I could not answer that question.
34876. But there was a rise of rent in the year 1876 all over the estate?
34877. Was that imposed in consequence of a revaluation ?
34878. Who was the revaluation conducted by ?
—It was begun in Mr Campbell's time, and I carried it out. I made my own valuation afterwards, and carried out what he began. There was one of the township's in Iona where the increase was made before I got charge of the property All the rest were carried out after I got charge of the property.
34879. But the increase on this part of the estate was carried out by your own estimate of what was a fair rental ?
—Yes, and taking what information I could get amongst Mr Campbell's papers.
34880. In forming your estimate, did you adhere substantially to his views, or was your estimate a reduction of what he had proposed ?
—Generally I adhered to his views, as I knew so little of the estate at that time.
34881. I find on page 8 of the Appendix to Sir John M'Neill's Report in 1851, that the whole rent of the united parishes is estimated at £4371. Can you tell mo what the whole rental of the united parishes is now ?
—It is in the valuation roll £8599,
34882. Can you tell me what the rental of the Duke of Argyll's property was in 1851?
—It was £3799 in 1853; that is in all the parishes.
34883. What is it now?
—£6389 in all the parishes.
34884. So that there has been a rise of rental on the estate in all the parishes of £2590. Can you tell me in a general way whether this rise of rental has been greater on farms above £ 30 a year in value than in those below £30 a year ?
—I think pretty equally on both.
34885. You think that all classes of farms are rented pretty nearly on equal terms ?
—I think so.
34886. There has been therefore a rise of 69 per cent, upon the rental of this class of property during the last thirty years; do you consider that a rise of 70 per cent, on this class of property is justified by the increase of value in the prices of the stock ?
—I should think so.
34887. When you say that this rise of 70 per cent, is justified by increase in the price of stock, would that be giving the whole benefit of the increase in the price of stock to the landlord ?
34888. You think that a fair share would still remain to the tenant ?
—I think so.
34889. What has been the rise in that time ?
—The price of stock has almost doubled since 1853.
34890. We have heard a very general complaint made that although the price of stock has risen very much the quality of the land of the small holdings has deteriorated by constant cropping; is that consistent with your knowledge and experience ?
—It ought not to do, if there is a proper rotation followed.
34891. But have the small tenants always room to follow rotation ?
—They ought to have upon this estate.
34892. Is there any rule upon the estate with reference to systematic rotation ?
34893. Is it enforced ?
—Not very stringently.
34894. The crofters very generally allege that although their crofts are estimated by the estate to keep a certain number of cattle, they are practically obliged to buy a great deal in for the wintering; is that consistent
with your knowledge?
—No; I cannot speak to that of my own knowledge; but the summing, generally speaking, has been very much fixed by the crofters themselves at first.
34895. But since that summing -was fixed is it not the case that portions of their hill pasture have frequently been withdrawn ?
—Not on this property, with one exception.
34896. During your period?
—Since 1853 there has been no withdrawal except on one occasion.
34897. Has there been practically any consolidation of land since you have been connected with the estate; I mean have any small holdings been consolidated in large holdings ?
—Very little in that way.
34898. Have you at this moment more farms on the estate under your management exceeding £100 than you had when you came into office?
34899. There has been no consolidation?
34900. No deprivation of hill pasture ?
—None in my time.
34901. And no eviction except for non-payment of rent?
—Not even for that.
34902. You have had no eviction at all ?
34903. No person has been removed ?
—Not by a sheriff-officer.
34904. Or by pressure on the part of the authorities ?
—No, not since I came into authority.
34905. We have heard here and elsewhere that peculiar regulations with reference to widows are enforced upon the Duke of Argyll's estate; would you give us a statement of what these regulations are, if they
—There are no regulations whatever about widows; that is to say, there is no regulation such as I have heard mentioned to day. At this present time there are thirty-six widows in possession in Tyree and three on this property in Mull.
34906. Have you any printed regulations which are made known to the tenants at all ?
—We have printed regulations.
34907. Can you put in a copy of them ?
—I have not a copy here
34908. Can you furnish one afterwards?
34909. Is there in these printed regulations an article as to widows at all ?
—Not a word.
34910. What is the practice of the estate with reference to widows; when a woman becomes a widow and has a son able to assist her, or who will shortly be able to assist her, in the management of the croft, is the croft continued to the widow and son ?
—Generally speaking. The Duke uses his own discretion in the matter.
34911. In the particular case?
34912. When there is a widow without a son, or without any male relative able to assist her in the croft, if she has herself some means and stock and is capable of managing the croft, is she allowed to remain or not ?
—There is no general rule; the Duke exercises his own discretion in every case.
34913. Are there many cases in which such an unassisted widow is allowed to remain ?
34914. And in case a widow is removed from the croft on the death of her husband, in consequence of not being supported by a male relative, what description of provision is made for her ?
—Generally speaking, I should say she gets a house; if she is well off, she looks out for a house for herself.
34915. If she is not well off the Duke provides her with a house?
—Yes ; that would be the rule. I cannot speak of any particular case at this moment
34916. Are you aware of cases in which widows are so supplied with houses
—I don't recollect of any cases recently.
34917. I placed in your hands a copy of Sir John M'Neill’s in which a statement was made in reference to the large outlay in the famine years, between 1846 and 1851; had that statement ever come under your notice before?
—I have heard it merely; I have never seen it before.
34918. Did you observe the statement in the report I gave to you was not distinctly supported in the appendix by any particular reference ?
—I did not observe that.
34919. You cannot give any information upon that?
34920. Did you ever hear it reported in the country that the great outlay stated to have been made on the Duke's estate at that period —no doubt, as far as he is concerned, justly —had been abusively or wastefully
—No, decidedly not.
34921. Where were you yourself resident about the famine years ?
—I think I was upon Breadalbane at that time.
34922. We have heard a very general complaint of common pasture having been withdrawn, no doubt at an earlier period than you are acquainted with ; do you think that cases may or may not arise in which any pasture might be taken from the larger farms and restored to the crofters ?
—Not without detriment to the farms, and I should not like to give my opinion upon that. That lies entirely with the Duke.
34923. Do you think it could be done with advantage to crofters?
—Yes, but not with advantage to the farms.
34924. But in a case of this sort, which do you think is the weightiest consideration, the welfare of the farm or the welfare of the crofting class ?
—The crofting class is more numerous; I should not like to answer that,
34925. The balance of your opinion is rather in favour of improving the crofting class, perhaps at some little detriment to the farms ? The question is, are the crofts too small at present ?
—I am not prepared to say that they are on this estate; I think they are a very good size on this estate.
34926. I put the question with reference to the common pasture, and not arable ground ?
—It depends entirely on the estate. There is not one case where a small portion has been taken from a township.
34927. But my question was, whether land either once common pasture, or which had never been common pasture, might be taken with advantage from the larger farms and given back to the crofters, not with advantage to the farm, but with advantage to the crofters ?
—It depends entirely on the state of those crofters; what size their common pasture is—whether they are in need.
34928. In fact, it depends on individual cases ?
34929. And you could not give a general opinion ?
34930. You have no opinion as to the policy of increasing the area of the common pasture ?
—Not unless it is required.
34931. And do you think it is generally required or not?
—In some cases it may, and in some it is not.
34932. Mr Cameron.
—You said just now, in answer to the Chairman, that the rise of rent between 1853 and 1876 was equally divided between the large and small farms; do you mean by that that the rise was divided proportionately between the large and small tenants, or absolutely ?
—I consider that the rents of the farms are as dear as the rents of the crofts; in fact, they are very much rented upon the same principle, according to the class of stock kept upon them.
34933. But when you were asked as to a certain sum which represented the rise of rent, whether that was a rise of rent upon the large or small farms, you replied it was equally divided: was the sum divided into two, one half of which was upon the small and the other half upon large, or did you mean that the proportion upon each was the same upon the large and small ?
—I should say the proportion was the same.
34934. What is the rental of the large as compared with the small farms ?
—The area is not the same.
34935. But what is the rental ?
—-The total rental in 1853 was £3799 ; in 1883, £6389.
34936. That shows a rise of rent of £2590 : what I do not understand is, whether the amount of, say £1290, was a rise upon the large and the other half upon the small, or whether the £2590 was a rise proportionately?
34937. So that the rise was proportionately the same on the large as upon the small ?
—That is my opinion.
34938. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—How long have you been chamberlain of Argyll ?
—Fourteen years, but only eleven years connected with this property.
34939. Had you experience of property management before?
—Yes; I was factor for five years upon the Breadalbane estate.
34940. I think you stated you had no special knowledge of the Argyll estates before you came here ?
34941. But did the part of the Breadalbane estates you had charge of extend towards Oban on the west coast?
—No; the part I had marched with the Duke of Argyll's property near Dalmally.
34942. Had you some knowledge of the west of Scotland ?
—No, I cannot say I had, beyond Dalmally.
34943. You have stated that you followed to a considerable extent the policy that had been laid down by Mr Campbell your predecessor ?
—Yes, in the increase of rents put upon the farms.
34944. Did you consider that a wise policy ?
—I exercised my own judgment as well.
34945. Have you ever heard the general opinion of the country about the policy of Mr Campbell ?
—No, I have heard very little about him; in fact, I avoided inquiring about him.
34946. Why ?
—Because I thought it was mere reports not to be relied upon.
34947. It would appear from Sir John M'Neill's Report in 1851 and the present valuation roll that the rental of Tyree had almost doubled ?
—I cannot speak of my own knowledge.
34948. But you would no doubt take it for granted that Sir John M'Neill was furnished with correct information ?
34949. What did the Duke of Argyll do for Tyree during those thirty years!
—I have not the means of knowing; I have never seen the accounts previous to my own charge.
34950. What has he done for it in your own time for the benefit of the crofter population ?
—He has expended considerable amounts on improvements from time to time.
34951. We tried to get that information yesterday, but were not able to get any ?
—Draining, fencing, buildings.
34952. I am speaking of the crofters ?
—For both classes.
34953. What sum was laid out in draining and fencing ?
—I could not gay that.
34954. But you will state generally there was something ?
34955. Have complaints reached you of the state of the people of Tyree ?
—No, with the exception of some petitions within the last year; nothing before that.
34956. So far as you are aware, you consider the people have no grievances at all, and are perfectly comfortable ?
—They appear to be; they seem to be comfortable; but that is a general question; there are particular cases.
34957. The rental has been very considerably raised in the Ross of Mull; what do you consider the chief duty of a factor or chamberlain in the discharge of his office ?
—He has a number of duties to perform.
34958. You cannot name one in chief, can you?
—I could name a great many.
34959. I will suggest one. Is it or is it not the chief duty of a chamberlain or factor to raise the rents ?
—No, it is not, independent of other considerations.
34960. At all events, it has been well done upon the Duke's estates within the last thirty years, that part of it?
—That is a matter of opinion.
34961. Is it not a fact?
—It has been done ; it is a matter of opinion whether it has been well done.
34962. You state that one of the reasons which you thought justified the increase of rent you put on in your own time was that the value of stock had risen so much. That is the principal ground ?
34963. Are you quite sure that this great rise you speak of in stock has occurred within the last thirty years. Has it not gone back a little further ?
34964. In answer to the Chairman, you stated that you would send a copy of the regulations now in force ?
34965. What is the date of those regulations ? Were they made by yourself ?
34966. I presume further there were older ones?
—I am not aware; I don't think so.
34967. Were there no Campbell regulations?
—No, not so far as I am aware.
34968. Are we to understand there were never any printed regulations before your time ?
—Not on this estate, so far as I am aware.
34969. But would the general rules not apply to all the estate ?
—Decidedly not; there are different estates and conditions applied to them specially. There are regulations for Roseneath, Inveraray, and this estate of Mull, including Iona.
34970. Are there ones for Tyree?
—There will be, I expect, soon; they are in course of preparation.
34971. There being no printed regulations and no leases, how did the people know under what regulations they stood ?
—I don't know.
34972. Probably you saw it was rather a hardship that the people did not know under what rule they were ?
—I thought it desirable that there ought to be regulations.
34973. There were regulations on the Breadalbane estate?
34974. Without having definite parish regulations, would it not be perfectly competent for people in an inferior position, like ground officers or others, to make statements with regard to the regulations of the estate that never existed ?
—I don't think so; I think it is very improbable a ground officer would take upon himself to say that.
34975. Will you go this length, that the absence of any such rules might give rise to suspicions on the part of the people, and idle stories that things were, that did not exist?
—There is no reason that they should; the people will manufacture those things of course.
34976. There are three widows at this moment, you say, in Mull, and thirty-six in Tyree ?
34977. With regard to those thirty-six in Tyree or three in Mull are you able to state whether they have not sons of legal age ?
—I could not state the information about the whole of them.
34978. Is there not a rumour about widows that they will be turned their children are young ?
—It is quite an untrue rumour if there is; there is no such rule.
34979. Has there been any distinction in the treatment of widows who may have sons twenty-one years of age and widows who have no sons of that age?
—In any case of that kind that arises the Duke uses his own discretion; he considers each case separately.
34980. About the case of the widow M'Phail, who has been referred to, why was she put out?
—All the answer I can give is that the Duke informed himself of all the circumstances connected with the case, and he came to the decision himself after considering the circumstances carefully.
34981. Did any one here by your authority go to that woman to persuade her to go out voluntarily ?
—Decidedly not. The ground officer took an ordinary letter of removal to her to sign, and asked her if she
was willing to sign it, and she said she was willing.
34982. Was any inducement given to her to sign it?
34983. What has the estate done for that widow ?
—She is in pretty independent circumstances. I believe the proceeds of her sale amounted to more than £200. Besides that, the Duke has given her compensation for anything done to the buildings. She has a small shop of her own in the village here.
34984. Who gets the benefit of the crop ?
34985. There is another person who has made a complaint, named Margaret M'Arthur?
—For the young girl's own sake, I would rather not go into the case. If you choose I will explain.
34986. You state her case is one that has been duly considered?
—Yes, the Duke decided upon removing her—indeed, she was not removed. It remains with the tenant on the farm, and I think he has continued her.
34987. But you state the circumstances are such as made it proper that she should be removed ?
34988. The Chairman.
—You are to understand that we received a letter from this person ?
—I am aware; but I think it better for the girl herself not to go into the case.
34989. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—I must again put the question to you. The population upon the two estates we have to do with of the Duke of Argyll are decreasing very much; the people say themselves they are getting poorer and poorer; what is going to be the result? Are you satisfied with the state of matters ?
—I don't think poverty is increasing except in a bad year.
34990. Don't you think the people are telling the truth?
—I am sure they would tell the truth. I can only speak as a matter of opinion.
34991. And you don't wish to give any opinion as to the propriety of recurring to the former matters, and giving to the people larger holdings than they have at present ?
—The crofters on this property had not larger holdings, neither had they any better, with one or two exceptions.
34992. I am afraid, if you will look into matters, you will find there have been a great number of removals ?
—I speak of the crofters. I think they have the same possessions as they had before, except on Creich.
34993. But not the same as their predecessors had?
—Yes, there were more crofters before.
34994. In your opinion, then, the people practically have no grievance ?
—I do not say that; it is hardly a fail- question to put to me.
34995. What I should like to know is what you, having the great authority you have under the Duke of Argyll, propose doing; and you cannot suppose all those people come to us with idle grievances, do you ?
—I am afraid some of them are not well founded.
34996. But surely you would admit there is a residuum —a grain of truth—at the bottom of their grievances?
—-I am not prepared to admit that.
34997. Professor Mackinnon.
—You gave us the rent in 1853; you heard the crofters state the rents were raised in 1850. I suppose you have no idea what increase was made upon the rents then ?
34998. All the removals that have been spoken to were made at that time or before it ?
34999. And I rather think since that time, with respect to the crofting area, the crofts were as a rule made larger ?
—I think very likely they were.
35000. Of course, the number of crofters has decreased ?
—Yes, they have decreased.
35001. We find that there is a very large number of people on all the townships without land at all; are there any such people upon the big farms ?
—Some of them are upon the big farms.
35002. But not in the same proportion as thev are upon the crofts?
35003. The rent, I find, payable by the big farms, is about two-thirds of the rent of the estate. You would not say there are two-thirds of the cottars upon the estate upon those farms ?
—No, I don't suppose there are.
35004. How does it happen that those poor people without land are thrown in upon the crofter class ?
—Although they happen to be amongst the crofters you cannot say that their houses are taken off the crofters. The crofts are rented separately without taking into consideration the cottars' houses.
35005. Don't you think it is a great injury to a crofting township that there should be twelve or fifteen families asking continually for the grazing of a cow, and having right to trespass continually ?
—No doubt, cottars are a great nuisance to the crofters.
35006. And in all the clearings made before 1850, has it not been the case that those who got no land, and were not removed, were thrown upon the crofters and not the farmers ?
—I cannot speak to that. I don't know what was done in 1850.
35007. You heard to-day the people themselves stating it ?
—Well, I suppose they may speak correctly. There are a number of cottars, no doubt.
35008. And mainly among the crofters ?
—Yes, I should think so.
35009. There was one man before us who stated that his rent was doubled within nine years; I suppose the last rise only was in your time ?
35010. I forget whether you mentioned who made the valuation when the last rise was put upon the crofters ?
—I got certain materials to make it, and the whole thing was submitted to the Duke, and it was he who decided.
35011. There were no independent men consulted ?
35012. Or whose judgment was asked in any way?
35013. Is there great competition for a croft when it is vacant?
35014. So that in fact, supposing the rent was made larger, the crofts would still be taken ?
—I believe so.
35015. As matter of fact, there is none of them ever vacant ?
35016. Of the big crofts ?
—Yes. There have been some vacant neighbourhood within the last two or three years, and taken up at an increased rent.
35017. Do any remain long vacant?
35018. So that although in the case of a big farm it is a question whether you can get a tenant, in the case of crofts, you know you can get a tenant whatever rent you may put on ?
—Oh, no, not whatever rent you put on ; so long as it is a fair rent.
35019. I am afraid those crofters do not consider their present rent a fair rent?
—Why do you get plenty of tenants to work it and make their living by it ?
35020. Anyhow, you will get any number of applications for any croft that is vacant ?
—Yes, within the district.
35021. In that case, whether the rent is unfair or fair, the croft will not be vacant ?
—No, if they see the rent is fair. I am not prepared to admit any rent is unfair.
35022. But even supposing it was unfair, it would let ?
—No, I am certain it would not.
35023. Has the competition not continued after the rise in 1876?
—Yes, it is owing to the advance of the price of cattle and sheep.
35024. You would not say there was a great advance before 1876 ?
—It has continued still, and I suppose no person ever saw prices so high as they are now.
35025. The rent was raised 30 or 40 per cent, in that year, and the competition remained quite as keen ; would not that imply that though the rents were raised a little more the competition would continue ?
—Not unless there was a rise of prices to justify it.
35026. You think you hit the line beyond which competition would not continue ?
—I am not prepared to say.
35027. Is there an old regulation that the outgoing tenant leaves a portion of the crops to the succeeding tenant ?
—Decidedly there is.
35028. Does that apply when the outgoing tenant holds no land?
—Oh yes ; it is all the same.
35029. And has it always been the same ?
—Yes, since those regulations I have referred to have been in force.
35030. How long have they been in force ?
35031. Do you know the custom upon the estate before that time?
—I do not.
35032. The outgoing tenant leaves a portion of the crop to the incoming tenant whether he himself goes to another croft or not ?
—There is no condition of that sort at all; it is the outgoing tenant who leaves a certain thing. I can read the clause.
35033. What fraction of the crops does he leave ?
—All the growing grain, rye-grass, hay, and green crops, from the outgoing tenant.
35031. What fraction does the outgoing tenant leave to the incoming tenant?
—All the growing grain, rye-grass, hay, and green crops.
35035. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is that a Whitsunday entry ?
—Yes. The outgoing tenant is bound to give them at a valuation.
35036. Professor Mackinnon.
—The outgoing tenant is compelled to give over the crops at a valuation ?
35037. Is that the case upon the large farms, and upon the small farms as well ?
35038. Do you know what the practice was before that regulation was enforced upon this and similar estates in this quarter?
—I cannot speak as to that.
35039. Was it not the rule formerly that the outgoing tenant kept the crop ?
—So it is now.
35040. He is bound to give it to his successor at a valuation ?
—He gets the price of it.
35041. Was it not the rule formerly that he had it himself?
—I don't know; but I know the rule upon all properly managed properties is that the incoming tenant gets the crop at a valuation.
35042. When you framed the rule you did not inquire what the condition was upon which the sitting tenants held the croft ?
—Possibly I might.
35043. At the present time, anyhow, they are bound to give over the crop at a valuation ?
35044. When is the valuation made?
—That is stipulated also.
35045. With respect to those crofters, is it part of the policy of the estate or the wish of the crofters themselves to be without a lease ?
—I never asked them.
35046. They never asked for a lease ?
—No, I am not aware that a single one has asked it.
35047. But supposing they asked it ?
—I should represent the case to the Duke and take his instructions.
35048. You do not consider you would have authority to grant leases ?
—Decidedly not; I cannot sign a lease.
35049. And it has not been the rule of the estate to give them ?
—They have never been asked.
35050. Of course, you heard them state to-day that they would not take them at the present rents ?
35051. But that they would be glad to get them if the rents were less ?
—Yes, I heard that also.
35052. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is there any fixed interval between the periods when rents are raised ? Do you revalue the crofts at fixed
periods of nineteen or twenty-one years?
—The last time the crofters signed the general conditions of lease there was a minute at the end in
which the Duke engaged not to have any revaluation of rents for ten years.
35053. When did they sign this minute of lease?
35054. Their rents were fixed then for ten years ?
35055. How long had they been fixed before that?
—I cannot say, unless in 1850.
35056. Is there any tendency among the crofters here to subdivide their crofts among their children ?
35057. Do any of their children marry and settle upon the crofts ?
—No, they go out of the country.
35058. Then those cottars are not children of old tenants ?
35059. They are people who formerly lost their crofts ?
—I suppose so; I don't know.
35060. The Chairman.
—I ought perhaps to have asked you to make remarks at the beginning, but will you be good enough to do so now ?
—At Tyree yesterday Donald Macdonald, Balphuil, referred to letters sent from the Duke from Campbeltown. These were merely notices from the county assessor of an alteration of the rental. He also stated that no crofters in the island have any sheep. One township in Tyree has a regular summing of sheep, and a great many crofters have a few sheep on their crofts, and others let their wintering —bring in sheep to winter.
John Campbell, Ballinoe, made a statement about the croft added to Balphuil farm four years ago. That croft was added —or rather he got a change of croft at his own express wish, and the croft was added to Hillipool farm, to which it lies—it is rather an ugly boundary there—by the Duke's special directions.
Allan M'Innes, Creich, was asked to-day if he was tenant of the croft and he answered he was not, it was
his brother's name that was in the rental. Before any change was made they were both asked. In fact it came partly from himself that the change should be made.
35061. We stated as much?
—The increase of rent which was made on the crofters in the Ross of Mull in 1876 was apportioned in the different townships by the crofters themselves; that is the answer I have to give for Lachlan Macdonald, who said his rent was doubled.
35062. Professor Mackinnon.
—The total amount of the increase was told to them ?
—Yes, and they appointed parties amongst themselves to apportion that.
35063. But they did not fix the amount put upon them ?
—I do not say that. That accounts for some of the rents being raised more than others; it was their own doing. John M'Cormack, Catchean, said there was no individual grazing attached to their crofts. There is individual grazing to almost every croft besides the common grazing. The statement that witness also made as to being compelled to let their wintering is not correct. I am not aware of ever having spoken to them
about their wintering.
35064. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Your predecessor did so ?
—But I am not aware of any compulsion.
35065. Professor Mackinnon.
—He said there was no compulsion unless the necessity for getting money.
—I think he also mentioned about some hogg wintering Mr Campbell had let himself for the stock of a nephew, and that he applied to me about it. I have no recollection of it. If he had I should have referred it to Mr Campbell's trustees; it was before my time.
35066. The Chairman
—As you nave referred to Tyree, there are one or two points I would like to ask you about. We had a statement made to us about the Sea-weed Company and the system under which they pursue their traffic, both in reference to the payment of wages and the payment for commodities received, and the payment of things that they buy. The general complaint over all was that they paid in kind, and kept a running account with their customers and rarely ever paid in money. In fact, it seemed to us to be the truck system in full vigour. What do you know about it?
—I know little about it except that I believe it exists, and I certainly do not approve of it.
35067. On the whole, you do not approve of it ?
—Still, it is the rule in almost every work of the kind, even quarries. You will find it over any part of Scotland I am acquainted with.
35068. We heard that this system had obtained at the quarry here, but had been abandoned ?
—I suppose it is hardly worth while keeping it up now for the number of people they employ. I don't know what the reason is for having given it up, but I fancy it is that.
35069. We have heard a good deal about the truck system in the north, but we found in Orkney and Shetland a general impression that it was being dissolved, and people were far more contented, especially among the fishing population. Has the truck system with this company in Tyree grown up and been practised with the knowledge and approval of the proprietor ?
—Oh, yes; his knowledge at any rate.
35070. Is the company paying rent to the Duke of Argyll ?
35071. For buildings, land, and the privileges of the shore?
35072. Was there any provision made in the lease with reference to the manner in which wages should be paid ?
35073. Has the lease long to run ?
—There was a new lease entered into in 1882 to 1887.
35074. Had any complaints been made of the truck system previous to the lease being signed ?
35075. It is not a new subject of consideration which has sprung up recently ?
35076. Are you aware that the company were in the habit of buying small commodities from the people in the country, such as eggs ?
—I was not aware.
35077. You are not aware that they buy anything from their labouring people ?
—I am not aware.
35078. We asked them that question, and they told us they did buy some things, and mentioned eggs; and I asked whether they paid for those small commodities in money or in goods, and they said in goods, or they took them on account. You are not aware of any traffic of that sort the company carried on?
—No, but it is quite possible. It is quite a traffic entered into by shopkeepers and storekeepers in Tyree
35079. It is the custom of the country?
35080. Are money payments very rare in that sort of small traffic between a small tenant or labourer and the shop with which he deals ?
—Oh, no ; it is usually money payments.
35081. That is to say, if a labourer carries his eggs to the shop he is generally paid in ready money ?
—I should say generally in kind in that case. A great many people go to a shop who have no eggs.
35082. We were told that if the people insisted upon being paid in money they got a lower price for their labour or 'goods ; but if they consented to take payment in goods they got a higher price: were you aware
of that ?
—No; I cannot speak as to that.
35083. In speaking of the rise in rent on the larger description of farms on the estate, you said that the proportionate increase had been the same; but, with reference to the larger farms, do you get the rents —I mean has the proprietor to make reductions, occasionally remitting portions of the rents, or have they been well paid up ?
—They are well paid up.
35084. Supposing the large farms, as they may be called, were at this moment vacant, woidd you have any difficulty in getting the same rents ?
—I think not; prices are very high at present.
35085. You think you would get a tenant to take the farms at the same rent as those who are now sitting ?
—I have no reason to think otherwise.
35086. We heard something about the distribution of money or seed obtained from public charity in Tyree; was there an application from Tyree for assistance from the outside ?
—There was, from some of the crofters.
35087. Through whom was this application conveyed to Mr M'Dairmid the sub-factor?
—It was laid before the Duke, and approved of by him.
35088. What was the distress in Tyree founded upon ?
—The bad season and the failure of the potatoes.
35089. What amount was got for the relief of the people in Tyree from sources of public charity?
—£115; I think that was entirely for cottars, and was given in money and meal.
35090. It was procured from public subscription for the relief of poverty in Tyree ?
35091. And has been distributed ?
35092. Not among the rent-paying class ?
—No ; amongst cottars.
35093. Do the persons who have been in receipt of this description of charity in any case pay rents to the proprietor ?
35094. Are they in receipt of parochial assistance ?
35095. They are persons paying no rent and receiving no parochial assistance ?
—Persons in poor circumstances.
35096. Has any distribution of public charity taken place on this estate ?
35097. How was that applied for?
—It was partly applied for direct, and partly sent through me.
35098. From what fund was it taken ?
—Partly from the Glasgow fund and partly from the Mansion House fund.
35099. How much has been obtained for the relief of this estate ?
—I really could not say; there was £50 sent through me from the Mansion House fund.
35100. Any more ?
—Several sums besides.
35101. Do you think more than £100 has been distributed?
—No, I don't think so ; possibly less than that.
35102. By whom has this money been distributed—was it by a committee?
35103. Who were the members of the committee?
—The parish minister ; Mr Campbell, the ground officer; Mr M'Quarie, and the inspector of poor.
35104. In that case the ground officer was a member of the committee for the distribution of public charity among persons living upon the proprietor's estate ?
35105. Was any of this money given to any class of persons paying rent ?
35106. Nobody has received money through public charity who is paying rent ?
—Not that I am aware of; only cottars in destitute circumstances.
35107. But has any public charity been given to persons paying rent of any class ?
—A few cottars who pay rent received assistance, but all cottars—any one in destitute circumstances.
35108. Does that apply both to Tyree and here; have persons there paying rent received any ?
35109. Did any on this estate?
—There may have been a few, but the general rule was not.
35110. Sheriff Nicolson.
—In valuing a farm or farms for the purpose of raising or lowering the rent, if the latter is ever done, what principle do you go upon—what means do you take for estimating at what rate the increase should be made ?
—There are several ways of valuing a farm ; either putting so much per acre upon it, or valuing it by the stocking.
35111. In the valuation which was made in 1876, was it the increase in the price of stock that was taken into consideration in raising the rents of the farms?
—That was the principal reason, as I have mentioned already—the increase in the value of sheep and cattle.
35112. In valuing a township on which there is a number of crofters, how is the valuation made ?
—Either by valuing the land at so much the acre or valuing the stocking.
35113. But it must be either the one or the other?
—It can be both; I generally do both, to check myself.
35114. But do you apportion the increase to each individual crofter, instead of leaving it to themselves ? The calculation must be made for the stock which each particular man holds : ought not the increase, if it be a proper one, to be put upon each croft ?
—All hold the same proportion of stock, or ought to; sometimes the arable land of one is a little better than that of others; and I consider, if they agree to it themselves, it is the best way to allow them to apportion it if they are satisfied to do so.
35115. Are they quite satisfied with the apportionment made amongst themselves ?
—I never heard of any complaint at the time.
35116. Have they any form or constitution among themselves for uniting and considering their common affairs? Have they a constable in the village, a man who represents the township ?
—The usual way is, they appoint themselves one or two managers for the year. That is the proper way to do.
35117. Is that the case in most of the places?
—It ought to be, and I believe it is.
35118. Mr Cameron.
—Are the large farms sheep farms?
—Some sheep and cattle.
35119. You would have more difficulty in letting a sheep farm just now ?
—I should think so; because it is a very heavy matter to go into a sheep stock just now, considering the prices of sheep.
35120. What is the highest rental ?
—£700; that is a sheep farm entirely.