Lismore, 13 August 1883 - Dugald Buchanan

DUGALD BUCHANAN, Quarryman, Balnagowan (50)—examined.

36961. The Chairman.
—Are you a delegate ?
—I am not a delegate appointed by other people I wish to come and state my own case about how I was dealt with long ago. But those who ill-treated me are all dead, and I don't know whether you will allow me to proceed with my case.

36962. Oh, yes; proceed.
—I fell into some arrears about eighteen years ago, and the factor deprived me of my holding.

36963. What estate were you on ?
—It was upon Mr Fell's estate that this occurred, just about the time he entered upon possession. I believe the actual perpetrator of the deed was Mr Haig. The factor came and asked me for my arrears, and I told him I could not pay them at the time, but if he would give me some assistance in fencing at the back of the croft, I would endeavour to pay them as soon as I could. My horse, unfortunately, failed at the time, and was worth nothing at all; and I believe that was the reason why the factor had no patience with me in my arrears. Then, immediately after I was dispossessed, he wanted to fence all round to make it a grazing park for sheep. The laird had to bear plenty of expense on that account. The laird sent from Oban for me, and the ground officer and myself went across. The proprietor made me sign a paper to arrange matters with the ground officer in order to save expense, and I did so in the expectation that anything that remained over after the arrears wore paid should come to myself. Well, the stock was rouped first. Of course, the horse counted for nothing; but I gave a bill of sale over to the factor. Then the crops were rouped, and I never got an account from the factor or proprietor with respect to this sale, nor do I know, to the present day, whether the proceeds of the stock and crop were able to pay the arrears, or whether there was a balance over.

36964. What was the amount of the arrears?
—My grandfathers were in the place, and my father had been there forty years, and I was there for seven years after that, and the arrears altogether amounted to £13, 6s. 6d. Then, of course, there was the whole expense of valuation and additional expenses. There was the half-year's rent due at Whitsunday, which made £12, 5s. more.

36965. How many beasts were sold ?
—Three cows and two queys, that was all the stock; then the crops were selling cheaply in that year. During the whole time of my own and my father's tenancy the laird had no outlay whatever upon fences or buildings; everything that was done was done at our own expense.

36966. What would you consider the value of your crop in that cheap year?
—The value was about £26.

36967. Do you know what the cattle sold for ?
—The first roup came to about forty guineas, and the second to £26.

36968. And do you state positively you never got a farthing ?
—Well, I got £ 2 twice. I had to support my family ; and I would go over to the factor, and he would be busy, and would ask me to come another day; but although I should be going every day, I don't think I would get anything more.

36969. What was the name of this factor?
—Mr Gregorson. I had neighbours who were treated in the same way ; but they are not living now. I think the previous delegate spoke about that.

36970. Do you mean that the people were sold out by the factor, and that no account was ever rendered, and no balance paid ?
—We did not get justice at any rate; we were swept away out of the place. There was an epidemic or fever at the time ; but I cannot state the actual facts with respect to any person but myself. I repeat distinctly that I never got an account from the factor of the proceeds of the sale of my stock and crops. I don't know that I would even have got a house had it not been for a kind-hearted tenant who came into my place. It was he who provided a house for my mother and myself, so that it cannot be said that I was indebted to the proprietor even for a house.

36971. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Although that has occurred so many years ago, do you still feel so strongly the injustice committed upon you that you have felt it incumbent upon you to come and make this public statement to-day ?
—Yes, I thought it was my duty when the like of you were appointed to hear such cases.

36972. The Chairman.
—What was done with the land that was taken from you ?
—It was given to the Mr M'Call who had the township of Firefour. It was then given to another M'Call, and it is now given to the farm connected with the mill.

36973. Was it given to enlarge another croft or to a separate crofter in the first instance ?
—It was added to the neighbouring township. Mr M'Call, who got it, did not ask or seek my place.

36974. It now forms part of the farm attached to the mill —is that a large farm ?
—No, it forms only about two crofts —mine and another of much the same size and rent.

36975. What was the rent of your croft before you lost it?
—It was a dear rent, £24, 10s.

36976. Have you now regular employment in the quarry ?
—Yes, I have been working with father and son for the last eighteen years in steady employment.

36977. Can you work in the quarry in all seasons, or are you prevented by bad weather sometimes ?
—No, we can work only when the weather is good.

36978. Are you able to work during the frost in winter?
—Yes, unless there is ice—if it is only dry frost; but if it is slippery, we cannot.

36979. Have the wages increased since you went to work in the quarry ?
—I worked at first by day's work, and now I work by day's wage, and I cannot compare them.

36980. How much were you able to make by day's work ?
—Our wages now are 18s.; under the former arrangement it was once better, twice worse. When I lost the land it was but a poor time—times were bad —and if Mr M'Intyre had not given me work I might have starved altogether ; but now work is more common.

36981. If you worked now by day's work would you be able to earn more than by day's wages ?
—Well, I believe I like, upon the whole, the day's wage as well.

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