Lochaline, 11 August 1883 - Alexander Macdonald

ALEXANDER MACDONALD, Crofter, Bunavullin—examined.

36306. The Chairman.
—Have you been chosen by the people as a delegate ?

36307. Have you a written statement ?
—' Bunavullin. This township is also on the estate of Glenmorven under Beattie's trustees.
Our grievances are—

(1) That we have too little hill pasture for the summer grazing of our cattle. Our summing is two cows and one calf, which must be sold when a year old for want of grazing.

(2) Our arable land is so small that we cannot provide fodder for wintering our beasts. We have to buy for them, which we consider a great hardship, as there is plenty of good land close beside us very suitable for us if we could get it at a reasonable rent.

(3) The extent of arable land held by each of us is about I f acre of very inferior land. We pay a rent of £6, exclusive of taxes, which we consider far too high. We cannot get a day's work on the estate from one year's end to another, but have to go about here and there where we can get work. Our houses are built too near the sea-shore, and in winter time are very damp because of the sea spray. There is a piece of land adjoining us between Glenmorven shooting lodge and our crofts, which if given to us we are willing to pay a fair rent for it. We have no special complaint against either the proprietrix or her factor, but we wish to have more hill pasture and our crofts enlarged. We are able to stock more land if we could get i t We have at present three horses, but owing to our restricted grazing we cannot keep but inferior animals. Our delegate will be glad to answer any questions.

36308. The first complaint is that you have too little hill pasture. How long has this township of Bunavullin existed ?
—At least forty years, so far as I know.

36309. Were there any people in the place before that, or were they brought there?
—They were brought there at that time, or a little previous, and houses were built about that time.

36310. To whom did the place belong?
—To Miss Stewart.

36311. Where were they brought from —from other places on the same estate?
—Some of the people who came there were on the estate previously in another place.

36312. By whom was the land of Bunavidlin occupied previously?
Was it crofters' land, or a sheep farm, or what ?
—Previous to the time the people came there it was occupied as a large farm.

36313. When the people were brought there they were given some arable land. Were they also given any hill pasture ?
—We have just now all the hill pasture we had at the beginning. The people were sent there as labourers.

36311. You were sent there forty years ago. Have your crofts been Macdonald, subdivided, or are there the same number of crofts as there were at first ?
— So far as I know or recollect, the crofts are just as they were at the beginning ; they have not been subdivided.

36315. The summing is two cows and one calf, for which you pay £6?
—There are two cows and a calf, and we have a horse among every three.

36316. You complain that you are paying for two cows, and that you cannot support them; how much have you to pay for the winter keep of a cow?
—I bought myself last winter £2 worth of feeding for my cattle. There may be some of the others who have bought more, and there may be some who have bought less.

36317. How many cattle had you during the winter? Had you two cows and one follower ?
—Two cows and one follower.

36318. And you paid £2 for fodder. Did that include the keep of the horse, if you have the part of a horse ?
—That includes all the fodder I have bought together.

36319. Does the horse all belong to one person, or do you go shares in the horse ?
—We go shares for the horse.

36320. Do you keep the horse alternately, or how ?
—One of us feeds the horse alternately when it is our turn; but the horses are not generally housed ; they are allowed to live outside.

36321. Do you buy corn for your horses, or do you give them your own corn ?
—We feed them with our own corn so long as it lasts, and after that we have to buy.

36322. You complain that the houses are built near the sea-shore. When people were brought to Bunavullin, who built the houses for them ?
—The proprietor built the houses.

36323. What sort of houses are they? Are they all slated houses?
—They are slated houses.

36324. And have they been slated houses from the beginning, forty years ago ?
—The houses were slated when built.

36325. Did you ever hear how much each house had cost the proprietor ?

36326. Are they good, substantial houses?
—The houses are reasonably large, but there is only one room.

36327. Do you mean that there is a kitchen and one room, or only one room, which is a kitchen and everything else?
—There is only one apartment.

36328. Is the apartment divided by the beds being put across the middle ?
—The arrangement of the beds, or how they are placed, is left to ourselves, but they are generally placed along the wall.

36329. I am to understand that there is really only one room, and that the way the beds are placed does not make it into two rooms ?
—Yes, that is so.

36330. Are there any cases in which two families are living in one room ?
—No ; each family have one room to themselves.

36331. Is there any loft above ?

36332. Do people sleep in the loft?
—Yes, a bed can be placed in the loft, but we have to use the loft as a barn. It was intended for that

36333. Are all the houses alike?
—Yes, all very much alike.

36334. About what size is this one room?
—The houses are from 12 feet to 14 feet each way.

36335. Have the people ever built any additions themselves to these original houses?
—They have built no additions to the houses behind. They could not do that, because the byres and places for the horses were built at the back.

36336. Have you ever turned a byre into a room, and built another byre ?

36337. Why were the houses built so near the sea-coast?
—It is my opinion that the houses were built so near the sea that they might take up as little room as possible.

36338. You say there is a piece of land adjoining you, between Glenmorven shooting lodge and the crofts, which would be convenient to you. How is that piece of land at present occupied ? Is it occupied by the farmer ?
—It is occupied by a large farmer.

36339. It is not occupied by the shooting lodge?
—No, it is not occupied by the proprietor of the shooting lodge.

36340. Is it arable ground, or is it rough pasture?
—Previously the land was mostly all arable, and it can very easily be turned into arable land again.

36341. Is it land which is useful to the farmer for wintering his stock ?
—No doubt the land is perhaps very useful to the farmer, because it is lying very near to the sea.

36342. Is the farm well provided with low-lying land in other places?
—On the side on which we are situated the farm goes from sea to sea—one branch of the sea goes in at one side, and the Sound of Mull goes in at the other side. On this side there is not much low-lying ground, but there is plenty on the east side of the farm.

36343. Can this land which you want be taken from the farm without doing it a material injury?
—It is my opinion that, although that portion were taken from the farmer, he would have sufficient ground. He has a very large farm, and would have sufficient ground otherwise.

36344. Would you pay rent for it if it were taken from the farmer?
—I think we are paying dear enough with that land along with what we hold at present, because we have not sufficient grazings for the cows.

36345. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Did your crops suffer from the gale of last October ?
—Not to any great extent.

36346. Is £2 your average expenditure year after year in food for cattle ?
—It depends very much on what sort of winter it is. One winter is perhaps less severe than another; and if a winter is very severe, we have to buy more. Last winter we had to give our cattle meal

36347. Professor Mackinnon.
—How long have you yourself been at Bunavullin ?
—About fifteen years.

36348. Where were you before that ?
—On Lady Gordon's estate—Drimnin.

36349. Had you land there ?

36350. Are there people in that place yet who were there fifteen years ago ?

36351. What became of them?
—They were removed. Some are in Glasgow, and some in other places on the adjoining estate of Ardnastaig

36352. Who keeps the place now ?
—It is occupied by a large farmer.

36353. What was the condition of the crofters in that place?
—They were fairly well off.

36354. What was the size of the croft which you had yourself?
—I cannot exactly tell the amount of the acreage.

36355. What stock did you keep ?
—I kept five cows.

36356. A horse?
—We had no horses.

36357. Sheep ?
—We had a few sheep.

36358. Why were there no horses; was the place so rough that a horse could not work it?
—The place was so very rough and the ground so soft that horses could not work on it.

36359. Of all the places round about you, is it that farm of which you spoke that you think most suitable to enlarge your holdings ?
—-Yes, that is the only place.

36360. And you think it is very suitable ?
—Yes; it is quite close beside us—just marching with our present crofts.

36361. Would it increase the arable land as well as the grazing land?

36362. And if you got it, is that what you would do with it?
—Yes. As our crofts are so small, we would convert what was convertible into arable land.

36363. Do you think you or your neighbours would be able to provide the necessary stock if you got such a bigger croft ?
—I think we have plenty of stock already although we got the land. We would like to keep the two calves, because we have the two cows.

36364. You would like to have the two cows with followers?
—Yes, we would like to have the followers along with the cows.

36365. And you think your rent just now is high enough to cover the extended holding?
—Yes, we do.

36366. So that you have sufficient stock at present?

36367. And you think you have also sufficient rent?

36368. So that you could quite easily enter into possession if you got the ground upon these conditions ?

36369. Even that croft would not support a family? Is there any other work going on ? What work are you engaged in in addition to the croft ?
—No, very little, unless the adjoining farm will employ lads and lasses now and again.

36370. How do you occupy the time that is not taken up by the croft ?
—We just go and work wherever we can.

36371. Do the people go away from home to work for wages?
—Yes, they sometimes get work on the adjoining estate, and perhaps go home to their own house at night.

36372. And that, along with the crofts, is the way they earn their livelihood ?

36373. And even supposing you got this addition, you would still have to continue working, only you would be better off?
—Yes, only we would expect to be better off.

36374. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—There are ten people you say in Bunavullin ?

36375. Have they only got one room each?

36376. Are the houses all in a row —stuck together?

36377. So, supposing a man had six or seven of a family, he must put up with one room ?

36378. Do they pay the rent direct to the landlord or to the principal tenant ?
—They pay their rent to the proprietor'] they have nothing to do with the tenant.

36379. Professor MacKinnon.
—There is one John Stewart represented in the valuation roll as paying £15. Does he occupy only one room?
—John Stewart does not pay any rent, if he does not pay the feu for the house. He is quite in a different condition from those I have spoken about, so far as the arable land is concerned, but his stock goes on our
hill, of which he is entitled to a share.

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