Lochaline, 11 August 1883 - Alexander Cameron

ALEXANDER CAMERON, Labourer and Cottar, Lochaline (50)—examined.
(See Appendix A, LXXXV.)

36181. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Do you appear to represent the people of Lochaline, or on your own account ?
—I come here on behalf of the people of Lochaline.

36182. Have you heard what Dugald Macgregor told us?

36183. Do you agree with what he said?
—Yes, I agree with that.

36184. Have you anything additional to tell us ?
—I cannot say anything at all in addition to what Dugald Macgregor has said about the estate of Sellar ; but I am prepared to speak of this estate where we are just now.

36185. Have you always lived at Lochaline yourself?
—Yes, since I was removed out of my own land.

36186. Where were you before ?
—I was at a place called Knock, a little above the church here.

36187. How long ago is that?
—Seventeen years ago.

36188. How much land had you there ?
—I had a house and a croft, and the fourth share in a horse and cow.

36189. Any sheep?
—No sheep.

36190. What rent were you paying?
—At first we paid a rent of £3, 10s., but afterwards it was raised to £4.

36191. How many other crofters were there ?
—There would be about twenty crofters.

36192. What circumstances were they in?
—They were fairly well off—plenty of potatoes and meal and milk.

36193. Was there ever any destitution amongst them ?

36194. Who was proprietor at the time?
—-The late Mrs Campbell Paterson.

36195. When did she become proprietrix ?
—It is about eighteen or nineteen years ago.

36196. From whom did she buy it?
—From the late Mr Sinclair.

36197. Had he been long in possession?
—He was there since I remember.

36198-9. Did he raise the people's rent while he had the land ?
—It was Mr Sinclair who raised the rents.

36200. How long was it after Mrs Paterson purchased the property that she removed you?
—Two years.

36201. Were any of the people in arrears ?
—I am not aware that they were a penny in arrears of rent.

36202. What was the reason given for removing them?
—Because the proprietrix wished to have the land in her own hands.

36203. And is it so now ?

36204. Did you get any compensation for your houses when you were removed ?

36205. Who built them?
—Some of the people built their own houses, and when my people came to the place they went into a house which was built before.

36206. What kind of house was it ?
—The house was built of dry stone, and with a thatch roof.

36207. Were they good houses ?
—They were good houses of the kind ; we did not object to them.

36208. Were they pulled down ?
—The houses were all pulled down before we were three weeks out of them.

36209. Were there new houses prepared for you before you removed ?
—There were no houses, but we could go into the loch if we liked.

36210. What did all the people do?
—Every one who was able to go away went away somewhere else, to the south or other parts; and those who were not able had to go to the village and hire houses or rooms there.

36211. Did those who emigrated abroad get any assistance from the proprietrix ?
—Not a halfpenny.

36212. When your houses were pulled down, what was done with the timber ?
—The wood of the houses was burned as firewood by the shepherds who came into the estate.

36213. Had any of you difficulty in finding dwellings for yourselves in the village ?
—A great many of the people went away altogether, because they could not get houses here.

36214. Had any of them to be forcibly evicted out of the houses?
—No, that was not required ; the people went away quietly when they got notice to quit.

36215. How many of them do you remember settled in the village?
— Six or seven.

36216. Did they get work there ?
—They did not.

36217. Did the proprietrix give them any work?
—We got no work.

36218. Was there any work on the estate for them ?
—There was no work going on on the estate at the time.

36219. How did you make your living then, and since then?
—The people, when they were removed, had a little money which they had saved, or which they got from their stock when they sold them, and shortly after that they had just to go on to the parish, and shortly after that they died.

36220. How have you made your living yourself ?
—When I got a house for my family in the village here, I went across to the island of Mull and worked there.

36221. Do you live here now?
—Yes, I reside here now; and for the last fifteen years I have been working on Mr Smith's estate.

36222. What rent do you pay for your house ?
—£3, and I keep everything in repair myself.

36223. What kind of a house is it ?
—It is a thatched house, and it has nearly tumbled down.

36224. Are there many of the same sort in the village ?

36225. What sort of people live in the slated houses in the village ?
—There are some of the poor people, who receive parochial aid, who live in some of the houses, and workpeople as well in some of them.

36226. What rent do they pay for these slated cottages ?
—From £3 to £3, 5s. for one room.

36227. Are there families living in one room ?

36228. Grown-up people and children ?

36229. How many families are living in a house of one room each?
—Over twenty.

36230. Have you often been in these houses ?

36231. What sort of way do these people live in them?
—Some of them are pretty far behind. Those who are able to work are better off than those who are not.

36232. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Was the effect of this action, on the part of the proprietrix, in depriving the well-to-do comfortable people of their means of livelihood, to bring them almost instantly to poverty ?
—I cannot say what was in their minds at the time, but it did very suddenly bring us to poverty.

36233. You are speaking yourself of having been in Knock; what was the name of the other township ?
—The township of Kill was cleared by Mr Sinclair before Mrs Paterson got the property.

36234. The statement read mentions the name of Dr M'Leod, minister of the parish; did he intercede with the proprietrix for you ?

36235. Did the people go and request his intercession, or did he do it of his own accord ?
—He did it of his own accord.

36236. Everything he could he did ?
—Yes, he went as far as possible to induce the proprietrix to let us remain in the place—to give us the
arable land.

36237. What was Mrs Paterson's name before she was married?
—Hardie, I understand.

36238. How did she get the property; did she purchase it?
—She bought the estate.

36239. Was her husband living?
—No, not at the time the estate was bought.

36240. She bought it when she was a widow ?

36241. And when she was a widow she made these evictions ?

36242. It is stated in the paper that the property is now in the hands of the trustees ; who is the next heir ?
—We are not sure as to who the proper heir is.

36243. How long ago did Mrs Paterson die ?
—Four or five years.

36244. To whom do you pay this large rent of £ 3 for the room?
—I pay it to the trustees of Mrs Paterson.

36245. Did you say there was £ 3 or £ 3 , 5s. paid for a single room ?
—Yes ; but that is not paid to the trustees, it is paid to landlords who had built houses in the village.

36246. Do you know of any case where the occupants of a single room are paying rent direct to the trustees of the property ?
—There are some living in one room who pay rent to the trustees, but not such a high rent as that.

36247. Can you mention the names of people occupying a single room who pay rent to the trustees?
—Alexander Campbell, Widow Angus Cameron, and Widow Hugh Cameron.

36248. Are you quite sure, from your own knowledge, that these three people only occupy a single apartment, and are paying their rent direct to the proprietor ?
—Yes, I am perfectly sure of that, because they live just beside me.

36249. Have you anything else to say with regard to any other property except this one?
—I have nothing to say about any other property.

36250. Supposing this estate of Lochaline were to change hands again, and that the proprietor were willing or disposed to allow people like yourself, who were once upon it, to go back, would you be prepared to take a croft such as you had before, and work it as you did at one time ?
—I would be very glad to get it. I think it would be to my benefit also—that is, if I could get it at a reasonable rent.

36251. I suppose there is no great trade in this village of Lochaline?
—No, there was scarcely anything doing until about a year ago, when the new pier was commenced, and the road leading across to it.

36252-3. Is there anything in your mind so likely to relieve the people of this village as to allow people like yourself to re-occupy the land, which is described as lying waste in the neighbourhood ?
—I can think of nothing better than that we should get the land which we had before.

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