CHARLES CAMERON, Crofter, Acharacle, Ardnamurchan (65)—examined.
35976. The Chairman.
—Were you elected a delegate ?
35977. Have you any statement to make?
—'We have to complain that our rent has been raised from £54 to £100 per annum at the expiry of our lease in 1864, by our present proprietor. In 1874 our rent was raised £ 8 more for additional hill pasture. Under the present proprietor we have no claim for houses built or other improvements in the event of our leaving. We get no wood for fences or houses about the farm unless paid for; no improvements on our land in any form. Our stock of cattle is four cows and one horse to every lot. The farm is divided into six lots, but there are only five tenants; two of them have three lots. Our stock of sheep is 300. In 1840 a part of our best pasture was taken from us—about 120 acres. Our rent was at that time £71 per annum, as our rent book can prove. We get no work on the estate of any kind.' Signed by CHARLES CAMERON, and by four others.
35978. Are all those who sign the statement crofters ?
—They are all crofters.
35979. Have they each a separate croft ?
—It is something of the nature of a club farm.
35980. Who is your proprietor?
—Mr John James Dalgleish of Ardnamurchan.
35981. When did the Dalgleish family acquire the Ardnamurchan estate ?
—Twenty-eight years ago.
35982. To whom did the property belong before 1855 ?
—To Sir Thomas Miles Riddel, late of Suinart.
35983. When the rent was raised from £54 to £100 per annum, was any improvement made by the proprietor in the way of draining, fencing, or otherwise ?
—There was nothing done except what we did ourselves.
35984. Were there no tiles given or materials advanced by the proprietor?
35985. What reason was given by the landlord for this sudden advance of rent ?
—There was no reason given ; but if we could not pay the rent we would have to go.
35986. What extent of ground was given?
—About fifteen acres of moss land ; it was entirely uncultivated land. I wish to say that this piece of land we got before belonged to us originally; and although we got it back at that time we had to pay £ 8 additional.
35987. Was it a part of the 120 acres which had been taken from you ?
—It was another portion altogether.
35988. You say, ' We have no claim for houses built or other improvements in the event of our leaving:' have you built any improved houses?
—We built houses ourselves, but we got no wood or anything from the proprietor.
35989. Were the houses you built stone and lime slated houses, or black houses?
—The walls were of stone and lime, and the roofs thatched.
35990. Stone walls built through and through with lime, or only pointed with lime ?
—They are built all through with lime.
35991. How much stock is each lot on the farm calculated to keep ?
—Four cows and one horse on each lot; and there are 100 sheep on the hill held in common by the crofters.
35992. Does the lot keep the four cows and one horse, or have you to buy any winter keep ?
—The lots are not sufficient to support the summing we have; we have to buy a lot of food for our cattle in winter.
35993. What is the rent of each lot ?
35994. Does that include the share of the hill pasture which is held in common ?
35995. The rent for the club farm on the hill is not paid separately, but is paid in connection with the arable lot?
—Yes; the rent is paid altogether on the one lot.
35996. How long have you had this club farm for the sheep ?
—We have held it a long time. I have been there sixty-five years, and my father was there before me.
35997. It has been in the form of a club farm all that time ?
—Yes, ever since I remember.
35998. Have you got on well on the farm, and lived peaceably together?
—Yes, we have always agreed very well.
35999. Has the whole stock got a common mark, or do the sheep belong individually to the crofters ?
—There is one mark for all the sheep.
36000. The sheep belong to all the tenants in common ?
36001. Do you appoint a manager to buy and sell and manage the affairs of the common stock ?
—We do not.
36002. The whole of you meet together and manage it yourselves?
—I should explain that there is one chosen to go and sell the stock, and whatever he gets we are all agreeable to it.
36003. What may be the gross amount of the sale of stock and wool on the farm in a year ?
—We generally get as much for the wool as pays for the smearing of the sheep, and sometimes a little over, according to the state of the market; and we sell perhaps thirty or forty lambs and a few aged sheep at the end of the season.
36004. What has been done with the hill pasture that has been taken from you; was it added to the farm, or is it in the hands of the proprietor?
—There were other eight crofters put on to the land which was taken from us.
36005. Where were these crofters brought from ?
—They were shifted from another part of the property.
36006. Are there any cottars in the township ?
—We have only one man as a cottar, and he is a tailor.
36007. The number on the holding has not been increased for many years ; what becomes of your younger sons and children ?
—They all have to go away when they are able to earn anything, and they help their parents to pay the rent.
36008. Would you be in favour of dividing the crofts into smaller portions, or do you think they should be left as they are ?
—We do not wish the holdings to be made small ; what we complain of principally is that the rent is exorbitant.
36009. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—What is the acreage of your arableland ?
—I cannot tell the acreage, but I sow a boll and a half of oat seed, a little barley, and five or six barrels of potatoes.
36010. What is the return from the oats you sow ?
—I make as much of it as feeds the horse; and I buy corn for it in winter time.
36011. Is the boll of this country six bushels ?
36012. Mr Fraser Mackintosh.
—In the time of the Riddels were you in a comfortable position ?
36013. Since the large increase of rent was put upon you, have you been pinched in your circumstances ?
36014. Are your prospects for the future of a gloomy character?
36015. Are you well acquainted with the property of Ardnamurchan ?
—Yes, very well acquainted.
36016. Is the population of Ardnamurchan as great as when you were a young man ?
—The population has not decreased very largely. On the north side, where the land is boggy and not good, the people are still there; but from the south side, where the land is good, the people were removed.
36017. Have a number of people in your time been removed from the good part?
36018. In whose time was that done?
—Sir James Riddel, Bart, late of Sunart, put away some, and also the present proprietor.
36019. What became of most of the people who were put out by the present proprietor ?
—They were removed down to narrow and small places by the shore; some of them have a cow's grass, and some of them are simply cottars.
36020. Can you point out anything which has been done by the present proprietor's family for the benefit of the crofting class ?
—I know of nothing.
36021. Are there parts of Ardnamurchan—the south parts—very well suited for good crofts, able to sustain all the population on the estate ?
—The south side would be very suitable.
36022. And could support the present population in comfort ?
36023. Do you know how long the Riddel family were proprietors?
—A long time before I remember.
36024. Do you know how many of the name of Riddel were possessors of the Ardnamurchan estate ?
—Sir Thomas's father; and Sir Thomas himself came afterwards.
36025. Have you never heard that there were Campbells in Ardnamurchan?
—Yes; but I don't recollect the time.
36026. What is the condition of people of your class upon the estate; are they poor, or are they comfortable?
—They are very far back in that respect; the houses are very bad,
36027. And your condition generally is unsatisfactory ?
—Our condition is very unsatisfactory.
36028. Have you a family yourself ?
36029. Are they out in the world ?
—-They are all young, except one daughter.
36030. Are you obliged to go outside your farm for the purpose of earning anything ?
—Every place where I can get anything to do I go to.
36031. Is your rent in part made up of what you earn abroad ?
—Yes, that and what my grown-up daughter is able to give me.
36032. Does she help you?
—Yes; she is in England
36933. She regularly assists you ?
36034. May it be said that part of the money that your daughter earns in England goes to help to pay your rent ?
—Yes. and to support me