Lochaline, 11 August 1883 - Duncan Macnaughton

DUNCAN MACNAUGHTON, Crofter, Acharacle, Ardnamurchan (55)—examined.

36035. The Chairman.
—Did you hear what was said by the other delegate from Acharacle?-

36036. Do you agree with all he said ?
36037. Have you any other statement to make of your own ?
—No. We were both born in the place; but he is older than me. He is the oldest of the club farmers in the place.

36038. When was the club farm established ?
—The other delegate's father and mine came to Acharacle in 1823 or 1824. We were born on the farms, and have occupied them since our fathers died. The stock on the farm have always had the same mark ever since it was established. The crofters never had any separate stock; the stock has always been together, and we have kept a shepherd all along.

36039. Is the hill pasture—the club farm—fenced all round ?

36040. Who marches with you—a farmer or the proprietor?
—Farmers on both sides.

36041. Do you live on good terms with the farmers ?
—Very good.

36042. What kind of stock do you keep—the same as the farmers?
—The same kind.

36043. What kind is it ?

36044. Do you think your stock is as good as the farmers'?
—Just about the same.

36045. You think you get as good prices as the farmer?
—We generally do.

36046. Are there any other club farms on the same system in your part of the county ?
—There is a club farm which keeps a sheep stock on one side of us, and two farmers on the other.

36047. Do you know how long the system of club farms has existed in the country, and who originated it?
—I cannot tell.

36048. Did you ever hear that it had been introduced by the Breadalbane family ?

36049. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Were there six shares in the club farm in 1824 ?
—Yes; in former years there were eight shares.

36050. Were there eight shares when your father came ?

36051. Who held it before that?
—One farmer had it before.

36052. Did your father belong to the place ?

36053. And eight of them agreed to take the farm together?
—Yes, until it was divided into six.

36054. And now it is into five?
—Yes. There were two men came who took three lots, and Cameron and I and another man have the other

36055. Are the two tenants who have the three lots complaining the same as you ?
—Yes, they have the same complaint ; but Cameron and I have been the longest there.

36056. But they have a larger share of the farm, and are of course better off ?
—They have the same houses —stone and lime houses thatched.

36057. But they have a larger profit on the farm ?
—Yes, they have a share and a-half—more than I have. They pay half of the rent of the club farm; we pay the other half. We got a reduction of 10 per cent, last year, for two years, but that will end at Whitsunday first. That is all the reduction we have got.

36058. Charles Cameron said your houses were very bad; what kind are they ?
—The other crofters and cottars' houses are built with turf, but we have stone and lime walls.

36059. Cameron also said that part of your land was given to eight crofters?
—The land was taken from us in 1856.

36060. What is that piece of land called?

36061. What kind of houses have they?
—Ardshealoch House is dated.

36062. But are there eight of them?

36063. There are eight crofters now, are there not?
—These don't belong to our place at all; they are at a separate place. They have no sheep at all, and only two cows.

36064. Who got this land of Ardshealoch which was taken from you?
—Dr Howie was tenant at that time.

36065. Who is in it now ?
—One of the name of Mackenzie. There are nineteen of the hundred and twenty acres under plantation. That
was done by Sir James Miles Riddel.

36066. The Chairman.
—Was there any of the money subscribed in England for the relief of distress distributed in your part of the country ?
—Yes, to fishermen who lost boats, but not to others.

36067. There was nothing distributed in the form of seed or corn or potatoes ?
—Not last year. There was seed given by the proprietor, but we had to pay for it. There were some poor cottars who could not pay, but there was little given to them. We had to pay it at Martinmas.

36068. Professor Mackinnon.
—What was the rent that was paid in 1824?
—£71 between eight.

36069. When was the first piece of ground taken from you ?
—About 1840.

36070. Who took it from you?
—The proprietor, Sir James Miles Riddel.

36071. What was done with it?
—It was planted.

36072. The whole of it?
—Nineteen acres; and then the other was let to Dr Howie.

36073. To a large tenant—not to crofters ?

36074. It was Sir James Riddel who did this ?

36075. Did he take any rent off you ?
—Yes, the rent was reduced from £71 to £50.

36076. When was the next change?
—Mr Dalgleish came in in 1856, and our lease was to 1864 from 1856. We paid £54 per annum to Mr Dalgleish until 1864. The lease then expired and he raised the rent to £100.

36077. And had you a lease then?
—No, we could not get a lease then.

36078. When was the rent raised to £108 ?

36079. It was raised to £100 in 1864 and to £108 in 1874?
—Yes; we got a bit of hill pasture in 1874.

36080. And £8 was added for that?

36081. So that you are now paying double for the same piece of ground you originally had ?
— Yes; £100 from 1864 to 1874, and £108 since 1874.

36082. What would you consider a proper rent for the share of the farm for which you pay £18?
—We only paid £9 a piece without the hill pasture when Dalgleish came in, and we would agree to give £12 or £13—£3 more than Sir James Riddel got.

36083. You think that is quite sufficient?

36084. Do you think that corresponds with the rise that has taken place on crofts and farms generally all over the country ?
—Yes, every one at the expiry of their lease—crofters or whatever they were —had their rents raised.

36085. But the rise you would agree to you think would be quite sufficient?
—Yes, I think so.

36086. Is there any work going on in the place ?

36087. What work do you do yourself in addition to crofting?
—-In general in spring we go out to the smaller crofters and plough; and we may get a day's work now and then with somebody.

36088. But you don't leave the country to earn money to pay the rent ?

36089. And your father was in the same condition?
—Yes; he was a mason to trade, and generally went out to work.

36090. Was your condition until the last rise of rent more or less comfortable ?
—Not much comfort. Since our rent was raised we have suffered very much.

36091. Before your rent was raised?
—We were comfortably off.

36092. So that if your rent was reduced to £12 you would expect to be more comfortably off?
—Far more so.

36093. You get no outside aid for the payment of your rent ?

36091. So that it cannot be said of you as of your neighbour, that it is English money that pays your rent ?
—No, I have no sons or daughters; I am not married.

36095. There are none of you in arrears?
—No, I am not aware of there being any arrears.

36096. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You are not married, and therefore have only yourself to support ?
—Yes, except a sister.

36097. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Are there any fishermen in your district?
—We are a good piece from the sea.

36098. But are there any fishermen?

36099. But you spoke of fishermen having got assistance?
—Yes, at Loch Shiel—salmon fishermen.

36100. How do these cottars support themselves if there is no fishing to go to ?
—Sometimes they sell oats, straw, and hay for their rent —those that have no cows.

36101. Are there many of them that have no cows?
—Only four.

36102. What district are you speaking of?

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