Lochaline, 11 August 1883 - Malcolm Mclachlan

MALCOLM M'LACHLAN, Mason, Barr (49)—examined.
(See Appendix A, LXXXV.)

36254. Professor Mackinnon.
—Have you a statement to make for the place which you represent?
—I have.
—Barr. The crofts of Barr are situated on the western shore of Lochteagus, an arm of Lochsunart, which penetrates about three miles inland in a southerly direction. These crofts are on the estate of Glenmorven, now in the hands of Miss Beattie's trustees. The whole of this estate, with the exception of a few worthless patches held by crofters, is one large sheep farm, presently occupied by Captain Shaw, son of Sheriff Shaw of Lochmaddy. Our grievance is that the small spots of arable land held by us is becoming quite worthless through overcropping. It is now about eighty years since our fathers settled in this place, whither they were removed from good land to make room for sheep. They reclaimed the land, such as it is, from being a miserable patch of bog. The water is carried away by open drains, which must be dug very deep. We would improve the land by stone drams, but, as we are tenants at will and can be removed at any tune, we are prevented from making many improvements. Our summing is two cows with followers, and we pay a rent of £ 7 sterling for that and our miserable patches of land. The produce of our crofts will not feed us more than three months of the year. We plant five barrels of potatoes and four bushels of corn; but the land is so much exhausted that it will not yield a good crop. We want to get as much land as we can make a living by, which if we get we are able to stock. There is nothing to be made by herring fishing in this district now, as owing to the way the fishing is prosecuted on the west coast it never comes into Lochsunart. We get work for about fifty days throughout the year from Captain Shaw the farmer; we are paid at the rate of two shillings a day. We have also to complain of having to live in very bad houses, which if we are to live here any longer we should like repaired or rebuilt. We consider our rent is excessive, and would beg respectfully to draw the attention of the Commission to the rents we pay and to our summing, which, taken along with the quality of the arable land we hold, we consider that no capitalist farmer in the Highlands pays the same rent in proportion.

36255. You don't remember the time when your people were removed to this place; but did you not hear where they came from?
—We were removed from other portions of the estate; but I am not a native, and don't know.

36256. To whom do you pay your rent where you are now?
—To the farmer.

36257. Captain Shaw?

36258. Who drew out this paper?
—I wrote a portion of it myself.

36259. Who wrote the other part ?
—The rest of the statement was written by themselves.

36260. I suppose the land upon which you are now is very bad ?
—It is exhausted by overcropping.

36261. Do you remember yourself when it was good land?
—It has been continually cropped for the last eighty years.

36262. So that it has been bad land ever since you remember ?

36263. You say the rent is too high?

36264. The summing is two cows with their followers; how many followers may a cow have in this locality?
—Only a calf and a stirk.

36265. You have no horses?
—We had one horse each fifty years ago, but it was taken from us at that time.

36266. Have you sheep ?

36267. You pay £ 7 for the two cows, two stirks, and the patches of arable ground ?

36268. And you pay not to the proprietor but to the tenant, Captain Shaw ?
—Yes, it is to the farmer that we pay the rents.

36269. You say - we get work from about fifty days,' are you obliged to go to work during any of those days?
—There is no special time, but we are very thankful when we get the work. We must attend to the sheep-shearing or cutting down brackens or any odd work about the farm.

36270. If you should have better employment elsewhere, would the tenant ask you to render service to him ?
—I think we would be allowed to get better work anywhere else.

36271. So that you are quite free to earn money anywhere else at any time ?

36272. Only better employment is not going ?

36273. The houses you say are very bad; is it from the proprietor or the tenant that you would expect assistance in putting the houses in good condition ?
—It is from the proprietor we would expect the better houses.

36274. Do you know if the tenant is bound by his lease to give you these crofts?
—I am not very sure, but I think it is in the lease.

36275. Your opinion is that he is not able to remove you?
—Yes, I am of opinion that he could not remove us, but I cannot be sure.

36276. Was there any improvement made upon any of the houses in your own time ?
—No, there was no improvement made, so far as I remember.

36277. You mean there was nothing done at the proprietor's expense ?
—There was nothing done at his expense.

36278. Do you think if you had these crofts—although you think the rent too high—as they are, upon leases, you would improve the houses and the crofts ?
—'Yes, we would.

36279. How do you plough the land?
—It is all done with the spade, and we have to carry all the manure or sea-ware on our back.

36280. Are you near the shore?
—Yes; we are pretty near the shore.

36281. And is there plenty of sea-ware?
—There is plenty of seaware.

36282. And you have liberty to take as much of it as you please?

36283. You plant five barrels of potatoes; take an ordinary good year, within the last twelve years, how many barrels would you lift when you planted five ?
—I am not able to answer that question.

36284. Can you give an opinion?
—I would rather not say anything about it, as I am not sure.

36285. How long have you been in Barr?
—I don't live there.

36286. Were you present when you were elected by the people of Barr ?

36287. Was the meeting held at Barr?
—-They came to my house, and asked me specially to allow myself to be elected.

36288. They came the whole way from Barr?

36289. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How many persons are there in Barr?
—There are four families.

36290. Did the four heads of families all come over here ?
—There were two came over as delegates from the others.

36291. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Barr is on the estate of Glenmorven?

36292. Is that a large estate?
—Yes, it is pretty large.

36293. How long is it since it was cleared of the people?
—It is about sixty years ago.

36294. Do you know who it was that cleared it—who the proprietor was?
—Miss Stewart

36295. Is Glenmorven in the parish of Morven?

36296. Do you know if there were a great many people cleared off?
—I cannot exactly give the number of people, but I know there were a good many.

36297. Do you know that from hearsay—from older people than yourself, or from seeing the remains of small crofts and houses ?
—I know it because it was stated by people who were there, and who were put out of it,

36298. What became of the people who were put away in this manner?
—Some of them got removed to another portion of the estate, and others had to go away to other places—any place they could get with houses.

36299. Can you mention how many crofters there may be now upon the estate ?
—So far as I know, about twenty-six all over the estate.

36300. It is said in the paper ' the whole of the estate, with the exception of a few worthless patches held by crofters, is one large sheep farm ' —do you know that of your own knowledge ?

36301. Professor Mackinnon.
—The paper says: The whole of the estate with the exception of a few worthless patches is held by one farm.' The farm you mean is Captain Shaw's?

36302. Do you know the farm of Inniemore ?
—Mr Smith is in it.

36303. Do you know Carnacalloch ?

36304. Do you know about Achanasaul, Rumone, Bunavullin, and Glenmorven Cottage?

36305. And you still adhere to the statement in the paper that the whole of this estate, with the exception of a few worthless patches held by crofters, is one large farm ?
—No, there are these.

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