Tiree, 7 August 1883 - Donald Campbell and Donald Maclean

DONALD CAMPBELL, Crofter, Kilmaluag (36,) assisted by DONALD MACLEAN, Cottar, Kilmaluag (65)—examined.

34143. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Have you papers to submit to the Commission ?
—' Ballvuilin and Kilmoluag. Our complaints, which we consider grievous, are, that a part of the “common," for all which we still pay, was taken from the township some fifty years ago; thirty-five years ago another part was taken off our common, and we still pay for that part also. When John Campbell, Esq., was factor on the estate, our rents were raised at three different times, so that they were nearly doubled. Previous to the raising of our rents, we had to come bound to him by compulsorily signing a paper that we would be obedient and submissive to any orders from him in all time coming. We signed this paper at the threat of instant eviction. The third rise in the rents was made for drainage. We have to pay for the sea-ware we use as manure, either in money or take twenty carts to the land of the farmer on whose shore the sea-ware is got. This is equal to five or six days' work. We have also to complain that when our growing grass is in need of the greatest care, the manager of the Seaweed Company sends his horses and carts through our grounds, and states that he has authority to do so. The above complaints apply to both townships.
—Kilmoluag. The whole township of Kilmoluag had to sign a paper to the then factor, Mr Geikie, to give to a neighbouring farmer out of their common as much land as he chose to take from us, which, if they (the crofters) did not consent to do, he threatened he would send every mother's son of them out of the island.

—'To the Honourable the Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the State of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. We, the cottars of Ballvuilin and Kilmoluag, want to let you know the poor condition we are in through a great many causes (too numerous to mention), some of which we will try to state here. We have got houses built on the crofters' common, and the landlord wants us to pay rent for the sites, although the crofters are paying for it already. We cannot prosecute the fishing with safety for the want of harbours for the safety of our boats. We had a sort of a quay at Kilmoluag, but the big tide that was two or three years ago tore it down, and it has never been mended yet. We are making kelp, and are paid at the rate of £ 4 per ton of 2520 lbs. with goods, which are charged for more than in any shop or store in the island. There are sixty cottars between Ballvuilin aud Kilmoluag, and we are troubling the crofters very much getting ground to plant potatoes in, as their holdings are so small (a thing that is out of the question to get from the tacksmen); also getting horses and carts for a great many things we need them for. Some of us had crofts, but they were taken from us without any known reason but to please the factor that was here at the time. What we most want is a bit of land to plant potatoes in and grazing for a cow or two, and harbours for our fishing boats.
—DONALD MACLEAN, delegate.'

34144. {To Campbell).
—Who got the common land that was taken from Ballvuilin ?
—A neighbour of ours.

34145. Has he got it yet ?

34146. What is his name ?
—A man named John Cameron has it just now, and another piece of it is occupied by Donald Kennedy.

34147. Had your father a croft?
—Yes, my father is still in a croft.

34148. Do you know the rent your father was paying when he was a young man ?

34149. What is he paying now?

34150. Was there anything done for him by the proprietor in the way of helping him to build his house or fences or drainage ?
—I am not aware of any.

34151. Who is the farmer upon whose shore the sea-ware is got?
—Mr M'Diarmid.

34152. About the grass, the manager of the Sea-weed Company sends his horses and carts there; is there any way for this manager to send them except this pasture ?
—The complaint is that they spread their sea-ware upon the grass in order to dry it—upon our pasture ground.

34153. What rent does the manure company pay to you for taking your land in this way ?

34154 How long is it since they began to do this?
—Ever since they came, some fifteen years ago.

34155. The paper states that the manager says he has authority to do so, but did you never make a complaint to the factor or ground officer?
—I am not aware that we did.

34156. It would appear to be wise for you to do so ?
—It would appear so.

34157. About Kilmoluag, you state you had to sign a paper to the chief factor, Mr Geikie, whatever he chose out of the farm; did the neighbouring farm get anything out of your farm?

34158. How much ?
—We got a bad bit in exchange for it.

34159. What was done at that time prejudiced the town ?
—Yes, it is a loss to the township to the present day.

34160. Who is the person that has this place?
—Lachlan M'Phail.

34161. What would you consider a fair rent to pay for your place?
—I don't think it is worth more than £6.

34162. What your father was paying first?
—Yes; it is worth less today than when my father got it ; the sand has drifted upon it.

34163. Are you a fisherman?
—I sometimes fish about three months, and work on land the rest of the time.

34164. Is it necessary for you to engage at fishing here to keep your family alive ?
—Yes, and we must buy our potatoes from elsewhere as well, and earn our wages elsewhere also. That is the way we now live.

34165. How many people are now living in Ballvuilin?
—Seventeen have land; thirty or thirty-two are without land.

34166. At Kilmoluag how many have you?

34167. And how many cottars?
—About thirty.

34168. Are the cottars a great burden upon you?

34169. Do you pay poor rates?

34170. Are these cottars in whole or in part people who have been sent into these two towns from other places ?
—Yes; there were some of them sent consequent upon the clearing of Hylipool; some also were sent from town which was partially cleared, Baugh, but the great majority of them belong to the place.

34171. (To Maclean).
—You state that there are sixty cottars between Balivuilin and Kilmoluag; where could you point out any land that could be given to you ?
—Wherever they would wish to send us.

34172. You are willing to go to any place in Tyree that is convenient?
—Yes. Anywhere where we might assist ourselves in any way.

34173. Would some of you be able to take small places yourselves and build your own houses without, or would you all need to get some assistance to move?
—There are some of them that would be able, they would be willing to make a home in these new places. There are some of them that are exhausted building houses—shifting about here and there, and building houses wherever they go.

34174. Are there enough of them in the position of being able to build houses for themselves and stock the new lands—are they in sufficient numbers that would much relieve Ballvuilin and Kilmoluag if they went ?
—Yes, certainly there are.

34175. Would not the crofters of Ballvuilin be very likely willing to help you to move?
—I don't know that they would assist us very much.

34176. But would not it be a great relief to get rid of you —would not it be worth their while ?
—Yes, if they had the good intention.

34177. Considering the overcrowded position you are in, do the crofters and cottars live very agreeably together?
—Sometimes; there are exceptions.

34178. Had you ever land?
—Yes, I had it, and I lost it when Mr Geikie entered on the management of the property; before he raised the
rents. I have a special complaint amongst these papers.

34179. Had your father a croft before you?
—Yes, they always had—my fathers.

34180. Was your father able to bring up his family respectably?

34181. You are working at kelp?
—I do not personally do very much, but there are plenty of people working at it in the place.

34182. Do they ever get money for what they do?
—No, they do not get money, and those of them who have been asking money for the last year or so only get £2 per ton in money; they would get at the rate of £4 if they took goods.

34183. But although the goods were stated to be worth £4, perhaps the goods were not worth more than £2 in another shop ?
—Perhaps not even £2.

34184. I suppose the people do not like to be treated in that way?
—No, they do not; they are badly treated in many a way. They very often have to get up about midnight and go away down and pick up tangle out of the surf when the sea is washing over them, and take it up out of
the reach of the tide on their backs over rough ground, and all they get is 4d. per cubic yard of root of tangle.

34185. What is sold in the shop—nothing except provisions?
—Yes, clothes also.

34186. Anything else?
—Tea, tobacco, meal; and all sorts of luxuries.

34187. Are there other places where people can purchase goods in Tyree ?

34188. And I suppose you and the other people would like to get money for what you earn and spend it where you chose ?
—Certainly it would be better for them.

34188*. You would not object to go to Glasgow and make your purchases if you liked ?

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