Tobermory, Mull, 10 August 1883 - James Beaton

JAMES BEATON, Master Mariner, Tobermory (66)—examined.

35781. The Chairman.
—Have you been a seaman all your life?

35782. Did you ever live on the land ?
—Yes, until I went to sea.

35783. Had your father a croft?
—My father and grandfather had.

35784. And had you a croft when you were young ?
—I had.

35785. Did you pay rent ?
—I did.

35786. How did you lose your croft ?
—I never had any. It was put into the lot when I went to sea; they were deprived of the croft.

35787. That means that you were deprived of it?
—I was, because I was the legal heir.

35788. But you were not yourself in possession of it at that time?
—No, I was not; I was away at sea.

35789. What was done with it ?
—It was put in with the lot.

35790. Was it added to a farm?
—It was added to a lot.

35791. To another crofter's lot?

35792. To make it bigger?

35793. Did your family leave it on account of a rise of rent or anything of that sort ?
—They left because they were deprived of it.

35794. Have you made long voyages?
—I have.

35795. All over the world?

35796. And now what do you do?
—I am just living on the old property.

35797. Here at Tobermory ?

35798, Do you rent a house ?
—I am a feuar.

35799. Are you one of those who have right to pasture on the hill?
—I am.

35800. Are you one of the eleven who have a right, or are you one of the others ?
—I don't know whether I am one of eleven or one of ten or seven ; but I have a right to grazing on the hill.

35801. How much do you pay for the grazing?
—Two and sixpence a head for the cattle, if I put a cow there; and if I don't, I don't pay for it.

35802. You have a croft?
—I have.

35803. How much do you pay for it ?

35804. For how many acres ?
—I don't know, but I believe there are two acres of arable ground in it and about three acres of common pasture, such as bogs, rocks, and heather.

35805. Have you made any improvements upon it ?
—I have drained it. But the proprietor gave me tiles, and put them in the ground for me.

35806. And do you pay him interest on that outlay?
—No, he never asked me for any payment.

35807. Did you build the house yourself?
—I built the house; it is an old feu.

35808. How much is the feu-duty ?
—One penny per running foot of frontage and eighty or ninety feet back.

35809. Are there many men going out of Tobermory on long voyages—-seamen ?
—A good many.

35810. Are there more or fewer than formerly?
—Not so many as used to be.

35811. What is the reason of that?
—That I don't know.

35812. Does a seaman get better wages now than he used to do when you were young ?
—They get better wages now.

35813. And do they go in a better class of vessel?
—I went to sea at 8s. a month.

35814. How old were you ?
—Twelve years of age.

35815. When you were eighteen or nineteen your labour was worth more. How much did you get then ?
—I got a man's wages then.

35816. How much would that be?
—About £2, 5s. a month.

35817. What would seamen as good as you were then get now?
—It might be about £2, 10s.

35818. And is the class of vessels better or is it the same class?
—No. They were mostly sailing ships when I went to sea, and now they are mostly steamers.

35819. Is that more comfortable ?
—Well, steamers almost suit anybody; anybody could do in a steamer.

35820. Are the seamen better treated than they used to be ?
—As to that I cannot say. They were well treated and well fed in my young days—as well as they are at present, I think.

35821. But still the people don't go to sea more than they did?
—I cannot say.

35822. Are there as many fishermen out of this place now as there were when you were young ?
—Not one-half.

35823. What is the reason of that ?
—I don't know ; I cannot answer that question.

35824. Is there any complaint here about the want of piers or about a harbour, or have they everything they require in that respect ?
—No, they have no complaint about the pier that I am aware of. The piers are good and they are improving every day. They are improving since I was a boy.

35825. Who has made that improvement?
—The proprietors.

35826. That is Mr Allan ?
—He did not make any improvements on the piers, he never got a chance; I believe he would if he had a chance.

35827. It was his predecessor, the former proprietor, who did it?
—It might be the superior, Mr Caldwell, who made the improvement on the pier. He built the new pier.

35828. You have been told by the people here ?
—Quite so.

35829. What do you think the people have on the whole to complain of ?
—I believe all the complaint the people of Tobermory have is the raising of the rent and the deprivation of pasture.

35830. Was the pasture very much larger when you were young ?

35831. Twice as big?
—Not exactly, but nearly.

35832. What has become of the other half of the land ; who is holding it now ?
—It has been added on to farms to enlarge them, and made use of to add it to additional crofters —those that took up three or four crofts. Some of the hill pasture and peat mosses was put into them.

35833. Have the people here any difficulty in getting peats ?
—No, they have a right to peats; the feuars have a right to the peat cutting, and nobody can object to them.

35834. And those who are not feuars, can they go and cut peats ?
—If they do they have no right to do it.

35835. Are they charged money for it ?
—Not that I am aware of.

35836. Do they use sea-ware on the land here ?

35837. Do they pay for that?
—No, that is Crown land, I suppose—the foreshore. Anybody can go and take sea-ware now, but we used in
former times to pay 2s. 6d. for it.

35838. Who was it that abolished that ?
—I don't know really whether it went to the Fisheries Societies or not; if it did not go, then it went to the factor.

35839. Who was it that relieved you of the obligation to pay the 2s. 6d. ?
—It dropped down dead; it was not asked.

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