Tobermory, Mull, 10 August 1883 - John Mckinnon

JOHN M'KINNON, Carpenter, Tobermory (83)—examined.

35478. Mr Cameron.
—Are you a delegate freely elected by the people you represent on this occasion ?

35479. Were you elected at a public meeting held for the purpose?

35480. What district do you represent ?
—The crofters of Tobermory.

35481. Were there many people at the meeting at which you were elected ?

35482. Have you any written statement prepared which you wish to submit to the Commissioners?
—No, only the charter of the British Fishery Society.

35483. Are you able to state verbally what the wishes of the people are who sent you here ?
—I told the people at the time that they had nothing to say here, only what I had to say myself in reference to my croft.

35484. I understand you have come here to represent a personal matter of your own, rather than as a delegate for the people?
—Yes, I have nothing to do with any person but myself.

35485. In that case will you state as briefly as possible what you wish to remark about yourself ?
—I was apprehended and put into prison when I stood for a croft, after having it manured in the spring time. I was detained in prison for ten days, and the croft was ploughed ready for sowing when I was liberated.

35486. Why were you put in prison?
—As I believe, I had a right to the croft as long as I could pay for it.

35487. At whose instance were you put in prison ?
—Mr Nairne's.

35488. By whose order—by the sheriffs ?
—It was by Sheriff Robertson's order.

35489. Why did Sheriff Robertson put you in prison?
—I was on a certain occasion going up to my croft, and found a party there engaged in ploughing it. I took hold of the reins that were leading the horses, and took the horses away with me out by the side of the gate that led to the croft. I asked the parties who ordered them to go into my croft, and they told me it was Mrs Petrie, the old innkeeper here.

35490. What year was this in ?
—I am not sure, but 1 think it was about thirty-seven years ago.

35491. Do you complain of the action of the sheriff in sending you to prison, or of the action of the person at whose instance the sheriff committed you to prison ?
—I am blaming the sheriff entirely for my being committed. Two days after this occurrence Mr Nairne, the then proprietor, sent two horses and his own ploughman down to plough my croft.

35492. Had you received a legal summons of removal previous to that?
—I did, direct from Edinburgh.

35493. Do you consider that the sheriff went beyond the law ?
—I believe I had a right to hold on to the croft as long as I could pay for it,

35494. What gave you that belief ?-
—My charter.

35495. Did your friends recommend you to lodge an appeal against the decision of the sheriff?
—Plenty people were asking me to proceed direct to Edinburgh to lodge my claim with the lawyers.

35496. Would not that have been a more satisfactory proceeding than waiting thirty-seven years for a Royal Commission ?
—I am glad that you did come to make your acquaintance.

35497. Have you any remark you wish to make on the general subject of the crofts?
—Nothing further than that if the crofts are restored to the people, good and well, and if not I have my cow's grass.

35498. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—What connection have you with the Charles Livingstone mentioned in the charter you have exhibited ?
—It was that party who built the house.

35499. What connection have you with him ? Did you marry his daughter, or what ?
—I bought it.

35500. This charter is a ninety-nine years' lease which has not yet expired?
—Yes, it was to be renewed then.

35501. Were you put out of your croft at this time —did you lose it ?
—I never got it back again. I would get a croft from Mr Nairne if I would sign a paper, referring to certain rules and regulations.

35502. But you preferred to stick by the old charter from the Society ?
—I preferred that.

35503. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Were there many crofters removed from this parish in your recollection?
—Yes, it is known that there were. There are very few upon the old standing; there are only two in Tobermory at present of the old standing.

35501. How many were there in your recollection ?
—One hundred and twenty-seven.

35505. Are you quite correct when you say there are only two now remaining as succeeding these ?
—Only two in possession of crofts.

35506. There are only two in possession of crofts in place of 127, is that correct ?
—Only two in the original holding.

35507. Are there any farms in this parish on which you remember to have seen crofters, and on which there are none now?
—Yes, Ardmore, Penalbanach, Lathern, Sorn, and Ballochray—all these farms were occupied by crofters.

35508. Have you any recollection how many were upon each of them ?
—I think that Sorn was allotted to four crofters. There were three or four on the farm called Lathern, on the Mishnish estate; and there were eight in Ardmore.

35509. And are there any now ?
—No, none.

35510. Do you remember what was the condition of the people at that time: were they very poor?
—They were well off with Mr Stewart—in very good circumstances.

35511. Who was Mr Stewart?
—The late factor.

35512. Where were those people sent to from the various places you have mentioned ?
—Some came to Tobermory, some went to Glasgow, and some to America and all parts. Some of them are at present in Tobermory.

35513. To whom did Sorn belong?
—John Stewart; he owned all the land beyond Ardmore in that direction—all to the march of Quinish.

35511. What is the distance between this and Sorn?
—Five miles.

35515. Were there a good many crofters living between this and Sorn in your early recollection ?
—Only in the places I have mentioned.

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