Poolewe, 31 July 1883 - Donald Mackenzie (Gairloch Estate manager)

DONALD MACKENZIE, Manager—recalled.

29425. The Chairman.
—As the statement was voluntarily made by the last witness, I wish you to have an opportunity to explain about this alleged custom of purchasing cattle ?
—I hold a farm in the low country —about 100 acres arable; —and I also hold about 190 acres of pasture here, a small island which was taken off a large farm, and about 110 acres at my own house; and I never bought a beast yet on the Gairloch estate or anywhere else except with hard cash and with the full consent of the seller ; indeed, I have been pressed to buy cattle, but would not accept of them unless they suited me.

29426. Where is this low country farm?
—On the Conon estate, in the parish of Urquhart.

29427. And you buy cattle to take them there and feed them ?
—No, I buy them when I require a cow to kill, or a few beasts for grazing. I buy them sometimes and keep them on my own grass and sell them again; but I never bought an animal for which I did not pay hard cash like any other man. I am not a cattle dealer.

29428. And you do this with the full knowledge and consent of Sir Kenneth ?
—Yes; I don't know what the meaning of this cry is.

29429. Mr Cameron.
—In the course of these purchases has it never happened that you have endeavoured to buy beasts from a crofter, and have failed in the matter of price, and that he has sold them to somebody else ?

—Yes. I buy cattle in the market. I don't make a habit of buying cattle. I buy a few in the year; I don't remember when I bought a beast from a crofter.

29430. But you have bargained with a crofter as you have done with other people ?

29431. And if you didn't agree about the price the crofter has not sold you the beast ?
—Yes, that is so.

29432. And you have dealt with the crofter as any other cattle buyer would deal ?
—Quite so; and I don't find it a bit easier to buy better from a crofter than from anyone else. They are quite able to take care of themselves.

29433. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Do you consider it consistent with your office to transact or deal with people who are very much under you in this way, in buying their animals ?
—I have never made a practice of it.

29434. Do you consider it consistent with your office as factor or ground-officer to transact, with crofters and people who are dependent on your good will, in the matter of buying beasts from them?
—I would not consider it right to do it to any extent; but I think it would be rather hard if a fellow might not buy a cow or a stirk once or twice in a year. It is so little that I really do, that there could be nothing said about it. I don't believe it would be right to do it to any extent on a large scale.

29435. Have you been reading the reports of the evidence given in Skye

29436. And you observed that complaints were made that the factors or bailiffs were in the habit of buying and selling cattle ?

29437. Do you not deal in meal considerably ?
—I will tell you how I did with it. I brought meal home some years ago for the work people, and I gave it to them so cheap that I was bothered by other people, and that is more the people's fault than mine. I was anxious for several years to get out of it. I would be glad to give the trade up.

29438. Do you deal in anything else but meal ?
—I supply all the crofters and farmers with seed, and the hotel-keepers with corn.

29439. You have a regular store ?
—I have not.

29440. Where is it stored ?
—It is not stored at all. I get orders for it, and people come to the steamers and take it away.

29441. But you get a commission ?
—I do.

29442. Do you state positively that Sir Kenneth Mackenzie is aware of these transactions of yours ?
—I think he is ; everybody is aware, I think.

29443. Are you aware of any dissatisfaction being expressed in any manner by people of the district at your dealing in this manner ?
—Do you mean by the people 1

29444. Yes.
—The reverse of that. They complain that I wont have more dealings with them; and I should be glad if you took any man at random, in the crowd, and examine him upon that point.

29445. The Chairman.
—I think it is fair, as you have said, that we should do that.

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