ALEXANDER GRANT, formerly Crofter at Badenscully, now Labourer with Mr Fowler (48)—examined.
28097. The Chairman.
—Who has the croft you held formerly?
—Neil and Murdo and Donald Macleod, formerly my neighbours.
28098. Mr Cameron.
—What rent were you paying for the croft before the rise was put upon it?
28099. What was the rise put upon it ?
—The rent was increased by 29s. and there were also 29s. of a further addition when the high road
would be made to the place 29s. of a rise and 29s. of a prospective rise.
28100. Did any of your neighbours agree to pay this rise?
—The road was not put there by the time I left; but it is there now. All the neighbours payed additional rent; they were obliged to, I built a house and barn and a byre at my own expense, and they have now made a kennel of the byre and the gamekeeper occupies the house.
28101. Was it in consequence of your improvements that the rent was raised ?
—I cannot say, only I was obliged to pay it or else leave.
28102. Did your neighbours who had not made improvements have the same rise of rent imposed?
—Yes, that is quite true, but it was after I made these improvements that the rent was raised upon me, I only occupied the house four years, I put shutters upon the windows and closed the doors, and the factor opened them.
28103. Where are you now?
—I live at Braemore.
28104. Have you regular wages?
28105. Is it more easy to make your living that way than the way you did before ?
—Yes, it is easier and cheaper for me to live there. I would not get sixpence worth to earn where I was before although I should die, myself and my children.
28106. Your complaint is that you did not get compensation ?
—Yes, that is my complaint. I said I would take the windows and door which I brought from Glasgow, and I was threatened with the police.
28107. The Chairman.
—I wish to know how much money you laid out upon the house and offices in improvements altogether?
—I had an outlay of £40 or so, not counting my own work. I worked at the croft day and night,
28108. If you wished to build a new house did you ask the factor or proprietor to render you any assistance ?
—Yes, I got some wood and some lime.
28109. How much do you value the wood and lime at?
—I am not very well able to give it in money —ten barrels of lime and thirty battens about 11 feet long.
28110. Who supplied the slate?
—The houses were thatched. I bought iron and sacking from Glasgow, and the windows and doors.
28111. If you laid out £40 yourself, do you think the materials you received from the proprietor were worth £20 ?
—No, not £5.
28112. You paid £40, and perhaps the proprietor paid £5?
—I paid £40 myself ; I cannot say what the proprietor paid.
28113. When you determined to expend this sum of money in building a new house did you ask the factor for any security of tenure, or any compensation ? did you ever ask for a lease ?
—I cannot tell whether I asked it, but I know that I would not get it supposing I did ask.
28114. Did any one in your place ever ask for or receive a lease?
—No, nor any upon the estate.
28115. Did any one you know ever ask for or receive any compensation for improvements on leaving their holding?
—I cannot tell. I only knew about my own property.
28116. Did you leave the place with very great reluctance?
—I was obliged to go where I could get food and clothes, but I may say it was the dearest spot on earth to me.
28117. Was there any cause of fault or dissatisfaction between you and the factor besides the question of the house ?
—No, there was no reason at all except that I could not make a livelihood there. I had no quarrel with
28118. You are now upon the land of Mr Fowler; have you got a house from Mr Fowler ?
28119. Have you constant employment from him?
—I have not had a broken day since I went there.
28120. Do you receive good wages ?
—I am quite satisfied with them—both with the wages and with the master.
28121. Comparing your situation as labourer with a good landlord, and your situation as crofter before your rent was raised, whether would you prefer to be a labourer or a crofter
—' The flag at the doorstep of the great house is slippery.' [A Gaelic proverb meaning —he had more security where he was before.]
28122. Do you consider that as a crofter you had a higher social position than as a mere labourer?
—There was such a time, but it is gone; now respect is given to the man that has means.
28123. Do the people of the country consider the crofter who has land, above the man who depends upon his daily wages, or do they not ?
—When I had a croft I was a greater slave than I am now.
28124. What rent do you pay to Mr Fowler for your house ?
—Is. 6d. a week.
28125. Have you a garden ?
—No, but I have potato ground and manure given to me.
28126. Have you any cows' grass ?
—I have never asked that yet.
28127. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—What was the first rent you were paying?
—£ 4, 17s.
28128. What was asked of you ?
28129. You are paying now Is. 6d. a week —do you know how much that is a year ?
—It will come to about £4.
28130. Is that a cheap rent?
—Yes, when I get work.
28131. But supposing you could not get work?
—But I must work.
28132. If you got back your old place at your old rent to-morrow, would you go back ? the place was dear to you; is it not so yet ?
—It was about seventy-five years since tenants came to that place and they never put a road in, but when the gamekeepers came they put a road to the house at once.
28133. What is it you want now? are you satisfied now to remain where you are if you get the value of your improvements ?
—Yes, if I would get them I would never go back.
28134. Until there be new rules?
28135. And the old rent?
—Many a time they alter the rent. When they gave the land to Mr Mackenzie who had the running of the mail here, each tenant was obliged to give thirty creels of peats in the year to him. Now. our people not being conveniently situated for these peats, had to pay the money. Then, when this practice stopped, those who were down for a money payment continued to pay it as rent when they ceased to pay it as peats. That was a grievance. When the rule came upon the estate that a pound was to be paid for every horse that was kept, horses were so thick about the place that many a time I would have to chase them away before I could get a cow out of the byre.