Balmacara, 2 August 1883 - Farquhar Mcbeath

FARQUHAR M'BEATH, Crofter's Son, Kinnamoine (30)—examined.

30224. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How long have you been working the croft for your mother ?
—Since I was able to do the work.

30225. Were you elected a delegate by the people of Kinnamoine to come here to-day ?

30226. How many of the people of the township assembled to choose you ?

30227. The five tenants of this township are all at home at this time ?

30228. Are they able to make a living off their crofts ?

30229. Do they find other employment within the country?
—Some do get employment and others do not.

30230. At the present season they have found sufficient employment to save the necessity of their leaving home ?
—There is plenty of work for lowlanders, but not for natives.

30231. How does it happen that all the five tenants are at home?
—We are fishing.

30232. Are you getting fishing at home'?
—Yes, a little. I want to explain that one of them is a mason.

30233. You have employment in the country ?
—Yes, I am working in the country with Mr M'Kay, who is a native man, otherwise likely I would not have got employment.

30234. How long is it since the township of Kinnamoine was first formed ?
—In the time of Sir Hugh Innes. I believe my grandfather was about the first to go there.

30235. Are there any old people in the township who can remember that time?
—There is not an old man in the township to-day they have all died out.

30236. Where did they come from originally, these ten inhabitants of Kinnamoine ?
—My own grandfather came from Balmacara; John M'Rae came from Camusluine, another came from Durinish, and Matheson came from Lochcarron.

30237. Who occupied Kinnamoine at that time?
—I cannot say.

30238. How long is it since the ten tenants became reduced to five?
—I think it was at the time of Sir Alexander Matheson buying the estate, but I am not sure.

30239. Do you know what became of the other five?
—Death carried off the bulk of them.

30240. Are the remaining five the better for having their holdings doubled in size ?
—I think they are a little better, but they are miserable enough. But of course the ten were more miserable.

30241. Has the proprietor done anything in the way of improving the land or helping you to get buildings ?
—Twenty-seven years ago the proprietor built a dyke, I don't know how many yards long, with stones
taken off our land; and after that was completed 2s. per acre of extra rent was laid upon us
—10s. per acre.

30242. The dyke must have been enclosing your own land?
—It was between us and the public high road, so as to keep us from straggling beasts.

30243. You say you have applied to have advances for buildings, offering to pay interest, and that the proprietor refused. Who made the application ?
—John M'Rae and my mother.

30244. Were they absolutely refused?
—I believe they were, in respect that they were offered wood and lime free, and then that the premises
would belong to the proprietor after them.

30245. Do you feel that you are in danger of being removed at any moment ?
—Yes, we are, unless we obey all the behests of the factor; otherwise the law is, let us take the road.

30246. Have any of your acquaintances on this property been removed on that account ?
— I cannot mention any case, but our fathers were so slavish in spirit that they had no idea of going against anything that the factor could order, and therefore were quite facile in the factor's hands, and we want to be emancipated.

30247. It is mentioned in the paper that you have made improvements, and that they have not been paid for?
—My father effected £20 worth of improvements. The improvements were measured, but when he went for payment which had been promised, he was threatened by the factor that he would be put out of the land if he dared to ask it.

30248. Was he asked to pay additional rent for his own improvements?

30249. How long have you enjoyed the benefit of these improvements?
—About twenty-five years.

30250. Would you expect to be paid for the improvements, and not be charged any rent?
—We are quite willing to pay interest for a certain number of years, but we object to have it laid on as rent continuously all our lives.

30251. What rate of interest do you think would pay it off in a reasonable term of years ?
—A shilling in the pound for twenty years I consider fair.

30252. Do you think that in twenty years the debt should be extinguished?
—We would be quite willing to pay it for a few years more in order not to defraud anybody of his just right, but we don't believe it should be kept up during all our lifetime. We have now been paying it twenty-seven years, and we believe the debt should now be extinguished.

30253. Do you know how much you pay for money from the bank if you get it?
—I don't know.

30254. Have you never had occasion to get money from the bank?

30255. Do you know if you ever had to pay less interest than a shilling in the pound for it1?
—I never drew money out of the bank for a year's time ; only for a few months at a time.

30256. Had you to pay at a less rate than a shilling in the pound per annum ?
—I think so.

30257. And hadn't you to pay the principal back again at the end?

30258. When were the five acres of pasture given to this township?
—Mr Livingstone's time, but I cannot say how many years ago.

30259. Have you long complained of the want of the fence between Conchra and Kinnamoine ?
—I have been in this neighbourhood for the last ten years, and never a stob was put up until the last few days, when we believe it was done owing to this Royal Commission coming round.

30260. Did you ever ask for it in the previous ten years?
—Yes, every year, and complained of our loss at the same time.

30261. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Are you old enough to recollect when the people of Avernish were sent away to America ?
—They were away before I was born.

30262. Have you heard about it ?
—I have.

30263. Did you hear that a great number of the people who were sent away on that occasion died on the passage ?
—Yes, I have; that the most of them were lost, and that those who arrived over safe were badly used
ever afterwards —were in a bad state.

30264. Were all the improvements that were made in this place entirely done by the tenants themselves from the time the township was formed out of barren moors ?
—Besides the dyke already referred to, the proprietor did a few drains, but beyond that nothing. The people themselves have drained almost every year, and turned out stones.

30265. And created the township, in fact ?

30266. Before then were there any people there at all?
—No, it was not a suitable place for people to be in.

30267. The Chairman.
—Both you and the previous witness have stated that natives of the place do not get employment, but that employment is given by preference to people from the outside ; what do you mean by that ?
—As long as we had local or native factors, we got the preference ; but since that has been changed, and since the factors have been low-country men, they have introduced natives of their own districts into all positions, such as grieves, and the natives have no chance of anything of that sort.

30268. You mean that you get no superior employment, or do you mean that natives are not even engaged as day labourers ?
—We get nothing above a day labourer's appointment or employment; and unless we are very plausible to these low-country officials, we will not get even that.

30269. Have the low-country people brought low-country labourers in ?
—I don't think they have.

30270. What class of people are employed in the great forests and woods which Sir Alexander Matheson has planted ?
—As far as the forests are concerned, I cannot say anything.

30271. I meant the great woods, not the forests?
—In regard to the woods, the natives get employment as day labourers, but in the forest and
all over it is low-countrymen.

30272. Do you think the factor and ground officer have a prejudice against natives ?
—I think they cannot have any good-will towards us, because my father was never in debt. He died nine years ago, and since then the rent has been regularly paid; and last spring I went for timber to Mr Watson, the local factor, but did not get from him any satisfactory answer.

30273. The proprietor himself is a Highlander; he can have no prejudice against his countrymen. Have you represented this grievance to him ?
—We never come in contact with the proprietor, and we don't know what his intentions towards us are ; but it is quite apparent that those who are in favour have been prospering for years. We don't know whether it is directly through him or his agents ; we cannot say.

30274. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Are there many of the same name as yourself here ?
—Very few.

30275. Have you been here a long time?
—My grandfather and father were paying rents here at all events; I don't know before them.

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