Dingwall, 10 October 1883 - John Rose

JOHN ROSE, Crofter, Heights of Keppoch, Strathpeffer (31)—examined.

40380. The Chairman.
—Have you got a written statement to make to us?
—Yes. I will select my grandfather's case, and give it as an instance of the way in which the crofters on the Strathpeffer estate were treated. About eighty years ago, he, in partnership with another man, held upwards of seventy acres of land. A considerable part of this land was under cultivation, but I cannot exactly say how much. He always kept three or four horses, and from fifteen to eighteen head of cattle. About that time the mania for big farms was spreading through the country, the result having been that my grandfather was evicted from the fertile land to make room for a big farmer. My grandfather then got twenty acres of a wilderness further up the hill that had never been touched by a plough, and was not considered worth making into a big farm. He had to cut and season and drive home thirty loads of peats per annum for the big farmer to whom he paid his rent, without any payment. Having been deprived of his arable land, he had to sell his stock except one horse and one cow. He was reduced to poverty, and but for some of his family who were grown up he would die in destitution. My father having admitted my uncle into partnership with him, they finished the reclaiming of the twenty acres. Then, in 1859, or 1860 the whole of the heights was surveyed and the rents were increased, although some did not get more than one crop from their land after reclaiming it. My father and uncle's rent was increased from £10, 10s. 7d. to £21, 5s. 3d., the factor telling them that if they thought the rent too high they would have to quit their holding at the following Whitsunday term. If they remained, they were promised a lease, which they agreed to take rather than take the road, as they were both advanced in years. They paid 10s. to Mr Smith, writer, Dingwall, to sign their names to the lease but, when Mr Smith got the 10s. he kept the lease also. Two additional smallholdings have been added to the twenty acres, so that now we have about thirty-one acres, for which we pay £31, but £33 is entered against us in the valuation roll. The following figures will show how the rents were increased on this estate :
—The rent of a croft in 1791 was 2s. 6d.; in 1799 it was 6s.; 1811, 18s.; 1836, £ 1 , I s . ; 1838, £2,13s. I d . ; 1856, £3, 5s. Id.; 1860, £5, l i s . 5d.; 1879, £6. This increase of 1879 is entered in the valuation roll, but not yet exacted. This is another nstance: in 1829 the rent was £ 2 ; 1830, £2, 5s.; 1837, £2, 10s.; 1860, £5, 10s.; 1879, £6, as entered in the valuation roll, but not yet exacted. The first shows eight increases during the past eighty-eight years; the second shows five increases during the past fifty years. The above are facts which I defy any man to contradict, as they are extracted from old rent books which can be produced in court if need be. The proprietor has never spent a penny on reclaiming these crofts, yet we see crofters now pay £1 to £ 1 , 6s. per acre for land which was worth only 5d. when they got it first. Many of the crofters are at present rapidly sinking into difficulties, and a still greater number would go to the bad but for the assistance they get from their children who went abroad. Notwithstanding this no reduction of rent has been given them; on the contrary, their rents were to be increased. Some of the people had no bed-clothes but guano bags to cover themselves with. Notwithstanding their extreme poverty the factor, in his thirst for money, entered an increase of rent in the valuation roll against them. One widow, who is partially disabled with rheumatism, said to a man who distributed money among the most necessitous of the poor, that she would feel very thankful to any one who would give her a shilling, but her rent was to be increased the very same as the others. Our factor does not know whether our land is good or bad, whether it is worth what we pay for it or not. Any man to know what land is worth should at least walk over it, but Mr Gunn never troubled himself to come and see what the land was worth. He valued it sitting in the office. Perhaps he would let us know if he considers this a fair way of valuing land. The big farmers who have their land at their own offers got a substantial reduction of rent lately, although it is clear to any one that the crofters who occupy the higher and later soil have suffered comparatively much greater losses from bad weather and equal losses from the general agricultural depression. This is probably the outcome of the good feeling that exists between the Duchess of Sutherland and her tenants, of which we read so much in the newspapers. Many of the holdings are so small that they have to be cultivated every year. This successive over-cropping is fast reducing the fertility of the land, in spite of all that can be done to fertilise it with artificial manures, which are very expensive. We have no hill grazing except a small strip that was not worth the expense of fencing it when the rest of the hill was fenced. We cut divots on it. Beyond that it is of no use to us. Some of the higher crofts have an acre or two of pasture attached to them, to which these remarks do not apply. We pay 3d. per pound in relief of road assessments payable by the proprietor. In addition to this for the last three years we pay 2½d or 3d. per pound to the county collector. This latter is no grievance, but it is a hard case that we have to relieve the proprietor. Many of us have no roads to our houses but through the fields. All that the Duchess has ever spent of money, in improvements, on the part of the estate which we occupy, was in making a road in 1860, which cost £300 and some odds. The gross rental of the land we have reclaimed on the heights amounts to over £500 per annum. But in the part of the estate occupied by big farmers large sums of money have been expended by the Duchess in improvements. Five months ago the factor said to one of my neighbours, whose name I am quite prepared to mention, that, taking into account the money laid out on improvements for the big farmers, the crofters paid the Duchess of Sutherland better than they did. We quite agree with Mr Gunn on this point, and any man acquainted with our history would certainly endorse every word of it. Many of the houses are not only unfit to live in, but are dangerous to live in. The people are willing enough to build new ones, but they cannot, having more than enough to do to make ends meet as they are. The houses of the poor have been almost entirely neglected. I have seen in the winter of 1879-80 one house with a very large hole in the gable through which the snow came in freely. The snow lay several inches deep on the top of the bed in which an old woman of upwards of eighty years was lying. There was little difference between the outside and inside of the house as far as the cold was concerned. Perhaps Mr Gunn may not be bound by law to repair these houses, but at one time the Duchess of Sutherland gave her factor an annual allowance for repairing the poors' houses. From the neglected condition in which the houses are since the last few years we believe that she has discontinued it. She still continues to give them some coals, flannels, tea, and sugar yearly, for which they are very thankful. In April last I went to the estate office to ask the factor to erect a few hundred yards of wire fencing. Mr Fraser, the factor's clerk, told me that the law was to protect myself, and if I was not pleased as I was that I might leave the estate. Mr Gunn afterwards offered to erect the fence if I paid interest. I would gladly pay interest but I could not, as the croft did not pay its own expenses for the past twenty-three years. We would like Mr Gunn to explain the reason why one crofter got a steading erected on condition that he pays interest, while another was refused on that condition. On other estates the delegates got full assurance that nothing would be done to them for giving their evidence. On this estate the factor's clerk told the people that those who took no part in the agitation would be better off. This threat had the same effect on the people as if it was spoken by the factor himself. It is rumoured that we are influenced by a professional gentleman. This rumour is unfounded; and it was raised by some whose interest it is to depreciate our evidence. We would desire the following changes in our laws:
—Perpetuity of tenure. Revaluation of land by a land tribunal appointed by Government, and rents according to that valuation. Security against increase of rent on our improvements. When an estate is for sale that the land tribunal have power to buy it with money borrowed at a low rate of interest, and that the land thus bought be divided and sold in lots to suitable purchasers; these purchasers to pay it by the system of deferred payment. That tenants have the power to borrow money from Government for permanent improvements, such as building of houses, &c. That every farm, whether arable or pastoral, have a resident farmer. We would refer the Commissioners to article 6 of our late lease, which says that every tenant will be bound to give six days labour every year at repairing roads or other purposes required by the proprietor or factor. At the beginning of the lease we had to work every hour of the six days, but latterly we had only to keep the road leading from the main road to Strathpeffer station in repair, which we did in less than six days. I have worked at this road myself. For the security of tenure we had even during the currency of the lease we would refer the Commissioners to articles 15 and 16 of the lease, which says that if we kill a rabbit we would be removed from the estate next Whitsunday term by warrant from the sheriff. I have here a copy of the lease given to us in 1860, to show the conditions on which we had the land.

40381. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You have not got a renewal?
—No, we have not asked for it, because the leases we got are not worth asking for.

40382. The Chairman.
—You may omit the formal parts, but read the clauses you complain of ?
—By clause six, the proprietor reserves power to make or alter or shut up any road or roads, and to open outfall drains at an abatement of rent for the ground taken for roads, at the average rate of the rent per acre paid by the tenant, which shall be determined by arbiters. The tenant shall be bound to give six days' labour by himself or servant, or three days' labour by horse and cart for making roads; or, in lieu, he shall pay 2s. 6d. per man or 5s. for horse and cart, including driver. By clauses 15 and 16, if the tenant or any of his family be guilty of poaching, or killing game or rabbits or white or mountain hares, his lease by such act and deed shall ipso facto cease and determine, and become null. The proprietor reserves right to limit the number of dogs or prohibit the keeping of dogs altogether. The infraction of any of the before-mentioned articles shall render the lease void and null, and the tenant may be removed at the first term of Whitsunday thereafter.

40383. Sheriff Nicolson.
—What number of families is there in the place you represent?
—I don't represent any number of families. The whole of the crofters were met at one meeting, and the delegates were appointed to represent them all, and to deal with different points separately. Each tenant had different grievances to deal with separately.

40384. How many crofters are there at the Heights of Keppoch?
—I cannot say for a certainty.

40385. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You are above the railway?
—Yes, a long way above the railway.

40386. Sheriff Nicolson.
—You can hardly call yourself a crofter, for you are above the mark?
—Yes; but there are two of us in partnership.

40387. You say the land does not pay the expense of cultivating it?
—Every expense in connection with it, I mean.

40388. Then how do you make your living?
—By my labour.

40389. What kind of labour ?
—Such labour as I can get working with a horse; and I am also working with Mr Tennant, Castle Leod, on the hill at the shooting.

40390. Has it been always so with you or until recently ?
—Always since I remember.

40391. Have you never made the land yield enough to support you?
—It supports us as far as food is concerned, but it does not pay the expenses in connection with it.

40392. Is that the condition of your neighbours also?
—Some of them.

40393. Are there any of them who make their living out of the crofts ?
—Yes, there are a few who make such living as it is. They eke out a miserable existence. With wretched economy and untiring perseverance they manage to live.

40394. What stock do you keep at present ?
—I keep at present one horse, two cows, two calves, and a heifer, for which I have to buy grass. The heifer is exceptional. What I always keep is one horse, two cows, and two calves.

40395. What kind of soil is it on your land ?
—It is chiefly a light soil.

40396. What crops do you raise?
—Oats, turnips, and potatoes, and clover grass.

40397. Have you a rotation of crops ?
—Yes, a five-shift rotation.

40398. Do the rest of your neighbours practise that ?
—No, some of them have a four years' rotation. Their holdings are too small to make it a five year rotation.

40399. But do they all practise some rotation ?
—Yes, they generally do.

40400. Is there a large farm in your immediate neighbourhood ?
—Yes, the whole low ground is under large farms with one or two exceptions.

40401. Has there been any addition in recent times to any farm or land taken from crofters ?
—Yes ; in one case, Kinetties, there has been an addition by a croft put to it, but since then it has been subdivided again and made into smaller holdings. When the former tenant died, that farm was subdivided, the factor getting a share of it, and another man getting a share of it, and it has been divided.

40402. Do you consider it a grievance that the rent has been raised from 2s. 6d. in 1791 to £ 6 in 1879?
—Yes, without taking any money out of the proprietor's pocket. Had the reclamations been done at the proprietor's expense I would say he would be quite entitled to an increase, but being made at the crofters' expense I consider it a grievance. When an increase is to be made on any holding, I would have the proprietor to pay the expense of the improvements in connection with it, and then to get an increase.

40403. Has the cultivation of the land of your croft and those of your neighbours been of the best kind that could in the circumstances have been practised ?
—Yes, as far as I am aware. Perhaps it might be better. I know every one does his best.

40404. How is it you are entered for £33 on the valuation roll and only paying £31?
—That has been the Uist increase of 1879, and we have petitioned the Duchess against that increase, and the increase is still entered in the valuation roll, but we have never paid it yet. We pay only £31, 0s. 4d. This increase, however, may be exacted at any time.

40405. You got no reduction of your rents last year ?
—No, not a penny.

40406. Did the big farmers ?
—They say themselves they did. Some of them told me they did, and I see no reason why if one should get it the whole should not.

40407. But you have no sheep?
—None whatever. Some of the big farmers have no sheep either They have no outrun.

40408. Did you suffer much last season by the stormy weather and the failure of the potato crop?
—There was not a failure of the potato crop last year. Very good prices were given for potatoes last year, but the two years before that we would not get any one to take them almost for nothing.

40409. You say here that some of your neighbours are so poor that they have no bed-clothes but guano bags ?
—-Yes, I am prepared to prove it, and to get my neighbours to prove it.

40410. People who are not on the poor roll?

40411. I hope there are not many in that position?
—No; there are more than one, but there are not many.

40412. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is your neighbour who has nothing but guano bags a man ?

40413. Is his condition known to the factor?
—I don't say he knows about the guano bags, but he knows he is in a poor position.

40414. What rent does he pay?
—I cannot exactly say; it is between £ 5 and £6.

40415. Is the rent exacted ?

40416. And paid?
—He is in very slight arrears.

40417. Have you got half of this farm ?
—Yes, it is between me and my uncle. I get a share of all that goes in it.

40418. And you pay half the rent?

40419. What would you consider a reasonable rent for that croft"?
—Taking into account that it has neither houses nor fences nor proper roads, I consider between 13s. and 14s. an acre rent enough for i t ; but if it had proper houses and fences, I consider it would be worth slightly more than that.

40420. How many acres are there ?
—About thirty-one acres.

40421. And you are paying £1 an acre?
—Yes, and some part of the land has not more than three inches of soil above the rock ; but it is not all like that.

40422. If you take 12s. an acre, that would be £12 less than you pay just now?

40423. You consider that a reasonable rent ?
—Yes. If proper dwellings and fences were erected free of interest, I say it would certainly increase the letting value of the land, but if we have to pay interest for them it is the same as if we paid rent.

40424. Would you be in a comfortable position if your rent was reduced as you say? Would the extent of land be sufficient to give you a good living?
—If I had the whole thirty acres, it would be a moderately comfortable living.

40425. But this thirty acre croft is one of the largest on the heights of Strathpeffer ?
—Yes, but there is one larger.

40426. Then you think the other crofts are too small for comfort ?

40427. Do you think thirty acres is about the smallest a man could live upon to support a family ?
—Yes, if he has no hill grazings.

40428. How many have you living in family ?
—I have none. I pay for a housekeeper.

40429. How much potatoes and meal do you consume in a house of that size ?
—I cannot answer that; I never took a note of i t ; but I can say how much I have sold.

40430. How much potatoes do you sell off the fifteen and a half acres, or what value of potatoes do you sell?
—Last year I sold about two tons of potatoes at, I think, £4 a ton; but the two years before that I did not sell that, and I did not get above 24s. a ton for them.

40431. There was no price to be got, but you had two tons to spare the previous year ?

40432. And that is what you sell upon an average ?

40433. Are you able to sell any corn ?
—Yes, and meal.

40434. About how much ?
—I have sold between six and seven bolls of meal

40435. How much meal will a quarter of corn make, such as you grow ? Will you get one and a half bolls from the quarter ?
—No, I never got above between twelve and thirteen stones.

40436. Your corn does not weigh above 40 lb. ?
—No, sometimes it does not weigh the same.

40437. Is that owing to the poverty of the soil or the mode of cultivation?
—The soil is light.

40438. Is it a bad place to ripen corn in ?
—No, it is in a very good place to ripen the corn, but it is high and it is late before it is ripened. We cannot sell oats so early as in the low ground. That is the reason it does not come to more maturity.

40439. What quantity of corn do you get to the acre ?
—About three and a half quarters and sometimes four. We consider four very good.

40440. The Chairman.
—You consider the land is too highly rented ?

40441. Do you consider it is too highly rented in connection with the fact that it has been improved by the families of existiug tenants, or is it too highly rented for its present value to anybody ?
—It is too highly rented for its present value to anybody—I mean without houses or fences.

40442. But there are some houses and fences?
—Yes, such as they are, but they are not comfortable. Many of them are not fit to live in.

40443. When a small farm of that sort falls out of lease —when the family disappears, and a new tenant is taken in—does the new tenant pay generally a higher rent than the family that has created the farm, or is it about the same ?
—There is a croft that became tenantless close to the one I occupy. The tenant died, and a new man got possession and gave an increase of rent for that croft; but since giving that increase he has told me several times that he is in a worse circumstance to-day than the day lie took it, and he has said that if he knew where to go he would leave it. He himself did not come to see the place. He took it on Mr Gunn's word, and he regrets giving so much rent for it.

40444. When the old family went out were they paying about the same scale of rental—about £1 per acre ?
—Yes, as far as I know.

40445. And about what scale did he engage to pay when he came in ?
—I cannot exactly say. It is a croft of about sixteen or seventeen acres, and he gave between £ 3 and £4 of an increase, so far as I know,

40446. Then if a farm happens to fall vacant the proprietor up to the present time has been able to let it to a new tenant at an increase of rental?
—Yes, to tenants that do not know what they are doing; but the last croft that has been let, to which the former delegate referred, was let to a man who understood the nature of the land, and he got his land at about 16s. per acre. That was a man who knew what he was doing.

40447. Then do you consider or not that the representatives of the old families who made the crofts are favoured in respect of rental at all, or do they just pay as much as new comers pay who never did anything ?
—I am not aware that any favour has been shown to them, except perhaps to some that were very old and done out. There are two old women in my neighbourhood, one of them upwards of eighty and the other seventy years old. They have a small croft which they have rent free during their life.

40448. When a new family comes in do they ever pay the arrears of the old family that go away, if there are any arrears ?
—No, I am not aware that has ever been done.

40449. Do they ever pay anything in the shape of compensation for good will or compensation for improvements to the old family who go away ?

40450. Nothing but the crop ?
—Nothing but the crop.

40151. What sort of houses have you got now; are they mostly stone and lime houses ?
—They are stone and turf houses, with straw thatch. There are two or three slated houses, but there is an increased desire to do away with the straw-thatched houses and to have slated houses erected.

40452. Have they all got chimneys?
—Yes, and windows.

40453. But there is no rule upon the estate about supplying timber, slates, or lime to the tenants ?
—Yes, they got rough timber gratis.

40454. Nothing for lime, slates, or glass ?
—Not unless the rules have been altered. They did not formerly. They got slate on interest.

40155. The proprietor will always furnish slates on the payment of interest ?

40456. At what percentage ?
—I cannot exactly say ; I think it will be 5½ or 6 per cent.

40457. You said the leases were expired, and that you have not got a renewal of them ?

40458. Have you heard what is to be done about the renewal of the leases ?
—No ; we did not ask for a renewal of leases.

40459. Was there any complaint among your people, such as we heard from the last witness, about some who could not write not having received the leases for which they paid ?
—Yes, my father paid for a lease, but he never got it.

40460. You say that Mr Smith got the 10s. ; can you give me any explanation of the transaction ?

40461. The statement then is that 10s. was paid to the factor or his representative for a lease, and that the lease was never given, and the 10s. was never returned ?

40462. When was that?
—In 1860.

40463. Has that been brought under the consideration of the proprietor? Has any petition been sent to the proprietor?
—No, not that I am aware.

40464. No representation has ever been made ?

40465. How can you explain that ? It is not a large sum of money, but, if correctly stated, it is an injustice to the people that they should pay 10s. and get nothing in return. What is the reason that a statement has never been made to the proprietor ? In fact, can you give any explanation of the business at all ?
—No, I cannot give any explanation why they did not ask for the leases. They were all uneducated people, and did not know what the leases were good for, or what was in them.

40466. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—As we are on this question of leases, perhaps I can bring the matter more clearly out. The 10s. was only taken, I presume, from the people who could not write ?
—Yes, exactly so—from the people who could not sign their names. Those who could sign got the lease for Is. 6d.

40467. Are you aware that by the law at that period it was necessary for two notaries to sign for a person who could not write ?

40468. But you are aware that the 10s. was paid to notaries ?
—Yes, where the people themselves could not sign their names.

40469. Do you know whether Mr Smith is a notary himself?

40470. Suppose you ascertain that Mr Smith is not a notary, I suppose you will not accuse him of taking the 10s. himself. He must have given it to other two lawyers ?
—I cannot go into that.

40471. But suppose you find out that Mr Smith was not a notary, will you not take it for granted that he merely handed the 10s. to the two gentlemen who acted as notaries ?
—That is quite possible.

40472. I wish to ask you about the person who is so poor that he sleeps in the way you have described. Is there anything in the habits of the person that has brought about that, or is it from poverty ?
—He is a temperate hard-working man. It is from poverty and sickness.

40473. I believe you know something about game?
—Yes, but there is another delegate that will be able to give that better in details.

40474. What is his name?
—Roderick Mackenzie, Heights of Fodderty.

40475. Mr Cameron.
—You read parts of a lease to us, in which you complained of certain clauses ?

40476. The lease was dated 1860. One of the things you complained of was six days' labour on the roads which was exacted ; but that lease was dated prior to the Roads and Bridges (Scotland) Act ?
—I do not know the year in which that Act was passed.

40477. But anyhow it was not passed in 1860?
—I am not aware.

40478. Are you aware that the Roads and Bridges Act was passed under the late Government, and that was a long time after 1860?
—I cannot answer that.

40479. Are these six days' labour exacted now1?
—No, they have not been exacted during the past five or six years, but the road has never been touched since we w e ceased to keep it in repair.

40480. Then you complained of the clauses relating to poaching. I suppose the Strathpeffer tenants are not poachers ?
—No, not any of them.

40481. I suppose none of the good tenauts are?
—I am not aware that they are.

40482. Do you consider it unreasonable that a habitual poacher on an estate should cease to be a tenant ?
—Yes, I think it unreasonable that he should be turned off the estate. I admit he ought to be punished, but not turned off the estate.

40483. Of course he would be punished whether you admit it or not, but do you think it unreasonable that a habitual poacher should cease to have connection as tenant with the estate on which he poaches?
—I don't know if I do, but there is no reference to habitual poaching in the lease. If he was only once found killing rabbits or hares, he could be removed.

40481. Could you put it in any better form in the lease by which a habitual poacher would be described ?
—I mean by a habitual poacher a man who is always troublesome on the estate and always poaching.

40485. With regard to the only other point on which you objected to the lease—the clauses in relation to dogs—have there not been complaints in this neighbourhood of damage done to sheep and lambs by dogs?

40486. Do you think that if no restriction is placed on the number of dogs kept by small tenants that evil might not be greatly increased ?
—Yes, by keeping too many dogs it might be.

40487. So you are not altogether for wiping out any clause restricting in some degree the number of dogs kept by tenants ? You think there ought to be some restriction ?
—When a man keeps too many dogs, if these dogs are found to be doing any harm they certainly should be destroyed.

40488. There, again, they would be destroyed whether you wish it or not, but I was referring to your idea of what is reasonable in the clauses of a lease. Don't you think some restriction should be placed on the number of dogs kept by small tenants where the tenants are numerous ?
—No, I think they might be allowed to keep them, unless it was found they did any harm.

40489. You think there should be no restriction ?
—Yes, because some might keep dogs for making profit out of them, and I know some do it.

40490. What would you do in that case ?
—I would allow them to keep as many dogs as they liked, if they did not do any harm.

40491. The Chairrnan.
—I would like to understand from you what you really think the feeling of the people would be about poaching or infractions of the game laws. There is an article in the lease which renders any person who is guilty of an infraction of the game laws liable to be sent off the estate; are you aware of any case in which a tenant has been dismissed from the estate on account of an infraction of the game laws?
—Yes, I am aware of one that has been removed off the estate prior to 1860, but I am not aware that any one has been removed since this lease was given.

40492. Then no one has been removed in the last twenty years ?
—No, not that I am aware of for poaching.

40493. Do you remember whether any tenant has been convicted of an act of poaching ?

40194. What was done to him?
—He was taken before the sheriff and fined.

40495. Did he receive any additional punishment, either in the way of removal from the land or increase of rent or anything of that sort ?
—I am not aware.

40496. If a man was a habitual poacher —that is, if he had been convicted twice of the offence of poaching before a court—do you think the tenants would generally consider it a great hardship if such a tenant was removed ?
—If he was a habitual poacher, I don't suppose they would

40197. I define a habitual poacher as a man who has been convicted twice; would they consider it a hardship that he should be removed ?
—Yes, if only twice.

40498. You think he ought to be convicted more frequently?

40499. Now, it is not only for an infraction of the game laws that they would be removed, according to the interpretation of the lease, but they would be liable to removal for killing rabbits ; is it your impression, and the impression of the tenants still, that they would suffer prejudice and become liable to the anger of the proprietor and his representatives if they killed rabbits on the ground ?

40500. Have they ever asked for liberty to kill rabbits since the new Act was passed ?
—No, I am not aware that they have, because proprietors generally give liberty to their tenants without asking it since the passing of the Ground Game Act.

40501. You did not ask for leave under your old leases?

40502. And since you have had no lease you have not asked whether you had liberty to kill rabbits ?

40503. But perhaps if you were to ask whether you could exercise your rights under the present law, they would tell you that you were at liberty to kill rabbits'?
—I cannot answer that.

40504. At any rate nobody has been removed from the land on account of infractions of the game law?

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