Shieldaig, 1 August 1883 - Alexander Livingston

ALEXANDER LIVINGSTON, Merchant, Fearnabeg (47) —examined.

29896. The Chairman.
—What statement have you to make ?
—'Complaint for North Coast, Applecross.
—No roads, distance over twenty miles; people numbering about four hundred; three schools; children kept back for want of road ; petition late Lord Middleton and refuse road ; postman running twelve miles off the coast; service kept back with rivers and burns, and want of roads whatever. To this we humbly crave the Commissioners to draw their attention, and ever pray.

29897. How far is the place from the public road ?
—Sixteen miles from the public road of Applecross, and twelve miles from the public road of Shieldaig.

29898. Which would be the most convenient place to be connected with, the sixteen or the twelve ?
—Both roads, to open the country.

29899. Which did you want first ?
—From Shieldaig we had a postman running to Fearnabeg, twelve miles.

29900. Would this road of twelve miles be useful to several townships besides your own ?
—Yes, to six or seven townships.

29901. Do you expect the road commissioners to make the road, or is it an application to the proprietor which you make ?
—We petitioned his Lordship for the road and he refused—he did not refuse it, but at the time we petitioned him he sent a note to the ground officer to go and measure the length between Inverbain and Applecross, and before that came into operation his Lordship died and it was never done.

29902. Would this road you desire be useful to those six or seven townships ? Would it be useful to any other place, or would it only have a local utility ?
—It would be useful to the whole place.

29903. Supposing Lord Middleton consented to go to the expense of making the road, or most of the expense, would the crofters in those different townships do something in the way of labour to help him ?
—They promised that at the time of the petition, They said they would put in a week's work to help the roads.

29904. A week's work for each family in all the different places?

29905. How many families would there be?
—There would be different families according to the number of the people.

29906. There is a road already marked upon the map—what sort of road is it ?
—It is a road the proprietor takes there for the deer and gamekeepers ; it is not for the use of tenants.

29907. Is it good enough for the people to drive along with carts?
—No, only a small road, four or five feet broad.

29908. You think the people would still be willing to give six days' labour if Lord Middleton would undertake the other expense ?
—I hope so, because they said it at first

29909. Is there any great difficulty in the country ?
—Many difficulties. The country is blocked here for want of a road ; the children cannot get to school.

29910. Would it be difficult to make a road?
—The ground is pretty rough, and there are rivers and burns where bridges would be required.

29911. Would you require several bridges ?
—Yes, according to the number of rivers and burns.

29912. At first it might do if there were some bridges made?
—Yes, but without a road they cannot do right.

29913. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Do you pay road money?
—Yes, we were paying road money since the olden times, but when they put more rent on the crofters they put the road money in connexion with the money they put on the land.

29914. It is all one sum now ?

29915. How many people live in the town where you are from—how many families ?
—There are six families.

29916. Are there any other merchants but yourself?
—Not in the neighbourhood, but there is one on the coast.

29917. How far from you?
—About six miles.

29918. Is it by boat that you get things for your store?
—Yes, we cannot do but by boats.

29919. Have you applied to the present Lord Middleton upon the subject?

29920. He does not stay so much in the country ?
—No, he is confined now himself, and is not coming to the estate. We have not seen him for three years.

29921. Is it not a great loss not to have a resident proprietor?
—I suppose so.

29922. Are your crofts cheaply rented ?

29923. You have no complaint on that score ?
—No, there is not much complaint of the crofts; the rent is reasonable.

29924. Are there many crofters on the estate of Lord Middleton ?
—Yes, lots of crofters.

29925. Are they all well off ?
—Not them all; some are not.

29926. Are there any representatives from the crofters here to-day ?
—There are other two from the estate here with grievances; I don't know what about.

29927. What are their names?
—John M'Lennan, Cuaig, and Donald Macrae.

29928. Wrhere is Cuaig?
—About three miles from Fearnabeg.

29929. Further away from here?

29930. Is there a large number of people about Cuaig ?
—Seven or eight crofters I suppose.

29931. Is that one of the townships which would be benefited by this road ?
—Yes. There are twelve villages along the coast altogether.

29932. And the road would benefit the whole of them?
—It would.

29933. Haw many people might be living in those twelve townships?
—About four hundred between young and old.

29931. Are you aware that now it is not the proprietor that is bound to make a road but the trustees of the district?
—Yes, I understand so.

29935. Why didn't you send a petition to Dingwall to the trustees ?
—I never came to consider this until just now, and we would rather put that in the hands of the Commissioners.

29936. Have you anything else to say?
—Not at this time.

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