Shieldaig, 1 August 1883 - Donald Maclennan

DONALD M'LENNAN, Ground Officer on the Estate of Lochcarron (58)—examined.

29795. The Chairman.
—Did you hear what the previous witness said with reference to the alleged depredations of deer upon a particular township?

29796. And the want of a fence round it?

29797. Would you explain to me what is the nature of the injury, if any, the deer cause to the township ?
—I believe the evidence as given is quite correct as to the destruction of crop; there is no denying that.

29798. How long have you been ground officer upon this property?
—Nearly seventeen years.

29799. What measures were taken in previous times to protect the crofters against the deer ?
—None for that township.

29800. What is the particular reason why protection was given to other townships and not to this particular township ?
—I could not tell you ; but I know there was no provision made for fencing for that township. The houses are dotted throughout the arable land here and there, and they could watch them out of their beds.

29801. So that they could watch them without trouble out of their beds—they could not watch them when sleeping ?
—They had all families, and one would be out and another in.

29802. Then you think it is a reasonable thing that crofters should sit up or keep awake to protect crops ?
—No, I do not.

29803. If any injury was committed by deer was anything done to compensate the people?

29804. Or to help them to sit up at night?

29805. Then what do you think ought to be done in a case of this 6ort ?
—Well, I think the crops ought to be protected wherever they are.

29806. But supposing the proprietor was inclined to assist to protect the crops, what sort of fence do you think could be put up ?
—We generally go in for iron fences entirely.

29807. And if a fence was put up in what respect do you think the crofters could co-operate with the proprietor, and save him some part of the expense ?
—I am afraid they could not do much in that township. They might provide the stones and put them on the ground, which would be so much.

29808. Help to transport the material to the ground ?

29809. Do you think the crofters would be glad to do that ?
—I think they would do that. I think I would take my chance of that.

29810. You seem to me to be willing that anything reasonable should be done for the satisfaction of those crofters ?
—Certainly; and I should not like to see the poor men's crop lost.

29811. Mr Cameron.
—Did you ever suggest to the former proprietor what you now seem willing to admit was a reasonable thing?
—I have spoken of it occasionally, but perhaps I never went so far as I ought to have gone.

29812. Was the last witness correct in his estimate of the distance the fence would require to be made?
—I don't think it is quite so long as a mile; I think it is under a mile.

29813. On and off you agree with him?--I never stepped it, but judging by the appearance of the ground it is under a mile.

29814. Is it tolerably easy of access —would it be expensive?
—About Is. 6d. a yard.

29815. A 6-foot fence?
—We do not generally make them so high as that—may be 4½ .

29816. Is it your experience that a 4½ fence is of use?
—Yes, if you keep it a good piece away from the crop.

29817. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—It is stated here that the tenants of this township of Deruner offered to fence themselves if they were promised compensation in case of leaving; are you aware of that ?
—I never heard of that, and I do not believe they could do it.

29818. Has anything been done of late in the way of fencing the townships?
—We are fencing here now.

29819. Have you done much?
—We are going on. We have a mile on hand behind the church here just now to protect the crofters' crops.

29820. At Shieldaig ?
—-No, further down the coast.

29821. The first witness examined to-day gave an account of the ejection of the feuars at Shieldaig, were you present when he gave that account ?
—I heard his evidence, but I was not on the property when that took place. I have seen no evictions in Shieldaig since I came.

29822. Do you know if any such evictions took place, have you heard of them ?
—I have heard of him being evicted by the late Duke of Leeds and a widow also.

29823. Do you know on what grounds they were evicted?
—I cannot go into that; it was not in my day, and I never could get right at the bottom of it. There were some reasons I believe, but I could not get at them.

29824. The Chairman.
—Is there any remark you wish spontaneously to make in connection with any evidence you heard to-day?
—Well, I thought the remarks about the one hundred and twenty. sheep were extravagant. I do not believe, from the extent of hill ground taken from that township, that those five tenants could maintain or support one hundred and twenty sheep. And the other township he spoke of, Kinloch, when the ground was cleared there was only one tenant there; and I believe he is present here to-day. The rent of that township was, I think, £ 10 or £11. That tenant went to the other side of the property of Lochcarron where he got three lots instead of the holding he had here. In point of fact, there was only the township of Deruner cleared of sheep. The village of Shieldaig had a piece of ground called Glen Shieldaig, and they were subtenants of Mr Scott, who had the large sheep farm.

29825. What the delegate said in answer to my questions was this, that about thirty families had been deprived of their hill pasture when the hill pasture was taken away; or at any rate, that thirty families had, at a previous period, a share of it ; do you think there ever were as many as thirty families at any period having contemporaneously a share in that hill pasture?
—I think the first man who was called here to-day said there were only about nine or ten tenants in the village of Shieldaig. They were subtenants of this Mr Scott at the time of the clearances for sheep. They had a stretch of Glen Shieldaig, and when Mr Scott's lease expired their term of grazing expired, so far as I can understand. Well, that was about nine; and then one at Kinloch and five at Deruner is fourteen. He also talked of Camusfail where there were four. I never saw but two there; and now there is only one; and that one has much privilege as the four had before; and we inclosed this place with a
ring fence.

29826. So that there would not be above fourteen or fifteen put out ?
—I could not make it more than that.

29827. However constituted or let, what do you think the value of this deer forest would be as a deer forest?
—It is in a good situation—I should say £1000.

29828. But that would include dwelling-house and other things?
—Certainly, everything—garden, fishings, and all.

29829. What would the value of the grazings be?
—Mr Miller's rent would be about £300 odds.

29830. Mr Cameron.
—What is it called in the Valuation Roll ?
—Glen Shieldaig.

29831. Is there none in Lochcarron?

29833. The Chairman.
—Is there anything else you would like to say?

29833. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—How long have you been manager?
—Seventeen years.

29834. Do you think you know, or are qualified to give as good an opinion, as to the number of crofters who were deprived of the pasture, as a man who has been here all his days; he stated thirty, and you stated eighteen or nineteen ?
—He ought to know, but I am afraid he is not quite sure of it himself.

29835. You won't put your opinion against his?

29836. You stated there were no evictions in Shieldaig in your time; were there any other evictions or attempted evictions in Lochcarron in your time?
—Oh, yes.

29837. Do you know a family of the name of Maclean ?
—I know several Macleans. Perhaps you allude to a case in Slumbae.

29838. Is there an old man eighty-two years of age still living at Slumbae ?
—I believe he is still living.

29839. Was there an attempt made to evict him ?

29840. At whose instance ?
—At the proprietor's.

29841. Had you anything to do with it ?
—Not directly.

29842. What had you to do with it indirectly ?
—A misunderstanding with the son.

29843. Why were the eviction proceedings stopped?
—I had nothing to do with that; I did not stop them.

29844. You would have preferred perhaps that they were not stopped?
—No, I would not. I had nothing to do with the action.

29845. Were you in court in connection with this matter ?
—Not personally, the case was in court.

29846. Were you obliged to pay damages in connection with it?

29847. What did you pay those damages for ? Why was it you agreed to pay damages rather than that the case should go on ?
—The case did go on.

29848. Then it was a decision of the sheriff that was given against you ?

29849. You are still manager of the estate notwithstanding the change of ownership ?

29850. Can you tell me what the extent of this forest we have been referring to is?
—It is considered to be about 12,000 acres.

29851. Was it all constituted at one time?
—I think it was.

29852. Was it in your time ?
—No, it was before my time.

29853. Were ad these 12,000 acres pasture to which certain crofters on the estate were entitled to send their sheep and cattle ?
—There were three or four townships which had so much privilege on it.

29851. Over the whole of it?
—No. There is a place called Balgie tenanted by one man, in the low country. His lease expired at the time of the clearances and Scott of Tulloch got it.

29855. Scott of Tulloch got Balgie ?
—No, Donald Mackenzie.

29856. And part of Scott of Tulloch's farm?
—Part of Tulloch.

29857. And when the part of the crofter's land constituted the forest ?

29858. All these three put together ?

29859. Is it correct that there was an apparent reduction made in the rent of the crofters when the pasture was taken from them, but that it was added in another year ?
—I am not aware of that.

29860. That was before your time ?

29861. Did the rental of the property increase much in your period?
—No, not with the crofters.

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