Shieldaig, 1 August 1883 - George Mackenzie

GEORGE MACKENZIE, Crofter, Fasag, Loch Torridon (84)—examined.

29549. Mr Cameron.
—Were you elected a delegate by the people, or did you come to speak for yourself ?
—I came for the place I reside in.

29550. Did they elect you to speak for them ?
—I don't know that.

29551. You have come on your own behalf to speak for yourself and the people ?
—Yes, I can speak.

29552. You are a native of the place ?
—I am a native of Shieldaig. I went to Fasag in 1859.

29553. Who was the proprietor then in Torridon ?
—Colonel M'Barnet.

29554. How came you to go in 1859?
—For some amusement to myself.

29555. Was there a vacancy ?
—Yes, this estate was sold at the time.

29556. Was that in 1859 ?

29557. What were you before you went?
—A crofter.

29558. How came you to lose your croft here ?
—The estate was sold.

29559. Did you get notice of removal or did you go for your own amusement ?
—I required to go.

29560. Were you removed by the proprietor from this place?
—Oh ! for certainty I was.

29561. Were many other people removed at the same time?
—We were only in the town, three.

29562. Who got the houses you were removed from?
—It was on the estate itself and no one occupied it.

29563. Were the houses pulled down ?

29564. There were houses in the village ?

29565. At that time used you to fish ?
—Yes, I used to fish.

29566. Was that your principal occupation ?
—Yes, and sailing by sea.

29567. You were a sailor ?

29568. Was the fishing good in those days ?
—Yes, very good.

29569. Were there more fish in the loch in those days than there are now ?
—Yes, by far. There were no fish at all last year.

29570. Do you know why there is so little fishing going on here now?
—We have no fishing.

29571. But do you know why the other people fish so little ?
—Just as much as they will get.

29572. Why don't they try to get more ; is it because they are too poor to have boats, or because there are no fish in the loch ?
—They have a few boats.

29573. But there is not so much fishing as there was when you were young ?
—Oh, no.

29574. Were you born here ?
—I was born at Balgie.

29575. Tell us about your place at Torridon?
—Under the reign of Colonel M'Barnet, and we only had a few patches for potatoes.

29576. How much rent did you pay ?
—Sometimes 8s.

29577. You mean that some people paid 8s., and others more ?

29578. What was the highest rent you were paying?
—Double that, 16s.

29579. What did you have for that ?

29580. And a cow ?
—No. There was not a cow in the whole place, except one, the inn had one.

29581. How long did that state of things go on?
—Every year until Mr Darroch came.

29582. What year was that?
—I don't remember what year it was.
—[Mr Darroch] 1873.
—Witness. And they were very displeased.

29583. What were they displeased with—because of the want of potatoes?
—And that same was very scarce. We were put to another place on the other side of the river, and we were taking potatoes through the village, and through the sea by boats.

29584. How many were there besides yourself on this place ?
—Twentytwo families.

29585. And none of you had anything but a small bit of potato ground, except one man who had one cow ?
—There were no cows at all but one at the public house.

29586. What happened when Mr Darroch came?
—He swept us from that place altogether.

29587. Where did you go to ?
—To our own side; and he gave us the best park he had, and has been showing us every good comfort until now.

29588. Have you each a cow now ?
—Oh! no; they could not buy cows.

29589. But you are more comfortable than you were before1?
—For certainly we are, and we expect to be too. For my part I think our proprietor is the best in the whole north.

29590. And the whole twenty-two families are there now ?
—Yes, just near the same.

29591. Sheriff Nicolson.
—You have been at Fasag since 1859?

29592. As a catechist ?
—Yes, and as an elder.

29593. Are most of the inhabitants members of the Free Church ?
—Yes, the whole of them.

29594. I hope your services are acceptable to them?

29595. How is it you were not chosen as a delegate by them ?
—I know they would take me for that; and different times I have spoken for them when they could not speak for themselves.

29596. But why were you not selected on this particular occasion ?
—I am sure I was.

29597. But your name is not on the list given in; there are only Duncan Macgregor and Donald Maclean —are they older men than you ?

29598. Have they been longer there than you ?

29599. Do you suppose that in what you say upon this matter you express the feelings of the people among whom you live ?
—Well, I think so. If I tell what is false they will come up here against me.

29600. Has their condition improved, in your opinion, since you went there ?

29601. They have got more land, have they?

29602. And better land ?
—Yes, the best on the whole estate.

29603. Is it fenced on every side ?
—Yes, below and above.

29604. How many families are there ?
—I think twenty-two.

29605. Are their lots of equal size ?
—Some better and some worse.

29606. Do they pay the same rent ?

29607. How much ?
—Thirty shillings per acre. I have not the park, but half an acre, and I pay 15s. for it, and I am very well pleased with it.

29608. How many acres of arable land have they?
—It is reckoned to be eleven.

29609. The whole park ?

29610. That is among them all?
—Yes, among us all.

29611. What pasture have you besides that?
—Plenty pasture; they have the hill for the cattle, those that can put them on it.

29612. Are they able to raise crops enough to support their families on the half acre ?
—Yes, unless the potato disease would molest it.

29613. Are they able to raise corn enough for their cattle?
—Scarcely; some may be at a time; it is only about seven families that have cattle.

29614. How many cows have these ?
—As many as they please.

29615. What is the largest number of cows that any man there has?
—Some two and some three, and some calves, and so on.

29616. Have they sheep ?
—Not one.

29617. How do these people pay for the pasture; is it according to the stock they keep ?

29618. So much per head of cattle ?

29619. How much ?
—I don't know.

29620. Then how do the people who have no cows get on without milk ?
—They buy it if they have money to do so.

29621. From the rest?

29622. I suppose there are times when they will get none ?
—Oh! yes.

29623. Had these people cows before they were removed to that place ?

29624. Then they are no worse in that respect than they were before ?
—They are far better now than they were before. They were before in a very destitute state.

29625. Are there any able to make their living entirely out of their land ?
—Scarcely ; they are working.

29626. What work do they get ?
—The proprietor gives them work every day.

29627. All the year round ?
—Yes, and so they have that to do.

29628. What wages do they get generally ?
—Two shillings and sixpence a day, I think.

29629. And what other occupations have they—do they fish?
—Yes, sometimes.

29630. Are there any of them that regularly fish ?

29631. Do any of them go to the east coast fishing ?

29632. Are the young men mostly away there just now?
—Yes, most of them ; every one that can go.

29633. Where did you live before you went to Torridon ?
—Balgie, on the borders of this estate.

29634. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—When there were Mackenzies in Torridon—the lairds ?

29635. Who came after the Mackenzies ?
—Well, I am not sure.

29636. Did anybody come between the old Mackenzies and M'Barnet ?
—Yes, I think so.

29637. Are you allowed to keep any sheep ?

29638. Is that the case all over the estate?
—They could not take the hills.

29639. Were there a number of people in Torridon when M'Barnet got it ?

29640. What has become of them ?
—They have been cleared off the land altogether.

29641. Were there a lot of townships cleared?
—Yes, every one that is yonder on the other side of the river; they were in arrears.

29642. Did they go abroad?
—Some of them, and some not.

29643. Were there any of them allowed to stay upon the remaining part of the property on the other side ?
—Yes, but the thing was very hard upon them after all—brooding evil upon them every year. The people of the place can tell that better than I ; I was not in the place.

29644. Is the population just now very much less than it was when the M'Barnets came ?
—I think there are more.

29645. Were the places that the people were removed from, on the side of the river, good places—good land ?
—Yes, good land.

29616. Was that the reason why they were removed?
—No, because they were in arrears and did not pay the arrears.

29647. Who got their places?
—I think it was a man from Lochalsh.

29648. A large farmer ?

29649. You have stated that the people in Fasag were shifted once or twice; after you first went to Fasag you said you were shifted?
—Yes, in our croft but not our houses.

29650. Has the present proprietor done everything that can be reasonably expected of him to benefit yourself and the other crofters on the estate ?
—For certainty.

29651. Does he live among you?
—Yes, and he is very fond of us too, we think long when he is away from us.

29652. I think you said he gives a good deal of work, doesn't he ?

29653. Does he encourage the people to improve their crofts?
—Yes, he has given them every encouragement and every comfort.

29654. And are they improving their crofts ?

29655. So far as you are aware, there is nothing whatever to be said against the proprietor's management of the estate in any way ?
—No indeed; I do not see it. I see everything doing right among the sick and needy, and he is always leaving in my hands some money wherever he will go, and he is still doing that every year for the sick and for the needy.

29656. Are you acquainted with the estate of Applecross?

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