Letterfearn, 3 August 1883 - Christopher Macrae & David Macrae

CHRISTOPHER MACRAE, Crofter (54), assisted by DAVID MACRAE, Crofter (37), Camusluinie

31561. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
— Have you any statement to make ?
— We have.

To the Royal Commissioners, Highlands and Islands,
—We the undersigned, on behalf of the tenants of Camusluinie, the property of Sir Alexander Matheson, Bart., Lochalsh, humbly beg to submit the following statement, which is a true representation of our grievances :
—When Sir Alexander Matheson bought the property in 1851 our rent was £140. The glen of Frauchcorry was then taken from us. In this glen we used to summer our horses, young cattle, and sheep for five months in one year. We consider this our greatest grievance, as in consequence of having been deprived of this glen we had to sell most of our stock, as we had no place to keep them and no means of supporting them. We got a reduction in the rent of only £15 for the loss of this glen. In 1860 our rent was raised from £120 to £160, because of some ìmprovements which the proprietor began to make on our land, and at the same time two large pieces of land were taken from us for plantations. The improvements promised when our rent was raised to £160 have not been completed yet. In 1882 we sent a petition to our proprietor, stating that it was impossible for us any longer to pay the rent charged, and requested him to reduce the rent to £120, and make the improvements promised. The rent was then reduced to £132, on condition that we would pay up all arrears. We consider this rent too high; it would be easier for us to pay a rent of £140, if we had Frauchcorry, than £100 without it, under present circumstances. We also got notice from the factor by letter and by telegram that other parties were wanting Camusluinie, and we were asked to send an immediate reply, as he could not " be hanging on in this way for us, keeping other people in suspense." Our land lies very low at the foot of high bills, and the heavy rains in winter carry away the substance of the soil into the river Elchaig in front, and the river when flooded carries off even the soil itself. There is no bridge across this river, which is very broad, and there is no way by which we can go from Camusluinie with a cart except by crossing this river. We consider, when we pay road money, we should have a road across the river, and we would be most willing to assist in the construction of a bridge, if materials were provided for it. The want of a bridge is also a great disadvantage in regard to the children attending school, as m the winter time the river is often impassable for days. We earnestly trust that the Royal Commission will consider our case favourably, and do for us what is just and reasonable.

31562. Who got the glen which was taken from you?
—I t was added to Lienessie.

31563. Was Lienessie so small before that it required this glen?
—They had more for the one man than we had all between us.

31564. How many heads of families are there altogether in Camusluinie ?
—Eighty to-day.

31565. Are there any cottars or squatters on the ground ?
—One family.

31566. Did you ever ask the proprietor to do something in the way of putting a bridge across the river?
—We were always in the habit of speaking to the factor about the matter, but got no encouragement to expect that it would be done.

31567. Is there any convenient place for a bridge there; are there any rocks ?
—I think there are at the end of the present road.

31568. Would a wooden bridge be sufficient for your present purposes?
—I think it would.

31569. You complain that certain improvements were promised to you when the rent was raised to £ 1 60; what were the improvements which were promised ? There were drains to be made round about some of it, in order that it might be trenched and brought under cultivation, which was never done.

31570. Was any reason assigned for it not being done?
—No reasons were given, so far as I know.

31571. You say you would be willing to contribute towards the erection of the bridge—in what form
—in the way of carting or giving labour?
—We mean that we would help with our horses to cart materials to it.

31572. Your rent now is £132, but you still think it is too dear?
—Yes, we do.

31573. If you got the rent reduced to £120 and got a bridge, you would be so far satisfied?
—In addition to that, we would like the improvements to be finished before we would be in a fair position to pay even that rent.

31574. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is Frauchorry attached to the farm, or is it a shieling in the hill ?
—It was detached.

31575. How far is it from you?
—I think about ten miles.

31576. Are there any farms in the county that retain these detached portions which were common in old times?
—I am not aware of any.

31577. Professor Mackinnon (to Christopher Macrae)
—I suppose you agree with everything your neighbour has said ?

31578. You have nothing particular to add to what is in the paper and to what he said ?
—Some of us have very bad houses; they are getting old like ourselves.

31579. Don't you get encouragement to build new houses if you wish?
—The factor holds out from time to time that we would get this, but he has not come near us for some time back. When he came to see us about a year ago, he was willing to promise anything we wanted.

315S0. You don't know, of any one in the place, who wanted to build a house and was refused the usual assistance which is given on the estate ?
—They built two or three houses in the township on that system.

31581. You have therefore no cause to complain against the factor about the houses more than against yourselves ?
—No, but it is delaying too long from time to time.

31582. Are you not delaying too long to ask him ?
—I live too far away, and never see the factor except at the rent time, unless he comes to see me.

31583. But does not the factor live just as far away from you?
—The factor was promising he would come and see me, and he has not come.

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