Letterfearn, 3 August 1883 - Rev John Cameron

Rev. JOHN CAMERON, Roman Catholic Priest, Dornie (41)—examined.

31584. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How long have you been in Dornie?
—Ten years.

31585. Have you any general statement to make?
—Not particularly.

31586. Y'ou heard what Mr Morison said ?
—I did. With regard to the general management of the estate, I can confirm what Mr Morison said. I believe that the proprietor means well to all, but as regards the people of Bundaloch really the poverty is very great. I am living in the immediate neighbourhood of that place, and I suppose I can see how they are getting on better than any other person in the parish, and I don't know how they can manage to live at all.

31587. Why should the people of Bundaloch be worse off than those at Letterfearn ?
—They are really worse.

31588. What is the reason ?
—I believe the Letterfearn people are better fishermen than the Bundaloch people, and they are nearer to the fishing ground.

31589. Is Bundaloch far from Letterfearn?
—No, about half a mile.

31590. Is there difficulty in taking the boats up?
—There is a strong current passing Dornie, and if the current is not going with them it is very hard to work against it. I may also say that, as far as the proprietor is concerned with us Roman Catholics in the district, we have always experienced from him perfect impartiality of treatment. He gives no favours. We have no more trouble than any one else, and no one is afraid on account of his religion of being disturbed by the proprietor or the factor.

31591. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Do you know anything of the ancient history of Bundaloch ?
—I cannot say that I do.

31592. Are you aware that a number of people were crowded upon the neighbourhood?
—Yes, I believe they were a long time back.

31593. And have they been struggling ever since?

31594. May I ask how many people belong to your church?
—I suppose in Kintail and Lochalsh district nearly eighty persons.

31595. How many souls?
—Over 140; but they are so scattered that many a time I may not have forty in the church.

31596. Are these all old Catholics ?
—Old Catholics of the district. Formerly the congregation was much larger, but gradually, by emigration and other causes, they have left the district.

31597. Were a number of the Macraes who used to inhabit the glens not Roman Catholics ?
—Some of them were; at one time there were a good number of the Macraes Catholics.

31598. Have you any privileges yourself ? Have you any land from the proprietor in connection with your residence ?
—I have no land, and I really want no land.

31599. There is nothing attached to your office there ?

31600. Are your people growing or rather the opposite?
—I cannot say they are; they are rather decreasing, and the population of the district is decreasing at the same time.

31601. Are there any Catholics, are you aware, further north and west, upon the west coast within Lochalsh?
—No, unless perhaps an Irish hawker may settle down.

31602. Were there ever any Roman Catholics in Glenelg?
—Before the Reformation, I believe there were.

31603. No doubt, but my question specially refers to this, that there are some in your district, and that you must jump over Glenelg to Arisaig and Morar before you come to any others ?

31604. Can you explain why there are none in Glenelg in recent times?
—I believe it depended most on the proprietors ; if the laird was Protestant the people were Protestant, and if the laird was Catholic the people Catholic.

31605. Have you ever heard it stated that the Macleods, who were once proprietors of Glenelg, discouraged Roman Catholics especially?
—I never did.

31606. But there are none at this moment in Glenelg, properly speaking
—No, not of the natives.

31607. Professor Mackinnon.
—Where were you born and brought up yourself, Mr Cameron?
—On Lord Lovat's estate.

31608. Comparing that country with this, what would you say of the condition of the people ?
—I believe they are far better off where I was rìght up than they are here. On Lord Lovat's estate the farms and crofts are so divided that the crofters can get a great deal of work by labouring on the farms.

31609. There is a regular gradation?
—There is, and there are also forests in which the people are employed.

31610. I suppose there is more good arable land there?
—-Yes, it is all arable land, very little grazing.

31611. With regard to the education of the people hereabout, has it been improving during the last ten years ?

31612. Are the children of your communion educated in the boardschool?
—No, there is a school attached to our communion.

31613. But others find their way to the board schools ?

31614. Under the conscience clause ?
—Yes. .

31615. Are you a member of the School Board?

31616. But I suppose you are quite satisfied with the administration of the Board ?
—Certainly, as far as the paupers in the district are concerned. I can say there is no distinction made in the way of religion.

31617. In the School Board or Poor Board or anywhere else?
—So far as I know. I don't know about the School Board ; but we are not troubled.

31618. Is the school that educates your own people under inspection?

31619. And is regularly examined the same as the other schools in the district ?

31620. And is efficiently taught?

31621. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Have you anything more to state?
—Nothing except the poverty of Bundaloch. I was sent as a delegate for them, and if anything can be done for them it will be a great boon. They will never improve as they are, because they can't.

31622. You think they cannot take to fishing like their neighbours?
—They do fish, but they are not so successful fishermen as the Letterfearn men ; and the fishing is a very precarious occupation. In many ways they would not earn what they would earn in the same time by days' wages.

31623. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Before you signed the petition which has been referred to were you thoroughly satisfied that the statements in it were well founded ?
—Well, we heard the people making these statements, and we had no reason to suppose they were not true.

31624. And as far as your personal knowledge goes, they were true?
—Many of the statements refer to events before my time.

31625. But with regard to the present condition?
—It is perfectly true.

31626. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You never got any acknowledgment of that letter ?
—No, no acknowledgment at all.

31627. Did you ever speak to the factor about it?
—I don't think I have met him since.

31628. Or Sir Alexander Matheson either?

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