Arisaig, 6 August 1883 - Donald Mcdonald

DONALD M'DONALD, sen., Cottar, Polnish (nearly 80)—examined.

33396. The Chairman.
—What statement have you to make?
—' Polnish is not a crofter, but only a cottar, township of three householders, whose fathers had land in the place. Two of us pay 30s. a year and one pays £ 2 of rent for mere shells of black houses which we thatch ourselyes; and for a cow's grass apiece we pay £ 3 to the tacksman. At first we had of land what enabled us to winter the cows and grow some potatoes. Some of this land was near our houses, where we could look after it, but another portion is about a mile away. But the tacksman took the near portion from us and only left us the distant piece; but since the deer have come in we have lost the use of it entirely. For a time we were able to guard it from the sheep; but the deer come by night, and the last time we attempted to grow potatoes, they were of no use. So we have had to give up grass and potato ground, as no fence has been erected to protect the ground from the sheep and deer. We were promised a fence by the late Mr Astley and by MrM'Kenzie, factor, and on the strength of these promises we planted potatoes; but they were destroyed, and our husbandry entirely stopped. The result is that from being poor we have become poorer, and our case is truly pitiable. We are a sad example of the ruinous effects of the growth of deer forests—especially where they are not fenced. Our demands are not great. We would be thankful for as much land as would afford us summering and wintering for a cow, and land in which we could plant a few potatoes; and we wish to be protected from the deer above all things. Sheep were bad enough, but the deer have nearly finished us.

33397. Is Donald M'Donald jun., who signs this paper, your son?
—He is a sister's son.

33398. Do you pay rent to the proprietor or the farmer?
—We pay rent for the house to the proprietor, and for the cow's grass to the tenant.

33399. How much do you pay?
—Two of us pay 30s. each, and one £2.

33400. Is that for the house alone without any land at all?
—There is a little garden.

33401. How big is the garden—as big as this room?
—About as big as this room. We pay £ 3 each for the cow.

33402. Who built the house?
—My brother had first the house and the ground. Then the house got old, and it was young Mr Astley who reroofed it and put it in order.

33403. Is that the reason you pay rent for the house?
—Yes, that is the reason.

33404. And you have a piece of potato ground?
—We have just the enclosed garden for potato ground.

33405. If it is enclosed how did the deer get at it?
—We had formerly potato ground and wintering for a cow.

33406. What complaint have you to make about the deer?
—The tenant gives us potato ground which is a mile away from the house, and we used to be troubled with the sheep first; and then the deer began, and they are worse. They promised to put up a fence, but that was not done, and we ceased to plant potatoes there.

33407. Whose deer are they?
—They belong to the estate. I don't know where they come from.

33408. Do they come out of the park here?
—They don't come out of the forest upon this estate; they come from the mountain land in the heights of the country. I pay 48s. for the wintering of a cow.

33409. The factor stated that you were in arrears of rent, and that if you paid that you would get the fence put up for you?
—There is no rent due except the current half year's.

33410. (To Mr Mackenzie, factor).
—The old man states that there is no arrear of rent?
—I am sorry to say the rent roll shows an arrear of rent.
—[M'Donald]. There were no arrears of rent due to the proprietor at last Martinmas.
—[Mr Mackenzie]. Which of them is in arrears I cannot state; there are three of them altogether.
—[M'Donald]. Two of us have fully paid up, but I cannot say for the third.

33411. How many years have you been living in this house?
—Fortysix or forty-seven years.

33412. Have you been paying rent the whole of that time to the landlord?
—Yes, but the rent was only 6d. till the last repair was made.

33413. How long is it since the last repair was made?
—Four years.

33414. How much did the repair cost?
—I don't know. Only he asked me whether I would be wilting to pay £1 for the house when I got it repaired, and I said I would.

33415. Were you better pleased to pay 6d. for the house as it was before, or 30s. as it is now?
—Well, it was in danger of falling formerly, and you could not live in it anyhow.

33416. Have you a son who helps you?
—Yes, one son and two little daughters.

33417. Is your son married?
—No, he is quite a young man.

33418. Then it is your son who pays the rent?
—Well, yes, it is he that earns the rent.

33419. Are you able to work a little yourself?
—Yes, I work some yet. I never worked in this country.

33420. Could not your son help a little to put up a fence round the potato ground?
—Yes, if we got ground along with the cow and the wintering of her. The old way was that the proprietor should set up the fence, and that we should pay interest.

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