CHARLES MACKAY, Carpenter, and Member of the Town Council of Inverness (56)—examined.
40925. The Chairman.
—Do you appear here as -a delegate or representative?
—Yes, from the Highland Land Law Reform Association.
40926. Have you a statement to read on behalf of the association?
40927. Will you be so good as to read it?
—'The object of our association is to endeavour by constitutional means to bring about a better system in the occupancy of, and for the improvement of the land, in order that the people may be enabled to live comfortably on the land by their own industry, as was the case in former times, and not be compelled to emigrate to foreign countries or crowd into towns where their chances of living are much more precarious than in the country, and thereby sap our country of its vitality and its greatest wealth. While we would not in the least interfere with voluntary emigration (such as was taking place at all times since our colonies were discovered or acquired), we are convinced that there is a great deal of land formerly tilled in our own country ready for the spade and the plough, and capable of maintaining a large rural population, and also benefiting urban populations, and if rest is beneficial to it, it has had it, some thirty or forty, some even eighty years' rest. We also know that there are large tracts of improvable land in many parts of the country, now comparatively valueless, that could be made productive and valuable to both landlord and tenant; if the latter got encouragement to improve and security for improvements, it would prevent our country from being impoverished by being drained of the best and ablest of the people, away to cultivate land in other countries, and of our money for the produce of that land to keep us in food, thereby enriching nations that may some day become our formidable enemies. Wu have no desire to cause annoyance or injury to our landed proprietors, but simply to impress on them the impolitic courses pursued on their estates during the greatest part of this century ; we do not wish to see their nice home farms divided into crofts, or the amenity of their mansions, with their beautiful avenues and ancient oaks, interfered with. We are as proud of these symbols of life, wealth, and civilisation as any of them can be, and we would wish to see them spend more of then- time in these charming residences, for it is admitted on all sides that non-resident landlords as well as non-resident farmers are not real contributors to the general wealth of the country. Our association comprise men of different religions and political creeds, and although now engaged in different trades or professions, almost all of us (like most of town populations) have been born and brought up in the country, which enabled us to have seen and now see the baneful effect of the system of adding farm to farm, and clearing out whole communities for the purpose of forming large sheep runs and deer forests.
Badenoch.—If we travel from Newtonmore to Loch Laggan, we find large patches of arable land and excellent pasture, which was at one time the happy homes of a brave race, now sacrificed to sheep, and in some instances still worse, to deer. If we follow the course of the beautiful river Spey from Laggan to Lochan Spey (a distance of thirteen miles), we find six good-sized farms turned into two large sheep farms, till lately in the possession of two tenants, and now in the hands of the proprietor, and if the hand of destruction is not restrained will probably ere long be converted into a deer forest. The arable lands on these farms extend fully six miles along the banks of the Spey, and taking arable and pasture together they extend to thirteen miles along its banks. I had occasion four years ago to spend some days there on business, when the late tenants left, and a more glaring abuse of land and homesteads I never saw, some of the once comfortable dwellings were in a most dilapidated state, others with only the roofless walls remaining, barns (and what was at one time well-filled byres, levelled to the ground), excepting a corner here and there to shelter a shepherd's cow. (see Appendix A. LXXIX)
Glen Banchor.—Seven tenants were cleared out of Glen Banchor two or three years ago, and their land was given on a nineteen years' lease as a sheep run, to a tenant who has a fine farm on a neighbouring estate, Dalchummore, at same rent. The rental of the seven was £ 111 , 10s.; the one tenant pays £146, 10s.; the property was reduced from forty-four to twenty-eight tenants in ten years. But coming nearer home, let us take the fine stretch of land (Stratherrick) between here and Fort Augustus, comprising several estates; during the last eighty years there has been about 100 well-to-do small farmers, and about an equal number of cottars removed to make room for sheep farms or large holdings.
Balcharnach,—containing about 300 acres arable and a large tract of pasture, was occupied by eleven farmers ; they were turned out, and the land given to the late Mr Gentle.
1838. Bunchrubin—four tenants had about 120 acres arable and 600 sheep, paid £150 rent, now in one farm at £180.
Balchnim—two tenants has been added to Ballaggan.
Balnain.—Dunchia —about 120 acres arable and 600 sheep; five tenants removed in 1828, and the land added to Abersky.
Lovat.—Ruthven—about 120 acres, 600 sheep, thirty-six cows, six tenants, turned into one sheep farm; these had pasture at Killin Dell, Drummond, Crockchinlan, Kilchuilarn. Ardochy, and Glendo; were occupied by a great number of small farmers, but are now large sheep farm3 and a deer forest. Dunmaglas. —Aberchalder was cleared of thirteen farmers in one year, 1839—40, and the whole
turned into one large sheep farm.
Gorthlick—Three tenants turned out, and their land given to sheep.
Lyne—two tenants for thirty years in it, turned out, and the land given to Mr Arkly. Forty years ago there were five meal-mills and one carding-mill iu Stratherrick ; there are now only two meal-mills and no carding mill. It does not. properly speaking, belong to my function to state in any measure of detail what are the remedies which in the opinion of the members of our society would effect a cure of the evil whose existence the Royal Commission was appointed to investigate. Some indication of a few remedies has been given in the course of the statement which I have read. I may be permitted to suggest the following, viz. :—
(1) Increasing the size and number of the smaller holdings by the division of large farms and deer forests.
(2) Granting to the tenants of small holdings security of tenure at equitable rents.
(3) Compensation for permanent improvements on land and building.
(4) The restriction of deer forestery and game preserves, or their entire prohibition on lands that could be cultivated, or that are capable of rearing sheep or cattle.
(5) The providing of harbour and other facilities for the encouragement of fishing industry in the Highlands of Scotland.'
40928. In the paper you have read to us there are several examples given of the consolidation of small holdings in the form of large sheep farms. You have not given the dates in all cases at which these
consolidations were effected. I cannot, of course, enter into the details of each case, with which I am unacquainted, but I would like to know from you at what period any important consolidation has of recent years occurred. What is the last case you know of eviction in a township and the consolidation of the land in the form of a farm or forest?
—The latest case I refer to is in Glen Banchor, which took place over two or three years ago. I did not ask exactly the date of it, but it can easily be ascertained from the valuation roll.
40929. Whose property is Glen Banchor?
—Mr Macpherson of Belville.
40930. Is that an old property in the present family, or is it a recent purchase?
—It is an old property. It was bought by Mr Macpherson, the translator of Ossian's poems. It will be about one hundred years in the possession of the family.
40931. How many tenants were evicted in this case?
—Seven, as far as I am aware.
40932. Do you understand that these tenants were removed at the end of the lease, or were they the old hereditary tenants of the place sitting at will?
—I think they were sitting at will. From the valuation roll of that period I cannot find that they had leases, while the present single tenant has a lease of nineteen years.
40933. Do you know whether these tenants held, as it were, in the form of a township?
—There were two townships, at least they were under the name of two townships—Easterton and Westerton.
40934. They were to be looked upon as two townships in the ordinary acceptation of the word, with a common pasture?
—Yes, they had pasture along with it.
40935. They had an outrun or common pasture?
40936. Do you know whether they received any compensation?
—No, I don't.
40937. There was no compensation for improvements?
—I don't know whether there was.
40938. Do you know whether they were otherwise provided for upon the estate ?
—No, I don't ; but it was generally said at the time that they were purely and simply turned out.
40939. Do you look upon this as a typical case of an eviction of two small townships?
—I do —a modern eviction.
40940. Within the last two or three years?
40941. Do you know what became of the families; into what condition of life did they pass?
—No, I don't.
40942. Do you know whether any of them emigrated?
40943. You never heard whether they received any assistance in any form towards their future lives from the proprietor?
—No, I did not.
40944. The land has been turned into a sheep farm?
40945. At an increase of between £30 and £40 a year of rental?
—About £30, I think.
40946. Do you know whether the proprietor has had to lay out any considerable sum of money in connection with the change?
—No, I don't.
40947. Is the sheep farmer resident, or does he reside on another farm?
—He resides on another farm, on a different estate. He is on Sir George Macpherson Grant's estate.
40948. And I suppose he keeps shepherds or managers there?
40949. The rent of the farm is £146, 10s.?
—Yes, that is what the valuation roll gives.
40950. Do you know whether any land held or used as arable land on those townships has gone out of cultivation and is now in grass?
—I cannot say. I believe myself it has, but I would not like to say.
40951. Then in the districts to which you refer in your paper, do you consider that the tendency to consolidation has gone on up to the present time, or did it terminate, as a rule, many years ago?
—It has a tendency to go on to the present time.
40952. Can you give me any example in districts you allude to of a deer forest having been established or enlarged at the expense of the small tenants' lands?
—I cannot exactly say at the expense of the small tenants, because they were generally converted into sheep farms first, and latterly converted into deer forests.
40953. Then you think that the substitution has not been deer for people but deer for sheep?
—Deer for sheep ; but if we go to the root, it is deer for people.
40954. Then you go a stage further back?
40955. You mentioned that the persons whom you represent regard emigration with some jealousy, as I understood?
—Yes, the majority of us do.
40956. You think that the labour of the people will be better expended in the cultivation of our own land than in the cultivation of colonial lands?
—Yes, my own opinion is decidedly so, from taking observations of my friends and acquaintances who had gone there, and some of whom came back.
40957. But you spoke of emigration as an impoverishment rather to our own country. You are not, I suppose, disposed to deny that when people emigrate and establish new communities they have new wants, and become large consumers of the manufactures and produce of our country?
—I don't deny that. I quite admit that, but I maintain also that, while they do emigrate and become large communities in other places, they impoverish our own country, because they leave our places empty, and consequently we want both their produce and their consumption.
40958. You think it would be better that more consumers should be established in our own country, than that people should go abroad and become consumers there?
—That is decidedly my opinion.
40959. But don't you think that people who emigrate may, from the advantages of their position abroad, become more important consumers abroad than they would be if they settled on our comparatively sterile country?
—My experience for the last forty years—and I have been taking particular notice of it, for I had a very great mind to emigrate myself—is, that they are not such great consumers as the public at home are ; and I think we have examples of that in a great many of those who come back from the colonies, and who have been fortunate; they are more careful, and don't consume so much as people who have
been brought up at home.
40960. At any rate, whether they are better or worse consumers abroad, you desire there should be an expansion of cultivation in this country so as to create consumers here ?
40961. You say there are waste lands in these districts here which are susceptible of cultivation and improvement; have you any suggestions to make as to the manner or terms on which waste land might be reclaimed here ?
—Well, it is not for me to make any suggestions, because I expect when it comes to that, that wiser heads than mine will be engaged in making arrangements for that; but I don't see any difficulty in its being done. The people had been doing it formerly without having any encouragement or reward for so doing, and I don't see how some encouragement could not be given to a greater extent now,
40962. We may assume that, up to the present moment, the usual course has been that when unreclaimed land has been given to a family they held it at an easy rent for a certain length of time, and that they cultivated or reclaimed it, and that at the end of nineteen years, or some term of that kind, the land is revalued, and they are continued in the occupation at a higher rent. That, I think, is what has usually been done ?
40963. Have you got any distinct plan by which you think that process could be advantageously regulated ?
—It could be advantageously regulated, and would be a very great benefit to the country and to the nation at large, if those parties, the tillers of the land, who improve the land, had longer tenure of their land, and did not run the risk of its being put up periodically, until they are actually squeezed out of the land, even without being evicted in the actual sense of the word we have instances of that in this neighbourhood. That fine place over on Leachkin, on the north side of the canal, was, sixty years ago, just waste land. That was given in small lots to tenants, and they got on very well. I lived in the neighbourhood for years, and a more industrious set of people you could not see, and, with one exception, they were all comfortable. They got on very well, and were all comfortable, but within the last ten years —about that time back —a new factor came on the estate, and he went over the ground and considered they had it too cheap, and it was put up about 200 per cent, upon the rent they were paying before.
40964. How long had they been in occupancy ?
—It is about sixty years since the place was originally cultivated. They would be in occupancy from forty to fifty years. Their lots are from 6 to 8 acres, and they paid originally from 50s. to 60s. for the lot, and they now pay an average of £8 and £9 for the quantity of ground. Our association would like that these things would be put on such a footing that the people who actually improved the land would not be liable to be moved about at the mercy of any new incomers by rack-renting.
40965. Have these small tenants left their holdings'!
—No. The place was advertised before they got even a chance of it at a high rent. It was advertised to be let in one holding, and that was the first intimation they got of it ; and they went in a body to the proprietor, and said they were ready to give the rent that was asked for it, and they got a twelve years' lease at the advanced rent. That lease was out last year, and I believe there are new leases now written out, though not handed out to them, upon the new system that is upon the estate—three years' lease and two —years' notice.
40966. Is it let at an advanced rent or the same rent?
—I don't know what the new lease is, but I don't think it could be advanced, because it was as far advanced as any one could put it twelve years ago.
40967. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You mentioned that you believe there is a great deal of land in our country, formerly tilled and ready for spade and plough, capable of maintaining a large rural population. Have you any information as to what kind of a livelihood the former rural population made in these districts?
—I have. I was born and brought up amongst some of these myself. I was for six or seven years as a boy living in Stratherrick, and I scarcely knew any poor man in that district. I believe there are old men in the hall here who had some of these holdings, and I know that when they were turned out of their holdings they had a considerable sum of money even in those small places; and I also knew of even cottars upon these holdings who had a little money lent to the large farmers.
40968. What was the size of the holdings where the people were able to make a comfortable livelihood?
—They were from 25 to 30 acres, with a good outrun of pasture that kept about 100 sheep or so.
40969. And what sort of rent did they pay for these?
—The farm of Bunchrubin was occupied by four tenants. They were turned out in 1838; they had about 120 acres of arable land, and 600 sheep between the four tenants. They paid £150 of rent. It now pays £180, and I believe the late Sheriff Tytler improved about 40 acres, and that is the excuse he made to the four tenants for removing them. I think one of the tenants is here who was turned out.
40970. Weil, the rise of rent was from £150 to £180 ?
40971. Would these four tenants have given the same rent?
—I don't know if they would give the rise; but it was against their will that they left the place. I believe they did not get a chance. I believe one of the men is in this hall, and, if I remember, he told me they did not get the offer of it.
40972. As I understand, this farm has not been added to any other farm. It was formerly a joint occupancy, and now it is a single occupancy?
40973. And the only apparent reason for removing the tenants was that a higher rent was given for the farm?
—I don't know. I believe there would not be much difference on the rents, but the proprietor improved about 40 acres of land after they left, and that was the only excuse that was given to them for being removed.
40974. Then you cannot assign any reason for the removal of these four tenants?
—No, I cannot.
40975. Can you not assign generally any reason for the removal of the tenants throughout the country?
—Yes, the great reason was the craze for large holdings.
40976. But did these large holdings afford an increase of rent?
—There might be, as a general rule, because we are well aware that rents were increasing all over during that period.
40977 What I want to arrive at is this, can the large farmer pay a larger rent than the small one?
—I don't believe it.
40978. Of course, there is a limit to that. There is a size of farm below which a man cannot afford to pay the full rent. What is the smallest size of farm at which you think a tenant should pay as good a rent as if he had double or treble the quantity?
—I think a farm of from twenty to thirty acres of land, with ordinary pasture to keep from 60 to
150 sheep, is a farm that with any industrious man attending to his business ought to pay and keep him comfortable.
40979. And that is the class of farm you would wish to see made?
—Yes, and that is the class of farm that was in Stratherrick at that time.
40980. And you think if the farms in Stratherrick were divided into farms of that size, there is land there that was ploughed, and that can be ploughed again without any trouble?
—Yes, this Bunchrubin was occupied by towns, and each holding was named by a name. Each had from six to seven cows, nice stackyards ( I have seen some of them myself), and from fifty to one hundred sheep; and each of them was in comparative comfort. I may be allowed to state, in regard to the farm of Bunchrubin, I don't know how the man who succeeded the four tenants prospered to the end of his lease, but I know the farmer before the present one went out of it penniless, and the four tenants who went out of it, or who were turned out, were each of them able to take other farms. One of them took a farm down about Culloden. The others took the farm of Lyne, which was a larger holding.
40981. Mr Cameron.
—Will you give us information as to the seven farms in Badenoch, on Speyside, that were consolidated into one holding ?
—I cannot give you the information, because I did not go into the inquiry when they were consolidated, but I spent four days there in connection with valuations, going along these places, and I assure you it was a sad sight to see them. It was not even crofters or small farmers, but what were termed in my younger days, gentleman farmers, who occupied some of these houses; they were excellent houses—slated houses. I could not say exactly as to the extent of the different holdings of arable land, but they were, I would say, farms that would be paying from £100 to £150 of rent each.
40982. They would hardly come under the description of crofters then?
—No, but from the appearance of the homesteads there must been a good many cottars who generally followed these farms at that time, and lived in great comfort.
40983. What estate is that on?
—It is now Sir John Ramsden's, but then it was Ballybristle's, and I may be permitted to refer to that as a very great example of the evil of non-resident landlords. Ballybristle lived in England. His principal man of business was in England, and there was just a local manager upon the estate.
40984. I want to ask a little more about these farms. Do you mean that seven farms of £150 apiece were consolidated into one farm?
—They would not be £ 150 over all, but I would say from £100 to £150. There were Strathmashie, Dalchully, Shirrabeg, Shirramore, Garuamore, and Garnabog, with the finest pasture.
40985. They were always sheep farms?
—Mixed farms, but principally sheep farms. That is a class of farms that always paid in the Highlands, and that is the class of farms we would like to see still.
40986. Is Strathmashie now a deer forest?
—No, it is a sheep farm.
40987. Talking of deer forests, I understood you to say, in answer to the Chairman, that though the people were removed to make way for sheep, yet, as the sheep were removed subsequently, to make
room for deer, it was only going a step further back?
— Yes, the people were removed first for sheep, and then deer in a great many instances followed the sheep.
40988. But the proprietor who removed the people to make way for sheep could not have foreseen that the system of deer forests would grow up subsequently—the rage for deer forests, as you would put it?
40989. Therefore the deer forest system could not be responsible for . the removal of the people, as it did not exist then?
—Certainly, it would to a certain extent, because of curtailing the land from the few remnants of people remaining.
40990. I am only talking about responsibilitv. I said that as the proprietor who removed the people for sheep could not foresee that the large sheep farms would be appropriated for deer, the deer forest system cannot be held responsible for the removal of the people. It was done by the proprietor for the sake of the rent he would derive from the large farms?
40991. So that when people write or talk about the people being removed to make way for sheep or deer, it ought more accurately to be described as making way for sheep, which in their turn made way for deer?
—It would be the most accurate way, certainly.
40992. Now, this process of consolidation to which you have referred, appears to have gone on in a very extensive way. I should like to have your opinion about whether you think that process is now in a fair way of being stopped, or are you apprehensive that it will still continue?
—I believe it is in a fair way of being stopped to a certain extent, and I believe the reason for that is very much owing to public opinion, and also that they find that consolidation does not pay even so well as the ordinary sized farms.
40993. Don't you think that proprietors, if it could be done, would be be very willing to get back their people, and cut up their farms and perhaps deer forests into small allotments, so as to restore to a great
extent the state of things that existed before?
—I believe a great many of them would be very glad to do so.
40994. You are aware that a sheep farm is now an article almost unmarketable?
—I am aware of that.
40995. So that the successors of those people who cleared their lands—perhaps in a very wrongful way —are now being punished for what their predecessors did?
—Yes, I have no doubt, if they continued very much longer, they would be punished much more, for the simple reason, that I am quite certain that a very few years will bring landlords to be far more anxious to get their men back than they are just now. Of that I am quite convinced from experience. As a tradesman taking contracts from Badenoch to Loch Inver, right along the whole country, I have had an opportunity of seeing the great evil that has been caused to the country from an economic point of view.
40996. Assuming it to be the wish of the landlords voluntarily to cut up these large farms, and to have a greater number of tenants on their estates, can you suggest any proposal by which this wish may be encouraged and assisted so as to become a real fact ?
—I think there should be no difficulty in that. I know there is more difficulty in it than if the people had been retained on the land; for a great many of the people that would take moderate-sized farms have either died out or left the country. We had examples not very long ago of some large farms being advertised for small holdings, and I believe they got no offers, but the reason for that is quite clear. People who could stock a farm of twentyfive or thirty acres of land, are not in the neighbourhood now, and the larger farmers would not be inclined to go and take them, unless they got them altogether; and in order to bring about the occupancy of moderate-sized holdings, there would require to be some help given to them, by the advance of money by Government, or in some other way, and I don't think there is any difficulty in that any more than there is in advancing money for large properties for improvements. For instance, on the farm of Lyne, that was added to Gorthlick, they got some money, and improved some land, and paid the last penny of it all during a nineteen years' lease, and at the end of the lease they were turned out for no cause whatever, and their farm was added to a large one.
40997. There is one expression in your paper which I think you, perhaps, may be inclined to re-consider. May I ask, first, does that paper contain the views of the association which you represent?
—It does. I may state that it is my own composition, but I submitted it to the executive committee, and to a general meeting of our society, and they all approved of it.
40998. I find a sentence in it, in which you express views against emigration, for fear of enlarging and strengthening countries that may some time become our formidable enemies?
40999. Now, in writing that sentence, you surely don't mean to say that we should be chary of sending our people abroad, for fear they may, sometime or other, become enemies of this country?
—Why do our statesmen object to the Channel tunnel?
41000. I don't quite see that the Channel tunnel has much to do with it ; but if you like to illustrate it by that, I am willing to hear it?
—They are chary of giving the power to any nation to take advantage of us in case of a difference.
41001. But if the views of your association had always existed, no colonists would ever have gone to America or Australia or anywhere else, because there would always be a fear that when rich and powerful, they would become our enemies, and the colonies would not exist if those views had always been entertained?
—Yes, we want to have friendly and free intercourse with all nations, but we don't want to give them undue advantages, for when we send our people or means across there we weaken our own. If we keep our own and allow natural emigration, we have no objection to that.
41002. But, leaving Ireland aside, is there any evidence that people going from the Highlands have become disposed to be the enemies of this country; have they not been among the most loyal of the Queen's subjects?
—There has been an instance to the contrary in the Canadian dominions. I remember they got up in arms against the power of this country, and, if I am not mistaken, one of the chief leaders was a Highlander —a Mackenzie.
41003. Professor Mackinnon.
—Your knowledge of the whole country side here is very large?
—Yes, pretty large.
41004. I think you stated that a croft of about 20 to 30 acres is the minimum croft you would like to see established?
41005. What would be the rent, judging from the practice of the country side, which you think such a farm ought to carry?
—I would say that the rent the people were paying at the time I refer to—forty years ago—would be a fair rent; that is, taking all the circumstances into consideration, they would pay the rents they were paying then. Taking those instances I brought forward—such as £150, their land was from 25 to 30 acres arable, and that is 112 acres divided among four, and they paid at that time £150 between them, which made it about £35 to £40 a year each. Now, considering the increase in the price of farm produce, I would say that, at. the rents they were paying at that time, they shoidd live very comfortably to day, but there has been an increase between that period and now.
41006. You think the increase has been too much?
41007. But I suppose you would not object to a certain amount of increase on the rent of crofts?
—I would not. I would certainly say so, provided it were put upon a system that it would not be at the mercy of every new comer. There is now a tendency for property to change hands, and what existed then is not very safe now.
41008. Have you formed any idea upon what footing you would put matters so as to prevent the possibility of that?
—According to my own idea, I would be in favour of long teuure.
41009. Long lease?
—Long tenure, so as to encourage the people to improve, and give them an opportunity to benefit by their occupation.
41010. From your knowledge of the country, can you point to any holdings of the kind and size that you would like to see generally established'?
—Not so much now; of course there are a number; for instance, the Coigach district is a very nice type. That is a district where the land is limited. I have been there for some time. I have been there as a tradesman, and have tried to make myself as well acquainted as possible with it, and I would say that where land is limited to that extent, the holding would be a very nice one, but in that case they only pay from £ 5 to £ 10 of rent. They have a considerable extent of pasture, and in that case they were threatened with some of the ground being turned into deer forest not many years ago, which was not, as Lochiel put it, following the sheep.
41011. What I would like to get at would be this—whether you can point to a particular community just now, of your own knowledge, that are in a comfortable condition, such as you remember the Stratherrick people to have been forty years ago?
—No, I can scarcely do so, because in most cases they have been curtailed of the pasture, which made them far more comfortable. Small farms are not so comfortable now. They were generally curtailed, and I can scarcely point to any place to-day that is so comfortable as they were at the time I refer to, in Stratherrick.
41012. I don't mean quite so comfortable, but sufficiently comfortable that it would be the interest of the country generally that their type should be increased in number?
—Yes, I know they would be sufficiently comfortable, but they would be far more so by giving them more pasture. I refer to the estate of Glen Urquhart, which is almost all small holdings ; and I might refer to another in Ross-shire, where I know some of them are very comfortable.
41013. That is the class of holdings you would like to see scattered all over the Highlands?
—Yes, I hold that is the class of people who benefit the country.
41014. You would not like large farms to be done away with altogether?
—Not moderately large farms, but we have some that are not profitable to the people themselves.
41015. You stated about Leachkin in this neighbourhood that the people reclaimed the place, and had it for forty years for a small rent, which was afterwards about trebled. Supposing that a suitable place were to be given to energetic people for reclamation, what period, what length of lease, would you think reasonable to give them, at a small rent, in order to enable them to recoup themselves for the work they would do upon the land in the way of improvement?
—It would depend a good deal upon the subject they would get.
41016. Take a place like Leachkin?
—I would certainly say that about the time they had it would be a fair time to recoup them if they had security that the rent would not be increased unreasonably after that, that it would be revalued by neutral parties, and that they would not be turned out of it.
41017. Your objection to the treatment of these people was not that the rent was increased within that period, but that it was increased too much ?
—Increased too much ; and, in some cases, some of the land taken away altogether and added to a large farm, and that was still worse than the increasing.
41018. Now, how would you settle the rate of increase under the new lease that would be given to such people? Who would be the valuator?
—I think a court of inquiry such as we have appointed for other thingsby Government, would be the best means of doing it—the most just way of doing it for all parties, both proprietor and tenant.
41019. And would you allow that court of inquiry, if they thought proper, to fix the actual value of the land at that date, or would you allow them to take into consideration the fact that it was the people
themselves who reclaimed it in the past?
—I would allow them to take it into consideration that the people reclaimed it.
41020. Would you oblige them to take that into consideration ?
41021. So that the people would have the land first on a lease at a comparatively nominal rent, and then during a second period with the consideration that it was they who had brought it to the state it was in ?
41022. That is quite a different state of matters from the present?
—Entirely, in most cases. I am glad to see we have some proprietors who give effect to that.
41023. I mean the state of the law; I don't refer to the occasional practice. The practice in some cases may be as good as the law you would wish for all?
41024. You would wish to make binding upon all what some at present do of their own accord?
41025. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—I want to put one or two questions to you with reference to your principal statement. Take first the case of Stratherrick which you have spoken of. Much of that is in the parish of Dores ?
—Dores, and the parish of Boleskine.
41026. Is it consistent with your knowledge that the population of the Dores parish is very much decreased?
—It must have decreased.
41027. Are you aware that the amount of pauperism there is unusually large?
—I am not actually aware of it, but I am aware, by hearsay incidentally.
41028. What is the cause of that excessive pauperism in the parish of Dores?
—I consider the cause is the way the people were turned out of their holdings. That is the cause of it in Dores, and it is partially the cause of it also in Inverness, by people coming in from that district. I may mention there is one who was turned out of one of these places who is now a pauper in Inverness.
41029. Has the town of Inverness not suffered very much within the last forty years by people coming in that were evicted from other parishes?
41030. In answer to his Lordship, you stated you were not aware of any small people being put out for the sake of deer forests —that it did not come under your observation?
41031. You are well acquainted with Glen Urquhart?
41032. Now, although it was done in a very mild manner, is it not a fact that some small people were deprived of their holdings in connection with the deer forest of Balmacaan ?
—Yes, it quite escaped my mind. I did not wish to avoid the question, but it quite escaped my mind.
41033. It was done in as mild a way as possible?
41034. But it was done?
—Yes, it was the case, and very nice holdings.
41035. Old holdings?
41036. Now, on that side of Loch Ness, have there not been forests created of late years ?
—Yes, and there have been a number of larger holdings cleared for them too, and smaller ones that were not actually sheep farms.
41037. Take the very latest forest that has been created in the valley of Loch Ness—the forest of Glendo. What was it made out of ?
—Eighty years ago it was a mixed farm held by some five or six farmers, —arable and pasture. It was taken from them and added to a farm at Fort Augustus for a sheep farm, and it is now a deer forest.
41038. Do you know that in the time of Simon, Lord Lovat, he could raise an entire regiment from Stratherrick alone, and did do so?
—Yes, I know that from history.
41039. Could such a thing be done to-day?
41040. Within your early recollection was it not a fact that there were numbers who might be styled gentlemen farmers in the district of Stratherrick?
—A very great many.
41041. Are there any such now?
—I am not aware of any.
41042. With regard to the particular evictions you referred to in Badenoch, viz., Glen Banchor, and Glen Balloch, are you aware that the whole matter appeared in the newspapers of the day ?
41043. All the particulars were then given and commented upon?
—I remember them being commented upon. I don't remember how the particulars were quite given.
41044. And the facts are accessible to the Commission?
41045. Do you see a gentleman before you, Mr Mackenzie of the Free Press, who knew all about it?
41046. You are aware he wrote a full account of the matters at the time?
—I forget. I may have seen it.
41047. Are you aware of this further fact, that the tenant who was to come in in place of those evicted tenants, was very willing to draw back, but would not be allowed to draw back by the proprietor ?
—I am not aware of that; but I would imagine from the man that he would see the injustice of removing the people, and would be inclined to withdraw.
41048. Have you been in that valley yourself?
—Not up through it. I have been up part of it. I have been doing some work in that neighbourhood, and I just went out to take a look at the country, not with any special object.
41049. I suppose then you are not so familiar with the subject as to enter into any details?
—No, not to go into details.
41050. You are not aware that a clergyman of the Free Church was born upon one of those crofts of which the parties were dispossessed?
—No, I am not aware of that; only I am aware that two of them were widows.
41051. Now, will you kindly explain why it was that you made reference to the large farms at the head of Spey that you were valuing; was it in illustration of the bad effects of large farms?
—Yes, I was so impressed with it at the time that I could never get rid of it,—about how our country was destroyed by that system, destroyed in every way, because I considered it was destroyed actually for those who were able to take comparatively large holdings; it was destroyed as a means of employment, and it was destroyed as a means of produce.
41052. And these houses, you stated, were not merely the houses of poor crofters and others, but houses which what may be called gentlemen tacksmen, retired officers of the army, and others, at one time occupied?
—I am very much under the impression that I was told there, by some of the parties about the place, that there had been some officers either born or residing there, belonging to that neighbourhood, natives of Badenoch,—that they had either been born in these houses, and joined the army out of these houses, or had come back to reside there. I was informed of that upon the ground.
41053. Let us come now to the Leachkin. Supposing there were written evidence in existence that a proprietor offered and wished the people to come and settle upon his land, and take it in as you have described, and that they did come forward and take it in —suppose that to be the case, and suppose afterwards that that proprietor's successors acted in the manner you have described, could that be described as anything else than a policy of converting the occupants of soil merely into land-reclaiming and rent-producing machines?
—That is what I would certainly call it. They were just made a handle of to increase the value of the place and enrich one individual.
41054. Do you believe that one sixpence was ever laid out by the proprietor upon the houses or lands of Leachkin?
—I am told, but I have no evidence of it, that when they commenced there first they were to get £10 an acre for every acre they reclaimed, and a few of them who commenced there first got it for a few acres, but none of them got the full amount for the whole they brought in. I know as a fact that some of them who had reclaimed some of it during the last thirty years did not get one penny, and after being raised from 50s. to £12, 10s. for their lot they were latterly deprived of it, and it was added to the large farms for no reason whatever.
41055. As a matter of picturesqueness or beauty, is the Leachkin a very pretty object as lotted out particularly in harvest-time?
—It is one of the finest places I like to look at.
41056. Would it be as fine a sight if it were one big farm?
—Not according to my view.