RODERICK MACLEAN, Factor, Ardross (54)—examined.
41571. The Chairman.
—You wish to read a statement to us?
—Yes, I wish to supplement a statement I made at Loch Alsh.
In giving my evidence at Loch Alsh on the 2nd August, I was asked how much of the £86,867 laid out by Sir Alexander on improvements for tenants on his west coast estates, was for the benefit of crofters paying under £30 of rent? While my examination was going on, the papers were put into the hands of an assistaut, who unfortunately summed up one branch only, amounting to £6000 odds. The correct sum is, however, £22,139, 10s. 9d., of which £20,116, 16s. was laid out for 114 of the larger crofters, making an average of £176, 9s. 3d. for each, and £2022, 14s. 9d. for 188 crofters occupying smaller holdings, making an average of £10, 15s. 2d. for each. For thÌ3 large amount expended Sir Alexander's return is merely nominal, since the rent roll shows an increase of only £187, 8s. 3d. on the rents of 114 large crofters, and a decrease of £38, 5s. 7d. on the rents of the 188 smaller crofters, thus making the nett increase only £149, 2s. 8d., equal to 13s. 6d. per cent, for the outlay of £22,139. These figures need no comment. They plainly show that Sir Alexander's desire is to benefit his people. I regret, however, to say that all of them do not show corresponding gratitude. In my former evidence I mentioned the system of division of property which Sir Alexander advocates and acts upon, and I take this opportunity of stating the success of this system on his estates in Easter Ross. Leaving out the estates of Balintraid, Delny, Obsdale, Culcairn, and Millcraig, though conspicuous by the great improvements made upon and additions to them, there is but little change in the number of large farms and crofts, but on the rest of his estates in Easter Ross, purchased from the Duke of Sutherland in 1845, the change is remarkable. When he came into possession in 1845, the lands were occupied by twenty-six tenants, one tenant paying £935, one £409, one £150, one £68, six from £32, 10s. to £38, 12s., and sixteen crofters from £ 1 to £26. In a few years the whole was remodelled, all the improvable lands brought under cultivation, farm steadings erected, roads made, and large portions judiciously planted; in a word, the whole district so beautified as to be the admiration of every visitor, and the lands occupied—besides the home farm—by forty-four tenants, of whom one pays £400, six from £110 to £230, sixteen from £30 to £68, thirteen from £ 10 to £18, and eight from £4 to £7. But what I wish to notice specially is the manner in which he dealt with the large farm, which paid a rent of £935. Considering it too large a holding in the possession of one person, in 1846 he bought up the remaining years of the lease, and without occupying your time in giving details of progress, I at once state that in a few years it was occupied by one tenant now paying £400, one £130, one £125, nine from £32 to £68, twelve £ 10 to £18, and six from £4 to £7, thirty in all, and comfortable in their respective positions. Six of the above tenants occupy one club farm, and two another.
41572. How many holdings altogether?
—Thirty. The extreme west portion of this large holding called Dibidale, he partially forested and partially kept in his own hands as a summer grazing for sheep, it being too subject to severe winter storms to be occupied by a tenant. In 1782 the last resident tenant was starved out, and a shepherd who herded there from 1838 to 1859 told me that the place was re-stocked thrice during the time the Duke was proprietor, —the severe winter having destroyed the sheep.
41573. Mr Cameron.
—What do you mean by that?
—They died out; the severe winter storms having destroyed the sheep.
41574. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Dibidale, at Ardross. The sheep all died out with the storms, and had to be three times re-stocked in twelve years.
41575. Mr Cameron.
—Do you mean the whole stock was cleared away?
—That is the shepherd's information —that he had to purchase hundreds, and put them on three times during the twelve years. I may say, to confirm it, that the gamekeeper who is there now, to my knowledge, within the last five or six years, during very severe winter storms, drove the deer that are there now from the low ground as quiet as a herd of sheep; they were so reduced by the winter storm—the snow perhaps four or five feet deep, and sometimes ten feet in some parts. And Sir Alexander, finding the portion in his own hands unprofitable, forested the whole in 1869. There is also an outlying portion of the estate situated to the north of Ardross named Amatuatua, which he has reclaimed, and on which he has erected new buildings twenty years ago, occupied by nine tenants as a club farm, paying rents from £13 to £25, and one paying £2. All Sir Alexander's crofters on his east cost estates, being industrious, are comfortable. It is arrangements similar to the above that Sir Alexander is desirous to carry out on his west coast estates. His property in Loch Carron he has got organised —where there are, one tenant paying £220, one £120, two in a club £60 each, nine in a club £25, 5s. each, nine in a club average of £14, 6s. each, eight individual holdings from £6 to £24, four from £ 1 , 10s. to £3, and one a nominal rent of 5s.
41576. The Chairman.
—On what farm was this?
41577. That is the subdivisions which you mention now?
—They exist now.
41578. But were they in substitution of another distribution, or have they always been so?
—No, they were not. He broke them down. He had no difficulty in carrying out bis plan here, as at the time the estate came into his hands there was room for more occupants, and nine have been introduced at Attadale and Strathcarron station. On his estates in the parishes of Lochalsh, Kintail, and Glenshiel, there are twenty crofter townships, of whom only six are on a satisfactory footing. The other fourteen cannot be organised on account of the excessive number of occupants, for whom he has no land to keep them always employed. I attribute to intermittent labour, and to a certain extent climatic lassitude, the cause of the laziness of which the west coast Highlanders are accused. I have observed that away from home and among working people they become excellent workers, but on their return to their homes they become infected by the indolent surroundings, and especially during the winter months, inactivity is a matter of course with them. If however, taken in hand when young, and kept in regular employment even at their homes, better workmen, circumstances considered, could not be desired. Uneducated Highlanders have a strong attachment to localities, and hence their antipathy to emigration; in many instances they would rather suffer starvation than leave their homes even for a season's work, but the world knows what educated Highlanders abroad are. Education therefore, with more zeal, is one of the principal requirements to elevate them from their present impoverished condition. It would be a great blessing to many of the poor women to have lady missionaries (though difficult to accomplish) sent among them to give them instruction in the training of their families and in domestic economy. As a result of improper training, one painfully experiences in business one-sided statements, probably unwittingly, given as facts, and I believe it is by influences such as the above they could best be got at to practise the duties belonging to their several relations and stations. The well-regulated families among them are easily distinguished and pleasant to deal with. Highlanders are naturally imitative, and are more apt to follow leaders either for good or for evil than to think for themselves. Present occurrences show how applicable to the majority of them is one of Locke's miscarriages in reasoning, viz.
—' The first is of those who seldom reason at all, but do and think according to the example of others, whether parents, neighbours, ministers, or who else they are pleased to make choice of to have an implicit faith in, for the saving of themselves the pains and trouble of thinking and examining for themselves.' The knowledge of agriculture among the crofters is far behind the age. To remedy this evil it might be worth the consideration of proprietors to select energetic natives on their respective estates, whom they would get trained in the theory and practice of Highland farming, to be ground officers, who would have constant supervision over crofters till trained. On the west coast they have to contend with climatic changes which are not experienced on the east coast, so that the same practice is not applicable to both. Squatting is a great evil, and often a source of annoyauce in the management of Highland property. No one should have a possession without paying rent, however small. Last Whitsunday an occurrence took place which put one of Sir Alexander's farmers in a fix. Not having a ploughman with a family, he allowed a labourer to occupy the house intended for his ploughman, but having engaged a married ploughman previous to Whitsunday last, the labourer was in due form summoned to remove, and another house in the neighbourhood offered to him with materials free to repair it. He told me in presence of his minister that he would remove without having been summoned, but I observed with a shade of that obliquity above referred to, and when on the term day the ploughman came, the squatter would not move, leaving the farmer to do what best he could with his servant. In many instances, if attempts he made to stir up the people, and better ways of management introduced, they are looked upon as innovations, and frequently go under the name of oppression, and in some instances, though they see rules introduced to be for their benefit, they can scarcely realise their position in making breaches upon them. I give an example. Last spring circulars were issued to all Sir Alexander's west coast tenants who have hill grazings, for their guidance in heather burning, with which all as far as I am aware complied, but on two farms on opposite sides of an inland loch fires occurred about two weeks after the last day allowed by law for heather burning. I believed then, and do so still, that both the farmers were innocent, and that the fires were lighted at the instigation of some one with evil intentions, but though I am on terms of intimate friendship with both, to show by example that favour would not extend to any one in an open breach of law, I instructed Sir Alexander's solicitor to write them. One, who is an educated gentleman and not a native, replied at once freeing himself and his servants, and regretting he could not discover the incendiary; the other, who is a decent honest man, but a native, never troubled himself to reply, even though I personally advised him to do so. The more I study the state of the Highlands the more I see of the wisdom of Sir Alexander's plan, which may be summed up in there being a judicious gradation of holdings, and no more people in a district than can earn their livelihood by their industry. On Sir Alexander's east coast estates no one thinks of coming to ask a piece of land. They have the common sense to see it fully occupied. They follow the example of the busy bee, when the hive is too full it swarms —the young people go away. In the valley in which Ardross Castle is situated the population was under 130 when the estate came into Sir Alexander's possession. It very soon became populous, but not beyond a manageable number. In the first class school he established there I saw 160 children present at an examination, and through the means of the sound education and industrious training they got, Ardross boys are now to be found in almost all parts of the world in positions of trust. Last July over a dozen young mechanics and labourers left for Queensland in high spirits. A number of youths who have been well educated in the Lochalsh district also have gone abroad, are a credit to their country, and send encouraging reports to their friends. If the same spirit could but be put into more, how great a benefit it would be to themselves, and to those they would leave behind.
41579. Professor Mackinnon.
—I should like to ask about the splitting up of this large farm, where only one tenant occupied it some forty years ago, and now it is occupied by thirty; do you think that that practice could be followed with benefit to the proprietor in a considerable number of cases elsewhere?
—No; it was a case where the place could be broken up, but there is no other large holding that could practically be broken up.
41580. I had not particularly in view Sir Alexander Matheson's property. Your knowledge of the country is very wide?
—My knowledge does not extend beyond that under my own charge.
41581. It was no great loss to the proprietor in this particular case?
—Well, he has not gained by it.
41582. I hope he has not lost much by it?
—I was not prepared with figures, but I know that the return he has cannot be 1 per cent., because I do not think that the breaking up of large farms will in any way benefit the proprietor. It must be looked upon as the work of a philanthropist.
41583. In the event of its being found not to be a losing matter to a proprietor, and otherwise practicable, you would think the policy in itself would be a wise one?
—Yes, I would.
41584. Carried on along with the other policy of consolidating the smaller holdings at the other end of the scale?
41585. That practically is the policy you are endeavouring to carry out?
—Yes, in those that he has not got properly organised, because there are a good many there who cannot gain a living by the land, and, consequently, to make them comfortable, two or three holdings ought to be put together to make one comfortable.
41586. So you would increase the very small holdings, and where practicable you would break up the very large ones?
—Yes, that is what I would like to see.
41587. When you spoke of keeping in the district only the number of people that could be maintained by their own industry there, had you in view the possibility of some of them going to the fishing, as they are doing from the west coast just now?
41588. So that the number that could be maintained there by their own industry would be somewhat larger than the number that actually took their livelihood out of the land?
—Yes; what I mean is, that those who would make their living by the land would, as far as possible, have no other employment but the land, and those who would make their living by fishing would have only as much land as might keep them at home and yield the grazing of a cow and a few sheep, and let their income be principally from labour either as fishermen or as artizans.
41589. The crofter should have a substantial croft and work it?
41590. And the fisherman might have a small plot?
41591. You alluded to a farm here in the upper grounds where the stock was destroyed by winter storms. There was a gentleman here yesterday afternoon who had very considerable experience in his own line of business, and who stated that cattle could live upon the highest ground of Ross-shire during the winter; is that your experience of Ross-shire?
—No, they will not live there. That gentleman did not know Ross-shire; at least, he did not know a Ross-shire farm.
41592. With respect to the more general statements you have introduced into this paper at the end, I see you look to the education of the people as the great instrument for putting things upon a satisfactory footing in the future?
41593. And you think that they will clear away voluntarily so as to leave just a sufficient number in the place to be maintained with comfort?
—I have no doubt of that, because experience shows that an educated young man will not remain there. He will think for himself, and when he begins to think for himself he finds it is folly to remain at home, and that it is best for him to go abroad and support himself, and be a help to those who remain behind.
41594. Apart from the management of those estates with which you have to do yourself, do you think that a rearrangement of affairs upon them might not be carried out at the same time with such a movement as that?
—Well, I cannot speak from facts, for I don't know them.
41595. Where you find upon a very large extent of land scarcely a holding between £4 to £600?
—Well, I cannot answer directly, because I do not know them.
41596. But your own policy upon your own estate, and if practicable you would think it a wise policy upon other estates, would be a graduated system of holdings?
—Of that I have no doubt, but I thought you referred to its being done upon other estates.
41597. No, I refer to the policy?
—I have no doubt of that being the right one .
41598. The complaint of the people themselves all along has been that the actual fact was quite different, —that the holdings were exceedingly small and excessively large, and that they wanted to get larger holdings for themselves out of the very large ones that exist?
—Well, if that could be done—if it were practicable—it would be a wise thing to do, but the question is, how can it be done? The proprietor would have to go to the cost of erecting buildings and making perniauent roads. They could not improve the lands themselves. He would have to improve them for them, and it requires a large amount of capital to do so.
41599. You don't think it would be reasonable to expect other proprietors to do what your own proprietor is doing?
—Yes, if they had the means to do it.
41600. But it could not be reasonably asked for as a general rule?
41601. Do you think that with a better system of education the people would emigrate voluntarily?
—I have no doubt of it, for I have seen it for thirty years.
41602. Of course, uneducated Highlanders have a strong attachment to localities. You do not mean the educated Highlanders have not that too?
—Of course they have it, but not to the same extent.
41603. They have it with a reason?
—Yes. What I mean by saying uneducated Highlanders have a strong attachment to localities is that they cannot realise what it is to leave either for their own benefit or the benefit of others; but I believe that every person has a strong attachment to the place of his birth.
41604. A great evil you mention here is squatting. That includes the subdivision of crofts?
—-No, I mean people sitting down without paying rents at all. We have 123 of them who pay no rents.
41605. The complaint of the people themselves has been all along that there would be no such thing if these bits of land were given to them?
—I cannot say for any outside our own property; but when Sir Alexander Matheson bought the property he found squatters on it.
41606. What would be your remedy for dealing with those squatters?
—To make them pay a rent, however small, even Is. They would then be tenants, and would be manageable.
41607. Could you not do that just now?
—If you do it just now, Mr Mackenzie, the Clach, would rise up against us, and a good many other people, and say we were oppressors.
41608. Sheriff Nicolson.
—To the extent of Is.?
—To the extent of Is. They would not pay, because, with the present agitation that has arisen in the Highlands, Highlanders I may say in many places have become quite unmanageable,—they are so difficult to deal with.
41609. Professor Mackinnon.
—Their ignorance of agriculture is stated, and very properly stated, in your paper as a thing that should be attended to. Have you any plan in your own mind as to how that should be remedied?
—Yes, I have been thinking of getting strangers in amongst them, but I know from the habits of the people and their mode of thinking that they would not suffer any strangers among them. To use a Gaelic word, the ' macharach' is looked upon as an oppressor among the native Highlanders. They hate him. The same feeling exists in those unbroken parts of the Highlands as it did 200 years ago. I may explain the best plan to get them trained is that proprietors should get some of the native people, intelligent men among the natives, educated to agriculture and farming as applicable to the Highlands, and the people would take instruction from them with much more ease than they would from a stranger.
41610. To send some of the most capable young men to the south or east for a year or two to learn the principles of agriculture, and then expect them to teach their friends when they come home?
41611. Have you known of anything of that kind being done anywhere? '
—I have had experience of it in Easter Ross, in the club farms there, by getting two or three men who knew how to manage club farms, and the whole is left in their hands; and wherever it is left in the hands of trained men they work admirably. We had experience two years ago of native people who were trained up in one of these club farms, brought up to the club farm without getting training outside. The farm was left in their hands for two years, and it was a loss to themselves—by being left in the hands of native people who were untrained.
41612. I suppose the management of a sheep farm on the club system is found to be better than when it is separate and independent?
41613. And when stock is in small quantities among crofters you would prefer that system?
—Yes, they would all have an equal interest. The way Sir Alexander does with the arable land they occupy is that they rent it separately, and then the club is rented in common, and each pays a proportion of the grazings added to the rental of the low ground.
41614. I presume you would admit that all other people as well as Highlanders are educated by example more or less?
—We are now speaking about the Highlanders.
41615. But Locke would not have had them particularly in view in his theory?
—No, but I say he gives other miscarriages than those two, but they are so applicable to the present state of matters that I could not resist giving them.
41616. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Will you tell us something about the forest that was created in Easter Ross by Sir Alexander?
—Yes; the extent of it is about 9000 acres.
41617. Is that the only one on the east coast estates?
—The only one.
41618. It is called Dibidale?
—Yes; I don't think it is so much as I have stated. I would rather not say the figures; I don't think it is 9000.
41619. You mention in your paper that a number of the people went away from the estate in high spirits. I suppose you were in high spirits too?
—Well, among them was one of my own sons, and I felt in high spirits that he was so plucky as to go. He went away in June, and in the following July fourteen followed him to Queensland, and I was in high spirits to see him so plucky as to go, and my eldest son wants to follow him immediately.
41620. Is there not a deal of land still in the Highlands that might be profitably reclaimed?
41621. Why should proprietors and others be so anxious to promote emigration when this reclamation can take place at home?
—They can answer for themselves. I cannot answer for others.
41622. But you have just stated that you approve of emigration?
41623. You think it is better for the people themselves, but you will not say it is better for those that are left behind?
—It is better for both. It is better for those who remain behind, because they can have enough to live upon by their industry; and better for those who go away, because there is plenty room in the world outside their little home, and it would be far better for them to exert themselves for their own benefit abroad than at home.
41624 Do you want to stop further improvement and reclamation in the Highlands?
41625. Who is to do it then?
—The people who remain behind.
41626. Where are you to draw the line between those who remain and those who go away?
—That depends on circumstances, but one thing unfortunately is that the good will go away and the bad remain behind.
41627. You have rather commented upon the character of the Highlander as distinguished from others?
—I have done so because I have experience of it.
41628. You are a Highlander yourself, from your name?
41629. Don't you think that character is to some extent, if not to a great extent, formed by surrounding elements?
—Yes, I do.
41630. Have you heard it stated that some of the alleged weaknesses in Highland character have arisen very much from the way they have been treated, or think they have been treated?
—I believe it is so.
41631. And you are willing to admit that that to some extent accounts for defects in their character?
—Yes, because they are not elevated as they ought to be. They want elevation.
41632. Do you think it unnatural in any way that the poor crofter has a disinclination to leave his land—the place where he has been brought up? Is it unnatural in him to have such a feeling?
—No, it is natural for him to have such a feeling.
41633. And the idea of clinging to one's native soil is by no means an objectionable feeling?
—Well, it is objectionable in one way, because so long as he remains there he will be a burden to himself and to others, but if he had the moral power to go away he would be a benefit to himself and a relief to others. It is the raising of the moral nature, the elevating of the moral character, that would make them think for themselves.
41634. You say it is praiseworthy in the Highlander to be attached to his native place, but it would be of advantage for him to go abroad to better himself; do you contemplate that such people should ever return to their own country?
—I do, because they would return to their own country independent and assist others, and remain at ease after their hardearned labour—living upon their previous industry, and supporting others.
41635. You approve of their coming back?
—Yes, coming back not a burden to their country.
41636. No, not a burden to their country; but you approve of their coming back?
41637. How many in the crofting class with which we are more particularly connected do come back in independent circumstances? Has it come under your observation?
—As far as I remember, three have come back to Ardross after making a competency. They came back from Australia.
4163S. Do you think that a person evicted, to use the expression in its ordinary sense—evicted from his possession —must not feel very sore upon the point?
—I have not a doubt of it.
41639. And that it will continue for a long period?
—Yes, perhaps all his lifetime.
41640. And even longer?
—Oh, perhaps not after his death; he would think no more about it.
41641. He might have descendants?
—I don't know.
41642. Do you think that the descendants of the constable of Eilean-donan, who lost his head at Inverness about 400 years ago, and lost also his lands—do you think that they were pleased or satisfied until they again got possession?
—I don't know the history.
41643. I just wish to ask this further question. In our examination at Lochalsh, Sir Alexander made use of an expression —it might be hasty or otherwise—that although he would not remove them he would be very glad if half of his crofters went away. I am not putting it to you in your factorial capacity, but as an individual —do you approve of that statement?
—I know there would be a very great benefit to the people themselves if half of them went away. They know it themselves too, but they don't think of moving. Two or three of them early this year spoke to me about going away if they got assistance, but when matters were coming to a point they would not go. Sir Alexander assisted a few privately, and they sent home very encouraging reports, and one thing I may tell, to show that they are getting on well abroad. There was one young man to whom he give a loan of £100 two and a half years ago to take him to India, and I am glad to say he has returned the money. Another poor man, to whom he gave £20 about ten years ago went away, and he has returned the money.
41644. I must follow that question up a little further. In the case of the person to whom he lent £100 to go abroad, would it not have been worth while to have given him £100 to try and make something at home?
—He could not get anything to do at home.
—Because there was nothing for him. He was a lad of seventeen and a half, and had the pluck to go away at that age to India.
41646. Are you really prepared to say that the state of the Highlands is reduced to this, that there is no opening for a young man with a little ambition?
—There is not an opening. You may see from the advertisements that there is not a single opening but perhaps twenty, thirty, or forty are applying for it, which shows that the number of people in need of employment is in excess of the available employment.
41647. Can the state of the country, therefore, be satisfactory?
—No, it cannot be when such is the case.
41648. The Chairman.
—You mentioned two large farms which had been broken up by Sir Alexander Matheson, one on the east coast, I understand, and the other on the west coast?
41649. The east coast farm, which was tenanted by one occupier, has been broken up iuto thirty holdings. What is the aggregate rental of these holdings now compared with the original rent of £900?
—I am sorry to say I did not refer to the valuation roll.
41650. But you can tell me about how much. Is it below or above?
—It is slightly above, but not much.
41651. There has been a slight rise of aggregate rental?
41652. But there has been a large outlay?
—A very large outlay.
41653. Will you explain what the description of outlay has chiefly been on the part of the proprietor? Has it been in the construction of dwelling houses, or fencing, or draining, or what?
—In the whole of these —improving the land, reclaiming it from nature, and building houses and making drains.
41654. First, with reference to the houses, did the proprietor construct the houses entirely, or did he afford materials and did the tenants do the work?
—He constructed the houses entirely himself, and for their steadings he gave the materials. That is in the case of the small holdings.
41655. I speak of the small holdings. Then when he constructed the houses—are they stone and lime houses?
—Stone and lime.
41656. With two chimneys?
—Two chimneys, and some larger.
41657. Did the tenant contribute at all to the creation of the houses by carting materials?
—Not a penny.
41658. Without saying a penny, did he do any work towards them?
41659. He fetched nothing to the ground?
41660. For a holding of, say, £15 annual value, what was the cost of these dwelling houses built by Sir Alexander?
—When he built them labour was much cheaper than it is now, and probably some of these houses would cost about £90 on the west coast. A similar house now would cost £150 on the west coast.
41661. But I am speaking of an east coast farm entirely?
—Well, on the east coast about £90.
41662. That would have been for a £15 croft?
41663. Supposing Sir Alexander Matheson had unhappily not been able to undergo this prime cost of the houses, do you think that a worse house, but still, in the first instance, a tolerable house, could have been put up by the same class of tenants by co-operation between the proprietor and the tenant?
—Yes, it could.
41664. So you think a poorer proprietor might in a less satisfactory manner get the thing done still cheaper?
—Yes, he could, by the proprietor contributing a certain amount of assistance and the tenant doing the labour and perhaps contributing a sum towards the expense of the house.
41665. Are most of these smaller holdings separated by fencing from each other?
41666. Are the fields in them separate from one another?
—Yes, in the most of them. In the very small holdings paying from £4 to £7 there are only boundary fences made by the proprietor, and they make the subdivision fences themselves. They get wood, and make the subdivisions themselves.
41667. It is done with wooden fences?
41668. Posts and rails?
—Posts and wire.
41669. From Sir Alexander's own woods?
—Yes, the posts are given free.
41670. Have you any idea what the aggregate expense has been upon that east country farm entailed by this process of conversion?
—No, I could not mention the figures.
41671. What became of the old farm steading?
—It is now still occupied on one of the farms.
41672. On one of the larger subdivisions?
—Yes, the one that pays £400. There is one still paying £400.
41673. It is the farm house of the £400 lot?
41674. Except with reference to the return for the money laid out, this social experiment has been a satisfactory one?
—Very satisfactory, and the admiration of every one who goes to see it. There you find an example, if circumstances would permit, of what a Highland property not highly situated could be converted into.
41675. I would like to know what amount of capital, so to speak, on this east coast farm Sir Alexander Matheson has sacrificed for the good of his people?
—I will send a statement of that to the Commission.
41676. On this particular farm?
41677. At any rate, socially speaking, it has been a perfect success?
41678. Where did you get the small tenants from; were they taken from overcrowded townships on the same property, or were they collected all around the country?
—I may mention that the population was under 130 when he got the estate. He picked out a few.
41679. I think you said 130 for the valley?
—That valley includes all his large farm, and there were no other occupants on the large farm except in this valley.
41680. But I said on the estate. Did Sir Alexander pick out the tenants for' this place from townships elsewhere on his own estate that were overcrowded, or did he just take them from the general mass?
—A few from his own estate, because the crofters who were there at the time he bought the property outside this farm are there themselves still, or their descendants, and then he had to introduce picked men from other places. They were all picked, and that is what made it so successful.
41681. Was this transaction in some degree instrumental towards the consolidation of small holdings on other parts of the estate?
—No, the smaller holdings were first made for labourers, and for people who were not in very good circumstances, to make them more comfortable, and then in 1858 he tried the first experiment of a club farm. Till 1858 part of the grazing of this large farm was in his own hand, and in 1858 he broke it up into a club farm occupied by six tenants. That was his first experiment in club farms, and finding it so successful, though they were picked men and knew their work, he extended it to other parts of the property.
41682. My object was to ascertain whether the transaction of cutting up this large farm had been instrumental in reducing the number of small holdings on the estate?
41683. Now, transport yourself for a moment to the west country farm. The same process has been going on on the Loch Carron farm. Speaking generally, has it been equally successful and equally satisfactory?
41684. Not quite?
—No, not equally satisfactory.
41685. But has it been tolerably satisfactory?
—Yes, it has. The reason is that there are no people introduced there but the natives, and it is so difficult to stir them up to see what is for their own benefit. They will not take very good care of what the proprietor makes for them, but allow it in many cases to go wrong; and then when things go wrong, they call again upon the proprietor to rectify what they allowed to go wrong.
41686. The people have proved less skilful and more thriftless upon the west coast farm?
41687. But with regard to the sacrifice of capital in proportion to the value of the farm, has the sacrifice of capital for a benevolent purpose been proportionally greater on the west coast farm than on the east coast?
—Yes, fully a third greater.
41688. But perhaps the subject may have been less promising. The farm may have been less happily situated?
—Such is the case, but I consider that in saying a third.
41689. Then you say that a benevolent proprietor must be expected to sacrifice one-third more on the west coast than on the east coast?
—Yes, that is what I mean.
41690. Mr Cameron.
—It is stated here that the average expenditure on the larger holdings on the west coast was £176 odds?
—An average of £114.
41691. £114 on the crofts, but the average amount of money upon each was £176. What is the average rent of these crofts?
41692. Are these the larger crofts?
41693. What I want to arrive at is, what the rental of these crofts now is, and what the interest on £176, the average sum expended on them, would amount to?
—The rental is now £1108.
41694. Then it is about 10s. each?
41695. Then the interest of the money spent upon the crofts at 5 per cent, would be about £9?
41696. And the average rent is £10?
41697. So that only leaves £ 1 for the land as it was?
—Yes, and he was getting £931.
41698. I don't care what he was getting. I am looking to the future, as an experiment, how it is likely to answer. In what state was this land before it was improved? Was it worth more than £1 for the whole holding?
41699. It was not all waste land?
—No, it was not all waste land. Before he expended the money the rental was about £9, barely £9, and
now it is £10, so there is only £1 of increase.
41700. So he gets about £1 more than the interest of the money he expended on it?
—Yes, leaving £1 to meet the old rent.
41701. You have described the process of building the houses; will you tell ms what were the other improvements which Sir Alexander effected upon these west coast crofts?
—It was not on the west coast crofts that he erected the buildings; it was on the east coast.
41702. Then what did he do about the houses on the west coast crofts?
—He got the houses when the property was bought. The houses were there, except a few new ones that he built. In Loch Carron he built over a dozen new houses, and got that place organised.
41703. And how was the £20,116 expended upon the larger crofts?
—In improving lands and building houses for about a dozen of them.
41704. It was in improvements effected upon existing crofts?
41705. And no land was taken from larger farms in that case?
41706. Did the improvement consist in draining?
—Draining, trenching, ploughing, and fencing.
41707. Has Sir Alexander done anything on the west coast in the way of taking land from large farms and giving it to crofters?
—Yes, there is one large farm he broke up.
41708. Which is that?
—Sallachy. It was mentioned in my previous evidence.
41709. The Chairman.
—The rent of this large farm on the east coast was £900, and now it is a very little more, not representing any material interest whatever on the outlay in improvement. But supposing this large farm which was then rented for £900 had been kept in its aggregate, undivided form, what do you think it would have let for at this moment? Under present circumstances, would there have been a decline in its rental or not?
—No, I think the rent would be about the same, for sheep farms increased in value within the period since he bought the property, and now they are falling back again.
41710. You don't think they have fallen back to a greater degree than the amount of rental at the time the experiment began?
—No, I think they are about the same.
41711. But in that case Sir Alexander sacrificed the rental of the farm which in the years of inflation he might have obtained?
41712. Would that have been very considerable?
—About one-fifth more.
41713. Sheriff Nicolson.
—As the result of your observation and experience, do you think there is a decided difference in the character and habits of the west coast and east coast people of the county of Ross?
41714. Have you any definite information or theory on the subject?
—Yes; there are two reasons. One is that they are quite a distinct race.
41715. In what respect?
—They have not the same intermixture of Scandinavian and Saxon blood on the west coast as on the east coast.
41716. You think they are more Celtic on the west coast?
—Yes. Another reason, and the principal one, is that they are kept so much to themselves, —they do not mix up with people on the east coast to gather information. They do not associate except among themselves, and consequently they cannot acquire so much knowledge.
41717. Is there also a considerable difference in the soil and climate?
—A great deal.
41718. The climate is warmer on the west coast?
—Yes, and creates more lassitude, and consequently they cannot work so well. There is not so much animation about them.
41719. In that respect do you know of any particular difference of character between the West Ross-shire people and the Islanders?
—I am not acquainted there.
41720. The same complaint is made against them, and yet there is undoubtedly a very large Scandinavian element in those Western Islands?
—Well, I am not acquainted with them. I was only once in the Lewis.
[The witness subsequently put in the following supplement with reference to the farm at Ardross which, when Sir Alexander Matheson purchased the estate in 1845, was occupied by one tenant at a rent of £935, and now occupied by thirty tenants :
—The expenditure by Sir Alexander in improving the lands and erecting buildings for the tenant is £21,753, and his rental from the thirty tenants is £1250 / 18 / 6
Deduct the original rent of . . . £935 / 0 / 0
Less the value of grazing rent of Dibidale forest, 200 / 0 / 0
= £ 735 / 0 / 0
TOTALs £525 /18/ 6
equal to £2, 9s. 2d. per cent, on the outlay. Sir Alexander further expended £6176 on making a road to Dibidale forest and on erecting a lodge there. The rent he gets for Dibidale forest is £1000, or £800 more than the grazing value, which makes the increase of rent over the whole £1325, 18s. 6d., equal to £4, 0s. 10d, per cent, on the outlay.