10. Land occupation

As to the state of land occupation in Lewis before the beginning of the 18th century there is little known, but we get a glimpse of this subject in a “ Description of the Isles of Scotland,” supposed to have been written for James VI. between 1577 and 1595. “ This Ile of Lewis,” we are there told, “is very profitable and fertile alswell of corns as all kind of bestiall, wild fowl and fishes, and speciallie of beir, sua that thair will grow commonlie 20, 18, or at the leist 16 bolls beir yeirlie eftir ilk bolls sawing. It is 40 lb. land of auld extent and payis yeirlie 18 score chalders of victuall, 58 score of ky, 32 score of wedderis, and ane great quantitie of fisches, pultrie, and quhyte plaiding by thair Cuidichies,[ Cuidichies, i.e., cuid—oidhche, or night’s quarters, including food. This was an obligation which the lord often imposed on his vassal, the number of such entertainments in course of a year varying according to the extent of land occupied by the latter] that is feisting thair master when he‘ pleases to cum in the cuntrie, ilk ane tl1air nicht or twa nichtis about, according to thair land and labouring.” (Skene’s Celtic Scotland, Vol. iii., p. 429.)

The rent of Lewis in 1644, according to Dr. Fraser Mackintosh’s Antiquarian Notes (first series), was £5,938 13s. 4d. Scots, or £494 17s. 9⅓ d. sterling. Martin, who wrote his account of the Western Islands about the end of the 17th century, states that the country was arable on the west side for about 16 miles along the coast, while it was “ plain and arable in several places in the east.” The arable land along the west coast was doubtless the division or parish formerly known as Claddach, i.e., the shore—lands. It embraced the present Parish of Barvas and a considerable portion of what is now the Parish of Uig. The other parish of the island was Eye, so called from the Eider or isthmus, where the old church was situated. It embraced the present Parish of Stornoway and a great extent of what is now the Parish of Lochs. Uig and Lochs were erected into separate parishes by decree of the Lords Commissioners on Teinds on 19th September 1722.

In Martin’s time the grain sown in Lewis was barley, oats, and rye. Flax and hemp were also cultivated. “The best increase," he says, “is commonly from the ground manured with sea-ware; they fatten it also with soot”—both being still largely used in the island. In the cultivation of the land there were about 500 people employed daily for some months in each year. The corn was sown in lazy-beds, or, as they are still called in the Hebrides, Talamh Taomaidh. The island was reputed very fruitful in corn “ until the late years of scarcity and bad seasons.” These years “ brought them very low, and many of the poor people have died of famine.” Before that time corn was so abundant that they brewed “ several sorts of liquors, as common usquebaugh, another called Trestarig, id est aqua—vitæ, three times distilled, which is strong and hot.” (Western Islands, pp. 2 and 3.)

The live—stock of the island consisted of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and hogs. He then proceeds—“ There are abundance of deer in the Chase of Oservaul, which is 15 miles in compass, consisting in mountains, and valleys between them: this affords good pasturage for the deer, black cattle, and sheep. This forest, for so they call it, is surrounded with the sea, except about one mile upon the west side : the deer are forced to feed on sea—ware, when the snow and frost continue long, having no wood to shelter in, and so are exposed to the rigour of the season.” (Ibid., p. 10.)

Oservaul, it may be explained, was the old name of what is now the Park Deer Forest. In the“Description of the Iles,”mentioned on the preceding page,we read—“Thair is na woods in the Lewis but ane great wildernes or forest callit Osirdaill, quhairin is sustenit mony deir, their for it is pleasant hunting.” In the Macfarlane Topographical Collection it is referred to as “ Oisserfaill,” and Blaeu has it “ Ostrafeald —misplaced, however. It is obviously derived from the Norse Austr (east) and Fjall (a mountain), meaning Eastern mountain,” in contradistinction with the Fjalls of Harris lying due west of it. The principal mountain on the east side of St. Kilda, it may be observed, is “Oisaval,” and has the same meaning. (For further references to Park Forest, see footnote on page 1 [Appendix]).

In consequence of the part taken by Lord Seaforth in the “Rising” of 1715 (as previously mentioned), his estates were forfeited and he himself was obliged to leave the country for a time. During his exile his tenants remained faithful and annually remitted a considerable portion of their rents. The Commissioners on the Forfeited Estates also endeavoured to collect rents from the same tenantry, but with indifferent success. In Ross and part of Inverness they were represented by William Ross, of Easter Fearn, and Robert Ross, a Bailie of Tain; These gentlemen had violent encounters with the Kintail tenants, and their annual collections from the Island of Lewis cannot have been large at any time—while in some years it was nil.

In 1718 a Judicial Rental of the Seaforth Estates was taken—-that is to say, the tenants were convened and judicially examined as to the rents they formerly paid and thereafter the amounts were entered in the rent-roll of the Commissioners as the rent of each farm, or township, as the case might be. These rentals are preserved among the Seaforth papers in the Register House in Edinburgh. That relating to the Island of Lewis bears the following heading :—

“Judicial Rentall or Account of the Reall Estate of William, late Earl of Seaforth, in ye Isle of Lewis, taken by Sr Patrick Strachan of Glenkindy, Surveyor Genll. Of the Forfeited Estates in North Brittain, upon the oath or depositions of the respective tenants or vassals of the sd. estate in presence of David Bethune of Cuilniskea, Substitute Sherif of Ross, by virtue of a Commission or Substitution from George Munro of Culcairn, Sheriff Deput of Ross, dated the twenty-nynth of Jully last.

This Rentall begun in Stornoway the first day of September 1718 years as follows.” [The rent of each possession is then given in detail.] On the first case being called (that of Donald Matheson, Raarnish), a protest was lodged by Colonel Alexander Mackenzie “ for saving the right of Kenneth Mackenzie of Assint, his pupill, to ye said Estate of Seafort as ye protestant [i.e., protesting] heir which protest was given in writing.” The deposition of the said Donald Matheson is recorded as follows :—
“ Appeared personally Donald Mathewsonne, Raarnish, and Parish of Lochs, who being deeply sworn and interrogat what rent he used to pay to ye said William, late Earle of Seaforth, MAKES OATH that he hath noe Tack of his possession at present, but had one which is expired from ye sd late Earle whom ye depn‘ calls Marquis of Seaforth as having power from his moy‘_' and that the Deponent does now pay one hundred pounds Scots and no more for his possession and does not ow any part of the said rent, having paid the last yearly rent to Mr. Zacharias M°Aulay, the ffactor, or Chamberlain, which is the truth as he shall answer to God. ‘
(Signed) “ D. MATHESON.
(Signed) “ DAVID BETHUNE.”

The next tacksman was John Mackenzie in Leurbost, who had “a tack from the late Seaforth as factor for his mother the Marchioness,” and which had expired. He paid a yearly rent of £116 18s. 8d. Scots to Mr. Zacharias Macaulay the factor. Mr. Macaulay, who was present, stated that his factory was from the Countess Dowager. It may be here mentioned that Mr. Macaulay had been factor for Lord Seaforth for a length of time before the forfeiture, and that he continued to act locally under the factors for the Forfeited Estates Commissioners. He had been educated at St. Andrews, is was a man of more than ordinary attainments. [He was the author of several Gaelic songs. The air of one of these (An gliogram chas) appears to have fascinated Burns, for he composed to it the song “ Blithe hae I been on you hill,” characterised by himself in in a letter to Thomson as “ one of the finest songs ever I made in my life.” In Burns’s works the title of Macaulay’s song is mis-spelled “ Liggeram cosh.”]
His cousin, the Rev. Aulay Macaulay, minister of Harris, was the great-grandfather of Lord Macaulay.

Most of the tacksmen appear to have had leases, and as a rule adhibited their names to their depositions, showing that they were men of education. The smaller tenants, on the other hand, had no leases, and few, if any, could write. Where the tenant failed to appear, a relative or a neighbour gave evidence on his behalf, and sometimes the factor deponed as to the rent.
The following is a copy of entry No. 65, and is quoted in full as a specimen of the depositions of the smaller tenants :—
“No. 65, Angus M°Eon, Donald M°Coll, John M°Wurchie, Malcolm M°Wirchie’. [Angus son of John, Donald son of Donald, John son of Murdo, Malcolm son of Murdo], “in Nether Bible and Parish afors“ [Ey] for themselves and for Murdoch M°Eon also there who is valetudinary and absent MAKE OATH that neither of them have a tack, but that each of them have in possession a farthing, for which they pay yearly sixteen merks Scots each and no more, which rent they have paid for several years past to Mr. M°Caulay ye Chamberlain and say they know no other Landlord but him self. And depone they cannot condescend what either of them is in arrear, but believe they may be owing some part of the last year’s rent each, which is the truth as they shall answer to God, and depone they cannot write. (Signed) “ DAVID BETHUNE.”

Each of these tenants (as they deponed) occupied a farthing land, and it may here be observed that, in the past, land in Lewis was divided into pennies, halfpennies, farthings, clitigs, and cianags. A clitig was of the value of half a farthing, while a cianag was of the value of half a clitig. A farthing land in Lewis was rented at 17s. 9⅓d. sterling in 1718.* [The yield of a farthing land in Harris prior to 1795 was computed at from four to five bolls. The stock was four milch cows, three or perhaps four horses, and as many sheep on the common as the tenant lad luck to rear. The rent of such a possession was from £1 10s. to £2 (Old Statistical Account, vol. x., p. 368)] [“Five Penny” is not an uncommon place—name in the Islands. The late Captain Thomas explains its origin thus——“ If only one family lived within the township it was a Penny land, such as Penny-Donald ; but the cultivable land was of some extent there would be several families within the dykes or township, and the collective enclosed land would be named from the number of those families, as Five-Penny Ness.” (Proceedings of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland, vol. xiv., p. 403).]

Along with the above depositions from the district of Eye it may be well to give the following from a different part of the island in order to further explain the position of the small tenants:—
“ Donald M°Grillimichaell, William M°Homas, Gillichallum M°Coilog, and John M°Conell“ [Donald son of the servant of Michael, William son of Thomas, Gille—Calum (now Malcolm, but literally servant of Columba) son of Donald the young, and John son of Donald.]in five penny landi of Borrow and Parish of Cladach aford MAKE OATH, severally that neither of them has any Tack of their possessions, But that each of hem pay yearly to ye above Mr. Zachary M°Aulay for behoof of ye Countes ford Nyne Pounds Scots, Two Bolls one Lipie meall, Fifteen pound weight of Butter, and three-fourths of a mutton. Depone they and each of them are someqt in arrear but know not the Particullars, and this is y‘’ truth as they and each of them shall answer to God, and depone they can’t write.(Signed) “ DAVID BETHUNE.”

This rent—roll has not been hitherto published, and is therefore given in Appendix O, pp. 47-54, in order to show the state of possession of land in Lewis in 1718. When the rent is wholly or partially in money it is stated in the depositions in pounds or merks Scots (as the case may be), but in the Appendix it is converted into money sterling. An asterisk (*) is prefixed to the name of every tenant who signed his deposition, while a dagger (T) is prefixed to the names of those for whom the factor gave evidence. All those not marked by either an asterisk or a dagger deponed they could not write.

An examination of the rent-roll shows that the first 64 entries apply to what in those days would be regarded as large farms, or tacks, the occupant of each of which would be designed as Fear Baile, or Tacksman. Twenty—two of them were Mackenzies, four MacLennans, and three Mathesons——doubtless trusted adherents of the Seaforth family on the mainland, who received lands in Lewis as the reward of their fidelity. Of native Lewis names, Macaulay, Morison, and Maciver are the principal. The smaller tenants in the country districts numbered 222. Surnames are uncommon among them. They are designed sometimes by personal characteristics, such as Glas (pale-faced), Og (young), Ban (fair), Mor (tall or stately); or by their occupations, such as Gobha or Gove (smith), Brebiter (weaver), Keard or Kaird (artificer) ; but more commonly by patronymics—each of which in many cases formed a respectable pedigree——such, for instance as “Erick Neindonall” (Euphemia daughter of Donald), “John M‘Oilicean” (John son of Donald son of John), “Duncan M‘GillichristvicCoilvicCormoid” (Duncan son of the servant of Christ son of Donald son of Norman), while “ Donald M‘Eanvicinishvicoil ” is Donald son of John son of Angus son of Donald. In the following name from the district of Back ecclesiastical descent is traced—“ Donald M’Coilvicneillvicintagart ” (Donald son of Donald son of Neill son of the priest) [One Nial Mac—an—t—sagairt, probably an ancestor of this tenant, appears to have caused trouble to the authorities about the beginning of the 17th century. The following entry concerning him appears in the records of the Privy Council under date 11th June 1611 :——“ The quhilk day comperit personalie Rorie McKenzie of Cogach tutour of Kintaill, and become actit and oblist as cautioun and souirtie for Neill Mclntagart in the Lewes, that he sall compeir personalie befoir the Lordis of Secrite Counsail so oft as he salbe lauchfully chairgit to that effect upoun thriescore dayes warneing, and answer to sic thingis as salbe layed to his charge, under the pane of ane thousand markis.—Rorie Mackansie of Cogaith.”] Nicknames, such as “ Lovely” and “ Baby,” are also used to identify some of the tenants.

In addition to the tenants in the rural districts of the island above referred to, there were 81 in the town of Stornoway. Of these, 14 were Mackenzies, while other mainland surnames, such as Matheson and MacLennan, are represented. The entries in the rent-roll do not throw any light on the number of sub-tenants on the farms, or of the number of cottars or squatters in the townships. The total rent of the island, as ascertained in course of the judicial inquiry, was as
follows :-

Meal: 256 bolls, 2 seteen, 2 peeks, ⅔ lippies.
Muttons: 183 10/16
Wedders: 45.
Butter: 173 stones, 14 lbs.
Tallow: 7 stones.
Salmon: 1 barrel.
Money: £713 3s 3 5/12 d

A note to the rental explains that the heritor paid the land tax and ministers stipend, being £1,000 (Scots), and £2,000 (Scots) per annum to the Crown and £100 (Scots) to a schoolmaster. The Vicarage rent due to the heritor was omitted. It was, however, explained that it consisted of lambs, wool, butter, cheese, &c., and was applied to the payment of the stipends, which in some years it exceeded and other years fell under. During the preceding two years it was collected by Colonel Mackenzie’s orders.

It was proposed to sell the Seaforth estates in 1722, and particulars of the various divisions of these were printed for the information of intending purchasers. The rental of the Lewis portion, as above shown, was partly in money and partly in kind. The particulars printed contained the money value of such portions of the rent as were paid in kind——the whole of the Lewis rental being stated thus in sterling money :—

Money: £713 3s 3 5/12 d
Oatmeal, 256 bolls: £89 2s 2⅓ d
Sheep, 228: £25 6s 8d
Butter, 173 stones: £28 19s 7d
Tallow, 7 stones: £1 3s 4d
Salmon, 1 barrel: £3 0 0
Total: £860 15s 0¾d

Although the rents had been ascertained, the factors do not appear to have been receiving payment, and the following letter from Mr. Zachary Macaulay to them is instructive as showing the condition of the island at that time :—

Stornova, February 22d 1721
GENTLEMEN,——Yours of the 16th January I received upon the 8th of February It’s not practicable to conveen the tennents of the Lewes att such a season as this but I shall take care that the contents of your letter be communicated to them all att their respective dwellings. I beleive, yee know, without my information, that my Lady Dowager of Seafort meddled with cropt one thousand seven hundred and fifteen, and Collonel Alexander M°Kenzie with cropts one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen, either by himself or his doers. None has meddled with cropt one thousand seven hundred and twentie.

Ffor the ordainary method of payment of the Lewes rents, pleas know that the rental consists of four branches (whatever mistake Glenkindy might have been in) viz., money, meal, butter,_ and mutton. The three last branches were punctually received in their seasons. As for the money branch, ther was very little of it payed in cash. But in the monthes of October and November, cowes were raised and slaughtered, and the beefe sent to such mercats as the manadgers thought fit. Then in January, February, etc., Aquavity was received for a considerable pairt of the money rent. In short, ther was hardly anything, the ground produced but was received in its season, and after all, a Whitsunday clearance, even for one cropt, was
never yet gotten in the Lewes. '

‘ I know no effects now in season (or that can be expected before May or June) but meal and some aquavity, and for the meal, being it’s a.little dangerous to leave it in the hands of the tennents, and that others more responsable may need it, I’le make bold to raise as much of it as the tennents may handsomely spare, and be answerable att a day for it. The aquavity they may delay to your own arrival. The nixt produce is milk cowes in the month of May. These for the most pairt may be sold within the Island. Therafter, in June and July, driveing cowes. How to dispose of them, yee know much better than I.

As for resistance or disobedience, ther is no danger att all, ther being no spot of ground in Great Brittain more effectualy disciplined into passive obedience than the poor Lewes Island. But I can assure yee shall find one rugged hag that will resist both King and Government, viz., POVERTY. It’s possible that this account from a person in my circumstances may seem disingenuous; but I only intreat that yee intertain no wrong impression that way, but suspend yer judgements till time and yer own experience determine the matter, and accordingly pass yer verdicts upon the report of, gentlemen,

Your humble servant,

The bearer, yer servant, took twenty shillings sterlin which wt ten to a boat for going over wt him makes thretty.

[The original letter, of which the above is an exact copy, is among the Seaforth Forfeited Estates
papers in the Register House, Edinburgh. The address on the back is—— To Mr. William Ross of Easter Ferne, and Mr. Robert Ross, Bayly of Tane.]

The Colonel Alexander Mackenzie referred to in the first paragraph is doubtless the same Colonel who protested at the judicial inquiry. The failure to pay rent at that period is also significant—a Whitsunday clearance never having been obtained in the island, according to Mr. Macaulay. The rugged hag Poverty, that would resist both King and Government, is unfortunately still with us.

There is no record of the factors having paid the Island a visit, but it is clear they were not in receipt of rents. In 1723 their accounts for the three preceding crops were audited and the following entry appears under the heading “Barony of Lewis” :—
The factors having had no intromission with the rents of this Barony for the cropt 1722, nor with the rents or rests of preceding years, except £1 10s. payed by Zachary Macaulay, Discharge themselves thereof by the remainder of the rents resting as per rental inside.

The rents for the three years are stated in the accounts thus :—
Crop 1720, £827 7 9
Crop 1721, £827 7 9
Crop 1722, £827 7 9
£2,482 3 3

The factors give credit for the sum of £1 10s. paid by Mr. Macaulay, as stated in the P.S. to his letter quoted on- the preceding page, and discharge themselves of the balance of £2,480 13s. 3d. Although the Lewis tenants of this period did not pay rents to the Forfeited Estates Commissioners, it is probable that, like the mainland tenants, they paid to the exiled Earl.

In 1725 the Forfeited Estates Commissioners reported that they did not sell the estate of William, Earl of Seaforth, “ not having been able to obtain possession, and consequently to give the same to a purchaser.” The exiled chief received a “ simple pardon ” in 1726, and thereafter returned to the Highlands. He appears to have spent a considerable part of his time in Lewis. After that period perhaps the most noteworthy event in connection with land occupation in the Island was the introduction of potatoes. Before 1735 potatoes were rarely raised in fields in any part of Scotland. In 1743 they were planted for the first time in the Outer Hebrides; and by 1750 their cultivation had reached the north of Shetland. But while these dates may be regarded as indicating the time when potato growing became general in the Islands, potatoes were introduced into certain districts many years earlier. Martin, writing of Skye about 1695, says the ordinary diet of the people consisted of “ butter, cheese, milk, potatoes, colworts, brochan, i.e., oatmeal and water boiled. The latter, taken with some bread, is the constant food of several thousands of both sexes in this and other isles during winter and spring ” (Western Isles, p. 201).

The exact date of the introduction of potatoes into Lewis is not known, but the minister of Stornoway, who appears to have written about that parish in 1796, says :—
“With the utmost difficulty, about 40 years ago, the people were prevailed on to plant potatoes, but of which they now plant great quantities by the plough and by the spade, and find them to be the most useful of all crops raised in the Parish” (Old Statistical Account, vol. xix., p. 249.)

The time stated by the writer would indicate the introduction of potatoes to Lewis to have been about 1756; but it is probable they were cultivated there for years before that date, seeing they were grown in South Uist from 1743 onwards. Dr. John Walker in his Economical History of the Hebrides (1812) narrates the circumstances under which potatoes were brought to South Uist. In the spring of 1743 Clanranald was in Ireland on a visit to his relative Macdonell of Antrim, and was greatly interested in the potato culture which he saw in that country. He brought a cargo home with him to South Uist. “ On his arrival, the tenants in the Island were convened, and directed how to plant them ; but they all refused. On this, they were all committed to prison. After a little confinement, they agreed, at last, to plant these unknown roots, of which they had a very unfavourable opinion. ‘When they were raised in autumn, they were laid at the chieftain’s gate by some of the tenants, who said, the laird indeed might order them to plant these foolish roots, but they would not be forced to eat them. In a very little time however, the inhabitants of South Uist came to know better, when every man of them would have gone to prison, rather than not plant potatoes.” (Vol. i., p. 251.)

Reverting to the subject of tacksmen—that is tenants who rented extensive holdings and usually had a large number of sub—tenants residing on their lands paying them rent, in money or labour—Lewis had its share of them; but we do not hear such serious complaints made against them as against those in the neighbouring islands. The tacksmen of former days were of two classes. Those who came first in date were the friends of the Chief, and deemed it a duty to have a large number of sub-tenants with whom they dealt kindly.

James Macdonald, in his General View of the Agriculture of the Hebrides (1811), refers to the old order of tacksmen as follows :—“ Various causes, which are sufficiently obvious, combined to throw the greater part of the Hebrides into the hands of this description of men. They were friends or relatives of proprietors, who had no other means of providing for their connections than by giving them portions of their lands. Nor, indeed, must we confound the class of men under review, with the common run of lowland or of English farmers. They were, and in many parts still continue to be to this day, men of elegant manners, good education, and capable of acquitting themselves in every relation of life, and in every part of the world, as finished gentlemen. The ridicule, therefore, which ignorance often attempted to fix upon them for the smallness of their incomes, and the circumstance of their tenures of lands being incompatible with the personal consideration and respect which they claimed, was ill-placed and impertinent. They were, in fact, by birth, manners, and education, gentlemen ; "and supported that character with admirable consistency in public and private life, in peace and war, in the palace, drawing-room, or in the field of battle” (pp. 73-74).

In illustration of the respect in which the old Highland tacksmen were held, reference may be made to Thomas Mackenzie of Langwell, Lochbroom, who died there on 13th February 1825, aged 82. Concerning him the Inverness Courier of 10th March 1825 had the following :—“ He was the last in that part of the country of the well—educated, well-bred, and intelligent class of farmers called ‘ the old school.’ He was the sixth in succession of the same family on the same farm. His body was conveyed over a distance of eleven miles to the place of interment, on the shoulders of above five hundred Highlanders, who spontaneously assembled to render to his memory that last melancholy tribute; and he was laid in the grave amidst a multitude of weeping relatives and friends, by six sons, all grown up and able men.

The later tacksmen were as a rule commercial men, who exacted what they could from their sub-tenants.Knox, who visited Lewis in 1786, says that 40 years previous to that date the then factor farmed the Whole island, and paid Seaforth a yearly rent of £1,000. The improvements in course of the interval resulted in a rent—roll of £2,500 in 1786. The Rev. John Lane Buchanan, writing in 1789, says “ The greatest tacksman in Lewis is the Laird’s ground oflicer,” but he adds that the island was for the most part inhabited by tenants holding directly from Seaforth, who “ easily perceived the folly as well as the inhumanity, of lending out the people on his island to imperious tacksmen, for the purpose of raising fortunes to themselves on the ruins of the unfortunate sub-tenants.” [Travels in the Hebrides: from 1782 to 1790,” page 34.]

We do not hear much about tacksmen from the ministers of Lewis in the Old Statistical Account except in the case of Stornoway. In that Parish there were the (1796) twelve large farms, “ and what portion of each of them is not occupied by the tacksman himself, is let to sub-tenants, who pay to him, each person from £1 10s. to £3 of yearly rent, and twelve days service.” (Vol. XIX., p. 248.)

In 1806 Mr. Robert Brown, Sheriff-Substitute of the Western District of Inverness-shire, wrote a volume in reply to Lord Selkirk’s Observations on the State of the Highlands, in the course of which he (Brown) states that the Island of Lewis, “ with the exception of some hill pasture let to shepherds, is mostly occupied by small tenants.” P. 47.

Mr. John Munro Mackenzie of Calgarry, who had been for some years Chamberlain of the Lewis Estate, and was well acquainted with the history of the island, maintained that the greater part of Lewis had been in the hands of tacksmen till the beginning of the nineteenth century. Examined in Edinburgh before the Napier Commission in 1883, he said :—
“ Till the beginning of this century, the greater part of the Lewis was in the hands of tacksmen, or middlemen, who got in some cases from their sub-tenants in money, produce, and labour what nearly paid their rents. There were the Macivers of the Parish of Stornoway, the Morisons and Murrays of Barvas, the M‘Aulays of Uig, and the M‘Leods of Lochs. When Mr. Stewart-Mackenzie married the Hon. Lady Hood, daughter of Lord Seaforth, and took the management of the estate into his own hands, he did away with the middlemen, and let the land direct to the crofters. This, no doubt, was a step in the right direction, but it had its disadvantages, as the example of a good middleman, who looked after his people, and who was industrious in farming and attentive in stock—breeding, was beneficial to the people, though in some cases they may have been petty tyrants.” (Minutes of Evidence, Vol. IV,, p. 3305.)

Macdonald in his General View of the Agriculture of the Hebrides (previously mentioned) held a similar opinion, his first recommendation on the question of tenure being as follows :—“ Sub-setting of lands should be gradually abolished, excepting in some of the remoter and larger islands, where gentlemen farmers are necessary for the maintenance of good order in the country.” (P. 568.)

A comparison of the rent—roll of 1718 with the current valuation roll affords striking evidence of the disappearance of the middleman. In the former, Raarnish, Leurabost, Laxay, Balallan, Breinish, Croulista, Kneep, Borve, Callernish, Carloway, Brue, Grarrabost, Barvas, and several other farms are entered in the names of tacksmen. As elsewhere throughout the Highlands and Islands there were doubtless on these farms a large body of sub-tenants. On the disappearance of the Lewis middlemen these subtenants became tenants‘ of the proprietor, and we have their descendants at the present day as crofters. In other cases some of the smaller farms, such as Arshadder, Pabbay, and Little Bernerary, have ceased to be residential subjects, and are now occupied as crofters’ shielings or other grazings. In several places, on the other hand, the small tenants have disappeared, as also the small tacksmen, and their possessions have been consolidated into large farms. For instance, “ Adderawill,” Carnish, etc., now form Ardroil ; while North and South Gralson form the farm of Galson. Similarly, Linshadder has absorbed several smaller places.

Consolidations on the one hand, and divisions and sub—divisions on the other, have resulted in producing the large number of farms, forests, and townships enumerated in Appendices P, Q, and R (pages 55-63), many of which do not appear in the rental of 1718 (pp. 47-54), although doubtless most of the land was then in occupation. In connection with the rental of 1718 it is worthy of remark that, with the exception of Hawbost, none of the farms and townships named is situated in the district of Oservaul or Park. There were small tenants there at a later date, however ; and considerable numbers have been removed from Scaladail, Isgean, Stiomravagh, and other places when the Park peninsula was being converted into a sheep farm; but in 1718 Oservaul was the home of deer, and of no letting value at that time. In summer, tenants from other quarters had shielings there, as such names as Airidh Dhomhuill and Airidh Thormaid testify.

In Appendix P, page 59, we reproduce from Mr. Macneill and Sheriff—Substitute Fraser’s report on the cottar population of Lewis in 1888, a History of the Peninsula of Park compiled from the estate records and contributed by Mr. William Mackay, the then Chamberlain.

In 1825 the Parishes of Barvas, Lochs, and Uig were exposed for judicial sale in Edinburgh “for payment of the entailer’s debts under an Act of Parliament “ (37 Geo. III., cap. 23). The particulars contained in the advertisement in the Edinburgh Evening Courant for some weeks prior to the sale, are of interest as showing the estimated value of these three parishes at that time, and may be briefly stated thus :—

Estimated land rent after deduction of public burdens
£1517 15s 5d
£1695 1s 10d
£1862 2s 5d
£7,140 19s 8d
Tons of kelp produced
Proceeds after deduction of expenses of making
Proven value at 23 years’ purchase
£34,908 14s 7d
£38,987 2s 2d
£42,828 15s 7d
£137,384 12s 4d
Proven value at 10 year’s purchase
The advertisers explained that these lands had been formerly let at much higher rents than they were then valued at, but that owing to the remoteness of the situation and the late depreciation of land produce, a reduction of from 25 to 30 per cent had been made on the advice of the witnesses examined for the purposes of the sale. The sale took place in the Parliament House on 2nd March 1825 before Lord Medwyn, Lord Ordinary on the Bills. The upset price was £137,384 12s. 4d. (being the value set forth in the advertisement), and after spirited bidding the property was secured by Mr. Stewart Mackenzie at the price of £160,000. The possession of the Island was thus secured to the Seaforth family for the time. It may be added that Sir James Matheson paid only £30,000 more for the whole Island twenty years later, but it has to be kept in view that while, according to the advertisement, the kelp shores’ of the three parishes exposed for sale in 1825 at ten years’ purchase on the net annual values added £20,660 to the estimated capital value, they were of little or no value at the date of Sir James Matheson’s purchase.

The “land hunger” of which we have heard so much during the last 15 or 20 years appears to have manifested itself in Lochs before 1833, for the minister of the Parish, writing in the New Statistical Account in that year, says—“ The poor people are glad, at present, to have a spot of ground, at whatever price, to ensure some food for the ensuing year.” (Ross and Cromarty, p. 166.)

Mr. Thomas Knox, who became Chamberlain of Lewis in 1833, was examined before a Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament on the question of emigration in 1841. At that time there were 1,913 small tenants in the island, who paid yearly rents varying from £3 3s. 9d. to £3 12s. 3d. He stated that the country produced sufficient corn for the use of the people in most seasons. The years 1836-1837 were exceptional, and outside relief then became necessary, but he would not consider any person in Lewis poor who had a Lot of land, however small, if it were sufficiently stocked. There were, however, in the island small tenants occupying land that was not suitable for raising grain, and in order to avoid the recurrence of such distress as had occurred in some recent years he advocated the emigration of about 6,000 persons from these localities, and that the ground should be put under sheep. This course had been followed in 1838, when five families numbering 70 souls were removed, and the land previously occupied by them converted into sheep farms. The above may be regarded as the purport of Mr. Knox’s evidence so far as is relates to the occupation of the land. Sir James Matheson purchased the island in 1844 at a cost of £190,000, or about 9s. 4d. per acre. There were then 2,110 tenants, who may be classified thus :—

Paying under £1 per annum, — — — 123
Paying above £1 and under £2 10s., - — 515
Paying above £2 10s. and under £5, - — 1,299
Paying above £5 and under £10, - - 129
Paying above £10 and under £30, — — 18
Paying above £30 and under £100, — - 21
Paying above £100 and under £250, — - . 4
Paying above £250 and under £600, — - 1
Total, 2,110

The rental at that time, exclusive of feu-duties but including salmon fishings and shootings (the latter being only £200), was £10,681.[ It is not quite clear how much of this sum was in respect of land. It was stated by the Chamberlain in 1883 before the Napier Commission to have been £10,256 (Minutes of Evidence, p. 1090); while in 1894 the Estate Agent before the Deer Forest Commission stated it at £9,437 19s. 2d. (Minutes of Evidence, p. 1079). In Letters from the Highlands, reprinted from The Times in 1884, the agricultural rental of Lewis in 1844 is estimated at £9,800 (p. 69).]

Shortly after the purchase of the estate by Sir James Matheson the potato failure led to much destitution. To cope with the situation in Lewis, Sir James began his large expenditure on works, partly in the hope of improving the estate and partly for the purpose of providing employment for his tenants in their distress. The amount expended by him has been stated with some detail at an earlier stage of this Report. (See page xv.) The result of the expenditure so far as land is concerned will be referred to later. (See pages lxxvii—viii.)

During the Seaforth ownership small tenants had been removed, and sheep farms were in some quarters formed. Soon after Sir James Matheson acquired the property,afforesting began, but not on a large scale. About 1850, sheep were cleared from the lands of Morsgail and Scaliscro, and both these farms converted into deer forests. Run-rig prevailed throughout the island at one time. It, however, had been partially abolished early in the nineteenth century. In the years 1849, 1850, and 1851 the whole croft lands were surveyed, re-allotted, and valued ; and almost every vestige of run—rig put an end to—the tenants getting individual holdings. The general result of this revaluation and resettlement was an increase of from 10 to 12 per cent on the rental—an increase that Mr. Munro Mackenzie, the then Chamberlain, did not consider too much in the altered circumstances of the island, brought about by the making of roads, regular steam communication, fencing, and other improvements. This again was a period of destitution, for in 1850 there were (according to Mr. Munro Mackenzie) not fewer than 12,829 persons in Lewis receiving supplies of meal from the Destitution Committee.[ Napier Commission Evidence, p. 3305.] In the following year Sir John Macneill made his Report to the Board of Supervision on “ The state of the Highlands and Islands.” In Lewis he found 2,628 families of crofters paying a gross rent of £6,854 14s. 7d. giving an average rent for each of £2 12s. 2d. Of these, 577 paid rents under £2 per annum, the aggregate amount being £669 7s. 2d., or an average of £1 3s. 2¼d. each. The souming at that time was one cow and one stirk, and five sheep, for every pound
of rent.

The lands in the occupancy of the various classes of crofters it was estimated would not keep them in food, etc., for more than six months of the year; and accordingly they had to go to the Caithness fishing, or seek employment elsewhere, in order to pay their rents and maintain themselves during the remainder of the year. In addition to the crofters there were then in the island about 800 houses occupied by persons who did not possess any land.

Tenants paying under £4 did not pay assessments directly at that time; and there were thus only 891 in the island who were on the assessment roll. Of these, 58 paid assessments on rents over £30 a year; while there were 833 whose rents varied from £4 to £30. By deducting this number of 833 from the total of 2,628 stated by Sir John Macneill it is seen there were then in‘ the island 1.795 tenants paying rents under £4 per annum.

The following is a classification of the ratepayers of Lewis in 1850:—

Number of ratepayers
Rents assessed on

Aggregate amount of rent
£587 2s 7d
£802 6s 5d
£654 2s 2d
£671 15s
£385 10s
£1879 7s 8d
£839 11s

Sir James Matheson on lands and house property
£4582 6s 4d
Total: 891

£12,398 1s 2d

In the succeeding years there were fair crops; and when Mr. Munro Mackenzie left Lewis in 1854 he considered the people were in comparatively comfortable circumstances. He had been very strict in the matter of collecting rents, and after six years’ experience did not leave more than half-a—year’s rent in arrear throughout the island. In 1874 attention was directed to the question of crofter holdings in Lewis by what is commonly known as the Bernera Riots. In that case the then Chamberlain, who was also a solicitor in Stornoway (Mr. Donald Munro), took out summonses for removal against 56 crofters in the Island of Bernera, and sent an officer to serve the same. After the officer had completed the service he was followed by a number of persons, whose treatment of him led to three Bernera men being afterwards tried before the Sheriff with a Jury at Stornoway on a charge of assault committed on an officer of the law in revenge for having executed his duty. The Chamberlain was examined for the prosecution. His cross—examination by the late Mr. Charles Innes, solicitor, Inverness, who acted for the defence, was intended to show the excessive sway exercised by him in the island. In answer to questions by Mr. Innes he stated he was, or had been till shortly before, Chairman of the Parochial Boards and of the School Boards of each of the four parishes; Vice-Chairman of the Harbour Trustees; Director of the Stornoway Gas Company : Director of the Stornoway Water Company; Deputy-Chairman of the Road Trust ;‘ legal adviser to each of the four Parochial Boards; Chief Magistrate of Stornoway; Justice of the Peace; a Commissioner of Supply and a Commissioner under the Income Tax Acts; a Notary Public; Commanding Ofiicer of the local Volunteer Company; and Procurator—Fiscal of the island; while one of his clerks was Collector of Poor-rates.
In answer to other questions he said:—“I did not consult Sir James Matheson about removing the people, and I issued all the summonses of removing against them without receiving instructions from him so to do. I am not in the habit of consulting Sir James about every little detail connected with the management of the estate. Q.—Oh! Then you considered the removing of 56 crofters and their families too small a matter to trouble Sir James about? A.—I did.”
The jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

Soon thereafter the Chamberlain demitted office; and it is unnecessary to refer further to the Bernara case than to say that it was not without its effect throughout the island. .
When the land agitation commenced in 1881 the Lewis crofters entered into it with ardour, and afterwards large numbers of them gave evidence before the Napier Commission.
Mr. William Mackay, the Chamberlain at that time, appeared at the sittings of the Commission in Lewis and gave information as to the rental, number of tenants, and other matters. He stated the total crofting rental of the Island then at £8,463; and gave details as to some of the parishes. In Uig, for instance, there were 419 crofter holdings with a rental of £1,533. In addition to them there were 147 cottars. There were seven tacksmen in the same parish paying a gross rental of £1,274 5s. 0d. In Barvas there were 812 crofters paying a rent of £2,330 4s. 6d. Many of the cottar class had their names entered in the rent--roll in 1881 (as will be afterwards explained), and in consequence the number of squatters, or cottars, in Barvas in 1883 was only 87. There was only one large farm in the parish, and it, together with grazings let to the miller at Dell in Ness, paid a gross rent of £403 9s. 6d. The crofter rental of Stornoway in the same year was £2,491 1s. 6d. As regards the rental of the whole island in 1882-83 Mr. Mackay stated the salmon fishings at £145, the shootings at £3,754, and the land rental at £12,713 4s. 10d.
Other subjects owned by Lady Matheson (who four years previously had succeeded to the estate) brought up the total rent to £18,163 5s. 8d. It may be proper to point out here that there is an inaccuracy in the statement of the rental set forth at page 1090 of the Napier Commission Evidence—doubtless arising from a typographical error or clerical omission. The details given only amount to £17,783 4s. 10d. It may, however, be assumed that the gross rental was correctly
stated at £18,163 5s. 8d.

In consequence of sub—division, and changes carried out or sanctioned by the estate management, the number of tenants on the estate has greatly increased since 1844. The process of sub—division had been begun before then, however, and in course of the re—allottment in 1849-1851 some of the sub-divided holdings appear to have been converted into separate holdings. On this question Mr. Munro Mackenzie, in his statement given at page 93 of the Appendix to Sir John Macneill’s Report (1851), says :—
“ The division of lots had been made about forty years ago; and, on a considerable number of them, it was found that two or three families had since settled, who either held the lot in common, or had divided it amongst them. In the townships that have been re—lotted, a separate lot has been assigned to each lotter. In some cases of aged couples, widows, and other persons incapable of cultivating a large lot, the original lot has been sub-divided, so as to give to each of such persons the quantity of land they were capable of managing. But in no case are two families permitted to occupy the same lot.”
[Mr. James Macdonald, in his General View of the Agriculture of the Hebrides (1811), comments on the smallness of Lewis holdings. “ Farthing lands,” he wrote, “ought not on any account to be allowed, being too small a farm for the maintenance of a family.” “ No smaller sub-division of lands than halfpenny lands ought to be permitted,” and on the death of the tenant these should descend to “the eldest son, or to some one heir, and not the whole of the family” (p. 814).]
The process of sub-division, however, continued, and Mr. William Mackay, Chamberlain, having stated before the Napier Commission at Miavaig that there were 147 squatters or cottars in the Parish of Uig, desired at a subsequent sitting to explain how there were only 87 of that class in Barvas.The following quotation from Mr. Mackay’s evidence requires no comment:

14946. The Chairman (Lord Napier)—You wish, I believe, to make a statement to us? Mr. Mackay—Yes, I do so, in the way of accounting for the small number of what I call squatters or cottars that appear in the statement I have to make. I am speaking of 1881. In opening a new rent ledger, I entered the names of squatters and cottars who had been about ten or fifteen or twenty years as such paying rent, not directly to the landlord, but to the crofter, though perhaps both of them would appear at the rent-collection day. That led to trouble and sometimes confusion. I entered the whole of them in our ledger. The number now in the rent-roll in the Parish of Barvas is 812.

14947. Paying directly to the landlord? A.—Yes.
14948. Mr. Cameron of Lochiel—And they were cottars before? A.—They were squatters.
14949. The Chairman—About how many were admitted at that time? A.-Probably about one-third of 812. Since 1881 up to this date I find there are 87 squatters or sub-tenants.
14950. Mr. Cameron—These are not entered in the rent—roll? A.—No.
14951. The Chairman—Have they all built their houses since 1881 ? A.—Yes, so far as known to me. The rental of the 812 crofters is £2,330 4s. 6d,, or an average of £2 17s. 4d. per crofter.”

Mr. Malcolm Macneill and Sheriff-Substitute Fraser, in their report on the condition of the Lewis cottars in 1888, observe that “ crofts already too small to maintain one individual are made the home of three or even four families ” (see p. 5). The general result of this sub-division was that in 1894 there were nearly 1,000 more holdings in the island than there were when Sir James Matheson acquired it fifty years previously. The total number of crofter holdings in .1894 was 3,076, and of these not fewer than 483 were rented at sums not exceeding £1 per annum, their
distribution throughout the four Parishes being as follows :—Barvas, 126 ; Lochs, 59 ; Stornoway, 232; and Uig, 66.

The number 3076 sets forth the rent-payers as the same appear on the roll of the estate, but it is unquestionable that the real number is considerably larger. A son marries, builds a house beside the original croft house, and gets a part of the holding to cultivate. He contributes a part of the rent, either by paying it direct to the tenant or towards the tenant’s account at the estate office. There are thus many householders throughout the island interested in the land, but without any legal title to occupancy. Reference may here be made to pp. xxii—xxiii of the Report of the “ Royal Commission (Highlands and Islands, 1892) ” (commonly known as the Deer Forest Commission) where the question of sub-division in Lewis is dealt with, and illustrations of the same given.

There is no reliable information as to the exact number of squatters, or cottars, in Lewis at present, but the estate management estimated it in 1894 at between 900 and 1000. These are for the most part relatives of the crofters, but they nevertheless constitute a serious incubus on every crofter township.

Elsewhere in the Highlands, enlargement of holdings affords at least partial, I possibly in some cases full, relief. In Lewis, on the other hand, the congestion of the: crofter townships is such that enlargement under the Crofters Act, even if it were incompetent to any material extent, will not meet the requirements of the situation. It is impossible to enlarge individual crofts there except by consolidating adjoining vacant crofts with them. Such an opportunity as this rarely occurs, for there are always numerous landless persons applying for every vacant holding.
Applications for enlargement under the Act have in every case been opposed by the estate management in Lewis, and in one instance only were we in a position to assign land in terms of the Act. That was in 1890, when 61 acres from the farm of Galson were assigned to eight crofters of Mid-Borve, in the Parish of Barvas, at a gross rent of £13 4s.

In the same year an application by crofters in the township of South Dell, in the Ness district, who also applied for part of Galson, was refused on the ground that the granting of the same would materially affect the letting value of the remainder of the farm. [Section 13 (3)
In 1891 the following applications for enlargement of holdings were dealt with:—
(1.) Crofters of Croulista for the lands of Carnish, forming part of the farm of Ardroil;
(2.) Crofters of Valtos, for Reef and Pabbay ;
(3.) Crofters of Kneep, for Reef ;
(4.) Crofters of Tobson and Vallasay, Bernera, for the lands of Liunndail ;
(5.) Crofters from the latter two townships for Little Bernera—all the lands applied for in the latter four cases being portions of the farm of Linshadder.

The five applications above mentioned were refused on the ground that the two farms of which the lands applied for formed parts, had been under lease for a term of years at the passing of the Act, an.d current at the date of hearing. The applications were accordingly dismissed as incompetent [section 13 (2)].

After the expiry of the-lease of Linshadder, the crofters of Kneep made a second application for the lands of Reef. At the inquiry in 1896 it was elicited that both Linshadder and Reef were then let to the same tenant, but on different missives of lease; The rent of Reef under the new arrangement did not exceed £100, and the application was opposed on that ground. The objection was sustained, having regard to the terms of section 13 (3) (c) of the Act.

An application by the crofters of Sandwick for a park let to the tenant of the farm of Holm, near Stornoway, was refused on similar grounds, in 1892.

Crofters in Laxdale applied for part of the Manor Farm, near Stornoway. It was opposed, and after inquiry in 1891, was refused on the ground that the granting thereof would operate material damage to the letting value of the remainder of the farm [section 13 (3) (b)].

One other application falls to be mentioned, viz. :—that of crofters in the Carloway district who applied for the Island of Little Bernera. After the lodging of the application the estate management let the said island to certain crofters in Bernera-mor. We held, in the circumstances, that the land applied for was not available. We accordingly refused the application, but at the same time reserved to the applicants to apply for Little Bernera of new in the event of the land again becoming available. While the estate management opposed all these applications for enlargement, they gave some land to crofters, but we are not in a position to state the area in each case. It may, however, be explained that the total area of farms above £30 of rent was stated by the Chamberlain in 1888 as extending to 66,486 acres, while in 1894 it was stated to the Deer Forest Commission at 65,969, showing that in the interval the farms had been reduced by 517 acres; and it is understood that that extent was given to crofter townships in extension of grazings.

All the applications for enlargement we have referred to were by crofters who desired to better their position, while retaining possession of their present holdings. The position of the cottars and squatters is different. Their remedy is either emigration or migration. To the latter the majority of them pin their hopes, and point to the areas in the island presently under sheep and deer, as places where they could better their condition. The principal farms may be here referred to. These are in different parts of the island—but mainly in the Parish of Uig. In Barvas the only large farm is Galson, extending to 6,236 acres. Dalbeg and Dalmore, in this parish, are let as one farm. In the Parish of Stornoway, the farms of Gress and Coll extend to 8,929 acres and 4,695 acres respectively. Besides these, there are other smaller farms containing a fair proportion of arable land.

In Uig the largest farm is Ardroil, which extends to 12,000 acres. Another farm there, Linshader, in 1888 extended to 10,971. It has, however, been somewhat curtailed since then, but we are not in a position to state its present extent. Mealista extends to 5,440 acres, and Tuimisgarry to 4,100 acres.

The oldest abode of deer in the island was Oservaul, now Park, but it was only cleared of sheep in 1886. Morsgail and Scaliscro were cleared of sheep and put under deer about 1850. Aline, the only other forest, was cleared about the same period. Grrimersta is a sporting subject and is classed with the forests, but its chief sporting attractions are salmon and grouse. Arnish had been under deer, but is now under cattle and sheep.

A Return of Deer Forests published by Order of the House of Commons in 1899 (Parliamentary Paper No. 346) states the same areas for Aline, Morsgail, and Park, as were stated to the Deer Forest Commission in 1894. Scaliscro had, however, been increased from 3,143 acres in that year to 6,099 acres in 1898 when the Return was prepared.

The small forest of Arnish near Stornoway (which was usually shot over in connection with the castle moors) was stated to the Deer Forest Commission as extending to 2,776 ; but in the Parliamentary Return it is given as 2,606. The deer forest areas of the island stand thus, according to the latest published Reports.

Aline, 8,774 acres.
Park, 41,913 acres
Morsgail, 13,311 acres
Scaliscro, 6,099 acres
Grimersta, 5,178 acres
Total, 75,275 acres.

Mr. George Walker, Port-Lethen, in course of his report on agricultural depression, in 1879 described the over-crowded state of the crofter townships in Lewis. He considered that emigration to the extent of one-half of the population would be the most, effectual cure, but, recognising the attachment of the people to the land of their birth, suggested, in order to meet the existing situation, that “ townships might be put down in eligible sites, giving long leases or feus to tenants, and assistance to build comfortable and suitable houses; and, as opportunity occurred, the present wretched houses in old townships should be reduced in number and improved.” Further on, he added that “ convenient portions of sheep farms might be given off to new crofters.” While making these suggestions he, however, considered, in View of the large number of the population, that giving effect to them would only serve as temporary measures of relief. [Reports of the Assistant Commissioners (Royal Commission on Agriculture), p. 558.

The Deer Forest Commission scheduled lands in 15 different places as suitable for new holdings, extending in the aggregate to 1,618 acres old arable, and 34,516 acres pasture, as follows :—

Old arable (acres)
Pasture (acres
Parish of Lochs

Stiomrabhagh grazings
Eilean Chaluim Chille
Eilean Orasaidh and Eilean Rosaidh

Parish of Uig

Mangursta Grazings
Carnis (part of)
Tuimisgearraidh Grazings
Linshadder Grazings
Parish of Barvas

Dalbeag Grazings (part of)
Galson Grazings (part of)
Parish of Stornoway

Arnish deer forest (part of)
In 1901 a sheepfarm
Aignish Grazings

Gress Grazings

They also scheduled the following 10 separate subjects as suitable for extension of existing crofters’ holdings:

Old arable (acres)
Pasture (acres
Parish of Uig

Morsgail Deer Forest

Scaliscro Deer Forest
Parish of Lochs

Aline Deer Forest
Park Deer Forest
Parish of Stornoway

Aignish Grazings (part of)
Melbost Grazings (part of)

Goathill Grazings (part of)
Tunga (Tong) Grazings (part of) (Gearraidh Scoir)
Coll Grazings (part of), south side
Coll Grazings (part of), north side

With regard to the scheduling of Morsgail, Aline, and Park, the Commissioners
added the following explanatory note :—
The Commissioners deem it right to explain that they have scheduled these forests (Morsgail, Aline,and Park,Nos. 90,91,and 92) in respect of the exceptional circumstance of the case. They have abstained from scheduling similar lands on the mainland. They do not believe that the lands now scheduled are suitable for new Holdings; but were these lands occupied as common pasture by the crofters, under a properly adjusted system of management, their occupation would be of much advantage to the occupants and more than outweigh any disadvantages,or supposed disadvantages, otherwise arising. In considering the case of Lewis, it cannot be left out of view that the congestion is very great, and the demand by crofters for access to the lands now scheduled is of a very urgent nature. The Commissioners recognise that in the event of these lands, or any considerable portion thereof, being assigned, such rents as are presently obtainable will probably not be got, and that there may be accordingly a corresponding increase of rates upon other parts of the island.” (Book of Reference to Deer Forest Commission Maps, p. 44.)

We have no details as to the estate expenditure on lodges; but in the general statement of outlays incurred by the late Sir James Matheson is the following :—“ Cost of outlay on shooting-lodges, £19,289.” Doubtless, considerable sums have been expended under this head since Sir James’s death in 1878. The sporting rental of the island in 1882-3 was stated at £3,899 ; in 1894 it was £6,135. The present sporting rental, including deer forests, salmon fishings, grouse moors, shooting-lodges, castle grounds and policies, is £5,798 (Valuation Roll, 1901-2). With regard to the farms in Lewis, we were furnished by the estate management in the course of our inquiries in the island in 1888 with a statement giving particulars as to rents, alteration of boundaries, &c., from 1844 to 1888. An examination of this document shows there have been extensive alterations——lands added to farms in some places, and lands taken off in others. There were corresponding variations in the rents, and, as a chapter in the history of land-holding in Lewis, it is given in Appendix P, pp. 55-59. We append to it the Chamberlain’s history of the peninsula of Park (referred to on p. lxix).

At the same time we were furnished with a statement showing the extent of these various farms, amount expended upon them by the proprietor from 1844 to 1888, and the rent at the latter date. We have put the figures in tabular form, and added a column giving the present rents as the same appear in the current Valuation Roll, as follows :—

STATEMENT showing total Areas of Farms above £30 of Rent per annum in the Island of Lewis; Expenditure on same by the Proprietor prior to 1888, and Rent in that year, based on Statements submitted by the Estate Management to the Crofters Commission in 1888; and also the Present Rent, as the same appears in the Valuation Roll for the year 1901-2.

Name of farm
Extent in area
Estate expenditure
in £
Rent in 1888
In £
Rent in 1901-2
in £
Parish of Barvas

6236 (1)
165 13s 6d
Dell Mill and Lands
50 2s 6d
Parish of Lochs

Crobeg, Orinsay &c
110 2s
30 2s 6d
Parish of Stornoway

100 12s 3d
146 12s 6d
60 6s
Manor Farm
Gress Mill and lands
167 3s
North Tolsta
Parish of Uig

Ardroil and Ardmore
190 2s
Linshadder &c
44 15S

2,596 10s 6d
1,835 0s 9d
(1) Of which 61 acres have since been assigned to the crofters of Mid-Borve.
(2) The outlays on Valtos, Manor, Tong, and Croir farms have not been furnished.

The farm rental was stated before the Deer Forest Commission at £2,279. It will
be seen accordingly there was a decline of £317 10s. 6d. between 1888 and 1894, and fa
a further decline of £443 19s. 3d. between 1894 and 1901, or £761 9s. 9d. during the
whole period from 1888 to 1901. .
The expenditure on some of the farms has been far from remunerative; and if the R
landlord were to receive legal interest, as would be the case if an outside party had P‘
advanced the money, there would be little left for land rent. On Gralson farm, for instance, 3:
there was an expenditure of £2,713, which, at 5 per cent. would yield £135 13s. Offa
interest. The rent, however, is only £165 13s. 6d. and on that footing there is only a sum
of £30 0s. 6d. left for the whole farm of upwards of 6,000 acres.
On the same basis of calculation the interest on outlay on the farm of Coll is
£62 12s., thus leaving only £17 8s. for the land. The farm of Holm in the neighbour-
hood of Stornoway and which is mainly arable, presents a better appearance, for, after
meeting £58 1s. of interest on outlay there is still a balance of £73 19s. for the land.
Stoneyfield, however, in the same locality, after paying £55 of interest on capital
expenditure leaves only £5 6s. for its 165 acres of land, mainly arable.
Interest at the rate of 5 per cent. on the outlay on all the improvements mentioned
in the above statement would amount to £492 12s. and would thus leave only
£ 1,342 8s. 9d. as the land rent, or about 5d. an acre on an average.
The outlays incurred in improving subjects now held by crofters varied in extentP_
and character. In some of the old townships there was no money expended on improve-‘S’
ments. In others, considerable outlays were incurred in draining and fencing. The 1,
larger items were, however, for reclaiming land, and these have been very unremunerative.
In several instances the rents will not yield interest on the outlay, to say nothing of
rent for the land. In this class, Deanston (so called after Mr. J amas Smith of Deanston,
who carried out the land reclamations for Sir James Matheson) may be mentioned, the
amount expended there having been £2,202 17s. 3d. The Chamberlain, (Mr. William
Mackay) in furnishing us with a statement of the outlays by the proprietor “ on crofts

“ and other lands in Lewis now held by crofters since 1848,” on 24th November, 1888
Wrote as follows concerning Deanston :—“ You will observe alarge outlay on Deanston
“ This, I may say, was a mere experiment by the late James Smith of Deanston, who
“ at the time was considered an expert in agriculture ; and the lands reclaimed by his
“ are now let to the crofters of Lochganvich for £5.”
The amount expended by the proprietor on croft lands i11 the four parishes during
the period stated was as follows :— _
Barvas, £9,164 17 4
Lochs, £41 17 3
Stornoway,£4,090 2 8
Uig, £3,192 13 2
Total, £16,489 10 5

In Appendix Q (pp. 60-1) we give the total rent of each crofting township, as the same appears in the current Valuation Roll, and in a separate column the amount (if any) expended by the proprietor in improvements, as set forth in the statement furnished to us in 1888.

As previously indicated, the total rents in some cases are less in amount than the interest that would in ordinary circumstances be received on the outlay. At 5 per cent the total outlays on croft lands would give a return of £824 9s. 6d. The current crofting rental is £6,338 14s. 4d., and deducting therefrom the said mentioned interest, we have a sum of £5,514 4s. 10d. as land rent, giving an average rate of slightly over 5d. per acre.

The crofting rents were for the most part fixed by us, but some were the subject of agreement, in terms of Section 5 of the Act.

As to our dealings with Fair Rent applications, it may be stated that between 1888 and 1896 we issued Orders fixing the rents of 2,573 holdings. In a large proportion of these the proceedings were carried on by one of our number, assisted by two assessors, in terms of the Delegation of Powers Act, 1888; and against some of the Orders issued appeals were taken.

After disposing of the appeals, the net result of our proceedings in the matter of fixing Fair Rents in Lewis was that the “ Present Rents ”——that is, the rents payable when we proceeded to deal with the applications—amounting to £7,252 2s. 1d, were reduced by us to £4,943 7s. 8d., or an annual reduction of £2,308 14s. 5d. The arrears submitted to us amounted to £41,040 14s. 4d. Of these we cancelled a sum of £30,186 15s. 7d., and ordered the balance of £10,853 18s. 9d. to be paid in instalments, extending over a series of terms, according to the circumstances of each case. This balance, we are glad to say, has been very largely paid up. The following Table sets forth the number of cases in which Fair Rents were fixed in each year, and also the amount of the alterations after disposing of appeals:

No of Holding
Present rent (£)
Fair rent (£)
Arrears: total (£)
Ordered to be paid (£)
Cancelled (£)
1784 9s 4d
1146 11s
8056 0s 2d
1657 14s
6398 6s 2d
1451 10s 7d
1069 4s 8d
7012 1s
2011 13 s 3d
5000 7s 9d
1035 7s
704 12s
6202 17s 11d
1394 15s 3d
4808 2s 8d
2384 18s 9d
1630 16s
14845 10s 1d
4628 16s 3d
10216 13s 10d
591 9s 5d
392 18s
4863 8s 11d
1194 12s
3668 16s 11d
4 7s
2 15s
60 16s 3d
44 16s 3d

7252 2s 1d
4946 16s 8d
41040 14s 4d
10903 10s 9d
30137 3s 7d
Less result of appeals

3 9s

49 12s

Net result
7252 2s 1d
4943 7s 8d
41040 14s 4d
10853 18s 9d
30,186 15s 7d
Owing to the variations in boundaries, it is impossible to make a satisfactory comparison of the Various classes of rents at different periods. In 1844, as we have seen, the total rent was £10,681. In 1850, after a large proportion of Sir James Matheson’s expenditure on land had been incurred, it was £12,398 1s. 2d. In 1879-80, according to Mr. Walker, Port-Lethen, in the report previously mentioned, the agricultural rental of Lewis was as follows :—
Small tenants, — - - £8,104 5 7
Tacksmen, &c., — — - £4,878 11 10
Total, - —_ £12,982 17 5

In 1880-81 there were 2,340 holdings in the rural parts of the island paying rents not exceeding £4——amounting in all to £5,548 19s. 6d. There were in the same year 596 holdings paying rents of £4 and upwards, but not exceeding £30-—amounting to The rental for the year may be classified thus :—
Rents not exceeding £30, - - £8,905 10 10
Rents of farms, — - - £4,299 7 0
Total land rent, - - - £13,204 17 10
Rents of shootings and fishings, - £3,599 0 10
Total, - £16,803 18 8

In 1883 the Chamberlain stated the land rental at £12,713, and the fishings and shootings at £3,899—-or £16,612 in all.

In 1886-87 the rental, as set forth in the Valuation Roll, was as follows :—
Rents not exceeding £30, - — £8,755 8 4
Farm rents, — - - £3,026 2 0
Total land rent, - - - £11,781 10 4
Shootings and fishings, - - - £5,338 0 0
Park had hitherto been a farm, is here included as a forest. This accounts partly for the increase in land rent, and the increase in the shooting rent, as compared with 1883.
Total, - £17,119 10 4

In 1893-94 the particulars communicated to the Deer Forest Commission were as
Crofting rental, - - £5,917 (omitting shillings and pence)
Farm rental, - - - £2,279
Total land rent, - - - - £8,196 10 5
Shootings and fishings, castle grounds, &c £6,835 0 0
Total, - - £15,031 10 5

In the present year (1901—2) the figures are
Rents of holdings not exceeding £30, £6,338 14 4
Rents of farms exceeding £30, - £2,005 0 9
Total land rent, - £8,343 15 1
Sporting rents, including deer forests, salmon
fishings, grouse moors,castle and policies,
shooting lodges, &c., - - £5,798 0 0
Total rural rent, - £14,141 15 1

We place here in tabular form the amount, under the three categories of croft farms, and sporting subjects, applicable to each parish for the current year :—

Rents of holdings not exceeding £30
Rents of holdings exceeding £30
Rents of Deer Forests, Shooting Lodges, Salmon Fishings, &c
1865 7s
273 16s
2612 3s
928 10s 6d
170 4s 6d
3054 15s
1994 6s
965 18s 3d
4114 4s 3d
1550 10s 10d
595 2s
4360 12s 10d
Grand total
6338 14s 4d
2005 0s 9d
14141 15s 1d
Rents of subjects in Burgh of Stornoway, part of the Estate

732 12s 9d
Total Rent of Lewis Estate

14874 7s 10d

In Appendix R (pp. 62-3) We give the gross rents of the crofting townships, and of other subjects not exceeding £30 per annum, and also the rents of all the farms and sporting subjects, in detail, as the same appear in the current Valuation Roll.

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