JAMES WYLLIE, Chamberlain of Argyll, Inveraray (52)—examined.
44554. The Chairman.
—You have a statement to make in connection with something that occurred yesterday ?
' With reference to the complaint of the Iona crofters regarding their rents being high, the small farm of Culburgh was open for offer lately and was taken by Peter M'lnnes, one of the Iona crofters, at the old rent. Several of the crofters in Iona offered the present rent for the croft vacated by M'lnnes, and it was let to Malcolm Cameron, who formerly possessed half a croft, his half croft being let to Lachlan M'Lean, who held the other half at the old rent. The Duke considers the true value of these crofts is the rent which is offered for them when they became vacant.
—This privilege had to be withdrawn from the Iona crofters owing to the mosses getting exhausted, and to the repeated complaints of the Creich crofters of the damage done to their pasture in consequence. For this reason £2 was deducted from the rent of each crofter in lona. Considering the waste of time, labour, and risk connected with the making of these peats, I am of opinion that it is a desirable arrangement for the crofters to discontinue the system even had they received no abatement of rent. The Duke restored the ruins of Iona entirely at his own expense. Crofters were paid full wages for any work done by them. No portion of the credit for restoring these ruins is due to the crofters. The cottars of Iona pay 30s. of rent for their cottages and a potato patch, being little more than 6d. per week, very different from the rate paid in towns for lodgings. They are purely cottars. The privilege of peat cutting, so long as this can be arranged, follows crofts only. The proprietor gives wood, lime, and sometimes straw in deserving cases for building and repairing houses. The Duke has given leases of three successive nineteen years' duration, to parties who have built houses of a permanent character in Ross of Mull and Iona. The Duke has expended £400 in fencing within the last three years in Iona.
Evidence of Mr John Murdoch.
—It is not correct that Lachlan M'Phail succeeded to his brother's croft. The Duke does not recognise succession to crofts. When his brother died Lachlan M'Phail lodged a written offer for the croft of his own accord. Several others also offered, and the croft was let to M'Phail, the Duke considering that, taking everything into account, he had the best claim and would prove the most suitable tenant. As a member of the Parochial Board of Kilfinichen and Kilvickeon, I dispute the accuracy of the statement made regarding certain paupers and paupeis' houses in Ross of Mull. Malcolm Ferguson, the delegate from Iona, gave evidence yesterday, in reply to a question put to him by Professor Mackinnon, that the poor law is administered in a very satisfactory manner in this parish.'
44555. The principal complaint, I think, in regard to Iona, resolves into a complaint of high rent. It came to that, I think ?
44556. Can you give me the rental of Iona at three different periods ?
—I cannot just now.
44557. There was a specific allegation that the rental of Iona was raised 50 per cent, in the year 1847; can you give any explanation of that?
—No, that was before I had anything to do with the management of the property.
44558. But you might know something by tradition ?
—I have heard it was raised ; that is all I can say.
44559. Can you suggest any reason why the rent was raised at a period which is certainly reputed to have been one of distress and penury ?
—In saying I have heard it was raised in 1847, I mean that I heard it yesterday. I don't know it of my own knowledge, and I don't know any reason for raising it then.
44560. With reference to the question of rent for those cottars' houses, we are told the houses with a small portion of ground are rented at 30s. per annum, and it is alleged that that rent is too high for so small a piece of ground and so poor a description of building. You state, I understand, that the Duke made some contribution to building that class of houses in wood, lime, and so on Ì
44561. I suppose those cottars houses are built very much together in the form of a village ?
44502. Are there any of those houses in their primitive condition, which have not been rebuilt by the co-operation of the landlord and tenant ?
—I am not aware of any.
44563. You think they have been all renewed ?
—I think they have been almost all renewed to a certain extent.
44564. But some have been more perfectly renewed than others ?
44565. Do they all pay the same rent ?
—All pay the 6ame rent.
44566. When a house is renewed with the co-operation of the landlord. can you give me any idea what proportion of the value of the house is contributed by the tenant, and what proporation by the landlord ?
—It depends very much on the size of the house. I could not give the information.
44567. What I want to arrive at is a clear conception of whether those houses are substantially built by the tenants or substantially built by the landlord ?
—Well, the materials form a very large proportion of the expenditure.
44568. What are the materials contributed ?
—Lime, wood, and sometimes straw for thatch.
44569. That is, they are built of stone and lime, or are they merely plastered ?
—Sometimes built of stone and lime, and sometimes pointed with lime.
44570. Then, as to the wood, is that wood for the roof of the house?
—Yes, and for the internal partitions and windows and doors.
44571. Is the wood supplied in the manufactured state or in the rough state ?
—In the manufactured state.
44572. When a proprietor in the Highlands supplies the wood in the manufactured state, and lime for plastering or building, do you think that is half the value ?
—Yes, and fully more, with the straw for the thatching.
44573. I presume the houses are all thatched ?
44574. How do the people who have no land for crop get their thatch ?
—They either get it from some of the neighbouring farms or they use spruts.
44575. Do they purchase it ?
—They will not purchase it if they get it on the neighbouring farms.
44576. They purchase the straw for thatching ?
44577. How often is the cottage thatched in that climate?
—If it is well thatched with straw it ought to last for six or seven years fully.
44578. What do you suppose to be the value of the straw for the thatch of the house ?
—It is difficult to say. It depends on the size of the house, and the coating of straw you put on.
44579. We know pretty well what a but and ben house is in the Highlands; how much does it cost a man to buy straw to thatch his house ?
—To thatch it well requires possibly a ton.
44580. And what is the value of it?
—£5 of late, more than that before it gets to Iona.
44581. Then if a tenant is obliged to purchase straw it would add about £1 a year to the cost of his house ?
—Well, it does not cost them that.
44582. Do you mean the farmers give them straw for nothing?
—They use spruts or rushes that are grown upon the ground.
44583. I understood you to say they are thatched with straw?
—I mentioned that also. They have it both ways. It is thatched with straw when the proprietor provides the straw, but very few of them buy straw from the south for it.
44584. Have they liberty to cut rushes and hay upon the hill with which to thatch their houses?
—I think the tenants give them liberty. I know they do.
44585. Then when they pay 30s. of rent, am I to understand that that is really not only all the rent for the soil, but rent and interest for the money which the Duke contributes to building the houses?
—Yes; just a thatched cottage.
44586. What do you think such a cottage costs ; is it worth £60 ?
—The building of it?
44587. Altogether ?
44588. You mean the whole house is not worth more than £20?
— Certainly not. I have got a good black house put up for less than £20 within the last two years.
44589. You call these black houses ?
44590. Well, in regard to these houses of which we are now speaking, worth about £20, the Duke's contribution to the house would be about £10?
—I should think so. That is a rough estimate.
44591. I only want a rough estimate. Therefore the 30s. of rent is the rent of the piece of ground plats the interest for £ 10 supplied by the Duke of Argyll ?
44592. Then I want to know, in explanation of the rent, which appears rather higher than the usual Highland rent, whether the situation of these houses is really valuable to the people ? Are they built in such a place as to afford the people peculiar access to labour, or fishing, or something ?
—Yes, there is plenty of fishing if they would take advantage of it.
44593. The goodwill of the situation is worth something!
—Yes, I should think so.
44594. Are there leases on the island ?
44595. Is the whole island held under leases ?
—No, the whole is not held under leases.
44596. But are there not leases to the small agricultural tenants?
—The small farm of Culburgh is let on lease, and all the crofts are let under an obligation that there will be no revaluation of the crofts for ten years.
44597. Is that in the regulations of the estate ?
—It is in the minute at the end of the regulations.
44598. Is there in the regulations of the estate a stipulation to the effect that the tenants shall have no claim to meliorations or no claim to compensation for improvements ?
— So far as I recollect, there is nothing of that kind.
44599. There is no clause of that kind ?
—Not so far as I recollect.
44600. Can you give me any information respecting the alleged practice of purchasing the goodwill in the Ross of Mull? At what period did the purchase of the goodwill or the value of the improvements in farms exist?
—I know nothing about that; I never heard of it before.
44601. You don't know when it existed, or how it was extinguished, or when it was extinguished, or anything about it ?
—I never heard of it before yesterday.
44602. You stated that £400 was expended in fencing in Iona in the last year; what was the nature of the fencing ?
44603. Was that expenditure for the benefit of the crofting class, or for larger farms, or indifferently for all purposes ?
—There are only two small farms besides the crofters. It was for the benefit of all.
44604. It was expended on the crofts as well as on the farms ?
44605. When wire fences are put up is any interest paid by the tenant ?
—No interest is paid for that class of fencing that has been done during the last two or three years.
44606. That is a gratuitous improvement?
—Yes, a gratuitous improvement.
44607. Do the crofters do anything in the way of fencing themselves ?
44608. No fencing between the different holdings or the different fields ?
—They have to keep up the existing fences.
44609. What are these fences?
—Generally rickle dykes.
44610. Low imperfect dykes?
44611. With reference to the alleged neglect of paupers and the insufficient character of paupers' houses, extracts from Mr Murdoch's paper will be made and will be referred to the Board of Supervision or to the
Parochial Board for explanation. Mr Murdoch described a particular building allocated to the use of paupers; do you know the building ?
44612. He gave a description of it from personal inspection. What have you to say about the character of the building?
—I have been in the building myself not very long ago, and it is very superior to most of the other cottages that paupers are lodged in in the Ross of Mull.
44613. Is it quite satisfactory to your own judgment?
—Satisfactory if the paupers will only keep the houses clean. That, of course, we have no control over.
44614. Have any of these alleged distressing cases of neglect of aged people, and their miserable death, or the neglect of their bodies after death, come to your knowledge or have you ever heard of them ?
44615. The cases will be noted, and will be referred to the Parochial Board for inquiry ?
—Yes. Your Lordship asked a question about compensation being in the heads of lease. In the more recent heads of lease there is a clause—I cannot give the exact words of it, but it is to this effect, that the tenant will have no claim for compensation for improvements unless there has been an arrangement made with the proprietor about the execution of these, and unless they have been approved. But that does not bar compensation for improvements which have been authorised and agreed upon.
44616. Is that in the case of specific leases, or is it inserted also in the general regulations of the estate ?
—I think it is inserted in the Mull regulations. It is one of the more recent clauses. I don't think it is in the
44617. Sheriff Nicolson.
—It was stated yesterday that there were only four cottars in Iona; is that correct ? What is the number of cottars in Iona ?
—There will be about eight or ten, I fancy.
44618. Do they all pay the same rent?
—No, they don't. There is one man who, I see, signed that petition. He keeps a beer shop and a grocery shop, besides his dwelling house, and he has the ordinary patch of land, for which his rent is £6, I think.
44619. Was the statement correct that an eighth part of an acre is the amount of ground that these cottars have ?
—I daresay it is about that.
44620. For which they pay £1, 10s. ?
—10s., and £ 1 for the house.
44621. The houses which they built themselves?
—I am not prepared to admit that at all.
44622. You were asked whether there was anything in the situation that was taken into consideration in fixing the rent, and you said there was ?
—Weil, they are convenient for fishing.
44623. But has not every other Hebridean cottar the same convenience?
—No, some cottages are inland, at some distance from the sea.
44624. Where do they get a market for their fish ?
—I cannot say as to that; I suppose lots of the people buy them. They get a market in the island.
44625. Are they able to live by their fishing ?
—Well, I think they might do a great deal more than they do.
44626. We might all do so. But are they able to make a living out of it ?
—I cannot say. I suppose they do to a certain extent at present.
44627. Then you don't consider £12 per acre a high rent, because it includes a house, the greater part of which the man himself built?
—I don't admit the man did that. The Duke looks upon the houses as his.
44628. So they are, by the law of Scotland. Whatever is built on the soil belongs to the owner of the soil?
—If it is the eighth part of an acre which I am not prepared to say, it is let at £4 an acre.
44629. Is it fair to compare the rent of the poor cottar of Iona with the rent of a lodger in the city of ?
—Well, I suppose they are the same race of people.
44630. Is the value of the ground to be compared with that in ?
—No, I don't suppose it is anything like the value of the ground in
44631. Perhaps you put some value upon the historic and religious interest of the soil ?
44632. Professor Mackinnon.
—With reference to this tenant right, we beard of it in Tiree, and I think it turned up in evidence there that there was in the mind of the people a belief from old times that they had something which was saleable between themselves. Do you remember hearing anything of that sort?
—Yes, I have heard of that, but it has never been recognised, so far as I know, by the proprietor.
44633. You have not made any inquiry into the matter?
44634. You did not inquire whether the statement of Mr Murdoch, for example, can be substantiated, that it was done within the memory of living people ?
—I have had no opportunity yet of inquiring as to Mr Murdoch's statement.
44635. But you knew it existed in Tiree ?
—I did, and I have ascertained since then that the proprietor has never been a party to any such arrangement.
44636. But you did not endeavour to inquire whether it was a practice within the memory of living people, upon which these people held their ground ?
—No, I did not make any such inquiry, as I know it was never authorised or recognised by the proprietor.
44637. There is a distinct statement that the proprietor's representative for the time was a consenting party to one transaction ?
—I am not aware of it.
44638. Your inquiries did not go to the extent of finding out whether there was such a thing or not ?
—No, these things were all before my time.
44639. Yes, but I understand there were other so-called conditions under which crofters are said to have held their land that could be revived at any time—such as that of which there has been so much talk, using pasture ground for drying sea-ware. That practice can be revived at any time ?
—I don't understand what you mean by being revived at any time.
44640. Is it not said to be a condition under which the crofts are held that the pasture ground of the crofters can be used by other parties at any time ?
—No, I think Mr Stanford mentioned decidedly not.
44641. That he did not use it, but that cottars could use it?
—Well, they do it of their own accord.
44642. I think it is alleged that this practice that came down from old time and ceased for thirty or forty years, but has been recently revived?
—I don't know about that
44643. Don't you think the practice of tenant right, if it existed, might have been inquired into, and that it might also be known whether that was an old practice upon these estates which might with advantage to the tenant be revived ?
—Exactly, if it was ever recognised by the proprietor, but so far as I am aware it has never been.
44644. Perhaps the other was not recognised by the proprietor either ?
—As to that I cannot say.
44645. You are unable to give any information on the matter ?
44646. With respect to compensation, are you aware of any case where compensation has ever been paid for improvements ?
—Yes, there has been compensation paid to several crofters in Tiree, who have left their possessions in recent years—for houses.
44617. But not for improvements upon the crofts ?
—Well, I don't recollect any particular case of any improvement done upon crofts that have become vacant of late.
44618. With respect to the fences that were set up in Iona in recent years, on which money was expended, I think you stated that was divided between the crofts and the farms?
—Yes, it was partly on both
44619. Will you tell me what the fence is ?
—It is a wire fence.
44650. Between the common pasture the crofters and the arable ground of the crofters ?
44651. Is the croft of the delegate who was here yesterday included in that?
—Yes, I think he mentioned there was part of their ground fenced.
44652. If I remember, he made the statement that there was never any money expended on his croft ?
—There was a fence put up that they are interested in. I am not prepared to say where it is at present I am not prepared to say it is between their arable ground and their pasture; but it is a fence they are interested in.
44653. But you know it is between the arable ground and the pasture of some crofters ?
—Of the west end crofters.
44654. It is not a march fence between them and a leased farm ?
—Well, there are both. In the west end there is both a fence between the arable land and pasture land of the crofters, and between the farm of Culburgh and them.
44655. A fence between the particular farm and the pasture ground of
the crofters ?
—And the arable ground of crofters too.
44656. It is between the arable ground of the crofters and the pasture ground of the farmer ?
—And the pasture ground also of the crofters.
44657. So that it is a benefit to both parties ?
44658. With respect to the rents, I see you state that the Duke considers that the true value of these crofts is the rent which is offered for them as they become vacant—the price in the market of the day ?
44659. That is actually what determines the value of the croft ?
44660. Not so much per cow or so much per acre ?
—Of course, I make my own valuation besides that.
44661. But the true value of the croft is what can be got for it ?
44662. In a great part of the places we visited, both managers of estates and others declared there was such a run upon these crofts that there were people ready to give a rent beyond what the true value was. You would consider that the value is not what might be called the real value, but what could be got for it?
—Yes, what they bring when they become vacant,
44663. In that case, over almost all the places we have gone, if advantage were taken of the desire that exists for crofts, they would be taken at simply ruinous rates ?
—I don't know it follows that Iona is the same as other places.
44661. Perhaps not at Iona, but at the other places?
—I don't know about these other places.
44665. You have no difficulty in letting crofts when vacant?
—None whatever. There were several crofters offering for M'Innes's croft when it became vacant.
44666. So that even there the full market value can be got for a croft?
44667. And the full market value is taken for the croft?
—Yes, I suppose so.
44668. One of the complaints of the Ioua tenants was that there was never a remission of rent; is that consistent with your own knowledge, since you came to the estate?
44669. Was an abatement of rent ever asked for in your time?
—Yes, I think it was.
44670. In some bad years?
—Yes, the Duke gave a considerable sum in the way of making up the losses for those years.
44671. Was there any abatement given in reply to the request of these people ?
—Not a general abatement.
44672. The statement of the Iona people is that there was no abatement of rent?
—Not a general abatement, The Duke said he was quite prepared to consider any case of real hardship and loss, which be did, and there were large sums given.
44673. Were you aware of any cases where there was an abatement given to the Iona people ?
—Yes, large sums in the way of compensation for losses.
44674. An abatement of rent to a sitting tenant ?
—Yes. You can call it an abatement of rent or anything you choose. It was given in the way of compensation for losses.
44675. The statement in their own paper is that they are not aware of any abatement of rent being made at all. Now they asked, I suppose, for an abatement of rent; did they get an abatement of rent ?
—I have answered you as well as I can.
44676. An actual abatement of rent is what I mean?
—I have answered you, and I cannot give any other answer than I have done. There was no geueral abatement of rent given. The Duke ordered me to intimate that he was quite prepared to consider special cases of loss or hardship, and considerable sums were given to make up for losses.
44677. You see it is with respect to the statements of these tenants that I am asking the question. They state they are not aware of a case where there was an abatement of rent. Now, are you aware of a case where there was an abatement of rent?
—I cannot give you any other answer than I have done, and I think it is plain enough.
44678. I would like very much to test the accuracy of the statement. Can you tell me whether any money was ever returned to those people when they paid their rents ?
—I decline to answer further. I have given a plain enough answer to the question, but I must decline to give any further answer, and I appeal to his Lordship.
44679. The Chairman.
—Will you have the kindness and consideration to repeat what you stated?
—The answer I was directed to give was that the Duke did not intend to give any general abatement of rent, but that he was quite prepared to consider cases of especial hardship or loss, and he would deal with those cases, which he did, and considerable sums were given in the way of compensation for losses.
44680. In special cases ?
44681. Professor Mackinnon.
—Can you tell me whether any money was ever returned to those people when they paid their rents ?
—I cannot say of my own knowledge whether those sums given for losses were returned at the time they paid their rents or not.
44682. You are not aware of any crofter having his rent reduced of late years?
—Reduced in what way?
44683. By the proprietor?
—For what reason?
44684. For any reason at all?
44685. They were raised within your time?
44686. But there was no case of any reduction of rent?
—I don't recollect of any at present, with the exception of £ 2 that was taken off the Iona crofters recently for the loss of the privilege of peat cutting ?
44687. I presume you don't call that a reduction of rent ?
—Well, it is a reduction from the last rent they paid.
44688. Is it not an exchange for a privilege they lost?
—It is still a reduction of rent.
44689. Is it not rather £ 2 in exchange for a privilege lost ?
—Yes, but I may say they had no right to that privilege, because the Tiree people had the same privilege, and when they gave up peat cutting in the Ross of Mull no compensation was paid to them.
44690. Do you know how long this privilege was exercised?
44691. Do you think it has been enjoyed from a long time back?
—No, I don't think so.
44692. But you don't know how long it was exercised?
44693. There was a gentleman here representing an outside company—people not resident on the estate at all—who stated that he got a reduction of rent ?
—That is not for land.
44691. You are not aware of any other case on the estate ?
—It was not for land he got the reduction of rent. It was for the sea-weed on the shores of Tiree, because no other person would give more for it, I suppose. That was the real value.
44695. That is the only case of reduction ?
—I cannot charge my memory.
44696. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—With regard to the fence which cost £400, put up in Iona, who was it that asked you to put it up ?
—There are several fences. There will be three or four fences altogether.
44697. Did the crofters ask you to do it?
—Yes; the fences that are put up. There is one fence between the arable land and the grazing land
of the crofters of the west end. They applied for that, and it is a very useful fence for them. Then there is a march fence between them and the farm of Culburgh.
44698. I observe, when you are asked questions as to what occurred prior to your own time, you generally are unwilling to give an answer. Now, I want to ask you this. Can you say positively that at no period whatever crofters were ordered to work and did work at the ruins of the Cathedral without payment ?
—I cannot speak of any period except during the restoration of the ruins, when they never worked free.
44699. That is exactly what the delegate stated?
—But that is not what is stated in this morning's papers.
44700. I have not read the papers, but it was particularly stated they were paid for the recent operations ?
—Yes. I think you made the remark yesterday that people had been deceived, and that part of the credit was due to the crofters, and not entirely to the Duke, but I wish to do away with that impression.
44701. But supposing they had at a former period cleared away rubbish ?
—There was nothing done in the way of restoring the buildings previously.
44702. No operations at all ?
44703. How do you know that ?
—Any old ruin may have fallen down, and there may have been some rubbish taken away in that way, but
44704. The delegate himself stated that at a former period, when this six days' work was in operation, at times they were employed without payment about the ruins ?
—Not in the way of restoring the ruins.
44705. Now, are the people of Iona, Tiree, and the Ross of Mull generally well off and in good circumstances?
—Yes, they appear to be so.
44706. Did you or did you not apply to the Mansion House Committee and the Destitution Committee in for aid for the people on your estates ?
—Not for the crofters.
44707. I said the people ?
—No, I did not personally apply. .
44708. Had you not communication with Mr Nicol, the city chamberlain, on the subject ?
—I had several meetings with Mr Nicol. He asked me to distribute the funds.
44709. But you never applied yourself for assistance?
—No, not that I am aware of. I am not very sure about some of the cottars. Latterly he asked me to let him know if there was any real destitution among the cottars, which I promised to do, and possibly I may have written him about that, but certainly not of my own accord—not unless I was asked to do so.
44710. Do you recognise this letter which I am now going to read to you? ' Chamberlain's Office, Inveraray, 28th April 1883. In a letter received from Mr M'Diarmid two days ago he says
—" I find as the season advances that there is a likelihood of there being some destitution among the poorer class of cottars. I have formed a small committee who are to inquire quietly into any cases of ' real want.' If it is found that much relief is given, hundreds will apply who really are not in want, so that we must be very cautious. I am thankful to say that a lot of seaweed has come on the shores lately, and if the present dry weather continues the poor can make a lot of kelp, which will be a great boon." He then asks if he should represent the state of matters to you on getting the committee's report, and I wrote him by this week's post, saying that he ought to do so. I also requested him to send me a copy of the committee's report, as Lord Colin has held out a hope that the London committee may give some assistance if necessary. As it may be well that each committee may be made aware of what the other does, perhaps you will kindly inform me what you do after receiving M'Diarmid's report, and I will advise you as to any action by the London committee.
—Yours very truly, J. WYLLIE.
—I have requested M'Diarmid to communicate with you direct, as there is so little time to answer letters by the same week's post.'
—Yes ; that is my letter. I was specially requested by Mr Nicol to let him know.
44711. Did you apply to the London committee directly ?
—No, I wrote to Lord Colin. He asked me also to let him know. He had been requested, in the same way, to let the London committee know.
44712. Was there a sum of £300 remitted to you by the London committee?
—There was not
44713. Is this a letter or part of a letter from you, dated Chamberlain's Office, Inveraray, 30th April 1883 :
—'I have only received authority from the Duke to relieve the necessities of the crofters in Mull and Tiree as regards seed potatoes and oats. The Lord Mayor of London remitted me on 2d inst. £200 for seed potatoes for crofters in Mull and Tiree and £ 50 for meal for cottars in Mull. He had, however, forwarded the former sum under a misapprehension, not being aware at the time that the Duke had arranged himself to relieve the necessities of the crofters in Mull and Tiree ; and as requested I sent back the money (£200) to the Lord Mayor. The only sum I have therefore received from the Mansion House Fund is £50, which, as requested by the Lord Mayor, I have arranged to have distributed in meal to the cottars in Mull during the next few weeks, according to necessity.'
44714. How do you explain that letter with your answer to me that you did not get any money from the London committee?
—You asked me about £300. I did not get £300.
44715. You got £250?
44716. And you returned £200?
—I was ordered to return £200, which I did.
44716*. What did you do with the £50?
—The Lord Mayor gave me orders how to dispose of it, and it was disposed of in meal to the cottars
on the Ross of Mull.
44717. I have a statement here. I will first take the case of the Island of Tiree
—' Paid to Mr M'Diarmid in cash by the committee for oatmeal or Indian meal, £75, 15s. 9d.; and paid John Stewart, per Rev. Robert Blair, £27,—in all, £102, 15s. 9d.'?
—I don't know anything about Tiree.
44717*. As regards Ross of Mull and Iona, did you receive £20 yourself?
—I think so.
44718. Then there is 'Mr Alexander Macgregor, Kinloch, £15; Mr Charles Macquarie, £20; value of potatoes consigned to C. Macquarie, £ 171 , 14s. 2d.; value of seed oats consigned to Mr Macquarie,
£11, 2s. ld.|; total, £237, 16s. 3d.' Is that correct or not?
—I don't know anything about that. I can only speak for myself, and I may explain that the £20 was sent to me, and 1 was asked as a favour to distribute it, not as the Duke's chamberlain, but personally to distribute it as a favour to the committee.
44718*. Can it be said that the people of Tiree and in Iona and in the Ross of Mull were in a prosperous condition when money was being distributed among them in form of public charity ?
—There is no doubt there was want among the cottar class last winter to a certain extent.
44719. Am I justified in putting this question to you, and in putting it I don't wish to give any offence. Do you consider it a right thing for a proprietor to ask or permit the distribution of public charity to the people living upon his estate ?
—I don't think that is a question for me to answer in the circumstances.
44720. Have you any reason to doubt the correctness of a letter I am now proposing to read, from Mr M'Diarmid, Tiree, to the city chamberlain;
—'Island House, Tiree, 1th May 1883. I am in receipt of your favour of 3d inst., and beg to state that at a meeting held on 2d. inst. Of the committee appointed by me for looking into any cases of distress likely to exist among the cottars of Tiree, the names of sixty-six householders were approved of as being cases in need of some relief. I enclose list of these. As you will observe, there are a number of widows and old maids on the list. The men are chiefly old married men and bachelors. There are very few, if any, able-bodied men on the list. The existing distress is exceptional, and arises from the failure of the potato crop
—That is all right.
44721. I will read you another letter from Mr M'Diarmid, addressed to the city chamberlain, :
—Island House, Tiree, 21st May 1883. I wish to bring under your notice that since writing you on 7th inst. a number of the fishermen here have complained to me that so far the ling fishing for the season is a failure. If the fishing does not improve —and there is little prospect of that now, as the ling fishing season is nearly over—these men will have to get some assistance, and that without delay, as the merchants are refusing to give credit owing to the bad fishing. Between twenty and twenty-five of these men have complained, and a large proportion have young families. It trust that you will be able to send some assistance soon. I fully expected to hear from you last week in answer to my letter of 7th inst.'
—That is all right.
44722. When you came to be examined here you stated that you were formerly on the Breadalbane property?
—Yes, I was factor there, and had principal charge of the estate.
44723. Can you tell me what the origin or root of the word 'chamberlain' is?
—I don't think that is a question I have any right to answer. I think it is quite foreign to the present matter.
44724. The Chairman.
—Well, yes, unless you do it voluntarily by way of informing Mr Fraser-Mackintosh ?
—I beg to decline. I think Mr Fraser-Mackintosh knows it as well as I do.
44725. The question does not bear, I think, distinctly upon the state of the cottars or crofters. If you object to answer it, I don't think you are bound to do so?
—Then I decline.