FREDERICK WILLIAM TRAILL BURROUGHS, C.B., Lieutenant-General, Proprietor of Rousay (52) —examined.
24955. The Chairman.
—You inherited your property in this country from a relative?
—From a grand-uncle, George William Traill.
24956. Whose family were long connected with this place ?
24957. And also long connected with the county generally?
—He was in India in the Bengal Civil Service, and bought land here.
24958. His father again was a proprietor in the county?
—No, his father was not; he went south and married a lady, with whom he got a lot of money.
24959. In what year did you come to settle here?
—1873; I was until then in the army.
24960. And you have been almost a constant resident?
—I am always here except for two or three months in winter when I go south.
24961. And you are in the active management of your own estate?
—I have a factor, but I am answerable for all he does; he consults me about everything he does.
24962. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You have been present here all day?
24963. You have heard some of the statements made by the delegates and others from Rousay, and it is only fair that you should have an opportunity of making any explanation you think proper. Will you be kind enough to make any statement you wish?
—I have heard with the greatest astonishment what has been said. I have seen myself in a light in which I never knew myself before, and I cannot believe that what has been stated is the opinion of the people of Rousay generally. I think the delegates must represent Rousay much as the three tailors of Tooley Street represented Great Britain on a former occasion. I don't think the respectables in Rousay are mixed up with this movement in Rousay at all. It has been said that the rental has been increased three-fold. Now I have made up since I returned home on the 18th—I was abroad in Germany, and hurried back when I heard of the visit of the Commission—I have not had much time, but I have gone through my factory accounts, and I have here a memorandum of the extent of the farms, their rental, and the sums expended upon them, and the estate of Rousay. The memorandum embraces the period from 1840 to 1882, and I find that in that time I have spent hi round numbers £37,405, 17s. 9d. in improvements on the estate. But that includes the house I built, and also a sum of £3020 in support of the poor. We have no poor assessment in Rousay. And it also includes what has been spent on the roads, £2768, or £442 more than I receive under the Statute Labour Act. To give you a general idea of the rental of the estate, and what I have spent, 1 may quote some figures from this memorandum. And first on Viera —the Bu' farm has a rental of £70, and I have expended on improvements £193; Castle-hill has a rental of £50, and I have expended on improvements £ 93; Cairt has a rental of £35, and I have expended on improvements £ 87; and so on it goes. And so it is in Rousay. Saviskail has a rental of £120, and there have been expended on improvements £857; Langskail, with a rental of £170, has had expended on it in improvements £510; Brevel, 47 acres, rental £7, spent on improvements £14, 12s. Id., and so it goes on. I may mention that while Mr Robertson was factor for my estate until his death, and I came to settle here, the arrangement was that the tenants got new land on improving leases to take in common. The first seven years they paid Is. an acre, the second seven 2s., and for the third seven 3s., on the understanding that they were to build the houses, and that at the end of the twenty-one years the place should be valued, and a small rent put on. I don't think a single tenant has been removed, and very few have left.
24964. Before you go farther, what length of lease had these people?
—They had twenty-one years' leases, with a break at the end of every seven. The delegates say they are reduced to great poverty in Rousay. I am sorry the Commissioners are not able to visit Rousay, and assure themselves of the state of the island. I have been told there is more than half a million of money lodged in the Kirkwall banks to the credit of Orkney tenants, not proprietors and I know the Rousay people own a good deal of that. One gentleman I was told, had £7000, another £3000; and a great many others more or less. I happened to find this out in Edinburgh, when speaking to a gentleman there. The rentals have been increased three-fold they say. Let us take Triblo (Grunstay), the croft of George Leonard. He was first a tenant at will, and then he got 20 acres at £2 2s., and a fourteen years' lease; then he got a seven years' lease, from 1871 to 1878, for £5, and now he is tenant at will at £6. His land is very good. It has been mentioned that they had the whole of the hill to themselves, while I was in the army, and the intention was that they might cultivate their lands; but I found that instead of that they used to send their beasts to the hill and pay the rent that way, and neglect their crops entirely. I had about 4000 acres I did not get a penny for, and I thought I might try and earn an honest penny on it myself. I have had it enclosed—-I have left the people some grazing still, however—and I have been putting sheep on it, and now I have let part of it. I offered it to the people, and none of them would take it. They say the rental of Egilshay has only slightly increased, but no money has been expended on it, and no improvements have been made whatsoever. As to the hdl pasture I have spoken about, the rents have been raised and quadrupled, and this is the way that has been done. I think they have as much right to my common as I have to their clothes; the land is mine, and their coats and hats are their's, and I cannot see how they can claim the pasture. It never did belong to them; it belonged to the various proprietors in Rousay, and there was a division, and each got his share. With regard to alleged needless evictions, I may refer to Westness and Quendale. I forget how many families there were, but the rental of Quendale was £80 a year. When the families removed, my uncle built other houses for them, and gave them other places; to all those who would take land, he gave land on the easy terms I have mentioned. Some remained and some went away, and now I get for Quendale and Westness £600 a year. Formerly it would not grow turnips, and now it turns out fine crops. I don't know what Westness is compared with Quendale, but the two together are £600. But a great deal of money has been laid out on these places; on Westness there have been a good many thousand pounds laid out. On Westness and Quendale there have been expended £3676 in dyking, building, and draining.
24965. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—On land which was formerly rented at £80 ?
—I cannot say exactly, but I know it was something like that. I have my book here and I daresay I could find out.
24966. The marches are the same of the land you are talking about?
—Yes, but I am not quite certain of the amount. Westness and Quendale consisted of various farms in those days, but there has been a wonderful change made now. The rent of Quendale alone was £73,
apart from Westness.
24907. What is Quendale alone?
—There were eighteen crofts in the year 1841—that was before my time—and the rental was £73. I know there is an extraordinary difference now. Another year Quendale was £76. But as I said before, they were not needless evictions. The General people complained that they could not pay their rent, and used to suffer from the blast of the sea. They had a great many complaints, too, about their crops, and to do them good my uncle built cottages for all who would take them, and the cottagers now are about the most comfortable people in all Rousay. There is also an immense increase in the price of cattle. Forty years ago you could buy an animal for £3, and a sheep for 2s. 6d.; and now you will get £3 for a sheep, and £18, £25, and £30 for a beast; and the land has increased likewise. About the evictions I know nothing : it was before my time. With regard to the case of Hammer of which Mrs Inkster spoke, the reason they were put out of the croft was this—her husband would not pay his school rates, and when the schoolmaster went to him he was assaulted. The case came before the Sheriff. Inkster was a man who could not take care of the farm, and I proposed to reduce him to be a labourer. I left him his house, and merely took away his land and put it into another farm which I had built a steading, which had turned out too big for the extent of the land. I did not wish to be hard upon Inkster, and told him to remain in his present house, and as soon as I saw an opening I would put him
into it, as I have done with several others on the estate. They talk about things not being as they ought to be in a Christian country. Well, I am afraid they are not; it would be better if they were more Christian. They want fair rent, security of tenure, and hill pasture restored. Well I know that, and I should very much like to have a fair rent. My wife and I go to Edinburgh every year, and we think we are highly rented, I should like to have a judicial rent fixed, and when we axe placed to have fixity of tenure. Why should it not apply to houses if it is to apply to land Ì and why not have judicial prices for coats, and hats, and trousers, and every other garment —and beef and mutton and everything. Everything has its market price. It is further said in this paper—oppression will make a wise man mad.' This applies to a case from Hammer too. Two farmers' wives quarrelled, and one threw some dirty water over the other. The case was brought before the Sheriff, and there has been ill-feeling between the parties ever since. Both have partizans, and one of them has been having partizans assisting him, and that is how the charge came about of destroying a plough and robbing him of his sheep. Mr M'Callum says the Egilshay people are a great deal better off than those of Rousay. I should like you to see an Egilshay person, and I think you would say the Rousay people are as good. I can show you a specimen of a Rousay man—will you stand up, Mr Reid?
24968. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Who is he ?
—The inspector of poor.
—[James Grieve]. He is not a Rousay man.
—[General Burroughs]. Mr M'Callum said the people are fond of remaining at home. I suppose it is so, but I don't know any family in Great Britain who are all at home. I know my brother is on the northmost frontier of China; I have sisters in England and one in China; indeed I don't know any family who are all together. As to the diminution of boats at the herring fishing, that is because I have been discouraging the men from being both farmers and fisherman, and I think they find farming more profitable. I am glad to think some of them think I am a model to proprietors; yet they have abused me a great deal. With regard to the old belief that the commonty belonged to the people, I have already explained that it no more belonged to them, than their coats and hats belong to me. As to the sanitary state of their houses and the proximity of the byres, my wife and I have been doing our very best to get them to make their houses clean and nicer. My wife gives prizes every year for the cleanest and best cottage. We had a drill instructor there, and I put him into one of the worst houses in the place. This man in a short time whitewashed the house and made it a perfect cottage, and had creepers up the walls. After he left it the old occupant came back, and it soon got into a slough-of-despond state again. Some people cannot keep their places clean. It is also said the inspector of the poor has not the confidence of the people. I am chairman of the Parochial Board and I think him a hard-working, trustworthy man, and I think the respectables have the same opinion of him. The memorial I consider is a direct indictment against me. It says the law permits me to oppress. I never did so, and I don't know how they are oppressed. They are not slaves; they are not obliged to live here; and if they don't like the place they can go away. Whenever they think they can improve themselves they don't remain in Rousay. When I ask about any young man who has gone away, they say, - Oh, he has gone away to improve himself.
24969. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—May there not be a reason why the people go away to better themselves ?
—To better themselves, no doubt of it, and I am glad to see it.
24970. Supposing you gave them encouragement at home ?
—I do so to the best of my ability. You see what I have expended on public works; they have gone on ever since I have been on the estate. There is not a single man who need have nothing to do. I borrowed £10,000 and spent the half of it, and the rest is my own money. When I was away every man got one-third of his rental back for improvements, and I found that did not answer, for I saw dykes were commenced and never finished, and the money was expended in an unsatisfactory way. I said then, all improvements now I will do myself.' I said I would do it myself and make a rent charge. I have always had professional valuators to value every farm before it is let, and I always let under their valuation. They say I don't listen to their complaints; I don't remember a single case in which I did not, and my factor can tell you the same. I always visit their houses myself and act as I think right and proper. The question was asked, 'Does the extension of the arable land account for the desertion of the fishing?' I believe it does. There is a great extent of arable land now, and the farmers farm better than they did. The Rev. Mr M'Callum has only been three years in Rousay. It has been said the houses are overpopulated, and are in disrepair; and reference was made to box-bedsteads. Why, in all our castles in former times everybody had box-bedsteads. Every box-bedstead is like a separate apartment; and it is so all over the country. It has also been said that no leases are granted of holdings
under £30; if you look at my statement you will find a great many under £30. No, the leases are not stated there, I daresay, but I can tell you what they are.
24971. But you don't state it absolutely ?
—Well, there are a great many below that rent. To crofters paying under £ 4 or £5 I don't give leases,
because I desired these people to become labourers who did get employment about the estate and on the farms. I may say I don't think there has been a single case of eviction; whenever a man has been moved he has been moved to another place. One gentleman objects to proprietors and factors, and he is down on landlords and the land laws. He says the houses let in water. It is almost impossible in Orkney to keep the water out. My own house was a very expensive one, and it gives me a great deal of trouble to keep the water out of it, in those terriffic gales of wind we have.
24972. Have you the option of a break in the lease?
—No, the tenants always have the option; I have not. I don't think I have the option of a break in any single case. I gave a man a break at five years and built an expensive steading, and now the five years are up and he wants to take advantage of the break, and get a reduction of the rent. They say there is no inducement to improve, but a rise of rent put upon them. I don't think that is so. If you look at my rental and the acreage you will see the rental is very low. It is always about 10s. and under, an acre. Some of the Flotta cottagers pay £ 1 an acre, but 10s. is the average. Some pay 3s., 4s., and Is. There is a case mentioned of a man who took the roof off his house and put a new roof on. Well, anybody who knows about these houses, thatched with heather, know it is necessary to do that every year; you always have to do that. My own experience is —and I have been a deal through the world —that I know no poor people so well off as those in Orkney, in any part of the world I have visited. They are as well housed as they have been accustomed t o; they are well clad, and they have only to go to the shore and any man in a very few hours can catch as much fish as will keep him and his family a whole week. [To James Grieve, who was making signs of dissent] Do you think not?
—[James Grieve]. It is not true.
—[General Burroughs]. Well, I think they are well enough off.
—[James Grieve]. I object to that altogether.
—[General Burroughs]. I don't know how many fish they will catch in an hour, but I know I have seen men taking them out as fast as they could. With regard to James Leonard, I may say that he has always charged 4s. a day for any mason work he has done for me, but I don't know what he charges others. He is also precentor in a church, and he is very well paid for what he does.
—[Mr M'Callum]. He has a large family.
—[General Burroughs]. They are growing up, and some are herds and some this and that. The peats it is said are convenient, and with regard to sea-ware, it is there if they only take the trouble to get it.
24973. The Chairman.
—He said there was no road?
—He has to go through a neighbour's land, but he is at liberty to go.
24974. But is there a regular road?
—There is a regular road down to a field on the shore, and he would have to skirt the side of this field.
—[James Grieve]. There is no made road.
—[General Burroughs]. Not over this field, but the rest of the way there is.
—[James Grieve]. It is only a bog in winter.
—[General Burroughs]. Well, as I said before, if you are not satisfied you had better go away. To return to James Leonard, I observed that he spoke about his croft being very poor. I have hardly ever seen him at work upon his croft, and I drive round that way often. As to the story about Mrs Cooper on her deathbed, I can say nothing, I don't remember any such thing.
—[Rev. Mr M'Callum]. I had it from the lips of the woman herself and also from her daughter.
—[General Burroughs]. That is possible, but I don't remember it.
24975. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Would you not express an opinion now, that if you said it you regret it?
—If I did say it, I am exceedingly sorry for it; but both I and my wife were very kind to the old woman and did everything we could for her. I wanted to give her land to her son and to let her remain. But she and her son quarrelled, and she would not hear of the proposal; and I believe she died on bad terms with him. If it is true that I said any such thing I am sorry for it; but I don't believe I said it. They may have twisted something I said to mean that, but I did not certainly mean that As to increasing personal expenditure, I see Mr Leonard and his family at church, and they are always dressed in the latest fashion, and I daresay that is where some of his funds go. I am told the use of wheaten bread is very much on the increase in Orkney; and a merchant at Kirkwall stated to me that at Lammas fair he turned over in one week £500, for flowers for ladies bonnets only, bought for farmer's daughters and domestic servants.
—[James Leonard]. I deny that statement.
24976. The Chairman.
—There must be no interruption.
—[Rev. Mr M'Callum]. General Burroughs was allowed to interrupt.
24977. I think it was only fair that he should he allowed to correct statements.
—[Rev. Mr M'Callum]. We were interrupted.
—[General Burroughs]. There were no roads in Rousay when I arrived there; there are now roads round the island. And there was no steamer then, and only a post once a week; now we have it daily, and there is a runner round the island. We have done all we could to improve matters. We have a steamer running regularly between Kirkwall and Rousay. Formerly there was only one clipper which used to make the journey between Leith and Orkney once a week, and now we have three or four steamers, which makes a greater demand for produce, and of course, the price of land rises. With regard to the croft of Digro, James Leonard was a tenant-at-will till 1856, and after that he paid £1, 2s. of rent for seven years, from 1856, after that it was increased to £1 10s. From 1871 to 1878 he had a lease of it at £3, and then he became a tenant-at-will and pays £4. He has nine acres of ground. I would refer your Lordship and the Commissioners to the exports and imports of Orkney to give you an idea of how the country has improved within the last few years. I have not been able to make a list of them, but if you see it in any almanack you will observe how the traffic has increased, the egg traffic alone is said to equal the rental of Orkney. There is no poor assessment in Rousay, I have always supported the paupers. That is all I have to say.
24978. The Rev. Mr M'Callum expressed a desire to say something. I don't encourage interruption in the middle of a statement, especially when there appears to be a little excitement; but if Mr M'Callum wants to make a short statement or explanation of any sort he may now do it.
—Rev. Mr M'Callum. I don't think I am at all an interrupting party. I was myself interrupted in reading my statement, and General Burroughs was allowed to speak when our witnesses were examined. General Burroughs does not, he says, believe that it is the Rousay people who are complaining. Well, you have all the people of Rousay here, and they can be asked. The only man General Burroughs called, was one who did not belong to Rousay at all, although he was produced as such.
24979. We cannot conduct an examination of this kind in the form of dialogue between witnesses.
—Well, notwithstanding what General Burroughs said, I adhere to the statement I made; and as to the statement about Mr Leonard's family being dressed in the highest fashion.
24980. Excuse me, but I will ask Mr Leonard about that?
—General Burroughs referred to a phrase I used, that he was a model to proprietors. I did not wish anything to be built upon that contradictory of the statements. When I said that, I referred merely to his private capacity, and with that we have nothing to do in this inquiry. It has been mentioned that there is no poor assessment in Rousay. The reason of that is that the tenants pay all the road money according to bargain, and the proprietor pays the poor assessment.
24981. Now will Mr Leonard be kind enough to say something as briefly as possible ?
—[James Leonard]. I have little to say, except this, that if my family go in the first fashion, it is not I who provide it, it is their own fees. My young children are not dressed in Paris fashion; in fact, they are not dressed at all; and I know several in Rousay who cannot go to a place of worship for want of clothes.
24982. You have stated that your grown-up children, if they appear in the fashion, do so by their own industry; you have now made your explanation.
—[General Burroughs]. My factor is here if you would like to hear him.
24983. If you will now allow us, we will put a few questions to you.
24984. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You have made your statement, but I wish to ask you two or three questions illustrative of what you have stated. I suppose it is a fact, which does not admit of doubt, that the rental of the estate has risen very considerably?
24985. And you justify that, if it is necessary to justify it, I presume upon the large expenditure?
—I do. It is not all going into my pocket
24986. You justify it to a great extent by the large expenditure laid out?
—Yes, and also by the increase, and the value of everything—more frequent communication with other places, a larger demand for our produce, and the advancing prosperity of the county.
24987. I see that the total expenditure upon your estate is £37,000; but I think a very large proportion of that was laid out upon houses. I think I am safe in striking off £17,000 for things the tenants had no
connection with, leaving £20,000?
—Yes, which has all been expended upon the estate.
24988. But you may expend money upon an estate without benefiting the people, except so far as labour is concerned?
24989. And if I strike off the £17,000, I leave it £20,000, or only £500 a year over forty years?
—That is a good deal, I think.
24990. Do you think the rental in these circumstances has not unduly increased?
—I am sure of it.
24991. I wish you would explain a little more fully what you mean by the expression that when you miss some smart young man off the island you are generally told he has gone to better himself?
—I understand that they have got situations in the south, as they generally do.
24992. But are you not aware that there is a very considerable clinging to their native island on the part of these people.
—I dare say; but my own family is, and I don't know any family that is not scattered throughout the world.
24993. Rousay is not such a paradise that people would not like to leave it?
—Yes, but it was left to me and I have resided there since.
24994. Do the large farms occupy in arable land and pasture a considerable portion of your estate?
—The largest farm, Westness, is about two hundred or three hundred acres arable, and about one thousand five hundred to two thousand pasture.
24995. What is the acreage of the whole estate?
—About twelve thousand acres. Rousay and Viera.
24996. And one tenant has two thousand acres in pasture?
—Say two thousand in round numbers.
24997. Are the tenants of these large farms natives of Rousay or Orkney, or strangers that have come in?
—The only one who is not a native is the tenant of Westness; he was my manager formerly. All the others are natives.
24998. Are they people who at one time had been in a much smaller way?
24999. And to that extent there is progress?
—There is decided progress being made. The only man who is not progressing much is the
tenant of Leviskail; the others have. He has progressed too, but not to any extent.
25000. Can you give any reason why the delegates have come here today?
—I think they have got wrong ideas. They want a great deal. They want to go in, I think, like the Irish and get judicial rents and fixity of tenure and all that sort of thing.
25001. But why should they come from Rousay more than from elsewhere. No one came from South Ronaldshay?
—That I cannot explain, unless they thought I was away. I have been in Germany and have only suddenly come back.
25002. Are you prepared to say these people have no cause of complaint?
—I don't believe they have any cause of complaint; that is my firm conviction.
25003. The clergyman was asked a question about there being no sanitary officer, and he seemed to be unaware?
—I am head of the Parochial Board, and Mr Reid, the inspector of poor, is the sanitary officer.
25004. Has he ever made any report to the board?
—We try to do what we can about cleaning the houses, but it is uphill work. Some of them wont do it. He has often spoken to some of them, and so have I.
25005. You have stated in regard to the removals which took place in your great-uncle's time that the people were provided for; can you really say it was for their benefit that they were removed?
—I think it has decidedly been for their benefit.
25006. And for the benefit of the estate also?
—Certainly for the benefit of the estate too.
25007. You seem to have the idea that there is a great deal of money in the banks here; are there many of your smaller tenants who have money in the bank?
—I don't know, but I know there are several cases which have been brought incidentally to my notice. I happened to be in Edinburgh, and met a lawyer there, who told me he had a large farm in Sanday to let. I said, 'Yes, it is a very big farm.' He said, 'There is a tenant of yours applying for it,' and I said, 'No tenant of mine could give £1200 a year of rent.' The man referred to gave me a small rent and had difficulty in paying it. If you had met him on the street you would have offered him a shilling—he was generally out at the elbows; but this lawyer told me he had £7000 in the bank, and he wished to know from me what sort of man he was.
25008. What was his rent?
—I cannot tell you what it was then. He paid at one time £36 and then £52, 10s., and he nows pays £73 a year.
25009. Was that in consequence of the knowledge you got of his circumstances?
—No, it was just a general rise. It is the third lease. I have spent £225 in improvements upon his farm, and it is only a fair return for the money I have been expending.
25010. You give that as an illustration?
—That is one. Another case was that of a man whose son became a minister. I called upon him and
congratulated him, and the son said, ' Will you allow my aged parents to remain in their house? I said I never wished to disturb old people, and I did not disturb them. I said they might remain there for the rest of their days. I thought them poor people, and they only paid £1 of rent. But one of them came to me afterwards, and asked me as a J. P. to sign a document transferring £200 or £300 from one speculation to another.
25011. That was a person paying under £ 30?
—He paid only £ 1; and I suspect there were several others who had money in the same way.
25012. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—You mentioned that Inkster, who was removed from Hammer, could get on quite well: what means had he of living? Was he fit to labour?
—No, he was a very weak man, and I don't think they would ever have made anything of the farm.
25013. How would he have got on without the farm?
—He would have come on the poors' roll, and I would have helped him.
25014. But Mrs Inkster's complaint was that she could get no poor relief?
—Well, I was not here at the time, the inspector of poor can answer that It was while I was away in Germany that she applied. But I understand the reason was that her husband required to produce a certificate from the medical officer.
25015. You looked forward to him coming on the board: he was not fit to cultivate a farm?
—I don't think he was. And he was a troublesome sort of man, and objected to pay his school rates; and when the teacher went to him Inkster assaulted him. George Leonard, Triblo, said he had heard from others that his farm was to be swallowed up in a larger farm. It has long been my wish to have a proper farm there, but I wish to leave the people in their houses and make them labourers.
25016. You did not tell them that?
—They knew my plans. I had the land surveyed by professional men, and that is what they recommended as the best thing for the estate and for the people too.
25017. If they knew your wish to dispossess them, that is perhaps what accounts for their dissatisfaction?
—Perhaps so. They all want to be masters and not servants, and that is impossible.
25018. Mr MacCallum said you wrote asking him to interfere with some of the tenants at Hammer, and procure a cessation of the outrages, and that he replied that threats should not be applied to one party but to both sides: I did not understand what the sides were?
—The case was this: Mrs Inkster, wife of the farmer at Innister, had to pass the door of Hammer to go to the shop, and it appears that one of the young people from Hammer or Breakon threw a pail of dirty water over Mrs Inkster, and it led to a law plea before the Sheriff, and there has been ill-feeling between the parties ever since. Some sided with Mrs Inkster and some with the people of Breakon. Then Inkster's farm was enlarged, and I built him a steading, and some of the people did not seem to approve of it
25019. Mr MacCallum thought the origin of the dispute was due to the enlargement of the farm?
—That may have had something to do with it. I squared the farm and built a steading, and then he found the land he had was not large enough to fill the steading with stock, and as I always intended to throw this bit of Hammer into the farm, I did so then.
25020. Mr MacCallum brought this matter up in answer to a query of mine as to whether he had made a representation to you about that case of oppression, and he mentioned that he had made this representation ?
—Perfectly so : I wrote to him about it, and said that as they belonged to his congregation he might try to make peace between them.
25021. And Mr MacCallum made a representation to you?
—Yes, I think he did, and said that it required two to make a quarrel. I thought myself the Hammer people were more to blame than the Inksters.
25022. That is the only case in which Mr MacCallum made a representation to you that there was oppression?
—[Rev. Mr MacCallum]. I can mention another, and I wish to do so.
—[General Burroughs]. I should like to hear it.
25023. The Chairman.
—I have no objection.
—[Rev. Mr MacCallum]. There was a case at White Meadows where a father and mother died,
leaving their family destitute. The eldest daughter happened to be in my house, and met General Burroughs there; and I think I spoke to him of her case, and he undertook to look into it. She was left alone, a girl of twenty-two, in charge of a young family numbering seven or eight. I spoke to General Burroughs in favour of this young person, to make some arrangement with the family, and I heard afterwards that my interfering to that effect had given him considerable offence; and it was really no encouragement to me to make representations when I knew they would not be listened to.
—[General Burroughs]. It is quite a mistake.
—[Rev. Mr MacCallum]. And with regard to the people who made the disturbance at Hammer, I wish to say that the worst of the two did not belong to my congregation. Is this to be the only opportunity I am to have?
25024. I must judge of what opportunity you will have to speak; in the meantime the examination must go on.
25025. Professor Mackinnon.
—What was the rental of the estate in 1841?
—I think about £1000 or £1100, but I am not quite sure.
25026. Has there been a purchase of land since then?
—Yes. I purchased about £3000 worth of land from Lord Zetland after that date.
25027. How much would the rental of what you purchased be in 1841?
—I cannot say. It was purchased from Lord Zetland in 1854, and in those days the rent was paid in kind, and it is difficult to say what the rent was. In 1853 I think the rental of the estate, before the purchase from Lord Zetland, was £1067; in 1854 the rental was £1269.
25028. The new and old together?
—I expect that includes everything.
25029. My reason for asking is to test the accuracy of the people who said the rental had been increased threefold. I find from the valuation roll that the gross rental now is £3256, of Rousay only?
25030. Will Viera be under Rousay in the valuation roll?
—It is about £300 I think.
25031. So that the statement of the people is not very wide of the truth. George Leonard, Triblo, stated, I think, that about thirty years ago the rent he was charged wa8 either thirty shillings or £2?
25032. Upon a fourteen years' lease; and after that he paid £ 4?
—£5 it is in my book.
25033. And then he stated he paid £6?
25034. Can you tell what amount of expenditure was made upon that croft?
—I don't think anything was spent upon Triblo. He had twenty acres. Yes, I find there has been expended upon Triblo £11, 17s. 4d.
25035. Do you know what it was expended upon —buildings or draining?
—Draining, I expect It may have been buildings, I can hardly say.
25036. He now holds as tenant-at-will, and his complaint is that he has no security against removal?
—I find that in 1857 he got in buildings and draining £2, Is. 3d.; in 1858, £ 2 (that is his whole rent); 1859, £2, 14s. 9d.; 1860, £ 1 , 13s. 2d.; 1861, 14s. 6d.; 1862, £ 1 , 6s. 8d.; 1863, £ 1 , 6s. 8d.; —altogether, £11, 17s.
25037..And now his rent is £6?
—Yes, and he has twenty acres of land.
25038. The expenditure was not two rents altogether?
25039. That is out of all proportion to what has been expended over the rest of the estate?
25040. And his main complaint is that now, after all he has done for the croft, he has no security whatever that he will not be turned away without compensation?
—But there is no word of turning him away; and he has been so long there that I should say he has nearly recouped himself for all he has done.
25041. He says he heard you were to turn him away?
—I never heard about it.
25042. This is Triblo ?
—Well, I was wanting to add his croft to a farm; but he has not spent any money on buildings.
25043. Who spant the money?
—I think it is his own house, one which costs very little to build. It is heather thatched, and the stones are mine. I don't know whether he got the couples. But I have never turned away a man unjustly. I have always, if he had good claims, paid them. I have never had any grumbling; I don't wish to oppress the people.
25044. Do you consider he would have a claim if he were turned away now?
—I don't know. I would inquire, and if I found he had just claims I would justly pay them.
25045. Don't you think there must be some mistake—you were talking of what your tenant was to take in Sanday? The highest rent we found in Sanday was £250?
—Stronsay not Sanday. The name of the farm was Housebay.
25046. You say that you inquire into every case upon its merits when objection is made that the rent is too dear; but one of the witnesses said that though his place was dearer than it is—and he says it is too dear now —yet he would take it?
—That, of course, is his own doing; I cannot make him take it.
25047. Does that not show a state of feeling in the place that the people really will remain in the houses they build themselves at what would be considered a commercial loss?
—I don't believe there is any commercial loss about it. After twenty-one years one is supposed to have recouped one's self for what he has done. It was not begun by me; it was commenced by Mr Garth of Brimsgarth. I knew very little about land when I came here; I knew more about soldiering.
25048. You don't think the statement of that man represents the real feeling in the place?
—It may be in his place, but I don't think it is general throughout Rousay at all
25049. Do you think if they had a greater sense of security they would improve more?
—What can they have unless they wish to rob us of our land?
25050. But you give leases to large farms?
25051. And this man has no lease?
—He has had leases.
25052. But not now?
—No, but he has never done anything during his lease, or very little.
25053. Is not, at all events, the rent increased threefold?
—It has, because cattle and everything has risen in price.
25054. Do you think it would be a fair thing to increase the rent in proportion to the increase in the price of cattle?
—I am not farmer enough to say, it was an increase in the price of produce generally.
25055. Don't you think the increase in the keep of the beast should come in a little?
—Perhaps it should, but that is very little.
25056. Don't you think it takes twice or three times as much to keep one of these big beasts for which they get three times the money, as it did to keep one of the small beasts they used to have before?
—I cannot answer that question; there are plenty of farmers here who can tell you.
25057. Is it not the case that there is an increase in the expenditure of the population in the country generally; and should that not be taken into consideration?
—Everything must be taken into consideration, of course.
25058. And not merely that if a two-year-old realises three times more, the rent of the croft should be trebled. Surely that would not be the way to make a valuation?
—I don't think that 20 acres of land at £6 is an excessive rent.
25059. He keeps one cow, one calf, one stirk, and perhaps, a two year-old to take the place of an old cow; do you think £6 is not sufficient rent to pay for that stock ?
—I cannot answer these questions; but I am guided by those who do know. My factor will answer that.
25060. Upon an expenditure of £11—that is all the assistance this man got—he has increased the place in value from £2 to £6, and he has now no security that he can keep it in order to get the rest out of it; but he is quite ready to pay even more rent, rather than leave it, and he fears being sent away without compensation?
—There is no immediate talk of his being sent away.
25061. It has been talked of?
—But it has not been done.
25062. But he might be sent off any day?
—And as long as the property, is mine I think it right to be. I would be turned out of a house in town in a day if I did not pay the rent.
25063. Don't you think there is a little difference between the town and a country place—that in towns there are thousands of houses to go to, and that the law of supply and demand will operate there?
—He can go to a town or to the colonies.
25064. This man shows that the law of supply and demand does not operate, because he prefers to remain even at a higher rent?
—He can do as he pleases and it is a free country.
25065. The Chairman.
—In consolidating land for the purpose of forming larger farms and improving the agriculture of the country you have had occasion to take away land from small tenants?
—In some cases.
25066. Has it been your invariable practice, always to endeavour to find some other place on the property in which you could place these tenants?
—It has been my invariable practice.
25067. Have you in any case, in conducting that operation, evicted a small tenant altogether without providing for him in any form on the estate?
—I cannot remember a case. There was a man had the farm where I built an enlarged steading, and after that was done, I had it valued and asked him to pay the rent. He refused, and another man offered for it, and I gave it to him. The old tenant then told me he was going to the colonies, but he has been living on and on with James Leonard at Digro, always with the intention of going to the colonies.
25068. What was the rental of the holding from which he was removed?
—In 1856 it was £45 a year, and it gradually was increased until it came up to £100.
25069. That is not a holding of the description to which my question applied. You don't remember any case in which you evicted a small tenant for the purpose of consolidating his land with a larger holding leaving him on the world?
—I cannot remember a case of that sort.
25070. You say that on your estate, a system has prevailed under which small patches of waste land was given to improving tenants on a twenty-one years' lease with three breaks; that was introduced before you became proprietor?
—Yes, I believe so.
25071. But you have adhered to that?
25072. You approve of that?
25073. Do you find at an earlier period when people entered upon the arrangement with a full knowledge of what they had to stake, that it gave them satisfaction—that they were glad to get the land on these terms?
—They seemed to me very glad.
25074. Suppose you made an offer on the same conditions now, do you think you would find people to accept it ?
—There are not many places I could offer now.
25075. Is there not much of the old common pasture?
—I don't think there is any land I could do it on now; I hardly think it can be done any further.
25076. Do you find in the case of small holdings, accidentally vacant by death or voluntary departure, that there is considerable competition for them?
—I have always found it so hitherto.
25077. When you have a small holding available by voluntary or accidental vacation, do you let it to the highest bidder at the market value, or do you select a tenant you wish to oblige?
—I always select a man.
25078. Do you offer it to him at a valuation?
—When I have any vacancy of that sort, I have a great many applications, and I generally select the man I think best, not always the highest bidder. I look to see who the man is and ascertain all about him, and I take the best man for the place.
25079. Do you believe at this moment, that if all your small tenancies were at your disposal, that you could let them in the market at a much higher rent than you receive?
—I am perfectly certain I would get a great deal more for the estate, if it was squared off in larger and better farms.
25080. But supposing your small holdings were now vacant, could you let them as they are at an advanced rent?
—I believe I could, but my factor could give a more certain answer to that than I can. I don't think a single farm on my estate is over-rented; it has always been my endeavour that it should not be so.
25081. You have spoken as if the relations between landlords and tenants, and between the landlords and the poor class of labouring tenants were to be, or might be regulated by the ordinary conditions of supply and demand such as exists in town; do you not admit that there are considerations of kindness and liberality and moral duty, on the part of a proprietor towards the small class of tenantry, which may lead him to govern his estate on different principles?
—Most certainly, and I think my wife and I have endeavoured to be on the most friendly and kindly terms with all, and I thought until to-day that we were so.
25082. So that you fully admit that you have duties on your estate?
—Most certainly, and I have endeavoured to do them.
25083. You state that valuators have been invited from other parts of the country to estimate the value of portions of the estate; were these valuators employed to estimate the small holdings as well as the
—I think nearly every one of them. I have the valuation here. Everything has been valued.
25084. From what part of the country did these valuators come?
—Generally, from some other island in Orkney. In one case, I had as valuator the gentleman who is now factor to Sir William Gordon Cumming of Altyre.
25085. In getting these valuations, what class of persons have you engaged? Have they been persons in the position of factors?
—Factors as a rule, sometimes lawyers.
25086. Don't you think that factors and lawyers are sometimes more identified with the feelings and interests of the proprietors than the tenants?
—I find in most cases they generally have a leaning towards the tenant. I have always found it so. Judging by the value I put on myself, I generally find there is a leaning towards the tenant.
25087. You find that although your valuators belong to the class of factors, their leaning has been towards the tenants?
25088. And when you have seen their valuations which you believe to be favourable to the tenant, have you invariably let the holding for a lower rental than that put upon it?
—I won't say invariably; generally at the valuation, or below it; certainly never above it. I have
endeavoured most carefully to do my duty.
25089. You stated that the value of crops had risen very much, and that animals were sold for three times the price at which they were formerly, and that such an increase might alone justify an increase of rental?
—I did not quite say that. I say they generally have increased, it is the general prosperity of the country I refer to, all produce has been rising.
25090. And therefore rental should rise too?
—It rises of itself, the people give larger offers and so it goes on. It has its money value like everything else, land.
25091. But in the case of the value of general produce rising, do you think it equitable that the whole benefit of the rise should go to the proprietor, or that it should be shared between the proprietor and the tenant in some proportion?
—I think in proportion between the proprietor and the tenant. My own experience is, that the tenants can very well take care of themselves; in fact, instead of making Acts of Parliament to protect tenants, it would be much more to the point to make Acts of Parliament to protect landlords.
25092. But the rental of your estate has been very nearly trebled?
—Yes, nominally, but it does not go into my pocket. There is a great difference between the gross rental, and what goes into my pocket.
25093. In expending money on buildings and improvements on the larger farms, have you generally employed local labour?
—I think almost without exception, except in the case of my own house. In erecting farm steadings and other buildings, I have always employed the local labour of the island.
25094. Sheriff Nicolson.
—The arrangement between the tenants and you as to poor rates is that you pay the poor rates and they pay the road money?
—I pay my share as occupier of the rates, and I have said whatever balance there was. I have paid £400 odds more than I have received. My factor has been road inspector, and the money has all been paid in to Mm, and I have paid £142, 19s. 10d., more than I have received for the roads. I also built a pier at a cost of £615, entirely out of my own pocket, and the people avail themselves of it.
25095. Is there as much spent upon the poor as upon the roads?
—There is about £100 spent upon the poor.
25096. At what rate do you pay paupers per quarter?
—The rate varies; but the inspector is here and can say.
—[Mr Reid, inspector of poor]. The highest rate is about £ 4 a year
—[General Burroughs]. They get houses, of course.
25097. Is it possible for them to live upon that?
—They have always done so; I fancy with the help of the tenants too, there being no assessment.
25098. You are naturally of opinion that there is no good cause for complaint among your people?
—I was quite surprised to hear it.
25099. And that only those who have appeared here to-day are the representatives of that feeling?
—I believe if you ask anybody, they will have grievances.
25100. Are you aware, that there was a meeting on your property last Saturday which was largely attended?
—I heard there was a meeting.
25101. Would you be surprised to hear, that there were people there from the whole district, miles round; that it was a large meeting, and that it is as the representatives of that meeting, these men are here to-day?
—I know some tried to get in, and were turned out.
—[Rev. Mr MacCallum]. These were not crofters.
—[General Burroughs.]I am told there were others there who were not crofters. I am not aware you are a crofter.
—[Rev. Mr MacCallum]. I am a crofter.
25102. You have indicated, that if that spirit is among the people, you would rather be glad to get rid of them?
—Decidedly; I want a contented people round me.
25103. Even if the land were to become void of inhabitants, except the farmers and four-footed animals?
—I should be sorry if that were so. I thought I was on the best of terms with the people, and I should think the case you state is impossible.