Kirkwall, Orkney, 23 July 1883 - Georgina Inkster

Mrs GEORGINA INKSTER, wife of HUGH INKSTER, Hammer, Rousay (35)—examined.

24709. The Chairman
—Your husband was formerly tenant or crofter at Hammer?

24710. You wish to state a personal grievance before the Commission?
—Yes : they have entirely taken our farm away.

24711. Do you come here of your own accord, spontaneously, or have you been asked or prompted to come here by anybody?
—I come of my own accord.

24712. Would you now state what your grievance is?
—My grievance is that our property is entirely taken away and we are just destitute. I asked parochial relief and there was none granted.

24713. Where is your husband at this moment?
—I cannot say. He was not home when I left the house.

24714. He has been in the Infirmary in Edinburgh?

24715. Has he come home?

24716. But he is not here just now, in Kirkwall?

24717. Your husband was formerly a crofter or tenant on General Burroughs estate?

24718. How long was he a crofter?
—Three years.

24719. What was he before that?
—He kept the house for his mother; she was a widow and he kept the farm for her.

24720. She had the croft?

24721. Three years ago he became the tenant, did he not?
—Five years ago; it is close on two years now since it was taken away.

24722. Were you married then?

24723. And you were living with your husband in the same house with his mother during her time?
—In the same house.

24724. When your husband got the croft five years ago was there a new settlement of the rent?
—Yes; the rent was £ 15 for fifteen acres.

24725. It was settled at £ 15 when he became tenant?

24726. How much had it been before, in his mother's time?
—It was not the same croft at all.

24727. He got a new croft of fifteen acres at £ 15 five years ago?

24728. Did he get any lease of it?

24729. When he entered the new croft was there a house upon it?
— The same house that is on it yet, but it is very bad.

24730. During the three years that he was on the croft did he spend any money on improving the house?
—None of any consequence, but he did improve a little on the roof.

24731. Did he make any dykes or enclosures?

24732. Did he improve the land?
—The land was improved before

24733. Did he take in any new land?
—None. He just had exactly fifteen acres and there was no more to take in.

24734. He took fifteen acres of land for £ 15 and remained three years: did he pay his rent punctually?
—He did that.

24735. And at the end of three years he was not in arrear?
—Only a little for the last year, and he was at the factor and offered to pay that too, but could not get a settlement.

24736. When he took the fifteen acres was there any verbal understanding that he was to go on holding it?
—I think so.

24737. Do you know it?
—I think so. If we could have kept it, we would have been glad to keep it

24738. Did your husband ever tell you that the factor had promised him to remain in that holding 1
—We just had it from year to year.

24739. You had no promise?

24740. He held it for three years and then what happened?
—It was in consequence, I suppose, of his health giving way : he has been a man in delicate health for fourteen years.

24741. At the end of the three years did the factor come and tell him he was not to remain there any longer?

24742. When did your husband learn that, —when he went to pay his rent?
—I cannot remember.

24743. Did the factor give him any reason for that ?
—None. The land was put on to the next farm.

24744. Did your husband sell his stock?

24745. Did the proprietor pay him any compensation or let him off any of his rent?

24746. Did the proprietor buy his stock or take it off his hand ?
—No. The most of the stock was his mother's, but she gave it to my husband and we were to pay her as we could get it.

24747. His mother was still alive?
—Yes, she is alive yet

24748. Did the factor tell your husband why he took the land away?

24749. Then your husband just lost it ?

24750. Did he ever pay the factor any more money in order to be allowed to stay?
—I don't think it. It was no use, he would not get it.

24751. What became of your husband ; was he in good health at the time he left the farm ?
—No, not very. It is fourteen years since he was in good health—there has not been a year in that time he has been in good health. During the last two years he has been entirely unable to earn a sixpence.

24752. Who does he live with?
—We are just destitute.

24753. You still remain in the same house?
—Yes, and the land is taken away. We have nothing.

24754. Has he got any means of subsistence at all?
—The means were his mother's; if it had not been her we would not have been alive.

24755. Does he help his mother in the management of her croft?
—She has no croft. When my husband entered his croft his mother came along with us. The croft at Hammer was stocked by her and she gave up her own croft.

24756. And are you living with the mother now?
—Yes, my husband's mother and sister are living in a room in the end of our house.

24757. Are they able to earn anything?
—Not the mother, but the sister is.

24758. Are you able to earn anything?
—I have a small family and cannot get out to work if I were able; my youngest child is an infant.

24759. What is your particular complaint at this moment? Is it that you are not allowed to remain in the holding which your husband got?
—Yes, and we are entirely destitute and have been applying for relief and none has been granted.

24760. Your complaint just now is that you have applied for parochial relief and none has been granted to you ?

24761. Have you appeared before the Parochial Board yourself?

24762. How long ago ?
—I was at the inspector of poor but not before the board.

24763. W hat reason did the inspector give you for not granting relief?
—The General was not at home, and he said he would write the General and give me an answer. The answer did not come and my husband sent a note to the inspector, and the inspector said he called a meeting of the Parochial Board and the case was laid down and that unless he got a certificate from the medical officer of the parish that my husband was quite unable to work there would be no relief granted. He also said that if relief was granted my husband would find it in the poor-house in Kirkwall.

24761. Did your husband get the certificate ?
—He has not got it yet.

24765. How was your husband able to pay for going to the Infirmary in Edinburgh?
—His mother helped him.

24766. Did any one else help him?

24767. Have you applied to the proprietor for assistance in any way1?
— I went to the inspector of poor.

24768. But have you applied to the proprietor for any other land or any support or assistance at all?
—They always promised to give us the first place that was open, but now it is of no use as we have nothing to take any place with.

24769. How long was your husband in the Infirmary?
—I cannot exactly say; it is six weeks since he went to Edinburgh and he came back last Saturday night

24770. Have they done him a great deal of good?
—Yes. But I have not seen him yet: he was not arrived when I left home.

24771. Mr Cameron.
—What age is your husband?

24772. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Was he born on General Burrough's estate?

24773. Were his people there before?
—Yes, his grandfather and father.

24771. Do you belong to the estate yourself?

24775. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Was there any suggestion that your husband was not able to work the croft, or that he was not cultivating it properly?
—No, he was cultivating it well.

24776. Was there any complaint against him of any kind?
—Not that I heard,

24777. If you were getting land now, how could you work it?
—We have nothing to take land with now.

24778. You have no stock to put upon it now?

24779. Professor Mackinnon.
—Why did your husband not get a medical certificate?
—Dr Gibson the medical officer, told him that he could have given him a line that he was unable to work at the present time, but that if he was to go into the poor-house and be examined, the statement by the doctor in the poor-house might not agree with his, and that would hurt him (Dr Gibson) in his situation. Dr Gibson promised before to give my husband a line, and I thought I had nothing to do but go and get it; but when I mentioned about the poor-house, that was his statement, and Dr Stewart of Kirkwall offered my husband a line.

24780. The offer of relief which you got, was to go to the poor-house?

24781. Would they take your husband away without you and the children?
—I don't know.

24782. You don't know whether you and the children would have got out-door relief?
—I don't know; it was my husband who was mentioned in the line.

24783. The Chairman.
—Would you go to the poor-house?
—I am sure I could not say. I would have to go I suppose. I could not live upon nothing.

24784. Professor Mackinnon.
—Is it your mother-in-law's stock that you have been living upon for the last two years?

24785. And you say it is now exhausted, and you are destitute?

24786. So that if you got another croft, you could not take it?
—We could not do anything with it now, unless we got help from some person.

24787. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Suppose you had been left on the croft would you have struggled on?
—Yes, cheerfully.

24788. The last thing you would have thought of, would have been to apply to the Parochial Board?
—Yes, the last thing.

24789. Have you anything else you want to state?
—I don't think it.

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