Baltasound, Unst, 16 July 1883 - John Harrison

JOHN HARRISON, Crofter and Fisherman, Balaster, Unst (55)—examined.

20098. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Are you fishing this year?

20099. Are there many families living where you are?

20100. With land?
—Yes, belonging to Major Cameron.

20101. Did they send you here or did you come for yourself?
—I came for myself.

20102. Are any of your neighbours here?

20103. To speak for themselves ?

20104. And what have you got to say?
—I have to say that we want some more scathold, because we have no scathold belonging to our farm.

20105. Did you have scathold at one time?

20106. When was it taken away?
—About fourteen years since.

20107. And since then you have had no scathold?
—No, not unless we pay for it to other proprietors.

20108. What have you to pay for scathold?
—So much for each head of cattle—2s. for a cow, 3s. for a pony, and Is. for a sheep.

20109. What size of a croft have you?
—Seven merks.

20110. For which you pay?
—£4, 5s.

20111. What stock can you keep upon it?
—A cow and a quey.

20112. No pony and no sheep?

20113. If you had scathold land, how much could you keep?
—May be two cows and three ponies, and five or six sheep.

20114. And could you winter them?

20115. Did you get any reduction of rent when you lost the scathold?

20116. Five shillings reduction of rent, and the loss of value to you was 15s. or 16s. you think?

20117. The only complaint you have to make is that you want more scathold?

20118. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Did you succeed your father in the place?

20119. How long is it since you went to this place?
—Twenty years.

20120. And you had scathold for about six years?

20121. Who is your proprietor?
—Major Cameron. .

20122. Was this scathold taken away to make a sheep farm?

20123. And all the allowance you got was 5s.?

20124. Were you fairly well off before?
—Pretty well off before. We could keep some few sheep and some ponies, but we cannot keep them now.

20125. Were you able to make your living out of the croft formerly?

20126. Much less can you do it now?
—A good deal less.

20127. Has there been a good deal of this kind of work done in Unst,—taking away the scathold land from the small tenants and making it into farms?
—Yes; a great many crofts have been taken and put into sheep farms.

20128. Has that impoverished the people generally?

20129. Has it not been prejudicial to the interests of Shetland generally that the native wool is decreasing?
—Yes, it is decreasing greatly.

20130. Is that not prejudicial to the island generally?

20131. Are you not aware that there is a great demand in the South or elsewhere for Shetland wool and work?

20132. And it is growing?

20133. And are there not several women outside the crofting class who make a considerable living by knitting?

20134. And they have now to pay very dear for the wool?
—Yes; the wool has to be brought; they cannot get Shetland wool to buy at all.

20135. Does this system of sheep farming at the expense of the crofter act prejudicially in two ways
—first by impoverishing the crofters, and then reducing the quantity of native wool?

20136. Do you know the price of Shetland wool as compared with other wool?

20137. But strangers, and those coming to buy wool in Lerwick, would not buy Cheviot wool?

20138. Mr Cameron.
—Do you know what the women earn at this knitting?
—They earn a good sum; I think Shetland shawls used to sell high.

20139. Do you know what the women earn per week at knitting?

20140. Therefore you are not so well able to know whether it is a gain or a loss to the people?

20141. Sheriff Nicolson.
—What is the reason why you were not at the fishing this year?
—Because I was working at the land.

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