Baltasound, Unst, 16 July 1883 - Robert Johnston

ROBERT JOHNSTON, Crofter, Tipton, Haroldswick, Unst (77)—examined.

19975. Mr Cameron.
—Are you a crofter and fisherman?
—I am old now and am not fishing.

19976. You were a fisherman?

19977. Who is your proprietor?
—Mr Edmonston.

19978. How many crofters are there besides you in the village?
—My son stops alongside me, in a house close by.

19979. Has he a separate croft?

19980. How many other crofters are there in the neighbourhood on Mr Edmonston's property?
—Six or seven.

19981. Were you sent by these six or seven as a delegate, or did you come here on your own account?
—I came here because I am living in a very bad house, not fit for any person to stop in. When the rain comes out of the heavens, the rain comes running through upon me, —and here is Mr Edmonston sitting hearing me, and I am not telling a lie.

19982. You came here because you live in a bad house?
—Yes, there is no house in Unst so bad. There is a gavel between me and my son —a gavel which I bigged with faels.

19983. Do you think yours is the worst house in Unst?
—Yes; the couples split and came down, and the roof is rent and the rain gets in; the roof could not be prized up. The house was occupied by my grandfather.

19984. Do you suppose the couples have existed 100 years without repair?
—The roof has never been repaired; it has fallen twice upon me.

19985. But it must have been a strong house originally?
—Well, it likely was, and my time will be short now. But I should like if it had sufficient, suppose I should only bide a season in it.

19986. Did the other six crofters know you were coming here to-day to represent your grievances about the house?
—They likely " kenned " I was coming.

19987. But they didn't tell you to say anything on their behalf?
—No; and I had nothing to do with them.

19988. You came on your own account about the house?

19989. Have you any other complaint?
—No, I have nothing to say.

19990. Except about the house?
—Nothing but the house.

19991. Have you ever applied to the proprietor or factor?
—I have spoken about it back and forward, and sometimes he said there were no men to get; but I won't stop although I should walk out this winter, if I am living.

19992. Is it the custom for the house to be kept in repair by the proprietor or crofter?
—All my neighbours have good houses, and I don't think I should be the one to want a house, because I have always paid my rent. My wife has been badly for twenty years, and she has never been out of the room for seven years, while she has been silly; and I have a daughter who lost her senses, and I went to Mr Edmonston here, and to the inspector at the schoolhouse to get clothes and a supply. I also wanted my poor rates down for the present year, and they would not give me a cent. down.

19993. What rent do you pay?
—£6, 6s. 11 d . forbye poor rates; the rent was lifted from £4, 16s. to £6, 6s.1d . I don't think it was
right to lift it upon me, when all my forefathers have lived and died on the property in Unst.

19994. Was the rent lifted upon the other crofters as well as you at the time?

19995. In the same property?
—On some it was, and on some it was not.

19996. Why was the rent lifted ?
—I don't know.

19997. Was any reason given at the time?
—I heard of none.

19998. When was that done?
—I don't know exactly, but I think it would be eight years in May.

19999. Have you got sufficient scathold for your cattle?
—I have nothing to say about the scathold, because I have plenty of room to keep all the animals I have.

20000. The Chairman.
—How many animals have you got ?
—Three old kye and two young ones.

20001. How many ponies?
—Three my son left me when he went away, and that is all I have to pay with; and I think, if I left and went away a small way, I was not fit to have anything to live upon, and that lass lying badly and fit to do nothing.

20002. Did you say your son had a croft?
—Yes he has a house.

20003. Has he still got it or has he gone away?
—A son of mine went away and left me the three ponies.

20004. But have you a son who has a croft now ?
—-Yes; he is stopping in the other end of my house?—There is only the gavel betwixt us.

20005. Is the house your son has a good house?
—It is a very good house.

20006. Your son has a good house, but you have a bad one?
—I have; I cannot live in it.

20007. Is your wife alive?
—Yes; she is 76 years of age.

20008. Have you any other children living in the house with you?
—Yes; I have, the lass who lost her senses, and can do nothing.

20009. Have all the houses in the township been repaired except your house?
—When there was need for it

20010. When you asked the proprietor to repair your house, what reason did he give for not repairing it?
—I do not know. I sent him word of it lately, but he paid no attention to it; surely he will do it, but I do not know.

20011. Is your rent all paid?

20012. Have you any other complaint, except the want of your house being repaired?

20013. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—What rent does your son pay?
—£5, 5s.

20014. Has he more land than you?

20015. Has he as much?
—He should not have so much, but he raises as good a crop as I can do.

20016. Was the rent raised from £4, 16s. to £6, 6s. 11d all at once?
—I suppose it will be about eight years ago.

20017. At one time?

20018. And did you get any advantage at the time it was raised?
—Not 1.

20019. Are there many crofters on the property of Mr Edmonston—men like yourself?
—Yes, six.

20020. But all over his property, is there a lot of crofters?

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