Hillswick, Shetland, 17 July 1883 - Samuel Anderson

SAMUEL ANDERSON, Crofter formerly Fisherman, Croagreen, Ollabcrry, (63)—examined.

21013. The Chairman.
—What statement have you to make?
—About seventy years ago my father enclosed a piece of hill pasture about ten acres called the Croagreen, on the Ollaberry estate. He built a house on it, and cultivated a part of it, and paid a yearly rent of £2, 10s. up to about 1850, when the property was bought by Mr Gideon Anderson. Since then I have built new dykes, enclosing about two acres more of hill pasture. I cultivated more land, and repaired the house. My rent was then raised to £1 , 15s. This is what I have to complain of; instead of being paid for improvements, I get to pay for my own outlay.

21014. You say your father took in a piece of land about ten acres in extent, and improved it?

21015. Was that all the land he had, or had he more than that?
—That was all he had.

21016. Had he any scathold besides?

21017. He had that and the scathold?
—Yes, the scathold outside.

21018. When you say that he improved this land, do you mean that he put a fence round it?

21019. What sort of a fence?
—A turf fence.

21020. You say you have enclosed two acres more?
—Yes; I was employed by Mr Anderson of Hillswick to set out that part with a new foundation, and I built dykes. I knew nothing about it when I saw them setting it off, and they said I had to build dykes into the turf.

21021. Did you build the dyke into the turf?
—No, I built it new the whole way.

21022. What else did you do —did you drain it?
—Yes, I have drained it, and cultivated it since.

21023. Did you make stone or tile drains, or only open drains?
—Open drains right up and down the park.

21024. Have you the same scathold that your father had?

21025. You say your rent has been raised to £1 , 15s.?
—Yes, that is the standing rent.

21026. Has the proprietor expended any money upon building or improving your house?
—Not a halfpenny.

21027. Has the proprietor spent any money at all?
—None whatever.

21028. What stock do you keep now?
—About seven cows, six head of sheep, and one pony.

21029. How many acres have you under corn?
—Four acres.

21030. And you pay £4, 15s. standing rent?

21031. Could you put more stock upon the scathold if you liked, or is the number of your stock upon the scathold limited?
—No, I might put more upon it, if I could feed them in winter.

21032. What sort of a house have you got?
—Not a very good house.

21033. Did your father build it?

21034. Did the landlord pay anything for it?
—No, my father did the whole of it, except what I have done since be left.

21035. Had you a lease?
—There was a lease at first when it was taken, but I could not exactly tell you what kind of lease it was, because it was away before I got the croft.

21036. You have not got a lease?

21037. Do you think your father got the place at a lower rent because he made the improvement?
—The rent he paid at first was, I believe, about £2 for five or six years, and then it was 50s.; and then Mr Anderson, Ollaberry, bought it. And before that it was under trustees for four years and at that time we paid 50s. still. But when Mr Anderson bought it the rent was raised to £4, 15s. after we had improved so much of it.

21038. Is your rent higher than the rent your neighbours generally pay?
—There are three towns there all of the same age, and paying the same rent that we pay, and having the same arable land inside of the hill property.

21039. You pay the same as your neighbours?
—Yes, and we have the same as the arable land.

21040. And they have the same scathold?

21041. Has the ground in your township been subdivided, or are there just the same number of holdings that there used to be?
—-Just the same now as there used to be.

21042. Has any of the scathold ever been taken away?
—Yes; a little of it was taken away, but not much.

21043. To whom was it given?
—To this same proprietor that the land belongs to.

21044. But you don't complain much of that?
—No, not of that; but I complain of my rent being too high

21045. Are you a fisherman too?
—I was a fisherman for forty years, but it is three years since I gave it up.

21046. Is the Ollaberry fishing closed?
—No, except for small fish. It is not a station.

21047. Have you got a road?
—Yes, I am pretty near the road, but I have very little good of it.

21048. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is there any possibility of your making further improvements upon the place?
—Yes, if I had any security; but if there were any more improvements it might be taken away.

21049. If you got a lease, with a promise of compensation for any improvements, would you be likely to make more improvements?

21050. Have you ever asked the landlord to give you a lease?
—No, I have never asked them; but they said they would give a lease for five or seven years.

21051. Yours is on the Busta property?
—No, it is all on Ollaberry.

21052. Of which Mr John Anderson has the management?

21053. How long has he a lease of it himself?
—I do not know.

21054. Ho is not able to give a lease, because he has not a lease beyond 1836 himself!

21055. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Were any of your neighbours treated in the same way as yourself?

21056. Men who had made improvements and whose rents were raised?
—Yes, they were all raised.

21057. All over the place?
—Yes, all over the place.

21058. The want of a lease or some permanency in your holdings prevents you from improving further?

21059. Was there any cause given why your rent was raised?
—No, I know of none.

21060. Had you any idea in your own mind why it was done?
—No, only because there were some improvements made upon it; that there were more improvements than had been done in my father's time.

21061. Is your father living?

21062. Was this rise of rent put on in your father's time?
—In my time.

21063. How long had you the place before the rise was put upon you?
—Not long; about half a dozen years.

21064. How long after Mr Anderson became proprietor was it before it was done?
—About half a dozen years.

21065. Which Mr Anderson was it that raised the rent; was it the gentleman who is now in the church?
—It was about the time the lease came.

21066. Where does the proprietor live?

21067. What does he do?
—He is doing very little.

21068. Is he an independent gentleman?

21069. The Chairman (to Mr Anderson).
—We understood you, Mr Anderson, to say that you had declared the rent would not be raised?
—That is so, and the rent has never been raised since I got the lease.

21070. Then this witness's rent was raised before you got the lease?
—Yes, his rent is just the same as when I got the lease.

21071. Have you any remark or explanation to make upon what he has stated; can you explain why, if it be the case, the rent was nearly doubled upon the land improved by himself?
—It must have been improved by his father, and not by himself.

21072. But you have no statement to make?

21073. It has not been raised since you became lessee?

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