Lerwick, Shetland, 13 July 1883 - Arthur James Hay

ARTHUR JAMES HAY, Merchant, Lerwick, (47)—examined.

18158. The Chairman.
—You are also factor for Lord Zetland?

18159. In what are you a merchant?
—General merchant, and fish curer.

18160. As a general merchant you are in constant correspondence and traffic with the fishing population?
—Almost continually.

18161. Are your transactions with the fishing population conducted entirely on the principle of truck and barter, or on that of money payments?
—Both; but quite voluntarily on the part of those connected with me.

18162. What system predominates?
—I think the money system is now predominating very much, except where fishermen require advances to enable them to carry on their pursuits.

18163. How many years have you been personally engaged in this traffic?
—Twenty-five years or more.

18164. Has the system changed since you began —did the truck system prevail more generally when you began than it does now?
—I do not recognise it, as the truck system, as it is understood in England —it is a necessity of the situation which the poor fishermen are placed in, that they must have the assistance of those who. employ them to carry on their occupations.

18165. Was the system of payment in goods or barter more general when you began your business?
—I think it was.

18166. You think it is on the decline, but are money payments taking the place of it?
—I think so, in a great measure.

18167. When you first began was there any discontent among the fishing population, produced by the practice of the truck or barter system?
—I think not. There were some abuses, probably shown about the time of the Truck Commission; but, as a general rule, I do not think there was anything to object to in it.

18168. Are you aware of any complaints at the present moment?
—None whatever.

18169. As a fish-curer, are you in the habit of supplying boats?

18170. Do you do that extensively?
—To a large extent.

18171. Since you have been engaged in that branch of the trade, has there been a change in the character of the boats?
—Yes, they are of a larger description, and adapted to the herring fishery which has now developed to a larger extent.

18172. What is the size of the most improved character of the boats?
—Large boats, of from 43 feet to 50 feet of keel.

18173. Half-decked?
—Wholly decked now.

18174. And the beam?
—-About 14 feet, I think.

18175. What is the tonnage?
—Twenty to twenty-five tons.

18176. When you build or supply new boats they are of that character?

18177. And what was the character of the boats when you first remember?
—In the fishery they were half-decked boats, and a great many of the native boats of the country, some of which are still in existence.

18178. Is the superiority of the new class of boats generally recognised by the fishermen?
—I think, in a great measure it gives them an opportunity of making larger earnings, but at a greater risk and outlay. Were it coming an unsuccessful season, the effect and consequence to the people, as well as those engaged in the business would be very serious —much more so than under the older system.

18179. But they go a greater distance?
—Well, they have not required to do so.

18180. Is there no alteration in the distance, to which the herring fishery is carried during your recollection?
—No, it is has been remarkable during the past few years that herring fishery has been pursued close to the islands.

18181. And the system of going to the western coast, is the same now as when you began?
—Yes, the early herring fishery was carried on the west coast very many years ago, long before the present time.

18182. What is your system of payment? Are the boats hired by the men who sail them?
—No, they are usually provided to the men, and they endeavour to pay them off, as they can, out of their earnings.

18183. They are provided to the men —the men, in a sense, hire the boats?
—No, they purchase them; but they have to get credit upon them for an indefinite period.

18184. How many men would generally club to purchase a boat of the sizes you mention?
—There are generally six men in a boat, and sometimes four of them are considered shareholders—sometimes all of them.

18185. Do they endeavour every year to purchase out their share in the boat?
—Yes, it is understood the half of the earnings are to go in towards the price of the boat.

18186. Is that punctually paid or frequently in arrears?
—I am not aware of any departure from that in the habit.

18187. It is the general custom?

18188. Do you know of examples in which the boat passes entirely into the possession of the men who work her?
—I have known it almost paid off in one or two years, but that was an extraordinarily successful fishing.

18189. And there are a number of the boats which we see here engaged in the fishery, which are entirely the property of the men who work them?
—Yes, when they are paid for.

18190. But are they so frequently paid for, that many of the boats are actually their own property?
—A great many of them are,

18191. What is the system of payment? Do the men pay a certain proportion of the fish they catch?
—The half of them usually goes in upon the boat.

18192. How is the price of the fish ascertained? How is it struck?
—They fish for whom they like, unless they have made a special bargain with the outfitter who equips them.

18193. They are not under any contract to supply fish to the person who furnishes the boat?
—Sometimes it is made a condition that he shall have the preference at general prices of the country.

1819-1. Is that generally the course in your own trade —that you have the preference?
—If we advance a boat, we make a condition that we shall have a preference at the highest prices they have been able to get; they give the curer the first offer.

18195. They are bound to give the curer the first offer, at the highest prices prevailing in the market at the time?

18196. How is that price ascertained or verified to you?
—It is generally discussed amongst the curers and the fishermen before anything is decided upon. It is a pretty uniform price which exists at present.

18197. Do you generally take the fish at the price, or are there instances of your refusing to take fish or their refusing to deal with you and dealing with other parties?
—There are many cases in which I refuse to take them; I could not take them all.

18198. When you take them do you pay always in money, or do you occasionally pay in goods?
—Partly in both; we are in the position of having advanced for provisions what they required, either in money or goods.

18199. In making your payment in goods you have reference only to what has been advanced, you do not pay prospectively in goods—you do not pay down in goods unless they have received the goods before?
—No, certainly not.

18200. In making these payments in goods, is that more the custom or less the custom than it was formerly?
—I think it is less the custom than formerly.

18201. Do you think the fishermen are less indebted to you for advances than they were previously, or more indebted?
—It depends entirely on the success of the fishing.

18202. Are there many of the fishermen who deal with you, who have no advances made to their families before —who are, as it were, before the world?
—Many of them.

18203. More than was previously the case?
—I think they are all in
very fair circumstances at present and do not require them.

18201. On the whole, do you think that the earnings of the fishermen are greater than they were—that their condition is more prosperous than it was?
—While the fishing continues successful it will be so, but if a reaction takes place I expect considerable evil and misery from the increased earnings of the last few years inducing more expensive habits amongst them.

18205. Are the fishermen in the habit of putting any portion of their earnings in the Savings Banks?
—A very great amount, I believe.

18206. Sheriff Nicolson.
—You are factor for the Earl of Zetland?

18207. And he is proprietor of a large portion of Shetland?
—No, not at all; his property in Shetland is not of any great extent. His property is more in Orkney

18208. What is the rental of Lord Zetland's land?
—About £900, I think.

18209. How many tenants have you?
—I cannot say off hand.

18210. Have you a large number of the class called crofters into whose condition we have been examining?
—Yes, they are almost all crofters.

18211. Are all those crofters about whom Lord Napier has been inquiring in possession of land as crofters, or are any of them cottars?
—Most of them I should think are fishermen and sailors—a great many of them. There are not many holdings which enable them to maintain themselves wholly by farming.

18212. But do any of them live by fishing entirely?
—Fishing, combined with the croft.

18213. Are there any of them purely fishermen without land?
—None upon Lord Zetland's property.

18214. What is the extent of their crofts generally, or do they vary?
—They vary very much.

18215. What are the largest rents any of them pay, so far as you remember?
—As a general rule they vary from £1 to £7.

18216. Are there none lower than £4?
—Well, in exceptional cases there are.

18217. What stock can they keep on a croft for which they pay £7?
—It used to be the system to have one animal for each £1 of rent, but they exceed very much sometimes.

18218. Do they sometimes keep more stock than they have pasture for?
—When they have unlimited pasture they keep more stock than they are able to provide for during the winter time.

18219. What number of cows can a crofter of £7 keep?
—I said about one for every £1 of rent, with the addition of a few sheep.

18220. How many sheep generally do they keep?
—There is no limit,

18221. Have they all horses?
—They all have a few, but their numbers are small comparatively to what they were in former days.

18222. Do they keep horses for the purposes of breeding and selling?
—That is one of the means by which they pay their rent. The rearing and disposal of one pony would often pay their rent entirely.

18223. Has the price of Shetland ponies fallen off very much?
—No, it has advanced very much. They will get as much for a one-year-old pony almost as will pay the rent.

18224. What is the price at present?
—A one-year-old pony will bring from £4 to £5; two-year-old, about £9, and three-year-old, about £12.

18225. Are these crofters engaged in fishing?
—Not all; a great many of them are sailors.

18226. But none of them live entirely upon their land?
—There are a few isolated cases where they do so. Some of them stay at home to look after the sheep and make a living in that way —tradesmen and others.

18227. What crop do they generally raise?
—Almost entirely oats, and bere, and potatoes.

18228. Do they raise no turnips?
—Very little. They are beginning to do so more generally now, but to a very small extent.

18229. Has there been any improvement within your experience in their system of agriculture?
—No, it is almost entirely spade culture.

18230. Perhaps the spade is better than ploughing?
—They have that impression.

18231. What is your idea?
—Their crofts are too small to maintain ploughing. In some districts there are fewer native ploughs than there were sixty years ago.

18232. Do they practice any rotation of crops?
—Not in these crofts. The system has been a very pernicious one, with the scalping of the hills, and the bringing in virgin earth to use as manure; that is one reason why the communities have been put under better regulations of late years.

18233. Have they a common pasture for cattle and sheep?
—They have, but not to the unlimited extent that obtained in former years.

18234. Are there any large farms on Lord Zetland's estate?

18235. What is the largest rental paid by any tacksman on his estate?
—There are no tacksmen in that sense of the word; I think about £15 is the highest rent.

18236. Has there been such a thing as eviction or depopulation in this
part of the country?
—None whatever.

18237. Have the people ever made any complaint of having too little land, or too little pasture in particular?
—It has required a good deal of care to prevent subdivision of farms, but that has been avoided so far as possible.

18238. Have you any fixed regulations prohibiting the subdivision of land?
—It is understood there is no subdivision on Lord Zetland's property, We would rather enlarge them, if it were possible.

18239. And has there been actual subdivision to any injurious extent?
—Well, when a farm comes below £4 or £5 it is not sufficient to maintain a family upon it, and those who hold crofts are usually in much poorer circumstances than those who have.

18240. But have they to a large extent subdivided the land in this way—a father giving part of it to his son?
—On some properties I believe that does exist to some little extent.

18241. Do they build their own houses with the assistance of the landlord?
—No, there are usually special arrangements in every case, according to the circumstances. They are supposed to maintain their houses once they are furnished with them, but they do not always do so.

18242. But when a man is building a new house what assistance does he get?
—I say it is done by arrangement according to the circumstances of the case.

18243. And when he leaves the croft, if ever this happens, does he get compensation for the buildings?
—There never has been a case, in my experience, on Lord Zetland's estate, of men leaving the property.

18244. Do they pay their rent pretty regularly?
—Very regularly indeed, but I should explain that Lord Zetland's lands are very moderately rented, probably in comparison with others in the country.

18245. Has there been any increase of rent for any considerable time on Lord Zetland's property?
—Very little indeed, almost none.

18246. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Do you think that there is rather too large a population at present on Lord Zetland's property?
—I think not.

18247. What means do you adopt to prevent the increase of population? I mean the population sitting on the soil?
—We do not approve of squatters.

18248. But how do you prevent them squatting —what becomes of the increase of the population ?
—I suppose they naturally emigrate to places where they can make a better living than in this country.

18249. Where do they emigrate to?
—The most of our people are seafaring men, who go to the colonies in the course of their profession, and often settle there; and there has been a great deal of voluntary emigration from Shetland of late years.

18250. There has been a great deal of emigration to the colonies from Lord Zetland's property?
—No, from Shetland generally.

18251. And from the Zetland property also?
—Yes, many young men go abroad.

18252. And thus the increase of population is provided for?
—Yes, the natural increase.

18253. Has there been much poverty this last year in Shetland?
—None at all.

18254. Was there no failure of the potato crop last year?
—No, nothing more than usual.

18255. These tenants of Lord Zetland's are all fishermen, and a great many of the fishermen are in debt are they not ?
—I am not aware of any of Lord Zetland's tenants being in debt.

18256. Have all Lord Zetland's tenants got boats and nets free?
—They are not all in the category you were asking me the previous questions about; I was speaking of the people all over.

18257. I presume a certain number of Lord Zetland's tenants are under advances from curers?
—Probably they will be.

18258. How do they find money to pay their rents ?
—Either off their crofts, or their earnings at sea.

18259. But their earnings are pledged to the curer?
—No, no pledge; it is a matter of arrangement that a portion of the earnings go to clear the price of the boat and goods.

18260. If necessary would the curer advance the money for the rent too?
—Not necessarily, I am not aware of any cases of that that have come under my notice.

18261. When is the fishing season here?
—It usually commences in March and lasts till September.

18262. Not the herring fishing?
—No, but the combined fishings.

18263. When are the prices of the fish fixed?
—Usually before they commence, in the winter season. The system has become very much assimilated to that which obtains on the Scotch coast

18264. Are men engaged before hand at these fixed prices?

18265. And when does the settlement take place with them?
—In October or November.

18266. Those that are in debt receive advances in goods for their necessities?
—Not necessarily.

18267. If they want advances do the curers who engage them not give them advances?
—If they require it, in special cases; there is no system of forced advance.

18268. But if a man is in debt, and has not ready money to purchase what he requires, the curer by whom he is engaged usually gives him what he requires?
—I think so; they accommodate him in that way very frequently.

18269. Is the price which he pays for these goods he thus gets in advance different from what he would pay if he paid ready money?
—I think not.

18270. Is it not necessary when you give credit of that sort that you should ask something more?
—I never heard of two prices; any one making a purchase might get discount for ready money, but the prices are the same.

18271. The difference is in the way that the man gets discount?
—If you go to take credit from any tailor in London, I suppose you have that system.

18272. I suppose meal is the principal means of subsistence here?
—It is the staple food.

18273. What is the price of meal?
—I cannot say. It is regulated by the price in Aberdeen, or wherever it is imported from. It fluctuates with the market rate. All the stores keep these goods.

18274. What is the price at present?
—I cannot say at this moment.

18275. Lately?
—It varies.

18276. But can you not say what it has been through the winter or in the spring?
—No, I am sorry to say, I have not paid that attention to it.

18277. Lord Zetland's tenants are not bound to deal at any particular shops?
—Not at all.

18278. It used to be the custom in some parts of Shetland for tenants to be bound to deal with certain shops?
—I do not look at it in that light; I think it was a necessity of the situation. The country is wide and the population sparse, and there are few places where people can get the necessities of life; and they must go where they can set them.

18279. It was for the convenience of the population that the proprietor erected a shop; but having erected it, was it not customary to bind the tenants to deal there?
—I do not know that it was compulsory; it was a result of the situation. In former days the proprietor had, in a great measure, to support his tenantry when they were in very poor circumstances.

18280. And you think they are less liable to be in poor circumstances than they were before?
—I think at present they are in fair circumstances all over the country.

18281. Are you not aware of any case of compulsion on the tenants to deal with a certain shop?
—Not one in Shetland. I do not believe there is a case of compulsion in Shetland.

18282. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You say you have been about twentyfive years in business, you must have begun very early?
—Yes, I commenced business early.

18283. You succeeded some relative?
—My father had been largely engaged in business.

18283. How long is it since he began business?
—Probably about the commencement of the century.

18284. You are a native of this town?

18285. In that way of course you are well acquainted with the place, and have spent all your days here?
—Yes, I think I am pretty familiar with all the circumstances of the place.

18286 With regard to Lord Zetland's own property, you have said that the rents have not been altered for a great number of years, and there are no arrears just now?
—Very slight, —in the case of a few widows, perhaps.

18287. You said that the rents of the smaller tenants ranged from £4 to £7, take a medium say of £5 of rent, can you give us any idea of the extent of arable land which a man paying £5 would have?
—Almost every different farm varies, because there is so much grass and so much arable; I cannot answer that question.

18288. Can you not say approximately how much arable land a man paying £5 of rent would have ?

18289. Would he have five acres?
—No, I do not think he would have five acres. He would have five acres including grass land.

18290. No more than five acres including pasture?
—The pasture is different.

18291. But within his own exclusive enclosure, would he not have more than five acres of all classes of ground, including grass land?
—He would.

18292. You stated that Lord Zetland's rents were exceptionally low in regard to other properties, can you give us an approximate idea of what rents are paid per acre?
—No, I could not say; I did not come prepared to do so.

18293. Are you aware that in some cases, the rents are considered very high in Shetland?
—I have never heard any complaint of such a thing.

18294. If there were such complaints you must have heard them?
—I do not think there are any cases of rack renting in Shetland, that is a matter which cures itself very quickly, if the rents were too high, people cannot pay them and leave. They are bad payers if the rents are too high. It is one of the mistakes made, for in putting too high rents on the crofts, the landlord suffers.

18295. Is there any competition for these small places?
—No, not very great; there is no great demand at this moment by crofters for more farms.

18296. When you mentioned that there were no ploughs, so that ploughs were getting fewer than formerly, you spoke about the soil being turned by the spade; did you mean the common spade?
—The native spade is used.

18297. Is it a long-headed spade?
—It is not a heavy spade; it is one of very old date, one used with the foot.

18298. Are there any complaints, generally speaking, in this island, on the part of small holders, on account of the rents, or that they are overcrowded?
—No, I have heard nothing of the kind for many years; there has been no dissatisfaction expressed. There may be dissatisfied individuals, but there is no dissatisfaction whatever in the country.

18299. Is the population of Shetland increasing or decreasing?
—It is about stationary, I think, in consequence of the emigration, and the ordinary outlets.

18300. Are there any large farms or tacks on the Islands?

18301. Mention one or two of the larger ones and their names?
—I am not sure of the largest, but there are a few in this neighbourhood.

18302. Just take this neighbourhood?
—The largest here is Binnsgarth, which belongs to my brother.

18303. What estate is that on?
—Sir George Hay's.

18304. What rent does your brother pay?
—I think about £350.

18305. What sort of a farm is it?
—Combined agricultural and sheep farm.

18306. Has your brother been in possession of it for sometime?

18307. Is it principally an agricultural farm?
—It is chiefly a sheep farm combined with agricultural.

18308. What becomes of the younger members of the family of a crofter paying £5 of rent?
—I think a great many of them find their way elsewhere.

18309. Supposing a man has five or six children, the eldest will probably succeed to the croft, what will become of the other four?
—If they are sailors, they go out into the world and probably settle elsewhere. In the case of daughters, they become servant girls and go elsewhere, and sometimes do not return.

18310. Are you aware that, on the part of these younger members of the family, there is any clinging to their native homes, if they can get an opportunity of settling?
—I think not. I think they rather like to go elsewhere.

18311. You think the seafaring life has a tendency to detach them?
—Yes, I do uot think they have that earth hunger we heard talk of in the Western Islands.

18312. What about the assessments?
—The poor rate and school rate are those principally complained of. In large districts, with a small.
rental, the school rate particularly presses heavily upon the people.

18313. What is the highest rate you can recall to your recollection?
—Between 4s. and 5s. in the pound, one-half of which is paid by the tenant; that is for school rate alone.

18314. And what is the poor rate?
—It is also very heavy in some districts.

18315. Is that to some extent in consequence of the number of widows?
—No, I think it is very much in consequence of mismanagement, and the want of a poorhouse.

18316. You have no combination poorhouse to apply the test?

18317. And therefore you are compelled, to a great degree, to give relief?
—Yes. One fertile cause of the high rate is when people leave this country and get into bad health and poor circumstances, and we have no place to bring them back to, and we must submit to pay the same allowance as is given in larger places. The number of lunatics in some of the poorer districts also causes very heavy burdens.

18318. Where are your lunatics sent to?
—Most frequently to Montrose or Morningside.

18319. Are there any large proprietors in Shetland?
—There are several large proprietors.

18320. Who is proprietor of the lands chiefly about Lerwick?
—In the neighbourhood of Lerwick there is no large proprietor.

18321. Within a circuit of five and six miles?
—The island of Bressay is the property of Miss Cameron Mowat.

18322. What is the extent of that island?
—Three miles by two.

18323. Is there not a Lady Nicolson who is a large proprietrix?
—She is not a very large proprietrix in this neighbourhood, but she is in different parishes. I think the chief property she has is in the island of Fetlar. She has two-thirds of the island of Fetlar.

18324. Are there a good number of small owners of land scattered over Shetland?
—Yes, a great many.

18325. Have you proprietors, not feuars, of from £20 to £50 value?
—There are a great many of them.

18326. What are the circumstances of these people? Do they labour their own land?
—Yes, they cultivate their own land.

18327. Are these in fairly good circumstances?
—There are few proprietors having property worth £5 or £6 who farm their own land.

18328. Do the bigger ones—up to £50—do the same?
—There are not many of that class. A man, as a little investment, may have that amount of land, and may let it to some one else.

18329. Can land be purchased in small quantities in country parts?
—When it comes into the market there is sometimes considerable competition for it.

18330. Suppose any one wanted land, could he get a small quantity?
—-It would depend very much if there was any one wanting to sell.

18331. Is there such land in the market?
—There is very little at present. Sometimes you see occasional advertisements of land for sale, but I am not aware of any just now.

18332. In fact, the land is not changing hands much?

18333. Although the Earl of Zetland has not increased his rent, has the value of land risen?
—It is pretty stationary. There was some increase a few years ago; but it has been in about a normal state for a long time.

18334. Is there any improvement going on in the way of developing roads or making new roads?
—Each year there is always an increase in the extent of the roads, but it is done under the Road Act.

18335. Is the assessment for roads heavy?
—No, very light indeed.

18336. Is the town of Lerwick improving in value and rising in importance?
—It has increased, to some extent, of late years. There is a great deal more building going on in consequence principally of the fisheries.

18337. Can anybody who wants to build a house get a site for it?
—There is no difficulty hers. There is what is called the town property, and it can be feued by any one wanting it.

18338. The town has got land outside the burgh boundaries?
—Within the burgh boundaries.

18339. Is it given off by a system of feuing or of sale?

18340. What is asked per acre for land close to the town?
—It is given off by the foot.

18341. How much, in a good place, is charged per foot of frontage?
—I think it is limited to 6d. a foot in one line of street and 3d. in another, with a bonus of £5 .

18342. Is the town hall we see here entirely erected at the expense of the corporation?
—No; it has been erected by a Limited Liability Company.

18313. Mr Cameron.
—You say the price of ponies has increased of late years; to what circumstances is that owing?
—To the diminished numbers, I think, as well as the demand for them for coal mines.

18344. And not in any way on account of improved breed?
—It has been attempted, but it lessens the value. Their value consists in their small size. If they exceed a certain size they are not suitable for coalmines, and the cause of the increase in price is owing to the demand for the coal mines.

18345. Are there any large breeders in the island?
—The Marquis of Londonderry is the only large breeder. He has a farm for raising ponies for the purposes of his own coal mines. The farm is on the island of Noss and partly on the island of Bressay.

18346. Where is Noss?
—Beyond Bressay.

18347. Is the knitting industry a source of revenue to the people?
—It is the chief occupation of the female population.

18348. Can they make a good deal by it?
—Oh, yes.

18349. Do they find a better demand for goods now than formerly ?
—I believe Shetland hosiery has always stood very well in the market.

18350. They get better prices now than formerly?
—I think so.

18351. Has there been any alteration iu the breed of sheep of late years?
—The larger farmers have introduced cross-breds and Cheviots and Leicesters, but the crofters can only have the native breed.

18352. Are the woollen goods made from the same class of wool as formerly ?
—So far as it can be got, but there is a good deal of imported wool used.

18353. Have the woollen goods not deteriorated in quality in consequence of the change of the breed of sheep? Is the native breed of sheep becoming rare?
—I think it is; I do not think there are so many as there used to be; the people pay no attention to the breeding of them.

18354. Has the system tended to decrease the quantity of the native goods that go to the market, or to make the quality inferior ?
—I do not think you would get the same quality of real pure Shetland wool now that you could have got many years ago. It is often bought up and taken away from the country.

18355. The old breed of sheep produce a particular wool which forms the far-famed Shetland goods?

18356. And it has rather diminished in quantity?
—Yes; I think there is not the same attention paid to keep up the breed.

18357. But the crofters still adhere to the old breed themselves, and do not introduce the new kinds?
—No, except in very few instances.

18358. I suppose the climate would hardly suit, and opportunities of wintering are not good?
—If they did not provide winter food, they could not keep them.

18359. You did not expect to be examined when you came here, I suppose?
—No, I merely came forward in deference to the request of the Commission.

18360. If you had been prepared you would have been ready to answer some questions which you have not been able to do?

18361. The Chairman.
—Being factor not only for Lord Zetland, but for other proprietors, do you find there is a great difference in the scale of rental paid to different proprietors by the small tenants?
—I should say that our desire has been always on Lord Zetland's property not to press upon people, but to keep the rents moderate and have them well paid. There has not been the striving to raise the rent which an individual. might have done on his own property.

18362. But have the rents been considerably raised of late years on any properties ?
—No, I think not; not considerably, in comparison or in proportion with the advance in the price of goods.

18363. There has been no raising of rents beyond a justifiable proportion, considering the advance in the price of stock?
—No, it has not been commensurate even with advance.

18364. Are there any crofters or small occupiers living upon the large farms, and paying rent to the farmers?
—A few labourers, perhaps, for the purposes of the farm.

18365. I don't mean farm servants, but labourers having employment on the farm?
—There will be in some cases.

18366. Do they pay a much higher scale of rental to the farmer than the same people would do to the proprietor?
—No, they perhaps pay nothing. They get a house, and may give their labour.

18367. Are their wages paid in money?
—In money always.

18368. There is no complaint in the country of the obligation to render service in labour or in kind?
—None whatever.

18369. Is there any complaint of small holdings and alleged exhaustion of the soil by frequent croppings.
—There is no complaint, but there is no doubt the soil does not produce as it ought to do if it were cultivated properly.

18370. Does it produce what it did in former times, or is there an impression that the crop is smaller now than formerly ?
—In cases where they are prohibited from taking the native soil off the hills, and they are not able to give it manure, it cannot produce the crops it did.

18371. When they take native soil off the hills, do they take it off common pasture belonging to the croft?
—The pastures are almost all now subdivided, and each proprietor knows his own. They are not quite
common; the scatholds of the whole district are subdivided.

18372. But several crofters or small occupiers have had their stock in common upon the hill?

18373. When they carry away soil for the improvement of arable land, do they take it off their own pasture or anywhere ?

18374. Is there generally abundance of fuel?
—With a few exceptions. There are a few districts where it is rather difficult to get fuel, but almost every farm has abundance.

18375. There is no complaint about it?

18376. Or on account of payment?
—There is no payment for fuel.

18377. Is sea-weed used as manure?
—Where it is convenient.

18378. Is any payment made for it?
—None at all.

18379. You mentioned that a great proportion of the commodities advanced to the fishermen and purchased by them consists of meal.-what meal ? Do they buy wheat flour now, or use oatmeal principally?
—Oatmeal. chiefly; but there is a great deal of wheaten flour used.

18380. Is the use of wheat flour increasing?
—It is, not to the advantage of the people, I think.

18381. Is the use of baker's bread increasing?
—Very greatly, I think.

18382. How is that procured —are there bakers established throughout the country, or do they bring it from the towns?
—There is a great deal sent from the town; but in two or three districts there have been bakeries
opened of late years.

18383. Would one probably find a loaf in a small occupier's cottage?
—I think so.

18384. A baked loaf?
—Yes, I think so.

18385. When they use the flour at home, do they take it in the form of bread or scones?

18386. Is there any complaint of want of milk in the country?
—No, I think not. In the town, possibly, in a crowded season there may be, but never in the country.

18387. They seem to be purchasing a greater proportion of their food of a superior description, though you say it would be better if they took oatmeal?
—I think so.

18388. Do they make many of their clothes at home?
—In two or three districts they still make a good deal of the native cloth, but it is not general now.

18389. When they make the native cloth do they make it of the wool of the native sheep, or do they purchase the wool from farmers?
—Native wool.

18390. That is still made to a considerable extent?
—In two or three districts.

18391. Are these native manufactures more substantial and lasting
than the clothing they buy in shops?
—I think so; more durable.

18392. What are the districts in which the native looms are still preserved?
—The parishes of North Mavine, Delting, and Aithsting, and there may be more. Wherever there is any number of sheep, the crofter will make use of the wool in making it into cloth.

18393. When you say that the finest woollen fabrics were made of the wool of the native sheep, but that now more wool is imported and purchased for the parties, what quality of wool is it that is purchased—is it Australian or Cape wool?
—I am sorry I cannot tell you.

18394. Do you think there is any deterioration in the fineness of the native fabrics?
—No, when you get the pure Shetland wool.

18395. Is there any demand for Shetland sheep out of the island?

18396. Are the native sheep consumed in the island?
—Yes, there is a great sale for them here in town. They are brought here and offered in the James Arthur market, and bring high prices, taking into ace unit the size and weight.

18397. On account of the quality of the mutton?

18398. But still there is no exportation?
—No, not of sheep.

18399. Are sheeps ever killed and eaten by the small occupiers themselves?
—I think so, in the winter season.

18400. Is there any beef salted by the people for their own consumption?
—Where they can afford it, they often join together and purchase or kill a cow at November time.

19401. You stated that the houses of the small occupiers were built by the co-operation of the landlord and tenant?
—Well, that is a common custom. Very often the landlord has to furnish the house entirely at considerable cost, and when he does so it often brings the rental of the place beyond what the tenant can take out of the soil.

18402. Suppose a small holding in which the old house has become intolerably bad, and a new house has to be constructed, what sort of a house would now be constructed say on Lord Zetland's estate?
—A stone and lime house.

18403. How many rooms would it contain?
—Two rooms, with two large closets, perhaps.

18404. Any accommodation upstairs?
—Some of them put in a slight attic.

18405. And what is the roof—slated?
—A great many of them are wishing to have the felt roofs, but we don't approve of them. The turf roof is considered preferable—a thatch roof.

18406. Then a new house would still have a thatch roof?

18407. Thatched with straw or grass?

18408. Oat straw?

18409. Then there are no slated houses being built?
—Very rarely. They come to be rather too expensive for the holdings.

18410. In these improved houses would the floors be wooden or paved or earthen?
—Wood in one end and earth in the other.

18411. Would there be two chimneys in the house, or would the fire be lighted on the floor?
—Generally there are chimneys now in both ends.

18412. Then is the house for cattle attached to the new cottage or is it separate?
—Very often attached.

18413. But you enter the new house by an independent door?

18414. Suppose the proprietor were obliged to furnish the whole of the new house, about what money value would it be?
—Not less than from £40 to £50.

18415. In the case of an occupier carrying materials to the ground—stores and so on?
—Yes, by arrangement it might be so.

18416. But when the proprietor expends £40 or £50 in building a new house or a small holding, what rate of interest does the occupier pay?
—He in very often asked to pay 5 per cent., but that sometimes comes to more than he can pay in addition to the previous rent. The landlord has often to furnish such houses, and get no return.

18417. Are a great number of the primitive houses still in existence in the country?
—Yes, a great many of them; and just from that cause, that the holding cannot bear the outlay necessary to put up an improved house.

18418. Is there any improvement on the type of the old houses?
—I think so; the people are improving very much themselves.

18419. How were they built originally —entirely by the occupier?
—The old system was, I believe, that the landlord contributed a certain part—the roof or portions of the building.

18420. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You spoke about some people being proprietors themselves of land of the value of £5, what kind of house would these proprietors have ?
—No better than the crofters.

18421 The Chairman,
—Are there any examples of small occupiers purchasing the fee simple of the holding of the house?
—I am not aware of any.

18422. They will probably have little opportunity of doing so?
—I have heard of no case of that.

18423. Are the fishermen ever proprietors of t own houses?
—No, unless they have had a little bit of property of their own.

18421. Round the coast, are the fishermen ever proprietors of their houses?

18425. Is there any desire to become proprietors—possessors of real property—amongst the people?
—I havs not heard of anything of that kind obtaining here. By agitation it may be created, but there is nothing of that sort just now.

18426. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Is it because it is so hopeless?
—No, I have never heard of it.

18427. What class of the people are building in the neighbourhood of the town—merchants who have made money in Lerwick?
—People in Lerwick. The population of the town is increasing so much it is necessary for them to build houses. A good many of the people —fishermen and others—find they cannot combine fishing and the crofting system together, and come into town and require accommodation.

18428. They build their own houses?
—When their means afford it. There is a difficulty in getting rooms to rent in the town.

18429. The Chairman.
—Are there any building societies in the town?

18430. None working for the purpose of making people proprietors of their own houses?

18431. No movement of that kind?

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