THOMAS GREEN, Crofter, West Yell (46)—examined.
19110. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—What amount of land have you?
—I have about 110 acres in pasture.
19111. What do you pay for your croft?
19112. Is your land enclosed?
19113. A fence all round it ?
19114. What stock to you keep ?
—We have about eight cattle—winter stock,—and about forty sheep; and we have some grazing cattle which go away in the harvest time.
19115. And how many horses?
19116. How many cattle do you have in summer?
—About fifteen; these are extra.
19117. Do you buy these in the spring of the year?
19118. And sell them—when?
—In perhaps three, four, or five months.
19119. Do you take cattle in for hire for summer grazing'
—Not as a rule, but I might take in a beast from any one.
19120. What is the price of the summer grazing of a beast here if you did take one in?
—It used to be about £1, for four or five months. I have not been long here, only about two years.
19121. Where did you come from?
19122. Who is the proprietor of the place you are in?
19123. Had you a farm on the mainland?
—I had a croft;—a smaller one.
19121. You took this one because you thought it better?
—It was better, no doubt. I had to go away from there because they doubled my rent when the lease was out; when I got a lease from Mr Walker, he doubled the old rent and I thought I might have been better looked after by the major, but he doubled it at the end of the lease too.
19125. You took this place two years ago?
—Yes, I got this one from Mr Joseph Leask, who owns the whole of that west side.
19126. Have you a lease of any kind?
19127. For how long?
19128. And when that is ended, do you expect the rent will be doubled again?
—I don't know what Mr Leask may do. I have a new proprietor now—one of the young men. The old man is dead.
19129. Have you anything to do in repairing the building?
—Well, Mr Leask sorted the house, but I have to keep it in repair, he won't be at the cost of any building.
19130. Have you a slated roof?
—No, we have a canvas roof.
19131. Are the office houses thatched?
19132. And you have to keep them up?
—Yes, as a rule.
19133. Have you to keep the canvas roof tarred?
19134-. Do you live entirely by farming, or are you otherwise employed?
—I fence a good deal; I put up fences —I am here for that purpose.
19135. But you found your farm fenced when you went to it?
—No, it was a turf dyke, and would not keep out anything.
19136. Did you put up the fences yourself?
—No, Mr Leask, gave me the material, and I have to pay the interest on that.
19137. Besides the £25?
—Yes; and our taxes are very heavy.
19138. What interest do you pay besides taxes?
—6 per cent, on the whole cost of the fence.
19139. What does that come to?
—55s., and we are taxed on that interest
19140. What are the taxes in your parish?
—About 6s. 6d. in the pound I think.
19111. But you only pay half?
—Half on us —school rate and poor rate.
19112. What arable land have you got?
—I think about fifteen acres, but it is in a miserable state —all wet; and he binds me to improve the
land at that rept.
19113. Have you anything to complain about?
—No, I have not so much to complain about now as I had before. We are charged so much a sheep for being in the scathold, besides what I have mentioned. He charges 6d. a head.
19144. But you keep forty sheep on your own ground?
19115. And you have other sheep on the scathold?
—I have none, but other tenants have. They don't know about this meeting; they are all away at the fishing and I would not have known of it, had I not been over here working.
19116. Have the tenants any general grievance?
—I think the most they have to grieve at is the want of leases, and rents being raised on them for improving. They don't raise the rent on a fellow who don't improve.
19117. You think the rent has been raised in proportion to the amount of improvement?
—I know some of them have got a good rise by improving.
19148. How long is a man generally allowed to enjoy his improvements before the rent is raised ?
—In olden times he might have gone on ten or fifteen years, and perhaps have a new place at no rent, and then perhaps they would get a rent of 30s. or 40s. according to what improvements had been made. That is the way my grandfather started the place I left.
19119. Had he anything like a lease?
—No, but he lived in the place until he was 81 years of age.
19150. Had he a promise of it?
—Yes, from Mrs Mowat. They were not so ready to remove in those days; there was no sheep farming. We were in it only two years ago, when the major, after I laid out £50 or £60 upon it, doubled tho rent. My last lease in that place was fourteen years. I got it from Mr Walker.
19151. What was Walker?
—He would be, I think, factor, and would have shares with Major Cameron in this sheep farming.
19152. They took away the scatholds from the people?
—They did, and drove away the people; they took the crofts wherever they could make the best sheep farms. A good many of them came over to Yell and North Maven, and anywhere they could get a place.
19153 The Chairman.
—Major Cameron asked you for an increase of rent. Was it double the rent ?
—He doubled it at the end of the lease.
19154. Then you left Did Major Cameron let your holding to another tenant?
19155. And what increase of rent did be get from the other tenant?
—I think 5s. more than I was paying. He got the tenant in after I left.
19156. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Not at double the rent?
19157. The Chairman.
—Would you have taken the farm at an increase of 5s.?
—I would not have left it for a pound or so.
19158. The new tenant took it for 5s. more than you paid before?
—Yes; that was all he could get.
19159. Professor Mackinnon.
—He could not get the double rent ?
19160. The Chairman.
—But now you pay £25 for your holding, which contains eight cattle, five horses, and forty sheep—that is within the fence?
19161. Is there any land within the fence which you could still improve, and turn into arable?
—Yes, and I will do it; I am so far bound to do it; but I would do it without being asked to do it.
19162. Because you have a lease?
—Yes, and I know the benefit of improving.
19163. What kind of house is it you have? How many rooms are there in it ?
19164. Do you mean four rooms on the ground floor, or two below and two above?
—Two above and two below.
19165. It is built of stone and lime?
19166. How old is it?
—I could not tell exactly. It was repaired last year, the walls raised, and a new roof put on it. I cannot complain about the house.
19167. I want to know whether your house is a good one?
—Yes, the house is not bad.
19168. How much do you suppose the proprietor laid out in sorting and repairing it?
—I could not exactly say. He was only at the cost of the wood and mason work; I did the rest I put on the roof.
19169. Did he pay for the canvas and tar?
—Yes, canvas, tar, wood, and mason work.
19170. Would he lay out £40?
—No, not £20.
19171. How much did you lay out?
—I think the whole thing would cost about £30, including my labour.
19172. Professor Mackinnon.
—Do the crofters upon the west of Yell engage in the fishing?
19173. Those who are your neighbours?
—Yes, the most of them are at the fishing.
19174. What is the average rent they pay, off and on, in that place?
—I think somewhere from £4 to £6—perhaps a little more; say from £3 to £6. I know there are some as low as £3.
19175. Are there many of them on the same property as you?
—A good many; I could not say exactly the number.
19176. Is the whole of the west shore of Yell there under small. tenants except your own?
—Yes, the proprietor owns the whole district with the exception of some small patches.
19177. Does he stay in the place?
—No, he stays in Lerwick.
19178. What is he besides?
—He is a merchant in Leith—J. B. Leask.
19179. lie does not keep a place in the west of Yell?
—He has a store or shop.
19180. Does he cure fish?
—Yes, the people don't have many small boats now; but he would get them big boats if they could only manage them.
19181. But I suppose the people upon his own property sell the fish to him—those who do fish?
—The cod and ling fish.
19182. Do they take their stores from him?
—I expect so.
19183. Has that property been long in the family?
—No, I think the late Mr Leask bought it from the Braces.
19184. Who is the neighbouring proprietor—Major Cameron has property there, has he not?
—No, he is north from there. Our neighbouring proprietor is on the Gossaburgh estate—West Sandwick.
19185. That is full of crofters?
19186. And is the proprietor resident there?
—No, I don't know where he is.
19187. He has a local manager?
—I think a Mr Keith.
19188. Does he live in the place?
—Yes, I think he is here.
19189. Does he belong to Shetland?
—No, he belongs to Caithness, I think.
19190. Is that a large property?
—There is some in East Yell, and some in West and South; there is a whole lot of it.
19191. Does Mr Keith manage the whole of it?
—I think so.
19192. Do they engage in herring fishing as well as cod and ling fishing on the west coast?
—Only those in the big boats.
19193. Where do they go to the deep sea fishing from there?
—To the north.
19194. Between North Maven and Yell —right out at the mouth of Yell Sound ?
—Yes, I suppose so.
19195. Do they go far out?
—Forty or fifty miles out, I daresay, in the summer time.
19196. And the big boats are chiefly engaged in the herring fishing?
—As a rule they fish for ling too, at least most of them.
19197. How many has Mr Leask of these boats?
—There are only two of the big boats, I think, in West Yell.
19198. The smaller class of boats belong to the people themselves?
—I rather think he finds the boats his tenants are fishing with.
19199. The old sixerns as well as the new class of boats?
—Yes, but there are not many of the old boats now.
19200. Does he arrange with them on the half-catch system?
—Not in the small boats. I think they pay hire for the boats and lines in that case, and some of them own their own boats.
19201. Is the arrangement in the smaller class of boats, that the boats and fines belong to the curer?
—They used to pay so much hire for the boat.
19202. How much for the season?
—I forget if it was £3 or 50s.
19203. And did he keep the boat and lines in order for that?
—No, the lines were separate.
19204. They were their own?
—Yes, or a separate transaction or hire of them was made.
19205. But in the large boats at the herring fishing, the owner of the boat gets one half the fish?
—Yes, and supplies the material.
19206. And keeps boat and material in working order?
19207. You are south of West Sandwick?
—Yes, on the next point.