Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands 1883 Part E
Alex Gunn continues:
Alex Gunn continues:
Pay - two or three years later
'When any work was to do on the estate, we had to attend at once, no matter how pressing our own work might be, and we were paid the handsome sum of 1 shilling per day, of 12 hours, being at the rate of one penny per hour, and after working for it, it was sometimes two and sometimes three years before we got a settlement, and there would be no money got at that time. The head of the family would get a boll of meal if he had as much in the laird’s hands as would pay the rent.'
|Doing their own work. Leave at once.|
'All the males on the estate, on reaching the age of 17, had to pay 3s 6d each for road money. This money was kept off the counting table. Should any of the young men seek more remunerative employment elsewhere, the father was threatened with eviction.'
Proprietor's Protection Society
'When a family was evicted from the estate, they had great difficulty getting a house on the neighbouring estate, as the landlords had a sort of a trades protection society amongst themselves, and the unfortunate man had to stand a process of cross-questioning as to why he had left, and what the laird had against him, and was in some cases kept for weeks in suspense before he got a definite answer.'
Further comments by Alex Gunn:
‘The district [Auchencraig] being depopulated, the fishing was discontinued, and those poor people were obliged to work for their human laird at the rate of 1s per day for full grown men, women and boys from 4d to 6d per day, and out of this pittance to support themselves and families, and pay their rents, for their crofts scarcely yielded anything.’
|Ousdale steep land plus Ousdale bridge and old road|
‘Badbea comes next in course, the inhabitants of which were employed in reclaiming a wild piece of ground on a hill-side at Ousdale for Mr Horne, where he availed himself of the Government Drainage Act. They were made to toil and travel two miles each way for 1s a day, and Mr Horne was very fortunate in the choice of a man to set over them, as he spared neither bone nor sinew. The heads of families were obliged to take all their family to the work that could work, and if any young man was found spirited enough to go and work where he would be better remunerated for his labour, his parents were marked, and they did not escape punishment.
But the work at Ousdale was finished, and Mr Horne could find nothing more for them to do, and as a matter of course six families were single out to be set adrift by next Whitsunday, and to find no shelter on the paternal estate of Langwell. This appeared the harder when it is considered that some of them had been in the place for 50 or 60 years, and one family occupied the house possessed by their forebears for four generations, and others reared families of 10 and 11 children under the same roof.’
‘They were promised payment for all the foreign timber in their houses, but one day a couple of men appeared on the scene, leaped on the top of the house, and with shovels and graipe peeled the roofs of the house, leaving nothing but the bare roofs and the bare walls. When the poor people demanded payment as promised, they were told they could take the timber if they chose, but no payment would be made, and there was no redress. These men were the scum of the estate, always ready to perform any dirty work the laird wanted done. This was the year 1845. Before this happened the village of Badbea was surrounded by a five-feet stone wall, a sure indication of the coming storm.’