60865: Minor Unrests

Extracts from the Scotsman newspaper, 1888 concerning land issues

January 11, 1888 Yesterday Coll crofters marched into Stornoway and sought an interview with Lady Matheson. They presented a petition asking for the return of the farm of Coll in order "to save them from death by squalor and famine". A discussion on emigration then followed, after which Lady Matheson said she would give her reply in a few days. Agitation by means of deputation was a favourite method with Lewismen. They came to the Estate Office almost daily.

January 21, 1888 Yesterday a number of men from Back called on Mr MacNeill asking for information regarding emigration, especially to British Columbia.

January 24, 1888 A deputation from Back asks for Gress Farm but is told that this could not be granted. The deputation then waited on Mr MacNeill regarding emigration, this time to Manitoba, and was told to contact Lord Lothian on the matter.

January 21, 1888 The crofters in Coll and Tong have been expressing dissatisfaction at the reply given by the Chamberlain to their petition for more land, and also visited Lady Matheson asking for Coll Farm to be appointed to them.

January 24, 1888 A deputation from Tong saw the Chamberlain of Lewis complaining of the encroachment by Laxdale Crofters on their grazings, and also to put in a claim for a portion of the grazing lands of Coll Farm. It seems they had previously an opportunity of acquiring this grazing, but did not accept it. They have now changed their minds as Mr Hunter, Coll farmer seems still disposed to relinquish this portion of grazing land, which extends to 500 acres of moorland pasture. The crofters seem likely to get their way in this.

January 27, 1888 The Coll people broke down dykes which separate them from Coll Farm – 60 yards of turf.

January 16, 1888 The cottars in Breasclete, Callanish and other townships in Uig visited Linshader Farm and warned the tenant to get rid of his stock before May, as they wanted his farm for agricultural purposes. The same crowd visited Garynahine Farm, and gave a similar warning to the tenant there.

January 21, 1888 The Borrowston crofters have petitioned Lady Matheson to have their crofts valued by valuators mutually chosen. There are 16 tenants in the township as well as a number of squatters. The total rental is 35. Only three persons are rented above 4. Lady Matheson agreed, and asked them to appoint a valuator forthwith.

January 23, 1888 An old man in Callanish states he remembers 60 years ago when part of Linshader was under crofters. He could account for 20 families who lived there. Some of these went by Garynahine, Callanish and Breasclete. He knew 8 families, removed from Linshader, whose descendants are still in the district. Previous to 20 years ago, there were crofter tenants in Garynahine, some of whom were sent to the township pasture of Callanish and some to Achmore.

January 27, 1888 Breasclete and Tolsta Chaolais also sent delegations petitioning for more land. There were 49 tenants in Breasclete and 28 in Tolsta Chaolais. The man who called at the Chamberlain’s office were quiet and intelligent. They were:- Aulay Macaulay, Norman Mackenzie, John Macleod, Kenneth Maclean and John Macaulay.

They wanted the farms of Linshader and Garynahine. The Chamberlain asked them why their children did not seek employment throughout the world and the men pleaded they were too unlearned and poor to do anything of the kind.

February 6, 1888 The Brenish tenants want Carishader.

February 9, 1888 A deputation from Tobson contacted Lady Matheson for Bosta, part of Mr James Mackenzie’s extensive sheep farm, which had only gone out of cultivation 9 years earlier. They got the usual answer – in the negative.

February 10, 1888 A deputation from Callanish set forth the following facts for Lady Matheson’s attention:-

1. Some years ago they were deprived of Aird, a square mile of pasture land, along with 4 crofts to seaward of the Druidical Stones, which were given, all given to the tenant of Callanish Lodge.

2. That Orsay, in Linshader Loch, was taken from them and annexed to Linshader Farm.

3. That they continue to pay the old rental for these lands taken from them.

4. That in the last 38 years, 27 crofters have been settled on the common pasture of their township, most of whom had been evicted from Reef, Linshader, and Garynahine.

They want the pasture lands restored, and new crofts formed on the Garynahine pasture lands, marching with Callanish.

February 6, 1888 The township of Gravir want part of the Park Deer Forest. The crofters of Cromore want Roderick Martin removed from his township of Orinsay. They have told him to remove himself.

February 21, 1888 Vatisker sent a deputation to Lady Matheson about their rents. Knockaird also wants a reduction on their rents.

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