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Lachlan Munro's evidence to Napier Commission 1883

Lachlan Munro's evidence to Napier Commission 1883

In his evidence to the Napier Commission at Obbe in 1883, Lachlan Munro provided an overview of life in Ruisgarry at that time.

The crofters had 'plenty of sea-ware. The wind drives it towards us.' and were not restricted from gathering it from Borve's coastline. They gathered peats from the island of Tay, which 'takes about three-quarters of an hour rowing on a good day with a favourable wind.'

Those living in Borve on MacDonald's land collected peat 'from another island that Mr Macdonald has called Vacasay... a little outside Tay; but another island where Mr Macdonald's grieve and some of his people live and get their peats is ... Stroma.'

It was Lachlan's belief that the islanders would be made comfortable if they could get back Borve Farm: 'There is no doubt that we would be. It is the scarcity of the land which leaves us in the condition we are.'

The rent he paid on his own croft, 20 Ruisgarry, was £5. 'My family consists of my wife and myself, and all we can raise on my croft will not support us for three months.' He kept two cows and a mare; also 'about six ewes, but it is on other people's land; I buy grass for them. I buy the seed which I put into my ground.'

'We formerly used to thatch our houses with straw, when we had more of it, but since then we chiefly thatch them with bent, which we mostly get from Mr Macdonald.' Mr Macdonald did not make them pay - 'That gentleman would take nothing from any poor man whom he could help.'

The islanders were required to pay 5s annually for a doctor's services. The doctor lived at Obbe, and very seldom came to Berneray. 'He must be doing some good, for we sometimes send for him or go to him.'

He also referred to a packet 'which used to run between this and Uist, and also a packet that ran to Skye. There is no packet now.'

The full minutes of Lachlan Munro's evidence to the Commission can be found on pages 849 and 850 in Volume 2 of the report. A link to the report can be found here.

 

 

Title: Lachlan Munro's evidence to Napier Commission 1883
Record Type: Stories, Reports and Traditions
Type: Testimony Or Evidence
Date: 1883
Record Maintained By: CEBH
Subject Id: 76357