Divide and Conquer........thats been the motto of the british state. More on that later..
Here is an eyewitness report of the Highland Clearances of the 1860's just before the making of the Crofters Act of 1886....Give it a read..
'How Much More Valuable is, not even a Sheep, but a Game Bird than a Man?'
Repeated evictions coupled with emigration continued to plague the Highlands. For those left at home, life became ever harder as those landlords who did not force the tenants off their lands entirely often forced them onto the worst lands on their estates, while charging them ever more heavily for the privilege. Game and sheep were now much more lucrative than people, and crofters suffered accordingly. They had no security of tenure and could be moved or evicted at the mere whim of a factor or landlord. Eventually, protest and agitation forced the government to appoint a Royal Commission to look into the problem. These extracts come from evidence presented to Lord Napier's commission. The result of the Commission's work was the Crofters Holdings Act of 1886 and the appointment of the Crofters Commission to oversee it.
'Statement of Grievances by Crofters and Cottars in the district of Morven, Argyllshire. Lochaline. - Our principal grievances are as follows: - 1st, That we have been removed from lands occupied by ourselves and our forefathers, and that we have been huddled together in this miserable village; and through that and several other causes we have been reduced to great poverty; and were it not for the kindness of the late Mr Smith, and of his son, the proprietor of the adjoining estates of Acharn and Ardtornish, who, for more than thirty years, gave work to as many of us as he could, we do not know how we could have existed. We consider it a great hardship that we cannot get any land to cultivate, although abundance of good land formerly under cultivation, is going waste at our very doors. This land from which some of us have been evicted about seventeen years ago, we are sorry to see going back again into a state of nature, and overgrown with heather and rushes. We feel very much the want of milk for our families. Many of us would be very glad if we could get a cow's grass even without arable land at a reasonable rent, which we could pay. The rent for a cow's grass, without any arable land, charged by the late proprietrix is £3 a year, which we consider an intentional discouragement against any one aspiring to the dignity of keeping a cow. We know that the want of good milk, such as most of us have been accustomed to in our younger days, has a deteriorating influence upon ourselves, and more especially upon our children. We are aware that a certain medical gentleman in another part, while being examined before the Commission, recommended cheap beer as a substitute for milk. The use and introduction of such a substitute for milk in rearing our offspring we, and we are sure all Highlanders, will repudiate with scorn. We look upon such a suggestion as an insult to us; and we cannot perceive why we should be deprived of the means of having a supply of good milk, so that the proprietor may obtain a few pounds more rent. 2nd, Our next grievance is in regard to fuel. Under former proprietors, the poorest of us had the privilege of cutting peats on the hill as near hand as we could find them; but now we are prevented from doing this, and compelled to go to the top of the hill to cut them. The poorest and most destitute of us dare not gather a few tufts of heather to keep up the fire in case the game be interfered with, or be put to the least inconvenience. Our Lord and Saviour said, "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep?" But our landlords say, "How much more valuable is, not even a sheep, but a game bird than a man?" In consequence of the above restrictions as to fuel, we are at all seasons of the year under the necessity of buying coal, and in this remote district, so far situated from the coal centres of the south, coal is a luxury which some of us can ill afford. As an instance of the petty tyranny exercised over us regarding these matters, we wish to refer to a case which happened about two years ago, when a man belonging to our village, who is both a cripple and in receipt of parochial aid, was found on the road with a bundle of heather for his fire, and was unmercifully deprived of his heather by one of the estate gamekeepers and shoved along the road. We therefore consider it a great grievance that we, being loyal subjects of Her Majesty, living under what we are taught to believe to be the glorious British Constitution, living in a country which is supposed to be the best governed country in the world, should be left so much to the mercy of landed proprietors, and, still worse, their factors, that we can scarcely call our souls our own. We cannot reconcile all the boasted freedom to be enjoyed by all Her Majesty's subjects alike with what we know to be the truth in our own case. From our experience, we are more inclined to believe with Lord Macaulay, that the country, and Scotland especially, has the worst constitution in Europe, at least so far as the land laws are concerned. We therefore trust that Her Majesty's Commissioners shall take our case into consideration. 3rd, Evictions. We specially beg to direct the attention of Her Majesty's Commissioners to the miserable condition of this district compared to what it was forty or fifty years ago. The population of the parish at that time was over 2,000. At last census it stood at 828. Fifty years ago, with such a large population, £11 sterling per annum from the collection at the church door was sufficient for the support of all the poor and destitute people within the district, and now, with a population of 828, the poor rates amount to over £600 a year. These facts we leave to the consideration and wisdom of the Commissioners, as we consider they require no comment from us beyond showing the benefits conferred upon this district by what the Duke of Argyll calls in scientific language 'economic conditions,' and that we are not to be bamboozled by his Grace's scientific conundrums. The first eviction which took place in this district happened between fifty and sixty years ago, when the late Miss Stewart evicted all the tenants in the township of Ferinish, Mangostell, Barr, and Innemore, numbering in all twenty-five families. The second eviction happened between forty and fifty years ago, when the tenants of several townships on the estates of Acharn and Ardtornish received summonses of removal from the proprietors before they sold the estates to Mr Patrick Sellar of Sutherlandshire. There were forty-eight families evicted at this time, so that the loss of population sustained by the parish must have been considerable. There was another cruel and very harsh eviction which took place in this district about seventeen years ago. When the late Mrs Paterson came into possession of the estate of Lochaline, there were in the townships of Achabeg and Knock a well-to-do crofter population, consisting of between twenty-five and thirty families. The families, owing to some whim of the proprietrix, were evicted wholesale, notwithstanding the oft-repeated remonstrances of the late Dr John M'Leod, then minister of the parish. The crowbar and faggot were here, let us hope for the last time in the history of the Highland peasant, brought into requisition to demolish the dwellings of men whose forefathers occupied the land long before Mrs Paterson came into the district, or had the means which gave her the power of buying the land and turning out the people. There was yet another eviction on the estate of the late Lady Gordon of Drimnin, and as this was a peculiarly hard case, which took place only about fifteen years ago, we feel in duty bound to refer to it as showing how completely the Highland crofter is in the power of his landlord, and however unscrupulous the landlord may be in the present circumstances there is no redress. The circumstances are as follows: - About forty years ago, when the sheep farming craze was at its height, some families were removed from the townships of Aulistan and Carrick on Lady Gordon's estate, as their places were to be added to the adjoining sheep farm. The people were removed on to the most barren spot on the whole estate, where there was no road or any possibility of making one. They had to carry all manure and sea ware on their backs, as the place was so rocky that a horse would be of no use. Notwithstanding all these disadvantages, they contrived through time to improve the place very much by draining and reclaiming mossy patches, and by carrying soil to be placed on rocky places where there was no soil. During the twenty-five years they occupied this place their rents were raised twice. Latterly, with the full confidence of their tenure being secure, they built better houses at their own expense, and two or three years afterwards they were turned out of their holdings on the usual six weeks' notice, without a farthing of compensation for land reclaimed. In justice to the present proprietor, Joseph Gordon, Esq., we wish to state our conviction that such an injustice would not have been permitted on the estate since he came into possession, as we regard him as a kind and considerate landlord to the few crofters on his estate. It has often been advanced by landlords, factors, and others that the Highland crofters are lazy and do not improve their holdings; but where is the inducement to improvements under such circumstances as we have here related? And as the Commissioners are well aware that this case is not a solitary instance, as it is quite common in every district throughout the Highlands, that if a crofter improves his holding he has to pay for it by having his rent raised, or his holding being given to the first man who offers more rent on account of such improvements. 4th, The remedy which we in this district would respectfully suggest for the improvement of our condition is, that the land which is lying waste on every side of us, this is to say, the townships of Achabeg, Keil, and Knock, at present in the hands of Mrs Paterson's trustees, and entirely out of cultivation, should be divided into suitable lots; that the trustees build suitable cottages on such lots. We consider they have a right to do so, seeing the proprietrix caused all the houses to be destroyed seventeen years ago; that these lots be let to us at a reasonable rent, such rent, in cases where the landlord and tenant cannot agree, to be fixed by arbitration, or such other arrangement as the wisdom of Parliament may see proper. While much preferring to have the State as our landlord, and while thoroughly convinced that the land question shall never be properly settled until it is settled on that basis, we should still be glad, in the meantime, to have matters settled on the lines indicated above; that is, a re-allotment of the land in suitable portions, security against arbitary evictions, compensation for improvement in case of removal, a fair rent and arbitration in case of disagreement between landlord and tenant. We have heard this statement read, and we agree with all it contains.'
And it was great to british........
We received an e-mail from our friends of the Am Buidheann Dubh
They have been busy and provided us with a look at one of their workshops. This is how easy the message of protest can be put together and well done to them for thier committment to the cause.
The banner is born
Some tools of the trade
Letters are prepared
The banner takes shape
The painting begins
The letters appear
The END is near
There can be only one outcome... END LONDON RULE...FREE SCOTLAND!!