View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

North Uist, 1883

My transcription of the Napier Commission, which I have been doing over the past week or so, is slowly progressing and we are presently in North Uist. Once more the issue appears to be the size (or lack of it) of the land that each crofter holds. Malcolm Mcinnes, a crofter from the township of Tigharry, summarises it in his reply to question 12298.

12298. Then what I understand is that though you are not dissatisfied with your present holdings, you wish to have such large holdings as would enable you to live as farmers on a farm, and not be dependent upon labour
to maintain your families?
—That is it exactly—the very thing we want—that we could make a living out of our crofts by our own labour. We don't want to be gentlemen.

Gentlemen, in his perspective (I remind you of the date, 1883), were people who made a living out of other people's labours. It appears to have been a matter of pride to Malcolm that he be able to make a living by his own hard graft. 


  1. It seems to me that Malcolm answered the question in a courteous and well-educated way (? self-taught) and showed himself to be truly gentlemanly in the real meaning of the word.
    As far as his perspective is concerned I think he mentally viewed the relative importance of things perfectly.
    He showed not only respect for the Commission but also a proper pride, self-respect.

  2. I agree with the points you raise, Liz, but maintain my interpretation of his response and I quote: We don't want to be gentlemen.