Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Condition of the cottar population in Lewis 1881

Condition of the cottar population in Lewis.
Report to Her Majesty's Secretary for Scotland.
Accounts and Papers, 1888.
Vol. LXXX, 43p., maps. [C. 5265]

Meetings of parochial boards were held in Lewis and it was discovered that some destitution did exist.

A previous inquiry into destitution on the island had been held in 1851, following the collapse of the kelp industry between 1844 and 1849 and the failure of the potato crop in 1846.

The expansion of the herring industry had soon relieved the situation.

By 1888, however, over-production and foreign competition had affected the herring fishery and it became increasingly difficult for the cottars of Lewis to obtain credit from local merchants between the fishing seasons.

In addition, an epidemic of measles had afflicted most of the population.

Mr. Fraser and Mr. McNeill visited 108 houses in the parishes of Lochs and Stornoway. Tabulated results of their inquiries are included in the appendix.

They found that the soil was of poor quality, there was a shortage of food and "a listless apathy is everywhere apparent."

They predicted starvation on the island and recommended that some of the surplus population should be removed.

Source: http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/haynin/haynin1403.htm#p290

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