HC Deb 04 September 1893 vol 16 cc1882-3

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the sentences passed by Sheriff Johnstone, of Dingwall, upon Robert Saunders, aged 60 years; John Graham, 55 years; Murdo Maclver, 40 years, and James Makay, 40 years, crofters of Borve, Island of Lewis, for taking their horses from a poindfold into which they were placed by Mr. Paul Helm, a local Magistrate and tenant of the farm of Galston adjoining the township of Borve, a farm covering an area of 24 square miles, and formerly occupied by crofters, from which they were evicted and their houses destroyed without compensation; and whether the sentences Sheriff Johnstone passed on these crofters will be remitted?


I have inquired into this case. Until within the last few years the farm of Galston was fenced, and there were gates on the public road at each end of the farm preventing cattle from outside from straying on to it. Within the last few years those gates and fences have been on many occasions maliciously destroyed, in consequence of this the cattle and horses from outside frequently trespassed upon the farm. In order to prevent this trespass the tenant of the farm (Mr. Helm) recently applied for and obtained interdict against the crofters of the Borve township, and the original interdict and decree were personally served upon every member of the township and explained to them. Notwithstanding this, 30 or 40 horses were apparently encouraged to graze upon the farm, and ultimately were poinded by the tenant. A crowd of 30 crofters armed with sticks then proceeded to break the poind, and four of them were convicted of a breach of the peace, and imprisoned for terms of from 15 to eight days. I think the question of the gates is for the County Council to deal with, and I do not see any ground for interfering with the sentences. I am informed that a considerable part of the farm has been apportioned by the Crofters Commission to the township of Mid Borve.