Crofting regulations

  1. Common Grazings and Grazing Regulations

The crofts 1 to 48 were lotted in their present form in 1851, but the clearance of North Tolsta in 1853 caused overcrowding in South Tolsta. Statistics show that the population of South Tolsta increased from 272 to 448 in the ten years between 1851 and 1861. Extra crofts were added around 1861, but in 1883 the Napier Commission inquiry recorded that there were still as many squatters as crofters in Tolsta and the situation was desperate. The first Crofters' Act was passed in 1886 and the following rules were later given for the management of the common grazings.

Grazings Regulations for South Tolsta etc Common Grazings enacted by Order dated 1 st October 1909

The following is a copy of these Regulations as amended by subsequent Order on 6 th July 1911.

There were eleven basic rules in South Tolsta in July 1911.

1. The stock carry of the common grazing shall be at the rate of one cow; one one-year old stirk; and eight blackfaced sheep for every one pound sterling of rent payable by each crofter. The grazing of one horse shall be equivalent to the grazing of one cow and one one-year old stirk and the grazing of one cow to that of eight sheep.

2. Except, as hereinafter provided, no crofter shall be allowed to keep any excess stock, but in the event of any crofter not being able to maintain his or her full souming, the committee shall have power to extend the right to such crofter or crofters in the townships as they may determine of grazing extra stock to the extent of such deficiency, but that only upon payment to them by the person or persons so grazing of such sum or sums as the Committee may fix said sums being paid over to the crofter or crofters undersoumed in proportion to the deficiency in their souming.

3. All cattle horses and sheep shall be removed from the township arable lands to the grazings in the vicinity of the township not later than 25 th April in each year, and shall remain there till 15 th June, and in the event of permission being granted for the horses under Rule 4 they shall be tethered, or otherwise under control, from 9 o'clock pm till 6 o'clock am from 25 th April till the crops are removed from the arable land in Autumn. The part of the common grazings known as "The Ard" shall be closed against sheep, cattle and horses, as from 25 th April to 1 st August, and the "Machair" grazings shall be strictly preserved from 1 st August to 1 st November in each year.

4. All cattle, horses and sheep, shall be driven to the moor or sheilings not later than 15 th June and the cattle and sheep shall remain there until 1 st August and the horses till the crops are removed from the arable land in each year. Exemption from this obligation may be granted by the committee to persons unable to comply therewith and permission may be given to graze on the common pasture in the vicinity of the township, for which privilege a payment of two shillings and sixpence for each horse and for each head of cattle shall be charged. The amount so collected shall be applied towards the payment of the herd's wages, or otherwise as may be deemed proper in the interest of the township.

5. Lambs when taken from their mothers shall be divided into two stocks under the charge of separate herds or shepherds. No individual herding shall be allowed. The wages of herds or shepherds shall be charged according to the number of lambs herded.

6. The committee shall have the entire management of such bull and tups as may be required for the service of the stock of the two townships and shall be at liberty to buy or sell the same as occasion demand. No crofter shall be allowed to keep any tup or tups, except such as are approved by the committee. Expenses incurred by the committee in the purchase thereof, or in housing and feeding the same shall be refunded by the crofters in proportion to their souming rights.

7. The committee shall appoint certain days for the gathering of sheep for the purposes of clipping, marking, counting, weaning, smearing or dipping, and no person, other than the shepherd, shall be at liberty to gather sheep on any other occasion for any purpose whatever, except with the express permission of the committee given in writing.

8. No one shall be allowed on the moor with a dog with the exception of the landlord or shooting tenant and the herd or shepherds of the townships without permission of the committee.

9. The committee shall control and direct all cutting of peats ensuring that an even bottom will be left in the hags, that the sods are in all cases carefully relaid, sward uppermost, and that proper channels are formed to carry off surface water. No one shall be allowed to cut or carry away surface turf or divots from any part of the common pasture except from the peat mosses for any purpose whatsoever.

10. The committee shall have power to appoint a shepherd and herd and to assess their wages upon the crofters interested and to recover the same - such wages to be uplifted at such dates as the Committee may fix by assessment levied in proportion to the interest of each crofter in the common grazing.

11. The failure of any crofter to comply with the foregoing rules and regulations or to pay his or her share of the cost of administration shall be deemed to be a contravention of the Act.

  * Old North Tolsta ceased to exist after the clearance of that village in 1853. The farm controlled this ground until the new village was formed in 1922. Instead of keeping the name North Tolsta, the village was now called New Tolsta. The name South Tolsta was used on certain official records until 1966.


Stornoway Gazette 26 February 1966

Change of Address in Tolsta

The Stornoway Trustees decided at the weekend to change their official records to correspond with the postal addresses. The result is that South Tolsta will cease to exist. The re-designation means that South Tolsta will become North Tolsta, and North Tolsta will become New Tolsta. CONFUSED? Old North Tolsta is now New Tolsta and old South Tolsta is now North Tolsta.