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Showing posts with the label clearances

The Scottish Commons

The idea of individual (or private) ownership of fixed parcels of land is a relatively recent phenomenon, and by no means universal. Tom Johnston’s skill as a historian was to be able to demonstrate that the rapine, murder, massacre, cheating and court harlotry that led to the accumulation of land in the hands of Scotland’s feudal barons was rooted in historical fact. In particular, Johnston exposed how one of the greatest land grabs was engineered - that of Scotland’s extensive Burgh Commons.

The vast territories granted to Scotland’s Royal Burghs were designed to act as a bulwark against noble power. According to Johnston, such acreages, together with other common lands, extended in the latter part of the sixteenth century to fully one half of the entire area of Scotland.

But this valuable inheritance did not to last long:
"Until the Burgh Reform Act of 1833 the landowners and the commercial bourgeois class controlled all burghal administration of the common lands, and controlled …