A croft is a fenced or enclosed area of land, usually small and arable, and usually, but not always, with a crofter's dwelling thereon. A crofter is one who has tenure and use of the land, typically as a tenant farmer, especially in rural areas.
The word croft is West Germanic in etymology [kʰɾɔtʲ] , plural croitean [ˈkʰɾɔtʲʰən] ).and is now most familiar in Scotland, most crofts being in the Highlands and Islands area. Elsewhere the expression is generally archaic. In Scottish Gaelic, it is rendered croit (pronounced
Essentially similar positions have been the medieval villein [ citation needed ] and the Swedish torpare and Norwegian husmenn.
The Scottish croft is a small agricultural landholding of a type which has been subject to special legislation applying to the Highland region of Scotland since 1886. [ citation needed ]The legislation was largely a response to the complaints and demands of tenant families who were victims of the Highland Clearances. The modern crofters or tenants appear very little in evidence before the beginning of the 18th century. They were tenants at will underneath the tacksman and wadsetters, but practically their tenure was secure enough. The first evidence that can be found of small tenants holding directly of the proprietor is in a rental of the estates of Sir D. MacDonald in Skye and North Uist in 1715.
The first planned crofting townships in the Outer Hebrides were Barragloum and Kirkibost (Great Bernera) which were laid out into 32 large "lots" of between 14 and 30 acres in the uniform rectangular pattern that would become very familiar in later decades. This work was carried out in 1805 by James Chapman for the Earl of Seaforth.[ citation needed ]
The first edition of the Ordnance Survey in 1850 clearly highlights the division of this land and the turf and stone boundaries built by the first tenants in 1805 are still in use today as croft boundaries. Kirkibost was 'cleared' of its tenants in 1823 and the 1850 mapping clearly shows roofless ruins on each parcel of land. The township was however re-settled in 1878 following the Bernera Riot four years earlier using exactly the same division boundaries set out in 1805.[ citation needed ]
The Parliament of the United Kingdom created the Crofters' Act 1886, after the Highland Land League had gained seats in that parliament. The government was then Liberal, with William Ewart Gladstone as Prime Minister. Another Crofters' Act was created in 1993 (the Crofters' (Scotland) Act 1993). The earlier Act established the first Crofting Commission, but its responsibilities were quite different from those of the newer Crofters Commission created in 1955. The Commission is based in Inverness.[ citation needed ]
Crofts held subject to the provisions of the Crofters' Acts are in the administrative counties of Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Inverness-shire and Argyll, in the north and west of Scotland. Under the 1886 legislation (the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act) protected crofters are members of a crofters' township, consisting of tenants of neighbouring crofts with a shared right to use common pasture. Since 1976 it has been legally possible for a crofter to acquire title to his croft, thus becoming an owner-occupier.[ citation needed ]
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives crofters the right to buy their land.
The Highlands is a historic region of Scotland. Culturally, the Highlands and the Lowlands diverged from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands. The term is also used for the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A' Ghàidhealtachd literally means "the place of the Gaels" and traditionally, from a Gaelic-speaking point of view, includes both the Western Isles and the Highlands.
Ross and Cromarty, sometimes referred to as Ross-shire and Cromartyshire, is a variously defined area in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. There is a registration county and a lieutenancy area in current use, the latter of which is 8,019 square kilometres in extent. Historically there has also been a constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, a local government county, a district of the Highland local government region and a management area of the Highland Council. The local government county is now divided between two local government areas: the Highland area and Na h-Eileanan Siar. Ross and Cromarty border Sutherland to the north and Inverness-shire to the south.
Great Bernera, often known just as Bernera, is an island and community in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. With an area of just over 21 square kilometres, it is the thirty-fourth largest Scottish island.
The first Highland Land League emerged as a distinct political force in Scotland during the 1880s, with its power base in the country's Highlands and Islands. It was known also as the Highland Land Law Reform Association and the Crofters' Party. It was consciously modelled on the Irish Land League.
Crofting is a form of land tenure and small-scale food production particular to the Scottish Highlands, the islands of Scotland, and formerly on the Isle of Man. Within the 19th century townships, individual crofts were established on the better land, and a large area of poorer-quality hill ground was shared by all the crofters of the township for grazing of their livestock.
The Highland Potato Famine was a period of 19th century Highland and Scottish history over which the agricultural communities of the Hebrides and the western Scottish Highlands saw their potato crop repeatedly devastated by potato blight. It was part of the wider food crisis facing Northern Europe caused by potato blight during the mid-1840s, whose most famous manifestation is the Great Irish Famine, but compared to its Irish counterpart it was much less extensive and took many fewer lives. The terms on which charitable relief was given, however, led to destitution and malnutrition amongst its recipients. A government enquiry could suggest no short-term solution other than reduction of the population of the area at risk by emigration to Canada or Australia. Highland landlords organised and paid for the emigration of more than 16,000 of their tenants and a significant but unknown number paid for their own passage. Evidence suggests that the majority of Highlanders who permanently left the famine-struck regions emigrated, rather than moving to other parts of Scotland. It is estimated that about a third of the population of the western Scottish Highlands emigrated between 1841 and 1861.
The Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that created legal definitions of crofting parish and crofter, granted security of land tenure to crofters and produced the first Crofters Commission, a land court which ruled on disputes between landlords and crofters. The same court ruled on whether parishes were or were not crofting parishes. In many respects the Act was modelled on the Irish Land Acts of 1870 and 1881. By granting the crofters security of tenure, the Act put an end to the Highland Clearances.
The Napier Commission, officially the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands was a royal commission and public inquiry into the condition of crofters and cottars in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
In Scotland a factor is a person or firm charged with superintending or managing properties and estates—sometimes where the owner or landlord is unable to or uninterested in attending to such details personally, or in tenements in which several owners of individual flats contribute to the factoring of communal areas.
Assynt is a sparsely populated area in the south-west of Sutherland, lying north of Ullapool on the west coast of Scotland. Assynt is known for its landscape and its remarkable mountains, which have led to the area, along with neighbouring Coigach, being designated as the Assynt-Coigach National Scenic Area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland.
The Crofters' Party was the parliamentary arm of the Highland Land League. It managed to elect five MPs in the 1885 general election and a sixth the following year.
Coigach is a peninsula north of Ullapool, in Wester Ross in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. The area consists of a traditional crofting and fishing community of a couple of hundred houses located between mountain and shore on a peninsula looking over the Summer Isles and the sea. The main settlement is Achiltibuie. Like its northerly neighbour, Assynt in Sutherland, Coigach has mountains which rise sharply from quiet, lochan-studded moorland, and a highly indented rocky coast with many islands, bays and headlands. The highest summit is Ben Mor Coigach at 743 metres; the distinctive profile of Stac Pollaidh is the other main peak within Coigach. The scenic qualities of Coigach, along with neighbouring Assynt, have led to the area being designated as the Assynt-Coigach National Scenic Area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland.
Boreraig is a deserted township in Strath Swordale on the north shore of Loch Eishort in the parish of Strath, Isle of Skye, Scotland.
The Bernera Riot occurred in 1874, on the island of Great Bernera, in Scotland in response to the Highland Clearances. The use of the term 'Bernera Riot' correctly relates to the court case which exposed the maltreatment of the peasant classes in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and exposed the corruption that was inherent in the landowning class. The 'riot' was not fought in the streets or in the fields but in the Scots Lawcourts. It is notable as the first successful legal challenge to nineteenth century Landlordism in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and was the catalyst for future resistance in what became known as the Crofters War. Modern land reform in Scotland has its roots in the outcome of this event.
Camustianavaig is a crofting township on the island of Skye in Scotland. It is located on the shores of the Sound of Raasay, 5 kilometres southeast of Portree. The Lòn Bàn watercourse flows from Loch Fada to "An Eas Mhòr" below which it is named "Allt Ósglan" and discharges into the sea at Camas Tianabhaig. The stream forms the boundary between the township and Conordan to the south. Ósglan itself is the land on the right bank of Allt Ósglan.
The Highland Clearances were the evictions of a significant number of tenants in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, mostly in the period 1750 to 1860.
Glendale is a community-owned estate on the north-western coastline of the Duirinish peninsula on the island of Skye and is in the Scottish council area of Highland. The estate encompasses the small crofting townships of Skinidin, Colbost, Fasach, Glasphein, Holmisdale, Lephin, Hamaraverin, Borrodale, Milovaig and Waterstein, Feriniquarrie, Totaig, Glasphein, Hamara, and others
Charles Fraser-Mackintosh was a Scottish lawyer, land developer, author and Liberal and Crofters Party politician. He was a significant champion of the Scottish Gaelic language in Victorian Britain.
The Crofting Commission took the place of the Crofters Commission on 1 April 2012 as the statutory regulator for crofting in Scotland. Based in Inverness, it is an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government. The Commission comprises six Crofting Commissioners elected from geographic areas in the crofting counties, and three Commissioners appointed by the Scottish Government. The Convener is appointed from among Commission members. The Commission is supported by around 60 staff led by a Chief Executive.
John Murdoch was a Scottish newspaper owner and editor and land reform campaigner who played a significant part in the campaign for crofters rights in the late 19th century