Revolution in landownership
in Clanship to crofters’ war
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At the end of his long career as engineer with the Scottish Fishery Board, during which he travelled widely in the Highlands, Joseph Mitchell noted the transformation which had occurred in the pattern of landownership in the region since 1820s. The majority of British landowners had to contend with a more difficult economic environment by the 1820s. By the 1850s, the pattern of landownership in the western Highlands and Islands had been revolutionised. Historians of the British landed classes argue that it was exceedingly difficult for landowners to reduce absolute debt levels even through the imposition of strict measures of economy. The expansion of landed debt which occurred in the later eighteenth century Highlands was simply a regional variant of a British phenomenon.

Clanship to crofters’ war

The social transformation of the Scottish Highlands

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