A croft is a fenced or enclosed area of land, usually small and
arable, 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.
3 See also
5 External links
The word croft is West Germanic in etymology 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 [krɔtʲ], plural
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
Scotland since 1886. 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
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.
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.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom created the Crofters' Act 1886,
Highland Land League
Highland Land League had gained seats in that parliament.
The government was then Liberal, with
William Ewart Gladstone
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.
Crofts held subject to the provisions of the Crofters' Acts are in the
administrative counties of Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland,
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
^ From Old English croft, enclosed field, app. corresp. to Dutch
kroft, krocht, prominent rocky height, high and dry land, field on the
downs. Ulterior etymology unknown. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd.
^ Chambers's encyclopaedia: a dictionary of universal knowledge for
the people. Volume 3 (revised ed.). W. and R. Chambers. 1901.
p. 575. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
This article incorporates text from "Dwelly's [Scottish] Gaelic
Dictionary" (1911). (Croitear)
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