Chapter

‘The Highlands have Reaped what Michael Davitt has Sown’: Legislation and Agitation to the Great War

Andrew G. Newby

in Ireland, Radicalism, and the Scottish Highlands, c.1870-1912

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780748623754
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653645 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623754.003.0016
‘The Highlands have Reaped what Michael Davitt has Sown’: Legislation and Agitation to the Great War

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The suspension of the ‘laws of God’ seen in the legislation of 1881 and 1886 caused problems for those who had hoped that Highlanders would embrace the root and branch abolition of landlords. Attempts to bring crofters and Irish smallholders to support any form of land nationalisation were undermined by the tenants' own reluctance, and — possibly more importantly — by the continuing efforts of successive governments to treat Irish and Highland rural land questions as separate from the rest of the country. Ironically, perhaps, it was the Conservatives who, in the first decade of the twentieth century, dabbled in land nationalisation in the crofting districts. As a result, the agitation which aimed at securing the taxation of land values took on a much more urban aspect. The ‘land question’, even if it might have been perceived as such by those who associated it with rural poverty, was no longer simply an issue for the Celtic periphery, but for the whole country.

Keywords: Highlanders; crofters; Irish smallholders; land nationalization; rural land

Chapter.  9028 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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