In July 2007 I acquired
volumes of this publication. It is my intention to
appropriate articles from the volumes. In this way I hope to provide
an interesting collection of material on Agriculture in Scotland from the
last half of the 19th century.
The Society was founded in 1784 to
promote the regeneration of rural Scotland, as well as the preservation of
its poetry, language and music. Today, in the 21st century, the Society
is for people who value the rural areas of Scotland. It is for people who
enjoy the finest products of our land-based and allied industries. And it
is for everyone who supports the very best standards in agriculture,
forestry and stewardship of the countryside, which are such an essential
part of our heritage - and our future.
You can visit their web site at
History of the
Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
By Alexander Ramsay (1879)
The Highland and Agricultural Society of
Scotland, which has now existed for nearly a century, having been from a
very early period national in its aims and operations, it seemed that a
history of its proceedings might be so presented as to illustrate the
progress of agricultural improvement in the country. A narrative of this
nature would at least possess the quality of authenticity. The Society's
proceedings have been recorded with great care; and for the perfect
freedom of access afforded to its archives, the author has to express
his most cordial acknowledgments to the Directors. The Society mainly
sought to effect its purposes by the bestowal of premiums in
competition; and in those offered, and in the awards made, there is
evidence at once of the wants and the capabilities of the country at
successive periods, as well as a record of those whose individual
efforts were contributing towards the general advance.
While account has been taken of the
improvements in tillage and the crops of the farm, special attention
has, in the following pages, been bestowed on the illustration of the
changes occurring in the character of the live stock, a course
recommended alike by the nature of the subject, and the great importance
now so justly attached to this department of rural economy. There will
be found notices of the gradual spread over Scotland of the Shorthorn
cattle, and the relative positions in successive years of the
distinctive Scotch breeds. The reader curious in such matters will find
an interest in tracing the decline and extinction of such breeds as the
Fifeshire and Aberdeenshire Horned; and in the advance and definite
development of the Ayrshire and the two Polled races. Information of
kindred nature is supplied with respect to sheep and horses. Dairy
husbandry is also illustrated to a considerable extent.
The Society has not confined its attention
to affairs purely agricultural. That a scheme or proposal was likely to
benefit Scotland in general, and the Highlands in particular, was in its
earlier years recommendation sufficient to ensure the Society's support.
Efforts in various independent directions, from Gaelic dictionaries and
the poetry of the Highlands, to the patronage and promotion of piping
competitions, are duly described. It seemed fitting to prefix to the
History of the Highland and Agricultural Society some notice of the
proceedings of two earlier Associations for the promotion of Scottish
agriculture, which aspired to a national character. The account of the
Society of Improvers is of course based on the work of Mr Maxwell of
Arkland, published in 1743. The narrative of the proceedings of the
Edinburgh Society is drawn up entirely from fragmentary references
scattered through the Scottish newspapers of the period.
It appeared to be equally desirable to
furnish a sketch of the agricultural condition of Scotland about the
time the Highland Society began its active perations, as a review of
that nature offered a means of measuring the advance made in the
interval. In Chapter II., there will be found an outline of this
character, drawn from trust worthy contemporary sources. As affording a
further means of estimating the changes in the agricultural condition of
Scotland within the past ninety years, some statistics are printed in
The preparation of the work has entailed
very considerable labour; but it has been cheerfully undertaken, in the
belief that the book may be found useful to a circle of readers, that
will probably become wider, as there are many evidences that increased
attention is being bestowed by the nation on questions relating to
agriculture. The Author has to thank various gentlemen who kindly aided
his inquiries. Very special thanks are due to Mr Fletcher Norton Menzies,
the Secretary to the Society, and Mr Thomas Duncan, the Principal Clerk,
without whose combined cordial and effective assistance the work could
not have appeared in its present form. Care and attention have been
bestowed in order to ensure accuracy, all statements of fact, names, and
dates relating to the Society having been collated with the original
Banff, July 9, 1879.
can download this book here in pdf format
- July 1847 - March 1849
- Fourth Series, Vol. II 1869
- Fourth Series, Vol.
- Fourth Series, Vol. IX
- Fourth Series, Vol. X
- Forth Series, Vol. XI 1879
- Fourth Series, Vol. XII
- Fourth Series, Vol.
- Fourth Series, Vol. XV
[It should be noted that in each issue there is a list of some 2,500
members and so anyone into genealogy might find it useful to check these
- Fourth Series, Vol. XVI 1884
- Fourth Series, Vol. XVII 1885
- Fourth Series, Vol. XVIII 1886
- Fourth Series, Vol. XIX 1887
A couple of books in adobe reader format will supply
additional information on the agriculture of Scotland.
"Field and Fern" by H. H. Dixon 1868 in
North (35Mb) |
General View of the Agriculture of the Hebrides
by James MacDonald (1818)
Book here! (35Mb)
A General View of the
Agriculture of the Counties of Ross and Cromarty
By George Steaurt MacKenzie (1810) (pdf)
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the
Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands.
The commission was set up as a response
to crofter and cottar demonstrations against excessively high rents, lack
of security of tenure on land that had been in families for generations
and the forced evictions of crofters.
The demonstrations started in Wester
Ross and Lewis in the 1870's, and by the early 1880's had moved to Skye.
Local police forces were called upon by the landlords to enforce what they
believed to be their rights. However, with limited resources, the police
found it difficult to cope with the increasing demands put upon them.
Therefore, it became an issue needing the attention of Prime Minister
Gladstone’s government and he ordered the appointment of the commission.
Under the orders of William Gladstone,
and backed by Royal approval, the commission was appointed in 1883, by the
Home Secretary, Sir William Harcourt. Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier,
was selected as chairman, with five other members - Sir Donald
Cameron of Locheil; Sir Kenneth MacKenzie of Gairloch; Charles
Fraser – MacIntosh MP; Sheriff Alexander Nicolson of Kicudbright and
Professor Donald MacKinnon of Edinburgh university – making up the panel.
The commission began its work in Braes
on the Island of Skye and travelled the length and breadth of the
Highlands and Islands (including Orkney and Shetland) gathering evidence
from crofters, landlords and others who were familiar with the plight of
the indigenous population.
The final report was hastily published
in 1884 and led obliquely to the 1886 Crofters’ Holding Act.
The Napier’s Report is a valuable piece
of documentary evidence from the Highlands and Islands (including Orkney
and Shetland) in 1883, presenting facts and information on the population,
as well as the political, historical and social climate of the time.
These volumes can be
The Planter's Guide (pdf)
Or A Practical Essay on the Best Method of Giving immediate effect to
Wood, by the Removal of Large Trees and Underwood; Being an Attempt tp
Place the Art, and that of General Arboriculure, on Fixed and
Phycological Principles; Interspersed with Observations on General
Planting, and the Improvement of Real Landscape. Originally Intended for
the Climate of Scotland. By Sir Henry Steuart
This web site provides information on the
native trees of Britain. [External Link]
By James Bruce (1877) (pdf)
I am personally interested in how to manage small tracts
of land that can lead to making yourself self sufficient by growing your
own vegetables, fruit, crops as well as animals. There is an old
series of books...
which together can help you build your own wee farm.
10 Acres Enough
What Jethro Tull did to
improve tillage, the author of "Ten Acres Enough" did to prove that
intensified agriculture on small areas could be made not only to support a
family, but to yield a handsome profit, and health, freedom and happiness
as well. It has taken two centuries for the most advanced farmers to
appreciate Tull and his teachings. It has taken nearly half a century in
this progressive age to appreciate and to put in practice, in a feeble
way, the fundamental principles which underlie all our dealings with
Mother Earth as set forth in this modest volume of two hundred pages.
The Crofter in History
By Lord Colin Campbell, son of
George, 8th Duke of Argyll (1885)
Edible Wild Plants
By Oliver Perry Medsger (1939)
The Gaelic Names of Trees, Shrubs and Plants
With notices of some of the uses to which they were put by the old
Highlanders, and the superstitions connected with them.
Gaelic Names of Birds
This paper is by the same person as wrote the above article and lots of
interesting stories are contained within.
General View of the Agriculture
of the country of Fife (1800) (pdf)
An Account of the System of Husbandry
Adopted in the more Improved Districts of Scotland b\y Sir John
Sinclair, Bart. (1812)
The Capercaillie in Scotland
By J A Harvie-Brown (1888)
Book of the Farm
Detailing the Labours of the Farmer, Farm-Steward, Ploughman, Shepherd,
Hedger, Farm-Labourer, Field-Worker, and Cattle-Man by Henry Stephens,
4th Edition (1889)
Being Plain and Practical Directions for the Planting, Rearing, and
General Management of Forest Trees by James Brown, Forester, Arniston
Grasses of Britain
This book also includes the Grasses of Scotland.
The Grocers Encyclopedia
A compendium of useful information concerning foods of all kinds. How
they are raised, prepared and marketed. How to care for them in the
store and home. How best to use and enjoy them and other valuable
information for Grocers and General Storekeepers. By Artemas Ward (1911)
The Old Scottish Ploughman
A story of the old Scottish Ploughman and his working and living
The Edwardian Farm
A video series of running a farm over the course of a year in Edwardian
BBC's Tales from the Green Valley
A farm run by 5 experts as it would have been around 1620 and only using
tools and foods available at that time.
This is a series of videos where Hugh is trying out self sufficiency on
a small holding in Dorset in England.
Return To Riverside Cottage
Riverside Cottage Forever
Riverside Cottage - Vegetables
Beyond River Cottage
Cook on the Wild Side
you want to grow vegetables on a serious scale, I recommend this book,
but there is so much more to it that vegetables. For visual minded
people there are some excellent pen and wash drawings showing the garden
in all 5 seasons (winter, spring, early summer, late summer, and