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Second Shetland Truck System Report
by Guthrie, William, 1835-1908


This etext is 3.8Mb's and so you'll understand just how large this is.  It does however give some interesting information on life in the Shetland Islands during the 19th century.  Here is a wee extract from it...

I went to Shetland at the beginning of the year, a time when the seafaring people of the country are generally at their homes, and I at once began to take evidence with regard to the system of barter or truck which prevails in various trades and industries in these islands. Evidence was taken respecting the hosiery or knitting trade, in which a very large proportion of the women of the country are engaged. Evidence was also taken with regard to the fishing trade, which in its different branches affords employment for part of the year to the whole of the male population, with few exceptions. With regard to the manner in which sales of farm stock and produce are transacted, rents are paid, and land is held in Shetland, information has also been obtained, without which it appeared to be impossible to form a correct idea of the condition of the people, and the way in which barter or truck presents itself as an inseparable element of their daily life and habits. A large amount of evidence was also pressed upon me with regard to the engagement of seamen at Lerwick for sealing and whaling voyages to Greenland and Davis Straits.

Sittings for the purpose of taking evidence were held at Lerwick, Brae (Delting), Hillswick (Northmaven), Mid Yell, Balta Sound (Unst), Boddam (Dunrossness), and Scalloway, in Shetland. I visited Kirkwall, in Orkney, for the purpose of examining certain witnesses now residing there with regard to the condition of Fair Island, which was inaccessible at the time of my journey. Sittings were also held in Edinburgh for the examination of a few witnesses residing there.

Public notice by printed bills was given of all meetings, and circulars were also sent to all clergymen, schoolmasters, and landed proprietors, and to all persons in the fishcuring and hosiery trades. Evidence was received from almost all who tendered it, from a large number of persons suggested or put forward by employers of labour and purchasers of hosiery goods and fish, and from many witnesses who were selected and cited.

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