Croft (land)
Overview
 
A croft is a fenced
Agricultural fencing
In agriculture, fences are used to keep animals in or out of an area. They can be made from a wide variety of materials, depending on terrain, location and animals to be confined...

 or enclosed
Enclosure
Enclosure or inclosure is the process which ends traditional rights such as mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock on common land. Once enclosed, these uses of the land become restricted to the owner, and it ceases to be common land. In England and Wales the term is also used for the...

 area of land, usually small and arable
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

 with a crofter's dwelling
Dwelling
Dwelling, as well as being a term for a house, or for living somewhere, or for lingering somewhere, is a philosophical concept which was developed by Martin Heidegger. Dwelling is about making yourself at home where the home itself is a building that is a house...

 thereon. A crofter is one who has tenure
Land tenure
Land tenure is the name given, particularly in common law systems, to the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to "hold" the land . The sovereign monarch, known as The Crown, held land in its own right. All private owners are either its tenants or sub-tenants...

 and use of the land, typically as a tenant farmer.
The word croft is West Germanic
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

 in etymology, and is now most familiar in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, most crofts being in the Highlands and Islands
Highlands and Islands
The Highlands and Islands of Scotland are broadly the Scottish Highlands plus Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.The Highlands and Islands are sometimes defined as the area to which the Crofters' Act of 1886 applied...

 area. Elsewhere the expression is generally archaic
Archaism
In language, an archaism is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately or as part of a specific jargon or formula...

. In Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic language
Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Primitive Irish....

, it is rendered croit (pron. krɔtʲ, plural croitean krɔtʲan)

Essentially similar positions have been the medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 villein and the Swedish torp
Torp
In Scandinavian languages torp means a small dwelling, such as a cottage, with a small leased farm area cultivated by its inhabitants, similar to a croft....

are
and Norwegian husmenn.
The Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 croft is a small agricultural
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 landholding of a type which has been subject to special legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 since 1886.
Encyclopedia
A croft is a fenced
Agricultural fencing
In agriculture, fences are used to keep animals in or out of an area. They can be made from a wide variety of materials, depending on terrain, location and animals to be confined...

 or enclosed
Enclosure
Enclosure or inclosure is the process which ends traditional rights such as mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock on common land. Once enclosed, these uses of the land become restricted to the owner, and it ceases to be common land. In England and Wales the term is also used for the...

 area of land, usually small and arable
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

 with a crofter's dwelling
Dwelling
Dwelling, as well as being a term for a house, or for living somewhere, or for lingering somewhere, is a philosophical concept which was developed by Martin Heidegger. Dwelling is about making yourself at home where the home itself is a building that is a house...

 thereon. A crofter is one who has tenure
Land tenure
Land tenure is the name given, particularly in common law systems, to the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to "hold" the land . The sovereign monarch, known as The Crown, held land in its own right. All private owners are either its tenants or sub-tenants...

 and use of the land, typically as a tenant farmer.

Etymology

The word croft is West Germanic
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

 in etymology, and is now most familiar in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, most crofts being in the Highlands and Islands
Highlands and Islands
The Highlands and Islands of Scotland are broadly the Scottish Highlands plus Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.The Highlands and Islands are sometimes defined as the area to which the Crofters' Act of 1886 applied...

 area. Elsewhere the expression is generally archaic
Archaism
In language, an archaism is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately or as part of a specific jargon or formula...

. In Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic language
Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Primitive Irish....

, it is rendered croit (pron. krɔtʲ, plural croitean krɔtʲan)

Essentially similar positions have been the medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 villein and the Swedish torp
Torp
In Scandinavian languages torp means a small dwelling, such as a cottage, with a small leased farm area cultivated by its inhabitants, similar to a croft....

are
and Norwegian husmenn.

Legislation

The Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 croft is a small agricultural
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 landholding of a type which has been subject to special legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 since 1886. The legislation is largely a response to the complaints and demands of tenant
Manorialism
Manorialism, an essential element of feudal society, was the organizing principle of rural economy that originated in the villa system of the Late Roman Empire, was widely practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe, and was slowly replaced by the advent of a money-based market...

 families who were victims of the Highland Clearances
Highland Clearances
The Highland Clearances were forced displacements of the population of the Scottish Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. They led to mass emigration to the sea coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and the North American colonies...

. The modern crofters or tenants
Leasehold estate
A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord....

 appear very little in evidence before the beginning of the 18th century. They were tenants at will underneath the tacksman
Tacksman
A tacksman was a land-holder of intermediate legal and social status in Scottish Highland society.-Tenant and landlord:...

 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
Skye
Skye or the Isle of Skye is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island's peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillin hills...

 and North Uist
North Uist
North Uist is an island and community in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.-Geography:North Uist is the tenth largest Scottish island and the thirteenth largest island surrounding Great Britain. It has an area of , slightly smaller than South Uist. North Uist is connected by causeways to Benbecula...

 in 1715.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 created the Crofters' Act, 1886
Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886
The Crofters' Holdings Act, 1886 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which created legal definitions of crofting parish and crofter, granted security of tenure to crofters and produced the first Crofters Commission, a land court which ruled on disputes between landlords and crofters...

, after the Highland Land League
Highland Land League
The first Highland Land League emerged as a distinct political force in Scotland during the 1880s, with its power base in the country's Highlands and Islands. It was known also as the Highland Land Law Reform Association and the Crofters' Party...

 had gained seats
United Kingdom constituencies
In the United Kingdom , each of the electoral areas or divisions called constituencies elects one or more members to a parliament or assembly.Within the United Kingdom there are now five bodies with members elected by constituencies:...

 in that parliament. The government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 was then Liberal
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

, with William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 as Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

. 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
Inverness
Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland...

.

Crofts held subject to the provisions of the Crofters' Acts are in the administrative counties of Shetland, Orkney, Caithness
Caithness
Caithness is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic local government area of Scotland. The name was used also for the earldom of Caithness and the Caithness constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom . Boundaries are not identical in all contexts, but the Caithness area is...

, Sutherland
Sutherland
Sutherland is a registration county, lieutenancy area and historic administrative county of Scotland. It is now within the Highland local government area. In Gaelic the area is referred to according to its traditional areas: Dùthaich 'IcAoidh , Asainte , and Cataibh...

, Ross-shire
Ross-shire
Ross-shire is an area in the Highland Council Area in Scotland. The name is now used as a geographic or cultural term, equivalent to Ross. Until 1889 the term denoted a county of Scotland, also known as the County of Ross...

, Inverness-shire
Inverness-shire
The County of Inverness or Inverness-shire was a general purpose county of Scotland, with the burgh of Inverness as the county town, until 1975, when, under the Local Government Act 1973, the county area was divided between the two-tier Highland region and the unitary Western Isles. The Highland...

 and Argyll
Argyll
Argyll , archaically Argyle , is a region of western Scotland corresponding with most of the part of ancient Dál Riata that was located on the island of Great Britain, and in a historical context can be used to mean the entire western coast between the Mull of Kintyre and Cape Wrath...

, in the north and west of Scotland.

Under the 1886 legislation (the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act
Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886
The Crofters' Holdings Act, 1886 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which created legal definitions of crofting parish and crofter, granted security of tenure to crofters and produced the first Crofters Commission, a land court which ruled on disputes between landlords and crofters...

) protected crofters are also members of a crofters' township
Township (Scotland)
In Scotland a crofting township is a group of agricultural smallholdings holding in common a substantial tract of unimproved upland grazing...

, consisting of tenants of neighbouring crofts with a shared right to use common
Common land
Common land is land owned collectively or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel...

 pasture
Pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

.

Since 1976 it has been legally possible for a crofter to acquire title to his croft, thus becoming an owner-occupier
Owner-occupier
An owner-occupier is a person who lives in and owns the same home. It is a type of housing tenure. The home of the owner-occupier may be, for example, a house, apartment, condominium, or a housing cooperative...

.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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