Farming in Breadalbane in 18th century

Prior to my great grandfather setting up a grocery and wine merchant business in the 1870s, my Fisher ancestors were tenant farmers on Loch Tayside, in Easter Aberfeldy and in Glenlyon.

Extract from the 1791 statistical account of Scotland relating to farming in the parish of Kenmore.

The richest and best cultivated land in this country extends nearly a mile in width on both sides of Loch Tay.  The soil, which is of a loamy texture, has, in the course of time been carried down by the rains from higher ground; and is enriched with the spoils of decayed animals and vegetables.  The hilly land chiefly consists of a light mossy kind of soil, which is naturally not unfriendly to vegetation.  Heath, bent and coarse grasses are the general product of the hills and moors but the valleys and water carried soils in the glen’s produce good crops of excellent grasses. 

The grains chiefly cultivated oats, bere* or big (four-rowed barley), beans, peas potatoes and lint.  The average return of oats is 3 or 4, and of barley 4 or 5.  The return of lint is commonly a stone of flax from the lippie.  Potatoes in general make a good return.

The old system of rotation, namely, the infield land with oats and bear alternately and the outfield with oats and ley, is in general continued.

Each farm is commonly subdivided among several tenants, a practice which does not merit the highest approbation.  These tenants have each separate lease or verbal bargain, the duration of which is mostly from year to year, at the will of the proprietor bargain. Under such a system agriculture cannot be expected to make great profit.

* bere was a primitive form of early ripening barley

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Page last updated - 28/11/16