Officers and officiaries

OfficiariesAlexander Fisher was an officer of Taymouth.

In Argyll by 1788 36% of farms were held by tacksman or single tenants. In Perthshire, particularly around Loch Tay, tacksmen were rare. Instead the farming of farms occupied by multiple tenants was supervised by ground officers. Each officer was responsible for an officiary and each of these areas corresponded to the old baronies which existed before the arrival of the Breadalbane Campbells in the 15th century. Whereas tacksmen were likely to be related to the laird and to sublet most of their land to tenants, the ground officer was unlikely to be related, would have far less financial resources and could only rent land sufficient for his own family's needs.

Above the ground officer was the factor who, after 1793, had no farm of his own and depended solely on his salary.

The grandfather of Alexander Fisher's wife was an Officer of Ardtalnaig. Her father, Alexander MacDougall, was an Officer of Taymouth. We do not know when Alexander Fisher became an Officer of Taymouth but he first presented an account for work in this role in 1757.

The 1745 Breadalbane account book suggests that the officer of Taymouth did not receive an annual salary. Instead he received 6 bolls and 2 firlots of meal.

Thomas Pennant writing about his tour in Scotland in 1769 gives us a contemporaneous account of the role of the ground officer;

I was informed that Lord Breadalbane's estate was so extensive that he could ride 100 miles an end on it even as far as the West Sea where he has also some islands. These great properties are divided into districts called officiaries: a ground officer presides over each and has 3, 4 or 500 men under his care. He superintends the duties due from each to their Lord such as fetching peats, bringing coal from Crieff, etc, which they do at their own expense on horses backs travelling in strings the tail of one horse fastened by a cord to the head of the next. The horses are little and generally white or grey and as the farms are very small it is common for four people to keep a plough between them each furnishing a horse and this is called a horse-gang.

Below are 3 accounts submitted by Alexander:

For reasons unclear, Alexander was removed from his post 2 years later- see Alexander's removals.

Page last updated - 15/12/14