'A silver fringe?' : the Crown, private proprietors and the Scottish kelp shores and the Scottish foreshore generally c1800-c1940
This thesis examines the dispute between the Crown and private proprietors over the ownership of the Scottish kelp shores and the Scottish foreshore generally, between the mid 19th century and the mid 20th century and, in particular, the work and membership of the Association of Seaboard Proprietors of Scotland and the contribution of the 9th Duke of Argyll. The thesis also examines the actions and motivations of proprietors of Highland estates, and their relationship and influence with the Crown and Government departments, in defending their sacred right of property, first in the context of early 19th century threats to the kelp industry are second in the context of later challenges - from the Crown over the ownership of the foreshore, and on behalf of the crofters over the rights to seaware. The existence and facts of the foreshore dispute have not had any attention in the historiography of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and only the briefest of mentions in the legal historiography. The examination of the foreshore dispute in this thesis casts new light on the Scottish kelp industry. The received wisdom as to the economic benefits of the kelp industry appears to be that the benefits accrued to the proprietors through an unchallenged exclusive ownership by the proprietors of the seaware and the foreshore on which the seaware was found. This thesis suggests we should not accept this received wisdom without, at the very least, acknowledging that for over 100 years the whole question as to ownership was very much a disputed one between the Crown and the private proprietors. This thesis also draws attention to the previously unacknowledged part which crofters and cottars played in the final determination of ownership of the foreshore through their gathering of seaware for kelp and manure.