Rural society in Scotland from the Restoration to the Union : challenge and response in the Carse of Gowrie, circa 1660-1707
This thesis comprises a detailed investigation of the inter-relationship of society, economy and agricultural improvement in Lowland Scotland circa 1660-1707. Its purpose is the achievement of a deeper understanding of the process of modernisation in early modern rural society in a critical period research focuses on the Carse of Gowrie in east Perthshire, a progressive district in the mainstream of agriculture and rural manufacture at a time when the countryside dominated the nation's socio-economy. The evidence on which the thesis is based is drawn principally from contemporary estate papers; additional primary sources used include burgh, church, commissary court and exchequer records.A study is made of how the local economy was able to operate and develop. Population levels, structure and sustainability are assessed. A very high degree of economic energy that encompassed all sectors of rural society is revealed. A growth in the numbers and influence of the middling sorts is identified as making a significant contribution towards the erosion of traditional relationships and the founding of a more modern social and economic landscape. The nature and extent of rural trade and manufacturing is explored, together with the leading role played by the lower echelons of society in a massive expansion in the production of linen. A real increase in agricultural productivity has been found and the manner of its achievement discussed. The analysis of a series of crop returns extending from 1673 to 1695 highlights the problems faced and includes evidence of a Significant downturn in yields after 1691 that presaged the harvest failures and famine of the later 1690s. The social and economic effects of the display of their wealth and status by landowners in the modernising and beautifying of their residences together with their increasing demand for monetary income are explored.