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Title: The lairds of eighteenth century Orkney
Author: Fereday, R. P.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3459 9312
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1983
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The lairds of eighteenth century Orkney were a kindred, a local élite whose more enterprising members showed some capacity to initiate or obstruct changes in accordance with their own interests. At first they were usually merchant lairds, of Scottish descent and connections, episcopalian and Jacobite in outlook, still feuding among themselves and restive under the lordship of the Earl of Morton who held the Earldom estates of Orkney and Shetland. The highlights of Orcadian politics during the eighteenth century, the careers of the Moodies and of Sir James Steuart, the affray at Graemeshall, the impact and consequences of the '45 rebellion, the Pundlar Process, the purchase of the Earldom estates by Sir Lawrence Dundas, the lairds' disenchantment with their new superior and their successful defiance in the election of 1790, all illustrate the transformation of the lairds from troublesome vassels to sophisticated competitors for patronage. Towards the end of the century they were kelp-rich gentlemen, anglicizing their heirs, enjoying the obsequious co-operation of a tamed presbyterian church, increasingly loyal to the British patronage network with its widening opportunities for enrichment by war and empire, and sharing the parliamentary representation in profitable association with Harry the Ninth. The background to the lairds' prosperity was the expansion of the British economy in general and the kelp boom in particular. As always, the success of individuals depended on luck, ambition and personal ability, a good marriage being the swiftest step to advancement. Those wishing to gain outstanding power in Orkney usually found it necessary to leave the islands. The study of the eighteenth century lairds is all the more needed because they and their successors exercised a strong though tacit censorship on the writers and historians of their day.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Landowners