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The Little General and the Rousay Crofters

Crisis and Conflict on an Orkney Estate

By (author) William P.L. Thompson
Genres: Local history
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Birlinn General, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Imprint: Origin
Published: 18th Oct 2018
Dimensions: w 155mm h 235mm d 20mm
Weight: 409g
ISBN-10: 1912476215
ISBN-13: 9781912476213
Barcode No: 9781912476213
Synopsis
Burroughs had the reputation of one of the most brutal of all Orkney landlords and, in a time of great economic change, the harshness of his actions made that change particularly traumatic. When the Royal Commission whose findings were to lead to the Crofters Act arrived, Burroughs acted in character. He evicted any tenant who gave evidence to the Commission. As tension mounted a gunboat arrived off Rousay to keep the peace. As Burroughs' tyranny mounted it became clear his intention was to drive every tenant off the estate and he was only prevented by the belated passing of the Crofters' Act and even a special Act of Parliament directed specifically against him. But both Burroughs and his tenants were rather unusual. Burroughs acted entirely out of principle, often proving unyielding where a more flexible approach would have yielded profit. Out of a sense of honour he even withheld information regarding the minister, one of his main enemies, which he could have used to destroy him. His tenants too were unusual, for the Orkney farmer was a far richer and more independent individual than the downtrodden crofters of the west coast. It is an extraordinary and dramatic story told brilliantly by the author, a story full of great characters and incident, a story set against the dark gales of economic change which were to sweep away both landlords and the communities they claimed to control. At the end of the book Burroughs, once a national hero, now reviled, emerges as a much more complex and human figure than history has painted him.

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