The Voice of Radicalism
Rural Radicalism - 1850-1900
Stories of the Highland Clearances: the removal of Crofters from their land by the lairds to make way for sheep, are a matter of history. Crofters were radicalised by the Highland Land League, and sent their own Crofting MPs to Parliament after they got the vote in 1885. Similar circumstances encouraged rural radicalism in the North East of Scotland. Thus, Liberalism in the North East of Scotland had to become more radical.
The major sources of discontent were:
Early expressions of rural radicalism were the Commonties. These were communes, small rural communities, built on common land by landless squatters.
The most famous was on Bennachie It lasted until 1859, when it was taken over and destroyed by the lairds (landlords)
Commonties were also established at Correnie (Aberdeenshire) and Cowie (Stonehaven).
William McCombie of Tillyfour, ‘The Grazier King’ was a popular big tenant farmer who spoke up for small farmers and farm servants against the landlords. He became the Liberal MP for Aberdeenshire from 1868-1876. His supporters included:
Generally, the small burghs and their local press were hotbeds of rural radicalism.
After 1868 it was almost impossible to be an MP in the North East without agreeing to support the demands of tenant farmers.