Second Shetland Truck System Report

Author: William Guthrie

Land Question.

I have not thought myself at liberty to enter upon the land question in Shetland as substantive part of the inquiry; but it is plain that the prevalence of truck is due in no small degree to the habit of dependence, or submission, which the faulty relations between landlords and tenants have fostered. Here, too, however,
it may perhaps be said that legislation ought not to be of a local and exceptional character. I may at least be permitted to hope that, in any reform of the land tenancy laws of Scotland, the case of Shetland will not be forgotten.

The introduction of a class of peasant proprietors seems impossible, except by some measure resembling the 44th clause of the Irish Land Act, 1870; while the sudden expulsion of the present population, and the substitution of sheep, would probably be destructive to the fishing industries as they now subsist.
But the present insecurity of tenure is not consistent either with the permanent interests of the land (in which the country still more than the landlord is concerned), or with the formation or maintenance of a race of independent and intelligent citizens.
Probably a law of landlord and tenant, passed with no arrière pensee as to maintaining the authority of the landlord, but with the honest intention of reconciling the rights and interests with the independence of both parties to the contract, would not permit the landlord to evict without cause upon forty days’ warning. It may even be maintained that in the present state of agricultural science,
no tenure for so short a period as one year ought to be permitted.
Farmers of the larger class, however, are or ought to be able to protect themselves in their bargains with landlords; and as this
Report has nothing to do with such tenant farmers, they may be left out of the question. But in the case of small fishermen farmers, it is worthy of consideration whether a warning of at least one year, excepting cases of insolvency or specified kinds of misconduct, ought not to be required before eviction from any agricultural holding below a certain rental; and whether in such holdings tenants should not have some summary means of recovering from the landlord or succeeding tenant any extraordinary expenditure they make upon their land or houses.

(Signed) W. GUTHRIE.
EDINBURGH, <June> 15, 1872


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Chicago: William Guthrie, "Land Question.," Second Shetland Truck System Report, trans. D’Anvers, N. (Nancy Bell), D. 1933 in Second Shetland Truck System Report Original Sources, accessed September 24, 2022,

MLA: Guthrie, William. "Land Question." Second Shetland Truck System Report, translted by D’Anvers, N. (Nancy Bell), D. 1933, in Second Shetland Truck System Report, Original Sources. 24 Sep. 2022.

Harvard: Guthrie, W, 'Land Question.' in Second Shetland Truck System Report, trans. . cited in , Second Shetland Truck System Report. Original Sources, retrieved 24 September 2022, from