Return to search

A financial and political study of James Duff, 2nd Earl of Fife, between 1763 and 1809

James Duff, 2nd Earl of Fife, was an important eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Scottish landed magnate who expanded his estate significantly. Fife's political power in terms of the ability to control local parliamentary elections grew along with his wealth and landholding until circa 1790, after which his influence declined markedly. This thesis attempts to explore and explain these developments. A detailed and systematic analysis of the Earl's financial records has enabled, for the first time, authoritative conclusions to be drawn about the financial affairs of a late eighteenth-century Scottish landowner, and in particular about the dynamics of landed expansion. Markets for debt were successfully exploited. Initially heavily geared towards the Edinburgh funds market, as the eighteenth century progressed local borrowing became dominant. More importantly, income surpluses were used to rapidly pay down debt and thus enable more land to be purchased. Costs were kept under control, principally as a result of the Earl's prudent approach but nevertheless an increasingly London-focused lifestyle could be enjoyed. Improvement costs were not significant, however this did not prevent the estate participating in the wave of agrarian ‘transformation' that swept through Scotland in the late eighteenth century. Politically, reliance on the traditional means of the provision of ‘friendship' to members of the local gentry was replaced by the use of expanding landholdings to create nominal votes. Nominal voters themselves, previously ignored historiographically, effectively became part of Fife's local patronage network. When the system collapsed as a result of legal changes and the damaging activities of ‘associations' of independent freeholders, Fife had nothing to replace it with. Patronage had become increasingly narrowly focused towards individuals with no voting rights. Furthermore, political miscalculation and an inability to forge alliances with either an increasingly powerful administration or independent freeholders prevented a return to ‘traditional' forms of political management.
Date January 2014
CreatorsForty, Richard C. F.
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

Page generated in 0.0021 seconds