Cattle trades of Scotland, 1603-1745
The cattle trade of Scotland is generally considered as a very important element of early modem Scottish economy and society. After peace was established in the Borders, and along with the gradual pacification of the Highlands, a regular trade in livestock developed over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the principal component of which consisted of large-scale cattle exports to England. A number of obstacles stood in the way of the fledging industry. The credit economy was not sufficiently developed to accommodate the droving trade or to minimise the risk of dishonest dealers, bankruptcies and defaults. Also, smugglers and thieves regularly disrupted the trade, and the Privy Council repeatedly tried to curb illegal activities, especially in the Highlands. Yet, despite difficulties and regional differences, most of Scotland's territories appear to have engaged in the cattle trade. Previous research has often referred to the cattle trade. The few studies of the subject though, are either too concise to adequately explore the topic or lack the perspective of an economic history. In this thesis, wider economic factors such as the credit economy, lawlessness and Irish competition are discussed and related to price trends, export figures and general costs and profits. Present assumptions have been re-examined, and new research data has been collected and analysed along with existing evidence, in an effort to fill the gap in the secondary literature. It has been found in this thesis that both livestock trade and cattle prices followed similar trends. After decades of modest growth or stagnation in the first half of the 17th century, a market infrastructure developed by the 1660s, which allowed the cattle business to reach unprecedented levels. The growth was unevenly distributed in geographic and social terms, and was mainly accounted for by a small number of rich landowners/businessmen in the Southwest. Trade and prices stabilised to this new equilibrium for more than 80 years (with many fluctuations), until the mid-18th century when they grew significantly further.