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The Poor Had No Lawyers [Hardcover]

Andy Wightman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2010
Who Owns Scotland? How did they get it? What happened to all the common land in Scotland? Has the Scottish Parliament made any difference? Can we get our common good land back? In The Poor Had No Lawyers, Andy Wightman, author of Who Owns Scotland, updates the statistics of landownership in Scotland and takes the reader on a voyage of discovery into Scotland's history to find out how and why landowners got their hands on the millions of acres of land that were once held in common. He tells the untold story of how Scotland's legal establishment and politicians managed to appropriate land through legal fixes. From Robert the Bruce to Willie Ross and from James V to Donald Dewar, land has conferred political and economic power. Have attempts to redistribute this power more equitably made any difference and what are the full implications of the recent debt fuelled housing bubble? For all those with an interest in urban and rural land in Scotland, The Poor Had No Lawyers provides a fascinating and illuminating analysis of one the most important political questions in Scotland - who owns Scotland and how did they get it?


Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; First Edition edition (1 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841589071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841589077
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'It is historical and oh-so contemporary and, perhaps, in these exciting times, a call to arms' - Laura Marney

About the Author

Andy Wightman was born in Dundee and gained a degree in forestry at Aberdeen University. He has worked as a ghillie, environmental scientist, and an environmental campaigner before becoming a self-employed writer and researcher in 1993. He is the author of several books and a prominent analyst and critic of land reform process. He lives in Edinburgh.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This is a refreshing, original, challenging and important analysis of contemporary Scotland, its past, present and future.

It will challenge many of your most central assumptions. That land ownership and land reform are about rural areas. That this has nothing to say about Glasgow and Edinburgh. That Scotland is an egalitarian country, unlike class-divided, hiearchical England. That the days of feudalism and power acting with impunity are long over.

Wightman is an expert on land ownership, but he and this book are about much more. In short, what he is addressing is how power is exercised in Scotland; in our past and to this day. The forces of reaction - from feudal barons to the present day 'great and good' constantly usurp others rights, taking from the commons and individuals.

And what Wightman beautifully challenges - in detail - is the Scots blindness to this because of our old comfort story of being an egalitarian nation. What this has masked is that Scots dont want to face up to issues of power, privilege, abuse and exclusion. Yes we love going on about some mythical wrong done to a group in the far distant past, but real misuses of power - involving complexity, the abuse of the law and due process - well forget it.

This is an important book on every level, and a book I am proud Andy has had the time and inclination to write. It is up to the rest of us to begin a national debate about what to do about it.

Gerry Hassan
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely essential reading 19 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback
This is the sort of history we didn't get taught in school; probably because it has the capacity to stir the emotions at the way the Scottish poor became the Scottish dispossessed poor. It's fascinating reading, but it's also enough to make you want to storm the barricades!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 21 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well!.... It would be hard to better the first review, which must presumably have been written by one of Mr. Wightman's best mates. But I am not going to disagree, this is a masterful, scholarly, meticulously researched book which should sit on every bookshelf in Scotland, right next to Tom Johnstone's "Our Scots Noble Families".

Having waited a very long time to read this book, I was spellbound. However a word of caution for "kindle" readers. Some of the maps, charts etc are incredibly detailed but on a kindle they are "awfy wee" and of course they are in black and white. Given the stature of this important book I now intend to buy a hardback copy. People will still be reading this book in 100 years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Poor Had No Lawyers 15 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover
A fascinating book full of lot of analytical data. The author clearly knows his subject and as a Land Law practitioner I can see that Scotland has been very slow in registration of its Land Titles which has aided a minority to control large swathes of land. Compulsory Registration should be passed by the Scottish Parliament for all land in Scotland by a specific date. The author's description of the Common Good Fund and the mismanagement of it by the Local Authorities makes interesting reading. The Burgh's again typical of people's greed.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious of what has been going on north of the border in relation to land ownership for the past 800 years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarity 7 April 2013
Format:Paperback
An extremely well presented book
A very good read
Exposes some interesting history of who owns what and how they got it
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scottish Land Grab 10 Feb 2013
By ingy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent history of how the Scottish aristocracy built the law around a method of protecting their great land steal after the reformation. Good resume of current land law and its need for reform.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'The Poor Had No Lawyers' 27 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A fascinating insight into the ownership of land in Scotland. Parts are a bit 'legalistic' for a lay person, but in general it is very readable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be compulsory reading in schools 21 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the sort of history we didn't get taught in school; probably because it has the capacity to stir the emotions at the way the Scottish poor became the Scottish dispossessed poor. It's fascinating reading, but it's also enough to make you want to storm the barricades!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
OK, I am from the North East of England, so let's get that bit out of the way...

I bought this (the 2013 edition) in western Sutherland during a long conversation with... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Basket Press
4.0 out of 5 stars Great interesting book
Great book that I have now completed reading with Kindle as before I found the size of type too small. Read more
Published 5 months ago by M Dawson
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Going
But for all that, an interesting read. Learn how the legal profession, royalty and sycophants stitched up the common man.
Published 6 months ago by Ilpyondanshim
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Book
Am still reading and enjoying this book, it is certainly a very thought provoking read, does make you realise how Scotland's lands have been plundered, a book that does indeed... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Ian S. Duncan
5.0 out of 5 stars THE POOR HAD NO LAWERS.
A book with lots of facts and figures that has to be read carefully from cover to cover which will leave you with a good understanding how land ownership works.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars who has the land?
This is a realistic assessment of the ways in which those who cannot employ professionals get done down by those who can
Published 12 months ago by Sybil M Ungar
5.0 out of 5 stars Most important Scottish book
This book is an incredible feat and outlines the highly outrageous elite ownership of Scotland and how this was achieved through centuries of cynical land grabs. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Don
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
Essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the complexities of Scottish land ownership and a comprehensive review of the pickle that we are in
Published 12 months ago by EAM
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Long winded and boring. Struggled to get to the end of this book. Author could have made a better job
Published 16 months ago by J B
2.0 out of 5 stars biassed
As feared, this book is biassed - written around a conclusion. The style of writing is disappointing too as it goes for completism, eg quoting extensively rather than extracting... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Paula Diggle
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