A New Laird and a New "Mode of Management"
The expiry of all of the farm leases on Stockbriggs Estate in 1824-25 provided an ideal opportunity for the co-landlords (through the Judicial Factor) to effect a dramatic reorganization of the farms. They could have further consolidated two or more adjacent smaller farms into one larger unit as was typical on "improved" estates. In the absence of relevant documentation, we can only assume that new leases were signed, effective 1824-25. It would be logical for the new leases to run for the traditional nineteen year term.
Unfortunately, we do not have the rental for, say, 1826, so that we cannot be certain of the changes, if any, in the list of tenants pursuant to the re-letting of the farms. With respect to the major tenants in 1821 we have assembled the following details (see also the Notes to Table Two). William Wharrie, Craighead, died in 1833, and thus does not appear on the Electors List of 1839. His sons, Thomas and William, began farming Dalquhandy, part of Upper Stockbriggs, in 1835. His cousin, William, on the otherhand, lived at West Auchanbeg until shortly after October, 1828: he was in Bonefield in 1831 and an agricultural labourer at Netherfield at the time of the 1841 Lesmahagow census.
William Fleming, "farmer, Stockbriggs" died in 1836 while Francis Gall was "farmer at Over [Upper] Stockbriggs by 1831. William and Thomas Pate were tenants at Cleughbrae and Yondertown respectively by 1832. (Hugh Wilson was living at Meadow by February, 1830, and had "quit the Meadow farm" by November, 1837.) William Johnston lived at Cleughbrae until at least July, 1827, and Muir Johnston, the new coalmaster for a time, lived at Auchanbeg until at least February, 1831. James McCowan was still tenant at East Auchanbeg farm in February, 1831, but he emigrated to Scarborough, Canada, in 1833.
It is significant that new tenants, James Barr and Gavin Sandilands, had arrived at West Auchanbeg and Greenfaulds respectively by 1832. We have thus identified at least three changes in tenant between 1827 and 1833 (Cleughbrae, West Auchanbeg and East Auchanbeg) -- while we cannot be certain of any changes between 1821 and 1826. It would thus appear that the period 1824-25 was not the tenant turnover watershed that we might have expected it to be.
Rather, a notable turnover in tenants occurred after a new landlord arrived in 1828.
Articles of Lease of the Farms on the Estate of Stockbriggs 1829-1830
Please recall, from the section "Expiry of Leases", that the Wharries and James McCowan apparently only had verbal agreements to terminate their leases on West and East Auchanbeg in 1824. Whether or not they actually signed new leases in 1824-25 is not known for certain -- but very likely -- considering the thoroughness of the Judicial Factor.
But we do know, however, that James McCowan was presented with "Articles of Lease of the Farms on the Estate of Stockbriggs - Entry as at Martinmas, 1829, as to the Arable Lands...". To these "Articles" (ten pages in length) were appended the observations of a third party and McCowan's Offer. The "Articles" are unsigned and undated. We can only assume that these Articles were also presented to all of the other tenants, some of whom, presumably, likewise submitted offers.
This researcher is not qualified to comment on the relevant legal issues -- in particular, the apparent cancellation of (the new 1824-25) leases by the new landlord, John Gibson, who purchased the estate in 1828. As Procurator-Fiscal (or public prosecutor) at the Sheriff Court in Lanark, John Gibson would have very likely been fully familiar with all of the legal opportunities to modify both land tenure and the landlord - tenant relationship.
The "Articles" include practically all of the elements of the agricultural improvement thinking: the importance of dung and lime as fertilizer, construction of fences or enclosures, protection of plantings from cattle, weed control, construction of drains, maintenance and insurance of the houses, straightening of property and boundary lines, transition from the outgoing tenant and transition to an incoming tenant. Of particular importance in these "Articles" is the notion of recirculating the produce of the land back into the land: "The tenant to consume the whole fodder upon the ground, & lay the whole dung annually upon the lands."
All of the tenants on the estate were required to buy their lime and coal from the Auchanbeg Coalworks, thus affording the landlord greater coal royalty income. The reader is encouraged to consult the appended Glossary.
The lease to be for the space of nineteen years with liberty to the proprietor to resume possession by giving six months warning at any time within two years of his intention of taking possession at the terms of Martinmas and Whitsunday thereafter and paying the whole of the lime and the driving thereof that may have been laid upon the land before the said intimation and paying farther one terms rent to the tenant as a premium for his removal and also paying for any extraordinary ameliorations such as drains, trenching & c.
The Landlord to pay the half of the lime laid for the first time in the lease on new land, the said half not exceeding seventeen bolls and a half for each acre so limed.
The tenant to preserve all the Planting from injury by his cattle.
The Lease is granted secluding assignees and subtenants whether legal or voluntary.
Landlord to have power to make additional fences which the tenant is to be bound to keep in repair.
Reserving game with liberty of hunting and fishing to Landlord and friends.
The tenant to reside on and stock the farm properly To cultivate the lands according to the best rules of husbandry, and not to deteriorate the same, never to have less than two thirds of the arable ground of said farm in grass properly sown down with a sufficient quantity of perennial rye grass and clover seed, along with the first crop after fallow potatoes or turnips sufficiently manured, never to take two whole crops running particularly at the expiry of the lease two thirds of the lands shall be left in grass.
Five pounds of additional rent to be paid for each acre cultivated in contravention of the foregoing and to be considered not penal but pactional.
The tenant to cut all docks, ragweeds thistles and other noxious weeds at the proper season before the seed ripens.
The proprietor or incoming tenant to be allowed to sow grass seeds along with the last crop, which the tenant shall harrow and roll in without any claim for damage or trouble and the tenant shall not allow his cattle to pasture upon it after separation of the crop from the ground.
The tenant to keep and leave fences and houses in repair at the end of the lease.
The tenant to consume the whole fodder upon the ground, & lay the whole dung annually upon the lands.
The tenant to leave the whole dung made upon the lands during the last year of the lease properly prepared and collected together, and the incoming tenant or proprietor to get the same at the valuation of two neutral men to be named by the parties, failing whom by the Sheriff Substitute of the district. The tenant to furnish house room & accommodation to men and horses for cultivating the said lands the year of his removal.
The houses to be insured at the joint expence of Landlord & tenant.
If two years rent is suffered to run in arrear, the Lease, in the option of the Landlord, shall become void and null without power in the tenant to purge the irritancy after an action of removing shall have been raised against him.
The tenant to leave the lands at the expiration of the Lease without warning, and to allow the incoming tenant or proprietor to enter to the part in tillage immediately on the separation of the crop from each respective field.
If the tenant shall remain after the expiry of the Lease, he shall pay the rent of one hundred and forty seven pounds sterling for each year he shall so remain, he being bound to adhere to the mode of management prescribed above.
The tenant to come in place of the Landlord in settling with the outgoing tenant for the dung & c on the land at his removal and for getting possession at the terms above mentioned.
Sufficient houses and offices to be built during the first year of the Lease, the tenant to drive the whole materials and to cut the turf & thatch & put on the same himself and the tenant shall be bound to keep the whole houses and fences on the farm in a sufficient state of repair during the Lease, and leave them in that state at his removal.
Any fences necessary beyond a Ring? fence the tenant to pay five per cent for the outlay yearly.
Any necessary improvement by draining or otherwise, the Landlord to be empowered to do so, and the tenant to pay five per cent yearly.
The whole lime and coals used on the farm to be taken from Stockbriggs at the same rate at which the country is supplied therefrom.
The tenant to be bound to improve not less than ten acres annually.
Power reserved to the landlord to stray[ten?] marches with the adjoining lands and farms & to Excamb therewith, the tenant paying or receiving the value of the difference to be ascertained by neutral men mutually chosen.
Reserving power to plant five acres without compensation, & to plant as much more as may be considered proper by the Landlord on allowing deduction for the ground taken off according to the rent of the farm, the quantity & quality of the land taken off considered. Reserving power to take ground for roads that may be considered necessary by the Landlord, allowing as above.
Reserving all metals, minerals, stones, and quarries with power to work the same paying surface damages.
The lands are thirled to Milltown Mill paying the accustomed multures & services.
Reserving power to make cuts, drains and other improvements on the farm as well for the use of the farm itself, as for the advantage of adjoining farms.
Each party to fulfil under the penalty of ________ besides performance.
Power is further reserved to the proprietor to cut and carry off turf, peat, moss, and divots, surface damages being allowed to the tenant.
And the proprietor is empowered in his option to Insure the farm Stocking, Household furniture and crop, and to charge the tenant with the expence thereof, and in case of fire the proprietor is to impute any money received by him from the Insurance Company in payment of the rent of the farm.
The observations of a third party, "A. Smith", written on the last page of the "Articles", seem to suggest quite a serious debate between Gibson and McCowan. "A. Smith" was probably Andrew Smith of Fauldhouse, Lesmahagow. Smith was a local expert in matters pertaining to land, as he was Factor to James J. Hopevere of Blackwood, one of the largest landowners in the Parish. The reference to "arbitration", another formal legal process, is perhaps indication that some critical points of law may have been at issue in the Articles of Lease. It is possible that McCowan felt that Gibson was breaking some new ground in the landlord - tenant relationship and it appears that Smith was inclined to agree.
I have read the foregoing articles which are pretty explicit. I have also seen the tenants objections, which seem to be fair and I would recommend an arbitration on both sides tho' I decline being one of the parties.
McCowan's offer to rent East Auchanbeg, also appended to the Articles, is undated and unsigned.
I James McCowan farmer at Auchenbegg hereby Offer the yearly rent of Seventy three pounds ten shillings Sterling for the farm at Auchenbegg partly possessed by me being Number Second on the plan of the Estate of Stockbriggs, and consisting of one hundred and forty six acres Imperial measure or thereby, bounded as follows vis by the farm of William Hamilton on the south [Goathouseknow], the Lands of Auchlochan on the east and north, and the other farm of Auchenbegg on the west, all as lately putted off, but deducting thirty three pounds ten shillings yearly for the first seven years of the Lease and twenty three pounds ten shillings yearly for the next seven years of the Lease and upon the terms and conditions contained upon the ten preceding pages And I farther bind myself to find sufficient security to the satisfaction of the proprietor for payment of the first years rent and for fully stocking the ground, and that before the term of Whitsunday next, And I Bind myself to enter into a regular and formal Lease when called upon by the proprietor and to pay the expence of the same.
Presumably, the "regular and formal Lease" into which McCowan eventually entered included "the terms and conditions contained upon the ten preceding pages" (ie the "Articles"). Among these terms was an approximate four-fold rent increase.