McGugan’s CroftIn the late 18th century, agricultural improvement began to change townships. One of these changes was the division of land into small individual tenancies called ‘crofts’. Each was occupied by one person or family – the ‘crofters’.
[caption id="attachment_21753" align="aligncenter" width="981"] McGugan’s Croft as seen in the 1890s photograph.[/caption]
At first crofters had almost no rights or security, and there was pressure for change. From the 1880s the law increasingly protected crofters from exploitative landowners. Crofting continues today in some parts of Scotland.
Originally ’croft’ was simply a word to describe an individual tenancy, like the word ‘township’ meant a joint tenancy. It is that sense in which the word is used here.
The people who lived here, Neil McGugan and before him his relative Duncan McNicol (who exchanged houses sometime in the 1850s) were skilled craft workers rather than farmers. Because they were valuable members of the community the joint tenants allowed them to use a piece of land as sub-tenants.
Rashes cut and ready or thatching.
An estate plan from the 1890s, showing which tenants had which fields, marks this area “McG”. The Argyll Estate knew who was using this piece of land, but they weren’t involved in what was an agreement between neighbours, not a tenancy in law. The croft would probably have been used mostly to grow potatoes and vegetables for the family’s own use. We now cut rushes to thatch Bell a’Phuill’s House within this area.
Runrig cultivation stopped in 1842. This area and the field beyond it were left out when the rest of the inbye land was divided up into small fields. Around that time, a new dyke was built to partition off this small area.
The 1871 map shows this was still being used for growing crops. The rest had become grazing land. The dyke running up the east (left hand) side of McGugan’s Croft and around its top end is part of the township’s head dyke and dates back into the 18th century (and perhaps earlier). The croft would have originally been marked out by adding the dyke which runs down its western (right-hand) edge, from the top of the croft to the burn that runs through the Township.