Artisans and aristocrats in nineteenth-century Scotland

Stana Nenadic, Sally Tuckett

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Abstract / Description of output

This article considers relationships between artisans and aristocrats on estates and elsewhere in Scotland during the long nineteenth century. It argues that the Scottish aristocracy, and women in particular, were distinctly preoccupied with the craft economy through schemes to promote employment but also due to attachments to ‘romanticised’ local and Celtic identities. Building in part on government initiatives and aristocratic office-holding as public officials and presidents of learned societies, but also sustained through personal interest and emotional investments, the craft economy and individual entrepreneurs were supported and encouraged. Patronage of and participation in public exhibitions of craftwork forms one strand of discussion and the role of hand-made objects in public gift-giving forms another. Tourism, which estates encouraged, sustained many areas of craft production with south-west Scotland and the highland counties providing examples. Widows who ran estates were involved in the development of artisan skills among local women, a convention that was further developed at the end of the century by the Home Industries movement, but also supported male artisans. Aristocrats, men and women, commonly engaged in craft practice as a form of escapist leisure that connected them to the land, to a sense of the past and to a small group of easily identified and sympathetic workers living on their estates. Artisans and workshop owners, particularly in rural areas, engage creatively in a patronage regime where elites held the upper hand and the impact on the craft economy of aristocratic support in its various forms was meaningful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-229
JournalThe Scottish Historical Review
Issue number2
Early online date31 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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