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The Land Agent


Edited by Annie Tindley, Lowri Ann Rees, Ciarán Reilly

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Explores the role of land agents in Britain and its imperial territories between c. 1700-1920

This book brings together leading researchers of British and Irish rural history to consider the role of the land agent, or estate manager, in the modern period. Land agents were an influential and powerful cadre of men, who managed both the day-to-day running and the overall policy direction of landed estates. As such, they occupy a controversial place in academic historiography as well as popular memory in rural Britain and Ireland. Reviled in social history narratives and fictional accounts, the land agent was one of the most powerful tools in the armoury of the British and Irish landed classes and their territorial, political and social dominance. By unpacking the nature and processes of their power, The Land Agent explores who these men were and what was the wider significance of their roles, thus uncovering a neglected history of British rural society.

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List of illustrations
Introduction, Lowri Ann Rees, Ciarán Reilly & Annie Tindley

Section I: Power and its constructions on landed estates
‘Stirring and advancing times:’ John Henderson, the Earls of Carlisle and Improvement on the Castle Howard estate, c. 1827-1867. David Gent
‘Not a popular personage’: the factor in Scottish property relations, c. 1870–1920. Ewen A. Cameron
The factor and railway promotion in the Scottish Highlands: the West Highland Railway, John McGregor

Section II: The transnational land agent: managing land in the four nations and beyond
Divisions of labour: inter-managerial conflict among the Wentworth-Fitzwilliam agents, Fidelma Byrne
The Courtown Land Agents and Transnational Estate Management, 1850-1900. Rachel Murphy
Peter Fairbairn: Highland Factor and Caribbean plantation manager, 1792-1822. Finlay McKichan

Section III: Challenges and catastrophe – the land agent under fire
The Tenant Right Agitation of 1849-50: crisis and confrontation on the Londonderry estate in County Down, Anne Casement
Frustrations and fears: the impact of the Rebecca Riots on the land agent in Carmarthenshire, 1843. Lowri Ann Rees
The evolution of the Irish Land Agent: the management of the Blundell estate in the eighteenth century, Ciarán Reilly
‘Between two interests’: Pennant A. Lloyd’s agency of the Penrhyn estate, 1860-77. Shaun Evans

Section IV: Social memory and the land agent
John Campbell (‘Am Baillidh Mor’), chamberlain to the 7th & 8th dukes of Argyll: tradition and social memory, Robin K. Campbell
‘Castle Government’: the psychologies of land management in northern Scotland, c.1830-1890. Annie Tindley

The Land Agent in Fiction, Lowri A. Rees, Ciarán Reilly & Annie Tindley.
Poor Beasts, Kirsty Gunn.

About the Author

Annie Tindley is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, with expertise in modern Scottish, British and imperial history, focussing on the Scottish Highlands, landed elites and empire. She is degree programme leader on UG and PG History courses and the first director of the Centre for Scotland’s Land Futures. She is the author of The Sutherland Estate, 1850-1920 (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), and Lachlan Grant of Ballachulish, 1871-1945 (co-edited with Ewen A. Cameron, Birlinn, 2015).

Lowri Ann Rees is Lecturer in Modern History, School of History and Archaeology, Bangor University. Her research interests centre on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Wales, in particular the landed elite and their country estates. Lowri has published on paternalism and rural protest, the Rebecca Riots, Welsh sojourners in India, and is currently researching upward social mobility in Wales.

Ciarán Reilly is based at the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates, Maynooth University and is a historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century Irish history.


This is a very important and pioneering comparative study of land agents in Ireland and Britain, a class often reviled in historiography and literature. Ambitious in its scope, and accessible in its scholarship, it is crammed with significant original details about the lives, social backgrounds, education, training, capabilities and weaknesses of a class central to Irish and British rural life in the long nineteenth centuries. 

- Prof Terence Dooley, Maynooth University.

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