AskDefine | Define crofter

Dictionary Definition

crofter n : an owner or tenant of a small farm in Great Britain

User Contributed Dictionary



croft” + “-er


  1. one who has the tenure of a croft, usually also the occupant and user

Extensive Definition

A croft is a fenced or enclosed area of land, usually small and arable with a crofter's dwelling thereon. A crofter is one who has tenure and use of the land.


The word croft is West Germanic in etymology, and is now most familiar in Scotland, most crofts being in the Highlands and Islands area. Elsewhere the expression is generally archaic.
Essentially similar positions have been the medieval villein and the Scandinavian torpare.


The Scottish croft is a small agricultural landholding of a type which has been subject to special legislation in the United Kingdom since 1886. The legislation is largely a response to the complaints and demands of tenant families who were victims of the Highland Clearances. The modern crofters or tenants appear very little in evidence before the beginning of the 1700's. They were tenants at will underneath the tacksman and wadsetters, but practically their tenure was secure enough. The first evidence that can be found of small tenants holding directly of the proprietor is in a rental of the estates of Sir D. MacDonald in Skye and North Uist in 1715.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom created the Crofters' Act, 1886, after the Highland Land League had gained seats in that parliament. The government was then Liberal, with William Gladstone as Prime Minister. Another Crofters' Act was created in 1993 (the Crofters' (Scotland) Act, 1993). The earlier Act established the first Crofting Commission, but its responsibilities were quite different from those of the newer Crofting Commission created in 1955. The Commission is based in Inverness.
Crofts held subject to the provisions of the Crofters' Acts are in the administrative counties of Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross-shire, Inverness-shire and Argyll, in the north of Scotland.
Under the 1886 legislation (the Crofters' Holdings (Scotland) Act) protected crofters are also members of a crofters' township, consisting of tenants of neighbouring crofts with a shared right to use common pasture.
Since 1976 it has been legally possible for a crofter to acquire title to his croft, thus becoming an owner-occupier.


  • (Croitear)
crofter in French: Croft
crofter in Scottish Gaelic: Croitearachd
crofter in Russian: Хутор
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