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History of Caithness
Pref. 2nd Edition
Memoir of Author
Appendix 2 Roads
App 2 - Superstition
App 2 - Extracts
Notes To 2nd Edition
Caithness In 1887
MEMORANDA CONNECTED WITH
PUBLIC ROADS IN THE COUNTY OF
The first attempt at road-making on a large scale in Caithness was by the late Sir John Sinclair, who called out the statute labour of the district to form a road or tract from tIme hill of Bein Cheilt., across the moss or bog called the Causeway Myre, towards Thurso.
The calling out the inhabitants to perform the statutory service of six days’ work at roads was found so unprofitable and oppressive, that an Act (83 Geo. 111., cap. 120) was obtained in 1793 to commute
the statute labour into a money payment by occupants of land, at the rate of 30s sterling for every £100 Scots of valuation held by them, by cottagers and the inhabitants of towns at the current i-ate of wages for the six days’ work. This would produce about £500.
In 1803 an Act (43 Gee. III., cap. 80) was passed, appropriating £20,000 for that year towards making roads and bridges in the North of Scotland, “whereby its fisheries may he encouraged, and the industry of the inhabitants greatly promoted.” It being provided that one-half the cost of the roads and bridges shall be paid by the county or district.
In 1806 an Act (46 Geo. III., cap. 138) was passed, authorising the making six roads in the county of Caithness, of which one-half was to be paid by the Parliamentary Commissioners under the previous Act of 1803, and the other half by the county. Of these six roads, one only, that from the Ord to Wick, and thence to Thurso, and known as the Parliamentary Road, was made under this Act — half the cost, amounting to £16,437 9s 9d, having been paid by the owners of lands throughout the county. The bad harvests of 1816 and 1817 prevented the other five roads in the Act from being made at that time, and no adequate provision was made for roads in the county until 1830, when an Act (11 Gee.IV., cap. 102) was obtained to provide for the proper repair of the old roads and the mucking of new ones by an assessment on owners and occupiers of lands amounting to about £1500 a year, exclusive of the commutation on occupiers of cottages and inhabitants of towns. Under this Act, 137 miles of roads were made, and the communications throughout the greater part of the county opened up. The assessment on occupants under the Act (1830) was found to be adequate for the future maintenance of time roads, if expended, over all time leading lines without the limitation of districts and parishes, but there were not funds sufficient to pay off the money borrowed to make the roads. To provide a sum sufficient to pay off the debt in twenty-one years, the proprietors of land agreed to double the assessment payable by them, and an Act (1838, 1—2 Vict., cap, 79) was got to effect this, and to place 137 miles of the leading lines of roads under the management of the Commissioners for the repair of Highland roads, as the only means of partially consolidating the roads and parishes into one trust.
In 1859 the Act of 1838 expired, and with it a large proportion of the funds.
An Act (1860, 23—24 Vict.,
cap. 201) has been obtained laying a uniform assessment on the
real rent of all lands and heritages in the county, payable half by
owners and half by occupants; consolidating all the funds and roads
into one trust and system of management, and giving power to remove
tolls when a fair and adequate substitute for the revenue
they produce shall have been provided.
To provide for the maintenance of the Parliamentary roads in the Highlands and in Caithness, an Act was passed in 1819 appropriating to that purpose the sum of £5000, to be paid annually by the Barons of the Exchequer in Scotland, and requiring the balance in each county to be assessed on the proprietors of land and of houses in the county and burghs, according to the returns of rental for the property tax in 1814.
The whole of this assessment in Caithness fell on the landward heritors, there .being at that time no owner of house property in the towns who was assessed for income tax, and hence thme towns, at that time so insignificant, have been raised to their present prosperty and importance by means of communications between themselves and with the south, to which they have up to this date contributed nothing.
Amount paid for making and maintaining county roads since 1830 £68,406 18 0
Half cost of making fifty-four miles of
28,853 9 8
£97,260 7 8
Whereof paid by owners of land
£97,260 7 8
Say in round numbers, £100,000.