Person NameRoyal Burgh of Wick; 1589-1975
ActivityWick, in the parish of Wick, Caithness, is first mentioned in records dating from the mid 12th century. It was under Norwegian control until 1231 and Auldwick, on a site a little to the south of the present town, was created a burgh of barony for one Nicholas or Neil Sutherland around 1393. A burgh of barony was presided over by a feudal superior who had authority from the Crown to administer justice and to hold barony courts dealing with crimes and matters of good neighbourhood. Wick was elevated to royal burgh status in 1589 but remained a fairly small town: in 1665 the population was not more than 500. From the middle of the 18th century, however, Wick's importance as a fishing centre began to grow, a development which was reinforced by the harbour improvements of the early 19th century. A major new development called Pulteneytown was laid out on the south side of Wick Bay by the British Fisheries Association in 1808. Pulteneytown was a parliamentary burgh from 1844 and existed as a separate council until 1902 when it was incorporated into the royal burgh. By 1840 the population of Wick had grown to 1250 and the transient population dependent on the fishing industry was much greater. In 1862 Wick adopted most of the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 & 26 Vict., c. 101) which allowed for the appointment of police commissioners who were responsible for the cleansing, lighting, policing and public health of the burgh. The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892 (55 & 56 Vict., c.55) ended the overlap and sometimes friction which had existed between burgh councils and police commissioners by restricting powers to either one or the other, and police commissioners were abolished completely by the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 & 64 Vict., c.49), in favour of the older term of ‘provost, bailies and councillors’. In accordance with the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 & 20 Geo. V, c.25) Wick was classed as a small burgh from 1930 until 1975, when its town council was abolished under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c. 65). Its powers were assumed by Highland Regional Council and Caithness District Council. These in turn were replaced by Highland Council in 1996 under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 (c. 39). The burgh's population at the 1971 census was 7,617.
Corporate NameRoyal Burgh of Wick
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