Record

CodeNA7972
Dates1669-1865
Person NameAberdeen County Statute Labour Trustees; 1669-1865
ActivityThe earliest statutory provisions for the maintenance of roads in Scotland from 1617 onwards imposed duties on the justices of the peace (1617, c.8, APS, iv.536). In 1669 a further act of parliament introduced the system of forced labour (or ‘statute labour’) for roads maintenance. Justices of the peace were to require ‘all tennents and coatters [cottars] and their servants’ to work on the public roads for a fixed number of days each year (1669, c.37, APS, vii.574). From 1686 the commissioners of supply were jointly responsible with the justices of the peace (1686, c.13, APS, viii.590). Statute labour was effective, at least in some rural areas, but was naturally unpopular. The commissioners of supply also levied an assessment for roads, but the income was low and funds tended to be spent on bridges. To remedy the defects of personal statute labour, counties or smaller areas obtained local acts of parliament for its abolition and the appointment of bodies of ‘statute labour trustees’. The trustees would impose a local tax (‘statute labour conversion money’) and spend the proceeds on road maintenance. The Road Act 1845 (8 & 9 Vict, c.41) standardised the system and allowed it to be applied generally. Because of the inconvenience of statute labour trusts and turnpike trusts, counties began to obtain local acts of parliament abolishing personal service on the roads (if it still existed), conversion money and turnpikes, and creating a single road trust to assume responsibility for all the roads in the landward area. This system became general in 1878. The Roads and Bridges (Scotland) Act 1878 (41 & 42 Vict., c.51) abolished the remaining statute labour trusts and assessments and placed all turnpike roads, statute labour roads, highways and bridges under the control of a single road trust for the landward area of each county, to be composed of commissioners of supply and some elected members. This act did not apply to counties such as Aberdeen which had already abolished turnpike and statute labour trusts: it was only enforced in 1890.
Corporate NameAberdeen County Statute Labour Trustees
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