The Ceiles and the Land Laws (7)

Laurence Ginnell

Daer-stock tenure, among those who hired cattle, was somewhat similar; but the tenant had to give security for the stock, to render a larger return than the saer-stock tenant did, and if he was a free clansman entitled to take saer-stock the fact of his taking daer-stock seriously affected his status and that of his fine, rendered him incompetent to give evidence in a court of justice in opposition to the evidence of a flaith, and diminished or extinguished his right, and the right of his fine, to recover eric or other fine in the event of injury done to him or them. These were such grave consequences that a free clansman could not take daer-stock without the consent of his fine, and it was only the pressure of poverty would induce him to take daer-stock at all. War generally reduced large numbers to this necessity. It is probable that the law originally contemplated the taking of daer-stock only by men who were not true clansmen.

The rights and duties of both parties in these transactions are so fully and minutely laid down in the laws that there was little occasion for specific contracts, and probably business was done as smoothly without them as with them. There was more need of specific contract in base tenure than in the other, since, although it was provided for by the law, it originated not in a birthright like the other tenure, but in an agreement express or implied. Neither of the tenures was liable to capricious determination by either party. But for just and sufficient cause, and subject to fair conditions, either party might bring the arrangement to an end. It is said that the daer-céile as well as the saer-céile was able, for just cause, to have the contract set aside; but it is not clear how he could do this except with the voluntary consent of the flaith, first, because the flaith held security, and secondly, because the daer-stock tenant was incompetent to give evidence against a flaith.

If a céile who had taken stock absconded without paying the value, and left no property behind him but the land, unless the fine paid for the cattle the flaith was entitled to take and hold so much of the land as would compensate him. The remainder went to the fine of the absconding debtor, subject to any debts due by him.

In the laws a daer-man or daer-person is mentioned as distinct from a daer-stock tenant, and "the full eric fine of a daer-man" is frequently spoken of. What exactly this person was I cannot ascertain.