The church and the highlands



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had a handsome revenue, and a large estate in land assigned them to support themselves in the study of heraldry and chronology, and to gain a perfect knowledge of those useful professions. Every

nobleman of any quality retained a number of these learned men, on purpose to record the actions of himself and his family, and to transmit them to posterity, besides such as were in constant pay and attendance for the service of the public."

In Ireland and Scotland, as elsewhere, the owner­ship of land constituted, as it does now, the special characteristic of the noble or Math. Hereditary nobility, however, could only be obtained by the possession of property held by the family for three generations. The privileged orders to which the appellation of Aires was given consisted, roughly speaking, of two classes, namely (1) those who possessed property in land, and (2) those who possessed cattle and other chattels. The first-class comprised the true nobility or Maths/ whilst the second, which was called Bd-Aire or cow-Aire, represented the lesser aristocracy, who did not hold land of their own, but grazed


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