Liz Alden Wily
By Liz Alden Wily, The Wealth of the Commons
Consider this. It is 1607. The English have been taking lands in Ireland for several centuries. First written down in the 7th century, Irish customary law is sophisticated and still administered by trained traditional magistrates (Brehons). Now rulings in the English courts on Gavelkind (1605) and Tanistry (1607) finally deny that customary law delivers property rights. Family holdings are made tenancies of by now well established Anglo-Irish elites, and the commons, crucial to grazing and hunting, are made more absolutely the property of the elites and new waves of English and Scottish settlers. Irish communities may use the commons at the will of these new owners.