Henry Home, in the second half of the eighteenth century, wrote:
'In the first two stages of social life, while men were hunters and shepherds, there scarce could be any notion of landed property. Men being strangers to agriculture, and also to the art of building, if it was not of huts, which could be raised or demolished in a moment, had no fixed habitation but wandered about in hordes or clans, in order to find pasture for their cattle. In this vagrant life men have scarce any connection with land more than with air or water. A field of grass might be considered to belong to a horde or class, while they were in possession; and so might the air in which they breathed, and the water which they drank: but the moment they removed to another quarter, there no longer subsisted any connection betwixt them and the field that was deserted. It lay open to newcomers, who had the same right as if it had not been formerly occupied. Hence I conclude that while men led the life of shepherds, there was no relation formed betwixt them and land, in any manner so distinct as to obtain the name of Property.'
Keywords: Britain, International law, land use, property, property law, terra nullius
'Historical Law Tracts', 2nd ed, Edinburgh, 1761, pp 94-95.
Author: Nettheim, Garth
Source: Home, Henry