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Background Info

‘Ancient Prescriptive Usage’ is used in the other parts of the United Kingdom as a parameter for allowing a city to retain that title and status.

Many places in Scotland would come into that category such as, Perth, Elgin, Brechin and Dunfermline yet if they want official recognition they must participate in one of the competitions to select the next town to be awarded City status by Letters Patent from Her Majesty The Queen.

In the letter of 13 September 2000 from Callum Ingram Policy Adviser, Home and Social Division, Scotland Office he states “As there is no reason in principle to stop particular towns calling themselves cities if they wish to do so, due to the general lack of legal significance of the term ‘City’ in Scotland, any issue of official entitlement to the use of the term cannot arise. It follows that the English practices of entitlement by usage of Ancient Prescriptive Right do not apply in Scotland.”

There is no wish for legal powers, only the right to use the style and title that was used before the local government act 1973 took effect creating four city authorities (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen).

A letter from the Ordnance Map Office, Southampton, 6 February 1856 to Ebenezer Henderson states “Sir, I beg to acknowledge receipt of your note of 21st ultimo, and to say that, after consulting the Solicitor to the War Department, we have decided on designating Dunfermline a City. Henry James, Lieut.-Colonel, Royal Engineers.”  This therefore was a government department recognising the designation.

On 26 June 1924, Rt. Hon. William Adamson, His Majesty’s Secretary of State for Scotland, accepted the Freedom of the City and Royal Burgh of Dunfermline as did the Duke of York on 11 August 1928. Neither of these personages would have used the Style and Title of City and Royal Burgh without legal guidance.

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