Highlanders – A sad end to a culture and a tradition

I located in an old magazine, an article on how Highlanders from Scotland were forcibly evicted from their own lands. Could you imagine!? Do you know what they were replaced with? Farming, the complete opposite to what is happening these days all over the world, or at least in Australia.


A brief run through the history is that the clan leaders were the ones to look after their clan, they protected and provided for them on lands they held in trust for the clan which was passed down from generation to generation.

Things all changed in the 16th century when laws from the lowlands crept up to the highlands and forced chiefs to travel all the way to Edinburgh where they had to vouch for their clansmen, all of whom would fight for their chiefs.

With the Jacobite campaigns and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s 1745 rebellion, everything changed where by the Heritable Jurisdiction Act 1746 was introduced which stripped the clan chiefs of basically all their rights, even the right to call their men to fight. One of the very few rights which they were allowed was the right to collect rent and so it wasn’t long before the value of money replaced that of obligation and also honour.

With these changes in place, it wasn’t long before the chiefs soon felt more like landlords and as though they were no longer needed there to protect and look after their clan. And so, they moved to the lowlands to mingle with high society and live off the rent their clans people paid them. Though there was one problem with this, these lifestyles required money and there was an increase in demand for sheep, this demand created an opportunity for them and so they turned their lands into huge farms.

Trouble was, with these lands now changed to farms, rents went up and those who couldn’t pay then emigrated for a better life, though some were sent away as convicts and others moved to the lowlands. Those who remained soon felt like nothing more than tenants, not kinsmen as there was no longer a chief for protection or to help provide.

What a way for a people to be treated.

If you have Scottish ancestors it might be worth a look at these sites.

http://www.theclearearances.org – if you have cleared ancestors

http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk – National Records of Scotland

http://www.scan.org.uk – also has documents regarding the records

www,ambaile.org – clearance related documents

http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs – British library 19th century Newspaper Collection including eviction accounts

http://edina.ac.uk/ststacc-scot – documents the changes in many affected parishes

http://www.search.sutherlandcollection.org.uk/engine/resource/exhibition/standard/default.asp?resource=1355 – papers from the Sutherland Collection

http://www.helmsdale.org.highland-clearances.html – detailed account of events

http://www.highlandarchives.org.uk – Highland Archives Centre


Happy hunting



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