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Highland Clearances

Female - 1000

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  • Name Highland Clearances 
    Gender Female 
    Died 1000 
    Person ID I070404  Ancestorium

    Mother Scottish History,   d. 1000 
    Family ID F25814  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 

    • The Highland Clearances, and their causes, effects, and results
      Chapter One
      More than any single battle; more than any one event in Scottish history that I've had numerous requests for -- is a realistic look at the Highland Clearances.
      Being of Highland descent myself, I have always had an interest in finding as much of the truth of this tragic event as possible. But there is a danger for a historian writing about ones own ancestors, who were, literally, purged from their own country as the Highlanders were. I accept this danger -- the danger of presenting a personal, but historically accurate, look at the Highland Clearances -- rather than a cut, dry and brittle year by year accounting of numbers of emigrants, evicted tenants and statutes.
      In this work, we shall look at the awful truths of the Highland Clearances, if ocassionally from a Highlanders perspective. I don't apologise for this approach -- rather, it is one that is sorely needed.
      If readers find a perspective look at history objectionable, then they are forwarned ahead of time. If, however, one falsely deduces that a perspective is subjective and thus flawed by its very nature, then I invite those readers, and all others, to read the story of the Highland Clearances and the truths of the matters.
      This account will always stay true to historical facts and conventions, even if ocassionally, given from a Highland point of view. After all, I owe this much to my own Highland ancestors, most of whom were forcibly expelled from their picturesque, ancient Highland glens and lochs by unsympathetic and uncaring eighthteenth and nineteenth century "Improvers". The only thing the 'Improvers', improved, were their own greedy pocketbooks. To tell this emotional and terrible story of our ancestors sufferings -- unknown or dismissed by careless historians for centuries -- I shall willingly endure the slings and arrows of the history critic. After all I am one and I know how critical we can be. Many of these historians and history story tellers' preferred versions, until fairly recently, have been the uncaring and excuse-making perspectives of the 'improver' southrons and sheep fattened Clan Chiefs. In the end, I know I have told the truth of it, and my Highland soul is no longer bound to the revisionist and 'blameless' historians, who would have you believe it was simply a tragic circumstance -- no-one's fault. It simply isn't that simple, nor is it blameless. It was, however, inevitable.
      Part One:

      Before any words can even begin to attempt to describe the 'ethnic cleansing' of the Highlands of Scotland, one must be aware of the circumstances that occured prior to the atrocities of the Clearances. This is especially true for understanding the two nations of Scots and their relationship; the clan systems; the Jacobite wars and most especially that event that led directly to the Clearances. That event is the anti-climatic destruction of the great and proud Highland army, the very last Highland army -- under the command of a young Prince Charles Edward Stuart or "Bonnie Prince Charlie" at Culloden in 1746.
      End of the Clan System

      Cleared Highlander

      The 'pacification' of the Highland clans which followed the disaster of Culloden destroyed the ancient life of the glens. The 'pacification' of the Highlanders and the Clearances which followed a generation later, completed the ruin of that once proud and ancient tribal society known as the Highland Clan System.
      Before 1745, the bulk of Scottish Regiments (a relatively new idea), mostly the Blackwatch, had been drawn almost entirely from the Lowlands, where hatred of the Gael ran deep. Aside from the independent companies raised by General Wade, later in the 18th century, Highlanders were viewed as barbarians or called "wild Irish" and seen with about as much compassion, sympathy or understanding as the Zulu's were a century later.
      Yes, today Scots, both Highlander (the few that are truly of Highland blood) and Lowlander are equals and get along smashingly. But we are looking now at mid-eighteenth century Scotland and England. One must keep this in mind throughout this history. Indeed, at the time there were in truth two distinct Scotlands. One, the ancient Gael, descended from Celtic origins with dashes of Norse, Flemish and even some Norman blood. Whereas the Lowlander had been a more Germanic-English (genetically speaking) or Saxon, Angle, Norman, Celtic, Dane, Flemish and other European blooded racial mix since before the days of William Wallace. The kings of Scotland since MacBeth were more in line with English beliefs than the older Celtic ones -- and the kings of Scotland now ruled from the Lowlands. Therefore, what evolved in Scotland were two different peoples, using the same name and Nationality, but being fundamentally different both racially and linguistically. The Highlander had retained his native Irish tongue (Gaelic), manner of clothing and was by every aspect, very Gael and very Celtic. The Lowlander had adopted many Anglo customs since the days and arrival of Malcolm Canmore (Cean more), Malcolm III, and early Lothian English had become the primary tongue of Edinburgh and other great cities of the Lowlands in the 11-12th centuries.
      The Highlander saw the Lowland Scot as a 'foreigner' and more (in their early view) like the English than any Scot. This in itself was offensive to the Lowland Scot who was anything but English!
      However, the Lowlander, of this time, saw the Highlanders even worse; as tribal barbarians -- not the 'noble savage' painted in words by Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century. Highlanders were odd, barbaric and 'clannish' to the city dwelling Lowlander, who naturally saw them as more like 'wild Irish' (as they called them), more than Scottish.
      Even had there been common ground for both, it seems as if a tragic barrier of mutual incomprehensibility was built between them -- they could not, and did not really ever attempt to understand each other. Is it all the fault of the Lowlander? No, of course not. That would obviously be too simplistic an answer. The tragedies that would occur in the Highlands between Scots, Lowlander and Highlander, were long in the blood of these uneasy allies. A clash of cultures was inevitable at some point. It had flared in some cases before, as in the battle of Harlaw, or "Red Harlaw". But the disasterous depths of the clash coming could never had been predicted by the two races of Scots who never truly understood the other to begin with. Yet, the Highland leaders, the Chiefs, are as much to blame, if not moreso, for the calamity of the Highland Clearances once the horrible process had begun.
      Scots-English and Gaelic
      Throughout the centuries, Scotland acquired a rich mixture of races through both invasion and immigration. The newcomers were always absorbed into a fairly homogeneous breed. The forms of speech varied widely between Lowland Scots cities, but they were all forms of the English, or the sub-division known as Scots-English, and that is partially the situation even today. Auld Scots is and has been spoken in Lowland Scotland for centuries, but when they write, it is generally in English. Why? This dichotomy is largely due to the translation of the Bible which was carried out in the south of England. It was carried out in that majestic 17th century style, and this helped to introduce, or rather, impose, 'Standard' English as the written language.
      There have been periods between then and now when Scots have tried to eradicate the 'Scottishness' of their speech, feeling (under heavy pressure from England) it inferior or somehow lower-class than Standard, even whilst they revered the Scots poetry of Robert Burns, usually very briefly, once per year on the celebration of his birthday on 25 Janurary.
      Lately, Auld Scots is enjoying something of a revival and a new respectability. An event this author is pleased to see and promote. The nature and history of old Scots is emotional, turbulent and complex, changing even faster than the history of those who use it.
      One group of Scots, those Northern Scots, stubbornly remained outside the homogenizing process; the Gaels. Their ancient language and its cousin languages in Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man, Brittany in France, and to a lesser extent in Cornwall, are descended from the lost tongue of the ancient Indo-European. It tended to move, or be driven, to the Western extremities of Europe, and, much like its people, has regularly been under threat.
      Some estimates show that Gaelic is spoken by perhaps as few as 100,000 Scots, out of a population of over four million. Although attempts are underway to revitalise this ancient tongue of the Gael, it is still a very small minority.
      But the language divide has always been there, and remains. Children in the Highlands and Islands today learn English as well -- Standard English rather than Scots-English. Thus, the country is still partially separated by language and culture, into English speaking Lowlands and Gaelic-speaking Highlands and Islands, though this division is not nearly as extreme as it was in the mid-eighteenth century.
      The language gap or division was much more profound in older times, and played a bleak part in the great tragedy of the Highland Clearances, which left the Highlands void of most, possibly 85-90%, of its people, trees and forests...leaving vast areas bare and deserted even today.
      But language was only another part of the great jigsaw puzzle of Scottish division. The Jacobite wars figure greatly in this story and we shall look at them briefly next.
      A Brief History of the Jacobite Wars
      Although to attempt to view the devastation of the Highlanders and their life-style as a sole result of Culloden and the Jacobite Wars is a vast oversimplification, it is still a very important factor in the end of the Highland Clan System. No attempt is or will be made to make the Clearances solely linked to Jacobitism. This is a large part of British history that did effect all of Scotland, especially the Highlands. It should be seen as another of many factors, albeit an important one, alongside language and cultural differences. These then, hastened the end of the Gael's way of life.
      Lowland Covenant (a predominantly Lowland religious belief) failure of the 17th century was also marked by the loyalty of the Scottish Clans to the Royal House of Stewart, a loyalty remarkable for surviving 25 years of neglect from London after the Restoration of the Monarchy. The last of the Catholic Stewart Kings, James VII and II of Scotland and England respectively, was forced into exile in 1688. It was from his former realm of Scotland (the Highlands), that the 'King Over the Water' and his heirs drew most support. In fact the word 'Jacobite' may be the most lasting (and only real) success of James VII and II. He gave his name -- James -- converted to Jacob -- to the Stewart loyalists -- the Jacobites.
      In the "Great Civil War', the prowess of the clans under the great Montrose were stirred in the first real Jacobite war of 1688-89, when Montrose's descendant John Graham, 'Bonnie Dundee', led Jacobite Highland clansmen to victory over the army of Dutch William at Killecrankie (1689). Dundee added immeasurably to his and the Jacobite cause and legend by getting himself killed in the monent of his greatest victory.
      Nor did the Highlanders forget - ever - the appalling iniquity of the Glencoe Massacre of 1692: the treacherous, government ordered slaughterous attack by forces led by the Campbells on thier MacDonald hosts.
      This first Jacobite defeat did no more to weaken the pro-Stewart loyalties than had the defeat of Montrose at Philipbaugh back in 1645.
      Increasing Lowland pressure for full Union with England, was indeed fertile soil for Jacobitism in Scotland as the 18th century opened. The effects of this Union (1707) are still being debated today, but clearly it was the will of a few powerful merchants, bankers and buisnesmen in the Lowlands that eventually pushed the Union of Parliaments to fruition. You will often find a much different explanation in most of Scottish and English history books -- even today -- suggesting that all Scots wanted this Union, when in fact it caused riots in Glasgow and Edinburgh and the Highlands were never in favour of any sort of Union with England....but then the Highlands were never asked. It, in turn, nearly destroyed Scottish independence and was the death-knell for the Highland way of life.
      One important but often overlooked aspect of Jacobitism was that it was far more than a sustained nostalgia on the part of a few Highland Chiefs for the return of their 'real' king. In reality, Jacobitism was the ONLY 'opposition party' in Britain. The very idea of a party of opposition, sounded, to many British of the time, like treason in itself. The Stewarts were often Catholic, unpredictable and quick to draw on Highland support when in dire need of an ally. Unfortunately, the Highlanders, or many of them, seemed all to willing to go to their graves for the ungrateful Stewart Regime. This truly frightened England and many Lowland Scots. Nor was Jacobitism limited to Scotland. English Catholics, in particular, shut out from religious office, oppressed and yearning for religious toleration in a non-tolerant era, looked to the exiled Stewarts to restore some balance in their favour. They were seen as natural Jacobites (although, as in Elizabeth I's time, most preferred to argue their case as loyal subjects 'from within the system', rather than resort to outright rebellion). One must keep this in mind: in the Jacobite rebellions (wars, really) of 1715 and 1745, Prince James Edward and Price Charles Edward Stewart were not merely seeking to establish themselves in Scotland; their eyes went past Edinburgh to London.
      One of the great ironies of the Jacobite rebellions is the tremendous starts only to be followed by sputtering and sometimes disasterous endings. The clans who rallied to the Royal Standard of the Stewarts in the 'Fifteen' and the 'Forty-Five' had uncannily similar runs of fortune to their forebears who had fought for Montrose and Dundee. After intial successes from Tippermuir to Kilsyth in 1644-45, and Killiecrankie in 1689, so there were initial Jacobite victories at Sheriffmuir in 1715 and Prestonpans in 1745 before the inevitable turning of the tide.

      "Bonnie" Prince Charlie
      The Bonnie Prince lost miserably on that awful day in 1746 at Culloden Moor. But more than men of war and soldiers were entire race and culture were about to be 'improved' for sheep and money. Even though the would-be Prince lost that battle, and ended his life in 1788, an exiled drunken embarrassment to all, he had, in his great days, succeeded where even the mighty Montrose had failed, and led a Highland army south into England. It got as far as Derby, and had King George packing and fleeing south, before the Prince came to the realisation that NO English uprising in his favour was going to happen. It was during the ill-fated retreat back to Scotland that Cumberland caught up with the Bonnie Prince and his Highland army near Drumoisse Moor -- Culloden.
      The clan system as it had been for perhaps 1,000 years ended on the afternoon of 16 April, 1746, when the attenuated battalions of half-starved clansmen composing the army of Prince Charles Edward Stewart suffered their first and final defeat at the hands of the troops of the Duke of Cumberland on the disasterous fields of Culloden.
      The Prince, after much hiding and sheltering, finally made his escape back to France to become on of histories forgotten men, forgotten except for the fact that he was "Bonnie" and that Flora MacDonald helped him escape, which gave a misleading air of 'romance' to his escape.
      Pacification of the Highlands

      Memorial Marker at Culloden
      But the final bill was footed by the unfortunate Highlanders. Cumberland rightly earned his name "the Butcher" for his post-battlefield atrocities. He ordered his Red Coats to kill every surviving clansman on the field, even burying some of the wounded Highlanders alive in hugh pits of death and suffocation. He also earned the flower 'Sweet William' named after him by the English and 'Stinking Willy' in Scotland.
      The scare that the 'Forty-Five' had given the British Hanoverian Regime may be measured by the subsequent Governmental attempt to root out the Highland clan tradition forever. In this, they were determined. Banning Highland dress, Highland music and language; executing and exiling clan leaders, and finally driving roads into the heart of the Highlands -- but none of these ploys were entirely successful.
      Immediately after Culloden, and in the years to follow, great numbers of people in the Highlands, men, women and children, were killed on mere suspicion of disloyalty to the Government, or even on general principle that the 'only good Highlander was a dead Highlander'. Their outlandish language and their alien customs made it possible to regard them as 'Other', as less than full human beings. The Irish were to suffer this same treatment in the next half-century in the Great Potato Blight, which also affected Scotland badly, and which was allowed to fall the hardest on the landless Highlanders.
      The powers of the Clan Chiefs were taken from them. Although it has been said it was not the Clan System that died at Culloden, for it still exists today, it is a fool who believes that the surviving Clan Chiefs hold any power as their predecessors had held before Culloden. Modern Clan Societies now are more formal and social organisations existing out of desire and contribution, rather than by any necessity. Indeed, the old clan system did die at Culloden. More so than any factor it was the powers of the Chiefs, Chieftains and their place as 'fathers', the leaders, of their people that died. The clans were left without anyone to direct them and became easy prey to grim missionaries determined to teach them a relentless Lowland Presbyterianism which would bind them forever to the Government. These missionaries from the Lowlands had such names as 'Society for the propagation of Christian Knowledge' and came to the Highlands in 1791 (seeking Godlessness in the Highlands, but finding something more alarming). They sent a message back stating:
      "The secretary was assured upon authority which appeared to him conclusive that since the year 1772 no less than sixteen vessels full of emigrants have sailed from the western parts of the counties of Inverness and Ross alone, containing, it is supposed, 6,400 souls, and carrying with them in specie at least 38,000 pound Sterling."

      From that point onward, few Highlanders ever left Scotland with their monies, possessions, or their dignities intact. If they were to emigrate, apparently they would be forced to do so as penniless indentured servants, slaves or beggars.
      The numbers of landless men increased as the merging of small holdings into large single units under one tenant increased. The clansmen were now destitute of the only possession they'd ever had...the land. But for these men and women, "Improvement" in the Highlands had no sympathy. Compassion makes expensive calls on the conscience, and thus it seemed a comfort to find compassion undeserved. Said one great 'Improver', Sir George MacKenzie of Coul,
      "They [the landess Highlanders] live in the midst of filth and smoke. That is their choice. They will yet find themselves happier and more comfortable in the capacity of servants to substantial tenants than in their present situation."

      To exploit the land, the chiefs and leaders of the clans had first to remove his tacksmen, or bring them to heel as tenants, for they, not he, held most of his property.
      The Tacksman, simply put, was a man of the clan who held 'tacks', or leases, granted to him by the chief in the old clan tradition and on his property. Thus these tacksmen were the key to all the land. Many tried to help their fellow clansmen and clanswomen, but could not make it themselves. Unfortunately, many did as the chief was now doing and treated his tenants (like the chief often treated the tacksmen) as annoying children who should be encouraged to move off the land so that he could sell it for profit. What they were supposed to do...or where they were supposed to go seems to have been given little care or thought by many of the chiefs and tacksmen. time, would become the evictors that sent hundreds of thousands of Highlanders to the New World or to death.
      Immediately after Culloden, the roads were policed; tartans, weapons and even the bagpipes were all made illegal. Even speaking Gaelic was disallowed and made punishable by death or imprisonment. Highlanders were subjected to every imaginable savagery whilst being encouraged to emigrate (penniless) to another country. It is a psychological twist that has justified the the British urge to Colonise. The American Indians also suffered from it. In the case of the Highlands it has an even blacker tinge since the victims, inspite of their language, were compatriots of the killers, and that the killers had no intention of taking over the rather forbiding land and settling it; they were merely engaged in an act of violence for its own sake and an act of greed and rape of all the Highlands and Islands.
      1746 has often been described as the end of the separate history of the Highlands. And in many ways it was. But for more than a century afterwards, history went on, and became even blacker.
      It was, on the other hand, the end of the Jacobite cause, the end of all hope for that legitimate but unfortunately Catholic Royal family and all those Highlanders who remainded loyal to her, to the end (and even those who did not suffered the same fate).
      It was also the beginning of legends of the great smoke-screen of nonsense, of high flown sentiment and downright bad history. The Highlands were romanticised whilst at the same time the Highlanders were being forced into dreadful exile or death. What follows in the next several sections, is history that most everyone would prefer to forget -- and why we must remember.

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      When it became clear to the "Butcher" Cumberland the Jacobites were giving ground at Culloden, he gave the "no quarter" order. Now, the most hated phrase in the Highlands. Hundreds of fallen soldiers, not dead, were shot where they lay, others were burned alive in human fire pits. Many were taken prisoner only to be summarily shot, one after the other.
      Memorial Cairn at Culloden
      According to authors Somerst Fry. "Over 100 were taken across the Border to England, tried and executed in defiance of the 1707 act of Union. Those not killed were jailed in the Tolbooth (a gaol {jail} or prison), many with their wives and children and left to suffer from starvation and disease, some to the point of death. Over 1,000 were SOLD outright as slaves to the American Colony plantations. Cattle, sheep and deer were butchered, crops ravaged and burned. More cattle were driven into Inverness and given away or offered at ludicrously low prices to Lowland farmers, some were even given to English farmers in the Northern counties." Cottages, farms and houses were burned down in every district of the Highlands. Some Scots, who were not Jacobites, protested their treatment and that of their Highland neighbours -- but they were ignored, dismissed or insulted. The provost of Inverness was kicked down a flight of stairs for questioning the cruelties.
      Later, the Duke of Cumberland, (the son of Britains King, Geroge II), would complain that he'd actually been asked to show no humanity. He did a good job of following those orders, as the "harrying of the Glens", as it came to be known, was carried out with Teutonic brutality and thoroughness by the Hanoverian Regime.
      The atrocities that occurred immediately after Culloden in the "Pacification" -- such a horrifying devastation of the Highlands -- was backed by the London Government and applauded by many Lowland and Presbyterian Scots who hated the Highlanders as much for their stubborn adherence to the Roman Catholic Faith as much as their loyalty to the Stewarts. Not all Highlanders were Catholics at this time, some being Episcopalian and some recently turned to the Lowland Presbyterian Faith. But enough were still of the Catholic belief to cause much religious hatred. In the Government zeal to root out once and for all time the Highland clans power, they not only took powers away from the Clan Chiefs but also hereditary sherriff-doms and other jurisdictions were abolished - in doing so the Government bracketed the jurisdictions of clans who had not supported the Jacobites. This infuriated everyone. With all its faults, the clan relationship of its Barons courts and clan councils, "formed the whole basis of Scottish law and order as well as local government", the act of Union had validified the integrity of that Scottish law. Or so it was assumed. But now that the British Government had removed it's power, nothing was put in its place, and this led to near anarchy in the Highlands. Not only were the clan chiefs now without powers, they no longer commanded the respect they once did, or so they imagined, and were without pride or purpose. The ban of tartan, wearing of kilts and Highland dress, weapons and even the writing of Gaelic was a systematic attempt to "obliterate the Celtic mode of life", a policy also followed by England in Ireland and Wales. The lands of the fallen chiefs were eventually turned over to factors, special managers, who although efficient, were ruthless in their running of the lands and farms.
      Scottish Highlander

      As already mentioned in the previous chapter, the clan chiefs had leased much of their land to middlemen, called tacksmen, because tack meant lease. Some tacksmen worked the land, others sublet to tenants, often getting more rent than the chiefs received from the tacksmen. One of the roles of the tacksmen had been to call up the clansmen into military service when the need arose. But by the 1740's and especially after Culloden (1746), some chiefs had stopped leasing to tacksmen and began to collect rents and dues through their agents (often factors) who only earned commission.
      Many chiefs also began to see that more money was needed to support their ever increasingly lavish life-style, and subsequently began to sell the land to sheep-farming, as the Lowland and Border lairds had already begun.
      But Lowland and Border folk were not subjected to the same degree of evictions and brutalisation that their Highland counterparts were about to receive. Yes, many Lowland and Border folk were removed from the land too, but it was not generally enforced by press gangs and police swinging truncheons and clubs as occurred in the Highlands later on.
      The Lowlanders and Borderers moved into other areas of Scotland or England and many willingly emigrated to the colonies.
      The chief no longer protected the clansmen and had no idea what to do -- what they did do was appalling. Accustomed to loyalty and power, they were now drawn to the 'good living' in Edinburgh, fine homes, expensive and lavish life-styles. They became a new class of wealthy merchants and bankers, investors and gamblers, and left their clansmen to fend for themselves.
      Post Culloden -- The Highland Regiments
      After Culloden there was no immediate danger from the clans, who were leaderless. The great dream of Gaeldom was shattered and many clansmen found themselves bewildered and broken in spirit. However, on the Continent, Bonnie Prince Charlie was still alive and the Government was well aware that the Prince was still a rightful heir to the throne of Britain on grounds of primogeniture and that the Highlands still contained many thousands of fit men who still held Jacobite sympathies.
      Prince Charles
      Although the threat posed by the Prince after Culloden was changed, and the political climate of Europe had helped to diminish his chances of ever being a threat, it was not a situation the British Government wanted to allow to remain static for long.
      In truth, the Scots and the English were still not the best of friends and the "Butcher" Cumberland had left behind a bitter legacy which disgusted many Scots, even those who had no love of Jacobites. Cumberland, of course, didn't like any Scotsman and he didn't care who knew it.
      In 1738, (prior to Culloden), Lord President Forbes of Culloden had put up the proposal to the Government for the raising of Highland regiments to be officered by 'loyal Englishmen'. His aim was to channel the energies of possible Jacobite supporters into activities of working hard for the government, leaving them with little time for plotting. The scheme was vetoed by the Cabinet, but out of it came into being the Black Watch Regiment in 1739. Initially filled with Lowland Scots and some Highlanders of unquestionable Government loyalty, such as the Campbells and Munros, it was led by English officers to "watch" or police the Highlands secretly -- thus "Black Watch". It really had little to do with colour of their tartan.
      Just prior to Culloden, in 1745, the Blackwatch had fought with Cumberland at Fontenoy, and he'd been impressed -- he was not easily impressed.
      The Black Watch experiment had been successful enough to warrant raising another regiment in 1745, Loudoun's Highlanders who also formed part of the Government army during the "45". They were routed at Moy by the Highland Macintoshes who frightened them into believing a great force was lying in wait for them. The Loudoun's Highlanders ran. They were disbaned in 1748.
      But a man named William Pitt proposed the raising of regiments (after Culloden) from the 'disaffected' clans, to serve British armies overseas. What better use could they put to the strong, proud and determined enemy than to convince him that fighting, in full Highland garb (currently it was only allowed if you joined the regiment), for the British government was in his best service to 'his' country? They were sent directly to the front lines of every British foreign war and took the brunt of almost all initial combat in the British army.
      Regiments served in North America against the rebellious colonists, and in the West Indies. Between 1757 and 1761 ten Highland regiments were raised and disbanded: the Fraser Highlanders; Montgomery's Highlanders' the Duke of Gordons Highlanders; The 100th Regiment; The Queens Highlanders; the Royal Highland volunteers; Johnstone's Highlanders and the Maclean's Highlanders.
      After such a resounding success, in 1766 William Pitt gave a rousing speech to parliament about the quality and gallantry of "his" Highland Regiments. It was stirring stuff indeed. What he left out of that 1766 speech was what he said back in 1757 about the Scots Highlanders. He, when he first commanded his scheme in 1757, had been at pains to point out the obvious advantage that, in sending these Highlanders off to war for Britain, "Not many" of the troublesome Gaels would return. But by 1766 the Highland regiments had indeed proven themselves in combat, and with their blood, to be among Britian's best units.
      One wonders why such hated enemies would, considering the atrocites after Culloden, want to fight for the British army? There were several reasons.
      One factor was the Monarchy itself. The new House of Hanover was a protestant branch of the old House of Stuart, and, supposedly, ruled by virtue of its Stuart blood rather than its Hanoverian connection. Of course one can make a strong dissenting argument here, but the thinking goes that since Dutch William (William of Orange) married a Stuart (Mary Stuart) they ruled co-jointly as William and Mary. A more realistic view might actually show that it was all William who ruled and Mary stayed very much behind the Royal scenes. But accepting the Stuart bloodline theory, it was one factor.
      Another, more tangible reason, was that the Highland Chiefs, who might have opposed the regiment idea, were either in exile or dead, and those who remained on their clan lands had no desire to repeat the futile performance of 1745 and its savage repercussions. Then again, the power of the Campbells no longer threatened the other clans. The days of feuding and fighting amongst themselves were now over.
      Scottish Highland Officer
      But the largest reason played directly to the warrior heart of the Gaelic Highlander. The only way he could gain honour in battle, legally wear his Highland dress, carry weapons as his forefathers had done for over 1,000 years and play his beloved bagpipes was to join a Highland regiment. This was a subtle but powerful incentive to the Gael, who had for centuries been a warrior and had his kilt, bagpipes and weapons at all times. All these things were 'proscribed' by the Hanoverian Regime after Culloden and only by joining the regiments and fighting in British wars could he obtain these long cherished cultural practises and traditions.
      The Government in London wanted to extinguish everything that made the Gaels different and distinctive. In the "Proscription Act, or the 'Black Act' of 1746, as it was known to the Highlanders and Islanders, Scottish Highlanders were forbidden to own arms, which might be reasonable so soon after a war, but also to wear the kilt or any garments of tartan cloth. Offenders could and were transported to Botany Bay or imprisoned.
      So the Highlander joined. And since many of the new Regiments were officered by men he knew and included men forn his own glens, it must have seemed like the old clan days all over again -- except that now the British Government fed and clothed and paid them money, instead of a chief, and they had no retribution to fear. And, of course, mostly now they were not Catholics, (or no longer Catholics); they had no religios loyalty to the Stewarts.
      All these considerations added together to make the prospect of army service attractive to fit men -- the very men, left to their own devices, might just conceivably become the spearhead for another Jacobite attempt. Unlikely as it was, the government preferred to pre-empt the possibility. It worked remarkably well. Highland men flocked to the Union Jack standard to fight for the Hanoverian king, so long as the could wear the garb and be among their own kind. It was a brilliant masterstroke of English thinking -- and the Regiments, as much as any other reason -- put the final seal of the fate of the Stewarts.
      Not only did these Highlanders do good service, but they provided good hardy settlers for America and Canada with a strong loyalty to Britain. In the Clearances soon to come, however, they were joined by tens of thousands more who had no such British allegiance.
      Scottish Regimental Soldiers (later)

      The Highland regiment went on to fame and glory and have a proud and undisputed valorous record, but it is too extensive to cover in this work on the Clearances, so that must be another story.
      The Highland Clearances Begin
      There is something typically British about the fact that the misery of the Highland Clearances was in full swing whilst the much needed restoration of Scottish national pride was being achieved.
      This began with the prowess on the battlefield of the first Highland Regiments; it was sustained, at least in Lowland and English eyes, by the prevailing Romantic Movement with a growing worship of all things 'Scotch', (under the guiding pen of Sir Walter Scott). Please let me make a personal note here regarding Sir Walter: I think he is one of the most important and influential authors ever to put ink on paper. But, like Shakespeare, he intentionally or not, has created a myth of Scottish Highlanders, as did Shakespeare with MacBeth, that although wonderful literature, is not good history. That being said, Sir Walter Scott, despite his terrific works, his 'Highland' writings have given a false image of the Highlander that prevails to this day.
      All the while the Romance with the Scottish Highlands were in full bloom, the people whom they professed to adore, the Gaels, were being killed, beaten, imprisoned or sent to the New World in the most cruel and extreme conditions imaginable. What follows in the next chapter (and the end of this one) will shock, surprise and horrify most who are unaware of this injustice.
      After about 1746, the Highlander, due to the Regiments, becomes for possibly the first time a Scotsman rather than a Highlander, no longer one of a different race to be hated, feared and consequentially despised, in turn hating and despising others.
      It is therefore even more the great tragedy the Highlanders (except in the regiments) should have fallen prey to the greatest savagery, the most humiliating indignities that has ever been inflicted upon them -- and this in their present times by their fellow Scots, even by their own erstwhile chiefs.
      Highlanders soon found oppression among them in the shape of their own chieftains or sometimes landlords to whom the chieftains sold out. There were edicts in some areas actually forbidding marriages among estate tenants! In the parish of Clyne in Sutherland a few years later, there were 75 bachelors aged 35 to 75.
      Had the Highland story truly ended on the fields of Culloden in 1746, to be followed by the stirring history of the Highland Regiments over the next two and one-half centuries, it might be easy to overlook much of the hypocrisy that lurks menacingly behind the tartan smoke screen raised by Sir Walter Scott, fanned by King George IV and finally given Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria. But it did not end then.
      Evictions in the Highlands prior to 1745 were rare, In 1739, both MacDonald of Sleat and MacLeod of Dunvegan, the principle Skye chiefs, SOLD some of their clansmen and women as indentured servants in the Carolina's. But these extremes were rare and have no connection to the cruelty known as the Highland Clearances.
      Perhaps the final blow to Scottish land ownership, thus the clan system itself, ended with the "Heritable Jurisdictions Act" of 1747, which stated, essentially, that those who did not accede to English jurisdiction (British Government) were to have their lands forfeited and given over to the government. This may have been the final straw that broke the clan systems back.
      Two Main Eras of Highland Clearances.
      The Clearances proper fall into two main periods: A long period from 1785 to 1820, and a shorter one from 1842 to 1854.
      Ironically during the entire period covered by the Clearances from 1785-1854, Highland military Regiments were serving with distinction in foreign wars.
      Also during the late stages of this shameful period, Queen Victorian and Prince Albert, from 1848 onwards, were living in a Highland sentimental dream at Balmoral Castle, talking about their beloved Highlanders, covering the floors, walls, windows and even a few ceilings with tartan in some bizarre type of 'tartan hell' that seems Graceland-like in its obsession and indulgencies. This genuine but perhaps misplaced love for the Highlanders continues in the Monarchy to this day.
      Highland Despair

      Yet not a hundred miles away, these same Highlanders were being evicted, reduced to poverty and cruelly beaten and murdered by police constables acting for the factors of landlords who placed the value of sheep, especially the 'Cheviot' sheep, over men.
      In the next, and perhaps most shocking chapter, we shall look directly at the crimes and injustices committed against the Highlanders, as the evictions become greater and the landless and destitute are subjected to the most unimaginable inhumanity ever experienced by the Gael of the Scottish Highlands.

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