The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances


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Page 29 - Gloomy Memories by Donald MacLeod Eyewitness to Highland Clearances

The winter of was cold with heavy snow. People were abandoned to find any means of shelter in the open and with no proper access to food. It was hard enough for the healthy but for the frail and young it meant inevitable death.

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The people burnt out of their homes were left to walk many miles to the coasts carrying whatever they could save from the flames loaded onto their backs, smoke billowing from their past lives behind them. In the murderous thug , Sellar, was charged with culpable homicide and fire raising against forty families. He was found innocent. Of course. Witnesses were prevented from giving evidence and two sheriffs instrumental in bringing this man to trial lost their jobs.

Piling insult upon insult her lackeys went around her tenants forcing them to contribute to a gift for her. Then her tenants were squeezed to bear some of the cost of a mausoleum for the Duke. Surprise, surprise this relief had to be paid back by her tenants. As for being the voluntary evacuation of worthless land the Highland Clearances were nothing of the kind. Certainly there was poverty and some people chose to leave Scotland to try to make a living in north America but the majority were forced to migrate — to the coasts, other parts of Scotland and abroad.

Forced emigration was cruel and violent as in the kidnapping of the folk of South Uist and Barra who were manhandled onboard Atlantic-bound ships and dumped in Canada, destitute.

Populated places in the Isle of Skye

Gaelic speakers thrown into a foreign country that spoke a different language. This was happening as late as As for the land that was forcibly cleared it became the playground for the rich. We still have these shooting estates across Scotland — to our shame. Now they are desolate places that once were alive with working communities and where our birds and animals fly over and stray across at their peril.

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At Strathnaver where the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland torched thatched roofs with flaming faggots over , acres of crofted land made up of pastures, meadows and cultivated fields worked by communities were turned into five substantial farms. Farmers were forced from fertile land to desolation and starvation and areas of depleted populations became ghost straths.

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You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. A huge kelp industry exploded in the Western Isles at the turn of the nineteenth century, the price of soda ash a by-product of burnt kelp shooting from two pounds per ton in to twenty pounds per ton in Landlords who wanted to exploit the profits of this industry crowded families into crofting communities along the sea coast to create pools of cheap labour. Other dislocated families abandoned the Highlands and sought work in urban Lowland areas, while others still left Scotland altogether.

By , around thirty thousand Highlanders had sailed to British North America in search of better opportunities.

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One Scotsman in Upper Canada, upon being asked by a visiting friend if he indeed found life better abroad, replied that "the beef in Canada was so tough that teeth could not chew it During the first phase of the Highland Clearances, Highlanders left Scotland after being dislocated by rising rents and agricultural restructuring. In , the international market prices for fish and cattle plummeted, while the kelp industry bottomed out.

To make matters worse, the already poor Highland soil had been losing fertility and productivity due to the impact of sheep dung. The crofting communities that had been established during the first phase of the Clearances were thus thrown back onto the inadequate resources of their holdings. Amid the post-war depression, the Highland economy was left with only one profitable industry: sheep farming.

Some landowners moved their tenants from the inland glens to coastal areas where the people could survive by fishing while clearing up the glens for sheep.


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Others retained genuine paternalistic feeling for their clansmen and tried to support them as best they could. For example, when one third of the population living on the lands of MacDonald of Clanranald in the Ulsts went destitute in the late s, the laird bankrupted himself purchasing meals for his people. And then there were the landowners who cared little for the welfare of the peasantry, concerned only with the wealth that could be made from the land.

In the s, the estates of the Countess of Sutherland and the 2 nd Marquess of Stafford who were to later become the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland amounted to one and a half million acres, some of the largest private holdings in Europe. To fulfill their plans of turning the land over to sheep farming and create on their grounds coal-pits, salt pans, brick and tile works, and herring fisheries, the Sutherlands employed the notorious Patrick Sellar as their estate manager.

During his eleven years of service, he cleared some fifteen thousand residents from the interior of the Sutherland estates to make room for Cheviot herds, squeezing the people along the coastline some thirty kilometers away, in lots less than three acres in area. Vilified in collective memory as the callous perpetrator of a destructive policy, Sellar earned his reputation presiding over one of the largest, most violent, and most controversial episodes of the Highland Clearances.

Although Sellar was acquitted for arson and culpable murder in , critics have claimed that his social status he was a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace with many friends among the clergy and gentry garnered a biased verdict. Apologists have cited him as a necessary agent of change, pointing out that the evicted persons had received two or three notices and still refused to leave. The Duchess of Sutherland later became involved in the abolitionist movement.

In , she gathered signatures from the British peerage to petition the United States to abolish slavery. Southerners attacked the petition, claiming that their slaves lived in far better conditions and led happier lives than the peasant farmers the Duchess had forced from her lands.

To counter this harmful rhetoric against the abolitionist cause, Stowe visited the Sutherlands during her European tour.

In her travelogue, Sunny Memories of Distant Lands, published , Stowe eulogized her hosts and delivered a white-washed account of the Sutherland Clearances to the American public. Donald MacLeod, son of a farmer and stonemason from Rossal, Strathnaver, had been twenty years old when Sellar came to his township in In the s, MacLeod had published his eyewitness account of the Rossal clearances as a series of letters in the Edinburgh Weekly Chronicle, giving voice to the wretched, dispossessed peasantry.

As the dispossessed Highlanders scratched meager subsistence from the poor soil of their tiny crofts, they learned the bitter limitations of the clan. One crop saved Highland farmers in the early nineteenth century: the potato. Not only was it reliable, returning a high yield from small acreage and poor soil, but could also provide a nutritious, balanced diet when combined with milk and fish. The population quickly grew to depend on it. And the population was booming - in the Outer Hebrides, for example, population almost doubled from thirteen thousand to twenty-five thousand between and This same pattern was found all across the Isles and Highlands, populations doubling or even tripling within decades.

So when the potato crop partially failed in , and then completely failed ten years later, the driving forces behind the clearances scaled to new heights.

Famine ensued. People died of starvation by the thousands. Those who still clung to their ancestral homes survived on seasonal employment in the Lowlands. Then, following the European revolutions of , Lowland industries suffered from recession. Cattle prices fell. And recent Poor Law reforms had made landlords responsible for providing welfare relief to their destitute residents. In Sutherland the poorest people were made destitute by one of the richest women in the country acting out of sheer greed and callousness.

Of course people died. The most vulnerable died first.

(PDF) THE HIGHLAND CLEARANCES AND THE POLITICS OF MEMORY | Daniel Brown - ubelthuncutt.tk

The winter of was cold with heavy snow. People were abandoned to find any means of shelter in the open and with no proper access to food. It was hard enough for the healthy but for the frail and young it meant inevitable death. The people burnt out of their homes were left to walk many miles to the coasts carrying whatever they could save from the flames loaded onto their backs, smoke billowing from their past lives behind them.

In the murderous thug , Sellar, was charged with culpable homicide and fire raising against forty families. He was found innocent. Of course. Witnesses were prevented from giving evidence and two sheriffs instrumental in bringing this man to trial lost their jobs. Piling insult upon insult her lackeys went around her tenants forcing them to contribute to a gift for her.

Then her tenants were squeezed to bear some of the cost of a mausoleum for the Duke. Surprise, surprise this relief had to be paid back by her tenants. As for being the voluntary evacuation of worthless land the Highland Clearances were nothing of the kind. Certainly there was poverty and some people chose to leave Scotland to try to make a living in north America but the majority were forced to migrate — to the coasts, other parts of Scotland and abroad.

Forced emigration was cruel and violent as in the kidnapping of the folk of South Uist and Barra who were manhandled onboard Atlantic-bound ships and dumped in Canada, destitute. Gaelic speakers thrown into a foreign country that spoke a different language. This was happening as late as As for the land that was forcibly cleared it became the playground for the rich.


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  6. We still have these shooting estates across Scotland — to our shame. Now they are desolate places that once were alive with working communities and where our birds and animals fly over and stray across at their peril.

    The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances
    The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances
    The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances
    The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances
    The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances
    The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances
    The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances

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