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Highland Clearances

Started by Admiral John Ross[?] of Balnagowan Castle[?] in Scotland in 1762 (although Maclean of Dunvegan had done some experimental work on Skye in 1732), the Highland Clearances consisted of the replacement of an ancient almost feudal system of land tenure with the rearing of sheep. As a result, many families living on a subsistence level were displaced.

The Highland Clearances had their roots in the failure of the Jacobite rebellion[?] afer the Battle of Culloden in the 18th Century : subsequently, legislation was introduced which was apparently designed to destroy the simple way of life of the Highland Gaels[?] or Celts. The traditional Clan system in Scotland subsequently broke up, destroying the supporting social stuctures of small holdings and cattle-droving.

English landlords, in partnership with ex-clan chiefs, 'encouraged', sometimes forcibly, the population to move off the land which was then given over to more profitable sheep farming. The people were accommodated in poor crofts or small farms in coastal areas where the farming or fishing could not sustain the communities, or directly put on emigration ships.

There was a failure of the potato crop in the early 19th Century, and a national outbreak of cholera. The ongoing clearance policy resulted in starvation, deaths, and a secondary clearance, when families either migrated voluntarily or were forcibly evicted. There were many deaths of children and old people. Many emigrated, joined the English army, or moved to the growing urban cities in Lowland Scotland. In many areas there were small and large scale massacres and violence towards the indigenous people.

In modern times this would be known as Ethnic Cleansing, or genocide.

External Link:

    * http://www.highlanderweb.co.uk/clearanc.htm

Further Reading (with bibliography):

    *'The Highland Clearances' John Prebble, Penguin Books 1963
    * (ISBN 0 14002837 4)



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