The Stonemason: Donald Macleods Chronicle of Scotlands Highland Clearances

The Stonemason: Donald Macleod's Chronicle of Scotland's Highland Clearances

Then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page by clicking on your user name at the top right of any screen. You also may like to try some of these bookshops , which may or may not sell this item. Separate different tags with a comma. To include a comma in your tag, surround the tag with double quotes. Skip to content Skip to search. Home This edition , English, Book, Illustrated edition: Check copyright status Cite this Title The stonemason: Physical Description xii, p. Subjects Crofters -- History -- Sources. Farm tenancy -- Scotland -- Highlands -- History -- Sources.

Eviction -- Scotland -- Highlands -- History -- Sources. Sellar carried the torch of economic change into one of the most remote regions of the British economy. Some were highly violent, conniving, and aggressive, and all lacked understanding or compassion for the Highland tenants. Many were easily capable of atrocities, including homicide. For Richards to deny this possibility is wrong, and his tendency towards praise is even worse. Richards's view of Sellar and the Sutherland Estate profoundly ignores the actual failure of its improvement policy, which was caused by the cultural differences between the lowland administrators and the Highland tenants.

Highland society was based on clanship and had been since ancient times. In return for allegiance, military service, tribute and rental payments, the commons of the clans expected the ruling families to act as their protectors and guarantee secure possession of land. The loyalties inherent in clanship were matters of the heart and mind rather than the law.

During the Clearances clan chiefs were replaced by commercial landlords, and clan loyalties were replaced with capitalism, revolutionizing the entire culture. Society was no longer based on loyalty, family, and service but, instead, on profit, competition, and economic growth. These lifestyles were profoundly different and it was very difficult for Highlanders to accept and understand the drastic changes being imposed on them. Between and , the Sutherland Estate removed between 6, and 10, people from the interior to fishing communities on the Helmsdale coast in order make room for Cheviot sheep.

This was the largest Clearance in the history of the Highlands. The enormous demand for Highland wool made the land more profitable when sheep lived on it instead of tenants. Rising rent totals, from 11, pounds to 20, pounds forced the Highlanders to move into small lots on the coast where they supported themselves through fishing. For the British elite, the nineteenth century was an era of grandeur, opulent lifestyles, foreign travel, and expensive architecture.

The Stafford's were the leaders of fashionable society through the Stafford House, the largest and most beautiful of the private palaces in London. As Eric Richards emphasizes in his book, The Leviathan of Wealth , "the Sutherland fortune was an unrivaled concentration of aristocratic wealth in the 'Age of Improvement'.

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The dinner for us two was soup, fish, fricasse of chicken, cutlets, venison, veal, hare, vegetables of all kinds, tart, melon, pineapple, grapes, peaches, nectarines, with wine in proportion. Six servants to wait upon us, whom we did not dare, dispense with, a gentleman- in- waiting, and a fat old housekeeper hovering round the door to listen, I suppose, if we should chance to express a wish. Before this sumptuous repast was well digested, about four hours later, the doors opened, and in was pushed a supper of the same proportion, in itself enough to have fed me for a week.

I did not know whether to laugh or to cry The House of Sutherland was one of the most powerful, richest, and most disliked great governing families of Great Britain. The rents from their estates, their profits from the Bridgewater Trust, their shareholdings in canal and railway companies, and their government and private stock gave them a gross income of , pounds per year.

Lord and Lady Stafford spent most of their time in England, but they involved themselves directly in the administration of the Sutherland Estate. No other landlord spent as much capital in the Highlands as the Stafford's. However, on the rare occasions that they visited Sutherland, they only stayed at Dunrobin Castle, at which all Highland tenants were forbidden. They only met and communicated with administrators, leaving them ignorant of their tenants' needs which they proclaimed to dearly care about.

In fact, they only used modernized, rebuilt, improved, and refurnished Dunrobin Castle for entertaining their friends and family. They wanted to establish a fashion for the glories of the Highland summer, including grouse shooting, salmon and trout fishing, and deer stalking. They, like the rest of aristocratic Britain, were entranced by the Highland tartan frenzy of the nineteenth century even as they suppressed the Highland people.

He was the first monarch to step foot in Scotland since Charles II in Sir Walter Scott was in charge of the festivities and he put together an extraordinary show of Celtic and Highland pageantry. His Majesty was decked in kilt, plaid, bonnet, and tartan coat for the occasion and Sir Ewan MacGregor toasted him as "the Chief of Chiefs.

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Management on the estate was not from the Highlands and, thus, was heavily prejudiced against the Highlanders. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the English increasingly attributed their wealth and success to their Saxon ancestry. They were also described as "acute, industrious, sensible, erect, and free.

This created a fear and loathing of the Celt which exacerbated the plight of the Highlanders in the nineteenth century. The British elite, landed classes, and gentry had absorbed non-Gaelic values in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and "improvement" of the Highlanders was used as a justification for transforming their estates to make a larger profit. The Sutherland Estate's management proclaimed that they wanted to "improve" the lives of the tenants, but their strong prejudices revealed that this was not really the case.

Hatred for the Celt was strong on the Sutherland Estate despite their seemingly humane improvement policy. None of management was from the Highlands and none wanted to preserve its culture and language. The Lowland administrative team, William Young, Patrick Sellar, and Commissioner James Loch, who carried out the improvements, had very negative relations with the tenants and when policy failed they always blamed the Highlanders. Loch declared that "in no other country in Europe, at any period in its history, did there ever exist more formidable obstacles to the improvement of a people arising from the feelings and prejudices of the people themselves.

They are extremely frugal of the little they have; but as to earning anything more, it is a melancholy fact, that a poor tenant, will rather saunter or sit idle at home, than work. Lady Stafford described her estate as "a wild corner, inhabited by an infinite multitude roaming at league in the old way, despising all barriers, and all regulations, and firmly believing in witchcraft.

All of management had clearly been infected by a sort of anti-Celtic "racism," and this influenced their treatment of the tenants and their harsh policy. As a result of this, the evictions were too rapidly implemented. Administrator William Young described them,.

Our present hurry is beyond what any person who is not on the Spot can form any idea of, and I shall for the next 14 days be all together in Strathnaver and Brora where we have at least [families] to arrange in different allotments, to double their present rents, and put them in a more industrious way of life. The Highlanders responded by initiating a war against the prejudiced treatment and the estate faced well coordinated and sophisticated opposition from its tenants. Beginning with the Kildonan riots of and ending with the trial of Patrick Sellar in the spring of , a variety of tactics were used to resist the management.

The way management handled these uprisings further confirms their inhumane motives. The Kildonan riots during the winter of constituted the Highlanders' first tactical response to the prejudiced execution of the improvement policy on the Sutherland Estate. During these riots, the Highlanders began the process of uniting and acting cohesively. They severely harassed Patrick Sellar as he performed his duty of informing tenants about their removals by serving notices of eviction while collecting rents.

In mid-January of , two new sheep famers, along with their shepherds, were chased off the land. On February 2 nd , management, including Sellar, tried to persuade the tenants to sign a bond of peace. Some complied, but many did not. On February 10 th , one hundred and fifty men armed with staves and clubs confronted Sellar when he tried to collect the bond from the remaining tenants. Families that had members currently serving in the military believed that the letters protected their land until their relatives came home.

On my endeavoring to point out the Folly of a handful of men pretending to fight against the Laws and Strength of the British Constitution and against Common Sense, they said they were Loyal men whose Brothers and Sons were now fighting Bonaparte and they would allow no Sheep to Come into the Country.

However, these particular letters had expired in , which was pointed out by Sellar.

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He wrote that "their answer was it may be so, but we will hold the land until [our] men are delivered to us again. Whether these foolish men can be brought to order, there is, with Great deference, room for but one opinion; and, it may be proven, to the Satisfaction of every liberal and unprejudiced mind, that the removal of these men from Kildonan to Strathy, and the Growth of wool and mutton on the mountain of Kildonan, are measures calculated to add to the Comfort of the people and the Strength of the Country.

He believed that the residents of Kildonan were irrationally refusing their own improvement. The military was brought in to quell and make the tenants perfectly submissive. This was exactly what management wanted, but the calm was only temporary. Sellar became the target for the Sutherland tenants and, in March , he wrote to Lady Stafford that he had no fear of death but he was liable to assassination.

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Patrick Sellar was an entrepreneur with strict goals and beliefs. He was an Edinburgh trained lawyer, who had been reared in the ideals of the Scottish Enlightenment. His father, Thomas Sellar, was the factor for the Russell of Westfield estate, and had resettled the tenants there efficiently and quickly.

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Following in his father's footsteps, Patrick was determined to reform the rest of Scottish Highlands in the same way. He was heavily influenced by Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus, and he truly believed in his role on the Sutherland Estate. However, he had no respect for or understanding of the Highland people and their culture. Sellar believed that the Gaelic language hindered improvement in the Highlands and he believed it was best to "suppress the reading of Gaelic and induce the study of English as much as possible.

The tenants responded to Sellar's disdain by campaigning against him in the pages of the Military Register , a small weekly newspaper published in London that reported news and opinion to the serving and demobilized soldiers.

It was naturally sympathetic to the families in Kildonan connected with the 93 rd Regiment. In its pages a sophisticated campaign against Sellar, the Sutherland Estate management, and the Stafford family was carried out on a weekly basis from to The articles and letters were read throughout the country and generated considerable sympathy for the Sutherland tenants' plight.

Most of the articles on this issue came from a "Highlander of Sutherland," who wrote "in the name of the gallant men of Sutherland He was likely a literate expatriate who had gained experience in the army and the empire. Using an eloquent and persuasive writing style and knowledge of the Highland regiments and their recent contribution on the battlefield, he pled the side of the tenants against Sellar, the Stafford Family, and the Sutherland Clearances specifically, as well as the Highland Clearances more generally.

In the articles in the Military Register two main arguments were used to support the Highlanders of Sutherland as well as all the Highlanders facing the Clearances. The first argument centered on the national consequences of replacing the Highlanders with sheep and the second on the moral problem of displacing an ancient and loyal race. The biggest consequence of losing the Highlanders to either starvation or emigration was their natural stock of peculiarly brave and effective soldiers.

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This Sir, is not the moment to lose such a race; a race who supply one of the choicest arms of our military force; a race containing a population of souls, and a people who are exemplary for their steadiness, sobriety, and intelligence, that it is a fact well known that in several corps, not Highland, all their staff sergeants are from Sutherland shore. Famous battles such as Waterloo were brought up in almost every article published on the Sutherland Estate, including war poems such as The Warriors Return from Waterloo, and An Account of the Battle of Waterloo.

Even now the devastation is begun, And half the business of destruction done; Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand, I see the rural virtues leave the land: Down where yon anchoring vessel spreads the sail That idly waiting flaps with every gale, Downward they move, a melancholy band, Pass from the shore, and darken all the strand. Contented toil, and hospitable care, And kind connubial tenderness, are there; And piety with wishes placed above, And steady loyalty, and faithful love.

This poem created a sympathetic image of the Highlanders that every reader could easily recognize. On May 23, the Military Register published a list of accusations against Sellar, including the burning of buildings leading to fatalities. Sellar was quoted as having said "dead or alive you must remove. The "Highlander of Sutherland" made the case for some form of parliamentary intervention, at the very least, a parliamentary inquiry.

After a long campaign, the Military Register, in alliance with the tenants of Sutherland, was able to successfully bring the issue of the Highland Clearances to national attention and Sellar into widespread opprobrium. The tenants submitted a petition to Lady Stafford in early complaining of various acts of injury, cruelty, and oppression. She had already been aware of the complaints against Sellar and she wrote confidentially to her husband that Sellar was capable of such actions.

The more I see and hear Sellar the more I am convinced he is not fit to be trusted further than he is present He is exceedingly greedy and harsh with the people, there are heavy complaints against him from Strathnaver in taking possession of his farm, not allowing the indulgence others have always done the first half of the year etc, etc.

This is to be examined and I believe it will be necessary to bring him before Cranstoun. He is full of law Quirks and with a good-natured appearance is too much the reverse in conduct, besides having no judgment or discrimination. Sherriff Cranstoun was in London on business and the Sherriff substitute was Robert Mackid, a man whom Sellar hated utterly.

It is important to note the personal grudge between Mackid and Sellar because it greatly affected Sellar's trial in Sellar and Mackid were both Edinburgh-trained lawyers who wanted to be sheep factors for the Sutherland Estate. Sellar utilized every opportunity to express his distaste for Mackid and his unsatisfactory work. This dispute began right after the riots of Kildonan and continued to grow.

After the petition, Sellar was constantly worried about his future. He wrote a revealing self analysis that noted, "I fear I have been bred to too much precision, and possess too much keenness of temper to be so useful in my office as I ought and sincerely wish to be. A man less anxious might better suit the situation and the nature of the people. In it he acknowledged his faults and his distance from the Highland people and recommended someone who could understand the tenants better.

This was exactly the core reason for the failure of the Sutherland Estate improvement policy, and ironically, Sellar privately admitted to it. In the spring of , Mackid arrested Patrick Sellar.

Inspired by the petition, he went around Sutherland and "examined about forty evidences upon the allegations stated. Sellar stands accused, are,-. Willful fire-raising; by having set on fire, and reduced to ashes a poor man's whole premises, including dwelling-house, barn, kiln, and sheep cot, attended with the most aggravated circumstances of cruelty, if not murder!!! Throwing down and demolishing a mill, also a capital crime.

Setting fire to and burning the tenants' heath pasture, before legal term of removal. Sign in for checkout Check out as guest. Add to Watch list Watching. Watch list is full. Get Started Conditions for uk nectar points - opens in a new window or tab. No additional import charges on delivery. This item will be sent through the Global Shipping Programme and includes international tracking.

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