Scottish Emigration before 1815

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Scottish Emigration before 1815

Postby Canadian Livingstone » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:06 pm

Hi All,

John Livingston posted an article almost a month ago entitled "Scottish Emigration to the Maritimes 1815-1870, in the discussion section of our forum in which the author Canadian historian, J.M. Bumstead makes a good point regarding differing nature of Scottish emigration in the highlands before and in the years following 1815: Prior to 1815 he notes that the majority of Scottish emigrants were not compelled to leave Scotland because of being cleared off their land by their landlord or the threat of being evicted as was more common in the later decades of the 19th century. Most of them likely were not desperately poor or on the verge of starvation and at least able to pay their passage on a ship to take them to America or the colonies and left voluntarily. Often as in the case of my own Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Miles Livingston a boatbuilder and barrel maker, who left Argyllshire in 1812 for opportunities in British North America, they left Scotland with some sort of trade which no doubt served them well in the years to come in their new home. Miles and an apparent Livingston cousin Donald Livingston 1791-1876 also a boatbuilder, were recruited by one of Lord Selkirk's Highland agents for a new colony Selkirk was establishing in British North America located in what was then Hudson's Bay Company Territory. Contrast that with the family of Donald Livingston of Ross of Mull, a brother of Angus Livingston, who was frequent, forum contributor, John Livingston's ancestor, who having faced the failure of the potato crop and the subsequent highland famine of the 1840's in Argyllshire and the threat of clearances looming over their heads, on the Ross of Mull, from their landlord, left in the late 1840's or early 1850's for Canada. But prior to 1815 the situation and the prevailing attitude of both landlords and the government was decidedly against emigration of Highland tenants as noted by the author of the article:

"While there can be little doubt that the early highland emigrants had a difficult time both in Scotland and British North America, it is worthwhile to distinguish the period between 1815 from the years which followed. After 1815 British attitudes to emigration did change and in Scotland the clearances were in full swing. Many were driven out. .... Before 1815 the landlords were not clearing the people from the Highlands to America. They were changing traditional practices but were desperately attempting to prevent those affected from emigration. In this effort the lairds had the full support of the British Government. As a result the Scottish exodus of the early period was as much a voluntary removal from below as a forced clearance from above. To some extent the Highlanders were masters of their own destiny."
I find it interesting how quickly the attitude of both landlords and the Government was to dramatically change in the decades to follow and would end in dramatic depopulation of many areas in the highlands such as my Livingston family's Morvern Parish, due to the clearances brought on focus of landlords on to more profitable use of their land for sheep grazing. ... 1173/11909


Canadian Livingstone
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