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

Donald Macleod, Douglas MacGowan
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001 - 125 páginas

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, waves of tenant evictions swept through northern Scotland in what would become known as the Highland Clearances. Wealthy landlords, discovering hardy breeds of sheep that would flourish in the severe Highland climate, replaced populated farms and villages with higher-revenue sheep farms. The former tenants faced the choice of migrating to other parts of Scotland or emigrating to other countries. Stonemason Donald Macleod's collected writings provide one of the few existing chronicles of the Clearances from the perspective of one of the evicted tenants.

The majority of contemporary reports of the Highland Clearances were composed by journalists or the parties who put the evictions into effect. Landowners did not maintain accurate numbers of evictions and the negative consequences that resulted. Villages were destroyed to discourage tenants from returning, often before they could remove themselves or their possessions, resulting in severe hardship and even death. Originally a series of newspaper articles grouped by topic and published over a period of many months, Macleod's writings have remained largely unread. MacGowan edits and annotates the letters to present a chronological and powerful account of the tragedy.

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Página 97 - So I returned and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
Página 79 - Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.
Página 18 - The consternation and confusion were extreme ; little or no time was given for removal of persons or property — the people striving to remove the sick and the helpless before the fire should reach them — next, struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of the women and children — the roaring of the affrighted cattle, hunted at the same time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire — altogether presented a scene that completely baffles description...
Página 34 - During the short period that the regiment was quartered at Plymouth, upwards of £$oo were lodged in one bankinghouse, to be remitted to Sutherland, exclusive of many sums sent home through the Post-office, and by officers. Some of these sums exceeded £ 20 from an individual soldier.
Página 20 - Their wretchedness was so great, that after pawning everything to the fishermen on the coast, such as had no cattle were reduced to come down from the hills in hundreds for the purpose of gathering cockles on the shore. Those who lived in the more remote situations of the country were obliged to subsist upon broth made of nettles, thickened with a little oatmeal. Those who had cattle had recourse to the still more wretched expedient of bleeding them and mixing the blood with oatmeal, which they afterwards...
Página 86 - She was placed in a little shed, and it was with great difficulty they were prevented from firing that also. The old woman's daughter arrived while the house was on fire, and assisted the neighbours in removing her mother out of the flames and smoke, presenting a picture of horror which I shall never forget, but cannot attempt to describe. She died within five days.
Página 9 - ... the by-standers. Donald Munro, Garvott, lying in a fever, was turned out of his house and exposed to the elements. Donald Macbeath, an infirm and bedridden old man, had the house unroofed over him, and was in that, state exposed to the wind and rain until death put a period to his sufferings.
Página 8 - Sellar was present, and apparently, (as was sworn by several witnesses at his subsequent trial,) ordering and directing the whole. Many deaths ensued from alarm, from fatigue, and cold; the people being instantly deprived of shelter, and left to the mercy of the elements. Some old men took to the woods and precipices, wandering...
Página 92 - I will never forget the foam of perspiration which emitted and covered the pallid death-looking countenance. This was a scene, madam, worthy of an artist's pencil, and of a conspicuous place on the stages of tragedy. Yet you call this a specimen of the ridiculous stories which found their way into respectable prints, because Mr. Loch, the chief actor, told you that Sellar, the head executive, brought an action against the sheriff and obtained a verdict for heavy damages. What a subterfuge ; but it...

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DOUGLAS MACGOWAN is the author of numerous articles and one book on Scottish history, Murder in Victorian Scotland. He is a regular contributor to the magazine Celtic Heritage and has also written for The Highlander, Dalriada Journal, Garm Lu, U.S. Scots, and the Scottish Journal. A native of Chicago, he and his wife live in Redwood City, California.

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