When I (and I'm
sure many of you, including those of Highland ancestry) think of the
evacuation of the Highlands we tend to think of it as a continuous trip
out of the Highlands, onto a ship, and off to a new country.
Not true, and if
you think about it, definitely not possible for most of the average
Highlanders who were on the run or had been evicted from their homes.
They left with most likely few personal belongings and little money to pay
for ship passage.
I received a
letter from a lowlander who "spent the first 14 years of " his life
there. He now resides in Michigan. In his letter he notes that "when the
Highlanders were displaced in the Highland Clearances, most ended up in
the Lowlands. Many of those who eventually emigrated to other countries
first had to earn money for their passage, in the factories and coal mines
"(collieries)" of the Lowlands. These "coal mines," were "mostly found
in Lanarkshire" where "Canadian ore was used to make steel". The
manufacture of steel created the "need for scientists and engineers".
Besides the use
of coal as a fuel or as an ingredient to produce iron and steel there was
also a process which obtained gas from the coal before the discovery and
use of natural gas. From the freedom of the glens to the depths of a coal
mine must have been a very hard transition for these Highlanders. James
Keir Hardie, one of the originator's of the Scottish Labour Party and the
Independent Labour Party, worked in a Lanarkshire coal mine from a very
young age (pre-teen) through his teenage years.
an old county area in the southwest of Scotland, just below and to the
east of Glasgow, bordered on the east by the Scottish borders and to the
west by Ayrshire. North Lanarkshire extended along the eastern edge of
Glasgow and was bordered on the east by Falkirk and on the north by
Stirlingshire. The area in the north was quite industrialized and known
for its coal pits, iron works, and ship building. The southern area was
very rural. The River Clyde was within the area and there is now a walkway
that follows the Clyde for approximately 40 miles through Lanarkshire.
was the site of the Battle of Bothwell Bridge where in 1679 Covenanters
were beaten by Graham of Claverhouse, the Duke of Monmouth and the Earl of
Linlithgow. On the Clyde is Bothwell Castle, once owned by the Douglas's,
which was built in the 1300s. The castle was won and lost several times
by both the English and the Scots. It was also in this area that William
Wallace killed William Heselrig, an English sheriff (a sheriff in Scotland
is the equivalent of our Supreme Court judge) of Clydesdale in 1297, an
act which precipitated the Scots fight for independence, and where Mary,
Queen of Scots', army was defeated at Langside in 1658. It was the fight
for independence which caused the construction of Bothwell Castle to come
to a standstill.
A few of the more
familiar city and town names within Lanarkshire were Hamilton (which was
the local coal mining center), Biggar (which now exhibits just how gas was
derived from coal), and Lanark (where the Clyde Falls were harnessed in
the 18th century to run a cotton mill after the American Revolutionary War
interrupted Scottish access to tobacco).
I imagine at the
rate a coal miner or a factory worker was paid at the time that it would
have taken years before the Highlander could save the money to pay for
passage out of Scotland. Not exactly the fast getaway I previously