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Social History of the Highlands


The Highlands have undergone considerable change during the last century and a half, and the alteration, in a social point of view, has been on the whole for the better. The Highlands are now generally as accessible as the lowlands; the manners, speech, and occupations of the inhabitants are becoming more and more assimilated to those of their lowland neighbours, and to all appearances, in a very short time, there will remain little or nothing to distinguish the Scottish Celt from the Saxon. Although this change has by no means been altogether to the advantage of the Highlander, although many of the vices as well as the virtues of civilization have been forced upon him, still, for the sake of the community at large, the change cannot be regretted, and it is only to be desired that the lowlanders in turn may be brought to admire and imitate the noble virtues of their northern neighbours, their courage, fidelity, reverence, self-respect, and love of independence.


The Living Conditions in the Highlands Prior to 1745 - Part 1
Social condition of the Highlands, Black Mail, Watch Money, The Law, Power of the Chiefs, Land Distribution, Tacksmen, Tenants, Rents, Thirlage, Wretched State of Agriculture, Agricultural Implements, The Caschroim, The Reestle, Methods of Transportation, Drawbacks to Cultivation, Management of Crops, Farm Work, Live Stock, Garrons, Sheep, Black Cattle, Arable Land, Pasturage, Farm Servants, The Bailte Geamhre, Davoch-lands, Milk, Cattle Drovers, Harvest Work, The Quern.

The Living Conditions in the Highlands Prior to 1745- Part 2
Fuel, Food, Social Life in Former Days, Education, Dwellings, Habits, Gartmore Papers, Wages, Roads, Present State of the Highlands.

Living Conditions in the Highlands after 1745 - Part 1
Progress of Innovation, First mention of Emigration, Pennant’s account of the country, Dr Johnson,  Emigration fairly commenced in 1760.

Living Conditions in the Highlands after 1745 - Part 2
The Tacksmen the first to suffer and emigrate, Consequences to those who remained, Wretched condition of the Western Islands, Introduction of large sheep-farms, Ejection of small tenants, "Mailers", Hebrides, Real Highland grievance, Title-deeds, The two sides of the Highland Question, Truth on both sides, Excessive population, Argument of those who condemn depopulation, The sentimental and military arguments, Testimony as to wretched condition of Highlanders, Highlands admirably suited for sheep, Effect of sheep-farming on Highland scenery, Highlands unsuited to black cattle, Large and small farms, Interference, Fishing and farming cannot be successfully united, Raising rents, Depopulation, How far the landlords were to blame, Kelp, Advantages and disadvantages of its manufacture, Potatoes, Introduction into the Highlands, Their importance, Failures of Crop, Disease, Amount of progress made during latter part of 18th century.

McIan's Highlanders At Home
By R. R. M'Ian, Esq 1848, Illustrations by James Logan, Esq.