The Highland Clearances
The aftermath of the Battle of Culloden was the wholesale destruction of the way of life in the Scottish Highlands. Highlanders were no longer allowed to wear their clan’s tartan, meet in public, or bear arms. The 1747 Act of Proscription even forbade teaching Gaelic and playing the bagpipes (a small mercy, some would argue). Though the act was repealed in 1782, when the English government felt safe from Jacobite sentiments, by that time an even graver threat to the old Highland way of life had emerged: the Highland Clearances, the violent eviction of families from their homes.
The primary cause of the clearances was the Agricultural Revolution, which had happened long before in other areas of Britain. Under this, the former system of individuals farming their livestock on common strips of land maintained by the community was replaced with huge areas of privately-owned farmland being enclosed to run enormous agricultural enterprises. Cattle, the traditional livestock of the Highlands, were replaced with the more profitable sheep, and different crops were grown on a huge scale for export. To achieve this, the locals had to be ousted by the landowners: effectively, landlords were valuing sheep above people.
The tenants in the Highlands, with few rental rights, were understandably furious about being forcibly ejected from areas that their families had farmed for centuries. This often led to violent clashes, as in the notorious clearance of Sutherland between 1811 and 1821. Riots could not dissuade the Countess of Sutherland from replacing her tenants with sheep, and many families were simply burned out of their homes or chased with dogs when they refused to leave. Whilst some Highlanders were forced to emigrate, mostly to America, many who stayed followed suit anyway when famine broke out in their meagre homesteads.