One summer day, I was at the camping in Slave Lake Alberta a bit bored. I stopped at the library to see if they I had any interesting books. I found one for a quarter called The Highland Clearances by John Prebble.
It took me awhile to get into this fascinating story but I got more interested as the action progressed. I was shocked by how the Highlanders from Scotland, who had occupied the land for centuries were expulsed from their ancesteral properties to make way to sheep, a more profitable business. Thousands of people , young, old, pregnant and handicapped were thrown out of their land often in the middle of winter without much warning. They often had nowhere to go but go to a world of poverty and famine was waiting. Some were given rocky land by the sea others were forced into emigrant ships screaming for their lovely land that they were leaving behind.
Countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States would receive them if they would not die on their way there. This forced exodus lasted from around 1790 to the middle of the next century.
As I was reading I wanted to let people know of this cruel injustice unknown to many. But I became also interested on the importance of the book as a genealogical resource.
I made a list of the people, mainly commoners from the book, and wrote some notes and quotes, hoping that somebody would recognize one of their Highland ancestors.
Aird, Rev. Gustavus in Glencalvie
(His church was at Croick, a mile up Strath Cuilleanach from the urlar of Glencalvie. He was 28 years old in 1842)
(Ground Agent of Novar)
Anderson , James
(Low Country man principal leaseholder of Keneabin and other farms in the area. According to Donald Macleod he was a fish-curer. In 1841 he decided to turn his attention to sheep for the more profitable exploitation of his leases.)
Atkinson and Marshall
(They were from Northumbria, they wanted to extend the great sheep-walk they had held in that part of the country since 1812- the mountain pastures of Ben Klibreck between Loch Naver and Loch Choire.)
(Member for Inverness and a cousin of James Baillie the sheep-farmer)
Baillie, James, (sheep farmer) of Glenelg.
(cousin of the above)
Bain, William Ross in (Wester Greenyard)
(He was arrested and brought to Dingwall in 1792, The Year of the Sheep)
(Lowlander bought the estate of Knoydart for raising sheep; he lived on the banks of the Doon.)
(Journalist of spring Vale near Stone in Staffordshire. He wrote the book: Remarks on a Publication by James Loch...)
Beatson, Reverend of South Uist
(Protestant minister of the little isle of Mingulay, organized evictions)
(Tenant of Mallaglate. He was arrested and taken by the police in 1849.)
Brougham, Henry (He was a Lord. He introduced the fashion of Tartan Trousers to London)
Brown, Sheriff-Substitute of Western Inverness (He wrote in 1800 to a Major Simon Frase at Fort William "has made a trde of the business since 1790.)
(Journalist, special correspondent for the Scotsman's in 1847)