Thursday, 24 July 2014

Culloden. The Aftermath.

The British Government's fear that war with France was always a possibility, it was imperative that the Highlands were 'dealt with' once and for all. Their brutal military occupation of the Highlands was designed to snuff out the last vestiges of Jacobitism, which was always a threat to the Government. They went further by destroying the Catholic chapels and Episcopalian churches in the West Highlands where these religions were strongest among the Jacobites. The British government wanted to crush the very culture and way of life of the Gealic speaking peoples, and brought forward legislation that was crippling. In 1746 the Disarming Act was passed, prohibiting the carrying of weapons (understandible, you might think), and prohibiting the wearing of the kilt and tartan, which was to remove centuries old symbols of Highland culture. The bagpipes were likewise banned as 'instruments of war'. A year later in 1747, the Heritable Jurisdiction Act removed any legal powers the chiefs had over their clansmen, and Jacobite estates were forfeited to the Crown. Even clans who had supported the government, were now affected by these acts (eg. wearing of tartan and playing the bagpipes). Great changes were wrought in the Highlands after Culloden, but long before this, the Highlands had undergone radical changes , especially within the clan system. Clan ties were loosening, as the Highlanders looked beyond the glens, to seek a living further afield. In the years after Culloden, many of the Jacobites joined the newly formed Highland Regiments. The British government thought that persuading their erstwhile enemy to take the 'King's shilling' was an ideal way of integrating them with the rest of the kingdom. Into the bargain, these regiments were permitted once more to wear tartan and the kilt. Some Highlanders took advantage of the opportunities now afforded by the large and expanding British Empire, and this only increased further Highland emigration. Now that the Highlanders were fully 'integrated' with the rest of the United Kingdom, it was felt that some of the repressive orders and laws could be lifted. The Disarming Act of 1746 was repealed in 1782, and in 1784 many of the Jacobite estates were returned to their rightful owners, but these days the clan chiefs felt more at home in their London clubs. Modern methods of farming and estate management were now all the fashion, and the Highland Chiefs would discuss these matters with their richer counterparts in England, whose estates were large and productive. They encouraged animal husbandry, fishing, kelp processing on their estates, but the rents kept spirraling and in the end surviving chiefs broke their traditional ties with their clansmen in order to make their estates pay. What followed over the next one hundred years, saw cruelty and destitution visited on the ordinary Highlander on a par with anything meted out by the Redcoats. Clan chiefs were now clearing their lands of their own kinsfolk, and bringing in thousands of the large Cheviot breed of sheep. Many thousands of Highlanders were forced onto barren rocky ground, while others were forced to emigrate . With the infamous Highland Clearances, life in the Highlands would never be the same again.

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