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Highland clearances


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The deliberate removal of Scottish “crofter” peasants by landlords during the 19th century. In the later 18th century, Scottish society in the Highlands suffered severely with the collapse of the system of chiefs and fighting clans. Subsistence farming could not sustain an increasing population and this was aggravated by the policy of many major landowners of clearing their land for sheep farming by expulsion of crofters and the burning of their cottages. The potato famine during the Hungry Forties aggravated the problem and in the 1880s, after the arrival of the railway, sheep were replaced by deer. In 1882 there were outbreaks of violence, the “Crofters War”, which was investigated by a Royal Commission. In 1885 the crofters voted for the first time in a general election, and an Act of Parliament in 1886 gave them some security of tenure. Yet depopulation steadily continued. Many Scottish Highlanders emigrated throughout the British empire.

Subjects: History.


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