Scottish Highlanders on the Eve of the Great Migration, 1725-1775: The People of Argyll, Volume 2


Author: Dobson, David
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 111 pp.
ISBN: 9780806355856


This series is designed to identify the origins of Scottish Highlanders who traveled to America prior to the Great Highland Migration that began in the 1730s and intensified thereafter. This is the second volume devoted to emigrants from Argyll.

The events leading to the Highland exodus are worthy of mention. Much of this emigration was directly related to a breakdown in social and economic institutions. Under the pressures of the commercial and industrial revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, Highland chieftains abandoned their patriarchal role in favor of becoming capitalist landlords. By raising farm rents to the breaking point, the chiefs left the social fabric of the Scottish Highlands in tatters. Accordingly, voluntary emigration by Gaelic-speaking Highlanders began in the 1730s. The social breakdown was intensified by the failure of the Jacobite cause in 1745, followed by the British military occupation and repression that occurred in the Highlands in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. In 1746 the British government dispatched about 1,000 Highland Jacobite prisoners of war to the colonies as indentured servants. Later, during the Seven Years War of 1756-63, Highland regiments recruited in the service of the British crown chose to settle in Canada and America rather than return to Scotland.

Another factor that distinguishes research in Highland genealogy is the availability of pertinent records. Scottish genealogical research is generally based on the parish registers of the Church of Scotland, which provide information on baptism and marriage. In the Scottish Lowlands, such records can date back to the mid-16th century, but in general Highland records start much later. In the absence of Church of Scotland records, for example, the researcher must turn to a miscellany of other records, such as court records, estate papers, sasines, gravestone inscriptions, burgess rolls, port books, services of heirs, wills and testaments, and especially rent rolls.

This is the second source book in the Scottish Highlanders series dealing primarily with the county of Argyll, and to a lesser extent the adjacent smaller counties of Dumbarton and Bute, locations from which many of the pioneer emigrants who settled in colonial North Carolina, upper New York, Jamaica, and the Canadian Maritimes originated. Many of the entries are based on documentary sources located in the National Records of Scotland and are fully referenced. This volume also attempts to cover all localities within Argyll with the exception of the Isle of Jura, which has been thoroughly dealt with by Scott Buie in his book The People of the Parish of Jura, Scotland, 1506-1811. In all cases Dr. Dobson gives each Highlander’s name, a place within Argyll (birth, residence, employment, etc.), a date, and the source. In some cases we also learn the identities of relatives, the individual’s employment, vessel traveled on, and so forth.

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