The Grampian Highlands lie in north-east Scotland and stretch from Aberdeenshire, through Kincardineshire, the Braes of Angus, to eastern Perthshire. In the seventeenth century the majority of the population were Gaelic speaking. The region sported only a handful of small burghs, such as Kincardine O’Neill or Fettercairn, with most people dispersed throughout the region, mainly in fermtouns or isolated crofts, and employed in agriculture, notably cattle rearing.
The Grampian Highlands were mostly controlled by landowners such as the Earl of Aboyne or the Earl of Airlie, or heads of families or clans such as Forbes, Gordon, Farquharson, Burnett, Irvine, Douglas, Lindsay, Carnegie, Ogilvie, Spalding, Stewart, and Robertson. These families were generally Royalist and supporters of the House of Stuart, notably in the Jacobite Wars of 1689, 1715, and 1745.
Most seventeenth-century Highlanders, however, were Protestants (Presbyterian and Episcopalian), with a few Roman Catholics in remote glens, such as around Braemar. Emigration from the Grampian Highlands did not occur until the early eighteenth century, apart from prisoners of war banished to the Plantations.