This is another one for my notebook and compost heap. This a timeline of some of the Highland Clearances events that I was taking note of for a historical fiction novel I started, but have decided not to proceed with. I love historical fiction, and the ones that I respect and admire typically are written by an author who has spent many many years researching the history. Traveling this path for awhile (I’ve poured many many hours into this project) I’ve learned something about myself, I’m not really an aspiring historical fiction writer. The thing that speaks the to me are moral and ethical issues. This is one reason I am so drawn to historical fiction, but developing my skills as a historical fiction writer is not the direction I want to go.

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to make public all my notes and story outline that I’ve created so far about this story I wanted to write. You can find them all under the category “James MacAvoy.” I hope that someone will write an inspiring historical fiction novel about the Highland Clearance. There’s some out there, I haven’t read any of them yet.

Highland Clearance in Sutherland

Between the years 1811 and 1820 fifteen thousand inhabitants of the northern district of Sutherland were ejected from their farms.

Highland Clearances basically the 1800s (1750-1880)

  • 1807

    Ejection of ninety families from Farr and Lairg. They were permitted to remove their cattle and plenishing, leaving their crops unprotected. They had to pull down their old houses, remove the timber, and build new ones, during which period they had to sleep in the open.

    In the autumn they returned and carried away what remained of their crops.

  • 1809

    Several Hundred evicted from Dornoch, Rogart, Loth, Clyne, and Golspie.

    Several were driven to leave the country altogether, and to those who could not leave the country, patches of moor and bog were offered on Dornoch Moor and Brora Links (quite unfit for cultivation)

  • 1810

    Process continued

  • 1811

    The land from which the people were ejected was divided into large farms, and advertised as huge sheep runs. The country was overrun with strangers who came to look at these extensive tracts.

    Some of these gentlemen claimed they were afraid for their lives among the evicted tenantry. The military sent for from Fort George to Dunrobin Castle with artillery and cartloads of ammunition. Some of the people were sent for and some of the Highlanders were made prisoners, but were soon set free.

  • 1812

    Large districts cleared in the most peaceable manner (foolishly believing the false teaching of their selfish and dishonest spiritual guides)

  • 1814

    March: Farr and Kildonan were summoned to quit their farms in the following May. A few days later the heath where they pastured their cattle was burned. This left the cattle without food.

  • 1815

    The work of ejectment started up again in May.

    Former removals were allowed to carry away the timber of their old dwellings to erect houses on their new allotments, but now they just set them on fire.

  • 1816

    Sellars was charged with culpable homicide and fire-raising but was acquitted of these charges.

    Mr. Loch came into power

    In Golspie, Rogart, Farr, and Kildonan, 300 houses set on fire. This lasted for six days. All the inhabitants of Kildonan, nearly 2,000 souls, were burnt out. Kildonan converted into a solitary wilderness.

    100 people took passage to Caithness.

    Strathnaver was cleared by fire. nearly 2,000 inhabitants as well.

  • 1818

    Alexander MacKenzie left Achness in November to move reside under his father’s roof in (Kildonan?)

  • 1819

    April from Farr to the mouth of Naver

    Strathnaver Clearance

  • 1819-1820

    about the time when the depopulation of Sutherland was completed and the annual conflagration of burning the houses ceased

  • 1840-1848

    Strathconon of Ross was almost entirely cleared to make room for sheep and deer and for extensive forest plantations. (Stories of the Highland Clearances, pg. 62). About 400-500 people evicted.

  • 1845

    Despair in Glencalvie, Ross-shire (chapter 5 in Stories of the Highland Clearances)

  • 1846-1856

    Highland Potato Famine

  • 1853

    Glengarry, Inverness. Young Glengarry was a minor, his mother, the widow of the late chief, being on of his trustees. Mrs. Macdonell and her factor determined to evict every crofter on her property to make room for sheep. In the Spring of 1853 they were all served summonses of removal.

  • 1854

    March 31st major police brutality and havoc made on the women (p. 54-5 Stoires of the Highland Clearances)

  • 1880

    Leckmelm, Lochbroom, Ross, Scotland.

    Mr. A C Pirie bought Leckmelm from Colonel Davidson. 2 November 1879 gave the tenants notice that they were to be evicted by November 28, 1880. Early December 1880 Rev. John MacMillian delivered an address in Inverness to lay the case of his evicted parishioners before the public.

  • 1882

    News reached Inverness that Murdo Munro, a tenant on the Leckmelm property, had been turned out, with his wife and young family, in the snow. He was “too independent” for the local managers, and to some extent led the people in their opposition to Mr. Pirie’s proceedings.