General Category > General Scottish

History of Scottish People

(1/3) > >>

Thomas Thompson:
  Recently we participated in a Celtic event and, frankly Irene, I was shocked at the misinformation put forth by the supposedly 'expert' speakers. I wonder just how many of our members would be interested in discovering  their true history. What I have in mind is a collection of historical accounts of Scottish people. This will have to be a member participation project. I not only welcome your inputs,but require your help. I will start with an overview. Following articles will be placed in the members only section which is being setup.If you are not interested we'll drop the project.

                           A very, very concise History of Scottish People

   In the beginning was the Wall. It runs from Solway to Tyne, An enduring monument from 122 A.D. Built by Emperor Hadrian as a defensive barrier against the raiding tribes. This great 73 mile rampart, 20 feet high and 10 feet wide, with castles and garrisons was a symbol of power and civilization that  shaped the future Scotland. Then 20 years later the dividing line between civilization and barbarism was extended with yet another smaller wall; the Antoine Wall from Forth to Clyde, but Rome had other problems that caused Rome to abandon the effort of conquering Scotland about the end of the 4th century.
     At this time the country was divided between 4 different races. The most powerful was the 'Picts' of Celtic stock said to be of Scythian origin. Centered in the area from Cathness in the north to the Forth in the South. The neighboring Britons of Strathclyde, also a Celtic race with a kindred tongue, controlled the area from the Clyde to the Solway into Cumbria. To the East and South of the Forth into Northumbria were the Teutonic Anglo/Saxons of the Rhine and Baltic origins. Finally, to the west, the area of Argyle, Kintyre and islands were controlled by the Scots - a Celtic race from Northern Ireland with a different language. This race eventually gave their name to Scotland which was then know as Alba. Though by the end of the seventh century all four of the kingdoms of Alba had been converted to Christianity, they were still far from being united.
     A common enemy, the Norsemen, invaded the coastal lands and islands in the 8th century. By the end of the 9th century the Norsemen had conquered Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Caithness and Sutherland.
     In 843, King MacAlpin of the Scots defeated the Picts and established  the monarchy over the whole of Alba which was then called Scotia. The Picts (a race tattooed or painted) who had ruled over most of Scotland for a thousand years quickly faded from history.
     The 1066 Normand Conquest of England brought the foundations of feudalism to the Lowlands and imposed the English religious practices and court customs on Scotland, thereby seriously offending the Celtic North.
    Then, as today, the Muslims were murdering, raping and enslaving the Christians in the Mid-East. The urgent appeals of help to save the holy Lands led to the Crusades (1095-1270). The Scottish Kings gave the Templars possessions from Galloway to Aberdeenshire. King Malcolm IV donated to the Brothers of the Hospital of Jerusalem and a complete homestead in every burgh throughout the Kingdom to the soldiers of the Temple of Solomon.
     Prior to the Crusades, the common man had no surname (last name). They only had a given/personal (first) name. Usually the ruling class (nobility) were identified by place. Robin of Sherwood Forest, Arthur of Camelot. The English surnames were usually derived as a result of one's occupation. Some were patronymic in that the surname refers to the son of a man's personal name. For example: John the 'trapper' became John Trapper and his son, Adam, became John's son or Adam Johnson. Women didn't even have an identity – a wife was known simply as John's woman. It should be noted that the clergy and a very few of the ruling class were the only ones educated to read and write. Eventually the tax collectors and the preachers needed a permanent record by more specific name. Thus the surnames became set or established as spelled in the tax roles or parish records....first in the lowlands and about 300 years later, in the highlands.
     The Scottish Kings ruled from the lowlands and adopted the Scots-English language and culture. Therefore, what evolved were two different peoples, using the same name and nationality, but being fundamentally different both racially and linguistically. The Highlander had retained the native Irish (Gaelic) language, manner of clothing and was by culture, tribal in every aspect and ruled by a Chief not greatly different from today's warlord. The lowlander was not markedly different from the commoner of England in both culture and language. The highlander saw the lowlander Scot as a 'foreigner' and more like the English than Scot. While the lowlander saw the Highlanders even worse - as tribal barbarians tied to a clan system. They were mutually incompatible even in their religion. The Tudor accession brought about the abrupt reversion to Roman Catholicism. Knox and the new Church 'the Kirk' slowly reduced the authority of the Pope in Scotland. The Kirk was austere.  Soon Christmas and Easter were no longer observed. The influence of the parish ministers became paramount in lay as well as Church matters. This challenge was not the factionalism of truculent noblemen, but the more sustained assault of royal authority by a Church over which the crown had lost control. King James VI used the Presbytery courts to gradually extend an unprecedented means of intruding control into the localities. However, local society was itself in the throes of a major transformation. Lowland society was eroding the kin-ties that had traditionally bound local communities together and made the private justice of the feud both meaningful and workable
     The Scottish King Bruce was able to drive the English from the lowlands, leaving Stirling alone in English hands. Belatedly England's King Edward II then lavishly equipped an army and marched north to reenforce Stirling. At Bannock Burn (a deep,wet marsh) early on the 24th of June 1314, Bruce was outnumbered three to one but by noon, the English were in full flight. The unheard of had happened - little Scotland defeated the mighty England. However, peace was not to last. The two neighboring countries continued to wage war.
     The lowlanders were particularly devastated by the 300 years of war between England and Scotland. The common man was prohibited from owning land.  In reality he had NO property he could call his own. Not house nor field,  his livestock subject to plunder by armies, himself conscripted to service by his overlord, exorbitant taxes and tenant fees, guild/union rules limited entry into the trades. Beset on all sides by foes and grinding poverty were the crucible that refined his values. His loyalty was to family, not country, king nor overlord. Centuries of unjust abuse created a sense of contempt for law. He became a man born to unrelenting self reliance and independence. The lowlander's culture that defined them evolved about 200 years before the highlanders developed their defining culture.
     Meanwhile in the north-west, beyond the Highland line, life continued as it had for nearly 500 years. What happened in Edinburgh and the Anglicized Lowlands had little relevance. Here the Chief prevailed. He had the power of life and death, and he demanded absolute loyalty. The clan system was patriarchal rather than feudal. All who bore their chief's name like to believe themselves descended, as he was from the name-father of the clan.”Though poor, I am noble' ran an old saying.
     By the 16th century the armies of both countries had destroyed nearly all of Scotland's agricultural capabilities in all three border 'Marshes'...designated areas lying along the Scottish/English border.  Those entering the growing middle class tradesmen status were able to relocate further north into the larger cities. Those unable to migrate, adopted thievery as the only method for survival. They were known as 'Reivers' or sometimes as the riding clans. I should point out here that the lowlanders were families not clans in the Highland sense, rode horses and dressed appropriately. Clans, kilts, and chiefs are traits of the highlanders; however, the popularity of the highland myth has fueled a false identity now attributed to all Scotsmen.
     King James I of England who was also King James VI of Scotland inherited many problems; a divided country, beset with religious antagonism, growing debt and fractured peoples.  He instituted peace in the border (Reiver) area by use of the sword, rope and exile of the lawless ones, translated and distributed a new bible (1611 King James Bible) increased taxes, and created the Plantation of Ulster.
    The Ulster Plantation was a buffer zone to strengthen royal control of the North of Ireland from the generally hostile native Irish Roman Catholic population. The Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell fled Ireland and left the crown with the “escheated” lands of about six of the nine counties of Ulster. Antrim, Down, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Coleraine (renamed Londonderry) and Donegal. The English Protestants were not easily persuaded to migrate; however, the Lowland Scots were eager the make the move. It was the Lowlanders not Highlanders! He considered the Highlanders to be too wild and unruly. The early settlers were from the shires of Ayre, Dumfries, Renfrew, Dumbarton, Lanark, the Lothians and Berwick with a much small contingent from Aberdeen and Inverness. The Plantation was a real success. Prior to the Protestant migration, Ireland had been a very poor, primitive country. After a century of Protestant ascendancy, Ireland  (particularly Ulster) had become economically prosperous. By the year of 1717, the persecuted Presbyterians began a new migration. This time to the American Colonies. It is estimated that nearly a quarter of a million Scotch-Irish emigrated to America between 1717 and 1775. The early destinations were to Maryland, Delaware, and Massachusetts, but the majority congregated in Pennsylvania. From that base, some went south into Virginia, the Carolinas and across the South into the Appalachian region. Others went West into Ohio, Indiana and the Midwest or south down the Shenandoah valley.
    I'll close with a final migration to America: The Highlanders. The revolution of the 1715s and the 1745 (Jacobite Culloden Battle). The isolation and tribal character of this poverty-stricken society were destroyed in the Jacobite struggle for the throne of England and Scotland. The battle broke the clan system by destroying the old patriarchal links between the Chief and his clan. Legislation turned the surviving chiefs into mere landed proprietors with no responsibility for their clansmen. The account of persecuted Highlanders fleeing to N. Carolina immediately after the 45 is contradicted by a study of contemporary documents. The current studies show that the transformation of agriculture and the imposition of tax / rent was the motivation for the migration into the Carolinas. John Knox stated that 20,000 Highlanders left for America between 1763 and 1773. Thomas Garnett, estimated in 1800 that 30,000 had emigrated to America in the years 1773-1775. There were two major waves. The first, beginning in 1749 was stemmed in 1775 by the Revolutionary War. The second wave followed in the first half of the 19th century. The first wave was led by 'tacksmen' the second was spontaneous (or led by ships agents). the poverty of the migrants was attested to as they were so poor they could not pay their passage – becoming indentured in exchange for the fare. The Cape Fear records show that 691 Highlanders by name received land grants from the crown in the years of 1732 to 1775.                  

An excellent overview. Thank you Tom.

Thank you Tom   :-*


MICHAEL the Canadian:
Thank you Tom I love it. It was great to actually read an account of the beginning to the end to say. It was nice to read and be able to travel along in my mind with the history I know and to be able to connect let say cut and paste with what you wrote. Super thank you again.

Thomas Thompson:
The forum administrator is unable to create a separate history topic. Until I can devise a system for the home page this be the second article.  Several of our members voiced their approval of this project, but wanted to know; 'where did the Picts go?  I found the answer is a booklet by James Thompson.
          Royal Clans of Scotland, 1988 Scotpress, Bruceton Mills, 26525
   This is a brief book report. Please refer to the booklet for further details.
This book traces the origins of the clans whose chiefs claim to be directly descended from the royal houses of Scotland. It includes several instances where even long standing traditions do not match the facts.      The word clan is from Irish 'cland' which means children. The Celtic tradition is that a clan (or tribe) comprises the male descendants from a common forefather. This is nothing more than a pleasant historical fiction. The Irish system was strictly limited to blood descendants, but Scotland was an endless series of small valleys and long coastlines. The coastal areas supported a rising central authority, but the small valleys limited the size of the mountain clans. These chiefs found it essential to recruit manpower, needed for agriculture and war. They got the manpower by offering clan membership. Any person willing to follow a leader and fight for him could become a full-fledged clan member.  Among all the many true clans there are a few able to trace ancestries to royalty.  Some to early Scottish rulers, others from the O'Neill monarchs of Ireland and still more from the Norse Vikings.
    The history begins with the Roman accounts of the 'Picti' or painted men. The Picts-- we don't know what they called themselves may have been descendants of the Bronze Age. Nothing survives from the pre-Pictish period. There is no family that can show they are of Pictish origin. Since the end of the Pictish kingdom happened in historic times around 900 A.D., we know nothing happened to the Picts as a people. Their kings were probably were killed or fled, but the average Picts lives just continued. In a real sense, the Picts as a people are an illusion.
Chapter 3.  The monarchs of the Roman occupied period were the 'Votadini'. Their tribes were Welsh not Scottish. The Votadini occupied the east coast between Hadrian's and The Antonine Walls. (IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT AT THIS TIME THE INHABITANTS OF IRELAND WERE CALLED SCOTS, THE TERM IRISH DEVELOPING MUCH LATER.) The migration of the Votadini unbalanced the Scottish area they abandoned.  A number of independent rulers arose filling that power vacuum : kings of Edinburgh, the Lothians, and the Pennines. All of which passed quickly from history.
Chapter 4. There were no descents from the Pictish rulers of Albu; however, the Dal Riatans did leave records. The kings of Dal Riata were a cadet branch of the Royal House of Ireland. Founded by Fiachu, the Man of the Sea; younger son the the Irish High King Angus. Their capital was Dunseverick; however the little kingdom of Dal Riata was never a major force in Ireland. Later King Big Fergus transferred his capital from Ireland to the west coast of Argyll in about 498. From this base the three brothers and their descendants united the scattered Scottish settlements into an aggressive force against the Picts creating Scots land. To the north, the Kindred of Loarn ruled the modern Ardnamurchan, Lorn, Mull, Coll and Tiree. The least influential, the Kindred of Angus, held only Islay. The southern kingdom of Cowall, Bute, Arran Kintyre, and Jura was the land of the Kindred of Gabran, a grandson of Big Fergus. The Dal Riata army in Ireland was destroyed in 637. Unable to conquer the British kingdom on the Strathclyde He ended his reign in death on the field of Strathcarron in 642. Only the failure of the Picts to act saved Dal Riata from disaster. Kenneth mac Alpin finally and forever united the kingdoms of the Scots and Picts; his reign (843-858).  While Kenneth's family ruled the South of Scotland, the area north of the Dee was held by kindred of Loarn (monarchs of Moray). The Norse rulers of Orkney and Caithness spent decades trying to win Moray-- and ultimately failed. The wars resulted in the exploits of the celebrated King MacBeth (1040-1057).
Chapter 5. More than 20 chiefly families descended from Loarm. Clans Duff, MacIntosh, Abernethy and Wemyss. Several other clannish families trace their descent to Fife through cadet descent from the chiefs of MacIntosh. Clan Chattan members such as Shaw of Rothiemarchus, Farquharson of Invercauld, and MacThomas of Glenshee likewise claim descent from them. Four clan claim descent from King MacBeth: MacQuarrys, MacKinnons, MacMillians, and MacLennans, and possibly MacGregors.
Chapter 6. King Malcolm II of Dal Riata (1005-1034) had three daughters. The eldest married Crinan. Duncan, elder son of Crinan & Bethoc sired Clan Donnnachaidh and MacKays.
Chapter 7. The true pedigree of the Campbells begins with the grandfather of Gillespic, Duncan MacDuine in a charter of King David II in 1368. Somerled son of Gillebride led native forces in expelling the Norse King Godfrey of Man and the Isles. He also was the founder of the MacDougalls, MacDonalds, MacAlisters, Alexanders MacDonells, MacClains, MacRanalds, and others.
Chapter 8. The Viking age began in earnest in 794. About 874, King Harald I subdued the Hebrides, Shetland, and Orkney. Tradition is that descendents of the King of Denmark founded the Clans Gunn, MacLeod and Ross. This appears very doubtful, since the Rosses have a Celtic pedigree in the old genealogies, and the founder of the Gunns was a nobleman in the Orkneys, but not royal ancestry.
Chapter 9. In the 9th century the Scots replace the Picts rule. The seven provences were governed by a King (Earls) who only answered to the ruler of Scotland itself. Fofar & Kincardine, north and east Perth, southern Perth, Fife, Aberdeen and Banff, Iverness and Ross, north and south Cathness and Sutherland. Six of the Earls rose and were defeated by King Malcolm IV in 1160.
Chapter 10.An Irish O'Neill branch migrated to Scotland and founded Clans Lamonts, Sween, MacEwens, and MacNeils.
Chapter 11 (misnamed in the booklet). The Bruces themselves were not of royal blood, being descended from the Norman knight Robert. The Bruce dynasty lasted only 65 years.
Chapter 12. The Stewart monarchs failed to produce clans. Their legendary royal Celtic origin are pure myth. The Stewarts came from a race of professional administrators from Brittany.
For further reading: Burke's Peerage and Landed Gentry are both good starting placed for the researcher. ( there are subtle errors in both).


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version