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"Forbes MacGregor wrote in his authoritative book 'Clan Gregor':
    "The treatment of the Celtic Highlanders at the hands of the 'Normanized' Lairds and of the 'Germanic' Lowlanders is a blot on the history of Scotland.   Never, in later times, has the North American red Indian or the Australian aborigine been the hunted wild beast to the emigrant settler than the Highlander was to his neighbour, the Lowlander.  They were never permitted to rest from external assault... 

  Two Scotlands
That Hated Each Other

To understand the utter contempt the two solitudes in Scotland felt towards each other, prior to the 19th century, their differences must be appreciated.

Highlanders were the descendants of the ancient Picts and Celts with dashes of Norse, and Flemish blood.  They spoke an Irish dialect of Gaelic, held to an ultra-conservative militaristic clan system, and were for the most part, staunchly catholic.

Lowlanders were descended from Saxons, Angles, and Normans.  They spoke a Scots dialect of English, were anglicized in their outlooks, and were mostly Presbyterian or Calvinist.  Their primary fear was of the "foreign" highlanders, not the English, with whom they made common cause in commerce and protection from their common enemies to the north.

In attitudes towards each other, the Highlanders considered the Lowlanders to be foreigners encroaching on true Scottish values, agents of the English, and a major threat to their heritage.

Lowlanders, in turn, considered Highlanders to be barbaric, backwards, wild, and derisively referred to them as the 'wild Irish.'

Highlanders never forgot the treacherous Glencoe Massacre ordered by the Government of William on the MacDonalds.  They also harbored deep resentment against the Saxon Lowlanders for their arbitrary seizure of Highland lands and subsequent  transfer to Lowland lairds, many of foreign race, but subservient to England..

Lowlanders also had grievances; they feared the Highlanders and their raiding parties, their ferociousness, and their Jacobite sympathies that brought so much havoc and destruction to the country.

History books could now be written to reflect prejudices of the winners, Highlanders were to be represented as ignorant pawns of cruel manipulators.

"The union of Scotland with England was to be remembered as a joyous union of two willing peoples."

Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Riots broke out in Edinburgh and Glasgow when Anne forced the Act of Union.   No Scots of any  persuasion were allowed to have any say in the matter.  Union was merely the will of the English and of a few bankers and merchants of the Lowlands, the remainder be damned..

  The Aftermath of Culloden

Bonnie Prince lost miserably on that awful day in 1746 at Culloden Moor.  But more than soldiers were lost, entire race and culture were about to be set upon, with a vengeance that would not be repeated by civilized society for another century.  The would-be Prince had succeeded where many a great leader had failed, he had actually invaded England to within 200 miles of London - and had sent a fearful Hanoverian King George I packing ready to flee back to Germany.  This scare alone sufficed to incur the wrath of English ruling classes so that they embarked on a holy crusade to rid the Scottish Highlands of this Jacobite curse forever.

Cumberland rightly earned the title of "The Butcher of Culloden."  He ordered his Redcoats and German mercenaries, with Teutonic thoroughness,  to kill every surviving clansman on the field, even burying some of the wounded alive in huge pits of death and suffocation.  He was also referred to as 'Stinking Will'" in Scotland.  Remnants of the Highland Army were rounded up, and sent to jails with their wives to starve to death.    Others were taken across the border to England and hanged.  These atrocities were worse than those committed by Fascists, Communists, or the Japanese in later wars.

After Culloden, and in years to follow,  great numbers of Highlanders, men, women,  and children, were killed on mere suspicion  of disloyalty to the Government, or even on general principle that the 'only good Highlander was a dead Highlander.'  Houses were burned to the ground, cattle were rounded up and sold to Lowlanders or English farmers at ridiculously low prices.  This was a 'pogrom' that similarly evil regimes would mimic in the 20th century.

Attempts to root out Highland culture, resulted in banning of the wearing of the kilt, bagpipes, speaking Gaelic, Highland music, and - executing and exiling clan leaders.  With the clan system destroyed, Highlanders became susceptible to Lowland and English 'missionaries' to convert the 'heathens' of the north into God fearing Protestants. These 'pacifiers' had no respect for Highlanders, their purpose was merely to replace a perceived 'heathen' culture with one subservient to Protestant England.


Highlanders had for centuries followed the Celtic mode of life, that is to form agricultural communities, with no place for large cities.  The Picts and Scots were both very attached to the land and at an early age, every son would become knowledgeable of all the crooks and crannies of the countryside.  After being forced to become tenants on their ancient lands, they were generally subjected to the whims of their "Lords", the same Normans and other Royal favourites, of whose ancestors were arbitrarily granted vast land holdings by the Royal Court in Edinburgh, itself a centre of the "Saxon menace", as referred to by Highlanders for centuries.

After Culloden, all highlanders of whichever political persuasion, were lumped together into an entity which had been demonized and which government policy was to be pacified at all costs.  Boys of school age were forcibly sent to England to learn English customs.  The intent was to wipe out any trace of the Scottish yen for independence.  Gaelic was outlawed, so was the wearing of any kilts, bagpipes, and a thousand other traditional Gaelic customs.

Unemployed Scottish youths were sought after to swell the ranks of numerous newly formed  Highland Regiments to fight overseas for the British Empire.  The purpose was two fold, to rid Scotland of a potential source of insurrection, and to stiffen the British Army with a quality of fighting men that far surpassed any thing else in the British order of battle.  The possibility of these soldiers eventually returning to Scotland was dealt with by generous offers of free land and material in far off colonies, when and if they lived long enough to retire.

Older men were harried and persecuted until many were forced to flee to foreign lands.  Of course, Government agents ensured they left penniless.  Some families were indentured, others were enslaved and sent directly to foreign plantations.  Untold thousands were to die of disease and/or maltreatment in tropical climes.  Scotland became a barren, treeless land of burned out homes, and desolation.  Meanwhile;  Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America, and South Africa were burgeoning with destitute Scottish immigrants.

During 19th century wars, Scottish aristocrats belatedly found their traditional sources of cannon fodder for foreign wars had disappeared after the clearances had denuded the countryside of people. The effects of this genocide became all too apparent, although in many other places of the world Highland Scots were thriving.

The world was safe again for English Imperial ambitions.

The Effect of the Clearances on the MacGregors

The clan Gregor had been subjected to atrocities in far greater magnitude than these since AD 1359, when Robert the Bruce granted Glen Orchy, it inhabitants, and its environs to the Campbells.  MacGregors had been declared fair game, off and on, for over four hundred years.   Consequently, their prior suffering had prepared them to withstand a general conflagration much better than those less hardened.

The "clearances" of the 18th century were merely a "deja vu" experience for MacGregors.  They had been there before, done that.  MacGregors had always coalesced like beads of mercury when threatened.  As a result, many  MacGregors did well, emigrating to Canada, America, Australia, and other places in North and South America where, through their innate perseverance, work ethic, and a belief in fair play, often succeeded in establishing themselves in regional and national prominence.

Many examples of their tenacity, ingenuity, and courage are recorded in monuments around the world, -- to name a few:

*Rev Dr. James Drummond MacGregor 1786.  He changed his surname back to MacGregor while enrolled in the Presbyterian theology school in Edinburgh.  The Godfather of all Protestants of northern Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and south-eastern New Brunswick is universally recognized as the most outstanding MacGregor to have left Scotland. 

*Grand Admiral Sir Samuel Greig.  (1735-1788).  Originally loaned to Catherine the Great by the British  Royal Navy as a Lieutenant, rose rapidly in rank to become the creator of Russian sea power. A Russian National holiday was declared in his honour, due to his exploits in successfully destroying a longstanding Swedish domination of the Baltic Sea.

*Sir Colin (MacLiver)  Campbell, His outstanding skill, and courage in leadership of the Highland Brigade, in particular, the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, supplied the British Army with some of its finest traditions.  He was probably the most pugnacious officer on record.  Enlisted as MacLiver, he was designated with the surname Campbell by a bureaucrat who had not yet heard of the lifting of the clan Gregor proscriptions.

*General Gregor MacGregor,  A veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, became Simon Bolivar's "right hand man".  He was a grandson of Gregor Glun Dhubh, (a nephew of Rob Roy and last Chief of the Glengyle MacGregors).  He fought in such sanguinary battles as the second battle of Carabobo in 1821, which decided the fate of a region larger than France and Great Britain together and is revered as a national hero in several South American countries.

The list is long, and to obtain an idea of its credentials, click here: famous MacGregors

Being a lifelong citizen of Canada, I have limited knowledge of Australian MacGregors, but I have come across several instances of well known MacGregors in north and central America.  I was astounded while visiting Costa Rica, when I was advised by a native that MacGregors are among the most affluent of their citizens.  Also, many North Americans are aware of the successful Mexican MacGregors.

What The Clearances Created Overseas

The Stark Reality of The Clearances Was To Transform Canada, Australia and New Zealand Into Countries More Scottish Than Scotland Itself.  Some startling facts:

1) There are more curling rinks and curlers in Canada than in all the rest of the world combined.
2) Golf, Scotland's other gift to the world, is far more popular in Canada than in Scotland.
3) Angus L. MacDonald, a popular Premier of Nova Scotia, and a learned Gaelic scholar, once visited Scotland.  Immediately upon landing, greeted his hosts in perfect Gaelic, and received a dumbfounded response as not one of them understood what he was saying.
4) There are more Gaelic speaking people in Nova Scotia than in Scotland, with a Gaelic mod in Cape Breton Island.
5) In 1848, New Zealand created a  city called "Dunedin".  The site of the first university in New Zealand, and often referred to as the Athens of the south, this thriving modern metropolis is a favored destination for those searching for the perfect place to settle.   What are the implications of this naming?  Dunedin is the Gaelic name for Edinburgh, something, the Scottish government never deemed suitable.
6) During the First and Second World Wars, when the new world came to the deliverance of the old, more military bag pipers and Highland regiments from Canada, Australia and New Zealand streamed through Britain to the front than there were from Scotland itself.
7)  This new centre of "Scottishness" was officially recognized when, in 1979, the first overseas hosting of the International Gathering of the Clans took place in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.  I was there.


What The Clearances Created on the Continent

The failure of the Hanoverians in 1746, to come to terms with Scottish highland culture, and the resultant persecution of an entire race, was nothing new to the British.  In this case, the final effects of this intolerance, would come back to haunt both English and Scottish soldiers in two horrific world wars.Field Marshal August Von Mackenson, brilliant tactician and winner of the 2nd wqorld war on the eastern front.

What few people in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, or the United States has any knowledge of, is the immense effect of those Highlanders who found it necessary to leave their beloved homeland for sanctuary in continental Europe, where they would be treated with respect.

The amazing fact is that the brilliant tactician and military commander in charge of the combined German/Austrian forces on the Eastern Front in 1915, and who was responsible for the complete rout of the Russian armies, was non other than Field Marshall August Von Mackensen, a direct descendant of one of those Catholic Highland refugees, a MacKenzie.

Not only did he assist Field Marshall Otto Von Hindenburg in the decisive victory at Tannenburg, but his 11th Army cleared the Russians from Galicia in a fortnight.  In November 1915, his armies quickly overran Serbia.

The combined German/Austrian armies continued in their advance, eventually overrunning  Rumania and the Ukraine.  The Ukraine became a German protectorate.

The result was that Russia sued for peace, and paid a tremendous price in men, material and real estate to the Germans, and the  reassignment of the entire German army to the western front.  

No one can estimate the hundreds of thousands of British Empire and Commonwealth troops who became casualties of the Imperial German war machine after the withdrawal of the Russians from the war.  The advent of World Communism was in sight.

And all that for what?  This was the horrific price the British and French Empires paid for the arrogance of the 'Hanoverian' British leaders after Culloden, and their determination to wipe an ancient civilization from the face of the earth in North Britain.

Everyone now realizes, the 2nd World War was the inevitable outcome of the First, due again, to the arrogance of the victors in laying the complete blame and costs of the war on the losers.  The British and French became bankrupt, and their empires went into decline. 

Perhaps we finally learned the meaning of tolerance when, after the 2nd World War, the Allies undertook the remarkable task of reconstruction in a war torn Europe and Japan.  Or was this newfound humanitarianism due to the increased role the Americans played in their new role as the world's superpower?

The one bright spot in all this was; it appears our Canadian leaders had the good sense to have nothing to do with the post-war occupations or reparations in either world war.