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Re: Yours Always Argyll

Hi Juli:
Yes I have read some of MacPherson's Ossianic verse.  It is actually not bad at getting the flavour of "the idea whose time had come" .  He felt compelled to say it was the remnants of the bard Ossian I guess partly because he felt the need as did so many others, of some form of legitimizing the yearning for the authentic Highland culture which was patently no more but was in the grasp of living memory.  I compare the Disarming Act of 1746 (Repealed circa 1780 and the instigation of the Highland Society of London inter alia) to the Babylonian Captivity.  Both lasted about 40 years, both involved a deep cultural loss and both cultures responded  with a resurgence in spades.  The Jews now saw that their oral culture could not be taken for granted and there was a concerted effort to write and codify the law --- the result was the collating of the Torah and the composition of the the commentary: the Talmud.  In the Scottish case,  we see a number of attempts to resurrect the old culture, Ossian being one of them.  It had an interesting impact on the literati of the day in Scotland and there was a huge division of scholars and other folk of importance as to whether they believed the authenticity of the poetry or that it was spurious.  Sir John Sinclair was a believer; Walter Scott was not  and that is only two examples. 
Walter Scott's not believing in Ossian did in no way stop him from participating in so many other endeavours  in the revival of the Highland Culture.  His historical novels were enormously popular not just in Scotland but throughout Europe.  He orchestrated the visit of George IV to Edinburgh (1822?)  at which all events family tartan was expected to be worn.  This was quite interesting because family tartans had not existed previously.  Take a look at the famous painting by David Morier of combatants at the Battle of Culloden --- of the eight or so Highlanders shown, they together are wearing 23 tartans and Morier painted these men from life --- they were being held in jail for treason in Edinbrugh when he painted them.  Highlanders of that time wore tartan because they liked the patterns and (evidently) the more mixed the better.
But having said that, it is my opinion that this fact does not in anyway detract from ours and our ancestors' needs to know from whence we and they came. Just as it would be wrong to say that the Talmud is invalid because it is a later invention, it would be wrong to say that the effort to retrieve Highland Culture is invalid because  family tartans were a later invention. Sometimes the story is bigger than the mere facts.
Ossian touched many people --- I am glad to know that it is MacPherson's work  but I am also glad to know that there was a need for an Ossian.  It speaks to a very deep longing that we, especially on this web site, will understand because it is the rootsiness that turns our cranks whether in be the seaarch for the "genealogical smoking gun" in Argyll, or wearing the kilt for the first time, or silly ones like me trying to recreate music that was composed 500 years ago.   
Yours Aye                               Rory
-----Original Message-----
From: Juli <kalwa@cwix.com>
To: sinclair@jump.net <sinclair@jump.net>
Date: Wednesday, May 12, 1999 5:55 PM
Subject: RE: Yours Always Argyll

Hi Rory, Laurel and all -
Probably a bit off topic but I can't quite remember what the topic was that started this all!
Has anybody read James MacPherson's controversial work and collections of what is supposed to be fragments of the Celtic Bard Ossian's poetry?  Many believe that MacPherson's dark, gloomy descriptions of the Highlands was a catalyst for the romantic image Sir Walter Scott was to cast of the Highlands. 
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-sinclair@jump.net [mailto:owner-sinclair@jump.net]On Behalf Of Rory Sinclair
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 1999 11:06 AM
To: sinclair@jump.net
Subject: Re: Yours Always Argyll

Hi Juli:
Thanks for some further references;  FYI.  Roslind Michison wrote the difinitive work on Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster "Agricultural Sir John" (Geoffrey Bles, 1962).  It was done with the complete cooperation of the late Robin Sinclair, 2nd Viscount Thurso of Ulbster and a direct descendant of Sir John.  It is an honest, warts-and-all piece.  Nice to see a concatenation of scholars (is that like a pride of lions, warren of rabbits, slime of lawyers etc) focussed on our two interests.   Rory
-----Original Message-----
From: Juli <kalwa@cwix.com>
To: sinclair@jump.net <sinclair@jump.net>
Date: Wednesday, May 12, 1999 11:00 AM
Subject: RE: Yours Always Argyll

For a well written, concise education on the evolution of Clanship in Argyll I highly recommend Eric Cregeen's (late Reader in Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh) article 'The Changing Role of the House of Argyll' in the book Scotland in the Age of Improvement edited by N.T. Phillipson (Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh) and Rosalind Mitchison (Emeritus Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Edinburgh). (pgs 5-23)  Mr.. Cregeen covers the political situation in the highlands, the traditional clan structure and land-tenure, the cultural influence of the south and the economic conditions among other areas.
Great reading as are other articles in the book such as 'Law and Society in Eighteenth-Century Scottish Though' by Peter Stein, 'The Government and the Highlands, 1707-1766' by John M. Simpson and 'Education and Society in the Eighteenth Century' by Donald J. Withrington.
Each article lists notes with the reference material for further investigation should you wish to understand more.
Juli Anderson
Princeton, NJ USA
But Always Argyll 
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-sinclair@jump.net [mailto:owner-sinclair@jump.net]On Behalf Of Neil Sinclair/Peggy Rintoul
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 1999 6:08 PM
To: Sinclair List
Subject: Yours Always Argyll

Argyll is a Sinclair homeland unique in its beauty and profound in its mysteries.

I was going to add a bit of electronic applause to Karen, Juli and Rebecca, who are three of the finest researchers I have has occasion to every know and work with. The material on Argyll is accurate from the perspective of first language, secondly geography, and then from known genealogy and in the context of an appreciation of social history. Members should be cautious not to draw conclusions which are simply conjecture from the evidence. There are unanswered questions

and mysteries. Also the original material we have from Argyll is also limited in the sense that it is not always complete, there are gaps and there is a period beyond which it is hard to conclude there will be any original evidence, mostly because it never existed in the first place and many questions and mysteries will continue.

The Argyll Sinclair history and genealogy is unique and singular back to the mid 1600's. Many of the early Sinclairs were descended from the McKokairds in the mid Argyll region around the head of Loch Fyne. There is no evidence at all to suggest that they were or were not connected to the clan in Caithness at the time and if so, exactly how they were. The is solid evidence to being connected by name in any event. Members need to be cautious as to just how the clan system worked and much of the current appreciation and conceptions does come, (as Karen astutely points out), from the romantic revival of the clans in the 1800's which reinvented the clans from a system that had been made unlawful.

Many Sinclairs originally from Argyll do have their roots directly from the McKokairds, but some others which have been located in Argyll in the early 1700's may, or may not, have been directly related to the earliest McKokairds. Like Sinclairs of today, the Sinclairs of 1600-1700 moved around and were not staying neatly within the borders of Caithness. Those with applied mechanical skills or crafts were more mobile. By mid 1700 to 1900 there was a further influx into Argyll of many clan members, (Sinclairs among many others) including both Scots and English names in response to migrations departing from Argyll opening up new economic opportunities within the county. Argyll is in the Highlands NW of Glasgow, and the Sinclairs can take pride in the contribution they made through their talents and their hard work to Argyll to this very day.

Forever Argyll, yours aye;

Neil Sinclair, Toronto, P.E.I., Argyll