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Re: Clearances

>The only record that I found  of a Sinclair being forcibly conveyed was a
>James Sinclair who
>was sent to Western Australia for criminal activities, perhaps he is the
>progenitor of some Australian Sinclair.

The Clearances were not only about forcible conveyance outwith the
country.  The point of the Clearances was to get tenants (usually
relatives of the landlord) off land that could be used to graze sheep.
The archetypes of such evictions were possibly those carried out by
Patrick Sellar, agent for the Duke of Sutherland, in Strathnaver in 1814,
in which

 `Their method was reminiscent of the 'Butcher' Cumberland. They ordered
 the tenants out of their homes and set them ablaze.
 If anyone was slow getting out or went back for possessions, the fire
 was started with them inside. All possessions, including furniture were
 burnt. Women, children, old men and animals stood in huddled, fightened
 groups whilst the savage work went on. To make the land more suitable for
 the Sheep, the burned homes were levelled so the Cheviots could browse
 with ease. This also made it impossible for the tenant to rebuild or
 take refuge in the remains of their homes. The land was to be devoid of
 all human habitation as not to intrude upon the grazing sheep.'

 The evicted lost all their possessions, their clothes and cooking
 utensils, not to mention their dignity and sometimes their lives. Now
 they had no place to go, and nobody thought (or cared) to provide them
 with one. They were, as was said at the time, "driven out like dogs."'


The landlords weren't as interested in where the people went as in simply
getting them off the land.  Many people who were cleared were sent to
seacoast towns and told to learn to fish.  Some moved to other straths
that had not yet been cleared.

Once the seaside crofts failed, due to lack of suitability of the land for
farming, overpopulation, etc., many of the crofters had no choice left but
to leave the country.

See for example Highlander Magazine's web pages on this subject:

For those who are interested in this subject, there is a bibliography in
Perhaps the most readable and widely available book on the subject is
John Prebble's The Highland Clearances.

> This James Sinclair was not from Caithness.

Perhaps I missed being from Caithness as required for being either
a Sinclair or for not being a Sinclair who was cleared.

> Most Sinclairs who emigrated appear to have left Caithness voluntary.

As did many of the children and grandchildren of my ancestor who was cleared.
As did for that matter many people who were cleared, if leaving the country
to be able to eat is voluntary.

>  Unlike many Chiefs ours appear to have stayed in
>Caithness and protected their clansmen. The importance of being in Caithness
>was the protection of the clan and it's Chief.

Good point, and less sweeping than your previous assertion
"the fact than no Sinclair was ever transported or
cleared we were the only highland clan treated that way."

And an especially good point considering the opposite policy of the
Duke of Sutherland.  I think he lived at Dunrobin, all right, but he
didn't protect any tenants.

Heading for Caithness seems to have been a well-known path to take:

 `One of those burned out of Grummore was ninety year old William MacKay. He
 remembered the Jacobite days and had already been evicted once. His wife,
 Janet, died as a result. When he was evicted again from Grummore he
 went to the churchyard and stood over her grave and said "Well, Janet,
 the Countess will never filt (evict) you again." He turned and walked,
 alone, to Wick where he died alone and unmourned.'


> The clan system effectively ended with the ill-conceived
>uprising of '45,.

Regarding the clan system as a whole as it had been, you are probably
right.  And the same regarding the chiefs' regard for the welfare of
their relatives.  But their relatives, even though they became viewed
by their chiefs as mere tenants, did not all change their own views.
Many of them considered themselves loyal clansmen until they were evicted
from their homes.  Some even fought in the name of their chiefs after
they had fled to the far side of the ocean.  For that matter, many of
them fought for Wellington at Waterloo.  Whilst they were helping win one
of the greatest and most influential victories Britain ever won, their
relatives were being burnt out of their homes.

>Sinclairs had no part in that rising never the less the
>entire structure of Highland society with the government attitude action
>after Culloden changed.  Sir John, President of the
>Board of Trade, was not a Sinclair Chief.

Did somebody say he was?

>  Saying “They were Sinclair's and
>they were transported.” without references does not advance our knowledge.

I never say "they were Sinclair's."  I say "they were Sinclairs."
(Sorry; couldn't resist.)

>If anyone has any references please cite them. John Q speak of a g4 father
>who was cleared. is more information available?. I am sure that Niven
>can shed more light on this aspect.

According to records of my family, my ancestor William Sinclair
was born in 1755 in Gloval, Scotland, and lived in Clarville in 1788.
He was `Evicted 1807 ``by landlordism (Clearances)''
moved to Kirkton and then to Strath Halladale Scotland.'

Indeed these places are in Sutherland, not Caithness.  His oldest
son Alexander was born in 1778 and was thus 29 at the time his father
was evicted.  Alexander moved to Thurso, Caithness, where he became a
prosperous merchant.  He sent two sons to India in the Raj, two sons to
Georgia because he and his wife thought they had contributed enough to
king and country, three daughters to Canada, and a son and a daughter
remained in Thurso.

Of William's other children, Colin died in Halkirk, Catherine in Thurso,
John William moved first to Glasgow, then to New York City, then to
Utica, and finally died in Michigan.  We're not sure about William's
other five children.  There is a sizeable Warner family in New York to
this day descended from John William Sinclair.

There does seem to be a trend here of getting out of Sutherland and either
into Caithness or outwith the country.  This would be consistent with your
comments about the Earls of Caithness protecting Sinclairs in Caithness.
(Pity the Argyll Sinclairs, then.)

According to Laurel's History pages,


the Earl of Caithness in 1807 appears to have been:

 Sir James I, 12th Earl (1789-1823) -1793-10th of Mey
 descends from a son of George the 4th Earl.
 b. 31 Oct 1766;  d. 1823; rep S peer 1807-18
 Ld Lt Caithness, Postmaster-Gen 1811-23
 m. Jean Campbell d/o Alex. Campbell of Barcaldine
 Ch: Janet m. James Buchanan Helen, John Lord of Berridale d.
 unmarried, Janet, Esther, Alexander, Charlotte, Lt. Col James
 m. Elizabeth Tritton & dsp. 1856, Patrick b. 1800 m. Isabell McGregor
 d. 1834, Eric Geo. 1801-1829, John b. 1808 ; Army Offr m. Maria
 Petronella d/o John Church d. 1861. See details of his life:

If I'm reading the aforementioned details correctly, this Earl's wife
was a niece of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster of black-faced sheep fame.

Are there any records of the policies and actions of the 12th Earl of
Caithness regarding Clearances circa 1807?

And can you pipe this song, Rory?

                      Where the people lived
                        now sheep dwell.
                     A shepherd on every hill.
                   And barking dogs on the moor.

                                                        Mairi Mhor nan Oran
                                                      (Big Mary of the Songs)
                                                          Late 19th Century


John S. Quarterman <jsq@matrix.net>
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