Highland Clearance Chronology


*Thanks go to Linda Bruce Caron for typing & compiling this chronology and to author John Prebble for the original source material.*

There were two periods of major clearances: 1782-1820 and 1840-1854

1762 - Sir John Lockhart-Ross inherits Balnagowan and introduces sheep farming to the north.

1782 - Thomas Geddes, a Lowland sheep farmer takes a lease on Banagowan land.

1783 - Thomas Gillespie rents a sheep walk on Glenquoich from Macdonell of Glengarry.

1784 - The Forfeited Estates, administered by the Crown since the Jacobite Rebellion, are restored to their owners.

1785 - First large clearances on Glengarry's estates. Marriage of Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, to the Marquess of Stafford.

1786 - Large emigrations to Canada from Knoydart, on Glengarry's property.

1790 - The Great Cheviot brought to Ross and Caithness.

1792 - The Year of the Sheep.

1800 - First clearances in Sutherland, small numbers to the north of the River Oykel.

1801 - Strathglass. Beginning of the evictions.

1802 - Disbanded men of the Glengarry Fencibles leave for Upper Canada.

1807 - Sutherland. Ninety families removed from the parishes of Farr and Lairg. The Northern Association of Gentlemen Farmers and Breeders of Sheep resolve to obtain a Royal Charter to extend their activities in Inverness, Ross, Sutherland and Caithness.

1809 - Sutherland. William Young and Patrick Sellar take employment with Lord Stafford. Removals from the parishes of Dornoch, Rogart, Loth, Clyne and Golspie.

1812 - Sutherland. Patrick Sellar clears wide districts in Assynt.

1813 - Sutherland. Removals in lower Kildonan. The 'rebellion' of the Gunns.

1814 - The Year of the Burnings. First clearance of Strathnaver.

1815 - The Society of True Highlanders formed by Alistair Ranaldson, Macdonell of Glengarry. James Loch publishes a brief account of the Improvements completed and proposed for Lord Stafford's estates in Sutherland.

1816 - The trial of Patrick Sellar.

1817 - An annual sheep and wool market established in Inverness.

1819 - Sutherland. Final clearance of Strathnaver and Upper Kildonan.

1820 - Ross. The Culrain Riots and evictions in Strathoykel.

1821 - Sutherland. Riots and evictions at Gruids.

1825 - The kelp industry, in decline since the end of the French Wars, is now destroyed by the abolition of the excise duty on salt. The lairds of the Isles, particularly Clanranald, begin the sale of their estates.

1829 - Lord Stafford buys Lord Reay's Country.

1830 - Emigration increases with destitution. According to the 'Northern Press' this year a fever of emigration is raging in the county of Sutherland.

1831 - The Marchioness of Stafford, Countess of Sutherland, tours Lord Reay's Country.

1832 - Cholera.

1833 - Death of Lord Stafford who, six months before, was created Duke of Sutherland.

1836 - Famine.

1839 - Death of the Duchess-Countess of Sutherland.

1841 - Sutherland. Rioting and deforcement in Durness.

1842 - Ross. First attempt to deliver writs of removal to the people of Glencalvie.

1845 - Ross. Glencalvie cleared. Delane of 'The Times' sends a Special Commissioner to report. Failure of the potato crop in Ireland and famine, badly effects Highland Scotland.

1846 - Famine following the potato blight. Establishment of Destitution Relief Boards in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

1847 - Food riots.

1849 - Sollas evictions from Lord MacdonaldÉs land on North Uist.

1850 - Strathconon evictions by James Gillanders and others.

1851 - South Uist and Barra. Evictions by Colonel Gordon of Cluny.

1852 - The Highland and Island Emigration Society formed under the patronage of Prince Albert. It absorbs the Skye Society. The Land and Emigration Commissioners offer ships and assistance.

1853 - Skye. Lord Macdonald clears the last of the people from Boreraig and Suishnish.

1853 - Knoydart. Mrs. Macdonell of Glengarry, with the trustees of her son's estate, serves writs of removal on the last of her sub-tenants.

1853 - Harriet Beecher Stowe's first visit to Britain, and her meeting with the second Duchess of Sutherland.

1854 - Ross. Last evictions from the property of Robertson and Kindeace in Strathcarron. 'The Slaughter of Greenyards' and 'The Massacre of the Rosses.'

1854 - Knoydart. The Lord Advocate orders an inquiry into the state of paupers there following the evictions.

1854 - Failure of the recruiting campaign in the Highlands.

1856 - Harriet Beecher Stowe's second visit to Britain. She stays at Inverary and Dunrobin to gather notes on the clearances and publishes them in 'Sunny Memories.'

Robert M. Gunn
Author/Medieval Historian:

  • The Highland Clearances, Ch.1

  • The Highland Clearances, Ch.2

  • The Highland Clearances, Ch.3

  • The Highland Clearances, Ch.4

  • The Highland Clearances, Ch.5

  • Return to Highland Clearances Menu

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