Scottish Convicts in Nineteenth-Century Australia

convictsAustralia was first put on the Scottish diaspora map not as a migrant destination of choice, but as a convict settlement. The overall number of convict Scots was, however, low. Of the estimated total of nearly 155,000 convicts sent to the Australian mainland and Van Diemen’s land, only about 8,200 were Scots. A slightly larger proportion of Scots, possibly up to 700, were among the nearly 10,000 male convicts sent to Western Australia between 1850 and 1868. But even these numbers pale compared to those … Read more

A New Zealand Pacifist with Scottish Roots

BaxterArchibald McColl Learmond Baxter was born in the small settlement of Saddle Hill in the province of Otago, New Zealand, in mid-December 1881. His parents were both of Scottish descent, with Baxter’s maternal grandfather a pioneer settler who made it to New Zealand in 1859. Despite this early start in the colony the family never managed to make a particularly good living for themselves, a fact that contributed to Archibald having to leave school when he was only 12 years old, instead pursuing a whole … Read more

The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry

tap8__1407507750_86.160.218.231It was my great pleasure to visit the exhibition of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh yesterday. Having been involved with the project from the early days as a historical advisor, it was brilliant to finally see the panels stitched. While I had seen many a design beforehand, the actual stitching has really made the panels come to life: the level of detail is incredible. I love all of the panels, but particularly the ones on Scottish clubs and societies … Read more

Scottish Missionaries in Africa and Education

missionWhile a significant number of Scots went to Africa with the London Missionary Society prior to the mid-nineteenth century, it was then that a notable change took place. This was triggered by the Disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843. After its formation, the Free Church began to keenly promote foreign missions. This had the effect that the Established Church, perhaps sensing an air of competition, followed suit quickly, also increasing its missionary activities overseas. As Esther Breitenbach has noted, the Disruption ‘released an … Read more

Homecoming in the 1920s

homecomingIt’s another year of Homecoming – a good opportunity to explore an earlier example of it in the early twentieth century. It was then that a growing number of organised group returns took place, with trip planning often facilitated by Scottish associations such as St Andrew’s and Caledonian societies. One such group return, that of over 600 Australians of Scottish descent, took place in the summer of 1928. Described by Australian newspapers as a ‘national pilgrimage to Scotland’, the visit was jointly organised by the … Read more

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