Soldiers of Empire

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 14.28.44As soldiers of the British imperial armies Scots were visible on many African battlegrounds, including in West Africa, Egypt and, most notably, in South Africa. Scottish regiments were conspicuous, earning ‘accolades as empirebuilders’. Or, as Richard Finlay has observed, ‘[u]ndoubtedly, the military contribution of the Scottish regiments was the most important factor in the propagation of a distinctive Scottish input into British imperial activity.’ This input, though relatively small in numerical terms given that the number of Scottish soldiers in the British army was low relative to Scotland’s population, was perceived as enduring and powerful. This was the case too … Read more

Gaelic societies in Scotland

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 14.16.24Scots did not only settle in faraway climes or the near diaspora of England, Ireland and Wales. There was a significant internal movement
within Scotland. This movement was particularly common amongst members of what we might suitably term the internal Highland
diaspora, a diaspora comprised of Highland Scots who relocated further south.

As Scots who ventured further afield, these Scots often came together as a group, forming societies in several cities throughout Scotland. In Glasgow, for example, a Gaelic Society formalised transactions in 1887 (though there were earlier roots). As is outlined in its first transactions, published for Society members … Read more

War and the ancestral homeland

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 16.52.24The ways in which military service could connect and re-connect soldiers with the Scottish homeland – an issue explored in more detail here – was not restricted to ex-servicemen: war effectively promoted contact between the old world and the new. Throughout the diaspora, Scottish clubs and societies sought to promote the establishment of Scottish regiments, and patriotic funds in support of the war effort were set up. The Wairarapa Caledonian Society in the North Island of New Zealand, for instance, discussed a request to collect money at its annual Caledonian sports to establish a fund for the families of the … Read more

Slavery – never good for taking cheap political jibes

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 21.21.51Slavery has a long history all around the world – and one that, sadly, still continues in too many places to this day. That fact alone, if nothing else, should be sufficient enough to prevent politicians from using a reference to slavery for taking cheap political jibes at the opposite side. Apparently not.

And this brings me to Conservative MP Lucy Frazer. When debating the Queen’s speech the other day, Mrs Frazer decided to include in her maiden speech a number of historical references to her constituency, South East Cambridgeshire. Amongst others she included a nod to Oliver Cromwell … Read more

The St Andrew’s Society of Adelaide and Scottish emigration to South Australia

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 12.29.11The St Andrew’s Society of Adelaide was established in 1847. Though short-lived, the organization had a very immediate and wide impact in the community and beyond, revealing the degree to which Scottish ethnic associations could interact with local, national and international politics. The organization was set up at a meeting of ‘natives of Scotland’ at Stewart’s Hotel on 31 August 1847; the general role of the proposed society was discussed, as was the idea to advertise another meeting in the local press to invite all Scots resident in the area to attend. A report on the meeting outlines that the … Read more


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