Past battles

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When the august Britannica Concise Encyclopedia contains such nonsense as “The English prevailed in two Scottish 
rebellions in the 18th century” we should perhaps not be too hard on Alastair Kidd (Letters, 
6 December) for his 
muddled perception of Scottish history.

Let’s just remember that the atrocities suffered by the covenanters were inflicted in the main by a Highland army under orders of a pre-Union Scottish government.

The Highland Clearances, like the much earlier lowland clearances, were the actions of chiefs and landlords, not of governments.

As for prosperity, well! The Scottish government budget pre-Union was about 200 times less than that of its Westminster counterpart and the most favourable average personal wealth comparison I recall reading is about one to seven.

It is a sad fact that in the 1690s nearly 15 per cent of the Scottish population died of starvation and related causes – a major 
reason for the Union.

Given the opportunities afforded by the Union, Scottish innovation and energy, assisted by pan-Britannic resources (such as James Watt’s steam engine funded by the Englishman 
Matthew Boulton, David Dale’s New Lanark, funded by the Welshman Robert Owen and the Englishman Richard Arkwright and largely developed by the former – such combined endeavours could, and do, fill whole books), transformed the situation .

The 20th-century industries referred to by Mr Kidd were in fact haemorrhaging resources, partly due to competitive developments elsewhere, partly through workplace attitudes and poor management and of course were not confined to Scotland. Their closures were 
inevitable.

Just a reminder – the two
rebellions mentioned above presumably were the Jacobite 
risings of 1715 and 1745.

Neither, particularly the former, was entirely Scottish.

Newcastle city residents are known as “Geordies” because, uniquely for Northumberland, they were inclined to favour the Hanovarian rather than the Jacobite cause.

Many of the shire people, 
on the other hand, perished at Preston and others suffered thereafter. The victorious government army at Culloden in 1746 had a large contingent of Presbyterian Scots and these would no doubt have participated in the post-battle atrocities, which were, alas, still a common feature of the times.

(Dr) A McCormick

Kirkland Road

Terregles, Dumfries

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