Thousands of Highlanders and Islanders who sustained the honour of Britain at Waterloo and in many a bloody field were evicted from Scotland by landlords and anglicised clan chiefs during the Highland Clearances.
Soldiers and sailors; the heroes of Corunna, Salamanca, Trafalgar and many other battles were evicted and dispersed overseas, a disgrace to the nation whose freedom many of them had maintained. The widows and orphans of the fallen were also evicted.
Murdo Morrison, a crofter from Kyles Scalpay, Isle of Harris, said to the Napier Commission: “I remember hearing from my father and grandfather how in the time of the wars of Boney (Napoleon) soldiers were drafted out of Harris.
“I remember their telling me of four or so drafted from the machair. Four who fought at Waterloo. Three fell on the field. The fourth died in hospital afterwards. Instead of the widows and children of these men being looked after, they were driven to the wild woods of Canada and the lands they possessed were placed under sheep.
“At the very moment when Cawnpore was being taken, the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters of the ‘Invincible 78th’ were being evicted from their native soil.”
The Highland Clearances lasted for more than 120 years, the longest period of ethnic cleansing in the history of Europe. It resulted in the Highlands becoming the largest man-made wilderness in Europe.
Donald J MacLeod
Bridge of Don, Aberdeen