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Slavery Compensation and The Highland Clearances

Slavery Compensation and The Highland Clearances


Economic History Society


Iain MacKinnon


12 months from January 2019

Project Objectives

Scottish historians talk about a revolution in landownership in the north of Scotland in the first half of the 19th century. They also note that some of the most brutal examples of what are called 'The Highland Clearances' took place in the middle part of that century. This project investigates whether the revolution in land ownership was fuelled by compensation money received in 1834 by slaveowners for the loss of their 'property' when slavery was abolished in the British Empire. It will investigate estate records and other primary sources relating to around a dozen families who bought land shortly after receiving significant payments from the slavery compensation fund. The project examines some of the connections between, on the one hand, Caribbean slavery and, on the other, the exploitation of the north of Scotland as part of the area's 'domestic colonisation' under British imperialism.


To contribute to the historiography on the relationship between the Highlands of Scotland and slavery; to contribute to discussion on the land reform debate in Scotland; to influence the direction of future land reform legislation.

For more information on this project, please contact Iain MacKinnon.

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