The census is crucial because it’s the only source from 1851 which allows you to do place of birth by parish, that’s the crucial crucial thing. And you can then do it decadely thereafter up to 2001 ... 1901 is available in 2001 and so on, available in a hundred year intervals. But other sources are crucial here. I suppose they really fall into two types. One is the whole variety of individual institutions, Highland societies, Highland clubs, Highland associations, which have got records of varying quality and extent which document the presence both of themselves, the institution, but also things that they did, charitable work, philanthropic work and so on. These sometimes extended into things like sporting associations or political regional associations but there’s a whole range of Highland clubs. The second is a whole series of what we might call, I suppose, sort of parochial records in consequence of other things, like the statistical accounts for example. They actually say the end of the eighteenth century and the middle of the sort of 1830s and 1840s and there’s quite a lot about the changing conditions of Highland life, the changing conditions of migration in relation to the Highland economy, and you get a whole series of, as it were, particular instances. The Highland Destitution Committee in relation to the famine, for example, the great Highland famine of the 1840s and the very early 1850s. And rarely, but when of course they do appear they are greatly valuable, there are individual diaries or records of certain circumstances. They’re rare and there’s the odd sort of record like Police Society records which actually you can use to trace people from the Highlands who became policemen in Scotland’s major cities.

  • Charles Withers
Thursday 17th June 2010