Lecture 03

“The Highland dimension to Empire with a Jacobite twist, 1707-53”

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by Prof. Allan Macinnes,


9 December 2021 @ 19:30 GMT.

While the Union of 1707 is particularly identified in Scotland with the Whigs and the Presbyterians, the predominantly Episcopalian and Jacobite Highlands also took advantage of the political and commercial opportunities opening up in the British Empire in the first half of the eighteenth century. This talk explores the incursions of leading clans and satellite families in America, Asia and Africa, not just in terms of their acquisitive geographic presence but also of their colonial engagement in commodity exchange. Case studies, drawn from different Highland districts, examine the integral and the peripheral participation of clans in Empire and how this participation impacted on political support up to the last Jacobite plot in 1753.

02: “James VI and I, and the creation of a ‘British’ maritime policy – The view from the west” by Prof. Alison Cathcart

“James VI and I, and the creation of a ‘British’ maritime policy – The view from the west”

, by Prof. Alison Cathcart,

11 November 2021 @ 19:30 GMT.

When James VI of Scotland succeeded to the thrones of England and Ireland in 1603 he inherited an English fleet of agile, fairly nimble vessels, capable of carrying a cargo but also armed with cannon. Given James’ emphasis, post-1603, on ‘British’ projects, it is understandable that James sought to extend this ‘Britishness’ to maritime affairs across the archipelago too, especially as he had now the means to do so. The general narrative is that there was a distinct change in policing of Scottish waters post-1603, and an initial decline of piracy, and certainly James did attempt to coordinate both men and vessels across his three kingdoms and their dominions. Taking the view of the so-called ‘periphery’, this talk seeks to examine such a coordinated policy, and its success or otherwise, from the perspective of the western Highlands and Isles and the north of Ireland and bring more nuance to our understanding of James VI and I’s maritime policy in the early seventeenth century.

01: “The origins of plaid wearing in Scotland” by David Caldwell

Dr Caldwell reviews documentary and pictorial evidence from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century concerning the wearing of plaids by men. Initially, sixteenth-century sources that specifically use the term ‘plaid’ are examined, in order to build a working definition, and this is then applied to earlier sources in languages other than Gaelic, where the terminology is uncertain. The early sources provide insight regarding the origins of traditions associated with plaid wearing. It is suggested that the origins of Highland military dress lie in the West Highlands and Islands in the mid-sixteenth century with the adoption of tartan plaids by local warriors.