NO apology is deemed necessary for bringing this History of the Scottish Highlands before the public. A work under a similar title was brought out by the present publishers upwards of thirty years ago, under the care of Dr James Browne, and met with a sale so extensive and sustained as to prove that it supplied a real want.
Since the publication of Browne’s History, which it is only the simple truth to say had no rival, research has brought to light so much that is new connected both with the general history of the Highlands and the history of the various clans, and so many new laurels have been added to those already won by the Highland regiments during the past century, and the early part of the present, that the publishers believed the time had come for the preparation and issue of a new work.
In preparing it, the editor has done all in his power to make it complete and accurate. The object of Dr Browne’s work was to present in one book all that is interesting and valuable concerning the Highlands and Highlanders, a great deal of information on this subject having lain scattered in various quarters inaccessible to the general public. In the preparation of the present work this object has been kept steadily in view; and it may be said of it, with even more force than of Browne’s, that it is a collectanea of information concerning the Scottish Highlands of an extent and kind to be met with in no other single publication.
The general plan of Dr Browne’s work has been adhered to. In the First Part, that dealing with the General History of the Highlands, which, from the nature of the case, is more a chronicle of clan battles than a homogeneous history, it has been found possible, as might have been expected, to retain much of Browne’s text. This, however, has been subjected to a careful revision and comparison with the original authorities, as well as with the many new ones that have been brought to light during the past thirty years. Moreover, many portions throughout this section have been rewritten, and considerable additions made. One of the largest and most important of these is the continuation of the General History from 1745 down to the present day. The editor felt that, so far as the social history of the Highlands is concerned, the period embraced in the past hundred years was of even more importance than any previous time; he has therefore attempted to do what, so far as he knows, has not been done before, to present a sketch of the progress of the Highlands during that period. For this purpose he has had to consult a multitude of sources, and weigh many conflicting statements, his aim being simply to discover and tell the truth. Such matters have been gone into as Depopulation, Emigration, Agriculture, Large and Small Farms, Sheep and Deer, Fishing, Manufactures, Education, &c. It is hoped, therefore, that the First Part of the work will be found to contain a complete account of the Highlands, historical, antiquarian, and social.
An original and important feature of this part of the work is a history of the Gaelic Language and Literature, by the well known Celtic scholar, the Rev. T. Maclauchlan, LL.D., F.S.A. Scot.
In the Second Part, relating to the History of the Highland Clans, it will be found that, in the case of every clan, modifications and additions have been made. In some instances the histories have been entirely rewritten, and several border clans have been included that were not noticed in Browne’s work. The history of each clan, has, as far as possible, been traced from its founder through all the branches and offshoots down to the present day; the part it took in the various clan strifes, in the disputes between the Highlands and Lowlands, and in the general wars of Scotland, being set forth. In the case of most of the clans, gentlemen who have made a special study of particular clan histories have kindly revised the proofs.
The Third Part, the History of the Highland Regiments, occupies a prominent place in the present work. Of these regiments one-half have had their complete history published now for the first time, and in the case of the others so many changes and additions have been made, that this part of the work may be considered as entirely new. The history of each of the nine regiments which now rank as Highland has been gone into from its embodiment, and the trustworthiness of this unique body of military history may be inferred from the fact, that, in the case of every regiment, it is founded upon the original Regimental Record, supplemented in many instances by the diaries and recollections of officers; and in two cases, at least, as will be seen, by materials collected by officers who have made a special study of their regimental histories. The general reader will find this part of the work of very great interest.
With regard to the Illustrations, the publishers feel justified in alluding to them with considerable pride. No attempt has been made to make the present work a mere picture-book; it will be invariably found that the numerous plates, woodcuts, and clan-tartans either add interest to the text, or throw light upon it. Every effort has been made to secure authentic portraits and original views, and to have every illustration executed in a thoroughly artistic style; and it is hoped that, in these respects, the exertions of the editor and publishers have been crowned with success. The specimens of clan-tartans represent in every case those recognised by the heads of the various clans. The illustrations, therefore, will be found both historically and artistically valuable.
Throughout this work the editor has endeavoured to acknowledge the authorities which he has in any way made use of. Were he to mention the names of the numerous individuals to whom he has been indebted for assistance during its preparation, it would add very considerably to the length of this preface; in his own name and that of the publishers, he expresses sincere gratitude to all who have in any way lent a helping hand. Special thanks, however, are due to the Duke of Athole for assistance in various ways, and particularly for permission to engrave the portrait of Lord George Murray; to Lady Elizabeth Pringle for the portrait of the first Earl of Breadalbane, and to Mrs Campbell of Monzie for that of the “Gentle Lochiel,” – all published in this work for the first time. As mentioned in the text, the beautiful miniature of “Prince Charlie” is copied from the original in possession of Donald Cameron, Esq. of Lochiel, who has also lent assistance in other ways. The originals of other valuable illustrations, as will be seen, have been kindly placed at the publishers’ service by the Duke of Sutherland, the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Strathmore, the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, The Mackintosh, The Chisholm, Duncan Forbes, Esq. of Culloden, David Laing, Esq., LL.D., James Drummond, Esq., R.S.A., and many others.
The editor has in the proper place in the text referred to the assistance given him in connection with the important history of “Clan Chattan” by Alexander Mackintosh Shaw, Esq., whose own history of the clan is nearly completed; the narrative in the present work owes its value almost entirely to his kindness. For assistance in the history of this clan the editor was also indebted to the late Rev. W. G. Shaw of Forfar.
To the Colonels-commanding of all the Highland regiments special thanks are due for hearty co-operation in procuring material for the Third Part of the work. Many other officers have, with the greatest readiness, either volunteered assistance or given it when asked. In this connection special mention must be made of Lieutenant-Colonels Wheatley, Clephane, and Sprot, Captain Colin Mackenzie, and Captain Thackeray.
The large and increasing demand for this work during its publication, and the extremely favourable notices of the press, afford good grounds for believing that it will be found to fulfil the purpose for which it has been compiled. May it ever meet with a kindly welcome from all who are in any way interested in the romantic Highlands of Scotland.
JOHN S. KELTIE.
LONDON, FEBRUARY 1875.