Scotland (Counties as in 1851-1901) => Scotland => Topic started by: Malmo on Tuesday 15 August 06 13:00 BST (UK)

Title: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Malmo on Tuesday 15 August 06 13:00 BST (UK)
Iíve been perusing the 1841and 1851 census returns for the whole of Cairneyhill near Dunfermline, in Fife. You might not know this but Cairneyhill wasnít noted for its gleaming towers, fashionable boulevards or vibrant nightlife.
Most of the adults either worked on the land, down the pits or in the textile industry.
Cairneyhill wasnít a big place and peopleís homes werenít numbered or named. They just lived on the ďnorthĒ or ďsouth side of the streetĒ.
I can only assume that the houses which line each side of the main street today are much the same now as they were then, small. Given the size of many of the families including mine, I canít imagine how they all lived together. They must have taken it in turns to eat and sleep.
However, from the information available I can see that all of the children in my very under privileged, working class family, both boys and girls, are at school. As far as I am aware this predates the Scottish education act. Of the children who had left school at the time of the first census, two that I know of went on to university at St Andrews and Glasgow.
I conclude that this pair went to school as well in the eighteen twenties and thirties. I can also see that one of the girls is following the same path that led to one of her many brothers becoming a Doctor. Of the children who survived birth, all went on for four score years or so, just like their mum and dad. Did they just prevail or did they live as merry as the day
I know this is just a microcosm of Scottish life but this glimpse like others I have come across, seems to contrast with the bleak accounts of life that are handed down to us. I can see education for all, opportunity and equality of opportunity before any government decree and long before the suffrage movement came to town.
Perhaps things werenít as gloomy as we are often led to believe.
Any thoughts or knowledge would oblige.
Title: Re: Social History
Post by: Clare Fowler on Tuesday 15 August 06 13:24 BST (UK)
Hi there,

"Free" education for all in Scotland was a major aim of John Knox and the Presbyterian Church.  He was a great believer in the fact that all children should be able to read, and in "virtuous education and godly upbringing of the youth of this Realm".  As early as 1616, it was  'law' that every parish  This led to the parish school system which was up an running in the 1700s and was fairly successful in the Lowlands at least.  Schooling was either free or very cheap.  So what you are talkign about does indeed pre-date the 1872 education act, but the Scottish parliament and the church had been very active in this area for around 300 years before this.

For a good understanding of Socio-economic history of Scotland from the Union of    1707, I would suggest reading Tom Devine's The Scottish Nation: 1700-2000 - which is a good broad text or books by TC Smout and Chris Whatley, amongst others.

Title: Re: Social History
Post by: GordonD on Tuesday 15 August 06 14:19 BST (UK)
Tom Devine's book is good. I've recently read "The Scottish Enlightenment: The Scots Invention of the Modern World" by Arthur Herman which also discusses the parish education system briefly and also the role of cheaper and broader access to universities in Scotland (with respect to the extremely elitist Oxford and Cambridge at the time) helped spur this the enlightenment on.

Title: Re: Social History
Post by: Gadget on Tuesday 15 August 06 14:29 BST (UK)
Anything by Tom Devine is good  ;D

Also, an interesting approach is:

Murray G H Pittock  A New History of Scotland, Sutton Publishing, 2003

and :

Peter Aitchison and Andrew Cassell The Lowland Clearances - Scotland's Silent Revolution, 1760-1830, Tuckwell, 2003

Anthony Cooke (ed) Modern Scottish History 1707 to the Present, Tuckwell/OU, 1998

I've got a room full but not in a handy list yet!

Title: Re: Social History
Post by: Malmo on Wednesday 16 August 06 12:31 BST (UK)
Thanks Clare, Gordon and Gadget for the information. I have come across Devineís, The Scottish Nation but decided on other books instead. On your suggestion I will now go and get it. I have been trying to buy another book of his entitled, The Great Highland Famine, Hunger, Emigration etc since February from Amazon. They keep coming back to me to extend the delivery period by yet another four to six weeks. It must be scarce even though itís named as an available title.
I mention this book because I have read verbatim accounts concerning the Highland Clearances. Where this is generally accepted as a social aberration, perhaps rightly, there is information out there indicating that the policy was welcomed by at least some of its apparent victims.
I donít mean to bang on about my own people but I am very interested in the social history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries generally and education in particular. I would like to know amongst many things, how much it cost, who paid, what was the route to university and the selection process and again, where did the money come from.
You may be right Gordon, about the relative elitism between Scottish and English Universities but it would be nice to have the facts.
With due respect to all Scotís, I like scotching myths.
Title: Re: Social History
Post by: GordonD on Wednesday 16 August 06 13:15 BST (UK)
In one chapter in Herman's book entrance to university is discussed (can dig out some more concrete facts about fees, etc later when I'm at home than the ones I can remember off the top of my head!).

In the eighteenth century there was Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Aberdeen but in England only Oxford and Cambridge. Fees in Scotland were cheaper and were at a level that the new merchant class could definitely afford to send children to university whereas in England the fees were such that generally the aristocracy and landed gentry could afford it. Entrance in Scotland wasn't restricted on religion in the way that Oxbridge was restricted to members of the CofE (when UCL opened in 1826 and King's in 1829 access to uni broadened considerably in England). The influence of the Kirk was also declining in univerisity's in the 18th century: the book opens with the incident of a student that was hanged in the 1680s-1690s for blasphemy which would have been unimaginable a short while later.
The cirriculum was also organised in a different manner and the teaching of medicine in particular was viewed to be better north of the border with people coming up from England to study(especially as Oxbridge was cut off to many). The early universities in America based their education on either the German or Scottish systems (eventually the German system was used in all of them).

Title: Re: Social History
Post by: Gadget on Wednesday 16 August 06 13:18 BST (UK)
Hi Malmo

I presume you've read the classic on Crofting and Clearances:

James Hunter The Making of the Crofting Community, John Donald - various reprints

Hunter has written many papers and books and is as widely respected as Devine.

There is also a rather nice study of my area:

Eric Richards and Monica Clough Cromartie - Highland Life 1650-1914, Aberdeen UP,

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: GordonD on Wednesday 16 August 06 21:06 BST (UK)
Some of the facts from the book that I said I would look up that were mentioned in the book:

Glasgow cost £5 a year in fees which was a tenth of the cost of fees at Oxbridge (in the 18th century but no exact year given). No entrance exams and some students were as young as 13 or 14 attended. Think it was based on having a certain degree of literacy and the means to scrape together the fees.
Most students had parents in the trade, commerce and professions rather than the working or labouring classes. Mentions sons of artisans, shopkeepers and farmers in the 18th century being educated alongside aristocrats-not common until a century later at Oxbridge. Between 1740 and 1830 50% of the students at Glasgow were from the middle classes with some but not many from lower down the scale. In 1790 50% of the students were the sons of industry and commerce (8% at Cambridge)- this statistic is used in demonstrating the merchant classes pursuit of the Enlightment's ideal of the "civilised" world in terms of business and education rather than an indepth comparison of  the student demographic.

However not all rosy! (The things here mentioned in the conclusion of the book). By the late 19th century the Scottish university system which had been a model for ones around the world was in decline. One quote by the rector of Edinburgh's High School was that the Scottish university system was the "handloom weaver of the intellectual world". Brightest people went to Oxbridge or to London (Herman sees some irony as the first of the new English unis UCL was modelled on the Edinburgh and at first the faculty was all Scottish or Scottish-educated). In 1892 to try to redress the decline with entry exams, BSc and honours degrees being introduced and women being admitted. No longer could peopel as young as 13 or 14 go to uni. He also states that this only served to make the system in Scotland more elitist with the poorer and less qualified people(possibly like those who could go from Cairneyhill a couple of decades before) not being able to get into university and with the best people still going down South.

In terms of the education at school, 1872 act abolished the school fees and primary education compulsory. A statisitc from this section was that 1 in 7 Scots children went to secondary school in 1914 and 1 in 20 in England. Those in most need not always helped though: the book has an estimate of around 15% of children in Glasgow never attending school.


Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Malmo on Friday 18 August 06 14:07 BST (UK)
Thank you for that Gordon, Thatís very interesting. I have seen Hermanís book on the shelves but the title put me off buying it. Maybe I should think again. I wonder if there is archive material for this subject held by the universities.
Not that itís important to me but, are you sure there were only two universities in England during the nineteenth century? I should add that I am not so much interested in universities per se. Itís how the ďlabouring classesĒ made their way into them during the nineteenth century that I would like to expand apon and educational ambitions in general.
I havenít read Hunterís book Gadget, but I do have Alexander Mackenzieís, History of the Highland Clearances which includes a lot of original material. I must confess to not having read it yet.
 I also bought the latest, two volume edition of, The History of Scotland, which contains historical accounts of many authors compiled by Houston and Knox. I naively expected it to cover everything I ever wanted to know!
The book I would really like to get my hand on is the one by Devine mentioned up the page.

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Clare Fowler on Friday 18 August 06 14:15 BST (UK)
Hi Malmo,

the Devine book will give you a lot on the information you are searching for.  I believe it was indeed the case that in the 18th century (that is 1700s - as stated by Gordon), there was only Oxford and Cambridge.  Whereas Scotland had 4 institutions such as Glasgow Uni founded in 1451.

It is a lengthy subject which is best addressed by reading some of the material out there rather than trying to cram in an answer on here.  As an aside, I actaully took an evening course at Glasgow Uni a couple of years back on Social and Economic history of Scotland from 1700 to 1914, which was very worthwhile in understanding the underlying background to my research, and would highly recommend it to anyone.

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Gadget on Friday 18 August 06 17:59 BST (UK)
Another amazing resource is the School of Scottish  Studies archives at Univ of Edinburgh:

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Malmo on Saturday 19 August 06 00:52 BST (UK)
Is this a ploy to get me enrolled on one of your Celtic and  Gaelic courses Gadget?
Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Gadget on Saturday 19 August 06 02:18 BST (UK)
Moi  ::) ::) ::)

Don't have any up here in the Highlands - we're still living it  ;)

Mind you I do have an amazing collection of books and articles on not just history but on the culture - Carmena Gaedelica is a wonderful collection of oral traditional chants, prayers, stories from the Western Isles and lots more. There was also an exhibition - An Lantair, Stornoway and touring a while back, As an Fhearann (pronounced as an yarann) - translated as From the Land, Clearance, Conflict and Crofting. Mostly a visual exhibition but with some articles.

The School of Scottish Studies has lots of online resources and, if you can get to Edinburgh, a wonderful collection of oral histories, written accounts and film/photography.

The poetry of Sorley Maclean and the art of the greatest living Scottish artist, Will Maclean, are all things to consider if you are interested in the Clearances.

Also, of course, the Report of the Napier Commission, 1883 which resulted in the first Crofting Act 1886.

No no enrolment necessary - it's all out there waiting for an inquiring mind  :)

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: GordonD on Wednesday 06 September 06 14:56 BST (UK)
I fancied having a reread of Tom Devine's Scottish Nation book(as wasn't reserching my family when read it about 5 years ago and thought it would be good to look at the general history given what I know about their lives now). I couldn't locate my copy so was looking to see where it was cheapest to get it online.

When looking at I noticed that a new edition is coming out on 30th November 2006 entitled The Scottish Nation: 1700-2007. The new edition appear to be around 50 pages longer so probably not much extra discussion of the historical issues but rather an extra chapter or so on Scotland since devolution. If you want extra contemporary discussion as well the historical discussion might be better to wait a couple of months to get the new edition.

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Malmo on Thursday 07 September 06 10:59 BST (UK)
Thanks Gordon. I'll bear that in mind. Here is some details of another Devine book about to be published:

Clearance and Improvement: Land, Power and People in Scotland, 1700-1900 (Paperback

Social and economic changes included an increase in production of food and raw materials, in turn sustaining the remarkable growth of towns and cities over this period. However, in the folk memory of Scotland the social and cultural costs of the revolution loom much larger: the loss of land for many thousands of families; the rise of individualism and the decline of neighbourhood; the death of old rural societies which had formed Scotland's character for many generations. The drama and tragedy of Highland history during this period have attracted many authors, whereas the Lowland experience, that of the majority of Scots, hardly any. This book attempts to redress that balance, and in so doing examines why this extraordinary era, inextricably associated with failure, famine and clearance in Gaeldom, is remembered as one of 'improvement' in the Lowlands, where the folk memory of dispossession, if it ever existed, is long lost in collective amnesia. In so doing, Devine addresses an issue which goes right to the heart of the nation's past.

I'm still trying to get my hands on the book I mentioned further up the page

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Gadget on Thursday 07 September 06 11:03 BST (UK)
Hi Malmo

It might be worth trying some Scottish bookshops for the book - or even the second hand ones such as abebooks. I've managed to get a few that way.
If you like, one of my friends owns a large seconhand/antiquarian bookshop in Inverness, and I could e-mail him to see if he has one or knows where you could get it.

PM me the full details if you want me to do this.

Title: Re: Social History - Scotland
Post by: Malmo on Friday 08 September 06 10:55 BST (UK)
Hello Gadget.
 I have tried abe books and other on-line outlets, all to no avail. Eventually I thought it best to leave the matter with Amazon who said, and have restated since, that it would take four to six weeks. That was eight months ago. Amazon is only good for selling the books that they want to sell. The last time I looked at their website it was still showing as an available title. I wish they were more open and frank instead of continuously putting me on hold
The full book title is;

T.M. Devine "The Great Highland Famine: Hunger, Emigration and the
   Scottish Highlands in the Nineteenth-century"

Please donít go to too much trouble on my behalf. I shall be passing through Edinburgh next month and will try and order a copy through one of a couple of second hand bookshops that have been recommended to me if all else fails.