A Thistle Crushed

A Thistle Crushed – The Downfall of a proud Nation 

This novel (available soon), has been written around actual and momentous events in Scotland’s history. It has been dramatised by way of a continuing fictitious story-line throughout of family and other links.

These have been deliberately introduced to portray the effects that the events had on Scotland’s people who were suffering greatly at the time.


Chapter 1 – A National Disaster – The ill-fated Darien scheme at the end of the 17th century almost bankrupted the country of Scotland through greed, poor planning, and insufficient knowledge of the prevailing conditions at the time in middle America. The story also highlights those at fault in general, and those who suffered. It introduces Charles Burt and his Glasgow trading company, and individuals who were affected by the scheme’s  collapse and those who paid the ultimate price.

 Chapter 2 – Towards Union – The after effects of the disastrous Darien scheme were poverty, greatly reduced trade prospects arising from English and other blockades, a seriously failing economy, animosity towards the crown, and rising Jacobite pressures. All of these, and other factors, especially those that benefitted the Scottish elite, ultimately led to the Union between Scotland and England. The story progresses through developments at Charles Burt and company, links to the Jacobites and introduces a young influential orator and his close friendship with someone deeply affected by his own Darien experiences.

 Chapter 3 – Factional Resistance – This chapter features The Union between Scotland and England and the country’s reaction. The first of the Jacobite uprisings promise much but fail. Scotland’s economy is still in a poor state but there is now a growing divide between the north and south of the country with the south faring far better economically than the north. The Burt family still features, but it is Isla Burt, daughter of Charles Burt who is starting to come to the fore. The chapter also introduces Ewan MacPherson, a young highlander who attends Glasgow University and his meeting with Isla Burt.

 Chapter 4 – A Dream Dies – The Jacobite uprisings are still prominent and come to a head at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715. Ewan Macpherson, badly injured, is assisted to the island of Mull where he recovers. He then returns to Glasgow to find Isla and they then elope to Ewan’s family home in the Highlands where they start their family and have two  sons. As their sons, Colin and Donald, grow a hatred develops between them that was to continue in their respective families for years to come. The Jacobites try once more and their venture this time has more success but comes to a dramatic end at the Battle of Culloden. The two MacPherson brothers find themselves on opposite sides during the battle. Earlier Isla decides to visit her parents who now live by Loch Fyne in Argyll.

 Chapter 5 – Escape – This chapter features the aftermath of Culloden and Colin MacPhersons efforts to elude his brother. He tries to get home to his home in Kildonan, by Helmsdale in Sutherland, where his wife is also in danger from Colin’s brother. She is pregnant. The feud between the brothers comes to a head when Colin tries to get his wife away from the dangers that are building up for them in Helmsdale. They are assisted in this by a young man whose own family has been seriously affected by Colin’s brother.

 Chapter 6 – Subjugation, Growth, and Enlightenment – The atrocities that were afflicted by government forces in the aftermath of Culloden now become more widely known. They are praised by some at Westminster and reviled by others in the Highlands. The Scottish economy is now starting to grow again particularly in the south. Many of the lairds, politicians and elite move to England leaving a social space in which the arts, literature and industry start to flourish. It is the period of the Scottish Enlightenment recognised around the world. A young authoress, Clara Sweeney, meets Robert Burns and also learns about the start of the Highland Clearances and the initial attempts by those lairds and landowners who instigate these actions to keep news of them quiet.

 Chapter 7 – A Family Cleared – The family feud of the two sides of the Macpherson family has continued through the next generations and is still very much in evidence with the full-blown occurrence of the Highland Clearances. One side of the family is about to be cleared from their tenancy by the infamous Sutherlands and their dreaded land agent. The other side of the family, Sir Alexander MacPherson, is very much involved in this action.

Chapter 8 – Emigration to the New World – Half of the “cleared” family decide to emigrate to the New World and they are greatly assisted in this by a young shipping clerk in Helmsdale. The very arduous journey by ship via Stromness in the Orkney Islands brings illness and deaths to many of the families. It also brings a young couple together. Eventually the ship arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and efforts are then made to find work and places to live through local agents and by their own investigations.

COPYRIGHT: Ian Couper 2018

Please EMAIL me if you have any queries on any of the above