The Crushing of Thistles

An Ancient nation subdued

This story, now complete and seeking publication, has been written around actual and momentous events from Scotland’s national history. It has been dramatised by way of a continuing fictitious story-line of family and other links to assist with the portrayal of events that greatly affected Scotland’s people who were suffering immensely throughout these times.

Chapter 1 – Darien 

Scotland’s calamitous Darien scheme

The ill-fated Darien scheme at the end of the 17th century almost bankrupted Scotland. It was caused by greed, bad planning and insufficient knowledge of the prevailing conditions at the time in middle America. The story also highlights those in general who were at fault as well as those who suffered. This opening chapter introduces Charles Burt and his Glasgow trading company together with other individuals affected by the scheme’s collapse and those who paid the ultimate price.

Chapter 2 – Towards Union 

Events that led to the 1707 Union of the Scottish and English Parliaments

The after effects of the disastrous Darien scheme were momentous. They led to great poverty throughout the land, substantially reduced trade prospects as a result of English and other blockades of the project, a seriously failing Scottish economy, growing animosity towards the crown, and rising Jacobite pressures. All of these and other factors ultimately led to the Union between Scotland and England. This chapter progresses through developments at Charles Burt and Company, links to the Jacobites, and introduces a young influential orator and his close friendship with someone who was deeply affected by his own Darien experiences.

Chapter 3 – Resistance

Opposition to the Union between Scotland and England

This chapter features The Union between Scotland and England as well as the country’s reaction. Early 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 now starting to come to the fore. The chapter also introduces Ewan MacPherson, a young Highlander who attends Glasgow University.

 Chapter 4 – A Dying Dream

The historic and final effort of the Jacobites

The Jacobite uprisings are still prominent at this time and include 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 decide to elope to Ewan’s family home in the Highlands. They start their family having two sons. As their sons, Colin and Donald, grow up, a hatred develops between them that continues in their respective families for years to come. The Jacobites decide to 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

The subjugation begins

The aftermath of Culloden, and Colin MacPherson’s efforts to elude his brother are described in this chapter. He tries to get back 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 the terrible cruelties of Colin’s brother.

Chapter 6 – Subjugation and Enlightenment

A brightly shining light in the dark

The atrocities that were afflicted by Government forces in the aftermath of Culloden were now becoming more widely known. Unbelievably they are actually praised by some at Westminster but widely 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 the 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 that is recognised and praised around the world. A young authoress, Clara Sweeney, meets Robert Burns. She also learns about the start of the Highland Clearances and the initial attempts by those lairds and landowners who were involved to try to keep news of them quiet.

Chapter 7 – The Clearances

The infamous Highland Clearances, and forced eviction

The family feud of the two sides of the MacPherson family has continued through the next generations and is still very much in evidence as the full-blown occurrence of the Highland Clearances starts to affect many Highland families. One side of the family is about to be cleared from their tenancy by the infamous Sutherland family and their dreaded land agent. On the other side of the MacPherson family, Sir Alexander MacPherson is very much involved in the delivery of this action.

Chapter 8 – Emigration

The final sorry act, and a new beginning

Half of the “cleared” family now seems to have no option but to emigrate to the New World. 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 also by their own investigations. 

COPYRIGHT: Ian Couper 2021

Complete and seeking publication.

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