As late as 1750 one half of Scots lived north of the Tay. Perinatal and infant mortality, although high, was not sufficient to prevent an ever rising population and subdivision of lands. The landowners were happy for this situation to prevail as they were dependent on having lots of fighting men and the population itself had nowhere to go.
The clan system disintegrated after the 1745 rebellion. The 1770 improvement act set about to try and improve the productivity of the land and the industrial revolution gave the opportunity for the population to move to towns particularly in the central belt of Scotland where the population rose enormously.
Discovery around this time of relatively empty foreign lands gave opportunity for emigration which history tells us was taken up by huge numbers of Scots and sadly also encouraged by landowners.
This schoolchild's drawing, part of an exibition in Amulree Church about the Breadalbane clearances, vividly portrays the multifactorial nature of crofters reasons for leaving. It was not simply an issue of 'sheep in and people out'.
The end result was of course a dramatic fall in the population of rural Scotland, a rise in the population of the towns and many Scots emigrating to Canada in particular.
If we consider a larger area like Perthshire, which had both farms and towns such as Perth, the impact on population numbers was largely neutral.There was however a very significant depopulation of Highland Perthshire.
Page last updated - 17/11/13