The Scottish Horse

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 06.01.54A very specific politicization of Scottish ethnic associational activity is worth pausing over as we continue to remember the First World War: in that war the Scottish Horse played an important role. The regiment’s roots, however, lay in the South African War over a decade earlier, and were in no small way a direct expression of a strong sense of duty many Scots felt towards Empire. This is most immediately seen in one particular activity several Scottish ethnic associations in Africa pursued: the idea to form Scottish units in support of the war effort. The Johannesburg Caledonian Society, for instance, supported the formation of a unit to be known as Scottish Horse, a cavalry regiment that was raised in Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg under the leadership of Lord Tullibardine.…

A Scottish Physician in Hong Kong

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 22.17.08 I am currently in Hong Kong for fieldwork and went for a meeting at Hong Kong University today. On the way up from the new HKU station panels telling the University’s history have been installed. Among the early panels were many references to the the medical training the University provided in the early days. And that reminded me of Scot James Cantlie.

Born in Dufftown in 1851, Cantlie studied at the University of Aberdeen, gaining a degree in arts and medicine. He then proceeded to London to finish his medical education at Charing Cross Hospital, where he subsequently became demonstrator of anatomy – a position he held from 1872 to 1887. He also became assistant surgeon at the hospital in 1877, moving on to surgeon in 1887.

His work brought …

The Sons of Scotland in Canada

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.35.21The Sons of Scotland association was established as a mutual aid society in Toronto in 1876 to provide insurance to its members, also including in its activities elements of sociability and the celebration of Scottish culture. The specific objectives were:

  • To unite Scotchmen, sons of Scotchmen, and their descendants, of good moral character, and possessed of some known reputable means of support, who are over eighteen years of age.
  • To establish a fund for the relief of sick members, and to ameliorate their condition in every reasonable manner.
  • To provide or establish a Beneficiary Fund, from which, on satisfactory evidence of the death of a member, a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars shall be paid, as provided by the Constitution and laws of the Order relative to the Beneficiary

Scottish emigration to North America

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 10.51.47Data on the number of Scottish migrants arriving in North America for the period before the American Revolution is sparse. Estimates suggest that, prior to the mid-seventeenth century, around 200  Scottish settlers had made their way to English plantations. Several early ventures, for instance to South Carolina, ended in tragedy, and, overall, the number of Scots emigrating was decreasing. While the Union of 1707 officially opened the now British Empire for Scots, numbers were still low, approximately 30,000 Scots arriving in North America in the period 1700–60. Although many of them were attracted by the availability of land, there was also a strong pull to the emerging urban centres. By the time the first census was taken in the United States in 1790, the distribution of those who considered themselves …