Sir Harry Lauder and the Scottish Diaspora

On 26 February 1950 Sir Harry Lauder, the famous Scottish entertainer Winston Churchill once referred to as ‘Scotland’s greatest ever ambassador’, died in Strathaven, Lanarkshire. Lauder’s story is a remarkable, and one that directly connects him to the Scottish Diaspora.

Born near Edinburgh on 4 August 1870, Lauder’s mother moved the family to Arbroath after the death of Harry’s father. It was there that Lauder, aged 12, started work in a local mill. Two years later, the family relocated to Lanarkshire, where Lauder became a pit boy, working in a coal mine. Ever since his father’s death, Lauder had, however, also enjoyed singing, and it was singing that should make him famous all over the world. He began to get paid engagements and then joined a concert part, touring Scotland, …

The global saint: St Andrew’s Day in the Scottish Diaspora

StAD‘No saint in the calendar’, observed a reporter in the Hong Kong Daily Press in 1886, ‘receives the hearty and regular devotion paid to St Andrew by his flock in all parts of the world.’ And indeed, next to Burns Night, St Andrew’s Day was the central holiday in the annual events calendar of the Scots overseas, offering an opportunity for them to gather and celebrate their Scottish heritage – a tradition that continues to this day. But let’s look at some of the events that have taken place since the mid-nineteenth century, when St Andrew’s Day celebrations began to proliferate around the world.

In New York, in 1890, ‘the music of the bagpipes and the pungent aroma of the haggis’ filled the banquet room of the famous Delmonico’s …

The Scottish Diaspora and the Story of St Kilda

StKildaOn 29 August 1930 the remaining residents of St Kilda were evacuated from the island on economic grounds at the islanders’ own request as the population had dwindled from 73 in 1920 to only 37 in 1928. There is, however, a much longer history of departures from the island, and one directly connected to the Scottish Diaspora.

When, in October 1852, 36 St. Kildans left the island to emigrate to Australia, the Glasgow Herald observed that it was the first emigration from that remote island to the distant shores of the Antipodes. ‘The cause of humanity would be served’, the paper went on, were that emigration to continue ‘until all inhabitants have been removed from the barren rock’. Whether this was a sentiment shared by the emigrants themselves is not …

Burns Centenary Celebrations: Honouring the Poet’s Death in the Scottish Diaspora

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 16.34.22Burns, and the commemorations in his name, entrenched what might suitably be described as a memory community, and one effective in maintaining links globally. The Burns centenary celebrations held in 1896, honouring the poet’s death on 21 July, serve as a useful case study. Managed by various committees in connection with the Dumfries Burns Club and the Burns Federation, the centenary event organisers were keen to involve members from overseas to do honour to Burns. In writing ‘to all the Burns Clubs and Scottish Societies, and also to the leading newspapers of America, Australia, and New Zealand’, the officials expressed the sincere hope that no Scot abroad would ‘allow distance to be any hindrance to them if they wished to be represented here on the 21st July and assist us …