Sunday, 5 June 2011


For the next few weeks, this blog will publish the (nearly) daily Remembering Today postings, which have been scheduled in advance. Your blogger is taking a leave of absence until July 1st. Looking back over the past five months or so, I have worked my way through some very interesting aspects of local history, using a subscription to the websites of Ancestry and Scotlandspeople. It has certainly served to bear out my standpoint that you should view historical events through the eyes of the time.

We may not understand, with our 21st century eyes, the subservience shown by the ordinary soldiers and sailors of the First World War, who answered the call to arms without question. The term shell-shock was common parlance during the First War; we would describe it as post-traumatic stress disorder. But in those days, you had to "do your bit", and trying to get out, even after suffering injury and horrendous experiences, could earn you a "white feather" - the sign given to perceived cowards. However, worse than a white feather were the bullets, earned by those thought to be malingering, deserting or laying down their arms. Three thousand were shot at dawn.

Moving on to the Napier Commission and the witnesses that spoke at their sessions across the Highlands and Islands, shows a more distant time, with conditions we cannot imagine. The insecurity, caused by short-term tenancies; the wilful abuse inflicted by managers and chamberlains of landlords that were living the high life in London, and at times could not be bothered with the peasantry back north. The Napier Report, a pivotal document in the history of the Highlands and Islands, was only one of many stepping stones. Evictions never ceased, and as recently as the early 1990s, I have learned of a family being threatened with wilful eviction in this part of Scotland.

I feel it is important that these issues be highlighted and made available on the WWW, for all to find and read. Rather than publish it in book form, which does not allow for easy amendment, where necessary, and presenting the obstacle of cost. Not all books feature on Amazon, and not everybody can come in person to the excellent Stornoway Library.

I am not a trained researcher, and am therefore endebted to those who were willing to help me along over the past few months and years. You know who you are. I am looking forward to resuming my inquiries in July.

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