Thursday 24 April 2014

The Making of the Ulster Scot (pt3)

The Flemish Advent

So much with regard to the Saxons and Normans, who, for more than a century and a half, continued to flood Scotland, and to make the race predominant in the country.

(6) But the entrance of yet another Teutonic element has now to be recorded. "One great cause of the wealth and prosperity of Scotland during these early times," says the well-known historian, Mr. Fraser Tytler, "was the settlement of multitudes of Flemish merchants in the country, who brought with them the knowledge of trade and manufactures, and the habits of application and industry. In 1155 Henry II. banished all foreigners from his dominions, and the Flemings, of whom there were great numbers in England, eagerly flocked into the neighbouring country, which offered them a near and safe asylum. We can trace the settlement of these industrious citizens during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in almost every part of Scotland, in Berwick in St. Andrews, Perth, Dumbarton, Ayr, Peebles, Lanark, Edinburgh, and in the districts of Renfrewshire, Clydesdale and Annandale, in Fife, in Angus, in Aberdeenshire and as far north as Inverness and Urquhart" (Tytler's "History of Scotland," Vol II., c. iii., § 4).

Try now to realise the transformation which in the course of more than 1,000 years of eventful history -- of repeated slaughterings, emigrations, and colonisations -- the inhabitants of Galloway and Strathclyde have undergone. We have, first of all, as aborigines the Picts, who were not Celts, but who continued to survive in considerable numbers. We have next the British, or Brythonic, Celts, akin to the Welsh, who subjected, but did not expel the Picts. We nave the numerous Roman campaigns against the British, in which large numbers of the latter were slain or carried captive, and in the courts of a Roman occupation of 300 years' duration the addition of more or less of a Roman element. We have next for a long period measured by centuries its possession and domination by the Teutonic Northumbrians, an immense reduction of the number of the native inhabitants by war, captivity, and actual emigration, and the settlement there of many Angles. We have, then, its capture and occupation by the Northmen, and a powerful addition of Danish and Norse blood to the population. Most important of all, we have for a period of more than a century pouring into the country a continuous stream of Saxon and Norman colonists, who, in conjunction with other Teutonic settlers, soon took the upper hand and became predominant. And finally, we have the inflow of a multitude of Flemings, who were also Teutons.

There was unquestionably in "the remains of the old Midland Britons" a Celtic element, which, however, through intermarriage and fusion of the races in the twelfth and thirteen centuries, soon ceased in the Lowlands to be a separate and appreciable quantity. By that inter-marriage race distinctions were obliterated, and the Scottish people of the Lowlands amalgamated and consolidated into a compact unity, in which the Celtic element had become decidedly exiguous. As Mr. Andrew Lang puts it: "A Dumfries, Ayr, Renfrew, Lanark, or Peebles man, as a dweller in Strathclyde, has some chance of remote British (Brython) ancestors in his pedigree; a Selkirk, Roxburgh, Berwickshire, or Lothian man is probably for the most part of English blood" (Article on "Scotland" in "Encycl. Britannica").

"Since the twelfth age," says Father Innes, "We have no further mention of the Walenses or Welsh ["the remains of the old Midland Britons"] in those parts as a distinct people, they being insensibly so united with and incorporated into one people with the rest of the inhabitants of that country, that in the following age they appeared no less eclipsed or vanished than if they had left the country." "Thence come," he adds, "the expressions of the 'preface to the Chartulary of Glasgo, that the remains of the old Britons or Welsh in the Western parts of Scotland had been by the invasions and ravages of the Picts, Saxons, Scots, and Danes forced to leave the country" ("Critical Essay on the Ancient Inhabitants of the Northern Parts of Britain or Scotland," Book I., c. ii., p. 41, in Vol. VIII. of the History of Scotland"). Father Innes is recognised as one of the most learned, best informed and accurate of Scottish historians.

The Second Territory

II. We turn now to the second territory, including Edinburghshire, Haddingtonshire, and Berwickshire, which provided a considerable number of the Ulster colonists of King James's Plantation. These are all named in the records as having supplied not a few of the Ulster undertakers and settlers. Now, the whole district from the Tees to the Forth, embracing these counties, was early taken possession of by a Teutonic people. Prior even to 449, a tract of country south of the Forth had received a considerable settlement of Frisians, a Teutonic race. But under a leader of the Angles called Ida an English kingdom was founded there in 547 called the kingdom of Bernicia. Later, with Deira added, it became the kingdom of Northumbria, consisting of a thoroughly Teutonic people, Angles or English both in blood and speech. Later still, Northumbria was taken by the Northmen, who added another powerful ingredient to the Teutonic blood of the people there, which was still further strengthened by two causes already noticed -- first, by the immigration of the discontented refugees who followed Edgar, the Atheling, from England on the invasion of the Normans, and, secondly, by the numerous captives carried into Scotland by Malcolm Canmore.

By the victory of the Scottish King, Malcolm II., over Northumbria at Carham in 1018, the whole territory from the Tweed to the Forth, containing the counties named, was ceded to Malcolm. This cession of what was now called Lothian was one of the most momentous and epoch-making events in Scottish history, for it added rich, fertile, Teutonic, and English-speaking province to the Scottish kingdom, which before long became the central and predominating influence in the nation. "It involved nothing lets than the transference to another race of the main destinies of a united Scottish people," and the Anglicising of all Lowland Scotland (Hume Brown, p. 43).

But what I ask you very particularly to notice is that the people occupying that region of Lothian, which sent a very considerable number of colonists to Ulster. were Angles or English, so that it is quite certain that the Ulster immigrants from that area were to all intensive purposes of purely Teutonic blood. "The annexation of Lothian," says Paterson, "occupied for centuries chiefly by the Angles, brought them into closer contact with the inhabitants of the adjacent districts, while a body pf Saxons actually effected a settlement in Kyle and Cunningham . . . The many Saxons brought into Scotland by Malcolm Canmore . . . must have tended greatly to disseminate a language already constituting the vernacular tongue of the East Coast from the Forth to the Tweed . . . In the next, or Angle-Saxon period, the growth of the Scottish dialect can be still more distinctly traced" ("History of County of Ayr," Vol I., pp. 16. 17).


III. We pass finally to that wide territory north of the Forth, known in early times as Pictland, and which gave many emigrants to Ulster. It is known that a good many years later than the actual Plantation under King James, a large number of people came from the region that lies between Aberdeen and Inverness, the ancient province of Moray. In a curious book of "Travels" by Sir William Brereton, the author states that in July, 1635, he came to the house of Mr. James Blare, in Irvine, Ayrshire, who informed him that "above 10,000 persons have within two years last past left the country wherein they lived, which was betwixt Aberdine and Enuerness, and are gone for Ireland; they have come by one hundred in company through this town, and three hundred have gone thence together, shipped for Ireland at one tide." Now, what is the previous history of that province of ancient Moray, lying between Aberdeen and Inverness, from which they emigrated? It was originally inhabited by Picts, a non-Celtic people. But its later history is noteworthy. It was one of the territories which the Northmen took possession of and made their own. In 875 Thorstein the Red, a Danish leader, added Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, and Moray to this dominions. Later the same territory was seized by the Norse Jarl Sigurd, who ruled over it till his death at the battle of Clontarf, when he was succeeded by his son Thorfinn, so that for a long period it was practically a province of Norway. Skene says that the Mormaers and men of Moray "had as often been subject to the Norwegian earls as they had been to the Scottish kings." It is known that, occupying that province for so long a series of years, the Northmen added a strong Norse element to the blood of the residents; while it was the scene of many conflicts which must have greatly diminished the native population.

But another vigorous Teutonic ingredient was still to be given to it. The old province of Moray was one of those specially favoured by a large and liberal Norman colonisation. The Mormaer of Moray and his brother in 1130 took advantage of David's absence in England to raise a force hostile to the King's interest, and they were defeated with heavy loss -- the "Annals of Ulster record that 4,000 of the Morebh were slain," "and so complete was the victory," says Dr. Hume Brown, "that the district of Moray was definitely attached to the Scottish Crown, and its lands divided among the Normans, and such of the natives as the King could trust" ("History of Scotland," Vol. I., p. 76). He adds that it "was largely colonised by Norman settlers." Another rising was attempted in 1162 under Malcolm IV., "who," we are informed, "expelled very many of the rebellious inhabitants of Moray, and planted new colonists in their place, chief among whom were the Flemings or natives of Flanders" ("Critical Essay," &c., by Thos. Innes, M.A., p. 102). In those 10,000 emigrants who went to Ulster from this region there may have been some infusion of Pictish blood, but it is probable that by that time its main ingredient was Teutonic.

Variety of Races

In the rapid survey I have given the thing that most strikes one is the great variety of races that have combined to produce the Lowland Scot, whether he resides on the other side or on this side of the Channel. Pict and Celt, Roman, Frisian, Angle, and Saxon, Dane and Norwegian, Norman and Fleming -- ten different nationalities -- have all gone to the making of him. It is not to any one constituent, but to the union and combination in himself of such a great variety of vigorous elements that he owes those distinctive traits and qualities which distinguish him from other men. If you ask what proportion the Celt bears to the other nationalities which have united in the amalgam which we call the "Ulster Scot," my own impression is that the Angle and the Saxon, the Dane and the Norwegian, the Norman and the Fleming, all of which have gone to his formation, when taken together, make a combination by which, I imagine, the Celt in him is overpowered and dominated. That is my impression, but you can gauge the justice of it by the facts which I have placed before you. And the course of the subsequent history seems to justify this view. It is significant that, after the amalgamation of the races to which I have referred, the people of the Lowlands should be habitually regarded and spoken of as Sassenachs, and the Highlanders of the West as Celts. After the Teutonisation of the former, and the fusion of the races, and when the unabsorbed Celtic population was confined mainly to the Western Highlands and Islands, it was almost inevitable that there should be a determined and final struggle on the part of the latter to maintain, if not their predominance, at least their independence. Such a decisive struggle actually occurred at the famous and desperate battle of Harlaw in 1411. Donald, Lord of the Isles, a Celtic chieftain, with many Highland chiefs at the head of their clans, and an army of 10,000 men, set out to seize Aberdeen, bent on making himself master of the country as far south as the Tay, when he was met at Harlaw by the Earl of Mar, son of "the wolf of Badenoch," defeated in "one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in Scotland," driven back to his fastnesses, and compelled to make submission. By both Highland and Lowland historians the battle of Harlaw is described as "a decisive contest between the two races," the Saxon and the Celt. The authors of "The Clan Donald" assert that "Donald's policy was clearly to set up a Celtic supremacy in the West;" and Dr. Hume Brown affirms that "as a decisive victory of the Saxon over the Celt," the battle of Harlaw "ranks with the battle of Carham in its determining influence on the development of the Scottish nation," and in "ensuring the growth of Teutonic Scotland" (" History of Scotland," Vol. I., p. 206).

Sir Walter Scott was more than a mere writer of romance. From his early years he had given special interest and continued attention to antiquarian pursuits, and to the past history of his country, an interest which appeals in the historical cast and character of so many of his tales. It is true he wrote under a personal bias against the men of the Covenant, but that he was exceptionally familiar with antiquarian lore, and had an intimate knowledge of the past history of Scotland is beyond question. Now, Sir Walter Scott habitually represents the Lowlanders as "Saxons" (which he uses as an equivalent for "Teutons") and the Highlanders as Celts. In the "Fair Maid of Perth," for example, the Booshalloch says to Simon the Glover from Perth, "These are bad manners which he [the young Celtic Highland chief] has learned among yon Sassenachs in the Low Country." Then at the desperate combat oa the North Inch of Perth between the warriors of the two Highland Clans, Clan Qubele and Clan Chattan, when the latter discovered the absence through funk of one of their heroes: "Say nothing to the Saxons of his absence," said the chief, MacGillie Chattanach; "the false Lowland tongues might, say that one of Clan Chattan was a coward." To the great literary artist, the Lowlanders are to all intents and purposes "Saxons." Was an antiquarian expert, such as Scott was, likely to put into the mouth of a Highland chief what he believed to be a gross historical blunder?

But Scott is not alone in this representation. I have given the statements of Dr. Hume Brown, the Historiographer Royal of Scotland, and Professor of Ancient Scottish History and Palaeography in Edinburgh University. I shall only trouble you with the deliberate judgment of another modern historian, who has traversed the whole field of Scottish history. "The Scots, originally Irish," says Mr. Andrew Lang, "have given their name to a country whereof, perhaps, THE GREATEST PART OF THE NATIVES ARE AS ENGLISH IN BLOOD AS THEY ARE IN SPEECH" ("History of Scotland," Vol. I., p. 37).

In Conclusion

The exact proportion of the Celt in the Lowland Scotsman or the Ulsterman it is now impossible to measure with precision. It is the fact that so many different races have united in producing him -- that the blood not only of the Pict and the Celt, but of the Frisian, the Angle, and the Saxon, the Norwegian and the Dane, the Norman and the Fleming, all intermingled, is flowing in his veins -- that seems to me the main thing to be noted in the making of him, the secret to which he owes the distinguishing features in his character. What are they? To summarise them in a sentence, are they not something like these? An economy and even a parsimony of words, which does not always betoken a poverty of ideas; an insuperable dislike to wear his heart upon his sleeve, or make a display of the deeper and more tender feelings of his nature; a quiet and undemonstrative deportment which may have great firmness and determination behind it; a dour exterior which may cover a really genial disposition and kindly heart; much caution, wariness, and reserve, but a decision, energy of character, and tenacity of purpose, which, as in the case of Enoch Arden, "hold his will and bear It through;" a very decided practical faculty which has an eye on the main chance, but which may co-exist with a deep-lying fund of sentiment; a capacity for hard work and close application to business, which, with thrift and patient persistence, is apt to bear fruit in considerable success; in short, a reserve of strength, self-reliance, courage, and endurance which, when an emergency demands (as behind the Walls of Derry), may surprise the world. Where did he get these traits Did he get them from the Celt? I rather think not. The qualities which, in his "Religion of the Ancient Celts," MacCulloch specifies as in all times the distinctive characteristics of the Celt are -- "loquacity, vanity, excitability, fickleness, imagination, love of the romantic, sentimental love of country, religiosity passing easily over to superstition" -- most of them the exact antithesis to what you find in the Ulster Scot. I conclude that the Celt in the Ulsterman is treated by the other races that unite in him very much as the "daft body" in Dean Ramsay's story was treated by the turkey-cock. He was "sairly hadden doun," he said "wi' the bubbly jock." It is evident that the Celtic strain in the blood of the Ulster Scot is "sairly hadden doun" by that varied conglomerate of powerful Teutonic ingredients which/have conspired in the making of him, and which set him in the most obvious, glaring, and piquant contrast with the typical Celt, Irish or other!

This article was originally published in The Witness of 10 April 1913.

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