The Settlement of Scottish Immigrants in Nova Scotia, 1770-1830

Preston, Brian William (1986) The Settlement of Scottish Immigrants in Nova Scotia, 1770-1830. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Nova Scotia became a major destination for Scottish emigrants, to the extent that Scots made a very significant contribution to the peopling of the province, and the present study investigates the establishment of a distinctive Scottish society in Nova Scotia. Initially, theoretical and methodological considerations pertaining to the general phenomenon of human migration are discussed in terms of several interrelated academic disciplines, and models such as chain migration and cultural pluralism are selected to form the basis of a conceptual framework. Then, in order to supplement the more usual sources with the direct evidence of a wide selection from the immigrant body itself, personal information provided in over 4,000 petitions for land in Nova Scotia is subjected to manipulation by a computer . This aggregation of diverse individual experience is then used throughout to complement other available evidence. The Scottish background is reviewed in terms of environment, economy and society as a necessary preliminary to the detailed consideration of the Scottish colonization of Nova Scotia. Then the general course of the Scottish emigration movement between 1770 and 1830 is described, followed by a review of circumstances in other prominent destination areas. The bulk of this movement comprised members of the peasant society of small landholders in the Highlands and Islands. This society was subjected to Increasing socio-economic pressures during this period, and it is argued that developments such as moor colonisation were often spontaneous attempts to maintain valued social norms on the traditional basis of near universal land occupancy. As this became more difficult, overseas migration offered alternative opportunities, and the strength of this factor is reflected in the prevalence of group migration and settlement fostered by transferred bonds of kinship and locale. A review of the Nova Scotia background in terms of environment, economy and society reveals a combination of circumstances peculiarly favourable to its development as a field for Scottish colonization during this period of substantial emigration, and a detailed discussion of immigration and settlement documents the diversity of Scottish source areas and socio-economic backgrounds, together with evidence of settlement throughout the province. The outstanding feature of the movement, though, was the development of large areas of homogeneous Highland settlement as Highland immigrants enjoyed relatively unrestricted access to the large undeveloped tracts of the northern mainland and Gape Breton Island. Although other groups were represented in this area of concentrated settlement, any significant numbers were concentrated In restricted localities and. did not seriously impinge on the developing network of Highland communities; and essential elements of the society of origin were preserved as the immigrants arranged themselves in accordance with transferred bonds of kinship and locale. This relatively rapid and successful colonization by Highland groups exerted such a powerful attractive influence that Nova Scotia maintained its great popularity as a destination during this period in the face of growing competition from the developing interior up the St. Lawrence. This was to prove a particularly successful and durable transplantation of Highland society. Of fundamental importance were physiographic and economic factors which fostered the development of an economy closely akin to that which had sustained the accustomed social order in the homeland. In the Hew World, then, as In the Old, a peripheral, economically marginal rural area served to promote cultural retention. However, environmental constraints and economic change had far-reaching effects in the new context also, and, in many ways, the Highland Scots who settled in Nova Scotia only postponed the effects of the general forces of socio-economic change which were disrupting their way of life In Scotland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Economic history, Ethnic studies, Canadian history
Date of Award: 1986
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1986-77484
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2020 09:07
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2020 09:07

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