Highlands: optimism to destitution 1820-1850
1. Economic collapse after the Napoloenic Wars
- Decline in the kelp market: kelp was important to many highland estates and was used and sold for its high alkaline content. During the Napoloenic Wars the kelp industry was lucrative because of the blockades placed on it by Napoleon - in 1800 a ton of kelp was selling for £20. By the end of the wars, however the kelp market collapsed as the blockades were lfited and by 1850 kelp was selling for £3 a ton- disastrous to many highland estates as many had relied on the kelp industry for their main and only income.
- Demobilisastion of soldiers: the mobilisation of soliders had been a solid income for many highland landowners - often instead of employing large farm tenants, land owners would employ landless tenants and promise them land on their return from the army - landwners recieved bounties from the gvernment if they were enthusiastic recruiters. With the end of the napoleonic wars, many soliders were demobilised and their promised land had to be realised - led to subdivision and overpopulation of an already destitute population.
- No longer an option to temporary migrate: scots, and highlanders in general, were historically a migratory people and for many months of the year, not during harvests, many highlanders migrated down to the lowlands for temporary work in farms, especially in east lothian, or employment in industry. with the end of the napoleonic wars…