The Act of Proscription

The Act of Proscription did not ban ‘tartan’ but Highland dress made from tartan for men and boys. It did not ban the Gaidhlig language or the playing of bagpipes.

There had been many attacks on the Gaidhlig language, including acts which made important land owners send their eldest children to the south to be educated and barred from inheriting the estates if they did not speak English, but it was not banned as such by law and not in the Act of Proscription. Later, the British Government, at the suggestion of Cumberland’s Major General Bland, would give the Kirk substantial amount of money to set up ‘schools’ – not to offer local children general education but to teach them not to speak Gaidhlig and to be Presbyterians:

‘Schoolls should likewise be Establish’d in Several Parts of the Highlands, not with a view of making them Learned, but to Teach them English and the Rudements of the Protestant Religion, as the greatest part of the Common People here are ignorant of both.’ Major General Sir Humphrey Bland, Fort Augustus, 1746.

The Bagpipes were never banned, but increasingly became associated with the many newly formed Highland regiments being sent around the world to fight for the British Empire.

It is a simple thing to look up the language of the Act and read it but that seems a bridge too far for many who continue to spread misinformation.

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