History: The effects of forced resettlement

Early days: We dressed for church perhaps we attended often to dress up and prove we still knew how no matter what our house looked like.
Early days: We dressed for church perhaps we attended often to dress up and prove we still knew how no matter what our house looked like.

Homesickness affected the Scots as much as any other emigrants, but for those forced from their homeland by the Clearances from the Highlands and Islands, or the Improvements as forced resettlement was called in the Lowlands, it affected them much, much more.

The earliest maps of the Manning Valley highlight the new settler’s names for their homesteads reflecting their origins. When we see railway sidings called Doon Ayre or Pitlochry, it tells us where the first settlers came from. When we see properties called Dalkeith, Segenhoe, Drum Farm, Chester Hill, Bowhill, Lochaber, Gowan Brae, Dunvegan, Kelvin Grove  Raelands and Skye, we are left in no doubt who and where their first owners started out in life. Houses also were given names associated with their owner’s childhood and in Wingham we see Melrose and Stranraer, Lanark and Lochinver to name but a few.

The Scots brought not only their religion but their Gaelic language as well. Although most of the Scots followed the reformed form of Presbyterianism, a significant number adhered to the strictest form of the sect and some were true to the Catholicism of the Highlands.  The Reverend Scott, a Free Kirk minister in the 1890s, quoted in the Free Presbyterian Monthly, wrote home to Scotland, “truth has its true friends here and we are maintaining our banner of truth, excluding all innovation, using only the Psalms and no instrumental music in worship”.

A story said to be true shows that strict faithfulness to their tradition. When the young people of the Dingo creek area who were part of the Ashlea congregation wanted to introduce an organ to the church to support their singing and to let them sing hymns as well as psalms.  A Mr Robinson is recorded as saying “If you put that  “deils machine” in this kirk, me and my family will leave. Both things happened.

 The Gaelic Bible which came to NSW with the refugees from Skye on the Midlothian in 1837, and which was used in the first Gaelic service at Scots Church in Sydney, is displayed in the Wingham Museum.