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  William Henderson Walker

 Argyll and Bute’s War

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The population of Argyllshire was cited as 70,901 in the 1911 census. This was down from a peak of 100,973 in 1831. As with many rural areas depopulation was largely down to industrialisation. The same technologies that were reducing the need for manpower on the farms and estates were providing work in the large towns and cities. Working the land was no longer a guaranteed way of life and by 1914 many young men saw enlisting as not only their patriotic duty, but also as a way of earning a livelihood for them and their families.

Many had emigrated from Argyll, during and after The Clearances. The whole New World, but particularly Canada and Australia saw an influx of some of the poorest people from the Highlands and the Islands. After the Emigration Act of 1851 The Highlands and Islands Emigration Society was set up to oversee the process of resettlement. Under the scheme a landlord could secure a passage to Australia for a nominee at the cost of £1. There are many examples of these young men returning home so they could enlist, fight and perhaps die for their country of birth which had seemed to have no need of them in the recent past.

The Estates, farms and villages battled on with reduced workforces. The relationship between the land and its people was already changing and World War One would prove to speed this change.


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