Winner of the Saltire Society Scottish History Book of the Year Award In April 1816 Patrick Sellar was brought to trial in Inverness for culpable homicide for his treatment of the Highlanders of Strathnaver, the most northerly part of the Scottish highlands. In the process of evicting them from their ancient lands he had allegedly burnt houses, destroyed mills and wrecked pastures. There is perhaps no more hated nor reviled individual in Highland history. This outstanding new book, however, gives a balanced assessment of the man, a vivid account of a terrible episode in Highland history, and a riveting narration of a tormented life. Richard's book is an account of Sellar's life and times: that he was ruthless, avaricious, devious and cruel is beyond question. But his letters suggest a streak of idealism: did he really believe that the displaced highlanders would be better off, better fed, educated and housed in their new homes? Have the Highlands in the end become more productive and prosperous? In the course of his fast-moving and gripping account, Eric Richards looks carefully at these vexed questions.
Eric Richards is Professor of History at Flinders University and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His books include The Highland Clearances: People, Landlords and Rural Turmoil (Edinburgh University Press 2000); Patrick Sellar and the Highland Clearances, (Edinburgh University Press, 1999) (Scottish History Book of the Year); The Last Scottish Food Riots (Oxford University Press, 1982); and The Leviathan of Wealth. The Sutherland fortune in the Industrial Revolution (University of Toronto Press, 1973).