Lowland Clearances
Clan Forsyth Society
New Zealand
The Forsyth's were predomiminently a Lowland clan, primarily residing around Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Perth. Although not affected to the same extent by the Highland Clearances which forced many from their homes, the Lowland Scots none-the-less were still forced by conditions of the time to look for more favourable opportunities in other countries.

The Lowland Clearances in Scotland were one of the results of the British Agricultural Revolution, which changed the traditional system of agriculture which had existed in Lowland Scotland for hundreds of years. Hundreds of thousands of cottars and tenant farmers from the southern counties of Scotland were forcibly moved from the farms and small holdings they had occupied.

Many small settlements were torn down, their occupants forced to new, purposely-built villages. John Cockburn of Ormiston, for example, displaced cottars to the outskirts of his new ranch. Other displaced farmers moved to the new industrial centres of Glasgow, Edinburgh and northern England.

As a result, between 1760 and 1830, many tens of thousands of Lowland Scots emigrated, taking advantage of the many new opportunities offered in Canada and the United States after 1776 to own and farm their own land. Others chose to remain, either by choice, out of an inability to secure transatlantic passage, or because of obligations in Scotland.

As farmland became more commercialised, land was often rented through auctions, leading to an inflation of rents that priced many tenants out of the market. Furthermore, changes in agricultural practice meant the replacement of part-time labourer / subtenants (known as cottars, cottagers, or bondsmen) with full time agricultural labourers who lived either on the main farm or in rented accommodation in growing or newly founded villages. This led many contemporary writers and modern historians to associate the Agricultural Revolution with the disappearance of cottars and their way of life from many parts of the southern Scotland.

Although the causes were different, the lowland Agricultural Revolution is being seen as the forerunner of the Highland Clearances, which started around the same time but continued to the 1870s. New research (200304) about the destruction of Lowland culture has led historians such as Tom Devine to dub this period of time the Lowland Clearances.