A public beheading of troublesome Scots in London in 1746
I wanted to do a wee post about tartan but not your run of the mill which tartan is which type thing so while searching for a suitable picture I found this one. The Dress Act of 1746 prohibited the wearing of tartans by men or boys unless they were in the military. This was a deliberate attempt to rob the clans of their normal attire worn as a sign of their Scottish identity. The highland clans had leant considerable support to the Jacobite rebellions and the intention was that by removing a key part of their identity they would more easily integrate with the English culture. Perhaps it could be said that the act in fact gave Scots a defining symbol of their identity. The dress act was actually part of the Act of Proscription 1746 which included a restatement of the Disarming Act of 1716 act for the more effectual securing the peace of the highlands in Scotland” was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, coming into effect on November 1, 1716 which outlawed anyone in defined parts of Scotland from having “in his or their custody, use, or bear, broad sword or target, poignard, whinger, or durk, side pistol, gun, or other warlike weapon” unless authorised. While the picture actually portrays Scots who fought on the Jacobite side for Charles Edward Stuart punishment for being caught with a weapon were not as severe as what I thought they would have been, punishments started with fines, with jail until payment and possible forced conscription for late payment. Repeat offenders were “liable to be transported to any of his Majesty’s plantations beyond the seas, there to remain for the space of seven years”, effectively indentured slavery. The penalties for wearing “highland clothing” as stated in the Act of Proscription were “imprisonment, without bail, during the space of six months, and no longer; and being convicted for a second offence before a court of justiciary or at the circuits, shall be liable to be transported.
One of the better things to come out of the disarming was that less of the frequent squabbles between the Clans ended in bloodshed, the feudal authority the Clan Chieftains had enjoyed were also removed replaced by the sherrifdoms which survive to this day, Sherrifs unlike what you will find in America and Canada are officials who preside over the majority of civil and criminal court cases in Scotland similar to Magistrates and Judges in other countries. It’s funny how a post which was originally intended to cover tartan turns out eh!!!
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