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The tacksman

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The tacksman

Postby Kay » Mon 17 Jun 2013 13:06 GMT

Here is an interesting word I came across the other day - tacksman. I was reading a novel, set around the time of the Highland Clearances, when many Scots were emigrating to Nova Scotia to start again.

Many of them had been crofters and been evicted from their land to make way for the sheep. The tacksman was usually instrumental in this process.

The emigrants went through hell. First they were evicted. Then they had no choice but to emigrate to what was then a very inhospitable land. They had a long sea journey (at least 4 weeks). And then they had to start from scratch when they got there.

Many of them despised tacksmen and the old system they stood for. The novel had a character who had been a tacksman and wondered why people didn't quickly adopt him as the leader of the Scottish community in Canada. They resented him and his "old-ways" of thinking.

The word "tacksman" isn't in our dictionary, but I did find a reference to it in Wiki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacksman

It seems that the Scots in Canada were keen to start new lives in a new way. They ran their communities on a democratic basis (without leaders), and they all mucked in to help each other. There's a lot to be said for how they did it.
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Re: The tacksman

Postby Dave » Mon 17 Jun 2013 15:07 GMT

Kay wrote:Many of them had been crofters and been evicted from their land to make way for the sheep. The tacksman was usually instrumental in this process.

Ironic, considering that the Clearances destroyed the very social system upon which the tacksman depended for his status and wealth.
It seems that the Scots in Canada were keen to start new lives in a new way. They ran their communities on a democratic basis (without leaders), and they all mucked in to help each other. There's a lot to be said for how they did it.

It's interesting that class seems to be a lot less of an issue in the larger ex-Dominions than in the UK. I get the impression that there's still a certain amount of snobbery in the smaller island territories, where the Governor and his (or these days, sometimes her) social circle are more visible than they would have been in some remote capital in the middle of a vast territory like Canada or Australia.
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Postby ruggie » Wed 26 Jun 2013 11:10 GMT

I suspect that the larger ex-Dominions have more egalitarian societies because they were populated by Old World strata with their upper and lower layers left behind. Australia, having been the target of forced migration from disadvantaged strata, still seems to more aggressively classless than Canada. Weren't the small island territories mostly founded as commercial entities, and hence hierarchical by nature? The very smallness and isolation of their populations would have limited their development until recently.
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