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The Social, Economic & Political Reasons for the Decline of Gaelic in Scotland

Ewan J. Innes, MA(Hons Scot. Hist.) FSA Scot

1993

Synopsis:  This essay describes the various reasons for the decline of Gaelic from the tenth to the twentieth century by discussing the social, economic and political patterns involved.

Please see my copyright policy if you wish to cite any part of this essay.

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Gaelic Speaking Population

By County

1881-1971

1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1951 1961 1971
Scotland % 6.76 6.84 5.57 4.56 3.47 2.97 1.98 1.64 1.78
Counties %
Aberdeen 0.25 0.59 0.48 0.38 0.30 0.26 0.26 0.21 0.65
Angus 0.24 0.57 0.50 0.42 0.29 0.27 0.18 0.19 0.56
Argyll 65.25 60.88 54.35 47.06 34.56 33.17 21.69 17.20 0.72
Ayr 0.33 0.89 0.73 0.58 0.50 0.41 0.33 0.30 0.59
Banff 0.58 1.08 0.88 0.66 0.48 0.31 0.31 0.29 0.73
Berwick 0.09 0.29 0.26 0.34 0.24 0.26 0.24 0.21 0.57
Bute 22.70 0.34 15.71 12.02 4.57 5.17 2.28 1.64 1.90
Caithness 9.48 11.96 9.16 5.62 3.76 2.59 1.25 0.90 1.55
Clackmannan 0.04 0.82 0.57 0.77 0.51 0.48 0.28 0.31 0.57
Dumfries 0.02 0.29 0.26 0.33 0.23 0.28 0.22 0.17 0.51
Dunbarton 2.02 4.13 2.96 2.46 1.44 1.34 0.89 0.77 1.04
East Lothian 0.83 1.50 1.29 1.19 0.59 0.45 0.38 0.33 0.52
Fife 0.08 0.42 0.42 0.60 0.33 0.29 0.21 0.23 0.56
Inverness 75.99 73.24 64.85 59.07 50.91 43.97 30.57 25.91 22.02
Kincardine 0.05 0.35 0.27 0.30 0.29 0.30 0.25 0.32 0.70
Kinross 0.16 0.96 0.85 0.61 0.85 0.76 0.61 0.46 0.73
Kirkcudbright 0.03 0.19 0.27 0.33 0.28 0.28 0.29 0.26 0.54
Lanark 1.28 2.40 2.19 1.86 1.29 1.19 0.90 0.22 0.57
Midlothian 0.60 1.57 1.28 1.05 0.70 0.63 0.45 0.23 0.53
Moray 2.63 5.64 4.48 2.98 2.08 1.38 0.59 0.53 0.88
Nairn 20.32 27.07 15.29 10.54 6.47 5.19 1.69 1.79 1.64
Orkney 0.12 0.31 0.26 0.31 0.27 0.27 0.21 0.25 0.56
Peebles 0.02 0.57 0.51 0.69 0.38 0.44 0.36 0.39 0.91
Perth 12.10 11.95 9.94 7.70 5.25 4.21 1.90 1.53 1.68
Renfrew 2.15 3.17 2.30 1.90 1.31 1.12 0.67 0.59 0.81
Ross & Cromarty 76.57 76.92 71.76 64.01 60.20 57.29 46.05 41.31 35.12
Roxburgh 0.05 0.35 0.29 0.32 0.24 0.22 0.21 0.21 0.39
Selkirk 0.05 0.29 0.26 0.30 0.20 0.24 0.24 0.27 0.72
Shetland 0.04 0.25 0.21 0.17 0.44 0.15 0.11 0.10 0.42
Stirling 0.49 1.60 1.55 1.55 0.82 0.67 0.41 0.38 0.71
Sutherland 80.40 77.10 71.75 61.75 52.25 44.05 25.26 18.83 14.51
West Lothian 0.12 1.02 0.97 0.74 0.23 0.23 0.17 0.22 0.55
Wigtown 0.08 0.20 0.29 0.31 0.35 0.36 0.22 0.32 0.55

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