Dr John MacAskill (BA, PhD, FRHistS, FSA Scot)

Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow


After retiring from a career in the Law I did my PhD in the Department of Celtic at the University of Aberdeen under the supervision of Professor Donald Meek and since then I have researched, written and published on a number of topics of nineteenth century Highland history, and also on crofting community and land ownership issues.

External appointments

Council Member of the Scottish History Society.

Useful Links

John MacAskill on academia.edu

Research summary

Nineteenth century Highland history (especially kelp and destitution); land ownership issues; crofting community issues.


  • Scotland


  • Economic History
  • Migration
  • Politics
  • Society


  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

Current research interests

My research continues into the Highland destitution of 1837, specifically in relation to Orkney and Shetland, and also into the life of Robert Graham of Redgorton.

Books and chapters in books

We Have Won The Land - The story of the purchase of the North Lochinver Estate by the Assynt Crofters Trust (Acair, 1999)

‘Hill, Sir John (1774-1855)’ in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

‘Foreshore’ in M. Mulhern (ed.), Scottish Life and Society – A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology 14 vols. xiii -The Law (Edinburgh, 2012)

The Highland Destitution of 1837 - Government Aid and Public Subscription (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer for the Scottish History Society, 6th series, 2013).

Articles Contesting Land, Creating Community, in the Highlands and Islands, Scotland’ (with A. Fiona Mackenzie, Gillian Munro and Erika Seki), Scottish Geographical Journal vol. 120, No. 3, 2004, 159-180

‘The Crofting Community Right To Buy in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003’, Scottish Affairs, No. 49, Autumn 2004, 104-133 

‘“The most arbitrary, scandalous act of tyranny”: The Crown, private proprietors and the ownership of the Scottish foreshore in the nineteenth century’, Scottish Historical Review, vol. lxxxv, 2: No. 220: October 2006, 277-304

‘The Highland Kelp Proprietors and their Struggle over the Salt and Barilla Duties, 1817-1831’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies 26.1+2, 2006, 60-82

‘“It is truly, in the expressive language of Burke, a nation crying for bread”: the public response to the highland famine of 1836-1837’, The Innes Review vol. 61, no. 2, Autumn 2010, 169-206.