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A History of Everyday Life in Scotland, 1600 to 1800

Edited by Elizabeth A Foyster, Christopher A Whatley

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This book explores the ordinary daily routines, behaviours, experiences and beliefs of the Scottish people during a period of immense political, social and economic change. It underlines the importance of the church in post-Reformation Scottish society, but also highlights aspects of everyday life that remained the same, or similar, notwithstanding the efforts of the kirk, employers and the state to alter behaviours and attitudes.

Drawing upon and interrogating a range of primary sources, the authors create a richly coloured, highly-nuanced picture of the lives of ordinary Scots from birth through marriage to death. Analytical in approach, the coverage of topics is wide, ranging from the ways people made a living, through their non-work activities including reading, playing and relationships, to the ways they experienced illness and approached death.

This volume:

  • Provides a rich and finely nuanced social history of the period 1600-1800
  • Gets behind the politics of Union and Jacobitism, and the experience of agricultural and industrial 'revolution'
  • Presents the scholarly expertise of its contributing authors in a accessible way
  • Includes a guide to further reading indicating sources for further study


Chapter 1: Everyday Structures, Rhythms and Spaces of the Scottish Countryside, Robert A. Dodgshon
Chapter 2: Improvement and Modernisation in Everyday Enlightenment Scotland, Charles McKean
Chapter 3: Death, Birth and Marriage, Deborah A. Symonds
Chapter 4: Illness, Disease and Pain, Helen M. Dingwall
Chapter 5: Necessities: Food and Clothing in the Long Eighteenth Century, Stana Nenadic
Chapter 6: Communicating, Bob Harris
Chapter 7: Order and Disorder, Christopher A. Whatley
Chapter 8: Sensory Experiences: Smells, Sounds and Touch, Elizabeth Foyster
Chapter 9: Beliefs, Religions, Fears and Neuroses, Joyce Miller
Chapter 10: Movement, Transport and Travel, Alastair Durie
Chapter 11: Work, Time and Pastimes, Christopher A. Whatley.

About the Author

Elizabeth Foyster is Senior College Lecturer and Fellow in History at Clare College, University of Cambridge

Christopher Whatley is Professor of Scottish History at the University of Dundee where until recently he was also a Vice Principal and Head of the College of Arts and Social Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


A valuable addition to a growing historiography of ordinary, everyday life.
- Alexandra Logue, University of Guelph, International Review of Scottish Studies
This is a book with ambitious coverage, with chapters on rural life, architecture, birth, death and marriage, illness, food and clothing, literacy and education, keeping order, belief, travel and work... There is much here that is fascinating... This is a book full of insights and genuinely pioneering. We can look forward to the following volumes
- T.C. Smout, The Scotsman
A vauluable addition to a growing historiography of ordinary, everyday life.
- Alexandra Logue, University of Guelph, International Review of Scottish Studies
The essays will be of interest to both casual and expert readers, and taken together they add up to an impressive and stimulating snapshot of early-modern Scottish society. Moreover, the reading experience is enhanced by the high quality of the production, the wide range of engaging and unusual illustrations, and the provision for each chapter of briefbut useful guides to further reading... There can be no doubt about the importance of this publication. It offers a stimulating and authoritative overview of Scottish social history in the early-modern period, written by a group of historians whose expertise and formidable familiarity with the sources are obvious. As a synthesis of past and current research it provides a resource that will be especially cherished by historians and students. But equally importantly, its determination to look beyond the obvious, to interrogate the sources in innovative and imaginative ways, and to give a voice to the almost silent masses of history, is a welcome reminder of the richness of the historian’s craft, not to mention a stirring battle-cry to expand horizons ever further.
- Allan Kennedy, University of Stirling, History Scotland

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