Dr Elizabeth Ritchie

Biography content


Senior Lecturer in Scottish History

Elizabeth Ritchie

I joined the Centre for History in April 2009. My PhD was undertaken with the Department of History of Guelph University, Ontario, on ‘The faith of the crofters: Skye and South Uist, 1793-1843.’ When I'm not reading about them, I can often be found cycling around the countryside thinking about the people who used to live there: how they organised their settlements and used the land; what they believed; how they were connected to each other and other parts of the world; and what their family lives were like.

Research content



My main research interests lie in the social and cultural history of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century Highlands, with an especial focus on religion, education, land use, and the family. I am currently investigating how Evangelicalism affected family life, community culture and masculinity. In addition, I am developing a research project on Scottish emigrant families to Canada from 1782-1850. I am happy to supervise PhD students in any aspects of the social and cultural history of the Highlands between 1700 and 1900, or in the history of Scottish emigration in that period. I especially enjoy work that involves fieldtrips and collaborating with local schools, organisations and heritage groups.

Watch this video to learn more about my research interests.

Publications content



Peer Reviewed

‘The Private and the Public Man: The Masculinities of Highlanders and Islanders in the Nineteenth Century’, Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness (2022) [forthcoming]

(co-authored with Neil Bruce) '"Take up the man and lay down the boy”: defining rural childhood in northern Scotland during the Enlightenment', Northern Scotland 12.1 (2021), pp. 86-96.

'Faith and the family: family life and the spread of evangelical culture in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd, c.1790-c.1860', Scottish Historical Review 100.1 (2021), pp.57-81.

'Men and place: male identity and the meaning of place in the nineteenth-century Scottish Gàidhealtachd'Genealogy (2020), 4, 97. 

'The township, the pregnant girl and the church: community dynamics, gender and social control in early nineteenth-century Scotland', Northern Scotland 10.1 (2019), pp. 41-67.

'Yes after No: the Indyref landscape, 2014-16'Journal of British Identities 2.1 (Jan. 2019), pp. 1-30. [photo essay] 

'Pregnant emigrants: gender, childbirth and migrant families in rural British North America, 1818-1850', in Alice Glaze et al, Gender and Mobility in Scotland (Guelph, 2018), pp. 83-100.

‘Feeding in the forest: how Scottish settlers learned to raise livestock in the old growth forests of Upper Canada, 1814-1850’ The Agricultural History Review 65 (Spring 2017), pp. 74-93.

‘Cows, sheep and Scots: livestock and immigrant strategies in rural Upper Canada, 1814-1851’ Ontario History 109.1 (Spring 2017), pp. 1-26.

‘The people, the priests and the Protestants: Catholic responses to Evangelical missionaries in the early nineteenth-century Scottish Highlands’, Church History 85.2 (June 2016), pp. 275-301.

'"Alive to the advantages of education". Problems in using the New Statistical Account to research education: a case study of the Isle of Skye', Northern Scotland (May 2016), pp. 85-92.

'Looking for Catholics: using Protestant missionary society records to investigate nineteenth-century Highland Catholicism', Innes Review (Spring 2014), pp. 52-75.

'"A palmful of water for your years" babies, religion and gender identity among crofting families, 1800-1850', in Jodi A. Campbell, Elizabeth Ewan and Heather Parker (eds), The Shaping of Scottish Identities: Family, Nation and the Worlds Beyond (Guelph, 2011), pp. 59-75.

Magazine Articles

  • ‘A Pram in the Clachan’ Rural History Today Issue 41 (Aug 2021), p.6-7.
  • ‘Monuments and Morality in the Highlands’ History Scotland (July-Aug 2018)
  • '"Most Anxious to have a Teacher": Gaelic Schools in the Northern Highlands' History Scotland (Jan-Feb 2016)
  • 'From Mull to Canoe Cove: The Indirect Route, Part I', History Scotland (Jan-Feb 2014)
  • 'From Mull to Canoe Cove: The Indirect Route, Part II', History Scotland (Mar-Apr 2014) 

Guide Books

Dr Ellen Beard, Dr Elizabeth Ritchie and Malcolm Bangor-Jones, The Rob Donn Trail: A Guidebook to the Past (2019). Available for purchase through the Strathnaver Museum. 

Opinion Pieces

'Wild Land: Alternative insights into Scotland's unpeopled places', Community Land Scotland 

Online Writing

Historylinksdornoch blog (2012-present) - I edit and write for a local history blog, encouraging research and writing from academics and locals about the history of Ross-shire and Sutherland.

Guest blogger

Sample of Book Reviews

  • John Bonehill, Anne Dulau Beveridge and Nigel Leask, ‘Old Ways, New Roads: Travels in Scotland 1720-1832’,Northern Scotland (2022)
  • Lizanne Henderson,'Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment', International Review of Scottish Studies (2018)
  • John MacAskill, 'The Highland Destitution of 1837', Innes Review (2015).
  • Alexander Murdoch, 'Scotland and America, c.1600-c.1800', Northern Scotland (2013).
  • Annie Tindley, 'The Sutherland Estate, 1850-1920', Journal of Scottish Historical Studies (2011).
  • 'The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women', Family and Community Studies (2010).
  • Eric Richards, 'Debating the Highland Clearances', Journal of Scottish Historical Studies (2009).

Much of my work can be found on academia.edu

Teaching and supervision content

Teaching and supervision

Teaching and supervision

I have designed and teach a wide range of modules on Scottish and North American history including:

  • 'Land and People: The Scottish Highlands, 1700-2000'
  • 'From Champlain to Vimy Ridge: A History of Canada'
  • 'The Scots in North America: Experience and Identity'
  • 'Culture and Christianity in the Scottish Highlands, 1742-1893'
  • 'Gender in American Culture and Society, 1776-1917'
  • 'Themes in American History'

I have also designed and taught several Masters level modules including:

  • 'Gender and the Family in the Scottish Highlands, 1700-1900'
  • 'Contemplating the Clearances' - co-designed with Professor James Hunter

PhD completions

  • David Taylor, 'Social and economic change in Badenoch, 1750-1800' (2016)
  • Wade Cormack, 'Sport and physical education in Scotland's northern mainland burghs, c.1600-1800' (2016)
  • Mary Souter, 'A peculiar diversity: public health in Inverness County 1845-1912' (2020)
  • Graham Hannaford, 'A Good Sheep Run: Letters from New South Wales in Scottish Newspapers between 1820 and 1850 with potential to influence decisions on emigration' (2020)
  • Darroch Bratt, 'The Origins and History of Whisky Distilling in the Scottish Highlands and Islands: An Historical and Archaeological Approach’ (2022)

PhD Supervision

  • Liz Forrest, 'Shepherds Wanted: Wester Ross pioneers to Patagonia, 1880-1930'
  • Vicki Jagger, 'Landed elite evangelical networks in the north of Scotland during the first half of the nineteenth century'
Additional activities content

Additional activities

Additional activities

Editor of Historylinksdornoch blog

Current board Member for Historylinks Museum, Dornoch and Emblems: A Journal of British Studies - Editorial Board

Previous board member for Women’s History Scotland, EDINA Statistical Accounts of Scotland and the Agricultural History Journal

Frequent speaker at local history, heritage and U3A societies

Interviewed about sheiling life on a podcast on the 'lost village' of Inverlael (2023)

Community Land Scotland and Lews Castle College UHI videos on historic land use for an online course (2020)

Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland - National Museum of Scotland exhibition (2019)

Rob Donn Trail (2018) 

Oral History Workshops (MacKay Country 2014-15; Community Land Scotland, Harris 2017) 

Land and People in the Northern Highlands Conference (2014)

Bettyhill Adult Education weekend (2013)

Clearances Trail iphone app - Timespan Heritage Centre, Helmsdale (2011-12)

Beltane Slavery project – Inverness Royal Academy (2011) 

Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council Local History Scoping Project (2010-11)

‘John A. MacDonald and the Scots-Canadian connection’ day seminar (2010)

Book Review Editor for The International Review of Scottish Studies (2006-8)

Invited Speaker

  • Smithsonian Journeys (2019) 
  • Rural Repopulation and Renewal Seminar – Community Land Scotland (2018) 
  • EU day seminar on Migration and Highlanders (2016)