This thesis examines the contributions made to Gaelic culture by the
Highland Society of London from 1778 and the Gaelic Society of London
from 1830. Their members were scathingly called 'Cockney Gaels' and their
roles have been essentially ignored by both other Highland societies in urban
Scotland and by the academic world. Yet these expatriate London Gaels
provided leadership for addressing deficiencies and key issues in the
homeland. They turned recognition of problems into concerted action, with
varying degrees of success. Individual members of both societies were
Members of Parliament, and also enjoyed close support from their societies.
By harnessing the power of central Government they were able to bolster and
encourage initiatives to improve the life of the Gaels in the homeland.
London was an energy centre where much was happening, and the London
Gaels used 'networking' to their own advantage when they could. In so
doing they kept the Gaelic flag flying high in the metropolis of London.
Through systematic evaluation of material from mainly primary
sources, this thesis demonstrates how both societies responded to important
concerns. Those identified by the societies were primarily education,
highland development and philanthropy. The need for Gaelic worship for
Highland migrants in London also had a prominent place. The need to
preserve all aspects of Gaelic culture, including dress, language, literature,
music and dance, underpinned their existence. These contributions to Gaelic
culture made by the HSL and the GSL paved the way for other Highland
societies in Scotland to take up these challenges and to begin new initiatives.