ISHR workshop: A Laboratory for Improvement? 24 January 2014

File:New Caledonia in Darien.jpgOn Friday 24 January the Institute of Scottish Historical Research hosted a workshop, A Laboratory for Improvement? Scotland in the 1680s and 90s, led by ISHR Visiting Scholar Dr Esther Mijers. It was an opportunity to discuss a planned edited collection of essays on Scotland in the late Restoration and post-Revolution period, as part of Dr Mijer’s project on William Carstares. Dr Mijers said: ‘I have always been struck by the dynamism of the 1680s, both in my work on universities and on Atlantic history, as opposed to the grim situation of the 1690s. I think that this is an area that has suffered neglect over the years and needs reassessment, and this workshop was a first step.’ Topics discussed focused on ideas and examples of ‘improvement’, such as the modernisation of the University of Edinburgh, the attempts by the Privy Council to reinvigorate the economy and ideas of agricultural improvement and landownership, and their development. Comparisons were made with England and the Continent. It was a lively debate which stimulated a lot of new ideas and gave plenty food for thought.

Dr Esther Mijers to take up Visiting Scholarship in the Institute of Scottish Historical Research

Esther Mijers

Dr Esther Mijers, lecturer in history at the University of Reading, has been awarded a visiting scholarship in the Institute of Scottish Historical Research during the academic year 2013-14.

Dr Mijers specializes in late seventeenth century Scotland and the wider world. Dr Mijers completed her PhD at St Andrews on Scottish students at Dutch universities and has since moved into both Atlantic and European history. As a post-doc at Aberdeen, she worked on a project called ‘American colonies, Scottish entrepeneurs and British state formation’, during which she became interested in the role of the Scots and other minor and non-dominant groups in the Atlantic.

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


Dr Mijers writes: “I am endlessly fascinated by periods of transition and change, like the later 17th century, and moves towards modernity. My new project looks at the life and career of William Carstares (1649-1715), nicknamed ‘The Cardinal’, the Presbyterian chaplain and adviser of William III, who is credited with being the father of religious moderatism and the Scottish Enlightenment. As an ISHR Visiting Scholar, I will be working on this and also hope to organize a colloquium on Scotland in the 1690s to set Carstares’ political career in a wider context. I am looking forward to being back in St Andrews.”