Scottish Kilt Usage: Chronolog--The 1820s

Figure 1.--King George IV made the first royal state visit to Scotland since the Act of Union (1707). English master Joseph Turner commemorated the event in this wonderful painting. A cathedral service was held at St. Giles in Edinburgh (August 25, 1822). The king is under the canopy in the right side of the paining. The visit was choreographed by the famous novelist Sir Walter Scott. There was an elaborate display of tartan as symbol of British unity. Turner as well as other artists attended. He hoped to win the King’s patronage for a series of nineteen commemorative paintings. Placing him in the distance may not have been the best way to achieve this. Notice the little boy in full Highland regalia and a girl wearing a white empire dress. The children are not identified. Click on the imge to see an enlargement of the children.

As far as we can tell, the Scottish kilt until the 1820s was still oknly worn in Scotland. And until the Napoleonic wars of the early-19th century, the kilt had a rather unsavory reputation in Englandm asociated with the Scittish jaconin insurrections. Hardly the thing an English mother would choose for her son. A strong indication of the change underway was when King George IV wore a kilt during a state visit to Scotand (1822). Interestingly Turner in his pinting commemorating the event paints a little Scottish boy wearing a kilt inside St. Giles. This shows that the Scottish at the time wre dressing little boys in kilt outfits for special occassions. this would have been been the upper classes. We are still left with little information about every day dress and the irking class. It is worth noting that the King was lampooned for wearing a kilt in the Englih press. The idea of an Enhlish man or boy wearing a kilt was still on the cutting edge of fashion. Combined with the earlier romantic literature and the heroism of the Scottish regiments, tartan began fashionable among affluent fashion-conscious Englishmen The fashion conscious suddenly wanted to wear a kilt also. It is unclear how this trend affected boys. It is likely that this fashion trend included boys--at least among affluent families. Earlier the kilt was generally considered a garment for poor uncultured Scottish highlanders. English boys would not have worn a kilt earlier. Unfortunately this process is difficult to follow because it all began before the invention of photography.


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Created: 3:54 AM 3/18/2015
Last updated: 3:54 AM 3/18/2015