At the commencement of the 19th century, the clearances were occurring and the face of farming was changing in the highlands of Scotland. Villages were broken up by absentee landlords who wished to employ more modern farming techniques. Crofters were uprooted and many sought shelter in the overcrowded cities.
The colonies especially New South Wales and Tasmania needed labour and were promoted as an option, a chance to start afresh and begin a new life. Recruitment officers held meetings in church halls, and drinking houses, and posters were displayed to encourage the skilled and the agricultural labourers, to settle in the colonies.
By the 1830s assisted passage was being offered to help ease the labour shortages. The poorer Scots came from all over Scotland to embark from Glasgow, Greenock, and Liverpool.
Thus assisted passages were organized through the colonial government. Assistance was also available through charitable societies, merchants and private schemes, in particular, were the early Bounty Schemes of 1837 to 1842.