Local people helped him to escape and he gained his freedom from the Magistrates in Glasgow. For all of those whom we would now regard as unprotected minors, the horrors of being separated from parents, transported thousands of miles and being daily subjected to the caprices of strange adults who held absolute power over their lives was hardly a fate to be envied even in adults.
Cairness and the Caribbean
Yet, within the restriction of liberty imposed by domestic slavery, many masters provided not only fine clothes but other advantages as well. Such a fear was explicitly described in the writings of Olaudah Equiano and in the cases taken up in England by the veteran campaigner Granville Sharp. There were poor communities of escaped slaves in London who scraped a living in the shadows, constantly fearing exposure and apprehension, or depended on eking out a living by begging — anything to avoid a return to the plantations.
It is impossible to estimate how many of those runaways who feature in Scottish newspapers were under the threat of being taken out of the country. According to Robert Sheddan, Jamie Montgomery had escaped from him several times. Knight, it seems, simply wanted to live with his wife and slavery, in contrast to serfdom, did not carry such a right. Joseph Knight had clearly thought this from his reading the details of the case in the Scottish newspapers.
The report in the Edinburgh Caledonian Mercury of 17 January was positively ecstatic. Johnson called to him. Gory, give me leave to ask you a question. Are you baptised? Not that this was immediately evident in his own land. For whilst a slave baptism was a great social occasion, a feather in the cap of any missionary and widely understood to confer automatic freedom, no magistrate would allow it.
Religion provided comfort and hope to many slaves and was also seen to have a socially pacifying effect. But even so, the fears of the master class about the dangers of Christianity were as real in England as in the West Indies. In the fortythree years between and further decisions added even more confusion. Joseph Hawkins in Virginia. Also I suspected he would be worse which has really happened. Our minister and elders when instructing him often informed him that his duty as a Christian was to be faithful to his master how far he has observed their instructions his conduct has already determined.
Curiously his baptism is not recorded in the Beith parish records of that year. A Kirk elder and local farmer, John Henderson, provided the main support to David Spens in his bid for freedom. The minister, Dr Harry Spens, after whom David was named, requested the Kirk Session to receive the balance of the collection from Henderson and William Cornfoot of Balfour, and use it for the benefit of the now free David. David Spens, who was supported by the saltworkers, would have almost certainly have passed that way.
If that were needed, they concluded, it was obvious that manumission of ordinary baptised converts was hardly the norm in the early Church. Biblical references seemed to be overwhelmingly in favour of the institution, or at least of acceptance of the status quo. Not surprisingly the Old Testament featured strongly in the submissions made on behalf of Sheddan and Wedderburn. Perhaps the most significant injunction was the protection of all slaves, which provided for immediate manumission following the loss of a tooth or an eye through the violence of the master,68 a point made much of in the emancipation campaign of the early nineteenth century.
The seventh-year release for those within the community of faith might seem to be a hostage to fortune in the hands of those who argued that permanent slavery was compatible with biblical teaching. Strangely, however, opponents of slavery did not attempt to exploit this. For them, the Pauline injunction to the Colossian Church for slaves to obey their masters was matched by the practical act of returning the runaway slave Onesimus to his master Philemon. The letter to the Ephesians compared the obedience of slaves to masters as to Christ.
The letter to Timothy encouraged Christian slaves to honour their masters and so honour God and to Titus instructed him to bid slaves give honest submission to their master. The first letter of Peter instructed slaves to be obedient not just to good and gentle masters but to cruel ones as well, comparing this to the suffering of Christ. The letters to the Corinthians, Colossians and Galatians contain strong affirmations of common unity in Christ between slave and free.
Art thou called being a servant? What they did was to claim that the spirit of Christianity weakened and would eventually destroy slavery and that where its influence spread in Europe, civilised practice prevailed. In this they depended much on Scottish legal commentators who in turn had been influenced by the ideas of Moderate churchmen.
The most specific expression of this was by Alan McConnochie, when he summed up that part of the case in April As to Christianity, it is indisputable that slavery is inconsistent with the principles and spirit of it. It is extremely true that Jesus Christ and the Apostles, did not, in express terms, declare against it and the reason is obvious: The propagation of Christianity was to be accompanied not by means sudden and violent, but gradual and gentle. Christ and his Apostles therefore, did not arraign the injustice of slavery in direct terms, but as the very purpose of the gospel was to procure peace on earth and goodwill to men, of every nation, kindred, tongue and people and as it required the practice of the purest morality in this world, as an indespensible [sic] condition of obtaining happiness in the next; its doctrines sapped the very foundations of slavery, so that wherever the one was perfectly established, the other could not but fall of course.
Accordingly, in fact, we learn from history, that it was the influence of Christianity that banished it from the several countries of Europe; but soon after, the western world was, unhappily for mankind, discovered by an adventurous Genoese and the avarice of men being whetted by the prospect of gain, became too strong for the restraints of religion; the consequence of which was, that a new species of slavery was established in the continent of America and the adjacent islands.
He noted that the historian also recognised the strength of the institution. And he asked: Will the common law of this country, which supposing villeinage did exist, adopted every method to put an end to it and which has embraced the purest form and doctrines of Christianity as its greatest honour and support, will our common law, I say, admit of a new institution so adverse to its former practice and to the spirit of our religion?
The most that was claimed by them was that the citing of Lord Stair, Sir George Mackenzie and Lord Bankton on whether slavery existed in Scotland was not relevant to the case of Sheddan v Sheddan. However, the sanctity of property and trade were not to be dismissed so easily. Every argument that justifies slavery subverts the first principles of morality: and it would be well for the nations who engage in the slave trade, that they had considered this before they began it, for the experience of past ages has demonstrated the truth of this maxim, that honesty is the best policy; and that it is as applicable to nations as to individuals, if a healthful political longevity and not a short feverish existence be their object and aim.
The result had been eagerly anticipated by many. Three of them — Lords Monboddo, Elliock and Covington — specifically stressed that in his treatment of a slave, a master was bound to abide by the laws of Scotland and that Wedderburn could not exercise his right over Knight contrary to these. Lord Auchinleck, the father of James Boswell, went further and declared that slavery was consistent with neither humanity nor Christianity.
He declared himself reluctant to introduce scripture in a court of law, but quoted a Christian slave Euelpistus on trial in the second century who asserted that he was servus et liberte donatus. Braxfield mentioned Jewish law when he weighed up the question, but dismissed it as inapplicable to the present day. In England, courts may have been able to separate religion and the law in relation to property rights, but Scotland was a land where religion and theological discussion were far more deeply embedded in the mainstream of educated thinking.
It would therefore have been surprising if some discussion of Christian teaching did not play a prominent part in its courts. When this was allied to Enlightenment thinking, it may well have been one of the most important influences in the decision. Even the most ardent defender of the British constitution would be found vigorously resisting any implication that the law of another land would determine the decisions of a Scottish court. Above all, there was a general feeling that slavery was simply wrong.
It was a perception that was not limited to any class or social group. Despite the commercial pressures on the profitability of slavery, there was a substantial degree of support for the idea that a black man had the same rights in Scotland as any other, and this view was reflected in the highest court of the land. In the final stages of the Knight case an interesting theological division was to be seen amongst the judges. More than half of the speeches from the Lords of Session included references to the concepts of liberty, natural equality, humanity, brotherhood and the spirit of contemporary religion, and these were offered in support of Knight.
Monboddo, a pedantic and dogmatic debater, quoted Paul on the duties of slaves to their masters, of which he of course was one. In the later stages of the campaign against slavery it was evangelical churchmen who turned unashamedly to a detailed biblical analysis and used it to mount an attack on the very foundations of the institution in the British Empire.
Yet even at this time, to allow slavery to continue in Scotland, especially on the grounds of biblical literalism, would have been to fly in the face of the spirit of the times. Such property in human beings, especially in those who had embraced the Christian religion and its association with the human traffic from Africa to the colonies, stood in sharp contrast to all this. It was a blot on the landscape of a society which saw itself as enlightened and, in contrast to its self-deprecating past, its intellectuals believed now in the progress of humanity and the development of civilisation.
Some of the judges were concerned about property rights and service without wages. Nothing like that had featured in the Somerset case in England. Parliament had not yet set up a committee to investigate the trade and the published works of Ramsay and Clarkson did not appear until the next decade. Baptism in the Church of Scotland is a public act. However, Scipio Kennedy and Joseph Knight would most probably have made a profession of faith in the face of a congregation and in the context of a community, as we know for certain that Jamie Montgomery and David Spens had done.
It was, for them and other baptised slaves, a significant rite of passage within the local community. The support from the local Kirk Session has already been noted in the Spens case. There is not enough evidence to claim that baptism in Scotland provided automatic immunity to Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery 36 re-enslavement; but the public involvement in such an act, over against the more private English practices, meant an exposure to local communities wherein the assumption of fundamental freedoms were growing and against which black slavery jarred.
Baptism apart, there are several recorded instances of local people rallying in support of a slave or a former slave who had become part of community and little evidence that race acted as a brake to this humanity. In the graphic account of the cruelties suffered by Ned Johnston, it was the neighbouring community who rescued him and helped him to escape to Glasgow.
The reality, as we have seen from advertisements in the press prior to , was often somewhat different from the theory, as it was with the involvement in the slave trade and plantation slavery of those who were living within an enlightened culture. There is no doubt about the leading role that Scots played in the establishment of slavery in the British Empire. But the Knight judgement and the thinking surrounding it was to make a strong impact on a nation that would, ten years later, begin to play an equally significant part in the campaign to rid that same Empire of its worst legacy.
It is difficult to describe them without caricature, although there was plenty of that on both sides. The latter were keen on mission and evangelism, took a more literal view of the Bible, and were increasingly restless over patronage and aspects of the state connection. See John R. Professor Walvin cautions against taking this figure as more than a guide — no census returns are available. Ailsa Muniments. Walker Edinburgh,  , Book 1, Title 3, pp.
John Kincaid to James Watson, 28 Aug Bottle and C. Bunet, eds New York,  , p. Discharge Accounts of the Estate of the Duke of Gordon, Mary Edwards, Who Belongs to Glasgow? Glasgow, , p. EA, 20 Jan EEC, 9 Jan , 22 Jun EEC, 3 Sep Answers for Montgomery, 19 May EEC, 7 Mar Cunningham, Rambles in the Parishes of Scoonie and Wemyss, p. Museum of Scotland. Kincaid to Watson. Chapman Oxford,  Fielding, Penal Laws London, , pp. Advocates Library, Edinburgh, pp. Ephesians ; 1 Timothy —2; 1 Peter — Brown, ed.
In contrast to that was the philosophical challenge to slavery amongst some of the leading thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, grounded on natural law, theories of human happiness and benevolence. Slavery was also critiqued from the standpoint of efficiency and profitability and this period saw the beginnings of a solid theological challenge on moral depravity and the perception that the enslavement of others contradicted Christianity. Nonetheless there were those who proved to be significant exceptions.
Though the majority of Scots in the West Indies remained uncritical of slavery, a few became leading opponents of the system.
Scots' influence for ending black slavery - The Scotsman
There were also variations amongst the attitudes of philosophers and some of their ideas were open to be taken and used by supporters of slavery. The economic needs and temptations amongst so many Scots 42 Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery to make a living and some to make a fortune, albeit in a very unhealthy physical and social environment, was almost bound to override other considerations. Loyalty to the values of their society was essential for employment, promotion or even survival, and this made it well-nigh impossible to think of challenging the system on which Caribbean prosperity and much else seemed to depend.
Those who broke ranks did so almost always when they returned from the West Indies, which few of them regarded as a permanent home. However, it was probably increased by the concentration of both commercial interests and intellectual thought in a small nation. And that, as we will see, resulted in disproportionate amounts of energy being expended in attacking and defending the question of slavery.
In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the number of estates on Jamaica that were owned and in many cases managed by Scots rose from less than 20 to nearly 30 per cent of the total. In a survey of residents in six northern Jamaican parishes compiled in , Scots accounted for more than 29 per cent of the total population. These were spread through nine parishes on the island and in two, Hannover and St Thomas in the east, the percentage exceeded forty. One-third of the land grants in St Kitts were made to Scotsmen, the majority of the white population The Lords and the Profits 43 of Tobago was of Scottish origin and of those who acquired estates in St Vincent in , 26 per cent gave their place of residence as Glasgow.
The number of ships leaving the Clyde ports of Port Glasgow and Greenock bound for Jamaica reached a peak in of twenty-seven, with a similar number going to the rest of the Caribbean. This compared to only three sailings that year to the colonists on the Chesapeake, which, a quarter of a century beforehand, had one year seen forty-one.
One thought on “Scots & Caribbean Slavery”
Dundee and Aberdeen contributed in a lesser way to this trade and Peterhead has a Jamaica Street, inhabited in the nineteenth century by local sea captains. Few ships left Scottish ports bound for the Guinea coast to transport slaves, though Glasgow did send some out in the early part of the eighteenth century. In the s merchants in Montrose owned four slave ships which made a number of journeys via English and continental ports.
Yet these occasional sailings represented only a small part of the role that Scots played in the trade. The Glasgow West Indian merchants invested large amounts of capital to facilitate plantation settlement, with the replacement of slaves being amongst the heaviest of calls on finance. Scots were also prominent in the Bristol trade, 44 Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery notably Evan Baillie from Dochfour, Inverness, who returned from his family plantations in Grenada to form an alliance with the powerful Pinney family there through the marriage of his son and to become a Member of Parliament for the city in Some were businessmen, many of whom had no experience of the West Indies, still less of Africa.
Some were merchant adventurers, with a few of them building up consortia and contracts that made fortunes. Others owned estates and staffed them with kinsmen or relatives of their friends, and some of these sought quick profits from sugar and rum in order to reinvest in land or industry at home. For doctors, lawyers and bookkeepers there were greater prospects of financial reward in their profession abroad than could be offered at home, and for some artisans the employment situation in Scotland forced them, as it would later generations in colonial Africa, to accept a post in the Caribbean as an alternative to destitution in Scotland.
From the mid-eighteenth century until the end of the Napoleonic Wars, more than seventy Glasgow merchants were members of firms whose major involvement was the importation of sugar, cotton and rum from the West Indies, raw and processed materials that were labour intensive in their farming and, of course, dependent on slave labour. In earlier years a small group of merchants in the city had dominated the importation of tobacco from America. It had also led to an exodus of Scots seeking fame and fortune in London. Richard Oswald was born in in a Caithness manse. Grant had been an itinerent country doctor in Jamaica, treating Scots in the western parishes and finally acquiring land and trading contracts.
In he too moved to London, marketing supplies for the plantations and acting as the agent and banker for the commercial enterprises of the Grant clan. This was formerly owned by the Royal African Company but had become derelict. But Oswald saw to it that a two-hole golf course was built on Bance Island for the diversion of sea captains and others awaiting the completion of their business, and kitted out the African caddies in tartan loincloths. But Oswald was not unique in this. A Jamaican planter named Macpherson was accustomed to order tartan from the same supplier as Oswald, William Wilson of Bannockburn, believing that dressing his slaves in this way would make them more conspicuous.
Between and , 25 per cent of the whites on the island were born in Scotland or had Scots parents, and between and nine out of thirteen agents were Scots. Later we will see something of the tensions between this flourishing slave station and the newly formed free colony of Sierra Leone downriver, whose governor was a Scot, but over this period Bance Island served almost as a tiny Scottish colony. Some Scots used income from their estates at home to invest in land in the Caribbean, some set up their families on Caribbean estates, others ploughed money earned by trade into land in the West Indies.
Another brother, James, joined him in and together they purchased Hampden estate in Trelawny parish. The ventures were not successful, however, and debts outweighed profits. Other Scots fared better. Gordon returned to Scotland in and never visited Jamaica again. Other Grants found a different way of acquiring riches in Jamaica. If Grant was a familiar name in Jamaica, the same could be said of Wedderburn. We have already encountered the master of Joseph Knight who retired from Jamaica to Perthshire.
Professor Geoff Palmer demonstrates how the lay-out of the estate was modelled on a Jamaican sugar plantation. The manager was another Scot, John Fairbairn. Whilst on his rounds he began trading and lending to planters, and by he owned acres with slaves and bought an estate in Scotland. Of the seventy-two doctors listed for Jamaica in the Medical Register for , two-thirds were Scots. Edinburgh produced a much larger number of medical graduates than could find employment in Britain, still less in Scotland, and doctors in the colonies were able to make a good living if they had the right connections amongst the wealthier planters.
They were, however, only paid a flat rate for treating slaves on the plantations and the charge of neglect was a familiar one. Many were prepared to combine commercial enterprises with medicine. William Stephen in St Kitts bought sick slaves, treated them and resold them at a profit, whilst Dr Alexander Johnston from Aberdeen invested money made from his wealthy clients in cattleranching and slave trading.
For Scots, this presented the obstacle of having to serve apprenticeships before being able to practise. There is little evidence that Scottish solicitors or advocates had long-term or profitable careers in Jamaica, yet they kept going there. The West Indian islands were highly litigious societies and there were many opportunities for lawyers to be involved. Bookkeeping and accountancy were also valued, especially when the owners of plantations were in Scotland. Those with fewer professional skills formed a substantial part of the Scottish community in the Caribbean.
Newspapers in Scotland frequently had included in them advertisements for carpenters, plumbers and other trades. Those who had the basic educational background became administrative secretaries, clerks or bookkeepers on the sugar estates, the latter post often deceptively named and frequently entailing the oversight of slave labour. It was this that Robert Burns sought to do before the commercial success of his Kilmarnock Edition enabled him to stay in Scotland.
One who was later to be a leading abolitionist, Zachary Macaulay, as a young man became a bookkeeper in Jamaica, and the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge observed that three out of four overseers in the West Indies were Scots. In the meantime, his brother John had left Perthshire to become part-owner of the Parkhill plantation in St Vincent. After military service in Barbados and Trinidad, the end of the Napoleonic wars left him unemployed, but he finally achieved a colonial appointment in the last year of his life, becoming governor of St Lucia in It was this mixture of humanity and concern for efficiency on the plantations that occupied much of his time for the few months he had in St Lucia.
Uniquely in the West Indies at the time, he turned around a slave rebellion by instituting an inquiry and without any subsequent killing or floggings. In the universities the teaching of Latin and Greek was well established, but there was a new enthusiasm for the culture out of which the language sprang. This spilled into the intellectual circles in which academics, writers and men of letters moved. Of course these same classical civilisations of Greece and Rome that the new Scottish denizens of culture so much admired had the institution of slavery built into their foundations.
Slavery and the natural right of any person to freedom occupied a great deal of attention amongst the Enlightenment philosophers, who were generally critical of this aspect of the ancient world. Ferguson was influenced, as were many of his contemporaries, by the French thinker Montesquieu on issues of political reform and the abolition of slavery, and in his Essay on Civil Society in he challenged the notion that slavery was an acceptable state.
He contrasted the justification of slavery for political expediency with liberty and argued that since by nature man is a member of a community and the happiness of individuals is the great end of civil society, then there could be no public good if certain members are unhappy. In Charles Stewart, Minister of Cramond, introduced the subject to the Edinburgh Speculative Society and slavery was discussed annually in that body. Hutcheson challenged the justification of enslaving prisoners in war on the grounds that most subjects have no part in the decisions of their leaders to make war.
Each man is the original proprietor of his own liberty. The proof of his losing it must be incumbent on those who deprive him of it by force. At the end of the seventeenth century, Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, concerned about the number of beggars and vagabonds without work, had proposed a legalised enslavement to maintain social order and ensure productivity.
In the same way, the Romans relied on a constant supply of slaves from the provinces. Hume continued to argue that severe treatment retarded the growth of the population and that few saw the breeding of slaves as economically viable. The slaves of the rich in the ancient world occupied trades and free men were excluded from employment. Furthermore, he maintained that slaves were rarely inventive. The poor slave, instead of reward, would probably meet with much abuse, perhaps with some punishment. For this reason, in order to make the tobacco and sugar plantations profitable there have to be a very large number of slaves.
Yet it is by no means clear that Adam Smith was making out a case for emancipation. Hutcheson cited Mosaic law, contrasting with it the arbitrariness of modern slavery. Even when slavery was justified in the Old Testament, for crime or by consent, he pointed out that there were time limits on it, as evidenced from the biblical rules about the jubilee year of release. There were other limits, too.
The laws dealing with foreign slaves had merciful provisions against undue severity. However, under Christianity, Hutcheson argued, whatever lenity was due from a Hebrew towards his fellow countryman must be due toward all. Distinctions of nations were removed on issues of justice, mercy and right. Even rights over foreign slaves were to be only seen as indulgencies, as in the case of polygamy and divorce, and did not, for him, provide justification for the general principle. Either his soul is human or ours is not human. That language reflected a society that at one level was being deeply influenced by the importance of benevolent feelings to others, both as natural attributes for civilised men and an essential ingredient in the march of progress in civilised societies.
Hutcheson argued that the innate moral sense encourages us to do disinterested good to others, whilst at the same time approving of the same actions for others. This natural inclination to utility and the public good meant that delight in benevolence was an instinctive reflex. It is not hard to see how attractive this was to the intelligentsia in late eighteenth-century Scotland, reflecting as it does the tussle of emotions in which benevolence, sympathy, progress and sensibility were to triumph in the end.
A recent survey identified no fewer than nineteen eighteenthcentury Scottish poets who touch on the theme of slavery. Robert Tannahill was the radical champion of the weavers in Paisley. Lord Monboddo, Court of Session judge and a leading figure in social and literary circles, had long taken an interest in orang-utans, believed that men originally had tails and held to the idea that apes were a variety of the human species. Given this gradation, it was a short step to the kind of theory of racial inferiority that is based on a scale in which environmental differences hold little weight.
He warned that the doctrine of the inferiority of negroes was the first step towards attacking the authority of scripture, which taught the unity of the whole human stock. William Dickson from Moffat, in his reports from Barbados and Jamaica, claimed similarly that Voltaire, Kames and Hume put negroes only a little higher than apes. Kames had argued in his Sketches of the History of Man that there were a number of distinct species within the human race and that negroes were in many respects inferior to Europeans.
He admitted that there were reports of a negro of learning in Jamaica, but Hume judged him simply to have the capabilities of a parrot.
It was a theme enthusiastically taken up by planters and defenders of the trade. When Janet Schaw arrived in St Kitts in , she commented on the use of the cart-whip on half-naked men and women.
Slavery and the Slave Trade
It is the suffering of the human mind that constitutes the greatest misery of punishment, but with them it is merely corporeal. Duncan Rice argued more gently that Scots who were most exposed to the enlightened critique were not yet influenced by the evangelical imperatives that had driven the Clapham Sect into action.
For such double standards were made possible by the detached and at times unrealistic way in which the issue was discussed. Although the leading philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment were overwhelmingly opposed to slavery, they rarely focused on its practice in the British colonies and even less on involvement in it by Scots. Even William Robertson and John Millar centered mainly on the Americas, which incidentally drew some extraordinary comments in the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in , edited by William Smellie, the antiquary and biographer.
Another indicator of this detachment is to be found in how few figures of the Scottish Enlightenment became identified with the antislavery movement. It is true that many of them were writing long before the campaign against the slave trade was launched in However, only William Robertson and James Beattie, whose major work preceded this date by many years, had contact with William Wilberforce and the British movement. Wilberforce wrote to Robertson in testifying to the value of information provided by him for the parliamentary campaign.
He greatly assisted a tour made by William Dickson that year on behalf of the London Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, through giving Dickson a number of introductions in the north-east. A more reasonable starting point lies in the disastrous immediate past history of the nation.
Scotland in the early part of the eighteenth century had entered a union with England born of financial desperation. The trade barriers which had been partly responsible for the bankrupting of the nation were now removed and the early eighteenth century provided new opportunities for commercial enterprise and for investment in the colonies from those who had the capital to do so. However, the very precariousness of past commercial ventures made any Scots on the make reluctant to question the morality of an enterprise that at last seemed to bring such a potential windfall in profits.
Professional men and those with education and skills found opportunities Scotland lacked. They sought their fortune abroad through the increasingly developing patronage webs of Scots in places such as Jamaica, at a time when the patronage of a clan system at home could no longer be relied on to protect their welfare. This network, which provided the chance of employment and even advancement, alongside social intercourse with those who shared a common culture in a land that was difficult, where disease and death always threatened and where whites were in a substantial minority on the estates, exerted 62 Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery pressures for unquestioning complicity in the slave system that would be well-nigh impossible to resist.
Those who were so dependent on other Scots were unlikely to bite the hand that fed them by breaking ranks in what was a very defensive planter society. As in many tightly knit societies that experience economic or political insecurity, those who did raise any serious questions or even demonstrated some humanity towards the ruled found themselves under suspicion and in danger of ostracism, or worse.
A large number of the colonists in the West Indies saw themselves as temporary sojourners who intended to return home when they had made their fortunes. Permanent emigrants tended to come from the lower echelons of society and were much more numerous in the American colonies than in the Caribbean. However, the fortunes dreamed of on the voyage from Scotland turned out to be limited to the few.
For the time being, many were effectively imprisoned in the inhospitable nature of the West Indies, having almost as little hope of any change in their situation as the slaves whom they supervised. That, and the struggle to preserve some kind of status, was accompanied in many cases by a kind of desperate frustration and bitter resentment, qualities that did not commend themselves to humane treatment of slaves.
The jobs of those managing and supervising estates, often in the absence of the proprietor, depended on a healthy profit being shown. Given the universal belief that only the harshest physical punishment, or fear of it, would induce slaves to work, this seemed to be the only way to operate a plantation.
Smith Birmingham Ph. Research interests: Coming of U. Keele Dept. Research interests: 18th c. Atlantic world; slavery; British empire Hull Dept. Research interests: Loyalism; U. Southampton Dept. Research interests: Comparative slavery; slave emancipation; 18thth c. Research interests: Transatlantic slavery, incl. Africa Hull Dept. Research interests: Roman republican history; ancient slavery; gender in history Edinburgh Dept.
Theses Teachers History Online provides information on current and past research in the United Kingdom. Awarded Place, identity and memory: a study of American ante-bellum autobiographical slave narratives, and Holocaust survivor accounts by Jews living in Bialystok, Poland, after and up to Margaret Marlow Supervised by: Professor A. Awarded Sold! Slaves in advertising during the age of segregation Marion Gibrill Supervised by: Dr. Awarded The ideology of slavery: a comparative study of slavery in the military of the Byzantine and 'Abbasid empires in the 9th-century Robina Nawaz Birmingham M.
Awarded The development of slave laws in Louisiana, Maxine A. Clarke Cambridge Ph. Awarded Legacies of slavery: presenting the history of American slavery in the plantations and historic homes of the southern United States Fiona J. Handley London Ph. If Robert Burns, author of The Slave's Lament, had not been rescued financially through the success of his Kilmarnock edition, he would have sailed to Jamaica to take a job as an overseer on a slave plantation.
In that he mirrored the situation of many young Scots. Recent accounts of the Scottish Empire and television programmes have set the record straight. But very little is known of the popular movement in Scotland for the abolition first of all of the slave trade and then of slavery itself. Englishmen William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson are celebrated pioneers of abolition. Yet their work was to a large extent enabled by five London Scots - James Ramsay, William Dickson, Zachary Macaulay, James Stephen and Henry Brougham - who alongside that of countless ordinary people in churches, trades guilds, local councils and public meetings brought a unified voice to the movement.
In a new book on this subject, I describe the attempts of three black slaves to seek their freedom through the Court of Session in Edinburgh. In Jamie Montgomery escaped from his master who had dragged him behind horses for some 25 miles 38km from Beith, Ayrshire, to Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, intending to return him to the Caribbean island of Grenada.
Montgomery died in Edinburgh's Tolbooth jail before a decision could be given.