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David Alston's Slaves & Highlanders

Sharing research on the role of Highland Scots in the slave plantations of Guyana in the late 18th/early 19th centuries

Recovering Scotland's Slavery Past: Friday 3rd October 2014, Mitchell Library, Glasgow

Notes for my talk on Scots in Guyana can be downloaded here.


What's new?

NOW Index of 509 people with connections to the Highlands and plantations in Guyana.

Indexes also now available for Other Scots, English, Irish, North American, Other Caribbean and Other European

Some recent additions:

William and Lachlan McBean of Tomatin

James McInroy of Lude, Blair Atholl

New source material: Thomas Stewart Traill (1781–1862), physician and specialist in medical jurisprudence, was born in Kirkwall, Orkney. He married Christian Robertson, daughter of Anne Forbes and Harry Robertson, parish minister of Kiltearn. His papers, in the National Library of Scotland, include many letters of the Robertson family and are a rich source for the history of Scots in Demerara and Berbice. My notes on these papers are in the Library section of this web site.


Joshua Bryant's idealised Rainbow over a Plantation (above) contrasts with the same artist's illustration of slaves executed after the Demerara slave uprising of 1823.












The Republic of Guyana [formerly British Guiana], on the north coast of South America, was created by the amalgamation of the former Dutch colonies of Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo. Great Britain gained control of these colonies in 1796 but British merchants had been heavily involved in the plantations for many years before this.

The purpose of this web site is to share my ongoing research on the role of Scots – particularly those from the Highlands of Scotland – in these colonies, before the emancipation of enslaved Africans in 1834. Few of these Scots intended to make their home there. Their intention was to make money, to make as much money as possible and as quickly as possible, and to return home.


For an introduction to the topic go to:

The Growth of Dutch Guiana and its sub-pages

and 'First Speculators' from Scotland