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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


Published May 2015: my article 'A Forgotten Diaspora: The Children of Enslaved and ‘Free Coloured’ Women and Highland Scots in Guyana Before Emancipation' in Northern Scotland, Volume 6, Issue 1, Page 49-69 available online from Edinburgh University Press as a free download.

The Slaves & Highlanders library, on this website, has a list of c130 children of Scots (mostly Highland) and both enslaved and 'free coloured' women - with links to pages on this site for further information [version 2: 23 February 2015].

First Scots in Guyana: For a summary of the first Scots to become involved with plantations in Guyana see the notes which can be downloaded here.

Scots in Surinam: I am beginning to add information on Scots in the neighbouring Dutch colony of Surinam, many of whom moved there from Berbice. Slavery was not abolished in Surinam until 1863 and so these were some of Britain's last slave owners. See Scots in Surinam on this site.

Philip Dikland of KDV Architects, Paramaribo, Suriname has created a database of information on the history of 400 plantations in Surinam. This extraordinarily rich Heritage Database can be accessed through KDV's web site.

Right: Statue of Tata Colin, messianic leader of a slave rising on the Scottish-owned plantation Leasowes (Coronie, Surinam) in 1835.


Family trees: A number of pages now have links to family trees I have created on Ancestry.co.uk (subscription required to access). For example, the family tree of Peter Fairbairn (manager of Lord Seaforth's Berbice estates) can be viewed at Peter Fairbairn (Ancestry).


Finding you way around the site? - this may help:

Index of 527 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


Joshua Bryant's idealised Rainbow over a Plantation (top) 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