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Clerks, overseers & tradesmen

Guyana offered some the prospect of making a fortune, even for those of limited means, if they were prepared to start work as clerks, overseers or tradesmen. The key to success was to own slaves.

In 1806, with the prospect of the abolition of the slave trade looming, Donald Mackay, a clerk, wrote of overseers, clerks and tradesmen that ‘their only encouragement to live in so baneful a climate was the benefit derived from owning some Negroes, their wages being barely sufficient for the necessities of existence’. Mackay was one of those who made money and returned to Britain a wealthy man.

Ten years later, John Gordon, also from Inverness, declared that the possibility of advancement in this way had gone: 'The Golden Days here are long past. A Negroe now costs more than a manager’s years salary.' [NAS GD23/6/484/2]

List of clerks, managers & tradesmen not otherwise detailed on this web site:

  1. Gunn, Alexander : overseer on Seaforth plantations, 1804; son of John Gunn, tailor in Dingwall (NAS GD46/17/25)
  2. Junor, Hugh : carpenter, indentured to Messrs Cameron, 1823. Indenture drawn up in Fortrose (NAS CS96/972). This may be Hugh Junor, of Upper Kincurdy, Rosemarkie [1796-1826].
  3. Gair, Alex : mason, indentured to Messrs Cameron, 1820. Salary f480 (£40). Indenture drawn up in Fortrose (NAS CS96/972)
  4. Gordon, John : manager on plantations Huntly and Litchfield, west coast Berbice (1816); from Inverness. (NAS GD23/6/484/2)
  5. McLeod, R : manager of Industry (NAS CS96/972)
  6. Campbell, Neil: manager of plantations Rose Hall and Inverness for William Alves, 1822 (Return of Slaves). A Neil Campbell, proprietor of plantation Kendalls on the east sea coast, died before May 1832 (London Gazette).
  7. John Geddes and David Findlater, from Inverness, were indentured as apprentices to plantation Good Intent c1809. [NAS CS96/743]