Login
Get your free website from Spanglefish

Highland Scots - Dingwall & area:
Francis Mackenzie (carpenter)

Francis Humberstone Mackenzie, a wright and carpenter, was born c1785, the son of Roderick Mackenzie, who had the tack [lease] of Scuddell, near Brahan in Ross-shire. He was named in honour of the landowner, Francis Humberstone Mackenzie, Earl of Seaforth.

In 1804 or 1805 he arrived in Berbice to work at plantation Brahan, one of Lord Seaforth’s three plantations managed by his former secretary, Peter Fairbairn. He came with Alex Gunn, a mason, from Dingwall and soon after arriving both fell ill with fever.

In his letters to Seaforth, Fairbairn noted that in January 1806 Mackenzie was ‘at work but not well’; in February both he and Gunn were hanging on ‘but had frequent lapses’; and, in March, Mackenzie, but not Gunn, has recovered. [NAS GD46/17].

Just over ten years later Mackenzie was working on his own account and owned fifteen slaves, thirteen of them carpenters [Slave returns, 1817]. He is recorded as working for William Fraser of Goldstonehall ‘superintending carpenters and hiring our negroes’ (NAS CS96/972).

Mackenzie’s slaves had been named Allan (38, born Africa), Murphy (38, Africa), Pitt (30, Grenada), Kenneth (26, Africa), Bob (26, Africa), Downie (27, Africa), Dundas (20, Africa), Abel (20, Berbice, a ‘mulatto’), Nat (16, Berbice), La Fleur (16, Berbice), John (13, Africa) and Frederick (24, Africa). There was also a domestic slave, Dinah (30, Africa), and her two Berbice-born girls, Madelina (6) and Peggy (6 months).

Allan was no longer in the slave gang in 1819. By 1822 young Peggy had died but Dinah had had another child, Donald. Mackenzie had, however, sold six of his carpenter slaves - Frederick, Nat and La Fleur to ‘John Camerson, London’ and Downie, John and Murphy to John Downer - leaving him with a gang of eight.

One of remaining slaves, Abel, played the fiddle and in 1830 brought a complaint to the Fiscal that he had not been paid the 33 guilders due to him 'for playing the fiddle for Miss Margaret Davidson' [Fiscals Reports, Vol 78, p112].

Mackenzie died in Berbice on 27 November 1831. Twenty years later a balance of $460 55c remained unclaimed in his estate [London Gazette, February 1851].