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Macpherson of Blairgowrie

In 1801, on advice from James Fraser of Belladrum, Colonel Allan Macpherson of Blairgowrie decided to send his 17-year-old son, William, to Guyana. In 1805 William was joined by his younger brother Allan.

For a full account of the Macphersons time in Berbice, and the later history of the family, including William’s mixed race children, see Stephen Foster’s A Private Empire (Murdoch Books, 2010).

William Macpherson worked first at the Frasers’ plantation Golden Fleece and then at Union, before becoming manager of Paradise in 1804. All of these plantations were on the west sea coast of Berbice. He formed a relationship with a slave on Paradise, named Countess, with whom he had three children - Eliza (b1807), Matilda (b1809) and Allan (b1810). He bought Countess from James Fraser in 1807; gave her the name Harriot, after his sister; manumitted [freed] her, and their children, in 1810; and, in 1813, left her in Berbice when he returned to Britain with Eliza and Matilda. Two-year-old Allan followed as soon as he was old enough to make the journey.

Allan Macpherson remained in Berbice until 1820. Before he left he manumitted his slave Kitty, who had borne him two children - Harriet, born in 1816 when Kitty was 16, and Lucy, born in 1817. Lucy died in 1819, while Harriet was freed, with her mother, in 1820.