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Kennedy (Surinam)

Return to Scots in Surinam

Charles, Walter and Robert Kennedy were three of the six sons of Rev Hugh Kennedy (1698-1764) and Margaret Scott. Hugh Kennedy was born on Northern Ireland of Scottish parents, graduated from Glasgow University in 1714, became the chaplain to Archibald Douglas of Cavers (Roxburghshire), and was ordained as a minister in the Church of Scotland in 1721, serving in the parishes of Torthorwald and Cavers. In 1737 he became minister of the Scots kirk in Rotterdam, where he remained until his death in 1764. He both supported, and wrote about, the evengelical revival taking place in the Netherlands in the 1740s, which he saw as part of a wider religious 'awakening' across Scotland, England and North America. [For family tree see Helen J Weldon on Ancestry (subscription required). For his religious writing see  Jonathan M. Yeager, Early Evangelicalism: A Reader (Oxford: OUP, 2013) pp. 146–52.]

The Kennedy children - six sons and three daughters - were almost all born in Scotland but were brought up in Rotterdam. Charles (1729-58), Walter (1732-75) and Robert (1735-before 1758) went to the Dutch colony of Surinam.

Walter became a good friend of John Stedman, who served with the Dutch Scots Brigade in Surinam from 1772 to 1777. According to Stedman, Walter had risen to become a member of the colony's Court of Policy, and owned plantation Vriedyk and a house in Paramaribo. Kennedy, who had married Anna Katharina Wried, entertained Stedman on a number of occasions, including providing him with female slaves for sex. Stedman's diary entry for 3 March 1773 reads, 'Dine at Kennedy's. 3 girls pass the night in me room.'

Walter also bought a plantation in Tobago when land was made available to British investors in the 1760s.

In 1775 Walter, his wife and their son Hugh John returned to Holland but Kennedy died shortly after their arrival. In his will he left £10,000 to his wife. At the time of his death his brother William was professor of Greek at the University of Aberdeen. [PROB11/1016 fo.259]


Walter Kennedy's slave Quaco is the main character in the Dutch comic book Quaco: Leven in Slavernij produced by Eric Heuvel and Ineke Mok for use in Dutch schools. It tells the story of Quaco's adbuction in Africa and his life as a slave in Suriname and the Nethlands.

For further details see: Quaco: Life in Slavery