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John McLennan (1787-1850)

For family tree see John McLennan on Ancestry (subscription required)

In 1817 John Maclennan was attorney for Hugh McCalmont's plantation Hope and Experiment [Nos 15 & 16], with its 286 slaves, on the west sea coast of Berbice. He owned 23 slaves himself, 12 male and 11 female - including two 'mulatto' children named Eliza Sharp (3) born in Demerara and Jane (3) born in Berbice, both children of Lucy, a 'sambo' seamstress born in Barbados.

In 1814 he was one of those who gave evidence of what was taken to be a planned uprising of enslaved people on plantations along the coast.

On 15 April he wrote to Hugh McCalmont in Belfast:

Since I wrote the enclosed there has been six of the Ringleaders of the intended Revolt hung in Town & their Heads put up on Poles on the Estates they belonged to. [Letter sold at auction]

In 1820 - now known as ‘John Maclennan Esq of Lynedale, Isle of Skye, formerly of Berbice’ - he married (8 Feb 1820) Catherine Bethune (b.1792), whose two brothers were planters in in the colony [Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae: parish of Alness]. He returned to the colony and was still acting as attorney for Hugh McCalmont in 1822. he increased his own slaveholding to 31 in 1819 and 56 in 1822. These slaves were attached to Plantation Armadale (lot 23).

Both John and his wife Catherine were in Berbice at the time of the slave rising in Demerara and his letter of 3 September 1823 gave an account of this to Hugh McCalmont [Liverpool Museums]. He added:

I never knew the Negroes behave better than they do here [in Berbice] during the time I was absent. Indeed it induces me to keep by Brother here instead of sending him to Mr [???]'s again.

After Catherine's death he married Marion Grant, sister-in-law of Malcolm Nicolson, who had also been in Berbice and had returned to Skye. After his death at Lyndale in April 1851 there was a petition to sequestrate his estate (CS279/1718).

Plantation management

In his letters from Hope & Experiment he referes to the overseers on the plantaton, young men named Moore and Hamilton.


Alfred - an obeah man?

In July 1815 he referred to the death of an enslaved woman named Quasheba 'supposed from the effects of obia done my the Negro Alfred'. In October he wrote:

There can be no proof brought against Alfred of being an obia man than the Negroes bieng of that opinion but n case any more ocmplaints come to me about him he shall be done with as you have desired.

In 1817 Alfred was listed as a runaway [Slave Register].


A boy called Cromarty

Cromarty was born about 1810, the child of Lessey and Fortune, African-born slaves on Hope & Experiment. On 13 February 1819 Cromarty was killed by 'the accidental discharge of a fowling piece'.


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