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This book is wholly devoted to assessing the array of links between Scotland and the Caribbean in the later eighteenth century. It uses a wide range of archival sources to paint a detailed picture of the lives of thousands of Scots who sought fortunes and opportunities, as Burns wrote, ‘across th' Atlantic roar’. The book outlines the range of their occupations as planters, merchants, slave owners, doctors, overseers and politicians, and shows how Caribbean connections affected Scottish society during the period of ‘improvement’. The book highlights the Scots' reinvention of the system of clanship to structure their social relations in the empire and finds that involvement in the Caribbean also bound Scots and English together in a shared Atlantic imperial enterprise and played a key role in the emergence of the British nation and the Atlantic world.
This chapter examines the work of Scots in the West Indies plantations. It explains that Scots were only employed by planters, but many were landowners themselves, and they acted as magnets for employment applications. The practice of employing relatives or associates from the same part of Scotland as overseers or managers was widespread throughout the later part of the century. These connections extended to include British and transatlantic circles, facilitating their activities in several colonies and on both sides of the Atlantic. This chapter suggests that these networks, then, did not exist merely as a series of bilateral links for the transfer of goods, capital and people between Scotland and a colony; they established a lattice of connections that enmeshed Scotland, the Caribbean and Britain in a transatlantic complex.
This chapter examines the work of Scots in the Caribbean as doctors. It suggests that like other ventures, the recruitment of doctors for the Caribbean plantations relied on Scottish networks. It highlights the fact that practice in the Caribbean often led to doctors acquiring considerable wealth, partly from their professional roles and partly from their diversification into other realms of West Indian profits. This chapter also contends that the role of Scots in the collection and dissemination of medical and botanical intelligence extended the frontiers of European knowledge of the tropical environment and this production of knowledge contributed to the process of accommodation between the metropolitan state and the colonies.
This chapter focuses on the participations of Scots in West Indian politics. It explains that from the earliest British settlement of the Windward Islands, Scots were influential in island politics, and were well represented in all the legislative bodies. It highlights the loyalty of the locals to the empire as demonstrated by the very ‘Britishness’ of their reactions to three major crises which include the easing of restrictions on Catholics in Grenada, the American Revolution, and the insurrections of the 1790s. This chapter argues that the transient nature of the white population in the islands ensured that the home country remained central to their consciousness and that the influence of substantial numbers of Scots in the islands' polities had profound implications for the legislatures' responses, and for fostering both integration and continuity in the Atlantic empire throughout an exceptionally turbulent period.
This chapter focuses on the mercantile connections of Scots in the West Indies. It analyzes the case of the firms of Alexander Houstoun and Co. and the Baillie family's houses in London and Bristol which demonstrate the transatlantic nature of Caribbean enterprise. As with plantation management, kinship networks underpinned the ways in which mercantile concerns organised themselves. This chapter discusses the transfer of strategies and other measures and innovations employed by merchants to exploit better opportunities and to address the challenges and crises confronting them in the transnational world of exchanges.
This chapter focuses on the repatriation of the Scots from the West Indies. It reviews the ways in which the returnees spent their Caribbean fortunes and suggests that returnees from the Caribbean and their wealth had a profound influence on late eighteenth-century Scottish society. It discusses how the group which originated in Scotland, was developed in the West Indies, and finally settled in and around Bristol and became an integral part of the civic community there. In addition to returning Scots, there were also young West Indians who were sent to Scotland to be educated and they are mostly the children of Scottish migrants to the Caribbean.
This chapter examines the role of the Scots in the Caribbean and British imperial politics. The changing face of politics in Scotland from the 1760s impelled more and more Scots to look southwards in search of advancement and they found these opportunities in the West Indies. The frequency of political openings in the Caribbean coincided with the consolidation and greater integration of the home country which allowed Scots greater access to power in London. This chapter suggests that the Scots played an important role in preserving the bonds between the Caribbean colonies and Britain until the final quarter of the eighteenth century.
This chapter discusses social problems in the West Indies during the second half of the eighteenth century. Just as Scotland experienced great challenges and stresses in the second half of the eighteenth century so too did the West Indies. The most profound disjunctions lay between the free white residents and the communities of enslaved blacks and free people of colour and this manifested itself in the maintenance of a colour bar that determined the rights that were enjoyed or denied and the kind of employment that was undertaken. This chapter considers the scale of Scottish involvement in miscegenation and describes the ways in which Scots reacted to fathering illegitimate mixed-race children.
This chapter examines the impact of social, economic and political developments in Scotland in the second half of the eighteenth century on the way the Scots engaged with the Caribbean. It describes the society from which Scottish adventurers to the West Indies came and identifies the Scots who were drawn to the Caribbean in terms of their social backgrounds. This chapter also considers how far their Scottish backgrounds affected the manner of their participation in the Caribbean.
This book explores the historical connection between Scotland and the Caribbean in the later part of the eighteenth century. This study shows not only that Scottish networks existed throughout the eighteenth-century West Indies, and especially in the period after the Seven Years War, but that the cohesion within these groupings was not based simply on Scottishness. It evaluates the role of Scots on the plantations and as merchants, doctors and politicians in the islands and suggests that Scottish-Caribbean connections suggests among the key bonds forging a transnational maritime world of exchange. This volume considers the repatriation of people and capital from the Caribbean, and their impact on developments in Scotland.