MacCorkill's Scottish - Scottish Slavery II

Sconmac's - Scottish Slavery

Scone's Scottish and Celtic Internet Book"

Scottish Highlands and Islands

Scottish History and Culture &


by Sconemac

"another page in my book"

Scottish Slavery, Continued

by Nancy A. MacCorkill, F.S.A.Scot USA



by Nancy A. MacCorkill, F.S.A.Scot, USA

Scottish Slave Trade

Today, when our eyes light on the term "the slave trade" our minds immediately conjure up pictures of old sailing ships bound for the plantations of America, their holds crammed with suffering humanity dragged from their tribal homes in Africa.

This nefarious and highly profitable business was in no way confined to the Dark Continent. In the middle years of the 18th century it also flourished in Scotland with the unwilling exports being OUR OWN PEOPLE, sold cold-bloodedly into slavery with the active conivance of those in authority.

I illustrate this with the fact that in the year 1739, Alexander McDonald of Sleat and Norman McLeod of Dunvegan, the same pernicious pair who had been involved in the kidnapping and imprisonment of Lady Grange a few years earlier, now set theIR minds and hands to a much more sinister purpose.

However, they were not alone. Although the ports in the Hebrides were selling humans for quite some time, Aberdeen became the center for most of this type of "Kidnapping" or "Shanghaing" and they profected by it and kept meticulous records. These same records are held in the city of Aberdeen, and anyone with the know how to get to the people who keep the records can read case after case of people being taken, and in many instances Scots selling their own children, because they could not provide for them and thinking they would have a better life than they were experiencing and expected - they allowed themselves to be deluded that it was the right thing for their children.

With no means or hope of ever returning to their native land, most lived, worked and died far from home. Most were sold to the slave trade to the colonies, there to be put on the block as workers in the many farms that the King owned and run by usually Nobel stock, many times Scots and English, who were not the oldest son, and therefore would not inherit. They thought to run the plantations for the English Ruling Class at the colonies, would be their path into the monied upper classes once more, their other option, serving in H. M. Military Services. Many former slaves in the USA today, have Scottish names because they took their master's name. They were a lost people, and tried hard to live out their slavery with as little suffering as possible. The Scots, however, were accustomed to hard times and difficult living, and while working kept their eyes on the idea of escape and the distant mountain chain of the Appalachian Mountains. These Scots although accustomed to hard work, saw quickly they were nothing but slaves and if they received papers of any type, could not read them and were forced to work on and on, many years past any indentured servant. They had to escape, and escape they did. Most headed straight for the mountains, eating whatever they could find or kill along the way (rabbits etc. squirrels, firsh, berries) in order to survive the long treck across Virginia or North and South Carolina until they reached the mountain range. The Scots were a tough stock of people, having lived with adverse conditions all their life, and soon found themselves in the mountains. Their captors, could not follow, as the Scots were adept at not being tracked, and if anyone followed they would lay in wait and kill the captors rather than go back. They would bury them and make the forrest look undistrubed to hide their trail. Much like the Native American Indians, they kept going until they found a friendly group or formed their own group in the mountains, there they settled for a time. They found mamy Irish in the same situation and they all settled in the areas, keeping in mind who was enemy and who was not. They survived for so many generations and were only found many, many years later by people with the study of anthropology, who found some groups who spoke in early Elizabethan, and many who spoke the Scots and Irish mixtures. Many escaped form Governor Oglethorpe's penal colony for the King.

Many people from Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas wanted to argue the point with me, but I referred them to the records of Aberdeen and the distasteful rcords of slave taking and selling are still there. Aberdeen being a major sea port, had access to the ships and to the very poor people, whose crofts were destroyed and burned and the warning if they came back, the whole family would be shot. This was done in the past, and they knew it, so they were trying to make money to feed their families, and unpleasant as we may find it to understand the people of the Cities had no sympathy for them, and considered them ragged and dirty and well rid of. These and the people of the Hebrides ports, make up the main body of people sold into slavery. They were a confused people, first being in a clan, was a proud thing to be, and later the clans were broken apart and the people found themselves to be crofters or tenant farmers, required to give the largest portion of what they raised on the small plots the crofters were given to use. After paying the land owner, who by this time, might be Lowlander Lord ro even English who thought the lovely Highlands beautiful..........except for the people.>/P>

Then came the idea from the lowlands to cut beautiful forrests and make way for sheep. The people were uncermoniously told they were not worth as much as the sheep and they should immigrate to the colonies or Canada and make a life for themselves. The Scots were baffeled, and had no idea why they were treated so badly, but most finally did join the ships and sailed away to America for a new hope and a new future. There was even a song titled "America" and they danced to it, and tried to sooth themselves into thinking it would be better. After all their life in the Highlands had so deteriorated that there was not much else they could do.

Those whose ships went to Canada, were sold into servitude in the Hudson Bay Fur Colony, and worked until they cound find the opportunity to get away, and go far west, and settle in small Scottish Communities. There they found happiness and freedom.

Those sold to America, fared far worse, as they were put to slavery with no hope of ever escaping. Many who did escape were sent to Oglethorp's Penal Colony, which is now Alanta, Georgia. Thus they served as prisoners.

Those that excaped, may be our ancestors from the mountainous territory that ran from South Carolina to Pennsylvania and still further north, as a still smaller mountain range. Thus Scots spread out all over the USA and set up homesteads in the new country. They were called on again, when the Revolutionary War took place, and many went willingly to kill the English who the English & Lowlanders turned traitor, in their eyes.

After the war and the country of America was secured, many loyalists Socts headed up the coast to Canada and Nova Scotia to go home. They were the people who served at the plantationns and for the British Government, and Lowland Scotland. They returned home, not believing the Great British Empire had lost one of it's colonies.

Some plantation owners stayed on and slavery of the blacks stayed on until the Civil War, when the country went into complete war and a painful war for the Americans, as they had relatives on both sides. On of the wars, where we lost the most men, was the Civil War. This country has never recovered completely from that war. Many Southerners feel their cousins in the North, should have stayed home and never fought against them, and visa versa. The war did not start out to be a war to free the slaves, but a war to keep everyone in one nation and not fragment the fragile country called the Union. However, Abraham Lincoln, found it necessary to call it a war against slavery, to keep the English and French from entiering the war dor the South. Unfair? Completely. Politics? Absolutely. However much the Black Slaves needed to be freed, the Civil War did not start out for that purpose.

It was not until the English and French offered to help the South, that Abraham Lincoln, in order to keep them out of the war and especially in helping the south, declared it was a war against Slavery. It started out as "no such thing", and many men left and went home when they found that out. Calloused? Yes, but after all they had been lied to and they were now asked again to lay down their lives for the betterment of the Nation. This did not set well, as it brought back memories of how they were forced out of their own country, because they were Highlanders, and for some reason which no one could explain, they had become less valuable than sheep, and they resented it.

The Revolutionary War, and later the War of 1811, when once again England attacked, tested the mettle of this country and its people. There were many Scots here, and many had been sent as slaves.

Nancy A. MacCorkill, F.S.A. Scot USA
Author, Poet,
Historian of the Ancient Clans of Scotland, also, also
Sources: Aberdeen Scotland, city records,
Shipping - Aberdeen city records,
Skye, Uist, and other ports on the coast of the Inner Hebrides and their public records.,

Footnote: The archives of the city record that throughout these shameful years syndicates were formed for the furtherance of this oathsome business - syndicates unbelievably headed by prominent men of substance such as Baillie William Fordyce of Aquhorthies, Alexander Mitchell of Colpna and Walter Cochran, Deputy Town Clerk.

Footnote: These evilly disposed individuals were employing parties of men as press gangs who roamed the streets of the city seeking to snatch the unwary and who even raided villages and clachans miles inland for their prey. The books of these syndicates reveal a further and if possible, even more despicable aspect of this traffic - the selling into slavery (by parents) their children and other kin. There are entries such as "To Robert Ross for listing his son, one shilling, - and To Malcolm for listing his brother Donald, one shilling and sixpence."

Footnote: Many, so called "political prisoners", were shipped to the penal colony in New South Wales, Australia. Later, determined to be rid of all Highland Scots, they were offered a bounty price, per head to go to Australia.

Footnote: Those who remained in slavery, worked the farms in slavery, in the USA, until the Revolutionary War. Most Scots fought for the colonists and did not want to be taken by the English again. Others, terribly afraid for their families back in Scotland, especially the Highlanders who were forced to take the "Bloody Oath", went back to Scotland to try to find their families.

I will be researching more of this data, and will add more to this article from time to time.

Nancy MacCorkill
Author, Poet,
Historian of the Ancient Clans of Scotland




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