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Scotland and Caribbean Slavery: Was Tobago really a ‘Scotch colony’?

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New Register House

3 West Register Street

Edinburgh

EH1 3YT

United Kingdom

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In this lecture Dr Stephen Mullen answers two key questions; how important were Scots to Tobago? And how important was Tobago to Scotland?

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In August 1776, Lachlan Campbell arrived on Tobago - a small island around twenty miles northeast of Trinidad in the southeast Caribbean – and immediately described a ‘Scotch colony’ on which the ‘greatest part’ of the island’s residents hailed from Scotland. When the Seven Years War ended with a French defeat in 1763, Tobago was formally subsumed into the British Empire. Passing between the British and French up to 1803, the island had a turbulent past yet one in which Scots were ever-present. Lachlan Campbell’s remarkable statement warrants investigation for two reasons. Firstly, Scots only comprised a small proportion of the British population and were thus likely over-represented on the British colony. Secondly, whilst Scotland had no formal colonies after 1707, Scots likely dominated island economics throughout its colonial development. Taking Campbell’s observations as a starting point, and explaining in detail how data culled from Scotland’s People can be utilised in historical research, this lecture answers two key questions; How important were Scots to Tobago? And how important was Tobago to Scotland?

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New Register House

3 West Register Street

Edinburgh

EH1 3YT

United Kingdom

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