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Book Review – Scots in Jamaica 1655-1855, David Dobson

What’s it about

During the 17th & 18th centuries Jamaica was a major destination for Scottish emigrants. Besides the Covenanters banished & the Jacobites imprisoned in Jamaica, the first “voluntary” Scots emigrants landed in Jamaica in 1700 as refugees from the failed Scots colony of Darien on the Isthmus of Panama. Many of the early emigrants were Highlanders from Argyll encouraged by Colonel John Campbell, a survivor of the Darien experience.

By the mid-18th century an estimated one-third of the white population of Jamaica was Scottish or of Scots origin. Scotsmen came to view Jamaica as a place where fortunes could be made, and consequently Jamaica attracted planters, merchants, physicians, clergymen, skilled tradesmen, and other professionals. Some settled permanently, while others returned home after acquiring wealth.

A number of American Loyalists, notably from the Southern colonies & including Scots, settled in Jamaica after 1783. Jamaica continued to attract Scots immigrants into the following century; even the great poet Robert Burns planned to immigrate to Jamaica but abandoned his plan at the very last minute.

Our Review

This book spans an amazing 200 years & details some 3500 individuals who made Jamaica their home.

During his research David has consulted archival sources in the United Kingdom & Jamaica to complete this amazing source book.

Arranged alphabetically by surname is also includes the persons occupation, a date & the source. However, some entries do include additional information such as their reason for emigration, next of kin, the vessel they sailed on etc.

To give you a feel for the kinds of entries you might expect I have provided a few examples: -

CRICHTON, Elizabeth Dundas, dau of Patrick Crichton in Jamaica, married William Lambie from Jamaica, in Edinburgh, 1820 [GM.90.563]

FRASER, David, a merchant in Jamaica, 1771 [NAS.RS27.192.342]

MCINTYRE, Archibald, a rebel from Glendaruel, Argyll, who was transported from Leith to Jamaica in Aug 1685 [RPCS.XI.329]

ROSS, William, a Merchant in Jamaica, son of David Ross of Roslin, 1783 [NAS.CS17.1.2/257]

At the rear of the book the Author has included a couple of pages of ships that transported people to Jamaica, many detail the Ship Master, where they sailed from, dates & any other notes of interest.

Over the Years there was much jumping back and forth between Scotland & Jamaica. If you live in Jamaica & want to know more about your Scottish Roots or if you have a missing Relative who may have moved there then this book may help you complete that family puzzle.

Published in 2011 this book runs to 165 pages

You can purchase this book here

If you live in the USA then you can purchase the book via the Website


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