Glasgow and Slavery

Glasgow, the West of Scotland and the Caribbean


This website is based on personal research on a number of estates and merchants. Were these men one-offs? Wider conclusions await further research, but we already know that, from the 1750s the leading Caribbean sugar islands were dominated by Scots. At the abolition of slavery on British plantations in 1835, 100s of Glasgow or Scottish merchants were compensated for the loss of their slaves.

Understanding slavery is more about finding out than feeling guilty. The leading historian of the British slave trade says: "No one today defends the slave trade. It may be well to conceded that the era of slave trade is beyond the effective range of moral condemnation – and to try to find out what happened and why, rather than placing blame, however well-deserved".

P. Curtin

Selected Publications by Dr Stuart M. Nisbet:


  • 'Mearns and Slavery' Mearns History Group (MHG) website -
  • 'The Shawfield Mansion of Glasgow', Scottish Local History [SLH], Vol.84 (2012).
  • 'A Glasgow Slaving Tragedy', SLH, Vol.82 (2012).
  • 'Transatlantic Artefacts – Spinxes, Coppers and Copes', Archaeology Scotland, Vol.12 (2011).
  • 'Early Glasgow Sugar Planters in the Caribbean', Scottish Archaeological Journal, Vol. [31.1-2 (2009).
  • 'The Sugar Adventurers of Glasgow', History Scotland, Vol.9, No.3 (2009).
  • 'A Sufficient Stock of Negroes', Renfrewshire Local History Forum [RLHF] Journal, Vol.14 (2008).
  • 'Pirates of the Caribbean', History Scotland, Vol.8, No.1 (2008).
  • 'St Kitts, Slavery and the West of Scotland', Proceedings of Caribbean Studies Conference (2008).
  • 'The Scottish Slave Trade', Scottish Archaeological News, No.55 (2007).
  • 'Slavery and the Rise of the West of Scotland', SLH, No.69 (2007).
  • 'The Growth of Port Glasgow in the 18th Century', RLHF Journal, Vol.3 (1992).


  • 'Uncovering the History of Greenbank' -
  • 'Castle Semple Gardens' in Archaeology Scotland, Vol.14 (2012).
  • 'Castle Semple Rediscovered', RLHF Journal (2009).
  • 'Unfolding Fermtouns – Rural Buildings on Roy's Military Map', SLH, Vol.76 (2010).
  • 'John Watt - An early Scottish Land Surveyor', National Library of Scotland 'Cairt', Vol.7 (2005).
  • 'Early Drainage of Castle Semple Loch', RLHF Journal, Vol.12 (2004).
  • 'Greenbank Garden', with J. May (National Trust for Scotland 1994).
  • 'Robert Allason and Greenbank', with T.C. Welsh (Eastwood Libraries 1992).

Minerals (Farming and Industrial)

  • 'A Hot Cargo: the Waterborne Lime Trade in Scotland', History Scotland, Vol.7 No.6 (2007).
  • 'Summary of 3-year research project on Limekilns in Scotland', Carnegie Trust (2007).
  • 'Understanding Lime Kilns in Scotland', Scottish Archaeological News, No.51 (2006).
  • 'The Archaeology of the Lime Industry', RLHF Journal, Vol.13 (2006).
  • 'The 18th Century Lime Industry in Scotland', SLH, Vol.58. (2003)
  • 'Water Power at Quarrelton', RLHF Journal, Vol. 11 (2003) & 'Midtown Limekiln', Vol.9 (1999).
  • 'Coal from Clarkston to Cathcart' (1999).

Textile Manufacture

  • 'Eaglesham Cotton Mills' in Hunter R. & S. Eaglesham Orry (2011), etc.
  • 'Early Industry on the Gryfe - The Origins of a Mill Village', RLHF Journal, Vol.16 (2010).
  • 'Bridge of Weir Mills', Archaeology Scotland, Vol.5 (2009).
  • 'Mearns Bleachfields and Printfields' -
  • 'The Early Development of the Cotton Industry in Paisley', RLHF Journal, Vol.15 (2009).
  • 'The Making of Scotland's First Industrial Region', Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, Vol.29, No.1 (2009).
  • 'The Rise of the Cotton Factory in 18th Century Renfrewshire' (Archaeopress 2008).
  • 'The Early Irish Cotton Industry: William and John Orr', Irish Economic & Social History Vol.35, p.23 (2008), with J. Foster.
  • 'Financing the Early Textile Industry in the West of Scotland', Scottish Business and Industrial History Vol.24, Series 2, p.3-27 (2007).
  • 'The Rise of the Cotton Factory in 18th Century Renfrewshire' Scottish Textile Heritage Online (2004).
  • 'Rothesay Mills (1778-1799)', Trans. Buteshire Natural History Society XXVI (2004).
  • 'Conservation Plan for Johnstone Cotton Mill', oldest in Scotland (2001).
  • 'The Four Paper Mills of Cathcart', SLH, Vol.49 (2001).
  • 'Eaglesham Cotton Mills', RLHF Journal, Vol.7 (1995).
  • 'Renfrewshire Snuff Mills', RLHF Journal, Vol.6 (1994).
  • 'Newmill - an early Scottish Cotton Mill', Scottish Industrial History, Vols.11-13 (1990).
  • 'Busby and Dovecothall Cotton Mills', RLHF Journal, Vol.2 (1989).
  • 'Busby Cotton Mill', Scottish Archaeological Gazette, No.19 (1989).

General Development & Others

  • 'The Value of Experience' in Local History - Editorial in Scottish Local History No.83 (2012).
  • Preface to 'Renfrewshire', G. McCrae & D. Alexander (Birlinn 2012).
  • Introduction to 'Old Clarkston and Netherlee', Douglas Nisbet (Stenlake 2008).
  • 'Linn Park' & 'Busby Mills', in Hothersall, S., Archaeology Around Glasgow (Glasgow Museums 2007).
  • 'Water Power in Thornliebank' in Old Thornliebank, Maud Devine (Stenlake 2005).
  • 'Hamilton Palace', History Scotland (2005).
  • Input and Peer review of 'Old Busby', Maud Devine (Stenlake 2003)
  • 'A History of Stamperland', East Renfrewshire Council (2000).
  • 'The Hidden History of Rouken Glen' -; 'Rouken Glen History Trail' (1999).
  • 'Busby History Trail' (1994).
  • Discovery and Excavation in Scotland (annually); Gryfe Advertizer (monthly from 2009); Friends of the River Kelvin (13 articles on Kelvin Mills from 2006); The Eastwoodian Journal ('Netherlee and Linn Mills' & 'Roads & Fords', 1991-2); Busby Cotton Mills, Millholm Paper Mills, etc., RCAHMS Canmore website.

Letters in The Herald (Scotland)

  • Glasgow's Role in the Slave Trade (27th Jan 2008).
  • City's Slave Debt (3rd Dec 2008).
  • Our Intangible Heritage (28th Oct 2009).
  • Slaves Misery for Scots Profit? (27th Nov 2009).
  • Desire to Promote Happier Events? (17th August 2009).
  • Glasgow's Slavery Connections with West Indies, not America (29th March 2010).
  • More than One Way to Preserve our Heritage (16th Aug 2010).


  • 'The Eighteenth Century' in Regional Framework for Local History and Archaeology (Glasgow City Council 2013).
  • 'The Different Fruits of all the World' - Early Colonial Conns. of Glasgow (1660-1740), Roots of Nationhood Conf. Proceedings (2013).
  • 'Gazeteer of the Cart Basin: The White Cart, Black Cart, Gryfe and Levern'.
  • 'The Lost Rivers of Glasgow', with Brian Skillen.
  • 'Muck, Mines and Mills - down the Black Cart Water', with Brian Skillen.
  • 'Col. Wm. McDowall of Castle Semple, Transcripts of letters between Glasgow and St. Kitts' (c.1720-1735).
  • 'The Coupers of Cathcart; Millholm Paper Mills' (2003).
  • 'Banks, Ditches and the Caribbean - The Missing History & Landscape of Nether Pollok' (2002).
  • 'A History of Williamwood Estate' (1999).
  • 'The Thorntonhall Lime Industry' (1998).
  • 'Linn Park and Netherton Uncovered' (1997).
  • 'Darnley: a Hidden Landscape' (1997).
  • 'Fermtoun to Mill Village: The Origins of Busby' (1994).
  • 'Greek Thomson and Giffnock Sandstone' (1993).
  • 'The Allasons of Greenbank, Transcripts of letters between Glasgow and Virginia', with T.C. Welsh (c.1750-1790).
  • 'Water Power and Minerals of Rouken Glen' (1991).

And finally: