To mark Black History month Ayrshire Archives have created an excellent on-line exhibition which can be accessed here.
The exhibition covers a number of topics in chronological order and below an attempt is made to supplement the research with some snippets from the parish of New Cumnock.
Ayrshire Archives write – ‘Tobacco, sugar, and cotton were grown in North America and the West Indies using slave labour. These commodities made immense profits for the Scottish merchants who shipped them first to Glasgow and then on to Atlantic and European consumers.‘
It was the profits from the sugar plantations that resulted in the introduction of new land-owners or heritors into the parish of New Cumnock.
Sir James Stirling , 1st Baronet of Mansfield
In the diary of John Muir living in New Cumnock at that time the following entry appears under the 17th April 1792 –
‘Coal found at Grievehill by Mr Robertson’s (coal agent) men sent by Lord James Stirling, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who bought the land from Captain Maxwell. Have got 9ft. seam and expect to get 12ft. seam‘.
James Stirling purchased the lands of Garrieve from James Maxwell Esq. of Williamwood, Renfrewshire with a view to continue working the rich coal seams discovered at the nearby Grievehill.
- Map showing Over Garrieve (O.Garif) and Nether Garrieve (N.Gariff)
James Stirling made his name and fortune working in the West Indies , first in the sugar plantations as secretary to Archibald Stirling of Keir and later as Secretary to the Governor of Jamaica. On his return to Scotland he joined the banking house of Mansfield and Ramsay and married Alison Mansfield, daughter of the senior partner.
In honour of his new wife he renamed his newly acquired lands in the parish of New Cumnock as Mansfield and on 19th July 1792 he was created the 1st Baronet of Mansfield (Great Britain).
- Map showing Mansfield village, Mansfield Hall and Mansfield house
Hugh Ross of Kerse
In the 1st Statistical Account of the parish of New Cumnock compiled by the Reverend James Young in November 1790, Mr Ross of Kerse is listed as one of the four major heritors (landowners) in the parish and so too the aforementioned Captain Maxwell. In that same year Hugh Ross had purchased the lands of Dalleagles.
- Map showing Dalleagles
The family had interests in the Caribbean, where Hugh’s son William Ross owned the Skeldon plantation in Guyana, named after another of the family’s Ayrshire’s estates in Dalrymple.
In 1805 Hugh Ross sold his Dalleagles lands to James Cuthbert, a wine merchant in Ayr and in the same year Sir James Stirling of Mansfield died.
In 1807 the slave trade was abolished in the British Empire and slavery abolished in 1833 enabling , as Ayrshire Archives record, ‘ former slaves and their descendants were free to work wherever they chose and some travelled to Britain‘.
Finding work as a groom in the household of Ivie Campbell of Dalgig, an award winning farmer in the parish of New Cumnock, was West Indian George Graham. He was regulary seen carrying home the prize winning red-tickets from cattle shows. In the 1861 Census, 65 year old George is recorded as a ‘British subject, West Indies’.
- Map showing Dalgig
Visit the Black History Month web-site here