David Dobson’s Scots in the West Indies records details about Scottish immigrants to the West Indies during the first 150 years following Scotland’s union with England. Dobson extracted the information from various historical documents, including newspapers, burgess rolls, historical journals, and family and other records.
Entries vary widely, depending on details given in the original source, but they may include the following:
- year or date of birth
- place of birth or residence
- father’s name
- spouse’s name
- year or date of death
- place of death
Entries may include other details about family members and relationships, marriage places, religious or professional affiliations, ship names, and similar facts. Dobson provides a list of abbreviations used for sources throughout the book on pages v–vi.
Dobson writes that “the first vessel known to have sailed from Scotland to the West Indies was … the Janet of Leith,” which left Leith in 1611. Once Scotland and England were unified in 1707, with an accompanying lifting of trade restrictions, Scotland’s dealings with the West Indies increased. These included both trade and settlement. Dobson explains that “to a larger extent than elsewhere, the colonies of the West Indies attracted Scots with skills or money to invest, and when financial returns were sufficient, they very often returned home to Scotland.”
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