Robert Nutter Campbell, country gent and slave owner

In Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum hangs Sir Henry Raeburn’s enormous double portrait of Robert Nutter Campbell and his wife, Margaret Montgomery. Mr and Mrs Campbell tower over the other museum exhibits in the gallery – the sheer scale of Raeburn’s painting, the glow of the sunlight reflected in the couple’s elegant clothes and their intense gazes were meant to make you take notice. The … Continue reading Robert Nutter Campbell, country gent and slave owner

Lady Jean Grant and Caribbean Slavery

In 1940 this portrait of Jean Duff, Lady Grant (1746-1805), painted by David Allan (1744-1796) in 1780 entered Glasgow Museums collections without any news coverage. The painting has been displayed in Kelvingrove since 2006 as an example of Scottish art and civility. The obituary written for her in 1805 praised her goodness and piety. She appears to have been as she appears in the painting … Continue reading Lady Jean Grant and Caribbean Slavery

The earliest enslaved person in Glasgow?

In 1705, the Glaswegian businessman, John ‘Bass’ Spreull published an account of Scotland’s prospects for international trade. He suggested that Scotland should make appropriate trade links with the West Indies, Virginia, the Guinea coast and what he called the ‘Negroes Coast’, by which he probably meant West African countries such as Senegal where European countries had established a slave trade. Spreull promoted a trade of … Continue reading The earliest enslaved person in Glasgow?

A Free Press but not a Free People

Many objects in Glasgow Museums’ collection bear witness to Scots’ participation in slavery during the 1700-1800s. A copy of the Grenada Free Press and Public Gazette, published on 27 August 1828, is one such example. The pages are faded and yellow now, but the words printed on the back page speak loud and clear. Among adverts for handkerchiefs, crackers, socks, candles, hams and horses, two … Continue reading A Free Press but not a Free People

Boyd, an Enslaved African in Glasgow

In the summer of 1770, a sixteen-year-old enslaved boy named Boyd escaped from his master in Glasgow. This advertisement was placed in the Glasgow Journal by James Kippen, who had been the master of a ship named Lady Margaret which had left Greenock for Virginia in January of 1770. It was not uncommon for ship captains and officers to own enslaved boys and men who … Continue reading Boyd, an Enslaved African in Glasgow

Glasgow Museums Collection 29.92

A fashionable accessory?

What at first appears to be a charming piece of needlework actually reflects one of the darker sides of British history. This panel is made from linen embroidered in coloured silk and wool threads with cross, flame, satin and tent stitches – all relatively simple techniques suggesting that it was made by an amateur as a leisurely pastime. Against a fantastical background of flowering plants, … Continue reading A fashionable accessory?

Glasgow Museums Collection 2887

John Glassford’s Family Portrait

When the portrait of the tobacco merchant John Glassford and his family was given to Glasgow Museums in 1950 not much was known about it, and a myth grew about a black slave boy who had been painted over to erase Glasgow’s association with the slave trade. In 2007 the painting was moved from the People’s Palace to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where conservation … Continue reading John Glassford’s Family Portrait

Gustavus Brown’s Runaway Slave

In February 1727 Dr Gustavus Brown placed this advertisement in The Edinburgh Evening Courant: RUN away on the 7th Instant from Dr. Gustavus Brown’s Lodgings in Glasgow, a Negro Woman, named Ann, being about 18 Years of Age, with a green Gown and a Brass Collar about her Neck, on which are engraved these Words [“Gustavus Brown in Dalkieth his Negro, 1726.”] Whoever apprehends her, … Continue reading Gustavus Brown’s Runaway Slave

Jamie Montgomery, Runaway Slave

In 1750 a Scottish merchant in Virginia named Robert Shedden purchased an enslaved boy named Jamie for £56. Two years later Shedden sent the young boy back to Scotland where he would be apprenticed to Shedden’s brother-in-law, a carpenter named Robert Morrice who lived in Shedden’s home town of Beith, Ayrshire. Shedden intended to profit by this, for he would eventually have Jamie sent back … Continue reading Jamie Montgomery, Runaway Slave

Glasgow Museums Collection E.1937.75.c.1

Enslaved Black Boys

The portrait of John Glassford and family in the People’s Palace Museum in Glasgow is the most famous portrait of one the city’s most successful tobacco merchants. It also attracts attention because of the rare image of the Glassford’s enslaved black boy. Glasgow Museums has never attempted to cover him up, but without knowing more about him what should he be called? What should similar … Continue reading Enslaved Black Boys