Letters from Tobago

In 1776, John Foreman set sail from Greenock to buy cotton in Tobago to send back to Scotland. He was a merchant born in Scoonie, Fife, in 1740. Three letters written by him were donated to the Mitchell Library in 1934. These give an insight into Scottish trade with the West Indies at that time. On 28 November 1776, the day of his departure from … Continue reading Letters from Tobago

John Robertson: Cash for a Cashier

As seen by his signature on this guinea bank note in Glasgow Museums’ collection John Robertson was the Cashier for the Glasgow Arms Banking Office in 1778. The Glasgow Arms Bank was originally established as Cochran Murdoch & Co. in 1750, changing to Speirs, Murdoch & Co in 1763. It later became Murdoch, Robertson & Co a few years after this bank note was issued … Continue reading John Robertson: Cash for a Cashier

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

Glasgow Merchants’ Investment in Purple

The profits from Scottish-owned plantations in the West Indies that used enslaved men, women and children were returned to Scotland and invested in industries here rather than helping to develop their local Caribbean communities. One such area that profited was Glasgow’s burgeoning dye industry. Many purple dyes were traditionally made using lichen dyes which were much cheaper than the famous Tyrian or murex purple extracted … Continue reading Glasgow Merchants’ Investment in Purple

Image of a blue and white delftware punch bowl

Drinking the fruits of enslaved labour

This ceramic bowl is known as ‘The Roberton Hunt’ bowl. It belonged to the members of an 18th-century fox hunt which took place twice a year in Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire. In 1771, the year the hunt was established, the club’s treasurer ordered four of these bespoke delftware bowls, customised with the club’s name. They were designed to be the right size for punch made from … Continue reading Drinking the fruits of enslaved labour

Turkey Red and the Slave Economy

Turkey Red, a process of dying cotton a vibrant crimson, has an early history in Scotland that is tainted by its links to the transatlantic slave trade and its associated economy. The process was introduced to Glasgow in 1785 by George Macintosh and David Dale. Macintosh had previously established a cudbear dye works at Dunchattan, Glasgow, whilst Dale, who was involved in the cotton industry, … Continue reading Turkey Red and the Slave Economy

A Century of Style: Costume and Colour 1800-1899

The Black History of White Cotton Dresses

Glasgow Museums has some wonderful cotton dresses dating from the early nineteenth century. Fashion is often displayed in museums in terms of its aesthetics. Admired for its neoclassical elegance, the slim silhouette of the early 1800s is linked to ideals of reforms and new freedoms – whether from the political tyranny of the Ancien Régime after the French Revolution or the incorrectly-perceived physical constraints of late-1700s … Continue reading The Black History of White Cotton Dresses

Object Talks: Dr Anthony Lewis

Curator of Scottish History, Dr Anthony Lewis, discusses Glasgow Museums’ slavery related collections, currently in storage at Kelvin Hall – https://bit.ly/2RCr8Vu 1) The Ram’s Horn/Chest of Drawers Glasgow made money from trading in tobacco. The crop was grown, harvested and prepared by enslaved African people in America, and then shipped to Port Glasgow and Greenock. 2) Print of the Trongate This view of Trongate shows … Continue reading Object Talks: Dr Anthony Lewis

Glasgow Museums Collection 333

David Dale: an abolitionist cotton magnate

One of the most significant Scottish cotton manufacturers in the late 1800s was David Dale, who is largely remembered today for founding New Lanark cotton mills in 1785. Dale was born in Stewarton, Ayrshire, in 1739 and served his apprenticeship with a hand-loom weaver in Paisley before becoming a linen merchant in Glasgow. In 1784 he met and went into partnership with Richard Arkwright, who … Continue reading David Dale: an abolitionist cotton magnate

Glasgow Museums Collection TEMP.9384

The Luke of Claythorn family – silver, sugar and slavery

The Scottish Identity in Art gallery in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum contains many wonderful objects, including silverware made by the Luke of Claythorn family. Claythorn is in today’s Calton, near the People’s Palace. Recent research on portraits of them in the museum stores has revealed a complicated family history. There are six portraits: three of John Luke, one of James Luke and one for … Continue reading The Luke of Claythorn family – silver, sugar and slavery