Cathkin House 1870

Cathkin House and Slavery

In 1870, James Maclehose published a volume of photographs entitled Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry. The photographs were taken by Thomas Annan (1829 – 1887), and the text, by John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell, catalogued the stories of the families who lived in them. Tom Devine has commented that “they were essentially uncritical hagiographies, silent on the slavery roots of … Continue reading Cathkin House and Slavery

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

Glasgow Museums Collection OG.1948.14.2

John Glassford’s Art Collection

John Glassford of Dougalston (1715 -1783) is famed for his success as a businessman, but few people know about his art collection. It was sold at auction at Christies on 23December 1786. The auction catalogue lists 139 paintings for sale. The collection was mostly made up of British, Dutch and French artists but there were also a few Italian paintings. He had three works by … Continue reading John Glassford’s Art Collection

Glasgow Museums and Collections T-SK-22-5

Glasgow Plantation Owners in Jamaica

In the 17th and 18th centuries Glasgow achieved commercial success through its trade in tobacco and sugar. Its merchants acquired land on the east coast of America and in the West Indies where the land was cleared for tobacco and sugar plantations.  The Scots relationship with the Caribbean became more significant, particularly after American Independence. Jamaica became the dominant island in the Caribbean and by … Continue reading Glasgow Plantation Owners in Jamaica

Glasgow Museums Collection PR.2004.5.12

The Cunninghame Mansion

The building housing Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) started out as a mansion for the tobacco and sugar merchant William Cunninghame of Lainshaw (1731 – 1799). The plot of land on Queen Street where the Gallery stands was once agricultural ground on Glasgow’s western frontier. Construction of the small but impressive mansion house started in 1777. The house had a sunk storey for kitchens, … Continue reading The Cunninghame Mansion

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

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