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

The Navy and Slavery

One of the earliest ship models to enter the collection of Glasgow Museums was a fine model of HMS Oxford, made around 1727. It came from the collection of Robert Napier, known as the ‘father of Clyde shipbuilding’ and was presented shortly after his death in 1876 as an example of early naval ship design. However, beneath the beauty and intricacy of this model lies … Continue reading The Navy and Slavery

Blockade Runners display - Riverside Museum

Glasgow’s role in the American Civil War

The City of Glasgow profited greatly from the American Civil War of 1861-1865.  Dozens of Clyde-built steamers were sold to the Southern rebel forces for use as blockade runners.  The blockade had been established by the Northern naval forces to try and squeeze the rebels into submission. The fast, shallow draft Clyde vessels took armaments and other supplies into Southern harbours such as Wilmington and … Continue reading Glasgow’s role in the American Civil War

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

'Polygraphs' exhibition GoMA, Glasgow

Contemporary Art and Slavery

Polygraphs was an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) that explored truth, fiction and evidence in a complex world. The show was drawn from Glasgow Museums’ collection and included artists who interrogate dominant historical narratives such as our relationship to the arms trade, colonialism and the slave trade. In terms of Glasgow’s relationship to the slave trade we included works by Beth Forde, an … Continue reading Contemporary Art and Slavery

Glasgow Museums Collection 3715

Slave Cotton in Glasgow

When Glasgow Museums first acquired Robert Salmon’s painting of Glasgow Harbour in 1832 it was for the extraordinary representation of steamships. However research into the other ships has thrown up additional information that helps us to understand what is going on in the painting. The American ship on the left-hand side of the painting was originally thought to have been there simply to appeal to … Continue reading Slave Cotton in Glasgow