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

The Tontine Heads

New interpretation at Provand’s Lordship highlights the links between the ‘Tontine heads’ and slavery. These stone heads were given this name after Glasgow’s Tontine Society took over the Tontine building on Trongate in 1781 to use it as an exchange for sugar dealers. The heads, however, belong to the building when it was Glasgow’s Town Hall. The Town Hall itself was built between the 1730s … Continue reading The Tontine Heads

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

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

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

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?