Forgotten children: Scotland's colonial child servants, 1680 - 1760

Austin, Angela (2017) Forgotten children: Scotland's colonial child servants, 1680 - 1760. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on children sent from Scotland to the American colonies to work as servants between 1680 and 1760, with a particular emphasis upon those who were shipped against their will or without the consent of their families. It primarily examines the shipment of child servants to the Chesapeake and Middle colonies of North America, which were selected due to the availability of source material in these areas. Most of the work that has been done on indentured servants thus far has primarily focused on those from England, while research on child emigration has concentrated on children from England or Ireland. Virtually nothing has been written about children sent to the colonies from Scotland. Kidnapping, a problem in England since the reign of Charles II, became an issue in Scotland during the latter half of the seventeenth century. This thesis considers reasons for this shift in focus, and the factors contributing to the rise of the kidnapping industry in Scotland. It examines differences in English and Scottish law, as well as cultural and political influences at work during this time. Additionally, it takes a closer look at some of the people involved in carrying out this trade on both sides of the Atlantic. Chapter 1 discusses the restrictions on Scottish trade with the Americas in order to help explain the pressures facing Scottish traders which tempted many to engage in illicit trading activities, including the shipment of undocumented servants. Chapter 2 is a case study of two prominent merchant families, the Trents and the Coutts, and the evidence linking them to activities of this nature. Because extensive evidence has been drawn from the legal records of Aberdeen, from which some six hundred boys and girls are estimated to have been abducted during one six year period, 1740 – 1746, Chapter 3 examines the cultural and political situation of Aberdeen in the 1740s. Chapter 4 is a case study of some of the children taken from that town and the events relating to these abductions. My data has been compiled over an extensive research base, including a wide range of government records on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as family histories, birth records, land records, wills, contemporary letters, colonial-era newspapers, biographies, autobiographies, personal ledgers and diaries, indentured servant records, records of ship voyages, and data gleaned from colonial court order books. Many of these sources have never before been referenced regarding the transportation of child servants. The main point of this thesis is to provide a more complete picture of the shipment of child servants in Scotland during the colonial era, those involved, and the factors which contributed to the operation of the trade in children.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Children, servants, indenture.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
E History America > E11 America (General)
E History America > E151 United States (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Bowie, Professor Karin and MacGregor, Professor Martin
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Angela Austin
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8562
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2018 15:12
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2018 08:10
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8562

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