Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Scots in the West Indies, 1707-1857

Project Tags

Top Surnames

view all


  • Elizabeth Groves (c.1831 - d.)
    See the following link for the journeys of Elizabeth and her siblings from Scotland to Jamaica to America:
  • Dr James Graniger (c.1721 - 1766)
    sourced from GraingerFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJames Grainger (c. 1721–1766) was a Scottish doctor, poet and translator. He settled on St. Kitts from 1759 until his death of a fever on 16 De...
  • Jacob Æmilius Irving (c.1767 - 1816)
    "Jacob Aemilius Irving remembered seeing his father but once--John Beaufin, his brother, and himself had been sent from Jamaica to England to school and were placed at Kensington. Their father had arri...
  • James Irving, II (1749 - 1798)
    "James Irving the Younger was Custos of Trelawny and represented that parish in the Assembly of 1774, 1781, 1790, and 1796. He was buried in the Churchyard of Kingston, his tomb being inscribed, 'The H...
  • James Irving the Elder (1713 - 1775)
    The following is extracted from an old document preserved at Bonshaw, Scotland: "James Irving, eighth lawful son to said William and Emilia, was born April ye 19th, 1713, in ye Chamber of Dire in Bonsh...

Scotland has had direct social and economic links with the West Indies for nearly 400 years. Settlement started in 1626 when James Hay, the Earl of Carlisle, was appointed Proprietor of Barbados, an event which led to a number of Scots making their way to the island. (For a list of Scottish emigrants to Barbados, see Barbados and Scotland, Links 1627-1877, by David Dobson.) Later Scottish transportees, such as Cromwellian prisoners of war, Covenanters, and criminals, were supplemented by a small flow emigrants from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Some of the survivors of the ambitious Darien Scheme, whereby Scotland hoped to set up an independent trading post in Panama, arrived in Jamaica and the smaller islands. Scots could also be found in the Dutch Caribbean islands.

The Bromley

Bromley was built on the stone foundations of a Spanish Fort dating from the 16th century. The gun ‘slits’ are still in evidence. Its hilltop position with sweeping views of the trail used to link the north and south coasts made it a natural choice for the Spanish settlers. In the 18th century Bromley was developed as a ‘Pen’ for cattle breeding along with horse and mule stock to support the sugar plantations. Pimento and coffee were also grown on the property. Bromley became one of the many sugar estates and pens of Sir John Pringle, a Scots doctor who came to Jamaica in the 1850’s and bought Bromley in the late 19th century and gave the house its extensive balconies and porticos.

Out Of Many Cultures:The People Who Came: THE ENGLISH, THE WELSH, THE SCOTTISH.

People of Scottish Jamaican descent

•William Davidson (conspirator), radical--

•Harry J, record producer--

•Colin Powell, American general, of Scottish Jamaican parentage

•Gil Scott-Heron

•Robert Wedderburn--•Goldie - Disc jockey--

Scottish name places in Jamaica

Annandale, in St. Ann, is originally a Scottish place

Brown’s Town is a place-name found in St. Ann, Clarendon and the suburbs of Kingston. Brown’s Town was first known as Hamilton Town, after the first name of its founder (1775-1843), who was an Irishman

Scottish surnames

Many other Scottish surnames such as Douglas, Robinson, Reid, Russell, Lewis, McFarlane, McKenzie, McDonald, Grant, Gordon, Graham, Stewart, Simpson, Scott, Ferguson, Frazer and Farquharson are common in Jamaica –

Scottish place names

Scottish place names too are common in Jamaica. Scots surveyed the island and divided it into slave plantations; the best known was James Robertson from Shetland (1756-1841). Many of the slave plantations were given Scottish names such as Monymusk, Hermitage, Hampden, Glasgow, Argyle, Glen Islay, Dundee, Fort William, Montrose, Roxbro, Dumbarton, Old Monklands and Mount Stewart. As a boy I lived near Elgin Street

-- More Places



•Culloden (two places)

•Elgin Town (two places)

•Farquhar's Beach


•Kilmarnoch (sic - from Kilmarnock)

•Suburbs of Kingston (possibly not itself a Scottish name)

•* Balmagie

•* Braeton

•* Dunrobin

•* Pitcairn Valley

•* Portmore

•* Sterling Castle (Stirling Castle)

•Montego Bay suburbs include Dunbar Pen and Glendevon.

•Perth Town

•Stewart Town


Among the important Tobacco Lords whose mansions gave their names to streets were Andrew Buchanan, James Dunlop [1], Archibald Ingram[2], James Wilson, Alexander Oswald [3], Andrew Cochrane[4] and John Glassford[5]. The Virginia Mansion of Alexander Speirs[1] gave Virginia Street its name, and Alexander gave his surname to Speirs Wharf in Port Dundas.

An idea of the grandeur of the Tobacco Lords’ houses - which often dramatically punctuated the ends of the streets named after them - can be seen in the Gallery of Modern Art whose kernel is the grand mansion built, at a cost of £10,000, for William Cunninghame in 1780. A more modest "Tobacco Merchants House" (by James Craig, 1775) is being restored at 42 Miller Street. St Andrew’s Parish Church in St Andrew’s Square, built 1739 - 1756 by Alan Dreghorn was the Tobacco Lord’s ostentatious parish church, in a prestigious area being laid out by such merchants as David Dale, (David Dale was not involved in the Tobacco or 'Triangular' Trade). In the same area was the grand house of Alexander Speirs.

The American War of Independence (1775 - 1783) may have brought an end to the tobacco trade, but the canny Glasgow merchants merely switched attention to other profitable parts of the triangular trade, particularly cotton in the British West Indies.

TGS - 1560 to 1770s - Personalities - Alexander Speirs

Devine,Tom The Tobacco Lords: A Study of the Tobacco Merchants of Glasgow and their Trading Activities, 1740-1790 (John Donald, 1975)

Books Online

Rihard Oswald Mary Ramsey

--owned slaving fort on Bance Island on the Sierra Leone River.

--sent over 12,000 enslaved Africans to America. Many worked in the rice fields around Charleston

-- John Glassford was a Glasgow 'Tobacco Lord'.

The Act of Union in 1707 gave Scottish merchants access to the slave trade. Scots travelled out to the colonies and generated great wealth for Scotland based on slave labour. In 1817 Scots owned almost a third of all the slaves in Jamaica. The 'Tobacco Lords' made their fortunes in the colonies before returning to Scotland, many building large mansions.

Scotland also played a leading role in abolishing the slave trade. On 25 March 1807 the UK Parliament passed the Bill that abolished the trading of slaves in the British Empire.

--Scotland and the Abolition of the Slave Trade home

Crossing the Atlantic from Africa was called the 'Middle Passage' of the 'triangular trade'. It often took two months, during which time the slave ship sailed alone.

A slave revolt on board was the greatest fear of the small crew of the ship. To keep control, they carried pistols and cutlasses. They often whipped the slaves with a 'cat o' nine tails' for the slightest wrong. The men were separated from the women and children by a high wooden wall. They were always kept shackled with iron leg chains.

.Thomas Smith from Arbroath was a boy apprentice on the slave ship Ann, carrying 144 enslaved Africans (1761).

LIVE in Tasmania, Australia and have a Jamaican connection. I have an ancestor who was born in Jamaica, in 1782, the son of a Scottish planter called William Hepburn and a lady named Mary Anne Roy McGregor. 

Mary Anne was the daughter of a woman from the Gold Coast of Ghana named Isabella Diabenti and another Scotsman, supposedly the grandson of the famous Rob Roy McGregor. Isabella Diabenti was said to have been the daughter of a chief of the Koromantic people.

They lived on a plantation in old St. Dorothy Parish called Wellekers, or Willikins or something like that. I am travelling to Jamaica next year (hope the troubles have stopped by then!) to search for the site of the old plantation and maybe even meet some relatives. If anybody reads this and knows something which may help my search I would love to hear from them.

I am etc.,


Well-known Scottish sugar planters were Archibald Campbell, John Cunninghame, George Malcolm, Lewis Hutchinson (the so-called "mad-Master of Edinburgh Castle"), James Dawkins (Dawkins Caymanas), James Ewing (Ewing's Caymanas) and James Wedderburn.

The Scottish landowners were not only involved in the sugar industry; over 50 per cent of the pen-keepers in Jamaica in the era of enslavement were probably Scottish, with men like Charles Stirling, George Forbes, Hay Haggart, James McIntosh and Benjamin Scott-Moncrieffe (of Soho and Thatch Hill pens) being among them. They were as pro-slavery as the English and their enslaved Africans, to whom they also passed on Scottish names, were as brutally punished for their role in the final emancipation war of 1831-32, with James Malcolm of Knockalva Pen, e.g., being sentenced to death.

James Wedderburn was a Scottish doctor and sugar planter

William and Alexander McBeanThe Scottish planters who owned Roaring River 

family Simone McBean. My Father, Erril McBean, his brothers, Ronald McBean (died in 2001) and Alwyn McBean were born in (Southfield) St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. Their father, Delso McBean, died (about 1953 at the age of 63)when they were young. Erril was raised by his uncle William Alexander McBean. I know that a William McBean was born in 1832 in Roaring River (his mother was Amelia Garvey).


Joseph Knight was born about the year 1750, and at the age of 10 or 11 was taken by slave ship to Jamaica, where he was sold by a Captain Knight (from whom he got his new name) to a Scottish planter called John Wedderburn. In 1768, Wedderburn brought him to Scotland as his personal servant

Wedderburn, a Jacobite, had been at Culloden and had had to flee abroad while his father, an impoverished Perthshire gentleman,