Centre for History Seminar: 'A forgotten diaspora'
David Alston will deliver a talk on "A forgotten diaspora: the children of enslaved, and 'free coloured' women and Highland Scotsmen in Guyana before emancipation"
In this seminar I will consider the particular importance to the Highlands of the colonies of Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice (today the Republic of Guyana) on the north coast of South America. At the end of the eighteenth century they were the most undeveloped colonies in the region, on the margins of empire, populated not only by enslaved Africans, and their descendants, but by mobile 'free coloured' people, and transient European speculators and adventurers, who were willing to take greater risks than in longer established colonies. Sexual abuse of enslaved women, and of enslaved female children, by owners, managers, and overseers, was endemic but there were too, some relatively stable and enduring relationships with 'free coloured' women, many of them individuals who showed a high degree of self-reliance and ingenuity in advancing their own interest and that of their children. A number of the children, of both enslaved and 'free coloured' women, were sent to the Highlands for education. I will present a number of case studies of these relationships and explore the fate of these children.