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Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery, 1756-1838$
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Iain Whyte

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748624324

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748624324.001.0001

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Black Slaves in Scotland and Baptism

Black Slaves in Scotland and Baptism

(p.9) 1 Black Slaves in Scotland and Baptism
Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery, 1756-1838

Iain Whyte

Edinburgh University Press

There were few black slaves in Scotland but they featured in newspaper reports of runaways and in three significant cases before the courts in the 1750s and 1770s. Most but not all werein personal service and treated less harshly than their colleagues in Virginia or the West Indies. There were however slave sales and examples of extreme cruelty. Some communities, churches and individuals provided support for some slaves seeking their freedom. There were remarkable stories of courageous defiance by slaves, one of whom persuaded three lawyers to act for him without payment. In religious Scotland Christian baptism made a significant difference to their case for freedom. Enlightenment thinking influenced the Court of Session. Their majority judgement in 1778 in the case of Knight v Wedderburn removed any legal sanction for slavery in Scotland.

Keywords:   Slaves, Baptism, Enlightenment, Freedom, Courts

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