Kinsearching December 19, 2010




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Hot off the press is the second edition of David Dobson’s DIRECTORY OF SCOTS BANISHED TO THE AMERICAN PLANTATIONS, 1650-1775. This latest version of the book, first published in 1984, contains thirty percent more names of “convict” passengers than the original. Dobson’s new information comes from American sources and from more obscure sources in Scotland.

     Why were thousands of Scottish men, women, and children banished to the Americas during the colonial period? Between the years 1650 and 1775, a steady trickle of individuals were forced to go to the New World as traditional punishment for breaking the law; although some crimes were serious, many would be considered petty by today’s standards. In some years, however, the trickle became a flood as many people were sent unwillingly across the Atlantic because of their political or religious offenses. After the turbulence of the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, for instance, Oliver Cromwell sent Scottish prisoners of war to Virginia, New England, and the West Indies. Supplementing this group was a number of Scottish seamen and pirates who had been languishing in English jails. Militant Presbyterians, known as Covenanters, rebelled against the policies of the Stuart kings in the later part of the seventeenth century; after they were suppressed, many were dispatched in chains to the American colonies (also called plantations). When the Stuarts tried to regain power in the first half of the eighteenth century, their supporters (known as Jacobites) failed in their uprisings; as a result of their defeat, many prisoners were sold as indentured servants in the Americas.

     As expected in works of this type, the amount of details pertaining to individuals varies greatly. For person cited in this directory, Dobson usually furnishes a date, a place, and the source of information. Depending on the circumstances and available material, additional facts may include occupation, place of capture and captivity, name of parent or spouse, cause of banishment, name of the ship carrying him or her to the colonies, and date and place of arrival in the New World. An example of a very detailed entry is the one for James STRACHAN, born in 1728, who was from Kincardineshire. A student at Aberdeen University, he was a Jacobite. He was transported on the Gildart from Liverpool on 24 February 1747 and landed at Port North Potomac, Maryland, on 5 August 1747. Some recurring surnames, most of which are common Scottish ones, are ANDERSON, BELL, BROWN, BRUCE, BUCHANAN, CAMERON, CAMPBELL, CUNNINGHAM, DAVIDSON, FARQUHARSON, FERGUSON, FRASER, GORDON, GRANT, HAMILTON, MCDONALD, MCINTOSH, MCKENZIE, MCLEAN, MCLEOD, MCPHERSON, MURRAY, ROBERTSON, ROBINSON, ROSS, SHAW, SMITH, STEWART, SUTHERLAND, and THOMSON.

     In this new edition of his book, Dobson has made some modifications. For example, he omitted the names of English transportees. He reclassified as rebels some men who were believed to have been Covenanters. Also, he enhanced his references to facilitate further research.

     Due to the lack of official passenger lists for Scots during the colonial era, the author scoured the records of the Privy Council of Scotland and the High Court of Justiciary, Treasury and State Papers, and prison records for data. In addition, he gleaned material from Scottish newspapers, the Dumfries and Galloway Archives, Justiciary Records of Argyll, the Calendar of Home Office Papers, and other resources. Since there is no comprehensive list of transported Scots to colonial America, Dobson’s expanded volume may be as close as anyone can ever come. Therefore, DIRECTORY OF SCOTS BANISHED TO THE AMERICAN PLANTATIONS, 1650-1775 is a valuable research tool concerning ancestors of thousands--perhaps millions--of Americans living today.

     The 251-page publication has soft covers, an informative introduction about the historical background of banishment, a list of sources with their abbreviations, and illustrations. Names of individuals are arranged alphabetically. To the book's price of $29.50, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 9804) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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