An article on the Legacies of British Slave Ownership Project featured in today’s Guardian (Wednesday 28 August 2013). This resource, created by researchers at University College London (UCL), is helping to trace the impact of slave ownership on Britain.
The International Story project has had on occasion used this valuable resource, which traces former slave owners who claimed government compensation upon the Abolition Act of 1833. As Glasgow’s involvement in the slave trade, as well as in its abolition, has been well documented and indeed continues to be an important area of research at the University (an example can be viewed here) and further afield, there are unsurprisingly hundreds of entries that come up when searching for Glasgow and several when searching for the University of Glasgow.
One of the most prominent of those listed was the Ewing Maclae family of Cathkin, generations of whom attended the University. Father Walter Ewing Maclea, and sons James Ewing, and Humphrey Ewing Maclea all had an association with the University, and the slave trade. Walter Ewing Maclea (1745-1814), who had matriculated at the University in 1757 under George Muirhead, then Chair of Humanity, was registered as a merchant in Glasgow; Humphrey Ewing Maclae (1773- 1860), who matriculated at the University in 1781 under William Richardson, was recorded by Addison as a West Indian proprietor; and James Ewing (1775-1853), a Glasgow merchant and politician, was awarded an LLD by the University in 1826, but his estates in Jamaica and involvement in the slave trade of the West Indies were not explicitly recorded. The third brother, William Ewing, who matriculated at the University in 1789 and was registered as a merchant in Glasgow, does not come up on the website. Further information on the brothers and the compensation they received can be found at the UCL project website.