Merchants & Medical Officers of St Kitts and Nevis

The Baton arrives today (27.03.2014) on the islands of St Kitts and Nevis. As other islands in the West Indies, St Kitts and Nevis were inhabited for centuries by Amerindians and later fought over by the French, Spanish and English. The islands were finally ceded to Britain in 1713, and this also seems to be the period from which the first connections to the University of Glasgow stem.

The first found connection to Glasgow is Michael Peterson who matriculated at the University in 1742. He is later followed by Frances Sherriff and William Pemberton in 1775 and John Laurence in 1780. It appears that these students from St Kitts and Nevis in the 18th and into the 19th century were mainly sons of merchants and all of them undertook Arts courses at the University. It is also most likely their families were a part of the profitable sugar industry on the islands, exporting sugar and cotton from the islands to Scotland, but finding sources to confirm this has been difficult. However, we are hopeful that more information will be uncovered with the growing acknowledgement of, and research into Glasgow’s involvement in Atlantic trade(s).

The only student to have straddled both St Kitts and Nevis was Glasgow-born Weir Burns Cunningham, who graduated MB ChB in 1909 and became Medical Officer at the Emergency Hospital and Yaws Ward with Leper Asylum in St Kitts, and later District Medical Officer in Nevis. A few of his certificates are held by Archive Services.

If you know of anymore connections with St Kitts and Nevis, please contact us!

By Jani Jarnfors, MA Digital Media & Information Studies, Caribbean Commonwealth, Club21

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Filed under Central America and the Caribbean, Commonwealth of Nations

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