Glasgow and Slavery

Glasgow, the West of Scotland and the Caribbean

In the late 17th century, most folk in Scotland lived a hand to mouth existence which was dependent on the weather. By 1800 Scotland, particularly the west, was on the way towards a modern economy. Why?

1. What Happened?

Country: Landowners and Tenants

Rig & Furrow, Rouken Glen, Eastwood: The old landscape can still be seen amidst the new.

Town: Merchants and Manufacturers

The Merchants Steeple, Glasgow: Symbol of Growing Transatlantic trade.

The old landscape is still evident in the tantalising rig and furrow which survives in many areas. Farming tenants escaped from subsistence agriculture to face the market in improved farms or growing towns. Widespread field enclosures from the 1770s were the most visible changes to the land, but relied on earlier less visible changes to organisation. Communal working of the land declined and single tenant farms increased. In a few decades the output of the land was magnified by a factor of four, six or more.

In towns merchant and manufacturers developed external markets, which gave profits well beyond what was traditionally possible.