Local history enthusiasts will be gripped by Renfrewshire’s slavery secrets at Paisley & District u3a’s summer meeting.

Sharing this dark and hidden period of 18th century Scottish history is author, Dr Stuart Nisbet.

u3a chair, Kathy O’Donnell remarked: “Few people realise that some wealthy, leading merchants and landowners who lived in our area also made their money from owning and using enslaved Africans. We’ll learn some disturbing and uplifting facts about what happened here in the past. I’m sure Dr Nisbet’s presentation From Renfrewshire to the Caribbean will be quite an eye-opener for us all.”

Dr Nisbet said: “I’ve published lots of factual history, done talks and guided walks, and folk are curious about the past. But the subject of slave owing can be traumatic. Do we accept or reject it? Why has it taken so long to come to light? Is it relevant today? Although I was exposing slave owners, I gradually became uneasy that they still got all the attention. The vast enslaved majority remained hidden. But were they really invisible?

“My interest dates back to a personal discovery I made: finding press notices offering rewards for the recapture of escaped Africans. One escapee, ‘Cato,’ ran away from Castle Semple, now a Country Park. So the issue was not a distant one, but right here in our locality.

“My solution was to write a novel which provides a more gentle introduction to a difficult subject. This talk reflects my detective trail, which is the basis of my recent novel, The Book of Here and There, chasing merchant-landowners from Renfrewshire to the Caribbean.”

Dr Stuart Nisbet is an engineer by occupation, but a writer and historian by inclination. Although his first degree was in engineering, he completed a PhD in 18th century Scottish history when his three children were at university. He has published widely on mills, merchants and slavery and edited the RLHF Journal for 20 years. He has held honorary fellowships at three Scottish universities and is currently employed as a history tutor and tour guide:

This free talk takes place on Thursday 6th June in the Salvation Army Hall, Mill Street, Paisley. Refreshments are available beforehand, from 1.30pm-2pm.

Find u3a groups/activities and how to join at: https://u3asites.org.uk/paisley/welcome.

Photo: The Book of Here and There by Dr Stuart Nisbet 
Photo Credit (both photographs): Dr Stuart Nisbet

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *