May 122017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Massed pipe bands at Aboyne Highland Games

One of Aberdeenshire’s leading traditional events is seeking the public’s input as it prepares to shine a spotlight on a century and a half of its history.

The organisers of Aboyne Highland Games are calling on the public to share their memories and photographs of the iconic Royal Deeside event as it prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary later this year.

All of the contributions will be included in a special commemorative memory book that will be on display at this summer’s event. For visitors who wish to share their games memories on the day itself, boards will be set up to allow written reminiscences.

An extensive written and pictorial archive documenting the event’s history is held by the Aboyne Highland Games. However, the organising committee is keen to hear personal memories and see still or moving images of the games from those who have attended over the decades.

Aboyne Highland Games has become a highlight of the Deeside events calendar since its founding in 1867. It has been held annually on the town’s green for the past 150 years, with the only exception being during both world wars. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, 05 August and is once again expected to welcome up to 10,000 visitors.

The inaugural Aboyne Highland Games was held on Saturday, 31 August 1867 following just a month of planning and was well attended. The Aberdeen Journal of Wednesday, 04 September 1867 noted that:

“When the time arrived for beginning the competition, several thousands of spectators, of all classes, and all out for a holiday, surrounded the large enclosure on the muir.”

Today, the games is held on the first Saturday in August and features a packed programme of 95 traditional highland events, including solo and massed piping, highland dancing, light and heavy athletics and fiddle competitions. A popular feature is the 6.8-mile hill race that follows part of the Fungle Road and circles the base of Craigendinnie. With total combined prize fund of over £13,000 on offer, Aboyne Highland Games attracts some of the country’s leading pipers, dancers and athletes. 

After a near 40-year absence, one of the events that featured in the programme of the first games is being staged to mark the event’s milestone anniversary. Pole vaulting will be included in the Saturday afternoon programme for the first time since 1978. Once a staple of highland games events throughout Scotland, the discipline is now only contested at a handful of games each year.

Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, said:

“Aboyne Highland Games has been an important and much loved fixture of the Deeside calendar for a century and a half. We know it has played an important part of many people’s lives and are keen to hear from those with memories of the event, either as spectators, participants or involved in its organisation.

“Our minute books contain extensive written records of the evolution of the games, from the initial meeting on Saturday, 27 July 1867 where the idea of holding a highland games in Aboyne was first discussed, through to the present time. Although factual, these do not capture the people’s story of Aboyne Highland Games, which is vital for our memory book.

“Reaching our 150th anniversary is an important milestone in the history of the games. As we look back with great fondness and celebrate the history, heritage and culture of the local area, we also look to the future. To welcoming new faces annually on the first Saturday in August who can join us in making history and helping shape the future of this important Deeside event.”

The deadline for submitting photographs and memories is Thursday, 01 June and these can be e-mailed to secretary@aboynegames.com. Further information regarding sending photographs by post is available on the Aboyne Highland Games Facebook page.

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games is a traditional Scottish highland games held annually on the first Saturday in August.

The Aberdeenshire event, held under the patronage of Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, attracts crowds of up to 10,000 people each year. Featuring a programme of traditional highland games events, including highland dancing, tossing the caber, piping and fiddle competitions, the event on the town’s green attracts visitors from around the world and makes an important contribution to the local Deeside economy.

Further information on Aboyne Highland Games can be found at www.aboynegames.com.

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Jan 062012
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Milly Wood, the grand-daughter of top world veteran player Jimmy, is the new Stewart Milne Group Indoor Championships Girls 12 & Under Singles Champion. The Braid youngster, whose father is former North County player Jimmy jnr, came through two tough sets in the final at Westburn Tennis Centre to get the better of Daphne Pratt (The Parklangley Club): the score 7-5, 7-5.

The 16 & Under title was won by Stirling’s Hannah Worsley, who proved too strong for Rubislaw’s Fiona Hamilton: winning 6-1, 6-1.

There were no surprises in the boys events with Russell Graham (Kinnoull), Scott Macaulay (Newlands) and Cameron Bowie (Barnton Park) all living up to their top billing in the 18, 16 and 12 & Under competitions respectively.

The senior events will take place this weekend at Westburn Tennis Centre.

Results:

BOYS SINGLES – 18 & Under Semi Finals – R. Graham (Kinnoull) bt N. Orismaa (DL West End Glasgow) 5-7, 6-1, (10-8); R. Martin (Inverness) w.o. M. Williamson (Dollar) scr.

Final – Graham bt Martin 6-2, 6-1.

16 & Under Final – S. Macaulay (Newlands) bt C. Macgeoch (Gosling) 7-6 (3), 6-0.

12 & Under Final – C. Bowie (Barnton Park) bt A. Hepburn (Nairn) 6-3, 6-3.

GIRLS SINGLES 16 & Under Semi Finals – H. Worsley (Stirling) bt J. Curran (Aboyne) 6-1, 6-3; F. Hamilton (Rubislaw) bt F. Fleming (Rubislaw) 6-0, 6-0.

Final – Worsley bt Hamilton 6-1, 6-1.

12 & Under Semi Finals – D. Pratt (The Parklangley Club) bt J. Campbell (Nairn) 6-0, 6-1; M. Wood (Braid) bt A. Burns (Stonehaven) 6-2, 6-3.

Final – Wood bt Pratt 7-5, 7-5.

Oct 282011
 

Seasonal Garden Waste Collections – 2012. Don’t let your garden waste be wasted. Aberdeen Forward invites you to join next year’s Garden Waste collection scheme.

City based environmental charity Aberdeen Forward will once again be running a Green Bag collection scheme in 2012.

The scheme will run from April until November and involves fortnightly collection of garden waste from the kerbside in select areas of Aberdeenshire.

This year’s scheme which started in April 2011 has been a rousing success with a fantastic uptake and excellent feedback from community members.

Aberdeen Forward would like to express a thank you to all participants and extends an invitation to sign up for next year’s scheme, as well as welcoming new members to join.

The areas eligible for the garden waste collection service are:

  • Aboyne
  • Kincardine O’Neil
  • Inchmarlo
  • Banchory
  • Drumoak

Reusable garden waste bags will be provided.

The garden waste will be taken to Aberdeen Forward’s composting site and turned into compost for use on a community garden project adjacent to the site.

The service costs a one-time charge of £30 for the year. Anyone interested in joining the scheme can get in touch with Aberdeen Forward via telephone (01224 560360) or
email (admin@abzforward.plus.com) or visit the Aberdeen Forward website for more information at:

http://www.AberdeenForward.org

Image credit:  © Murat Akkan | Dreamstime.com

Jun 182011
 

With thanks to Mike Shepherd.

Peter Williamson was kidnapped as a child in Aberdeen harbour and taken to the American Colonies where he was sold as a slave.

On gaining his freedom, he was kidnapped by the Indians, living with them and eventually escaping from them. He then spent three years in the British Army fighting against the French and the Indians, only to be captured again, this time by the French.

As part of a prisoner exchange he was repatriated to Britain in 1757.

In Plymouth he was released from the army with a purse of six shillings.  This was enough to get to him to York, by which time he was penniless.

He managed to persuade some local businessmen to publish his book, titled  The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson, Who was Carried off from Aberdeen and Sold for a Slave. This sold very well and gave him enough money to return to Aberdeen in June 1758, fifteen years after being kidnapped.

He had several hundred copies of his book with him, some of which he managed to sell on the streets of Aberdeen. The book eventually came to the notice of Councillors and merchantmen in the city, and although nobody was named, they did not like what they read. The Procurator Fiscal lodged a complaint with the Provost and Magistrates, stating:

“that by this scurrilous and infamous libel … the corporation of the City of Aberdeen, and whole members whereof, were highly hurt and prejudged; and therefore that the Pursuer (Peter Williamson) ought to be exemplary punished in his person and goods; and that the said pamphlet, and whole copies thereof, ought to be seized and publicly burnt.”

A warrant was issued for his arrest. He was taken from his lodgings and brought before a Magistrate at the courthouse. Peter was asked to repudiate publicly everything he had said concerning the merchants of Aberdeen. Until he agreed, he was to be imprisoned and his books seized. After a short time in the Tolbooth (a jail in the Aberdeen Town House), he was bailed and stood for trial. On being found guilty, he was told to lodge a document with the court confessing to the falsity of the book and to pay a ten shilling fine, otherwise he would be imprisoned. This he reluctantly agreed to, leaving Aberdeen and moving to Edinburgh.

In a ceremony watched by the Dean of the Guild, the Town Clerk, the Procurator Fiscal and the Baillies, the offending pages were sliced from 350 of Williamson’s books and publicly burnt at the Mercat Cross by the town hangman.  The remaining pages were never returned.

In Edinburgh, Peter contacted a lawyer and started planning for a legal challenge. He opened a coffee shop which became frequented by the Edinburgh legal fraternity and he started to teach himself Scots law. The year 1760 saw the  start  of an extended phase of courtroom battles against his persecutors in Aberdeen. In 1762, he was successful in getting the result of the Aberdeen trial reversed and was awarded costs and a £100 in damages.

The results of his investigations had revealed the names of the businessmen behind his kidnapping. These were Captain Robert Ragg, Walter Cochrane (the Aberdeen Town Clerk Depute), Baillie William Fordyce, Baillie William Smith, Baillie Alexander Mitchell, and Alexander Gordon, all local merchants with a share in the ship, Planter.

Further litigation ensued. Witnesses were found and they were mainly men who as boys had managed to escape kidnapping. The father of a boy who had sailed with Peter Williamson to the Americas testified. He said that while the Planter had been moored at Torry, his son had returned to him and refused to go back. He claimed that Captain Ragg and others involved had spoken again and again with him in the street, warning him that he would be sent to the Tolbooth if he didn’t send his son back to the ship. The boy went back.

The main incriminating evidence was the so-called “kidnapping book”. This was a ledger detailing all the expenses of the slave-ship venture. It mentioned Peter Williamson by name and included entries such as:

“To one pair of stockings to Peter Williamson, six pence; To five days of diet, one shilling and three pence.”

One entry read:

“To the man who brought Peter Williamson, one shilling and six pence.”

Eventually in 1768 the case was proved. Peter was awarded damages of £200 plus 100 guineas costs.

Child slavery was endemic in Aberdeen and elsewhere in the 1700s. The plantations in the American colonies were desperate for labour. The Book of Bon Accord (Robertson 1839) records that:

“The inhabitants of the neighbourhood dared not send their children into town, and even trembled lest they should be snatched away from their homes. For in all parts of the country emissaries were abroad, in the dead of night children were taken by force from the beds where they slept; and the remote valleys of the Highlands, fifty miles distant from the city, were infested by ruffians who hunted their prey as beasts of the chase.”

Skelton (2004) mentions that it was estimated that 600 boys and girls were abducted and sold for slavery between 1740 and 1760 in Aberdeen and the North-east. On the voyage alone that took Peter Williamson, there were 69 youngsters on board.

A BBC website accompanying a radio series on the history of the British Empire fills in some background from the period:

“Most accounts of British slaving date from the 16th century with the shipping of Africans to the Spanish Main. But less discussed is what happened to English and Scots eight, nine and ten year-olds in places like Aberdeen, London and Bristol. Many from those places were sold for forced labour in the colonies.

London gangs would capture youngsters, put them in the hold of a ship moored in the Thames and when the hold was full, set sail for America. Many authorities encouraged the trade. In the early 17th century authorities wanted rid of the waifs, strays, young thieves and vandals in their towns and cities. The British were starting to settle in Virginia. So that’s where the children went.

This was a time when it was common enough in Britain to have small children as cheap, or unpaid labour. In 1618 one hundred children were officially transported to Virginia. So pleased were the planters with the young labour that the then Lord Mayor, Sir William Cockayne, received an immediate order from the colony “to send another ship load.”
See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/empire/episodes/episode_36.shtml

Sources:

*Joseph Robertson: “The Book of Bon Accord”. Aberdeen 1839.
*Douglas Skelton: “Indian Peter. The extraordinary life and adventures of Peter Williamson”. Edinburgh, 2004.
*Peter Williamson “The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson, Who was Carried off from Aberdeen and Sold for a Slave”. York, 1757.

Read the full story here: The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson

Jun 102011
 

With thanks to Mike Shepherd.

Peter Williamson was kidnapped from Aberdeen harbour in 1743 and shipped as a child slave to the American colonies. Following the death of his master, he married into a wealthy family and set up a farmstead on the frontiers of the province of Pennsylvania.

On the 2nd of October 1754 his farm was raided by Indians, set ablaze and Peter was captured and used as a slave by the Indians to help carry booty from their raiding expeditions.

After two months in the winter camp, the Indians set off with Peter on a new raiding campaign.

“I began to meditate on my escape; and though I knew the country round extremely well, having been often thereabouts with my companions, hunting deer and other beasts, yet was I very cautious of giving the least suspicion of such my intention. However, my keepers thought proper to visit the mountains in search of game for their sustenance, leaving me bound in such a manner that I could not escape.  At night, when they returned, having unbound me, we all sat down together to supper on two polecats, being what they had killed, and soon after (being greatly fatigued with their day’s excursion) they composed themselves to rest as usual.

Observing them to be in that somniferous state, I tried various ways to see whether it was a scheme to prove my intentions or not; but after making a noise and walking about, sometimes touching them with my feet, I found there was no fallacy. My heart then exulted with joy at seeing a time come that I might in all probability be delivered from my captivity, but the joy was soon damped by the dread of being discovered by them, or taken by any straggling parties. To prevent which, I resolved, if possible to get one of their guns, and if discovered die in my defence rather than be taken. For that purpose, I made various efforts to get one from under their heads (where they usually secured them) but in vain.

Frustrated in this my first essay regarding liberty, I dreaded the thoughts of carrying my new design into execution; yet after a little consideration, and trusting myself to divine protection, I set forward, naked and defenceless as I was. A rash and dangerous enterprise!

Such was my terror, however, that in going from them I halted and paused every four or five yards, looking fearfully towards the spot where I had left them, lest they should awake and miss me; but when I was about two hundred yards  from them I mended my pace, and made as much haste as I could to the foot of the mountains, when on a sudden I was struck with the greatest terror and amaze at hearing the wood-cry, as it is called, and may be expressed – Jo hau! Jo hau! – which  the savages I had left were making, accompanied with the most hideous cries and howling they could utter.

The bellowing of lions, the shrieks of hyenas, or the roarings of tigers, would have been music to my ears in comparison to the sounds that then saluted them.

They now having missed their charge, I concluded that they would soon separate themselves and hie in quest of me. The more my terror increased, the faster did I push on; and scarce knowing where I trod, drove through the woods with the utmost precipitation, sometimes falling and bruising myself, cutting my feet and legs against the stones in a miserable manner, but though faint and maimed, I continued my flight until break of day, when, without having anything to sustain nature but a little corn, I crept into a hollow tree, in which I lay very snug and made thanks to the Divine Being.

But my repose was in a few hours destroyed at hearing the voices of savages near the place where I was hid, threatening how they would use me if they got me again. However, they at last left the spot where I had heard them, and I remained in my circular asylum all that day without further molestation.

At night I ventured forward again, frightened and trembling at every bush I passed, thinking each twig that touched me to be a savage.”

After three days on the run he spotted what looked to be a white plantation.

“In the morning, as soon as I awoke, I continued my journey towards the nearest cleared lands I had seen the day before, and about four o’clock in the afternoon arrived at the house of John Bell, an old acquaintance, where knocking at the door, his wife who opened it, seeing me in such a frightful condition, flew from me like lightning, screaming into the house.

This alarmed the whole family, who immediately fled to their arms, and I was soon accosted by the master with his gun in his hand. But on my assuring him of my innocence as to any wicked intentions, and making myself known (for he took me to be an Indian), he immediately caressed me, as did all his family, with a deal of friendship, at finding me alive, they having all informed of my being murdered by the savages some months before.

They for two or three nights very affectionately supplied me with all necessaries, and carefully attended me until my spirits and limbs were pretty well recruited, and I thought myself able to ride, when I borrowed of these good people a horse and some clothes, and set forward for my father-in-law’s house in Chester county, about 140 miles from thence, where I arrived on the fourth day of January, 1755.

Now returned, and once more at liberty to pursue my own inclinations, I was persuaded by my father-in-law and friends to follow some employment or other; but the plantation from whence I was taken, though an exceeding good one,  could not tempt me to settle on it again. And their being at this time a necessity for raising men to check those barbarians in their ravaging depredations, I enlisted myself as one, with the greatest alacrity and most determined resolution to exert the utmost of my power in being revenged on the hellish authors of my ruin.

General Shirley, governor of New England, and commander-in-chief of his Majesty’s land forces in North America, was pitched upon to direct the operations of war in that part of the world.

Into a regiment immediately under the command of this general, was it my lot to be placed for three years. The regiment was intended for the frontiers, to destroy the forts erected by the French.”

From: Peter Williamson “The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson, Who was Carried off from Aberdeen and Sold for a Slave”. York, 1757.

To be continued.

 

Jun 032011
 

With thanks to Mike Shepherd.

Peter Williamson was kidnapped from Aberdeen harbour in 1743 and shipped as a child slave to the American colonies. Following the death of his master, he married into a wealthy family and set up a farmstead on the frontiers of the province of Pennsylvania.
On the 2nd of October 1754 his farm was raided by Indians, set ablaze and Peter was captured.

This was never going to be the cross-culture-bonding-with-the-native-Americans epic beloved of modern Hollywood films, but something more prosaic. Peter was captured as a slave to help carry booty for the Indians from their raiding parties on frontier farms. His experiences during this time were brutal. Once the summer raiding season had ended, the Indians returned to their winter camp.

“A great snow now falling, the barbarians were a little fearful lest the white people should, by their traces, find out their skulking retreats, which obliged them to make the best of their way to their winter quarters, about two hundred miles farther from any plantations or inhabitants; where, after a long and tedious journey, being almost starved, I arrived with the infernal crew.

The place where we were to rest, in their tongue, is called Alamingo. There were found a number of wigwams full of their women and children. Dancing, shooting and shouting were their general amusements; and in all their festivals and dances they relate what successes they have had, and what damages they have sustained in their expeditions, in which I came part of the theme. The severity of the cold increasing, they stripped me of my clothes for their own use, and gave me such as they usually wore themselves, being a piece of blanket, a pair of moccasins, with a yard of coarse cloth to put round me instead of breeches.

They in general wear a white blanket, which in war time, they paint with various figures, but particularly the leaves of trees, in order to deceive their enemies in the woods. Their moccasins are made of deer skins, and the best sort have them bound round the edges with little beads and ribbons.

On their legs they wear pieces of blue cloth for their stockings, they reach higher than the knee, but not lower than their ankles. They esteem them easy to run in. Breeches they never wear, but instead thereof, two pieces of linen, one before and one behind. They are very proud, and take great delight in wearing trinkets, such as silver plates round their wrists and necks, with several strings of wampum (which is made of cotton, interwoven with pebbles, cockle-shells, etc) down to their breasts; and from their ears and noses they have rings and beads which hang dangling an inch or two.

The females are very chaste and constant to their husbands, and if any young maiden should happen to have a child before marriage, she is never esteemed afterwards. As for their food they get it chiefly by hunting and shooting, and boil or roast all the meat they can eat. Their standing dish consists of Indian corn soaked, then bruised and boiled over a gentle fire for ten or twelve hours. Their bread is likewise made of wild oats or sunflower seeds.

Scalping knife, powder and shot, are all they have to carry with them in time of war – bows and arrows are seldom used. They generally in war decline open engagements; bush fighting or skulking is their discipline; and they are brave when engaged, having great fortitude in enduring tortures or death. No people have a greater love of liberty or affection for their neighbours; but are the most implacably vindictive people upon the earth; for they revenge the death of any relation, or any great affront, whenever occasion presents, let the distance or time be so remote. To all which I may add they are inhumanly cruel.

At Alamingo I was kept for near two months until the snow was off the ground. A long time to be amongst such creatures and naked as I almost was. Whatever thoughts I might have of making my escape, to carry them into execution was impractical, being so far from any plantations or white people and the severe weather rendering my limbs in a manner quite stiff and motionless. However, I contrived to defend myself against the weather as well as I could by making a wigwam, with the bark of the trees, covering the same with earth, which made it resemble a cave, and keeping a good fire near the door.

At length the time arrived when they were preparing themselves for another expedition against the planters and white people; but before they set out they were joined by many other Indians from Fort Du Quesne, well stored with powder and ball they had received from the French.

We arrived at the Blue Hills where we encamped for three days. A council of war was held, when it was agreed to divide themselves into companies of about twenty men each; I was left behind with ten Indians. Here being left I began to meditate on my escape. “

From: Peter Williamson “The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson, Who was Carried off from Aberdeen and Sold for a Slave”. York, 1757. To be continued.

May 262011
 

With Thanks to Mike Shepherd.

Peter Williamson was kidnapped from Aberdeen harbour in 1743 and shipped as a child slave to the American colonies.

Last week’s article gave Peter’s own account of his kidnapping; this week describes what happened next.

Peter was bought for $16 by a fellow scot Hugh Wilson and indentured to serve him for seven years. Hugh was humane and looked after Peter well providing him with an education.

“With this good master I continued till I was seventeen years old, when he died, and as a reward for my faithful service, he left me $200 currency, his best horse, saddle and all his wearing apparel.

Being now my own master, having money in my pocket, and all other necessaries, I employed myself in jobbing around the country, working for anyone that would employ me, for near seven years.  When thinking that I had money sufficient to follow some better way of life, I resolved to settle, but thought one step necessary to follow some better way of life. Thereto was to be married, for which purpose I applied to the daughter of a substantial planter, and found my suit was not unacceptable to her or her father, so that matters were soon concluded upon, and we were married.

My father-in-law, in order to establish us in the world in an easy, if not affluent manner, made me a deed of gift of a track of land that lay on the frontiers of the province of Pennsylvania containing about 200 acres, 30 of which were cleared, and fit for immediate use, whereon was a good house and barn. The place pleased me well, and happy as I was in a good wife, yet did my felicity last me not long.  About the year 1754, the Indians began to be very troublesome on the frontiers of our province, where they generally appeared in small skulking parties, with yellings, shoutings and antic postures, committing great devastations. “

The fateful 2nd of October 1754, my wife went from home to visit some of her relations. As I stayed up later than usual, expecting her return, how great was my surprise, terror and affright, when about eleven o’clock at night I heard the dismal war-cry or war-whoop of the savages and to my inexpressible grief soon found my house was being attacked by them.

I flew to my chamber window and perceived them to be about twelve in number. They making several attempts to get in, I asked them what they wanted. They gave me no answer, but continued beating, and trying to get the door open. Having my gun loaded in my hand, I threatened them with death if they should not desist. One of them that could speak a little English, threatened me in return, “That if I did not come out, they would burn me alive in the house. If I would come out and surrender myself prisoner, they would not kill me”. Little could I depend on the promises of such creatures, and yet if I did not, inevitable death by being burnt alive must be my lot.

Distracted as I was in such deplorable circumstances, I chose to rely on the uncertainty of their fallacious promises, rather than meet with certain death by rejecting them; and accordingly went out of my house with my gun in my hand, not knowing what I did, or that I had it. Immediately on my approach, they rushed on me like so many tigers, and instantly disarmed me. Having me thus in their power the merciless villains bound me to a tree near the door; then they went into the house, and plundered and destroyed everything there was in it, carrying off what movables they could; the rest together with the house they set fire to.

Having thus finished the execrable business about which they came, one of the monsters came to me with a tomahawk in his hand, threatening me with the worst of deaths if I would not willingly go with them, and be contented with their way of living.”

From: Peter Williamson “The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson, Who was Carried off from Aberdeen and Sold for a Slave”. York, 1757. To be continued…

May 202011
 

With Thanks to Mike Shepherd.

In 1743, thirteen year old Peter Williamson was kidnapped from Aberdeen harbour and shipped as a slave to the American colonies. He endured many experiences there, being captured by the Indians and held by them for three months, escaping to join the British army to fight against the French.

He eventually managed to return home to Aberdeen, where he declared that the local merchants and magistrates had been complicit in his kidnapping. They imprisoned him, only releasing Peter after he signed a declaration that his accusations were untrue.

He later sued a number of Aberdeen officials in the High Court, winning his case. It was revealed in court that as many as 600 local children had been kidnapped and sold into slavery between 1740 and 1746. He wrote an extraordinary book on his experiences, The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson, Who was Carried off from Aberdeen and Sold for a Slave.

This is how it starts:

“Know, therefore that I was born in Hirnlay, in the parish of Aboyne, and County of Aberdeen, North Britain, if not of rich, yet of reputable parents, who supported me in the best manner they could, as long as they had the happiness of me under their inspection; but fatally for me, and to their great grief, as it afterwards proved. I was sent to live with an aunt in Aberdeen.

When under the years of my pupillarity, playing on the quay, with others of my companions, being of a stout, robust constitution, I was taken notice of by two fellows belonging to a vessel in the harbour, employed (as the trade then was) by some of the worthy merchants of the town, in that villainous and execrable practice called Kidnapping; that is, stealing young children from their parents, and selling them as slaves in the plantations abroad.

Being marked out by these monsters of impiety as their prey, I was cajoled on board the ship by them, where I was no sooner got, than they conducted me between the decks to some others they had kidnapped in the same manner. At that time I had no sense of the fate that was destined for me, and spent the time in childish amusements with my fellow sufferers in the steerage, being never suffered to go upon deck whilst the vessel lay in the harbour, which was until such a time they had got in their loading, with a complement of unhappy youths for carrying on their wicked commerce.

In about a month’s time the ship set sail for America. I cannot forget that when we arrived on the coast, we were destined for, a hard gale of wind sprung up from the southeast, and, to the Captain’s great surprise (he not thinking he was near land) although having been eleven weeks on the passage, about twelve o’clock at night the ship struck on a sand-bank off Cape May, near the Capes of Delaware, and to the great terror and affright of the ship’s company, in a short time was almost full of water.

The boat was then hoisted out, into which the captain and his fellow villains – the crew – got with some difficulty, leaving me, and my deluded companions, to perish, as they then naturally concluded inevitable death to be our fate. The ship being on a sand-bank, which did not give way to let her deeper, we lay in the same deplorable condition until morning, when, though we saw the land of Cape May, at about a mile’s distance, we knew not what would be our fate.

The wind at length abated, and the captain (unwilling to lose all her cargo), about ten o’clock, sent some of his crew in a boat to the ship’s side to bring us onshore, where we lay in a sort of a camp, made of the sails of the vessel, and such other things as we could get. The provisions lasted until we were taken in by a vessel to Philadelphia, lying on this island, as well as I can recollect, near three weeks. Very little of the cargo was saved undamaged, and the vessel entirely lost.

When arrived and landed at Philadelphia, the capital of Pennsylvania, the captain had soon people enough who came to buy us. He, making the most of his villainous loading, after his disaster, sold us at about $16 per head.  What became of my unhappy companions I never knew; but it was my lot to be sold to one of my countrymen, whose name was Hugh Wilson, a North Briton, for the term of seven years, who had in his youth undergone the same fate as myself, having been kidnapped from St. Johnstown, in Scotland. “

From: Peter Williamson – The Life and Curious Adventures of Peter Williamson, Who was Carried off from Aberdeen and Sold for a Slave, York, 1757. To be continued…