Another person who went on board the Carolina Merchant while it lay at Gourock was the brother of Lord Cardross, John Erskine of Carnock who described the ship as being of “170 tons and carried 16 guns”. He also writes that when the ship set sail, a trumper “sounded several times which was truly pleasant”.
“Captain James Gibson commanded the vessel, and is reported to have been very rude to the poor prisoners, who were about thrity-two in number. And his seamen and under-officers were yet harsher. Any small money their friends had scraped together for them before they sailed was taken from them and they could have no redress. They were disturbed when at worship under deck and threatened; whenever they began to sing psalms the hatches were closed upon them.”
Food and water were severely rationed and many became ill while on board.
Many were still very ill when they reached Charles Town in October 1684. They were put in houses under guard in the town and their possessions sold without their consent. Two prisoners escaped, but were recaptured, severely beaten and condemned to perpetual servitude. Many of the prisoners died in the colony. It is thought that only about six ever managed to return to Scotland.
Once ashore, many of the settlers became ill with malaria. The survivors moved on and set up their settlement named Stuart Town (near the present day Beaufort, South Carolina). William Dunlop became their minister. However trouble soon started when they began trading with the local Native Americans. They also attacked a nearby Spanish settlement. In 1686 the Spanish retaliated and attacked Stuart Town, plundering and setting fire to it. Many of the settlers were killed. A few escaped and went back to Charles Town. William Dunlop stayed in America for a while before returning to Scotland.
William Dunlop's family would later have many links with Greenock.