Friday 24 May 2019

The Carolina Merchant

The ship Carolina Merchant sailed from Gourock in July 1684 with the kidnapped ElizabethLinning on board.  She had been taking farewell of relatives, some of the 35 Covenanter prisoners on board the ship.   In his book “The History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland”, Robert Wodrow lists the names of some of those transported – James McClintock, John Buchanan, William Inglis, Gavin Black, Adam Allan, John Galt, Thomas Marshal, William Smith, Robert Urie, Thomas Brice, John Syme, Hugh Syme, William Syme, John Alexander, John Marshal, Mattew Mackan, John Paton, John Gibson, John Young, Arthur Cunningham, George Smith and John Dowart.

John Erskine of Carnock
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”.

The journey was certainly not a pleasant one.  It was reported –
“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.

William Dunlop
As well as the prisoners, there were other passengers on board the Carolina Merchant.  Henry Erskine, Lord Cardross wished to set up a colony which would have religious freedom and had brought on board a group of people who were to settle there.  William Dunlop who would later become Principal of Glasgow University was also with Cardross.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Does not sound like it was a good ship ti sail on. Dunlop was lucky to get home alive from the sound of things


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