This book is intended to serve a dual purpose. It offers a general survey and commentary on the Scottish links with the American colonies in the eighteenth century, illustrated by accounts of the fortunes, misfortunes, migrations, and business ventures of the many individuals whose papers have survived in British and American libraries. At the same time it offers an outline guide for those who wish to investigate more fully either the story as a whole, or the history of families, business partnerships, and American settlements. The first part of each chapter provides a general introduction and the second detailed information on the sources. If the hundreds of individuals, whose lives or momentary appearances are recorded, appear and disappear with sometimes bewildering rapidity this may give a better impression of eighteenth-century life than a structured narrative selecting only the information judged to be relevant. Those who have been engaged upon the search have become fascinated by the pursuit of wandering Scots, men on the make, successful merchants, hardworking factors, doctors, ministers of religion, soldiers, college teachers, and humble tutors. These brief lives, business ventures and professional skills fill the transatlantic panorama with real men, who contributed their mites to Scottish and American societies during a century that was vital for both.
The list of sources at the end of the volume is arranged by repository with holdings in chronological order. This will enable the researcher to see at a glance where the sources for his topic or period are to be found. In this way it is hoped that the lists will be useful for the novice as well as the professional, for the student in search of a dissertation topic as well as for scholars who wish to assess the bedrock of evidence on which generalisations must rest.
The work was undertaken by the Denis Brogan Centre at the University of Glasgow. Much of the material was surveyed by three research assistants who each spent a year in the Centre: David Cross, Graham Walker and Iain Russell. All three worked in the Scottish Record Office, the Scottish National Library, the Strathclyde Regional Archives, and the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. David Cross visited many American libraries not only in the eastern states but as far afield as Florida and Michigan. Graham Walker visited Aberdeen, Perth, Dumfries, and the Public Record Office in London. Iain Russell accompanied me on profitable visits to the Library of Congress, the Maryland Hall of Records, and the Historical Societies of Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. I am grateful to all three not only for their industry, but for their company on many occasions.