Abolition of the Slave Trade

Scotland and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Image of young black boy looking through a gap in a wooden fence

The Act of Union in 1707 gave Scottish merchants access to the slave trade. Scots travelled out to the colonies and generated great wealth for Scotland based on slave labour. In 1817 Scots owned almost a third of all the slaves in Jamaica. The 'Tobacco Lords' made their fortunes in the colonies before returning to Scotland, many building large mansions.

Scotland also played a leading role in abolishing the slave trade. On 25 March 1807 the UK Parliament passed the Bill that abolished the trading of slaves in the British Empire. The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act meant that it became illegal to trade in slaves throughout the British Empire and that British ships were banned from being involved in the trade.

It is important that we recognise Scotland's role in the slave trade and in its abolition. In 2007, throughout Scotland, events and exhibitions are taking place which reflect on the slave trade and pay tribute to those who sought to abolish it. Scotland and the Slave Trade: 2007 Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act - a historical review of Scotland's role in the slave trade and its abolition is now available.


One Scotland and Bicentenary logos

This learning resource has been developed for Scottish primary schools and early secondary to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade.


The 2007 bicentenary is an important opportunity to reflect on the past and to remember the dedication and courage of all those of every race who campaigned for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Updated on: 11 April 2007 Accessibility | Content guidelines | Help | Site map | Terms of use