Sojourners in the Sun: Scottish Migrants in Jamaica and the Chesapeake, 1740-1800
Not everyone who left Europe for the American colonies in the eighteenth century intended to settle there permanently. Sojourners in the Sun traces the history of the well-educated, middle-class Scots who migrated from Britain to Jamaica and the Chesapeake colonies of Maryland and Virginia. Seeking to improve their positions at home, they saw the New World as nothing more than a place to make a quick fortune. They intended to return as soon as possible, with as much as possible.
Alan L. Karras examines the identity and origins of these transients from the Scottish perspective and characterizes the occupational diversity (or its absence) in Jamaica and the Chesapeake. He uses detailed biographical sketches and anecdotes gleaned from public records, as well as business and family papers to give a rich picture of their lives. Describing their collective strategies for survival and advancement, he demonstrates the existence of strong ethnically based patronage webs and networks, and compares the way they functioned in the different colonies. Karras evaluates the experiences of the Scottish transients and concludes that in Jamaica, although many of them made fortunes, they were unable to take their wealth from the island and generally failed to return home. The Scots in the Chesapeake, regarded with suspicion, were evicted in 1776, and most of them returned to Scotland - without the wealth they had expected to acquire.
By capturing the intentions, careers, and frustrations of Scottish migrants, Sojourners in the Sun illuminates an important and previously obscure aspect of migration history. Karras makes a significant contribution not only to Atlantic, Caribbean, and Chesapeake social history, but also to economic and Scottish history.
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