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Elizabeth McDermott Letter

Letter by Elizabeth McDermott, Jamaica to George Grant, Forres, 1800

The Highlands, along with the rest of Britain, profited immensely from slave-driven plantations in the Caribbean.  This letter gives voice to one of the people who suffered as a result of this economy and would otherwise have been forgotten.   It was written by Elizabeth McDermott – a “free black” woman in Jamaica who had a relationship with George Grant – a Scottish landowner who owned Jamaican estates and slaves.  They had four children, all of whom were sent to Scotland to be educated and would not see their mother again.  In this letter Elizabeth writes to George of her realisation that she will not see him, or her children, again as she prepares to send her last child to Scotland.  Her moving words eloquently describe her pain at the loss.  She would die the following year.

Writing Ideas

Imagine you are Elizabeth McDermott.  Write a diary entry explaining how you feel about not seeing George, or your children, again.

George also had a daughter in Scotland who married into a wealthy and successful family.  Write a letter from her to a friend describing her feelings towards George’s other family.

Download a typed copy of the document.

Document Ref: GB0232/D766/5/6/1/1Elizabeth McDermott Letter D766. 001