Scotland’s role in slave trade told in graphic novel

An illustration from graphic novel Freedom Bound, which tells the stories of three slaves brought to Scotland during the 18th Century. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.
An illustration from graphic novel Freedom Bound, which tells the stories of three slaves brought to Scotland during the 18th Century. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.
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A graphic novel which tells the story of Scotland’s role in the Alantic slave trade is being distributed to every state secondary school across the country.

Freedom Bound by Warren Pleece reflects the findings of the Runaway Slaves project at Glasgow University, which documents those who tried to flee their masters after being brought to the United Kingdom.

The graphic novel builds on research by the Runaway Slaves project at Glasgow University. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.

The graphic novel builds on research by the Runaway Slaves project at Glasgow University. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.

A class set will be sent to every state secondary school in Scotland over the next few weeks.

Around 70 slaves are now known to have gone on the run in Scotland during the 18th Century, with many brought to Scotland from the plantations of North America where Scottish merchants had large stakes in land and trade routes.

READ MORE: The 18th Century runaway slaves in Scotland - and the adverts placed to find them

Freedom Bound features the stories of three slaves who ended up in Scotland, including that of Ann, who fled the lodgings of Dr Gustavus Brown in Glasgow in February 13, 1727.

The case of Ann. who ran away from her master's lodgings in Glasgow wearing a brass collar around her neck, features in Freedom Bound. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.

The case of Ann. who ran away from her master's lodgings in Glasgow wearing a brass collar around her neck, features in Freedom Bound. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.

She was wearing a brass collar at the time, which was engraved with the words ‘Gustavus Brown in Dalkeith, his Negro, 1726’. A two guineas reward was offered for Ann’s return, but her fate is not known.

Nelson Mundell, Phd candidate on the Runaway Slaves project, said: “All of us on the Leverhulme Trust funded Runaway Slaves in 18th Century Britain team were keen to engage as wide an audience as possible with our findings.

READ MORE: The Gaelic speaking slaves of North America

“I had arrived on the back of a few years teaching secondary school history, and knew the value of accessible and enjoyable media in the pursuit of teaching and learning.”

The graphic novel will be distributed to all state secondary schools in Scotland. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.

The graphic novel will be distributed to all state secondary schools in Scotland. PIC: Warren Pleece/University of Glasgow.

Mr Mundell, who previously ran a graphic novel, added: “I had seen first hand how they could be used to engage pupils that normally would have a hard time maintaining interest.”

Colleagues Professor Simon Newman and Dr Stephen Mullen also ‘quickly recongised’ the potential of the graphic novel to tell the Runaway Slaves story, Mr Mundell added.

Graphic artist Warren Pleece used material gleaned from 18th Century newspaper advertisements that called for the return of the missing slaves with workshops run in Glasgow and London to test elements of the story with pupils.

Freedom Bound has taken three-and-a-half years to complete with the books to be distributed across schools following a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The Runaway Slaves project has done some work with schools in the past to highlight Scotland’s role in the slave trade with some resources given to history teachers.

“Saying that, nothing we’ve done comes close to the potential reach of Freedom Bound,” Mr Mundell said.

He added: “While some individual teachers cover it already, the story of slavery within Britain is often overlooked in the Atlantic Slave Trade courses: the focus is placed on the enslaved in the Caribbean and North American colonies.

“It’s our hope that Freedom Bound can help teachers in schools engage their classes with the history of the enslaved in Scotland, and by extension Britain, encouraging an interest in history and perhaps impetus to undertake further research in their local area.”