See all stories
18 Feb 2021

Facing Our Past at Malleny Garden

Written by Judith Tocher
A gravel path runs through a garden, bordered by colourful flower beds either side. Large and very tall yew trees stand either side of the end of the path.
Malleny Garden
As part of our Facing Our Past project, we take a look at the Scotts of Malleny and their connections to the West Indies.

Malleny House is a fine 17th-century mansion house, with a Georgian extension commissioned by General Thomas Scott, the 4th Laird. The garden, though much altered, still retains elements of the early 17th-century garden, particularly four notable yew trees.

The Malleny estate was acquired in 1647 by William Scott (later Lord Clerkington) whose son, Sir John Scott, became the 1st Scott of Malleny in 1656. Like his father and grandfather, he joined the legal profession as did his son Thomas (2nd Laird), and his grandson John (3rd Laird). The Scotts’ affinity with the legal profession ceased with the 4th Laird, General Thomas Scott, who had a long career in the armed forces.

In 1799 Scott commanded the 6th Brigade of the British forces at the storming of Seringapatam (Srirangapatna), in Mysore, India. The legendary wealth of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore who was killed by the British, was taken by the British forces and each soldier received a portion of ‘prize money’. The 4th Laird’s share was £2,590, the equivalent of £115,000 today, and would have given him the sort of funds required for the extension works at Malleny. On his death, his nephew, Carteret George Scott, succeeded him and became the 5th Laird of Malleny.

The 5th Laird’s father, Francis Carteret Scott, was the sixth son of the 3rd Laird of Malleny. With little expectation of inheriting, Francis, like several other educated Scottish younger sons of the time, headed to the West Indies, where he became part of the wider economic activity related to slavery. From at least 1786 to 1798 [1] Francis was Collector of Customs at Montego Bay and, in 1798, a Director of the Close Harbour Co, a company established to address the problems of a bottleneck in Jamaica’s second largest port at Montego Bay. [2]

In the 18th century Jamaica was under British rule and sugar, produced by the plantations worked by thousands of enslaved people, was the main source of the island’s income. Jamaica also played a key role in the ‘triangular trade’, which saw British enslavers sail from ports such as Liverpool and Bristol to West Africa to trade goods for enslaved Africans; these enslaved people were then taken across the Atlantic to places like Jamaica to be sold; the ships then took cargos of sugar and other goods back to Britain.

During Francis Carteret Scott’s time at Montego Bay, the port handled the export of sugar and sugar products, such as rum and molasses, and also the import of many thousands of enslaved African people and the re-export of thousands of such enslaved people, mainly to other parts of the West Indies. [3]

Painting showing Montego Bay, Jamaica, in the 19th century. An undulating, green landscape with some trees overlooks a wide bay.
James Hakewill, ‘Montego Bay, from Reading Hill’, 1820–21

Throughout his time in Jamaica, Francis corresponded with his cousins, the Innes’s of Stow, including Jane Innes, to whom he had proposed marriage prior to his departure for Jamaica. Although she refused him, they remained friends. Various correspondence between Francis and the Innes cousins is held in the National Archives of Scotland, from which the following extract of 29 Nov 1789 is obtained. He tells Marion Innes that he has recently purchased ‘a new Negro boy who I trust will be more attached to me than the one I had from Mr Hamilton. His morals were corrupted before I saw him. This boy has a placid countenance, very attentive, and everyway seems disposed to do good. £50 stg was his price which was buying him at a dear rate as he is very young and not above 4ft 5ins.’ [4]

Francis returned to Scotland and in 1801 married Elizabeth Cunningham in Edinburgh, where their son Carteret (who was to become the 5th Laird) was born two years later. The family lived at 39 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh and also at Malleny.

Carteret’s son, Francis (later Colonel Sir Francis Scott) was the 6th Laird of Malleny, although he never resided there as laird. He was the final Scott of Malleny, selling the property in 1882 to the 5th Earl of Rosebery.

The Jamaica connection continued, however, as the Earl of Rosebery’s great-aunt, Lady Dorothea Arabella Primrose, married William Hervey, who inherited from his mother two slave plantations (Enfield and Plantain Garden, the latter which he co-owned) in Jamaica. Following the abolition of slavery, Hervey was awarded £6,815 (over £400,000 today) for compensation for 362 enslaved people. [5]


[1] The Jamaica Almanacs and Jamaican Family Search

[2] Aaron Graham, ‘Slavery, capitalism, incorporation and the Close Harbour Company of Jamaica, circa 1800’, Business History (March 2019)

[3] Herbert S Klein, ‘The English Slave Trade to Jamaica, 1782–1808’, The Economic History Review (February 1978)

[4] The National Records of Scotland Ref. GD113/5/72e: Letters from F. Carteret Scott, Montego Bay, Jamaica, to Marion Innes, his cousin, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, 1786–1791

[5] William Hervey’, Legacies of British Slave-ownership database

Facing Our Past

Find out more about our new project to address the legacies of slavery.

Find out more