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Lord Seaforth

Highland Landowner, Caribbean Governor

Finlay McKichan

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The story of Lord Seaforth, his estates in Scotland and the Caribbean and his governorship of Barbados on the eve of slave trade abolition

This book is a detailed thematic biography of the Highland landowner Francis Humberston Mackenzie, Lord Seaforth (1754–1815). Despite being profoundly deaf and partially mute from a young age, Lord Seaforth went on to become a proprietor of a large estate who strove to protect his small tenants during the tumultuous era of the Highland Clearances. Financial pressures eventually drove him to become Governor of Barbados and an owner of plantations in Guyana, which were manned by slaves.

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List of Figures and Tables
1. Early Days
2. Land Management and Clanship in the 1780s and 1790s
3. Riches from the Sea?
4. Lifestyle, Debts and First Land Sales
5. Local and National Politician, 1783-1800
6. The Soldier Chief
7. Governor and Captain General
8. Slave Owner in Berbice
9. Seaforth’s Great Matter: the Rights of Enslaved Labourers and Free People of Colour
10. Martial Law, a Governor’s Crisis
11. Return to Britain, 1806-11
12. Shadows Lengthen (including Postscript and Final Conclusions)

About the Author

Finlay McKichan is a retired Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, University of Aberdeen. He is the author of The Highland Clearances (1977) and A Separate Kingdom (1996).


Finlay McKichan captures the exquisite dilemma of a high-spending quixotic Highland aristocrat in the Age of the Clearances. Full of good intentions, Lord Seaforth squanders his fortune and then makes the heroic and ill-fated effort to rescue his Highland finances in the Caribbean where he owned plantations and tries valiantly to civilise slavery. Here is the inside story of a great Highland estate and its classic tribulations, told with flair and a droll sense of the tragic melodrama which engulfed poor deaf Seaforth.

- Eric Richards, Flinders University, Adelaide

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