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Many are now possessed of opulent fortunes: English expansionism and genealogical shock, Part II: The origins of Neil Campbell of the  College of Glasgow: Jean Campbell and an Earl of Argyll? Life at the College of Glasgow: Simson the heretic:

The Blackheath Connection

Chapter 4


"Many are now possessed of opulent fortunes"


     Many trends, commercially and politically, were fuelled with extra energy by the failure of the Scottish Darien Company, and they exerted their influence in the background when John Black River settled half-disgustedly on Jamaica in 1700, then asked his nephews to join him. In 1753, the Campbells of Jamaica recruited from their Scottish kinfolk a London agent who would fulfil a great many more of the themes outlined so far, including:  interests in ships, sugar, tobacco, slaves, shipping convict labour, trade in Jamaica and Virginia - Duncan Campbell from the Glasgow branch of the family.


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     Why did Colonel John Campbell settle at Black River? Probably because an area of water outside that river mouth became a rendezvous for Darien Company shipping. Later, the area remained a naval rendezvous for the English navy. Ship refreshment became one way of doing business, perhaps? Given the chaos in the records on the 1697-1700 Darien expeditions, it is difficult to distinguish shipping movements between "Darien" expeditions, let alone Darienite ship movements between Jamaica or other West Indian Islands, or even as far north as New York.


      Between 1697-1700, John Campbell Black River, aged about 27, was captain to some Darien military squad. He may have flitted back and forth between "Darien" and Jamaica on ships - possibly also developing a relationship with the Virginian woman he married on Jamaica in 1700, Catherine Claiborne (1681-1718)? ([1]) It is unknown if Catherine's father was already a Jamaica settler, whether he intended to remain in Virginia, or not. It is not known if, say, by 1796, John Black River had already been stationed militarily on Jamaica in any ordinary course of events, and that he then he became involved with the Darien Company. But with all the chaos and death of the Darien expeditions, he was lucky enough to get out alive and settle on Jamaica as he did. ([2])


     From the records of old Jamaica comes the following on the first Campbell to settle there... Col. John Campbell, Member of Assembly Westmoreland 1711, MC 1722, died 1740 aged 66 years. Interred in St Elizabeth, the inscription reading:


"Here lies the Hon. John Campbell, born at Inverary, Argyllshire, North Britain, and descended of the Ancient family of Auchenbrock, when a youth he served several campaigns in Flanders. He went as Captain of the Troops sent to Darien and on his return to this Island, in 1700, he married the daughter of Col. Claiborne by whom he had several children. In 1718 he married Elizabeth (now alive) relict of Col. ?Garnes. He was for many years Member of the Assembly, Colonel and Custos of St Elizabeth. In 1722 he was made one of the Privy Council. He was the first Campbell who settled in this Island, and thro' his extream generosity and assistance, many are now possessed of opulent fortunes. His temperance and great humanity have always been very remarkable. He died January 29, 1740. Aged 66 years. Universally lamented." ([3])


     John's survival on Jamaica was plagued with the implications arising from much referred to in the previous chapters - a turbulent Argyllshire heritage, the destruction of the Darien Company, the need to secure maritime links to North American colonies and London. As Colonel Campbell became a plantation man, he needed a supply of slaves, which after 1700 would have implied he remained in debt to slave suppliers. Where did this military son of an obscure Campbell family find the patrons, credit or capital to buy and fit out a plantation? The question is more relevant if his own family had suffered financial damage from involvement in Darien disasters. ([4])


    Catherine Claiborne was from Virginia, a member of the family which had been there since the 1620s. My inspection of Virginian genealogies has not provided any information on any other linkages between Claibornes, and any Campbells of Virginia. Leonard Claiborne was a son of Colonel William Claiborne of Virginia. Leonard settled on Jamaica, to become Colonel Leonard Claiborne of the militia of St Elizabeth's, who died in 1694 at Carlisle Bay, Jamaica while "engaged in a repulse of the French". Leonard by his wife, Martha, is supposed to have had two daughters, Elizabeth (unknown) and Catherine, who in 1700 on Jamaica married John Black River.


     The reign of James I became a period of significant colonial expansion, with English attempts made to settle in India, the Far East, Newfoundland, Guiana, Virginia and Massachusetts. ([5]) The English remained interested intermittently or regularly in places as far apart as Nova Scotia, the Amazon, Madagascar, China, Japan, also "the great Southland" Raleigh had speculated about, and some themes became inextricably interwoven, genealogically. (By 1636 the Portuguese still controlled trade with Japan, though England had tried for some years to trade there).


     However, discussions of these endeavours have been restricted by a lack of genealogical information on precisely who was involved in which sectors of activity. Many sectors in fact were linked by people who were linked genealogically, if not by other, self-chosen affiliations. We find, that through the entire seventeenth century, to discuss either the settlement of Barbados, then Jamaica, and/or the trading of the East India Company (which involves Moghul history), one has to refer to several storylines at once. These additional storylines involve the financial struggles of James I and Charles I, the Courteen Association versus the East India Company, the extraordinary trading of Maurice Thompson, often to America, for the interests of the Earl of Warwick. The way the settlement of Barbados grew partly from failed ventures to colonize the Amazon and partly from the ambitions of the Courteen Association, as well as Puritan vehemence about the Spanish. And to 1700, the career of William Dampier. Dampier's career alone fleshed out several themes expressed in English colonisation since Drake's time.


    Later added to this is the intermittent English interest in Australia or the Pacific, and the often-sought North West Passage.  Providing genealogical information is one way, albeit also complicated, to try to knit these various themes together. And if this is done, one also finds many noted figures related to families producing individuals engaged in another separate-but-related theme - the Protestant government of Catholic Ireland. ([6])


       Some fresh clues lie in a book by Robert Brenner: Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1653. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993). Genealogical information in Brenner's book, excellent research, is so dense, it causes further shocks and surprises and prompts a deeper explanation of how the family Claiborne originally came to Virginia. To 1640, some genealogical shocks await the reader interested in linkages between English aristocrats and English merchants, more so if that reader has kept an eye on the development of English chattel slavery. And from about 1640, the history of the transportation of English convicts should be regarded as a subset of the broader history of English chattel slavery. Thus our themes widen.


     Brenner has listed intermarriages in London between commercial families interested in trading to the West Indies and American colonies from as early as 1610, and he mentions an early surveyor of Virginia, appointed surveyor in 1621, William Claiborne (1587-1677). This Claiborne was a promoter of the Kent Island project, who left many descendants in Virginia. The Kent Island project was designed to provide supplies for the Scottish colonisation of Nova Scotia, which was being orchestrated by Sir William Alexander. ([7]) From here grows an immense and vibrant background which is not yet fully acknowledged as part of the history of convict transportation.


     In 1626, magistrate William Claiborne became secretary of state for Virginia. ([8]) By 1627-1629 Claiborne was conducting fur-gathering ventures with Indians, and he planned to create a base on an island he found in the Chesapeake Bay, Kent Island. A broader plan was to handle furs from Canada. Rather than risk hostility in Virginia itself over these plans, Claiborne linked with London men. One was William Cloberry, who became a business partner of Humphrey Slaney. Cloberry married Slaney's daughter. Slaney was active in the Merchant Adventurers and the Spanish and Barbary trades; he was also a founder of the Newfoundland Company and had tried to deal with Guinea. Cloberrry in turn had links with Sir William Alexander, the English secretary of state for Scotland, who was trying to sort out the proprietorship of Nova Scotia by 1628, which had been awarded in 1622. Presumably, plans were to promote regular traffic from Scotland to Nova Scotia, south to Virginia, then back to London-Scotland.


     Cloberry and Alexander planned to organise a Canadian fur trade, using Kent Island to the south. Later, Maurice Thomson (the earl of Warwick's business executive) and William Tucker linked with Claiborne and Cloberry concerning the Kent Island. This group found finance from a leading London (City) trader with France and Spain, John de la Barre,  who also became linked with Thomson concerning Canadian fur; plus a Virginia planter and merchant, Simon Turgis. Later, Elias Roberts as Thomson's brother-in-law linked in West Indies trade with one William Barkeley (sic). ([9]) On and on the family linkages go, widening themes.


English Expansionism: Genealogical shock II: subhead


     By the 1630s, England was "probably" beginning to trade regularly in slaves, but few details are available. ([10]) The first important English settlement in West Africa was made at Kormantin by 1631, as the East India Company was reconstructed (it had been suffering a shortage of capital and competition from interlopers). Kormantin became the only English fort used for 30 years, though it was not the only Gold Coast settlement. Notably, the area was the only gold-producing area England could exploit. Influence from English traders in fabric (another matter not to be underestimated, even from the 1550s) also meant the development of a trade in redwood (dye) from Sierra Leone and Sherbro. Little gold was ever found, however.


     It was probably during this period - 1600-1630 - that the first financial links were formed in London between slaving interests and East India Company merchants, links which would become near-regularities in the money markets of the City of London. Between 1660-1700, England's dependence on profits from textile handling was transformed. New trends were taking up in the economy, especially in the re-export trades; about 30 per cent of goods handled came from the East or West Indies. ([11]) It should be understood, that the African Gold Coast, the slave-producing area the English used, was named more than anything else due to European fantasies about gold - and it was the only gold-producing area to which England had access. ([12]) Englishmen had dreams of less autocratic royal government, but also dreams of gold from Africa, and freebooting Spanish ships till they disgorged huge fortunes in gold and silver - all dreams requiring aggression. These were also matters noted by the planners of the Scottish Darien Company.


The origins of Neil Campbell (1678-1761), principal of the College of Glasgow: "happy is the man who knows his own father": subhead


     As the Australian WDC saw his family history, incorrectly, "Major John Campbell of Glenaray" after he was executed in 1685 left his son Neil fatherless, probably with a reduced patrimony for the boy's upkeep, with no reliable word on Neil's mother or her fate, or why her husband was executed. Was she a desperate woman tortured by the times she lived in, bringing up one or two bastard children, dependent on a turbulent aristocrat's son for money? It was probably more mundane than that, but nothing meanwhile helps us find the father of her first children, Neil had his education "carefully superintended" towards the Scottish ministry by his uncle, Patrick Campbell, Minister of Glenaray. Neil matriculated at the College of Glasgow on 1 January 1697 and spent most of his life at the College. One of Neil's uncles, only a few years older than himself, was John Black River.


    WDC as a direct descendant of the hulks overseer gained possession of the hulks overseer's Letterbooks, and he travelled at least once in search of his family history to England and about Glasgow. There seems here a case of an Australian family history losing touch with its Scottish roots, both in Scotland and southern England. It is not impossible that the genealogical tangles of 1930 deterred Mackaness, Bligh's biographer, from examining relevant Jamaican connections? If so, in the long run, this has meant that the story of HMAV Bounty was detached from the history of slavery in the West Indies and became inappropriately attached to early Australian colonial/maritime history.


     (A problem arises with one son of principal Neil, who may have been a soldier at Culloden, in 1745. Also at Culloden was Capt. Bligh's 20th, later the Lancashire Fuseliers. ([13]) At Culloden, any meetings between Blighs and Campbells may have produced connections later culminating in William Bligh's marriage to Elizabeth Betham, daughter of principal Neil's son-in-law, Richard Betham?)


Jean Campbell and an earl of Argyll?: subhead


    The misleading legend exists, that Neil, principal of the College of Glasgow, was a bastard son of an Earl of Argyll. ([14]) Which Earl of Argyll might this story about principal Neil's mother relate to? Colin Campbell, the sixth earl, died 10 September, 1584. Archibald the seventh earl died 1638. Archibald, the eighth earl, 27 May, 1661. Archibald the ninth earl lived 26 February, 1629-30 June 1685. The ninth earl had two wives, (1) Mary Stewart, of a Moray line of descent. (2) Anne Mackenzie, who was also wife (from April, 1640) of Alexander Lindsay, Earl1 Balcarres. The ninth earl of Argyll might fit the story? But, no. ([15])


     The mystery of Jean Campbell's first marriage and her possibly illegitimate son Neil have been discussed earlier, and should now be revisited. Improbably, two contradictory sets of information exist, both equally good. The first set is information gained from research on family matters in Argyllshire, Scotland. The second set is gained from the Letterbooks of Duncan Campbell (1726-1803). Information in the notes of WDC (a direct descendant of the writer of the Letterbooks), are contaminated by stories which cannot be verified. ([16]) Once these stories are set aside, contradictions still remain in the family history overall. ([17]) Worse, it  is listed in a comprehensive family history by Lt.-Colonel Shakespear, that his forebears, which include the name of a London alderman, Shakespear, had connection with females stemming from the line of Colonel John Black River. ([18])


     Still, Colonel John Campbell Black River (also styled as being from Inverary, Argyllshire), was an uncle of Neil, principal of the College of Glasgow; but was only five years older than his nephew. ([19]) From the Argyllshire sets of information ([20]), we find that after Jean1 married the Rev. Patrick Campbell ([21]) (born 1631-33-d.1700, her second husband): ([22])


     Rev. Patrick and Jean 1's children were: (1) Dugald Campbell, of Torblaren who married Mary Maxwell  (2) Colin Campbell of Knockbuy (3) Colonel John Campbell Black River (1673-1740) (4) Duncan Campbell of Glasgow (5) Jean (II) Campbell untraced (6) Bessie Campbell who married Colin Campbell of Attichuan the father of Dugald of Saltspring and Peter of New Hope, Jamaica. (7) Elizabeth Campbell who married Unknown.


     Where did Jean the mother of Neil fit into her own extended family? If her son was born in 1678, she may have been of child-bearing age; say 17, therefore born about 1661 or earlier? A woman born around 1661 would be 12 or so years older than John Black River. Is it useful to assume here that John Black River has at least one sister around 12 years older than himself? (But Black River's parents were married about 1670). If principal Neil had been conceived in 1677-1678, born in 1678, it is possible he was conceived during some uproar associated with the time of the Whigamore raids from the Lowlands to the Highlands 1678-1680, which were just one more turbulent episode in the career of the Argyllshire Campbells. Who was his mother? Perhaps, she was a  daughter of the unknown first wife of Rev Patrick; also named Jean? This Jean? May have had an affair with the son John of the ninth Earl of Argyll? (Any such theory would still leave Duncan Campbell married to a second cousin, Rebecca)  This eventuality would accommodate the story (retailed by WDC by the 1930s) about a Major John Campbell being the father of Neil. That could have been John, MP, died 1729, ([23]) who  married Elizabeth Elphinstone in 1692. This speculation would make Neil,  principal of the College of Glasgow, brought up by his maternal grandfather, Rev. Patrick Campbell, due to a scandal arising from a daughter of Rev. Patrick's first marriage. (Nothing useful, however, is known about Rev. Patrick's first marriage or any children).


     This speculation is suggested due to evidence arising from laws of inheritance within the extended family of the Rev. Patrick, plus possibilities that are even more scandalous, which are (1) that Jean1, who married Rev. Patrick about 1670, in 1678 had a boy Neil not before she married Rev. Patrick, but after. (2) Or, that JeanII, daughter of JeanI and Rev. Patrick, perhaps very young, had a child after having an affair. (As far as is known, JeanII never married). So with these speculations, Jean? or JeanII was the mother of Neil in scandalous enough circumstances, but if Jean1 was Neil's mother, the scandal is worse. However, if by laws of  inheritance, which were observed and gave rise to evidence, Neil was indeed a nephew of John Black River, Neil's mother being either Jean? or Jean2 would remain a plausible enough scenario. If Jean1 was Neil's mother, Neil is not nephew of John Black River, but a scandalously illegitimate half-brother.  


     Whatever, Colonel John Campbell (of Black River, Jamaica) was born in 1673 and died 29 January, 1740. He was born at Glassary, Torblaren, and died at St Elizabeth's, Jamaica. He has also been described as being, in his earlier days, of Auchenbrock, Scotland. His father was Reverend Patrick Campbell of a Manse, Glenaray, Torblaren, who was son of Rev. Dugald Campbell (1599-1673); husband of Mary Maxwell. Reverend Patrick and Jean (Jean1 Campbell) were married by 1670 in Scotland. This couple is well-located in Campbell genealogy - except for two knotty problems still remaining - Jean1's first husband, whether or not he was a legal husband; and the unknown father of Jean1. It also seems possible that Jean1 by Rev. Patrick had a daughter Jean, Jean2, who, perhaps, unmarried, became the mother of principal Neil? This could make Jean2 a full-blood sister of John Black River. Some  main evidence for this suggestion, amid much contorted genealogical speculation, is the strong impression gained from the Letterbooks of Duncan Campbell, that his wife Rebecca was his second cousin. Working back from this possibility, alone, we would find...


     Duncan born 1726, son of principal Neil of the College of Glasgow (born 1678) (and his wife Henrietta), the mother of Neil named Jean1, (born about 1661?), parentage dubious, the name and background of Neil's father unknown...


     Rebecca, born 1733, the daughter of Dugald Campbell (1697-1744) of Saltspring, Jamaica. This Dugald (died 1744) was the son of Bessie the full-blood sister of John Black River, Bessie the wife of Colin Campbell at Attichuan. This Bessie and John had a mother, Jean1, who may also have been the mother of Jean2, (Jean2 the otherwise mysterious mother of Neil?).


     This formulation would also make Duncan (born 1726) and Rebecca not quite second cousins, and would also provide Duncan's father, Neil, with a fisherman brother, John (otherwise unknown) and Neil's sister, Jean (Jean3?) with an uncle, John Black River.


     This formulation makes common sense easily, although it may not fit with genealogical speculations partly derived from arcane aspects of Scottish customs of making land inheritance, or wider considerations of extended family, or some family disaster, such as incest, rape, or an ill-starred love affair resulting in an illegitimate child. With this formulation, however, John Black River remains an uncle also to Dugald the father of Rebecca, who in 1753 married Duncan. This also makes Dugald on Jamaica and principal Neil in Glasgow, cousins. Given that Duncan the hulks overseer dealt in business terms all his life with kin, this formulation also makes a continued silence about Neil's mother, Jean2 or Jean?, all the more mysterious, for the silence continued for generations. It seems significant in the family that the name Jean fell into disuse for female children. (The Letterbooks of Duncan Campbell never mention female children named Jean).


      Yet, none of these people had particularly close links to the families of the earls and dukes of Argyll. So the conclusion is hard to make, that either Jean 1 or Jean2 had an affair in 1667-1668 with the 9th or 10th earl (who became the first Duke) of Argyll. Or, with any son, Major John, of the 9th or 10th earl?


       If Jean2, seen as a sister of Bessie and John Black River, had indeed had such an affair, she may have incurred the lifelong anger of Black River? So principal Neil's parents still remain a mystery, and an air of a personal tragedy hovers within the silences surrounding Neil's mother, who also bore to an unknown man, children named Jean and John. Speculation about an Earl of Argyll or one of his sons loosely fathering a lad, Neil, becomes mere gossip. But if this trail is closed off, where else to begin? Anyone driven by a taste for melodrama could easily imagine that these mysteries of Principal Neil's parentage could, after revelations about a cover-up, perhaps, be attached to stories leading to a retelling of the story of the Glencoe Massacre, or the disasters of the Scottish Darien Company?


*     *     *     *     *


     According to the Will of John Black River, he had a niece Jean, and a nephew, her brother, Neil, principal of the University of Glasgow. ([24]) But the age difference between Jean and Neil remains unknown.


     Here, circumstantial evidence or intuition might suggest that Black River's blood sister was the mother of principal Neil? John Campbell, Black River also had a sister of the full blood, Bessie, who on 3 January 3, 1689 married Colin Campbell of Atichuan, her father's cousin. They were also cousins to Patrick Campbell of Kilduskland, Scotland. Bessie and Colin at Atichuan had eight children including Dugald later of the Jamaican plantation Saltspring, Hanover Parish, who died 27 June, 1744, aged 47. Dugald had one son, John of Saltspring, who died 2 November, 1782, in his 53rd year. and eight daughters - including Rebecca who married at Saltspring, 11 March, 1753 to Duncan Campbell, later the hulks overseer, then a ship's captain. ([25])


*     *     *      *     *


     All the above mysteries aside, when John Campbell Black River after 1700 had established himself on south-western Jamaica, in Hanover Parish, he wrote home urging his nephews to join him. John's blood brothers and sisters were (not in birth order):


(1) Dugald, of Torblaren and Kilmory, married to Margaret Maxwell from a Glasgow merchant family, with children going to Jamaica;


(2) Colin, married to Margaret Graham, with one boy entering the West India trade and one daughter marrying a Campbell planter on Jamaica;


(3) Duncan, a Glasgow merchant, married unknown, children unknown;


(4) Bessie, married to Colin Campbell of Attichuan, with several children in Jamaica. There is a suggestion that Colin and Bessie Campbell of Jamaica had eight children,  including: Dugald Campbell of Saltspring plantation, Hanover Parish, Jamaica who died 27 June, 1744, aged 47. Dugald had one son, John, of Saltspring, who died 2 November, 1782 aged 53, and seven or more daughters, including Rebecca. ([26]) This Dugald, a cousin of Neil, died in 1744 aged 47. He was of Saltspring plantation, Jamaica, and married Anne Launce. (There is little information extant on this Launce family). Dugald and Anne Launce had nine daughters and one son, John. Presently, all but three of the daughters remain untraced. The third daughter, Rebecca, was born 19 April, 1730, and she married her (probable) second cousin, Duncan, son of principal Neil. Dugald had only one son John, who inherited Saltspring, who died 2 November, 1782 aged 53. It appears, then, that Dugald on Jamaica, the father of Rebecca on Jamaica, and principal Neil were first cousins? The assumption can be supported that principal Neil's mother was a blood or legal sister of John Black River. But it also difficult to prove, so discussion of further genealogical problems will be avoided.


(5) Elizabeth, no information;


(6) Jean (II), no information.


     The young Scots going to Jamaica, or becoming involved in trade to there, were:


     The children of Dugald (1) who included: Peter I (Patrick?), (died 1739) a planter of Fish River who married Deborah Lewis (no further information); Colonel James (1693-1744) planter of Orange Bay who married Henrietta Campbell formerly of Knockbuy (no further information); Colin nd a planter of New Hope who married Mary Tomlin (no further information); and John (1694-1760), died unmarried, a shipmaster who may have sailed to Jamaica.


     The children of Colin (2) included: Archibald (1693-1790, remembered as a Jacobite but not on Jamaica, who married Grisel Campbell (died 1729, of Kilberry); Colin, unmarried, of Jamaica; Charles, unmarried, of "West Indies"; Henrietta who married James Campbell of Orange Bay plantation, Jamaica.


     The children of Bessie (4) included: Peter a planter of New Hope, Jamaica who married unknown; Dugald (1697-1744) who married Anne Launce of a little-known family; Mary who married John Snodgrass a Scots tobacco dealer apparently resident in Scotland; Jane who married George MacCallum, who was possibly a dealer in slaves. 


     Several of John Black River's nephew and nieces had families requiring further comment. Dugald (1697-1744), who married Anne Launce, had a daughter, Rebecca, who married Duncan Campbell the later hulks overseer. John Black River's own daughter Anne (1700-1783) married a West Indies merchant of London, David Currie (died 1771). ([27]) David Currie's sons by Anne Campbell of Black River included Colin* (1731-1771), a West Indies merchant, and John (nd) of 10 Billiter Square (nd),  a London merchant. One of David Currie's daughters by Anne of Black River was Elizabeth (1726-1807) who married a London ropemaker, alderman John  Shakespear (1718-1775), and that connection long later brought other, complicated genealogical connections. ([28])


     Sir John Powlett Orde, Bart2 (1803-1878) (who also married a Miss Bouchier)  married Eliza Campbell (died 1829) a daughter of Peter Campbell (1766-1821) and Elizabeth Woolsey. ([29]) This Peter being (III), son of Peter Campbell II* of Fish River (1735-1764) [who married Mary Campbell]; Peter II being son of Peter I (d.1739) of Fish River who married to Deborah Lewis. This Peter 1 was son of Bessie (sister of John Black River) the wife of Colin of Attichuan, Scotland.


     James Scarlett  (1769-1844) , a barrister, first Baron Abinger, a Lord of the Exchquer, married as his first wife, Louise Henrietta Campbell (died 1829), a daughter of Peter II Campbell (active 1735-d.1764) of Fish River by Mary Campbell. ([30]) This Peter II Campbell was descended from the family of Rev. Patrick and Jean1 Campbell, the parents of John Black River. This link to Scarlett however does not seem to have meant any identifiable political or other influences were ever exercised on behalf of any of the Campbells in question in either London or the West Indies from the 1770s. ([31]). A daughter of Baron Abinger, Mary Elizabeth Scarlett, married John Campbell (1779-1861), first Baron Campbell.


      Some other of the young misses Campbell of Jamaica married as follows: one Elizabeth Campbell joined the family Blagrove, marrying one Thomas Blagrove of Cardiff Hall, Jamaica. (This connection explains why once, in the 1780s-1790s, Campbell the hulks overseer sold a ship Blagrove to John Julius Angerstein (1735-1823), a matter to be followed up later). 


Inkwell gif

(Of the people noted above, those marked with an asterisk are referred to often in the correspondence comprising Duncan Campbell's Letterbooks).


Life at the College of Glasgow: subhead


     Principal Neil Campbell's career in the ministry is detailed in Reid's The Divinity Professors of the University of Glasgow. ([32]) He was Minister at Kilmolie 1702-1709, and on 17 June, 1706 was appointed to a Synod of the Church. During 1709 he was transferred to Roseneath, remaining there until 1716, when on 26 April he was transferred to Renfrew. At Renfrew he became one of those churchmen known as builders, for he left behind him a new church when on 17 January, 1728 he became principal of the developing College of Glasgow. (It is said, though it means little here, that in December 1727, Neil Campbell was appointed principal of the University of Glasgow by the king). ([33])


     Principal Neil was admitted to office on 8 February following. He was not a man of   particular learning or administrative ability, so in 1727 he probably had no prominent role in reforms of the constitution of the College of Glasgow. ([34]) In 1729, as a student, John Hunter, later surgeon to the family of George III, had dealings in land with Niell Campble (sic). But it is not known if this was the principal.


Simson's heresy at the College of Glasgow: subhead


     The Scottish Presbyterian church in Cromwell's day was renowned for its intolerance, but by the 1720s it espoused more enlightened views. Moderation grew in ecclesiastical circles in Scotland during the 1730s. ([35])In Neil Campbell's time the College of Glasgow supported the philosophers Hutcheson and Reid, the scientists Cullen and Black, and James Hutton. ([36]) As we shall find, a great many names noted in colonial history were educated at Glasgow College while Neil Campbell was principal there, but his record is that of an undistinguished administrator.


     The principal of the College preceding Neil Campbell had been Stirling, who died in 1727. That year, there had boiled up amongst the Divines of Glasgow, and generally in the Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, a dispute centred around John Simson, one of Glasgow's professors of Divinity. ([37]) To the dismay of the Presbytery of Glasgow, Simson had begun to demonstrate some "refinements" on the church's doctrines concerning the Godhood of Christ and the correlatives of that Godhead. There arose disputes termed "The Scottish Inquisition", and the argument seems to have had some relations to the issues explored from about the 1690s by the Unitarians in England. The Unitarians see God as one person, not a Trinity of three persons (Trinitarianism).


    The tradition of this Unitarian belief notes martyrs such as Servetus at Geneva, burned at the stake in 1553. Socinus had similar views in Poland and his views took root in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. About 1560, Francis David planted this belief in Transylvania. John Biddle is the father of English Unitarianism, and Joseph Priestly split off with yet another viewpoint, and later went to America. In America, Unitarianism took root in New England, growing in the congregational churches. Unitarians espoused religious tolerance.


     Many thought that that Simson's "refinements" smacked of Arianism, and his enemies were reminded by at least one speaker of disputes long ago on the teachings of Nestorius. Arius (circa 318-321AD) was excommunicated by the Christian Church of his day for teaching that Jesus was merely a divine creature, not truly God, nor truly man. Reactions to Arianism had helped provoke the calling of the Council of Nicea of 325AD, which worked to establish Christian doctrine (as expressed in the Nicene Creed). So by the 1720s, Simson was scarcely a stunningly original thinker. Similar theological debates swirled elsewhere in Scotland and England, and similar issues were also later to become associated with the spread of Freemasonry in Scotland and England. Since Simson was formally engaged by the College of Glasgow as an academy, the dispute as it became laden with charges of heresy threatened to bring the Assembly of the Church and the College into a collision course. ([38]) Years before, shrewdly, or perhaps fearfully, John Knox had wanted to keep the Kirk forever free of conflict with the universities, as he had foreseen the consequences if such a conflict arose. Knox's intuition had been sound, for according to Reid, the ripples of the dispute over Simson's teachings were still alive by 1923.


      The issues raised by the Simson case had been fundamental, and involved the rights and the propriety of a university teaching heterodoxy, not orthodoxy, and its ability to continue to do so in the face of opposition from whichever quarter. (Today, we are used to something different: universities teach heterodoxy and no orthodoxy is to be found anywhere, about anything, except, perhaps, aspects of the hard sciences).


     Before his death, faced with the Simson heresy, Stirling as College principal in 1727 had taken a path that Neil Campbell found difficult to follow. Stirling had acknowledged that the Church Judicatories did possess the power to judge and try any professor of Divinity, who, like Simson, had abridged any formal church doctrines. As well, Stirling also insisted - and this was at the heart of the conflict between the institutions - the College was also vested with the power to judge or try its own members.


    Since the Simson dispute had ominous implications for the purity of Presbyterian doctrines concerning the Trinity, the Godhood of Christ, and hence the understanding of His mission, the Assembly of the Church wanted power to make the final decision. How else was the Church to remain able to retain its autonomy in the possession and dissemination of its doctrines? In the light of the Simson situation, and the Collegial position adopted by Stirling, ecclesiastical politics were mobilised in the defence of fundamental doctrines against the gravity of a heresy.


     Unexpectedly, Stirling as Principal had protested that the College of Glasgow had a "just right" to remain free of prejudice from the Church in its treatment of Simson's case. In the case of the employment of professors of Divinity, it was this "just right" which, the commentator Reid insists, remained unresolved, even until 1923. Stirling's claims necessarily implied that a university could continue to employ a divine who had been judged by the Church Assembly as being in error. But there is no reason to suspect that when Stirling died, principal Neil Campbell was brought in as one who would take one side against the other in the dispute, which was perhaps precisely the reason he was employed; as a balance man?


     Simson was a social eccentric who avoided women. In 1727 he accused his presbytery of "clandestine and unfair dealings". His health began to suffer under the strain of debate and he began to "make claims on the humanity of his hearers". Stirling meanwhile died to the end of that year. Since the Assembly had not earlier protested loudly at Stirling's analysis of the university's rights in the situation, Neil Campbell merely reiterated Stirling's earlier position.


     Neil Campbell in December 1727 was appointed principal of the College of Glasgow "by the king" and admitted to the position on 8 February, 1728. He was principal as well as Primarius Professor of Divinity. He was once made Dean of Chapel and was also, it is said, one of the Chaplains appointed to George II. His first duties were ordinary business in an appointment reputedly obtained "by the influence of Argyll and Isla", when he was aged 49. He was not a notable scholar nor administrator, and since he upheld Stirling's position, his future was marred by the reverberations of the Simson heresy case. Simson himself later unwillingly recanted. He stayed about the college until 1740, working "in a limited capacity" and behaving as discreetly as an accused heretic might find necessary.


    Simson had been called "obstinate and offensive" in his attitude and "practically guilty of teaching subversive of fundamental doctrine". He continued to be maintained by the College, though legally he could not teach, and he did not. The dispute once it had become slightly hysterical was dubbed "the Presbyterian Inquisition" and the matter had threatened to spread far enough to be mentioned in the English Parliament. (The professors were strong supporters of the Hanoverian cause).


     By 1727 the university was being greatly reformed. The constitution had been modified and 1728 heralded a "brilliant period" to come. Previous principals had restrained the powers of the Faculty. Principal Neil Campbell for various reasons allowed that power to flourish. The College was also in debt, notably for buildings, and this impeded Campbell's administration. As late as 1736 there had been a saying that the principal of the College of Glasgow was the best-lodged clergyman in the kingdom. By 1750 that was a defunct boast. Some had judged that in 1729, the Faculty of the College had made an "unprecedented claim" in a judgement of a professor's orthodoxy. As Reid suggests, the split between the judicatory rights, privileges and institutions of the university and the Church remained unresolved long after. Campbell's initiation as an administrator had been a harsh one. Even though Simson was prevented from teaching divinity students, who did not pay fees, he continued to be paid. No one thought he should have stopped drawing his salary, or that he should remove himself. At first it was thought that divinity students could attend other universities for their tuition. Then it was realised this would severely discredit Glasgow. So Neil Campbell had to lecture the students. Mere moral support can come cheap. On 31 November, 1731, the Faculty of the university voted Neil Campbell "hearty thanks", but no money, for teaching the divinity students. There was no mention of his extra teaching load undertaken to save the College from severe academic embarrassment. (There is no record  of what Neil Campbell thought of his predecessor's assistance provided to the Darien Company.) Perhaps, principal Campbell shied away from such involvements?


     While at the College of Glasgow, principal Neil saw such developments as the institution of the Macfarlane Observatory in 1757 on "precisely the spot" where St Kentigern had legendarily sat. A merchant Alexander Macfarlane from Jamaica had bequeathed to the university his collection of astronomical instruments. New botanic gardens were laid out in 1754. The "new library" was built during 1723-1744, between the main buildings, and north-east of the Blackfriars Church where Neil Campbell chose to be buried.


     The Scottish Presbyterian church in Cromwell's day was renowned for its intolerance, but by the 1720s it espoused more enlightened views. Moderation grew in ecclesiastical circles in Scotland during the 1730s, and in Neil Campbell's time the College of Glasgow supported the philosophers Hutcheson and Reid, the scientists Cullen and Black, and James Hutton. ([39]) As we shall find, a great many names noted in colonial history were educated at Glasgow College while Neil Campbell was principal there, but in all, his record is that of an undistinguished administrator.


*    *    *


[Finis Chapter 4]

Words 6567, words and footnotes 8898  pages 16 footnotes 39



[1] John Campbell Black River with Catherine Claiborne had a daughter Ann who married at Glasgow, 26 December, 1720 to David Currie. They had two sons - John and Colin Currie, London merchants, plus a daughter Elizabeth Currie (1726-1807) who married John Shakespear (1718-1775) rope-maker and alderman of London. More will be presented on these people in later chapters. Here I am grateful to a Virginian genealogist, John Dorman, who conveyed information on the Claiborne family.

[2] Stella Pickett Hardy,  Colonial Families of the Southern States of America: A History and Genealogy of Colonial Families Who Settled in the Colonies Prior to the Revolution.  Second edition, revised. Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968. As noted earlier, according to the International Genealogical Index (IGI) Campbells were resident on Barbados by the 1680s, about twenty years before Colonel John Campbell settled at Black River, Jamaica. These Barbadian Campbells do not figure in this book.

[3] Marion Campbell of Kilberry, a living descendant of the line of John, Black River, and an informant for this book, describes her family as "our villainous tribe of non-Establishment fiddlers and fixers".  W. A. Feurtado, Official and Other Personages of Jamaica from 1655 to 1790. Kingston, Jamaica, 1896.

[4] Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro: The History of The Caribbean, 1492-1969. London, Andre Deutsch, 1970., supplies useful figures here.

[5] Presumably for the East India Company, in 1618 a grandiose Englisher, Edward Connock, presumably then in Persia, wanted to divert the entire Persian silk trade into English hands. W. K. Hinton, `The Mercantile System in the time of Thomas Mun', Economic History Review, Series 2, 7, 1955., p. 277. Thomas Mun was a noted East India figure in London before 1620.

[6] Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 270, p. 290. The crown had given the City Irish lands in return for loans. The elite merchants and the puritan colonising nobles were both damaged when Charles granted the West Indies proprietary colony to Buckingham's follower the Earl of Carlisle in 1627. On the Earl of Carlisle's economic activities, see David Armitage, `Making the Empire British: Scotland in the Atlantic World, 1542-1717', Past and Present, No. 155, May 1997., pp. 34-63.

[7] Claiborne: Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 121, p. 195. Sir William Alexander (1576-1639/40), first Earl Stirling. He once had rights over all of Nova Scotia and parts of Canada.  His son Lord Alexander had rights over Long Island (New York), which he sold to the Duke of York, for which he was never paid. The third Earl Stirling with three others from 1634 had sole monopoly on the export of Scottish goods to Africa for 31 years. GEC, Peerage, Stirling, pp. 277ff. See also, Robin Law, `The First Scottish Guinea Company, 1634-1639', The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. LXXVI, No. 202, October 1997., pp. 185-202.

[8] Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 121.

[9] Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 195.

[10] K. G. Davies, Royal Africa Company, p. 9, pp. 39-40.

[11] Mintz, Sweetness, p. 63.

[12] K. G. Davies, Royal Africa Company, p. 9.

[13] Information from GEC, Peerage, Townshend, p. 808, pertaining to George Townshend, fourth Viscount Townshend.

[14] Wodrow, Analecta, Vol. IV, 69, August 1729, earlier cited and commented.

[15] Establishing what information can be relied on requires considerable research on the earls and dukes of Argyll, more so as the hulks overseer in the early 1780s bought land in Kent, England, from William (who is hard to trace in genealogical sources), the son of Edward Coke (1718-19-1753), Earl of Leicester, who on 1 April, 1747 had married Mary Campbell (1726-27-1811) (the letter writer), Lady Mary Coke (1726-27-1811), daughter of the second Duke of Argyll, John Campbell (1680-1743) by his first wife, Jane Warburton. GEC, Peerage, Leicester, p. 561.  Their daughter Mary married MP William Lynch (died 1785) (Valentine, British Establishment, Vol. 2, p. 559. ).

[16] There is extant the Auchinbrek Genealogy, written in the 1740s, later published in J. R. N. MacPhuil, Highland Papers, Vol. IV, Scottish History Society, 3rd Series, XXII, Edinburgh, 1934., with a complete account of the Campbells of Kilduskland including John Campbell (of Black River, Jamaica) where Duncan Campbell the subject of this book is referred to as "supercargo to Virginia". If Neil Campbell had been a bastard son of an Earl of Argyll, then his genealogy could stretch from about AD1340 to Australia, to WDC who died in Queensland in 1938. Other people linked with these Campbell families, now living in Sydney, believe they are descended from the extended family of Duncan, the hulks overseer. Another descendant of the hulks overseer's extended family of the eighteenth century presently edits a Clan Campbell journal in the United States of America, via the name Somerville mentioned herein.

[17] Also mentioned as part of his genealogy by WDC were the Campbells of Blythswood, who had a mansion house at Bridgegate and were descendants of Glaswegian traders. These Campbells appear to have been related by the late Eighteenth Century to Lord Selkirk, to Lord Stonefield, and, in earlier times, to Lady Grace Campbell, nee Douglas. The Campbells of Blytheswood had been of that connection since 1706, when one Colin Campbell purchased the Blytheswood Estate from Sir G. Elphinstone.

[18]  John Shakespear of Shadwell and His Descendants, 1619-1931.  Self-published, Newcastle, UK, 1931., pp. 25-31, p. 65, pp. 82-83. A century later, among the Shakespear connections are children of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) and a marriage of the composer, William Shakespear Childe-Pemberton (1857-1924).

[19] Shakespear, John Shakespear of Shadwell, pp. 25-31, p. 65, pp. 82-83, and citing Leslie's New History of Jamaica, 1740; and Mr. Cundall in his book, The Darien Adventure.

[20] Much of this information, which deals with Argyllshire folk as well as Campbells on Jamaica, has come from Marion Campbell  of Kilberry, separately to her published work.

[21] The genealogical stress to be placed on these questions is severe, since if family linkages are derived from the Rev. Dugald Campbell (1599-1673), the father of Rev. Patrick, the ensuing genealogies must be accurate for all of the following people: the first Campbell sugar planters of Jamaica; the wife Louisa (d. 1829) of James Scarlett (1769-1844), Lord Abinger a Chancellor of the British Exchequer; descendants presently living in Sydney, Australia; descendants of London alderman and ropemaker John  Shakespear (1718-1775) and MP and ropemaker, Arthur Shakespear (1748-1818); John Blagrove (1777-1824) a planter of Cardiff Hall, Jamaica and also planters named Somerville of Jamaica; a schoolmaster of Tasmania, William Francis Tennant active 1857; descendants of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray;  the family of a governor of New South Wales, William Bligh (1754-1817); the Colden family of New York (before 1775) which family via one male member had notable descendants in New South Wales, Australia in the Nineteenth Century; men named Pitcairn, related to the man for whom Pitcairn Island in the Pacific was named.  Of course, if the Earls of Argyll were in fact ever involved, then the genealogies arising will become even more extensive.  

[22] A. I. B Stewart, Journal of Clan Campbell, USA,  nd., pp. 11ff. Marion Campbell of Kilberry, article, Journal of Clan Campbell, USA, No. 17, 3., pp. 36ff. 

[23] John Campbell had six daughters. He was capitally convicted for participation in his father's revolt, pardoned, his forfeiture was annulled in 1689. He represented Argyllshire in the Scottish Parliament. He died 7 April 1729 having married Elizabeth Elphinstone, daughter of eighth Lord Elphinstone. Among this John Campbell's descendants were his son John (1693-1770) fourth Duke Argyll, son Charles an MP died 1742, and William Campbell (died 1787) of Liston Hall who married first to Susannah Bernard/Barnard of Jamaica, and later to Bridget Bacon (as her third husband), formerly wife of Sir Cordell Firebrace (d.1759) who inherited the Firebrace Letters relating to the demise of Charles I, now held by the British Library. (Heraldry of the Campbells, pp. 21-22. On Bridget Bacon: GEC, Peerage, Argyll, p. 209; Denbigh, p. 181. Capt. C. W. Firebrace, Honest Harry: Being the Biography of Sir Henry Firebrace, Knight. London, John Murray, 1932., p. 236 on the Firebrace Letters of  Charles 1 before the regicide). It was Campbell descendants who actually (and confusingly) sold the Firebrace Letters to the British Library. Also see, Burke's Landed Gentry for Campbell Lambert of Burlton Hall. Among the broader connections of the children/grandchildren of the ninth Earl of Argyll are also to be found, Lady Mary Campbell (1726-1811) (the letter writer), wife of Edward Coke, Earl Leicester, of Holkham (died 1753). MP Charles Townshend (1725-1767) married Baroness Greenwich, Caroline Campbell, daughter of John, first Duke Greenwich and his second wife, Jane Warburton. It may have been that George Townshend, fourth Viscount Townshend, served in 1745 at Culloden with Capt. Bligh's 20th, later the Lancashire Fuseliers: GEC, Peerage, Townshend, p. 808] ; one Mary Campbell who married James Primrose, second Earl Rosebery, while Anne Campbell (daughter of Archibald first Duke Argyll married James Stuart (died 1722), second Earl Bute. Later, these sorts of connections were so embedded in the political establishment of his day that it is possible to imagine that they gave to Duncan Campbell, the hulks overseer, an influence that he did not in fact possess.

[24] According to a researcher on these genealogies, Duncan Beaton, Neil became Moderator of the Church of Scotland in 1732 when he was aged 44. Beaton feels that Jean (Jean1) under discussion here was a widow of a brother of Major John Campbell of Clonary; Beaton also suspects that both Neil's father and uncle had died by 1710 and reference has been made to the McIver Campbells. Campbell genealogist Dr. Lorne Campbell has cited The Kintyre Magazine, No. 26, p. 26, in respect of Neil's little-known brother, John.

[25] It is not known quite how Dugald Campbell arrived on Jamaica - the son of Bessie and Colin, Dugald who about 1738 bought the plantation Saltspring, Hanover Parish, from one Richard Quarrell, remains little-known. Dugald's sister Mary married Snodgrass a tobacco dealer.

[26] Parish Register, Hanover, Jamaica. John Campbell, Saltspring matriculated in 1739. Rebecca at Saltspring on 11 March, 1753 married the young merchant, Duncan Campbell of London, the son of principal Neil Campbell of the College of Glasgow.

[27]  J. Shakespear, John Shakespear of Shadwell and his Descendants, 1619-1931.  Self published, Newcastle, UK., 1931., p. 25 and elsewhere Anne married David Currie on 26 December, 1720 at Glasgow. They had two sons - John and Colin Currie, London merchants who possibly dealt in slaves, plus a daughter Elizabeth Currie (1726-1807) who married John Shakespear (1718-1775) rope-maker and alderman of London. This Currie family however does not appear to be related to the banker family Currie, noted in Burke's Peerage and Baronetage. Of this latter family Currie, Sir Frederick Currie, Bart1 (1799-?) married Sussanah, daughter of a convict contractor to Australia before 1800, John Pascal Larkins, an East India trader, of Blackheath, London. The banker William (1721-1781) of the banker family Currie had married Madeleine Lefevre; in 1772 he was a clerk in the house of Fordyce,  the Scots speculated who defaulted spectacularly in 1772. For information on the banker family Currie, also, Roger Fulford, Glyn's, 1753-1953: Six Generations in Lombard Street. London, Macmillan, 1953.

[28] J. Shakespear, John Shakespear of Shadwell (pp. 65ff, p. 117, p. 128ff).  (Beaven, Aldermen, p. 133).  Shakespear, a London alderman, Aldgate, died 18 May, 1775. His connections included: Henry Davenport Shakespear (nd), East India Company-India; the family of the nineteenth century novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray; a West India merchant David Shakespear (1751-1823); MP Arthur Richard Shakespear (1748-1818) who married Jane Ridley (1777-1804) sister of Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bart2 (GEC, Peerage, Colborne of West Harley, p. 360; Burke's Landed Gentry for Hambro of the Hyde). One Sarah Shakespear (died 1829) married an assay master of the Mint, Joseph Sage, (1779-1820).

[29] Burke's Peerage and Baronetage for Campbell-Orde.

[30] The father Robert Scarlett of first Baron Abinger was of Duckett's Spring, St James, Jamaica, husband of widow Elizabeth Anglin daughter of Philip Anglin of Jamaica. Richard B. Sheridan, 'The Wealth of Jamaica in the Eighteenth Century', Economic History Review, Series 2, Vol. 18, 1965., pp. 292-311., here, p. 308. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage for Ridley. GEC, Peerage, Campbell of St Andrews, p. 513; Stratheden of Cupar, p. 392; Abinger, p. 50. Fulford, Glyn's., variously.

[31] This section also relies heavily on family history provided the author by Miss Marion Campbell of Kilberry.

[32] Rev. H. M. B. Reid, The Divinity Professors of the University of Glasgow. Glasgow, Maclehose and Sons, publishers to the University of Glasgow, 1923. Notes of WDC. Also, Glasgow University, The University of Glasgow Through Five Centuries. University of Glasgow, 5th Centenary. 1951; James Coutts, History of the University of Glasgow. Glasgow, University Archives, nd., p. 214; Murray, Memories of the Old College of Glasgow. University Archives, nd. Neil became Minister of Kilmallie 1702-1709, Minister of Roseneath 1709-1716, Minister of Renfrew 1716-1728, when he became principal of the College of Glasgow (university). I am indebted here to Mrs. Elspeth Simpson, Archives Assistant, Archives, University of Glasgow, to the author, 30 May, 1979, for much information on the career of Principal Neil Campbell.

[33] James Coutts, History of the University of Glasgow, pp. 214ff. A chancellor of Glasgow University 1742-1781 was William Graham, third Duke of Montrose.

[34] Mackie, The University of Glasgow, 1451-1951., nd, p. 185. Jessie Dobson, John Hunter. Edinburgh, E & S Livingstone, 1969., p 5; Duncan Campbell to Rt. Honble Lord Amherst, 13 December, 1793, mentions surgeon Hunter in the case of Duncan Campbell's son-in-law, William Willox. Surgeon Hunter in 1788 resided at Leicester Square in London, a physiologist and surgeon, surgeon-extraordinary to the royal family, surgeon-general to the forces, inspector-general of hospitals, skilful anatomist and one of the fathers of zoological medicine.

[35] Williams, Whig, pp. 269-270.

[36] Williams, Whig, pp. 269-270.

[37] Incidentally, a Scots slaver, possibly a relative, active 1759, was James Simson, named in Jacob M. Price, 'Buchanan and Simson, 1759-1763: A Different Kind of Glasgow Firm Trading to the Chesapeake', William and Mary Quarterly, Series 3, Vol. 40, No. 1, January 1983., pp. 3-41., pp. 28ff.


[38] Mackie, The University of Glasgow, 1451-1951, nd, p. 188.

[39] Williams, Whig, pp. 269-270.


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