I WAS struck by the article on Scotland’s role in the African slave trade (No sugaring the pill of our country’s slave trade role, The National, March 7). As someone who has been campaigning for some time for greater education in Scottish schools on this matter, as well as for a statue to be erected in Glasgow to note our role in this cruel trade, it was very much welcomed to see this piece.

What is perhaps less well known are the large numbers of Scottish people, perhaps as many as 100,000, who were rounded up and transported to the West Indies and American colonies to be sold into slavery, a practice that occurred as early as 1630.

According to the Egerton manuscript, found in the British Museum and enacted in 1652: “it may be lawful for two or more justices of peace within any county, citty or towne, corporate belonging to the commonwealth to from tyme to tyme by warrant cause to be apprehended, seized on and detained all and every person or persons that shall be found begging and vagrant ... in any towne, parish or place to be conveyed into the Port of London, or unto any other port from where such person or persons may be shipped into a forraign collonie or plantation.”

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The numbers taken as slaves must have been huge as, according to the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies of 1701, we read of there being an estimated 25,000 slaves in Barbados, of whom 21,700 were white. The fair-skinned slaves were known as Redlegs or Redshanks by the locals because of their sunburned flesh.

Affluent and powerful local government officials, who likely had a stake in the plantations, slave trade and the associated benefits, were happy to oblige in this practice.

Merchants were also known to put in special requests to the city council to fulfil specific wants, with young women often on the wish list. In addition to this practice, political prisoners were routinely sold into slavery. Oliver Cromwell, for example, was responsible for sending thousands of Scots to slavery in the Caribbean, with prisoners from the Jacobite Uprisings facing the same fate.

Descendants of the Scots forced into slavery are now beginning to realise that this is a part of our history that has been quietly swept under the carpet, and as we note our role in the African slave trade, it is only right that there should be a greater awareness of this practice.
Alex Orr
Edinburgh

IN response to ‘Big fuss over Big Bang: It’s not such a bad idea...’ (Letters, March 10), the character from The Big Bang Theory is a stereotype that a lot of Aspies do not like. Personally, the detectives in The Bridge and Chasing Shadows are much better representations of some of us. I say some of us as Asperger’s Syndrome can present very differently in different people.

It was clear from the article that this was all the “training” that the person had been given, which is appalling. There are many resources available from places such as the National Autistic Society and Autism Initiatives.

I was not diagnosed ‘til I was 25, perhaps if my teachers had had some training it would have been noticed earlier.

The Highland One Stop Shop, run by Autism Initiatives, has been a great help, especially after I was made redundant and applying for ESA as well as moving from DLA to PiP.

It is a vital and unique service for autistic adults and I hope it will be able to continue.

They have this website for donations to help raise funds: www.justgiving.com/Highland-One-Stop-Shop
Elizabeth Fraser
Address supplied

AS one of the many women born in the 1950s, I read The National on Thursday with horror (Women’s pension campaign WASPI marches on Westminster, The National, March 9). To quote the last paragraph: “Discussing the campaign’s objectives, a spokesperson said it is not fighting the change, but the ‘unfair and discriminatory way’ it has been carried through.”

Whoever this mysterious spokesperson was, he/she should be aware that at the very least we want the women’s pension date back to 65 years of age.
MA McGilvray
Ayr