Oronoce

Image from – Historical Papers Relating To The Jacobite Period 1699 – 1750 – Edited by Colonel James Allardyce, LL.D.

The Slave referred to in the above report was called Oronoce, Mr Stewart of Appin was in fact Dougal Stewart of Appin & he was Oronoce’s ‘owner’. Initially, looking at this record I mistakenly thought the arrest had occurred in 1749, however, having returned to the full volume I have realised it had occurred in 1750, this is backed up by an excerpt from a second source, an article written by Angus Stewart for the Scottish Historical Review about Dougal.

It would appear that Dougal disagreed with the Disarming Act and so he dressed his slave in tartan as a way to flout the law and annoy the British occupiers. Sadly this resulted in the arrest of Oronoce and as we can see from the report he was to appear before a Justice the following day.

Text referring to Oronoce from – The Last Chief: Dougal Stewart of Appin (died 1764) – Angus Stewart

Lord Stewart would later write, in an article for the Stewart Magazine (The Stewarts Vol 24 No4 2015 pp360-361), that the note referred to in the footnote above right had been lost.

At the time of writing I have been unable to find out Oronoce’s fate, he disappears from the record at this point. It should be noted that Lord Stewart also mentions that another reference to Oronoce & the note is also cited in JT Dunbar, The Costume of Scotland (London, 1981 p54), where Dunbar states that Oronoce was committed to prison. I have seen a copy of the Dunbar book & had also assumed that this information must have come from the same note as they are very similar while written some 16 years apart. Lord Stewart also mentions in his 2015 article that he recollects that the note mentioned criminal proceedings in an unspecified magistrates court somewhere in Perthshire. It is my intention to try and find more details regarding the criminal proceedings.

Oronoce 2

Some connections have been made between Oronoce and a reported ‘black boy’ owned by Lady Stair. This boy is mentioned in the book Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery, 1756-1838 (Iain Whyte, 2006). In the book he says that Lady Stair was reported in 1744 to have a ‘black boy’. In addition, in her 1995 PhD Thesis AFRICAN/CARIBBEANS IN SCOTLAND. A SOCIO-GEOGRAPHICAL STUDY, June Evans, writes that Lady Stair is documented inĀ Chambers Tradition of Edinburgh as being ‘the first person of her time in Edinburgh to keep a black domestic servant.

None of the above refer to lady Stair’s Slave as Oronoce, however, in an article in The Scotsman in 2006 about the release of his book, the link between Oronoce & Lady Stair appears to be attributed to Iain Whyte.

From the article –

Iain Whyte, author of Scotland and the Abolition of Black Slavery, says: “We can only find records for around 70 slaves in Scotland. But there clearly were slaves in Scotland. A lot were personal servants but there were also tradesmen.

“Occasionally, they pop up in records, such as a black slave called Oronoce, owned by Dowager Countess Stair in the 1740s.”

I’m unsure that these two people are one and the same, more research is required. I am also concerned that on-line searches for the Dowager Lady Stair usually refer to Elizabeth Dundas who was married to the 1st Earl of Stair. The issue here is that she died in 1731 so could not have had a black Slave in the 1740’s. An option here is that the title refers to Lady Eleanor Campbell who married John Dalrymple, the 2nd Earl of Stair, taking the title Countess of Stair in 1714, Lady Eleanor died in 1759.

As far as paying some sort of tribute to Oronoce goes, I intend to make a bronze based on his arrest. I have in mind a soldier of Guise’s Regiment standing over Oronoce as he is put before Captain Patton. This idea may change if/as I find out more about him, if that is possible!