Kimberly Sherman on ‘A Family Affair: Kinship Networks and Scottish Emigration in Colonial North Carolina’

Thank you very much to Kimberly Sherman who came down from St Andrews to regale us with tales of the Cathcart family. Kimberly, a first year doctoral student, spoke about transatlantic kinship and networks of obligation between North Carolina and Lowland Scotland between 1735 and 1775. She began with a fascinating overview of the historiography of transatlantic family ties, and followed this with a case study of Scottish emigrant, William Cathcart and his family, both in Scotland and in North Carolina.


Samuel Johnston – William Cathcart’s son-in-law and future Governor of North Carolina

Kimberly used the Cathcart family and circle of friends to illustrate how Scottish emigrants became intertwined in networks of marriage, patronage, and obligation. These networks allowed for social advancement within North Carolina, but also provided financial and emotional support to and from Scotland. These links were cemented by the tradition of sending sons back to Scotland to receive further education in the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Q&A session explored ideas of Scottish identity, family/individual agency in determining push and pull factors of emigration, and interactions between Lowland and Highland Scots abroad.¬†Comparisons between the situation in North Carolina and other destinations for Scottish emigration were made, and I believe everyone attended really enjoyed Kimberly’s paper. Thank you again.

The final paper of this semester’s series will be on 31st March when Jerome Devitt from Trinity College Dublin will be speaking. Jerome will be speaking on the especially exciting subject, ‘Fenian Footprint: Revolutionary Irish Nationalism and Victorian Bermuda’. As always, this paper will be on Tuesday between 1 and 2pm, and will be held in Room G16 of the William Robertson Wing, University of Edinburgh. All are welcome.


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