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Slaves, Suffragettes and Fife's fight for freedom

The 'Wemyss Slave' takes centre stage at Fife Archive Centre's drop in Day on October 31.

The theme this year is 'Freedom & Liberty' and Fife Libraries have put together a fascinating display about David Spens, 'the Wemyss Slave'.

Dr David Dalrymple, of Lindifferen in Fife, bought a slave from Ninian Home in Grenada for 30 and named him 'Black Tom'.

He brought his slave with him when he returned to Fife in 1768 and it was said neighbouring colliers contributed to a collection of 16 9s 8d to free Spens.

Other items covered at the open day include the Fife Suffragette movement between 1906 and 1918.

Some of the newspaper headlines from 1913 read: 'Women Suffragettes in East Fife', 'Uproarious Scenes', 'Suffragette Outrage at St Andrews', 'Explosion Caused by Suffragettes' and 'No Vote for Women, Leven'.

From the Police Conviction Book you can read about the crimes and punishment of Margaret Morrison alias Ethel Muirhead, the Suffragette who threw an egg at Sir Winston Churchill at a political meeting in Dundee in 1910. Teamed with her friend Fanny Parker, the pair caused chaos from Cupar to London.

They smashed windows, threw bricks and assaulted prominent people to draw attention to their cause which was for an act to be passed to give 'Women the Vote'.

Morrison broke a case at the Wallace Monument and appeared at Stirling Sheriff court in 1912. Her punishment was 2 or seven days.

Also available will be the papers of the Leslie family of Leslie House, including wage books and other records relating to the management of the family's coal mines at Cadham, Cluny and Strathore between 1680-1750 – the days of colliers being bound to pit owners like slaves.

The drop in day runs from 10am to 5pm and you do not need to make an appointment.

The Archive Centre is in Carleton House in the Haig Business Park, Balgonie Road, Markinch.

 
 
 

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