The Merchants House of Glasgow-Recognising our Historic Links to Slavery 

The Directors of the Merchants House of Glasgow acknowledge that Glasgow’s, and our own, history (particularly in the 18th century and the early part of the 19th century) has connections with slavery. In particular, a number of those holding the office of Lord Dean or who left funds to the House for our charitable purposes profited from slavery. We also acknowledge that we cannot change the past, but we can - and will - positively influence the future.

We are a charity focusing on tackling inequality and promoting equal opportunities for all by making regular payments to people in financial difficulty and by supporting a range of charities, many of which aim to alleviate poverty and injustice. One recent and significant example of this is our partnership with Social Bite, through which the House committed £200,000 over two years towards the provision of services aimed at the employability of former rough sleepers in Glasgow who become tenants under the Housing First initiative.

Another sector in which we make a significant impact is education and we believe we are uniquely placed to contribute to the telling of the story of Glasgow’s connections with slavery. To that end, currently we are engaged in the production of a pop-up exhibition which will tell the history of Glasgow, with a particular focus on the issue of slavery. We will curate that exhibition in the Merchants House itself and it will also be available for use in Glasgow schools and Merchants House representatives will be available to give an associated educational talk at schools.

Recognising our historic links to slavery:

- we will rename one of our principal meeting rooms to recognise our links to slavery
- We will sponsor Glasgow University’s James McCune Smith lecture series. named after the first African American to be awarded a medical degree, receiving an MD from the University of Glasgow in 1837. Recent lectures have focused on the issue of slavery.
- we are producing a plaque that will recognise that some of our members and donors benefited from slavery and commemorate those who suffered enslavement; and
- during Black History Month, we will make the Merchants Hall available for lectures/educational seminars on slavery.