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Peter Williamson
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Peter Williamson

Historic Documents
David Oswald
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Peter Williamson
Historic Documents
Peter Williamson
A broadside from 1758 presenting the case of Peter Williamson (1730-1799), who, in his pamphlet French and Indian Cruelty Exemplified in the Life and Various Vicissitudes of Peter Williamson, denounced the merchants of Aberdeen for having been involved in the kidnapping of children to be sold as slaves in America.

Williamson claimed to be one of those children who suffered this terrible fate. Though to this date there is no historical documents to definitively confirm Williamson's account.

On his return to Aberdeen, the town's magistrates accused Williamson of calumny, imprisoned him, and forced him into an admission of guilt. They also publicly burned the offending pages of his pamphlet in the Town Square and banished him from Aberdeen on the 23rd June 1758.

Only ten days later, on the 3rd of July 1758, this broadside shows that Williamson had found witnesses to prove he was born in Aberdeenshire from honest parents and that he had told the truth in his book about his experiences.

The lower half of this broadside is the statement from Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, an Aberdeen County Justice of the Peace, that indicates that he had been presented with evidence of Williamson's claims and that he believed them to be true.

Wrongfully persecuted, Williamson was ready to prosecute the merchants of Aberdeen for the "illegal behaviour" they had inflicted on him. Williamson eventually won his his lawsuit in 1762.

The broadside both makes the case for Williamson in his dispute with the Aberdeen magistrates and serves as an advertisement for his book.

Aberdeen City Libraries hold a number of books about the life and work of Peter Williamson and he has an entry on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by P. J. Anderson, revised by A. W. Parker (available online with an active library membership).
Aberdeen Local Studies
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