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Alexander McPherson fonds
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- Textual record
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- Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of fonds.
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Dates of creation area
- Alexander McPherson
Physical description area
2.5 cm of textual records
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Alexander McPherson was born to William, a carpenter, and Janet (nee Fraser) at Tain, Ross Shire in Scotland on November 25, 1803. By April 1825, McPherson left Scotland by way of an indenture for British Guiana where he was manager of Planation Nos. 17 & 18 in Berbice. The cotton planation was owned by James Blair, a slave owner and Minister of British Parliament from 1818 to 1830 and 1837 to 1841. Plantations 17 & 18 included 350 slaves and covered an area of 2000 acres. McPherson also served as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Berbice Militia.
Following the abolition of slavery in 1833, McPherson made plans to leave British Guiana. He appears in the British Parliamentary Papers as a claimant receiving £63 for owning one slave at the time of abolition. McPherson arrived in Canada sometime in early 1835 and settled at Whitby, Canada West by 1837 when he was appointed Post Master.
McPherson married Fanny Moore at Whitby in November 1837 and together they had eight children. While in Whitby, McPherson was made Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Battalion of the Ontario Militia and served as Councillor for the North Ward in 1858/59. He held the position of Post Master until his death in 1861. He is buried in Union Cemetery, Oshawa.
The fonds was sold, letter by letter, to the Archives at Whitby Public Library over a period of several years by a relative of Alexander McPherson.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of 12 letters written by Alexander McPherson to members of his family, including his mother and his brother-in-law. The majority of the letters were written while he held the position of Manager at Plantation Nos. 17 & 18 in Berbice, British Guiana and the remainder represent the period following when he settled at Whitby.
Most letters appear to be in good condition and are legible. Some letters are torn/ripped and so legibility is decreased.
Immediate source of acquisition
Record are arranged in chronological order.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Archives Reading Room
Availability of other formats
All letters have been transcribed. Five letters have been digitized.
Restrictions on access
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Digitized letters available here: https://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/3738963/data?grd=8101
Profile Summary from Centre for the Study of the Legacy of British Slavery available here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/8532
No further accruals expected.
Content warning: Racism, Slavery, and Colonialism
The Alexander McPherson letters contain discussion of slavery and managing a plantation and may contain violent descriptions. Some of this information may be difficult to absorb. These ideologies are not condoned by Archives at Whitby Public Library, but the Archives has preserved such records in the hopes that, by encountering them, people will begin to think critically about and challenge historical and current racism.
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Name access points
- Alexander McPherson (Subject)
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