Rosanna [no surname given]

No Dates


Mother of Robert Wedderburn (q.v.). Had been owned by James Wedderburn Colvile in the early 1760s but was sold by him, whilst pregnant with his child, to Lady Douglas, sometime in 1762. Robert Wedderburn gives a graphic account of how James Wedderburn Colvile 'entrapped my poor mother in his power':

'My mother was a lady's maid, and had received an education which perfectly qualified her to conduct a household in the most agreeable manner. She was the property of Lady Douglas, whom I have before mentioned; and, prior to the time she met my father, was chaste and virtuous. After my father had got his estate, he did not renounce the pestle and mortar, but, in the capacity of Doctor, he visited Lady Douglas. He there met my mother for the first time, and was determined to have possession of her. His character was known; and therefore he was obliged to go covertly and falsely to work. In Jamaica, slaves that are esteemed by their owners have generally the power of refusal, whether they will be sold to a particular planter, or not; and my father was aware, that if he offered to purchase her, he would meet with a refusal. But his brutal lust was not to be stopped by trifles; my father's conscience would stretch to any extent; and he was a firm believer in the doctrine of 'grace abounding to the chief of sinners.' For this purpose, he employed a fellow of the name of Cruikshank, a brother doctor and Scotchman, to strike a bargain with Lady Douglas for my mother; and this scoundrel of a Scotchman bought my mother for the use of my father, in the name of another planter, a most respectable and highly esteemed man. I have often heard my mother express her indignation at this base and treacherous conduct of my father--a treachery the more base, as it was so calm and premeditated.

From the time my mother became the property of my father, she assumed the direction and management of his house; for which no woman was better qualified. But her station there was very disgusting. My father's house was full of female slaves, all objects of his lusts; amongst whom he strutted like Solomon in his grand seraglio, or like a bantam cock upon his own dunghill. My good father's slaves did increase and multiply, like Jacob's kine; and he cultivated those talents well which God had granted so amply. My poor mother, from being the housekeeper, was the object of their envy, which was increased by her superiority of education over the common herd of female slaves. While in this situation, she bore my father two children, one of whom, my brother James, a millwright, I believe, is now living in Jamaica, upon the estate.'


Malcolm Chase, 'Wedderburn, Robert (1762–1835/6?), radical', [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn.]

Robert Wedderburn, The Horrors of Slavery (London, 1824), pp. 45-47.

Relationships (2)

Extra-marital relationships
Mother → Natural Son