Snuff Box Belonging to James Fowler
Groam House Museum
This snuff box is beautifully engraved with a message from the grateful East Ross Volunteers. Snuff was a very popular form of powdered tobacco and the snuff box, with its elaborate script, would have made an appropriate gift for its recipient. James Fowler was First Lieutenant of the East Ross Volunteers.
It is a fascinating example of how, taken in isolation, individual primary sources do not give a full picture of a person’s life. James Fowler’s status and wealth were actually derived from vast profits made from his five sugar plantations on Jamaica, all of which were worked by slaves.
Back in the Highlands, this wealth and prestige facilitated Fowler’s leading role in Highland society. As well as captaining the East Ross Volunteers from 1800 until they were disbanded in 1802, he was also elected Provost of Fortrose in 1817 and 1827.
In 1835, Fowler received compensation for the emancipation of over 500 enslaved people. This shows how he continued to profit from his involvement in this very dark episode in history, like many others of his generation.
Memorialising… The Transatlantic Slave Trade