Aberdeen during the early modem period comprised of two distinct burghs–Old Aberdeen, the original settlement, and New Aberdeen. Old Aberdeen was an important ecclesiastical town andâ€”along with King’s College–an educational center in the medieval and early modem period. Additionally, a Royal Charter of 1179 confirmed the commercial rights of the burgesses of the old town, the social and economic elite of any burgh. A mile or so distant lay another settlement known as Aberdeen. This was the commercial center of north east Scotland, with trading links all around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. New Aberdeen was a Royal Burgh with a major port and, from 1593, Marischal College was an important center of learning. The two Aberdeens functioned separately until they formally merged in 1898. The two colleges–King’s and Marischal–amalgamated in 1860 to form Aberdeen University.
During the 17th and 18th centuries Aberdeen was an important administrative center and market in north east Scotland. Its vessels traded increasingly across the Atlantic to the West Indies and the Thirteen Colonies. Aberdeen was also a major fishing port and participated in whaling around Greenland. Emigration from Aberdeen was mainly to Scandinavia, Poland, and the Netherlands and latterly to the Americas as is shown in this source book.
The People of Aberdeen concentrates on the period 1600 to 1800 when Aberdeen was one of the main cities in Scotland. By the middle of the 17th century it had a population around 5,000; however, by the close of the 18th century it had nearly tripled, to 17,500. Dr. David Dobson, the compiler of this collection of Aberdeen’s inhabitants during the era of New World emigration has consulted a range of documentary sources, including testaments, deeds, sassines [property], marriage contracts, bonds, court records, and others, all of which provide a useful insight into the lives of the people of the period. Dr. Dobson identifies each of the nearly 2,000 inhabitants of Aberdeen by name, occupation, a date, and the source. In many instances he also provides additional facts, such as the name(s) of family members, if/when traveled to the Americas, contestants in civil suits, and so on.
NOTE: The People of Aberdeen, 1600-1799 should be used in conjunction with Frances McDonnell’s Roll of Apprentices, Burgh of Aberdeen, 1622-1796 and her Register of Testaments, Aberdeen, 1715-1800, both published by the Clearfield Company.