The 1770s were a turbulent time for the British Empire. Not only were the North American colonies edging towards revolution, but hostilities in Scotland turned neighbors into enemies when it came to serving the crown. Disputes over land and controlling power over the wealth of the countryside left many a manor on guard. The House of Gour in David B. Weems’ new historical novel is an example of how the dangers of that time affected one Scottish family.
In a plot to oust the earl, conspirators abduct his son and frame him for a crime punishable by deportation. Young James Gour is sold to a captain heading to the New World. He is forced to take the name John Scott and is sold as an indentured servant to a North Carolina planter.
Once in the New World, he experiences the grueling labor and vicious brutality of life as a servant. Allied with his faith in his heritage and his hope to one day return to his homeland of Scotland, the son of an earl earns the respect of another land owner who eventually helps him attain his freedom. However, the revolutionary stirrings of his friends and the love a young servant girl force him to make a choice between the monetary wealth of his Scottish birth and the spiritual wealth he finds in the New World.
Directed toward middle readers, this novel introduces them to a piece of American history that few texts approach-the role of the southern colonies in the American Revolution. It also serves as a lesson in the social and political undercurrents in Great Britain and Scotland in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Accurate in its telling of historical events, Son of an Earl . . . Sold For a Slave will inspire young readers to seek out more information on this subject.