Robert Graham Scotland Jamaica

Biography of Robert Graham

Robert Graham of Gartmore
Robert Graham of Gartmore

Robert Graham, of Gartmore (1735-1797), who took the surname Bontine in 1770 and Cunninghame Graham in 1796, was a University alumnus who became a slave-owner, colonial administrator, and politician.

Born in Gartmore in Stirlingshire, Graham matriculated to study at the University in 1749. In 1753 he went to Jamaica as a planter and subsequently held office there as Receiver-General. On the island, Graham became the owner of Roaring Hill and Lucky Hill, sugar estates in Jamaica worked by resident enslaved people. Robert Cunningham Graham’s inventory in 1784 (after he returned to Scotland) listed fifty-one enslaved people described as ‘my property’ on Lucky Hill who were valued at £3,604.

On his return to Scotland c.1770, he entered a career in politics as an advocate of reform serving as the Whig MP for Stirlingshire, 1794-1796. He was Rector of the University of Glasgow between 1785 to 1787, throughout which time he was an absentee owner of an estate with resident enslaved people. In 1788, Graham donated £100 to establish the Gartmore Gold Medal at the University of Glasgow, awarded bi-annually to students working on ‘Political liberty’. Robert Graham was named in the report ‘Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow’ (2018).


Other Online Resources

Archival Materials

  • W Innes Addison, The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow from 1728 to 1858 (Glasgow, 1913)


Robert Graham
Planter and Poet

Born 1735.
Died 11 December 1797.
GU Degree:
University Link: Alumnus, Rector
Occupation categories: merchants; plantation owners; poets; politicians
NNAF Reference: GB/NNAF/P166310
View Major Archive Collection Record
Search for this person in the DNB
English snippet: Colonial administrator, politician and poet
Record last updated: 1st Jul 2019

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland, Stirlingshire, Gartmore
Place of Birth

Scotland Scotland, No Region
Place of Death

Jamaica Jamaica, No Region

University Connections

University Roles