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Rozelle House and estate, Ayr

Ayr merchant Hugh Hamilton of Clongall traded to Virginia and the West Indies during the late seventeenth century. His son Robert went out to Jamaica in 1734, and within a year he had acquired co-ownership of the large sugar plantations of Rozelle and Pemberton Valley by marrying the widow who possessed them.

In 1744 Robert returned to Scotland with his family, taking up residence at Bourtreehill near Irvine, which he eventually bought. He continued to run the Jamaica sugar operations through overseers on the island. When Ayr Town Council sold the lands which made up the Barony of Alloway in 1754, Robert Hamilton purchased a large part of it to form a new estate which he named Rozelle. He had Rozelle House built there in 1760. Robert died in 1773, at which time the Rozelle plantation on Jamaica (which he had sold in 1763) had 185 slaves. Another 40 had been added by 1780. His Hamilton relatives continued to be involved in sugar production on Jamaica until the emancipation of slaves in the British West Indies in 1834 - at that time the Pemberton Valley plantation had 305 slaves.

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