Human Cargo with Matthew Crampton

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We’re delighted to welcome Matthew Crampton for the launch in Scotland of his book HUMAN CARGO: Songs and Stories of Emigration, Slavery and Transportation. An accomplished folk singer and storyteller, Matthew will tell stories and sing some of the traditional songs that appear in the book. The launch takes place here at the Lighthouse on Tuesday 27th June at 7.30pm. Entrance is free!


Human Cargo explores the experiences of people who were trafficked or transported in the 18th and 19th centuries. ‘I’ve found some incredible personal accounts from people actually on board the emigrant boats, convicts ships or slave vessels,’ explains Matthew.

‘Scotland looms large in the book. As you might expect, there are stories about the Clearances and about emigrants forced abroad by famine. But there’s some surprising material too, such as a slave plantation in North Carolina where the slaves spoke Gaelic, or the fact that death rates on emigrant boats were often higher than on slave ships.’

Given Matthew’s work as a folk singer, the book contains 25 traditional songs about human cargo, some very obscure. As he says, ‘Folk songs give voice to ordinary people. They’re anonymous but authentic records of those who don’t get to write history.

Crucially, Human Cargo links these past stories with tales of migrants and slaves today. Modern testimony sits beside the historical accounts. This reinforces Matthew’s work with establishing the Parallel Lives project, which was part of his recent show The Transports, which got a standing ovation at Celtic Connections in January this year.

Come and join us for an evening of story, song, and politics.

Beautiful, powerful, poignant and informative‘ – Ilyaz Hajat, The Refugee Council

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