In the eighteenth century it was very fashionable among leading Scottish families to employ black servants. West Coast merchants importing slave-produced tobacco from North America and the West Indies made easy contact with black servants and some were brought to Ayrshire.
As early as 1702 Captain Douglas of Mains, Dumbartonshire, brought a young boy from Guinea on the West Coast of Africa, to Scotland. He named the boy Scipio. The Captain’s daughter married John Kennedy of Culzean in 1705, at which point Scipio joined the family and was given the surname Kennedy. After 20 years with the family he signed a new contract to continue with them for a further 19 years.
Culzean from Armstrong's map of Ayrshire, 1775
A contract held at the National Archives of Scotland, dates from 1725 and grants Scipio the right to look elsewhere for employment. In the document, signed by John Kennedy and Scipio, the African agrees to remain in Kennedy's employment for a further 19 years unless any better offer comes up and on the condition that he continues to receive 'the sum of twelve pounds Scots money yearly besides my share of the drink money'.