The Scottish Government is “actively exploring” the future of a north-east education fund after its historic links to the slave trade were exposed.
A spokesman for the Holyrood government said it was considering a letter from two historians who want to send the £1.7 million Dick Bequest back to Jamaica.
David Alston and Donald Morrison wrote to the new Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville to ask her to order the repatriation of the cash, which has been used to help train teachers and buy school equipment in Aberdeenshire and Moray for almost two centuries.
Their proposal has already been backed by Verene Shepherd, a renowned Jamaican historian and director of the Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We recognise Scotland’s part in historic injustices like the transatlantic slave trade and colonial rule.
“We are determined to acknowledge and learn from our past and the role Scotland played.
“We must also focus on making sure we deliver positive outcomes for the minority ethnic people of Scotland now.
“We are actively exploring the issues raised in the letter to the Cabinet secretary for education and skills and will respond in due course.”
We are actively exploring the issues raised in the letter to the Cabinet secretary for education and skills and will respond in due course.”
The bequest was established following the death in 1828 of Forres-born merchant James Dick, who left almost £120,000 for educational development in Aberdeenshire, Banff and Moray.
Mr Alston highlighted that £120,000 in 1828 was considerably larger than the £100,000 left by Cecil Rhodes to Oriel College in 1902.
The Dick Bequest continues to distribute grants to help teachers in Aberdeenshire and Moray develop their skills through travel or study, and also supports the purchase of school equipment.
Mr Dick had a business partnership with Robert Milligan, whose statue was removed last year by the Museum of London from its plinth in London’s Docklands, amid a wave of anger across the country about the UK’s enduring links to slavery.
The Dick Bequest Trust is run by 10 governors, of which five are elected by the Society of Writers to the Signet, two by the senate of Aberdeen University, and three by Aberdeenshire and Moray councils.
They say they have no discretion to change the use of the fund because its “purposes and procedures” are “directed by central government”.
In their letter to Ms Somerville, the historians said: “We write to draw your attention to the duty of the new Scottish Parliament and government to ﬁnd a means of returning to communities in Jamaica the funds held by the Scottish charity the Dick Bequest Trust.
“This is money which was made in Jamaica and directly derived from trade in enslaved Africans.
“These funds which currently amount to c. £1.7m, could in future provide signiﬁcant educational beneﬁt for children there.”