New Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has been asked to order the return of a £1.7 million north-east education fund to Jamaica after the money was linked to profits from the slave trade.
Two historians who researched the origins of the Dick Bequest have written to the Dunfermline MSP after she was named as John Swinney’s successor as education secretary last week.
David Alston and Donald Morrison believe that one of Ms Somerville’s first acts in her new job should be to send the remaining money in the fund back to Jamaica.
The 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.
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”.
This is money which was made in Jamaica and directly derived from trade in enslaved Africans.”
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.”
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.