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18 June 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
Aberdeen's Baltic Adventure

Estimates differ about the total itinerant population of Scots at any time, but it is widely thought that around 30,000 Scots emigrated to the Baltic area, with at least 5,000 natives of Aberdeen worked in Poland, trading as street peddlers, or more commonly importing skills in craft and building from their homeland. However on the whole, Aberdonians were less well known for integrating into local society, and fared better as resident traders, forging links with their home town which would bear fruit later.

Many Aberdonians established themselves as pre-eminent traders in Polish and Prussian supplies of grain and timber.
Craigievar Castle
© SCRAN
North-eastern entrepreneurs spotted the future booming market for these goods in Scotland, and handsomely enriched themselves in the process, like William Forbes, known as "Danzig Willie", who built Craigievar Castle.

Noblemen such as Robert Gordon (1688-1731) made fortunes from over 40 years of trading out of Danzig, but never forgot their roots. Gordon famously proffered loans to Aberdonian businessmen who required large outlays of working capital, usually at very favourable rates. Gordon also devoted his latter life to establishing an eponymous hospital, granting £10,000 of his own money towards the project. The hospital eventually graduated to being a technical college in 1881, bearing its founder's name to this day as the Robert Gordon University.


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