College of Arts and Science - where great minds meet

Gordon DesBrisay

Gordon DesBrisay

B.A., Ph.D

Vice-Dean, Academic, Associate Professor of History

Office: Arts 230
Phone: 2644


My duties as Associate Dean limit my own opportunities to teach, but I am engaged in curricular reform processes in the college, in overseeing the Arts & Science learning community initiatives, the Transition Program, and the interdisciplinary course INTS 100.3, “Learning to Learn: Strategies for Academic Success”. I also have responsibility for academic advising in the college.

Graduate Supervision:

I have supervised theses in various areas of early modern English and Scottish history. 


"Aberdeen and the Dutch Atlantic: Women and Woollens in the Seventeenth-Century." In Women in Port: Gendering Communities, Economies, and Social Networks in Atlantic Port Cities, 1500-1800, edited by Doug Catteral and Jodi Campbell,69-102. Leiden: Brill, 2012.

"Crediting Wives: Married Women and Debt Litigation in the Seventeenth Century." In Finding the Family in Medieval and Early Modern Scotland, edited by Elizabeth Ewan and Janay Barbara Nugent, 85-98. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. (With Karen Sander Thompson)

"Lilias Skene: A Quaker Poet and Her 'Cursed Self'." In Woman and the Feminine in Medieval and Early Modern Scottish Writing, edited by Sarah Dunnigan, Evelyn S. Newlyn and C. Marie Harker, 162-77. (Palgrave, 2004).

"Robert Barclay of Urie”, "Alexander Skene of Newtyle", "Lilias Skene". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford University Press: 2004)

"'The Civill Wars Did Overrun All': Aberdeen, 1630-1690." In Aberdeen Before 1800: A New History, edited by Michael Lynch, E. Patricia Dennison and David Ditchburn. (Tuckwell Press, 2002) 238-266.

"Health in the Two Towns", in Aberdeen Before 1800: A New History. 70-96. (With E.P. Dennison & H.L. Diack)

"The Faith of the People", in Aberdeen Before 1800: A New History. 289-308. (With Michael Lynch & Murray Pittock).

"Life in the Two Towns", in Aberdeen Before 1800: A New History. 44-69. (With Elizabeth Ewan).

"Twisted By Definition: Women Under Godly Discipline in Seventeenth-Century Scottish Towns", in Twisted Sisters: Women, Crime and Deviance in Scotland Since 1400, Yvonne Brown and Rona Ferguson, eds. (Tuckwell Press, 2002) 137-155.

"Wet Nurses and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth-Century Aberdeen," in Elizabeth Ewan and Maureen Meikle (eds.), Women in Scotland c.1100-c.1750. (Edinburgh, 1999) 210-221.

"City Limits: Female Philanthropists and Wet Nurses in Seventeenth-Century Scottish Towns," Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, New Series 8 (1998): 39-60.

"Catholics, Quakers, and Religious Persecution in Restoration Aberdeen." The Innes Review, 47 (1996): 136-168.

"Quakers and the University: The Aberdeen Debate of 1675." History of Universities 13 (1994): 87-98.

"`Menacing Their Persons and Exacting on Their Purses': The Aberdeen Justice Court, 1657-1700" in From Lairds to Louns: Country and Burgh Life in Aberdeen, 1600-1800, David Stevenson, ed. (Aberdeen University Press, 1986).


Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Scottish urban, social, and women’s history, with a particular focus on the city of Aberdeen. My most recent projects approach these issues through investigations of poor relief, religious persecution and toleration (especially but not only with regard to Quakers), the credit and debt nexus (especially with regard to women), and connections to the Atlantic World of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.