Tag Archives: Robert Cooper Lee

A Parcel of Ribbons now on Kindle

Parcel of Ribbons Front Cover V3 resized 300

The book A Parcel of Ribbons is now available on Amazon Kindle

 

You can of course still buy the paperback from Amazon or Lulu.com and other outlets which has the advantage of being a physical book and of having the index. Kindle format still does not support indexing although it does include the illustrations. The footnotes from the paperback are converted into endnotes for Kindle and I have made some minor corrections, mainly of typos. Some of these arose because I transcribed many of the letters using Dragon Naturally Speaking software, which is extremely impressive (no I don’t have shares!) but occasionally produces some oddities, a few of which I missed when proof reading.

One piece of information not in my possession when I wrote the book was that Robert Lee junior did not die at Lisbon as much later members of the Bevan family believed but in fact, like two of his brothers before him, shot himself. It is no wonder that Favell Bourke Lee, by then Mrs David Bevan, sought consolation in evangelical religion. For three out of six siblings to die by their own hand was a terrible burden for the family to have to bear.

Despite this shadow that fell over the family in the nineteenth century, their eighteenth century letters remain full of life, hope and insight into the interactions between Britain and Jamaica and the lives led in London by returning colonists.

Some things in life are free

dau of John Lee 1749

Example from the register of St Catherine’s parish taken from FamilySearch.org, showing the baptism of a daughter to John Lee (brother of Robert Cooper Lee) and Mary Lord. It also shows the baptism of a legitimate child, the ‘bastard’ son of Robert Taylor, records the ‘mulatto’ status of the Clifford children and shows two adult baptisms.

One of the wonderful things about genealogical research is the willingness of so many people to share what they know, to help you find records you are looking for, and to make information available to everyone without charge. There are volunteers working all over the world to read and transcribe vital records, and other material, and to put it on-line.

Assuming you have access to a computer (or you would not be reading this!) you have a vast volume of information to draw on that could not have been imagined by our predecessors who had to work by visiting their local parish church, writing to the vicar of a parish they thought their ancestor might have come from, or requesting documents from their local county record office in the hope that they would find something useful. All these avenues are still available, and are often very useful, but working from home, or in your local library (which may also have a subscription to some of the paid genealogy sites such as Ancestry) there are many records available to you for free.

The first site I ever used, and one of the very first to put records onto the internet, was familysearch.org . To quote from them directly:

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years.

The site has recently had a makeover and increasingly hosts a much wider variety of records than the baptisms and marriages of the original IGI (International Genealogical Index). In addition to transcribed indexes they now also include images from parish registers, and burials and census records are gradually being added. For Jamaica’s early parish registers, baptisms are now indexed but for the present to access older marriages and burials you must still use the images of the original handwritten indexes and then find the corresponding register page.

Transcribing Jamaican records presents particular problems, not just of difficult handwriting, but because of the complex state of relationships and colour status so it is always worth trying different combinations of parent names and different spellings. Apart from those who had no choice in coming to Jamaica from Africa, there were many arrivals from other parts of the world and as IGI widens its geographic spread you may now be able to find your ancestors who came from places other than Great Britain. You may also find ancestors who left Jamaica for the USA, Canada and other countries.

Recently completed indexing projects that will shortly be available on line include the following:

  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Bergamo—Nati, 1875-1894 [Part 2C]
  • U.S.—1900 Census
  • Magyarország, Szabolcs—polgári anyakönyvi adatok, 1895–1978 [3. Rész]
  • U.S. (Community Project), New York—New York Passenger Lists, 1942–1957 [Part J]
  • Belgium, Limburg, Lommel—Civil Registration, 1891–1910 [Part 2]
  • U.S. (Community Project), New York, New York—Passenger Lists, 1942–1957 [Part F]
  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Cremona—Nati, 1875–1902 [Part 2B]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Illinois—Northern District Naturalization Index, 1926–1979 [Part D]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Illinois—Northern District Naturalization Index, 1926–1979 [Part C]
  • U.S., Virginia, Richmond—Birth Index, 1870–1912
  • U.S., Florida—County Marriages, 1830–1957 [Part D]
  • U.S., Massachusetts, Plymouth County–Probate Index, 1881–1939
  • Sverige, Stockholm stad—Register til kyrkoböcker, 1546–1927
  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Udine—Nati, 1875–1901 [Parte 2B]
  • Russland, Sankt Petersburg—Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1833–1885 [Teil A]
  • U.S., Georgia—Deaths, 1931–1940 [Part A]
  • Canada, New Brunswick—Provincial Marriages, 1789–1950 [Part A]
  • U.S., Georgia—Deaths, 1931–1940 [Part B]
  • Brasil, Rio de Janeiro—Cartões de Imigração, 1900–1965 [Parte 3DD]
  • Jamaica—Civil Marriages and Deaths, 1871–1995 [Part B]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Illinois—Northern District Naturalization Index, 1926–1979 [Part A]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Rhode Island—Naturalization Index of the District Courts, 1906–1991
  • U.S., Tennessee—Deaths, 1956–1961
  • U.S., California—County Marriages 1850–1952 [Part D]
  • El Salvador—Registros Civiles 1836–1910 [Part B]
  • U.S., Kentucky—Death Certificates, 1956–1961
  • Brasil, Rio de Janeiro—Cartões de Imigração, 1900–1965 [Parte 3EE]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Connecticut—Naturalization Indexes from the District Court, 1851–1992
  • U.S. (Community Project), New York—Passenger Lists, 1942–1957 [Part K]
  • U.S.—Applications for Headstones for Veterans, 1941–1949
  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Bergamo—Nati, 1875-1894 [Part 2B]
  • México, Coahuila, Matamoros y Torreón registros Iglesia Católica, 1870-1966
  • Deutschland, Mecklenburg-Schwerin—1867 Volkszählung [Teil C]
  • U.S., Alabama—County Marriages, 1809–1950 [Part D]
  • Nederland, Zuid-Holland, Leiden—Burgelijke Stand, Geboorten, 1870–1882
  • U.S., Arkansas—WWII , First Draft Registration Cards, 1940–1945 [Part C]
  • Danmark—Borgerlige Ægteskabsbøger, 1923–1961

Good hunting!

The 4th of July – not the end of the story

320px-PreliminaryTreatyOfParisPainting

Signing the Preliminary Treaty of Peace at Paris, November 30, 1782.*

 

 

Following the 4th of July celebrations of America’s Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776, I thought it interesting to quote from a letter which demonstrates that this was, to slightly mis-quote Churchill, not the end, or even the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Six years later, on the 6th of December 1782 Robert Cooper Lee wrote to his second son Richard who had been sent first to Brussels, and then to Hanover, to learn how to be a merchant.

Robert Cooper Lee to Richard Lee

Bedford Square, 6th December 1782

My dear Richard,

One of the most important Events in the Annals of Great Britain has taken place.  The Independency of the United States of America.  On the 30th of November Provisionary Articles were signed at Paris by his Majesty’s Commissioners and the Commissioners of America, to constitute a Treaty of Peace, when the Peace shall be agreed upon between Great Britain and France.  This previous Step, the signing of Articles with America being an Acknowledgement of her Independence, has removed the principal Obstacle to a general Accommodation.  The Parliament met yesterday, and was opened by one of the longest Speeches from the Throne that has been made for many Years; it contains great Variety of Matter and expressly declares the Dismemberment of the Empire by the Seperation of America.  The Address in the House of Commons was moved by Mr Yorke and seconded by Mr Banks.  There was no Amendment moved.  Mr Fox Lord North and Mr Pitt spoke, but there being no Opposition to the Address it is called a Conversation, and not a Debate.  All Parties seemed agreed on the Necessity of assenting under the present Circumstances, to American Independence.  And equally agreed with respect to France and Spain to accept of nothing short of honourable Terms of Peace.  How that can be reconciled to the Idea of giving up Gibraltar I cannot see, yet that is confidentially talked of, and that the Spaniards are to give us the Island of Porto Rico in the West Indies in Exchange.  Our captured Islands to be restored to us, and St Lucia to the French.  In the East Indies the French demand to be put in the same Situation they were in prior to the last War, but that cannot be agreed to on our part.  The prevailing Opinion here is that a general Peace will take place.  Our political Barometer the Stocks have risen five or six per cent.  I would send you Woodfull’s Paper with the King’s Speech and the Debates on it, but I conclude you will easily get a Sight of them.

A Frigate the Resource from Jamaica arrived a few days ago; she left Jamaica the 14th of October, and brings to Government Intelligence that the French and Spaniards were preparing to make another attempt on that Island. Don Solana with the Spanish Ships was about proceeding to the Cape, where the land Forces intended for the last Expedition had continued; they expected to meet the Reinforcement of Ships and Troops from France that sailed in September, when Lord Howe sailed, and to make a force of 25,000 Men and 25 Ships of the Line.  Admiral Piggott from America would be soon after them, and Admiral Hughes with the Ships detached from Lord Howe’s Fleet shortly afterwards.  I therefore trust Jamaica will escape this Danger.  Have you seen Sir Edward Hughes’s Accounts in the Gazette of our Engagements with the French Fleets in the East Indies?

These ‘Provisionary Articles’ were finally ratified by the US Congress on the 14th of January 1784.

For a family whose income depended on the free movement of trade, any war caused difficulties at best and disaster at worst, Robert Cooper Lee’s comment about the improved price of ‘Stocks’ shows that the reaction to the prospect of peace was very favourable. And as can be seen from the second paragraph of the letter the threat to Jamaica had been very real. For an island only just recovering from the disastrous hurricane of 1780, and the several more that followed in that decade, the arrival of peace was more than welcome.

You can read all the Lee family letters in the book A Parcel of Ribbons.

Picture source: U.S. Diplomacy Center (State Department) exhibition via Wikipedia, a 1902 print from an earlier painting, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin standing on the left.

A Missing Miniature – Robert Cooper Lee

Robert Cooper Lee Miniature resized 350

I had always wondered if somewhere there existed an image of Robert Cooper Lee. When he returned to England in 1771 he joined the upper echelons of society, people who often commissioned portraits of themselves either to grace the walls of their homes or to present to friends or family. Indeed we know that he had commissioned Francis Cotes to paint a portrait of his daughter Frances in 1769 when she was at school in England and the family were in Jamaica. Given the high rates of child mortality this might have been their last view of their daughter. Happily she survived as did her portrait, which is in the Milwaukee Art Museum and now graces the cover of  A Parcel of Ribbons.

This black and white image of Robert Cooper Lee is a copy taken from a Christies’ Sale catalogue in 1979 when this miniature was sold. The person who found it is currently trying to establish whether a better image exists, and even whether the purchaser can be discovered so that the original can be photographed in colour in its original gold frame.

Judging by the costume it was painted some time in the 1780s. Robert Cooper Lee died in 1794 aged fifty-nine. You might notice that he is not smiling. There is a whole history of picture making that relates to the smile – it is only in recent times, with the benefits of modern dentistry, that people smile for their pictures. Before then they did not wish to expose their bad teeth to view! Given that Robert Cooper Lee had spent two decades in the sugar producing colony of Jamaica, had probably chewed on raw cane and certainly used sugar in both food and drink, the chances are that by his fifties his teeth were not good.

Another interesting aspect of the portrait is comparing it with his daughter Frances. It is impossible to know about colouring, since he wears a wig and we cannot judge the colour of his eyes, but the angle of the face is similar to that in his daughter’s lovely portrait and I don’t think it is fanciful to say that she looked very like her father.

It has been a good week for my Parcel of Ribbons as I’m delighted to say it received a very good review in the June issue of Family Tree Magazine, which called it ‘family history gold dust’ ! There was also a lovely write-up on the Good Reads website.

If you know of the current whereabouts of the Robert Cooper Lee miniature do please get in touch!

 

Augier or Hosier – name transformations

 

 

When I was transcribing the 1754 census of Spanish Town I came across three people listed as “free Mulattoes or Descendants from them admitted to the privileges of white people by Acts of the Legislature”.  Two of them I knew already – Mary Johnston Rose and her son Thomas Wynter who each lived in the house that they owned. Then there was Susanna Hosier who was recorded as a sugar planter and who owned a house worth £60 that was un-tenanted.  I was surprised that I did not know who she was and could not find any reference to her, since as a mixed race woman she seemed to be unusually wealthy.

Sometime later I was working on the family of Susanna Augier and realised that the name was sometimes written as Augier and sometimes as Hosier.  Once you pronounce Augier as ‘O-gee-er’ with a soft G you realise how it could come to be written as Hosier.  It was also occasionally mis-transcribed as Augire, Angier and Augine.   I often use dictation software when transcribing Wills and writing these blog pieces, and the software delivers ‘osier’ for ‘Augier’ !  It is the kind of name transformation that makes the work of the genealogist both frustrating and fascinating.

Having resolved the name puzzle I was able to build the story of Susanna Augier and her extended family.  She was a quite exceptional woman and well known to the Jamaican Plantocracy. Her case was used to support the argument in the construction of the 1761 act preventing “Devizes to Negroes”, limiting the inheritance of black, mixed race, and illegitimate Jamaicans to £2000. The size of her inheritance seems to have been exceptional, but it provided useful ammunition for those wanting to restrict the size of legacies.

Susanna was the daughter of John Augier, a planter who died in 1722.  He seems to have had little connection to his origins and a fondness and care for his Jamaican family.  Under his Will he freed his daughters Susanna, Mary, Jenny, Frances and Jane.  Subsequent references to his family show that there was a further daughter called Elizabeth and a son called Jacob, and probably a daughter Sarah who died young.  Susanna, who was probably born about 1707, seems to have been particularly favoured and in due course became the mother of four children with a planter called Peter Caillard or Calliard.  Mary, Peter, Frances and Susanna Caillard were born between 1725 and 1728. [But see Postscript below].

Peter Caillard died about 1728 leaving Susanna hugely wealthy. In addition to her inheritance from her father she now had a life interest in several properties in Kingston and Spanish Town and an estate including a Penn in St Catherine and a Mountain at Way Water, all valued for probate at £26,150 8s 1d, and entailed for her children Mary and Peter.  By 1753 Susanna owned 950 acres of mainly good land in the parish of St Andrew (including 40 acres under coffee, 100 acres of provision ground and 800 acres of woodland) with eighty negroes, one white servant and forty-two head of cattle. Like many other free mixed race Jamaicans Susanna owned slaves – for example John Augier ‘a negro man belonging to Susanna Augier’ was baptised in Kingston on the 4th of March 1740. Few women in eighteenth century Jamaica owned estates (most who did were planters widows), fewer still managed them themselves as Susanna appears to have done.

Peter and Susanna Caillard both died young, but in 1738 Susanna applied for the rights of whites for herself and her children Mary and Frances Caillard. A Private Act of the Jamaica Assembly dated 19th of July 1738 granted them the legal status of whites.

Mary Caillard travelled to England, perhaps to meet her father’s family in Bristol, and on the 19th of April 1748 at Henbury, Gloucestershire she married Gilbert Ford who would in due course become Jamaican Attorney General.  It was an unusual marriage for a mixed race Jamaican, even more so for a young English Lawyer.  Ford came from a well-to-do family – his brother James became Physician Extraordinary to Queen Charlotte, Physician Extraordinary to the Westminster Lying-in hospital, and Consulting Man-Midwife to the Westminster General dispensary.  Sadly there were no children of the marriage and Mary died in May 1754 at Clifton, Bristol[1].  It seems to have been after her death that Gilbert Ford went to Jamaica where he married for a second time to Elizabeth Aikenhead.

Within about a year of Caillard’s death Susanna was living with Gibson Dalzell  with whom she had two further children, Frances and Robert, and on his death in about 1755 she inherited a life interest in his estate worth £6854 1s 3d.  Dalzell made full provision for Frances and Robert who by then were living with him in London.

Robert Dalzell was sent to his father’s college, Christ Church Oxford in 1761. In 1762 aged just twenty he married Miss Jane Dodd, ‘an agreeable young lady of large fortune, and with every other accomplishment necessary to adorn the marriage state.’ [2]  There were three children of his marriage who lived into the nineteenth century and had descendants, owning the manors of Tidworth and Mackney in Berkshire.

Frances Dalzell married the Honourable George Duff, son of the first Earl of Fife, on the 7th of April 1757 and moved into the ranks of the aristocracy.  Tragically her first child was  ‘a lunatic from birth’[3] perhaps severely mentally handicapped, or born with Down’s syndrome.  Her son George and her two daughters died unmarried.

Susanna herself died in February 1757 and was buried on the 12th in Kingston.

 

All of this would be remarkable enough until you take into account the rest of Susanna Augier’s siblings.  In 1747 two Private Acts of the Jamaican Assembly were passed.  The first gave the rights of whites to Jane Augier and her children Edward James, Thomas, Peter and Dorothy.  The second on behalf of Mary Augier gave ‘the same rights and privileges with English Subjects, born of white parents’ to Mary’s children William, Elizabeth, Jane and Eleanor; to her brother and sister Jacob and Elizabeth and to Elizabeth’s son John.  Even this does not tell the whole story.

Of John Augier’s daughters it must be assumed that Jenny and Frances had probably died before 1747 and so were not included in the family’s bid to acquire full white status.  Jenny had a daughter called Sharlott, born in 1729 and dead just under two years later, whose father was the choleric Theophilus Blechynden.

Around the time of his daughter Sharlott’s death he married Florence Fulton the widow of Dean Poyntz who had left his wife an annuity of £200 a year.  Poyntz was in partnership with Mathias Philp and years later Blechynden and his wife sued the estate of Philp’s other partner William Perrin for £10,000 of back payments of her annuity.  The case dragged on for years and was only finally settled by Blechynden’s son when almost all the other parties were dead!

A not untypical example of Jamaican litigation.

Frances Augier had two sons William and John Muir, and a daughter Hannah Spencer born in 1736. Frances probably died in Kingston in February  1738.  Elizabeth whose son John was granted the rights of whites in 1747 had also had a daughter called Elizabeth who died at the age of four, both were the children of Richard Asheton.  Elizabeth was buried in Kingston on the 16th of January 1749/50. Jacob Augier also died in Kingston and was buried on the 18th of September 1751, I have found no record that he had any children.

Mary and Jane Augier both had large families.  Jane had six children with John DeCumming, of whom two died before she could apply for their rights.  It is the children of Mary who have descendants that we know the most about.  Mary had at least seven children with William Tyndall a Kingston merchant, and her daughter Elizabeth (born in 1726) had nine children with the wealthy Kingston merchant John Morse.  Morse also had a daughter called Frances, probably born before he began his relationship with Elizabeth, who was brought up by his sister Sarah Vanheelen in Holland, and who died, unmarried, in London about 1818.  Several of his children died before their father, but his three youngest daughters all married and had descendants.

John Morse had returned to London before his death – he was buried at St Mary Aldermanbury on the 2nd of April 1781. His family may have travelled with him, or may already have been educated in England. Catherine Morse married a young lawyer called Edmund Green at St Mary Aldermanbury in 1777 – the witnesses at the wedding included her uncle by marriage Joseph Royall.

Catherine had eight children, among whom her daughter Frances Ann married William Farington from the Isle of Wight who became an Admiral in the Royal Navy.  Edmund’s training as a lawyer was called into play during a lengthy Chancery suit[4] on behalf of John Morse’s children against the Morse family who were unhappy at the legacies left to his mixed race illegitimate offspring.  In this he may have had help from Robert Cooper Lee who had himself secured his children’s future via a Private Act of the Assembly passed in 1776. Frances Lee, his daughter, left legacies to her friend Catherine Green and her daughter Frances Ann Farington.

As the boom days of Jamaica were coming to an end so the focus of empire switched to India. Catherine’s sisters Ann Frances and Sarah went to India with their brother Robert and both married there in 1780. Ann Frances married Nathaniel Middleton and had ten children born variously in India and England. The Morse/Middleton fortune passed down the generations and  in 1898, at the death of Hastings Nathaniel Middleton, was worth £84,100 15s 7d.

Sarah married William Cator in Calcutta and their daughter Ann Frances became the wife of Colonel Edward Baynes who as Adjutant General to the British forces in North America was sent to negotiate the armistice with the US government in July 1812. After service in North America they settled happily to retirement in Devon, their investments managed by Robert Cooper Lee’s son Richard. Their son William Craig Baynes migrated to Canada taking charge of the extensive estates acquired while his father was serving in Quebec.

Edmund Green eventually won the Chancery case on behalf of his wife and her siblings.

By the early nineteenth century the descendants of the Augier sisters had blended seamlessly into the highest levels of British society, their Jamaican slave roots conveniently air-brushed from history.

————————————-

POSTSCRIPT : 2nd August 2012

I have been looking again at the children of Susanna Augier and I think a confusion has arisen over her children with Peter Caillard. I now think that her children with Peter Caillard were Mary, Peter and Susanna and that there is only one child called Frances – the daughter of Gibson Dalzell.

 

 

 



[1] I have a reader of this website to thank for this information. “Last week died at Clifton near Bristol, after a lingering illness, the Lady of Gilbert Ford of the Middle-Temple, Esq.” London Evening Post (London, England), May 7, 1754 – May 9, 1754

[2] ‘Parishes: Tidmarsh’, A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3 (1923), pp. 433-437. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk

[4] For more detail on the Morse sisters and the Chancery case see D.A.Livesay, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Migration from the West Indies to Britain, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Michigan, 2010 – available on-line at http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/77875

 

 

Blocking Legacies to Negroes and Mulattoes

 

In December 1761 the Jamaican Assembly passed an Act, which was subsequently ratified in London, “to prevent the inconveniences arising from exorbitant grants and devises, made by white persons to negroes, and the issue of negroes; and to restrain and limit such grants and devises.” It is sometimes referred to as the Devises Act.

You can read the full text of the Act here.

Owing in part to the shortage of white women settlers in Jamaica, and to a more relaxed attitude to marriage than would be the case a century later, many white planters and other European migrants formed relationships with non-whites both free and enslaved.  The children resulting from these relationships were often brought up in what amounted to a stable family situation, and their education and welfare was provided for in the Wills of their white fathers.  In many cases the children were apprenticed to a trade, or sent to England for a liberal education in one of the professions.  Many had careers in the Army or Navy, as merchants, or later in the 18th century in the developing colonies of south Asia.  Where there were no legitimate offspring to inherit the wealth the father had accumulated in Jamaica, that wealth and property, including slaves, was often left to their illegitimate mixed race children.  It was this that the act of 1761 was designed to prevent or at least to limit.

Under the act the amount that a child could inherit was to be limited to £2000 which although it was a large amount of money, equivalent perhaps to £286,000 today using the retail price index, or £2,850,000 relative to average earnings[1], was a mere fraction of the total of some of the larger estates.  The act was designed to prevent the leaving of a larger legacy to “any negro whatever, or to any mulatto, or other person not being in their own issue born in lawful wedlock, and being the issue of a negro, and deemed a mulatto.”  This therefore restricted legacies, even if left to a legitimate child, where that child was mixed race and at least one eighth black.  Nor could the restriction be avoided by leaving the property in trust to a white person on behalf of such child.  The  limitation of £2000 even extended to property left by such a mixed-race person to their children.  The only exception related to those mixed race Jamaicans who had already been granted the legal status of white persons.

In the event, until this act was later repealed, it was possible for white planters and others who had made their fortune in Jamaica to apply for a private act of the Jamaican Assembly to permit them to transmit their inheritance to their children, or to remove their property from Jamaica.

Robert Cooper Lee who had four mixed-race children born illegitimate in Jamaica, and was responsible as a trustee and guardian for his illegitimate mixed-race nephews, made such an application in December, 1776, in an Act “to authorize and enable Robert Cooper Lee, late of the Island of Jamaica, but now of the kingdom of Great Britain, esquire, to settle and dispose of his estates, both real and personal in this island, by deed or will as he shall think proper, notwithstanding an Act of the Governor, Council and Assembly of this island, intituled, an Act to prevent inconveniences arising from exorbitant grants and devises made by white persons and the issue of negroes and to restrain and limit such grants and devises.”

What is in many ways most interesting, is that three members of the Assembly dissented from the act and a copy of their objections remains at the East Sussex County Record Office at Lewes as part of the Jamaica papers of Fuller family of Rosehill in Brightling – ref: ESRO SAS/RF 20/66.  A transcription of this is included at the end of the text of the 1761 Act.

The three dissenters were Norwood Witter, Edward Clarke, and William Wynter.  Witter and Clarke were both members of the assembly for Westmorland, and William Wynter served on the Assembly as a member for St Thomas in the Vale, St Thomas in the East, and St Catherine at various times.  In 1757 he became a member of the Jamaican Council. He has already been mentioned here as the father of Thomas Wynter, mixed race son of Mary Johnson Rose.

In a clearly set out document they argued that the proposed act was unconstitutional because it restricted the right of a British citizen to leave his property as he wished; that it would encourage vexatious law suits based on the mere suggestion that someone’s ancestor was of mixed race; that limiting the financial transactions that could be made by mixed race Jamaicans might encourage them to take their money out of the island and even to emigrate; and that it restricted a father from providing for his children even where they had received a liberal education and looked white.  They also regarded it as unreasonable to penalise “a quiet and peaceable people who have ever shown themselves true and faithful to the White Inhabitants” and who had shown themselves highly supportive during the recent slave uprising.  In summary, they said:

We think it unreasonable.

As we apprehend it lays the Penalty on the innocent, We deem it severe

As we apprehend it tends to depopulate the Country, it is impolitic

As we apprehend it takes away the Right of Free Born Britons, it is unconstitutional

And as it lays a restraint on the parental affection it is unnatural

And on the whole we think it equally Inconsistent with Liberty, sound Policy, and pure Religion. 

Their objections however were overruled and the bill was passed into law on the 19th of December 1761.

Between 1768 and 1790 thirteen private Acts were passed giving the right to dispose of property as the person thought fit, including the example of Robert Cooper Lee above. They included Thomas Wynter, and in some cases also listed the names of the children who were at the same time being granted the rights of white people.

Perhaps the most interesting is that of 1784 granting the right to dispose of her property to a free quadroon, Sarah Morris of Kingston. She left her estate to her natural daughter Charlotte Stirling (daughter of a wealthy Scottish planter Robert Stirling) who was also granted the rights of a white person. During that period she was the only woman to obtain such a right.

The others who obtained the rights were:

1768 William Patrick Bourne of St John

1775 George Brooks of St Elizabeth

1776 Robert Cooper Lee

1777 John Williams of St Ann

1783 Thomas Wynter,  and William Wright of Portland

1784 Sarah Morris (as above), Patrick Duncan of St Ann and Thomas Roper of Portland

1787 John Angwin of St Ann

1788 John Russell of Clarendon

1789 George Lesslie of Westmorland

1790 George Bedward



[1] Source: http://www.measuringworth.com

At the Three Sugar Loaves and Crown


While researching the history of the Rose Hall Estate in Jamaica – not the Rose Hall at Montego Bay famed for the (totally fictional) White Witch, but the one in St Thomas in the Vale – I came across a little book called “At the Three Sugar Loaves and Crown“  by Owen Rutter (1889-1944).

It was published in 1938 and tells the near three hundred year history of Davison, Newman and Company, which became the West Indian Produce Association, and made a fortune for its owners.

In Creechurch Lane, off Leadenhall Street, stands an old shop with a sign such as the merchants of the City were wont to display two centuries ago; three golden sugar-loaves surmounted by a golden crown. . . . .Within the shop you may buy anything from sugar to cigars, from Trinidad chocolate to Jamaica rum, from tea to treacle. . .

If the shop did not disappear in the Blitz it must certainly have succumbed to the bulldozers long since, although the church of St Katherine Cree that gave its name to the lane survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz and still stands at the corner of Leadenhall Street. It boasts a fine rose window at the eastern end, supposedly modelled one in old St Pauls, and is now a Guild church without a parish ministering to the world of finance and commerce that surrounds it.

The eighteenth century was the great heyday of the company when it was joined by Monkhouse Davison from Cumberland, made free of the Grocers’ Company in 1738. By the time he became a partner sometime in the mid-eighteenth century, Rawlinson & Davison, were ‘Dealers in Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, Snuffs, Sago, Hartshorne, Virmicelly, Morells, Truffles, Starch & Blue, with the best of all Sorts of Grocery and Confectionery Wares at the lowest prices’.  Tea from the East was traded out to America and the Caribbean; rum, sugar, chocolate and coffee from Jamaica and tobacco from the southern American plantations were brought back to London.

The range of teas stocked by Davison and Newman was extensive and included Hyson, Singlo, Congou, Souchong, Pekoe, Padree and Bohea.

It was a consignment of tea from Davison and Newman that joined others scattered in the waters of Boston harbour at that most famous of tea parties in 1773.  But there appears to have been a second incident the following year which resulted in a number of English merchants petitioning the King in relation to further losses of tea. You can see their petition here .

Davison and Newman had sent sixteen chests of tea on a ship called the Fortune, consigned to Henry Lloyd a merchant in Boston.  Five of the men petitioning the King had underwritten the insurance on the tea for four hundred and eighty pounds.  On Monday the 6th of March 1774 in what seems to have been a repetition of the first tea party the previous December and the day after the ship arrived in Boston, a large number of men, many disguised as Indians and armed with axes and hatchets, dragged twenty-eight chests of tea including those belonging to Davison and Newman out of the ship’s hold, broke them open, and threw the tea into the water.  The insurers had paid out the equivalent of about £48,000 in today’s money and understandably were hoping for compensation.

In the language of the day, “Your Petitioners most humbly pray that your Majesty will be graciously pleased to give your petitioners such relief as their Case may require and such as to your Majesty may seem just.”

If tea had been the only or even a major part of the trade of Davison and Newman these losses would have been more serious, but they traded in a very wide range of goods and had a portfolio of property in London.  In 1789 they diversified even further and bought a 4/18 share of the Rose Hall Plantation in the Parish of St Thomas in the Vale in Jamaica.  The land was owned by Sir Charles Price who had acquired it from the Rose family and now leased it to Sir James Esdaile and Robert Cooper Lee, who each held a 7/18 share.  The Lee family continued to hold their share of Rose Hall into the mid-19th-century, but the Davison and Newman interest ended in 1834.

Davison and Newman held a copy of the slave muster book quoted by Owen Rutter.  In 1784 the slaves included 82 men, 72 women, 39 boys and 27 girls.  Two 6-year-old girls called Ebony and Lavinia were employed to weed among the sugarcane and were described as being ‘healthy’.  Eleven year old Flora was a field hand, which means she was expected to do the harder work of preparing the ground and planting canes,  “but now attends her mother who is blind”.

After the deaths of Monkhouse Davison and Abram Newman the company was taken over by William Thwaytes who had already worked for it for twenty-five years and would do so for another thirty-five.  Sadly however in the latter years of his life he seems not to have controlled the company very effectively and at his death the City properties had become dilapidated and he had even failed to have his will witnessed.  As a result all his estate went to a nephew, including his share in the Rose Hall Plantation, rather than to his wife, and when a buyer could not be found for the company four junior employees undertook what we would now call a management buyout.  They borrowed £8000, acquired the three houses in Fenchurch Street and carried on the business, turning it once more profitable.

The original premises from which the company had traded for two hundred years were demolished in 1890 and the company moved to 57 Fenchurch Street and eventually to 14 Creechurch Lane where in spite of the change of name to the West Indian Produce Association it still displayed the sign of the Three Sugar Loaves and Crown.