Tag Archives: Scudamore Winde Steel

Mixed Race Jamaicans in England

The status of  mixed race Jamaicans in eighteenth century Jamaica was always going to be less than than of white colonists, but it was possible for them to become established and successful in England. A case in point are two of the children of Scudamore Winde.

Ambrose Scudamore Winde (he seems to have dropped the Ambrose early on) was born about 1732 at Kentchurch in Herefordshire, son of John Winde and Mary Scudamore.  The beautiful Kentchurch Court is still in the hands of the Scudamore family as it has been for the last thousand years or so. In 1759, following the suicide of his father, he and his brother Robert went to Jamaica where Scudamore Winde became an extremely successful merchant.  He was also Assistant Judge of the Supreme Court of the Judicature and a member of the Assembly.

Like many white colonists of the island he had relationships with several women but did not marry.  When he died in late September 1775 he left generous legacies to his various children. His business had prospered and a large part of his assets were in the form of debts owed to him. According to Trevor Burnard[1] he had  personal assets of £94,273, of which £82,233 were in the form of debts. This would be equivalent to about £9.3 million relative to current retail prices or £135 million in relation to average wages today.

Scudamore Winde freed his negro slave Patty who was baptised as Patty Winde in 1778 at Kingston when her age was given as about 50.  Patty and her daughter Mary were left land that he had bought from Richard Ormonde in Saint Catherine’s with the buildings on it, and £100 Jamaican currency together with two slaves called Suki and little Polly.  It is not clear whether Mary was Scudamore Winde’s daughter for although her name is given as Mary Winde she is referred to as a negro rather than mulatto.

Scudamore Winde had a mulatto son called Robert, possibly the son of Patty, who was born about 1759, and three children with Sarah Cox herself a free negro or mulatto (records vary).  Her children were Penelope, John and Thomas born between 1768 and 1774.  John may have died young and Thomas elected to remain in Jamaica where he had a successful career as a merchant in Kingston.  Robert and Penelope travelled to England under the eye of Robert Cooper Lee who was trustee and executor of his close friend Scudamore Winde’s Will.

Robert went into business in London as a merchant, listed in various directories from 1784 and for some of the time in partnership.  The firm of Koithan & Winde traded out of 20 St Martin’s Lane London in the 1780s, and there are records of Robert Winde ‘gentleman’ at 48 Jermyn Street in the 1790s when his wife Jane is listed as a haberdasher taking out fire insurance with the Sun Insurance company.

Robert married Jane Bateman at Holy Trinity Clapham in 1781 and they had at least six children. Four were living in 1794 when Robert Cooper Lee left legacies to ‘the two sons and two daughters of Robert Winde’, but only Jane Anne seems to have lived to adulthood.  She married late in life to a widowed solicitor called Henry Pinniger of Westbury in Wiltshire, who had seven children by his first wife.  The implication is that Jane Anne Winde had inherited sufficient income of her own to live comfortably as a spinster until then.

Robert Winde’s partner Frederick Koithan was born at Bremen in Germany and applied for naturalisation in England in 1791 by Private Act of Parliament.  He died in 1809 but the partnership seems to have ended before this with Robert Winde then trading on his own.  I have not found a burial for Robert Winde, but his wife Jane was recorded as living in Downing Street Westminster at her death in 1822.

Robert’s half sister Penelope married a young lawyer called David Steel on 1 May 1786 at St Martin Orgar and St Clement Eastcheap.  Robert Cooper Lee was a witness at the wedding.  Penelope was a considerable heiress. She had been left  £2000 in the first part of her father’s Will with a further £2000 on the death of her brother John plus another £1500 in a codicil.

This is particularly interesting since under the 1761 Act of the Assembly illegitimate mixed race Jamaicans were debarred from inheriting more than £2000 and I have not found any private Act permitting the Winde children to have more. I can only guess that since Robert Cooper Lee was administering the trust from England he had liquidated the Jamaican assets so the trust fund was based in England and therefore exempt.

Although David Steel began married life as a barrister, on the death of his father he took over his business as a nautical publisher and bookseller.  When he died in 1803, aged only 39, the Gentleman’s Magazine recorded

David Steel Esq. of Little Tower Hill. He was universally respected by those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and has left a widow and a large family to lament the irreparable loss of an affectionate husband and fond father in the prime of life. Mr. S. was orginally employed in the Navy Office, but quitted his situation to the study of law and practiced for several years with the profession of a barrister; he quitted the profession on his father’s death and succeeded him in his business as a book, map and chart seller. The literary world are under great obligation to him for the active part which he took as one of the committee for obtaining the repeal of the duty on paper[2].


He had been publisher of the Navy List and of “The Elements and Practice of Rigging and Seamanship and Naval Tactics” which is still available as a digital reprint.

Penelope found herself a widow with five small children and remarried to William Mason in 1806.  It seems likely that her eldest son David Lee Steel did not get on with his stepfather, and when he died at the age of 31 of “a rapid decline “(probably tuberculosis) his obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine hinted at a family row over his inheritance.

 Gentleman’s Magazine  Vol.88 Part 1 Jan-June 1818, p.572


His younger brother Scudamore Winde Steel was made of sterner stuff and had a long and distinguished career in the Indian Army ending up as a Lieutenant General and with a knighthood. Their sister Penelope Sarah became a schoolmistress at the National School, Batson Street, Limehouse and lived to the age of 84.

Lt.-Gen. Sir Scudamore Winde Steel

Anne Steel followed in her father’s footsteps marrying twice into the printing and publishing trade. Some of her descendants live today in the USA but her nephews and nieces had all died without children by the early twentieth century.

Her nephew Charles, son of Sir Scudamore Winde Steel, married the sister of Kitty O’Shea – but that as they say is another story.



[1] Kingston Merchants and the Atlantic Slave Trade in the Eighteenth Century, Trevor Burnard, BGEAH, Stirling, 3 September 2009

[2]    Gentleman’s magazine Vol. 73 (1803), p 93.