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Supplementary Information to Kin and Creole Cousins, Jamaica

By Peter Dickson

Kin and Creole Cousins

Other sections of Peter Dickson's article appear at:
Part One,
Part Two,
Part Three.
Supplementary Information, various
1860 Cholera Report
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Part Four

On Offices and Occupations in Jamaica


The style of government, the legislature and other institutions would have been familiar to anyone newly arrived from Britain. In outline, a Governor, also Commander-in-Chief, stood proxy for the king and sat on the Council which was an appointed body; the House of Assembly had its own Speaker and membership of the house was by election in the various parishes; all legislation was subject to royal assent.

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Parish officials, among whom were Vestry Clerk, Clerk of the Peace, Coroner, were responsible for local records and administration including tax collection, poor relief, the workhouse and roads. The parishes were larger than their English counterparts and each had an appointed Custos (Custos Rotulorum) who was, perhaps, equivalent to the Lord Lieutenant or High Sheriff of an English county.

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The law

In addition to Statute Law enacted by the legislature, English Common Law was the norm for free people but slaves were subject to the Slave Laws. The Crown's principal law officer was the Attorney General; a Chief Justice headed a Supreme Court of other judges who also sat on Assize Courts around the island; Barristers pleaded cases in the higher courts, Attorneys practiced law in the lower courts and drew up legal agreements (the term "attorney-at-law" was used to distinguish them from "planting attorneys") and Justices of the Peace heard cases in Magistrates' Courts in the parishes.


Every man was bound by law to serve in the Militia and all males over the age of 16 who had been resident in the island for over one month were enlisted. Later in the 18th century, there were separate companies for Jews and free males sorted by colour and all commanded by white officers. All except commissioned officers served without pay. The non-commissioned officers were generally from the white population, but some were coloured people of good character.


Jamaica, view of Rio Bueno

View of plantation Rio Bueno.
Picture courtesy of Peter Dickson (UK)

By 1832 a majority of the proprietors of large estates lived in the British Isles. (Note225) The lesser landowners lived on their island estates. Many took an active and diligent part in community affairs and were probably the most respected people on the island; others were not so, living mostly on credit and often ending up in financial difficulties. The smaller proprietors were settlers who had either a small livestock pen or a coffee or pimento walk. Some had a few slaves, or would hire jobbing gangs, when necessary, during the agricultural year. The more ambitious and the more astute sometimes joined the ranks of large landowners.

Note 225: Richard B. Sheridan, Agricultural History, Volume XLV, No. 4, October 1971, pp. 285-296: in 1775, absentees owned 180 of the 755 sugar plantations on the island; in 1832, 540 out of 646 estates were owned by absentees and managed by estate attorneys.


Interior, Rio Bueno Church, Jamaica

Interior, Rio Bueno Church, Jamaica
(Courtesy Peter Dickson, UK)

f"Non-resident landowners hired an attorney (one who had a 'power of attorney') to manage their properties. The term did not imply ant legal expertise or training and the attorney might be a resident owner, a merchant, a lawyer, a doctor, or an old experienced overseer. An attorney sometimes had several properties under his sole care; the best known, the most successful and the wealthiest was Simon Taylor who managed or had a share in estates throughout the island.


The job of actually managing the plantation or work on the estates fell to the overseer, paid an annual salary. He lived in the "Great House" if it was unoccupied by the owner, otherwise he had his own quarters in a separate house. He was attended by domestic slaves and also had charge of the overall maintenance of the property.

Church at Rio Bueno, Jamaica

Church at Rio Bueno, Jamaica
(Courtesy Peter Dickson, UK)


Under the overseer's control and direction were the bookkeepers (nothing to do with accounting) who directly controlled the labouring gangs in the field.


Jamaica traded with both Great Britain and with America - the colonies prior to 1775 and the United States after 1783. Merchants (the term covered a wide range of activities) received regular supplies of goods from abroad, priced according to demand and generally dealt in more than one commodity; some dealt mainly or solely in clothing or dried provisions for the use of plantation labourers and accepted only cash or produce at local market rates; this was seen as generally preferable to extending lengthy credit, especially to property owners whose land was heavily mortgaged.


At the many private and commercial wharves, either in large harbours or in small coves, a wharfinger was the owner or keeper who supervised the shipment, unloading and storage of goods. The rates of wharfage were set by law and reviewed regularly.

Wharf at Rio Bueno, Jamaica

Wharf at Rio Bueno, Jamaica
(Courtesy Peter Dickson, UK)

On other "Persons of Free Condition"

Since 1762 the Jamaican Assembly had placed a limit on the maximum value of property (£2,000) which could be inherited by a "free person of colour". However, many exceptions were made through Private Acts which were passed by the Assembly; these required time, influence and money. The certain restrictions referred to in the following selections were generally legal and political limits on rights at law and on voting rights. The extract from the will of Jeremiah Pattinson merely illustrates that the value of his bequest did not exceed the prescribed limit at the time and that no private act was therefore needed.

Kingston, 23rd December, 1769

[From Private Acts of the Assembly] N A: CO139/24

Kingston, 22nd February, 1783

[From Private Acts of the Assembly]

William Wright of Portland Esq. to settle his estate as he shall think fit notwithstanding the Act to prevent exorbitant grants and devises to negroes. It is for Mary Wright, Susannah Wright, Rosamund Wright, George Wright, William Wright, Richard Wright and Else Wright ...

N A: CO139/37

Parish of St. James, 4th September, 1793

[From the will of Jeremiah Pattinson, Merchant]

I give, devise and bequeath to my housekeeper Eleanor Graham (a free Mulatto woman) my negroe Slave named Fanny with our infant child and future Increase To hold the said Eleanor Graham her Heirs and Assigns for ever ...

N A: PROB 11/

Kingston, 7th December, 1801

[From Private Acts of the Assembly]

John Douglas, Sholto Douglas, Archibald Douglas, Robert Douglas, Edmund Douglas, Catherine Douglas, and Elizabeth Douglas, free quadroons and the reputed children of Peter Douglas of the parish of St John in the county of Middlesex to the same rights and privileges under certain restrictions..

N A: CO/139/50

London, 12th September, 1810

[From PCC will of Duncan Campbell]

... to each of my three Mulatto reputed daughters by Esther belonging to the Retrieve Estate Old Works named Susannah Campbell, Jane Campbell and Ann Campbell £100 …my reputed Mulatto son William Campbell by the same mother £300 and the last named four Mulatto children I will shall be manumized …my old and faithful servant John Campbell £30 and his freedom.

N A: PROB 11/1515

A balance of accounts

The Adventure, out of Leith, its commander James Hamilton, slipped past the Apostle's Battery and into Kingston harbour, Jamaica, with a new consignment for Scots merchant, Hugh McLaghlan, in late June 1754:

Fine and coarse, yard-wide, 7-8th and 3-4ths checks,

Handkerchiefs of different sorts,

Sheeting and green Hollands,

Ready made shirts

Demi-pique and hunting saddles with furniture,

Men, women, boys and girls thread stocking, coarse and fine,

Bed tickings,

Green and white ready made thread breeches,


Women's lawn aprons,

Brown and white thread,

Lawns of different sorts,

Thread buttons, garters and ferreting,

Printed Linnens,

Men and women's ruffles,

Irish sheeting,

Hardware of different sorts,

Brown oznabrigs,

Grutts, oatmeal and barley in kegs,

Men and women's shoes and pump

Women and girls callimanco shoes,

Calf and Morocco slippers.

Minard great house, Jamaica

Minard great house, Jamaica
(Courtesy Peter Dickson, UK)

Re The Maroons

Arrow graphicThe Maroons were descendants of earlier-freed or runaway Spanish slaves, some of whom had fought with the English against the Spaniards. In 1738, following the First Maroon War, terms were made with the government under which the Maroons were guaranteed full freedom and liberty and granted land. In return they agreed to help recapture runaway slaves and assist in military operations against local uprisings or foreign invasion. Two Superintendents of Maroon were appointed to live with them to maintain friendly contact. After a second Maroon War in 1795, those who had rebelled eventually arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Africa, via Nova Scotia.


Further to come from Peter Dickson by October 2006

I am also intending to add a section on Executors and witnesses to some of the wills mentioned as there are some common threads running through them from Neill Malcolm in 1764 to Dugald Campbell's George Johnson in 1842. It could be expanded at a later date to include detail on the persons named (e.g. James Martin was in partnership with **** Campbell and others in Lucea, Campbell, Martin & Co. in 1817) and perhaps the legatees, if the inter-related genealogy, which is sometimes complicated, doesn't obscure rather than enlighten. On executors In addition to relatives who, quite naturally, feature most, other executors and witnesses to wills often hint at the wider network of social and business connections. Hugh Malcolm 1764
Executors: Dugald Malcolm, Neill Malcolm Witness: Alexander Ramsay [ship's captain, Duke of Portland] Thomas Chambers 1781 Executors: John Tharp, George Brissett Witnesses: John Tharp Snr., John Harding, Henry Randall Dugald Malcolm of Pell River 1785 Executors: Neill Malcolm (Donald Malcolm, George Malcolm) Witnesses: Dugald McLachlan, John Allen, William Sutherland Neill Malcolm 1802 Executors:
Dugald Malcolm [England], Richard Brissett, Edward Robinson, Richard Atkinson, John Allen, Simon Taylor, George Malcolm. Witnesses: Charles Birbeck Andree, Charles McCarthy Duncan Campbell of Morven 1810
Executors: John Campbell [brother], George Malcolm & his son John Malcolm, John Hog. Witnesses: Denis Thomas, James Campbell, Alexander McDougall. Donald Malcolm 1812 Executors: Neil Malcolm [nephew], Charles Painter, John Gordon and Charles Stirling of Messrs. Stirling & Gordon, Alexander Campbell of Ardlamont [nephew] Dr. Alexander Campbell, James Martin [Malcolm's clerk but then his business partner]. Witnesses: William Cleghorn, John Wills Sheate, Duncan Sinclair George Malcolm 1813 Executors: John Malcolm [son] George Hibbert, William Hibbert, Samuel Hibbert, Alexander Campbell, James Martin. Witnesses: James Irving, Neil Mclaren, Robert Lindsay Dugald Campbell of Saltspring 1818
Executors: John and Duncan Campbell [brothers], James Boyick, Robert Scarlett. Witness: William Bligh. Richard Dickson 1821 Executors: Sons Witnesses: William McKintosh, Thomas Miller, George Holbrook John Malcolm of Argyle 1832
Executors: Neil Malcolm & Neil Malcolm the younger [cousins] Samuel Hibbert, Richard Chambers, Henry Chambers, Edgar Corrie. Witnesses: Henry Chambers, F. J. W_lch (?), Percival Burton, William A. Dickson 1842 Executor: Henry Brockett Witnesses: George Johnson, John Dinham, Isaac Bing.


(Ends Part Four, the last section, of Kin and Creole Cousins, Jamaica by Peter Dickson)

Note 224: Jamaica Directory, 1920: the James family still owned Burnt Ground (cattle) and Haughton Hall (sugar). Dehaney had Cascade (cattle).

Kin and Creole Cousins

Other sections of Peter Dickson's article appear at:
Part One,
Part Two,
Part Three.

Later career of Saltspring estate on Jamaica

Follows e-mail from Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins on 1 October 2006

Dear Merchant Networks,
I recently came across your Merchants Networks site on the Internet and found it to be most interesting. For some years I have also been following the evolution of Dan Byrnes' website, the Blackheath Connection. I see that you are by now in contact with Peter Dickson, whose family once owned plantations in Jamaica, and that he is currently providing you with some recent photographs of historic sites in the Island.

I was just wondering if any of you have ever visited the old Saltspring Great House, near Green Island in Hanover, Jamaica, which once belonged to the Campbell family. It was rebuilt in 1781 by the Hon. John Campbell (who died 1782 in New London), Custos of Hanover, on the ruins of the previous fine 18th Century mansion which was destroyed by the great hurricane of 1780.

I knew the house as it had rebuilt in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I was a child living in Montego Bay, Jamaica. My father was the Agent for Lloyd's of London in Jamaica and insured many of the old plantations on the Island, including Saltspring Estate, which had by then been renamed Winchester Estate. It was still a sugar plantation and was over 1,000 acres in size. It was then owned by a black Jamaican named Harry Dennis, which was unusual in the 1960s when most plantation owners in Jamaica were still white.

Harry Dennis and his family lived in the old 18th Century Winchester (Saltspring) Great House, which was a large three-storey Georgian house, built of stone and brick, complete with arched sash-windows and Adam-style mahogany panelling. The first floor of the house was a raised stone basement and a typical Jamaican-style double-staircase of stone led from the driveway up to a long, wrought-iron railed verandah on the second floor, where the Drawing Room and the Dining-Room and other principal rooms were situated. In the hallway inside the house, a lovely old mahogany staircase led up to several bedrooms on the third floor. There was also an iron staircase which led from the second-floor verandah up to the third-floor verandah. This had a wooden trap-door and at night it would be shut and locked and the watchman, an old black man whom I believe was named Ezra, would spend the night sleeping in a rocking chair with a shotgun across his knees, just in case any intruder was foolhardy enough to try and break through the trap door.

Lucea today, Jamaica

Lucea today, Jamaica (2006)
(Courtesy Peter Dickson, UK)

My father was often invited to have lunch at Winchester Great House and like most old-time Jamaica planters, Harry Dennis was very lavish with his hospitality. My father has many fond memories of him. Harry Dennis died in the late 1980s and his son now owns Winchester Estate. I don't know if the old Great House is still there. I still visit Jamaica once a year, but I haven't stopped in at Winchester Estate since 1987. In 2003 the Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaica, an historic preservation group based in England, went on their third Georgian Tour of Jamaica and I told them about Winchester Great House and its connections with Capt. William Bligh. Douglas Blain went looking for the house, but got lost and couldn't find it. Perhaps it was destroyed by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988?

Please pass this e-mail on to Peter Dickson for me. Perhaps he may know if anyone might know if Winchester (Saltspring) Great House is still standing or might even have a photograph of it. If not, I am going down to Jamaica again in January, and I shall try and swing by Winchester Estate and see if the old Great House is still there. If it is, then I'll try and photograph it for you.

Yours sincerely,
Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins via hotmail.com


Subject: Letters Campbell & Clerk From: "p.dickson" Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 09:32:21 -0000 To: "Dan Byrnes" Dear Dan, Now have complete text of letter from 2nd D. of Argyll on immigration to Jamaica, 1740, which I referred in Kin etc. His Grace did not mince words! Also three letters from Dugald Clerk, Braleckan, which link with will of Hugh Malcolm [1764] and Campbell /Malcolm / Clerk relatives. Have not yet discovered more on Clerk gen. except that Alexander C. of Braleckan m.[1702] Isobel Campbell, dau. of Douglas Campbell 6th Inverawe and the widow of John Campbell of Knap. Interesting reference, too, to Virginia connection. Have convinced myself that Dugald Clerk's spelling and speech pattern hint at accent. Frank Campbell's article is still bugging me and the contents are slowly fermenting in the background of my mind. All the best, Peter P.S. have had time for long chat with daughter; strange to relate, she and boyfriend (yet another young doctor) are planning for a stay in Aus.to test the water and are now busy hunting posts in hospitals around Sydney; I guess a metropolis draws the young as ever! John Campbell, Duke of Argyle to Archibald Campbell of Stonefield, Deputy Sheriff of Argyllshire at Inverary. 1740 Sir, I have received letters out of Argyllshire giving me Intelligence of a project that is set on foot there mischievous to the Publick and very knavish in the Projector to the poor people who he would seduce to their ruin, for his base private Interest. The person I mean is Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck who after having ruin'd himself & his family by his monstrous Extravagancys would now undo numbers of poor Ignorant people by false representations of Imaginary profits which they are to receive by following his irretrievable fortunes. I have had occasion to learn the State of the West Indies as well as most men alive and consequently know that every word of what that Gentleman has been pleased to represent relating to Jamaica is notoriously false, Excepting in so far as relates to the Caracter of the Governor Mr. Trelawny who I know, and who is without doubt a Gentleman of excellent parts & great Integrity and who, when I have described Sir James to, will have the same opinion of him that I and every Body else that knows him has and will, I am confident, give him a reception accordingly. What he tells poor Ignorant people of their being transported gratis to Jamaica & to have six months provisions given then after they are there, is with a design to sell them when he has got them there. And such tricks have actualy been play'd with poor ignorant people who have been carried from hence upon the same pretences that are made to delude these poor people. To prove the truth of what I tell you, you cannot from England transport a Man to Jamaica for less than about Thirteen pound Stg. And what six months provisions for a man will cost there, I need but tell you, that it is the dearest part in the known world for provisions there are three & four times dearer than in the City of London. The Governor as I have told you already, is without doubt a just and honourable Man, but has no manner or method in his power to provide for people who go there. It is true, that men who are able in any useful Trades, if they can live in the most unwholsome Climate in the Universe, may possibly find their account in going there, but no other Body can. I thought it my Duty to give you this account, that you may be able from me to undeceive those poor wretches who, this Man can have no other view in deluding but in order to sell them as Slaves. If the Gentleman has a mind to go by himself I shall not trouble my head about him, but let him take his fate. I think the Country will have a very good riddance of him, but if he persists in endeavouring to debauch any of the people, I will describe him in his true colours to Mr. Trelawny & other Gentlemen who have the chief offices in that Plantation. I would put you in mind, that so long as the Embargo continues, if these ships which he has told them off, should arrive in any part of the Country subject to my Jurisdiction, they will fall under orders I have received from the Admiralty, And I shall consult what further can be done whenever the Embargo is taken off. I am Sir Your most humble servant Argyll & Greenwich London 22nd March 1740 Dugald Clerk, Braleckan to Sir John Clerk, Penicuick. (1741) My Dear Barron, I had letters lately from Jamaica from my Brother Robert who tells me that seeing the Projects about my son Johnie have missgiven he desires that he may be instructed a little in the Law and thereafter Bound Apprentice to a Merchant at London of his aquaintance and when he is done with his master that he take a voyage to Jamaica & settle there or Trade 'twixt that place and Britain. But as This is an Expencive employment to furnish all necessary for it I'm afraid it will put me to my parempters, yet That I should straiten myself very much. I'm willing to put him in a way of Living and please his Uncle who happens to have a small Plantation in that Island[1] and that he is a widower these many years past, has no Children Living and Don't understand that he inclines to marry being advanced in years. As for Gabriel he has resolved to be a Chyrurgeon which his Uncle at Jamaica aproves of he being sure to be employ'd there if he is Capable of his Business. Therefore I have sent him to Edin. To be bound Apprentice to any person you please and Intreat you'll use your Interest to get his 'Prentice fee as easie as possible - considering both of the Lads's Demands will be very heavy upon me at once whereas if I had some respite for paying either of their 'prentice fees I'd do my best to answer them at suitable Terms. Therefore I begg you'll be pleased to procure long terms for paying Gabie's 'prentice fee. This with my humble Duty joined with Sarah's[2] to my Lady Clerk & all the young folks of your family & I am with very great Esteem much honour'd Sir Your most Affectionate humble servant Dugald Clerk Pennymure 18th Nov. 1742 P.S. There has been no Herrings catch'd in Lochfine[3] this year and our fleet having been this long time at the Barrs of Air I sent some half Barrells there to make Herring and how soon I understand they are made shall order a part of them for your use. I've got some Cotton seed from Jamaica & have thought to proper to send you a part of it to be sown in a Hott Bed in your garden aden. D.C. John Clerk, junior (son of Dugald) to Sir John Clerk, Penicuick. (1749) Sir, I am prevented from doing myself the pleasure of seeing you, before I set out for Jamaica, by a ship from Clyde sailing sooner than I expected; and as this opportunity serves, chose it rather than a winter passage. If the wind serves we will sail on Thursday next, & I think we may be eight weeka agoing, as the vessal sails but slowly. I will always consider it as my Duty to acquaint you of my progress on the Island, and first Essays among Strangers; and will write you immediately as we arrive. I offer my Compliments most respectfully to all the Family at Pennycuik as I am with sincere esteem Sir Your obliged humble Servant John Clerk Glasgow 25th July 1749 As an Introduction to the Governor from some body in Britain might be of use to a young man; when I had the pleasure of being last with Mr. James he thought it might be brought about by means of Mr. Maul from the Duke of Argyle. I waited of his Grace several times at London on my fathers affair but did not ask him this favour. Dugald Clerk, Braleckan to Sir John Clerk, Penicuick. (1751) Honour'd Sir Just as I receaved yours of the 25th March last I perus'd two letters that came from my sone of the 2nd January to two gentlemen in this countrie about some affairs recomended by them to him in Jamaica which gives accotts [accounts]of his being in good health. All the accotts I can give you of the produce of my brother Roberts Estate[4] since his decease, that the rum and sugar is sold at London (free of all charges) betwixt �14 and �1500 Starling yearly and wishes it may continue so. There is nothing to hinder John to come home but his Cussin Dugald Malcolms arryvall at Jamaica who was to sail from London the last week. And I sent of[f] one Daniel Clerk another Cussin of his from Virginia by a ship from Air to be Johns overseer of his nigro's So that I think those two Cussins will take care of all his affairs there and that he may come soon home and reside in his native countrie.[5] Your Nice [niece] and I join in our humble duty and good wishes to my Lady Clerk and whole family and I am with Esteem Honour'd Sir Yours most affectionatly Dugald Clerk Pennymure 2nd April 1751 If your nevoy[6] goes for Jamaica please aquaint me some time before he goes of. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] Robert Clerk's plantation was Pell River in Hanover. By 1754 it was in the hands of John Clerk [CO 142/31, a return of landholders in Jamaica notes one John Clarke [sic] with 794 acres in Hanover] [2] Sarah Little, Dugald Clerk's wife, was a niece of John Clerk of Penicuik. [3] Loch Fyne, Argyll, West Scotland [4] Pell River in Hanover. The plantation passed to John Clerk then his cousin Dugald Malcolm and then Neill Malcolm. [5] John Clerk returned to Scotland and became a Clerk of the Customs at Glasgow. [the will of Hugh Malcolm, 1764, who had been a clerk at that port before he set out for Jamaica] [6] Nevoy (Scots) = nephew; in this case unknown.


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