In general, absentee owners like Henry Goulburn of Betchworth, near Dorking, would have trouble controlling their slaves and resolving a regular crisis like the outbreak of illness on a plantation in the West Indies. Meanwhile, Thomas John Parker, another Surrey man with property at Canbury House in Kingston, actually resided at his plantation until he returned to England in 1796. He had over 1,000 slaves in a flourishing community.
The Long Family
Kingston resident Edward Long of Coombe House (1734-1813) was an influential historian of Jamaica whose eighteenth century perspective on the island is immortalised in his ‘History of Jamaica’ (1774).
Living in Jamaica most of his life, Long also provided one of the better examples of how a plantation should be run. The plantation at Lucky Valley passed through the hands of the generations of the Long family.
Grandfather Samuel Long (of Carshalton) had been on board Penn & Venables’ colonial expedition to Jamaica in 1655, so the Long family’s association with the island stretches as far back as the beginnings of British Jamaica itself, following Spanish rule.
It was Edward Long’s father, Charles Long (1679-1723), and his succession of marriages that really established the Long’s West Indian estates. He first married Amy Lawes, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Lawes, a member of the planter elite in Jamaica where he was Governor from 1718-22. After Amy’s death, Charles married Jane Beeston, another wealthy heiress.
While many West Indies planters were reluctant to reinvest capital in their plantations even while the conditions of medical care and repair deteriorated, Edward Long knew that well cared-for slaves would be more efficient. He heeded all the recommendations for a hospital and medical practice at Lucky Valley and spent around £35,000 (around £3m today) on renovation and modernisation of the plantation after realising his sub-standard medical care was causing bouts of ‘distemper’ among his slaves.
In 1792, the Jamaican Consolidated Slave Law suggested that measures should be taken and surveys should be conducted to reduce the high slave mortality rates. The impact of this law was greater for planters who lived and worked in Jamaica because they could judge the conditions for themselves.
See an online article ‘Materialism, Slavery, and The History of Jamaica’ by Suman Seth, in Isis 105, no. 4 (December 2014): 764-772, Chicago University Press, regarding Edward Long’s polygenist slave theories.
Member of Parliament and barrister James Scarlett (1769-1844) was born in Jamaica on the extensive Duckett’s Spring Estate but moved to England to be educated. Like the Long family, the Scarlett’s Jamaican history begins in the colonisation of Jamaica in 1655. James Scarlett descended from Captain Francis Scarlett who was a crew member of that 1655 mission. Though James never returned to Jamaica once he had left, he supported his younger brother in his role as chief justice of Jamaica.
James Scarlett was created 1st Baron Abinger in 1835, having lived in Abinger, near Dorking, since 1813. He took his seat in the House of Lords in 1836 and died in Abinger in 1844. He had passed some time as a Member of Parliament for Peterborough among other places, and enjoyed a career as a distinguished advocate. The Ducketts Spring Estate passed to his son, Richard, 2nd Baron Abinger.
Scarlett was awarded £626 2s 2d for 30 enslaved people on the Spring Grove estate, Manchester, Jamaica. For a biography of James Scarlett MP, as a plantation owner in Jamaica and the compensation he was awarded from the Slave Compensation Commission, see his entry on the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership website.
The Onslow Family
Clandon Park’s historic Onslow family also demonstrate the links between politics and the West Indies. The Whitehall and Mountain Hill plantations of Thomas Lord Onslow, 2nd Baron (1679-1740) were located in the parish of St. Thomas in Jamaica and produced sugar in huge quantities. In a 1739 list of sugar plantations, the Onslow family possessed nearly 2,000 acres of Jamaican land, though they only planted on some 300 acres.
Thomas Lord Onslow’s marriage in 1708 to a Jamaican heiress, Elizabeth Knight, was extremely advantageous. Knight’s uncle, Charles, was a wealthy plantation owner and along with shipmaster Richard Creed, he had a £2,000 bond to King William and Queen Mary, agreeing to provide a cargo of sugar, tobacco, cotton wool and various dyes to the port of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The 1708 marriage settlement put the Whitehall plantation into Onslow family ownership, though not until 1709 when Elizabeth was 21 and could be released from her guardian to become an executor of her father’s will.
The Onslow records contain a grant of annuity of £100 from George Lord Onslow and Cranley and another party, to Alexander Higginson, and the Whitehall plantation is added to a list of holdings leased to trustees in the deed (SHC Ref. 5317/1-2).
For biographies of the Onslows as plantation owners in Jamaica, in particular, Thomas Lord Onslow, see his entry on the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership website.
John Ivatt Briscoe
John Ivat Briscoe (1791-1870) became Lord of the Manor of Epsom upon marrying Anna Maria Mawbey in 1819. He lived in Foxhills, near Chertsey and was also present at an anti-slavery meeting in an Epsom pub. Briscoe was a Whig MP for constituents in Surrey and was connected with the slave trade. His marriage settlement with Anna Maria included stakes in a Barbados Estate called Lower Berney’s, belonging to William Berney. The connection between Berney and the married pair is unclear, but Briscoe was not the only one of the plantation’s heirs with political links.
For a biography of Ivatt Briscoe, as a plantation owner in Barbados and the compensation he was awarded from the Slave Compensation Commission, see his entry on the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership website.
Charles Nicholas Pallmer
Charles Nicholas Pallmer of Norbiton Place (1771-1848) was a successful politician, holding the offices of Sheriff of Surrey (1822-3) as well as MP for Surrey (1826-30). However, his later career was overshadowed by enormous personal debts and he was declared bankrupt in 1831.
Though he owned the expansive Rose Hill estate in Clarendon, Jamaica, he had mortgaged the estate to a creditor and, because of his debts, saw very little of the £4920 12s 7d given by the state as compensation for the emancipation of his 253 slaves on Rose Hill and other, much smaller plantations.
Charles’ wife, Maria Francis Parker, heir of her father’s Norbiton estate, owned a small number of slaves in Jamaica too and his sister married Thomas John Parker (see above) in 1796.
For information about Pallmer as a Jamaican plantation owner and the compensation he was awarded from the Slave Compensation Commission, see his entry on the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership website.
The Williams Family
The Williams family of Antigua possessed three estates on the island, inhabited by just under 400 slaves in 1834, when Rowland Edward Williams claimed compensation from the government. The Williams family had moved to Weston Green, Thames Ditton, before Rowland was born, hence he was another absentee owner.
For a biography of Rowland Edward Williams as a plantation owner in Antigua and the compensation he was awarded from the Slave Compensation Commission, see his entry on the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership website.
The Lambert Family
The Lambert family lived at Weston House, Weston Green, in Thames Ditton. The family had distinguished naval and military credits and Vice Admiral Robert Stuart Lambert (1772-1836, of the Royal Navy) was awarded £5125 15s 3d as compensation when his 275 slaves on the Winchester Estate in Jamaica were emancipated in 1834.
For a biography of Vice Admiral Robert Stuart Lambert as a plantation owner in Jamaica and the compensation he was awarded from the Slave Compensation Commission, see his entry on the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership website.
Other connections with the West Indies
Besides these few political strongholds for the West Indian cause, Surrey had further connections with Jamaican industries. Other plantation owners included the Godwin Austen family of Shalford and the More-Molyneux family of Loseley Park. Other Surrey individuals have been connected to sugar plantations at some point, including Thomas John Parker, James Man, Thomas Foster, Edward Garthwaite and Nathaniel Smith.
Edward Garthwaite of Shackleford House in Godalming, was an acquaintance of Samuel Long and possessed some land in Jamaica. Loseley Park’s More-Molyneux family ran a plantation in Montserrat and according to an estate survey of 1837, Thomas John Parker employed nearly 700 apprentices, a huge number, suggesting the number of slaves on his estate was even larger.
In his 1668 will, James Man of Mortlake, a draper, left his children Anne, Samuel and Francis, shares in his Estates in England, Turkey, America, Jamaica, and elsewhere in the West Indies (SHC Ref. 212/75/7).
Nathaniel Smith’s widow, Hester Smith of Ashtead, Surrey, is an executor of a deed relating to a plantation in St. Vincent. Nathaniel leased a West Indian plantation complete with slaves and cattle from Charles Payne Sharpe in 1771 and employed two English residents of St.Vincent to act as attorneys during his lifetime (the deed of 1798 even contains a list of the slaves’ names, SHC Ref. 4376/1/3). The deed signed the property over to a Kent resident, John Trevanion.
The 1762 will of ‘Thomas Foster, formerly of Esher in the county of Surrey, Esquire’ (cited in a deed SHC Ref. 211/2/2), mentions his two plantations in the parish of St. Elizabeth, Elm Waterford Lancaster and Two Mile Wood, in addition to other lands in Jamaica and ‘all the Negro Slaves used upon and belonging to the same Estates and Plantations’.
The deed which cites Foster’s will also refers to the compensation adjudicated to Foster’s estate in 1836, to pay off his slaves after the ‘act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British colonies’ and ‘for promoting the industry of manumitted slaves and to compensating the persons hitherto entitled to the services of such slaves’. Foster’s sons, George and John Frederick, and his trustees were left nearly £14,000 in total, not including the interest of 3% annually.
Sources at Surrey History Centre:
Deed listing slaves in a plantation belonging to the Ricketts family, 1832 (SHC Ref. G111/44/Box1).
Assignment of Mortgage: relates to the large Ducketts Spring Estate in St. James and Westmoreland, Jamaica, 1836 (SHC ref. G120/36/31).
Account of Captain Robert Matthew’s 1698 commission to Guinea and Montserrat (SHC Ref. LM/1324/16).
Sir Poynings More’s designs for a plantation in Barbados, nd [17th century] (SHC Ref. LM/2022).
Deeds relating to the Frederick family of Burwood House, their properties in Walton-on-Thames and elsewhere (SHC Ref. 183/1/1-105).
Marriage settlement, lease and release of lands at Burwood, Painshill and elsewhere to John Nicholas Fazakerley with Henry Goulburn as signatory, 1843 (SHC Ref. 183/1/99-100).
Deed citing the will of Thomas Foster, Esher, 1847 (SHC Ref. 211/2/2).
Deed citing the will of James Man, Mortlake, 1668 (SHC Ref. 212/75/7).
Marriage settlement of Thomas Lord Onslow and Arabella Mainwaring, with reference to lease and release of Whitehall plantation in Jamaica among other plots and Estates, 1776 (SHC Ref. 1186/3-4).
Conveyance of plantation, slaves and stock from West Indies, 1798 (SHC Ref. 4376/1/3).
Deeds referring to Samuel Long of Carshalton and Lawes Long of Hampton Lodge, plantation owners (SHC Ref. 5294/2/14-40).
Grant of Annuity (£100) from George Lord Onslow and Cranley and two others to Alexander Higginson (SHC Ref. 5317/1-2).
Laver, Ann, Sugar, Slaves & Surrey (Guildford: University of Surrey, 2001 – dissertation available in Surrey History Centre).