Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Wandsworth - 18thC Powerhouse - Part 3

The Slavery Business

There were  dozens of people involved in the slavery business. Thomas Pilgrim settled in Putney in 1701 after coming from Barbados where he had owned a plantation with 20 slaves. Thomas Pitt a London merchant held stock in the Royal Africa Company until his death in 1699. City of London Alderman Sir Jeffrey Jeffries was involved in the Company in the 1680s and 1690s. Sugar refining had started in Battersea in the 1670s, and in 1713 and 1715 there were two sugar houses near York Place. These may have been connected with Sir John Fleet, an Alderman and MP, and Director of the East India Company who died in 1712.

Christopher Baldwin, a West India merchant and slave-owner in Antigua and Dominica, moved  to England sometime before 1751 and settled on Clapham Common West Side. He still owned the plantations when he died in 1806.

Connections before Emancipation

Putney owners of slaves on Antigua included Sir George Thomas, a former Governor of the Leeward Islands at Gifford House from 1768 to 1770, Godschall Johnson at Bristol House between 1787 and 1792, and Archibald Cochrane at North House 1804-14. There was also Alexander Willock at Dover House 1782 to 1792, who was an executor and trustee of the will of Michael White of St Vincent.

The Aguilers, Portuguese Jews with Jamaican interests built The Keir on Wimbledon Common Westside in 1789. It was purchased by the McEvoys in 1812 who had 3,000 acres and 1,000 slaves in the Danish West Indies.

Between 1802 and 1808 Putney Park was lived in by Alexander Lindo the former slave factor, and then until 1814 by Alexander Anderson a former slave-trader.

In 1812 Joseph Marryat moved into Wimbledon House with its 100 acres, and purchased it in 1815.  He was a  West Indies merchant and slave owner,  Chairman of Lloyd’s from 1811, and a member of the West India Committee, until his death in 1824. He published pro-slavery pamphlets in 1816 and 1824.

Recipients of the  £20m compensation were paid as direct awardees, Trustees and Executors. There were some who would benefit from it under annuities provided for in. 

Recipients of Compensation

From 1822 James Bogle Smith lived in The Chestnuts in what is now 22-28 Mossbury Rd. He was a West India merchant sharing in the compensation on 5 estates on St. Vincent and British Guiana. The banker John Deacon at Broomfield House was awarded five amounts of compensation for slaves in Jamaica  and Trinidad.

Those involved in slave ownership on Dominica included Abraham Wildey Robarts who lived for 30 years from 1827 at Manresa House, and Dr. James Laing of Streatham Hill who had died by the time of compensation.

William Matthew Coulthurst who died in Streatham in 1877 was a joint Trustee receiving £40, 376 for 2,206 enslaved people on  7 Jamaican estates.

Rev. Thomas Harrison, a Wesleyan missionary who died at 6 Albion Terrace on Wandsworth Rd in 1851 was involved in receiving just over £2,645 for 308 enslaved people on 4 estates on Anguilla.

Hibbert Almshouses

William Hibbert who lived at Chestnut Grove off Southside Clapham Common between 1810 and 1844 received just under £48,126 for 2,654 enslaved people on 12 Jamaican estates. His non property estate was worth £100,000 when he died. His daughters paid for the almhouses in his memory on Wandsworth Rd.

William King, the son of a former leading slave trader, lived on East Hill in 1828 and West Hill in 1841 received just over £48,118 for 1,035 enslaved people on 6 estates in British Guiana, an estate on Dominica and one on Trinidad. His non property estate was worth £140,000 when he died in 1861.

There were many who received much smaller sums because their ownership was not as large. Ambrose Moore who lived at St Ann’s House in Wandsworth in 1871 received just over £2,810 on 113 enslaved people, Georgina Prentice who lived at Coombe Lodge in Inner Park Rd between 1881 and 1888, just under 16/- for 2. Ann Swift who died at the Grove in Wandsworth had received nearly £101 for 5 enslaved people. Charles Cheveny who lived at Chantry Villas on Balham Rd received just under £480 for 14 enslaved people.

Mayor of Garratt
One of the responses of local people to the enclosures of land to create the new estates across the area was the establishment of the Mayor of Garratt mock elections  between 1747 and 1775 and three between 1781 and 1796 with an attempt at a revival in 1826. The candidates were usually tradesmen and politically radical. In 1781 it is thought that up to 100,000 people took part. What is not clear is why at Garratt and not elsewhere around London.

Political Reform

The area was part of the Surrey Parliamentary Constituency and was subject to bitter contest in 1774 when Joseph Mawbey, the brewer, parliamentary reformer,  supporter of the campaigner for reform and the freedom of the press John Wilkes, stood against the pro-Government sitting MP.  In 1789 it was the only County election fought on party lines with active intervention by the Government.

Later residents and landowners in Wimbledon and Roehampton were involved in the controversies over Parliamentary reform, the slavery business and the French Revolution such as John Horne Tooke and William Pitt in Wimbledon Pitt. Pitt was Prime Minister from 1783 to 1801 and 1804 to 1806. He was a frequent guest in Wimbledon of William Wilberforce at Lauriston House until the latter moved to Battersea Rise, and then of William Grenville and Henry Dundas. He died at Bowling Green Cottage on Putney Heath in 1806. His Home Secretary Dundas lived at Warren House.

John Horne Tooke and Treason Trials

At the nearby Chester House lived the radical cleric John Horne Tooke  from 1792 to 1812. He and others were acquitted in one of the Treason trials of 1794. Among Tooke's visitors were Thomas Paine, author of the Rights of Man, Thomas Hardy, a leader of the London Corresponding Society and Sir Francis Burdett, a radical MP, who also lived in Wimbledon.

In Roehampton lived  Sir Edward Law. the Crown Counsel in the Horne Tooke trial, and 
defence counsel for Warren Hastings in 1795, He became Attorney-General in 1801,  Lord Chief Justice and Baron Ellenborough in 1802, and a Cabinet member in 1806 and 1807.. He  prosecuted Colonel Despard in 1803 and  James Watson and William Hone in 1817. His estate was sold after his death in 1818. From 1824 Robert Gifford lived there. He had prosecuted the Spencean conspirators in Cato St trial and involved in the Queen Caroline affair lived there.

The Spencers
Wimbledon’s Lord of the Manor George John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and 2nd Earl Spencer from 1783 was Home Secretary in the Ministry of All The Talents from 1806 to 1807, which enacted the legislation abolishing Britain’s official involvement in the slave trade.

As Viscount Althorp his son John Charles was Leader of the House and Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Grey’s Government from 1830 to July 1834. He took a leading role in achieving the Reform Act of 1832, which enabled the legislation that abolished slavery in the British West Indies.

James Perry & Morning Chronicle

Finally there is James Perry, owner of the pro-reform Morning Chronicle from 1789 until his death 1821. He was editor until 1817. He not only lived in the area, but also owned a mill and was one of those supporting the Surrey Iron Railway.

Questions Arising

This introductory review generates a lot of questions which existing research studies do not seem to answer.
1.       How much wealth was created by the local industrial operations?
2.       How much of that wealth was invited locally and how much spent or invested elsewhere?
3.       What were the sources of funds for the accumulation of the landed estates and the building and up-dating of the many mansion houses?
4.       How much profit from the slavery business was invested in the area?
5.       What were the sources of financial resources invested by the bankers who settled in the area?
6.       What were the economic, family, political and social networks operating between those who owned land and property or lived in the different districts?

Roehampton Estate, Jamaica

Finally I conclude with the destruction of the Roehampton Estate during the Jamaican slave revolt of 1831, a key factor in convincing more people to support the end of the slave ownership system. What I cannot tell you is why it was called Roehampton. Although its owner had died in 1832 the £5,745 0s. 3d compensation on  322 enslaved people was given to his Executor. 


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