Nathaniel Wells

Image: Wax seal of Nathaniel Wells, a Monmouthshire Justice of the Peace. This image is from the collections of The National Archives.

1779 – 1852

Nathaniel Wells was born in St Kitts in 1779. He was the Black son of William Wells, a sugar merchant and planter from Cardiff, and Juggy, one of his house slaves. Her name was omitted from Bradney’s genealogy of the Wells family in his History of Monmouthshire. By 1801, Nathaniel had property worth an estimated £200,000 (between £15,7million and £1.286 billion) and was married to the only daughter of Charles Este, a former chaplain to King George II.

In 1802 Nathaniel Wells bought Piercefield near Chepstow for £90,000 cash. In 1806 he became a Justice of the Peace, and in 1888, Britain’s only known Black sheriff when he was appointed Sheriff of Monmouthshire.

Wells also became a magistrate, sitting in judgement over white people at a time when most black people in Britain’s colonies – including on Wells’ own estates – would have had no rights to such a court hearing. Wikipedia

He remained a plantation owner and slave owner until 1837, following emancipation enacted in St Kitts in 1833. He died in Bath in 1852 worth an estimated £100,000. Nathaniel Wells is listed in the Legacies of British Slave Owners.

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