National Trust report on Colonialism and Slavery for the South West

Friends,

There aren’t many official reports that can have been as eagerly awaited, as has the National Trust report on Colonialism and Slavery, by those of us, like myself, brought up in total ignorance of the unpaid blood, toil, tears and sweat that filled the coffers of West Country slave-trading families such as the Elton’s of Clevedon Court, who always acted as if they owned my home town.

I have copied and attached for you the South-West part of this report, which details the National Trust properties with links to colonialism in general and slavery in particular, from Gloucester to Penzance.

I hope I don’t need to say that this report does not unhelpfully dredge up a past where ‘morals were different’ ; does not imply a downgrading of the generations of ‘the white slaves of England’ who made our industrial revolution; does not imply that the hardships and brutalities of country-house servants should be forgotten; or, finally, does not seek to replace one one-sided history with another.

The report does build on, and adds crucial local detail to, the work of pioneering anti-slavery historians, such as James Walvin, Peter Fryer and Bristol’s own Madge Dresser.

The report does bring to our attention sources of English upper-class wealth that have been obscured, by ignorance or design, by ALL previous generations of establishment historians.We can all now make our own judgements on this history, with the bright light on country-house slavery links this report gives us.

Please read and share!

Dave Chapple Trades Councils’ Rep, South West TUC

Cornwall

Lanhydrock

John Robartes, 1st Earl of Radnor (1606–85), held senior governmental roles, including Privy Councillor, Lord Privy Seale and, briefly, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He sat on successive influential colonial groups, including the Committee for Trade and Plantations, the Council of Trade, the Council for Foreign Plantations and the Board of Trade. He was also a member of various companies, including the Providence Company and the Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England. Lundy, Devon Thomas Benson (1708–72) was Sheriff of Devon (1746–47) and the MP for Barnstaple (1747–54), as well as a smuggler and practitioner of piracy. In 1747, he gained a contract to ship convicts to Virginia and Maryland, but instead shipped them to Lundy, where he employed them as slave labour. In the subsequent court case, Benson argued that transporting the convicts to Lundy was no different from transporting them to the Americas, and his interpretation of the law was upheld. William Hudson Heaven (1800–83) of Bristol, was a merchant and plantation owner who purchased Lundy in 1836 for 9,400 guineas and constructed Millcombe Villa on the island. He was the son of Thomas Heaven (1757–1839), a West India merchant of Bristol. Hudson Heaven owned multiple plantations in Hanover, Jamaica, including Golden Grove, Silver Grove, Beans Estate, Ramble Pen and Burnt Ground Pen. They appear to have been inherited from William Hudson (1737–1807), who emigrated to Jamaica in 1757, although the nature of their relationship is uncertain. In 1835–6, Hudson Heaven received a total compensation of £11,742 1s. 11d. for 638 enslaved people across four estates in six awards. The family ownership of Jamaican plantations continued into the mid-twentieth century, and Lundy was sold in 1917.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Cotehele

The Edgcumbes were an established Cornish family, who acquired Cotehele in 1353 through marriage. Successive generations were highly active in regional politics, military and mining activities. In 1741, Edgecombe County in North Carolina was named for Richard Edgcumbe (c.1680–1758), who was made 1st Baron Edgcumbe the following year, and was a member of the Board of Trade which, along with the Secretaries of State, was responsible for British colonial affairs, particularly those in North America. A settlement called Edgecomb in Lincoln County, Maine, was, according to the American Geological Survey of 1905, ‘named for Lord Edgecombe, a friend of the American colonies.

Godolphin

Sir William Godolphin MP (c.1640–1710), died without children and left the Godolphin Estates to his brother, Sidney (1645–1712), 1st Earl of Godolphin and the Lord Treasurer. The Earl of Godolphin oversaw financial restructuring of the Treasury, including financing the costly War of Spanish Succession (1701–14). This was aided by his negotiations in 1707 for the consolidation of the East India Company and the New India Company, with special privileges in return for a loan to the government of over £3 million. Another brother, Charles (c.1650–1720), who also worked in the Treasury, was a Commissioner of Customs, a director in the Royal African Company and an East India Company investor.

Trengwainton Garden

Sir Rose Price, 1st Baronet (1768–1834) purchased Trengwainton in 1814 and set about rebuilding the house and laying out gardens. Price was descended from an established Cornish-Jamaican plantation-owning family, started by Lieutenant Francis Price (1635–89), who acquired 840 acres of land called Worthy Park in St John, Jamaica, in 1670. Sir Rose Price owned or controlled multiple Jamaican plantations. Following his death in 1834, his executors handled compensation claims from his estate, including £3,579 3s. 2d. for 464 enslaved people at Worthy Park in 1836, with a second successful claim at Worthy Park for £5,860 9s. 11d. in 1838, and another claim for £1,662 0s. 5d. for 79 enslaved people at Spring Garden, St Dorothy. Trengwainton was sold by mortgage holders in 1835.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Devon

Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey was acquired by the Grenville family in 1541. Sir Richard Grenville (1542–91), an MP and naval commander, converted the monastic buildings around 1576. As Sheriff of Cork, (Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties now in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery • September 2020 98) Ireland (c.1568–9), he transplanted over 100 English settlers. It is likely he invested in Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s (1537–83) ‘New World’ expeditions of 1578 and 1583. In 1585, Grenville sailed colonists to establish Roanoke (now North Carolina), ordered the destruction of the Native American Aquascogoc village as punishment for a missing silver cup, and transported to Bideford a Native American, who was baptised in 1588 as ‘Raleigh a Wynganditoian’ and died a year later. In 1581, Sir Francis Drake (c.1540–96) bought Buckland and made alterations. Drake’s kinsman, John Hawkins (1532–95), initiated the English triangular slave trade route from 1562, and Drake sailed on his ships. In 1572, Drake met Diego, an escaped enslaved African, when attacking the Spanish town of Nombre de Dios in present-day Panama. Diego remained with Drake on the mission (which probably earned over £100,000) as a paid member of the crew. Diego died a free man in 1579 near the Moluccas, Indonesia, while employed on Drake’s circumnavigation. According to documentary sources, on that same journey, Drake took three Africans, including an enslaved pregnant woman named Maria, and later left them on an Indonesian island.

Castle Drogo

Castle Drogo was built for the tea-merchant Julius Drewe (1856–1931) and designed by the architect of New Delhi, Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944). At the age of 18, Drewe was sent to China as a tea-buyer by his uncle, Francis Peek (c.1836–99), a partner in Liverpool tea-merchants Peek and Winch. Julius’s great uncle, Richard Peek (1782–1867), one of the three brothers who founded Peek and Winch, was an abolitionist and philanthropist who was on the organising committee of the anti-slavery conventions held in London in 1840 and 1843. The Peek and Winch company later expanded into coffee, cocoa, rubber and spices, and owned plantations in the Dutch East Indies. In 1878, Drewe returned to Liverpool and opened the Willow Pattern Tea Store. In 1883, Drewe and John Musker (1846–1926) founded the Home and Colonial Trading Association (later Home and Colonial Stores), which sold teas selected in India by Drewe, alongside other groceries. By 1903, the company had 500 stores. In 1889, both Drewe and Musker left the business as wealthy men, and Drewe married Frances Richardson (1871–1954), whose father was the Derbyshire cotton manufacturer Thomas Richardson (fl. nineteenth century). In 1910, Drewe commissioned Lutyens to build a castle near Drewsteignton, and it was completed in 1930. In 1913, Lutyens was appointed by the British Indian Government as joint architect, with Herbert Baker (see entry for Owletts), and drew on the influence of Islamic and Hindu architecture in his designs. Parallels between Lutyens’ New Delhi designs and Castle Drogo can be seen in the gardens at both sites.

Compton Castle and Greenway

The Gilbert family owned both Compton Castle and Greenway since the Middle Ages. Sir Humphrey Gilbert (1537–83), MP, soldier, explorer and half-brother of Sir Walter Ralegh (1554– 1618), fought in Ireland and attempted to establish a colony. In 1578, he received letters patent to seek out new lands in the Americas, which led to an unsuccessful voyage the same year. In 1583, he sailed to Newfoundland and claimed the first ‘New World’ territory for England since John Cabot (c.1451–c.1498) in 1497. Gilbert died returning from the expedition when his ship Squirrel sank near the Azores. In 1606, Gilbert’s son Captain Raleigh Gilbert (c.1582–1633) jointly received letters patent for the Virginia Company of Plymouth and, in 1607, led the establishment of the short-lived Popham Colony in Maine. The Gilberts sold Greenway around 1700. In 1791, it was purchased by Edward Elton (1742– 1811), who was descended from Sir Abraham Elton I (1654–1728) of Clevedon Court, Somerset (see entry for Clevedon Court). The author Agatha Christie (1890–1976) and her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan (1904–78), purchased Greenway in 1938, having met at excavations in Ur, Iraq, then under British mandate.

Saltram

 James Bagg MP (c.1554–1624), a merchant and Mayor of Plymouth in Devon, purchased Saltram around 1614. He invested in the Virginia Company of Plymouth (established in 1606) and its successor, the Plymouth Council for New England (established in 1620), along with his son and heir, Sir James Bagg MP (c.1592–1638), a merchant and Deputy-Mayor of Plymouth. In 1632, Sir James was elected to the Plymouth Council for New England. Both father and son were Comptrollers of Customs in Plymouth and Fowey, Cornwall.

Shute Barton

Sir William Templer Pole (1782–1847) inherited from his father (c.1799) both Shute Barton (a partially demolished fourteenth-century house) and the newly-built New Shute House (which is not owned by the National Trust). In 1835, he received compensation from two estates, jointly inherited with kinsman Henry Coombe Compton (1789–1866) from their great-grandfather, John Mills (d.1758) of Woodford Bridge, Essex. The awards were £2,512 8s. 0d. for 170 enslaved people at the Mills plantation and £2,784 8s. 4d. for 170 enslaved people at the Golden Rock plantation, both St Kitts.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Gloucestershire

Dyrham Park

George Wynter (d.1581) and Sir William MP (c.1525–89), naval commanders of Lydney, Gloucestershire, bought Dyrham Park in 1571. Wynter owned vessels sailed in John Hawkins’s (1532–95) slave-trading voyages in the 1560s. George’s son, John (d.1619), captained Sir Francis Drake’s (c.1540–96) circumnavigation of 1577. John’s great-granddaughter, Mary Wynter (1650– 91), the sole Dyrham heiress, married William Blathwayt MP (c.1649–1717) in 1686. Blathwayt was brought up by his uncle Thomas Povey (c.1613–c.1705), an MP and colonial administrator. Povey co-authored ‘Overtures’ for Oliver Cromwell (in 1654) that defined government colonial management, sat on colonial committees and councils, and was a member of the Royal African Company. Povey engineered Blathwayt’s colonial career: he became Surveyor, then Auditor-General of Plantation Revenues (1680–1717) and a member of the Board of Trade (1696–1707). Deeply knowledgeable in colonial matters, Blathwayt had a long career and his colonial contacts helped fund and furnish a new house and gardens at Dyrham. In 1899, Rev. Wynter Thomas Blathwayt (1825–1909) inherited Dyrham. His wife, Mary Sarah Hibbert Oates (1834–1925), was of mixed heritage, born illegitimately in Jamaica to the plantation owner George Hibbert Oates (1791–1837).

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Newark Park

Sir Thomas Lowe (c.1546–1623) purchased Newark Park in 1593. Sir Thomas was a cloth merchant, MP, Mayor of London, Master of the Haberdashers’ Company and Governor of both the Merchant Adventurers [of London] and the Levant Company. His maiden speech as an MP in 1607 petitioned on behalf of Mediterranean and West Indies merchants. In 1769, James Clutterbuck (d.1776) bought Newark Park. A mercer and banker from London, he left Newark Park to his godson, Rev. Lewis Clutterbuck (c.1765–1820). Rev. Clutterbuck’s son, Lewis II (1794–1861), married Sarah (1787–1867), the daughter of William Balfour (d.1803/4) of Martha Brae, Trelawney, Jamaica. In the compensation records, Sarah Clutterbuck was awarded £290 11s. 9d. for 12 enslaved people in St James, Jamaica, in 1836, and made an unsuccessful claim of £2,169 4s. 2d. for 98 enslaved people from the Retirement Estate, St Ann, Jamaica, in 1839. Lewis and Sarah Clutterbuck’s second son, James Edmund (1823–93), inherited Newark after his elder brother’s death. He retired from the army in 1883 as Surgeon General, having served with the Flying Columns in Fatehpur District (Uttar Pradesh, India) during the Great Rebellion of India from 1857 to 1858, and in the Anglo-Ashanti War from 1873 to 1874.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Sherborne Park Estate

John Dutton, 2nd Baron Sherborne (1779–1862), inherited the Sherborne Park Estate in 1820. Lord Sherborne was an executor for the estate of Sir Rose Price (1768–1834), who had married his cousin, Elizabeth Lambert (1782–1826). As co-executor, Lord Sherborne administered (Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties now in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery • September 2020 104) compensation of £3,579 3s. 2d. for 464 enslaved people at the Worthy Park Estate, St John, Jamaica, in 1836, but is unlikely to have personally benefited.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Snowshill Manor 

Abraham Solomon Wade (d.1817) of St Martin married Frances Paget (1769–1845) of St Kitts. Frances received compensation of £145 4s. 7d. for nine enslaved people in 1835. Their son, Solomon Abraham Wade (1806–81), was a merchant, agent and, latterly, plantation owner on St Kitts, receiving compensation in 1835 of £29 17s. 4d. for two enslaved people and shared £109 19s. 0d. for seven enslaved people. In 1844, Solomon’s first child was born with his unmarried partner Mary Jones (sometimes recorded as James) (1817–1914), a black woman thought to be his housekeeper, but recorded as a ‘huckster’ or someone who sells items door to door or from a stall. They married in 1855, having purchased the first of several plantations in 1850, but moved to Kent, England, by 1861. Their fourth child, Paget Augustus Wade (1849–1911), received £16,000 from his father to purchase plantations on St Kitts, and he established an import business, Sendall and Wade in London. He married Amy Blanche Spencer (1858–1943) in 1882 and had a son named Charles Paget Wade (1883–1956). Wade was an architect, illustrator and plantation owner who purchased Snowshill Manor in 1919. In 1911, he inherited a share of the family business from his father, whose death certificate (Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties now in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery • September 2020 105) recorded his mixed heritage ethnicity as ‘coloured’. His mother, Amy Wade, ran the company and bought out her sisters-in-law to consolidate their sugar and cotton plantations on St Kitts and Montserrat. Wade only visited St Kitts frequently after the Second World War. He gifted Snowshill Manor to the National Trust in 1951 and spent his remaining years between St Kitts and England. The collection at Snowshill Manor contains a slave collar which possibly comes from the West Indies. More research is planned on this object.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Dorset

Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle

 Henry Bankes MP (1756–1834) inherited Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle from his father in 1776, and in 1784 married Frances Woodley (c.1760–1823), daughter of William Woodley MP (1728–93), a plantation owner and Governor of the Leeward Islands. The same year he commissioned architect Robert Furze Brettingham (c.1750–1820) to remodel Kingston Lacy. Henry and Frances’s son and heir, William John Bankes MP (1786–1855), made an unsuccessful claim in 1836, as a Woodley trustee, for compensation of £2,925 4s. 2d. for 172 enslaved people on St Kitts. William John undertook a Grand Tour between 1813 and 1822, mostly travelling through Egypt and Syria. He accumulated one of the largest private collections of ancient-Egyptian artefacts, including the Philae obelisk (2nd century BC).

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Wiltshire

Lacock Abbey

John Rock Grosett MP (c.1784–1866) was a plantation owner who leased Lacock Abbey during the 1820s. He was the son of Schaw Grosett (1741–1820), a merchant of Clifton, Bristol, and Mary Rock (1755–1807). John Rock Grosett married his cousin, Mary Spencer Shirley (1784–1820), and through his father, mother and wife received a combined inheritance of at least three Jamaican estates: Chepstow Pen and Spring Gardens Estate in St George, and Petersfield in St Thomas-inthe-East. In 1822, he joined the Standing Committee of The London Society of West India Planters and Merchants and supported planters’ interests in Parliament. By 1831, Grosett had left (Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties now in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery • September 2020 102) Lacock to live in Jamaica, elected to the Assembly that year. In 1834, he and his lawyer received compensation totalling £16,143 1s. 9d. for 916 enslaved people.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Stourhead

Henry Hoare (1677–1725) bought the Stourhead Estate by 1717 and between 1720 and 1725 demolished the earlier house for a new design by the architect Colen Campbell (1676–1729). In 1719 Hoare inherited his father’s bank which, during the period of the South Sea Bubble (February to September 1720), earned him a profit of £21,000 (about £1.6 million in 2020). The Bank’s commercial success was achieved by ‘riding the bubble’, through buying South Sea Company stock when it fell in price and selling it when it had a large rise.

Somerset

Barrington Court, Somerset

The National Trust acquired Barrington Court in 1907, in a derelict condition. From 1920, Barrington was leased and restored by Colonel Abram Arthur Lyle (1880–1931), using architectural salvage collected from other houses. Lyle was the grandson of the founder of Abram Lyle & Sons, a sugar-producing company of which the colonel became director, and which merged to form Tate & Lyle in 1921. Both businesses were established after the abolition of slavery. The early nineteenth and early twentieth century British sugar industry was predominantly supplied by Caribbean plantations, founded under colonialism and supported by enslaved labour.

Bath Assembly Rooms

Bath and its ‘New’ or ‘Upper’ Assembly Rooms were connected to wider colonial and slavery economies of the eighteenth century. The Assembly Rooms were designed by John Wood the Younger (1728–82) and opened in 1771. They were funded by a tontine subscription, a form of group life-annuity investment in which survivors benefit from the deaths of other participants. James Leigh–Perrot (1735–1817), one such founding investor, was the maternal uncle of the author Jane Austen. In 1764, he married Jane Cholmeley (1744–1836), who was born in Barbados to Robert Cholmeley (died c.1754) and latterly the sister-in-law of the Barbados Governor William Spry (d.1772). The couple lived part of the year in Bath, and it is believed Jane LeighPerrot was heiress to her father’s plantations. Executors for her mother, Ann Workman (d.1790), sold a plantation in 1791. Jane Austen (1775–1817) wrote to her sister Cassandra (1773–1845) in 1801, describing Frank, whom she identified as a black servant in her aunt and uncle’s household: ‘Frank, whose black head was in waiting in the Hall window, received us very kindly; and his Master & Mistress did not shew less cordiality …’. In 1830, William Wilberforce (1759–1833) spoke at an anti-slavery meeting at the Assembly Rooms, described in the Bath Chronicle: ‘Mr Wilberforce then, in a very low voice addressed the meeting. He soon, however, increased in energy, and made a most animated and effective appeal…’.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database

Glastonbury Tor

In 1825 the Rev. Hon. George Neville-Grenville (1789–1854) inherited Butleigh Court including Glastonbury Tor. In 1836, Neville administered compensation of £6,630 5s. 6d. for 379 enslaved people at the Hope Estate, St Andrew, Jamaica, owned by Richard Temple-Nugent-BrydgesChandos-Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1776–1839) of Stowe (see entry for Stowe). Neville was acting as trustee for the marriage settlement benefiting the Duke’s son and heir, Richard (1797–1861.

Additional information from the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership database:

Clevedon Court

Sir Abraham Elton I (1654–1728) purchased Clevedon Court in 1709. He was an industrialist, merchant, MP, alderman, Mayor of Bristol and member and Master of the city’s Society of Merchant Venturers. Elton’s commercial activities included brass and iron foundries, tin and calamine mines, glass and pottery works, salt production and cloth weaving. Many of these products were exported to Africa, stocking ships he owned that transported enslaved Africans to Jamaica, Barbados and Carolina. Subsequent Elton generations remained at the centre of Bristol’s political, civic and mercantile life, connected through marriage to local families with overlapping commercial interests. Sir Abraham’s heir, Abraham Elton II (1679–1742), maintained the transatlantic slavetrading business with his brothers Isaac (1681–1714) and Jacob (1684–1765). Abraham II also invested and lost heavily during the South Sea Bubble of 1720. Generations of the extended family continued the trade, owned plantations in Jamaica, developed sugar refining in Bristol and became members of the Company of Merchants Trading to Africa. The connection with the Society of Merchant Venturers endured, counting seven Elton masters and 13 members. Jacob’s descendants continued the Elton’s established mercantile operations. From the mid-eighteenth century the Baronets at Clevedon had legal, clerical and military careers, and increasingly focused upon property-ownership and estate management.

Tyntesfield

William Gibbs (1790–1875), known as ‘the richest commoner in England’, purchased the Georgian house and estate at Tyntesfield in 1844. His great wealth, which enabled the complete remodelling of Tyntesfield from 1863, was accrued by his company Anthony Gibbs & Sons, which had held a monopoly for importing Peruvian bird-guano fertiliser. A. Gibbs & Sons’ guano business operated from 1842 to 1861 and, with pressure from external observers, workers’ conditions improved through increased pay and access to basic medical care. Yet most extraction was performed by indentured and often coerced Chinese laborers, working in slaverylike conditions, alongside convicts, conscripts and army deserters, and, before the abolition of Peruvian slavery in 1854, enslaved people. In his youth, Gibbs was briefly employed by his uncle, George Gibbs (1753–1818) of the West Indian trading house which became Gibbs, Bright, and Co. This company later merged with A. Gibbs & Sons in 1881, and in 1887 the unprofitable WestIndies trading Bristol office was shut.