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Gymballs and Cherry Garden Estates in the Parish of St. Dorothy, Jamaica, 1783


Jamaica. In Chancery. To his Honor Alured Clarke Esq. Lieut. Governor and Commander in Chief in Jamaica Chancellor and Vice Admiral. Humbly Complaining.

Your Orators and Oratrixes Abraham Lane of the City of Cork, Ireland, Merchant, Ann Lane otherwise Biggs his wife, and Sarah Creed of the same City widow who were the sisters and next of kin and administratrixes of the estate of Abraham Biggs late of the City of Bristol Merchant deceased who was the surviving Mortgagee named in an Indenture and Executor and Residuary Devisee of Thomas Pennington Jr. deceased who was the Administrator son and heir of Thomas Pennington the other Mortgagee named in the Indenture by John Kelly of the Parish of St Thomas in the East co. Surrey and Island aforesaid and Patrick Kein of the Parish of St Mary co. Middlesex in said Island Esq. their Attornies state That by an Indenture of Mortgage dated 24 Oct. 1775 made between the Hon. Rose Herring May late of the Parish of St. Catherine co. Middlesex Jamaica but then at Bath co. Som. and Mary Trelawney his wife of the one part and Thomas Pennington and Abraham Biggs both of the Citv of Bristol Merchants of the other it was witnessed that in consideration of £6000 to R. H. May paid he conveyed to them all that one moiety of three parcells of land in the Parish of St Dorothy co. Middlesex Jamaica containing 520 acres late the property of Benjamin Pusey and George Bonner Esquires deceased, whereon a Plantation or Sugar Work called Gymballs had been settled, and which said moiety contained 234 acres and was assigned to George Bonner by virtue of a Writ of partition in August Grand Court 1768 issued on a judgment obtained by Bonner against one Pierce Cook all which premises were stated to be sold to Rose Herring May by two Indentures the one dated 21 Feb. 1774 between Charles Brooks of St. Dorothy Esq. and Penelope his wife and Milborough Bonner of the same place spinster the daus. and devisees in the will of George Bonner deceased of the one and R. H. May of the other part and the other Indenture dated Nov. last past between Thomas Gray of the Parish of Kingston co. Surrey Jamaica Merchant of the 1st part; Thomas Brooks of St. Dorothy Esq. and Charles Brooks and Penelope his wife and Milborough Bonner of the 2s part; George Bonynge of St. Dorothy Esq. of the 3d part; Rebeeca Bonner of St. D. widow of the 4th; ,and Rose Herring May of the 5th part also all that sugar work in St. D. called Cherry Garden containing 206 acres being the other moiety of the said three parcells the 1st part of 169 acres butting S. on Mary Bonner, W. on Coleburns Gully, and N.W. on land lately belonging to Martin Wilkins said parcell being part of a lot sold to M. Wi1kins and Henry Bonner by Andrese Woodstock and Dennis Kelly Esquires 5 May 1743 containing 112 acres bounding N. on Robert Bindloss Esq. E. on James Prevost Esq. S. on Henry Bonner and W. on land formerly of John Gymball late belonging to Henry Bonner The third parcell containing 239 acres bounding S. on Major Thomas Rose, W. on the remaining part of land formerly belonging to Polintz Byndloss Esq. N. and N.E. part on the Kings road to the Bridge over Black River and part on land of Edmond Kelly Esq. and E. on Black River all which last mentioned premises were sold to R. H. May by two Indentures dated 21 Dec. last past one whereof was made between John Mead of Kingston Esq. of the one part and R. H. May of the other. And the other Indenture made between David Chambers of the one part and R. H. May of the other And all those Negroes and Mules as in the Schedule houses works mills to hold to the said Thomas Pennington and Ab. Biggs without any bar or incumbrance for ever subject to the provisoe for redemption by the repayment of the £6000 with Interest at six per cent. and the deed was recorded 29 Jan. 1776 and. a bond of £12,000 was entered into. But your Orators and Oratrixes have discovered that R. H. May previous to the mortgage became indebted to William Gray of the parish of Kingston Jamaica Esq. in a sum of £19,681 sterling being £27,553 currency and with his said wife entered into 12 bonds and on 20 March 1775 by an Indenture of Mortgage conveyed to Will Gray the said two plantations of Gymballs and Cherry Garden and the negroes and cattle as duly recorded in the Secretary's Office and William Gray having occasion for the money assigned to Jacob Israel Bernal of the parish of Kingston Jamaica Merchant the said Bonds and Indenture of Mortgage and J. I. Bernal paid to William Gray the £19,681 and William Gray by an Indenture of Transfer tripartite dated 20 Ap. 1775 between him of the 1st part; R. H. May of the 2d part; and J. I. Bernal of the 3rd part confirmed the plantations to the last named and they are the same in both Mortgages and the prior one was not mentioned in the later one of 24 Oct. 1775 to Pennington and Biggs and by the Act of 1692 the estate is now freed from the Equity of Redemption and by an Act of Jamaica passed in 1731 for the prevention of fraudulent mortgages the offenders are liable to punishment according to the laws of England and forfeit the right of redemption and the said estates became vested in Thomas Pennington the Elder and Ab. Biggs for ever and R. H. May having only proved the first bond J. I. Bernal as of Nov. Grand Court 1777 caused an action in Ejectment to be brought and obtained possession of the estates and on 12 Nov. 1779 exhibited his Bill of Complaint in this Court against R. H. May and Mary Trelawny his wife and Thomas Pennington and Ab. Biggs who were absentees and on 29 Dec. 1780 R. H. May and Mary Trelawney his wife filed their Answer and Thomas Pennington died in 1780 and Ab. Biggs in 1782 and in 1784 J. I. Bernal exhibited his Bill of Revivor against R. H. May and his wife and one Daniel Moore of Kingston gent. as administrator ad litem to Ab. Biggs and by connivance of May and by some gratuity to him procured a final decree and foreclosure and charged many thousands more against the estate than was bona fide due and Thomas Pennington and Ab. Biggs further advanced £2806 on May's bond and £1641 on a current account amounting on 1 Dec. 1778 to £4647 which. with Interest to 1 Dec. 1784 amounted to £6041 and the 9 years Interest on the £6000 was £2880 making a total of £14,921 and Thomas Pennington died intestate in 1780 leaving Ab. Biggs his co-partner surviving and Administration in the P.C.C. was granted on 7 Nov. 1780 to Tho. Pennington the Eldest son and heir at 1aw and the son soon after died and made his will on 9 Dec. 1780 and gave all his estate to his friend Ab. Biggs who proved the will in the P.C.C. on 12 Jan. 1781 and on 27 Jan. obtained letters of administration De bonis non and died in 1782 intestate and a bachelor leaving your Oratrixes Ann Lane and Sarah Creed his sisters next of kin and coheiresses who on 5 Sept. 1782 obtained administration and on 1 Jan. 1783 administration of Thomas Pennington and demand payment of the £6000 and £4647 with Interest and in Feb. or March last past by a power of attorney empowered John Kelly and Patrick Kein to recover these debts.

Proceedings were fraudulent. Pray that sworn answers may be received.

"J. I. Bernal upon the five Books of Moses according to the custom of his Nation" and all accounts produced and payment made to them.

And your Orators and Oratrixes shall pray etc.



[*These were the counsel who gave their written opinion on the case.]

Cockburn and Davis Solicitors for Complainants.

On nineteen sheets of Royal paper.

The William Gray who figures so frequently in these deeds was presumably the one of that name who was Provost Marshal-General in 1768; Member of Assembly for St. George 1773, Portland 1779, and Port Royal 178187; and died 1788.

Thomas Gray, Member of Assembly for Kingston 1781, died 1784. (Feurtado.)

For notice of Rose Herring May see ante, I., 261

MAY v. BERNAL, 1783.

Jamaica. In Chancery. The Hon. Rose Herring May of the Parish of St. Dorothy Esq. and Mary Trelawny his wife Complainants and Jacob Israel Bernal and Robert Finlay administrator of Abraham Biggs Defendants.

The Bill filed 10 March 1783 sets forth that Complainant having become indebted to William Gray of the Parish of Kingston Jamaica Esq. in the sum of £19,681 sterling or £27,553 currency repayable by installments spread over 12 years secured by 12 bonds dated 20 March 1775 with Interest at 6 per cent., etc., and being seized in fee simple of those two plantations of Gymballs and Cherry Garden in the Parish of St. Dorothy containing together 520 acres and slaves as a collateral security by a Mortgage of 20 March 1775 conveyed them to William Gray [here follow the names of all the slaves] and on Cherry Garden 44 steers and 16 mules and on Gymballs 32 steers 13 cows 5 calves and 10 mules and William Gray assigned his interest to J. I. Bernal on 20 Ap. 1775 by an Indenture of Transfer of Mortgage tripartite between Gray, May, and Bernal. Complainant being in Bath the following Oct. and considering the mortgage was not above one third the value of the estates borrowed £6000 of Messrs. Thomas Pennington and Ab. Biggs of Bristol Merchants and by Indenture of lease and release dated 23 and 24 Oct. 1775 he granted to them the said two estates by way of mortgage. That the 1st bond was paid off but by reason of the great drought preceding the crop of 1777 the proceeds were reduced from 247 hogsheads of sugar to one hogshead and 8 tierces and he could not meet the 2d bond so by the Common law the estate of Bernal became absolute but subject in equity to be redeemed pro tanto and Bernal at Nov. Grand Court 1777 brought an action in Ejectment and Replevin and Complainant came to an agreement with him on 9 Dec. 1777 [recited in full] by which he was to retain the management of the estates Mr. Bernal was to ship the produce and the whole debt was to be paid off in 7 years but Bernal withheld the necessary supplies so on 6 March 1778 he gave up possession but to retain the management and cultivation. Ever since the management has been refused him and no balance has been paid over and Bernal on 12 Nov. 1779 filed his Bill against Complainant and Thomas Pennington and Ab. Biggs stating he had discovered there was the second mortgage defrauding the latter and that therefore the agreements of 9 Dec. 1777 and 6 March 1778 were not valid and that the accounts might be referred to a Master of this Court and the estates sold and Complainant put in his Answer about 29 Dec. 1780. Bernal sailed in May last past for Great Britain and has delayed the suits and has received over and above what was due to him having sold 684 hogsheads and 346 puncheons of rum worth £34,000 currency. Complainant ought to be reinstated and accounts submitted. The non reciting of the first mortgage on the 2d one was due to his inadvertence. The £6000 was not half the value of the equity of redemption. Pennington and Biggs not being represented in this Island one Robert Finlay of the parish of St. Catharine gent. was granted letters of administration to defend this suit. Prays that the Agreement may be carried out.

On twenty-three sheets of paper.

I have also the Cross Bill of May v. Bernal, filed 10 March 1783. It is very voluminous, on twenty-five huge. sheets of paper, and signed by Henry Browne, George C. Ricketts, H. Lewis, and George Wotton Solicitor for Complainants. There are also copies of all the subsequent proceedings to 21 April 1784, when the decree was given.

The will of Abraham Bernal was proved in 1790 (3, Bishop).

In the "D.N.B." are long articles on Ralph Bernal and his son Ralph Bernal-Osborne, from which it appears that:-

Ralph Bernal, Senr., was of Spanish Jewish descent, took his degrees of B.A. from Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1806, and M.A. in 1809, and became a barrister of Lincoln's Inn in 1810. He then inherited a large property in the W. I. and sat in Parliament thirty-four years, dying in Eaton Square on 26 August 1854. His art collection was sold in 1855 for £71,000. He married 1stly Anne Elizabeth, only daughter of Richard Samuel White of New Ormond Street, on 10 April 1806. She died 10 July 1823 in Bryanston Square. He married 2ndly a daughter of Dr. Henry White, R.N., surgeon of Chatham Dockyard, and had issue by both wives.

Ralph.Bernal-Osborne, the eldest son by the first wife, born 26 March 1808, was educated at Charterhouse, and matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge, Oct. 1829; entered the Army, and then sat in Parliament from 1841 to 1874. On 20 August 1844 he married, at St. George's, Hanover Square, Catherine Isabella, only child and heir of Sir Thomas Osborne, 9th Baronet, whose surname he assumed. She died at his seat Newtown Anner near Clonmell 21 June 1880. He died at Bestwood Lodge 4 January 1882, and was there buried on 10 January. They had issue two daughters, of whom the elder, Edith, married, 7 February 1874, Sir Henry Arthur Blake, G.C.M.G., Governor of the Bahamas and Jamaica; and the younger, Grace, on 3 January 1874, the 10th Duke of St. Albans.

1811, Nov. 10. At Perryhill, Sydenham, J. I. Bernal, esq. of Fitzroysquare, and of Jamaica. ("G.M.," 587.)

1818, Oct. 24. In Guildford-street, the wife of R. Bernal, esq. M.P. a dau. (Ibid., 464.)

1823, July 10. In Bryanston-sq. Anne-Elizabeth, wife of Ralph Bernal, esq. M.P. (Ibid., 92.)

1824 Aug. 3. At Cheltenham, Ralph Bernal, esq. M.P. of Park-crescent, Portland-place to Clara-Christiana, dau. of Dr. John White. (Ibid., 176.)

1832, Jan. 7. In Upper Bedford-place, the widow of J. I. Bernal, esq. of Jamaica. (Ibid., 92.)

1832, May 10. At Park-crescent, Portland-pl. aged 15 months, Duncan, youngest son of Ralph Bernal, esq.

M.P. (Ibid., 475.)


Answer of Defendant J. I. Bernal pr Attorney, l784.

Jamaica. In Chancery. At H.E. the Chancellor's House on Thursday 15 April l 784.

The Petition of Jacob Israel Bernal Merchant of Kingston but now absent from this Island being read it was ordered that he put in his answer by Aaron Nunes Henriques of Kingston Merchant his Attorney.

Annexed is a letter dated 14 April 1778 written by Bernal to R. H. May, saying that "Since my receiving possession of Gymballs and Cherry Garden Estates .... it has been discovered that there is another Mortgage upon Record from you to Pennington and Biggs of Bristol," 'and the writer expresses his astonishment that his Mortgage was not mentioned in the second one and states that all right of redemption had been forfeited and was now vested in the second mortgagees and refuses to have any further business transactions.'

This Defendant admits that R. H. May became bound by 12 bonds to William Gray and was seized in fee simple of Gymballs and Cherry Garden and certain slaves and Gray transferred them to him for £19,681 sterling the amount due, and soon after the Complainants left for Great Britain and said they would in Oct. be in Bath and he has no doubt May borrowed the £6000 from Pennimgton and Biggs. £19,681 was greater than the sum May paid for the estates.

There was a very great Drought preceding the crop of 1777 and only 1 hogshead was made. In 1775 the yield was 109 hhds. and 132 tierces (equal to 88 hhds.) or a total of 197 hhds. and 72 puncheons of rum and in 1776 90 hhds. 70 tierces and 56 pun. and in 1775 there were worked 180 slaves. May neglected the slaves and the reason the 2d bond was not paid off was owing to his extravagance and great losses in gaming at Bath and elsewhere-that by insufficient supplies and overwork the slaves in 1777 were reduced by death from 180 in 1775 to 111 and the cattle from 115 to 73, there were no mules left, and May had used his chariot horses to turn the mill and Defendant obtained possession to save the estate from ruin. --He never knew of the 2d mortgage when he met May and signed an agreement, on 9 Dec. 1777. Verily believes May intended to defraud his creditors . . . . has received the following crops

........hhds. Sugar of 12-13 cwt....puncheons rum.

1778 ... 150 ... 78

1779 ..... 63 ... 30

1780 ... 143 ... 69

1781 ... 122 ... 66

1782 ... 204 .. 100

1783 ....... 9 ..... 7 drought

The nett produce while estate has been in his possession has been £24,537, and he hath laid out £13,809--is ready to come to an account for all his transactions. The debt due to Defdendant was £19,681 sterling or £27,553 currency and the estate was not worth more than £36,000 currency viz.

270 acres in canes @ £70 per acre, 250 a. pasture @ 151 pr. acre, a cattle mill £5000 about 100 negroes @ £60 per head and cattle at £15 so that after paying Defendant there would only remain £8,500 currency. Defendant when in England made inquiry of Mr. Lane and saw the title deeds, and believes May deceived Pennington and Biggs, and Mr. Seager their solicitor drew the 2d mortgage and May promised them a consignment of 350 hhds. yearly.

Signed by Alured Clarke, the Lieut. Governor, and John Edward. Shackleford, the Registrar in the Court of Chancery.

On eleven large paper sheets, but incomplete.


1784, April 21. The Cause was heard this day and His Excellency decreed that inasmuch as the Complainant Rose Herring May had been hindered from carrying the Agreement into Execution by the means in the Bill stated he should have 6 years and 9 months in addition to the 7 years mentioned that he was entitled to the Equity of Redemption of the Mortgage to Thomas Pennington and Ab. Biggs that Richard Batty Esq. one of the Masters should state an account as from Bernal but not allow him any commission on the gross produce and pay all balance to the Registrar of this Court for the beneficiaries of the estate. of Ab. Biggs and that George Cuthbert Esq. the Sequestrator of the estates should let R. H. May have the sole conduct of them.

From the above Order Defendant J. L Bernal received permission to appeal to His Majesty in Council.

Bernal lost his first suit for contempt, and paid the legal costs of Ab. Lane's attornies, amounting to £162, in October and November 1789 to Cockburn and Davis, the Solicitors in Kingston, and £263 for law costs incurred in Jamaica by Grant and Shawe in 1789. £250 was also paid Patrick Kein; £130 to Richard Grant.


Between J. I. Bernal Esq. Appellant and R. H. May Esq. and Mary Trelawny his Wife and Robert Finlay Respondents.

To the Kings most excellent Majesty in Council. The humble Petition and Appeal of the said J. I. Bernal.

A long recital of previous papers asking that the order of the Court of Chancery of Jamaica of 21 April 1784 may be reversed. This is the draft by Wildman and Smith, endorsed " Presented the 24th Feb. 85," on five sheets of paper.


Jamaica. This Indenture made the 6 of March 26 Geo. III. 1786 BETWEEN Rose Herring May of the Parish of St. Dorothy Co. of Middlesex in the said Island, Esq. and Mary Trelawny his Wife of the 1st part Daniel Moore of the Parish of Kingston Co. Surrey Esq. administrator of Abraham Biggs late of Bristol Merchant deceased who was the survivor of Thomas Pennington late of the same place Merchant deceased of the 2d part Jacob Israel Bernal of the Parish of Kingston Esq. of the 3d part and Sam. Dickson of the parish of St. Andrew co. Surrey in the said Island Esq. of the 4th part WHEREAS Rose Herring May being indebted to William Gray of Kingston Esq. in £19,681 st. or £27,553 c. to secure the payment thereof and by an Indenture of Mortgage dated about 20 March 1775 executed 12 bonds and by an Indenture of Mortgage dated 20 March 1775 between the Hon. Rose Herring May of the Parish of St. Catherine and Mary Trelawny his wife of the 1 part and William Gray of Kingston Esq. of the other May conveyed to Gray his two plantations called Gymballs and Cherry Garden together of 520 acres and all slaves and stock and by a transfer of 20 April 1775 between William Gray of the 1st part R. H. May of the 2d part and Jacob Israel Bernal of the 3d the plantations were conveyed to Bernal and by Lease and Release of 24 Oct. 1775 between R. H. Mav and wife then of Bath and Tho. Pennington and Ab. Biggs of Bristol Merchants for £6000 st. they conveyed the moiety of 520 a. or 235 a. part of Gymballs and WHEREAS on 12 Nov. 1779 Jacob Israel Bernal exhibited his Bill in Chancery against May and Pennington and Biggs and on 29 Dec. 1780 Defendants put in their Answer and Tho. Pennington dying a Suggestion was filed 20 Aug. 1782 and on 10 Sep. 1784 Bernal filed a Bill of Revivor and Ab. Biggs had died and on 16 Nov. 1784 Daniel Moore filed his Answer and on 22 July 1785 a decree was made and May was to pay Bernal £26,447 c. with interest and costs and the estates were sold on 1 Feb. 1786 by the Master to James Dickson for £25,000 c. All claims are now discharged. Schedule of slaves 27 men 7 boys 24 women 6 girls 22 invalids 16 mules 50 steers.

Signed and sealed by Rose Herring May before Charles Alexander and Harry Alexander. Charles Alexander gent. was sworn before Richard Batty M.C.C. (Master in Chancery).

Signed and sealed by Mary Trelawny May before Donald Davidson. She was sworn before John Henckell.

Signed and sealed by Daniel Moore and J. I. Bernal before Richard Grant, who was sworn before George C. Ricketts.

Endorsed : "Enrolled in the office of Enrollments This 26 April 1786 Lib. 338 fol. 160." On ten wide sheets of paper.

(Purchased April 1910 by the Editor.)

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