Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library

Individuals of part-African or African descent named in

Acts of the Jamaican Assembly 1760-1810

by Edward Crawford

These Private Acts of the Jamaican Assembly relating to people of African or part-African descent from 1769 to 1810 have been extracted by Edward Crawford from the list of Jamaican Assembly Acts at the Public Record Office, Kew, London. Apart from those which involved legal rights of individuals I have added a few cases where those of African descent were named in the Acts of the Assembly for different reasons.

From 5.1.1762 the Jamaican Assembly placed restrictions on the maximum amount of money and property (£2,000) that could be left to those of African or part-African descent. Though this was contrary to the principle of English common law, which gave absolute discretion to dispose of property, it was agreed by the Privy Council. (The Privy Council had the right to veto any act of American Colonial Assemblies.) However many exceptions were made to this Act by the Assembly and they nearly always involved the children of a wealthy and powerful man. These private Acts giving exemptions are varied in the form that they follow. Sometimes they give a parish and sometimes not, sometimes a father and sometimes not, sometimes the relationship between the people mentioned in the document is plain and sometimes not. There should always be a date. Each session of the Assembly ran from end of October to Christmas Eve and each Bill had three readings. Where the Assembly sits at an odd time it is during a war or when there is an emergency. My dating of the Acts is not entirely consistent as between the three readings of the Act and its final passing into law. Most frequently it is the last reading.

The term "with certain restrictions" is almost invariably used. These restrictions relate to political rather than property rights as the individuals named and their offspring do not have the right to most specified offices in Jamaica or to sit in the Assembly. They may also be debarred from appearing as a witness in court against white men unless they had been assaulted or robbed. It should be remembered that at the time the vast majority of the population in Britain had no political right to vote so this may not have been seen as such a grave disadvantage though their inability to bear witness in court, which did not happen to the politically disenfranchised in England, must have been regarded as a very significant handicap. In a very few cases it seems the Act did not use the term "with certain restrictions". It will be noted that there were only five such Acts after 1794 and the years of the great slave revolt in San Domingo. There are none after 1802 though the reason or reasons for this are still unclear to me.

All the cases mentioned must involve people of high social status and large property. No one else would have sufficient importance or wealth to ask for their private affairs to be regulated by the legislature and for them to gain exemptions from the law. For this reason the fathers mentioned, when they are mentioned, can almost certainly be identified from other sources. To take one example at random William Patrick Browne [CO139/23(138)] is listed among the 147 subscribers to the "Civil and Natural History of Jamaica" published in 1756. In nearly every case it is said that the individuals have been baptised in the Church of England and educated, so they will probably appear in the baptismal records.

Finally for those unfamiliar with the terms, there is the vocabulary of a racially obsessed society which uses specialised words for people with different racial origins. A mulatto is someone with one white and one black parent, a quadroon someone with three white grandparents, and a mustee (or octoroon) someone with seven white great grandparents. There are also words for intermediate origins such a sambo for someone with three black and one white grandparent. However such an individual would probably not have had the prestige and influence to be the subject of one of these laws and I cannot find one.

The Acts themselves are quite long-winded. If using them for genealogical purposes the original text should be examined as further information might be found. For further general historical information about these laws see Samuel J. and Edith F. Hurwitz, "A Token of Freedom: Private Bill Legislation for Free Negroes in Eighteenth Century Jamaica", William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 24 (1967), 423-31, this is on line as an image.

For further lists of the freed see {Census of 1730 - CO137/19 (pt.2)/48; Census of 1774- CO137/70/88; Census of 1788 - CO.137/87 [See 1788 Return.]; "Mulattoes, Quads, Negroes able to bear arms," Add. Mss. 12,435, British Library, London; St. Andrew Parish Register, 1666-1780, St. Catherine Parish Register, 1667-1764, Manumissions, vols. 5 & 7, Jamaica Archives; Wills, vols. 1 - , Island Record Office; Kingston Parish Register, 1722-1774, Island Record Office Armoury, Spanish Town, Jamaica.}. This last list of documents is thanks to Dr. Trevor Burnard of Brunel University.


Some Acts of the Jamaican Assembly from 1760 to 1787

(The number in brackets immediately after the PRO reference is the number of the Jamaican Act and is important if seeking to get a photocopy of the page from the PRO. The Acts themselves are handwritten in large heavy bound volumes. Typos, errors and any omissions are my responsibility.)

The general form of the Act was "to entitle to the same Rights and Privileges with English subjects, with certain restrictions" but I have generally left this out. A few acts name those freed, though seldom with a surname, for loyalty. From the evidence here these never get these rights and privileges.

CO139/21 (12) Anne Petronella Woodart, spinster, a free mulatto. 14.11.1760

CO139/21 (25) Foster, Pembroke, George, Cuaffee, Billy a mulatto, Blackwall, Billy, Yankee, Philip, London, Moll, Quaco, Nero, Congo, Molly Beckford, Silver Jemmy and Will to be set free paid £5 and £5 a year hereafter for being loyal in a slave rebellion. 18.12.1760

CO139/22 (44) Robert Penny and Lucy Penny the reputed children of Robert Penny esq deceased of the parish of St Catherine by Anne Forrord, a free mulatto woman. 24.11.1762

CO139/22 (47) An Act for making free a negro man slave called Jack Pearson belonging to the estate of William Ricketts esq deceased. 1.12.1763 (Helped in suppressing a slave rebellion.)

CO139/22 (49) Charles Price a free mulatto, 21.12 1763

CO139/22 (52) Milbe Johnson, Catherine Johnson his wife free mulattoes, his daughter Mary Elizabeth Johnson, 1.12.1763

CO139/22 (58) Mary Morris of Kingston a free quadroon and Charlotte Sterling, reputed daughter of Robert Sterling esq, 30.12.1763 (see Act 591)

CO139/22 (68) To free Cato, the negro slave of Arthur Forrest. 9.11.1764 (He betrayed a slave conspiracy.)

CO139/22 (73) John William Hicks a free quadroon of St Thomas in the East, 18.12.1764

CO139/22 (76) John Davidson of the parish of Clarendon a free mulatto man. 12.8.1766

CO139/22 (86) Elizabeth Frances Freeman Ripley, Cleopatra Freeman Ripley, Susannah Freeman Ripley, Ann Freeman Ripley, Mary Freeman Ripley, Elizabeth Freeman Ripley reputed daughters of John Ripley by Emma Freeman, a free negro woman and Henry Freeman Ripley the reputed son of the late John Ripley and William Gibson the reputed son of James Gibson of the parish of Kingston pastry cook by the said Cleopatra Freeman Ripley. 12.8.1766

CO139/22 (87) Elizabeth Fickle of the parish of Kingston, a free mulatto woman 12.8.1766

CO139/22 (88) Elizabeth Diston of the parish of Kingston, a free mulatto woman and Ann Cossley, Mary Cossley, John Cossley, Richard Cossley and Peter Cossley, the reputed sons and daughters of John Cossley esq of the said Elizabeth Diston. 12.8.1766

CO139/22 (89) Frances Willey of the parish of St Andrews a free mulatto woman and Mary Willey, the daughter of Frances Willey begotten by William Willey in wedlock and Charles McGlashan and Jean McGlashan the reputed son and daughter of Duncan McGlashan, practitioner in physic by the same Mary Willey. 12.8.1766

CO139/23 (113) Act to free two Negro men slaves and compensate their owners Yorke, belonging to the estate of Ballard Bickford and Cuaffee belonging to Charles James Sholto Douglas. 21.12.1767 (For services in a slave rebellion, Yorke defended his mistress and Cuaffee betrayed a conspiracy.)

CO139/23 (138) To enable William Patrick Browne esq of the parish of St John to dispose of his property as he shall think fit notwithstanding the Act of 1762. 31 12.1768

CO139/24 (153) to entitle Anne Shermore, widow and relict of Nicholas Shermore a white man and Jane Brooks, Mary Brooks, Priscilla Brooks, Martha Brooks and Ruth Brooks, the reputed daughters of George Brooks esq of the Parish of St Elizabeth by Mary Powell a free mulatto woman and James Brooks, Richard Brooks, Joseph Brooks and Edward Brooks, the reputed sons of the said George Brooks and Mary Powell, 23.12.1769

CO139/25 (nothing)

CO139/26 (204) Dugald Clark of the parish of St Thomas in the East a free mulatto man the reputed son of Robert Clark late of the parish of Hanover. 21.12.1771 (see 538)

CO139/27 (225) An act for making free a mulatto man Will, belonging to the estate of William Jones and paying to the Hon. Archibald Sinclair & Richard Welsh the value of the said mulatto man . 16.12 1772. (He discovered the murderer - a mulatto, Sam - of a white man. The murderer was burnt alive.)

CO139/28 (238) Anne Tingley, a free mulatto woman, Susannah Scott the reputed daughter of William Scott by the said Anne Tingley, Florence Blechynden, Mary Blechynden, Edward Blechynden and Richard James Blechynden, the reputed sons and daughters of Fulton Blechynden, gentleman of Kingston to the said Anne Tingley, 11.12.1773

CO139/29 (271) "An act for making free and rewarding a Negroe woman slave named Attea, the property of the heirs of George Williams esq deceased and for paying for her value. Passed nem con. 10.11.1774

CO139/29 (272) An act to entitle, Mary Smith, Henrietta Cooke Smith, William Smith and Pierce Cooke Smith reputed daughters and sons of William Smith of the parish of St Catherine's Gentleman, by Catherine Smith a free negroe woman. The Bill sponsors Mr Whitehorne & Mr Wheeler Fearon, Saturday 12.11.1774

CO139/29 (273) Frances Sadler, George Cunningham, Samuel Laing, Margaret Bright Sadler and Ann Sadler. The Bill sponsors Mr Richards & Mr Hibbert (no father mentioned.)

CO139/31 (289) Mary Stott a free quadroon woman, John Thomas Ross, Francis Ross, John James Ross & AllanGeorge Ross reputed sons of Thomas Ross of the parish of St Catherine's, merchant. The Bill sponsors Mr Hibbert & Mr Pusey, 29 11 1774

CO139/31 (290) John Donaldson planter of the parish of Clarendon petitioned for same rights and privileges. 2.12.1774

CO139/31 (291) Edmund Hyde, Ann Hyde his wife, Dally Hyde, Sarah Hyde & Thomas Nicholas Swigle. No father mentioned. 15.12.1774

O139/31 (292) Rebecca Souza, a mulatto & Rebecca Colt a mustee 16.12.1774

CO139/31 (293) Frances Clarke, Shirley Clarke, Ann Clarke, Robert Pawlett Clarke, Thomas Clarke and William Clarke reputed children of Robert Clarke of the parish of St Catherine's gentleman by Charlotte Pawlett a free mulatto woman. The Bill sponsored by Mr Iredell 23.12.1774

CO 139/31, (318) Eleanor Clifford, Mary Clifford, Frances Clifford, Martha Clifford, John Clifford Sarah Pennington daughter of Eleanor Clifford by a white man within two removes of white people all given full rights but not allowed to be members of the Assembly or council, 22.12.1775

CO 139/31, (319) Charity Harry a free mulatto woman (and any children that she has) to be entitled to the same rights, 5.11.1775

CO 139/31, (320) Elizabeth Goldson and her children Thomas Goldson, Elizabeth Goldson, William Goldson, John Goldson, Anne Goldson, George Spragge & Robert Spragge, 6.12.1775

CO 139/31, (321) Francis Jones, William Jones, John Jones, mustees the reputed children of John Jones esq. deceased. Had anwith an estate, given total privileges, 6.12.1775

CO 139/31, (322) James Duany, 18.12.1775

No such acts in CO139/32 & 33

CO139/34 (357) Elizabeth Hutchinson a free mulatto, her children Robert Duff Lyttlejohn and John Lyttlejohn, the reputed children of Alexander Lyttlejohn merchant 21.12.1776, (under certain restrictions)

CO139/34 (358) Elizabeth Duncan mulatto, Elizabeth Hook, Mary Hook, Margaret Hook, Henry Hook, William Hook, Thos Hook and John Hook, reputed children of Duncan Hook, merchant, by said Elizabeth Duncan, of the Parish of Cornwall, 21.12.1776 (under certain restrictions)

CO139/34 (359) Eleanor Barnes free mulatto, her children Nathaniel King, Anne Hylett wife of Robert Hylett coppersmith, reputed children of John King esq, 10.12.1776

CO139/34 (360) Sarah Walter Bolt, free quadroon her children Edward Strudwick and Theodosia Strudwick reputed children of Henry Strudwick esq (decd.) and Samuel Richard Lewis, John Lewis, Susannah Lewis, Elizabeth Lewis, Louisa Ann Lewis children of said Sarah Walters Bolt by John Lewis esq 7.12.1776

CO139/34 (361) Jane Sypmson a free quadroon woman 21.12.1776

CO139/34 (370) Anne Martin a free quadroon woman of the parish of St Catherines 6.12.1777

CO139/34 (371) William Tucker, a free quadroon man of the parish of St Mary 7.11.1777

CO139/34 (372) Mary Williams, Elizabeth Williams, Janet Williams, Charlotte Williams, Margaret Williams, Catherine Williams, Sarah, Williams John Williams, Thomas Williams, George Williams, John Russell Williams reputed children of John Williams esq of the parish of St Anne's, 27.11.1777

CO139/34 (374) Judith Hutt, free mulatto woman, Elizabeth Davidson, Mary Davidson, Judith Millward Benjamin Millward, James Laing John Laing children of Judith Hutt, William Wynne son of Elizabeth Davidson & Samuel Walters of the parish of St Andrews and Mary Walters children of Mary Davidson 5.12.1777

CO139/35 (393) Frances Shawditch a free mulatto, of the parish of Kingston, William Dann, Grace Dann, Rebecca Knowles, John Fisher, Grace Fisher children of Frances. 11.12.1777

CO139/36 (422) Thomas Hanlon, John Hanlon, Felix Hanlon, Elizabeth Hanlon mulattoes reputed children of Patrick Hanlon by Julia Boone a free negroe woman 3.12.1778 (Parish of Kingston)

CO139/36 (423) Elizabeth Foord a free quadroon, Elizabeth Foord, Jean Foord, Margaret Foord 3.12.1778 (Parish of Kingston)

CO139/37a, (445) John Ashbourne a free mulatto, 23.12.1779

CO139/37a, (446) John Breary of the Parish of St Anne a free quadroon 14.12.1779

CO139/37a, (447) William Wagg of the Parish of Kingston a free quadroon 23.12.1779

CO139/37a, (449) Bryan Mackay a free quadroon the reputed son of William Mackay, 17.4.1780

CO139/37a, (450) Johannah Gaul of the parish of St Thomas in the East and her children and grandchildren John McDermit, Samuel McDermit, Charles McDermit and Jannet McDermit and Johannah Troup, Elizabeth Troup, Mary and Elizabeth McDermit. 30.12.1780

CO139/37b (460) Mary Good, Sarah Good, Thomas Good mulattoes and James Curtis, Thomas Merchant, Andrew Yuel and Elizabeth Yuel, quadroons, 1.12.1780.

CO139/37b (465) George Wilson, Sarah Wilson, Margaret Davies, John Wilson Dunn, Sarah Vidal, Richard Davies, Thomas Davies, George Davies and Sarah Davies are possessed of lands and negroes but by "an unfortunate accident of birth" are liable to same penalties as free blacks and are given rights. [Unusual formulation.] 16.12.1780

CO139/37b (474) William Hiatt, John Hiatt, Edward Hiatt, Elizabeth Hiatt, Ann Hiatt and Eleanor Hiatt reputed children of John Hiatt esq, Parish of St Ann 30.12.1780

CO139/37b (478) Richard Jacob, John Jacob, Elizabeth Jacob mulattoes, Catherine McPherson and Elizabeth MacPherson the reputed children of William McPherson, Parish of St David. 22.12.1780

CO139/37b (479) James Cargill, free mulatto with some property, 12.1.1781

CO139/37c (496) Susannah Mitchell free mulatto and her children James Mitchell Davies the reputed son of James Davies esq decd and John Napier, Peter Napier, George Napier, Rachel Napier and Susannah Napier the reputed children of George Napier of the parish of Clarendon.

CO139/37d (519) Edward Brown and Anne his wife, mulattoes of the parish of Clarendon 21.12.1782 who owns property in the parish

CO139/37d (532) John Breary "had a liberal education in Great Britain and is possessed of a considerable estate". 21.12.1782 – (see Act 446.)

CO139/37d (534) John, Benjamin, Thomas, William Charlton, Eleanor and Elizabeth Candy White, the reputed children of Benjamin White gentleman late of the parish of St Catherine, by Jane McDonald a free negroe woman. 19.12.1782

CO139/37d (536) William Wright of Portland esq to settle his estate as he shall think fit notwithstanding the Act to "prevent exorbitant grants and devises to negroes". It is for Mary Wright, Susannah Wright, Rosamund Wright, George Wright, William Wright, White and Richard Else Wright. 22.2.1783

CO139/37d (537) Thomas Wynter to settle his estate as he shall think fit notwithstanding the Act to "prevent exorbitant grants and devises to negroes". It is for William Rose Wynter and Mary Mede his natural children. 1.3.1783

CO139/37d (538) Dugald Clarke of the parish of St Thomas in the East a free mulatto the reputed son of Dugald Clarke by Else Bayley a free mulatto, 1.3.1783 (see Act 204)

CO139/37d (539) John Ashbourne a free mulatto with considerable property in the parish of St Andrews, 21.12.1782 (a rewording of the original grant).

CO139/38 (548) Dorothy Manning, Thomas Manning, George Manning, free mulattos, of the parish of Clarendon 16.12.1783

CO139/38 (549) Sarah Bonner, Grace Bonner, free quadroons, Mary Bonner, Elizabeth Frances Bonner, John Bonner and Frances Wilson, free mustees, 16.12.1783

CO139/38 (551) Mary Pinnock a free mulatto & Charles Lord her son and William Thompson, Nancy Thompson, Molly Thompson and Archibald Thompson the reputed children of Archibald Thompson merchant of the parish of Kingston of the said Mary Pinnock, 16.12.1783

CO139/38 (557) Grace Needham, a free mulatto, Elizabeth Dikeman her daughter, William Thompson son of Elizabeth Dikeman, Mary Macduffie and Malcolm McDuffie reputed children of Malcolm McDuffie, the parish of St Thomas in the East, 16.12.1783

CO139/38 (559) Thomasina Rosslers, a free mustee woman, 16.12.1783

CO139/38 (563) Anne Williams, Catherine Williams, Sarah Williams, Eleanor Williams, Elizabeth Williams, Thomas Williams, Martin Williams and George Williams reputed children of Martin Williams esq of the parish of St James by Eleanor Williams a free negro woman, 16.12.1783 CO139/38 (564) Patrick Duncan, Edmund Duncan, Sarah Duncan reputed children by Patrick Duncan, planter by Sarah Gray a free mulatto woman, 16.12.1783 (St Ann)

CO139/39 (504) Elizabeth Bowen, a free mulatto of the parish of Westmoreland and her son Patrick Bowen Murray a free quadroon, 23.12.1784,

CO139/39 (589) Patrick Duncan exempt from law to "prevent exorbitant grants and devises to negroes" (He can now leave his money to his children.)

CO139/39 (590) Jane Charlotte Beckford, a free mulatto woman, and George French and Edward French free quadroons her children, 23.12.1784

CO139/39 (591) Sarah Morris free quadroon woman allowing her to leave her property to her natural daughter Charlotte Sterling despite Act to "prevent exorbitant grants and devises to negroes" and Charlotte Sterling to be given full rights and privileges. 23.12.1784 (see Act 58)

CO139/40 (602) Thomas Roper the younger and Joshua Roper, reputed sons of Thomas Roper esq of the parish of Portland, 23.12.1784

CO139/40 (605) Act for Thomas Roper esq. To will or dispose of his estate despite Act to "prevent exorbitant grants and devises to negroes" 23.12.1784

CO139/40 (609) An act to free two negro men, Grog and Isaac, the property of the Hon Simon Taylor esq of the parish of St Mary for their faithful services to the public. 23.12.1784

CO/139/41 (620) James Allen Gorse & Jane Gorse of the parish of Westmoreland, free quadroons, reputed children of John James Gorse, practitioner in Physic and surgery to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 24.12.1785

CO/139/41 (621) Jonathan James, a free quadroon man, John James, Montague James & Elen James and Jonathan James junior, John James junior, Anne James and William Rhodes James the sons and daughters of the said John James senior to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 24.12.1785

CO/139/41 (622) Sarah Reade, Anne Reade, free quadroons, the reputed daughters of Laurence Reade of Kingston, merchant, deceased by Mary Barrow, a free mulatto woman also deceased to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 24.12.1785

CO/139/41 (624) Susanna White, Charles White, James White free mulattoes and John Crawley White, Richard Crawley White and Catherine Gowie free quadroons of the parish of St George the sons and daughters of the said Susanna White and Alexander Gowie and Mary Anne White the lawful wife of the said John Crawley White and Mary White the daughter of the said John Crawley White to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 24.12.1785

CO/139/42 (649) Sarah Fisher of the parish of St Ann's, a free mulatto woman and Benjamin Hull, William Hull, James Hull, John Fisher Hull, Henry James Hull & Ann Sarah Hull, the reputed sons and daughters of William Hull of St Anns by the said Sarah Fisher and also Elizabeth Margaret Craig and Charles Robert Craig the reputed son and daughter of Robert Craig of the same place, planter, by the said Sarah Fisher to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 23.12.1786 (Unusually John Fisher Hull, Henry James Hull & Ann Sarah Hull, infants and all quadroons are to be sent to England to be bound apprentices and thus given a trade to keep themselves.)

CO/139/43 (654) Robert Hilton Anguin, Sarah Hilton Anguin, John Anguin & Frances Anguin free quadroons, the reputed children of John Anguin of the parish of St Annes by Frances Jones a free mulatto woman lately deceased to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 22.12.1787

CO/139/43 (656) An act to enable John Anguin to leave his money to anyone of colour despite the past Acts of the Assembly. 22.12.1787

CO/139/43 (660) John Lynch a free mulatto, Elizabeth his wife a free quadroon woman & Grace Anne Lynch, Elizabeth Banton Lynch, Mark Lynch, Eleanor Banton Lynch, Margaret Banton Lynch, Frances Jane Lynch, John Saunders Lynch, Benjamin Banton Lynch, Priscilla Lynch & William Lynch born in lawful wedlock to the said Elizabeth to the same rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 22.12.1787

CO/139/43 (666) Penelope Brewer of the parish of St George a free mulatto woman and John Ashton, a free man of colour and Helen Ashton his wife, the daughter of the said Penelope Brewer to all rights and privileges under certain restrictions. 22.12.1787

CO/139/43 (668) Repeats 649 above relating to the Hull family. 22.12.1787

CO/139/44 (nothing)

Continued in Acts 2

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