Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library

Three Articles by Frederick J. duQuesnay

1. One of Jamaica's earliest families: Nedham

2. Philip Pinnock, the dandy

3. The Barrett family in Jamaica

One of Jamaica's earliest families

By F.J. de Quesnay

The family of Nedham established itself in Jamaica from the early days after the conquest of the Island from the Spaniards. Colonel George Nedham, son of Sir Robert Nedham, M.P. of Denbighshire, fled to the West Indies after the Battle of Worcester, where he had been numbered amongst Prince Charles's followers.

With the crushing defeat of Royalist forces at Worcester by Cromwell when the Prince barely escaped with his life, it was not comfortable for many of those who shared an active part in the campaign to remain at home, especially as the royalist cause seemed crushed forever, with the Prince an exile in France.

The actual date of arrival in Jamaica by George Nedham is not clear, but we know he was given large grants of land in the Island after the Restoration, by King Charles, for his loyalty to the crown during the troubled days of the Commonwealth.

George settled down and took as active part in the government of Jamaica, where he was a member of the House of Assembly representing St. Mary, in 1673. St. George in 1675, and St. Thomas-in-the-Vale in 1677, 1678, 1686, and 1688. He was Speaker in 1686 for a short period, and member of the Council in 1688.

He married twice, first a lady from one of the other islands, and secondly, Mary the daughter of Sir Thomas Modyford (governor of the Island during 1664-1671, and friend of the old buccaneer, Henry Morgan.) He had seven sons, but only three survived beyond infancy, namely: Robert, William and Edward Winter. He had three daughters, Henrietta, Mary and Elizabeth Grace.

We do not know exactly when George Nedham died, but his will was proved in 1690, the same year Mary his wife died in Spanish Town. Much of his large estate finally passed to the Ellis family through his daughter Grace who married John Ellis.


Major William Nedham was a younger brother of Colonel George Nedham. He was a member of the Assembly between 1673 and 1677. He married and had two daughters. He was buried in St. Catherine in 1705. We now some to the three surviving sons of Colonel George Nedham:


Robert was a member of the Assembly between 1701 and 1719. He married Elizabeth Shirley, daughter of William Shirley of Port Royal, a brother of Sir Anthony Shirley of Preston, Sussex. Sir Anthony was the first British sea raider to set foot on Jamaican soil when he landed here, circa 1596, plundered part of the Island, and burned the Spanish capital of St. Jago.

Robert Nedham had three sons and five daughters, but only three children survived, namely Robert, Henry and Shirley. Robert his second son was baptized in 1705. Later, he settled permanently in England on his estates at Newry Co. Down and at Oxford. Henry, his younger son was a member of the Assembly in 1730-1731. He later represented St. Mary between 1740-45. He was a member of the Council in 1750.

He died unmarried in 1757. This seems to be one and the same man as the Henry Nedham who arrived in Jamaica after one of his excursions in England, in 1738, accompanied by the notorious Teresa Constantia Phillips, who was traveling under his "protecting companionship". Years later, this flashy personality was created Mistress of the Jamaican Revels by Lieutenant-Governor Henry Moore. Robert Nedham died in St. Catherine in 1738.


William was a member of the Assembly and Speaker in 1718 and 1733. He was Chief Justice in 1746. He married Olivia, daughter of Oliver Hampson of St. Thomas-in-the-Vale and Spanish Town. She brought him the estate of Mount Olive, situated near the famous 16-mile Walk in St. Thomas-in-the-Vale now Bog Walk. William died in 1746 and was buried at Spanish Town.


Edward Winter was baptized in 1683. He married Martha Lewis in 1708. He was a member of the Assembly for St. Mary in 1715. He died in 1722 and was buried in St. Catherine.

The Nedham family eventually leaves the Jamaican records at around the turn of the 19th century, when the last survivor or survivors of the Jamaican branch left the Island to settle in England.

In 1936 Mr. Frank Cundall of the Institute of Jamaica, in a letter preserved in the Institute, states that for 46 years he had been engaged in hunting for portraits of Jamaican worthies to add to the portrait gallery, and had so far never come across a portrait of Nedham.

Philip Pinnock, the dandy

by F.J. du Quesnay

On ascending the stairs to the . . .Institute of Jamaica, you will see a portrait of a gentleman attired in splendour. This canvas speaks of . . . associated with a period when . . of apparel was the order of the world over.

The painting reminds one of a fragile piece of French porcelain, and is most certainly a work of great art. Nearly a full-length portrait, Pinnock stands beside a table, one graceful hand resting on it, near a pair of gloves.

He wears a wig, and deep blue velvet coat elaborately embroidered in gold. Lace ruffles fall about his wrists and beneath his left arm he holds a cocked-hat. The deep red velvet curtain, which forms a part of the background, and an extra touch of elegance to an already luxuriant whole.

The unsigned canvas is reputed to be the work of the Scottish painter Allan Ramsay (1713-1784), who became Court Painter to King George III, and whose delicate technique was highly regarded in art circles of the period.


This is the portrait I have looked at every time I have ascended those stairs on my way to do research on people of the past. People like Philip Pinnock, people of flesh and blood, who had their triumphs and their tragedies, their strength and mortal weakness too, people of a dead era, yet not so very different from us today, who played a part in history before they too were shadowed by the past.

Through the years, the portrait has fascinated me more and more; on my visits to the institutes, I look for it, as for a friend. Suddenly I had to know more about this man who had somehow grown so familiar. It was almost as if he were begging me to tell his story.

His story, however, has proved to be a difficult task, for I have been able to find very few references to him except brief, rather cold and sometimes dull facts which tend rather to tantalize than satisfy. Perhaps he would like it this way, maybe ours is still too short as acquaintance to be completely fulfilled, for even amongst friends, there are so many things we really never fully know nor understand completely.

His story

Here, then, is what I have discovered about the elusive Philip:

The family of Pinnock seems to have been well established in Jamaica from the earliest times proceeding the English conquest for there is mention of . . . for the next item seems to prove the point:

In September 1691 James the son of James and Ann Pinnock was christened in the St. Andrew Parish Church at Halfway Tree. Later, we learn that in December 1720, Philip, the son of James and Elizabeth Pinnock was also christened at the St. Andrew Parish Church.

Philip was a member of the House of Assembly representing St. Andrew in 1749 and St. David in 1756. He married Grace, niece and heiress of Colonel Henry Dakins. They had at least two children, a son, Dakins Pinnock, who died in infancy, and a daughter Elizabeth, who in 1764 married Lieutenant Colonel John Dalling, afterwards Governor of Jamaica.

The marriage was brief, however, for by 1768 Elizabeth had died at the age of twenty-one years, leaving an infant daughter who never grew to adulthood, for it is recorded that she died in infancy. Perhaps both mother and daughter perished in childbirth.


By 1754, Philip had already amassed a great deal of property, owning nearly 4,000 acres of land mostly in St. Andrew. He was also a member of the Council, in which office there seems to have been some unpleasantness while Roger Hope Elletson was Lieutenant Governor.

The Council came to disagreement with the Assembly over a money bill, "and when Elletson refused to support them they went into committee and actually passed a vote of censure on the acting Governor." Elletson, when told immediately suspended seven members of the Council, one of whom was Philip Pinnock.

Later, he was once more a member of the Assembly representing St. Ann and St. Thomas-in-the-East, and became Speaker for two periods. He was also Custos for St. Andrew. In 1771 his wife Grace died, when she was only forty-two years old.

From a note in a book entitled "The Development of the British West Indies" by F. W. Pitman, we obtain the following reference: "Philip Pinnock for nearly forty years a councilor, member and Speaker of the Assembly, erected a magnificent dwelling in the Parish of St. Andrew. Skilled labourers were imported, and the cost to him was £25,000. In 1777 he wanted to sell the house for £15,000, and desired that his creditors might raffle for it."

One wonders if this house was Ruthven Lodge? Mr. Frank Cundall states that Pinnock owned a house of that name in St. Andrew, which house was afterwards the residence of E. A. H. Haggart, Esq.

It is certain that Ruthven Lodge was in the general vicinity of the present Ruthven Road, and Mr. Herbert Malabre tells me that he remembers Mr. Haggart living in a large old house where the present St. Andrew Girls' School now stands.

Philip Pinnock died in 1773 and was buried on the 23rd of May at Halfway Tree. The tombstone is now lost, but up to some years ago a stone in the old burial ground recorded the death of Philip's mother, his wife and infant son, his daughter and her infant daughter.

Here was a man then, who evidently knew success and tragedy. He had wealth and prestige, but during his fifty-eight years of life he buried his wife, his son, his daughter and his grandchild.

While, at the very last, with reference to the sale of his house a year before he died, he seems to have literally lost every earthly possession also. If he had sinned by pride and extravagance, then surely it seems he suffered for his sins, and one can hope that he finally found peace, one gift which during his mortal life seems to have eluded him.

The Pinnock portrait has not been in the Institute for a great number of years. In about 1914, Mr. Cundall speaks of a photographic copy of the oil painting being in the collection. (which copy I have seen at the Institute recently). He also says that the portrait was in the possession of Jasper Hall, Esq. Passing to E.A.H. Haggart, Esq. of Ruthven Lodge, and later to Sir Noel Livingston.

In about 1923, the Institute obtained a copy in oils of the original, and more recently they acquired the original painting itself from the late Sir Noel Livingston. The copy was then sent to Spanish Town to be hung in the old House of Assembly there.

Early in the year 1964 when I was in Spanish town, I had occasion to visit the old House of Assembly building. In the lobby upstairs lying in a corner, covered with dust and in poor condition, I saw the copy of the portrait which had recently hung there, close to the Assembly Hall: where often this man had gone to represent his monarch and his country in his capacity as member of the Council and Assembly.

Seeing the painting thus abandoned, made me realize acutely how utterly the former things had passed away. So few people of this generation have any real sympathetic feeling for, or appreciation of the things of long ago. It is forgetting perhaps, that the present has its foundations only in the past.

The Barrett Family in Jamaica

By F.J. duQuesnay

The first member of this famous family who came to Jamaica was Hersey Barrett. This pioneer was one of the number in the army of occupation under Penn and Venables. He was the great-great-great-great grandfather of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poetess of 50, Wimpole Street in London.

The first recorded land patent in the Barrett name was recorded in 1663 in Spanish Town, given and granted by King Charles II to Hersey Barrett and his heirs for encouragement to continue in the Island of Jamaica. This patent is signed by Sir Thomas Modyford, governor, and close friend of Henry Morgan. This is to this present time, a Barrett Street in Spanish Town, and it is probably that the land granted to the family in 1663 was situated in this area of the town.

Hersey Barrett had to sons: Hersey born in 1650 in England, and Samuel born in Jamaica in 1662. He also had a property in Vere between Carlisle Bay and Milk River called "Withywood", Hersey the pioneer died in 1685. His wife, circa 1670, and his son Hersey in 1726 aged 76. He is buried in the Cathedral in Spanish Town and his tombstone can still be seen there.

Samuel Barrett died in the French invasion at Carlisle Bay age 32, leaving three children, Richard, Samuel and Anne.

Samuel Jnr. acquired land on the Northcoast in St. James called "Cornwall". He married Elizabeth Wisdom. The Wisdoms were early settlers of the North Coast and owned land near Martha Brae in St. James. Samuel married Elizabeth circa 1721. In 1834 Edward Barrett, their fourth son was born. They eventually had 15 children.


Cinnamon Hill Great House was started by Samuel and finished by his son Edward. Samuel died in 1760 at Cinnamon Hill and was buried in the graveyard there. Edward married Judith Goodin of Spring Estate a few miles west of Rose Hall in 1760. Their daughter Elizabeth married Charles Moulton in 1781, and from this union sprang the Moulton-Barrett family.

Charles Moulton's father was supposed to be in command of a man-of-war stationed in the West Indies. He was from Norfolk, and the family held lands in Shipden and Ormsby overlooking the North Sea from 1450.

The first child of the union Sarah Goodin Moulton born 1783 at Cinnamon Hill, immortalized by the famous portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence, "Pinkie", painted when she was 12 years old. She died shortly afterwards in 1795.

Edward Barrett Moulton, the second child, was born in 1785, also at Cinnamon Hill, and was later to become the father of Elizabeth Barrett of Wimpole Street, wife of Robert Browning.

Edward Barrett Moulton took the name and arms of Barrett by license in 1798, becoming known as Edward Barrett Moulton-Barrett.

Both Sarah and Edward left Jamaica at an early age to be educated in England, and never again did they return to the island of their birth.

About Edward, Robert Browning, later to become his son-in-law, tells us that 'on the early death of his father, he was brought from Jamaica to England, as a ward to Chief Baron Lord Abinger.' He attending school at Harrow. In 1805 he married Mary Clarke of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Their first child Elizabeth (the poetess), was born in March 1806. There were ten more children later from this union.


On the death of his grandfather Edward Barrett, he became heir to the Jamaican properties in 1798. As far as his properties in Jamaica were concerned he was always an absentee proprietor. His only brother Samuel ran Cinnamon Hill and Cornwall properties for many years, also Retreat in St. Ann where he was Custos.

Samuel had also gone to England for his education. He died in 1837, at which time Samuel, Edward Barrett Moulton-Barrett's own son, was sent to the island to manage affairs. He did not live long, for three years later the Cinnamon Hill graveyard had claimed him. Charles John Moulton-Barrett ('Stormie') and Septimus ('Sette'), two younger sons of Edward then took over the estates.

Edward Barrett Moulton-Barrett's wife Mary died in 1828. The year 1840 had been a hard year for the family. Samuel, Edward's son had died in Jamaica in February, and in July Edward ('Bro') another son, died tragically in England. Elizabeth, their sister, had a special fondness for 'Bro' and had been most thankful for his safe return to England after he had visited the Jamaican properties in 1835, only to suffer the sorrow of his death by drowning in 1840.


With the loss of her mother and two brothers, life at 50 Wimpole Street, where she had been an invalid for years, became darker than ever, - but this gloom was not to last for ever. In 1845 Robert Browning wrote: "I love your verses with all my heart dear Miss Barrett," and this first of a host of letters was to bring her out of despair to a life of happiness and restored health.

Their love affair together was one of the most sweeping romances of all time. Their meetings, when he visited her in her father's absence at 50 Wimpole Street; their talks together when he gave her new incentives to live; her gradual recovery under the strong influence of love; their secret marriage, when she left the house early one morning, accompanied by Wilson her faithful maid, to be wed in a little church in London with the barest number of witnesses, her final elopement a few days later, and her escape to happiness with her Robert to Italy in September, 1846.

One may ask why this secret? It is impossible to doubt the fact that the alliance of Elizabeth with Robert Browning would not have met with the approval of her parent, since her father amongst other things, did not consider Browning to be of the same social standing, else she, who was the most sincere and devoted person would not have had to resort to deception of any kind. She saw her only chance for happiness and took it.

Edward Barrett Moulton-Barrett died in 1857 and at his death his son Charles John took up the inheritance. Unfortunately, he disliked estate work, and retired to Retreat Pen in St. Ann. His brother Septimus became attorney for his estate. Septimus was the last of the family to reside at Cinnamon Hill. He died in 1870, and is interred in the property graveyard. Charles John married Anne Young of Jamaica at Brown's Town in 1865. He died at Clifton, Trelawny, in 1905 and was buried at Retreat, St. Ann.

It was not the end of the family in Jamaica. Amongst the sons of Edward Barrett Moulton-Barrett was Alfred, born in 1820. In 1855 he his cousin Georgiana, daughter of George Goodin Barrett. They had four children. Their eldest son, Colonel Edward Alfred Moulton-Barrett, C.M.G., whose name is so well known to us here in this present century, came to Jamaica and lived at Albion, St. Ann.

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