Papers relating to the Jamaican estates of the Goulburn family of Betchworth House

from the collections of the Surrey History Centre
Morgan, Kenneth
Date published: 
January 2008

These documents deal with the history of Amity Hall plantation, a sugar estate in Vere parish, Jamaica, and some associated properties (principally Bogue livestock pen) while they were in the hands of the Goulburn family. Most of the papers concern these properties when they were administered by Henry Goulburn between 1805, when he attained his majority, and 1856, when he died, though there are also documents relating to the late seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries. Henry Goulburn was a staunch Anglican and a prominent Tory member of Parliament who was under-secretary in the Colonial Office (1812-21). He oversaw his Jamaican properties as an absentee owner and never found the time to visit them. Yet he took a close interest in their economic performance and in efforts to improve the living and working conditions of his slaves and their religious instruction. The Goulburn Papers provide a comprehensive guide to the operation of his Jamaican properties. The manuscripts contained in this microfilm edition include letterbooks, extensive loose estate correspondence, accounts, title deeds, land conveyances, wills, letters of administration, mortgages, supply lists, expenditure abstracts, lists of the increase and decrease of stock and slaves, monthly journals of the daily employment of slaves, sales accounts for sugar and rum shipped from Jamaica to London and Liverpool, circulars for the improvement of sugar manufacture, and letters relating to antislavery agitation in Britain. The manuscripts throw light on the management of a sugar estate by attorneys on behalf of an absentee owner, on the work undertaken by slaves and apprentices, and on the social, economic and political context of life in the British Caribbean in the nineteenth century. Comprising the entire 304/J series, together with two short files relating to the issue of slavery in the general election of 1826 (304/A1/box 22/7 & /box 23/8), from the collections of the Surrey History Centre, Woking. With an introduction by Professor Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University.