Slavery in Jamaica, records from a family of slave owners, 1686-1860

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

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

The Goulburn Papers provide essential information on how one absentee planter coped with the issues of abolitionism, amelioration, slave emancipation, apprenticeship and full freedom for blacks in Jamaica
Kenneth MorganBrunel University

Access the full collection

Get full access to all 6,139 pages that make up the Slavery in Jamaica, records from a family of slave owners, 1686-1860 collection.


Sign up for a FREE trial 

Single User License

Purchase a license below to view the full collection.

1 week license £201 month license £40

Already have a license? Sign in to view the collection

See the final days of slavery in Jamaica through the eyes of a planatation owner

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, after he had 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 never found the time to visit his Jamaican properties but instead oversaw them as an absentee owner. Yet he took a close interest in their economic performance and in efforts to improve the living and working conditions of his slaves as well as their religious instruction. For this reason, the Goulburn papers provide a comprehensive guide to the operation of his Jamaican properties over a period which spans both the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 and the subsequent Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which led to the emancipation of all slaves across the British Empire, including the West Indies. 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, the manuscripts contained here include letterbooks, extensive loose estate correspondence, accounts, some of the 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. Accompanied by an online guide to the collection by Professor Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University.


Slavery in Jamaica, records from a family of slave owners, 1686-1860...

Containing 6,139 pages belonging to 66 documents housed in 6 volumes...

View the Volumes & Documents 


Correspondence with agents and others, 1790-1854

The earliest surviving correspondence relating to the estate is contained in a letter book 1790-1811, which contains copies of Munbee...

Correspondence with factors & sales accounts, [1794]-1856

Correspondence with factors acting on Henry Goulburn's behalf for the sale of sugar and rum in London and Liverpool and...

Papers relating to the title and disposal of the estate, [1686]-1861

Correspondence and accounts relating to the administration of the estate at Amity Hall, parish of Vere, Jamaica, inherited by Munbee...

Miscellaneous papers & correspondence relating to the management of the estate, 1793-1855

Includes statement of increase and decrease of slaves on Amity Hall Estate, note on acreage, valuation and bond relating to...


  • The 'correspondence with factors & sales accounts' discusses the management of the estate. Other letters list paid workers, their pay and their roles.
  • The 'miscellaneous papers relating to Henry Goulburn's parliamentary candidature' reveal the influence of the abolitionist movement on the slave owner's election to represent Cambridge University.
  • The 'correspondence with agents and others' covers a discussion upon whether children who were slaves should be separated from their parents in July 1807.
  • Miscellaneous papers & correspondence relating to the management of the estate' includes a valuation of Margaret Williams Samson and her seven children as the estate's property.
Back to Top