St John’s Wood Church Memorials to Plantation Owners
In a parish church next to Lord’s Cricket Ground in north-west London (England), just to the north of Regent’s Park is the Church of St John’s Wood, built in 1808.
During the Middle Ages, St John’s Wood really was a wood, which took its name from the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem who at that time owned the land. There was a small settlement on the ‘bourne’ or river that flowed to its south, with a church dedicated to St Mary from about 1400. This became known as “St Mary on the Bourne” – later shortened to St Marylebone and from there London itself began to expand northwards from what became Westminster in the 17th century as far as the New Road – now known as Marylebone Road.
In the grounds of St John’s Wood Church are four discreet memorial plaques that give little indication of the intriguing histories commemorated there. One is to Jane Farquhar of Portland Place (died 1834), another is to Patrick Bartlet of Nottingham Place (died 1830), and his second wife, Anne (died 1844). The clues come from the West Indian islands mentioned on them – Antigua and Grenada for Mrs Farquhar, and Cariacou, just off Grenada, for the Bartlets.
The Marylebone and the plantation owners link
On these islands were the plantations that provided the funds for a comfortable life in the newly developed area Marylebone, that attracted prosperous land owners at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the 1770s it was usual that younger members of the family often managed overseas properties, while the head of the family remained in Britain. Although by 1775 thirty percent of plantation owners were absentee landlords, and by 1830 this rose to 80%.
The Farquhars – Jane Farquhar was the wife of Robert Farquhar of Renfrew, who had inherited his Antiguan and Grenadian estates after the death of his half-brother, John Rae (afterwards Harvey), who had himself acquired them from John Harvey (1721–79), after Harvey’s nephew, Charles, was drowned in Grenada. Harvey had made a handsome fortune in the West Indies, owning the plantations of Mornefendue, the Plain and Chambord both in St Patrick’s parish at the north end of the island. Later Farquhar’s daughter, Eliza, married Michael Shaw Stewart, 6th baronet.
Beau Sejour on Carriacou
Carriacou – the tiny island 20 miles north-east of Granada, measuring just 5 miles from north to south, and an area of 13 square miles with its only town called Hillsborough – during the eighteenth century its population was concentrated on the plantations. Carriacou remained uncolonised by Europeans, until 1650, when a French company established a small settlement. The French had to cede it, with Grenada, to the British after the 7 Years War, in 1763, but recaptured it, in 1779, during the American War of Independence; there were only 90 British soldiers to guard it against 5,000 French invaders. However, it was returned to Britain after the Treaty of Paris, in 1783, and various gun batteries were built round the coast. French plantation owners, who had remained, were replaced by more English and Scottish settlers, and the larger estates expanded at the expense of smaller neighbours. By the 1790s, there were 46 estates ranging in size from 10 acres to 698 acres, but the important proprietors had interests in several plantations.
Patrick Bartlet memorial
The Bartlets – Alexander Bartlet and George Campbell had formed a company that linked its offices in Grenada, Tobago and the Grenadines with London, and Alexander’s brother, James, was recruited to facilitate trade by persuading all the planters to consign their crops of cotton, cocoa, indigo and sugar to the company. Gradually, planters became indebted to Glasgow business houses, which led to foreclosures, and a general decline of planter aristocracy. Presumably, Patrick Bartlet (1731 Banff–1830) was another brother, and must have lived on the island, probably, on the 280 acre Beauséjour sugar plantation (or ‘Nice Stay’) in Saint George’s, which belonged to him, for, in 1792, he was recommended to fill a vacancy in the Council of Grenada, and was described as a principal inhabitant and proprietor.
Patrick Bartlet’s slaves in the various censuses were, also, on Belair, Belvedere and Petit Covenage Estates. There was about one slave to every 2.35 acres, which gives a probable slave population of 3,153 and it is unlikely the white population exceeded 400. In the early 1790s, the Grenada Assembly passed an ordinance requiring there to be one white man to every 50 slaves.
The Will of Patrick Bartlet of [Nottingham Place] St Marylebone proved 17/08/1830. In his will he acknowledged his marriage settlement with his ‘present wife’ Anne, and charged the annuity of £500 p.a. to her on his estates Sinclair, Beausejour and Belair on Carriacou in the government of Grenada. He also granted an annuity of £50 each to his ‘natural’ sons Alexander, Patrick and John. He appointed as trustees Alexander George Milne the younger and William Bartlet, and left the produce of the estates for life, subject to the annuities, to Dorothea Milne, wife of Patrick Bartlet’s nephew Alexander George Milne the elder. He aslo made a number of financial bequests to family including in a codicil an annuity of £100 p.a. to Mrs Mary Bartlet of Banff, the widow of his brother James.
Isabella Bartlet memorial
Patrick’s first wife, Isabella, died in 1821, and is also commemorated in St John’s Wood church. His second wife, Anne, (whom he married in 1824 at Warnford Surrey when she was about 47, and he was 74, or so), had long standing connections with the West Indies, as she was the daughter of Samuel Span of Bristol, Master of the Society of Merchant Adventurers, and a ship owner. Samuel, with his brother, had arrived on Union Isle (near St Vincent in the West Indies), in 1763, with 165 slaves and soon controlled the whole island, and, also, had property on Carriacou.
Anne Bartlet memorial
Slave censuses were taken regularly by the owners noting names, ages, and distinguishing marks – presumably for identification if a slave tried to escape, – plus and annual return of decreases in numbers due to deaths, and increases due to births. [These can be found in the National Archives].
Emancipation – Though the slave trade in the Caribbean was outlawed in 1807, slavery as an institution, was not fully abolished there until 1833. ‘Compensation’ was then paid, but to owners not to slaves, and under the Emancipation Act the slave compensation commission allocated 40,000 separate awards, costing £20 million – this was 40% of the total government’s annual expenditure. Only slaves under 6 years old were immediately freed, for rational reasons the rest were designated ‘apprentices’ and finally released in 1840. After the emancipation of slaves and with sugar-taxes, prosperity on the islands rapidly declined – it was impossible with free labour to compete with sugar and cotton produced by slave-work-forces of Cuba and the Unites States, added to this European beet-sugar took over as a cheaper commodity. But Mrs Farquhar and Patrick Bartlet did not live to see any of this outcome, and were buried in England at St John’s Wood, then the chapel for St Marylebone parish church, positioned as the focal point at the top of a country lane running north from the New [Marylebone] Road.
Oliver, Vere Lanford, “Caribbeana” Vol 3, p.131 & 178, 1914.
T71/328 pp. 29-40; PROB 11/1774/307.
Times 09/03/1839 p. 7.; National Probate Calendar 1875.