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This question is related to an earlier one (Where to find Will of Giles Chichester from 1820s, probably in Somerset or Guyana?) and more generally to the time that three (possibly four) brothers of my direct ancestors Priscilla (3rd great grandmother) and Robert Chichester (4th great grandfather) spent in Demerara (now Guyana) during the early 19th century.

My current interest is in seeing whether researching Yorkshire Hall plantation might shed some light:

  • In 1825 William Chichester (Robert's brother) is recorded as being the Proprietor of Plantations Yorkshire Hall and Zealand in

DEMERARA AND ESSEQUIBO VADE-MECUM. A. Stevenson, at the Guiana Chronicle Office, 1825 - 311 pages.

  • William seems to have been associated with Plantation Zealand since at least 13 Aug 1808 when he was cited as a witness in a defamation dispute conducted in the local newspapers, and this mentions that his house is at Plantation Zealand (http://www.vc.id.au/edg/18080813edrg.html)
  • William may have acquired Yorkshire Hall soon after the death of Mary Skelton because:

The West Yorkshire Archives Service office at Bradford Library holds the will of Mary Skelton "late of Little Horton". In 1823 she leaves her "three fourth part share" of the Yorkshire Hall plantation in Demerara to her three sons including "all the negroes and slaves which may, at the time of my decease, be resident or belong to the said plantation." http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2007/02/26/slavery_west_yorkshire_feature.shtml

  • By 1832 Yorkshire Hall appears to be managed (or owned?) by William's nephew Jared (Priscilla's brother):

British Guiana 818 (Yorkshire Hall) Claim Details & Associated Individuals 7th Dec 1835 | 14 Enslaved | £725 0S 1D CLAIM DETAILS Claim Notes Parliamentary Papers p. 122. T71/885: claim from Jared Chichester, as owner-in-fee. T71/429 p. 43: Jared Chichester registered enslaved persons in 1832. Further Information Colony British Guiana Claim No.818 Estate Yorkshire Hall Collected by Chichester, Wm. Uncontested Yes Associated Individuals (1) Jared Chichester Awardee (Owner-in-fee) https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/claim/view/9071

I have a suspicion that Jared's elder brother Giles (who died before 1830) may have been Jared's predecessor at Yorkshire Hall and to try and eliminate this from my thinking (if it is not correct) I am hoping to trace the owners/managers of Yorkshire Hall from 1823 through until about 1840.

I suspect that the papers below could be helpful, but it appears that they will be expensive to access from Australia:

Reference: CUST 34/356

Description: Papers relating to plantations

Date: 1821 - 1854

Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Legal status: Public Record

Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

Are there any more accessible records of the owners/managers/proprietors of Yorkshire Hall Plantation in Demerara (present day Guyana) that I might be able to use to trace its ownership/management from about 1823 to about 1840?

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Not a direct answer but may provide you with additional leads.

There are numerous references to "Yorkshire Hall" and William Chichester (as chichester, chionester, and chishester) at this website: vc.id.au (Van Cooten Voices), in the Guyana Colonial Newspapers section

The best method for searching the site is to use Google's site search, for instance:

site:vc.id.au "yorkshire hall"

site:vc.id.au "chichester"

The website also lists a number of Chichesters as British Guiana (sic) colonists here.

CHICHESTER, James Died: 23 NOV 1858, Mahaecony

CHICHESTER, Jared Esq. Married CHICHESTER, Maria Dorothea, wife of Jared Died: ABT SEP 1837, at sea

CHICHESTER, Maria Dorothea, wife of Jared Married CHICHESTER, Jared Esq.

CHICHESTER, Robert

CHICHESTER, Thomas Died: 25 DEC 1838, Pln. Ruimveld

CHICHESTER, William

I found Jared's will at the National Archives, but no other relevant Chichesters to your query.

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  • Thanks for some new thoughts about searching vc.id.au which at a quick look seems to find some mentions that I had not found. I was aware of British Guiana Colonists Index "C" and Jared's will. The National Archives also has the will of his mother Martha Chichester nee Noake. – PolyGeo Oct 11 '16 at 21:38
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One of the other UCL pages notes that in 1826 Yorkshire Hall was: "In lawful possession of Thomas Skelton by his attorney William Chichester". That suggests to me that William did not (then) own plantations, but was heavily involved in their management. He may later have acquired the land from the Skeltons, as Jared does appear to be an owner.

Additionally, this Google Books result from The London Gazette includes the "east half" of Yorkshire-hall in the legacy of Benjamin James Hopkinson in December 1839. Instruction to creditors of Benjamin Hopkinson, Dec 1939

If Mary Skelton left "three fourths" of Yorkshire Hall, two of those quarter shares presumably merged to form Hopkinson's half. He may have been the owner of the fourth quarter that Mary Skelton did not hold, or could have acquired two of the Skelton portions.

Given that William Chichester's page at UCL states that he was "one of the executors of John Hopkinson" in 1822, it looks like the Chichester, Skelton and Hopkinson families were quite closely intertwined in Guiana.

Browsing the UCL pages, it looks like the Hopkinson family was large, had part-shares in many estates, and the horde of descendants tended to squabble over inheritances. This means there may be some complex ownership webs to unravel, but thankfully Yorkshire Hall doesn't appear to be involved in that mess.

I think you need to find out what the Skeltons have in their closet as they have the clearest chain of ownership here. I would also try to discover the maiden name of Jared's wife Maria Dorothea - if she were a Skelton or Hopkinson, for example, Jared could have inherited the plantation by marriage rather than from William.

It might also be worth pursuing the "Dormant Funds in Court (Chancery)" of Middleton vs Chichester which appears to concern the estates of Maria Dorothea Chichester and Jared Chichester. Given that you have Middletons related to Chichesters, I would make a guess that Jared and Maria had no heirs, so Jane, Jared's sister, sought to inherit. As this case was opened in 1872, but was "dormant" in 1911, I wonder if Jane died before closure.

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  • Your last paragraph is about what we descendants of Jared's other sister Priscilla refer to as the "Chichester fortune". That sum is still in Chancery but it has been at very low interest 0.475- 0.5%. It is not possible to determine the exact value without hiring a solicitor to write up a Court Order and my current estimate of its value is about 3,000 pounds and my calculation is that my share of that is 5-10 pounds. I'm confident that we could claim it but I have put pursuing it on hold as non-economical :-( – PolyGeo Oct 12 '16 at 9:49
  • The Chichesters in British Guiana are one of the most interesting stories in my family history. William Chichester seems to have been very wealthy and returned to England. The three sons of his brother Robert (Giles, Jared and Thomas) seem to have all gone and not returned from there (Thomas certainly died there, Jared died on his way back, and I am still trying to find evidence to support/refute my theory that Giles died there). Some other nephews of William (sons of his brother Giles) also went there and he seems to have been the rich uncle of many. – PolyGeo Oct 12 '16 at 9:58
  • This answer is actually the first time that I have seen William referred to as an attorney but it makes sense - his usual title seems to have been executor. – PolyGeo Oct 12 '16 at 10:00
  • Your comment "I would also try to discover the maiden name of Jared's wife Maria Dorothea - if she were a Skelton or Hopkinson, for example, Jared could have inherited the plantation by marriage rather than from William." had me thinking initially that this meant Maria Dorothea had to be British but at ucl.ac.uk/lbs/claim/view/7190 I just read that ... – PolyGeo Oct 12 '16 at 10:05
  • "John Hopkinson bequeathed his estates in Demerara and elsewhere in trust for his nine natural children (seven sons and two daughters), as tenants in common. The will was proved in March 1822. The children were the offspring of two women of colour, one of whom resided in Aigburth Hall and the other in London." – PolyGeo Oct 12 '16 at 10:05

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