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In his will my 2nd great grandfather Henry Stanley Robert Pearce (1821-1868) leaves

all my estate and interest whatsoever in the lands and hereditaments called Gale Mount and Dunsinane in the island of Jamaica

to his sister Henrica Stanley Leger Pearce (1819-1893).

I watched David Olugosa's "Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners" on BBC2 and followed the link to the UCL database of compensation claims where I found Robert Pearce (1793-1861; my 3rd great grandfather) making a claim in 1834 for compensation for Farm Hill, Jamaica as executor & legatee of the will of Henry Stanley of Kennington. Farm Hill is not Gale Mount or Dunsinane but there is clearly a link here.

Henry Stanley's will mentions all the above 3 Pearces. He also names:

  • Elizabeth Mary Pearce, Robert's wife, as his niece;
  • Henry Turpin of Jamaica, nephew.

Robert Pearce's will make no mention of estates in Jamaica so presumably he had already passed it on to son Henry Stanley Robert Pearce.

My problem is tying Elizabeth Mary Pearce nee Wilkins (1793-1842) to Henry Stanley. Henry Stanley clearly had some influence (financial?) on Robert & Elizabeth as they name both their children after him.

I can find nothing about Henry Stanley other than his will & burial in 1826 at St Mary, Newington, Surrey giving his age as 60 yrs. There are also death notices in various newspapers (e.g. The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 96, Part 1) saying Henry Stanley gentleman of Kennington.

Any suggestions what their connection could have been? Where do I look for more information aside from the "usual ancestry subscription sites"?

  • My answer focusses on finding more information about Henry Stanley. If you do not already have a good timeline for Elizabeth Mary Wilkins up until where she intersects with Henry Stanley on his Will then you may want to ask a separate question that focusses on finding out more about her. – PolyGeo Oct 25 '15 at 2:18
  • Good suggestion! I know Elizabeth Mary's father was Thomas Wilkins & her mother Elizabeth, and that Elizabeth Mary was baptised at St James, Westminster in 1793. Presumably Henry Stanley had a sister Elizabeth Stanley? But this is very difficult to prove without a census. – Denise Sanford Oct 25 '15 at 11:13
  • I am curious to know if you have uncovered and references to the name William Pearce during your research into Henry Stanley Robert Pearce. It appears that your Robert Pearce and my William Pearce were contemporaries and both lived in/around St. David, Jamaica. William Pearce was associated with Rozelle Estate in St. David (later, St. Thomas in the East) and was a signatory on the 1836 Scale of Labour in 1836. – user6005 Feb 2 '17 at 14:12
  • I haven't found any references to a William Pearce. Robert Pearce's link to slavery was that he was executor & trustee of the estate of Henry Stanley who did own at least 172 slaves on a coffee plantation. Henry Stanley must have been a good friend of Robert's as Robert named his son Henry Stanley Robert Pearce and his daughter Henrica STanley Robert Pearce! To my knowledge Robert Pearce was never in Jamaica - unless you know different! – Denise Sanford Feb 3 '17 at 17:44
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You mention "death notices in various newspapers" which are presumably British and from 1826.

However, I recommend that you also try to consult Jamaica newspapers that are earlier than that.

The National Library of Jamaica says that it has significant runs for two newspapers that cover your period of interest:

  • The Royal Gazette 1780 - 1837, 1844
  • St. Jago de la Vega Gazette 1791 - 1837

There is also a Jamaica Newspapers page on FamilySearch that would be worth watching for updates.

While looking for other Jamaica newspapers I came across Jamaican Family Search and by using a search string of henry stanley farm hill I found records of his slave owning in Jamaica from about 1809-1832. The second date being later than his death date of 1826 suggests his slaves continued to be owned in his name after his decease which fits with Robert Pearce making the claim in 1834.

The listings below are from the Surrey sections of Jamaica Almanac Givings-in for the different parishes in different years.

Proprietor, Property, Slaves / Stock [If there is only one number it is the number of slaves]

Also, Henry Turpin was in the Jamaican Militia of 1824.

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  • Many thanks for your research. I had looked on Jamaican Family Search & found some of the 'givings in'. Henry Turpin is also listed on them as having 3 slaves but no property. By 1838 Henry Turpin is listed as owning Farm Hill with 30 apprentices. I suspect Henry Stanley was an absentee plantation owner. There are returns made on his behalf in 1817, by John Biggar, for 192 slaves. I will try to find some Jamaican newspapers as you suggest and hopefully a passenger list for around 1840 as I cannot locate any of the Pearce family (despite their unusual names) anywhere in UK in 1841. – Denise Sanford Oct 25 '15 at 11:08

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