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date: 06 July 2020

Country houses.locked

  • Victoria Perry

Extract

In the 18th century ‘West Indians’ were among the great patrons of art and architecture. ‘West Indians’ is an 18th‐century term for wealthy absentee Caribbean sugar planters and merchants who, unlike mainland American plantation owners, chose to live in Britain. They were predominantly, but not uniquely, of white British origin, as fathers of mixed‐race children would sometimes send them to live with British relatives or to boarding school in England. Nathaniel Wells, mixed‐race heir to several plantations in St Kitts and owner of Piercefield Park in Monmouthshire, was one such person, described by a contemporary as ‘a Creole of large fortune, a man of very gentlemanly manners, but so much a man of colour as to be little removed from a Negro’.

West Indians were notorious in 18th‐century Britain for their conspicuous wealth, coarse, flamboyant manners, and love of turtle soup. Sir Peter Pepperpot, the hero of The ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Oxford Companion to Black British History.

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