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John Gilmore

Politician, born in Jamaica into a family of wealthy plantation owners. Sent to England in 1723, he was educated at Westminster School and Oxford. He later studied medicine at Leiden in Holland, but broke off his course there when the death of his father obliged him to return to Jamaica in 1735. When his elder brother died in 1737, he inherited most of the family properties and continued to add to them by inheritance and purchase over the next 30 years. At the time of his death he was sole owner of thirteen sugar plantations in Jamaica, together with other real estate and about 3,000 slaves.

In 1737William Beckford became a member of the Jamaican House of Assembly, but by 1744 he had left Jamaica for Britain where he settled in London as a West India merchant selling the produce of his own estates ...

Article

Marisa J. Fuentes

one of the first successful female hoteliers of color in late-eighteenth-century Bridgetown, Barbados, was born Rachael Lauder. Although no records of her birth exist, scholars have concluded that Polgreen was born enslaved to a white schoolmaster, William Lauder, and an African woman he owned, around 1753. At her death in 1791, Polgreen herself owned thirty-eight slaves and a considerable amount of real estate, including the notorious “Royal Navy Hotel.” Polgreen’s status as a propertied free woman of color was both remarkable and common to the experiences of free women of color in port towns throughout the eighteenth-century Caribbean. Many free women of color owned slaves and maintained close ties to white society. Yet Polgreen stands out among her peers in the unusual archive she and others left behind, including a lithograph of her image, several newspaper advertisements, and stories of her encounters with significant white men.

Polgreen s ...

Article

Kit Candlin

was born to a freed slave woman called Nanoe and an unknown white father in 1715. Nanoe and her two eldest children, Charlo and Maria, were freed sometime in the first decade of the eighteenth century. Charlo went on to become a successful carpenter, and he paid for the manumission of his six other siblings. Elisabeth, however, was born after her mother’s manumission and was therefore not only the youngest child but also the only child of Nanoe born free. Soon thereafter she went to live with her older half-sister Maria, who was residing with a wealthy Swiss merchant. Upon his death, the two girls would go and live with a wealthy German planter. As she grew up, both men taught Elisabeth to read and write and to conduct herself in business affairs.

By the time she was 19 Elisabeth had begun to accumulate property backed by her sister ...