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English planters & merchants: Somersall

From as early as 1759 Anthony Somersall owned the 2000-acre sugar plantation, Wismar, 65 miles up river on the west bank of the Demerara River. He was one of 34 ‘Englishmen’ who owned plantations in the colony in 1762, many of whom had come from islands in the Caribbean. In 1770 he was under suspicion of smuggling slaves into the colony in breach of the Dutch monopoly on the trade. It was alleged that the ship carrying the slaves, from St Kitts, was owned by Somersall. [Storm van 's Gravesand: The Rise of British Guiana]

However, by 1798 Wismar, along with many other plantations on the upper Demerara, was abandoned. [1798 map of Demerara, University of Amsterdam]

In 1801 Anthony William Somersall (son of the above Anthony Somersall? or the same person?) entered into an agreement with Lord Seaforth, James Fraser of Belladrum, Edward Fraser of Reelig and William Munro, joining in the purchase of lots of coastal land in Berbice. Somersall named the plantation he established on his portion, on the east bank of the Abary Creek, Fellowship. [National Archives of Scotland, GD46/17/11]

The map above shows Somersall's plantation on the Abary. Although this names the owner as 'W A Somersall', the accompanying documents make it clear that he was Anthony William Somersall.

James Edward Somersall’s will, written in Berbice in 1810, shows that that the family consisted of the above mentioned Anthony William Somersall, his wife Anne, three sons (James Edward, Thomas Alexander and Anthony William) and two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth). James acted as attorney for his father’s Fellowship plantation from 1808 or before. [Prob 11/1533]

In 1817, when the first slave registers were drawn up, no person named Somersall owned slaves in Berbice.


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