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English planters & merchants: William Heathcote

William Heathcote (1758-1811) was born in Blackwell, Derbyshire and established himself as a merchant in Dominica, from where he ran slave-trading voyages with his partner William Neilson. Both had connections with Liverpool.

Heathcote bought Stancliffe Hall in Derbyshire for £10,500 in 1799. At some point he also acquired property in Demerara, where he died in 1811 after many years living in seclusion on his sugar plantation Perseverance. Thomas Staunton St Clair described in detail a visit to the plantation in 1806, in his A Residence in the West Indies.

His obituary, published in the Demerara & Essequebo Gazette, reads:

Died on Sunday evening at his house in Town, aged 52, WILLIAM HEATHCOTE, Esq., a gentleman adorned with many amiable qualities, which made his company sought after by most of the respectable persons in the colony, and very deservedly; - as he was conspicuous for a goodness of heart, a benevolence and uprightness of character, that almost always lastingly attached to him those who had once been so fortunate as to become of his acquaintance! - He was foremost on all occasions of doing good! - Was a parent to the orphan; - and many will lament his loss with sincere sorrow !! In the cause of a friend he shewed a zeal so ardent, no difficulties could abate it, and was constantly observed to be infinitely more attentive to the interests and welfare of others than to his own. 'Tis said of him that he was never known to have paid a shilling to a lawyer to prosecute a suit for him, tho' very few persons in the colony have had more extensive concerns than he had, or been more artfully dealt with than he has been in his progress through life! On the other hand - the slightest intimation to him of a case of distress made a claim on his immediate protection. He continued for many years past with an inflexible constancy, in avoiding all occasions of attracting public notice - tho' his great abilities would well have merited popularity. Living very retired on his estate Perseverance,  respected and loved by his neighbours, to whom, as well as to a large circle of acquaintances and friends, he had greatly endeared himself by his very communicative kind disposition, blended with such urbanity and sweetness of manner as were almost irresistible.

In his will he left money to Joanna Hopkinson "a free coloured woman" and manumitted a number of slaves.

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