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Robert Ferrier (1776–1806) was born in Brechin (Angus, Scotland), the son of John Ferrier and Martha Angus [OPR 275/00 0040 0172]. He came to Demerara in the 1790s and in 1799 married the recently widowed Adriana Doedens, who had inherited plantation Vrees-en-hoop from her first husband, Hermanus Jonas. Jonas’s only daughter and heir was Adriana Jonas [1799–1848], who thus became Robert Ferrier’s step-daughter. [Information from research by Paul Koulen]
Three of Robert’s four sisters came to Demerara – Jane, who married Joseph Beete in 1804 [E&DG 4 Feb 1804]; Martha, who married Robert Ridley in 1806 [E&DG 28 June 1806: Ridley died before May 1810 - E&DG 5 May 1810]; and a third Miss Ferrier, either his sister Janet or his sister Catherine, who was planning to leave the colony in 1811. Robert died, or possibly committed suicide, in January 1806 following an incident which was described in the notice of his death as ‘a persecution’ to which ‘ his mild, generous, and beneficent spirit’ was unequal [E&DG 11 Jan 1806 - see full text below].
His older brother [right] Sir Alexander Ferrier (1773–1845) became British consul a Rotterdam in 1815 and retained this position until his death. On Robert’s death,or perhaps later, Alexander became the guardian of Adriana Jonas, who in 1817 married Alexander’s son, John Turing Ferrier. Elizabeth Grant, visiting the Ferriers in Rotterdam in 1819, described her as ‘a tiresome little heiress’ [Elizabeth Grant, Memoirs of a Highland lady; the autobiography of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus, afterwards Mrs. Smith of Baltiboys, 1797-1830 (London, 1898)]
The trustees of their marriage settlement successfully claimed compensation of £11,106 3s 7d for the emancipation of the slaves on Vrees-en-hoop in 1834.
Sir Alexander Ferrier by Cornelis Cels, Sussex Record Office.
Death of Robert Ferrier
The 8th inst. at his Plantation Vrees-en Hoop, R. Ferrier, Esq. aged 29 years and six months. A man, every action of whose life, and every thought of whose mind, tended to the benefit of his fellow creatures; in the pursuit of which object, and in rendering a most essential service to one, he met a return which his liberal mind could not have apprehended possible to have consisted even with the worst stage of human depravity. Unexpectedly, a persecution was excited, under which his mild, generous, and beneficent spirit, unused and unequal to such a contention, to the regret of every good man, sunk at once, and sought that Heaven to which his own virtues so manifestly tended, and where he enjoys a repose, which Christian Charity induces a hope, may, through the unbounded mercy of the Almighty, aided by their sincere and deep repentance, be extended even to the enemies and persecutors of such a man as he was.