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James Calder

James Calder died on 4th September 1824 on board the Albinia on his passage from Demerara to England. At this time he was a clerk in the office of the Secretary of the Colony but he had earlier worked on plantation Good Intent, on the west bank of the Demerary, for the partnership of Alexander Fraser, John Haywood and John Fraser. The first extant reference to him at Good Intent is in 1804 [E&DRG 16 June 1804] and he ended his involvement with the partnership in 1808 [E&DRG 13 Aug 1808] after the death of Alexander Fraser. Calder was promoted to be a lieutenant in the Demerara Militia in 1807 [E&DRG 12 Sep 1807].

On 26th September 1813 James Calder married Christian Gow, in St Mary’s, Whitechapel, London and by this marriage acquired a share in the ownership of Caledonian Cottage, Stoke Newington, which he owned jointly with his wife’s sister, Fanny Gow [Sun Insurance Records, Policy no. 769817].

In a disputed will, Alexander Fraser of plantation Good Intent left a legacy of £500 to James Calder, which he in turn promised to his niece Frances Sophia Colhoun Calder [1790-1841]. Frances was a witness at James’s marriage in 1813 and in 1819 she married, in London, a William Fraser of Demerara with whom James Calder had a business relationship. Frances, born in Middlesex, was the daughter of John and Maria Calder. She lived at Caledonian Cottage, had two sons, survived her husband and in 1834 received compensation of £738 10s 5d for seventeen slaves in Demerara. [Prob11/1953, Will of Frances Sophia Colhoun Fraser, written 1837, proved 1841]

James Calder also had two sisters in the Highlands, Elizabeth (married to a Mr Fraser in Beauly) and Catherine (married to a Mr Gordon) in Inverness. Calder owned a property in Bridge Street, Inverness, the rent of which provided a legacy to his sisters and provided for the care of a girl called Elizabeth Cassie, for whom his sister Catherine Gordon ‘acted the mother’. Elizabeth Cassie was to inherit the property when she came of age. It seems likely that she was an illegitimate daughter of James Calder. [Prob 11/1697 Will of James Calder 31st January 1825]


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