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Hugh McLeod & Hugh Wright (Surinam)

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Family tree at Hugh Macleod (Ancestry) - subscription required.

In 1836 Hugh McLeod, with his nephew Hugh Wright (son of his sister Mary and John Wright, merchant), moved from Demerara to Dutch Surinam, where he bought plantation Burnside. He sold Burnside a few years later and bought New Accanoribo, a coffee and plantation estate in the Commowyne river, with about 250 slaves attached. [Parliamentary Accounts and Papers – Slave Trade – vol. 32 session 24 January – 28 August 1860. P. 90, Letter no. 96, Consul Munro to Lord J. Russell: quoted in The Anti-Slavery Reporter, 1861]

He is likely to be the same Hugh Mcleod who, earlier in 1836, claimed and received compensation of over £13,000 for 246 slaves on the Demerara plantations Doorenhag and Waterloo [LBS Hugh MacLeod]. (However, note that there was another Hugh McLeod in Demerara, born in Tain and died in Georgetown, Demerara, on 7th February 1839. [Prob 11/1965]).] The move to Surinam, where slavery would remain legal until 1863, would have been both a means of re-investing his money and continuing as a cotton and sugar planter, operating in the manner to which he had been accustomed in British Guiana. McLeod died in Surinam in 1843 and his estate passed to Hugh Wright and other family members.

At Newington Free Church in Edinburgh, on 29 November 1847, McLeod's nephew and partner Hugh Wright [1809‑77] married McLeod’s daughter Frances [1823‑1908], born in Demerara in 1822 [OPR Marriages 065/02 0460 0361; birth place from census returns]. She had been living in Edinburgh, with the family of Hugh Wright's father, from before 1841, along with her sister Matilda [1825-43]. When Frances McLeod died in Edinburgh in 1908, no mother’s name was given on the death certificate [GROS 685/06 0122], making it likely that she was illegitimate and therefore probably the daughter of a free coloured woman in Demerara.

Shortly after the marriage, Hugh Wright returned to Surinam and thereafter only made occasional visits to his wife in Edinburgh, although the couple had three daughters. In 1863 he was the owner of 1741 slaves on four plantations - Hoyland, Alliance, Hanover and Badenstein. [For details see this link to plantation Alliance]. At emamcipation in 1863 he received 512,700 guilders compensation for 1709 slaves [Compensation records].

His last visit was in 1874 and he died in Surinam in 1877. At his death his estate in Britain was valued at £11,849 6s 3d, the equivalent of just over £1m in today's values (comparative purchasing power).

In 1873 his estates Hooyland and Pepperpot were singled out for criticism of the conditions under which indentured Indian labourers were being kept [Parliamentary Papers, 1877 [C.1861] Slave trade. No. 3 (1877). Reports respecting the condition of coolies in Surinam, p26].

Frances inherited £3000 from her father which she used to suport herself, while her husband remitted £2500 from Surinam for the support of their children. [Scotsman 26 Jan 1880, report of Executors of Hugh Wright v City of Glasgow Bank; Scotsman, 16 Nov 1880: report of Bankruptcy of Mrs Frances McLeod or Wright; census returns].

Hugh Wright also maintained a family in Surinam, where he had five (possibly seven) children with a former domestic slave, who he manumitted in 1856, named Carolina Josephina Uchlein [Will of Hugh Wright, SC70/4/174]. Four of the Surinam children, described in census returns as ‘cousins’, came to Scotland to live in Edinburgh with Frances.

In a court case relating to the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank, Frances was described as having an unnusual degree of control over her own finances - such that the legacy of £3000 from her father, which became her husband's property at marriage, was judged to have been re-gifted to her by her husband, since she had full control over it [Scotsman 26 Jan 1880, report of Executors of Hugh Wright v City of Glasgow Bank].

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