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Accounts of William Rae and James Thomson, 1824
Collection Description & Creator Information
The collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, deeds, conveyance of property papers, account books, bills, receipts, vouchers, court cases documents, surveys and reports, and other financial and legal records related to the estate of James Rae and his brothers, John and William Rae. The material primarily deals with British inheritance law, trusts and trustees, executors and devisees, and documents court cases, complaints, and disputes among members of the Rae family. A large portion concerns the provisions of William Rae's will. Members of the Rae family included are Adam Newall, David Rae Newall, Jane Newall, John Morin, Sr., and John Morin, Jr. In addition, there are documents concerning cases for and against the trustees and their handling of the assets of the estate; material regarding John Rae's court case claiming inheritance of his brother's properties in England and Scotland; and material related to the case of the Rev. Charles M. Babington's claim to a portion of his wife's inheritance. The collection's account books and correspondence shed light on nineteenth-century economic conditions in Jamaica and the administration of estates there, which, in turn, reflect the island's social and racial conditions and the importance of trade between England and its colonies in the West Indies.
Plantations of the Rae family mentioned in the account books are Arntully, Brooklodge, Eccleston, Mount Reserve, Newfield, Petersfield, Port Royal, River Head, and Sherwood Forest. The crops cultivated on those plantations include Jamaica's primary crop, sugar cane, from which was manufactured sugar, rum, and molasses, followed by Jamaica's second largest export, coffee. Consequently, sugar, rum, and coffee were the three most important exports of the Rae family plantations. There are official documents, tax receipts, landscaping drawings and plans for a "Garden" for William Rae, and a brief genealogy of the Morin family.
In some correspondence, members of the Rae family, their attorneys, trustees, and executors, raise concerns about the new abolition of slavery law passed in England in 1834 and enforced in Jamaica in 1838, and its effect on maintaining and running the plantations. The bulk of the correspondence, however, relates to financial documents, bills, and receipts. Correspondents include Robert Barr, Walter Dickson, Thomas Grierson, John Hair, John Jackson, William Laidlaw, James Thomson, John Walker, David Whigham, and the Scottish law firm of Primrose & Gordon.
In addition to mundane entries regarding the purchase of fabric or tablecloths, crockery, butter, beef, or the sale or lease of land, the account books provide information concerning the slaves, or "apprenticed labourers," who worked the plantations. These entries include the purchase of "negro hats," medical bills for doctors who attended on apprentices and "free children," the purchase or sale of apprentices, hospital bills, money paid to apprentices for attending funerals, money paid to constables or police officers for apprehending and returning runaway apprentices, or money paid for the freedom of apprentices.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No appraisal information is available.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
- Credit this material:
Accounts of William Rae and James Thomson; Rae Family Estate Collection, C1222, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
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