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Will of James Dawkins (copy), Clarendon, Jamaica

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Doc.1233

Scope and Contents

Probate and copy of will, in English, dated 5 Jun. 1755. Summarised as follows: 'leaves his manor of Laverstoke and all his plantations, sugar-works, slaves, implements in Clarendon, Jamaica, British West Indies to his only brother Henry Dawkins'. Appointed his uncle, John Pennant, and friends Roger Drake and Beeston Long as executors of his will in Britain, and his brother, Henry Dawkins, and friends Charles Price, Henry Moore and Edward Morant as executors for his Jamaican property. The original will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury is held at the National Archives.


  • Creation: 5 June 1755


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

James Dawkins, born in Jamaica in 1722, the son of Henry Dawkins (1698-1744) of Clarendon, Jamaica, slave owner and sugar planter, and Elizabeth Dawkins (c.1697-1757, nee Pennant). Educated at Abingdon School and St John’s College, Oxford. Travelled to the Levant with the classical scholar Robert Wood, 1751-3, and supported the publication of Wood’s accounts ‘The Ruins of Palmyra’ (1753) and ‘The Ruins of Baalbec’ (1757). Travelled extensively in Europe, and mixed with Jacobite circles in Paris and Rome. Bought an estate at Laverstoke in Hampshire in 1755 and returned as the MP for Hindon, Wiltshire, but did not play an active role in parliament.
Dawkins is listed on the UCL Legacies of British Slavery database (see: as the owner of 25,000 acres of land in Jamaica with his brother, the slave owner Henry Dawkins. He is linked to or listed as the owner of the following estates in Jamaica, all with enslaved labour: Dawkins Caymanas, St Catherine; Dawkins Salt Pond Pen, St Catherine; Friendship, Clarendon; Leicesterfields, Clarendon; Old Plantation, Clarendon; Parnassus Estate, Clarendon. He died at Sutton’s Plantation, Jamaica, in Sept. 1657 and was buried at Old Plantation, Clarendon.


1 item(s) : vellum

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A fuller summary of the contents of this will is available in the original handwritten Doc. catalogue in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from G. David, Cambridge, 8 February 1923

Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 13th April 2022: This catalogue was revised by Sally Kent to address absences in the original catalogue description as part of the 'Democratising description' project, specifically to make explicit the record creator's link to slavery.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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