Thomas Greg

???? - 1839

Claimant or beneficiary


Son of Samuel Greg (1758-1834), the owner of the Quarry Bank cotton mill in Manchester. Connections to the London mercantile firm of Thomas Greg are not yet fully established but research is underway: it appears that Thomas Greg of Westmill (d. 1832), brother of Samuel, was the Thomas Greg who was partner in the London firm until 1811, and the Thomas Greg (d. 1839) of this entry was partner before 1818 until 1827, referred to then as Thomas Greg jun. In his will, made in 1834 and proved 17/07/1839, he left his residual estate 'especially the money I am now entitled to in right of my slaves upon the West India estates' among his sisters.

  1. John Greg (1716-1795), the son of a Scot settled in Belfast in 1715, went to the West Indies in 1765,  married there and became the first Government Commissioner for the sale of land. Greg had two estates (50% in Hertford, later sold, and Hilsborough) in Dominica, and his wife Catharine (née Henderson) in 1773 inherited Cane Garden in St Vincent. Thomas Greg (1718-1796), John's brother, also owned an estate in Dominica with Waddell Cunningham. On 10 June 1795 John Greg died and left his West Indian properties to his nephews (the sons of Thomas (1718-1796)), Thomas (d. 1832) and Samuel, who had been brought up by his uncle Robert Hyde. Thomas conveyed his share in the estates to Samuel in return for an annuity of £1500. On Samuel's death in 1834, the estates passed to his son Thomas (who died c. 1839).  On Thomas's death in 1839, the Hillsborough estate passed to his brother Robert Hyde Greg. The family owned the estate until 1928 when it was sold to a Dominican family called Rolle. They still own it (2010). At that time, the bishop of Roseau had to intervene to persuade the Greg family that it was acceptable to sell Hillsborough to a "coloured family".

  2. The Greg family originated in Ayr, Scotland, but John Greg (1693-1783) settled in Belfast in 1715. He had two sons. The elder, John (1716-1795) went to the West Indies in 1765, married there and became the first Government Commissioner for the sale of land. He had two estates in Dominica, Hertford, of 250 acres, owned jointly with Mr. Jennett, and Hillsborough of 120 cultivated acres in the parish of St. Joseph. This latter was originally named Layou, but received its new title in honour of Viscount Hillsborough (later 1st Marquis of Downshire) a friend of the Greg family. John Gregg later sold Hertford estate, but in 1773 Mrs. Gregg (neé Catharine Henderson) inherited Cane Garden estate, St. Vincent, from her mother.

His brother Thomas Greg (1718-1796) also owned an estate in Dominica, in partnership with Waddell Cunningham. This adjoined Hertford and was called Belfast. Thomas Greg married Elizabeth Hyde and has 13 children: he died in 1796, leaving his youngest son Cunningham as residuary legatee, and he and Waddell Cunningham sold the Belfast estate for £17,000.

On 10th June 1795, John Greg died in England. He bequeathed his West Indian properties to his nephews Thomas and Samuel, the sixth and ninth children of his brother Thomas, with a life interest to his widow, Catharine. She died at Hampton, aged 82, 'full of years and of benevolence,' on 22nd November 1819, and is buried with her husband in an extraordinary pyramidal tomb, the source of local legends, in the churchyard there.

Thomas, who died in 1832, conveyed his share to Samuel in return for an annuity of £1,500, but the estate more than repaid this in the prosperous period of the 1820s. The Gregs did not administer the estate directly, but through a local agent and a resident manager.

Samuel Greg had settled at Quarry Bank, Manchester, 'and was a prosperous and enlightened merchant. It would be interesting to know more of his attitude to his West Indian estates in the last days of slavery, but this does not emerge from the documents.' The 1830s brought many changes: the freeing of the slaves in 1833, the death of Samuel Greg in 1834, and a severe hurricane in Dominica in September of the same year. The damage was estimated at £5,000-£7,000, but new buildings were erected and the estate work resumed.

Samuel Greg had eleven children, including five sons: Thomas Greg; Robert Hyde Greg, economist and antiquary; John Greg; Samuel Greg, mill owner and philanthropist; William Rathbone Greg, political and philosophical writer. The last of these was named after William Rathbone (1757-1809) merchant and reformer. The Greg and Rathbone families were close friends, and Samuel Greg's daughter Elizabeth married William Rathbone junior (1787-1868); their grand-daughter was Eleanor Rathbone, M.P.

On Samuel's death the West Indian Estates passed to his eldest son Thomas, but he survived his father by only five years, and they became the joint property of the remaining brothers. Robert Hyde Greg (1795-1875) bought out his brother Samuel's life interest in 1845, and twenty years later passed the estates to his son Robert Philips Greg (1826-1906), who in turn bought out the shares of his uncles John (1868) and William (1875) and in 1870 sold the Cane Garden estate. On 31st December 1894 R.P. Greg sold all his interests in Hillsborough to his nephew John Tylston Greg, who decided to supervise it personally, and continued to run the estate until 1928 when he sold it and returned to England to spend the rest of his life in Oxford in a house he named Hillsborough.

Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Library holds an important collection of documents relating to the West Indian property of the Greg family of Belfast, notably Hillsborough, in Dominica. The collection also comprises two volumes of accounts and notes, an album of photographs and five other related documents, as detailed below. (Much of the above description of the family is taken from the Library's catalogue description):

(1) A coloured map of Hillsborough, 810 mm x 530 mm, by F. Lowndes, 1795 which shows the layout of the estate.

(2) Certified copy (1917) of the will of John Greg, 1795.

(3) Power of Attorney given to John Greg from Thomas Greg and Waddell Cunningham, 1772, to 'enter upon and take possession of all and every the Lands Houses Plantations Negroes Cattle Stock and Hereditaments whatsoever which belong to us in the said Island of Dominica.'

(4) Inventory of slaves and other property, Hillsborough Estate, 1818, listing 71 male and 68 female slaves, and the contents of dwelling House, Mill House, Boiling House, Curing House, Iron Store, Still House, Rum Store (including one puncheon of 'old Rum put by for Madam Greg'), Store, and Overseer's House, and also a hospital.

(5) Account book of Cane Garden and Hillsborough Estates, 1820-8, with various documents inserted, commencing with a statement of accounts of the Hillsborough and Cane Garden estates following the death of Mrs. Catharine Gregg, and continuing with invoices of goods shipped to St. Vincent and Dominica for estate needs. The other half of the book gives sugar and rum consignments, all recorded in great detail. Leather bound.

(6) Report upon Tares on sugar. (printed report by West India Merchants Committee), 1828.

(7) Copy of 'Dominica Colonist,' 21 September 1834, with account of hurricane damage at Hillsborough.

(8) Inter-Colonial apportionment of £20,000,000 slave compensation for West Indian colones in 1835, showing an average of £19 a head in Dominica and £25 in St. Vincent. Printed document with pencilled notes and calculations.

(9) Volume lettered 'Ledger: West India,' worn black leather binding (Robert Philips Greg seems to be the main writer) containing miscellaneous notes on the history of the West Indian properties including summaries of their vicissitudes in the 19th Century, and compilations of statistics of their operations, and concluding with diary entries by John T. Greg, 1897-9, highlighting some of the problems encountered when taking up the reins after local managers had been accustomed to a free hand.

(10) Photograph album of John T. Greg, 1891-7, Jamaica and Dominica. some of Jamaica but the majority showing scenes of Hillsborough estate, the buildings, the staff and servants, and Mr. Greg himself. This item is a section of the original album spine with caption only, the photographs themselves are held at Y307H.

(11) One print of a portrait of a seated John Greg.

(12) Correspondence of Mrs. Longden with Librarian, Royal Commonwealth Society, concerning the gift; notes on the Greg family; correspondence with Rhodes House.

Presented to the Royal Commonwealth Society by Robert Philips Greg's daughters, Mrs. Margaret Longden and Miss Natalie Greg in 1964.    


T71/881 Dominica claim no. 319; T71/892 St Vincent claim no. 547 (Cane Garden); will of Thomas Greg of Albany Piccadilly proved 17/07/1839, PROB 11/1913/271.

  1. Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Library, Dominica Estate documents, RCMS 266 accessed 08/09/2012. Information from Patty Pattulo.

  2. ibid.

Further Information

Plantation owner

Associated Claims (2)

£2,830 15s 9d
£2,250 14s 10d

Associated Estates (2)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1834 [SY] - 1839 [EY] → Owner
1834 [SY] - 1839 [EY] → Owner

Relationships (4)

Son → Father
Other relatives
Notes →
John Greg was great-uncle of Thomas Greg (d....
Grandson → Grandfather