Martha Bryce

No Dates

Claimant or beneficiary


Free woman of colour, partner and then wife of George William Hamilton (q.v.).

  1. Martha Bryce was a "free mestee", the daughter apparently of "a free brown" named Ann Frances Cameron (d. Nov 1813) for whom she acted as executor.

  2. Her father might have been Alexander Bryce (d. 28 Sep. 1803 in St Catherine).

  3. Among the assets apparently bequeathed to her by Ann Frances Cameron were two enslaved people whom Martha enrolled in 1817, and owned jointly with her two younger sisters Sarah (1789-1819) and Birthea (1790-1876). Martha sold the enslaved people to Birthea before 1820.

  4. From around 1815, Martha became the partner of the wealthy and influential Glaswegian planting attorney and trader George William Hamilton (1786-1857), by whom she bore four "white-by-law" children: Helen Hamilton, George William Hamilton (1816-1818), John Robert Hamilton (b. 1819) and Andrew Bogle Hamilton (b. 1820). Between 1820 and 1823, Martha moved to live in St. Thomas in the Vale, where her partner's interests were now focussed, as attorney to about eight estates and proprietor of the Crawle Plantation. Martha apparently retained her independence by keeping a pen, registering 5 slaves and 9 head of stock in 1824, rising to 10 slaves and 10 head of stock in 1828, and 15 slaves and 7 head of stock in 1830.

  5. Martha apparently retained interests in St. Catherine, where she witnessed the will of James Evans, planter, on 9 Jan 1836. A plan from 1833 in the Jamaica National Library represents 20 acres, 3 roods and 20 perches, part of Saxham, St. Catherine, which Martha Bryce intended to be conveyed to James McGregor. The 1829, 1831 and 1833 Jamaica Almanacs record James McGregor as holding 36, 20 and 12 slaves and 40, 2 and 6 head of stock, respectively, at Simmer's Valley in St. Thomas in the Vale, where the 1845 Almanac records that he held 39 acres.

  6. The pair were married in St. Catherine on 31 Mar 1838. In the 1851 census, when George William Hamilton ('late planter in Jamaica', aged 64) was staying with his brother at 5 Woodside Crescent Glasgow, there was no sign of Martha.


  1. Jamaica Church of England Transcripts, St Catherine Parish. Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1764-1825, Vol. 2, fol. 391; Returns of Slaves, St Catherine, 1820, p. 630.

  2. Idem, fol. 308.

  3. Returns of Slaves, St. Catherine, 1817; Idem, Manchester, 1820.

  4. Jamaica Almanacs, Givings-in for Parishes, St Thomas in the Vale, between 1823 and 1832.

  5. Public Record Office, Kew, PROB11/1884; Jamaica National Library, Map Call No. St. Catherine 1090.

  6. Jamaica Church of England Transcripts. All Parishes. Marriages 1836-1839, Vol. 2, fol. 5.

We are grateful to Dr Michael Rhodes for compiling this entry.

Further Information

Helen; George William; John Robert; Andrew Bogle

Associated Claims (2)

£258 8s 6d
£62 11s 10d

Associated Estates (1)

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
1825 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Owner

Relationships (2)

Wife → Husband
Notes →
George William Hamilton and Martha Bryce had four children as partners before their marriage in...