Francis Watt of Ottringham

1787 - 8th Apr 1844

Claimant or beneficiary


Given as Frances Watt in the compensation records, but almost certainly Francis Watt, the brother of Richard Watt (1786-1855, q.v.), and recipient of the bulk of the compensation for the Potosi estate in Jamaica, which he shared with his relatives Richard Watt Walker and John Walker (both of whom q.v.).

  1. Francis Watt, often referred to as ‘Francis Watt of Ottringham’, was the son of Richard Watt II and younger brother of Richard Watt III. He was born in 1787 in Liverpool and baptised at St Thomas church on 22 March 1787, but spent his childhood in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He attended Eton and Oxford but like his brother seems more interested in sporting activity and good living. He clearly spent much of his time as a youth in his elder brother’s company in sporting and other pursuits. When he came of age in 1808, he inherited the estate at Ottringham, in Holderness, East Yorkshire, from his father and he also inherited Richard Watt senior’s house at Oak Hill, West Derby, and other property in Liverpool. He probably sold Oak Hill in the early 1820s and certainly Sir John Tobin, the ex-slave captain and pioneer palm oil trader, was living there by 1827.

  2. He married Jane Harrison on 24 December 1829 at the church of St John and St Martin, Beverley, although he had already had seven children by her over the previous fifteen years, two sons and five daughters. The eldest child, Esther Maria, was baptised in York in April 1814, but there is no record of the baptism of his eldest son, Francis, born about 1817, although the remaining children were born and baptised in Beverley, only a short distance from the family home at Bishop Burton. Sarah was baptised in June 1818, Amelia in October 1820, Jane in May 1822, Mary in August 1824, Ellen in July 1825 and William in August 1826. Francis seems to have made no secret of his fatherhood because the register for the baptism of Jane included ‘illegitimate daughter of F Watt by Jane Harrison’ and in 1824 he made provision after his death of £26,000 for her and the children. Why he did not marry Jane before 1829 is a mystery – they were both unmarried, described as bachelor and spinster of this parish at the time of their marriage. In 1832, he regularised matters further and sought and obtained a royal licence for his children to assume the surname ‘Watt’. He had clearly led a colourful life, because in March 1837, he signed a bastardy bond for £100 to provide ‘for the maintenance of a female child of Sarah Fairfield of Great Grimsby singlewoman’.

  3. It is not clear when Francis and Jane started living together. Her address is given in the baptismal registers as Beckside, in the centre of the town, until 1824 and then in nearby Flemingate, where both she and Francis were living at the time of the 1841 census. Three of their daughters - Sarah, Jane and Mary - were living with their parents, and seven female servants. The neighbourhood seems to have been mixed – next door was a surgeon and there were other people of independent means nearby as well as a bricklayer, shoemaker, draper, agricultural worker, gardener and breadmaker.

  4. Francis seems to have acquired an interest in a sugar plantation at Potosi in Jamaica from his brother, Richard, the other part-owners being his cousins, Richard Watt Walker and John Walker. In 1834, he received £2,210 16s. 5d. as his share of the compensation paid following the Emancipation Act of 1833.

  5. Francis died in Beverley on 8 April 1844 and was buried at Bishop Burton on 16 April. He made provision in his will for his wife and daughters with a number of annuities but all his property was left to his two sons, Francis and William. His widow was living at 55 Flemingate in 1851, and Charlotte Sadler, who in 1841 was described as a female servant was listed as Jane’s companion and her occupation is given as ‘former governess’. Jane also had five servants, including a gardener and a cook. She died in 1854 and was buried at St John and St Martin, in Beverley on 8 August.


We are grateful to Tony Tibbles for compiling this entry and to Pauline Beckley for providing additional information.

T71/873 St James claim no. 152A-C. Given as Frances Watt in the Parliamentary Papers list.

  1. Liverpool Record Office 283 THO/1/2; H. Stapylton, The Eton School Lists from 1791 to 1850 (1863) p. 35; Joseph Foster, Alumni Oxonienses (1886) p. 1512. For sporting pursuits see, for example: they were both subscribers to the Gold Cup at Beverley races,York Herald, 22 December 1810, 20 November 1819; they travelled to Scotland together in 1811, Caledonian Mercury, Perthshire Gazette, 5 September 1811. Gore's Directory of Liverpool (1827).

  2. St John and St Martin Register, PE/12919; Register St Michael-le-Belfry, York; Bishop Burton, PE/129/11; for the financial provision see University Archives, DDGE/2/8/4; University Archives, Hull, DDGE2/9/18 and DDGE2/9/15; email from Pauline Beckley re copy of the petition to William IV that his eight illegitimate children by Jane Harrison should bear the name Watt.

  3. 1841 census online.

  4. St James claim no. 152A-C.

  5. York Herald, 13 April 1844; Bishop Burton Registers, PE 140/11; 1851 census online; Borthwick Institute Archives PR-ABE5.

Further Information

Name in compensation records
Frances Watt
Jane Harrison
Esther Maria, Francis, Sarah, Amelia, Jane, Mary, Ellen, William

Associated Claims (1)

£3,421 12s 9d

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
1832 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Mortgagee-in-Possession

Relationships (1)


Addresses (2)

Ottringham, Yorkshire, Yorkshire, England
Oak Hill House, Old Swan, Liverpool, Lancashire, Merseyside, North-west England, England
Notes →

Inherited by Francis Watt when he came of age in 1808, although he does not appear to have lived there and had sold it by 1827.