William Alers Hankey formerly Alers

1771 - 1859

Claimant or beneficiary


London banker, awarded the compensation for the enslaved people on Arcadia estate in Trelawny Jamaica as owner-in-fee.

  1. Son of Thomas Hankey (died 1793), half-brother to Thomas Hankey (q.v.) and John Barnard Hankey, and partner (1789) and then senior partner (1830) in the banking firm of Hankey & Co.

  2. He was initially named William Alers and married Mary Martin on 26 July 1797 in Stepney St Dunstan. They had at least nine children: Mary Hall (1798-1866), William Augustus (1801-[1803?]), John (1803-1872), William (1804-1866), Thomas (1806-1872), Elizabeth (1807- [?]), Stephen (1809-1878), Sarah (1812-1887), and Alfred (1815-1902). William was granted a Royal License to take on the name Hankey in 1816.

  3. He was a co-founder of both the British and Foreign Bible Society, in 1804, and the Eclectic Review, in 1805.

  4. Born London 1771, son of Thomas Hankey (1740-93) and Elizabeth Weaver [sic]. Edinburgh University. Sons John Alers Hankey (1803-72) left £140,000 and Thomas Alers Hankey (1806-72) left £500,000. Treasurer of London Missionary Society 1816-32.  Left £250,000 at death.

  5. William Alers Hankey gave evidence to the 1832 Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery, in which he explained that Arcadia had come to him 'by succession', the bank having originally the mortgagee of the estate. He  postioned himself as a reluctant slave-owner committed to compensated Emancipation and described himself as 'a dissenter.' He took the view that the ‘negroes’ were not yet ready for emancipation but that slavery should be abolished with preparation of the enslaved through religious instruction:
    'You say that the negroes are not fit at present for emancipation; to what do you ascribe the fact that those persons are not in a condition to exercise the ordinary rights and duties of human nature? — To that absence of just information and knowledge, and at the same time to that absence of proper and manly feeling which the circumstance of slavery itself involves; it is a degrading system, consequently the individual under that system is degraded, and requires to be elevated by instruction and preparation before he can make a proper use of liberty.' (q. 4650, p. 314)


T71/874 Trelawny nos. 25, 26 and 27.

  1. http://heritagearchives.rbs.com/wiki/Hankey_%26_Co,_London,_1685-1865 Hankey & Co., London 1685-1865 accessed 19/12/2010.

  2. London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Dunstan And All Saints, Register of marriages, P93/DUN, Item 049. Ancestry.com. Pallot's Marriage Index for England: 1780 - 1837 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001. http://trees.ancestry.co.uk/tree/904129/person/-1600910855 [accessed 16/04/ 2013]. http://trees.ancestry.co.uk/tree/44813967/person/6262120722 [accessed 16/04/ 2013]. William Phillimore Watts and Edward Alexander Fry, An index to Changes of name [electronic resource] : under authority of act of Parliament or Royal license, and including irregular changes from I George III to 64 Victoria, 1760 to 1901, (London: Phillimore & Co., 1905), p. 4.

  3. George Browne, The history of the British and Foreign Bible Society: from its institution in 1804, to the close of its jubilee in 1854: compiled at the request of the jubilee committee (London: The Society's House, 1859). John Foster, Biographical, Literary, and Philosophical Essays: Contributed to the Eclectic Review (G. S. Appleton, 1844).

  4. Rubinstein reference 1859/50, Who were the rich? A biographical dictionary of British wealth-holders Volume Two 1840-1859 (MS).

  5. Report of the Select Committee on the extinction of Slavery throughout the British Dominions, PP1831-2 Vol. 20 (721), pp. 307-17.

We are grateful to Jim Brennan for his assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Mary Martin
Mary Hall, William Augustus, John, William, Thomas, Elizabeth, Stephen, Sarah, and Alfred (all with the surname 'Alers Hankey')
Wealth at death
'A dissenter'

Associated Claims (8)

£4,043 16s 5d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual) (Judgement creditor)
£3,086 17s 6d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual) (Judgement creditor)
£2,629 19s 3d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual) (Judgement creditor)
£4,565 0s 8d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual) (Judgement creditor)
£4,775 12s 4d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£900 4s 4d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£101 11s 4d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£2,855 15s 7d
Unsuccessful claimant (Executor or executrix)

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
1823 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Joint owner

Between 1823 and 1829, a group of 38-42 enslaved people attached to Arcadia were registered to William Alers Hankey, Augustus Robert Hankey and Thomas Hankey, but the bulk of the enslaved people were registered to William Barnett until 1832.

1832 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Judgement creditor

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Senior partner
Hankey & Co.

Cultural (3)

British and Foreign Bible Society...... 
London Missionary Society...... 
notes →
PP1831-32 (721) Report from Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery, q. 4568, p. 308: 'I was sixteen years...
Committee member
Mill Hill School...... 
notes →
William Alers Hankey was one of the two dozen members of the Committee of the Protestant Dissenters Academy at Mill Hill in 1821 (alongside Ebenezer Maitland), Statement of the design and plan of...

Historical (1)

Letters to Joseph Sturge ... in answer to his statements relating to the Arcadia estate in Jamaica, in the journal of his visit to the West... 1838 

Relationships (6)

Business partners
Natural Son → Father
Notes →
William Alers appears to have been born out of wedlock to Thomas Hankey I. He took the name Hankey in 1816....
Business partners
Father → Son
Notes →
William Alers Hankey was the illegtiimate son of John Barnard Hankey's father Thomas Hankey...

Addresses (2)

17 Fenchurch Street, City of London, Middlesex, London, England
Hyde Park Gardens, London, Middlesex, London, England