William Heathcote

1759 - 1811


Resident slave-owner in Demerara, dying on his Perseverance estate in 1811. The compensation for the Haags Bosch estate, then apparently including the Perseverance estate, was paid in part to William Heathcote's heir Arthur Heathcote Heathcote (ne Shepley, q.v., son of his sister Elizabeth), who also inherited Stancliffe Hall in Derbyshire through William Heathcote's brother John. William Heathcote had purchased Stancliffe Hall in 1799 for £10,500.

  1. David Alston identifies this man as the slave-trader William Heathcote, who with his partner William Neilson were together the core owners - sometimes with others, often simply as a pair - in 33 slave voyages from Liverpool between 1796 and 1808. This is consistent with the appearance of Robert Neilson (q.v.) as the awardee of the compensation for the other half of Haags Bosch.

  2. Stephen Glover's The History of Derby (1829) gives William Heathcote as the youngest son of Arthur Heathcote, of Blackwall in Taddington, Derbyshire, yeoman, who died in 1807 aged 90, and his wife Ann, who died in 1807 aged 91. It also gives him as of the colony of Demerara, mentions his purchase of Stancliffe Hall and his bequest to his brother John. Obituary states, "Died on Sunday Evening, at his House in town, aged 52, WILLIAM HEATHCOTE Esq. a Gentleman adorned with many amiable qualities, which made his company sought after by most of the respectable Persons in the Colony, and very deservedly; - as he was conspicuous for a goodness of heart, a benevolence and uprightness of character, that almost always lastingly attached to him those who had once been so fortunate as to become of his acquaintance! - He was foremost on all occasions of doing good! - Was a parent to the Orphan! - And many will lament his loss with sincere sorrow!! - In the cause of a friend he shewed a zeal so ardent, no difficulties could abate it, and was constantly observed to be infinitely more attentive to the interests and welfare of others than to his own. 'Tis said of him that he was never known to have paid a shilling to a Lawyer to prosecute a suit for him, tho' very few Persons in the Colony have had more extensive concerns than he had, or been more artfully dealt with than he has been, in his progress thru' life! On the other hand - the slightest intimation to him of a case of distress made a claim on his immediate protection. He continued for many years past with an inflexible constancy in avoiding all occasions of attracting public notice. - tho' his great abilities would well have merited popularity. - Living, very retired on his Estate Perseverance, respected and loved by his neighbours, to whom, as well as to a large circle of acquaintances and Friends, he had greatly endeared himself by his very communicative kind disposition, blended with such urbanity and sweetness of manners as were almost irresistible. "

  3. Thomas Staunton St Clair spent three days at William Heathcote's sugar plantation in 1806. His account, published in 1834, described Heathcote's house and estate in detail and included observations on the enslaved people living there.

  4. William Heathcote came into the possession of Haags Bosch (situate in Canal No 3) ca 7 April 1810, previously the property of the late F Kroll.


T71/1258 British Guiana claim nos. 832A-C: Abstract of document shewing the right of Mr Heathcote and Mr & Mrs Brailsford to receive compensation. Will of Wm Heathcote of Demerara 02/02/1811, which left the Stonecliffe [=Stancliffe] House estate in Darley Dale to his elder brother John Heathcote, and if John Heathcote died without male heirs, left estate to Arthur Heathcote Shepley, provided he took the name of Heathcote. Purchase of Stancliffe Hall: Daniel Lysons and Samuel Lysons, 'Parishes: Dalbury - Derby', in Magna Britannia: Volume 5, Derbyshire (London, 1817), pp. 94-129, British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/magna-britannia/vol5/pp94-129 [accessed 04/01/2018].

  1. David Alston, Slaves & Highlanders 'English planters & merchants: William Heathcote', http://www.spanglefish.com/slavesandhighlanders/index.asp?pageid=360373 which includes his obituary in the Demerara and Essequibo Gazette; Trans-atlantic Slave-trade Database, http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/database/search.faces, both accessed 08/05/2014.

  2. Stephen Glover, The History, Gazetteer, and Directory of the County of Derby: Drawn Up From Actual Observation, and From the Best Authorities; Part II... (Derby, 1829) pp. 360-361. His death 03/02/1811 at his house in the township of Cumingsburg and obituary is given in the Essequebo & Demerary RoyalGazette vol. 6 no 343 (05/02/1811).

  3. Thomas Staunton St Clair, A Residence in the West Indies and America with a narrative of the expedition to the Island of Walcheren (London, 1834) vol. 1, pp. 122-137.

  4. Essequebo and Demerary Royal Gazette vol. 5 no. 256 (07/04/1810) transcribed at https://www.vc.id.au/edg/18100407edrg.html [accessed 20/08/2018].

We are grateful to Kerrie Brailsford and Miranda Kaufman for their assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

died unmarried

Associated Estates (5)

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
- 1811 [EY] → Owner

In 1817 Thomas Frankland registered 216 enslaved people on Batavier as exor of estate of Wm Heathcote.

1817 [EA] - 1817 [LA] → Owner
1810 [EA] - 1811 [LA] → Joint owner
- 1811 [EY] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Previous owner

Legacies Summary

Physical (1)

Country house
Stancliffe House or Hall [Purchased] 
description →
Country House in Derbyshire, bought in 1799 by William Heathcote for £10,500. It was rebuilt c. 1854 after it had passed out of the Heathcote family....

Relationships (4)

Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Niece
Business partners

Addresses (1)

Stancliffe Hall, Darley, Derbyshire, East Midlands, England
Notes →

Resident in Demerara for most of this time.