Aaron Moffatt

???? - 1797


Resident slave-owner in St Ann Jamaica. James Moffatt and Martha (presumably his wife) had at least four sons: Andrew, Aaron, James junior and John. No births have been found for these sons but their relationships are clear in the wills of Andrew Moffatt (1780), James Moffatt junior (1790) and Aaron Moffatt (1798) and in the subsequent court case Forbes v. Moffatt (1811).

  1. The boys' mother Martha married, secondly, Thomas Whyte in 1738 in Fleet Prison in London. Andrew and James Moffatt refer in their wills to the Whytes' only child, Martha, as "sister", in fact half-sister. She [the half-sister] went on to marry Charles Bruce, 5th Earl of Elgin, and was the mother of the 6th and 7th Earls. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, was responsible for the removal of the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens, 1803-1812.

  2. When Andrew Moffatt died in 1780 a sum of £27,000 was due to his estate from his brother Aaron Moffatt. In 1785, the executors of Andrew Moffatt agreed to lend a further sum of £12,000 upon a mortgage of Aaron's Jamaican estates. At this time, John Moffatt was also due £13,000 from Aaron but under the terms of the 1785 mortgage, John agreed to postpone repayment of this debt.

  3. Aaron Moffatt owned Blenheim and Cranbrook estates in St Ann, Jamaica from at least 1792, but, as stated above, the estates were mortgaged and indebted to Andrew and John. He was listed in 1792 as the owner of 377 enslaved people and 105 stock in St Ann. Aaron died in 1797; his sole residuary legatee was his brother John. John Moffatt died in 1807, intestate but with a wife Sarah and daughter, Elizabeth, married to Rev. Drake Hollingsbery of Winchelsea, Sussex. The lawsuits Forbes v. Moffatt and Moffatt v. Hammond concerned the priorities for the payment of the debts among the brothers. The suits mention Sarah Moffatt as the widow of John Moffatt; also Elizabeth Moffatt, wife of James Moffatt, as one of his executors.

  4. Aaron Moffatt had an illegitimate daughter Dorothy with a "free Negro" Mary Hawkins. Dorothy Moffatt owned Camunapaw estate in St Ann from at least 1820 to 1834 but is not mentioned in her father's will.


The wills of Aaron Moffatt (PROB 11/1301/64), Andrew Moffatt (PROB 11/1067/332) and James Moffatt (PROB 11/1197/139). Francis Vesey, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Chancery 1789-1817 Vol. 16 pp. 384-394 available at https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5XEDAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA385&lpg=PA385&dq=forbes+v.+moffatt&source=bl&ots=9MPhpgENYF&sig=hQG7H5XykF4eqbgI5EwSkxBnpus&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7hHKVJnkMcL1ULOMhLAC&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=forbes%20v.%20moffatt&f=false [accessed 29/01/2015] and centres on the mortgages and debts of the brothers Andrew Moffatt (1780), James Moffatt (1790), Aaron Moffatt (1795) and John Moffatt (1807).

  1. PROB 11/1067/332; PROB 11/1197/139; Ancestry.com, London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptism Registers, 1667-1754 [database online]; William St Clair, ‘Bruce, Thomas, seventh earl of Elgin and eleventh earl of Kincardine (1766–1841)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online.

  2. 'A list of slaves and stock in the parish of St Ann taken the 28th March 1792 pursuant to order of the Honourable House of Assembly', Edward Long Papers, Add. 12435, transcribed at http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Members/m/mstann1792.htm [accessed 19/02/2015]; Vesey, Reports of Cases pp. 384-394; 'A List of slaves and stock in the parish of St Ann taken the 28th March 1792 pursuant to order of the Honourable House of Assembly... transcribed from papers presented to the British Museum by Charles E. Long ref. Add. 12435' transcribed at http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Members/mstann1792.htm.

  3. Vesey, Reports of Cases pp. 384-394.

  4. See separate entry for Dorothy Moffatt.

We are grateful to Rosemary Bentley for her help compiling this entry.

Further Information

With Mary Hawkins: Dorothy Moffatt (1755-)

PROB 11/1301/64 - precis.

Aaron Moffatt of the parish of St Ann, Jamaica Esquire.

To my brother John Moffatt of the City of London Esquire all my property real and personal. My brother John Moffatt to be my sole executor.

Signed 03/02/1795. Proved in London 30/01/1798 by the oath of John Moffatt Esquire.


Associated Estates (4)

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
1785 [EA] - 1797 [EY] → Owner
1797 [EA] - 1798 [LA] → Previous owner
1785 [EA] - 1797 [LA] → Owner
1786 [EA] - 1792 [LA] → Attorney

Relationships (7)

Father → Natural Daughter
Great-uncle → Great-nephew
Uncle → Niece
Great-uncle → Great-nephew