James Wedderburn Colvile

28th Aug 1739 - 14th Dec 1807


Biography

James Wedderburn was the second surviving son of Sir John Wedderburn, 5th Bart. Blackness (see ODNB entry), and following his father's execution joined his older brother John of Balindean (q.v.) in Jamaica in 1747. Like John, he established himself as a surgeon and 'practitioner in physick and chirurgery', although without any clear qualifications. While in Jamaica he purchased land and slaves before returning to Scotland in 1773. He married Isabella Blackburn the following year and purchased Inveresk Lodge, co. Midlothian where he resided until his death in 1807.

Isabella was the daughter of Andrew Blackburn and the Hon. Margaret Aytoun. From her mother's line she inherited the title Colvile (Isabella's grandmother, the Hon. Margaret Colvile, was co-heiress to Robert, 3rd and last Lord Covile of Ochiltree). When Isabella inherited the property of Craigflower, Fife, she and her husband adopted the additional surname Colvile. The Blackburn family were also heavily connected to the West Indian trade, with various members appearing in the database.

James and Isabella had four sons and two daughters: John Wedderburn (1776-1799), Andrew Wedderburn Colvile (1779-1856) (q.v.), Peter Wedderburn Ogilvy (1781-1873) (q.v.), James Wedderburn Colvile (1782-1822) (q.v.), Margaret Wedderburn (died young), Jean Wedderburn (1786-1871) (q.v.).

In his will, written 1802, James Wedderburn ordered his debts and legacies to be paid from his estates in Jamaica. He left his wife an annuity of £700 p/a; his sons Peter and James £5000 each upon reaching 21; his daughter Jean £2000 upon reaching 21 or marrying, plus an annuity of £100. All land and houses in Great Britain, along with joint moieties (held with his brother John) in two Jamaican estates - Blue Castle and Glenislay (both Westmoreland), including all 'negro and other slaves, cattle and stock' - were left in trust to his eldest son, Andrew. His brother Sir John Wedderburn, nephew David Wedderburn, cousins Robert Dundas and John Wedderburn of Witchburrn, wife Isabella, Alexander Bruce of Kennet, Clackmanashire and Alexander Maconochie the Younger of Meadowbank Midlothian were appointed trustees and executors.

In a codicil date 4th September 1802 James added that he and his brother had purchased a share in Blackheath plantation (Westmoreland), which was added to the trust. He also gave his trustees permission to sell his interest in Glenislay with the consent of his brother.

James Wedderburn left a small annuity of £20 to his 'reputed' daughter Lydia Graham, who was married to a grocer in Musselburgh. However, he made no mention of his mixed-race children in Jamaica, whose existence was revealed in The Horrors of Slavery, written by James Wedderburn's illegtimate son, Robert Wedderburn and published in 1824. The book provoked an outraged response from Andrew Colvile and became a key text in the abolitionist campaign.

Sources

Alexander Wedderburn, The Wedderburn Book: a history of the Wedderburns in the counties of Berwick and Forfar, designed of Wedderburn, Kingennie, Easter Powrie, Blackness, Balindean and Gosford, 1296-1896 (Published privately, 1898), pp. 305-07.

Will of James Wedderburn Colvile heretofore James Wedderburn of Inveresk, 2/4/1808, TNA/PROB 11/1477/19


Further Information

Absentee?
Transatlantic
Spouse
Isabella Blackburn
Will
A will but no further details
Occupation
Planter

Associated Estates (3)

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
1802 [EA] - 1808 [EY] → Joint owner

Joint purchase by John Wedderburn of Balindean and his brother James Wedderburn Colvile, mentioned in codicil to the latter's will dated 4/9/1802.

1780 [EA] - 1808 [EY] → Joint owner
1780 [EA] - 1808 [EY] → Joint owner

Legacies Summary

Physical (1)

Country house
Inveresk Lodge [Purchased] 

Relationships (34)

First Cousins
Business associates
Other relatives
First Cousins
First Cousins
Brothers
Brothers
Brothers
Father → Son
Father → Daughter
Father → Son
Father → Son
Husband → Wife
Father → Natural Son
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Father-in-law → Daughter-in-law
Testator → Executor
Testator → Executor
Testator → Trustee
Testator → Executor
Testator → Trustee
Testator → Executor
Testator → Trustee
Testator → Executor
Testator → Trustee
Testator → Executor
Testator → Trustee
Testator → Executor
Testator → Trustee
Other relatives
Extra-marital relationships

Addresses (1)

Inveresk Lodge, Inveresk Village Road, Inveresk, East Lothian, Central Scotland, Scotland