John Barclay

1726 - 1787


Eldest son of Quaker merchant David Barclay and his second wife, Priscilla, daughter of John Freame, banker, of Lombard Street. Along with his brother David Barclay (q.v.), became a partner in his father's linen and merchant house in Cheapside. The business had strong links with the North American trade during the mid-18th century but the brothers began to retreat from these as political tensions grew in the 1760s. By the 1780s the brothers had moved away from the linen trade and into banking and brewing. Upon the death of this mother Barclay inherited a share in the Freame bank, the oldest Quaker bank in London. This became Barclay, Bevan and Bening of Lombard Street a 'node of a network of Quaker country bankers, financing bridges and canals as well as trading enterprises' [Price, ODNB], which in 1896 was part of the merger that formed Barclays Bank. The firm was involved in the financing of the West India trade and Caribbean plantation economy. Sometime in around 1785 John and David Barclay took possession in lieu of debts of a 2000 acre cattle pen named Unity Valley (Portland) in Jamaica. David Barclay determined to manumit all the enslaved living and working on the estate. Following advice from their attorney in Jamaica, Alexander Macleod of Spanish Town (q.v.), it appears John did not support immediate emancipation; however, upon John's death in 1787 he left his share in the pen to his brother, who with the support of John's family, carried out the manumission in 1795. The brothers were also mortgagees of an estate called Vaucluse and the enslaved people attached to it on Barbados c. 1780.


Jacob M. Price, rev. Leslie Hannah, 'Barclay, David (1729–1809), banker and brewer',

David Barclay, An account of the emancipation of the slaves of Unity Valley Pen Jamaica (London, 1801). Available through Googlebooks:

Monthly Magazine, Vol.38 (1814), pp. 133-37. Available through Googlebooks:

We are grateful to Rob Alexander for his help compiling this entry.

Further Information

A will but no further details
Merchant and banker

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
1783 [EA] - → Mortgagee-in-Possession
1785 [EA] - 1787 [EY] → Joint owner
1780 [EA] - 1785 [LA] → Mortgage Holder

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)


Relationships (1)


Addresses (1)

Hackney, London, Middlesex, London, England
Notes →

St John Hackney