William Atherton

???? - 1804


Owner of Green Park in Trelawny and Spring Vale Pen in St James (in partnership with Peter Holme, a merchant of Liverpool). Presumably died s.p. as no mention is made of children in his will. Apparently inherited his share of Green Park from Thomas Southworth around 1765, although no will has been found for Southworth (who had been a slave factor as well as slave-owner). Left Jamaica in 1783, probably to Rhode Island where he was married in 1784. Bought Prescot Hall in Lancashire and retired to England, reportedly in 1783 but more likely in 1787.

Atherton bequeathed an annuity of £2,000 per annum to his wife Elizabeth, the daughter of his deceased father-in-law John Sepleton of Ormskirk. The residue of his estate, including the Jamaican plantations, was left to his brother John for life and thereafter to his brothers Richard and Henry.

William Atherton also mentions in his will a stepson, Rev. Joseph Brenton Wanton. Wanton (c. 1777-1853), educated at Cambridge University, was the son of Joseph Wanton (1730-1780), the loyalist Deputy Governor of Rhode Island, and Sarah Brenton Wanton (1751-1787). William Atherton had married Sarah Brenton Wanton in Rhode Island in 1784. 'He immediately after her death disposed of his household goods and went to England, where he had a tablet prepared, and had it set up in the church [Trinity Church, Rhode Island] in Nov. 1788.'

The papers of William Atherton are held in Lancashire Archives.


See Crop Account details for Green Park and Spring Vale.

Michael W. Mosley, https://thelastgreatgreathouseblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/green-park-sugar-estate-the-history/ [accessed 04/08/2015].

Will of William Atherton, PROB 11/1403/224. Will of Elizabeth Atherton, PROB 11/1788/307.

Ancestry.com, Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900 [database online] [where he is indexed as Joseph Brenton Wauton]; Annals of Trinity Church, Newport [Rhode Island] 1698-1821, p. 170.

Lancashire Archives DDPR 32.

We are grateful to Clare Suart for her help with this entry.

Further Information

(1) Sarah Brenton Wanton nee Brenton; (2) Elizabeth Sepleton

PROB 11/1403/224 - precis.

William Atherton of Prescot in Lancashire.

I relinquish any claim I may have on the estate of my late father-in-law Mr John Sepleton of Ormskirk deceased and I give to my dear wife Elizabeth Atherton all my claim and interest whatsoever upon the said estate.

I subject all my estate, real and personal whether in Jamaica or Britain to the payment of my debts and all legacies and annuities I may make in my will.

To my dear wife Elizabeth Atherton an annuity of £2,000 per annum for life (£500 each three months, the first payment within a month of my death). Should any payment be in arrears for more than 6 months then my wife shall take possession of all my estates and retain the profits until the arrears shall be fully paid. This annuity to be paid before any other legacy or charge. This is in lieu of the £300 per annum settlement made upon her at the time of our marriage and a further annuity of £200 per annum intended to be granted to her for which I granted my bond to the trustees of the marriage articles.

To my dear wife £5,000 to be paid as soon as conveniently possible after my decease. Also to my wife all my copyhold estate in the parish of Prescot for her life and the remainder of the terms in my farms of Knowsley and Eccleston, the rents of the farms to be paid out of the estate.

To my dear wife all my household furniture, plate, pictures, prints, books, linen, wine and other liquors, all the provisions of every kind in my house in Prescot and all my horses, carriages, harness and horse furniture, carts and all implements of husbandry, garden utensils and farming utensils in Prescot and Eccleston and all plants etc in my gardens and hothouses, greenhouses and peach houses in Prescot and Eccleston.

To my nephew Mr Thomas Makin[?] £2,500.

To my niece Ellen Weston, wife of Mr Richard Weston of Balewood Green, £2,500. Should she die without issue then the money to revert to her brother.

To my John Atherton £3,000 in trust to be applied by him in such manner as he shall think fit for the use and benefit of my stepson Rev. Joseph Brenton Wanton, and until paid I give Joseph Brenton Wanton an annuity of £120 per annum. Should he died without issue and before the £3,000 is paid then this money to revert to my estate. I discharge Joseph Brenton Wanton of any account I may have against him.

To my highly esteemed friend John Tharp of Chippenham Park Esquire 50 guineas trusting that he will continue his friendly protection to my converins[?] and his good and kind assistance to my wife in the settlement of my affairs when ever he is required to do so.

To my faithful good servant John Smith £300.

To Mary Southworth a mulatto woman in Preston £20 per annum for life, the said annuity being in lieu of any claim she may set up against me and to cease immediately if any such claim should be preferred.

To my dear friend Rev. Edward Balme 'my picture painted by Torburgh' [probably not his portrait but simply a painting by the Dutch painter Gerard Terburg or ter Borch, d. 1681; Rev. Edward Balme was a collector whose collection was sold by Christies 01/03/1823] ] now in his possession. All my other pictures and prints that are at my dear friend's I give to my wife.

All rest, residue and remainder whether in Jamaica or Great Britain to my brother John Atherton for his natural life and at his death to my brothers Richard and Henry Atherton as tenants in common and to their heirs forever.

My wife Elizabeth Atherton, my friends John Tharp of Chippenham Park, my brothers John, Richard and Henry Atherton to be my executors.

Signed 08/05/1802.

Codicil - dated 29/04/1803. James Wareing removed as an executor and as a trustee of the legacy to Joseph Brenton Wanton [these entries scored out of original will] the late conduct of that man convincing me that I have very long mistaken his real character and now think him an improper person to be trusted in any manner whatever.

Witnesses appeared to give oaths 04/11/1833.

Proved 10/11/1803, then proved in London 26/01/1804.

Merchant and planter

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
1787 [EA] - 1803 [EY] → Joint owner
1787 [EA] - 1803 [EY] → Owner

Relationships (15)

Husband → Wife
Brother-in-law → Sister-in-law
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Niece
Uncle → Nephew
Business partners

Addresses (1)

Prescot Hall, Prescot, Liverpool, Lancashire, North-west England, England