James Wilson MP

1772 - 1830


MP for York 1826-1830, owner of Cane Grove on St Vincent: the compensation for the enslaved people on the estate was paid to his trustees. In his autobiography of 1831, Ashton Warner described the transaction by which James Wilson forced him back into slavery as a 10 year old boy.

  1. The History of Parliament entry for James Wilson, which gives a full account of his short but active period in the Commons and says that 'he is known to have been the proprietor of the Cane Grove estate on St Vincent, which employed [sic] 231 negroes [sic] in 1827', acknowledges that his origins are completely unknown, saying: 'It seems certain, given his military background, that the identification of him as the only son of James Wilson of Horton, Buckinghamshire and Jamaica, who was a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, 1797-1806, is erroneous.' He bought Sneaton Manor in 1820 and built the castellated manor house Sneaton Castle on the site in Whitby; he rebuilt the church of St Hilda at Sneaton, about three miles from Sneaton Castle, in 1823.

  2. James Wilson died Sept 1830 at his residence Brunswick Place, Regents Park, London, of Sneaton Castle, Yorkshire and Cane-grove, Lt-Col. and member of Council in St Vincent, and magistrate and Deputy-Lieut. for the county [of Yorkshire] and late MP for York. His daughter and heir Mary later married Joseph Barker Richardson. James Wilson's debts reportedly absorbed both Cane Grove and the £4000 he left in personalty.

  3. In the 1817 and 1822 Slave Registers, Wilson was shown moving some of the enslaved people on Cane Garden to Demerara. The number of people recorded on the estate fell from 340 in 1817 to 236 in 1822 by a combination of mortality and movement of people.

  4. A memorial tablet to James Wilson is reported to be in Sneaton Church near Whitby.


  1. Martin Casey, 'Wilson, James (d. 1830) of Sneaton Castle, Whitby, Yorks and of 3 Brunswick Place, Mdx.', History of Parliament http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1820-1832/member/wilson-james-1830 [accessed 15/09/2015].

  2. Times 09/09/1830; Casey, 'Wilson, James'.

  3. T71/493 pp. 284-291; T71/495 pp. 139-142.

  4. 'In the Vault under the Chancel lies the body of James Wilson Esq of Sneaton Castle Co York and Cane Grove St Vincents. A Magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of York Member of the Council and Lieutenant Colonel of the Militia of the Island of St Vincents: and late Member of Parliament for the City of York. He was a man as much distinguished for private beneficence, integrity and honour as for the independent performance of his public duty and indefatigable zeal and activity with which he promoted every object of public utility. He was charitable to the poor, liberal to his dependents and warmly sincere in his friendships. By honest industry, and persevering assiduity, he raised himself to wealthy rank and influence, which he made the happy, but unostentatious means of accomplishing his benevolent purposes. He was born at Corrie in Annandale in the County of Dumfries on the 7th day of June 1772 and died September 7th 1830.' (Transcription by Peter Whittingham, https://www.ancestry.co.uk/boards/localities.caribbean.stvincent.general/1069.4/mb.ashx [accessed 25/04/2017]).

We are grateful to Audrey Dewjee for her help with this entry.

Further Information


Associated Claims (1)

£5,933 0s 5d
Other association

Associated Estates (1)

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
1817 [EA] - 1830 [EY] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Physical (2)

Country house
Sneaton House [Built] 
description →
Castellated manor house built by James Wilson at Sneaton Manor, which he had bought in 1820....
St Hilda [Built] 
description →
Gothic revival church, built in 1823 by James Wilson of Sneaton...

Political (1)

West India interest 
election →
York Yorkshire
1826 - 1830

Addresses (2)

Brunswick Place, Regent's Park, London, Middlesex, London, England
Sneaton Castle, Whitby, North Yorkshire, Yorkshire, England