James Tobin

1736 - 1817


Biography

Slave-owner on Nevis and Bristol merchant, and most likely the son of a sea-captain, James Tobin (1698-1770). He has an entry in the ODNB as 'sugar planter and pro-slavery campaigner': three of his sons are also in the ODNB: the sailor George Tobin (q.v.); the playwright John Tobin; and the abolitionist James Webbe Tobin.

  1. The Captain Tobin listed as the owner of an unnamed plantation in Nevis in 1772 was probably his [deceased] father.

  2. James Tobin was born in London and educated at Westminster School. He first went to Nevis in 1758 to take care of his family's plantation. In 1766 he returned to England and married Elizabeth nee Webbe, daughter of Nevis slave-owner George Webbe. They lived in Salisbury and had eight children. The Tobins left their three eldest sons in England when they returned to Nevis in 1777 to manage the Stoney Grove estate. The family returned to England in 1784 and settled in Bristol where Tobin and John Pinney established a firm of sugar factors. Tobin was a prominent pro-slavery campaigner, engaging in a pamphlet war with James Ramsay between 1785 and 1788. "As a planter and active member of the Bristol West India Association, Tobin was called in February 1790 to give evidence to the House of Commons inquiry into the slave trade. He argued that slavery was necessary to the plantation economy because free black men would not work on the estates, that slave numbers could not be supported by breeding and that therefore the slave trade was essential."

  3. An online genealogy gives James and Elizabeth's children as James Webbe Tobin, George Tobin, John Tobin, Elizabeth Cobham nee Tobin, Henry Hope Tobin, Charles Meadows Tobin, Joseph Webbe Tobin, Fanny Tobin 'and Frances Bush nee Tobin.'

  4. His will, 'of the island of Nevis at present residing in the City of Bristol', was proved on 30 October 1817. He left an annuity of £500 p.a. to his wife and £1000 to his younger sons; in a codicil he registered the death of his eldest son and that his estates on Nevis would pass to his son George.


Sources

David Small, ‘Tobin, James (1736/7–1817)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/53030, [sourced 15/10/2015]; David Small, ‘Tobin, James Webbe (1767–1814)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/58446, accessed 6 Oct 2016]; David Small, ‘Tobin, John (1770–1804)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/27485, accessed 6 Oct 2016].

  1. An Account of the late dreadful Hurricane, which happened on the 31st of August 1772; also damage done that day in the islands of St Christopher and Nevis, attempted to be ascertained, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=r1tgAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [sourced 15/10/2015]

  2. David Small, ‘Tobin, James (1736/7–1817)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/53030, [sourced 15/10/2015]

  3. http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Tobin-273 [sourced 16/10/2015]. This site gives the second son as George Webbe Tobin, who was the grandson (and the son of George Tobin) rather than son of James Tobin; Fanny Tobin and 'Frances Bush nee Tobin' must in fact have been the same woman.

  4. PROB 11/1597/260, The National Archives.


Further Information

Absentee?
Transatlantic
Spouse
Elizabeth
Children
eight children including James Webbe Tobin, George Tobin and John Tobin
School
Westminster School

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 [SY] - 1817 [EY] → Owner

Relationships (7)

Trustee → Testator
Father → Son
Father-in-law → Daughter-in-law
Father-in-law → Son-in-law
Father-in-law → Son-in-law
Son-in-law → Father-in-law
Brother-in-laws

Addresses (2)

Salisbury, Wiltshire, South-west England, England
Bristol, Gloucestershire, South-west England, England