John Vanheelen

1749 - 15th Aug 1793


Slave-owner in Jamaica, and acting as slave factor for two voyages at Martha Brae and Black River in 1791.

  1. Attorney for Joseph Royall of London in 1786. Member of Assembly for St Elizabeth in 1787 and 1790. Magistrate and Captain of Milita in St Elizabeth by 1784.

  2. Married Anna Maria Walker in St Elizabeth, 23/03/1775 ("buried at her fathers" on 05/06/1777). Their daughter Catherine was born 22/01/1776 and baptised 14/02/1776. Remarried, 03/02/1781, to Elizabeth, daughter of Col. Christopher Brooks of Hounslow, St.Elizabeth, and widow of John Vassall. Catherine Van Heelen was of St George's, Hanover Square, when she married (with her father's consent) Francis George Smyth in Marylebone, 22/10/1792 (Joseph Royall was a witness). Died 15/08/1793 "in his 44th year" and was buried at Hodges Pen in St.Elizabeth.

  3. Will of John Vanheelen of the island of Jamaica but at present in London [made in 1790] proved 02/01/1794. In the will he was preoccupied first with his wife having four horses at her disposal, and left her £40 to ensure this. He said that his wife Elizabeth was entitled to a life estate in a plantation called Pond Pen together with 16 "negroes" given her by her former husband John Vassall deceased, and left her £2000 currency worth of breeding stock in cattle or mares or mixed as she preferred, and an annuity of £400 p.a. or slump sum of £4000, again at her option. He left an annuity of £50 p.a. to his father and sister Sarah van Nuys, wife of a planter in Demerara, on their joint lives. He made up an annuity of £50 p.a to his friend Deborah Brooks, who had been left it by John Vassall, whose estate had been sold in Chancery leaving nothing to cover the annuity. The will disclosed that he was lessee of the Lower Works estate from Joseph Royall and that he was one of the parties to an agreement for purchase of 567 acres adjoining YS estate and 170 enslaved people thereon and to his having sold 33 enslaved people to Unity estate. He directed that there should be placed to work at Lower Works plantation the enslaved people ("which I believe are 11") belonging to his daughter Catherine and also his own enslaved people (7 in number). He left an annuity of £400 p.a. to his daughter Catherine Vanheelen, also his residuary heir.

  4. His widow, Elizabeth Vanheelen, married John Mabell Cooper, esq, Capt., 5th West Indies Regt., in St Elizabeth, by licence, 06/09/1798. Cooper obtained a captaincy in the 40th Foot and then transferred almost immediately to the 69th Foot, 1801. He was buried at Spring Vale, St.Elizabeth, 14 March 1810, aged 43.


  1. Vere Langford Oliver, Caribbeana being miscellaneous papers relating to the history, genealogy, topography, and antiquities of the British West Indies (6 vols., London, Mitchell, Hughes and Clarke, 1910-1919) vol. 3 p. 122; Feurtado's Personages via

  2., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online];, London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online]; Gentleman's Magazone vol. 63 part 2 p. 1051 (November 1793).

  3. PROB 11/1241/2.

  4. St Elizabeth, Jamaica, parish register ( - unindexed Baptisms, marriages, burials 1705-1820); Kentish Gazette 04/08/1801 and 21/08/1801.

We are grateful to Paul Hitchings for compiling this entry.

Further Information

[1] Anna Maria Walker [2] Eizabeth Vassall nee Brooks
With [1] Catherine (1776-)

Associated Estates (4)

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
1786 [EA] - 1788 [LA] → Attorney
1782 [EA] - → Attorney
1794 [EA] - 1794 [LA] → Lessee

Deceased lessee: his will refers to the estate as belonging to Joseph Royall

1781 [EA] - 1788 [LA] → Attorney

'Under the care and direction' of John Vanheelen

Relationships (4)

Father → Daughter
Father-in-law → Son-in-law
Other relatives
Notes →
John Vanheelen married John Vassall's widow Elizabeth nee...
Second Husband → Wife