Thomas Thistlewood

???? - 30th Nov 1786


Perhaps the best-known, and certainly the best-documented, of all slave-owners, by virtue of his diaries recording his treatment of enslaved people both as overseer and then as owner in Jamaica between 1750-1786. Neither the Egypt estate (owned successively by William Dorrill and John Cope) nor Thistlewood's own Breadnut island, both in southern Westmoreland, has yet been traced in the Accounts Produce or the slave compensation records.

  1. The papers of Thomas Thistlewood were deposited at the Lincoln Record Office in 1951. In 2011, they were sold at Sotheby's 'From the collection of William John Monson, Baron Monson', and purchased by Yale University. The papers are now in the Beinecke Library at Yale, and have been digitised.

  2. Thomas Thistlewood of Westmoreland, Esquire. Estate probated in Jamaica in 1787. Slave-ownership at probate: 34 of whom 12 were listed as male and 22 as female. 0 were listed as boys, girls or children. Total value of estate at probate: £3,371.26 Jamaican currency of which £1,501 currency was the value of enslaved people. Estate valuation included £54 currency cash, £1,072.57 currency debts and £36.63 currency plate.


Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and his Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (Chapel Hill, 2004); Douglas Hall, In miserable slavery: Thomas Thistlewood in Jamaica, 1750-1786 (Mona, 1999).

  1. [acccessed 23/02/2017]; The Finding Aid is at [accessed 23/02/2017]; for the online images see e.g. [accessed 23/02/2017].

  2. Trevor Burnard, Database of Jamaican inventories, 1674-1784.

Further Information

School in Ackworth, York [1728- ]

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
1766 [SY] - 1786 [EY] → Owner
1751 [SY] - 1757 [EY] → Overseer
1757 [EA] - 1758 [LA] → Overseer
1750 [EA] - 1751 [LA] → Other

Pen Keeper for £50 p.a.

Legacies Summary

Historical (1)

Primary SourcesAuthor?
Diaries of Thomas...  

Relationships (2)

Executor → Testator
Executor → Testator

Addresses (1)

Topholme, Lancashire, North-west England, England

Inventories (1)