Evan McPherson

1786 - 3rd Jan 1840


Attorney in Jamaica, mostly in Vere and Clarendon. Died in 1840.

  1. Ewan, son to James MacPherson and Janet Kennedy in Glen Banchor was baptised in the parish of Kingussie, Scotland, 12/06/1786. Death: "At his house, Clarendon, Jamaica, on the 3rd January last [1840], Evan Macpherson, Esq., who left his native place, Kingussie, when very young, nearly thirty years ago."

  2. In his will, written in ill-health in late December 1839, Evan McPherson bequeathed £1,000 sterling each to his sisters Mary Falconer, Elizabeth Gilzean, Maddy Kennedy, Christian Kennedy and Isabella McPherson of Badenoch. He left £500 to Eliza Ann Barlow [q.v.] and, in a codicil, £500 sterling to Dr John McNaught [q.v.]. His residuary estate, including a half share in the Ramble coffee plantation in Manchester, he left to his five sisters.

  3. Glen Banchor, birthplace of Evan McPherson, was a community of poor farmers in a glen behind the village of Newtonmore in the parish of Kingussie. Having moved to Jamaica in his early twenties, he was probably working with other Macphersons already established there, particularly John McPherson, Kenneth McPherson, Duncan McPherson, and Lachlan McPherson - "the Macphersons clan provided a strong support network for aspiring young clan members." His sisters' inheritance of £1,000 each represented an enormous sum of money - for example, Maddy Kennedy's annual rent for her small farm was £13 10s.


Guide to the microfilm edition of Papers relating to the Jamaica estates of the Goulburn family of Betchworth House from the Surrey History Centre introduced by Prof. Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University (Wakefield, Microform Academic Publishers, 2008).

  1. GROS OPR Births 102 20 25 Kingussie and Insh; Inverness Courier, 01/04/1840.

  2. PROB 11/1932/347.

  3. Inverness Courier, 01/04/1840; email from David Taylor 28/07/2020.

Two letters from Evan McPherson are transcribed in Papers relative to the West Indies, Part IV (London, 1839), contained in unindexed section at end of book, ‘Correspondence Relative to the Negro Population, Jamaica’, pp. 74-75.

Letter 1

Evan Macpherson to the Right Hon Henry Goulburn

Clarendon, 17 Jan 1839

"Since my last letter [17 Dec 1838] little or no work has been done on any of the estates, the negroes having taken from three to four weeks for the Christmas holidays; they are now beginning to resume work upon some properties, but not generally. At Amity Hall, I am sorry to say, the people have given much trouble of late, more than they have ever done before; they have absolutely refused to work for less 3s 4d per day, and some of them are asking as high as 5s, which is quite impossible that we can give them, as no estate can afford to give such exorbitant wages; and what is still worse, they will only give us about half a day’s work for these high wages. During the apprenticeship, nine hours was fixed on as a fair day’s work; now the people seldom work more than five or six hours per day, and never more than seven, and yet expect to be paid for a full day’s work. They are the most unreasonable people in the world, and on those estates where they were most kindly treated, they have generally turned out the worst since [p. 75] they have become free. I shall, however, use every means in my power to bring your people round, and, by perseverance and conciliation, I trust I will succeed. I am just starting for the estate, for the purpose of entering into arrangements for taking off the crop, which I hope to be able to do; we have a fine show of canes on the ground, which ought to make at least from 280 to 300 hhds [hogsheads], provided the people will take them off for me. I expect to be making sugar in the course of two weeks.

"You will probably observe by the newspapers the deplorable state the island is in owing to the bad working of the free system. The parish of Vere is an exception to all others on account of the richness of the lands, and the easy manner it can be cultivated. In some parts of the interior of the country the estates are already totally ruined; the negroes will not even attend to the stock, which are, in general, running at large all over the properties. I do not think the negroes will ever give us continuous labour, to enable us to carry on sugar cultivation, as long as they are permitted to cultivate the proprietors’ lands for their own benefit; they find it more profitable to cultivate provisions for the market than work in the fields. During slavery it was the interest of the master to encourage the negroes to cultivate as much land for themselves as possible; now it is quite the reverse, and ever since the 1st of August two-thirds of the people throughout the island have done nothing else but cultivate provisions on the proprietors' lands, and carrying them to market and to the towns. An industrious family can make from £2 to £3 per week from provisions alone; therefore it is not surprising that they refuse working in the fields, when they find it so much for their own interest not to do so. In order to counteract this evil, the people ought to be deprived of the use of the land beyond a certain quantity, say, about an acre; at present they can ramble all over the properties, and select the best and richest plots of land they can find, and we have no means of preventing them.

Letter 2

Evan Macpherson to Goulburn? [recipient not specified] 1 February 1839

"I am sorry to say very little improvement has taken place in the behaviour of the negroes either in Clarendon St Dorothy's or St Thomas in the Vale We have generally commenced our crops but upon almost every estate they have struck for higher wages and I feel convinced no good will ever be done until the people are deprived of their grounds as they find it much more profitable to cultivate the proprietor's land for their own benefit than work in the field were we even to offer them 5s per day It is really astonishing to see the quantity of fine land the negroes have been cultivating since 1st of August there is at the least two thirds of the people on the estates constantly employed in this way which renders them perfectly independent of the proprietor of the estate one industrious family will realize from nine to ten dollars a week from the sale of their provisions alone At Bushy Park I am confident the people have from 3,000 to 4,000 bushels of corn ready to cut which they sell at Spanish Town at 20s per bushel If the gentlemen in London connected with this island were to apply to Government and insist upon the labourers giving up their grounds they would then be compelled to work During slavery it was the proprietors interest to encourage the negroes to cultivate as much land as possible it is now quite the reverse I tried to prevent them on some estates from planting any more provisions but I found it impossible to do so as it would drive them to desperation If it could be made a Government question we might get over it very well but not otherwise I believe it is not usual in England for labourers to have the privilege of cultivating the proprietors’ land for his own benefit?"

We are very grateful to David Taylor for his extensive assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Name in compensation records
Evan M'Pherson

PROB 11/1932/347

This is the last Will and Testament of Mr. Evan McPherson of the parish of Clarendon in the County of Middlesex and Island aforesaid Esquire who being of sound and disposing mind and memory but weak in body do hereby give, devise and bequeath my real personal and other Estate as follows to my dearly beloved Sister Mary Falconer to my second Sister Elizabeth Gilzean to my third Sister Maddy Kennedy to my fourth Sister Christian Kennedy and to my fifth Sister Isabella McPherson Natives of Badenoch in the County of Inverness North Britain I give devise and bequeath the sum of one thousand pounds sterling each, to my dear and sincere friend Frederick Morton of the firm of Cottam Morton and Cottam of the City of London Merchants I give and bequeath the sum of five hundred pounds sterling as a testimony of my esteem and respect for him I also give and bequeath to Eliza Ann Barlow of the said parish of Clarendon the sum of five hundred pounds [Jamaican] currency, with respect to all that my share undivided of and in the Ramble Coffee Plantation situated in the Parish of Manchester it is my Will and desire that the same be carried on cultivated and improved by my Executors hereinafter named for ten years after my decease provided it affords such returns as to my said Executors shall appear good and fair and after the expiration of the said term of ten years or so soon as it shall appear to my said Executors that the returns from the said property are insufficient or inadequate to the outlay I authorize and direct my said Executors to sell and dispose of my said share of and in the said Coffee Plantation called the Ramble and everything appurtenant thereto for such or sums of money as to them shall seem fair and reasonable to any person or persons who shall be willing to become the purchaser or purchasers thereof who after payment of such purchase money shall not be accountable for the same or for the misapplication or nonapplication thereof and for this purpose I hereby authorize and direct my said Executors to sign seal and deliver or execute all such deeds or writings as shall be necessary and with respect to the annual rents and profits of my said share of the said Coffee Plantation called the Ramble and the money to arise from the sale thereof I direct the same to be and form part of my residuary Estate with respect to such of my monies as are now invested in the British funds I authorize my said Executors to sell out or transfer the same as to them shall seem proper for the purpose of carrying into effect this my Will all my horses carriages plate household furniture and other personal effects I desire my said Executors to sell and dispose of as soon after my decease as possible and as to all the residue or remainder of my Estate of whatever nature or kind I give devise bequeath the same to my herein before named dearly beloved sisters May Falconer, Elizabeth Gilzean Maddy Kennedy Christian Kennedy and Isabella McPherson their heirs and assigns as tenants in common and not as joint tenants share and share alike and lastly I hereby appoint William Rose of Clarendon Esquire and Gilbert Shaw of the same place Esquire and Duncan McPherson Esquire of Kinguissie [sic] in North Britain and Bartholomew Ibbott Williams of the City of Kingston in this Island Esquire to be Executors of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all former and other Wills and declaring this only to be and contain my last Will and Testament written on four sides of paper to the first three of which I have signed my name and to this fourth and last also signed my name and to this fourth and last also signed my name and affixed my seal this 27th day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine E McPherson (seal) signed sealed published and declared by the Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence and that of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses thereof Lachn [Lachlan] Macpherson J P [,] T McMahon Charles Corbett Andrew Auld

Jamaica Whereas I Evan McPherson of the parish of Clarendon in the said island have this 27 day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine made and duly executed my last Will and Testament do declare this present writing to be a codicil thereto and to be taken and seemed as a part thereof I give and bequeath to my much esteemed friend Doctor John Mac Naught the sum of five hundred pounds sterling as a testimony of my respect for him and for his attention and kindness to me during my illness I give and bequeath to each of my Executors named and appointed in my said Will the sum of fifty pounds and thereby confirm my said last Will and Testament In witness whereof I have subscribed my hand and affixed my seal this 27 day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine E McPherson [seal] Signed Sealed Published and declared by the said Evan McPherson as and for a codicil to this last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our hands as witnesses thereto - G McMahon, Charles Corbett, Andrew Auld

Jamaica I Walter George Stewart Esquire Secretary and Notary Public of this Her Majesty’s island of Jamaica duly admitted allowed and sworn

Do hereby certify and make known to all to whom these presents shall come or may in anywise concern that the instrument in writing here into annexed is a true copy of the last Will and Testament and Codicil thereto of Evan McPherson late of the parish of Clarendon in the County of Middlesex and said Island Esquire deceased (which said Will and Codicil are respectively duly proved approved and allowed according to the laws in force in the said Island of Jamaica) as the same revision of Record in my Office of Secretary of the said island I having carefully compared and examined the same

Done and performed in my said Office of Secretary of the said Island I having carefully compared and Examined the same

W J Stewart Sec

Not Pub

Proved at London with a Codicil the 29th August 1840 before the Judge by the oaths of William Rose and Duncan McPherson Esquires two of the Executors to whom Admon was granted they having been first sworn to wit the said William Rose before the Worshipful John Danberry Doctor of Laws and Surrogate and the same Duncan McPherson by [?] duly to administer power reserved of making the like Grant to Gilbert Shaw and Bartholomew Ibbott Williams the other Executors when they shall apply for the same.

Planter and attorney

Associated Claims (3)

£305 17s 5d
£2,221 5s 8d
£213 10s 8d

Associated Estates (10)

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
1833 [EA] - 1840 [EY] → Attorney
1832 [EA] - → Attorney
1820 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Executor
1832 [EA] - → Attorney
1829 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - → Attorney
1826 [EA] - → Receiver
- 1840 [EY] → Joint owner
1829 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Attorney
1826 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner

Relationships (1)

Testator → Legatee

Addresses (1)

Glenbanchor, Newtonmore, Inverness-shire, Highlands & Islands, Scotland