William Hinds Prescod

1775 - 1848

Claimant or beneficiary


William Hinds Prescod (1775-1848), the largest slave-owner in Barbados in the 1830s, inherited Barry's plantation as owner-in-fee and was tenant-for-life for Dayrells, Searles, Rock Dundo, Small Hope, Carleton and Kendalls plantations, inherited under the will of his uncle William Prescod. Despite his efforts, the compensation for these latter estates was paid to his trustees, William Hinds and John Gay Goding. William Hinds Prescod was also awarded compensation for Harrow, Crab Hill and Pickerings estates as executor or trustee of Ward Cadogan (q.v.)

  1. Born in Barbados c. 1775, the eldest son of Francis Prescod, William Hinds Prescod was educated in London and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge with a BA in 1799. Admitted to the Middle Temple, 12/10/1797. He returned to Barbados to work for his uncle William Prescod and between 1806 and 1812 he appears to have fathered four children with a free coloured woman, Lydia Smith of Barbados. The eldest of these children was Samuel Jackman Prescod (1806-1871), who became the first non-white member of the House of Assembly in Barbados in 1843. (He was named Samuel Jackman after a Bajan planter, Samuel Jackman, the father of John Abel Jackman (1800-1830): q.v.). William Hinds Prescod's three other children, Maria L. Prescod, Rachel G. Prescod and Francis Prescod were each awarded compensation for the ownership of 1 enslaved person. William Hinds Prescod was the main beneficiary in the will of his uncle William Prescod, who died in 1815.

  2. William Hinds Prescod was described as of "Campden Park Estate" in 1806 when he purchased an enslaved woman, Kitty, from Mary Griffin of Kingtown for £105 12s St Vincent currency. Presumably this is Camden Park in St Vincent, though whether Prescod was the owner or manager is unclear.

  3. William Hinds Prescod married Mary Brice, the Barbadian-born daughter of R.H. Brice of Bridgetown, 29/06/1812, in St Michael, Barbados.

  4. By the time of Emancipation, they had moved to Alstone Lawn in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. They had no children of their own, but adopted Mary Gurney (c. 1831-1911), the daughter of William Gurney and Mary Wood Gurney nee Brice. In the 1841 census, living at Alstone Lodge [sic], Cheltenham, were William Prescod, age 59, "Ind.", not born in county, Mary Prescod, age 36, not born in county, Mary O'Neal, age 17, not born in county, and Mary Prescod [Gurney] age 9, not born in county, along with 3 female servants and 1 male servant.

  5. Prescod was tenant-for-life for the estates which formed his inheritance from his uncle William Prescod and as such the compensation was awarded to William Hinds and John Gay Goding of Speightstown, Barbados, as trustees. Prescod applied to the Commission to receive the compensation directly, stating, "It appears to me, that the next Heirs under the will of my late Uncle will, if they can, invade my just rights ... it is plain they will put their hands into my pocket." The Commission refused to become part of the dispute: "The board is not authorised to give any direction where a Trust has already been created and the Trustees are in the exercise of the duty they have undertaken."

  6. Death of William Hinds Prescod, Q3 1848 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The entry for Alstone Lawn in the 1851 census (where the widow Mary Prescod, age 54, "Fundholder" is given as head of the family) confirms Mary Prescod née Brice as born in Barbados and gives Mary P. Gurney, age 19, "Lady", as her goddaughter. Will of William Hinds Prescod of Cheltenham proved 09/10/1848. In his will he left Mary Prescod Gurney £5000. His widow Mary died in 1860 leaving £600.

  7. In a Levy Book list for St James, Barbados, 1822, Prescod was listed as owning 352 enslaved and 794 acres of land. The name of the estate (or estates) was not given. It is not clear what is being referred to in the Levy List but it seems likely that it was an amalgam of various of Prescod's ownership of land and enslaved.

  8. William Hinds Prescod is listed as manumitting 21 enslaved people: "James; John William (men); Beck, Tamah, Luckey, Betty Grace, Polly Nancy (women); Empress, Anne, Juddy (girls); James Rowland, William Henry; Jack, Edward; William; Ben; Joseph, Robert; Sam Richard; John Edward; Daniel James." These appear in Barbados Department of Archives volumes dated 1828-1831 but the names do not match people listed as manumitted on Prescod's estates in the slave registers of 1829 or 1832. It's possible that Prescod was acting as an intermediary, or even that he purchased enslaved people from other slave-owners before manumitting them. Alternatively they may have been manumitted at an earlier date.


T71/879 Barbados claim no. 2959A&B (Harrow); T71/898 Barbados claim nos. 3223 (Dayrells), 3225 (Searles), T71/899 Barbados claim nos. 4306 (Rock Dundo [?], Small Hope & Carleton), 4307, 4726 (Crab Hill), 4763 (Pickerings); T71/900 Barbados claim nos. 5305 (Kendals, St John), 5306 (Barry's).

  1. Ancestry.com, Cambridge University Alumni 1261-1900 [database online]; Nicholas Draper, The Price of Emancipation. Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009) pp. 163-164. For details on Samuel Jackman Prescod, one of the 'heroes of Barbados', see the brief biographies in Total Barbados and Wikipedia.
    The claims of the children of William Hinds Prescod were Barbados claim nos. 1763, 1764 and 5245. For details of the will of William Prescod, see James C. Brandow, Genealogies of Barbados families: from Caribbeana and the Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1983) pp. 600-601.

  2. Deed Book 1806, British Library, EAP1013/1/1/7, pp. 432-433, https://eap.bl.uk/archive-file/EAP1013-1-1-7 [accessed 10/03/2021].

  3. 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. 2 p. 135; www.familysearch.org batch no. M51395-3.

  4. The History of Alstone [accessed 27/04/2012]; Mary Prescod Gurney's father's occupation is given as "Coachman" at the baptism of his daughter 20/08/1831 and "Servant" at the baptism of his son William Prescod Gurney 09/08/1830 (Ancestry.com, London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 [database online]); William Gurney married Mary Wood Brice in Florence, Italy, in 1829 (Familysearch.org batch no. M00936-5; 1841 census online.

  5. Nicholas Draper, The Price of Emancipation. Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009) pp. 182-183.

  6. Free BMD Index online; 1851 census online; PROB 11/2082/159; National Probate Calendar 1860.

  7. Levy Book for St James, 1822. Barbados Department of Archives, RB9/3/7.

  8. http://www.creolelinks.com/barbados-manumissions.html [accessed 02/10/2017] sourced to Barbados Deapartment of Archives RB7 Series, Park of Volume 24 and Volume 25 - 1828-1831.

We are grateful to Mark Dickinson, Peggy Brunache and William Norton for their assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Mary Brice
[with Lydia Smith] Samuel Jackman Prescod (1806-1871), Maria L. Prescod, Rachel G. Prescod, Francis Prescod
Cambridge (Trinity) [1799 ]
Legal Education
Middle Temple [1797 ]
Plantation owner

Associated Claims (9)

£4,691 14s 5d
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£1,978 16s 8d
Beneficiary (Tenant-for-life)
£6,936 11s 11d
Beneficiary (Tenant-for-life)
£3,122 12s 6d
Beneficiary (Tenant-for-life)
£2,693 9s 2d
Awardee (Trustee)
£3,864 9s 2d
Awardee (Trustee)
£2,594 4s 11d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£4,979 2s 6d
Beneficiary (Tenant-for-life)
£6,427 16s 4d
Beneficiary (Tenant-for-life)

Associated Estates (12)

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
1820 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1806 [EA] - → Not known
1832 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1815 [EA] - 1815 [LA] → Executor
1817 [EA] - 1817 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1815 [EA] - 1815 [LA] → Executor
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1815 [EA] - 1815 [LA] → Executor
1817 [EA] - 1817 [LA] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (1)

The William Hinds Prescod collection was auctioned in 1861. A copy of the catalogue is held by the National Gallery. 'NGA28/2/21, William Hinds Prescod Collection Catalogue 9 Apr 1861. Photocopy of... 

Relationships (2)

Beneficiary of Trust → Trustee
Nephew → Uncle

Addresses (1)

Alstone Lawn, Alstone, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, South-west England, England