Janet Higgins (née Baillie)

1773 - 1841

Claimant or beneficiary


Awarded the compensation for the enslaved people on Alliance in British Guiana as the widow of Matthew Higgins (q.v.). Janet Higgins also claimed compensation for Baillie's Bacolet in Grenada as the assignee of a legacy under the will of James Baillie (her father) (q.v. under 'James Baillie MP of Bedford Square and Ealing Grove').

  1. Janet Baillie, daughter of James Baillie Esquire and his spouse Collon Campble [sic] baptised in Inverness in January 1774. Matthew Higgins Esqr of St George Hanover bachelor married Jannett [sic] Baillie of Marylebone spinster by special licence at the house of Mrs Baillie, 12 Harley Street, 20/12/1800. One of the witnesses at the wedding was N. Winter (see claim notes for Grenada claim no. 864 for the link with Baillie and Nathaniel Winter). The will of Matthew Higgins of Gloucester Place Portman Square had been proved 26/04/1814.

  2. Will of Janet Higgins widow of [Matthew Higgins formerly of Gloucester Place Portman Square and afterwards of High Street in the parish of St Marylebone...deceased and at present residing in] Albemarle Street was made 25/08/1837 and proved 19/08/1841. Under the will she appointed trustees (including the Coutts bankers Edward Marjoribanks and Sir Edmind Antrobus both of the Strand) for her stocks, including her holdings in the 'English, French, Prussian, Maryland and Pennsylvanian stocks or funds' for her son Matthew James Higgins and his heirs (subject to a £10 p.a. annuity to Patrick Morris, a former servant of her late husband, and having directed that they set apart 'so much of my ffrench funds as shall be equal in value' to £10,000 for the benefit of her daughters Amelia Pandola and Alicia Bugnano [Harriet had died c.1836]). She left to the same trustees her estate in Bennown in Co. Westmeath in Ireland to sell, with Matthew James Higgins having the option to purchase it for £3000, and her holdings in Louisiana and Russian bonds, which she left for the benefit of her two surviving daughters. Her will shows that under her marriage settlement her children were each entitled to a one-fourth share in £30,000 at her death. She made the Matthew James Higgins her residuary legatee with the sole condition that he release her as executrix of her husband's will from all claims on her of or from the compensation money paid to her for the 'Negroes' on the Alliance estate in Demerary and of or from the legacy under her father's will secured on the Bacolet estate. In a series of codicils between 1838 and 1841, she left in trust for her daughters her holding in Reduced Consols, left £300 to the Middlesex Hospital in Goodge Street and (in 1841) in light of the 'decreased value of colonial property' felt it her duty to provide further for her son: accordingly, she left him the whole of her holding in French funds, the estate in Bennown and the sum of £17,000 or thereabouts she held in Consols, which she said represented the compensation money on the Alliance estate, which estate she held as tenant-for-life and which Matthew James Higgins would hold absolutely.

  3. The journalist Matthew James Higgins, (1810-1868), who wrote under the nom-de-plume Jacob Omnium and had Thackeray's Adventures of Philip dedicated to him, was the son of Matthew and Janette [sic] Higgins, and inherited an estate in British Guiana. He was the son of the Janet Higgins in this award. The ODNB shows his father as dying shortly after his birth, and his sisters marrying and living in Naples. He visited his estate in 1838-9 and again in 1846-7, after which he published several pamphlets on the difficulties of the sugar-producing colonies. He also gave lengthy evidence to the Select Committee on Sugar and Coffee Planting in 1848, in which he noted that not only did he inherited his mother's Guiana estate but that he also had an interest in (unspecified) Grenada plantations.

  4. William A. Green suggests that Matthew James Higgins was the author of 'the most compelling and articulate defence of the West India position' in protest against the reductions of Sugar Duties in 1846. An advocate of free trade in some circumstances, he argued that sugar was a special case.

  5. The ODNB shows Janette Higgins as daughter of James Baillie, son of Hugh Baillie of Dochfour, a family heavily connected with British Guiana. Other sources bear this out. Bulloch's History and Genealogy gives Janet Baillie born Inverness 1773, married to Matthew Higgins of Renown [sic - Benown], County Meath, with four children: Matthew James Higgins, Alicia Higgins Marchesa de Bug[n]ano, Harriet Higgins Baroness Ciccarelli and Amelia Higgins, signora Pandola. Baptism of Janet in Inverness, 1774: "James Baillie Esqu and his Spouse Collon [sic - Colin] Campbell had a child baptised by Mr. --- Janet."

  6. The will of James Baillie (1737-1793) gives his daughters as Janet, Amelia, and Colin Campbell Baillie (and three sons, Alexander, Hugh James, and Evan Hamilton Baillie) and mentions Bacolet estate in Grenada. He left £10,000 to each of his daughters.


T71/887 British Guiana no. 2409 Janet Higgins residing at Milan. Replication by Janet Higgins (to counterclaim of Alexander Baillie under the will of Matthew Higgins) of Albemarle St. stating that by virtue of the will of her late husband, and certain indentures and assignments therein mentd, she is entitled to the whole of the compensation money'. T71/880 Grenada claim no. 864 (Bacolet), Janet Higgins, Albemarle Street.

  1. GROS OPR Births 098/ 40 507 Inverness; Ancestry.com, London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online]; PROB 11/1555/324.

  2. PROB 11/1950/131.

  3. ODNB online, H.C.G. Matthew, 'Higgins, Matthew James [pseud. Jacob Omnium] (1810-1868), journalist'; Select Committee on Sugar and Coffee Planting, 4th Report, PP1847-48 (184) XXIII Pt. II, pp. 73-115.

  4. W. A. Green, British Slave Emancipation. The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1976), p. 232. Higgins' articles for The Times were published as The Real Bearings of the West India Question as Expunded by the Most Intelligent Free-Trader of the Day (London, James Ridgway, 1848).

  5. ODNB online, H.C.G. Matthew, 'Higgins, Matthew James [pseud. Jacob Omnium] (1810-1868), journalist'. Joseph Gaston Baillie Bulloch, A History and Genealogy of the family of Baillie of Dunain, Dochfour and Lamington (by the author, 1898) pp. 39-40. General Register Office for Scotland OPR Births 098 040 507 Inverness.

  6. PROB 11/1237/227.

We are grateful to Jim Brennan for his assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

Maiden Name
Matthew Higgins
Matthew James Higgins; at least 3 daughters, Amelia, Alicia and Harriet

Associated Claims (2)

£15,343 8s 1d
£8,985 17s 2d
Beneficiary (Legatee)

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
1814 [SY] - 1834 [LA] → Legatee

Relationships (10)

Niece → Uncle
Sister → Brother
Sister → Brother
Daughter → Father
Daughter → Mother
Mother → Son
First Cousins
First Cousins
Widow → Deceased Husband

Addresses (2)

Milan, Italy
Albemarle Street, London, Middlesex, London, England