George Baillie

1757 - 1809

Previous owner (non-claimant)


George Baillie was a large-scale merchant and slave-factor in St Vincent etc in 1780s and 1790s until his financial collapse c. 1805, and author of, among others, Interesting Letters addressed to Evan Baillie Esq. of Bristol. Merchant, Member of Parliament for that Great City, and Colonel of the Bristol Volunteers (London, 1809) and Interesting Letters addressed to James Baillie Esq. of Bedford Square, Partner in the House of Baillie, Thornton, and Campbell (London, 1809). Both were published after the final failure of George Baillie's firm in 1808. These letters (which are polemical accounts of his past business dealings with family members and partners) provide valuable information and texture about the nexus between slave-trading, slave-ownership and mercantile activity between Britain and the Caribbean in the period before the abolition of the slave-trade, and therefore reflect an earlier period than the slave compensation records. Nevertheless, there are continuities between the earlier period and the 1830s: the letters include references to slave-owners in the database, including John Bolton, Lord Reay and the older generation of the Baillie family, as well as presenting some sense of the networks between metropole and colony in which the slave-economy was embedded in the last 40-50 years of colonial slavery. Some notes from two of them are presented below.

Interesting Letters addressed to Evan Baillie

George Baillie was a cousin of Alexander, Evan and James Baillie (George Baillie's father was 'one of the principal men in the county of Ross, Scotland; the father's brother was the father of Alexander, Evan and James) Alexander and then James went to the West Indies, to St Kitts and St Eustatia respectively, Evan initially went into the army then was sent to Nevis with credit of £2000-3000 of articles from Alexander, Robert and Wm. Grant, merchants of London. [Interesting letters to Evan Baillie pp. 6-7].

George Baillie ['GB'] left Scotland aged 14-15 in 1770 to St Kitts. James Baillie returned to England almost immediately afterwards, Alexander had returned to Scotland several years before. GB to St Vincent 1771, then to Grenada 1773, then back to St Vincent 1773 [as partner?] in Garraway and Baillie. 1779 St Vincent captured by French,  1780 hurricane.  GB returned to England 1783 in poor health, back to St Vincent 1783 [same year], partnership with Charles Hamilton 1784-c.1787. At Evan Baillie's behest, he took on Fraser and Bannatyne, two insolvent gentlemen, c. 1785[?] p. 12. 1785-1793, first house in island of St Vincent.  1793 sold up, having taken up for sale an African cargo [the Iris Capt. Hughes] in order to hasten home with such remittances as I could collect to save your brother's house [James Baillie &  co.] p. 14. But bills of exchange uses to purchase Iris' cargo (£15,000) noted for non-acceptance by JB of James Baillie & co. [attributed to poor health of JB, who died Sept 1793].  'Mr Payne' his banker was one of those admitted by the dying man [p. 17].  Evan Baillie as exor declared JB firm owed £800k, withheld Bacolett estate when GB expressed determination to repay debts of firm [pp. 20-1]. Mr R. Payne the banker = another exor., objected, Evan Baillie withdrew to Bristol.  But his opposition undermined effort to bring in East Indian man Mr Henchman as new partner. GB formed George Baillie & Co., offered his acceptance of bills drawn on JB for £400-500k. Then March 1795 insurrections in StV and Grenada where JB, GB and his form had £500-600k property. GB got £250k of £1.5MM loan from govt [p. 24]. Mrs Baillie, James Baillie's widow, pursued GB for £3500 p.a. due to her under JB's will, although she was not legally entitled to anything until the debts were paid: as a result she took the consigneeship away just before 1800. Putsch by GB's partner Mr [Robert] Lang backed by Mrs B and Evan Baillie, and by 'my relation' Lord Reay who had been in GB's house when Eric McKay p. 26. Lang & Co. Set up separately. £130-150k retrieved for the family. 1803 Mrs B refused as exor of Fraser and Bannatyne to grant extension of a debt of £5000 owed by GB, when he was under acceptances outstanding of £1MM, and had repaid £500k that year.  House stopped payment 1804.  Mrs B had GB arrested and entered Chancery, aided by Evan Baillie, John Bolton and Lang, and EB's agents Baillie, Thornton & Campbell.

Alleges (on pp. 37-8) that EB sold the Retreat estate in StV (purchased for £21,000 currency) to naive newcomer James Fraser son of Provost Fraser of Inverness, who came out in 1771 with a very extensive credit from his uncle George Ross of London, an eminent army agent. P. 39 Fraser paid £21,000 sterling payable in bills of exchange and the Kenmiles estate near Inverness, representing a profit of £6000: EB then supplied slaves and stock: Fraser failed for £50-60k, lost the estate and brought down the London house of his brother John Fraser and Co., and forced George Ross to mortgage his estate in Scotland (p. 40).James Fraser d. 1785 or 1786 in GB's arms. George Inglis (now of Clifton) was GB's partner in StV mid-1780s (p. 42). John Fraser later recovered, became head of one of the largest houses of London. EB married Miss Gurley and contrived to have his brother-in-law disinherited by Mr Gurley in favour of EB's children.(p. 44)   

Alexander Baillie had only one legitimate son, Lt-Col. Baillie [p.46]. EB allegedly arranged to have Lt Col. Baillie join a WI regiment, died on passage [p. 47], so that he Evan could succeed to lands of Alexander in Scotland, as he did, the house of Dochfour [p.60]. [One of GB's own brothers is shown as 'General Baillie p. 51; another as Col. Baillie p. 52; and a third as Sir Ewen Baillie at Bengal; the family estate in Scotland is shown as Rosehall p. 52, forced sale by Evan Baillie to recover a debt of £3000 after death of General Baillie]. Evan Baillie had a brother John Baillie, a natural son of EB's father (p. 58). One of EB's sons was Peter Baillie [an MP according to Rubinstein's entry for James Baillie 1828/29], who went off the rails in France, redeemed by GB's interventions, and 'has turned out to be  a most amiable character': his other two sons (JE and HDB?] 'are also very deserving young men [p. 51].

Bright, Baillie and Bright of Bristol 1776 = Richard Bright (son of Henry Bright, Mayor of Bristol, who was correspondent of Alex. Bailie's house in St Kitts); Lowbridge Bright (Henry's nephew) and Evan Baillie, succeeded to business of Henry Bright. EB had capital of £15-20k at that time.

GB and Duncan Campbell 'one of the most opulent planters in the island of St Vincent' appointed as receivers of Ratho Mill by Court of Chancery, and also as attornies by London merchants Duveluz and Mendham at £500 per annum circa 1786.

Testimonials from Henry Hope [p.69]; Patrick Colquhoun [p.70-1], W. Garrow [pp.74-5]; James Reed p. 75; Rene Payne of SPS p. 76 [n.d., refers to new house of Snell, Turing, Lang & Co.: these men had been partners with Eric M'Kay, later Lord Reay, in GB's firm 1793] writes just before his Rene Payne's death. John Smith of SPS more hostile; possibility of challenge to duel from Lord Reay [p. 77].  

p. 80 Winter, Kaye Beckwith and Freshfield May 30m 1806 acting for Mrs Baillie, R.W.Forbes for GB.

p. 81 'A concise review' ids Evan Baillie and James Baillie junior of Bedford Sq as 'first-cousins' of GB; Mrs Baillie, widow of James Baillie senior as also first-cousin of GB: Lord Reay as second cousin to GB; Edmund Thornton, Duncan Campbell, Robert Lang, Simon Cock; John Bolton.

Interesting Letters addressed to James Baillie

'Bottle companions' of James Baillie = Thomas Hughan, K. M'Kenzie, Thomas King, Robert Milligan, Joseph Kaye, Matthew Higgins [p. 9]. Refers to Evan Baillie as 'our good cousin'; 'Mrs Baillie and your family' [p. 7]; p. 10 'my father supported your's, who was his brother (and who was in very indigent and distressed circumstances'.  D.Campbell = JB's son-in-law and partner. Firm appears to be dormant around 1808-9; JB kept property in Demerara.

Use of threat of usury laws versus Dr Adair p. 17.  

Plan with Dundas to take over Demerara p. 25; GB to provide ships, Dundas the men: troops instead reached St Vincent.

1782 GB's return to London: eldest brother Alexander in dispute with brother Maj-Gen Baillie. P. 29. Maj-Gen Baillie died 2 years ago [c. 1807]; Alexander still extant aged 75 at time of letters p. 30.  James Baillie sent from Scotland by James senior and Alexander (GB's cousins) to manage Hermitage estate in Grenada p. 32.  GB financed early purchase in Demerara by James Baillie of Bedford Square (the addressee) p. 31.

Original partners  = James Baillie, Mr [Edmund] Thornton and Mr Thomas Campbell, after succeeded by Duncan Campbell (p. 32).

Letter v Robert Lang in preparation, fn pp. 35-6.

Your intimate friend Joseph Keay [sic] of the house of Winter, Keay & Co. Was solicitor for all my persecutors, although not regularly employed by them in other matters.  I had much cause to complain of him.' p. 37.

George Baillie, formerly of the Island of Saint Vincent, is listed as a subscriber of £50 and upwards in the petition to King George the Third in 1807 for the establishment of Tain Royal Academy in the Royal Burgh of Tain in Ross-shire.

The death of George Baillie on 28/07/1809 is listed in the European Magazine and London Review Vol. 55-56 p. 156: "At Brighton, at an advanced age, G. Baillie, Esqr. many years a merchant at the island of St Vincent." The Morning Post of 10/07/1809 states his death "At Brighton, after a long and severe indisposition, which he bore with uncommon fortitude, George Baillie, Esq. aged 52; he was for many years an eminent West India merchant, highly respected, and was truly a most honorable character and a sincere friend."


George Baillie, Interesting Letters addressed to Evan Baillie Esq. of Bristol. Merchant, Member of Parliament for that Great City, and Colonel of the Bristol Volunteers (London, 1809); George Baillie, Interesting Letters addressed to James Baillie Esq. of Bedford Square, Partner in the House of Baillie, Thornton, and Campbell (London, 1809).
See also Statement of a few Interesting Occurrences in the Affairs of George Baillie and Co. (London, 1806) and Some Interesting Letters, addressed to Mr Baillie; together with Two Reports of the Affairs of George Baillie and Co. (London, 1807).

A family tree derived from Joseph Gaston Baillie Bulloch, 'A History and genealogy of the family of Baillie of Dunain, Dochfour and Lamington: with a short sketch of the family of McIntosh, Bulloch and other families' shows (1) George Baillie as son of Wm Baillie of RoseHall or Ross Hall (2) Alexander, James and Evan as sons of Hugh Baillie of Dochfour (3) James Baillie (dying 1828) as son of David Baillie (4) Wm, Hugh and David all as sons of Alexander Baillie of Dochfour.

Notice in the Public Leger and Daily Advertiser, 12/01/1807: "George Baillie and Co.'s banruptcy. St Vincent's and Berbice. To be sold by auction. At Garraway's Coffee-house, Cornhill. The latter end of February next, unless previously disposed of by private contract, by order of the assigness of George Baillie and John Jaffray, the several estates belonging to the Bankrupt George Baillie, situate in the Island of St Vincent, in the West Indies, known by the names of Sion Hill Estate, Carapan Estate, and Carriere Estate; and also a moity of another estate, situate in the Colony of Berbice, in the West Indies, called the Inverness Estate; and a certain proportion of another Estate in the same Colony, called the Canaye Lot; together with all the slaves, plantations stores, and other live and dead stock, in or upon the said several estates; and which estates, by a resolution of the creditors of the said George Baillie and John Jaffray, the assignees are at liberty to sell for bills accepted by the House of George Baillie and Co. now remaining unpaid, and proved against their estate."

Facsimile of the petition to King George III in the possession of Councillor Derek Louden.

We are grateful to Jim Brennan and Derek Louden for their assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information


Associated Estates (6)

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
1807 [EA] - → Other

Previous owner, now for sale due to bankruptcy

1800 [EA] - 1801 [LA] → Judgement creditor
1785 [EA] - 1785 [LA] → Not known

John Collins, George Baillie, Charles Hamilton and John Wilson leased Carenage for 7 years to George Inglis under a deed of 1785, but the lease appears to have been an instrument to empower Inglis to effect an 'ejectment' of John Doe [sic] from the estate, implying the lessors were either mortgagees or mortgagees-in-possession.

1797 [EA] - 1797 [LA] → Mortgage Holder
1807 [EA] - → Other

Previous owner of a moity, now for sale due to bankruptcy

1807 [EA] - → Other

Previous owner, now for sale due to bankruptcy

Legacies Summary

Commercial (2)

Name Partner
George Baillie & Co.
West India merchant  
William Mackenzie & Co.
Slave Factors  

Cultural (1)

Tain Royal Academy...... 
notes →
George Baillie, formerly of the Island of Saint Vincent, is listed as a subscriber of £50 and upwards in the petition to King George the Third in 1807 for the establishment of Tain Royal Academy in...

Historical (1)

Series of 3 pamphlets of 'Interesting Letters' addressed to John Bolton, Evan Baillie and James Baillie published in... 1809 
notes →
See also the following, listed in the British Library catalogue: Baillie, George. George Baillie's narrative of the mercantile transactions of the concerns of George Baillie...

Relationships (4)

First Cousins
Business partners
Business partners
Business partners

Addresses (1)

Brighton, Sussex, South-east England, England