William Burge

1787 - 1849

Claimant or beneficiary


Attorney-General for Jamaica, then from 1830 parliamentary Agent for Jamaica, MP at £1,500 a year; anti-abolitionist campaigner and writer. Through his wife he became the owner of an estate and enslaved people in Jamaica. In 1848 he was jailed for debt in Leeds, and died intestate in 1849. He has an entry in the ODNB as 'barrister, slave-owner and anti-abolition advocate'.

  1. Matriculated Wadham College Oxford, 29 March 1803 (aged 16); BA, 1806. MA 1830; DCL 13 June 1834. Lawyer. Burge admitted to the Inner Temple 11 February 1803; called to the bar 20 May 1808; bench date: 20 January 1835. Treasurer of the Inner Temple November 1844-December 1845. Father was John Burge, esquire, of Castle Cary, Somerset.
    Joined Colonial Service and became Attorney General for Jamaica, 1819(?)-1831 and subsequently Agent for Jamaica. As Attorney General, Burge was instrumental in the arrest and exile of Louis Celeste Lecesne and John Escoffery in 1823 under the Alien Act. Louis Celeste Lecesne (c1798 – 22 November 1847) an anti-slavery activist from the Caribbean, on a committee to improve the rights of free men of colour, was arrested twice, and transported for life from Jamaica with John Escoffery, his brother-in-law.
    Burge was described by Holt as 'Jamaica's British lobbyist who had earned the contempt of the abolitionists during the preceding decade with his strong defense of slavery and of the [Jamaica] Assembly's prerogatives.' (Holt, p. 445 n.18) although the Assembly had divided over whether to grant Burge a gift of silver plate: (see Holt, p.222)
    Author various works in law and on Jamaica: see Historical Legacies.
    Living at 50 Wimpole Street in 1829 when his son Robert Sutton Burge was baptised in Marylebone. Three children baptised in St Catherine, Jamaica: Eliza Best (1810), Alexander McGregory Murray (1822), William Lee Baston (1819).


William Burge: History of Parliament online, entry by David R. Fisher / Margaret Escott [accessed 26/04/2018]; Whyte, William. 2016 "Burge, William (1786–1849), barrister, slave owner, and anti-abolition advocate." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 14 Jul. 2019. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-109602.

  1. Ancestry.com. Oxford University Alumni, 1500-1886 [database online]. Burge's [membership of the Inner Temple] (http://www.innertemple.org.uk/archive/itad/index.asp) [accessed 14/08/2012]; Thomas C. Holt, The Problem of Freedom. Race, labor and politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938 (Baltimore & London, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992). Ancestry.com, London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 [database online].

Further Information

(1) Helen Grace Murray Ludford (1791-1839); (2) Margaret Anne Forbes Alison
With (1) 3 sons, 1 daughter
Wadham College, Oxford [1803-1806 ]
Legal Education
Inner Temple [1803-1808 ]
Church of England
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (2)

£1,927 15s 11d
Unsuccessful claimant
£97 7s 11d

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
1820 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Joint owner

Legacies Summary

Historical (10)

A Letter to the Right Honorable Sir George Murray ... relative to the Deportation of Lecesne and Escoffery from... 1829 
notes →
Burge was Jamaican Attorney General and pressed for expulsion of Lecesne and Escoffery, a decision subsequently overturned in the British courts. pp. Xii +...
The Speeches of Mr. Barrett and of Mr. Burge at a general meeting of Planters ... and others, interested in the West India Colonies ...... 1833 
notes →
Barrett a Member of the House of Assembly,...
Commentaries on Colonial and Foreign Laws generally, and on their conflict with each other, and with the law of... 1838 
A Reply to the Letter by the Marquis of Sligo to the Marquis of Normanby, relative to the Present State of Jamaica,... 1839 
Jamaica. The speech of W. Burge ... at the Bar of the House of Commons, against the Bill intituled, “An Act to make Temporary Provision for the Government of Jamaica.” Monday, 22nd April,... 1839 
notes →
Articles in collectionsAuthor?
Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, The Speech of ... Sir C. T. M. ... On opening the Jamaica Legislature, on the 27th of October, 1840, and the Addresses of ... The Council and ... The Assembly in answer... 1840 
Observations on the Supreme Appellate Jurisdiction of Great Britain as it is now exercised by the Courts of the Queen in Council and the House of... 1841 
notes →
The temple church : an account of its restoration and... 1843 
On the Choral Service of the Anglo-Catholic... 1844 
notes →
Preface signed W. B., i.e. William Burge. Pp. vii +...
Commentaries on the law of... 1849 
notes →
Full title: Commentaries on the law of suretyship, and the rights and obligations of the parties thereto and herein of obligations in solido, under the laws of England, Scotland, and other...

Physical (2)

Arms of William Burge  
description →
The arms of William Burge are set in a window in the ante-chapel at Wadham Colllege, Oxford. The Temple Church in London: History, Architecture, Art, edited by Robin Griffith-Jones, David...
notes →
We are grateful to Prof. William Whyte of St John's College Oxford for drawing attention to this window at...
Temple Church 
description →
Restored in the 1840s under the direction of William Burge. The Temple Church in London: History, Architecture, Art edited by Robin Griffith-Jones, David Park (2010) p....

Political (1)

election →
Eye Suffolk
1831 - 1852
parliamentary notes →
Parliamentary reform - Bill for England - Committee - Seventh day
House of Commons 21/07/1831
parliamentary notes →
Colonial representation
House of Commons 16/08/1831
parliamentary notes →
Sugar Refining Bill
House of Commons 12/09/1831
parliamentary notes →
Negro slavery [Abolition of slavery: debate on Buxton's motion]
House of Commons 15/04/1831

Relationships (4)

Husband → Wife
Son-in-law → Father-in-law
Notes →
The two men married sisters, Rachael Sophia Ludford and Helen Grace Murray Ludford...

Addresses (3)

Marylebone, London, Middlesex, London, England
Oulton Green, Leeds, Yorkshire, Yorkshire, England
50 Wimpole Street, London, Middlesex, London, England