Alexander Barclay

1784 - 30th Oct 1864

Claimant or beneficiary


Resident in Jamaica for almost 60 years, custos and Member of the House of Assembly for St Thomas-in-the-East and 'Receiver General for the Island', and pro-slavery advocate in a pamphlet, 'A Practical view of the Present State of Slavery in the West Indies' (London: Smith, Elder, 1826).

  1. Born in Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, the son of Charles Barclay of Knockleith. Baptised at Auchterless, 29/06/1785.

  2. Died at Charlton Cottage, St Andrew's, Jamaica, 30/10/1864. Buried in St Andrew's.

  3. His obituary in the Aberdeen Journal reads: "Mr. Barclay was born at Knockleith, in the parish of Auchterless, in 1785, was a son of the late Charles Barclay, and younger brother to the late James Barclay, of Knockleith. At an early age Mr. Barclay proceeded to Jamaica, where, by his industry, intelligence, and integrity, he soon raised himself to such a position as to be chosen member of the House of Assembly for St. Thomas-in-the-East, which district he continued to represent until his appointment as Receiver-General. During that period he took a prominent part in the public business, and was for several years Speaker of the House, and the confidential friend and adviser of more than one Governor-General. While on his way to revisit his native country, after twenty-one years’ residence in the island, he chanced to find, as a compagnon de voyage, Stephen’s book on Slavery, and being struck with the erroneousness of many of his statements, and the falsity of his deductions, he set himself to examine and controvert them. The notes he made during the voyage he afterwards, with the co-operation of his brother, the late Mr. John Barclay, of Calcota, a gentleman of great literary taste and acquirements, expanded into a volume, which was published before his return to the West Indies, and which was favourably received by the public generally, and referred to by the late Lord Liverpool and others as a well-informed statement of the vexed question. Mr Barclay advocated the education and gradual enfranchisement of the slaves, with a view to obviate the evils to themselves and to the colony, the fear of which proved afterwards to have been but too well founded; and on his return to Jamaica, he received the thanks of the House of Assembly for so ably vindicating the conduct of the planters, and stating their views. When the emancipation of the slaves had taken place, and when, from their universal repugnance to work, and other causes, ruin stared in the face all who had any stake in the island, Mr Barclay sought, with characteristic energy, to assist in repairing the disaster. Armed with a commission from the Colonial Government, he proceeded to this country, and thence, after an interview with the Home Authorities, to the coast of Africa, and was so successful in inducing the immigration of free negroes that in a short time he entered Port Royal with two vessels, which he had chartered for the purpose, full of willing workers: thus initiating a scheme for the supply of agricultural labour, to the success of which is to be mainly attributed any prosperity which the island has since recovered. Mr Barclay also introduced and carried through the Assembly measure of general retrenchment of the expenses of government, suited to the exigencies of the colony. In recognition of his services, he was, on a vacancy occurring, appointed to the honourable and responsible office of Receiver-General, the duties of which he continued to discharge until within a few days of his death."

  4. "The Will with a Codicil of the Honorable Alexander Barclay formerly of the Parish of St. Thomas-in-the-East but late of the City and Parish of Kingston both in the Island of Jamaica Receiver-General in the said Island deceased who died 30 October 1864 at Charlton Penn in the Parish of St Andrew in the County of Surrey in the said Island was proved at the Principal Registry by the oath of David Eward of the said Parish of St Andrew Esquire one of the Executors. Effects under £450."


Barry Higman, Plantation Jamaica pp. 89-90.

  1. batch no. C11173-2.

  2., Scots in the West Indies, 1707-1857 [database online]., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

  3. Aberdeen Journal, 14/12/1864 p. 8.

  4. National Probate Calendar 1865.

We are grateful to Julie Weizenegger for her assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

Wealth at death
Planter and attorney

Associated Claims (9)

£307 4s 10d
£658 9s 8d
Awardee (Assignee)
£2,261 0s 2d
Awardee (Receiver)
£784 8s 4d
£411 19s 5d
£779 0s 5d
£1,657 14s 0d
£457 11s 3d
£1,092 19s 11d
Awardee (Executor or executrix)

Associated Estates (8)

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
1834 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Receiver
1817 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Other

Executor to Alexander Miller in 1834; owned enslaved people who were probably hired to this estate as well, see JA19539.

1817 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - → Executor
1829 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Executor
1832 [EA] - → Attorney
1832 [EA] - → Executor
1832 [EA] - → Executor

Legacies Summary

Historical (1)

A Practical view of the Present State of Slavery in the West Indies... 1826 
notes →