James Beckford Wildman

1788 - 24th May 1867

Claimant or beneficiary


James Beckford Wildman M.P. eldest son of James Wildman of Chilham and Joanna, daughter of J. Harper of Jamaica. Godchild of Alderman William Beckford. Born Jamaica, educated Winchester 1800-6 and Christ Church, Oxford 1808; Lincolns Inn 1811. Married 9 Oct. 1820, Mary Anne, daughter of Stephen Rumbold Lushington. The couple had 2 sons and 5 daughters. He succeeded his father to Chilham Castle and Esher estate Jamaica in 1816. Served as MP for Colchester 1818-26.

  1. Killingray, 'Kent & Abolition', p. 113 shows James Beckford Wildman as buying Chilham Castle 1792 and dying 1816. Footnote indicates 'correction' from Thomas to James in source, Edward Halsted, History and Topographical Survey of Kent, Vol VII 1798 p. 276; Vol VIII p. 544. In fact, James Wildman (1747-1816), father of James Beckford Wildman, bought Chilham Castle (in 1794, according to this source). James was brother of Thomas Wildman (1740-1795), of Lincoln's Inn, appointed 1770 by Alderman William Beckford as member of 'council' to manage the fortune his 9 year old son was about to inherit. James Wildman himself went to Jamaica as Beckford's plantation overseer.  Thomas Wildman II, who received compensation for the Quebec estate wrestled from William Beckford, was the son of Thomas Wildman I (so James Beckford Wildman and Thomas II were cousins). James Beckford Wildman courted Fanny Knight, niece of Jane Austen, and appears in Jane Austen's correspondence with Fanny.

  2. Jas Beckford Wildman of Chilham Castle married Mary Anne Lushington, "a minor of Horton Court with conc. of Stephen Rumbold L--- Esq the natural + lawful father. Special Lic 1820." The wedding took place at Christ Church Canterbury. Lushington came from a prominent family with significant connections to the East India company and West Indies. Her cousins Henry and Charles both appear in the database, whilst another Dr Stephen Lushington was a prominent abolitionist. The couple had 5 surviving children: Marianne (1822), Ellen (1831), Emily (1832), Constance (1845) and Egerton (1846). In the 1851 census the family was recorded as living at Chilham Castle, East Ashford, Kent, with their three elder daughters and in 1861 with 4 children.

  3. Beckford Wildman was elected M.P. for Colchester at a by-election in 1818. In Parliament he supported Lord Liverpool's government and vigorously opposed Catholic emancipation and Corn Law reform. He was absent in 1824 as he was in Jamaica ‘for the purpose of protecting his West India property’. Subsequently, he presented a Colchester anti-slavery petition, 14 February 1826.

  4. In 1826 he left Parliament after spending heavily on his previous election victories and went to Jamaica. According to William Taylor, who managed Wildman's estates between 1829 and 1831, Wildman managed his own estates for about two years up to 1829. Wildman had an office in Kingston (in the Customs) and 'visited his estates occasionally'. Wildman was very critical of Taylor: see his evidence to the Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery. Taylor also stated that Wildman's estate of Cavaliers in St Andrew was split into small plots and rented out to free people of colour.

  5. In his evidence to the Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery Wildman noted that he owned about 640 enslaved on three estates: Papine, Salt Savannah and Low Ground. He was in Jamaica, living on the Papine estate, in 1825 and then for about 2½ years between 1826 and 1829. He also presented favourably the notion that under his regime, he substituted the use of the whip as a ‘stimulus for labour’ but retained it as a punishment for offences. Elsewhere in his evidence he was extremely critical of the systems of punishment in force in Jamaica.

  6. He sold Chilham Castle to Charles Hardy in 1861 to cover debts accrued on the West Indian properties, purchasing instead Yotes Court, Mereworth, Kent, where he died aged 67 on the 24/5/1867, leaving £60,000.


  1. David Killingray, 'Kent and the abolition of the slave trade: a county study, 1760s-1807', Archæologia Cantiana, CXXVII (2007), pp. 107-25; Twickenham museum: Thomas Wildman [accessed 19/07/2010; revised 13 May 2024].

  2. Pallot's Marriage Index for England: 1780-1837: record for Jas Wildman;1851 and 1861 census, available through Ancestry.com.

  3. Wildman, James Beckford (1788-1867), of Chilham Castle, Kent, in D.R. Fisher (ed.), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832 (Cambridge, 2009): available online http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1820-1832/member/wildman-james-1788-1867

  4. Kent and Essex Mercury, 14/10/1823; evidence of William Taylor to the Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery, Parliamentary Papers 1831-32 (721), p. 46; for Wildman's criticisms of Taylor: qq. 7846-51, p. 515 and qq. 7871-4, p. 517.

  5. Report from Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery, qq. 7741-47, p. 509; for the use of the whip: e.g. q. 7864, p. 516; for punishments in Jamaica as a whole: pp. 539-40. For the whole of Wildman's evidence: pp. 509-19 and 522-42.

  6. The Gentleman's Magazine (1867), ii, p. 119; National Probate Calendar 1867.

We are grateful to William Norton for his help compiling this entry.

Further Information

Mary Anne Lushington
Marianne (1822), Ellen (1931), Emily (1832), Constance (1845) and Egerton (1846)
Wealth at death
Winchester [1800-06 ]
Christ Church, Oxford [1808-11 ]
Legal Education
Lincoln's Inn [1811 ]
Politician and plantation owner

Associated Claims (3)

£4,146 8s 8d
£2,589 19s 9d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£5,286 19s 5d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)

Associated Estates (4)

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
1829 [EA] - → Owner

Parliamentary Papers 1831-32 (721). Report from Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery p. 4, William Taylor stated that Cavaliers estate, adjacent to Pepine, was divided into small parcels and rented out to free people of colour at a charge of 30s per acre for their own cultivation.

1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Physical (1)

Chilham Castle [Purchased] 

Political (1)

Tory / West India interest 
election →
Colchester Essex
1818 - 1826

Relationships (7)

Other relatives
Notes →
William Beckford godfather to James Beckford...
Son → Father
Nephew → Uncle
Nephew → Uncle
First Cousins
First Cousins
First Cousins

Addresses (1)

Chilham Castle, Canterbury, Kent, South-east England, England