Frances Wildman

1773 - 1847

Claimant or beneficiary


Beneficiary of the compensation for the Craig Mill estate in St George Jamaica.

Frances Wildman (1773-1847) was the daughter of Henry Wildman (1733-1816). Her paternal uncles were Richard, Thomas (1740-1795, MP for Hindon in 1795) and James (1747-1816, MP for Hindon 1796-1802); her father, like her uncles Thomas and James, were associated with William Beckford's interests in Jamaica, eventually himself owner of Esher plantation, formerly Beckford's, in St Mary's, Jamaica.

Accounts of some aspects of the careers of Thomas Wildman senior (of Turnham Green Hall, Middlesex) and James Wildman senior (of Chilham Castle, Kent) are given in the History of Parliament online.

Henry had married Frances Walker in 1772 at Gestingthorpe, Essex. In 1791 they settled at a small estate, bought by Henry, at Leyton in Essex, called The Knotts. He had been an exporter to Jamaica in the 1770s, in a partnership known as Wildman and Smith. In Kent's 1794 Directory he is listed at 6 Fen Court, Fenchurch Street as a merchant, but he was later also a shipowner in the Jamaica trade and as late as 1813 can be found in correspondence with Boulton and Watt over at least one steam engine order for Jamaica. He was also an investor in the West India Docks. His wife Frances died in February 1811, and Henry himself at Leyton in January 1816.

His daughter Frances had been born in London in 1773 and christened at St Bartholomew (her single Census entry in Eastbourne for 1841 gives her age as 65, but that census rounded ages off to five-year intervals - her true age was then 68). Thomas was born in 1783, and James in 1785, both in London, and both christened at St Peter-le-Poer.

Henry's will makes over his main assets to his elder son Thomas, but there are specific legacies of £15,000 capital and his interest in £600 of government stock (held by a partnership, Chapman, Wildman and Hayes), to Frances, and £20,000 to his younger son James, with a codicil adding to James's legacy a named plantation, or an interest in it, copied near-illegibly by the PCC which could possibly be Pindar's Valley, in Clarendon, (not owned by Wildman, according to the Almanacs, but its listed owners the Iredells, brought an action against the Mitchells during James's bankruptcy). These sums are made chargeable on Henry's plantations in St Mary's, which implied the ownership of Esher was to be effectively shared. It would seem that James continued his father's business at the same address in Fen Court.

James's 1821 bankruptcy meant Frances's fortune became involved in the realisation of his Jamaican assets, and all three were sued as joint owners of Esher in Chancery by James's trustees in 1825. The origin of her interest in Craig Mill is not known. It may have been the annuity mentioned in an advertisement in the Times in December 1824, offering for sale a debt secured on Craig Mill, due to James, of £8,000 subject to an annuity for a woman of the age of 42, which would have been Frances's age in 1815 at Henry's death. The bankruptcy was an involved one. One of the assignees, Robert Innes Grant, after appointment, turned out to be indebted to the Crown on import duties for Leeward Islands sugar for which he was Collector, and also to be one of James's creditors, and thus his position was itself the subject of litigation. (Rex (in aid of Grant) v Kynaston and others Court of Exchequer, 1823). James himself had been acting for. among others, the Blake family of Langham, Suffolk, who had interests in Jamaica, St Kitts, and Montserrat, and whose debts had to be realised or sold on. Matters were still in the hands of the trustees in 1831. Thomas seems to have sold The Knotts in 1819 to the Spode pottery partner Copeland, and moved to Thursford Hall, Norfolk, but in 1822 the brothers sold their libraries, “removed from Thursford Hall”, at Sotheby's. Thereafter neither his nor James's movements seem to be recorded. The Esher (q.v.) slave returns are entered in Thomas's name until 1829, but by the due date of the next, 1832, the Mitchells had taken over, between 1832 and the claim for compensation increasing the number of enslaved persons there by over 20%.

Frances, his sister, settled in Eastbourne by 1841, was buried at Leyton in 1847. She was living in South Terrace, Eastbourne, with her brother Thomas, when burgled in 1843. Her will, drawn up by John Lake, of Lake, Wilkinson and Lake, Lincoln's Inn Square, presumably the John Lake who collected the Craig Mill compensation payment due to her, indicates that she was still comfortably independent in the 1840s. The main provision is a legacy of £5000 to be held in trust by Lake and Thomas Wildman for her niece, Frances, until she reaches marriageable age. The residue, apart from legacies to three named friends and a couple of servants, with two small legacies to local schools, went to Frances's father, her brother Thomas. There is no mention of James, nor any kin he might have left.

Her niece Frances (described in the DNB entry for her husband as “only daughter of Thomas Wildman of Eastbourne” and whose birth and mother do not seem to be recorded, though her husband's family website suggests she had been born in 1827) married, in 1852, Henry Alfred Pitman, physician, (1808-1908) knighted in 1883 for his work on training physicians and surgeons with the respective Royal Colleges. So far, no evidence of her father's Eastbourne address has emerged, but it is not impossible he had been living at what had been his sister's house when he died in 1857, leaving everything to his daughter. Lady Pitman died in November 1910, having given birth to three sons and four daughters.


  1. Times 11/12/1824 p. 4

Jamaica Almanac return of property owners in St Mary 1818

Wills of Henry Wildman (PROB 11/1576/433 of 1816), James Wildman of Chilham Castle (PROB 11/1579/421 of 1816) Thomas Wildman (PROB 11/1270 of 1795, probate granted Jan 1796), Frances Wildman herself (PROB 11/2053/233 of 1847) and of her brother, Thomas Wildman (PROB 11/2242/233 of 1857)

"England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Apr 2014), Henry Wildman and Frances Walker, 05 May 1772; citing Gestingthorpe,Essex,England, reference ; FHL microfilm 853320.

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Apr 2014), Frances Wildman, 15 May 1773; citing ST BARTHOLOMEW EXCHANGE,LONDON,LONDON,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 374424.

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Apr 2014), Thomas Wildman, 02 Jan 1783; citing , reference ; FHL microfilm 374993.

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Apr 2014), James Wildman, 16 Mar 1785; citing ST PETER-LE-POER,LONDON,LONDON,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 374993.

British History Online article on Leyton Leyton - Manors and estates - British History Online‎.

National Archives Discovery catalogue B 3/5700 6.1.1821, C13/270/28 C13/266/6 C13/2362/19 (Rowland Mitchell, C13/2197 Mitchell v Iredell).

For Rex (in aid of Grant) v. Kynaston and others see Reports of cases argued and determined in the Court of Exchequer: from ... By Great Britain. Court of Exchequer, George Price (barrister at law.), George Price, Great Britain. Court of Exchequer Chamber p.598 – available online as ebook.

Boulton and Watt papers.

1841 Census return for Eastbourne via Ancestry.

Evening Mail 07/08/1843 for an account of the burglary at South Terrace.

DNB Second supplement iii 118 (for Alfred Pitman).

We are grateful to Jim Brennan for compiling this entry.

Further Information


Associated Claims (1)

£1,120 6s 11d

Associated Estates (2)

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 [LA] → Annuitant
1834 [EA] - → Not known

Relationships (6)

Niece → Uncle
Niece → Uncle
Daughter → Father
First Cousins
First Cousins
Sister → Brother

Addresses (1)

South Terrace, Eastbourne, Sussex, South-east England, England