Alexander Donaldson

???? - 1807


London and Jamaica merchant, who (apparently optimistically) left monetary legacies of at least £100,000 in his will, made in 1805. Alexander Donaldson, mortgagee-in-possession of Brampton Bryan and Bryan Castle, foreclosed against Richard Grant and others in 1805-6, and died in March 1807 on passage to England. The compensation was paid into the Chancery suit of Alexander Thom[p]son v Alexander Grant, in which the issue was whether mortgaged estates could be subject to strict settlement by the mortgagee, as Alexander Donaldson had attempted in his will. Richard Grant had been one of the executors of Bryan Edwards, the former owner of Brampton Bryan and Bryan Castle.

  1. Among the many provisions of the will of Alexander Donaldson of Warwick Court in the City of London, proved 17/04/1807, were legacies of £10,000 each to two reputed sons, John Donaldson the son of Mary Elizabeth Clark late of St Domingo but then of Jamaica and Alexander Donaldson the son of Sarah Hudson of London. He left an annuity of £1000 p.a. charged on his estates in Jamaica to his honoured mother Janet Donaldson. Among his ten trustees to whom he left his estates and enslaved people in Jamaica were Sir William Grant Master of the Rolls, John Lord Newark, George Glenny and Alexander Thomson [later described as 'my present partner'] of London and Alexander Grant of Jamaica, with the instructions to hold them for at least 21 years after his death and maintain the numbers of 'negroes' on them, to pay out of the profits the £1000 annuity to his mother and an annuity of £3000 (or £500 while under 21) to the person entitled to the profits under his will: this was determined by an intail male, first to Robert Anstruther and his heirs, the son of his [the testator's] sister the Hon. Mary Anstruther by her husband the Hon. David Anstruther with remainder to her second son John Ashford Anstruther and his heirs, and then his [the testator's] nephew John Alexander Cameron son of his sister Anna Cameron by Peter Cameron, and then to her next son Alexander Donaldson Cameron, on the proviso they and any other heir took the name Donaldson. He provided very detailed terms governing the entail, including a limit (£800 p.a.) on what the life tenant could charge on his estate for his wife by way of jointure. He placed £30,000 in trust for each of his sisters Mary Anstruther and Anna Cameron for life and then to their children (his nephews and nieces), to whom he also left £5000 each. He left a further £20,000 in trust for his niece Margaret Holt, giving her the power to direct the income as she saw fit during her life and to dispose of the principal in her own will; and £5000 in trust to his cousin Margaret Stewart [?] wife of Admiral John Stewart [?] of Dawlish in Devon. Administration of the will was granted to Alexander Grant in 1818.

  2. Alexander Donaldson had both overestimated his assets and underestimated his debts, so that the legacies above were over-taken by litigation.


Henry Maddock, Thomas Charles Geldart, Sir Thomas Plumer, John Leach, Report of cases argued and determined in the Court of the Vice Chancellor (IV, London, W. Clarke and Sons, 1821) pp. 438-447: the case of Thompson vs Grant.

  1. PROB 11/1459/154.

  2. Paula Veronica Saunders, 'Free and Enslaved African Communities in Buff Bay, Jamaica: Daily Life, Resistance, and Kinship, 1750-1834' (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Texas at Austin, December 2004). The thesis gives [pp. 58-61] a history of the ownership of the Orange Vale estate, and [pp. 62-67] an account of the conflict over the assets and liabilities of Alexander Donaldson's estate.

Further Information


Associated Claims (4)

£2,987 10s 0d
Other association
£4,938 17s 4d
Other association
Mortgagee and consignee of Nonsuch and Unity, dying c. 1807.
£4,590 6s 0d
Other association
£5,510 19s 7d
Other association

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
1807 [EA] - 1807 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Previous owner
1807 [SY] - 1832 [LA] → Previous owner
1811 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Previous owner
1817 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Previous owner

Identifiable as Alexander Donaldson of London through the names of the executors in the Slave Registers and the Chancery case into which the compensation was paid in the claim associated with New Town.

1834 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Other

'The late Mr Donaldson' was described as 'mortgagee and consignee' of Nonsuch in the counterclaim of Alexander Grant

1807 [EA] - 1839 [LA] → Previous owner
1810 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Previous owner

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Name partner
Donaldson & Glenny
West India merchant  

Relationships (8)

Mortgagor → Mortgagee
Notes →
Deed Book 1804, British Library, EAP688/1/1/18, pp. 82-84 and pp....
Mortgagor → Mortgagee
Testator → Trustee
Brother → Sister
Mortgagor → Mortgagee
Business partners
Mortgagor → Mortgagee
Business partners

Addresses (1)

Warwick Square, City of London, Middlesex, London, England