Sir Philip Gibbes Bart.

7th Mar 1731 - 27th Jun 1815


  1. The Gibbes family was present in Barbados from the mid-C17th from a family which had well-established interest in south-west England, (especially Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset and in Bristol). In the mid-C17th many of those who bought or created plantations in Barbados were Royalists. Philip Gibbes's ancestor, also known as Philip, acquired land in St James' parish. He died in 1648. He was the great-grandfather of Sir Philip Gibbes. Born in 1731, Philip Gibbes studied law at the Middle Temple, London before returning to Barbados to run his father's plantations. In 1753 he married Agnes Osborne, daughter of another plantation owner, Samuel Osborne. She died in 1813 in London. Their children were: Philip (Barbados judge) (?-1812), Samuel (planter) (?-1807), Elizabeth (married Charles Abbot, 1st Baron Colchester, 1796), Agnes. Apparently, Gibbes became estranged from his two sons at the beginning of the C19th. The children were largely raised in England by Lady Gibbes: in the 1780s they lived at Hilton Park, Staffordshire. Philip Gibbes moved between Barbados, Bristol and London for business. He also became chair of the West India Planters' and Merchants' Association. He was, it is said, friends with Jeremy Bentham, John Wesley and Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke and conversed extensively in Paris during the 1770s with Benjamin Franklin on the subject of the American Revolution.

  2. Gibbes was one of a number of plantation owners indebted to the Lascelles family although by the time of his death the estate was largely free of encumbrances.

  3. In a List of inhabitants of St Peter, Barbados, 1780, Gibbes was listed as owning 109 enslaved.

  4. In a Levy Book list for St James, Barbados, 1822, the estate of Philip Gibbes was listed as owning 280 enslaved and 442 acres of land. The name of the estate (or estates) was not given. It is assumed that the Philip Gibbes referred to is the same as listed in St Peter in 1780 and that in both cases it is Sir Philip.

  5. Gibbes was listed as one of the authors of Instructions for the Management of a Plantation in Barbadoes and for the Treatment of Negroes (London, 1786). (That pamphlet was written by a number of plantation owners though its principal author appears to have been Edward Drax [q.v.].) In the same year Gibbes published anonymously Instructions for the Treatment of Negroes. A second, enlarged edition, appeared in 1797.


  1. The Wikipedia entry for Gibbes is generally well-informed but inadequately referenced: see Osborne-Gibbes baronets; for the genealogy of the Gibbes family see among others Rev. William Betham, The Baronetage of England..., vol. III (London, 1803), pp. 445-9; see also Stephanie Bergman and Frederick H. Smith, ''Blurring Disciplinary Boundaries: the Material Culture of Improvement during the Age of Abolition in Barbados', Slavery & Abolition vol. 35 issue 3 (September 2014) pp. 418-436 at pp. 430-432.

  2. S. D. Smith, Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic. The World of the Lascelles, 1648–1834 (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 190 - although he mistakenly gives Gibbes' year of death as 1825 rather than 1815.

  3. List of inhabitants of St Peter, 1780. Barbados Department of Archives, RB9/3/6.

  4. Levy Book for St James, 1822. Barbados Department of Archives, RB9/3/7.

  5. Smith, Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism, pp. 273 and 276. Smith discusses both in relation to debates about 'ameliorationism' and the growing abolitionist movement: see pp. 273-8.

Further Information

Agnes Osborne
2 daughters, 2 sons

Bequests included an annuity of £50 p.a. to his daughter Agnes, £20 p.a. to each of Philip Nusum and to Miss Steers, private tutors to the family of John Spooner son of the President of Barbados. Having settled £5,000 on his daughter Elizabeth on her marriage to the Right Hon Charles Abbot, Speaker of the House of Commons [1802-1817], he left her a further £1000. The main bequest however was leaving the Springhead and Taitts plantations in trust for his grandson, Samuel Osborne Gibbes, with contingent remainder to his daughters Elizabeth Abbot and then his daughter Agnes Gibbes. His trustees were Charles Abbot and John Foster Alleyne Will proved 16 January 1816. National Archives. PROB 11/1576/242.

Plantation owner

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
1753 [EA] - 1815 [LA] → Owner
1753 [EA] - 1815 [LA] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Historical (2)

Instructions for the Management of a Plantation in Barbadoes and for the Treatment of... 1786 
notes →
Written by a number of plantation owners, including Gibbes, though its principal author appears to have been Edward Drax...
Instructions for the Treatment of... 1786 
notes →
Published anonymously. A second enlarged edition appeared in...

Relationships (2)

Grandfather → Grandson
Father-in-law → Son-in-law

Addresses (1)

Bristol, Gloucestershire, South-west England, England