Manumitted by John and David Barclay after they came into possession of Unity Valley Pen in the 1780s. Their attorney Alexander Macleod declined to follow their wish of emancipating all enslaved on the estate but did select to manumit Hamlet and a female slave named Prudence, both around 30 years of age. They were initially employed on the estate at a wage of 17l. currency p/a but after a year Macleod wrote to the Barclays informing them that the experiment had been a failure as Hamlet and Prudence had become 'so relaxed in their labour' that 'their example would be very disadvantageous to the owners of the estate'. Writing in 1801 Barclay maintained that this was a result of the disparity between forms of labour on the estate rather than inherent flaws and had all been emancipated and 'paid according to their respective merits, there then would have been competition among them, so among all other labourers.' Macleod discharged them from the estate but the Barclays continued to pay an annuity of 5l. currency p/a for life. Hamlet set-up as a horse breaker, in which occupation he maintained himself 'with good reputation'.
David Barclay, An account of the emancipation of the slaves of Unity Valley Pen Jamaica (London, 1801). Available through Googlebooks: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FuRbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA6&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false, p. 5.
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:
Pen owner David Barclay ordered manumission late c1785
Enslaved-manumitted → Previous owner
David Barclay ordered manumission late...