William Snell senior

1720 - 1779


London West India merchant and slave-owner of northern Irish extraction, a major early acquirer of estates and enslaved people in the Ceded & Neutral Islands of Grenada, St Vincent and Dominica, father of Charles Snell Chauncy ne Snell, Nathaniel Snell and John Snell (each of whom q.v.), and grandfather of Nathaniel Snell Chauncy and Charles Snell Chauncy (also each of whom q.v.). In 1772 William Snell & Co. offered to the Rhode Island slave-trader Christopher Champlin in 1772 to act as London guarantor for Threlfall and Anderson, local slave-factors on Grenada.

  1. Will of William Snell merchant of London [made in 1777] was proved 23/03/1779. Under the will he confirmed his marriage settlement with his wife Mary, and left her an annuity of £200 p.a. 'issuing and going out of and to be charged upon' his estate called Mount William or Dussablon [sp?] (and the enslaved people on it) on Grenada, and another annuity of £100 p.a. secured on Clare Valley and the enslaved people on it on St Vincent, together with the use of his dwelling house at Edmonton for life, after which it went to his son Charles Snell. He left to his son William Snell the property in Great Britain and in Liffey Street in Dublin that his [the testator's] uncle Robert Shaw had previously left to him [the testator], as well as his [the testator's] moiety or half share in the estate called Cape Sale in Grenada, and the annuities of £200 p.a. on the life of his son William that he [the testator] had purchased from Messrs Lucas and Stuart issuing out of an estate belonging to them on Tobago, of £170 p.a. on his son's life that he had bought of Mr Dufour secured on Mr Dufour's estate on Grenada, and his moiety of an annuity of £100 p.a. .on the lives of Thomas Warren and Grace Warren and the survivor of the two issuing out of a plantation of, or late of, Mr Hamilton on St Vincent 'which [the half of the annuity] I purchased of my partner John Lang.' He left his son Charles his estate heretofore called Coigny and Louvra [sp?] and now called Snell Hall, and his estate called Broomfield [?] or L'Evera [sp?] on Grenada, plus his property in the town of St Patrick, the Black Horse premises in Edmonton, and the Mount William or Dussablon estate on Grenada. He left his son Nathaniel the Mount Granby estate on Grenada together with land in Edmonton; and to his son John he left his estate called Clare Valley on St Vincent subject to the charges on it. In each case, the estates were to pass to the other brothers in turn if the legatee died without issue. He left in trust for the benefit of his son John (the trustees were his brothers-in-law Philip Chauncy and William Snell and his partner John Lang) £6000 'due and owing to me on a mortgage made by the executors of Messrs Moreau and Lawley or one of them' of a plantation called Hermitage on St Vincent. He left to his son Charles two leased-out farms in County Antrim that had belonged to his father. He left an annuity of £200 p.a. to his partner John Lang. His residuary legatees were his sons Charles and Nathaniel. He stated that under his marriage settlement with his late wife Martha Chauncy, their children Charles, Nathaniel and William were entitled to £3000. In a codicil of 1778 he dealt with some assets he had overlooked: he left to Charles the land in St Patrick Grenada on which his house had stood before it burnt down, and his share of a plantation called Blenheim in Dominica formerly belonging to Charles Dunlap and other property that might be determined to be his on that island; he removed William Snell his brother-in-law as executor, it being inconvenient for him to attend to the role; and he left £1000 to John Smith, a young man at school at Waltham Abbey, as well as smaller token monetary legacies to family and friends. In a second codilcil, he instructed Charles Snell, John Lang and his executors never to consent to take off the hands of Robt. Threlfall the purchase he had made of a coffee estate called Morne Tranquille from Ralph Buglass which 'after three or four years of possession he in so barefaced a manner endeavours to palme [sic] upon me tho I never gave any order for such purchase': Threlfall had made a bad bargain, finding Buglass had robbed him of his slaves. Snell said Threlfall knew he [Snell] was more inclined to be a seller than a buyer of plantations 'by the sale of Montapage', and disinherited (except for one shilling) and removed as an executor anyone who co-operated with Threlfall in a purchase.

  2. William Snell of All Hallows Lombard Street, born 1720, married 12/12/1749 at St Margaret Lothbury to Martha Chauncy of St Michael Cornhill (she born 06/03/1720, died 13/07/1765, daughter of Charles Chauncey 1708 and Martha Brown.) Profession merchant, died 04/02/1779 age 59. Children William (born 03/05/1756, marr 1766 Mary Snell [sic., his father married Mary Snell in 1766], married 1783 Sarah Tomlinson), Charles (born 08/04/1759, married 1781 Amelia Chauncey), Nathaniel (born 13/07/1765).


'William Snell and Company to Christopher Champlin, London, 25 June 1772.

Sir , Our mutual good Friends Messrs. Hayley and Hopkins, In¬ forms us you intend Sending your Vesell the Adventure Cap: Tuell with a Cargoe of Slaves to the Grenada Market. If you will please to address them for Sale to our friends Messrs. Threlfal and Ander¬ son at St. Georges in that Isle, we hereby guarantee the performance of any agreement they may make with Captn. Tuell for the Sale, also to pay all Bills they Draw or Endorse for the Produce being confi¬ dent they can serve you in this way as well as any House there.

Robt. Coningham and Jno. Tatham of St. Vincents and Richd. Milford of Dominica, are also in this way of Business as well as in Sale of North American Cargoes, should any of your Vesells go that way they are safe men.'

Elizabeth Donnan, Documents Illustrative of the Slave Trade Vol. III p. 259.

  1. PROB 11/1051/239.

  2. Findmypast.co.uk Boyd's Inhabitants of London & Family Units 1200-1946 [database online].

Further Information

(1) Martha Chauncy (2) Mary Snell
With (1) Charles, Nathaniel and William; with (2) John
West India merchant and plantation owner

Associated Estates (13)

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
31/01/1772 [SD] - → Mortgage Holder

Mortgaged by John Hunt to William Snell for £7000 at 8% p.a.

28/06/1775 [SD] - → Mortgagee-in-Possession

The estate passed into the hands of William Snell as mortgagee 28th June 1775

- 1779 [EY] → Joint owner

In a codicil to his will proved 1779, William Snell senior left his share in an estate called Blenheim formerly belonging to Charles Dunlap to his son Charles Snell (later Charles Snell Chauncy ne Snell).

- 1779 [EY] → Owner
- 1779 [EY] → Joint owner

In his will proved in 1779, William Snell senior left his moiety or half share of Cape Sale to his son, also William, later William Snell Chauncy.

- 1779 [EY] → Owner

Left by William Snell in his will proved in 1779 to his son John Snell, subject to annuities to William Snell's second wife (and John's mother) Mary Snell.

- 1779 [EY] → Owner
- 1779 [EY] → Owner
1774 [SY] - → Mortgage Holder

William Snell lent £6000 secured by mortgage on the combined Diamond estate by a deed of 18/04/1774.

Deed Book 1804, British Library, EAP688/1/1/18, https://eap.bl.uk/archive-file/EAP688-1-1-18 p. 342.

- 1779 [EY] → Owner

Bequeathed by William Snell senior in his will proved 1779 to his son Nathaniel.

- 1779 [EY] → Owner

Left by William Snell senior in his will proved in 1779 to his son Nathaniel.

- 1779 [EY] → Owner

Left under the will of William Snell senior proved in 1779 to his son Charles Snell, later Charles Snell Chauncy, the father of Charles and Nathaniel Snell Chauncy the awardees in the 1830s.

1774 [EA] - → Mortgage Holder

William Snell lent £6000 secured by mortgage on the combined Diamond estate by a deed of 18/04/1774. Deed Book 1804, British Library, EAP688/1/1/18, https://eap.bl.uk/archive-file/EAP688-1-1-18 p. 342.

Legacies Summary

Commercial (2)

Bank of England
notes →
Member of the Court of Directors 1770-72, 1773-75, 1776-79, 1779-82, 1783-86, 1787-89...
Senior partner
William Snell & Co.
West India merchant  

Relationships (7)

Business partners
Notes →
Lang was also a trustee of the will of William Snell made in...
Father → Son
Father → Son
Father → Son
Grandfather → Grandson
Grandfather → Grandson
Father → Son

Addresses (1)

Edmonton, Middlesex, South-east England, England