Malcolm Laing of Kingston, Jamaica

18th Sep 1718 - 1st Aug 1781


Resident slave-owner, shown as the deceased owner of Spring Valley in St Mary Jamaica 1786-1795.

  1. Born 18/09/1718 in Eday, Orkney, the eldest son of James Laing by his second wife Rebecca Scollay. Monumental inscription in Kingston Cathedral: "Near this marble lie interred the remains of Malcolm Laing Esquire who departed this life the 1st of August 1781 aged 63 years. Also the remains of Eleanor his wife, the daughter of Mrs Mary Sharpe, who departed this life the 29th of September 1747 aged 35 years. This monument is erected in gratitude to their memory, and as a lasting testimony of their worth, by John Jaques Esquire."

  2. Although the will of Malcolm Laing of Kingston, Jamaica, was not proved in London until 09/01/1788, it had been made in 1778 and attested in Jamaica in 1781. Under the will he left: £2000 currency to his reputed son Robert Laing by Elizabeth Fickle deceased then in England under the care of William Philip Perrin; £3000 currency to Isabella Cowan, wife of Thomas Cowan late of Oxford Street London grocer but now in Jamaica; £3000 currency to Cecilia Chisholm; £1000 to his niece Rebecca Bruce Chisholm; and £5000 to his brother Robert Laing of Kirkwall Orkney, who was also his residuary legatee. He instructed his executors to sell his houses land and negroes 'giving preference to such purchasers as my negroes shall chuse for their masters and mistresses.'

  3. Eliza and Susanna Fickle were baptised in 09/03/1736 in Vere, Jamaica. In 1776 was passed 'An act to intitle Elizabeth Fickle, of the parish of Kingston, in the island of Jamaica, a free mulatto woman, to the same rights and privileges with English subjects, born of white parents, under certain restrictions.' Robert, the son of Elizabeth Fickle, 'a free mulatto woman' by Malcolm Laing was born 26/11/1767 and baptised 25/03/1768 in Kingston, Jamaica.

  4. Letters from Malcolm Laing to members of the Perrin family, some of which mention Elizabeth Fickle, are held at Derbyshire Record Office. On 18/03/1777 Laing wrote to William Philip Perrin expressing hope that, following the death of Elizabeth Fickle, Perrin will help with her son.

  5. Malcolm Laing contributed £42 to the University of Pennsylvania following Dr John Morgan's fundraising tour of the West Indies in 1772-1773.

  6. Malcolm Laing of Kingston, Esquire. Estate probated in Jamaica in 1782. Slave-ownership at probate: 93 of whom 44 were listed as male and 49 as female. 30 were listed as boys, girls or children. Total value of estate at probate: £88599.61 Jamaican currency of which £2590 currency was the value of enslaved people. Estate valuation included £0 currency cash, £81451.83 currency debts and £1058.5 currency plate.


  1. Email from Lucy Richards, 16/01/2017 sourced to R. P. Fereday, The Autobiography of Samuel Laing of Papdale, 1780-1868 (Kirkwall, 2000) Appendix I. James Henry Lawrence-Archer, Monumental Inscriptions of the British West Indies (London, 1875) p. 85.

  2. PROB 11/1161/83. Trevor Burnard Planters, merchants and slaves (2015) p. 160 shows Malcolm Laing's estate as £63,285, the bulk of it in debts receivable rather than the 93 enslaved people he held.

  3., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online]. The Laws of Jamaica: 1760-1792 [unpaginated].

  4. Derbyshire Record Office, D239 M/E 16828-16829.

  5. William Smith, Joseph Hopkinson, and Plunket Fleeson Glentworth, Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania Minute Books, Volume 2, 1768-1779 p. 73, entry for 13/12/1773. Note amounts are in Jamaican currency.

  6. Trevor Burnard, Database of Jamaican inventories, 1674-1784.

We are grateful to Lucy Richards for her assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

[with Elizabeth Fickle] Samuel (1762-1763), Robert (1767-1833)
Wealth at death

Associated Estates (3)

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
1766 [EA] - 1781 [LA] → Attorney

Malcolm Laing had been 'acting executor' of William Perrin 1759-1766, then was identified as attorney.

1768 [EA] - → Attorney


1786 [EA] - 1795 [LA] → Previous owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (1)

University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania...... 
notes →
William Smith, Joseph Hopkinson, and Plunket Fleeson Glentworth, Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania Minute Books, Volume 2, 1768-1779 p. 73, entry for 13/12/1773. Note amounts are in...

Relationships (2)

Other relatives
Extra-marital relationships

Addresses (1)

Eday, Orkney, Highlands & Islands, Scotland

Inventories (1)