John Symes

No Dates


John Symes, the Assistant Judge of the Supreme Court, Acting Register of the Court of Chancery 1804 - who was described by Lady Nugent as "a sensible well informed old gentleman who can be of infinite use to the Governor in his character of Chancellor, which is, by much the most unpleasant and embarrassing duty which he has to perform" - and who was the attorney for Robert Symes on Oxford in 1780, was possibly the natural son of Robert Symes. John Symes does not appear in the will of Robert Symes, but John Symes, eldest son of Robert Symes of Jamaica in America, was admitted to the Middle Temple 13/05/1756. In December 1757, Robert Symes, of the parish of St John the Evangelist, Westminster, signed John Symes into articles of clerkship to be an attorney, with John Grace of the parish of St George the Martyr in Southwark.

John Symes had at least nine children in Jamaica with at least two different women. All the children were baptised in Kingston, Jamaica: with Elizabeth Bradshaw Bonny (a 'free mulatto' or 'free quadroon') Robert (1771), Sophia (1775), Joseph (1780), John (1787), Henry (1789), Arabella (1792) and Thomas Bell (1798); with Charlotte Barnes (a 'free mulatto'), William (c. 1768) and John (c. 1770). Another son, George, is mentioned in the will of John Symes (written in 1808 and sworn in January 1809).


Philip Wright (ed.) Lady Nugent's Journal (2002) p. 318; Register of Admissions to the Middle Temple, 1751-1850, p. 350, [accessed 12/11/2016]. The will of John Symes of St Catherine Jamaica proved 19/03/1810 PROB 11/1509/326 shows him bequeathing several named enslaved people and a house and land in Kingston, but no estates. National Archives file CP 5/67/1 (source supplied by Patrick Wallace, email 14/10/2016]., Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online].

PROB 11/1509.

We are grateful to Betty Evans and Patrick Wallace for their help with this entry.

Further Information

[all illigitimate] Robert, Sophia, Joseph, John, Henry, Arabella, Thomas Bell, William, John

PROB 11/1509 - precis.

John Symes of St Catherine, Jamaica.

Made 12/11/1808.

To Mary Duff of St Catherine £300 Jamaican currency.

To Robert Duff Bullock, son of Mary Duff, £200 Jamaican currency to be paid into the hands of Mary Duff for his own use and benefit.

To my reputed son Henry Symes £200.

All the liquor I may die possessed of to be sold by my executors and the money to form part of my estate.

The house in which I now reside with the land opposite which I purchased of Mr Townshend together with 3 Negroes named Lydia, Charles and Fanny, with all my household furniture and such part of my plate as she shall make choice of the value of £70 to Mary Duff for the term of her life. Immediately after her decease the same except the slave named Fanny to become part of the residue of my estate.

My chaise and harness and grey mare to Mary Duff.

The slave called Fanny and her increase to Robert Duff Bullock to hold to him and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten for ever.

All residue and remainder of my estate real and personal to my reputed sons Robert Symes, George Symes, Thomas Symes, Joseph Symes, William Symes and Henry Symes share and share alike.

Edward Gale Boldero of the City of London, banker, Edward Bullock and William Cruickshank of St Catherine and Robert Dewhurst of Kingston, merchant, to be execturos.

Sworn in Jamaica 06/01/1809.

Proved 19/03/1810 by Thomas Symes and Joseph Symes.

Associated Estates (1)

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
1780 [EA] - → Attorney

Addresses (1)

London, London, England