John Bryce

???? - 1795


Owner of Saxham Park in George Hill, St Ann.

John's last will and testament of 1795 reveals his uncle was James Wilson, gardner in Glasgow, and that he had an elder brother named James. This allows us to identify his father as William Bryce, gardener and Burgess of Glasgow (d. before 1793). His older brother William had also apparently died before John's will was written.

The will instructs his executors to sell sufficient enslaved people on his plantation called Saxham Park at George Hill, St Ann, to satisfy his debts. His former partner Elizabeth Carter was to receive an annuity of £14, and was permitted to use his house and offices at Saxham Park for the rest of her life. Bryce and Elizabeth Carter had "five reputed and tenderly beloved children": Elizabeth, Martha, Sarah, Bethia and John Murray Bryce, who apparently died young, having been named after her father's friend John Murray of St Catherine. Elizabeth Bryce was described as "free quadroon" and the other three girls as "free mustee". DNA tests on Bethia's descendants show that she bore some East African genes. Each daughter was to receive £200 on attaining 21 years, while his son was to receive his plantation and enslaved people.

That Elizabeth Carter died soon afterwards is suggested by a bequest from an unrelated "free brown" woman called Ann Frances Cameron (d. 1813 in St Catherine) of two enslaved people to be shared by the three youngest sisters. It could be that she had had informally adopted the girls after the death of their mother. By 1813, the eldest sibling had left home, changed her name to Eleanor Young (by which name she was baptised), and had become the partner successively of two white planters: Robert Wesbrook (1770-1812), followed by Daniel Virtue (1775-1823).


We are grateful to Michael Rhodes for compiling this entry.

Will of John Bryce. Jamaica Registrar's Office, Spanish Town, Wills Vol. 61, fol. 219.

For William Bryce and James Wilson: R. Reid, Glasgow Past and Present (1884), II p. 216; J.R. Anderson, Burgesses and Guild Brethren of Glasgow, 1751-1846 (1935) p. 150.

Handwritten notes by Ida Ellen Rowe (1882-1943) privately owned by Boehner family of Kansas, Texas, U.S.A.

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
- 1795 [EY] → Owner

Relationships (2)

Father → Natural Daughter
Father → Natural Daughter