Warner Ottley

1774 - 1846

Claimant or beneficiary


From an established slave-owning family, an absentee owner in the 1830s dying in London in 1846, awarded the compensation for estates in Tobago and St Vincent. 

  1. The will of his mother Sarah Elizabeth Ottley, widow of St Vincent, was proved in London in 1825 and mentions Warner's father the late Richard Ottley and his brothers William Young Ottley and Brook Taylor Ottley.

  2. In 1841 Warner Ottley aged 65 'merchant' was living with Elizabeth aged 60, and children Warner jun., 30, Frederick 25, Elizabeth 20, Mary 20 (possibly a niece) Edward 15, and Herbert 15 in York Terrace. Warner Ottley 'of Hyde Park Gardens' aged 72 was buried 15/12/1846 at St Ann Soho. The Warner Ottley formerly of Islington Street Kingstown but late of Great Pulteney Street Golden Square who left £25,000 in 1864 was his son.

  3. Will of Warner Ottley of York Terrace Regents Park (made 05/03/1842) proved 05/01/1847. Under the will he left to trustees (John Thomas Bigge (q.v.) 'formerly of the island of Trinidad', Sir Duncan McDougal now or late of Her Majesty's army and John Hopton Forbes (q.v.) of Welbeck Street) his leasehold house in York Terrace for his wife Elizabeth Jackson. He also left to her his household effects and all his pictures 'except the paintings formerly belonging to my late brother William Young Ottley and purchased by me since his decease and also except the three following paintings viz. Charity by Andrea del Sarto, a landscape by Salvator Rosa and the Jason also by Salvator Rosa.' After bequeathing his books and plate, half to his wife and half to be divided between his five children, he left the remainder of his estate in trust (to the same trustees as above), including his plantations in the West Indies, which he instructed to be sold, and and the proceeds invested for the equal benefit of his five children [unusually there is no explicit provision of an annuity for his wife nor reference to a marriage settlement]. In a codicil of 04/05/1843 he recorded the death of his son Frederick Ottley, reducing the number of surviving children to four, and appointed his son Herbert Taylor Ottley as executor on reaching his majority; in a further codicil of 30/11/1846 he substituted his son Edward John Taylor and his brother Brook Taylor Ottley as his executors for the surviving non-family executors (John Thomas Bigge had died c. 1843).

  4. Noted as purchaser of 'Dublin' score of Messiah in sale of William Young Ottley's music in 1838.

  5. William Young Ottley (1771-1836), the collector, was Warner Ottley's elder brother. Of William Young Ottley, the ODNB says: 'In 1833, Ottley became keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum, a post that he accepted apparently for financial reasons, since the act abolishing slavery had reduced his income from the family's West Indian plantation.' This appears to be based on a statement by J. Allen Gere, which went further: 'His reason [for taking the British Museum position], an economic one, is much to his credit: in 1833, the Act abolishing slavery in the British colonies was passed, and though both his father's and mother's families derived their wealth from West-Indian estates, Ottley refused, on principle, to accept any compensation for the losses caused him by the freeing of his slaves.' This claim has been repeated in e.g. the television documentary The Mystic Nativity, made by Fulmar and broadcast in December 2009. There is no doubt, however, that William Young Ottley's means derived from slavery: he received £10,000 under Richard Ottley's will which also specified that £20,000 be invested in Tobago. Warner Ottley and William Young Ottley both served as trustee's of the will of Drewry Ottley late of the Island of St Vincent (proved 27/08/1807).


T71/891 Tobago claim no. 41, T71/892 St Vincent claim nos. 457, 503 and 568, T71/888 Montserrat claim no. 141.

  1. PROB 11/1698/219.

  2. Boyle's 1829 and 1835 show him at 28 York Terrace; 1841 census online; London England Deaths and Burials 1813-1980. His son Warner left £25,000 at his death in 1864, National Probate Calendar. 

  3. PROB 11/2049/66.

  4. A. Hyatt King, 'Some British Collectors of Music c 1600-1960' (CUP, 1963), pp. 37-8.

  5. ODNB online, Nicholas Turner, 'Young, William Ottley (1771-1836), writer on art and collector'; PROB 11/1466. London Gazette 17131 27/04/1816 p. 777. The Heraldic Register 1849-50 confirms that Warner Ottley was the fourth son of Richard Ottley of St Dunstan's Park Berkshire and his second wife Sarah Elizabeth Young; J.Allen Gere, 'William Young Ottley as a collector of drawings', British Museum Quarterly 18 (June 1953) pp. 44-53, pp. 51-52.

We are grateful to Peter Selley for his assistance with this entry.

Further Information

Elizabeth Jackson Morgan
Warner jun.; Frederick; Elizabeth; Mary(?); Edward; Herbert

Associated Claims (6)

£1,024 4s 2d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual)
£4,516 17s 4d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£5,933 0s 5d
Awardee (Trustee)
£996 3s 4d
Awardee (Trustee)
£1,888 19s 2d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual)
£1,884 17s 4d

Associated Estates (7)

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
1834 [SY] - 1834 [EY] → Owner
1828 [EA] - 1831 [LA] → Owner
1807 [EA] - 1807 [LA] → Joint owner
1807 [EA] - 1809 [LA] → Mortgage Holder
1817 [EA] - 1817 [LA] → Owner
1834 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1827 [LA] → Joint owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (1)

...Botticell's Mystic... 

Relationships (7)

Son-in-law → Father-in-law
Son → Father
Son → Mother
Notes →
Warner Ottley was also the residuary legatee of his...
Nephew → Aunt

Addresses (2)

28 York Terrace, Regents Park, London, Middlesex, London, England
Stanwell House, London, Middlesex, South-east England, England