James William Freshfield

1775 - 27th Jun 1864

Claimant or beneficiary


Eponymous senior partner of Freshfields (which traces its origins earlier, to at least 1743), awarded compensation as trustee of Smith Payne & Smith in three claims on St Kitts, as trustee of marriage settlements in three other claims in Grenada and British Guiana and as owner-in-fee as assignee of Smith Payne & Smith under a seventh claim in Trinidad. Father of James William Freshfield junior (q.v.). Both men are included in the ODNB collective entry for the Freshfield family.

  1. Baptised 13/04/1775 St Andrews Holborn. Son of James Freshfield (1751-1803) watchmaker and Elizabeth Snow. Articled to a solicitor 1790, practised first in partnership with Winter & Kaye then from 1808 on his own. Solicitor to the Bank of England 1820-1840. Chairman of Globe Insurance Company. Called to the bar 1842 aged 67. Married first in 1799 Mary Blacket, daughter of James Blacket of Durham and West Smithfield (four sons, five daughters); secondly, Frances, daughter of John Sims of Walthamstow Essex. MP Penrhyn 1830-1, Falmouth 1835-41, Boston 1851-2, Penrhyn and Falmouth 1852-7. JP, DL Middlesex, JP Sussex and Westminster. High Sheriff of Surrey 1850-1. Died 27/06/1864. Left £120,000.

  2. 'It was in his capacity as trustee of a marriage settlement that, in 1827, James William Freshfield, with his fellow trustee, one Alexander Baillie, acquired 15 slaves for the estate of Linlair [sic] on the Island of Grenada, in the West Indies.' Both father and son appeared in the compensation records as awardees for Limlair as trustees of the marriage settlement of Alexander George Milne [senior] and Dorothea Span.


T71/879 St Kitts Nos. 333, 525 and 746; T71/885 British Guiana No. 703 (marriage settlement of John Turing Ferrier and Adriana Jonas); T71/880 Grenada Nos. 958A and 995A (marriage settlement of A.G. Milne and Dorothea Milne); T71/894 Trinidad No. 1661: the reason for the assignment of the enslaved to James William Freshfield in this last case is not known; Slinn, Judy. "Freshfield family (per. 1800–1918), lawyers." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 22 Jan. 2020. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-49721.

  1. William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? 1860- (Volumes 3 and 4, manuscripts in preparation), reference 1864/28.

  2. Judy Slinn, A History of Freshfields (1984) p. 44.

Further Information

(1) Mary Blacket; (2) Frances Sims
4 sons 5 daughters
Wealth at death

Associated Claims (10)

£11,106 3s 7d
Awardee (Trustee)
£9,025 8s 4d
£7,186 12s 6d
£2,683 6s 1d
£59 13s 10d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual)
£15 1s 3d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual)
£1,978 5s 2d
£324 6s 7d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual)
£2,599 17s 8d
£4,333 16s 10d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)

Associated Estates (2)

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
1827 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Trustee

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Senior partner

Political (1)

Conservative (Peelite) 
election →
Penryn Cornwall
1830 - 1832
election →
Penryn and Falmouth Cornwall
1835 - 1841
election →
Boston Lincolnshire
1851 - 1852
election →
Penryn and Falmouth Cornwall
1852 - 1857

Relationships (4)

Father → Son
Notes →
Also business...
Father → Son
Son-in-law → Father-in-law