James Cavan

1771 - 1859

Claimant or beneficiary


London East and West India merchant, partner in Cavan Brothers (q.v.), who was awarded compensation in 5 small claims, including at least 3 as trustee, a very modest scale of ownership apparently out of keeping with his mercantile wealth: he left £300,000 (resworn from £500,000) in 1859.

  1. Born Kirkmaiden Wigtownshire 1771. Went to Barbados 1797, partner with younger brother in Michael Cavan & Co., 'commission merchants, shipbrokers and general agents'.   Founded branch in London: returned to Britain 1829, inherited brother Michael's estate in 1832.  Principal partner Cavan Bros & Co. 1830s-late 1850s.  A founder of Colonial Bank and Royal Mail Steam Packet Company.  August 1843 was a shareholder in Cambrian Iron & Spelter Co. Sept. 1845 Provisional Committee Demerara Railway. Invested £15,000 in Llynvi Iron Co., increased shareholding to £18,750 mid 1850s.  Died March 1859, his reputed son Lt-Col Philip Cavan became major shareholder in enterprise.  Cavan Row in Maesteg; Cavan Lane, Bridgetown Barbados. Nephew = Michael McChlery, director Llynfi late 1840s, Chairman of Demerara Railway Company. McChlery and Alexander MacGregor (probably the AM who was Chairman of Llynfi Co. 1848-58) were active in lobbying for the West India interest with govt. 1844-1851, and were directors of unsuccesful Trinidad Railway Co. 1846.

  2. Left £500,000 [in fact later resworn at £300,000]. 'East and West India merchant in the City of London', first appearing in London directories around 1826. Merchant in 1851 census. 'He also owned sugar plantations in British Guiana (Demerara), and petitioned the Government in 1843 to be allowed to introduce Chinese labourers there.' "An Irishman who came to Barbados from Virginia in 1797, in partnership with his brother Michael (d. 1832). A James Cavan was baptised at Stranraer Wigtownshire 02/07/1769, son of Andrew Cavan. Of 8 Park Crescent, Regent's Park, Middlesex (probate calendar).

  3. Buried at All Souls, Kensal Green. The will with two codicils of James Cavan late of Park Crescent, Regents Park, who died 13/03/1859 at Park Crescent was proved by the oaths of Philip Charles Cavan, Henry McChlery and William Rennie, all of Finsbury Circus, City of London, Merchants. Effects under £500,000. Resworn at the Stamp Office November 1861 under £300,000.


T71/877 Antigua claim no. 11B; T71/900 Barbados claim no. 5187; T71/881 Dominica claim no. 261; T71/882 Nevis claim no. 99A (Eden); T71/884 St Lucia claim no. 314.

  1. David Lewis, The iron industry in Maesteg 1800-1885, http://www.scribd.com/doc/13989804/Maesteg-Iron-Industry-18281885 pp.51-53.

  2.  William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? A biographical dictionary of British wealth-holders Volume Two 1840-1859 (MS) reference 1859/7. Quote sourced to John Gardiner Austin in 'The Descendants of Col. Thomas Austin'.

  3. 1841 and 1851 censuses online; Ancestry.com, London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980 [database online]; National Probate Calendar 1859.

Further Information

Anne Bertelet
Philip Charles (1816-1870)
Wealth at death

Associated Claims (6)

£1,209 12s 8d
Awardee (Trustee)
£267 19s 9d
Awardee (Trustee)
£12,746 11s 11d
Unsuccessful claimant
£231 15s 7d
£3,161 5s 9d
Awardee (Trustee)
£678 17s 3d

Legacies Summary

Commercial (9)

Railway Investment
London, Chatham and North Kent [1845120]  
Firm Investment
Llynvi Iron Works
Railway Investment
British and Irish Union [184654]  
General Investment
Railway Investment
North Kent [1846402]  
Name partner
Cavan Bros.
West India & East India merchant  
Railway Investment
Llynvi Valley and South Wales Junction [1846281]  
Railway Investment
Founding member, director
notes →
See Parliamentary Papers vol. 53 , 'Mails conveyance. Return to an Order of the Honorable The House of Commons, dated 7 February 1840;- for, Copy of any Charter granted to any Joint Stock Company...

Relationships (5)

Notes →
Also business...
Father → Natural Son
Father → Natural Son
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew

Addresses (2)

Kirkmaiden, Wigtownshire, Southern Scotland, Scotland
8 Park Crescent, Portland Place, Marylebone, London, Middlesex, London, England