Charles McGarel

1788 - 1876

Claimant or beneficiary


Slave-owner in British Guiana, patron of a British Conservative political dynasty, and philanthropist who shaped Larne in Northern Ireland. His entry in the ODNB as 'merchant and slave-owner' was published in 2016.

Charles McGarel has not been a well-known figure, does not appear in the large-scale studies of City of London and did not himself leave a physical imprint on London, but he did leave intangible legacies within it and physical ones and intangible ones beyond it. London appears to have performed a limited function for him, as the locus of wealth-accumulation: and having made his money, he chose to leave his mark elsewhere; at the same time, inevitably his legacies also appear indirectly in London, the city of his activity as merchant and financier as well as one of his two homes for 50 years.

Charles McGarel was born around 1788 in Larne in Northern Ireland, the son of a local innkeeper or cobbler. As a young man, he went with at least two of his brothers to what was then Demerara on the coast of South America, at a time when British capital and British emigrants were penetrating the Dutch possessions of Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo (now Guyana,previously British Guiana, their colonial name after 1831 until 1966). These Dutch possessions were captured in 1796 and again in 1803: they formally became British colonies only in 1814. This was a sugar frontier, highly expansive and highly profitable, hungry for new slaves despite the ban on the African slave trade in 1807, to which the three colonies were subject. (One reason for that hunger for new slaves was the very high rate of mortality of the enslaved in the new sugar territories: for a number of years, enslaved people to fill the gaps were brought from other British colonies in the Caribbean under license, although these movements were increasingly restricted from 1825 onwards). McGarel (or possibly one of his brothers) appears by 1808 to have become a partner in the local merchant firm of Johnson, Dyett, McGarel and Co. of Stabroek (known as Georgetown after 1812), when it is shown importing supplies and consumer goods from Britain for sale to local residents. The Essequebo and Demerary Royal Gazette shows McGarel there still in the 1811-1816 period. In 1812, for example, he became Treasurer of the Committee for Quarterly Balls, and in 1816 he and his brother Peter are recorded acting as attorneys for an absentee slave-owner, Thomas Naghten.

By 1820, McGarel had moved to London. His firm of Hall, McGarel first appears in the trade directories in that year, at 7 Austin Friars (it later moved at the time of the compensation process in the mid-1830s to 32 Fenchurch Street). Hall, McGarel had evolved from a firm at the same Austin Friars address named Underwood Hall & Co., which in turn had evolved from an earlier firm called Underwood Dyett. The founders of Underwood Dyett appear to have been men whom McGarel knew or with whom he was connected in British Guiana (Dyett had been a local partner of McGarel in Demerara). The Hall partners were in the firm were Alexander and David Hall. The London Gazette shows in 1834 the dissolution of Hall McGarel with the departure of Alexander Hall, and its continuation by two of the three previous partners, David Hall and Charles McGarel. David Hall was originally from Barbados, married there in 1811, retained his ownership of slaves there but at some point shortly after his marriage came to London (his wife died here in 1823) and joined the Underwood Dyett firm as a partner. Presumably Alexander was either David’s brother or his father.

Hall McGarel and its predecessor firms were West Indian merchants focused on British Guiana. The firm apparently acted as London agent for estates in British Guiana: it appears for example in the Boulton & Watt papers in the 1830s, just as Underwood Dyett and Underwood, Hall had in the 1810s. The firm also extended credit to slave-owners in the colony, for example entering into a mortgage of £30,000 on the Reliance estate in Essequibo in March 1829. McGarel, Alexander Hall and David Hall were among the 65 absentee slave-owners and mortgagees petitioning the Privy Council in 1826 against compulsory manumission in Demerara and Berbice. McGarel served on the Committee of five appointed to pursue the appeal, which was heard in July 1827 and appears to have stalemated the British government’s efforts to enforce compulsory manumission.

In the 1830s, the partners in Hall, McGarel were some of the major beneficiaries of slave compensation. They were the mortgagees on the Endragt and Mon Repos estates and the 456 enslaved people upon them, and received £22846 1s 1d in December 1836. Again as mortgagees, they received £7300 3s 10d for 135 enslaved on Philadelphia estate. Charles McGarel and David Hall, the two partners, owned together with Alexander Hall the Hamburg estate on Tiger Island with 329 enslaved, and received £17110 13s 6d in compensation for those people in January 1836; and they had a smaller award for £856 5s 6d for 16 enslaved at Cumings Lodge. Charles McGarel personally (i.e. outside the framework of the Hall, McGarel firm) with his brothers owned the Uniform estate and the 253 enslaved on it, for which he and John and Peter McGarel were awarded £13417 15s 7d in January 1836; in addition, Charles McGarel was the sole awardee of £9751 6s 5d for 184 slaves on Nouvelle Flandres, and had two additional small awards in his own name. McGarel also appears as a co-awardee of three big claims for 1100 enslaved totalling £60,000, but here we believe he was acting as executor for one of the former owners (Thomas Naghten, for whom McGarel acted as attorney when he [McGarel] was in Demerara in the early 1800s and who reappears in this narrative below) rather than as beneficiary. Peter and John McGarel also were awarded almost £10,000 for the enslaved on the Bank Hall estate in British Guiana. David Hall also collected compensation in his own name, about £5000, for enslaved people in Barbados on his estate Locust Hall, and he appears in an unknown capacity with John Fullarton as co-awardees on a large claim for 239 slaves on the Ma Retraite estate in British Guiana. So in total the partners received almost £100,000 (omitting the £60,000 where McGarel was executor), a huge amount in the context of the day. There were at least two additional cases of ‘mercantile interception’ where Hall and McGarel counterclaimed as mortgagees on the Reliance estate of Donald Mackay (although the award of £24288 7s 0d for 467 slaves is shown in Mackay’s name) and on the Richmond Hill estate of Laurence Fitzgerald, where again the award of £3535 12s 8d was made in Fitzgerald’s name. In both cases, the compensation was probably shared with Hall McGarel.

The firm of Hall McGarel was dissolved on 1st January 1842, a few years after the compensation process , when its partners were shown as David Hall, Charles McGarel and Alexander Hall Hall, the latter being the son of David Hall. David Hall lived at 44 Portland Place in the late 1830s, although he died in 1844 at 10 Park Street (he had also bought in 1822 the Botleys Park estate in Surrey, which he later sold to another slave-owner, John Beckles Hyndman). David Hall left £200,000 in personalty (i.e. not including the value of any real property, i.e. land), a fortune that made him one of the richest people dying in Britain that year. His son, Alexander Hall Hall, who had been educated at Eton and Balliol appears to have dropped from commerce after his father’s retirement in 1842, and was appointed as Deputy-Lieutenant of Sussex in 1860. He died during an overnight stay at Charles McGarel's house, 2 Belgrave Square, in 1874, having made the transition from his father’s slave-owning to English landed gentleman and county society. Newspapers (including the Morning Post, 21/10/1874), reported on Alexander Hall Hall's inquest and a verdict of death from natural causes.

Charles McGarel himself does not appear again as a merchant after the 1840 P.O. directory but he continued as an absentee owner of estates in British Guiana. In 1860 he is shown as the owner of two estates, Blenheim and Caledonia. Blenheim had belonged to an absentee slave-owner called Tully Higgins, one of whose executors was McGarel’s former partner Alexander Hall. McGarel lived at 14 Wimpole Street from at least 1824 to 1855, but then moved to the more plutocratic 2 Belgrave Square in the late 1850s and that remained his London home until his death in the 1870s. He was active in a number of diverse financial areas of the City after the early 1840s. For example, he became Chairman of the Committee of Mexican Bondholders in one of the periodic upheavals in international bond markets in the mid-1850s; he was also a director of the Colonial Bank. He invested in industry: this is a classic confirmation of Williams’ thesis that profits from slavery (not just the slave-trade) fed Britain’s industrial revolution. McGarel was one of the major investors in the Maesteg iron industry alongside a fellow slave-owner and West India merchant James Cavan, subscribing £10,000 to the Llynvi Iron Company in 1845 and increasing the investment to £12,500 in its restructuring as the Llynvi Vale Iron Co. in 1853. McGarel also subscribed in the railway boom: £4000 to the London & Brighton Railway in 1837, and much larger amounts in the mid-1840s: £45,000 to the London, Chatham and North Kent line and £5,000 to the Edinburgh & Northern in 1845, and a further £27,500 to the North Kent and £5,000 to the British & Irish Union in 1846. As an aside, his brother Peter was also a railway investor subscribing £5000 to the Belfast & Ballymena line in 1845. Charles McGarel flirted with a political career, being put forward by the Conservatives for Worcester in the May 1852 by-election, but ‘as he was not explicit on the subject of “Protection”, he found so little favour with the voters that after fours days’ canvassing he left the city’. He died a very wealthy man in 1876, leaving personalty of £500,000, making him in turn one of the richest men in Britain dying that year.

The impact of this slave-owner might therefore appear predictable if a little diffuse. His wealth clearly was made from slavery, and equally clearly it flowed into and helped the development of the City as a financial centre in the 19th century. Incontrovertibly, his slave-wealth (including compensation) became capital in the transformation of manufacturing and transportation in Britain. There can be legitimate debate about how important were McGarel and his fellow-slave-owners in aggregate to 19th century business and the British economy: but the individual impacts are or can be made visible, as with McGarel, and can slowly be pieced together.

But there are legacies well beyond the commercial and industrial, and for McGarel there are three other things we want to bring forward, to illustrate both the extent and limitations of the legacies of slave-ownership.

First is his impact in Larne, which was his home town. With his wealth, McGarel bought land and an estate at Magheramorne near Larne in 1842 (beginning perhaps to make a transition from full-time merchant to more passive financier and rentier). He clearly spent time there, away from London. The philanthropist and antislavery activist Samuel Gurney, for example, met McGarel by chance there on Gurney’s celebrated tour of post-famine Ireland in autumn 1849 and rekindled an old acquaintance: the two men shared an interest in the National Schools system, which McGarel funded in Larne. And McGarel endowed buildings: in Larne the Town Hall is known as the McGarel Town Hall, funded by McGarel and built in 1869; there is a McGarel cemetery (on land he donated in 1862), and there are McGarel almshouses (built in 1875). In 2004 a plaque was installed commemorating him as a benefactor. It is understood in Larne that his wealth derived from Demerara and the sugar trade, but as is often the case the role of slavery is not visible in the short-hand histories of his wealth deployed locally.

So, firstly, his legacy is in Larne’s physical fabric. Secondly, there is the impact of his transmission of his slave-wealth on his death, his legacy in the literal sense. In April 1856, Charles McGarel had married (he was then well over 60); his wife was Mary Rosina Hogg, the daughter of Sir James Weir Hogg (MP and Chairman of the East India Co.) and the sister of, among others, James MacNaughten Hogg, the MP and Chief of the Metropolitan Board of Works in London between 1870-1889, and progenitor of the Blackwall Tunnel. The McGarels had no children and on his death, McGarel left his estate at Magheramorne to his brother-in-law the MP, on condition that the latter changed his name to James McGarel Hogg, which of course Hogg did. One of the first things he did with his inheritance was to build a new house between 1878 and 1880, Magheramorne House. McGarel Hogg, who was himself married to the daughter of 1st Baron Penrhyn, another slave-owning family (in Jamaica this time) later became 1st Baron Magheramorne. However, the 2nd Baron married the daughter of the Earl of Shaftesbury, squandered the family fortune and died bankrupt around 1903: the title itself continued for a few more decades, but the money was gone. The financial legacy of slavery can therefore sometimes be ephemeral.

But McGarel also had a second brother-in-law whose life and career he substantially shaped, Quintin Hogg. Hogg was a generation younger than McGarel, having left Eton in 1863 and gone into the City for an unhappy 18 month spell with a firm of tea-merchants. McGarel engineered the entry of Hogg into the firm of Bosanquet Naghten. McGarel was not a name partner of Bosanquet Naghten or the firms that evolved from it but it seems to be the successor firm of Hall McGarel, appearing at the same address at 32 Fenchurch Street from the 1845 P.O directory onwards. Its partners were the East Indian man Augustus Henry Bosanquet and his son Percival (both intermarried with the Bevan banking family) and Thomas Naghten, whom we believe to have been the Thomas Naghten who was McGarel’s attorney in British Guiana in 1842 and was himself the son of the former absentee British Guiana slave-owner for whom Charles McGarel and his brother Peter had acted as attorney in the early 1800s. It is clear from Ellen Hogg’s biography of Quintin Hogg that McGarel was the eminence grise of the firm, what today would probably be called a shadow director: she states that McGarel found Hogg a place in ‘his firm’. How much if any of his capital he left in is unclear. [Walter Rodney 'Guyanese Sugar plantations' closely links M'Garel and Hogg e.g. Footnote 3 page 85 sale of Devonshire Castle by 'McGarel & Hogg'; page 19 'Mr Hogg (acting for the late Mr McGarel and Mr Campbell) in amalgamating estates into Reliance; Footnote 21 page 87 'Charles McGarel (of Curtis & Campbell)']. But with the platform of McGarel’s sponsorship and of his commercial networks, Hogg rose rapidly. Hogg stayed with this firm for the rest of the century (he retired in 1898), as it transformed itself into Bosanquet Curtis and then Hogg Curtis Campbell, one of the leading firms in the London sugar market with continuous involvement in the Demerara sugar industry, as well as acquiring through defaults estates in Jamaica and Ceylon. The firm remained independent until 1939 when it merged with Booker McConnell. Later in life, Hogg re-founded and moulded the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster). His son was Douglas McGarel Hogg (1872-1950), 1st Viscount Hailsham, Lord Chancellor in the late 1920s and again in the later 1930s, and secretary of State for War in the early 1930s. Quintin Hogg’s grandson, also Quintin Hogg, Lord Hailsham, was a Tory politician and the Lord Chancellor in Ted Heath’s and Margaret Thatcher’s governments, between 1970-1974 and 1979-1987. Lord Hailsham’s full name was Quintin McGarel Hogg. Lord Hailsham’s son in turn was Douglas Hogg, the former MP and agriculture minister. McGarel’s sponsorship of Quntin Hogg led to the foundation of a Tory dynasty that until this generation actually carried McGarel’s name.


Nicholas Draper, ‘McGarel, Charles (1787/8–1876)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2016 [, accessed 21 Oct 2016]; T71/885 British Guiana claim nos. 555 (Eendragt (Endragt?) and Mon Repos), 690 (Nouvelle Flandres), 714 (Philadelphia) and 750 (Cumings Lodge); T71/886 British Guiana claim nos. 1258 and 1283; T71/887 British Guiana claim nos. 2316 (Canefields), 2334 (Columbia), 2340 (Golden Fleece), 2405 (Hamburg, Tiger Island) and 2444 (Uniform). Other sources as detailed above.

We are grateful to Ted Robbens for providing the Morning Post reference for the inquest of Alexander Hall Hall.

Further Information

Mary Rosina Hogg (17 April 1856?)

PRONI T528/38 Extracts reviewed online.  CM of Larne and London made 21 May 1871. I, CM of 2 Belgrave Square c of M, and of Magheramorne County of Antrim in Ireland Esq.; £3000 plus furniture, etc to wife; 'all my lands in Ireland' to Lieut. Col. James Macna[u]ghten Hogg during his life, and for the use of his sons and daughters. To sister Mary McGarel of Larne £400 p.a. Annuity; to niece Mary Murray, wife of Sir James Murray of Dublin £400 p.a.  £5000 to butler Edward Harding.  


Executors Robert McAlmont of 87 Eaton Square; F.A.Bevan of 54 Lombard St; Quentin Hogg of Rood Lane;  George William Campbell [LG 24384 17/11/1876 p. 69]


February 8 1877. The Queen has been pleased to graqnt unto Sir James Macnaghten Hogg, of Magheramorne, in the county of Antrim, and of Grosvenor gardens in the parish of St George Hanover Square...Baronet, K.C.B., Representative in Parliament for Truro, late Major and Lieutentant-Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards, Her Royal licence and authority that he and his issue may, in compliance with a clause contained in the last will and testament of Charles McGarel, late of Belgrave-Square, in the said county of Middlesex, and of Magheramorne aforesaid, Esquire, deceased, take and henceforth use the surname of McGarel, in addition to and before that of Hogg, and that he and they may bear the arms of McGarel quarterly with his and their own family arms....[London Gazette March 9 1877 p. 1967].   

Wealth at death
Merchant and planter

Associated Claims (14)

£5,612 3s 9d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£287 8s 8d
£199 16s 2d
£14,118 9s 0d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual) (Mortgagee)
£18,195 0s 8d
£17,896 4s 5d
£2,606 18s 8d
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual) (Mortgagee)
£17,110 13s 6d
£9,751 6s 5d
£7,300 3s 10d
£856 5s 6d
£21,607 18s 3d
£13,417 15s 7d
£22,846 1s 1d

Associated Estates (4)

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
1817 [EA] - 1817 [LA] → Owner
1826 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Not known

'In lawful possession of William King and Charles McGarel'

1827 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Mortgage Holder
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Joint owner

Legacies Summary

Commercial (8)

Railway Investment
North Kent [1846402]  
Hall McGarel & Co.
West India merchant  
Railway Investment
London and Brighton (Stephenson's) [183748]  
Railway Investment
Edinburgh and Northern (No. 1) [184558]  
Railway Investment
London, Chatham and North Kent [1845120]  
Llynvi Iron Works
notes →
CM was a lead investor (alongside James Cavan and others) in reconstituting the Llynvi Iron Co. In 1853.  CM invested £10,000 of £120,000: James Cavan invested £15,000; William Mitcalfe...
Railway Investment
British and Irish Union [184654]  
Railway Investment
Edinburgh and Northern (No. 2) [184559]  

Imperial (1)

East India Company
notes →
Married to Mary Rosina Hogg, the daughter of Sir James Weir Hogg (MP and Chairman of the East India...

Physical (5)

Public building
McGarel Town Hall [Built] 
notes →
"Historic Town Hall 'in a terrible state'": story in Larne Times 14/2/2008 [<a...
Public building
McGarel Buildings [Built] 
description →
notes →
Cost of £8000 and endowment of £310 p.a..  'The intention of the founder was to provide a home for families having already a small income.'...
Public building
McGarel Cemetery [Built] 
Public memorial
Plaque, McGarel Town Hall [Built] 
notes →
Installed by Larne and District Historical Society, as one of a series forming a heritage trail in the town.  'Exceedingly successful' in Demerara where Charles and his brothers John and...
Magheramorne [Purchased] 
notes →
Bequeathed by Charles McGarel to Sir James McGarel Hogg, his nephew [in fact, brother-in-law], later Baron Magheramorne (Notes & Queries No. 134 July 21 1883, with probably a spurious history...

Relationships (5)

Business partners
Business partners

Addresses (3)

Magheramorne, Larne, Co. Antrim, Ireland
14 Wimpole Street, London, Middlesex, London, England
2 Belgrave Square, London, Middlesex, London, England