Hugh Mill Bunbury

1766 - 1838

Claimant or beneficiary


Hugh Mill [sometimes givens as Mills] Bunbury, awarded the compensation for the Devonshire Castle estate which he had established in British Guiana in the late 1790s. Hugh Mill Bunbury was in London in 1836, when he collected this award and a second one made to Edward Bunbury (q.v.), possibly his natural son, and his will and codicils give London addresses between 1832 and 1836, and he was reported in the Chancery suit of Bunbury v Bunbury [see below] to have died in England in 1838 but there is no record of his death there. Hugh Mill Bunbury of Lloyds Coffee House also claimed for the compensation for Peruvian Vale and Henry's Vale on St Vincent for Hugh Mill[s] Bunbury the younger and Lydia Countess D'viney [sic], for remainder after the life estate of Hugh Mills Bunbury under a marriage settlement Mr Bunbury with Miss Cox.

  1. Born in Exeter, Devon in 1766 he was the third son Thomas Bunbury of Cranavonane and his wife Mary Mill. It is likely that he left for the West Indies as young man, along with one of his brothers, settling first in St Vincent. After the British seizure of Demerara from the Dutch, Bunbury moved there and in 1799 purchased land outside Essquibo, which became the Devonshire and Devonshire Castle estates, specialising in coffee, cotton and sugar. He married twice. First, in August 1791 to Lydia Prisca, daughter of Herbert Palmer Cox and Jane Cox of St Vincent. The marriage took place in St Vincent and the couple had at least two children. Their daughter Lydia was later 'disinherited' for marrying the French Romantic poet Count Alfred de Vigny, as was their son Hugh Mill jun. [although see the will below]. Lydia's family were established plantation owners and government officials on St Vincent, with her sisters marrying into other West India families. Hugh Bunbury's second marriage to Alicia Lille produced four sons, including Charles Thomas Bunbury, commander of the Rifle Brigade and husband of Lady Harriot Dundas, whose son Evelyn James Bunbury built a successful business career: another grandson of Hugh Mill Bunbury (b. 1766) was Hamilton Bunbury, who converted to Catholicism and became one of Pope Pius XI's Privy. It is likely that Edward Bunbury was Hugh Mill Bunbury's natural, mixed-race son.

  2. The will of Hugh Mills Bunbury of Demerary but at present residing at Lodge Road Regents Park [made 23/01/1832] was proved 14/12/1838. Under the will he left a moiety of the Devonshire Castle and Devonshire plantations 'on the Arabian [sic] coast' of Demerary and Essequibo to his [then] five children (Delphine, Phillipe or Philip, Anna, Elizabeth and Henry) by his present wife Alicia as tenants in common; and he left 'a child's share' in the second moiety to each of Hugh Mills Bunbury and Lydia Jane [sic] Bunbury, assuming that his five children would also be entitled to a 1/7th share (or 1/14th of the plantations overall). In a codicil dated 03/08/1832 he said that he had since purchased an estate at Wandsworth from George Tritton, together with some land purchased from the assignees of Daniel Henry Rucker, and he left the new property to his wife Alicia. In a second codicil dated 10/10/1833 in which he described himself as of West Hill Wandsworth he added in his new daughter Alicia as a beneficiary and provided for the 'very considerable sum' he expected as slave compensation to be divided among the children of his second marriage after provision for £1000 to Hugh Mills Bunbury junior and for Lydia Prisca Countess de Vigny. In a penultimate codicil dated 02/07/1836 he added a seventh child, Charles, of his second marriage, and in a final codicil dated 03/11/1837 he reiterated his desire for his wife Alicia to have the benefit of the further lands he had purchased at West Hill.

  3. The Chancery suit of Bunbury v Bunbury, heard in 1839, sets out very clearly the background to the efforts of Hugh Mill Bunbury jun. and Lydia de Vigny to claim one half of the Devonshire Castle estate, by accessing Dutch law in Demerara. The court was sympathetic but unhelpful to them.


T71/877 British Guiana claim no. 2288 (Devonshire Castle). 

  1. For more details on the family see Turtle Bunbury's fully referenced article [which gives the son by the first marriage variously as Henry or Hugh], available at:

  2. PROB 11/1903/408.

  3. Reports of cased argued and determined in the several Courts of Law and Equity in England during the year 1839 (1840) Vol. II, pp.104-114.

We are grateful to Turtle Bunbury for his help compiling this entry.

Further Information

Name in compensation records
H. M. Bunbury
(1) Lydia Cox (2) Alicia Lillie
with (1) Lydia; Hugh Mill: with (2) seven children

Associated Claims (2)

£24,169 1s 3d
£7,266 2s 1d
Unsuccessful claimant (Tenant-in-tail or Remainderman)

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
1817 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner

Relationships (1)

Son-in-law → Father-in-law

Addresses (2)

Lodge Road, Regents Park, London, Middlesex, London, England
West Hill, Wandsworth, Surrey, London, England