PLACE names around Amersham such as Plantation Road, Pomeroy Close and The Pineapple/Pomeroy pub, provide clues to local connections to the West Indies and the horrors of the slave trade.

Researchers at Amersham Museum have been uncovering the stories behind some of these names and, inspired by Black History Month, I would like to share them with you.

The Plantation was the home of local brewer George Weller and his wife Blanche. Weller’s Brewery was the largest employer in the town and its success had made the family very wealthy.

George was a generous employer and greatly respected. The Plantation was a large country house with 12 bedrooms in 61 acres of parkland at Amersham Common. There was also a walled garden, glass houses and several cottages for staff. In 1945, 15 years after his death, his daughter sold the estate to Amersham Council.

They demolished the house and built much needed social housing on the land.

Street names and a handful of brick and flint cottages on Raans road are the only traces remaining of this Victorian estate and until recently we had no idea why it was called The Plantation.

However, during lockdown Dr Peter Borrows found the time to research the Weller family and uncovered their connections to Jamaica and slavery.

The Weller brewing dynasty was founded in Amersham around 1775 when William Weller, a maltster from High Wycombe bought into the existing brewery by St Mary’s Church.

Five generations of Wellers worked in the business, but it did not need to support the entire family. Two of William’s grandsons became clergymen and two sought their fortune in the British Colonies.

George’s uncles, Henry and John Lacey Weller moved to Black River, Jamaica in the early 1800s. Here they met businessman George Channer who joined the family when he married their elder sister, Mary.

Mary and George went on to have 9 children in England and presumably he never told her about the 3 children he had left behind in Black River. George Channer, Henry and John Lacey Weller all fathered children with Jamaican women.

In Legacies of British Slave Ownership, a University College London project which traces the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain, there is only one award of compensation to any Weller for freeing their slaves – to Sophia Weller, the wife of Frederic Weller, Henry Weller’s mixed-race son.

She had 3 slaves in St Elizabeth, Jamaica and was awarded £65-13s-11d. It is hard to believe that it was only in 2015 that British taxpayers finished paying off the debt incurred by the British government in 1835 to compensate British slave owners for the abolition of slavery. Not a penny was paid to those who were enslaved.

However, the Wellers are not the only local family with links to the slave trade. Kender Mason of Beel House (which still exists off White Lion Road between Dr Challoner’s High School and GE Healthcare) inherited half of his father’s fortune in 1819.

This included plantations in Montserrat, Antigua, Dominica and elsewhere in the West Indies.

His brother, Henry William Pomeroy (he changed his name from Mason to Pomeroy to inherit his maternal grandfather’s estate) was the other beneficiary. At the time of his death in 1825 Pomeroy was living at Hill House in Chalfont St Giles.

Their father, Kender Mason senior, had built an extensive fortune by trading between the West Indies, North America, Africa and Britain. Kender Mason Snr married Mary Pomeroy, granddaughter of Sir William Pomeroy, a director of the East India Company who owned land around Gerrards Cross and the Chalfonts. After his marriage Kender Mason began to buy land and property in Amersham Common.

The Masons and Pomeroys jointly invested in many property deals. Their names also appear in street names in South London where there is a Pomeroy Street, Kender Street and several streets that start with Amersham.

In Amersham Road SE1 is a pub called the Amersham Arms. In Monserrat there was a village called Amersham and an Amersham estate which was obliterated by the volcano eruption of 1995.

From Wendy Tibbitt’s research we know that in 1768 Kender Mason & Co. sold 3,710 African slaves in Dominica and another 1,713 in Puerto Rico.

In 1772 the firm sold 5,003 African slaves in Dominica. In exchange for the slaves the company received coffee, cotton and other commodities which were taken back to Europe for high prices. Pineapples were particularly prized as they rarely survived the journey back from the Caribbean unless travelling in fast ships and so were very expensive to buy.

The ultimate status symbol was to display a pineapple in the centre of the table at a grand dinner party. The pineapple therefore became a sign of wealth and hospitality and was featured in architecture, paintings, and household items.

Kender Mason Jnr had six children with his wife, Eliza Lovell who came from a wealthy family that had lands in Antigua and England. Her brother, Langford Lovell, lived at Wendover Dean.

Eliza Lovell’s stepfather, Baijer Otto Baijer was listed as having 180 slaves in the 1817 Slave Register. Baijer and his wife died at Beel House in Amersham and are buried in St Mary’s churchyard in a tomb with railings on the east side of the church.

Slavery was illegal in Britain after 1772 but it was not unusual for slaves to come to Britain with their plantation owners. They were then used as household servants and would have been given their freedom in return for continued service.

No evidence has been discovered but it is possible that black servants would have been seen in Amersham. The Mason and Pomeroy families do not appear to have been compensated in 1835 so presumably the families sold their estates and their slaves before then.

More information about the Masons and the Wellers can be found on Amersham Museum’s history pages at

Next time I will tell you about the anti-slavery campaigners who lived in our area.