Four historic Buckinghamshire estates feature in a report by the National Trust that details their links to slavery and colonialism.
The connections are highlighted in a report which was first published last September as part of efforts to tell the history of colonialism and slavery at its historic places.
In total, four National Trust properties from across the county feature in the report, which details exactly what their connections are.
This is what the report says about each property. Greys Court in nearby Henley-On-Thames also features in the report, so we’ve included that here too.
West Wycombe Park
West Wycombe Park has connections to the East India Company and was once owned by Samuel Dashwood (c.1643–1705) and his brother, Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Baronet (c.1658– 1724).
They were successful London merchants, importing silk and other luxury goods.
Samuel became the East India Company’s Vice-Governor in 1700 and was appointed Lord Mayor of London two years later.
Francis, also an alderman of the city, was, by 1680, the largest importer of silk from Smyrna in Turkey and maintained links with Elihu Yale, the agent for the East India Company in Madras.
Sir John Dashwood-King, 3rd Baronet (1716–93), inherited the baronetcy in 1781 but lived at nearby Halton.
His grandson, Sir George Henry Dashwood, 5th Baronet (c.1790–1862), moved into West Wycombe following his marriage in 1823.
George was devisee-in-trust of his brother-in-law Harrison Walke[r] Sober’s Barbados estate, receiving compensation for enslaved people on the Spring and Ashton Hall plantations in 1836.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) and his wife Mary Anne (1792–1872) came to live at Hughenden in 1848, remaining there for the rest of their lives.
Disraeli, a novelist and politician, served as Prime Minister twice (in 1868 and 1874–80).
In 1858 the British government transferred control of British India and its princely states from the mercantile East India Company to the Crown under the Government of India Act.
It followed the deposition of the nominal Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar at the conclusion of the Great Rebellion of India of 1857. This marked the beginning of the British Raj.
The East India Company was officially dissolved on 1 June 1874 and Disraeli, by then Prime Minister, offered Queen Victoria the title of Empress of India, which she accepted in May 1876.
The Delhi Durbar of January 1877 functioned as an imperial coronation.
The title was finally dropped in 1948, with the passing of the Indian Independence Act (1947).
Earlier owners of the estate include Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773), after whom Chesterfield County, Virginia and Chesterfield County, South Carolina in America are both named (as were Chesterfield cigarettes).
Many families have lived at Cliveden since George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1628–87), bought the estate in around 1666. George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney (1666–1737) and the owner of Cliveden from 1696 to 1737, was married to Elizabeth Villiers (c.1657–1733), whose relationship with William III provided the confiscated Irish estates of James II.
George held a patent as Governor of Virginia (1710–37), although he never visited.
Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales (1707–51), leased Cliveden from Anne, 2nd Countess of Orkney (1696–1756), in 1738 and it was there, on 1 August 1740, that the patriotic song ‘Rule, Britannia!’ was first performed with the lines ‘Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.’
Cliveden was sold in 1849 to George Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland (1786–1861), for £30,000.
His wife, Harriet Howard (1806–68), was a close friend of Queen Victoria and an enthusiastic proponent of the anti-slavery movement.
She provided patronage, notably to the American author Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–96), and hosted a meeting at Stafford House, her London mansion, where she petitioned her ‘sisters’ in the United States against slavery.
In response, the former US First Lady Julia Tyler (1820–89) wrote a defence entitled ‘The Women of England vs. the Women of America’.
The Duchess’s petition was later ridiculed by Thomas Carlyle and criticised by Karl Marx (1818–83), not least because the Duke’s mother had been associated with the clearance of the inhabitants of Sutherland 30 years earlier, removing highland small tenants to settlements on the coast.
Stowe was owned by the same family from 1589 until 1921.
Among the Stowe Papers is a 1715 bill of sale for 272 enslaved people and ivory purchased in Guinea and sold in Jamaica, which may be linked to Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham (1675–1749).
Temple’s nephew, the Rt. Hon. George Grenville (1712–70), was the father of William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville (1759–1834), a politician committed to the abolition of the slave trade.
As Prime Minister, he proposed and managed the Slave Trade Act (1807).
His nephew, Richard, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1776–1839), married Anne Elizabeth Brydges (1779–1836).
Anne had inherited the Hope Estate and its enslaved people through her mother, Anna Eliza, who in turn inherited them from her first husband, Roger Hope Elletson (1723–75).
He was a Jamaican-born enslaver and former lieutenant-governor of the island.
Buckingham, who opposed Wilberforce’s bill for abolition, made three unsuccessful claims for compensation in 1836 (for the Hope Plantation, Middleton and Hampstead Park, Jamaica St Andrew).
His son, Richard, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1797–1861), however, was the beneficiary of a claim the same year (Jamaica St Andrew 114, Hope Plantation).
The 2nd Duke was Chairman of the West Indies Committee and represented plantation owners in Parliament, particularly for compensation following abolition.
His son, Richard, 3rd Duke (1823–89) served as Secretary of State for the Colonies and Governor of Madras.
This Tudor house was owned by the London merchant William Paul MP (1673–1711) and given as a dowry in 1724 when his daughter Catherine married Sir William Stapleton MP ( c.1698–1740), whose parliamentary career was conducted largely in support of the interests of fellow sugar plantation owners in the West Indies.
Sir William’s grandfather – another Sir William (d.1686) – landed with the English Civil War Parliamentarian Sir Tobias Bridge in 1667 on the Leeward Islands, and married Anne Russell in 1671, whose father Colonel Randolph (or Randal) Russell (d.1678) was Governor of Nevis. Sir William the Elder became Governor of the Leeward Islands and a substantial plantation owner on all four islands.
The Stapleton family became absentee plantation owners and despite continuing to receive this income, the family appear to have accumulated large debts, which meant that Greys Court was rented out and mortgaged on occasion.
Sir Thomas Stapleton (1766–1831), 6th Baronet, married Elizabeth Eliot (c.1758–1848) in 1791. She was born in Antigua and was the granddaughter of John Byam (d.1754) whose family included four Governors of the Leeward islands.
Their son, the Rev. Hon. Miles J. Stapleton (1801–30) married Ann Byam Stapleton (née Kerby) (1796–1842) who received compensation as tenant-in-tail of estates in Antigua.
Despite the long family association with Nevis, the Hon and Rev. Sir Francis Jarvis Stapleton’s (1806–74) compensation claim Nevis 16 (Mont Pellier), made in his role as executor of his father Sir Thomas Stapleton, 6th Baronet (1766–1831), was unsuccessful.
Greys Court was sold in 1935 by Sir Miles Stapleton (1893–1977).