Robert Hibbert junior

25th Oct 1769 - 23rd Sep 1849

Claimant or beneficiary

Biography

  1. Robert Hibbert Junior (1769-1849) was the son of John Hibbert (1732-1769) and Janet Gordon (1740-1779). John was born in Manchester but left for Jamaica in 1754 to join his brother Thomas Hibbert (1710-1780) in his Kingston slave factorage partnership. John married Jane in 1760. The Gordon family had established themselves on the island, Janet’s brother John was the Attorney General. The family were originally from Scotland; removing to Jamaica had enabled the Gordons to overcome the prejudices against Scots which could sometimes place limits on their expectations in Britain. The couple had seven children - Robert was the youngest.

  2. Robert was a pupil of Gilbert Wakefield at Nottingham during the years 1784-1787. Wakefield was a Unitarian and had worked in several Dissenting academies including Warrington Academy. He was politically a controversial figure whose pamphlet supporting the French Revolution landed him in prison for two years in 1801 on a charge of sedition. Robert sent him £1000 whilst he was incarcerated and the two men shared a close friendship. Robert attended Emmanuel College Cambridge between 1787-1790 and was awarded a B.A. in 1791. In order to receive the B.A. Robert would have been compelled to subscribe to the established Church of England. At Cambridge Robert struck up a lifelong friendship with the radical and later Unitarian, William Frend.

  3. In 1791 Robert left England for Jamaica to take his place in the mercantile house founded by his uncle Thomas (1710-1780) at Kingston. He became a magistrate for Surrey and Kingston, Jamaica. In 1792 at St. Andrew’s in Jamaica Robert married Elizabeth Jane Nembhard (1776-1853). She was the daughter of John Nembhard M.D. and the sister in law of Robert’s cousin, also named Robert (1750-1835). The couple had no children.

  4. Robert returned to England in 1803 and became a partner in the Hibbert family West India counting house. The co-partnership Geo, Rob. & Wm. Hibbert appeared in Kent’s Directory in 1804. This was followed by another co-partnership Geo. Rob. Wm & Sam. Hibbert (1811-1818). The partnerships involved his cousin George Hibbert MP (1757-1837) and various other family members. The West India merchant house was involved with the shipping, insurance and distribution of colonial commodities (particularly sugar). They owned their own ships and were also involved with finance and credit.

  5. In 1806 he purchased an estate in Bedfordshire called East Hyde. Robert became High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1815. In January 1819 Robert paid for twelve cottages in Castle Street, Luton for twenty-four ‘poor widows or other persons’ as well as funds for their maintenance. Later, Mrs Ashton’s Charity of Dunstable, owners of the land behind these properties, wishing to undertake new building and gain frontage on Castle Street, negotiated with the Trustees to demolish the old cottages and in exchange built new almshouses on a new street off Castle Street, to be called Hibbert Street.

  6. Robert owned the Georgia plantation in Hanover, Jamaica. In 1817 he sent the Unitarian missionary Reverend Thomas Cooper to his estate to help Christianise the enslaved. Cooper’s testimony about conditions on the estate was published by Zachary Macaulay in Negro Slavery (1823). The ensuing newspaper spat between Cooper, Robert and his cousin George Hibbert MP (1757-1837) became part of a wider discussion on the amelioration of the condition of the enslaved in the West Indies. In 1833 Robert petitioned the House of Commons as the proprietor of 560 enslaved people in Jamaica which he estimated at the value of 70,000l. In the petition he claimed to reject any compensation monies which might be offered as the plan would be ‘utterly ruinous to himself, and to others who are similarly situated’. Robert sold his Jamaica estate in 1833 reputedly at a great loss.

  7. Unitarianism played an important role in Robert’s life. In 1847 Robert executed a deed conveying to trustees $50,000 in 6% Ohio stock, and £8,000 in railway shares. The trustees appointed alongside Robert were Mark Philips MP for Manchester and his brother Robert both of whom were Robert’s cousins. He stipulated that the income should be spent ‘in such manner as they in their uncontrolled discretion shall from time to time deem most conducive to the spread of Christianity in its most intelligible form, and to the unfettered exercise of the right of private judgement in matters of religion.’ The Hibbert Trust, as it then became known, offered divinity scholarships. Candidates would only be considered if their degree came from an institution such as the London University ‘where degrees were granted without subscription to the articles of religion.’ The trust instituted an annual Hibbert Lecture, the first being delivered by Professor Max Muller in 1878 and it also published The Hibbert Journal between 1902 and 1968. The Hibbert Trust is still in existence today and awards grants in line with Robert’s wishes. During his later years he lived at 13 Welbeck Street where he died in 1849.

Sources

  1. Alan Ruston, ‘Hibbert, Robert (1769–1849)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008) at http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13196 [accessed 09/02/ 2013]. Oliver Vere Langford, Caribbeana being miscellaneous papers relating to the history, genealogy, topography, and antiquities of the British West Indies, Vol.4 (London, 1919), pp.195-6.

  2. Gilbert Wakefield, Memoirs of the Life of Gilbert Wakefield, B.A. Late Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge (London: E. Hodson,1792). Jerom Murch, Memoir of Robert Hibbert, Founder of the Hibbert Trust: with a Sketch of its History (Bath: William Lewis, 1874).

  3. Mabel Nembhard, ‘The Nembhards of Jamaica’. http://www.merchantnetworks.com.au/jamaica/jamaica5.htm [accessed 09/02/2013]. Ancestry.com, Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900 [database online].

  4. London Trade Directories, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House.

  5. http://www.seekinghyde.org.uk/13474.html [accessed 09/02/2013]

  6. Thomas Cooper, Correspondence between George Hibbert, Esq., and the Rev. T. Cooper, relative to the condition of The Negro Slaves in Jamaica, extracted from the Morning Chronicle: also A Libel on the character of Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, published in 1823, in several Jamaica Journals; with notes and remarks by Thomas Cooper (London, J. Hatchard, 1824). Robert Hibbert Junior, Facts verified on oath in contradiction of the report of Rev. Thomas Cooper, concerning the general condition of slaves in Jamaica; and more especially relative to the management and treatment of the slave upon Georgia estate, in the parish of Hanover, in that island (London, John Murray, 1824). Thomas Cooper, A letter to Robert Hibbert Jun. Esq., in reply to his pamphlet, entitled, ‘Facts verified upon oath, in contradiction of the report of the Reverend Thomas Cooper, concerning the general condition of the slave in Jamaica (London, J. Hatchard & Son, 1824). The Debates in Parliament Session 1833 on the Resolutions and Bill for the Abolition of Slavery in the British Colonies with a copy of the Act of Parliament (London, 1834), p.123.

  7. Jerom Murch, Memoir of Robert Hibbert, Founder of the Hibbert Trust: with a Sketch of its History (Bath: William Lewis, 1874). Alan R. Ruston, The Hibbert Trust A History (The Hibbert Trust, 1984).


Further Information

Absentee?
British/Irish
Spouse
Elizabeth Jane Nembhard
Children
d.s.p.
Will

Will of Robert Hibbert of Welbeck Street, Middlesex (Founder of the Hibbert Trust), dated 29 December... Funeral not to exceed £50. All his real and personal property unconditionally to his ‘affectionate wife Elizabeth Jane.’ Executrix his wife, executor ‘his friend Harley Smith of Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street, Esq.’ Witness: Joseph George Neeld and Cornelius Middleton Amsden, clerks to Messrs. Smith and Alliston. Will proved, London, 15th October 1849, by Elizabeth Jane Hibbert, widow, the relict, and Harley Smith, executrix and executor. (P.C.C., 3, 16, 49).

University
Cambridge (Emmanuel) [1787-1790 ]
Occupation
Merchant and plantation owner
Religion
Unitarian

Associated Claims (6)

£6,603 12S 3D
Awardee
£3,927 9S 0D
Awardee
£5,662 17S 6D
Awardee
£665 9S 9D
Awardee
£4,225 2S 6D
Awardee
£12 16S 2D
Awardee

Legacies Summary

Historical (2)

PamphletsAuthor?
Facts verified on oath in contradiction of the report of Re. Thomas Cooper, concerning the general condition of slaves in Jamaica; and more expecially relative to the management and treatment of the... 1824 
PamphletsAuthor?
Hints to the Young Jamaican Sugar... 1825 

Imperial (1)

Magistrate
 
notes →
Local Magistrate in Surrey and Kingston,...

Physical (3)

Urban Development
Hibbert Street 
description →
Named after Robert Hibbert and including the almshouses he endowed which are still a registered...
Urban Development
Hibbert Almshouses [Built] 
Country house
East Hyde [Purchased] 

Political (1)

Local Government
 
office →
High Sheriff
1815 -

Relationships (9)

Uncle → Nephew
First Cousins
Other relatives
Notes →
Robert Hibbert junior was the first cousin once removed of Samuel Hibbert. Robert's father John (1732-1769) and Samuel's grandfather Robert (1717-1784) were...
Other relatives
Notes →
Robert Hibbert junior was the first cousin once removed of John Nembhard Hibbert. Robert's father John (1732-1769) and John Nembhard's grandfather Robert (1717-1784) were...
Other relatives
Notes →
Robert Hibbert junior was the first cousin once removed of Thomas Hibbert. Robert's father John (1732-1769) and Thomas's grandfather Robert (1717-1784) were...
Other relatives
Notes →
Robert Hibbert junior was the first cousin once removed of George Hibbert junior. Robert's father John (1732-1769) and George's grandfather Robert (1717-1784) were...
Uncle → Nephew
First Cousins
Other relatives
Notes →
First cousins once removed. William Tetlow's grandfather Robert Hibbert (1717-1784) and Robert Hibbert's father John (1732-1769) were...

Addresses (2)

12 Welbeck Street, London, Middlesex, London, England
East Hyde, Harpenden, Bedfordshire, South-east England, England