James Gilzeane

1801 - 28th Sep 1866

Claimant or beneficiary


James Gilzean, Scottish-born medical practitioner and brother of Alexander Gilzean (q.v.). Moved to Jamaica in 1824 but had returned to Scotland by 1851 where he retired from medicine and bought a farm.

  1. James was born in St Andrews, Moray, Scotland, c. 1801. His father was James Gilzean, a farmer, and his mother was Henrietta Kelly. His mother's family, from New Miln of Kilbuiack, Alves, near Elgin, included a cousin George Forteath, a half-brother John Kelly, and a cousin William Falconer, all of whom were established in Jamaica in the 1770s and 1780s. His brother Alexander moved to Jamaica in the 1790s where he worked as an attorney, managed estates for his cousin William Falconer and bought Dunvegan estate in St Thomas-in-the East. His brother Thomas had followed by 1817, at first buying enslaved people from Alexander and his co-attornies and then pursuing a parallel but increasingly independent career which included appraisal work in Kingston, until his death in the late-1820s. James joined his brothers in Jamaica in 1824. The brothers' uncle Thomas Gilzean, writer, later Sheriff-Substitute, and twice Provost, of Inverness was a key figure in financing their activities.

  2. James Gilzean was listed as a surgeon to St Johns and St Dorothy militia foot in the Jamaica Almanac of 1839 and in 1851 was included in a list of medical practitioners which states he qualified at Edinburgh University. He may have been the James Gilzean who studied in 1822 and 1823 as Diplomates (Licentiates) of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (the dates would fit well with his arrival in Jamaica in 1824).

  3. James was still living in Jamaica in 1848 when he was an executor and residuary legatee of his brother Alexander. By 1851 he had returned to Scotland and was living in Drainie, Moray, age 50, unmarried, with his place of birth listed as St Andrews, Moray. His occupation is given as 'Surgeon M.R.C.S. (not practising). Farmer of 110 acres employing 4 Labs' - ie he was a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons. In his household are 1 female house servant, 2 farm girls, 1 cattle boy and 3 farm labourers. In the census of 1861 he was living at Easter Covesea, Drainie, "Farmer of 160 acres, employing 6 men and 3 girls", still unmarried and with most of his employees in the same household.

  4. James died at East Covesea, 28/09/1866 age 65. His occupation was given as Farmer (Formerly Surgeon) and deceased parents as James Gilzean, famer, and Henrietta nee Kelly. The informant was his nephew John Reid (son of his sister Margaret).


  1. Thomas Gilzean client account book 1782-1802 Highland Council Archives (HCA) D489. Ledger of Thomas Gilzean 1802-35, Aberdeen University Library KC874 IBC/7/110/11. See separate entry for Alexander Gilzean for more about the Gilzean family background and the influence of their uncle Thomas Gilzean.

  2. Jamaica Almanacs 1839 and 1851. Edinburgh University http://www.archives.lib.ed.ac.uk/alumni/search.php?view=individual1&id=5715 [accessed 12/08/2013].

  3. SC26/39/6. 1851 and 1861 censuses online.

  4. General Registry Office for Scotland deaths 1866 130 079 Drainie.

We are grateful to Jim Brennan and Alastair MacDonald for their assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

Edinburgh [1822-23 ]

Associated Claims (1)

£26 11S 6D

Relationships (2)

Other relatives
Notes →
Sarah was the mistress of James's brother Alexander (q.v.) and mother of his five...

Addresses (2)

St Andrews, Lhanbryde, Moray, North-east Scotland, Scotland
Easter Covesea, Drainie, Moray, North-east Scotland, Scotland