Matthew James Higgins

1810 - 1868


Journalist and plantation owner in British Guiana, where he inherited the Alliance estate in Demerara which he visited in 1838-9 and 1846-7; the compensation for the estate had been paid to his mother, Janet Higgins (née Baillie) (q.v.).

  1. The journalist Matthew James Higgins, (1810-1868), who wrote under the nom-de-plume Jacob Omnium and had Thackeray's Adventures of Philip dedicated to him, was the son of Matthew and Janette [sic] Higgins, and inherited an estate in British Guiana. The ODNB shows his father as dying shortly after his birth, and his sisters marrying and living in Naples. He visited his estate in 1838-9 and again in 1846-7, after which he published several pamphlets on the difficulties of the sugar-producing colonies. He also gave lengthy evidence to the Select Committee on Sugar and Coffee Planting in 1848, in which he noted that not only did he inherited his mother's Guiana estate but that he also had an interest in (unspecified) Grenada plantations.

  2. William A. Green suggests that Matthew James Higgins was the author of 'the most compelling and articulate defence of the West India position' in protest against the reductions of Sugar Duties in 1846. An advocate of free trade in some circumstances, he argued that sugar was a special case.


The estate and the compensation is identified in his mother's will, proved 19/08/1841, PROB 11/1950/131.

  1. ODNB online, H.C.G. Matthew, 'Higgins, Matthew James [pseud. Jacob Omnium] (1810-1868), journalist', which refers to the estate but not to slavery.

  2. W. A. Green, British Slave Emancipation. The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1976), p. 232. Higgins' articles for The Times were published as The Real Bearings of the West India Question as Expounded by the Most Intelligent Free-Trader of the Day (London, James Ridgway, 1848).

Further Information

Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (1)

£15,343 8S 1D
Other association

Legacies Summary

Historical (1)

The Real Bearings of the West India Question, as expounded by the most intelligent and independent free-trader of the... 1848 
notes →
The title has 'edited by Jacob Omnium' and dedicated to Lord John Russell. The pamphlet gathers articles written by Higgins for The...

Relationships (2)

Son → Mother
Son → Father

Addresses (1)

4 Upper George Street, London, Middlesex, London, England