William Hardin Burnley

1780 - 1850

Claimant or beneficiary

Biography

Major Trinidadian slave-owner and representative of the Trinidadian planters in London.

  1. William Hardin Burnley's father, Hardin Burnley (1741-1823) was a London merchant of Hardin & Burnley [sic] of 12 America Square, leaving £120,000. William Hardin Burnley's sister Maria Burnley married the Radical MP, Joseph Hume (1777-1855) who had adopted a qualified anti-slavery stance and had espoused the cause of compensation. 

  2. Burnley became the largest slaveholder in Trinidad. Born New York 1780; educated in England before taking up residence in Trinidad 1802. 'In 1809 he teamed up with Mr George Smith, Chief Justice, to steal the people's properties. As Acting Depositor-General, he had access to many properties from which he made his fortune "with Smith's knowledge, if not connivance". When he was finished he was worth a half a million dollars.' In 1818, in response to request from Governor Woodford of Trinidad for the Council to suggest schemes to attract labourers to Trinidad, Burnley, a Council member said that "if Trinidad could increase its labouring population sufficiently, it could supply the rest of the West Indian islands with cattle, rice and corn….Upon serious reflection I am fully convinced that from Asia alone is to be derived the population we require." Thus Burnley one of the first advocates of bringing East Indians to Trinidad to deal with the labour shortage. Opposed in a secret meeting in 1823 to the ending of flogging of African female slaves and the overseers from carrying whips. In 1832 he went to London to fight against emancipation. In 1841 Burnley, as chair of the Agricultural and Immigration Society, held meetings in Trinidad to establish if "the great experiment of Negro emancipation succeeded." Argued that "although slavery has ceased, the angry feelings occasioned by the struggle to effect it, have not yet subsided." Sought to recruit new labourers from Africa, Asia and the southern United States.

  3. Joseph Hume Burnley, son of William Hardin Burnley, joined the Diplomatic Service and became, among other appointments, Charge d'affaires for Dresden. He is in the census of 1881 at 9 Prince of Wales Terrace, London, age 59, "Diplomatic Service Retired", born West Indies, with his wife Emily A. Burnley [nee Emily Adelaide Heath], 3 daughters and 7 servants. He died in 1904, effects £190,713 14s 2d.

See Historical legacies for writings by Burnley.

Sources

  1. William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? A biographical dictionary of British wealth-holders Volume One 1809-1839 (London, Social Affairs Unit, 2009) reference 1823/23. For Hume, see Nicholas Draper, The Price of Emancipation. Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 158. See http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1820-1832/member/hume-joseph-1777-1855 [accessed 05/04/2013] for more on Joseph Hume.

  2. Selwyn Cudjoe, 'Revolution', Trinidad Express, 5 February 2011 available at http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/William_Hardin_Burnley_and_the_Glorious_Revolution-115366244.html [accessed 26/02/2012]. This was written as a riposte to Selwyn Ryan, 'The "Glorious Revolution" of August 1, 1838', Trinidad Express, 2 August 2010 (updated 5 February 2011)](http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/The__Glorious_Revolution___of_August_1__1838-115378409.html) [accessed 26/02/2012].

  3. Email from Caroline Ainscough, 11/04/2013. 1881 census online. National Probate Calendar 1904.

We are grateful for the assistance of Caroline Ainscough in compiling this entry.


Further Information

Absentee?
Transatlantic
Children
William Frederick; Joseph Hume (1821-1904)
Will

“Burnley, William Hardin late of Trinidad and one of HM Council there but then of NYC. Will 4 Dec. 1837. Leg: son William Frederick Burnley of Glasgow, Scotland, merchant; son Joseph Hume Burnley; William Eccles of Glasgow, merchant; William Brackenridge of London, solicitor; nephew Joseph Burnley Hume of London when he is 21; wife Charlotte Burnley; nephews and nieves, children of Joseph Hume and Maria his wife; Mary Augusta Farquhar of NYC, daughter of James Farquhar deceased. Will pr. 2 Jun. 1851 by son and surviving exec. William Frederick Burnley. (PROB 11/2133).”

Source: Peter Wilson Coldham, North American Wills Registered in London, 1611-1857 (Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007) p. 15.

Occupation
Planter

Associated Claims (14)

£1,246 2S 3D
Awardee
£9,260 1S 8D
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£2,088 5S 0D
Awardee
£1,496 18S 9D
Awardee
£3,048 17S 6D
Awardee
£12,064 17S 6D
Awardee
£8,147 16S 8D
Awardee
£3,746 15S 8D
Awardee
£3,827 3S 9D
Awardee
£260 13S 11D
Awardee
£217 7S 8D
Awardee
£2,629 16S 4D
Awardee
£1,569 4S 11D
Awardee (Mortgagee)
£2,442 6S 9D
Awardee

Legacies Summary

Historical (3)

PamphletsAuthor?
Two Letters and an Address to His Excellency Sir R Woodford, Bart, and the Honourable the Board of... 1824 
notes →
Very scarce. Copies are in the National Library of Scotland, University of Glasgow Library and the New York Public...
PamphletsAuthor?
Opinions on Slavery & Emancipation in 1823; referred to in a recent debate in the House of Commons, by Thomas Fowell Buxton, Esq With additional observations, applicable to the Right Hon E. G.... 1833 
notes →
Copy available from Google...
BooksAuthor?
Observations on the Present Condition of the Island of Trinidad, and the actual state of the experiment of Negro... 1842 
notes →
Copy available from Google...

Relationships (2)

Father → Son
Father-in-law → Daughter-in-law