Lewis Celeste Lecesne

1798 - 22nd Nov 1847

Claimant or beneficiary

Biography

Lewis or Louis Celeste Lecesne was the free man of colour expelled with John Escoffery from Jamaica to St Domingo in 1824, then finding their way to Britain where the case was taken up by Stephen Lushington and became subject of a libel suit arising from John Murray's publication of George W. Bridges writings about the case. His birth (whether in St Domingo c. 1796 or in Jamaica in 1798) was an object of contention at the time of his expulsion. He was later a merchant of Fenchurch Street.

  1. Baptism of his son Stephen Lushington Macaulay Lecesne 25/06/1834 St Matthew Bethnal Green.

  2. Commisson of bankruptcy against Lewis Celeste Lecesne of 11 Fenchurch Street 30/10/1843.

  3. He is recorded as owning slaves in Kingston up to the 1820 slave registers, and is probably the Lewis Lecesne receiving compensation for two enslaved in March 1836 (Kingston No. 2392).

  4. On Friday, May 21 1824 Stephen Lushington presented a petition on behalf of Louis Celeste Lecesne and John Escoffery, described as "freemen of colour, natives of Kingston, in the island of Jamaica, where they had constantly resided; that they were married to women, also natives of that island, and had each four children-that they were engaged in business as liquor-merchants- that they held the rank of serjeants in the militia, in which they have served since the year 1813; and that they possessed property in the island, consisting of houses, land and slaves". The petition describes Lescene and Escoffery undergoing examination before magistrates so as to prove they were "British-born subjects", despite them producing "certificates of their baptism, and other necessary documents" on the 7th of October they "were apprehended, and carried to prison or the purpose, as they were informed, of being summarily re-moved from the island of Jamaica, as aliens and dangerous persons; but a writ of habeas corpus having been issued, on their application to the grand court of the island, their case underwent a full and minute investigation before Mr. Chief-justice Scarlett, and the two assistant judges, Mills and West, on the 25th of the same month; and the sentence pronounced by the court was, that the petitioners were both British-born subjects". Despite being discharged "on the 29th of last November, their store or shop was surrounded by marshalmen and constables, the petitioners were suddenly seized under an alleged order of his excellency the governor, on the same charge as that on which they had formerly been arrested...forcibly dragged from their families and homes, without being allowed time even to see their children, and hurried on board his majesty's guardship the Serapis." From there they were transported to St. Domingo, both being exiled. It had been said that Lecesne and Escoffery had sold arms to an insurrection in St George and that the two of them kept correspondence with people in Haiti for treasonable purposes.

  5. Submitted a letter of correction to The Times regarding the proceedings of Stephen Lushington reading out the petition in the House of Commons : "Sir Several errors having accidentally appeared in the report of Dr. Lushington's speech in the House of Commons last night, when our case was debated, we are very desirous that the same may be corrected, as it is most essential to our interests that the facts should be accurate. We beg, therefore, you will be good enough, by inserting this letter, to give the following corrections, which are in exact conformity to the truth and Dr. Lushington's statement: A white father could not, previous to the act of Assembly of 1813, bequeath to his coloured child more than 2000l, The last petition of the free people of colour was presented to the House of Assembly in the year 1823, not 1822. The denomination of the four classes of that people are Mulatto, Quadroon, Mestee, and Mestifine. In the year 1814, we obtained certain privileges as British subjects, and not in 1815, as appears in your report. Your statement of the dispute which existed between Mr. Barnes and Lecesne's late father, should be "that it was decided in favour of Mr. Barnes by the Governor of Jamaica; but afterwards submitted to the King in Council, who pronounced in favour of Lecesne." It is erroneously printed, "that an application to the Supreme Court on our part was signed by no less than five magistrates; and among others by a member of council." It should have been, that a petition was drawn up, and forwarded to the Governor, signed by thirty individuals, among whom were five or six magistrates, a member of the House of Assembly, and Mr. Kennedy, the Provost Marshal- General: to five or six of whom we stand indebted; but being in account current, which not having time to be furnished with previous to our deportation, the precise amount we are unable to state, in addition to sums of 251, or 301. It is incorrect to state that Mr. Hall appeared as one of our bail before the Chief Justice; the six gentlemen who attended on that occasion were freeholders and free people of colour; though, we have no doubt, had Mr. Hall been solicited, he would have readily afforded us any assistance in his power. The name of the slave whose evidence was received against us after our deportation is erroneously printed- he is called Jean Baptist Correberande. Free-coloured aliens are alone liable to be tried on slave evidence, according to the consolidated slave law, which does not apply to coloured free natives of the island. One of the negroes only, who was incarcerated by Mr. Hector Mitchell, has arrived in this country. There are a few other mistakes in your report, but not of sufficient consequence to occupy more of yoour valuable paper: by giving publicity to what we have stated, you will particularily oblige, Sir, Your obedient humble servants, L.C Lecesne. JNO. Escoffery. London, June 17, 1825."

Sources

  1. Ancestry.com, London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 [database online].

  2. London Gazette, Issue 20274, 31/10/1843, p. 3531.

  3. Ancestry.com. Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834 [database on-line].

  4. The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time (Great Britain, Parliament, 1825) pp. 796-804.

  5. The Times , Issue 12684. 20/06/1825, p 3.

We are grateful to Rita Lamb and Roger Bamkin for help in compiling this entry.


Further Information

Absentee?
British/Irish
Spouse
Ann Rose
Children
Stephen Lushington Macaulay Lecesne (1834-)
Occupation
Merchant

Associated Claims (2)

£124 18S 3D
Awardee
£260 13S 11D
Awardee (Trustee)

Legacies Summary

Commercial (2)

General Investment
 
 
Firm Investment
Lewis Celeste Lecesne
West India merchant  
 

Addresses (1)

11 Fenchurch Street, City of London, Middlesex, London, England