Hugh McCalmont

1765 - 1838

Claimant or beneficiary


The biography of Hugh McCalmont, awarded compensation as owner of Hope & Experiment in Berbice, British Guiana, has been pieced together from fragments and remains tentative, but potentially provides an important link between the slave-economy and the City of London in the mid and late 19th century. The Hugh McCalmont awarded compensation for the enslaved people on Hope & Experiment in British Guiana was connected with the London firm of McCalmont Brothers (almost certainly as father of the two eponymous brothers), which grew to be a major merchant bank: two of its partners, the brothers Robert and Hugh McCalmont, were among the richest men dying in Britain in the 19th century, leaving £1.4MM and £3.1MM respectively in personalty in 1883 and 1887.

  1. 'M'Calmont, Brothers & Co. (late W. Inglis & Co), Merchts'. first appear in the trade directories at 3 Crown Court, Philpot Lane in 1836. Robert M'Calmont signed at the National Debt Office for Hugh McCalmont's compensation under one of his awards, British Guiana no. 218.

  2. A partially sourced family tree on identifies Hugh McCalmont 1765-1838 as having been born in Abbylands [sic], the son of Robert McCalmont (1725-1775) and Margaret 'Mary' Mumford, living in Berbice in 1818 and 1819, dying at Abbeylands, Belfast, and as the father, among others, of Robert McCalmont (1808-1883) and Hugh McCalmont (1810-1887) and the Rev. Thomas McCalmont (d. 1872). It is not clear that Hugh McCalmont was in Berbice in 1818 and 1819: the slave registration was made by his attorney. However, Robert (1808-1883) and Hugh (1810-1887) were certainly brothers of the Rev. Thomas McCalmont and equally certainly the partners in McCalmont Brothers, being identified as his brothers and as of 3 Crown Court Philpot Lane when acting as executors to the Rev. Thomas in 1872: in turn, the Rev. Thomas McAlmont was certainly the son of Hugh McCalmont of Carnmoney Co. Antrim.

  3. The will of Hugh McCalmont of Carnmoney Co. Antrim was proved 05/12/1838. The will (dated 01/10/1835) refers both to the 'sum of fifty thousand pounds be it more or less which I have lent my sons Robert and Hugh McCalmont to form a capital at their credit in the firm of McCalmont Brothers in the City of London in which firm my said sons are partners' (which was to remain available to them until it was required to meet the terms of his will at 4% p.a.) and to his property in the colony of Berbice South America, which (without any specific reference to the Hope & Experiment estate) he authorised to be sold. The draft will Jan. 1833 in the National Library of Ireland Dublin specifies him as Hugh McCalmont of Abbeylands, Carnmoney, Co. Antrim.

  4. Hugh McCalmont (1810-1887) left his fortune to his great-nephew Harry Leslie Blundell McCalmont (1861-1902), MP (but in the ODNB as 'racehorse owner'), the son of Hugh Barklie Blundell McCalmont (1836-1888) and grandson of the Rev. Thomas McCalmont. Another son of the Rev. Thomas McCalmont was Frederick Haynes McCalmont, in the ODNB as 'statistican and barrister', and a third, Alfred Leighton McCalmont (b. 1851), was mayor of Southampton (the latter two were half-brothers of Hugh Barklie Blundell McCalmont). Frederick Haynes McCalmont is described in the ODNB as 'a relative of Hugh McCalmont Cairns, first Earl Cairns and Lord Chancellor', without specifying the relationship, on which the entry on Cairns himself is silent. The entry on Cairns does allude to 'the financial support of his wealthy brother-in-law with whom he lived in Eaton Place, Westminster': in 1841 Hugh Cairns aged 21 'B.A.' was living with Robert McCalmont aged 31 merchant and his wife Margaret aged 30 at 30 Eaton Square. Robert McAlmont had married Margaret Cairns.


  1. PO London Directory 1836; PO London Directory 1834 showed (p. 233) W. Inglis & co. 3 Crown court, Philpot Lane.

  2. Richardson Family Tree, This tree is referred to by David Alston, Slaves & Highlanders, who acknowledges the difficulty of distinguishing between two Hugh McCalmonts active c. 1823, when one Hugh McCalmont in Demerara wrote to another in Belfast about the suppression of the 1823 insurrection of the enslaved (it is hard although not impossible to reconcile these correspondents to Hugh McCalmont senior 1765-1838 and his son Hugh 1810-1887); National Probate Calendar 1872;, Oxford University Alumni, 1500-1886, 1715-1886 Vol. III entry for McCalmont, Rev. Thomas. The same source shows James McCalmont '4th son of Hugh of Belfast' matriculating Magdalen College in 1839: this is consistent with the Richardson family tree, which shows James as the sixth but by 1839 4th surviving son of Hugh McCalmont of Abbeylands.

  3. PROB 11/1904/160.

  4. ODNB online, M.J. Huggins, 'McCalmont, Harry Leslie Blundelll (1861-1902), racehorse owner'; ODNB online, H. C. G. Matthew, 'McCalmont, Frederick Haynes (1846-1880), statistician and barrister'; ODNB online, David Steele, 'Cairns, Hugh McCalmont, first Earl Cairns (1819-1885), lord chancellor.'

Further Information

Name in compensation records
Hugh M'Calmont
Elizabeth Allen Barklie
10 children including Robert (1808-1883) and Hugh (1810-1887)

Associated Claims (4)

£7,244 5S 2D
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£14,639 15S 10D
£7,300 3S 10D
Unsuccessful claimant (consensual) (Sequestrator)
£4,261 15S 3D
Awardee (Sequestrator)

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Firm Investment
McCalmont Brothers
Merchant Banker  
notes →
£50,000 lent to Robert and Hugh McCalmont by their father as their...

Addresses (1)

Abbeylands, Carnmoney, Belfast, Co. Antrim, Ireland