Understanding the individuals in the Encyclopaedia

The Encyclopaedia includes all the awards known to have been made by the Slave Compensation Commission between 1834 and 1845. The Encyclopaedia includes all claimants, and in addition all unsuccessful claimants identified as living in Britain.

For people identified as living in Britain in the 1830s, it includes biographical detail. For all others, assumed to be resident in the colonies, it contains in most cases only their names and details of the awards in which they are named. Where we know that residents in the colonies came to Britain after the 1830s, we have also sought to trace biographical detail.


Some were, for example, executors or trustees for slave-owners, chosen either because they were relatives of the slave-owners or because they were members of the professions such as lawyers or clergymen. We have specified the roles where known for all people living in Britain in the 1830s or subsequently. Next to each entry for which there is biographical detail, you will see a description of their role. The roles can be thought of as divided into three types: owners, beneficiaries or agents. Each type implies different relationships to the enslaved people in the award.


The unqualified beneficial owner.
Under the system of entail, which passed estates to the next generation but limited their right to sell those estates and nominated the successors in the following generation, a tenant-for-life was entitled to the income from the estate for his or her lifetime but could only sell the estate by obtaining a private Act of Parliament to break the entail.
Tenant-in-tail or remainderman
The man or woman specified in the entail as the next beneficiary after the tenant-for-life.
A creditor who had foreclosed on a mortgage to take possession of an estate and take its income but whose tenure was subject to the right to redeem the mortgage (the 'equity of redemption') held by the original owner.


The beneficiary of a specific lump-sum bequest secured on an estate and the enslaved people or under the terms of a will.
The beneficiary of a specified annual income secured on an estate and the enslaved people under the terms of a will or marriage settlement. If the income was not paid in a given year the arrears accumulated.
Residuary legatee
The beneficiary of the balance of a deceased's estate after all prior debts and specific bequests had been honoured.
The next of kin (closest blood relative) where a person had died intestate (without making a valid will).
A creditor who had secured his claim on the estate and the enslaved people on it by way of a deed of mortgage entered into with the owner. A mortgagee had prior claim on the compensation money over the owner.
Judgement creditor
A creditor who had secured a debt on the estate by means of a court judgement (again a judgement creditor had priority over the owner in claiming compensation).
A person to whom a financial claim (including in some cases the compensation money) has been legally made over, perhaps to settle a debt incurred elsewhere.


Executor or executrix
A man or woman appointed under the terms of a will by the maker of the will (the testator) to carry out the terms of the will. Sometimes also a beneficiary of the will, especially if a family member such as widow or brother or sister.
Administrator or administratrix
In Britain, the person granted control, by letters of administration from the courts, over a deceased person's estate where that person had died intestate. In Jamaica, the local agent or representative of the executors of a will made in Britain were also referred to as the administrator. In some colonial jurisdictions, an official appointee served as curator of intestate estates.
A person appointed under the terms of a legal construction of a trust to carry out the purposes of the trust. The trust might have been established under a will, a marriage settlement or for the benefit of creditors. In addition under the rules of the Commissioners of Slave Compensation, trustees were appointed where the compensation monies 'belonged to or [were] vested in any married woman, infant, lunatic, or person of insane or unsound mind, or persons beyond the seas, or labouring under any other legal or material disability... for the protection of whose interests it may be necessary to make provision.' A trustee appointed under a will was sometimes referred to as a devisee-in-trust.
The person legally empowered to act on behalf of a minor (a child who had not reached the age of majority stipulated in a will or similar legal document, normally 21 but sometimes set by a testator's will at 25 or even 28).
The person legally empowered to act on behalf of another person who had been judged incapable by a Commission of Lunacy.
Assignee in bankruptcy
A person appointed by the creditors as a body empowered to administer the assets of a bankrupt individual or firm on behalf of creditors [6. Geo IV c. 16]. This role is more recently fulfilled by a trustee in bankruptcy. The assignee might well be a creditor himself or herself.
Official assignee
An assignee by the bankruptcy court to work alongside the creditors' assignee in bankruptcy. These were permanent officials who were required to have had previous commercial experience (Stat 1 & 2 Wil IV c. 56).
The person responsible to the court for the protection of the assets of an estate that was subject to the proceedings of the Court of Chancery in Britain or in the colonies.
The title given to the person carrying out the functions of the Receiver in certain jurisdictions, notably Scotland and British Guiana.