Price Watkis

1762 - 1835

Claimant or beneficiary


  1. Born Shrewsbury, Shropshire 1762, son of John Watkis and his wife Elizabeth Price. In Jamaica by 1786 when he married Elizabeth (possibly nee Bulckley). Brother of Joseph Watkis (q.v.) from whom he inherited a half share in Greenwich Park, St Ann, Jamaica. There were 5 children of Price Watkis baptised at Greenwich Park 21/04/1802: John (born 1790), William (1792), Jane (1798), James (1800) and Price (1802). At the same time (and presumably the same place) was baptised Elizabeth Watkis ("a young woman of c[o]lour born on the 27th of March 1778"). At least the youngest three children are probably the children of Elizabeth. She is named as his wife in his will written in 1834 and appears in the 1851 census age 73 (so born c. 1778) at St Johns Hill, Shrewsbury, with her grandson John S.[sic] Watkis, age 15 (this is probably John Linton Watkis, son of James Bulckley Watkis, born 29/06/1835). The only daughter Jane Watkis (1798-18) married in 1824 to Rev. Richard Fletcher, who appears in Price Watkis's will as his son-in-law. He served in the St Ann militia in 1805. At the time of his death he was living in Shrewsbury at the Abbey Foregate, with his wife Elizabeth. He is recorded as resident at this address in the 1828 Pigot's Directory of Shropshire.

  2. Upon death bequeathed his share in Greenwich Park to his sons Price and James Buckley Watkis as tenants in common. Revealingly, Watkis still specified that 'all slaves, cattle and stock' also pass to his sons, despite first drafting his will a year after the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act (1833) and 3 months after its commencement (August 1834). His property in Shrewsbury, along with all household items, was left to his wife Elizabeth Watkis for her natural life and then to his son James and son-in-law Rev. Richard Fletcher of Manchester as tenants in common and one undivided third to his eldest son Price. The rest and remainder of his personal estate was divided between his two sons and son-in-law. James Watkis and Richard Fletcher were appointed executors. In a codicil written in December 1834, a month after the original will, he added Price Watkis as an executor and noted that having given all household goods and furniture to his son James, he now bequeathed the sum of £600 to his wife Elizabeth. She died in Shrewsbury in 1860.

  3. Despite being mixed-race both sons were educated at Shrewsbury School and grew-up in England. Price left the school in 1821 and James in 1824. Price Watkis subsequently qualified as a barrister and returned to Kingston, Jamaica, where in 1832 he was the first person of colour to be elected to the Assembly as member for Kingston. He drew much support from free people of colour and actively campaigned for the abolition of slavery. The Watkis brothers were known prominent anti-slavery campaigners and missionaries in Jamaica, being mentioned by Henry Bleby and to Henry Whitley in their accounts of the 1831 Baptist War. In 1844, Boston abolitionist Robert Benjamin Lewis recalled Watkis as: 'The distinguished Price Watkis, a mulatto, recently deceased, for the last ten years of his life was at the head of the Jamaica bar, and for a long time a distinguished member of the assembly'. He returned to Britain in the early 1830s and became an active supporter of the abolitionist cause. In 1831 he supported the Wesleyan Methodists petitioning campaign to end colonial slavery and publicly spoke in favour of Grey's ministry and the reform bill in the same year. Price Watkis Jnr died in Shrewsbury, 12/3/1836. In his will he left his estate to his brother and sister.

  4. "In the abolitionist cause in Jamaica he [Price Watkis jun.) was a supporter of and supported by his friend Augustus Hardin Beaumont."

  5. James Bulckley Watkis became a solicitor based in Shrewsbury. Having married Hannah Linton in 1831, the couple had 8 children (6 sons and 2 daughters). Having inherited his brother's share in Greenwich Park, he continued the controversial practice of paying his apprentices considerably more than other estate owners. As a result many apprentices in the area went on strike to demand parity with those on Watkis' estate. Bagshaw's Shropshire Directory (1851) gives James Bulckley Watkis, Esquire, solicitor, Belmont, resident at the Abbey Foregate. At least 5 of his sons were educated at Shrewsbury School and they all then emigrated across the empire: one to Australia, two to Canada, one to India, another to New Zealand and one became a planter in Jamaica.


  1. Will of Joseph Watkis, PROB 11/1336., England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database online]; Jamaica, Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1879 [database online];, Shropshire baptisms [database online]; Militia of Jamaica, 1805 Jamaica Almanac, available through Jamaican Family Search:; Families from Registers, Jamaican Family Search:; 1828 Pigot's Directory of Shropshire, p. 690, available through

  2. Will of Price Watkis Snr, TNA/PROB 11/1848/425

  3. Rev. J. E. Auden, Shrewsbury School register, 1734-1908 (Oswestry, 1909), p. 32 & 34; Kathleen E. A. Monteith & Glen Richards, Jamaica in Slavery and Freedom: History, Heritage and Culture (Kingston, 2002), pp.308-11; The Abolitionist, Vol.1 (1833), p. 46. Available through Googlebooks:; Christer Petley, Slaveholders in Jamaica: Colonial Society and Culture During the Era of Abolition (Oxford, 2009), p. 76 & 124; Henry Whitley, Three months in Jamaica in 1832 (London, 1837), p. 22; Henry Bleby, Death Struggles of Slavery: Being a Narrative of Facts and Incidents, which Occured in a British Colony, During the Two Years Immediately Preceding Negro Emancipation (London, 1853), p. 34 & 294; Robert Benjamin Lewis, The Light and Truth (Boston, 1844), p. 306; 'Borough of Shrewsbury' in D.R. Fisher ed., The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832 (Cambridge, 2009):; Will of Price Watkis Jnr. TNA/PROB 11/1862/293.

  4. Northern Liberator, 28 April 1838 [Memoir of Beaumont.]

  5. Rev. J. E. Auden, Shrewsbury School register, 1734-1908 (Oswestry, 1909); Fully referenced Bulckley Watkis family tree available through Ancestry; Bagshawe's History, Gazetteer & Directory of Shropshire (1851) p. 113; Howard Temperley ed., After Slavery: Emancipation and its Discontents (London, 2000), p. 141. For the children of James Bulckley Watkis in the Shrewsbury School Register: Pryce Bulckley p. 135 ("died in Queensland, Aug. 1, 1880"); William Henry p. 135 ("Died in India, Nov., 1868"); John Linton p. 151 ("Died in British Colombia, October, 1884"); James Bulckley p. 162 ("left 1858; formerly Solicitor, Shrewsbury; afterwards Planter, Jamaica. Died there, Mary 3, 1877"); [Edward] Parker p. 151 ("New Zealand Civil Service; Clerk in Office of the Public Trustee"); the youngest son, Richard Fletcher, does not appear in the register, but died in Ontario in 1911 (National Probate Calendar 1911, Findagrave memorial number 91603971.

We are grateful to Michael Watkiss and Geoffrey Betton for their help compiling this entry.

Further Information

Elizabeth Bulckley
Jane Watkis, Price Watkis, James Bulckley Watkis
A will but no further details

Associated Claims (1)

£1,316 8s 4d

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1832 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner

Relationships (4)

Nephew → Uncle
Uncle → Niece

Addresses (1)

Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, West Midlands, England