John Julius Angerstein

1732 - 22nd Jan 1823


Biography

A key figure in the development of the insurance market in the late 18th century, and an art connoisseur whose collection formed the basis of the National Gallery in London. His connections with slavery and slave-ownership remain inadequately researched. His entry in the ODNB makes no reference whatsoever to any involvement in the slave-economy and does not identify the slavery connections of his second wife, the widow and legatee of the St Kitts slave-owner Thomas Lucas of Lee (q.v). By contrast, on the BBC's website 'British History in Depth' James Walvin said: 'The National Gallery was set up with a collection of 38 pictures in the Pall Mall home of John Julius Angerstein. Born in St Petersburg, Angerstein made his wealth as an underwriter with Lloyds, and much of that business was concentrated in the insurance of slave ships in the Atlantic. Angerstein also owned plantations in the Caribbean. Like many others, he invested his money into property and luxuries - a grand home in Pall Mall and a collection of the finest private art.' According to Anthony Twist, however, Angerstein was trustee rather than owner of enslaved people and estates in Grenada, and immediately sold the 'slave-property' on St Kitts that Eliza Lucas brought to their marriage. Angerstein appeared in the records of the Slave Compensation process as having been previously an interested party for an award in Antigua probably as a trustee of the London financier Godschall Johnson, as well as in the Slave Registers for two estates in Grenada. The role and connections of Angerstein and Lloyd's of London to the insurance of the slave-trade have also yet to be systematically explored.

As a result of the conflicting accounts of Angerstein's involvement in slave-ownership and the lack of information at present about his connections through marine insurance to the slave-trade, the National Gallery and LBS have initiated discussions (May 2018) about a collaborative effort to research and fully document both areas of involvement, the fruits of which would be added to this entry as they emerge.

Sources

Sarah Palmer, ‘Angerstein, John Julius (c.1732–1823)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004); http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition/building_britain_gallery_05.shtml [accessed 22/05/2018]; The National Gallery's own website previously said: 'He amassed a fortune partly from income generated by his large slave estates in Grenada and partly from a career in the City of London. He helped to develop Lloyd’s as a great insurance house, becoming its chairman between 1790 and 1796' http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/history/collectors-and-benefactors/john-julius-angerstein [accessed 28/08/2013 and 28/07/2014]; Anthony Twist, 'Widening circles in finance, philanthropy and the arts: a study of the life of John Julius Angerstein, 1735-1823' (Phd Thesis, University of Amsterdam, 2002), pp. 28-29 and p. 46; T71/1622 Antigua claim no. 387 (Holly & Savannah). Anthony Twist's analysis of Angerstein's connections with the Grenada estates and enslaved people is as follows:

'The story goes back to 1768 when his friend and client George Peters asked for his help. Some time before, Israel Wilkes, Angerstein's proposer for the Society of Arts, had been a partner in a trade venture which had failed: George Peters was the leading creditor and Edward Payne and John Wilkinson, both London merchants, together with Angerstein, were invited to act as trustees for the creditors. The assets consisted of two sugar estates, one coffee estate, one former coffee estate and two parcels of woodland in Grenada; and the trustees' task was to save what was possible for the creditors, and, after they had been paid, to recover something for Wilkes and his partners. Angerstein was in high powered financial company: Peters had been a Director of the Bank of England since 1766 and Edward Payne since 1756. In 1771, probably inadvisedly, the trustees mortgaged the estate for £12,000 to Daniel Giles and David Richards, which had the effect of bringing in another set of interested parties whose rights had to be catered for; and they too were no amateurs since Daniel Giles was also a Bank Director and, like Peters and Payne, would in due course have a two year term as Governor. In 1775 sale particulars were prepared for the six plantations: Beaulieu sugar estate, with 381 acres and 250 slaves; Thuilleries sugar estate with 402 acres and 120 slaves; Mondesir coffee estate with 50 acres and 35 slaves; Capitole, a former coffee estate of 139 acres; and two parcels of woodland of 288 and 240 acres. It appears that the latter four lots were sold, but the trustees continued to be responsible for the two sugar estates, and thus for the slaves employed there. In the course of time Payne and Wilkinson both died, leaving Angerstein as sole trustee; and George Peters also died. Daniel Giles took over Richards's share of the mortgage on the latter's death and himself died in 1800. Angerstein spent the last 23 years of his life as the only survivor of the parties originally involved and therefore was, by default, responsible for a plantation all of the time from 1768, when, save perhaps to a handful of Quakers, slavery was a fact of life; through the years of anti-Slave Trade campaigning led by Wilberforce and others, culminating in its abolition in 1807; and until his own death in 1823 a little before the abolition of slavery itself. To complicate matters still further, around 1800 the two plantations were put under the management of a man named Hay, who ten years later returned to England claiming that a large amount was due to him from the trustees; and after arbitration it was agreed that nearly £13,000 was owing, which, of course, the trustees did not have. To satisfy Hay's claim, the Thuilleries plantation, valued at £14,500, was handed over to him for £1,814, and Angerstein, precise to the last, paid £1,214 to Giles's estate and was holding £600 as a trustee at his death, 55 years after he had taken on the responsibility. Nothing is known about Angerstein's relations with the earlier managers of the plantations, and the account of the trusteeship depends on a report written by the solicitors acting on behalf of Angerstein's executors, who were led, appropriately enough, by Andrew Thomson's grandson. There is no surviving comment by Angerstein himself on the question of slavery, but he did not own, nor is there any indication that he benefited from, the Grenada property. He served on several charity committees with Wilberforce, who would hardly have welcomed a slave-trader as a fellow-member.'


Further Information

Absentee?
British/Irish
Spouse
(1) Anne Muilman (2) Eliza Lucas nee Payne
Children
With (1) John, Juliana
Occupation
Insurance broker and art collector
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Estates (3)

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
1768 [EA] - 1817 [LA] → Trustee
Trustee

Named, apparently as having been a trustee, in details of the counterclaims for Folly & Savanna, T71/1622 Antigua no. 387.

1768 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Trustee

Anthony Twist, 'Widening circles in finance, philanthropy and the arts: a study of the life of John Julius Angerstein, 1735-1823' (Phd Thesis, University of Amsterdam, 2002), pp. 28-29 and p. 46.


Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Chairman
Lloyd's of London
Insurance  
 

Cultural (4)

Prints, Drawings and Paintings
Gillray, James; One of six sketches made for the caricature Connoisseurs examining a collection of George Morland's; First idea for the principal figure, said to be John Julius Angerstein;... 
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V & A: Prints, Drawings & Paintings
Drawing, Portrait head of a young man, possibly William Lock III of Norbury (1804-1832), by Sir Thomas... 
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V & A: Prints, Drawings & Paintings
Watercolour by Frederick Mackenzie depicting the principal room of the original National Gallery. Great Britain, ca.... 
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V & A: Prints, Drawings & Paintings
Drawing by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Portrait, probably of Lady Susan North, c.1815. Graphite and red and black... 
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Relationships (1)

Other relatives
Notes →
John Julius Angerstein married Eliza, the widow of Thomas Lucas of Lee. ...

Addresses (2)

103 Pall Mall, London, Middlesex, London, England
Woodlands, Blackheath, Kent, London, England