Caleb Dickenson of Knockpatrick

???? - 21st Jan 1821


Co-founder with his relative Robert Hugh Munro of the Munro and Dickenson charity that continues in Jamaica as the Munro and Dickenson Trust. Secondary material states that Robert Hugh Munro and Caleb Dickenson were both free men of colour, and that Robert Hugh Munro was the uncle of Caleb Dickenson. The latter's connection to the Quaker family of Dickinson in Somerset (q.v. under Ezekiel, Caleb, and Vickris Dickinson and their descendants) is as yet unknown, although the naming practices and the adjacency of property ownership in St Elizabeth are strongly supportive of such a link. Caleb Dickenson of Knockpatrick is also described in some sources as the grandson of the early settler Capt. Francis Dickinson, grandfather of Ezekiel, Caleb and Vickris Dickinson, but if this is so he would have outlived his fellow grandchildren (born 1711, 1716 and 1718 respectively) by 20-40 years.

  1. He was called “Dr Dickenson” when, in 1827, the Vestry of St Elizabeth voted £500 to provide monuments in the church at Black River for the late Hugh Munro esq and him “in respect for their munificent and charitable bequests for the benefit of the poor of this parish”. “Dr Dickinson of Knockpatrick” was claimed by an enslaved person in the St Andrew’s Workhouse to be her trustee in 1811, and an enslaved person of “Dr Dickenson” was detained in the St Elizabeth Workhouse in 1818. These references seem to bear out claims that Dickenson “was sent to be educated at Catterick and studied medicine” and practised as a doctor (in St Andrew and St Thomas): see, eg, The Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame article of 1/5/2016 at

  2. Caleb Dickinson (sic), MD, was author of An Inquiry into the Nature and Proximate Causes of Fever, (Edinburgh, 1784, and London, 1785).

  3. That he was “of colour” is supported in Dr Lushington’s 12/06/1827 speech in the House of Commons when, concerning wealth accumulated among “the brown population” in Jamaica, he gave the example “a Mr Dickenson died worth £120,000”.

  4. In 1818 Caleb Dickenson of Knockpatrick advertised for sale his one-eighth moiety of Alligator Pond Wharf.

  5. He was buried at Knockpatrick in January 1821. His remains were removed to Munro College and buried under the chapel floor in 1931.

  6. Administration of the will of Caleb Dickenson of the parish of Manchester in the county of Middlesex Jamaica [made in 1820] granted 09/12/1826. 'As I do not wish to divide my property of Knockpatrick and I second the intentions of my worthy relative Robert Hugh Munro', he placed his entire estate in trust. He instructed his trustees to send 400 guineas to be distributed among the poorest clergymen living within 10 miles of Catterick in Yorkshire; he also instructed them to sell to John McPherson (himself one of those trustees) at less than half their value McPherson's five reputed children by Joan Dickinson 'my property', but the said Joan Dickinson is to continue as part of my estate as before. He then left a silver cup to be competed for annually over the Lacovia course by at least three gentlemen each subscribing 100 guineas [in a codicil he revoked this as he had given the same silverware to a church in Manchester for celebrating the Holy Eucharist]. He left £20 p.a. to his housekeeper Margaretta Campbell Dickinson. He said that the greater part of Knockpatrick, Crop House, Epsom Downs, Wards Bay and the enslaved people upon them were his sole right, he instructed his trustees to transfer the produce of those estates to the vestry of St Elizabeth to accomplish the purposes of 'my relative' Robert Hugh Munro's will. In a letter by way of codicil he pledged to James Swaby, one of his trustees, all his personalty in Great Britain, which included £10,000 in the funds.

  7. Margaret Campbell Dickinson was manumitted 20/09/1821, as directed in the will of Caleb Dickenson (proved 08/05/1821.


E.g. A History of Munro College and Hampton High School, located in Jamaica, in the parish of St Elizabeth, extracts of which were consulted at [accessed 11/01/2016].

  1. Royal Gazette (Jamaica), 03/11/1827, 14/09/1811, 19/09/1818. For the quote about Dickenson's medical experience see Jamaica Observer 01/05/2016, 'The Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame', [accessed 04/05/2020].

  2. Caledonian Mercury, 20/12/1784.

  3. Royal Gazette, 04/08/1827.

  4. Ibid, 25/7/1818.

  5., Jamaican parish registers, Manchester, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1816-1836 p. 256; 'The Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame'.

  6. PROB 11/1719/170.

  7. 'List of Jamaican Manumissions of 1825 in the Public Record Office' p. 2,

We are grateful to Paul Hitchings for his assistance with compiling this entry.

Associated Claims (2)

£5,509 17s 11d
Previous owner (not making a claim)
£1,322 19s 0d
Previous owner (not making a claim)

Associated Estates (4)

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
1809 [EA] - 1821 [EY] → Owner
1821 [SY] - 1839 [LA] → Previous owner
1809 [EA] - 1821 [EY] → Owner
1823 [EA] - 1828 [LA] → Previous owner