William Senhouse

1741 - 1800


Slave-owner on Barbados. Son of Humphrey Senhouse (the founder of Maryport,) and father of Humphrey Fleming Senhouse, both of whom have entries in the ODNB, as 'land owner and port founder' and 'naval officer' respectively.

  1. William Senhouse, Surveyor General of Customs and planter, was born at Netherhall, Cumberland, 16 January 1741, the third son of Humphrey and Mary Senhouse. Educated at Ellenborough School and then in Cockermouth where he was prepared for the Royal Navy. In naval service 1755-69. In 1770 appointed to the customs service in the West Indies and from 1771-1799 lived in Barbados. In 1772: married Elizabeth Ward Wood, daughter and heiress of Samson Wood, planter of Barbados. They had 3 daughters and 8 sons. Thanks to the influence of Sir James Lowther, MP for Carlisle, Senhouse was appointed Surveyor General of the Customs in Barbados and the Windward and Leeward Islands. In post from 30 May 1770 until 1787, when the office as abolished. “…Senhouse purchased a sugar plantation and combined his customs office with the rural life of a gentleman planter. He also received a power of attorney to superintend Sir James Lowther's plantation in Barbados.” He paid £18,000 for 'The Grove' plantation in St Philip's. “From a run-down condition, he improved the plantation until it became a productive property with a comfortable house for his growing family.” His son, Humphrey Fleming Senhouse, recorded that the plantation was generally in profit from 1787 until Senhouse’s death in 1800.

  2. Will of William Senhouse of St Philip Barbados [made in 1798] proved 26/11/1800. He left the Grove estate and the enslaved people on it to his wife Elizabeth for life to support her and the education of their children, with consent for her to sell the estate if appropriate, and for the estate if retained to pass to their children share and share alike but adjusted for the £1000 he had settled on his daughter Mary Ward Senhouse on her marriage to John Barrow, with continent remainder to his brother Sir Joseph Senhouse and then to his brother Humphrey Senhouse.

  3. William's brother, Joseph Senhouse (1743-1829), travelled with him to Barbados and then, on 21 July 1771, left William on the island and went to Roseau, Dominica, to take up his new appointment as Collector of Customs. Appointed Comptroller of Customs at Roseau, Dominica in 1774. After a year's leave of absence in England, he returned to the West Indies in 1776 and was appointed by his brother William to the Collectorship at Bridgetown, Barbados. Returned to England for good, August 1779. After 1782 became Sir James Lowther's political manager at Carlisle, elected mayor of the city and through Lowther's influence received a knighthood.


Winchester, Angus J. L. 2004 "Senhouse, Humphrey (1705–1770), landowner and port founder." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 21 Jul. 2018. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-50735; Laughton, J. K. 2012 "Senhouse, Sir Humphrey Fleming (bap. 1781, d. 1841), naval officer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 21 Jul. 2018. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-25087;

  1. Richard B. Sheridan, 'Introduction to the microfilm collection of Material relating to the West Indies from the Senhouse Papers, 1762-1831 (in Carlisle Record Office) (1977): Text available here. The collection includes his Recollections of William Senhouse (1741-1800) which also appears in the Journal of the Barbados Museum Historical Society [copy sent by email, Michael Turnball, 28/07/2018].

  2. PROB 11/1350/195.

  3. Sheridan, 'Introduction to the microfilm collection of Material relating to the West Indies from the Senhouse Papers, 1762-1831 (in Carlisle Record Office) (1977).

We are grateful to Michael Turnball for his assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Elizabeth Ward Wood
3 daughters; 8 sons

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
1774 [SY] - 1800 [LA] → Owner

Relationships (6)

Husband → Wife
Father → Son
Father → Son
Father → Son
Son-in-law → Father-in-law