Cary Helyar

1634 - 5th Jul 1672


A younger son from a gentry family in East Coker, Somerset, Cary Helyar arrived in Jamaica in 1664 at the age of 30. He had spent the previous three years trading with Spanish ports in the Caribbean, in partnership with his elder brother William, and travelled to Jamaica in the hope of finding a more permanent base from which to make his fortune. Initial profits for Cary Heylar and Company came from trading in enslaved people and exporting Jamaican produce. From 1669 he began aquiring land adjacent to Governor Modyford's plantation at Sixteen Mile Walk (now in St Thomas-in-the-East) and he called his plantation Bybrook. He pursuaded his brother William to become an equal partner: Cary would develop the land at Bybrook and William would ship supplies and labour from England. Their initial plans to grow cacao were derailed by a cacao blight in 1670-1671 and Cary turned his attention to sugar cultivation.

The costs of establishing a sugar plantation were twice what Cary had initially quoted to his brother. By June 1692 they had invested £1,858 in the property, £1,205 of which was spent purchasing 55 enslaved people. William provided much of the extra capital.

Cary died suddenly in July 1692. He bequeathed his moity of Bybrook to his assistant William Whaley, who conveyed it to William Helyar along with Cary's debts.


J. Harry Bennett (1964). 'Cary Helyar, merchant and planter of seventeenth-century Jamaica', William and Mary Quarterly, 21(2) 53-76.

Further Information

[With an unnamed mistress] 2 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
1669 [SY] - 05/07/1672 [ED] → Joint owner

Relationships (3)

Other relatives
Notes →
Whaley was the legatee of...
Uncle → Nephew

Addresses (1)

East Coker, Somerset, South-west England, England