Peter Harriss Abbott

1774 - 1850

Claimant or beneficiary


Official assignee and pioneering accountant, of City of London, awarded with others the compensation for 25 enslaved people in Westmoreland, possibly as assignees of the failed bank Boldero, Lushington; probably also the recipient of the compensation for Phoenix Park in Trinidad as assignee of Turnbull Forbes. See also John Hariss Abbott (q.v.).

  1. Born in St Kitts 1774 or 1775, the son of Peter Abbott and Jane Dijett [sic], recorded as a merchant at 121 New City Chambers Bishopsgate in London in 1812 and established as an accountant by 1823. Evolved from public accounting to specialisation in bankruptcy, especially after the creation of the role of official assignee under the 1831 Bankruptcy Act. He absconded to Brussels in 1841 and was himself declared bankrupt that year. The earlier bankruptcy of Peter Harris [sic] Abbott of Lime Street 1814 and the renewed Commission issued in 1829, when Abbott of Lime Street was described as Sail-Cloth-Manufacturer, appear inconsistent with Abbott's ODNB entry but an article in the London Evening Standard 12/04/1841 connects his bankruptcy of 1829 with the administration of his 1841 bankruptcy.

  2. At a meeting of his creditors at the Guildhall Coffee House, held 19/05/1841, his debts were totalled at about £17,500 with an additional falcations of £60,000 or £70,000. Assets listed included the furniture and plate in his house in Brunswick Square (£1200); 48 pictures "traced to Christie and Manson's, and under seizure of the Court, value not at present known, but supposed to be valuable", heavily mortgaged property in Toxteth Park, Liverpool, some small insurance policies, and numerous shares. The creditors reacted with derision to the variety of his speculative investments. His house was to be auctioned on 15/06/1841 and was advertised as "in complete repair, and contain[ing] an excellent dining-room, library, front and back drawing-rooms, communicating with large folding doors, eight good bed-rooms, china closet, entrance-hall, water-closets, large kitchen, butler's room, wine, beer and coal-cellars, and every convenience, with stabling for three horses, and coach-house in the Mews." A sale of his house contents was scheduled for the following day, including "1000 volumes of elegantly-bound books, 70 dozen of choice wines, and numerous fine paintings by Rubens, Ludovico Caracci, Salvator Rosa, Guercino, Canaletto, S. Ruysdael, A. Cuyp, M. A. Caravaggio, Bassano, Rombouts, L. Backhuysen, Greuze, Jan, Steen, V. Goyen, Rigaud, Leonardo da Vinci, Morland, and O'Connor." The contents of his office at 10 Kings Arms Yard were also up for auction.

  3. In 1830 Peter Harris [sic] Abbott was the Secretary of British, Irish and Colonial Silk Company. Peter Harriss Abbott was identified in 1834 as Official Assignee (for bankruptcy of Thomas Hunt of Sheffield). Peter Harriss Abbott of Kings Arms Yard, Moorgate street, was bankrupt in 1846. Referred to as 'a bankrupt' in an apparently unrelated bankruptcy in 1847.

  4. Peter Harriss Abbott married Frances Maria Dyett 09/04/1811 at St George the Martyr Queen Square; their daughter Ellen married Mark Dyer French 'barrister' 23/11/1837, when her address was shown as Brunswick Square. Mark Dyer French was the son of the Virgin Island slave-owner, also named Mark Dyer French (q.v.).   

  5. NB the background to Thoresby v Neave (an outgrowth of Neave v Miller) shows that the Masters Report of 1837 in Neave v Miller determined that annuities and arrears charged on the estates of John Abel Ward in Nevis by indentures of 1774 were partly payable to Peter Harris Abbott, Jeremiah Carter and Charles William Hick (i.e., the same group as the Westmoreland 67A & B  award in Jamaica) as assignees of Edward Gale Boldero, sole executor of Henry Boldero. Charles Boldero, Edward Gale Boldero and Henry Boldero and Sir Henry Lushington of Cornhill, bankers and co-partners, dealers and chapmen, had failed in 1811/1812.

  6. Peter Harris Abbot of King's-arms-yard, Coleman-street, was a proprietor of the American Land Company in 1835.


T71/871 Westmoreland no. 67A&B; T71/ 894 Trinidad no. 1651, which is in the name 'John Hariss Abbott'. No such man has been traced and this may be an error for Peter Harriss Abbott.

See 'Richard Edwards J [sic] 'Accounting regulation and the professionalization process: an historical essay concerning the significance of P.H. Abbott' in Critical Perspectives on Accounting Vol. 12 No. 6 December 2001 pp. 675-96. Author of 'On the Public Debt: with a plan for its final extinction' [London, 1839].

  1. ODNB online, John Richard Edwards, 'Abbott, Harriss, Peter (1774/5-1850), accountant and official assignee'; London Gazette, Issue 16950, 25/10/1814, p. 2132; London Gazette, Issue 18590 03/07/1829 p. 1261; London Evening Standard 12/04/1841.

  2. London Evening Standard 20/05/1841, 10/06/1841 and 14/06/1841.

  3. London Gazette, Issue 18746, 16/11/1830, p. 2400; London Gazette, Issue 19167, 24/06/1834, p. 1196; London Gazette, Issue 19972, 25/12/1846, p. 5982; London Gazette, Issue 20738, 28/05/1847, p. 1983.

  4., London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online].

  5. London Gazette, Issue 22415, 21/08/1860, p. 3106; London Gazette, Issue 16557, 04/01/1812, p. 17.

  6. List of the proprietors of the British American Land Company: incorporated and established by Charter and Act of Parliament, 1834 (London, n.d.) p. 5 (via p. 5.

We are grateful to P. Parker for providing assistance with this article.

Further Information

Frances Maria Dyett
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (1)

£450 13s 2d
Awardee (Mortgagee)

Legacies Summary

Commercial (2)

Railway Investment
Portsmouth Junction [183741]  
Firm Investment
British American Land Company
Land speculation  

Relationships (1)

Son → Father

Addresses (2)

101/2 King's Arms Yard, Coleman Street, City of London, Middlesex, London, England
35 Brunswick Square, London, Middlesex, London, England