RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 130
Extent2 parchments
TitleMorant-Gale marriage agreements
DescriptionMarriage settlements for:

i) Edward Gregory Morant Gale and Elizabeth Townsend, 14 Jun 1798
ii) Edward John Morant Gale and Maria Henrietta Stuart, 19 Nov 1845.
Admin HistoryThe Gale family and the Morant family arrived in Jamaica separately in the seventeenth century, not long after the invasion of the island by English forces in 1655. Jamaica remained an English, and later British (from 1707), colony until 1962. Various marriages linked the two families, including that of William Gale (d 1784) and Elizabeth Morant (d 1759). Both sides of the family acquired sugar plantations that used the forced labour of enslaved people of African and Caribbean descent to produce sugar and rum. The family gained large estates and great wealth. In 1754, John Morant owned 4,631 acres in Clarendon and 3,582 acres in Vere. Five members of the Gale family owned more than 6,000 acres of the island.

In 1759, John Morant's great-grandson Edward (d 1791) moved to England from Jamaica. He bought the Brockenhurst estate in Hampshire in 1770, and his eldest son John Morant (d 1794) purchased the Manor of Ringwood from Henry 8th Lord Arundell in 1794. The plantations and land in Jamaica were handed down to subsequent generations of the family. Edward Gregory Morant (1772-1855) inherited his uncle William Gale's estates in Jamaica. Edward and Elizabeth Morant Gale's son Edward John (1818-1894) inherited the family estates, and married Maria Henrietta Stuart, second daughter of Sir Simeon Henry Stuart, 5th Bt. of Hartley Maudit, and sister of Sir Simeon Henry Stuart, Esq. and ensign in Her Majesty's 71st Regiment of Foot. Death duties (on the death of Edward Morant in 1910, b 1868) forced the family to sell the Ringwood properties in 1916. Many of the Brockenhurst estates were sold in 1951 and 1959.

Following the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, like many British enslavers, both sides of the family sought compensation for the loss of, what they considered to be, their property. Edward Gregory Morant Gale (1773-1855, son of William Gale and Elizabeth Morant) was an unsuccessful claimant for the 503 people enslaved across four estates in Jamaica. Compensation for some of the estates he claimed for went to John Morant VI (1787-1857, son of John Morant of Brockenhurst House and Elizabeth Richards), who received more than £20,000 for 1,115 people enslaved across seven states in Jamaica. (Source: Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery,

When the Emancipation Act was passed in 1833, the enslaved people did not automatically gain freedom. This was decided because the British government felt that enslaved people were not used to being independent and that they would need to be trained how to be free. As a result, in Jamaica, formerly enslaved people had to continue working on the plantations under an imposed apprenticeship system without compensation for a set number of years. The apprenticeship system was abolished in 1838, but even then, many of the people had no option but to continue working for their old enslavers for low wages.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialSee EUL MS 44 and EUL MS 44 add.1 for the Gale and Morant family papers.

Further papers of the Morant family of Brockenhurst Park, 17th century-20th century, are in Hampshire Record Office (ref: 6M80 51M74). See also NRA 24713 Morant. Papers relating to the Townsend family (including some minor references to the Morant family) are held at the Shakespeare Birth Place Records Office (ref. ER3) and at Birmingham City Archives (papers of Messrs Phelp and Savage, solicitors of Evesham, and also the Barnard collection).
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
Finding_AidsA full description of both deeds is available.
Creator_NameGale; Edward Gregory Morant (1772-1855); enslaver and plantation owner
Gale; Edward John Morant (1818-1894); enslaver and plantation owner
Mgt_GroupHistorical papers
DS/UK/50Gale; Edward Gregory Morant- (1772-1854); plantation owner1772-1854
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