RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 44
Date1731-1925
LevelCollection
Extent400 documents approx
TitleGale and Morant family papers (CATALOGUE REVISION IN PROGRESS)
DescriptionPLEASE NOTE: catalogue descriptions for this archive are currently being revised. Many of these catalogue descriptions were insensitive and contained offensive terms from the source material without inverted commas. These terms will be retained in the catalogue in the interest of historical accuracy and be placed within inverted commas to show they are taken from the source. In some cases, we may also add additional information or an additional searchable term (e.g. 'enslaved person'). This will ensure that these descriptions are more searchable, transparent, accurate, and representative of the archive, as well as sensitive to our users and the people featured in the documents. Thank you for your patience during this process.

The Gale and Morant family papers mainly comprise correspondence, accounts and legal papers (1731-1939) relating to the management of sugar plantations and livestock pens in Jamaica. The estates included York Plantation, Gale's Valley Plantations, Mount Hindmost Estate, St Jago Pen and Paisley Pen. The majority of the papers concern the business affairs of William Gale (d 1784) who married Elizabeth Morant (d 1759). Many of these papers relate to enslavement, which include lists of enslaved people; documents recording their births and deaths; account books containing details of income and expenditure, including payments for enslaved people, their provisions and healthcare; and correspondence that provides insight into the living and working conditions on the plantations, as well as notes of revolts, escapes and liberations.

Content Warning: This collection documents the oppression and enslavement of Black people and includes items that may be uncomfortable or distressing to read. Papers within this collection contain offensive terms or terms that have changed meaning over time. In some cases these terms are included in our catalogue descriptions in order to provide information about the content and nature of the source. The inclusion of these terms does not reflect the views of the University of Exeter Special Collections and we apologise for any offence that may be caused.

See also: Gale and Morant family papers: additional papers, EUL MS 44 add.1
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.

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, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs)

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 finally abolished in 1838, but even then, many of the people had no option but to continue working for their old enslavers for low wages.
LanguageEnglish
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialSee also EUL MS 44 add. 1 for approximately 100 additional documents accessioned in 2011, also listed. See also two marriage agreements relating to the Gale-Morant family held at Exeter University Library (EUL MS 130).

Further papers of the Gale family are held at the Balck Cultural Archives (ref: Gale); 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).

See also a project at UCL 'Legacies of British Slavery: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/.
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
ArrangementThe collection is divided into six sections: general correspondence of William Gale 1752-1787 (EUL MS 44/1), documents relating to William Gale's will 1775-1799 (EUL MS 44/2), papers relating to York plantation and Gale's valley plantation 1761-1845 (EUL MS 44/3), papers relating to Mount Hindmost estate and St. Jago and Paisley pens 1810-1914 (EUL MS 44/4), papers relating to the Jamaican estates of Edward Gregory Morant-Gale 1796-1822 (EUL MS 44/5), and Gale and Morant family miscellanea 1735-1925 (EUL MS 44/6).
Finding_AidsUniversity Of Exeter Digital Collections Online contains digital copies of selected original documents, available at: https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/discover?scope=10871%2F467&query=gale+morant&submit=&rpp=10

Full catalogue available, arranged into six sections. A catalogue of the collection compiled for a microfilm edition of the collection is also available at: www.microform.co.uk/guides/R97047.pdf
Creator_NameGale; William (d 1784); enslaver and plantation owner
Gale; Edward Gregory; Morant- (1772-1855); enslaver and plantation owner
Gale; family; enslavers and plantation owners
Morant; family; enslavers and plantation owners
Mgt_GroupHistorical papers
Persons
CodePersonNameDates
DS/UK/49Gale; William (d. 1784); plantation ownerd. 1784
DS/UK/50Gale; Edward Gregory Morant- (1772-1854); plantation owner1772-1854
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