RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 44
Extent400 documents approx
TitleGale and Morant family papers relating to Jamaican slave plantations
DescriptionPLEASE NOTE: catalogue descriptions for this archive are currently being revised. Many of these catalogue descriptions contain outdated and offensive terms from the source material. 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. 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. In some cases, we may also add additional information or an additional searchable term (e.g. 'enslaved person' in addition to 'slave'). This will ensure that these descriptions are more searchable, transparent, accurate, and representative of the archive, as well as sensitive to our users. Thank you for your patience during this process.

The collection includes the correspondence, accounts and other papers of the eighteenth century generations of the family. By far the bulk of the correspondence concerns the business affairs of William Gale (d 1784) who married Elizabeth Morant (d 1759). The accounts are of particular interest for the light they shed on slavery and the life and work of Jamaican sugar estates. For example, the list of 388 slaves for the York estate in 1820 noted each slave's name, age, country of origin, occupation, physical condition and value. Plantation account books show items such as purchases of food, clothing and other items for the slaves, and payments to doctors for medicines and attendance on slaves and white bookkeepers and overseers. These kinds of papers have particular potential for research in cultural geography and area studies, history and medical humanities.
See also EUL MS 44 add. 1.
Admin HistoryThe Gale and the Morant families came to Jamaica separately in the seventeenth century soon after the island was seized in 1655. Major John Gale (1637-1689) was buried there, as was John Morant who died in 1683. Various marriages linked their families, as they both acquired plantations, 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, where the family had built up extensive estates. 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 Jamaican estates were handed down to subsequent generations of the family. Edward Gregory Morant (1772-1855) inherited his uncle William Gale's estates in Jamaica. Death duties on the death of a later Edward Morant in 1910 forced the family to sell the Ringwood properties in 1916. Many of the Brockenhurst estates were sold in 1951 and 1959.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialSee also EUL MS 44 add. 1, 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 Slave Ownership" tracing the impact of slave ownership on modern Britain.
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:

Full catalogue available, arranged into six sections. A catalogue of the collection compiled for a microfilm edition of the collection is also available at:
Creator_NameGale; William (d 1784); plantation owner
Gale; Edward Gregory; Morant- (1772-1855); plantation owner
Gale; family; Jamaican plantation owners
Morant; family; Jamaican plantation owners
Mgt_GroupHistorical papers
DS/UK/49Gale; William (d. 1784); plantation ownerd. 1784
DS/UK/50Gale; Edward Gregory Morant- (1772-1854); plantation owner1772-1854
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