RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 44
Extent400 documents approx
TitleGale and Morant family papers and plantation records
DescriptionThe 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; accounts relating to 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 Advice: This collection documents the oppression and enslavement of people of African and Caribbean descent. 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.
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 estates in Jamaica. (Source: Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery,

When the Emancipation Act was passed in 1833, the enslaved people in Jamaica did not automatically gain freedom, as the British government believed that formerly enslaved people needed training on how to be free and independent. As a result, in Jamaica, formerly enslaved people had to continue working on the plantations under an imposed apprenticeship system for a set number of years without compensation. The apprenticeship system was abolished in 1838, but even then, many people had no option but to continue working for their old enslavers for low wages.
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:
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:

The original catalogue for this archive included descriptions that lacked detail and context, and included problematic language that was not clearly identified as being from the source text. Catalogue descriptions for this archive were completely revised between 2022 and 2023 to enable descriptions to be more searchable, transparent, and accurate, as well as respectful to our users and the people represented within the records. The new catalogue descriptions aim to accurately and sensitively describe the material, clearly place any words from the source text into inverted commas, and include extra context and detail, where required. This cataloguing project has been possible through the assistance of volunteers Daniel Perry, Alexander Duffy, and Joseph Kelliher. The original descriptions have been retained as a record and are available to researchers on request.
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
DS/UK/49Gale; William (d. 1784); plantation ownerd. 1784
DS/UK/50Gale; Edward Gregory Morant- (1772-1854); plantation owner1772-1854
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2023