Gale Morant Family Papers

Scope and Content

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 (d1784) who married Elizabeth Morant (d1759). 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.

Administrative / Biographical History

The 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 Jamica. 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.


The collection is divided into six sections: general correspondence of William Gale 1752-1787, documents relating to William Gale's will 1775-1799, Papers relating to York plantation and Gale's valley plantation 1761-1845, papers relating to Mount Hindmost estate and St Jago and Paisley pens 1810-1914, papers relating to the Jamaican estates of Edward Gregory Morant-Gale 1796-1822, and Gale and Morant family miscellanea 1735-1925.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited through the agency of Christopher Platt, Professor of History at the University, in 1966.

Other Finding Aids

A synopsis has been published along with the microfilm (see Publication Note)

Alternative Form Available

See Publication Note

Conditions Governing Use

Usual University of Exeter arrangements apply

Related Material

The Gale-Morant papers 1731-1925 in the Library, University of Exeter with an introduction by Richard B Sheridan (Wakefield, 1977)


A microfilm copy was published by EP Microform Ltd as part of the 'British records relating to America in microform' project in the 1970s.