Mackinnon, William

It can be reasonably assumed that William Mackinnon was born in Antigua. But this is uncertain. His father, Daniel, arrived in Antigua as a ship’s physician, and became the owner of a sugar plantation. Following his father, William was elected a member of the Antiguan Assembly representing Dickenson’s Bay (1723-1765), a role he resigned after forty years on account of ill health.1

In 1726, William Mackinnon appeared at the College of Arms in Edinburgh where he ‘recorded a new family pedigree and registered a redesigned coat of arms.’ This appearance is suggested to be a response to his family’s Jacobite allegiances, and the threat against Mackinnon’s title and land.2

William became a slave owner when he inherited plantations and land from his father but in 1752, he is documented to be the manager of an estate owned by Abraham Redwood (1709-1788).3 This was likely to be the Cassada Gardens plantation. Correspondence between Redwood and Mackinnon prove both men to be notorious about their opinions of Black people. Letters written to Redwood reveal that Mackinnon thought of enslaved people as a ‘commodity,’ and even encourage Redwood to purchase women as well as men to increase the estate’s ‘stock’ of enforced labour.’ On 17th September 1753, Mackinnon wrote an update on Redwood’s plantation with a total 179 enslaved people.4 

William’s will, written in 1752, gives an insight into the legacy of enslavement in Antigua which was passed down through generations of Mackinnons. For example, he left his estate to his son William (1732-1809) which then passed to his son William Alexander Mackinnon (1784-1870). He also announced that his nephew Robert would manage the sugar plantations should William have no direct heirs. He gave a portion of his wealth to his son-in-law, Thomas Fraser of Antigua, as a marriage settlement.5

There is little information about Mackinnon’s arrival in Bath. But he died in the city on 8th October 1767 and was buried in the Abbey three days later.

 

Reviewed by Lisa Kennedy, Consultant, 2023.

  1. Oliver, Vere Langford The history of the island of Antigua, one of the Leeward Caribbees in the West Indies from the first steelement in 1635 to the present time (1894). Accessioned From: The history of the island of Antigua, one of the Leeward Caribbees in the West Indies, from the first settlement in 1635 to the present time : Oliver, Vere Langford : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive Accessed on 13/06/2023.

  2. Marks, Aurther S Hogarth’s “Mackinen Children”, The British Art Journal Vol.9, No.1 (Spring 2008). Accessed from Hogarth’s “Mackinen Children” on JSTOR Accessed on 13/06/2023

  3. Marks, Aurther S Hogarth’s “Mackinen Children”, The British Art Journal Vol.9, No.1 (Spring 2008). Accessed from Hogarth’s “Mackinen Children” on JSTOR Accessed on 13/06/2023

  4. Gasper, David Barry ‘Bondmen and Rebels: A Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua’ (1999). Published by Duke University Press, Durham and London.

  5. The National Archives, Kew, Surry. William Mackinen: England and Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury WIlls, 1384-1858 series PROB 11; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 954. Accessed from Ancestry.co.uk – England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858 Accessed on 13/06/2023.

 

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