BAILLIE, James (?1737-93), of Bedford Square and Ealing Grove, Mdx.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Agent, Grenada by 1792-d.
When he gave evidence before the committee of inquiry into the petitions of opponents of abolition of the slave trade, 19 and 20 Feb. 1790, Baillie stated that he had lived in the West Indies, mainly at Grenada and St. Kitts, between 1755 and 1771. He was joint-owner, with his elder brother Alexander, of a 400-acre plantation in Grenada, bought in 1765 and known as The Hermitage, and of the Mount St. Bernard plantation, also in Grenada. He was sole owner of the Northbrook plantation in Demerara, and during his time in the Caribbean, when he had visited every island except Jamaica, had also acted as attorney for other plantation owners. Shortly before the outbreak of the American war, Baillie and two partners bought, as a speculation, the 4,400 acres in St. Vincent granted to General Richard Monckton in 1773. After the war the property was sold in lots, but Baillie complained to the committee that when abolition was bruited in 1788, potential buyers were frightened off, and that there remained unsold about 1,400 acres, which would become worthless if abolition was carried.2 Later in 1790, he bought from the Bank of England two Grenada estates, Barolet and Chemin, for £100,000, paying a deposit of £45,000, with the balance to be paid at 4 per cent interest, in seven annual instalments. He subsequently conveyed the Chemin plantation to one Samuel Mitchell of Grenada.3
At the general election of 1790 Baillie was to have come in for Horsham as a paying guest of Lady Irwin, but he and her son-in-law were beaten at the polls by nominees of the Duke of Norfolk. They were seated on petition in March 1792, by which time Baillie had been appointed agent for Grenada. When Wilberforce sat down after moving abolition of the slave trade, 2 Apr. 1792, Baillie, speaking ‘in a low voice’ from the government side of the House, called for the petition of the West India planters and merchants to be read and then proceeded to argue at length, largely on commercial grounds, against the ‘wild, impracticable, and visionary scheme’ of abolition. He maintained that the negroes were generally well treated and that there was ‘more wretchedness and poverty in the parish of St. Giles’ than in the whole of the British colonies.4 He subsequently had the speech published. In the renewed debate on the slave tade, 1 May, he claimed to have received information that several hundred fresh slaves had recently been sold in Jamaica, and when supporting the sugar bill, 22 May 1792, he contended that the planters ‘merited the peculiar protection’ of Parliament. No further trace of parliamentary activity has been found.
In his will, dated 12 Aug. 1793, Baillie left the Barolet estate in trust for his eldest son and his property at Ealing, bought from the Duke of Argyll, to his wife, along with £1,000. He directed his executors to sell his other plantations and to apply the proceeds to payment of the balance owing for Barolet (about £40,000) and to provision of annuities totalling £3,000 for his wife, cash bequests of £10,000 for each of his five youngest children and other legacies in excess of £2,000. He died 7 Sept. 1793.