Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William Henderson Collection, 1846-1849

Finding aid created by
Christine Walker, August 2008, and Meg Hixon, May 2012

Summary Information
Title: William Henderson collection
Creator: Henderson, William
Inclusive dates: 1846-1849
Bulk dates: 1847-1849
Extent: 17 items
Abstract:
Dr. William Henderson, a physician in Aberdeen, Scotland, received these 14 letters and 3 financial reports concerning the affairs of the Friendship Plantation in Saint Thomas Parish, Jamaica, between 1846 and 1849. R. G. Kirkland, its manager after 1847, wrote 9 of the letters about Friendship's financial problems and about the local labor situation, including the difficulty of hiring freed slaves and of retaining workers "imported" from Africa and India. Other letters from Henderson's Jamaican associates provide further information about the plantation's production and finances.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2005. M-4458.4.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

William Henderson collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.


Biography

Dr. William Henderson, a physician in Aberdeen, Scotland, owned the Friendship plantation in Saint Thomas Parish, Jamaica, in the 1840s. The plantation primarily produced sugarcane. D. Siveright worked as its overseer until his death in November 1847. His replacement, R. G. Kirkland, continued to work at Friendship until at least mid-1849.


Collection Scope and Content Note

Dr. William Henderson, a physician in Aberdeen, Scotland, received these 14 letters and 3 financial reports concerning the affairs of the Friendship Plantation in Saint Thomas Parish, Jamaica, between 1846 and 1849. R. G. Kirkland, its manager after 1847, wrote 9 of the letters about Friendship's financial problems and about the local labor situation, including the difficulty of hiring freed slaves and of retaining workers "imported" from Africa and India. Other letters from Henderson's Jamaican associates provide additional information on the plantation's production and finances.

All of the letters concern the plantation's business and financial affairs, including letters pertaining to overseer D. Siveright's alleged mismanagement and a legal action against his estate. Most items report directly on Friendship's sugarcane production, including 2 partially printed documents which enumerate the wages paid for each of the plantation's jobs; list the number of workers used daily; and inventory livestock holdings, financial assets, and liabilities (January-February 1847 and November 1848). An additional manuscript document reports on the disposition of crops in 1846 and 1847 (May 17, 1848).

R. G. Kirkland and W. F. Henderson periodically updated Henderson about the plantation's affairs, often commenting on labor difficulties caused, in part, by recent emancipation. Both described aspects of the Jamaican labor market and provided negative opinions on the locals' work ethic, affected, they believed, by the ongoing influence of African religions, among other factors. They also detailed their efforts to hire "imported" workers from Africa and southern Asia, though these workers often fled the plantation. Along with writing about Friendship's business affairs, Kirkland inquired about his children, whom he had sent to Scotland for schooling, and about local education in Jamaica and social conditions (May 22, 1849).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Agricultural laborers--Jamaica.
    • Jamaica--Economic conditions.
    • Jamaica--Religion.
    • Jamaica--Social conditions.
    • Scots--Jamaica.
    • Slavery--Jamaica.
    • Sugar plantations--Jamaica.
    • Sugar workers--Jamaica.
    • Sugarcane industry--Jamaica.
    Contributors:
    • Henderson, W. F.
    • Kirkland, R. G.
    • Siveright, D.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Reports.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   32, Small Collections  
    William Henderson papers [series]:
    Folder   20-21  
      July 6, 1846-August 4, 1849