St Kitts land grab

St Kitts 1736 map

Among the surnames of the St Kitts branch of my husband’s family tree is Maillard. Ann Francis Catherine Maillard (1828-1919) his 2nd great-grandmother, married William Mallalieu. William and Ann lived in the parish of Saint Ann, located on the northern half of the island.

Curious about how far back the Maillards may have gone in Kittitian history, I looked at some older sources and found references to a Mary Maillard, widow of Peter Maillard, in the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America, and West Indies. Mary submitted a request for help in 1714, to London’s Whitehall Council Chamber:

“Petition of Mary Maillard for the King. Prays to be restored to a plantation in the French quarter of St. Kitts, possessed by her husband and herself, before they fled into the English quarter on account of the French persecution of Protestants. She has lived there since the English conquered that part.”

Mary also asked for a portion of her father Francis Meunier’s plantation, to be shared with her sister Arouet Guychard.

The French and the British both occupied areas of Saint Kitts at various times in the island’s history. The two countries divided the land between them in 1627, with the French given the north end (Capisterre) and the southern area (Basseterre), while the English claimed the middle section. They periodically fought over their shares for the next 150 years, until the British finally secured the entire island in 1782. The year before Mary’s petition, the Treaty of Utrecht had ceded all of St Kitts to England, which led to the British takeover of French owned land. French protestants felt that their lands shouldn’t be confiscated, as they had allied with the protestant British against the catholic French and Irish. A French protestant Kittitian named Stephen Duport formally complained to the British crown about ongoing tensions and land disputes:

“Several Irish and French Papists residing in the English part of that Island when the first war with France broake out in 1689, did fly from their habitations into the French quarter, took up arms and assisted the French in the reduction of the Island against your Majesty’s subjects, whereof many suffered thereby in their lives and estates, and at the reconquest of the said Island by your Majesty’s forces retired out of the same into the French Colonies, where they resided and continued to act in open rebellion, after which your Majesty’s Chief Governor for the time being and others since, did make grants of the said rebells’ lands and plantations as being forfeited by their rebellion to such of your Majesty’s faithfull subjects as did distinguish themselves in the defence and reconquest of the Island… many of the said rebells have return’d to the Island, claimed their former lands and plantations, and some of them recover’d the same from the late possessors and behave themselves there in such insulting dareing manner and threats that your Majesty’s faithfull subjects are much disturbed thereat and will probably occasion some considerable disorder if not timely prevented. Prays for H.M. speedy relief.”

Some of the British in power had other thoughts on how to dispense with the French plantations, however. The Council of Trade and Plantations pushed this agenda to Queen Anne’s government:

“…the settling of that Island will very much tend not only to the advantage of the inhabitants and trade thereof, but also to the increase of your Majesty’s Revenue by the 4½ per cent. there, and the customs here. And therefore we humbly offer that the same be done as soon as conveniently may be. We have been inform’d the French part of that Island does contain about 30,000 acres in all, whereof about 25,000 are good and proper for sugar canes, the rest being only fit for cattle. As to the properest method of settling the said French part, we humbly offer that it seems to us most for your Majesty’s advantage that the same be sold outright to the highest bidder…”

Some estates were apparently granted back to former French owners. A contingent of Kittitian landholders complained about this action, saying that they had invested time and effort on land forfeited by the French, and pleading:

“We pray H.M. directions that the French may either pay to us the value of their improvements, or that we be allowed a reasonable time to reap our labour… Otherwise many poor people whose labour on the ground is the whole support of their families will be reduced to misery and want, and all of us extreamly improverished, and must with regret see people from the other Islands (whose estates have less felt the ruin of warr) purchase away the sweat of our brows, etc. Signed, Walter Douglas, Mich. Lambert, John Davis, J. Panton, John Bourryan, John Willet, Geo. Liddell, Geo. Milward, Ralph Willet. Clement Crooke, Speaker, Thom. Payne, John Greatheed, Antho. Faln, Aretas Seaton, Richd. Haukshaw, Willm. Johnson, Jasper Verchild, John Sewell, John Seburne, Willm. Macdonald, Edwd. Gillard, Robt. Mullins, Geo. Taylor, Isaac Thomas, Wm. Fenton, Peter Banor, Timothy Hare, Gillires McArthur, T. Williams, John Garnett, Jno. Willet, Hen. Willet, Fran. Claxton, Tho. Young, Pre. Soulegre. “

It’s no wonder that these factions were all competing for land in St Kitts. By the mid 1700s, St Kitts was the richest British colony per capita, due to its fertile soil, the high prices paid for sugar cane products, free labor provided by enslaved Africans, and a plantocracy composed of a small number of wealthy sugar estate owners.


  1. Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America, and West Indies, British History Online website, America and West Indies: October 1714, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2017 (Mary Maillard’s petition)
  2. Four years’ residence in the West Indies by Frederic William Naylor Bayley, 1830
  3. The Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, Heritage Newfoundland and Labrador, 1998
  4. Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America, and West Indies, British History Online website, America and West Indies: October 1714, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2017 (advice on selling land to the highest bidder)
  5. The Oxford history of the British Empire: the eighteenth century, by William Roger Louis, Alaine M. LowPeter James Marshall, Oxford University Press, 2001


  1. Sheila said:

    I was looking for a succinct history of St Kitts in the time that Timothy Hare owned two plantations there and this was perfect!

    July 3, 2020
    • dreamer said:

      I’m so glad it was helpful! I see that your Timothy Hare was one of the British land holders in the complaint about land being given back to French former owners.

      July 3, 2020
  2. Lynne said:

    It was quite interesting to read the history about St. Kitts, as I am a Maillard and have known about my Kittitian descent since I was young. I truly want to learn more ad see if I am able to trace my familial lineage.

    August 9, 2020
    • dreamer said:

      How cool! How far have you gotten back in time with your Maillard family? There were a good number of Maillards on St Kitts, but maybe I can see if you have any ancestors in common with my husband.

      August 9, 2020
      • Lynne said:

        I have not gotten very far. However, I am part of a group on social media for Maillards.

        August 11, 2020
  3. Phyl Schepens said:

    Very informative, thank you for your research.
    My husband is also related to the Maillards from St Kitts and Tortola. We have documentation up to Anthony William Maillard, born approximately 1790, a barrister on Tortola about 1820 – 1834.
    Anthony married Mary Hetherington, and had two daughters, Elizabeth Bental and Mary Hetherington, but our information does not go beyond that.
    Does this Maillard fit into anyone’s family trees?

    November 18, 2021
    • dreamer said:

      Hello Phyl,

      The Anthony William Maillard name is a very interesting one! It appears in St Kitts records, as well as a William Anthony Maillard (wife Harriet Caines). Both men were slave owners in the early 1800s. An Anthony William Maillard appears as a proprietor in the 1822 SK slave register.

      I have seen Anthony William and Mary Maillard in the 1831 and 1834 slave registers for Tortola (and AWM’s will proved 1835). Could he be the same as the AWM who appears in the St Kitts records, or were Anthony and William just popular Maillard family names?

      On another possibly related line, there is a St Kitts baptism record from 1819 for a slave named Anthony William Maillard, with the mother a slave named Maria (no father given, just “reputed son of —” with a blank). Maria was owned by Martha Hutchinson; there was a Martha Maillard who married Matthew Hutchinson in 1785 in St Kitts, so there is some kind of connection there, but it’s all pretty confusing with so many similar names! I will keep an eye out for more on Anthony William Maillard to see if his relationship to the St Kitts Maillards can be worked out.


      November 22, 2021
      • Phyl Schepens said:

        Thankyou for your help. I also have this info and I am wondering if William Anthony Maillard was married first to Heriot Caines in St Kitts and after her death, August 2, 1825: moved to Tortola where he as Anthony William Maillard married Mary Hetherington September 7, 1826.
        Anthony and Mary had two daughters:
        Elizabeth Bental Maillard and Mary Hetherington Maillard

        June 10, 2023
        • dreamer said:

          In the 1825 British Slave Registry for St Christopher, there are two separate owners of enslaved people listed, first Anthony William Maillard and the second was W. A. Maillard who was reporting slave holdings “for Heriot Caines Maillard proprietess”. So that definitely sounds like two different men, and that Anthony William would have been the one who relocated to Tortola.

          June 24, 2023
  4. Lynne said:

    I have not been on his site in almost three years. I discovered that my great grandfather’s name was Joseph Maillard and was born in 1884; my great grandmother’s name was Ellen.

    March 7, 2023

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