- 1697-1857 (Creation)
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0.82 cubic metres
8 boxes and 1 oversize folder
Name of creator
The Lascelles family’s connection with plantations in the Caribbean can be traced to at least 1648 when Edward Lascelles was part of a syndicate of three merchants who took ownership of a sugar plantation on Barbados.
However it was his descendant Henry Lascelles (c.1690-1753) who established the family as a major mercantile power. Henry was appointed customs collector for Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1715 and, together with his brothers George and Edward, founded a London commission house to import sugar from the West Indies. In 1743 George Maxwell of Haddingtonshire and Barbados joined the brothers as partner and the commission house was renamed Lascelles and Maxwell. In 1763 it became Lascelles, Clarke and Daling.
Henry returned to England in the 1730s where he purchased the manors of Gawthorpe and Harewood in Yorkshire and obtained lucrative government contracts to victual British troops and wounded seamen in Jamaica, Barbados and the Leeward Isles. Using the contacts he made, he financed slave ships through Lascelles and Maxwell and offering loans and mortgages to Barbados plantation owners. Between 1736 and 1743 he joined with eight other merchants to create a series of permanently moored vessels off the coast of Guinea to receive slaves for shipment to the Caribbean. He invested his wealth in the East India Company, becoming a company director by 1740.
Henry’s brother Edward had succeeded him as customs collector in Barbados and in 1746 was appointed to the Barbados Council, while at home Henry bought control of the parliamentary seat of Northallerton in Yorkshire, taking up his seat in the House of Commons in 1745.
At his death in 1753, Henry Lascelles left a significant estate, including shares in twenty-one ships engaged in trade in the West Indies, to be divided between his two eldest sons, Edwin (1713-1795) and Daniel (1714-1784). Edwin had already been installed as Lord of the Manor of Harewood by his father and would later built Harewood House between 1759 and 1771, becoming 1st Baron Harewood of Harewood in 1790.
Edwin and Daniel were able to greatly increase their family’s wealth and estates through the acquisition of land from debtors unable to meet the terms of their mortgages following the American War of Independence. Between 1773 and 1787 they obtained plantations and other property in Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, and Tobago, as well as taking over the management of other estates heavily mortgaged to them. By 1787 the family controlled twenty-four Caribbean properties, comprising 27,000 acres and nearly 3,000 slaves.
Daniel and Edwin Lascelles both died childless and in 1795 the estate passed in full to their cousin Edward Lascelles (1740-1820), who had also inherited the Caribbean interests of his father, Edward, brother to Henry Lascelles, bringing the family’s wealth and estates together as a single inheritance. The new owner undertook a detailed review of his holdings, selling off unproductive plantations in order to expand others, improving accountancy procedures and recovering debts owed. In Britain his wealth and influence ensured him a prominent role in political life. He served as Member of Parliament for Northallerton and in 1796 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Harewood. In 1812 he was made Viscount Lascelles and Earl of Harewood.
Edward died in 1820 and the title and estate was inherited by his son Henry, 2nd Earl of Harewood (1767-1841). In 1833 Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act. By this time, the Lascelles owned only six plantations in Jamaica and Barbados and Henry received £26,309 in compensation for the loss of his slaves. He subsequently sold his Jamaican property but retained his four Barbadian estates which remained part of the family inheritance until the end of the First World War when two were sold and the remaining two devised to the youngest son of the then 5th Earl of Harewood, permanently separating the family title from the Caribbean properties.
In 1922 Viscount Lascelles (1882-1947), eldest son of the 5th Earl, married Princess Mary, the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. He became the 6th Earl of Harewood in 1947 and was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. The family sold their last two Barbadian plantations in 1975, bringing to an end 327 years of involvement with trade in the Caribbean.
Today the earldom is held by David Lascelles, 8th Earl of Harewood, who inherited the title from his father in 2011 and still resides at the family seat at Harewood House in Yorkshire.
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- East India Company (Subject)