Thomas Bygrave Jamaica

Biography of Thomas Bygrave

Thomas Bygrave was born on 18th September 1804, and baptised on the 14th January 1805 in Vere, Jamaica. His father, also Thomas, was the owner of the May Day Hill coffee plantation. The Jamaica Almanac records 93 enslaved persons living there in 1811.Thomas senior died in 1819 and the property was managed in trust for the next decade, with his eldest son Richard in charge during the years 1822-23.

It was at this time that Thomas went to Glasgow to study Medicine. He matriculated in 1823 and took classes in Anatomy and Chemistry (1823-24), Anatomy, Medicine, Chemistry, Surgery, Materia Medica and Infirmary 1924-25), and Anatomy, Medicine, Midwifery, and Infirmary (1825-26).

After he graduated M.D. in 1826 he returned to Jamaica. His elder brother Richard had died and Thomas took over the running of the plantation, still in trust. He never married but is said to have had a relationship with at least one formerly enslaved woman and fathered at least four children, who, along with his niece Jane, were the beneficiaries of his will when he died on 26th April 1848. His wealth was enhanced by his share of the compensation awarded in 1836 for the loss of the estate’s ‘property’ on emancipation of its enslaved. The uncontested claim was for £2,448. 12 s 9d in respect of 130 enslaved. The Jamaica Almanac for 1839 confirms that he practised as a physician but that he also had a public profile. He was a J.P. and a magistrate and a trustee of Manchester Savings Bank as well as surgeon of record for the Middlesex Militia Regiment of the Horse and of the House of Corrections.


Archival Materials

  • University of Glasgow Medical Matriculations 1803-1842 - database.


Thomas Bygrave
Born 18 September 1804.
GU Degree: MD, 1826;
University Link: Graduate
Record last updated: 29th Sep 2020

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Jamaica Jamaica

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