The Aylmers of Jamaica

This information relates to the old Aylmer Estate in Jamaica: Guanaboa, Luidas, Port Antonio and Mountain River. To this day, ‘Aylmers’ is used for directions to Guanoboa.

Lieutenant-Colonel Whitgift Aylmer, formerly of Holborn in (then) Middlesex (possibly the parish of St. Andrew’s), arrived in Jamaica about 1656 and lived until about 1701/2. He married Joyce and they had children Whitgift, Mary, Catherine, Judith, Samuel and John. The second Whitgift Aylmer, who lived to 1720, left the lands – and his slaves – partly to his wife, his siblings Samuel, Mary and Catherine and his nephew Whitgift, but mostly to his only daughter, also Catherine. She was to face attempts to defraud her of her share.

Gertrude remarried soon after Whitgift’s death. Her new husband, Stephen Browne, was a Supreme Court judge; they attempted in 1721/1724 to create a fraudulent debt using the name of Rowland Eustace of £6000, alleged to be against the deceased Whitgift. Gertrude swore the debt was valid, but the attempted fraud was discovered; the Governor Sir Nicholas Lawes turned her husband out of all his offices, ordered him to be prosecuted, and the couple suffered a large fine.

Catherine, now heir to the estate, married three times: first to Mark Hamilton before 1742; next to John Burke, 8th Viscount Mayo, by 1743, with whom she had children Bridget and Aylmer (1743-48); and finally Edmond Jordan in July 1770. After Gertrude died in 1729 (at Bordeaux in France), Browne sought to regain possession of the estate by alleging that Catherine was illegitimate; the case was lost. However the will of was not formally closed until 1 December 1761.

Bridget married Edmund Lambert of Boyton, Wilts. Their son Aylmer Bourke Lambert (1761-1842) became a noted botanist and one of the first Fellows of the Linean Society.

What happened to the other Aylmers and their estates in Jamaica is unknown. A Thomas and John Aylmer were given the contract in April 1805 to build a warehouse in Christiansted so maybe they were locals there – the marriage settlement didn’t mention any Aylmer relations to clarify. Thomas was of St Croix and Limerick, Ireland, but he may not be connected to Whitgift. He married a widow Hogan in Limerick about 1810; they had a daughter. The couple died in the West Indies after going there for some property-related business. The Lynch family of Jamaica of the same period includes Judith Aylmer, with an Aylmer Lynch appearing afterwards. There was seemingly an Anne Goodman and John Whitgift marriage resulting in John and Mary. John Whitgift married Elizabeth Aylmer and had a son Aylmer Whitgift born about 1629. Mary Whitgift married a Samuel Aylmer of Ackenham in Suffolk.

Other Aylmer relations in Jamaica were the Bathursts, including John Bathurst, also recorded as of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and Richard Bathurst, who in 1704 had patented to him 1,000 acres of land in St. Andrew, 600 in St. George, and 600 in St. Elizabeth. No pedigree appears ever to have been worked out of the Jamaican Bathursts, and the individuals are hard to separate. There appears to be no will among the island records of any Bathurst between that of one Judith Bathurst, widow, (dated 1720, proved 1722), and Richard in 1756; and no admon. of a Bathurst between 1692 and 1780. Judith, who was of St. Jago de la Vega, mentioned her sisters, Meiry Aylmer and Catherine Aylmer, both of the same town. An Edward Bathurst was Registrar in Chancery and Clerk of the Patents in Jamaica in 1751.

Information kindly provided by Barry Alymer.