Material Relating to the West Indies from the Senhouse Papers : 1762 - 1831.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .S4J6P3
Category: Family
Creator: Senhouse, Joseph, Sir, fl.1770-1790, and Senhouse, William, 1741-1800.
Description: 2 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm
            William Senhouse (b. 1741) and his brother Joseph (later Sir Joseph Senhouse) were the sons of Humphry and Mary Senhouse of Netherhall, near Maryport, Cumberland, England. After their early education, both men spent several years at sea; William as a midshipman in the Royal Navy from 1755-1769, and Joseph as a midshipman in the India trade. 

In 1770, William Senhouse was appointed surveyor-general of customs in Barbados and the Windward and Leeward Islands. This entitled him ex officio to a seat in the Council of Barbados and other governments named in his commission. Joseph Senhouse left his brother at Barbados in 1771 for Dominica to prepare for his new appointment as collector of customs. Shortly thereafter he purchased land, grew coffee with the labour of enslaved people, and built a plantation named "Lowther Hall." He was appointed comptroller of customs in 1774. During the period of the American Revolution when Dominica was occupied by the French, Joseph was appointed by his brother, William, in 1776 to the office of collector of customs at Bridgetown, Barbados. In 1779, Joseph left the Islands and returned to England for good. He resided in Carlisle where he was elected mayor of the city.  Later, through the influence of the family benefactor, Sir James Lowther, 5th Baronet and member of Parliament for Carlisle, he received a Knighthood.

Meanwhile, William Senhouse remained in Barbados and continued with his duties until the customs office there was abolished in 1787. From that time until his death, his focus became the improvement of his extensive sugar plantations where he and his wife, Mary Samson Wood, raised a large family, and he lived the life of a prosperous gentleman planter. He had bought the sugar plantation named "the Grove" in St. Philip's Parish.            
            This microfilm edition of the Senhouse Papers consists of the records of Joseph Senhouse and his brother William, but primarily from Joseph. They contain memoirs; letter books; several waste books and account books under the categories as private trade, cash books, plantation journals and ledgers, and customs accounts; observations; maps; leases; plantation estimates; memorandum books; and a marriage settlement. The records document the brothers' experiences as customs officers and planters in the British West Indies. Plantation and "slave" records make up a substantial portion of the Papers. The Papers provide a glimpse into the social and economic life of the West Indies, before, during, and immediately following the American Revolution. General topics include colonial public officials, agriculture, slavery, race, Black history, health and welfare, geography, natural history, weather and natural disasters, travel and description, leisure, ships, shipping, privateering, commerce, and trade.

Unfortunately, Volume 1 of the Joseph Senhouse memoirs is missing.



1. Account book of private trade shipped on a voyage of the Earl of Middlesex to the East Indies, 1766-8

2. Book containing estimates and other memoranda concerning Joseph Senhouse's plantations in Tobago and the Ellenborough Estate, 1772, coast guard vessels in the West Indies; duties collected at Roseau, Dominica; accounts for the sloop Polly; plantation operations; crops (cacao, cotton, sugar); expenses surrounding enslaved people; etc., 1768-74

3. Joseph Senhouse's summary account book for Dominica, 1771-3

4. Lease for 40 years of 10 acres of land in St. David's parish, Dominica to Bartholomew Rosseau, 18 May 1772; also two related letters

5. "Memoirs of Dominica..." by Joseph Senhouse in 1772. This is an essay on various subject matter pertaining to the British island of Dominica. Starts with a section on its history and continues discussing the following contemporary topics: natural history, colonialism, security against the French, climate, diplomacy, agriculture, commodities, geography, major towns, and government. Also includes dimensions of the island, and distances between landmarks. Throughout, he argues for the value to Britain of Dominica. Appendix included titled "Of the Cultivation and Manufacture of Indigo." (See transcription in Electronic Finding Aids section below.)

6. Joseph Senhouse's account book relating to the West Indies and Cumberland transaction, 1772-3. Includes cash accounts, duties accounts, stock accounts, incidentals, expenses, bills of exchange, accounts of William Senhouse, the Ellenborough Estate, Bartholomew Rosseau and the sloop "Polly," profits and losses, officers, various individual accounts

7. Joseph Senhouse's letters and general memorandum book for Dominica and Barbados, 1772-7. Copies of letters written from Barbados together with memoranda on past and future correspondence; letters and memoranda from London and Dominica; accounts from Barbados; includes list of books purchased.

8. Joseph Senhouse's waste book (rough entries of transactions created before journal) accounts and memoranda for Barbados, Dominica, London and Cumberland, 1772-88

9. Joseph Senhouse's cash journal for Barbados and Dominica, 1776-7; also includes accounts of William Senhouse and other individuals and cash account current in England for 1773-5 etc.

10. Joseph Senhouse's cash account book for Barbados, Dominica and London, 1778-80

11. Joseph Senhouse's waste book accounts for London and Cumberland including Arkelby Hall farming accounts, 1789-90; includes household goods, servants wages, varieties of plants bought, clothes, bedding, tools, spices, alcohol, furniture, etc.

12. Lowther Hall (Dominica) cash account books, 1772-6: Ledger (plantation accounts and accounts of individuals on the estate), Journal (purchase of land, plantation accounts, etc. At end is valuation of Lowther Hall estate), Cash book (cash accounts for the plantation and various individuals on estate); Memoranda of purchase of property and accounts of purchase of miscellaneous items relating to the estate; Map of location

13. Account book of remittances made by Joseph Senhouse as Collector of HM Customs at Port of Roseau, Dominica, 1772; Also beginning at other end of book are several copy letters written in Barbados concerning bills of exchange

14. Account book of fees etc. received by Joseph Senhouse as Comptroller of HM Customs at Roseau, Dominica, 1774-6; lists of ships

15. Settlement upon the marriage of Sir Joseph Senhouse with Mary Ashley of Ashby St. Ledgers, 29 October 1787; also newspaper cutting reporting the marriage

16. Memoirs of Joseph Senhouse, journal format, volume 3, commencing in Barbados, 1 January 1779 (records many social engagements); at end are instructions on signals for ships under convoy

17. Recollections of William Senhouse (1741-1800), Surveyor General of Barbados and the Leeward Island which covers ; at start are genealogical notes on Senhouse family and at end of "Recollections" are some notes by Humphrey Fleming Senhouse, 5th son of William, on his father's life, including extracting from plantation accounts for years 1774-1799 the annual produce, together with expenses, losses and gains. (The Recollections record his activities and travels as a customs officer (he visited many islands in his professional role and wrote what he observed) and as a planter. He describes his difficulties with bad crops, drought, insects, and in particular, records a vivid description of a hurricane in 1780 that killed over two thousand enslaved people, thousands of horses and cattle and caused damage amounting to over one million pounds sterling on the island of Barbados.)

18. "Observations on Barbados" by Joseph Senhouse, 1780; at end are typesecript note on 'An unsolved Barbados mystery' by Sir Algernon Aspinall, 20th century

19. Printed copy of a letter on Graham Island, near Sicily, written on 5 August 1831 by Captain Humphrey Fleming Senhouse

20. Joseph Senhouse's cash account book, 1762-6; Accounts of transactions in Calcutta, Madras, Bengal, Falmouth, St. Helena, etc.; genealogical lists (Continued on reel 2)


20. Joseph Senhouse's account books, 1762-6 continued

21. Memoirs of Joseph Senhouse, volume 2, commencing in Barbados, 2 June 1776

22. Notes on Joseph Senhouse's lands in Dominica, 1771-6

23. Plans and notes on woodlands purchased, 1772

24. Grant of land by George III to Joseph Senhouse, 7 April 1772

25. Two letters, 1826-7

26. Map of Lowther Hall, Barbados, nd.

Originals: The original records are held by the Carlisle Record Office (now Carlisle Archive Centre, Cumbria County Council).
Archival Ref. No.:
Finding Aids:

The finding aid, prepared by Richard B. Sheridan, University of Kansas, found on the microfilm was used in writing the background information and the numbered list of contents in this catalogue record. The finding aid also contains a bibliography. Note that the document numbers are not evident on the film and documents were not filmed in chronological order. Available online from Microform Academic Publishers.

Electronic (See Electronic Finding Aid section): 

1. A subject-specific finding aid detailing material relating to privateering is available digitally.

2. Item number 5, "Memoirs of Dominica..." by Joseph Senhouse in 1772 - typed transcription is available digitally.            
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Privateers in the Senhouse Papers.pdf
Notes: The Senhouse Papers is one of several titles in the series, British Records Relating to America in Microform, which are published under the auspices of the British Association for American Studies by Microform Limited.
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