European settlers first arrived in Antigua around 1632, having moved on from the island of Barbados, and from St Kitts after it suffered an onslaught from the Spanish in September 1629. The first mention of the Ledeatt family comes some forty years later when it is recorded one Thomas Lyddiat of Antigua, Planter, “leased 12 acres of land to John Cable”.
John Ledeatt, it is believed, was married twice. His first wife was Frances (surname unknown) with whom he had five children: Joshua, Thomas – both baptised in April 1755 – John, Sarah and, the youngest, Charles Manning Ledeatt, born in 1772, who became heir to a family friend, Charles Manning, which was probably why he was so named.(Compare Robert Nugent who added Dunbar to his name, becoming Robert Nugent-Dunbar, in order to inherit his mother’s estates in Scotland: see ‘Early Antiguan Nugents’ .)
John and Esther had two daughters, Eliza and Esther, as well as a younger son, William Eales Ledeatt. Just as John’s youngest son from his first marriage, Charles Manning Ledeatt, had become the heir to Charles Manning Esq, so William Eales Ledeatt, the youngest son of his second marriage, also inherited a plantation of 173 acres known as Mannings.
The marriage of William Eales Ledeatt of Mannings, Member of the Assembly, to Eliza, daughter of Samuel Sedgwick, took place on 5 May, 1818 at St Peter’s and was formally announced in the July 1818 issue of ‘The European Magazine and London Review’. (Eliza’s grandfather, Samuel, the son of a planter, was a merchant, who owned 113 acres of land in St Paul’s and 35 acres in St Mary’s.) When William was appointed Captain of Fort James – which had originally been built in the 18th century to protect St John’s Harbour – it seems that the family moved into the Fort, where it had been the custom for the Captain to receive a fee of eighteen shillings from each passing vessel and, if the fee was not forthcoming, a swift reminder would be fired across the bow of the ship from one of the cannon on the ramparts, many of which are still in situ today.
William and Eliza had at least eight children. They were: Dr William E. Ledeatt, MD; Charles Sedgwick; Frederick Heath, b. 1839; Eliza – who died as an infant in 1819; Louisa Manning; Georgina Ellen, b. 1823; Selina Maria, b. circa 1831 (who married Captain Clayton Samuel Hext Hingston, 3rd West India Regt); and Eliza Adelaide, b. 1836. V L Oliver mentions the baptism of another son in 1823, William Manning Ledeatt, who does not appear on the family tree, but whose name is included in the 1853 List of Fellows and Members of the Royal College of Physicians; he may possibly be one and the same as the William E. Ledeatt, MD who trained at King’s College London and who is shown on the tree.
Hélène Reade, July 2013
For further reading on the heirs of Selina Ledeatt turn to ‘The Fishing Fleet – Husband Hunting in the Raj’ which tells the story of young women who went out to India during the Raj and includes a chapter on Selina’s great granddaughter, Sheila Hingston: http://www.annedecourcy.com/publications/the-fishing-fleet-husband-hunting-in-the-raj/
Sources: Oliver, Vere Langford: ‘History of the Island of Antigua.’ Vols I, II and III”. Mitchell and Hughes, London, 1899. Sheridan, R.B.: ‘The Rise of a Colonial Gentry: A Case Study of Antigua, 1730-1775.’ The Economic History Review, 13 (1961). Anonymous (but thought to be by Mrs Langley): ‘Antigua and the Antiguans: A Full Account of the Colony and Its Inhabitants.’ 2 Vols. Saunders and Otley, London 1844.
‘A Chronological History of Betty’s Hope.’ Museum of Antigua & Barbuda. http://antiguahistory.net/Museum/bettyshoperesearch.htm
Headlam, Cecil (Editor) ‘Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Vol. 30 1717-1718.’ Institute of Historical Research.1930 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=74047&strquery=Ledeatt
Original version of Ledeatt family tree in Oliver, Vere Langford: https://archive.org/details/historyofislando02oliv/page/170
Map from Journal of a Lady of Quality (Yale University Press, 1923) contributed by Jan Augustin; Louisa portrait from Nugent archives.