Black history month: Nathaniel Wells' rise from slavery to slave owner

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Nathaniel Wells, born on St Kitts in 1779, was the son of William Wells, a sugar planter and merchant, and his enslaved house worker, Juggy.

Instead of facing a life of slavery himself, he was sent away to school in London at 10. Nathaniel then went on to marry the daughter of George II's royal chaplain, and served as justice of the peace, high sheriff and church warden from his country estate near Chepstow.

When Wells' father died in 1794, he inherited a fortune estimated at £200,000, much of which he used to purchase his Piercefield House estate, as well as contributing generously to a fund to construct the distinctive octagonal tower on his parish church of St Arvans.

Yet his benevolence in Wales seems to have been in stark contrast to his attitude towards his fellow slaves in St Kitts.

Upon inheriting his father's estates, the only person he freed was his mother.


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