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Walcott was awarded land on the Swan River on 14 December 1830 [1]
Biographical information
Along with Ridley, Walcott was one of the first large land grantees in WA. Both had substantial capital and were awarded prime allotments on Wadjuk Noongar Boodjar (Country), on Derbarl Yerrigan (the Swan River), opposite the Governor of WA and near the junction of the Helena and Swan Rivers. American historian Warren Bert Kimberly described Ridley and Walcott amongst those first colonists who had ‘chosen places where the soil appeared most promising, and where they could partake of the advantage of river transit’. [1] Kimberly recorded awards of land in 1830 on the Swan 'to C. D. Ridley, 1,432½ acres in fee simple, 1st May; and on 14th December 1830 James Walcott, 16,083, fee simple; 17th December, Charles D. Ridley, 8,750.' [1] Jane Lydon explains that 'Before 1832 ... colonists arriving before the end of 1830 could claim 40 acres for every £3 of capital invested, and those arriving after December 1830 could claim 20 acres. According to the land schedule (or Return of Property on which land has been claimed from 1st September to 30th June 1830), Walcott’s family comprised one wife, 6 children and 7 servants; his ‘amount of property’ comprised £105 servants and children, livestock £282, 10 ½ s., implements and machinery £337 11s., provisions £253 12s. 11 ¼, seeds and plants £16, 15s. 7d., miscellaneous £137 2s. 9d., totalling £1,132 12s. 3 ¼ d (‘property inapplicable to the cultivation of land’ £442).' [1] Though Ridley and Walcott had adjoining blocks, there are signs that they went their own ways after arrival, such as a dispute in late 1835 regarding an agreement to erect a party fence between their adjoining properties. But they were still neighbours in February 1837 when the local newspaper reported a terrible fire at Walcott's property, 'which, in less than ten minutes, destroyed the whole of the thatched dwelling-house, and kitchen adjoining, with about thirty bushels of barley, and ten of wheat, in the latter building.' Ridley's son is referenced as one of the Walcott's neighbours in this article. [1]
Links to slavery
Walcott was owner of the 'Good Hope' sugar plantation, and owner of the St Christopher estate with John Walcott, probably his brother. Good Hope and St Christopher were both within Demerara - today part of what is known as Guyana. On 30 November 1835 John Walcott was awarded £7256 for 134 enslaved people. So James may have bought out his brother in 1826. [1] Slavery heritage of Demerara: Demerara is today part of what is known as Guyana. Some of the earliest settlers of Guyana were Arawak, Carib, and possibly Warao. Although Christopher Columbus sighted the Guyana coast in 1498 and Spain claimed the area, the first Europeans to colonise the land were the Dutch in the late 16th century. In the mid-17th century the Dutch began bringing over enslaved people from West Africa to cultivate sugarcane. From the 1740s, English settlers from Caribbean islands began to move in on the region, first on the island of Wakenaam, then on the coast of Essequibo, followed by Demerara. By 1760, the British were the largest contingent in Demerara. During the Napoleonic wars the British and French in particular fought over the land, but in 1796 the British captured the territories and except for short intervals held 'possession'. In 1831 the British combined Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice to form 'British Guiana'. In 1823 Demerera was the site of one of the greatest uprisings of enslaved people in history: the 1823 Demerara rebellion involved over 10,000 enslaved people and was crucial in the dismantling of Caribbean slave systems. [1]
Attitudes around race
Attitudes around labour