William Middleton Campbell

Client

William Middleton Campbell (1849–1919) was the son of Colin Campbell (Junior) of Colgrain and Camis Eskan (1818–86), a wealthy sugar merchant who owned plantations in British Guiana (now Guyana). 1 Eton-educated Campbell became a partner in Demerara-based sugar traders Bosanquet, Curtis in 1878. 2 Known as Hogg, Curtis, Campbell & Co. from 1883, sometime-colleague Quintin Hogg was the founder of London’s polytechnic education system. 3 In 1899, Curtis, Campbell & Co. was created to reflect his son Colin Algernon's involvement. 4

Campbell was a director from 1886, and Governor from 1907–9, of the Bank of England. 5 He was also director of Commercial Union Assurance, and chairman of several Guyanese sugar plantation companies, which were wound up between 1904 (Anna Regina), 1908 (De Kinderen), and 1912 (Nonpareil). 6 This coincided with 'unsettled social conditions ... evidenced by ... disturbances on certain plantations employing indentured immigrants', which were sometimes violently suppressed by the British authorities. 7

Campbell held the landed gentry's usual ceremonial deputy-lieutenancy post for Dunbartonshire from 1895. 8 He was a 'liberal supporter of the London City Mission ... [and] a member of Cardross Parish Church', where he was eventually buried. 9 In Sussex, he had a 740-acre estate, Fen Place, conveniently situated for his numerous London businesses. 10

Another son, Norman Robert Campbell (1880–1949), was a distinguished theoretical physicist of the Cavendish and G.E.C. Laboratories. 11 Baron 'Jock' Campbell of Eskan (1912–94), 'socialist peer' and founder of the Booker Prize, was a grandson. He completely reformed and improved Booker-McConnell’s Guyanese sugar production, and rehoused the workers, in full awareness of his family's slave-owning heritage. 12

Notes:

1: ‘Campbell, William Middleton’, Who Was Who 1920–2008, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, www.ukwhoswho.com [accessed 9 March 2013].

2: The Times, 2 July 1878, p. 11; London Gazette, 3 July 1883, p. 3396.

3: London Gazette, 3 July 1883, p. 3396; 8 January 1895, p. 178; G. S. Woods and R. T. Stearn, ‘Hogg, Quintin (1845–1903)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2010, www.oxforddnb.com [accessed 3 April 2013].

4: Morning Post, 1 July 1899, p. 8.

5: The Times, 22 May 1919, p. 23.

6: The Times, 15 March 1883, p. 11; 26 February 1907, p. 14; 22 May 1919, p. 23; London Gazette, 24 June 1904, p. 4050; 23 June 1908, p. 4587; 2 January 1912, p. 70.

7: J. Pointer, and L. V. Harcourt, MPs, 'British Guiana (Plantation Riots)', Written Answers (Commons), 11 June 1913, Hansard 1803–2005, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com [accessed 3 April 2013].

8: London Gazette, 17 September 1895, p. 5198; Scotsman, 28 August 1919, p. 3.

9: Glasgow Herald, 21 May 1919, p. 6.

10: The Times, 12 June 1920, p. 28; Glasgow Herald, 21 May 1919, p. 6.

11: Isobel Falconer, ‘Campbell, Norman Robert (1880–1949)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, www.oxforddnb.com [accessed 15 March 2013].

12: J. F. Taylor, ‘Campbell, John Middleton, Baron Campbell of Eskan (1912–1994)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, www.oxforddnb.com; Peter Parker, 'Obituaries: Lord Campbell of Eskan', Independent, 4 January 1995, www.independent.co.uk; J. H. Galloway, 'Review of C. Seecharan, "Sweetening Bitter Sugar: Jock Campbell",' World Sugar History Newsletter, 36, July 2007, http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/wshn/ [all accessed 3 April 2013].