The Tudway Family

The Tudway family were ‘Absentee Planters’, who owned the Parham plantations on the Caribbean Island of Antigua from 1679 to 1944. A branch of the family moved to Wells in the late 17th century and became substantial landowners and employers, with holdings both in and outside of the city. They acted locally as mayors, judges, and MPs for nearly a century. With slavery-derived wealth they built grand properties and supported local causes as major benefactors and philanthropists. This webpage covers the lives of nine generations of the Tudway family who had direct involvement with their Antiguan plantations until they were sold in 1944.

The Tudway family rose to financial and political prominence directly because of the British involvement in the transatlantic mercantile activities of the day. The transportation and trafficking of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic was for the purpose of exploiting their labour on Caribbean plantations in order to create wealth. In 1679, a London merchant, Clement Tudway 1 (1649-1688), bought a sugar plantation known as Parham Hill, in St. Peter’s Parish, Antigua. Successive generations of Tudways, who relocated to Wells in the early eighteenth century, would continue to purchase and exploit the labour of enslaved Africans on their Antiguan plantations to produce sugar, molasses and rum for commercial sale.

Sugar Box, 1744/45. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Public domain)) The use of enslaved labour drove the increasing availability of sugar in Britain, fuelling an insatiable appetite for this sweetener. Sugar containers became fashionable tableware and expensive examples such as this were a way for the rich to display their wealth.

This continued after emancipation in 1834 when the Tudways continued to grow sugar cane using low paid agricultural workers until the sale of the estates in 1944. The Tudway family also became involved in the transatlantic trafficking of Africans itself. Several Tudways owned shares in the South Sea Company which trafficked enslaved Africans to South America. Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the wealth and power the family derived from the trafficking and the enforced labour of enslaved Africans on their plantations would be transformational for the City of Wells in countless ways.

Portrait of Charles Tudway, MP.
Portrait of Charles Tudway, MP. This is a copy of the oil painting, c.1765, of Charles Tudway, MP, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), which remains inside Cedars House, Wells, today.
(The original is owned by The Courtauld, London (The Samuel Courtauld Trust)).

Thomas Tudway is the first recorded Tudway in the family’s tree1. His date or place of birth is not known, but he has been referred to as a ‘gentleman’ placing him on the lower rungs of nobility. Thomas is recorded as being a ‘Lay Clerk’ of St George’s Chapel, Windsor from 1628/9 to the time of the English Civil War in 1642 when he fled and moved to Canterbury. He married Anne Plat, daughter of Richard Plat, son of Sir Hugh Plat Bart,2 and they had the first four of their eight children being Clement (1649-1688), Thomas (1650- 1726), Richard (1656-1707) and Elizabeth (1658-?).

Bird’s Eye View of Windsor Castle by W. Hollar, c1670. St George’s Chapel is in the top left within the outer walls.
(Reproduced by permission of the Dean and Canons of Windsor. ©The Dean and Canons of Windsor.)


Upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Thomas returned to Windsor with Ann and the children. His fifth child, Charles (1660-1689), was born the same year, presumably named after the new monarch, King Charles II, suggesting Thomas’s Royalist loyalties. John and William were born, and died, in 1662, with daughters Ann and Suzanne following after. Suzanne is not mentioned on the family tree but is mentioned in the wills of the other siblings who were living in 1707.

Thomas died in 1671, leaving no will, so Ann was allowed to take the chattels from their house, returning with the youngest children to her family in Essex. Clement and Thomas were independent grown men, but Ann was still responsible for Richard, Elizabeth, Anne and Suzanne.

Ann Tudway died in 1715.

  1. Source: Oliver, V L. (1895), Pedigree of Tudway in The History of the Island of Antigua, Vol 3, Mitchell and Hughes. London, p. 156
  2. Source: Oliver, V L. (1895), Pedigree of Tudway in The History of the Island of Antigua, Vol 3, Mitchell and Hughes. London, p. 156. However, no marriage records or indeed birth records for Ann have been found. It is unclear where Oliver found his information

Thomas Tudway’s sons who were involved in transatlantic slavery were Clement 1 (1649-1688), Richard (1656-1707) and Charles 1 (1660-1692).

Thomas’s other children were Thomas (1650-1726), who became a professor of music and was not involved with the enslavement of Africans in any way. Then there were daughters Elizabeth, who married Joseph Whitfield in 1679 and lived in the Strand in London where they were connected to Clement 1 and Richard, and Anne, who married a Mr Cooper.

Clement 1, the oldest son, came to live in the City of London where he married Rachel Clowdesley, and had four children: Elizabeth, born 1676; Rachel born 1678; Sarah, born 1679, baptised 1680; and Clement 2, who was born 1684 according to birth records1. However, in his book, The History of the Island of Antigua, Vol III, Oliver’s record of the Tudway family tree states this birth was in 16742, making him 10 years older. As the primary source is the baptism record, this is taken as the correct information. The children were baptised at St Margaret Moses Church, Little Friday Street, City of London and Clement and Rachel were buried at St Albans Church, Wood Street, London.

Clement 1 was a ‘gentleman and merchant’ and we can safely say that his interests lay in sugar trading and possibly trafficking of Africans, although no evidence has yet surfaced to verify the latter. He amassed sufficient capital and knowledge of the sugar business enabling him in 1679 to invest in a sugar plantation business at Parham in Antigua and in the shared lease of land in Barbuda. After his death in 1688, his widow, Rachel, was left to manage the plantations as an absentee owner in order to support herself and her children, then aged twelve, ten, nine and five years.

The Guildhall, Gresham Street, London ( Richards)
The Guildhall was where the 15 Lord Mayors, 25 Sheriffs and 38 Aldermen in the City of London met between 1660 and 1690. They were all shareholders in the Royal African Company, the primary organisation responsible for the triangular trade between Britain, West Africa and the Americas where the trafficking of the enslaved was the source of extreme wealth that built this great hall

Richard Tudway
, also of the City of London, was said to be a merchant of London and a ‘Master Mariner in the Antigua Trade’ who took packet ships to and from London and Antigua. He was also an experienced ship’s captain and was directly involved in the trafficking of enslaved Africans. He is named for at least five ships, with others, as an investor between 1698 and 1704 in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database3. It appears he also spent time on Parham as his will (dated 1707) left a tenement in Parham Town to his sister-in-law Mary, married to Charles 1, and their son Charles 24.

Transporting Enslaved Africans to the Colonies This is an image of a ship with a deck full of enslaved Africans. Oursel (1785-1859) was mariner and drawer.
(Musée d’Histoire, Saint-Malo (52.46.1))

Charles 1
came to Wells as a chorister in the Cathedral but there seemed to have been a quarrel and he left. He married Mary Robinson of Wells in 1683, having his only son Charles 2 in 1684. Leaving his wife and son, he went to Antigua in 1687 to manage the Parham plantation for his brother, Clement 1, until Clement died in 1689. Charles then took over running the plantation, as directed by his brother in his will, at the rate of 12% return on all profits. However, that was not for long, returning, not to his wife and son, but to Canterbury, where he died and was buried in 1693.

  1. Source: Find My Past, Record Transcription: England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975 |
  2. Source: Oliver, V L. (1895), Pedigree of Tudway in The History of the Island of Antigua, Vol 3, Mitchell and Hughes. London, p. 156
  3. Source:
  4. Source: Oliver, V L. (1895), Pedigree of Tudway in The History of the Island of Antigua, Vol 3, Mitchell and Hughes. London, p. 156

Clement Tudway 2 (1684-1749) was the only son of Clement 1, being 5 when his father died in 1688. He inherited the Parham estate on his mother’s death in 1730 when he was age 46. He did not marry so had no children. His father’s will said he should inherit when he came of age at 21 (1705), but at that time he was living in Lincoln, seemingly receiving education and very much dependent on his mother for allowances.

Several indentures were made between 1732 and 1762 leasing the land at Parham Hill along with ‘slaves and cattle’. This would have assured income without him needing to be a ‘hands on’ manager. After his mother’s death he inherited the estate which he left to his nephew Charles 3. He also left considerable shares in the South Sea Company to his nephews, Richard Clement, Robert Holloway and William Davis – the latter two men being husbands of his nieces, Elizabeth and Rachel. Obituaries in the London Magazine and the Gentleman’s Magazine of March 1749 referred to him as a ‘gentleman of a large estate in Lincoln’. (Gentleman’s Magazine 15 March 1749). However, that estate has not been identified.

Cover of the English Translation of the Asiento contract. The contract signed by Britain and Spain in 1713 granted exclusive rights to Britain to sell slaves in the Spanish Indies.
(Courtesy of the British Library Board (General Reference Collection T.938.(4.), cover page, BLL01001080456)) The Asiento des Negros was an agreement made between the Spanish Crown and individuals or states granting monopoly for the supply of enslaved Africans to, primarily, South America. In 1713 one was granted to the British South Sea Company. Clement Tudway 2 was known to have invested in this company and despite its crash, known as the South Sea Bubble, he made significant profits from it.

Charles Tudway 2
(1684-1723), a yeoman and grazier of New Street in Wells, was Charles 1’s only son. He was buried in St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells. He married Mary Cook and had nine children. It seems he did not have any particular involvement with the family’s Antiguan plantation, with his main interest being in sheep rearing for wool production as this was the prime industry in Wells at the time.

Charles Tudway 3 (1713-1770) married Hannah Moore and they had nine children. He inherited the Parham plantation from his Uncle Clement 2 in 1749 and set about organising the business by searching all the lease agreements with the help of a solicitor, Thomas Miller. He employed three Antiguan based attorneys to manage the estate – Robert Bannister, Stephen Blizard and William Farley – who oversaw the work of managers and were assisted by overseers, clerks and bookkeepers. Regular correspondence kept him informed of events on the plantation, returns on the sugar produced and the numbers of enslaved Africans on the estate which had grown to 480. Sugar was exported back to England and received by his company, Tudway and Smith, based in Bristol. After Charles 3’s death, the company was passed onto Charles 3’s son, Clement 3, to whom he left his entire estate including the Parham Plantations.

In 1651 he purchased land known as the Back Liberty, Wells, commissioning Thomas Paty to design and build him a substantial house to be called ‘ The Cedars of the Liberty of St Andrew in Wells’. Charles 3 was elected Tory MP for Wells from 1754 to 1761. He was also chief magistrate for Wells and very much involved with civic life in the City.

Robinson Tudway (1721-1763) was a hosier from Bristol. He was also entrusted to manage Tudway and Smith, receiving considerable amounts of sugar from the Caribbean plantations.

John Tudway (1719-1768+) a tinman, who lived in Mermaid Court Covent Garden in 1745, was Charles 3’s younger brother and was only tangentially involved in the family’s sugar business.

Portrait of Charles Tudway, MP.
Portrait of Charles Tudway, MP. This is a copy of the oil painting, c.1765, of Charles Tudway, MP, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), which remains inside Cedars House, Wells, today.
(The original is owned by The Courtauld, London (The Samuel Courtauld Trust)).


Portrait of Mrs Charles Tudway This is an oil painting, c.1760-1765, of Mrs Charles Tudway, painted by Thomas, Gainsborough (1727-88), and remains in Cedars House today.


Cedars House
Cedars House built by Charles Tudway 3  In 1755 Charles Tudway 3 purchased land known as the Back Liberty and signed an Agreement with Thomas Paty to demolish an old house and build a new one which was to be known as The Cedars. Paty’s accounts give an idea of the scale of the build and contain paylists of the artisans and labourers whose skilled hands and long hours created this monument to Tudway wealth.

Clement Tudway 3 (1734-1815) was the eldest son of Charles and Hannah. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Rowland Hill; they resided at The Cedars but had no children. Clement 3 was a barrister and mayor for Wells, later becoming a Justice of the Peace and then MP for Wells for 55 years, eventually becoming Father of the House, the title given to the MP with the longest record of continuous service. It appears he valued the influence of the position rather than being an active Member and voted against the abolition of the ‘slave trade’.

He manumitted (legally released) several enslaved persons on his estate. One was a ‘mulatto’, Alick Dow, manumitted for the sum of £100 by Deed Poll in 1806 and the others were a seamstress and her two young sons, manumitted in 1801 at the request of manager Samuel Eliot. On Clement 3’s death he left the estates of Somerset and Antigua to his wife, Elizabeth, who was not interested in managing the estates so the income from sugars declined considerably. When she died in 1828 the estates were passed to Clement 3’s nephew John Paine Tudway.

Robert Tudway (c 1738/1740-1800), Clement 3’s brother, married Mary Paine of Wells in 1765 and had ten children. Robert was three times Mayor of Wells and was involved with Parham plantation and the sugar trade. Their son, John Paine Tudway, inherited from his uncle Clement 3.

Portrait of Clement Tudway (Thomas Gainsborough, Clement Tudway (1734–1815), 1773, Oil on canvas, 30 3/16 x 25 1/4 in. (76.7 x 64.1 cm) North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Gift of Mrs. Lillian Boscowitz in memory of her mother Mrs. Franklin Terry, G.60.11.1.)
A copy of this painting is in Cedars House.


Portrait of Elizabeth Tudway (Oil painting, 1773, of Elizabeth Tudway by Thomas Gainsborough, Philadelphia Museum of Art: The George W. Elkins Collection, 1924, E1924-4-12.)
A copy of this painting is in Cedars House.


Memorial to Clement Tudway 3 (1734 – 1815)
The memorial, in St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells, commemorates Clement’s positions as Mayor of Wells and Member of Parliament. No mention is made of his ownership of enslaved Africans.


Bristol Harbour c.1850
Sugar from the Tudway Plantations was brought into Bristol Docks.
(Bristol Archives)

John Paine Tudway (1775-1835) married Francis (Fanny) Gould and had eleven children with nine surviving. They resided at The Cedars where the 1841 Census showed she was widowed and living with children Robert (30), Emma (25), Mary (17) and Harriet (15). John Paine Tudway was Oxford educated and was a military man, later becoming a JP and MP for Wells after his father. He took control of the Antigua estates which he modernised and leased out for a few years. He seemed more concerned with improving The Cedars and developing local estates in Somerset.

Slavery was abolished at the end of his lifetime and the compensation paid to slave owners was inherited by his son Robert Charles.

In 1851 Fanny along with Emma and Harriet lived at 40 Chamberlain Street, Wells. On his death, valuable paintings by Poussin, Rembrandt and Baptiste were found in the cellar along with over 1500 bottles of wine and Port as well as more than 100 gallons of Brandy and Rum. Seven Rifles and Bayonets were also found, said to be employed in the Bristol Riots of 1831.

Chandelier in Wells Town Hall
The chandelier was a gift from John Tudway.


Map of Parham Plantations Owned by John Paine Tudway, 1819
(SHC DD/TD/58/6 (2a) Maps of Antiguan Plantations (1754-1819) Reproduced with permission from South West Heritage Trust).


Map of Land owned by the Tudways in Wells, Wookey, Wedmore, Coxely, South Brent [Brent Knoll], Dinder and Croscombe [part of deed] (1829)
(Maps of Wells SHC DD/TD/58/5/5, reproduced with permission from the South West Heritage Trust)

Robert Charles Tudway (1808-1855) was educated at Harrow and Oxford. He married Maria Catherine Miles with whom he had two sons, only one of whom survived. The family was resident at The Cedars until his death when Maria moved to a smaller house. He was also JP, High Sherriff and MP for Wells.

Robert took a greater interest in the Antiguan estates and visited several times, introducing more improvements. The labour force on the estates endured the same miserable conditions as before, only they were no longer enslaved, but poorly paid labourers.

In 1851, Robert was recorded as living at the Cedars with wife Maria and sons Charles (6) and William (2) who died young. In 1881, Maria was recorded on the Census as visiting Ann Mary Jerrett in Camerton Street, Somerton. Maria had philanthropic interests, including the building of a church and school in Dulcote.

View of Dulcote School and Chapel, 1902
This was erected and maintained by Mrs. M. C. Tudway, wife of Robert Charles Tudway. (©Ian Bendall)

Charles Clement Tudway (1846-1926) was just 9 years old when he inherited the Antiguan estates, with his grandfather, Sir William Miles and uncle, Reverend Henry Tudway, taking care of the business until he came of age. Educated at Harrow and Cambridge, he also became a JP. His first wife, Lady Edith Nelson, died leaving one surviving daughter from two born, and he subsequently married Alice Constance Hervey-Bathurst in 1884, with whom he had four children. He was also a more ‘hands on’ plantation owner, purchasing Crabbs Estate in 1899 and then Vernons Estate in 1910. Neither land was productive for sugar production.

Charles Clement Tudway

The 1871 census records him as living at the Cedars with wife Lady Edith and 12 servants; his occupation is Magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant, Somerset. In 1881, the census records daughter Madeleine Constance, aged 7, (daughter of Lady Edith) and ten servants; she appears to be alone as the parents are absent. The 1891 Census records him living at 17 Lower Berkely Street in London W.1. where it is stated he is a JP of Somerset – being a sugar plantation owner is not mentioned. He lived there with his wife, Alice Constance, daughters, Madeleine Constance (17) and Gladys Caroline (3), son, Hervey Robert Charles (2), along with 11 servants, including a Prussian Governess and a Butler.

Lionel Charles Paul Tudway (1893-1962) was born in London at 3 Nottingham Place. He was a naval man and fought in WW1. He inherited the Parham Estates in 1926 and sold them to the Antigua Syndicate Estates for shares which were then acquired by the Antiguan Government’s Antigua Sugar Factory soon after. In 1913 he sold off most of the Somerset estates too.

Here our story of the Tudways’ involvement in Transatlantic Slavery and sugar plantations in the Caribbean ends. However, a new chapter opens with the unionisation of the sugar cane workers and their struggle for better working conditions and pay. In 1939 the worker’s living conditions were intolerable leading to the formation of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (ATLU) which fought to bring about improvements, securing better rights for the workers.

This enormous task owes much to two significant websites and a number of other sources.

Legacies of British Slavery1 is a database built by the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at University College London (UCL). It records details of the Caribbean planters who claimed compensation for financial loss represented by the emancipation of the enslaved persons working on their plantations. On this website there is also an interactive map of the UK which shows the locations where planters, both absentee and resident in the Caribbean, had their UK homes. From this website it is easy to see how widespread the owning of enslaved persons was. A search on this database has a link to Wells and to the Tudway family.

The second important research database is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database which lists extensively the journeys of ships to Africa for the capture and purchase of men, women and children, the embarking of them on that horrific journey across the ‘Middle Passage’ destined for their disembarkation in the colonised Americas to begin their lives as chattel slaves. The database provides information on the ships, their captains, and their owner/investors, as well as data on how many human beings survived those journeys and how many died en route.

This provides the bigger picture, but the detail for the Tudway family has been preserved from primary source material in the form of boxes of letters, accounts, leases and other miscellaneous material that was found in a huge chest in the cellar of Cedars Hall which, by the mid 20th century, was part of the Wells Cathedral School. These documents were presented by David Tudway-Quilter to the Somerset Heritage Centre where they are available for the public to research the family and their involvement in their slave laboured sugar plantations in Antigua. The material covers the late 17th century right through to emancipation and the eventual sale of the family plantations in the mid-20th century.

Further documentation is obtained from a wide source of material, such as newspapers of the day, wills, censuses, and other records that complete a rich picture of this family, their lives in England, as well as that of the people who lived and worked on their plantations, as white overseers or as enslaved Africans. There is also some limited testimonial evidence from Antiguan descendants of the enslaved and the horrifically exploited sugar cane workers, free only in name.

In compiling this information, we are also indebted to David Tudway Quilter who wrote a history of his family, particularly with reference to their lives in Wells, as part of a commemorative history of Wells Cathedral School providing historical background of Cedars Hall building used by the school today2.

  2. Source: Tudway-Quilter, D (1985) The Cedars and the Tudways in A History of Wells Cathedral School. Somerset. Clare and Son

The Buildings

Exploring the buildings connected to The Tudway Family

Take a closer look at the Wells’ landmarks connected to The Tudway Family, prominent slave traders in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Related Talks & Resources

Talks and Resources connected to The Tudway Family

These talks reveal the findings of historical research that connects The Tudway Family to transatlantic slavery and consider the enduring legacies that exist today. 

Explore More People

Discover the other notable figures linked to transatlantic slavery

Long Gallery with portraits
Over the centuries, many of the bishops of Bath and Wells have played significant roles beyond their pastoral and ecclesiastical duties; supporting the abolition of slavery was one of these.
'John Hothersall Pinder', National Portrait Gallery
The Revd. John H. Pinder was a slave-owner, plantation chaplain and inaugural principal of Wells Theological College.