The Kellermans of Bloxburg

James Robertson’s Maps of Jamaica | National Library of Scotland
The map of Jamaica was produced by James Robertson from land surveys of Jamaica
between 1796 and 1799 and published in 1804.

Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman (b 1826) was my 2nd great-grandmother. Her father was Thomas Penny Kellerman, sr. (1788-1834) and her mother was Mary Ann Austin (1801-1897). They had seven children: Ellen, Charlotte, Jacob, Ann, Thomas, jr., Sophia, and of course Elizabeth.

The father of Thomas—Elizabeth’s grandfather—was Jacob Kellerman. Jacob was usually known as “John.” He was of Prussian birth and had arrived in Jamaica in the 1750s and was naturalized on 1 Oct 1762. The author Charles John Samuel Thompson wrote in his book Alchemy and Alchemists that John Kellerman was, “a man of gigantic stature who, in order to avoid being pressed into a regiment of giants formed by Frederick the Great, fled to the West Indies [Jamaica] where he married Elizabeth Penny.” Jacob and Elizabeth Kellerman had four daughters and two sons: Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Sofia, John and Thomas.

In 1764 Jacob (John) Kellerman was granted 300 acres of land, which became the Bloxburgh estate. It was located in the Port Royal Mountains on top of a hill north of Bull Bay. Bloxburgh was a coffee estate with over 200 slaves, which also grew limes, oranges, cinnamon, cocoa, cotton and tamarind. By the time of Jacob’s death, Bloxburgh had grown to over 1,200 acres, and he owned several other income-producing properties, including Somerset Vale, Windsor Forest, New Ramble Pen, Farm Hill Plantation and houses, including his wife Elizabeth’s home in England. Going by extracts from Jacob’s will, his wealth amounted to well over £100,000.

On the map above, I have circled two locations at which James Robertson located Kellerman holdings on the map of his land surveys of Jamaica between 1796 and 1799 and published in 1804. The Kellerman property in the upper right corner is presumably the coffee mountain and the property near the coast close by Cane River would likely be a sugar plantation.

In Donna Kenny’s book, Jacob is claimed (unknown source) to be a relative of François Christophe Kellermann or de Kellermann, 1st Duc de Valmy (28 May 1735 – 23 September 1820), who was a French military commander, later the Général d’Armée, and a Marshal of France. Marshal Kellermann served in varying roles throughout the entirety of two epochal conflicts, the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.

Jacob’s wife, Elizabeth, née Penny, was the daughter of John and Mary Penny. John Penny was a planter from the old Jamaican parish of Port Royal (much of which has been absorbed by modern-day Kingston-St. Andrew parishes). John Penny was also an Assistant Judge of the Common Pleas and of the Quorum and a Captain in the Port Royal Regiment. John Penny left most of his considerable estate to his grandson John Penny Kellerman, a.k.a. The Alchemist.

Elizabeth lived in England for many years prior to her first husband’s death. She remarried so her will (made in 1811 and proved 05 Aug 1831) was in the name of Elizabeth Bramley of Stamford Hill. She made her daughter Sophia Mathilda her universal legatee. In a codicil of 1829, she identified herself as the widow of John Jacob Kellerman of Jamaica, and heir of her uncle Thomas Penny of Berkshire.

Lodgemore Mills.
They make cloth for professional billiard tables and Wimbledon tennis balls.

Jacob and Elizabeth’s eldest daughter was Elizabeth (b 13 Oct 1773) married Richard Cooke, a clothier and the owner of Logemore Mills (pictured above) in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England. The Cookes lived at Farm Hill in Stroud. It later became the site of the Abolition Arch erected in 1833 by Henry Wyatt of Stroud (pictured below).

Abolition Arch | Erected in 1833 by Henry Wyatt of Stroud

 According to a BBC WebsiteHenry Wyatt’s Memorial Arch in Stroud, Gloucestershire, is England’s only existing monument to the abolition of the slave trade. The arch is inscribed:


In 1833, the Cookes sold Farmhill Park to Henry Wyatt. It was an estate consisting of a house and sixty acres of parkland. 

I know little of Jacob and Elizabeth’s daughters, Mary and Anne, and I’ve already written about their older son John Penny Kellerman, the “Alchemist,” so we’ll look next at his younger son Thomas Penny Kellerman.

Thomas was born 19 Jun 1788 at St. Mary’s, Lambeth, Surrey, England. (Remember his mother lived in England.) When only seven- or eight-years-of-age, he inherited the Bloxburgh estate which had become a significant property employing over 200 enslaved persons. His properties in Jamaica were managed by his attorney there, a St. David Parish planter named John Lee.

By 1811, Thomas had returned to Jamaica to manage his own affairs and by 1813 he is recorded as Quarter Master of the Port Royal Militia, then an ensign in 1814, a lieutenant in 1845, and a Captain in 1818. In 1819, Thomas was Assistant Judge, Court of Common Pleas and this was about the time he took a common-law wife, Mary Ann Austin, the daughter of his neighbour Charles Austin of Stafford Hall. They had seven children: Jacob (poisoned by his slave nurse – Jamaica Almanac 1820), Ann, Ellen, Charlotte Penny, Elizabeth Matilda (my 2nd great grandmother), Thomas, and Sophia.

Sometime after September 1826, Thomas Mary Ann and their family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. I don’t know when they sold their properties in Jamaica but by 1829 Bolxburgh was owned by Messrs. William Parke and Richard Hall. Unfortunately, Thomas died on 21 Sep 1934, he was only 45 years of age. Following his death, his son Thomas, jr. and his daughter Sophia died and following their deaths his wife Mary Ann moved back to Jamaica. Mary Ann lived on in Jamaica until she was nearly 100 years of age. She died at Tankerville, the home of her daughter Charlotte Penny Cripps, who had married Thomas Norman Cripps formerly of London, England.

None of my Kellermans left a male heir who could carry on their name—the Jamaican Kellerman family had daughtered-out.

The Kellerman Bloxburgh estate was made infamous by a book by Benjamin M’Mahon—Jamaica Plantership: Eighteen Years Employed in the Planting Line on that Island. (London, Effingham Wilson: J. Matthew Printer. 1839). The author, a young Irishman tells of working as a bookkeeper on the Bloxburgh Estate. He writes a damning account of slavery with details of how cruelly treated the slaves were, and how very shocked he was by many of the things he saw. M’Mahon describes, among many atrocities, how the slaves were shackled together whilst they worked long hours in the fields and flogged to force them to work harder. The practices on the estate eventually caused him to leave to look for work elsewhere on the island. M’Mahon describes Thomas Penny Kellerman, Bloxburgh’s proprietor at the time, as “a kind-hearted and good-natured man” whose character was ruined by his neighbour Charles Austin’s “seductive and treacherous arts.”

I have read M’Mahon’s book (long out of print, but available on the Internet in digital form) and, believe me, it is not easy reading. Here’s an excerpt from another publication, Planters and Slave Resistance: Two Original Accounts, by Erin Hodge:

M’Mahon’s experiences at Bloxburgh Estate also enabled him to describe the ways in which the interactions between various plantation managers influenced the treatment of the resisting slaves. When the proprietor, T.P. [Thomas Penny] Kellerman, formed a relationship with Charles Austin, a neighboring plantation overseer described as ‘a monster in human shape,’ Kellerman rapidly became just as merciless. … M’Mahon pointed at the following as the reason for this rapid change in administration: ‘No man could succeed in the planting line, but one whose heart was hard and adamant; he must have no pity for the Negro….’

Pretty strong stuff! We don’t get to choose our ancestors. Folks, family research is not for the squeamish! I’ll have more to say about the Austins in a future essay.

Kellerman Family

1-Jacob (John) Kellerman b. Prussia, d. Abt Jun 1796, Jamaica, WI
 + Johanna Salome Weiser d. Feb 1769, Kingston Jamaica, WI
 + Elizabeth Penny d. 1831, England
...2-Elizabeth Kellerman b. 13 Oct 1773
    + Richard Cooke 
...2-John Penny Kellerman b. 6 Sep 1775, Jamaica, WI, d. After 1828, France
...2-Mary Kellerman b. 14 Jan 1778, Jamaica, WI
    + John Roebuck 
...2-Thomas Penny Kellerman JP b. 1788, c. 19 Jun 1788, St. Mary's, Lambeth, 
     Surrey, England, d. 21 Sep 1834, Philadelphia, Penn., USA
    + Mary Ann Austin b. 11 Dec 1801, Kingston, Jamaica, WI, d. 1897, 
     Tankerville, St. Andrew, Jamaica, WI
......3-Ellen Kellerman 
       + John Spence 
......3-Charlotte Penny Kellerman d. 1907
       + Thomas Norman Cripps b. London, England, UK, d. 30 Mar 1897, Kingston, 
        Jamaica, WI
......3-Jacob Kellerman b. 5 Jan 1820, Kingston, Jamaica, BWI
......3-Ann Kellerman b. 28 May 1822, Kingston, Jamaica, BWI
       + George Grant Scotland b. 1818, d. 21 Nov 1868, Anotto Bay, Jamaica
......3-Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman b. 11 Feb 1826, M K Penn, Kingston, 
        Jamaica, WI
       + Donald Binnie Campbell b. 14 Nov 1825, Water Lane, Kingston, Jamaica, 
        WI, c. 31 May 1826, Kingston Jamaica, WI, d. 6 Jul 1855, Kingston, Jamaica, WI
.........4-Alexander James Campbell b. 16 Nov 1848, Charlotte St., Kingston, 
           Jamaica, WI, c. 17 Jan 1849, Kingston, Jamaica, WI, d. 14 Jan 1917, Kingston, 
           Jamaica, WI
          + Ida Julia Brandon b. 14 Jul 1860, d. 23 Jan 1942, Crossroads, Saint 
           Andrew, Jamaica, WI
.........4-Donald Spence Campbell b. 16 Dec 1850, Kingston, Jamaica, BWI, c. 25 
           Jun 1851, Kingston Jamaica, WI, d. 8 Aug 1888, at 3 Fleet Street, Kingston, 
           Jamaica, BWI
......3-Thomas Kellerman b. 1831, USA?, d. 9 Aug 1835, USA
......3-Sophia Kellerman b. 1833, USA, d. 28 Jul 1835, USA
...2-Anne Kellerman b. Bef Jun 1788, Jamaica, W.I.
    + Robert Holden 
...2-Sofia Matilda Kellerman