Life 1782 - 1865
Admission year 1800
Place connected Jamaica
Rowland was admitted to Christ's in 1800. He later became an M.P. for Hertfordshire between 1835 and 1841, having aligned himself with the Anti-Slavery Society's campaign to emancipate enslaved people in the British Empire.
Connection to enslavement
Rowland married Rose Milles, the heiress and daughter of Jeremiah and Rose Milles.¹ ²
Rose's mother (Rowland's mother-in-law) outlived her, and made a claim for compensation for 122 enslaved people on a Jamaican estate. However, she died in 1835, shortly before the award was made. Accordingly, the award was amended in favour of Rowland (as her son-in-law), and his son Rowland Gardiner.³ ⁴
They were the sole awardees in the claim, receiving £2505 4s 11d in compensation for 122 enslaved people, something Rowland admitted to amounting to 'half the value of [his] entire property'.⁴ ⁵
Despite the accusation that he himself owned slaves, Rowland supported the abolitionist cause and unsuccessfully contested Hertfordshire as a parliamentary candidate of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1832.⁵ When asked about why he owned slaves yet supported emancipation, he said he came to his slaves 'by marriage' and would happily emancipate them if 'the instant provision was made to ensure them employment and food'.⁵ He opposed plans to bind those recently emancipated into other forms of unfree labour, and campaigned for a swift end to indenture after emancipation.⁵
¹ Venn, J.A., ed. (1940) "Alston, Rowland". Alumni Cantabrigienses (Part 2). Vol.1, Cambridge University Press - via Internet Archive. ² Legacies of British Slavery database, 'Rose Alston (née Milles)', http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146661221 [accessed 1st August 2022]. ³ Legacies of British Slavery database, 'Rowland Alston', http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/21392 [accessed 1st August 2022]. ⁴ Legacies of British Slavery database, 'Jamaica St Thomas-in-the-East, Surrey 549 (Georgia)', http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/claim/view/21392 [accessed 1st August 2022]. ⁵ Phillip, Salmon, 'MP of the month: Rowland Alston (1782-1865)', 2016, https://victoriancommons.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/mp-of-the-month-rowland-alston-1782-1865/ [accessed 1st August 2022].