THE MICO TRUST

There is an interesting end-piece to the story of the Barbary Corsairs which involved Thomas Fowell Buxton. After the emancipation of the slaves in the West Indies, Buxton was seeking funds to establish a school in Jamaica. He became aware of a fund called the Lady Mico Trust which was dormant.

The Mico fund was established by Sir Samuel Mico, born in Weymouth, who had made his fortune in India.

On his death in 1666, he bequeathed most of his estate to his widow and to his nephew, Samuel, but he left the George Tavern and a sum of £500 to the town of Weymouth for the preaching of an annual sermon in the parish church, for the binding out of three poor children apprentices and for the relief of ten poor decayed seamen of the town, aged 60 and upwards.

Lady Mico in her turn with her share of Samuel’s estate, established her own trust.

In her will Lady Mico left a sum of £1000 for the redemption of Christian slaves in Barbary, a problem which her husband, as a member of the Court of Levant Company, would have been very familiar. This money was invested in the purchase of a wharf and and premises at Castle Baynard, but with the exception of one payment in the 1730s, the income was never used, and by 1830 a sum of over £100,000 had accumulated.

In 1835 it was diverted by those concerned with the emancipation of slaves in the British West Indies to the education of freed slaves. A prime mover in this matter was Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, a great grandson of Charles Buxton, Master of the Mercers’ Company in 1768, although not himself a Mercer. The fund was used to set up elementary schools throughout the British West Indies and to found a teachers’ training college at Kingstone, Jamaica.

The Schools were soon afterwards handed over to various religious societies, who also maintained schools in the islands, but MicoCollege, Kingstone, remained the responsibility of the Mico Trustees and is now the second largest teachers’ training college in Jamaica. The Buxton family have been represented on the Board of Trustees of the College since its inception.