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Hercules Ross circa 1790

Hercules Ross of Rossie, in blue coat with gold buttons and red collar
signed with monogram on the obverse, set in the original gold frame the reverse with locks of hair tied with seed pearls on opalescent ground
oval, 3 inches high

Hercules Ross (1745 – December 25, 1816) was a Scottish merchant, who made a fortune in Jamaica, became an intimate friend of Horatio Nelson and figured prominently, if briefly, in the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade.
In 1761 he travelled to Jamaica, where he established himself successfully as a trader, naval prize agent and privateer ship owner and made the acquaintance of Nelson. He acquired a Jamaican mistress, Elizabeth Foord, a quadroon slave whom he later freed and by whom he had several children. One of their sons, Daniel Ross (1780-1849), later became a leading marine surveyor with the Indian navy and President of the Bombay Geographical Society.
In 1790, Ross embarked on a correspondence with William Wilberforce, which led to his giving evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Commons in support of the abolition of the slave trade. The evidence of Ross, as a former member of the planter society whose basis he now condemned, was considered of particular benefit and he was in consequence made an honorary and corresponding member of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
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