Robert Milligan (1746 – May 21, 1809) was a prominent Scottish merchant, slave-owner, slave-factor (port towns) and shipowner who was the driving force behind the construction of the West India Docks. His family made their fortune with sugar plantations in Jamaica. In 1779 he left the Caribbean for London, although he kept his interest in the family business. Arriving in the capital he was outraged to see the amount of theft taking place at London’s riverside wharves, this combined with the delays removing cargo from the ships led to large losses. Together with other shipowners, he planned and built West India Docks, which was to hold a monopoly on the import into London of West Indian produce such as sugar, rum and coffee for a period of 21 years. The Docks’ foundation stone was laid in July 1800. In 1809, the year of his death, Milligan owned 526 slaves who worked at his sugar plantation called Kellet’s and Mammee Gully. In June 2020 Town Hamlet’s Council took down his statue in West India Quay near the Museum of London Docklands in response to Black Lives Matters protests.
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