Samuel Gist was born in Bristol, England in the early eighteenth century. But he was soon orphaned and sent as an apprentice to Virginia. He not only survived this tough start in life; he became a successful tobacco planter, a colleague of George Washington and eventually rose to be one of the most successful businessmen on both sides of the Atlantic. He developed an almost Midas-like passion for money, even though he had no male heir to inherit his wealth. Gist was famously mean towards his former neighbours in America, but his former slaves praised him and his daughters for their kindness and concern for their welfare. When he died, Gist was an impressive ninety-two years old, and left large sums to a wide range of charities. But in North America he is largely known for freeing his slaves, the largest manumission by a single person. He left money for their care and for their education, but his legacy was never fully realised. Only a small settlement survives in Ohio, but the descendants of his freed slaves now form a community to commemorate their ancestors and the confusing, complicated man who once owned them.