Barbados’ history and the Black experience is a misnomer. History was not about the black experience at all. It was a colonial affair from the start and continued well past emancipation. Even independence did not replace colonial domination of the economy and life in general. Servitude and mental slavery persisted well into the new age when Barbados formally broke ties with the Crown and became a republic. That changed attitudes, not always for the better, but it set a precedent that little England was moving on.
This page shares many of the resources and Barbados books that I found helpful in creating my Rogues’ history. The sources are good references for those who want to dig deeper. Rogues in Paradise does not include all of the details here. Writing the book, I had to stay focused and avoid going down all the rabbit holes of interesting facts. Rogues is about the People of Barbados, the lovable rogues and heroes I know. Writing about memories was a joy, while writing about history was far more complex. After all, I was not there!
23 The British Take Barbados …………133
24 Civil War & Barbados Charter……..137
25 Yeamans & Berringer …………………141
26 Mrs. Pringle & The Prince ………….147
27 Emancipation ……………………………151
28 Sam Lord-An Ingenious Pirate ……159
29 The Age of Rail …………………………163
30 Independence …………………………..169
Barbados was an accident mired in controversy. As we say in the Islands, “It was one set of confusion.” The king gave the island to two people. He could be forgiven for getting the geography wrong, as Barbados was an outliner and set apart. Unfortunately, the one man who did most to settle and colonize the uninhabited chunk of land lost everything. Still, the island prospered despite this, it became the wealthiest of all the British colonies in the Americas. The Barbados planters made fortunes in the sugar industry with the free labor of enslaved Africans.
There are few stories about the enslaved people. Author Andrea Stuart explains it simply as, “if you’re a product or a thing, you will not be recorded.” Her story, Sugar in The Blood, is a glimpse of the colonial experience, starting with Robert Cooper Ashby, her ancestor, whose female slave was the mother of her great-great-great-grandfather. By this bloodline, Andrea says she is connected to the white enslaver and the enslaved.
The British, she points out, “have a real kind of forgetting about this reality” They rather not know about their ancestors’ abuses and mixed blood. She explains: “I think that morally, the world can’t separate slave owners from slavery, and slaves from slave-owning. Which is the moral complexity of the world of slavery.”
The Barbados census of 1860 gives a striking profile of society when the Barbados sugar planters were the wealthiest of all the English Americas. 60% of annual sugar imports in England came from Barbados, where planters outperformed all the competitors in production, productivity, and value.
The total sugar shipped from Barbados to England was more valuable than the total exports to England from all mainland colonies. Sugar and Slavery, Richard S. Done. Dunn offers a detailed contrast between the lives of the planter elite and the enslaved majority.
This section of Rogues in Paradise is a fact-based narrative of colonial settlement, rule, domination, freedom, and independence. In the early days, the Caribbean islands hosted a turmoil of Rogues. There were pirates, criminals, the dissolute, depraved, discarded reprobates, and the refuse of the homeland. Barbados had the distinction of being where Oliver Cromwell sent his most quarrelsome prisoners and vagabonds.
For some time, both Royalists and Parliamentarians lived in reasonable harmony. That was until the home Parliamentarians wanted more control of the renegade lot living on the island. A massive armada sailed to the island to sort things out. It came to a head with both groups confronting each other on either side of Oistins Bay. They were ready to kill for King or Parliament. Only the rain saved the day.
The king’s men wrote the history of Barbados. They told their story, and, in turn, their story ended up in education and folklore. The Black slave experience, their lifestyles, hopes, fears, dreams, and passions faded into a forgotten past while colonialism flourished. But not all forgot or forgave, not then and not ever.
This chapter looks at the Black experience not told by the colonials. It is difficult, as Barbados’ Black history did not exist in the archives, and only fragments passed into folklore. It started with capturing free men, women, and children in Africa and packing them like sardines into the bellow of specially built slave ships. Men were shackled ankle to ankle and were chained tightly to plank beds. There was little headroom, and each ship carried hundreds of captives along with about 30 crew.
Dehydration, dysentery, and scurvy were rampant, on average, 15% died on the voyage. The slave ship Henrietta Marie carried about 200 slaves on the long Middle Passage. They were confined to cargo holds with each slave chained with little room to move. Twenty million Africans were transported by these ships to the Caribbean and onto the America in what became known as the Middle Passage of the triangular trade. Barbados was a central port in this trade. Approximately 387,000 enslaved Africans were sent to Barbados. Many were re-exported to North America, and other Caribbean islands. By 1700, there were 15,000 free Whites and 50,000 enslaved Blacks in Barbados. Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Barbadians
To explore the sorry of the African slaves, I share snippets from historical archives and draw on books written by slaves and their descendants. The primary slave memoir is by Olaudah Equiano. He was shipped through Barbados to America, where he became a skilled sailor working on ships trading between Europe and the Caribbean. He visited Barbados on his journeys and made several relevant comments about the island and slavery. He explains that he was kidnapped in Africa as a child at eleven years old and sold to a family. It was not a hardship and he was treated as one of the family before he was taken to the slave ships. African chiefs kept their war captives as slaves, and kidnapping people for slavery became more common with the demands of the European slave trade.
His story sheds light on the many relationships between slaves and masters. He explains that he was sometimes paid, even as a slave, for doing extra work. His memoir was written later in the history of slavery, when all planters began to be more lenient, knowing that freedom was coming. Ship captains, like Barbados planters, also allowed their slaves to engage in commerce. In Barbados, slaves traded produce from their provision grounds. Like his Barbados counterparts, Olaudah became a trader, he purchased trinkets from exotic ports and sold them at an excellent profit to people in the Islands and America.
The memoir of Estaban Montejo, written by Cuban Author Miguel Barnet, illustrates the conditions of slavery in Cuba, which is relevant to slavery anywhere. It offers detailed accounts of living quarters and life on plantations.
Other books I read include Biology of a Runaway Slave, Miguel Barnets (Cuba), The Black Jacobins, (Haiti) C.L.R James, Black Spartacus (Haiti), Sudhir Hazareesingh, The Unapropraite People (Barbados), Jerome S. Handler, Sugar and Slavery, Richard S. Done, and many more.
38 Character Shaped by History ……….215
About the Author……………………………..230
Back Cover ……………………………………..232
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