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These two masters were convicted of cutting off the ears of their Negroes, and fined, the one # 100 currency, the other #50 — not on the notion of any civil rights in the sufferer, but that unusual and shocking cruelty, even to brute animals, if of a nature offensive to the public eye, was indictable as a misdemeanour in England; and the principles of the common law of England, when unaltered by statute or act of Assembly, is inforce in the colonies.
At the close of the session in the House of Lords, Lord Rodney stated, that at the capture of St. Eustatia, he seized some papers, which he lodged in the office of the secretary of state, as proofs of the treason of some of the principal merchants on that island. Having called for them, in justification of his conduct before the court of appeal from the High Court of Admiralty, he had learnt, to his utter astonishment, that the books and papers had been carried away, and were not to be found. Mr. Knox, who had been under-secretary in the office of Lord George Germaine, was called as a witness to the bar of the House of Lords, and from his evidence, it appeared that the papers had been safely lodged in the custody of government, and that early in 1782, soon after the appointment of the Marquis of Lansdown to the office of secretary of state, the criminals were enlarged, and the papers were in some manner withdrawn and secreted.
“This was a subject of much speculation and conjecture.”
The number of Negroes in Barbadoes was returned, on oath, at 62,115.
The number imported into the Grenades was 2253.
A merchant of Basse Terre, St. Christopher's, a Mr. William Herbert, was found guilty of cruelly wounding a Negro child called Billy, of the age of six years, and sentenced to pay a fine of forty shillings currency. Among other injuries, there was such a contusion in the shoulder of the little boy, that it was not till after exact examination that it could be pronounced by the surgeons that the joint was not dislocated. The bruises about the head and under
of this infant, and of his sister, were numerous and shocking,
and the wool was in some places stripped away from the scalp; and the edges of the hoop with which they had been gagged had, either from the tightness of the ligature, or their efforts to call out, cut into their cheeks on each side of their mouths. This West India merchant, when the magistrates proceeded to send the children for
Annual Register, 1786, p. 128.
safe custody to the deputy provost marshal, threatened them with . for dispossessing him of his property. He acknowedged himself to be the author of the cruelties, but denied their authority to interfere. And after the children had been cured of their wounds, and returned to him, he brought an action against the deputy provost marshal, and laid his damages at £300. The jury, after deliberating forty-eight hours, reported that they could not agree, and at their earnest request were discharged. Mr. Herbert brought his action again to trial, before a new special jury, who refused, notwithstanding the express words of the act, and a clear direction from the bench, to find for the defendant. Their verdict was for the plaintiff, but with only nominal damages. He therefore moved for a new trial, which was granted; but the controversy had bred so much animosity in the island, and threatened so much further mischief, that some of the more respectable part of the community prevailed upon Mr. H. and his friends to desist. This case was reasonably considered as fatal to every hope of repressing the cruelty of masters by law. On the 15th of October, 1786, the French King issued an ordinance concerning attorneys and managers of estates in the Windward Islands. “Art. 4. Attorneys and managers of estates to keep six registers on the estate, to be signed by a neighbouring inhabitant, proprietor of the same description of estate, and having no interest therein. “First. A journal, in which are to be no blanks, giving an account, day by day, of births and deaths of slaves and animals, the number of field slaves, and all accidents or changes relative to the administration. “Second. A register to contain the nature of produce and crops raised. “Third. An account-book to be kept of all produce sold and disposed of out of the colony, containing the quantities, weights, price, names and residence of the buyers, and the name of the captain and vessel. “Fourth. A register, on one side containing the state of all the Negroes and animals, and the purchases; and on the other, the names of the white or coloured workmen employed on the estates, and the agreement made with them. “Fifth. A register of receipt and expenditure. “Sixth. The hospital journal, containing a nominal list of Negroes sick, and the number of days in hospital. “Art. 5. Attorneys or managers to send in, every three months, to proprietors who do not reside on their estates, or oftener if necessary, an exact copy, duly certified by them, of the journals kept, on which to be inserted the name of the captain and vessel by which sent.”
The Swedish government established a West India company, with the exclusive privilege of trading to the West Indies, including their new colony of St. Bartholemew. All Swedish subjects were permitted to become subscribers, which entitled them to use the company's warehouses. The directors of the company were chosen by the crown, and all the vessels engaged in the trade must both sail from and return to Stockholm or Gottenburg.
Mr. Dawson, a Liverpool merchant, contracted again with the Spanish government to supply La Guira and the Havaña annually with from 4000 to 5000 slaves. They refused to take females, until an order was obtained that they should take two-thirds males and onethird females, at 150 dollars ahead.
There were not more than 40,000 Negroes in the colonies of Essequibo and Demerary, although 75,000 had been imported in the last forty-two years, exclusive of those brought into the colonies previous to an office being established for entering the number imported, and the Negroes imported by the English settlers, without taking into consideration the number of children which would naturally be born within that period.
Mr. Bolinbroke says, “ I can only account for it thus: Negroes were sold in the years alluded to, from £20 to £40 sterling, at fifteen months credit. From their bearing such a trifling value, I fear they were too frequently sacrificed by hard work and ill-treatment, under an idea that twelve or eighteen months' labour was sufficient to pay
the first cost.
It is an absolute fact, that the comfort and health of the Negroes was never much considered, until their value, like that of a blood-horse when put in competition with a cart horse, entitled them to better treatment, for fear they should die, as the loss would then be so much the greater."
Reader, this same Mr. Henry Bolinbroke, from whom the above extract is taken, says, in the same work, p. 116, “ The slave-trade is a universal benefit;” and at p. 107, he says,
" I assert, with confidence and satisfaction, that there is not so much flogging on a West India plantation, as there is obliged to be on board a manof-war, with the cat-of-nine-tails, to preserve order.” As though enforcing discipline among men for whose exertions an officer is responsible to his country, and overworking men and women from avaricious motives, were similar cases, or the power equally abused. The healthiness of our seamen, and the mortality among the slaves, render the mischievous comparison absurd.
On the 27th of January, the brig Basil, Captain Raphael, arrived at Liverpool from Dominica. In her passage she saved the crew of the Charming Molly, bound from Bermudas to
Brougham’s Colonial Policy, book i. sect. 3. p. 498.
Turk's Island; which vessel had foundered three days before — when the crew, ten in number, took to their boat, to the stem of which they tied a log of wood, to keep her head to the sea. When Captain Raphael discovered them, they had about a pound of bread and two gallons of water left; of the latter they gave to each other a wine-glass full, thickened with a mouthful of bread, once in twelve hours. The boat being only twelve feet in length, one half of the crew were obliged to lie down in her bottom alternately, while the other half sat along the sides; as, in any other situation, the boat must have been top-heavy. From this situation, and expecting every moment to be their last, they were providentially relieved by Captain Raphael, who * them to England. Thomas Shirley, Esq. of Oat Hall, Sussex, was appointed governor of the leeward Caribee islands. Prince William Henry arrived in the West Indies as captain of the Pegasus frigate. o In ‘. there were 16,167 Whites, 833 free people of colour, and 62,115 Negro slaves, this year.. From the custom-house returns to the House of Commons, it appears, that in 1786, Great Britain imported from her West India colonies 1,613,956 cwt. of sugar, from which she derived a revenue of £802,268, exclusive of the monies paid for drawback upon the sugars re-exported. Upon the 20th of October, it blew a hurricane at Jamaica. The trees were stripped of their leaves, and appeared as if fire had destroyed their verdure. The shores were covered with aquatic birds that had been dashed against the trunks of the mangroves, and killed. In August, a violent storm laid almost waste the southern coast of Española. At St. Eustatia, it drove all the shipping to sea, and destroyed most of the small craft in the harbour. Upon the 10th of September, Guadaloupe was swept by a hurricane, which destroyed most of the plantations, and wrecked three ships in the harbour. On Saturday the 2d of September, an alarming hurricane threw theinhabitants of Barbadoes into the utmost consternation. At eleven P.M., when the storm was at its height, a meteor in the S.E. issued from a dark cloud, and spreading its diverging rays to a vast circumference, continued, with unabated splendour, near forty minutes. In the morning of the 3d, Carlisle Bay was a scene of desolation —not a vessel had ridden out the storm. In the country, great damage was done to houses and crops: many persons were killed in the ruins of their own houses, momomomomomo
Annual Register, 1786, pp. 210, 214, 218. Southey's Life of Nelson, vol. i. p. 68. Coke's West Indies, vol. ii. p. 122. Sir W. Young's Common-place Book, p. 56.
e's, in Grenada, was made a free port this year. joo or Nassau, in New †...". iod a free rt, for certain articles specified in 27 Geo. III. c.27. Thirty thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine Negroes were imported into the French part of St. Domingo, this year. }. January, Dr. Coke, with three other itinerant methodist reachers, visited Dominica, and preached in the house of a K. Webley; but they only remained a few days upon the island, and did not leave any missionary behind them. In 1790, Lord Rodney stated, in his examination before the committee of the House of Commons, that the French, in 1787, aid 200 livres a head premium, for every slave imported into St. Domingo and St. Lucia; and 100 for each imported into Martinico and Guadaloupe. Elias Bascombe, a white man, and a Negro-boy slave, named Mark, the property of Benjamin Webster, Esq. of Grenada, were, on the 16th of August, out fishing in a canoe, when a heavy squall drove them to sea, without either food or water: they were driven to Jamaica, and nineteen days at sea — during all which time they had only two flying fishes, which jumped into their boat, to subsist upon. They made a sail of their clothes, and the rainwater caught in it was their only drink. The canoe drifted on shore, near Old Harbour—the Negro-boy lying upon his face, and Bascombe resting his head upon the boy, both naked, and both motionless. They were carried to a neighbouring Negro-hut, and recovered. St. Domingo. —The French court suppressed the council at Cape François, and vested their authority in the one at Port-au-Prince, which was the ordinary place of residence of the captain-general, the intendant, and the other chief officers of the administration. Seats at this council were also given to officers of the army, and men in office of a lower rank than formerly, to augment their number: so that the minister, in the name of the court, met with less contradiction, and governed the colony with less difficulty. The inhabitants of the northern province, of which the cape was the capital, were exceedingly enraged at this alteration. They were indignant that the most populous, the richest, and the best-cultivated province, which had consequently the most need “ d'un tribunal en dernier ressort,” should be deprived of it. They were jealous, also,
Colquhoun's British Empire, pp. 357. 373. Edwards, vol. iii. p. 220. Coke's West Indies, vol. ii. p. 353. Parliamentary Papers, 1790. Woodard's Narrative, Lond. 1804, Appendix, No. 9.