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a long slip of the road, as entire as if nothing had happened. The face of the country was so changed, that the inhabitants were unable to determine where many familiar objects had stood before.
An act of the Bahamas, this year, enacted, “ That when any slave shall suffer death,” inquiry shall be made 5 what treatment such slave had received from his or her owner;" and if it shall appear “ that the owner of such slave had inhumanly used him or her, and that necessity or cruel usage might have compelled such slave to run away, or to the commission of the offence for which he or she shall have suffered, the owner shall not be entitled to, or receive, any allowance for such slave.” Thus it appears the slave was to be executed first, and the necessity that led to his crime be inquired into afterwards.
“ Who can conscientiously say of assemblies by which such opprobious laws have been made, that they are fit to be trusted with the sacred functions of legislation ? Parliament might be embarrassed with the details of a slave code ; but the delegation of the work to such bodies as the colonial assemblies, was an expedient in the last degree unjust. The very worst of legislators for a community of slaves, is a popular assembly composed of and elected by their masters : and in abandoning them entirely to such lawgivers, England has stood alone among the colonizing powers.”
By an act passed this year in Antigua, a jury of six white inhabitants were ordered for the trial of capital offences. This was probably the first institution of the kind in the West Indies, and its operation was limited to three years. Previous to this, the justices decided in all cases, both on the law and fact; and, without the intervention of any other authority, awarded execution, which was done in obedience to their warrant by the marshal (sheriff) or his officers.
The evidence of one slave against another was ordered to be admitted, but not against a free person.
In some colonies, on the trial of capital charges, the justices are now (1823) required to associate with themselves three or more house-keepers, who, jointly with them, decide questions of law, as well as of fact, and have an equal authority with them in adjusting the punishment, when of a discretionary kind: a majority of votes being sufficient for either purpose, provided one justice of peace be concurrent.
The number of Negroes in Barbadoes, according to the return upon oath of Mr. Agent Brathwaite, was 62,775.
Stephen on West Indian Slavery, pp. 316. 327. 330.
The number of Slaves in the Grenades was 23,926, of whom 3,012 were imported this year.
Captain Gardner was appointed commander-in-chief on the Jamaica station, the 8th of September, 1785 ; hoisted his broad pendant on board the Europa, fitty guns, and kept the command
On the 9th of November, 1785, the conseil souverain of Martinico issued an arrêt concerning the capture of runaway slaves, and the declaration of Negroes killed.
“ When slaves are killed as runaways, by detachments duly authorized, declaration to be made at the greffe of the sénechaussée, by those who killed them, or were at the head of the detachment; and the orders given to that effect to be there deposited, copies of which will be joined to the requêtes presented for payment of the slaves so killed.”
The gains of the Danish West India Company, during the war of Great Britain with her rebellious colonies, amounted frequently to a hundred per cent. in one year. But the prosperity of the institution ended with that war, and this year the shares or actions were given up to the Danish government.
The value of the goods imported by Sweden, this year, from the West Indies, did not exceed 13,400.
The exports from Essequibo and Demerary employed fifteen ships, and consisted of 4995} hhds. of sugar, 440 tierces and 12,383 bags of coffee, and 1039 bales of cotton.
The quantity of British colonial sugar imported, exported, and consumed, upon an average of five years ending in 1785, was as follows: - Imported, 131,628; exported, 13,120 ; consumption, 118,502 hhds. of 12 cwt. each.
From the custom-house returns made to the House of Commons, it
appears, that in 1785 Great Britain imported from her West India colonies 1,782,431 cwt. of sugar, from which she derived a revenue of £ 984,221, exclusive of the monies paid for drawback upon the sugars re-exported.
In July, Benjamin Johnson was hung at Jamaica, for piracy and murder, on board the schooner Friendship: his plea, of being born in the United States, was overruled.
The Caribs and runaway Negroes in Dominica had committed numerous depredations. The legislature of that island, to reduce them to obedience, raised a corps of about 500 free people of colour and ab le Negroes, and placing them under the command of officers
Memoirs of Lord Gardner, Naval Chronicle, vol. viii. p. 1802.
Parliamentary “ Further Papers,” 1826, p. 59.
Bolinbroke's Voyage to Demerary, Appendix.
Atwood's History of Dominica, p. 242.
of the 30th regiment of foot, they were encamped in the woods, and called legions. These preparations made the fugitives more desperate : they attacked a plantation at Rosalie in the night, and murdered four white persons and the chief Negro driver. They continued two days upon the plantation, rioting in their plunder, and escaped unmolested.
John Richardson, a carpenter, was employed to rebuild the works on the Rosalie estate ; while at that place a party of the legions, in their way to the camp, called for refreshment, and Mr. Richardson prevailed on them to accompany him, and attack Balla, the principal runaway, in his retreat upon the mountains. They set off in the evening, and travelled all night through the woods. By noon the next day, they were at the foot of the mountain whereon Balla was encamped. The runaways had cut steps, at a great distance apart, up the mountain, and this was the only road up. These steps the party mounted one by one, handing their muskets 'up from one to the other. Mr. Richardson was the first on the top: he hid himself till the whole party were up, and then they attacked the runaways (who were preparing their dinner) so vigorously and unexpectedly, that they fled in dismay, several throwing themselves down the sides of the mountain. Among the prisoners was Balla's son. From an opposite mountain a sharp firing was kept up on Mr. Richardson's party; whose presence of mind, in calling out the names of the different commanding officers directing them to the right or left, made their opponents believe they were surrounded, and induced them to abandon the place with precipitation.
Many valuable articles, stolen from the plantations, were found in the huts. The survivors were disheartened, and dared not afterwards assemble in any great number ; but flying from place to place, were either killed or taken. Balla was taken, gibbetted alive, and a week in dying, and about 150 others either killed or taken.
These were the men whom the Marquis Duchilleau supplied with arms, and acknowledged as his friends, forbidding any attempt to be made to destroy them.
Upon the 27th of August, Jamaica suffered from a hurricane.
Ai St. Christopher's Mr. Jordan Burke was indicted for cutting off one ear, and slitting the other, of his female slave, Clarissa. l'pon the 8th of March, 1785, he was fined £50 currency for the ortence.
Upon the same island, August the 24th, Mr. Wadham Strode was indicted for cutting off one ear, and slitting the other, of his Negro-man, Peter, May the 11th, 1785. He was fined £100 currency for the offence.
Atwood's History of Dominica, pp. 230, 245, 246. 248, 249.
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 in force 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 part 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.
Stephen on West Indian Slavery, p. 442.
safe custody to the deputy provost marshal, threatened them with prosecutions for dispossessing him of his property. He acknowledged 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.
“ Sirth. 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."