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Manuscript - Slave Registrar of Prospect Estate - Tally & Decription of Slaves
Trinidad, 1827. London, 2 January 1827. Signed manuscript document tallying and describing the slaves of Prospect Estate in Trinidad, being a register of slaves working this sugar plantation from 1813 to 1822, listing 72 individuals by the English names assigned to them, their approximate age, their occupations, health, distinguishing tribal marks, and country of origin. Folio. 8 pages, on three string-tied double-leafs, laid watermark paper of Chartham Mills papermaker W. Weatherley made in 1824 and featuring a large fleur-de-lys emblem. Leafs measure approximately 48 x 33,5 cm. Docketed to verso. Each leaf signed in the original by Thomas Amyot, the Registrar of Colonial Slaves in Great Britain. Minor creasing, otherwise very good, original condition, a rare primary source document which survived the highly conflicted abolition period. In 1807 when the Abolition of Slave Trade Act came into force, the trade of slaves from Africa to the British colonies became illegal. In 1819 the Office for the Registry of Colonial Slaves was established in London in order to combat ongoing illicit transportation. British Colonial administrators began keeping registers of black slaves who had been so-called "lawfully enslaved." Copies of the slave registers, such as, and including the present document, were submitted to the office in order to prove compliance. Registration generally occurred once every three years, and continued through to 1834 when slavery was officially abolished. "... For the Plantation called Prospect in the Quarter called Quesa, a Sugar Plantation... Trinidad..." Spanning eleven years, this document provides an irrefutable record of the slaves serving on a Trinidad plantation which from at least 1813 was owned by Messrs Inglis Ellis & Co. of London and operating under the management of a William Stuart. By 1822 the estate belonged to Grenada-born slave-owner and member of the Council of Grenada Archibald Armstrong, his son George employed as estate manager according to this document. [According to "Slaves in the colonies" in the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, in 1826 George Armstrong registered 160 "sugar slaves" and 3 "personal slaves". In 1836 George Armstrong was awarded compensation of £8685 3s 5d for 62 slaves, for the Prospect estate in Trinidad alone. George Armstrong had registered 180 enslaved persons in 1834.] This document is in itself a shocking illustration of the expansive reaches which slavers exploited for free labour to further enterprise and wealth, displacing whole African families to the West Indies. A rather unique detail found on this slave register, and surely informative for ancestral research, the country of origin is noted for each slave, although the ethnonyms ascribed to men, women and children were extirpated from their regular lives in Africa, refer more to regional ethnicity than a specific village. Most were probably bought at a central slave market. Several surnames are listed. Origins of the slaves include the Congo, the Mandingo people of West Africa, Ibo (Igbo of Nigeria), Ada in Ghana, Kimba in Nigeria, Moco (Nigeria/Cameroon people), Rada (believed by scholars to be the port of Arará in Dahomey, now Benin), Chamba in Cameroon, Quaqua (Coast if Ghana), and Temini. An African man was also taken from Caramante in Colombia. All categorized as Creoles, slaves on this plantation also came from Guadaloupe Island in the Lesser Antilles, from the Bahamas, Grenada, and Trinidad. These individuals are also grouped by family connection. A scarce primary source record of a sugar plantation estate in Trinidad, seventy-two slaves are named in this slave register, the oldest being an Igbo male of sixty years of age who was superannuated (retired). Most would have been in servitude for the entire eleven years, or longer. Births on the estate are recorded, and acquisitions in 1822, however, no deaths are recorded over this lengthy time frame. Occasionally, a remark "Country marks on forehead, cheeks, or belly" further identifies the enslaved individual. Each person's height was measured triennially for the returns, health concerns also noted, including ulcerations, and one injured knee. The so-called occupations listed are windmill boatswain, watchman, servant, cooper, grass gang, mule boy, the majority however simply called labourers. Archibald Armstrong junior, Esq. (1790-1868) was born in Grenada and served as a member of the Council of Grenada, taking a twelve months leave in 1835. He was assignee with John Hoyes for his brother George Armstrong who was awarded compensation for the Prospect Estate in Trinidad. Under the 1833 Abolition Act, as executor of Richard or Archibald Armstrong, he was granted part of the compensation for the Garden estate in Trinidad. By 1841 had settled with his wife Anne [née Munro Gibbs] who was also born in Grenada, and their three children, in St Peters Port, Guernsey. He also inherited Woodford Estate in Grenada from his father Archibald Armstrong Senior of London, on condition that he pay £3400 to each of his four sisters and £30 per year to his brother Joseph. Archibald junior was in London for the proving of his father's will on 15 November 1823, being one of three executors. He was the awardee of the compensation for the enslaved people on the Woodford estate. The previous owner mentioned is presumably plantation owner William Stuart (1771-1845) who was born in Inverugie, Moray, Scotland, who died at Morne Delice, Grenada. In 1829 he mortgaged three Grenada estates (Mount Hardman, Morne Delice and Grande Ance) and already held two other estates also in Grenada. In all, he enslaved 470 people upon them, and also on Mount Moritz in St George, and Diamond in St Mark. In 1834 his debt stood at £24,000. He claimed slave-compensation as owner-in-fee for three estates in Grenada, but the award was paid to the partners in J & A Smith of Glasgow, his mortgagees. [Further research is warranted to ascertain if he is a relation to William Stuart, Lieutenant Governor of Dominica from 1771-1772, and again briefly in 1778, who owned the Rosalie plantation. Stuart led the campaign against the French in the Invasion of Dominica in 1788.] Thomas Amyot (1775-1850) was an English antiquarian, a solicitor, private secretary to Secretary of State William Windham, Registrar of Colonial Slaves in the government offices of Great Britain, Secretary and Registrar of Records in Upper Canada, author and a founder of the Camden Society. Almost all the men and women awarded compensation under the 1833 Abolition Act are listed in what is called a Parliamentary Return, an official reply by a government body to a request from an MP. The return is often referred to as the Slavery Abolition Act: An account of all sums of money awarded by the Commissioners of Slave Compensation while its full title is Accounts of slave compensation claims; for the colonies of Jamaica. Antigua. Honduras. St. Christopher's. Grenada. Dominica. Nevis. Virgin Islands. St. Lucia. British Guiana. Montserrat. Bermuda. Bahamas. Tobago. St. Vincent's. Trinidad. Barbadoes. Mauritius. Cape of Good Hope. It can be found in House of Commons Parliamentary Papers 1837-1838 (215) vol. 48 and is 365 pages long. In 1832, before the abolition of slavery, there were 653 sugar estates in cultivation and over 500 coffee plantations in the British West Indies. The British Slavery Abolition Act provided grant totalling £20 million to compensate the slave-owners for the loss of their "human property"! . Very Good.
      [Bookseller: Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts, ]
Last Found On: 2016-08-31           Check availability:      Biblio    

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