It is perhaps unsurprising that the incidence of slave revolts increased sharply after 1822. The Territory was rocked by a series of hurricanes; at the time, there was no accurate method of forecasting hurricanes, and their effect was devastating. This included 23 boats, 38 horses and over 4,000 head of cattle, goats and pigs. The revolt was sparked by the rumour that freedom had been granted to slaves in England, but that the planters were withholding knowledge of it. The laws which were passed to reinforce the social inferiority of slaves applied to both. Methodists were not opposed to slavery "per se", but a number of freed Africans were accepted warmly within the Methodist church, and as a result the church tended to advocate better treatment of enslaved Africans. The total number of freed Africans that were deposited in Territory is not known precisely, but it is known that 5 slave cargoes were freed, and the survivors of at least 3 shipwrecked slave cargoes were also deposited on Tortola. The Dutch West India Company was mainly affected by the competition from Denmark, England and Spain. However, the fact of Hodge's arrest, trial and execution (he was the only British man ever to be hanged for the murder of a slave) also testify to the fact that whereas that sort of treatment may have previously been tolerated or even encouraged, a jury in the British Virgin Islands could no longer accept it.[9]. Slaves were regularly whipped and beaten and sometimes even killed by the British. When slave numbers had been smaller, slaves had been allowed to tend their own land for food to eat. One Tortolian plantation owner, Arthur William Hodge was notoriously cruel and sadistic towards his slaves, and was eventually executed for murdering his slaves. [Most of the slaves were brought by Spanish and Portuguese merchants, who did not recognise the British law. The total number of freed Africans that were deposited in Territory is not known precisely, but it is known that 5 slave cargoes were freed, and the survivors of at least 3 shipwrecked slave cargoes were also deposited on Tortola. With a particularly bad sense of judgment, the tax came into force on the date of the emancipation, and was enforced in an injudicious manner. Slavery Abolition Act 1833, section 4 The terms of the forced apprenticeship required them to provide 45 hours unpaid labour a week to their former masters, and prohibited them from leaving their residence without the masters permission. It is true that the Territory went into severe economic decline shortly after abolition of slavery. The area was ruled by a director, whose seat was not permanent. However, the fact of Hodge's arrest, trial and execution (he was the only British man ever to be hanged for the murder of a slave) also testify to the fact that whereas that sort of treatment may have previously been tolerated or even encouraged, a jury in the British Virgin Islands could no longer accept it.[9]. Although, the economics of the abolition of slavery in the British Virgin Islands are difficult to quantify, there was undeniably a considerable impact. Slavery at common law in former colonies of the British Empire developed slowly over centuries, and was characterised by inconsistent decisions and varying rationales for the treatment of slavery, the slave trade, and the rights of slaves and slave owners. Fort Purcell is a ruined fort near Pockwood Pond on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. [A number of settlers in the Territory, John C. Lettsome and Samuel Nottingham amongst them, had manumitted large numbers of slaves. However, the fact of Hodge's arrest, trial and execution (he was the only British man ever to be hanged for the murder of a slave) also testify to the fact that whereas that sort of treatment may have previously been tolerated or even encouraged, a jury in the British Virgin Islands could no longer accept it. However, of the plantation owners who had formerly controlled the Territory mostly elected not to return to their ruined and insolvent estates. Although, the economics of the abolition of slavery in the British Virgin Islands are difficult to quantify, there was undeniably a considerable impact. Realistically, from that point in time, the Territory was almost solely populated by the former slaves who then made up the vast bulk of the population. In 1819, a Portuguese slave ship, the Donna Paula, was wrecked upon the reef at Anegada. ", Woolrich would also testify that "as the quantity of negroes increased ... punishment of slaves in general ... became more and more severe." However, the abolition of slavery was not the single defining event that it is sometimes supposed to have been. The favoured method of punishment was whipping, largely because it left the slave able to continue labour immediately after the infliction of punishment, although other more barbarous practices were employed. As founder, president, and benefactor, Lettsom was its mainstay from 1773 until his death in 1815. By 1848, Edward Hay Drummond Hay, the President of the British Virgin Islands, reported that: "there are now no properties in the Virgin Islands whose holders are not embarrassed for want of capital or credit sufficient to enable them to carry on the simplest method of cultivation effectively." After the Territory came under British control, the islands gradually became a plantation economy. The British Virgin Islands, part of a volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean, is a British overseas territory comprising 4 main islands and many smaller ones. Douglas is an iconic figure of resistance to slavery in the country and her story is featured in the National Museum of Saint Kitts and Nevis. 96,569; 133 sq. Throughout the middle part of the 18th century, the Territory had been inhabited by a number of distinguished Quakers, who were fundamentally opposed to slavery. The main reason for starting a colony here was that it lay strategically between the Dutch colonies in the south and New Netherland. Then, in 1807 the United Kingdom passed the Slave Trade Act, which prohibited any further trade in slaves. Although they received £72,940 from the British Government in compensation, this was only a fraction of the true economic value of the manumitted slaves. The Brandenburgers and Dutch were both expelled by the British (although the remains of the pens can still be seen in Great Harbour, Peter Island and on Scrub Island). script.setAttribute("async", true); The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.”—Daniel J. Boorstin (b. In 1807, the slave trade was abolished; although existing slaves continued their servitude, the Royal Navy patrolled the Atlantic freeing cargoes of new slaves being brought from Africa in defiance of the new law. In Britain, she is included on the initial slave register for St. Kitts and kept in the Central Slave Registries at the British National Archives, which are enrolled in the UNESCO Memory of the World Registry. This did not stop the British arresting their ships and freeing their cargoes.] The revolt was sparked by the rumour that freedom had been granted to slaves in England, but that the planters were withholding knowledge of it. In 1690 the Brandenburgers built slave pens on Peter Island, however, they later abandoned them in favour of an agreement with the Danes to set up a trading outpost on St. Thomas. Further Spanish ships, en route to Puerto Rico were reported wrecked on the reef at Anegada in 1817 and 1824, and their cargos settled on Tortola. In 1665 the Dutch settlers on Tortola were attacked by a British privateer, John Wentworth, who is recorded as capturing 67 slaves which were removed to Bermuda. [Vernon Pickering, in his "A Concise History of the British Virgin Islands" goes so far as to suggest that one, John Pickering, was "very popular with his slaves", at page 33. The ship's crew and 235 slaves were saved from the wreckage. All but four of the white population fled, and most plantation houses were burned to the ground. In 1690 the Brandenburgers built slave pens on Peter Island, however, they later abandoned them in favour of an agreement with the Danes to set up a trading outpost on St. Thomas. ✪ The Tribe of Ephraim's Slavery in Puerto Rico.!!!!!!! var d = new Date(); [10] Starting in 1808 hundreds of freed Africans were deposited on Tortola by the Navy,[11] who after serving a 14-year "apprenticeship", were then absolutely free. Shortly after the free Africans completed their 14-year apprenticeships, the slaves in the Territory were all emancipated by legislation in the United Kingdom, although as outlined below, this did not of itself entirely curtail the insurrections. One commentator has gone so far as to say: "One of the most important aspects of the History of the British Virgin Islands is slavery." Many, such as John C. Lettsome and Samuel Nottingham freed slaves "en masse". In 1665 the Dutch settlers on Tortola were attacked by a British privateer, John Wentworth, who is recorded as capturing 67 slaves which were removed to Bermuda. km). [It is difficult to quantify precisely the value of the freed slaves, but in 1798 the total value of slaves in the British Virgin Islands had been estimated at £360,000. The riots were eventually suppressed with military assistance from St. Thomas, and reinforcements of British troops dispatched by the Governor of the Leeward Islands from Antigua. Another aspect was that while slavery continued in the Danish West Indies it had been abolished in other colonies, thus in the nearby British islands in 1833. Soon after his death in 1785, Sharp and More united with William Wilberforce and others in forming the Clapham Sect. In December 1853 there was a disastrous outbreak of cholera in the Territory, which killed nearly 15% of the population. The abolition of slavery occurred on 1 August 1834, and to this day it is celebrated by a three day public holiday on the first Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August in the British Virgin Islands. mi. The ship's crew and 235 slaves were saved from the wreckage. The treatment of all slaves was not equal. However, all of the nearly 325 Indians who came to Saint Croix left the island by the 1870s. Others continued to keep slaves, but treated them more benignly. Betto Douglas was a slave on St. Kitts, at the time a British Colony. The Territory was rocked by a series of hurricanes; at the time, there was no accurate method of forecasting hurricanes, and their effect was devastating. The figure for 1788 arises from a different source, and may possibly be an overestimate. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this. The former slaves now usually worked for the same masters, but instead received small wages, out of which they had to pay for the expenses formerly borne by their masters. By 1848, Edward Hay Drummond Hay, the President of the British Virgin Islands, reported that: "there are now no properties in the Virgin Islands whose holders are not embarrassed for want of capital or credit sufficient to enable them to carry on the simplest method of cultivation effectively." This is the first record of slaves actually being kept on Tortola. All but four of the white population fled, and most plantation houses were burned to the ground. The same rumour would later spark subsequent revolts. When slave numbers had been smaller, slaves had been allowed to tend their own land for food to eat. Subsequent rebellions also occurred in 1823, 1827, and 1830, although in each case they were quickly put down. The revolt was sparked by the rumour that freedom had been granted to slaves in England, but that the planters were withholding knowledge of it. That's it. Further hurricanes hit in 1842 and 1852. By 1893, a mere 40 years after the revolts, there were only two white people resident on Tortola - the deputy Governor and the island's doctor. document.cookie = "__adblocker=" + (adblocker ? In 1690 the Brandenburgers built slave pens on Peter Island, however, they later abandoned them in favour of an agreement with the Danes to set up a trading outpost on St. Thomas.