The Rest of the Story
Documenting civilian Loyalists’ influence on Caicos Islands history.
By Dr. Charlene Kozy
The influx of Loyalists to the Bahamas shaped the political and cultural behavior not only of the Bahamas but of Turks & Caicos Islands. Why did they come, who were they, and what contributions did they make?
In a previous article (Fall 2010 Times of the Islands), the members of the military that supported the King of England were discussed. They were more visible and their names and activities more easily documented. This article will deal primarily with civilians who stayed loyal to the King. Many times they were personally abused and their property taken without compensation.
The history of the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos Islands has been a struggle of powerful European nations wanting control. The Spanish initially did so by the Columbus landfall and Ponce de Leon stopped on the Caicos Islands in 1512. Two charters were made in 1663 and 1665 by Charles II of England giving land in Colonial America (named Carolina in his honor) to eight proprietors and added “authority over the Bahamas.” This authority was legalized with the Treaty of Madrid (1670) between England and Spain in which England gained control of “all lands, islands, colonies and places situated in the West Indies.” This proved beneficial to the Loyalists from North America over 100 years later.
On November 29, 1782, commissioners from America and Britain met for a final agreement to end the Revolutionary War. The American commissioners agreed to no further confiscation of property or prosecution of Loyalists and that Congress would recommend to the several states that amnesty and restitution of their property be given. The new Confederation government refused to enforce the recommendation. Thus, the exiled Loyalists were without home or fortune.
In September 1783, a royal proclamation stated intentions of the government to purchase the lands in the Bahamas from the proprietors and gave instructions to Lieutenant Governor John Powell on how to issue these lands.
The migration of the Loyalists began in July 1782 from Savannah, Georgia and continued from East Florida until 1785 when Spain was given possession of East Florida. However, the British Government negotiated for a nearly three-year delay in the final evacuation of East Florida. This provided a temporary asylum for the exiled Loyalists. It is estimated that the population in the Bahamas increased by 6,000 to 7,000 of both races from June 1783 to April 1785.
Influencing the Bahamas
Changes in the Bahamas undoubtedly would have come about, but with the arrival of Loyalists, their past leadership positions and their resources, changes came quickly. Historian Wallace Brown translates the approximate figures for actual payment to them as between fifteen and twenty million dollars.
They quickly organized the Board of American Loyalists with the stated purpose to “preserve and maintain those Rights and Liberties for which they had left their homes and possessions . . .” The Loyalists were waiting in Nassau for dispositions of their claims and in a short time reforms were visible. Their first effort of change was political. Their voice was William Wylly’s saying, “It is reasonable that the Loyalists be admitted to a share in the Legislature . . . and a new election take place.” A result was that by a lengthy Act of 1799, Turks Island and Caicos Islands were granted seats in the Assembly at Nassau, and a port of entry was established on the Caicos for planters to sell and ship cotton and import needed supplies.
Wylly, a lawyer and captain in the King’s Rangers from Georgia, made his presence known not as a ruffian soldier, but as a man with definite views on government, charging that a sole judge “ . . . decides without a jury, upon all matters, not only of law, but of fact.” His strong stand against slavery led to his arrest and temporary imprisonment. Colonel Thomas Brown of the King’s Rangers also turned political and defeated Alexander Murray, Governor Dunmore’s son, in a special election to fill a vacancy in the town of Nassau.
Economic prosperity neutralized political friction. New streets were built and provisions made to keep them repaired; docks were improved; a new jail was built; a roofed market place was built; a police force was created; private schools were established and a fire engine was brought from East Florida with a requirement that residents keep buckets of water in their home to use in a brigade if a fire broke out.
Perhaps the most important single contribution to the cultural life of the Bahamas was the Bahama Gazette, the first newspaper to be published in the Bahamas. The editor, John Wells, moved the family printing press from Charleston to St. Augustine to Nassau. (Thelma Peters).
Names of Caicos settlers can be found in the reform movement, such as John M. Tattnall, John Forbes, Thomas Brown, William Wylly and others. Their efforts laid a foundation for future governance. The earliest claim found giving land on the Caicos was February 1789, and the latest date for a grant was December 1791. (Bahama Registry).
Building a community
With land now in their possession and available resources, the Loyalists began to build a community on the Caicos Islands. Legal services such as performing marriages and writing wills were made available by Justices of Peace appointed in 1791. William Gamble, John Ferguson, John Lorimer, John Bell and Wade Stubbs were the men named. This is the only record of local authority found on the Caicos. Sidearms were found in most of the estate appraisals. Apparently common respect did not require formal law.
When counting the population on the Caicos following the influx of Loyalists, approximately two-thirds were non-military. They were professionals and many were wealthy. It is difficult to determine how long they individually resided on the Caicos, why they left or if they died there. The few records indicate that children were born and usually sent to England for an education. Plantations were on the decline after a few decades and the children found homes and opportunities elsewhere. Thus, the heirs in many cases did not claim the land for their homes. There is always an exception and one outstanding example is Wade Stubbs. His family productivity and industry survived until 1957 at the death of Emilie Stubbs Kursteiner.
Documenting Loyalist civilians
Fifty-seven land grants were found in the Bahama Registry made to non-military personnel. Biographical information on only thirteen of these has been found. It is doubtful if many of them attempted to settle on the Caicos Islands. Their grants were small and some records of sale to larger grantees have been found. An accurate census of the names and number living on the Caicos during the Plantation Era is impossible.
This article will name the civilians with biographical information found. Their background in America and their achievements and contributions to the future nation they helped build will be included. Other names of Loyalists who were active but have no record of a land grant will be noted.
WADE STUBBS’S two plantations, Wade’s Green and Cheshire Hall, are the best preserved and most visited on the Caicos Islands. He had no children, but his brothers and their descendants, through his generosity, continued his success of making the Caicos their home for over 150 years. He listed his losses in East Florida as 1,450 acres of land plus 15 head of stock and four riding horses. Stubbs was a native of England and had immigrated to East Florida.
He was said to be a man of wealth and lived in style on the Caicos, having horses and carriages, servants and numerous slaves. He received 960 acres of land through grants but added acreage to reach the 3,000 mentioned in his will. One record in the Bahama Registry was made in 1809 between John Forbes and Wade Stubbs. It described location as “land on Bottle Creek known by the name Clifton, 200 acres occupied by Charles Fox Taylor in his lifetime . . . and other land in name of Jonah Moore, James Lane, Prince Coleman, John Weir. All for six hundred fifty three pounds, two shillings and ten pence.” Other purchases, not found, were obviously made.
A will is a valuable document to establish relationships and property owned. In Wade Stubbs’s will and codicil of 1821 he leaves to the “children of Thomas Stubbs, Henshall Stubbs, and William Stubbs, all my first cousins born in the parish of Gawsworth and county of Chester,” one hundred pounds of sterling each. One special nephew, Wade Stubbs, son of Thomas, received the Tracts of Land comprising the Wade Green Estate, about three thousand acres. He included his slaves and general stock. One provision was made: “ . . . that said Wade Stubbs leaves England and will settle at the Caicos, and carry on the said plantation and not sell the same during his natural life.” He “bequeathed to Thomas Henshall, my nephew, all my several Tracts of Lands, comprising my Cheshire Hall Estate . . . being on the Blue or Providence Caicos . . . and the tracts I purchased from my brother Thomas Stubbs . . .”
Others remembered were his sister Susannah Stubbs, John James Hall and Sarah Armstrong (widow of Thomas Armstrong, another planter on the Caicos). “To the mulatto Boy John, a son of Betsy’s, I give his freedom and also I give and bequeath to the said John, a Negro Boy named Cooly.” A speculation would be that John was Wade’s son. His nephew Andrew McClure and his three sisters, Martha Bland, Esther Henshall and Hannah Henshall were mentioned.
Wade’s homeland, England, was not forgotten. Five hundred pounds sterling to the Trustees of the Poor School of North Rode in the County of Chester was given and to the Acting Clergyman and Church Wardens of the Parish Church of Gawsworth, “ . . . five hundred pounds sterling to be applied for the good benefit in the Educating of Poor Children born in the said parish.” Undoubtedly, the value of Wade Stubbs’s estate would translate into millions of dollars. He signed his will with his mark, X.
Mrs. Ely Chambers writes that ”Wade married Annis Piles, widow of James Smith, of Georgia and Florida. There are no known children of this marriage. James and Annis had a daughter, Sarah, who died, 1797, age 24 on route from Turks Island to Grand Caicos and is buried at Wade’s Green. She was the mother of a baby girl, Sarah Catherine, born in January, 1797. Sarah Catherine lived with her uncle Robert Smith. Robert Smith is buried with Wade Stubbs at St. Thomas Church Yard, Grand Turk.” A letter from Sarah Catherine’s father, John Hamilton Hall, speaks of her step-grandfather, the Hon. Wade Stubbs.
Tecia Ana Hall (1793–1815), daughter of Sarah Smith and James Hamilton Hall, was killed by lightning in October 1815 on Grand Caicos and was buried in her grandmother’s (Annis P.S. Stubbs) garden, Wade’s Green, Grand Caicos. Wade remembered John Hall, her brother and his step-grandson, in his will.
In the ninth generation, HORATIO STUBBS, the only child of Henshall who remained in the Islands, was different from his father. He was a scholar and left a substantial library at his death, in which there are books in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French and German, as well as in English. For some years he kept a school at Grand Turk. It is said that he quarreled with his father over slavery.
RICHARD STUBBS, Horatio’s brother, was educated in the United States and became a doctor of medicine. He married Frances Lindsey in 1838 and was drowned at sea near Grand Turk, August 10, 1849.
The tenth generation began with ALFRED STUBBS, born July 22, 1847 on Grand Turk. He married Mary Priscilla Durham in 1875 at St. Thomas’s Church. There were five children of this marriage.
ALFRED STUBBS JR. was born July 22, 1876 and died March 11, 1948. He did not marry. Alfred is listed as a salt manufacturer and owner of a store of dry goods, provisions, boots and shoes. The Hon. Alfred Stubbs was listed among 16 justices for the parishes of St. Thomas, St. John and St. George. He was appointed Asst. Commissioner of Health at South Caicos with J. W. Tatum, Esq. He was the most successful financially of the family. It was said, “He could make money but could not keep it. His real interest in life was building and his hand is to be seen everywhere today in Cockburn Harbor. He was keenly interested in the scientific production of salt. He exhibited at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1886 and won first prize.”
LEWIS ST. GEORGE STUBBS was born June 14, 1878. Lewis married Mary Wilcox of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and lived there.
LILLIAN MARY STUBBS was born 1884 and died at age six months. Named for her deceased older sister, LILLIAN MARY STUBBS was born 1888, married Fred Holland Dewey of New York and was living in 1954.
EMILE STUBBS KURSTEINER lived and died at Cockburn Harbor, South Caicos, yet her property spanned several of the islands. She chose to leave all her property to her brother, Lewis St. George, his son Roy St. George and his heirs “and assigns forever.” It included all her property at Cockburn Harbor, i.e., dwelling house, furnishings and real estate known as the Hill; all moveable assets from the Kursteiner Stubbs Salt Company; on Grand Turk, the Stone House (Stubbs Building) and lot, the Store Building South of Stubbs Building; on Middle Caicos, she named the Haulover Plantation, Wild Cow Hill Tract, comprising more or less 8,000 acres of land; also, all other lots and land, the Old Homestead Lot, on Grand Turk, originally owned by her great-grandfather, Henshall Stubbs and all land owned by her father, Alfred Stubbs, at Cockburn Harbor.
The will illustrates the large accumulation of Stubbs property and how it was used. Haulover Fields was cultivated not many years ago. Older residents remember cotton being grown there. The salt industry was operated by Mrs. Kursteiner until the Turks Island Salt Company bought the industry.
The buildings described on Grand Turk were retail businesses serving a need for the town. A plaque is on Grand Turk today that recognizes the Stubbs family as being the first owner of Todds, the oldest variety store on the island. “The Stubbs family who were the largest landowners in the Caicos Islands and also one of the foremost salt families in the territory.”
Wade Stubbs died at Grand Turk on March 4, 1822, aged 69. Mrs. Chambers writes that it was, “through his industry that St. Thomas Church at Grand Turk was built. I understand that he was the first to be buried in the churchyard. His tomb is enclosed with that of Robert Smith (probably a brother to James Smith, Wade’s wife’s first husband).” Mrs. Chambers writes a translation of the inscription on the tomb which was written in Latin by Emilie Stubbs Kursteiner’s grandfather, Horatio Stubbs. ”Under this tomb rest until the second coming of Jesus Christ, the bones of Wade Stubbs, Esquire, a native of England.”
The Stubbs Genealogical Summary compiled does not list achievements of the earlier generations. Probably there were few, if any, records. It is in the ninth and tenth generation that the achievements were known and listed, such as a school founded and a library left by Horatio Stubbs on Grand Turk; the salt industry that created jobs; a variety store that provided supplies to the public. In reviewing the contributions, they span business, office holders, religious affiliation and intellectual endeavors. In America, financial barons such as Vanderbilt and Rockefeller had money and influence that span generations. The Stubbs family followed that pattern in the Turks & Caicos Islands, beginning with Wade Stubbs, the Loyalist planter.
THOMAS ARMSTRONG immigrated from South Carolina. He received 160 acres of land on the Caicos bounded easterly by Bottle Creek. He became a partner of John Russell, a shipbuilder in Nassau. Peters indicated that the partnership was also in the plantation on the Caicos. He may have extended his business to salt production as many of the planters did. A salt pond on Middle Caicos bears his name, “Armstrong’s Pond.”
He was active in affairs on the Caicos. His name appears as a witness on several estate appraisals: William Forbes, 24 March, 1798; William Farr, February, 1800; John M. Tattnall, 16 December, 1796; James Frazer, 1 December, 1795 and John Podmore, February, 1797.
Close ties kept by the southern Loyalists are illustrated by the wedding of Thomas’s son, John, to the daughter of Henry Yonge, a lawyer and formerly of Georgia. John became a well respected lawyer in Nassau. Wade Stubbs remembered Sarah, “widow of Thomas Armstrong” in his will and “bequeathed a Coloured Slave now in her possession named John” to her.
JOHN BELL claimed residency and property in both East and West Florida. He obviously was a man of great wealth as he did not depend on the British for transport to the Bahamas. The Bahama Gazette carried a story of him in January 5, 1789, telling of “Dr. John Bell and his troubles at sea.” It appears that one of his sloops sprung a leak and was forced to put in port at St. Eustatius “on his way to settle on an island.”
His three land grants were a total of 1,080 acres located on the east side of Middle Caicos using Windward Going Through and John M. Tattnall’s land as landmarks. He established two plantations, “Increase” and “Industry.” “Industry” was located across the cut from “Increase” on East Caicos. An estate appraisal made after his death described a highly working plantation. Bell had 300 acres of cotton “highly cultivated” and 200 acres in pasture. Ninety slaves were listed by name, age, family, and those with disabilities or disease. Thirteen houses for slaves were made of stone and “walled and plastered.” Ruins of a large, family-type dwelling can be found today along with several other out-buildings.
“Increase” plantation is identifiable today on the southeastern coast of Middle Caicos. King’s Road reaches the gate of the plantation and appears to originate in the north toward Tattnall and Lorimers plantations.
WILLIAM FARR is acknowledged as an “old resident” of Nassau in the wedding announcement of his daughter Esther (Hetty), to Thomas Brown on October 3, 1789 carried by the Bahama Gazette. Farr was granted 380 acres on Grand Caicos on March, 1789. His plantation, “Cottage,” joined the lands of Thomas Brown. An appraisal made at the time of his death, “at the Caicos,” indicates a well-developed plantation complete with slave quarters.
Farr bequeathed “one-third of his estate to his wife, one-third to his daughter, Margaret, one-third to Hetty Brown, to one son William $100, daughter Sarah Bromhall $100, and daughter Elizabeth Fleming, $100.” (Bahama Registry. Wills 1790–1806) Farr died in 1800 on the Caicos. His widow, Sarah, and Hetty’s sister, Margaret, moved to Thomas Brown’s home.
JOHN FERGUSON was a petitioner for land from East Florida in November, 1781. He claimed as his loss a lot and building in St. Augustine, Florida. Ferguson was active in politics in the Bahamas. He was elected for a seat in the Assembly for the town of Nassau in 1784 but was denied the seat in favor of an “Old Inhabitant.” His name appeared on the 1785 declaration made by the Loyalists that “ . . .\ . . . they were not bound by any laws.” His name also appears on a petition from Abaco, January 6, 1788, as a Justice of Peace.
Ruins of the Ferguson Plantation can be found today. Mrs. Constance Hall, Bambarra, Middle Caicos, said she was born there but storms damaged the property and her family moved. She walked with the author to the site in 1982.
JOHN MARTIN was a Georgia citizen and was banished from Georgia March 1, 1778; his estate of 6,032 acres was confiscated and sold June, 1782.
In the Bahamas he is listed as one of the members representing the Western District of Nassau. He was clearly conservative and, from the beginning, politically active. He was appointed Justice of Peace and served as one who examined evidence in the Slave Trials which were conducted from 1785–1796. In June 1789, Governor Dunmore appointed him one of the Assistant Justices of the General Court of the Bahamas, a position he held until his death in 1796. Martin was survived by his widow, Anna, and a son. Whether or not they continued to live on Grand Caicos is not known.
JOHN MCINTOSH was a Georgia citizen who had 2,450 acres of land that was confiscated and sold. He was banished from America. He received 880 acres of land on the Caicos. McIntosh became active in politics in Nassau and was outspoken against Governor Dunmore. He signed an affidavit testifying to a derogatory statement made by the governor.
He became a planter on the Caicos and witnessed the estate appraisal of John M. Tattnall in December 1796 and John Podmore in February 1797, both made on the Caicos. McIntosh is named as one of the three men in Charles Fox Taylor’s will as a person that would have charge of his affairs in “that part of the world.”
JOHN PETTY received 600 acres in a land grant “upon Grand Caicos” and apparently operated a plantation. He was outspoken in Bahamian politics and circulated a protest against the disputed election of 1784. The Speaker burned the protest in the doorway of the Assembly House and expelled Petty for his part. Petty continued to be outspoken and signed other petitions protesting the undemocratic practices of the Bahamian government. An example is a quote in a declaration of May 8, 1785, “ . . . not represented . . . not bound by any laws they think proper to pass.”
THOMAS RIGBY immigrated from England to East Florida. He claimed losses of a house with double grounds on Charlotte Street, St. Augustine. He identified his trade as a blacksmith and mentioned his wife and two sons in his petition. Two hundred acres were granted on Grand Caicos in 1789.
Wade Stubbs remembered the infant son of William Wade Rigby in his 1821 Will. He “bequeathed in trust for the use and benefit of his infant son, Wade Stubbs Rigby my house and spot in the town of Nassau.” A relationship is not known.
JOHN M. TATTNALL was from a prominent family in Georgia (streets by that name are in Savannah today) and received land grants on both Middle and North Caicos. He had 750 acres north by Whole Crown Creek and Windward Going Through on Middle Caicos and 300 acres near the mouth of Bottle Creek on North Caicos. Using an appraisal, in 1995 a field school from Cumberland University excavated ruins on Middle Caicos that fit the description of the house in the appraisal. Evidence would conclude that “Bonaventure,” the name given Tattnall’s plantation, is located on Middle Caicos.
No mention of family was found but in the appraisal a small child’s bedstead, a cedar crib and small chair were listed. A young family resided there. Interesting items listed include Mr. Tattnall’s fiddle and a portrait of General Wolfe.
Tattnall’s stay in Nassau was not wasted. He joined the Board of American Loyalists but felt the politics of Governor Maxwell when he was denied an appointment of “searcher of customs” by Maxwell’s intervention in London. He signed a petition which stated strong feelings about not being represented in the Assembly which allowed Maxwell to report that Tattnall was trying to overthrow the government. He did not get the appointment.
The appraisal shows every indication that he was a successful planter. He had 120 acres in cotton and 30 in pasture. He died in 1796.
CHARLES FOX TAYLOR was an Indian friend of Colonel Thomas Brown and was accepted in the social circles of East Florida. He was the son of a Captain Taylor, and grandson of Lord Holland and the queen of the Cherokees. His claim to chiefdom in the Cherokee Nation was relinquished to follow Thomas Brown in exile (Cashin). Taylor’s land grant was only 60 acres but a sale of 200 acres of Taylor’s land was found. He apparently bought land from other grantees.
Taylor died in South Carolina. He made a voyage to South Carolina, became ill and recognized that death was near. A letter is recorded in the Bahama Registry, May 27, 1799, written to Edwin Gardner by C.F. Taylor. He asked Gardner to make arrangements for him in respect to the papers he had with him, his servant, and the baggage still on board the vessel in which he had traveled. He explained that his passage was not yet paid and he was to take $50 out of the $130 in the trunks and pay that bill. He explained that his attorneys on Grand Caicos, “where I live,” John McIntosh, John Lorimer, and John G. Harrison “would have charge of his affairs in that part of the world.” He asked that his trunks be sent to these men and that the Negro boy, borrowed from his brother-in-law, Dr. Anthony George Forbes, who was a planter on the same island, be returned. An unusual request was that his friend Thomas Forbes tell his mother about his death, which brings the question of him bringing his Indian mother to the Caicos. The will was registered in South Carolina, August 27, 1800, “an oath to the will of C.F. Taylor, deceased, May 27, 1799.”
THOMAS WILLIAMSON was from East Florida. In total, Williamson received 768 acres in scattered locations. The largest grant was 288 acres on the island of Parrot Cay, home to an exclusive resort development today.
Summing it up
Thelma Peters gives an excellent summary of the Loyalist era. She writes, “When the Loyalists arrived in the Bahamas they were an energetic people, determined to dominate their new environment and to remake their fortunes. They soon altered the appearance of Nassau (and the Out Islands), reformed what they regarded as abuses in the Colonial government, tore the protecting jungles from the rocky Out Islands to create their plantations, squeezed all they could from the thin soil, fathered innumerable mulatto children, and then either moved away or surrendered inevitably and abjectly to the Conch way of life.”
Descendents of the original settlers cannot be found on the Caicos but their names abound. The surnames of many residents are the names of Loyalists. It was the custom to assume the name of plantation owners at that time and in some cases, these “Belongers” now own the land their forefathers once worked. In my association with the citizens of Grand Turk and the Caicos Islands, I have found an interest in the Loyalist Era and a pride in their present life and certainly an interest in public welfare and good government. They are professionals, businessmen and women and civil servants and most have a medium-to-high standard of living. I wish to thank my many friends for their interest and help in my quest for the history of Turks & Caicos Islands.
• Borrowed title: “The Rest of the Story” from Paul Harvey.
• Thelma Peters, “The American Loyalists and the Plantation Period in the Bahama Islands.”
• Charlene Kozy, “A History of the Georgia Loyalists and the Plantation Period in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
• Stubbs Genealogical Summary: A collection of letters and documents of Mrs. Ely Chambers, 1185 Park Avenue, New York, New York (the great-great-great granddaughter of Annis Piles Smith) and compiled by Winfred Ludlow Mund, St. Barthelemy, French West Indies.
• Edward J. Cashin, The Kings Ranger.
Leave a Reply
What's Inside The Latest Edition?
Cover photographer Christine Morden works for Paradise Photography www.myparadisephoto.com , a full service boutique company based in the TCI. She especially enjoyed the Rejouvenance photo shoot to learn about the benefits of coconuts and to smell the amazing scents of their hand-crafted products.