Toiling in the Salt Ponds

texas lottery

mp-gt-houseThe Grand Turk years of Mary Prince

By Margo Maddison-MacFadyen

My new master was one of the salt pond owners or holders of the salt ponds, and he received a certain sum for every slave that worked upon his premises, whether they were young or old. This sum was allowed him out of the profits arising from the salt works. I was immediately sent to work in the salt water with the rest of the slaves. This work was perfectly new to me. I was given half a barrel and a shovel, and had to stand up to my knees in the water, from four o’clock in the morning till nine,
when we were given some Indian corn boiled in water, which we were obliged to swallow as fast
as we could for fear the rain would come on and melt the salt. We were then called again to our tasks, and worked through the heat of the day; the sun flaming upon our heads like fire, and raising
salt blisters in those parts which were not completely covered. Our feet and legs, from standing
in the salt water for so many hours, soon became full of dreadful boils, which eat down
in some cases to the very bone, afflicting the sufferers with great torment.

Mary Prince, 1831
Mary Prince, perhaps the best-known British black woman to walk away from slavery and to survive it to narrate her autobiography, The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself, suffered ten years, approximately 1802–1812, in the salt ponds of Grand Turk under the ownership of the now infamous “Mr. D.” and his equally barbaric son Master Dickey. Her vivid descriptions of life in the Grand Turk community and arduous work in the salt ponds make it all too clear that she and thousands of other Marys, along with their male counterparts, toiled miserably in the Bermudian-based salt industry of Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos. Each did his or her time for a period spanning some 70 years, when black slaves were used in the enterprise, from approximately 1764 until Emancipation on August 1, 1834.
Upon the slaves’ backs, substantial profits, indeed fortunes, were made for their Bermudian owners, some of whose names can still be seen today gracing signposts marking quaint alleyways that intersect with Front and Middle Streets on Grand Turk. Two centuries have passed since the years that Mary Prince raked, trimmed and bagged salt on Grand Turk, yet aspects of her story still lie buried and untold, waiting to be unearthed, not unlike remarkable artefacts awaiting discovery in an archaeological dig.
Once revealed, an incredibly rich history that has hitherto been hidden will not only empower the descendants of these salt pond slaves who have, in the main, become established as a distinguished citizenry, but will also add to the growing body of knowledge of the larger history of British colonial slavery. This knowledge will inform the world and mark the history of slavery in the Turks & Caicos Islands, as well as the transatlantic slave trade of which it was a part, as nothing less than a crime against humanity.

Slavery in Bermuda: a brief background
Surviving records of the 1600s give an, albeit fragmentary, story of a multiracial society in a British colony where land was scarce but slaveholding was widespread. Whites and blacks, mulattos and First Nations (or Indians as these persons were then called), masters, slaves and servants lived in the same houses, pursued the same economic pursuits, worshipped together and shared some of the same laws. Many of the early Bermudian households contained not only black and Indian slaves but also young white persons who had come to the colony as apprentices or as indentured servants.
Initially, the word “slave” was not widely used, negro servant being the preferred term for blacks. These disenfranchised persons were indentured for 99 years, not for life, which may have eased the consciences of a few of their slavers as these persons were technically not owned, but paying off a debt with a life’s worth of work. It is more likely, however, that the 99-year indenture was to extend for the longest possible period access to free labour. Although the indenture did not entail on the servant’s children and he or she was allowed to keep personal property, the value of the indenture was extended to Bermudian wills, with longer remaining terms increasing the value of the servant.
Over time, indenture evolved into slavery for the obvious reason of absolute ownership of the body and property of the disenfranchised person, including his or her children. More often than not, these persons were not captive Africans brought straight to the colony on slave ships from the African coast but came instead from West Indian colonies or the continent, and were, therefore, already “seasoned” for life as “unfree” persons.
Slavery was, in fact, disliked by many of the early English settlers in Bermuda and this sentiment may have prevailed for an equal number of citizens right through to Emancipation. Whereas some white families did not have any slaves on their premises, others had one or two and the wealthy had far more slaves than they actually needed to run their multiple ventures. Possibly, this was because the wealthy could afford to keep members of their slave families and preferred to do so rather than to split families up. However, keeping slave families together was a powerful incentive for conformity to the social order of the day, a social order with white Bermudians in control. If an owner was displeased, he or she could sell a member of the family as punishment. Perhaps this was the fate of Mary Prince when she was sold to Mr. D. of Turks Island—still owned, she was exiled from her family to a much harsher life working in the salt ponds of Grand Turk.
The slaves, therefore, fared differently depending upon circumstances and upon owners. Whereas some slaves maintained families alongside those of their masters, staying with the same Bermudian family through succeeding generations, others did not fare so well and were either sold within the colony or overseas to West Indian colonies or to the continent.
The naming of slaves in Bermuda, when compared to other British slaving colonies is perhaps symbolic of a different attitude towards slaves taken by some Bermudians. Whereas in Bermuda slaves were given Christian names and took the last names of their masters, in other British colonies women were often given the names of flowers such as Rose, Lily or Iris and men were named after mythological gods and heroes such as Thor, Zeus or Hercules. The Trimmingham family, however, was an exception, paying their slaves at Emancipation not to take their family name. Interestingly, Mary Prince’s father, Prince, who was a skilled sawyer owned by the Trimmingham family of Crow Lane, Bermuda, would, therefore, not have born the name Trimmingham, nor would have his descendants.
Children born to a slave woman and her Bermudian master were given the woman’s last name. Thus, Rose Taylor (b. 1808/d. 1890) was given her mother Eve’s last name and not that of her father John Ingham (sometimes spelled Ingraham), who was either Captain John Ingham himself, Mary Prince’s third owner, or a relative of the same name. Rose, who was later given her freedom, married Benji Wood (b. 1800/d. 1859), a free black man and a skilled carpenter, and they lived and prospered on Grand Turk in the years just prior to Emancipation and beyond.
Despite comparisons with other British slaving colonies of the time which substantiate that slavery was, perhaps, not as harsh in Bermuda as elsewhere in the British slaving network, there is evidence of unrest in the slave population which demonstrates that although gentler lives for slaves may have prevailed in Bermuda than in other colonies, the society was still decidedly oppressive. As early as 1623, an act was passed to “restrain the insolence of the negroes” and, at the same time, legislation was passed ensuring that no black person could engage in trade without the consent of his or her master. This was followed by the uprising of 1656 which was foiled but which resulted in the banishment of all blacks previously given their freedom. Five years later, in 1661, a conspiracy of black slaves working with white indentured servants was also foiled, resulting in the initiation of a night watch.
There were, in fact, ten reported slave uprisings in all, the last being in 1761 when half the black population had laid plans in a bid for freedom. Each time a plot was foiled there was a backlash from the white community: acts were passed and new prohibitory legislation enacted. Most times, punishment was meted out, including imprisonment, public whipping of a person’s back and/or buttocks, nose slitting, castration, and even public execution. The very notable Sally Basset, an elderly slave, although she claimed innocence, attacked the Forsters with a poisoning plot in 1729, and was burnt at the stake  in 1730.
Individual slaves would also have been rebellious, but reports of this are less frequent as they were dealt with by their masters rather than by tribunal. Rebellious slaves were meted out physical punishments by their owners and were often sold out of the colony. Mary Prince, who was owned by five slaving families in her lifetime—Myners, Williams, Ingham, D., and Wood—reports being severely beaten and lashed by four members of these families: Captain Ingham, his wife Mary Spencer Ingham (nee Albuoy), Mr. D. and Mr. Wood. Additionally, Mr. Wood’s wife Margaret Gilbert Wood (nee Albuoy), though she did not beat Mary Prince with her own hand, incited her husband to do so, and she once had Mary Prince sent to the magistrate to be put in the cage overnight and flogged the next day.

The Bermudian elites
The Bermudian elites, with whom Mary Prince and her family are intimately interconnected, made their fortunes not in agriculture but in maritime pursuits, including the salt industry of the Turks Islands. Many of these families had been in Bermuda since the 1620s, and by the 1660s had become firmly established there, trading, oftentimes illegally, in the great transatlantic network linking Bermuda, the North American continent, the Caribbean and Britain. They profited handsomely from “wrecking” or salvaging goods from hapless vessels that struck Bermuda’s reefs. Indeed, prime land in Bermuda was not a lush valley where tobacco, sugar cane and other foodstuffs could be grown; it was a few acres atop a ridge where a little necessary agriculture could be undertaken but, more importantly, from where wrecked vessels could be easily espied and quickly preyed upon.
Lightbourne, Stowe, Wood, Albuoy, Butterfield, Trimmingham, Gibbs, Outerbridge, Jennings, Frith and Darrell are but a few of the 40 households that comprised the elite in the 1660s. These 40 families intermarried frequently, entered into business one with the other, sat on the same church pew come a Sunday, saw each other well buried and served as executors of one another’s wills. A hundred years later, their descendants had, in the main, increased the wealth they had inherited. Most, if not all, of these families had slaves.
For example, Horatio Wood, a relative of John Adams Wood (Mary Prince’s last owner) in a 1773 census had in his household his wife and 7 children, 6 boys and a girl, and 38 slaves, 12 men, 12 women, 8 boys and 6 girls. He was undoubtedly one of Bermuda’s largest slave owners and used his slaves as crews for his ships, listing 10 black and 4 white sailors in his employ. Another member of the Wood family, perhaps Horatio’s brother, was Stowe Wood, whose name demonstrates the bond between the Stowe and Wood families over the decades. In the same 1773 census, he lists a wife, 3 sons, a daughter and 10 slaves.
Of interest to our story is the Albuoy family, as there is a distinct connection between Mary Prince and three Albuoy women. Besides the two women already mentioned—Mary Spencer Albuoy, wife of Captain Ingham, and Margaret Gilbert Albuoy, wife of John Adams Wood— Sarah Williams, the wife of Mary Prince’s second owner Captain Williams, also had an Albuoy family connection: her mother, Jane Albuoy, had married the wealthy George Darrell.
George Darrell, a descendant of the merchant John Darrell who resided in Bermuda’s Warwick Tribe in 1663, but who also owned 25 acres in Pembroke Parish, was a wealthy merchant himself when the 1773 census was taken. He had taken 2 wives, the first having died in 1758. At the time of the census, he had 3 sons old enough for the muster, 3 listed as boys, 3 older daughters and 2 girls. He also had 10 slaves, 3 men, 3 women, a boy and 3 girls.
These families and others like them profited from the sale of slaves as well as from other legal and illegal commercial ventures. Many affluent Bermudian families—Stowe, Jennings, Trimmingham and Darrell amongst them—owned ships that carried slaves to the North American continent, not only from Bermuda, but from St. Thomas, St. Christopher, Nevis, Antigua, St. Eustatius, Jamaica, Barbados, Turks Islands and as far afield as the Dutch islands of Curaçao and Bonaire. Women as well as men had interests in ships and profited from the sale of slaves outside the colony.
Therefore, it was not unusual for Mary Prince to have been sold to her fourth owner, Mr. D., and be taken to the Turks Islands, nor was it unusual for her to be sold to her fifth owner Mr. Wood, and taken to Antigua. What is of interest is that it appears her sales from one family to another were between a larger network of an extended family, though money did change hands. Possibly, Mary Prince had become a little too rebellious for her owners to handle and, as with other rebellious slaves, she was sold out of the colony.
It is also highly probable that she encouraged movement between slaveholders, wishing to leave the colony as her primary objective was, ultimately, freedom. Although her situation in the salt industry of the Turks Islands was far worse than it had been in Bermuda, she was geographically much closer to Haiti whose revolution would have been extremely attractive: any black person who could make it to Haiti was automatically free and was endowed with citizenship. Likewise, when she travelled with the Wood family to Antigua, the lure of potential freedom may have drawn her, for free black men could vote there. Although this law did not apply to Mary Prince, its relative spirit of freedom in the Caribbean would have been significant.

The Darrell family of
Turks Island and Salt Cay
The Turks Islands were in effect a colony of a colony, the Bermudians having arrived to rake salt in the naturally occurring salt ponds, some scholars say, as early as the 1650s. Others give the date as 1670, stating that a John Darrell was aware of salt ponds on the Bahamian island of Little Exuma and that, thereafter, the Bermudians began exploration of harvesting salt from the Turks Islands.
This same John Darrell (b. 1610/d. 1677) of Little Chart, Kent, England was the first in the family to settle in Bermuda. His 1677 will shows that he was one of the wealthiest residents of the Warwick Tribe in Bermuda, a prosperous merchant and a ship owner. In 1657, he bought “seventeen servants” for ₤238 and, since they were not defined as “negroes,” it is likely that they were Irish captives, a number of whom were brought to Bermuda in the 1650s, and that he sold them there. He also owned a number of slaves, an adult man, 2 adult women, 2 boys and a girl. In 1670, he and a business partner, Hugh Wentworth, financed the settlement of some Bermudians in New Providence, Bahamas.
The extended Darrell family was huge. John Darrell had 9 children—6 boys and 3 girls—and many of them prospered as merchants, ship owners and salt proprietors in their own rights, and they had many children of their own. George Darrell, for example (mentioned previously), was but one of his many descendants. However, for the purpose of this story, our interest lies in the following paternal lineage: his son, also named John Darrell (b. 1648/d. 1683); his grandson Moore Darrell (b. about 1667/d. about 1733); his great grandson, yet another John Darrell (b. before 1715/d. 6 September 1794); his great great grandson Robert Darrell (b. 3 October 1755/d. October 1821); and his great, great, great grandson Richard Darrell (b. 20 August 1790/d. 4 September 1853).
Interestingly, the third John Darrell mentioned is the first in the line to be buried on Grand Turk, in 1794.  Previous to this, the family burials had been in Bermuda. It is unknown where his son Robert was born, but when he died he had returned to Bermuda and was buried there. Richard Darrell, however, was bred, born and buried on Grand Turk, indicating that there was an increasing emphasis on permanency in the Turks Islands for this family of slavers, and this fits with the history of the evolution of the salt industry in the Islands.
Very likely, all the generations of Darrells from the first John Darrell to leave Little Chart, Kent participated in the salt industry. First, they were opportunistic rakers who arrived happenstance upon a naturally occurring ripe pond in the various islands of the Bahamian archipelago where they would have raked it, loaded it as cargo onto their ships and taken it to port to trade. Later, they acted as seasonal participants who had annually planned drops where they would have left white men to rake salt, heading off themselves in their ships to engage in other commerce, such as turtling and trading, and returning a few months later at the end of the season for both their men and the product of their men’s labour, the precious salt. Finally, they became permanent residents in the Islands.
At the outset of the industry, these men would have employed white men to rake salt or they would have procured white indentured servants to do the work. Although they may have had black slaves back in Bermuda, it would have been unlikely that they would have taken the risk of bringing them to the Salt Islands: pirates or nationals from other European countries who wanted to control the islands and have access to the valuable salt were a constant worry and would have undoubtedly stolen any slaves they found.
However, 1764 was a turning point in the development of the industry. In June, at the end of the salt season, the French invaded Grand Turk, destroying the rakers’ huts, tools and supplies and taking them prisoner before heading to Salt Cay to do the same. William Shirley, the then-governor of the Bahamas, was quick to complain to the British throne, pointing out the importance of the islands to British commerce, as salt was fundamental in preserving both meats and fish. Parliament responded by claiming the islands for England but giving stewardship  to the Bahamas.
The Bermudian rakers were incensed at this development, arguing that they had occupied the islands for over 90 years and had possessory claims, but Parliament remained firm in its decision. As a result, the Bermudians resisted any legislation and fiscal control imposed by the Bahamians, and proved to be a troublesome lot in general well into the 1800s.
The islands had become a rendezvous of lawless folk from the continent, Bermudian rakers and French and Spanish contrebandiers. Brigantines, sloops, and schooners arrived with holds full of diverse goods to trade for salt: lumber, staves, bricks, shingles, spices, flour, sugar, coffee, rum, molasses, mackerel, herring, cod, candles, and slaves. Bermudians did not want to see an end to this trade, as by it their wealth was increased enormously.
However, after the landmark date of 1764, it was safe to bring slaves, such as Mary Prince and her counterparts, to the Turks Islands and movement of these disenfranchised persons from Bermuda to its satellite colony began.

The infamous Mr. D.
The utter brutality of Mary Prince’s fourth owner Mr. D. and his son, both Grand Turk salt proprietors and slavers, led Thomas Pringle, the editor of Mary Prince’s narrative, The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself, to conceal his identity, possibly because he did not want to be sued for libel. Likewise, he concealed the identity of her third owner Captain I., later identified by scholars and historians as none other than Captain John Ingham of Spanish Point, Bermuda. To date, there has been speculation about the identity of Mr. D., but no name given.
However, four strong reasons exist for the very plausible assumption that Robert Darrell is none other than the infamous Mr. D. of Bermuda and Turks Island and his son Richard Darrell the cruel tyrant, Dickey. First, the Slave Records of 1822 list both Robert Darrell and his son Richard as being involved in the salt industry on both Grand Turk and Salt Cay. The only other salt proprietors listed in the records whose last names begin with “D” are other members of the Darrell family—brothers, uncles or cousins—and members of the Dean, Dunscomb, Dickson and Dill families, and there are no other father/son proprietors listed. Secondly, we now have birth and death dates for this pair of father and son slavers showing they were present on the Islands in the years 1802–1812, Richard Darrell being close to the same age as Mary Prince.
Thirdly, the son’s name, Richard, matches with the abbreviated form of the name, Master Dickey, Mary Prince’s Turk Island tormentor. Finally, a member of the Darrell family by extension, Sarah Williams, the wife of Captain John Williams, who was Mary Prince’s second owner and also an owner of Mary Prince’s mother, is the daughter of George Darrell and, as noted earlier, it appears the sales of Mary Prince from one family to another were actually between a larger network of an extended family.
The ten years that Mary Prince spent as a slave toiling in the salt ponds of Grand Turk under these two slavers were by far her worst. Not only did the labour bring salt boils to her feet and legs and sun blisters to her face and hands, but she witnessed the torture of other slaves, Old Daniel and Ben, the murder of one, Sarah, and she was herself tortured. Additionally, she was severely chastised, put in stocks and subsequently flogged for not being able to keep up with the rest of the gang.
Of Mr. D., she says that, “nothing could touch his hard heart—neither sighs, nor tears, nor prayers, nor streaming blood; he was deaf to our cries, and careless of our sufferings.” Mr. D., she says, “often stripped me naked, hung me up by the wrists, and beat me with the cow-skin, with his own hand, till my body was raw with gashes. Yet there is nothing very remarkable in this; for it might serve as a sample of the common usage of the slaves on that horrible island” (Prince, 72).
Perhaps the worst treatments of all for Mary Prince were the sexual assaults of Mr. D. He took her with him when he handed the reins of the family salt business over to Richard, his son, when he returned to his Bermudian home in 1812. Back in Bermuda, she refused to wash him while he stood naked in his bathtub. Very likely, this behaviour had been ongoing while on Turks Island but, when she refused him there, he was able to beat her mercilessly until she gave way.
In Bermuda, she was able to refuse him without the same severity of consequence, as his barbarities would not be so easily tolerated as they had been in the relative isolation of Turks Island. Again, censorship came into play in regard to her narrative. Clearly, other activities of a sexual nature were ongoing, but they could not be stated overtly in the narrative, only intimated, for fear of losing public appeal. Since the ultimate purpose of the publication of Mary Prince’s narrative was the support of the Emancipation movement, its objective would have been defeated if any of her potential readership had been lost.
Master Dickey was cut from the same cloth as his father. Mary Prince attests that he, “was a cruel son of a cruel father—he had no heart—no fear of God; he had been brought up by a bad father in a bad path, and he delighted to follow in the same steps” (Prince, 75). Although it was Mr. D. who tormented the slave named Old Daniel by lashing his back with a rough briar and then ordering a bucket of salt water to be thrown on his wounds, it was Master Dickey who stuck a bayonet through the foot of a younger man, the slave named Ben, and it was he who beat and, subsequently, threw an older woman, the slave named Sarah, into a prickly-pear bush that inflicted gashes all over her body so that it swelled, festered and eventually she died.

The Darrell holdings
The residence of John, Robert and Richard Darrell was a low wooden structure situated across from the Grand Turk Salt Yards on the corner of Middle and Market Streets. Though demolished approximately 50 years ago, from its windows, doors and upper veranda, they and other family members would have watched their wealth accumulate as huge piles of “white gold,” or sea-evaporated salt, were mounded ever higher by their slaves, Mary Prince amongst them. It is thought that their land extended all the way from the ponds to the ocean shoreline and, therefore, to the docks for shipping salt. Thus, their land was in a prime location when the salt industry was flourishing and, since their family had been rakers for generations, it makes sense that they would have acquired such an excellent situation.
The development of their land, as with that of other white rakers in the community, would have evolved in stages. Small buildings to house the early white rakers dropped annually on the islands plus their tools and other accoutrements would have been erected first, followed by other small, but necessary outbuildings, such as latrines, kitchens, and more sleeping and storage sheds. Eventually, main houses would have been built, but these, too, may have been built in stages as the need for more space developed and the availability of materials evolved. Eventually, families would have occupied the main houses, and other persons would have been given shelter in the outbuildings.
After 1764, when it was safe for these slaving families to bring black slaves to the colony, the first slaves to arrive may have occupied the original rakers’ shacks. After 1834, when the slaves were freed, it is thought that paid servants, possibly previous slaves, then occupied these dwellings.
Tucked in behind the original Darrell house, between it and the Wood mansion situated further up Middle Street, is a slave dwelling which may have once housed two slave families. A wooden partition divides its interior in equal measure and there are two separate entrances, one to each of two small rooms which would have been cramped quarters for a family of any size. Local lore suggests that this is the dwelling that housed Mary Prince, her mother and her younger sister Rebecca when they were also brought to Grand Turk to work in the salt ponds. Nearby, just across Darrell Alley on the Wood property, lies the foundation of a one-time church and near to this is thought to be a small graveyard wherein the bones of white rakers, members of these slaving families, may lie.
Interestingly, there are no known graves of slaves in the Islands. It does not take a huge leap of imagination to grasp the possibilities of what may have happened to the bodies of deceased slaves. Certainly, the inhumane treatment of these disenfranchised persons by their white slavers bespeaks of an equally inhumane end.
A building of note is the historically important dwelling located on the Rose Neith property of Middle Street. It has a long rectangular shape and barred windows; local lore suggests that it is the oldest building in the nation, and this is probably true. Were an archaeological dig to take place at the site, many layers of items, telling a tale of a long series of residents and uses, would unfold. Perhaps Mary Prince herself was locked up and kept in this very shack. Certainly, it fits the description of the “long shed” she reports to have slept in along with other slaves. And it is in the near vicinity of the Darrell holdings.

Historical significance
This unique building and others near it in the Middle Street area of Grand Turk are not only of historical importance to the Turks & Caicos Islands, but also to the world. Indeed, when combined with the White House of Salt Cay and the naturally occurring “salt spring” or Boiling Hole of South Caicos, they make an irreplaceable set of sites that provide insight into not only the Turks Islands salt industry, but the transatlantic slave trade of which it is a small but important part. In fact, the transatlantic slave trade is now considered to have been a crime against humanity, even by those countries on both sides of the Atlantic that participated in it.
Perhaps these sites need further attention and are worthy of UNESCO heritage designation? Certainly, related sites have already been recognized on the West African coast—sites which are treated by some pilgrims as necessary visits to a horrific past in which both African elites and opportunistic Europeans traded one with the other, engaging in raiding villages and capturing, imprisoning and transporting African peoples westward across the Atlantic Ocean in order to procure incredible wealth for themselves.
Visits to such sites impart knowledge and heal wounds. In understanding our pasts, individually and collectively, we can be inspired to stand strong, be guardians of our own spirits and be warriors for freedom, dignity and justice. Let us not forget Mary Prince, whose life was filled with violence of the worst kinds, and whose grimmest years were those spent on Grand Turk toiling in the salt ponds of her slavers. The hardships she suffered, her fight for justice and, finally, her triumph—sweet freedom—can serve as a vanguard for our own paths as individuals, as a nation and as world citizens.

Ancestry.ca. (2008) Jenson/Stubbs public family tree. Retrieved August, 2008, from the Ancestry website (Richard Ball Darrell): http://trees.ancestry.ca/pt/person.aspx?tid=4488947&pid=-1595749350.

Beckles, Dr. Hilary McDonald. (2008). A UNESCO document: Slave Voyages: The Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans. Retrieved March, 2008, from http://www.amistadamerica.org/content/view/1645/204.

Bermuda Genealogy and History, Surname Studies, Descendants of John Darrell. Retrieved March, 2008, from http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bmuwgw/darrellgen.htm.

Bernhard, Dr. Virginia. (1999). Slaves and Slaveholders in Bermuda, 1616-1782. (Columbia: The University of Missouri Press). Retrieved April, 2008, from http://www.questia.com/read/109328461.

Kennedy, Dr. Cynthia M. (2007). From The Historian: “The Other White Gold: Salt, Slaves, the Turks and Caicos Islands and British Colonialism”. Retrieved February, 2008, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/printable.aspx?id=1G1:165193156.

Jarvis. Dr. Michael. Spirit of Bermuda Lecture Series, Grand Turk Island. May 17, 2008.

Maxwell, Dr. Clarence. Spirit of Bermuda Lecture Series, Grand Turk Island. May 18, 2008.

Prince, Mary. (1831). The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself. Edited with an Introduction by Moira Ferguson. Revised Edition. (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1997) pp. 57-94.

Sadler, Nigel. (2001). Slave History of the Turks and Caicos Islands: The Problems Encountered Researching Slave History. Grand Turk Island: Turks and Caicos National Museum.

The author of this piece gratefully thanks Deborah Annema, Oswaldo Ariza, David Bowen, Colin Brooker, Shirley Brown, Dr. Neil Hitch and Brian Riggs for their thoughtful contributions towards its content, but especially thanks Dr. Clarence Maxwell who read it for accuracy and whose knowledgeable comments brought it to final fruition.


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Sherlene Adderley Smith
Apr 25, 2009 1:42

Hi ,
I’m looking for slaves with the last name Adderley. They may have come from Turk’s & Caicos or the Bahamas. Please send any info that you may have.
Thank you

Sherlene Adderley Smith
Jun 21, 2009 10:04

Good morning,
I have enjoyed reading note on Slavery in the Turk’s & Caicos .
I’m looking for Slaves with the last name is Adderley. I would like to
no if any came to Bermuda or Bermuda to Turk’s. My family are the only
black family of Adderley’s here and we don’t have any history of or Ancestors.
Can you also give me advice on how i can get any info about the Adderley’s.
I need to no what steps i need to take in getting info..
I just want to thank you

May 22, 2010 4:10

Good morning,
I’m still looking for Slaves with the last name is Adderley. They came from Turk’s, Bahamas and other Caribbean Islands.and from Africa. and Bermuda.
Thank you

Edward Arthur Grice
May 29, 2010 19:29

The years of slavery were truly an aweful time of mans inhumanity to man. It should be taught and not forgotten. Perhaps a few were not so cruel. Something could be said of those who in later years sought to heal some of those wounds. Benjamin Charles Frith a salt merchant in the late 1800’s, according to the New York times, cared for some of the natives in their later years. He also at considerable expense drained a pond that was suspected of carrying typhoid. It does not excuse the evil but indicates a possible begining of a change of heart and attitude. May it continue!

Feb 2, 2011 19:22

I too have many questions about the “Adderley” name and history. My forefathers came to this country from the Bahamas, but we don’t know much about the name or the history. I do believe that my ancestors lived in captivity, and their captors bore the “Adderley” name. Please share whatever info you have.

Feb 10, 2011 22:18

Hi ,
I’m still looking for those Adderley’s. . P Adderley maybe you can give me what info you have . I can try and find what i can in Bermuda.
Thank you

Judy Newman-Lawrie (Darrell
Aug 29, 2011 19:48

My mother was born on Grand Turks – a Darrell. I found out the history of my Mom’s family last year. While searching the internet. I found a copy of the book by Mary Prince (on the internet) and am mortified at the actions of past relatives – the Darrells – during the salt years on Turks The Frith’s that Edward Grice mentioned above are also related to the Darrells (I believe that he was my Grandfathers grandfather and my mother spoke about the stories of Benjamin Frith and how he was loved by those who knew and him and worked for him, that he was a very kind man. I have tried to find out more information on Benjamin Frith but have been unable to find anything. Does anyone know how I could get more info on him.

Jan 14, 2012 16:47

Hi Sherlene, google books now has some information about Adderly/Adderley slaves in Turks and Caicos. They have uploaded extracts from the book “Slaves and Slaveholders of Bermuda”. Just do a google search to find.

Edward Grice
Apr 9, 2012 17:40

Hi Judy, I have traced the Frith family to Warwick Bermuda in the 1600s. it appears they moved to Grand Turk in the late 1700s. There is good documentation of them as land owners in Warwick. If you on Grand Turk you will find a number of grave stones of the Friths I only know of one person on the island that still has the Frith name.

Benjamin Wood
Apr 20, 2012 19:41

Looking for any information on my Grandfather, John Deshield Wood of Grand Turk and my Uncle, Evan T Wood who was married to Mary Tatum and for years lived in the old schoolhouse. All of the family is deceased now and I cannot locate any early information.
Thank you.

Narissa Eve
May 29, 2012 21:39

Looking for information on Benjamin Eve from Turks and Caicos. I think he died in nassau.

jonathan dill
Oct 14, 2012 9:01

looking for more history on the dill family and the family tree.

Yolonda Woolridge
Nov 2, 2012 14:20

Hi, I am looking for links to the family name of Woolridge. My dads’ family is from Shreveport Louisiana. I think that there may be a family link to Bermuda. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you.

Robert Darrell
Feb 1, 2013 22:43

My grandparents were one of the Darrell families to leave turks island in the 1920s..We are related to the Friths and Jones..would love to hear from anyone who had info on them..

rob frith
Feb 25, 2013 22:23

My grandfather Arther Frith moved from Turks to Vancouver B.C. in around 1910. My father was named Ben Frith.

Bill Thomas
Mar 19, 2013 10:23

I too descend from the Darrell, Frith, and Stubbs families. That this evil man is possibly related just disgusts me to know end. I don’t condone slavery, but fortunately more slave owners were decent people compared to the likes of this “man” and didn’t brutalize their slaves. Still thankfully society moved on from the barbaric practice of slavery that was around for over 2,000 years.

Robert Darrell if you see this please contact me at thomaswm1959 at the g ….. mail dot com

There is a chance we are somewhat closely related. I descend from a Robert W Darrell who died about 1876 … he may have been a ship’s Captain. He was married to Susan Wade Stubbs.

Jennifer Darrell Milton
May 12, 2013 2:09

To Robert Darrell, I am a Darrell as well. My Grandfather Francis Darrell left Grand Turk in 20’s as well. He said he got on a ship and never looked back. I am also a Jones and Frith as others have said. I am mortified!! I proudly got on to tell my 8 yr. old about our wonderful heritage and now I’m so sad. It is chilling b/c my dad’s brother is George and his son Richard…”family names.”

Would love to hear more.

John Philip Frith
Jun 19, 2013 0:17

To Edward Grise, just had a meeting with Rob Frith. He has great historical photos of the Frith mansion on Grand Turk, one with a huge gathering of family on the front porch. I’d love to touch bases with you. My grandfather was Walter Darrell Frith, son on Daniel Nathaniel Frith and Roberta Alice Darrell, he was born on Grand Turk September 10th, 1881. Perhaps one of those in the photo on the porch of the Grand Turk house was my grandfather Walter and one was Rob’s grandfather Arthur??

Margaret Tatem-GIlbert
Feb 21, 2014 19:25

To Benjamin Wood. Your Uncle Evan Wood was married to my father’s (Arthur Tatem) sister. Two children Shirley and John R Wood live in Canada outside Toronto. I do believe Shirley was compiling a family history with the information put together by the sisters Louise Tatem, Mary Tatem and Ariminta Tatem – all deceased now.

Matt McNeil
May 23, 2014 14:14

I’m looking for slaves with the last name Bassett. My 4 times great grandmother was a slave in bermuda named Rebecca Bassett. She had her daughter Ann Elizabeth Austen in 1843 with Admiral Sir Francis William Austen, who I’m guessing Rebecca was bought from him. Rebecca might have had a previous owner with the last name Bassett, but I’m not sure. Rebecca had a sister named Minna Bassett, or she could have taken the name of her owner. Minna eventually married a smith, so she might have been freed from slavery. I would love to know if there is any information on this. Thanks!

Robin Leith
Jul 31, 2014 22:42

I have been re searching my ancestry. Some of my anstors on my mothers side are Wentworth and Basden. William and Margery Wentworth Basden. Mother is a direct descendant. Hugh Basden if I remember correctly chose John Darrell to be his guardian upon his fathers death. I have found this reading very interesting. I am a history buff. I am also working on reading about the life of Mary Prince. And that is just on mothers side. I am also looking for a book called White Indian the True Story of John Leith. Related to me on my dads side of the family. Good or bad I never knew what a rich history my family has on both sides.

Jamila Bassett Davis
Nov 8, 2014 9:56

To Matt McNeil, Im not sure about the names, but I am a Bassett, my paternal grandfather Clarence Bassett waas born and raised in Bermuda. What I do know is there are a nice amount of Bassett’s in Bermuda. From what Im told we are all related. Im starting to learn about my ancestors, and thats a big part of it. So if I run across those names I can notify you. Take care.

Paula Saylor Shear
Nov 20, 2014 0:12

My brother is researching our ancestry and has a book re: White Indian, John Leith, there is also a book
on him at this site – https;//archive.org/details/ashortbiography00buttgoog it is a book that has been put on a google site and at one time was in the Harvard library.

apparently John Leith was my grandmother, Frances Hull’s great great great (etc) grandfather. He was very familiar with indian ways from his years of captivity.

Liz Koh
Jul 25, 2015 0:43

Edward Grice, I am researching the Frith family of Bermuda and I am trying to find the ancestry of Captain John Gilbert Frith (1792-1842). I would appreciate any information you can provide

Hilda m. Provosty
Aug 3, 2015 18:03

My grandmother was born in turks & caicos, her name was Hilda Bassett. Is there any history about her or her family? Thank-you,Hilda m. Provosty

Benjamin Wood
Oct 5, 2015 20:27

To:Margaret Tatem-GIlbert
Thank you for your reply. I am sorry I took so long to return to this site.
Is there any way I can get in touch with you or Shirley Wood? I am 75 yrs old and have spent decades trying to gather information on the family to little avail. As a child I remember Aunt Louise Tatem visiting our home in Brooklyn, N.Y. at least once every year. When I was 15 my dad took me to Grand Turk and I had to opportunity to visit with Aunt Eva Tatem who I assume was Ariminta Tatem. I will never forget spending a month riding her horse Tibits from one end of the island to the other. I will be checking back on a regular basis from now on.

Ralph E. Stubbs
Oct 15, 2015 19:27

My great grandfather was Horatio Duncan Stubbs. He was murdered on Grand Turk sometime around 1886. Do you know anything about that?

L Carter
Nov 25, 2015 21:08

Hello Matt, Jamila and Hilda! I am the great-granddaughter of Hilda Bassett (daughter of Emma). Hilda arrived in the states in 1916 from Turks Island and her sister Ameila or Annila was married (to a Bermudian) and already living here. I am super curious as to why only the girls left the island and where the rest of the family may be. Please share any info that you may have.
P.S. Hilda, I think that your mother and my grandmother were sisters!

Carol Dyer Berry
Feb 8, 2016 11:50

To Matt McNeil,
We may be related.
Here is my story: Rebecca Bassett was my great, great grandmother who was a free woman of Native American descent (Powhathan tribe) in Bermuda. Her daughter with Admiral Francis Austen who was stationed in Bermuda was Ann Austen. Ann Austen married William Charles Ingham (believed connected through slavery or blood to Captain, John Ingham third owner of Mary Prince). Anne and William Ingham had 11 children, one of whom was my grandmother, Helen Eliza Ingham who later married Edward Henry Dyer. I would love to learn more about Rebecca Bassett and her family.

Jun 9, 2016 11:47

Hello, My grandfather last name was Basden and he’s from Turks and Caicos and I would like all the info possible on the Basden family please!!

Linda Bernard and Donna Capello
Aug 21, 2016 12:25

Benjamin Wood,
My cousin, Donna Sanchez, and I are the grandchildren of John Richardson Wood of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and New York City. We are the second cousins of Shirley Brown. We have been researching our family’s history and are interested in sharing information with you.
We hope to hear form you.

Linda Bernard and Donna Sanchez

Ed Christian
Jun 1, 2017 17:45

My dad’s mom was a Darrell, descended from John Harvey Darrell II, a partner in Samuel Harvey and Co., owned by his uncle, and stationed in British Guiana, though he had a home in Bermuda. John Harvey Darrell I, born 1796, was the Chief Justice of Bermuda, and much respected. He owned Mary Prince’s mother, and Mary Prince says he was a benevolent master. Robert was his cousin and Robert’s son Richard his nephew. You left the part out where Mary Prince reveals that Robert was also sexually abusing his own daughter. Robert and Richard were horrible, and life among those digging salt was dreadful, no question. I’m embarrassed to find Robert and Richard in the family tree. Oddly, both of my grandmother’s parents were about a quarter African. Both of their fathers took slaves (of other people!) as concubines who lived with them in Demerara or Surinam, and they purchased the women’s freedom and arranged for the kids to bear their own names, and they provided for their children’s education with private tutors and school in Bermuda or Scotland. If you are a Darrell, you can find me on Facebook.

Ramon A Smith
Jan 9, 2018 18:37

All of your families are in Bermuda! I am from Bermuda and do family research. I grew up with the Bassett familiy, Darrells, Adderley, and everyone mentioned on here.

Ramon A Smith
Jan 9, 2018 19:02

If interested in connecting with your family in Bermuda email me at ramons99 at y dot com

Cjonnie Robinson
Jul 8, 2018 20:05

My Gr Grandmother was born in Antigua. Annie Maria Wood 6/9/1869. Her father was Frederick Wm Wood. Her mother Sophia Laidley Wood. We are following the John Adams Wood line with hopes of connecting our Frederick Wm to John Adams Wood, since he was also in Antigua. Would like more info of The Woods of Bermuda. Thanks.

Ronald Seymour
Sep 8, 2020 16:45

This was very enlightening l am looking for information on the Seymours in Turks and. Caicos Islands.

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