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J. Matthew, Printer, 12, Nassau Place, Cummercial Road, 






Comvnrlr iis ttir Slittlior, 



Thrice have I taken up my pen^ and ag 
often have I laid it down^ not knowing in 
what way I could best account to my 
readers for the introduction of the follow- 
ing pages to their notice. As a Planter 
by profession, it may very fairly be asked^ 
why I should have obtruded upon the 
public a narrative so replete with charges 
against my professional brethren, and so 
calculated to brand with infamy the 
names of so many individuals entrusted 
with the administration of a£Fairs in our 
West Indian Colonies. My reasons are 
the following, and they are as simple and 
as unvarnished as the narrativ<e itself. 

First. — As a friend of civil and reli- 
gious liberty, I abhor slavery in my very 




soul: knowing, as {do, that no man has 
/ a just right to depriye his fellow- man of 
/ his property, of his limbs, or of his life 
r except for some crime against society. 

Secondly. — I regard slavery in all 
its forms, and under all the modifications 
it has assumed, as calculated to depriye 
its victims of those habits and energies, 
which are necessary to effective and bene- 
ficial labour. 

Thirdly. — I am anxious to expose the 
treachery, the torture, and the tyranny, 
practised by the overseers and attorneys 
of Jamaica, towards the slaves, and even 
in many instances towards the Book- 
keepers, by such a succinct detail of 
facts as my experience and observations 
for the last eighteen years may enable me 
to supply. . 

Fourthly. — I wish to shew to the 
pubhc why it is, that men, who have not 


scorned to sacrifice their own honor, and 
who have not hesitated to risk the pro- 
perty and the lives of others, are the men 
who have almost exclusively been promo- 
jtied to the highest offices, and to the most 
lucrative employments in our Colonies. 

Fifthly. — I am anxious to lay before 
my readers some brief notices of the 
opposition made to the ministers of the 
Gospel, together with the destruction of 
their property, and the persecution of 
their congregations. 

Sixthly. — I wish to call the attention 
of the Public generally to the profligate 
conduct of some of the Special Magis* 
trates, who notwithstanding their appoint- 
ment under the twenty million act, 
under the influence of the Attomies and 
Overseers, became the instruments, of the 
vilest persecution to the Apprentices. 

Sevbnthly. — I cannot satisfy my own 


conscience without making an exposure 
of the cruel fraud and treachery almost 
universally practised by colonial exe- 
cutors . towards the defenceless orphans 
committed to their care. 

And EiGHTLY, — I wish to submit to 
the absentee proprietor some remarks 
upon the nature and cultivation of the 
soil, upon the manner in which their pro- 
perties may be most effectually managed, 
upon the plan of treatment which should 
now be adopted towards the emancipated 
negroes, and upon the circumstances under 
which European emigration to the colo- 
nies jpay be honorably and profitably 
encouraged, — remarks which are the re- 
sult of my own experience and observa- 
tion, and which, I flatter myself, it will be 
the interest of every absentee proprietor 
to peruse for himself. 

I am quite aware that, in the following 


narrative, the tone of remark into which 
at times I have been led, is calculated rather 
to make me enemies than friends — I had 
however no other course to pursue. To 
have divested it of its thrilling and horri- ^ 
bl^details, would have been to have shorn . 
it of all its pretensions to truth. Many v 
and painful have been the struggles be- 
tween inclination and duty, whilst com- 
piling the following pages. The recollec- 
tion of intimacies, or perhaps of former 
acts of kindness, sometimes almost induced 
me to suppress facts, which, in my own 
conscience, 1 was convinced the public 
ought to know* Butthistemptation,! thank 
God, I have been enabled to overcome : 
No man has been spared because he was^ 
my friend, nor has any one been treated , 
with undue severity on account of any ^ 
personal injuries I may have sustained ^ 
at his hands. Whenever I have met with a 


tyrant, whether he were friend or foe, t 

have always felt as though the great 

I black devil had crossed my path, and that 

* I was bound as the friend of liberty and hu- 

f manity notwithstanding the guise he wore^ 

^ to exhibit his cloven hoof, and to hold 

iUp his delinquencies to public execration. 

I entreat my readers generally, but 

more especially the absentee proprietor 

to do me the favor of perusing the whole 

narrative. It is an accumulation of facts, 

and upon that accumulative evidence, 

I. wish to rest my case. Instances 

of extreme cruelty may be selected, which 

will serve to expose the odiousness of 

the system upon which the legislature 

has now placed its final veto ; but the 

narrative must be read as a whole, if 

my readers would form an adequate con-^ 

ception of the total unfitness of the old 

Planters to manage the estates in the 


Colonies under their present altered cir- 
cumstances. The tiger from the jungle . 
may be tamed, but it is a matter of rare x 
occurrence : it is far more probable, s 
that he will retain his native ferocious- % 
ness, though confined to his cage. But 
what cage is sufficiently strong to re- , 
strain these human tigers from the exer- ^ 
cise of the brutality which has been ^ 
sucked in with their mothers milk ? Pub^ . 
lie opinion is a bugbear, and legislative 
enactments but the gossamer playing in 
the wind. Cruelty and oppression must 
ooze out, so long as a pore in their 
bodies remains open, the salvation 




B. M'Mahon. 
London Dec. 1838. 

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On the 28th of July in the year 1818 1 left my 
native country, Ireland, as a volunteer in the 
patriot service of the Columbian army, for the 
purpose of assisting in the liberation of the 
South Americans from the Spanish yoke. We 
sailed for the island of Margueritta. 

During our passage the most remarkable 
thing that occurred was the frequency of petty 
quarrels amongst the oflBcers, which invariably 
led to a duel. There were no less than fifteen 
duels fought on board the ship during the two> 
months' passage ; but, strange to say, only one 
person was wounded, and that in the heel— *the 
motion of the vessel, perhaps, prevented them 
from taking good aim. These duels arose out 


of the most foolish and childish disputes, gene- 
rally through gambling transactions* Towards, 
the end of the voyage the captain put a stop to 
thijs altogether, because, although they missed 
one another, yet they constantly hit the rigging 
and cut it up. We had no quarrels amongst 
the men. 

We arrived in the harbour of Juan Grego, in 
the island of Margueritta, on the 28th of Sep- 
tember. It was .well we did not arrive a day 
earlier, as there were seven of the Spanish line 
cruising on that coast, by whom to a certainty 
i^e should have been made prisoners, although 
we had been entered, at the Custom-house in 
Dublin, as passengers bound to Trinidad. We 
remained in Margueritta drilling the men, and 
preparing them for active service, until March, 

It is not my intention, however, to enter into 


details of what I went through in South Ame- 
rica. It will be sufficient to state, that we tra- 
velled between four and five hundred miles into 
the interior, and met with opposition from the 
Spanish troops at almost every place ; but it 
was very easily overcome, in consequence of 
the rank cowardice of our opponents. In fact, 
we did not lose a single man in warfare, but 
two, who lagged behind and were taken prison- 
ers, were murdered in cold blood in the^rost 
barbarous manner — and we lost several in our 
march, from fatigue and thirst. About the 
month of June, the patriot army had been sa 
successful, that the Spanish troops were alto- 
gether disbanded and withdrawn, and the flag 
of liberty was hoisted in every part of Vene- 
zuela. At the end of this campaign we were so 
dissatisfied with our treatment by the comman- 
ders, that mauy of us threw up our engagements, 
and became scattered about. I, together with 
about 200 others, determined to go to the. West 


Indiei ; and we sailed for Jamaica in the begiD- 
ning of June. I must mention that, while I 
was in Mslrgneritta, I had an opportunity of 
seeing nearly all the inhabitants who had for- 
^merly been slaves, and who had only been made 
, free a few months before I got there. I believe 
/ 1 can safely say, that 1 never saw one, either 
/ man or woman, that had not their bodies covered 
f with scars, — ^their faces, necks, arms, legs and 
» bact, were all marked with cuts crossing each 
f other. My ignorance of the nature of slavery 
in those days, left me entirely at a loss to know 
how all the black inhabitants could have re- 
ceived such horrible wounds; and the truth 
never struck me, till after I had been a little, 
time in Jamaica. The people about forty years, 
/old were grey-headed, emaciated, worn -down 
/ and often deformed, occasioned by the barba- 
/rous cruelty of the inhuman Spaniards, calling 
' themselves Christians. 





On my arrival in Jamaica, a gentleman named 
Burke who kept a druggist's shop in Kingston, 
got me a berth in the planting line. I was em- 
ployed at Bloxbargh Coffee Plantation, in the 
Port Royal Mountains : there were nearly 300 
slaves upon it. The first morning I went to the 
field I was accompanied by another bookkeeper. 
I observed an extensive gang weeding young 
coffee, and two ferocious looking fellows, with« 
long whips, vv ^ll tarred , walking from right to* 
left behind the gang, who were almost naked. ^ 
These two men were the drivers. Occasionally 
they flogged all hands to make them work faster, 
and if any one dared to put up his hand to stop 
the lash, woe betide him. He was sure to be^ 
taken out and stretched on the ground, and ' 
there flogged without mercy. 


Several of the slaves had iron bands about their 
necks, and were chained together in pairs with 
long chains, and were made to work in this way 
from morning till night. I was not long in detect- 
ing fbe folly as well as cruelty of this system, 
because those that were in irons, although quite 
unable to make use of their proper strength, were 
compelled to work equal to those that had free 
use of their limbs, and any one may see that, in 
this way, although the poor creatures that were 
loaded with irons, were compelled to work be- 
yond their strength, those that had no chains on 
did less work than they might. Yet this plan was 
pursued to the very end of slavery. The cries and 
groans of these persecuted people were so heart- 
rending, and so sickened me with the horrible 
scene of cruelty, that I could not refrain from 
expressing what was gushing at my heart. I ob- 
served to the book-keeper, that if I had a thou- 
sand men such as I had left behind me in South 
America, I would hang every rascal who carried 


a whip to mangle the flesh of his fellow-creatures 
or the monster who gave such directions. My 
observations at this time only occasioned a laugh 
I was ^t the same time full of spirit of liberty 
even to a dangerous degree, but as I was young 
then, the planters did not much mind what I said 
about slavery and cruelty, but attributed it to my 
want of experience. After some time had passed, 
my feelings became a good deal blunted by seeing 
these things so often, and 1 could not help myself, 
being poor Add unprotected, and ray remarks 
never did any good. 

My usual routine of duty on Bloxbnrgh, was 
to rise every morning at or before four o'clock 
A. Ms and go straight to the fields and call the list 
of the slaves in the gang by the light of a torch ; 
and if any one was absent when his name was 
called, a most unmerciful flogging was his por- 
tion. If he happened to have on clean clothes, 

although they might be only rags he was sure to 

B 21 


/be laid down in the filthiest place, the driver 
/ could find, and there receive his flogging so as 
' to create a laugh, this wasdoue especially to wo- 
/Uien, and was the general practice through 

Although the whip wasemployed on Bloxburgh 
from daylight to dusk, and was combined with 
collars, chains, dungeons, and heavy labour, &c. 
yet I believe there wa« not a property in Port 
Royal Mountains, or perhaps in all Jamaica, at 
that time, that was managed with less severity 
than Bloxburgh ; ofthis, every one of the slaves 
was fully sensible, and will remember it to this 
day. The overseer, Henry P. Roberts was really 
a good man, and detested the brutal practices of 
slavery as much as any man, but he was obliged 
to go with the stream, and to wink at the cruelties 
practised by the drivers ; so that although he car- 
ried on his professional duties according to the 
general rules laid down, he was considered by his 


neighbours unfit to have charge of a gang of 
slaves, on account of his meekness, and it is my 
firm belief, he could not have obtained a situation 
any where else in the parish. 

The proprietor of Bloxburgh, Mr. T. P. Kel- 
lerman, was also a kind hearted and good na- 
tured man, but at last he became intimate with 
a monster in human shape, Sir. Charles Austin, 
who owned a small property in the neighbour- 
hood. By Austin's seductive and treacherous 
arts, Kellerman, was at last utterly ruined. He 
formed a connexion with one of Austin's daugh- 
ters in the island fashion and was entirely ruled 
by Austin's villanous advice. From this time, 
by gambling, cock-fighting, and horse-racing, 
Kellerman, involved his fine property deeper and 
deeper in the rapacious jaws of a mortgagee — 
his disappointment soured his temper— his mild 
policy was changed for persecution, and, under 
the influence of Charles Austin and his locust 
brood, he became as great a tyrant as his neigh- 


bours- IVIr. Roberts fou&d himself uuable to 
give satisfHctioD under the inhuman system re- 
commended by Austin, and be was therefore 
necessitated to throw up bis situation, and leave 
the country. He afterwards returned to the 
island and lived in Kingston as an honest and 
upright man for several years, but at length 
died bearing with him the prayers and good 
wishes of all good men. 

Roberts was succeeded by one Daniel Wait, 
if^rho was the very opposite of his predecessor; 
he was crafty and cruel^-*a man that had no 
feeling for any human being but himself*«-his 
orders were announced like a tempest sending 
every reed weeping to the ground. I could not 
put up with bis tyraBmcal harshness, and ridi- 
culed the idea of submitting to such barbarous 
imposition. But Mr. Kellerman^ gave advice 
saying, that if '^ I did not do exactly as directed 
'by the Overseer, I would bav^to walk the coun- 
»try as a vagrant, and becomNS a nuisance to my 


colour/' At this time I was reduced in circttm^ 
stances, friendless, in a strange country, and 
almost heart-broken to think of being compelled 
to adopt the horrible creed of a Planter and to 
abandon that independence which was natural 
to me. It was hard to submit, though destruc- 
tion stared me in the face. In those days no 
man could succeed in the Planting line, but one 
whose heart was as hard adamant; he must have 
no pity for the negro, and the lamentations of 
the hungry. The groans of the half-murdered 
victims must be unheeded. To force labour, 
and keep up subordination by the terrors of 
the lash, the dungeon, and the stocks, was all 
that was looked for. Such poor creatures as 
were accused of ojQTences ever so venial, had iron 
collars pui upon their necks— were worked 
under the lash of the driver from morning till 
night during the seven days of the week^-at 
night made to sleep in the stocks, and fed on 
nothing but raw corn-^were only allowed six 
hours sleep, and were then dragged, out ags^i 


and sent to the field of slaughter. If a negro 
r called upon the name of his God, or offered up 
rhis prayers in those days, he would be flogged; 
« and if a book-keeper did so, he might certainly 
'reckon on his discharge. 

About the 20th of June 1821, Doctor Craig, 
who was the medical man practising in that part 
of the country, accused Mr. Levy, the proprietor 
of a small place, called Phillips Valley, of having 
buried a negro clandestinely, who met with 
his death by poison. The circumstances as 1 
heard them, were as follows : '' The man often 
came to the hospital complaining of sickness. 
Mr. Levy said it was nothing but skulking, and 
on this occasion said he would cure him of it, 
and for this purpose he gave him six grains of 
tarter emetic which brought on excessive 
retching for several hours, until he died." It 
is likely Mr. Levy did not mean to destroy the 
man, but by giving him an extra dose of a 
powerful medicine, he clearly caused his death 


which deserved to be noticed. Dr. Craig ar- 
rived at the place shortly after the man's death, 
and inserted a note in the hospital book, that 
the man had died from an over-dose of tartar 
emetic. Immediately on this being done, Mr. 
Levy discharged Craig from attendance on 
Phillip's Valley. Craig then wrote to the 
authorities in Kingston, stating the particulars 
of the man's death. An inquest was ordered, 
and was held three weeks afterwards. I accom- 
panied the doctor to the place* On entering 
he was ordered out by Mr. Levy, until called 
for ; and, on his refusing, the coroner ordered 
him to be withdrawn. When the jurors were 
sworn, I observed them all laughing and shaking 
their heads at each other, as. if in ridicule 
of their oaths; and it appeared to me, that 
their oath, only served as a cloak to their 
abominable designs. The coroner, Mr. Charles, 
Austin, was a particular friend of Mr. Levy, 
and he, of course, took care to have every thing 
his own way. Craig was constantly interrupted, 


Yfhen be tried to get out the truth from the 
witnesses by cross-examination ; and whenever 
he attempted to make any explanations himself, 
it caused a terrible uproar : — ^it was easy to see 
that they did not desire to hear the truth, but 
just to smother up the case. After going through 
this sham investigation, the jury returned a ver- 
dict according to custom,—" Died by the visi- 
tation of God." A few weeks after this, Craig 
was discharged from the practice of every estate 
in the district ; and, in order to crush him still 
more, Mr. Levy sued him for defamation of 
character, and obtained a verdict, from a jury of 
planters like himself, of "one thousand pounds," 
when poor Craig had not one thousand pence. 
The jury were quite exasperated at the idea of 
any white man daring to expose another, merely 
for being the cause of the death of a common 
negro. Craig was entirely ruined by this mat- 
ter, and died not long after. 

Craig's practice was afterwards given to Dr. 


Palqier^ who lia4 long been practisiog in the 
adjainiog district. He attended upon Blox- 
burgb. I reoiieinber one day, when he visited, 
there were twelve or thirteen people sick in that 
boase ; — he prescribed, at full length; for every 
one of them. After be had gone, the overseer. 
Wait and n^yself, went to the hospital; and 
when Wait looked at the book, and saw that the 
people, instead of being ordered out, were all 
ordered medicine and nourishment, he got into 
a rage, stamped and swore, and called out, '' You 

w.ortbless skulking s and brutes, out with 

you; the doctor has ordered you all out, and if 
you don't be olflT, I will cut your livers out." The 
poor people refused, saying, '^ Busha, me no 
able, and the doctor say me quite sick, and for 
have physic" Wait sent for the driver to en- 
force his orders; he began cutting and slashing, 
and soon cleared the hot-bouse; — he then ran 
after them, flogging, knocking them down, and 
tumbling them into the susumber bushes, fnll of 
thorns. Such a brutal scene I had never before 


witnessed — the yells and screams of the poor 
creatures, as they tried to crawl out of the reach 
of their tormentor, were shocking to the ears of 
any but a callous hearted planter. "Several of 
them were afterwards brought back to the 
hospital in a dangerous state; and two of them, 
a man and a woman, soon after died. On the 
occasion of their being buried, there was sad 
wailing and lamentation. The people called 
out, ** Dis is the way Busha kill me, oh ! — if 
massa no drive away Mr. Wait, he will kill we 
all same fashion. Poor neger, oh ! we flesh be- 
long to buckra, aud no more ; we bones belong 
to we self" These, and many other remarks, 
were called forth by the loss of their destroyed 
relations and friends. I afterwards found that 
this was a common mode of discipline amongst 
the planters, to keep the hot-house clear. About 
this time, I was very much persecuted by Mr. 
Wait, as it appeared I stood in the way of his 
gratifying his inclination with regard to a par- 


ticular woman on the estate, which led to her 
being very mach ill-treated. He did all in his 
power to make me discharge myself^ and my life 
became a torment to me. 1 wrote to Mr. 
French, a surveyor, who had promised to be- 
friend me, and requested him to procure me a 
berth elsewhere, stating my reason. In my 
letter I made some strong reflections on Mr. 
Charles Austin. It so happened, that the man 
who carried my letter to the post-office was met 
by Austin, and he took the letter from him, and 
opened it. He then wrote to my employer, Mr. 
Kellerman, declaring that he would prosecute 
me for defamation of character, in the same 
way Levy had done by Craig. When I was in- 
formed of all this, and knowing that, as a poor 
man, I could get no satisfaction for the opening 
of my letter, I thought it best to discharge my- 
self at once. 

Having no horse, I was obliged to walk all 


the way to SpuDish town, thirty miles, and the 
next day I went to St. ThomaB-in -the- Vale, 
about seventeen miles in the iBterior;-^there I 
met with Mr. French, who procured me a situ- 
ation as book-keeper on 

Stirling Castle Estate. 

The overseer of this estate was named Sharkey 
— he was a, shark by nature; his vehement bar- 
barity to the negroes was most awful. I could 
fill a volume with the accounts of his cruelties. 
Every morning daylight was ushered in with 
the most terrible floggings, all arising out of 
the most frivolous complaints, chiefly about 
night-watchmen. I was induced to ask the 
other book-keeper if it was ctistomary to mangle 
the flesh of the labourers every morning in this 
manner, as a part of the discipline of the estate, 
— as, if it was, I could never hold the situation. 


The book-keeper (Thomas Lally) told me I was 
a fool to notice the overseer's actions — ^if he 
were to kill, burn, and destroy the people, I 
should say nothing about it ; and if the over- 
seer had the slightest idea of my observations, 
he wonld instantly discharge me, and leave me 
unable to get another berth. 

My usual employment was first to go to the 
corn-store, long before day-light, with the night 
watchmen, those who had been in the stocks all 
night, and the hot-house people, and to shell a 
barrel of corn ; after that I had to go to the 
field, and call the list by the light of a burning- 
stick, and every one not present was of course 
laid down and flogged by the driver. I had 
then to go to the cattle-pens, to see the cattle 
turned out, by which time it began to be day- 
light* I then returned home, fed the small stock, 
made out my return bf the distribution of the 
gangs, then to breakfast, and immediately after 


it I weDt to superintend the gang in the field and 
dare not go home out of it in the heaviest rain 
that ever fell. One morning, as I was coming from 
the field, I observed a very sickly looking man 
named Tom dragged out of the hospital by the 
driver, under Sharkey's orders, to be sent to the 
field — the man was so weak that he could hardly 
walk : he was proceeding slowly down the hill, 
when Sharkey ran after him, and gave him a 
dreadful blow on the back; — ^the poor creature 
immediately threw up blood, was taken back 
to the hospital, and, a few days afterwards, was 
a corpse. He was buried without the slightest 
notice being taken of the cause of his death. 
The slaves upon this estate, as might be ex- 
pected, were in a miserable state of debility, 
and the annual decrease of their numbers was 
perfectly frightful. 

1 lived only twenty-eight days upon Stirling 
castle, when I discharged myself. During the time 


I lived there, the only sleep I ever got was in the 
cattle-pens, or in the field before day-light; M 
to my bedchamber, it was so infested with bugs, 
as to bid defiance to rest or sleep. During the 
time I was on Stirling Castle, I several times 
saw the people flogged severely, only for laugh- 
ing. One day I left my own gang to go and speak 
to Lally, who was superintending the great 
gang ; he remarked, that he heard some of the 
young people in my gang laughing and tittering, 
and said, stop till I catch any of my people 
doing the same, and I will show you how I will 
treat them. While I was standing talking to him, 
a woman, who was running across thecane-holes 
with a basket of manure on her head, fell flat 
on her face; several of the people burst out a 
laughing at her, when the book-keeper called 
out to the driver to lay down three of them who 
had giggled the loudest, and they immediately 
received a severe flogging. Lally said it was 
disrespectful to him to laugh in his presence. 


The slaves were never allowed more than four 
or five hours' rest every night, even out of crop. 
One-fourth of the men were employed watching 
every night, over different parts of the pro- 
perty; and if the overseer got annoyed, he 
would make one half of the gang keep watch, so 
that they only got one night*s rest out of two- 
being obliged to work the whole day besides. 
About three in the morning, the driver*s whip 
cracked for all hands to turn out, when they had 
to do any odd jobs about the works by moon- 
light or torch-light, in the corn-store, or such 
places. Not a morning ever passed without 
the most dreadful punishments. The labourer, 
to avoid punishmentj used to go to the field soon 
after midnight, and sleep on the ground in the 
mud or on the wet grass, waiting for daylight 
to commence work— this for fear of over-sleep- 
ing himself, and not being present when the list 
was called. If one did happen to sleep in his 
house till day-light, he might make up bis mind 


to ran away, or meet his certain fate in the 
shape of a severe scourging. The reader may 
think sttch cruelty was confined to this estate, 
but I must tell him the practice was general on 
every estate, whether leniently or severely ma- 
naged— 'it was a standing rule with all planters 
— 4he morning fare was nothing but the whip. 

If a book-keeper was not in the field before 
day-light, he would be sure of his discharge, 
if seen by the overseer. I have often run nearly 
naked to the field, under the heavy tropical 
dew, with my clothes in my hand, so as to escape 
being seen by the overseer, and then dressed 
myself under cover of the canes, amongst the 

Charelton Estate. 

I was next employed on Charelton estate, about 
three miles from Stirling Castle. A few days 


afterwards I got leave to go to StirliDg Castle, 
to bring away my clothes; on entering the yard, 
I met Mr. Sharkey, who demanded, in an impe- 
rious tone, why I left him so abrnptly ? I replied, 
— " Mr. Sharkey, consult your own feelings, if 
you have any, they can best tell you : I would 
^not live under any man who practised spilling 
/the blood of his fellow-creatures as deliberately 
/as a swine butcher."— He was ever afterwards 
/my enemy, wherever his influence could extend. 

Mr. M*Kenzie was overseer of Charelton. He 
was not like Sharkey — he carried on the routine 
duties of the estate according to general cus- 
tom, but was by no means cruel to the negroes. 
In fact, he was one of the most lenient in the 
whole quarter; but he treated the book-keepers 
very badly, neglected their comforts, and half- 
starved them. He lived in a very low, mean, 
and disgusting way himself, and was very filthy. 
But the worst thing about him was his shocking 


immorality. He was actually living with two 
sisters at one and the same time, and in the 
same apartment. 

In the month of October, I was lining cane 
holes— rain fell every day, and I had to continue 
at work all day in my wet clothes. At the end 
of the month I was seized with fever, and con- 
fined to my bed. Here I was entirely neglected, 
both as to attendance and nourishment. I got 
worse rapidly, and the doctor despaired of me, 
but still I got no more attendance. I had on 
three blisters at once, and an old woman, the 
hot-house doctress. was sent to dress them. She^ 
had not a spark of feeling, and tore them off my n 
body as if I had been a wild beast : I begged 
and prayed her to be a little more gentle, but it 
was of no use. I mention these things to shew 
what a poor book-keeper has to go through ; and 
such is, or rather was, the general treatment of 
book-keepers throughout the island. When 1 


recovered a little^ I went to the house of a 
brown gentleman, named Cheese^ for change of 
air, and shall never forget the kindness and 
humanity I experienced from him and his ami- 
able mother. Shortly after my return to the 
estate, when I had recovered, a young man 
arrived from England, sent out on purpose to 
act as book-keeper on Charelton. I was there- 
fore removed to 

Palm Estate. 

Colin Graham Simpson was the overseer. 
He was mean and miserly in his habits — ^not 
violent in bis temper, but terribly vindictive;— 
if once he took a dislike, he never stopped till 
he destroyed his victim, if he were able. He 
sent me to the boiling-house, as the mill was 
then about, and after a few days he told me that 
the two head-boilers were most rebellious ras- 
cals, and he therefore ordered me to keep a 


sharp look out after them, and try to catch 
them Id fault. I accordingly watched them 
closely, but never detected any thing wrong,— 
in fact, they were two of the best men on the 
place. But I soon found that Simpson was 
determined on the destruction of these men, and 
merely wanted to make me the instrument of 
his vengeance* Every night at supper he de- 
manded if I had found nothing against them 
yet, and my constant reply was, "No, sir, 
nothing of harm as yet." This reply made him 
growl like a disappointed bear. At length, he 
seemed determined to bring matters to a crisis, 
and he took me aside, and said, " Young man, 
consider, you have no home, no friends, and are 
far from your country and family, therefore, 
reflect on it. You are aware that, in the plant- 
ing line, no favour or friendship can be ex- 
pected if a book-keeper disagrees with his over- 
seer. It is his duty to assist the overseer in 
every plan he lays down— to do as he doe»— 


and say as he says ; by such conduct alone can 
he expect to succeed, and therefore I now give 
you my last trial : — you will therefore under- 
stand that, right or wrong, your efforts must 
be directed to assist me in accomplishing the 
object of my determination. It is my intention 
to have the two boilermen, old Quamin and 
William Thomas, transported off the island. 
They complained against me to the attorney, 
and I am determined to bring them to their 
bearings. I have already reported them as 
dangerous characters. If you have any wish 
to secure my friendship, now is your time. I 
have suiflcient interest to procure you an over- 
seer's appointment in less than six months. 
Take your time with the black rascals — give 
^them rope and they will hang themselves— let 
# them have plenty of opportunities to steal sugar 
> or any thing else that can lead to their being 
/Shipped off—the damned laws will not allow us 
f to hang the rascals for such things now. But 


your evidence against thera, together with mine, 
will be enough to do their business." 

After this lesson, I was allowed to remain at 
rest for nearly a month, during which, every 
thing was done to make me comfortable — no- 
thing in fact was too good for me. I was intro- 
duced to his acquaintance in the most flattering 
manner, and every sort of attention was paid to 
me. It was, however, all in vain, for I could 
never think of perjuring myself for the purpose 
of destroying two innocent and defenceless fel- 
low-c'.eatures. I dreaded the day when Simpson 
should break silence about it — at last it came. 
It was at dinner one day, when Simpson said, 
*' Well, Mr. M'Mahon, I suppose by this time 
you know as well as I do of the villany of those 
notorious rascals, and we will now bring them 
to their doom— they have long laboured for it. 
I am confident you must know enough to con-^ 


vict them, — speak up, Mr, M'MahoD, my friend, 
ia a maoly manuer.'^ I tbaoked him for his 
directions^ and then told him, in plain terms, 
that I had watched the men closely day and 
night, and had never detected them in any fault, 
and was convinced they were as honest and 
correct in their conduct as any men in the 
parish, and that I should decline in future 
having to do with any plans for the destruction 
of innocent men. Simpson clenched his teeth 
together with a ferocious grin, and said, " TU 
make you trip your heels for this, young man/* 
He did not, however, discharge me then— per- 
haps he was afraid of the story getting wind, 
but be resorted to every sort of persecution to 
make me discharge myself. 1 will not stop to 
tell all his dirty acts of tyranny, but must ob- 
serve that, in trying to injure me, he deprived 
the property of fully ten puncheons of rum, by 
destroying the sweets, and not allowing me to 


be supplied with fire- wood. Od one occasion, 
when I asked him for wood for the stilUhonse, 
he replied, '* Go sir, and get a large green cotton 
tree, and drag it to the still-house." As he said 
this to insult and ridicule me, I replied, '' If 
you allow me the benefit of a spell of steers and 
a cart, I can go to the pasture and bring home^ 
a load of the bones of the cattle you have killed » 
this crop, and they will do for me for a few^ 
days* burning." He shook his head, and or- 
dered me out of the house, muttering through 
his clenched teeth, *• I will crush you to the 
earth yet." 

I will give one anecdote about Simpson, 
which will show his mode of management. Old 
Quamin, the head-boiler, was taken very sick, 
and confined to his bed. While he was away 
from the boiling-house, Simpson found fault 
with the quality of the sugar, and sent for old 
Quamin to be brought to the boiling-house. 


sick fts he was, to superiDtend and give direc- 
tions. The old inau was not able to move 
about, but sat down and gave his orders. 
After being at this a couple of days, Simpson 
ordered him to take entire charge. At this 
time, Simpson was constantly finding fault, al- 
though there was no fault to be found ; and on 
the third day of Quamin resuming his duties, 
Simpson came down immediately after break- 
fast, and the moment he entered, began to curse 
and swear, and called to me to stand at one 
door while he guarded the other. He then 
called the boatswain of the yard, to punish all 
hands in the boiling-house: — the first laid down 
was poor old Quamin, sick, weak, and emaciated 
as he was. He said, " Busha, you bring me 
from my house when me no able to walk, to 
look after the work, and me do all me can to 
please busha, but busha won't be satisfied. If 
busha flog me, he will kill me ; me no able to 
stand it, but busha must have him own way. 


and if me dead me can't help it.*' With that he 
was laid on the ground, and the lash came 
down ; he cried out at first at each lash, '* Busha 
kill me." " Me dead, oh," &c. but after five or 
six lashes he became silent, and then only shook 
his head in a despairing manner at each blow, 
but soon even that ceased, and he lay motionless 
as a log ; the whip however still went on, and 
he received a dreadful punishment. I really 
thought he was dead; he lay without moving 
for a considerable time after the punishment 
was over, and during that time the others were 
successively laid down, and flogged to the satis- 
faction of the brutal overseer. I did not at that 
time think there was a man in all Jamaica that 
could have had the heart to flog a poor weakly 
old man, like Quamin. This scene, however, 
during crop, was several times repeated. 

Simpson, by sneaking into my room, during 
my absence, got a sight of a letter I was writing 


to my brother, Id which 1 stated, that to the great 
mortification of my feelings, I was a planter, 
and compelled to view daily the most brutal 
tyranny and treachery that was ever exercised 
under the reign of the monster Caligula, &c. 
This expression was repeated through the 
neighbourhood, and the doors of planters were 
shut against me. 1 then discharged myself 
from Palm, and for some days lived amongst the 
people of colour, by whom I was much respected. 
In a short time, a gentleman named Blake, who 
was a planter of a very different character from 
any of his neighbours,-^-*humane, liberal and in- 
dependent, procured me a berth in another part 
of the parish. 

Crawle Estate. 

On the 20th of July, 1822, I was employed 
on this estate by Mr. Ralph Cocking, the over- 


seer. He was a youDg man, very plausible and 
cunning, and ready to do any thing to get into 
favour with his employers. He was very am- 
bitious, and ready to make any sacrifices to 
accomplish his aim. He was a cruel tyrant to 
the poor slaves; he flogged without mercy, 
and was unkind and unfeeling to them in every 
respect. The only good point I ever saw in 
Mr. Cocking was, that he was liberal to his 
book-keepers, at table. 

My employment during the week was so in- 
cessant, that 1 had not as much time as would ena- 
ble me to reckon my clothes to the washerwoman. 
The negroes were in a state of great debility 
from cruel oppressions; the only strong and ac- 
tive man was the driver (John Clark), a power- 
ful and muscular fellow, whose savage barbarity 
over the rest was terrifying. I remember on 
one occasion Mr. Cocking found fault with this 
driver for not having forced enough of work out 


of the gang, and laid him down and gave him a 
severe flogging, which obliged him to go to the 
pond, to wash off the blood. After it was over, 
he said, '' Never mind, I donH blame busha for 
this; but I will know what to do— Fm not going 
to take lick for all the gang in this way, and I 
dun't care what I do, — I will cut and chop away 
right and left." He went to the field, and took 
ample revenge on the poor slaves— flogging them 
all round till night ; he wore 6ut three different 
lashes on his whip ; he literally cut the clothes 
on their backs, and slashed the arms, necks, and 
faces of several young females, who dared not 
complain : the man, in fact, worked himself up 
to frenzy, and I dared not interfere, or I should 
have had my discharge, and the slaves dared not 
complain, for fear of another punishment in- 
stead of redress. On the following morning, 
several of these unfortunate people went to the 
hospital with fever, and many were entirely lame 
and unable to walk, and although the property 


lost the benefit of these people^s labour for seve- 
ral days, yet this was good management! I 
saw plainly enough that this estate was ruined 
and could not last long, and accordingly I find 
that it has since been sold and broken up. 
Mr. Ralph Cocking is now a special magistrate, 
but I have had no opportunity of seeing how he 
has conducted himself in that capacity; from 
what I know of his unmerciful disposition, and 
his deceit and hj^pocrisy, I cannot think that his 
principles are changed, and I am sure that the 
negroes can never have the least confidence in 
him. No planter ought ever to have been made 
a special magistrate — they can never forget 
their old habits. 

Harmony Hall, 
Mr. Adam Steel, the proprietor of an exten- 


sive jobbipg gang, induced me to leave Crawle 
estate, to take charge of his gang as overseer, 
as I had a good reputation for industry and at- 
tention to business. I accepted his offer. His 
gang was employed in jobbing on estates in 
that a^d the neighbouring parishes. They were 
a fine effective set of people, whom he had 
picked and ^elected by Yarioua crafty meaniL 
Before I had b^n two months in his employ, I 
fo1^ld out that he was a dangerous character to 
have apy dealings with — a man totally without 
principle, either oi honesty or honour: as to 
humanity or morality, that was out of the ques- 
tion. Besides having his own property and 
gang, he was overseer of Byndloss estate, which 
enabled him to plunder on a very extensive 
scale. He stole timber from his neighbours' 
woods by moonlight* using Byndloss steers for 
the purpose, and in this way he built his house 
on Harmony Hall. He was an expert hand at 
converting a deed of sale into a deed of gift to 


his own advantage, and there was no villainy 
that he was not capable of acting. Females at 
the age of ten and eleven fell victims to his 
brutal lust, and if ever he heard of any of the 
negro men at ail interfering with any of the 
women he had once cast his eye upon, the cruel 
butchery that followed was sufficient to strike 
terror into their hearts. 

I was present on the following occasion, and 
can speak from personal observation :—^Steel 
was living in the fashion of the country, with a 
free woman of colour, named Miss Marshall. 
She owned a young brown slave girl, named 
Sarahs about 14 or 15 years of age, who was a 
great favourite of her mistress. Steel, it ap- 
peared, was constantly trying to seduce this 
poor creature. Miss Marshall became jealous, 
and vented her spleen upon the girl^ and one 
day accused her of being impudent to her, 



which, in her jealousy, she imputed to Steel's 
improper attentions to her, and at the same 
time threatened the girl that she would make 
Mr. Steel give her a flogging. 

Steel overheard all this, and determined to 
revenge himself, both on the girl and Miss Mar- 
shall. He called out, '' I'll take care you two 
shall have no more quarrels about me." He 
sent for the driver, John Taylor, and four able 
people; poor Sarah was dragged out to the 
terrace in front of the house; Steel took his 
chair out, and sat down, so that he might not be 
tired during the prolonged punishment he de- 
signed to inflict. The girl was stretched out, 
and her body laid bare. I shall never forget the 
sight, she was a most beautiful creature, the 
picture of symmetry ; her skin like velvet, with- 
out a mark upon it — alas! so soon to be dis- 
figured by the horrid lacerations of the whip. 
The punishment commenced at half-past four. 


and was not finished till six o'clock, during 
which time the driTer had to stop three different 
times to put new lashes to his whip. When 
first the flogging began, the girl gave the 
most piercing shrieks I ever heard from a 
human being, and continued shrieking until 
entirely exhausted ; she then lay writhing and 
shuddering, giving a dreadful groan at each 
lash — still the horrid whip went on-*H9he was 
covered with blood — her body from the shoul- 
ders to the thighs, was one frightful mass of 
mangled flesh. In the midst of this, I saw the 
suffering girl raise her head — ^her eyes glared 
wildly-H8he was panting, or gasping for breath 
— ^and in a broken voice scarcely audible, she 
cried, ** Water! water! water!" Her appear- 
ance was awful — I thought she was dying— I 
was sick at heart— •! could bear no more, and 
rushed into the plaintain walk to get out of 
sight and hearing of the murderous work. I 
had then counted upwards of 300 lashes. Pre- 


Tiou0 to this 1 had applied to Steel to stop the 
puoishaient, but be told me to go and mind my 
owD business, as I had nothing to do with the 
quarrels between Miss Marshall's people and 
himself. Miss Marshall herself, three times 
during the punishment, went and entreated him 
not to murder the poor girl; but it was of no 
use, he swore the most dreadful oaths, and made 
use of the foulest and most obscene language 
his tongue could utter. He did not care if she 
died on the spot. At last Miss Marshall, in a 
distracted state, ran to the back part of the 
house into the plaintain walk, wringing her 
hands, and calling out, '' Mr. Steel has mur- 
dered my poor slave — ^poor Sarah's killed." 
Steel at length was satisfied* He had glutted 
his vengeance on his helpless victim — she was 
carried away, and I saw no more of her, I left 
Steel's employ soon after, and the next time I 
visited the parish, ou inquiring after poor 
Sarah, I learned that, shortly after I left the 


place, poor Sarah was laid in a cold gf ave. 
This murder took place close to the residence of 
two magistrates, but, as they were perhaps 
doing quite as bad themselres^ no notice was 
taken of this. I could repeat facts without end 
of the shocking conduct of Adam Steel, but 
what I have said will be enough to show his 
general character; he has gone to his account 
before his God, and a terrible account it must 
be. I must not forget to mention, that while I 
was following Steel's gang, I had once to take 
them to a job on St. Clairs* plantation, St. 
John's, the property of Mr. William Moor. Be- 
fore starting, the driver, John Taylor, told me 
1 should see negroes in such a state as I had 
nerer seen before. I found his words true. 
There were about twenty of them, thirteen of 
whom were in chains. If a gentleman unac- 
quainted with slavery had suddenly met these 
people, I am sure, if he survived the shock, he 
would never forget it, if he lived for a thousand 


yeanu They were not black like negroes, but 
yellow, from constant confinement and monstrous 
persecution. They looked more like phantoms 
than human beings ; the rags with which they 
were coTered could not be distinguished from 
their skin, nor from the ground on which they 
were working* They were wretchedly meagre, 
and ghastly enough to make any Christian run 
away at the sight of them. Yet these wretched 
creatures did more work than I could have 
thought possible. Every one of them was 
covered from head to foot with cuts and scars 
— «ven their faces had not been spared from the 

While, working under the rays of a broiliag 
sun, the iron collars on their necks got so hot as 
to burn their skin, which caused them intolera* 
ble pain, and kept them constantly wailing and 
moaning; All day they were making their 
sad lamentations, in the most piteous tones, the 


burden of their heart-rendiDg song being their 
miserable condition. '' Poor nega da dead we 
hungry — poor nega cut up worsa than cow— 
buckra have pity 'pon dum ting, but him kill 
poor nega — we flesh belongs only to whip, and 
we blood belongs to the ground — whip when we 
complain of hungry — whip when we no get to 
field before day — whip when we tired — 'Whip 
when we look cross — whip when we laugh- 
whip when we complain of busha to massa — 
whip when we complain of book-keeper to* 
busha — whip when we go to hot-house sick — 
whip every Monday for dem have sore foot— * 
Buckra give poor nega whip for medicine — whip 
for make him strong at work— whip for make* 
him weak to go to hot-house — whip to maker 
him leave hot-house and go to work and whip 
to make him work more than him 'trength able^ 
Buckra make whip contradiction, same like the- 
punch him drink, when him take rum for make 
fttrong— wata for make weak— Kmes for make* 


sour, and sugar for make sweet. Backra make 
/Whip do every ting, but make life, and that it no 
>'able to do, but it make plenty dead* We pray 
to God to take poor nega, before Buckra kill 
him done.'* This U a correct picture of the general 
state of negro feeling on the subject of slavery ^ 
There was another jobbing gang working at 
the same time at St. Clair's belonging to Mr. 
M'Innes, which was under the charge of Mr. 
Edbury. Of this latter person, I must make 
some mention : — Soon after I met with him, he 
set up a provision store, where he was well sup- 
][»ed by the planters ; along with this be was 
appointed supervisor of Rodney Hall work- 
house, which, under his management, acquired 
the reputation of being the very severest in the 
island. He is said to have made large sums of 
money by purchasing rotten provisions for the 
slaves, and charging the public the highest price; 
but as compensation for this, be managed to have 
seldom less thaa one inquest, and sometimes 


three, every week, on the anfortaoate slaves who 
were put under bis diseipline for punishmeDt ; 
-^in fact, the establighment almost required the 
entire services of a coroner, so frightful was the 
mortality. The most athletic negro, of the 
strongest constitution, could not long survive 
the barbarous discipline of Rodney Hall work- 
house. Mr, Edbury has made a rapid fortune^ 
and he has gained the applause of tyrants ; but 
he can never enjoy the esteem of the orphans 
and widows of the starved, mangled, and mur- 
dered victims who have been borne out of the 
institution under his control. 

Worthy Park. 

On leaving the employ of Adam Steel, I re^ 
c^ved a letter of recommendation to Mr. John? 
Blair, then residing at Spring Vale, who had just 
received the attorneyship of Worthy Park. Ott 


my first arrival at Spring Vale, he was from home 
but as he was expected in the afternoon,! waited 
his return and walked about. As I passed a 
field where the negroes were cutting canes on 
the road side, I observed that a great number of 
/ them had handkerchiefs tied round their loins, as 
^ a substitute for trowsers, rendered necessary by 
the sore and raw state of their bodies, from se- 
. vere floggings. I was curious enough to call 
the driver, and ask him the reason. He replied 
^' Sir, so you see us now, so we stand all the year 
round. Don*t you know our massa \ He is no 
boy — he don't play with we 1" When I got to 
the works, I stopped there for a while, and du- 
ring that short time I saw the book- keeper come 
,t)ut of the still -house, and lay down every one 
r of the dry trash and green trash carriers (all 
r women), and the stoker, and flog them all most 
# unmercifully. The book-keeper's name was 
Jackson , and he told me he was authorised^ and 
IB fact compelled to act in this manner, by Mr, 


Blatr. After this, I walked into the boiling- 
house, and there saw three men out of the four 
boilermen, with handkerchiefs round their bodies ^ 
instead of trowsers, and all besmeared with^ 
blood. I had some conversation with them, as 
no book-keeper was present, and they told me^ 
they were obliged to wet the handkerchiefs fre-x 
quently, to keep them from adhering to, and dry- « 
ing in, their raw and inflamed flesh, which always ^ 
gave intolerable pain. 

At the stoke hole I observed one man who 
was feeding the fire, and was chained by the 
neck to a 561b. weight. 

I had some conversation afterwards with Mr. 
Rutledge, a book-keeper, who had just discharged 
himself. He remarked that if Blair had not the, 
satisfaction of mangling the flesh of ten or a « 
dozen negroes before breakfast every morning, , 
his countenance would be black and threatening; « 


bat, on the contrary, after indulging in this 
morning's amusement, he would be cheerful and 
pleasant. Mr. Grant, a book-keeper on Worthy 
Park, repeated the same thing, and although he 
had seen enough as a midshipman in the navy, 
he shuddered at the deliberate cruelty of Mr. 
John Blair. 

I am told that Mr. Blair is now an altered 
man — ^that he is mild and quiet ; but whether 
this comes from a change of heart, or only a 
change of policy, must rest between God and 

When Mr. Blair came home, 1 waited upon 
him with my letter of introduction ; he imme- 
diately gave me the situation of book-keeper at 
Worthy Park, and made me stop to dine with 
him, His conversation was all about estates 
discijiline, and amongst other things I remember 
his saying, if the negroes were seen without wear- 


iDg faandkerchiefs daring crop time, people^ 
might well say Spring Yale was going to hell 1 > 

I was at Worthy Park for only two weeks. 
During thitt time I was altogether in the still- 
hottse, and knew nothing of the general manage- 
ment. I frequently heard the whip going out- 
side, but knew nothing of the circumstances at- 
tending the punishment. 

Ardock Pen, St Ann's. 

Mr. David Finlay, the proprietor of the above 
pen, wrote me, offering me the situation of over- 
seer. I gladly accepted it. The time I remained 
here was the happiest in my life. Mr. Finlay 
was one of the best men I ever knew ; he was 
exceedingly kind and humane to all his slaves in 
every respect : they were truly happy, and con- 
ducted themselves i n the most orderly and respect- 


fiii manDer, The work went on cheerfully with- 
out the necessity of the whip, and although the 
place was worn out and barren, the net pro- 
ceeds were comparatively very large. Yet for all 
this he was denounced and ridiculed by his neigh- 
bours as an old fooL The increase of the slaves 
on this property, from a few women, was truly 
remarkable* The compensation alone must have 
amounted to a large sum. I was induced to 
leave this place at the instigation of a neighbour- 
ing overseer, who was leaving the country, and 
recommended me to take his place, where I should 
get a better salary. In an evil hour I complied. 
Mr. Finlay was very much hurt at my leaving 
him, but we parted on friendly terms, and I 
procured an overseer to put in my place. 

Amity Hall Pen, St. Ann's. 
1 went to this place on the 20th of July, 1828, 


Mr. James Betty, who afterwards so much dis* 
graced himself in the case of the uDfortunate 
Heory Williams, was executor to Mr. Ratigan. 
and trustee of Amity Hall. The place was left to a 
poor family of colour by their father, and Betty 
was the guardian. I had an opportunity here of 
witnessing the ficandalou« practices adopted by 
guardians and executors. I will just give one 
instance out of several acts of villany. I receiv* 
ed orders to select twenty-four head of cattle 
to be sent to pasture to be fattened for sale; they 
were to be sent to Prosper Hall Pen, which was 
also under Betty's charge, and where he received 
a certain percentage for all the stock he provided 
for that pen. On the same day I was offered 
£18. a head for the cattle. This I communica- 
ted to Betty, but he told me to comply with his 
orders, and to make no observation on his mode 
of management, if I cared for my berth. It 
was evident he determined to make his profit out 



of them before they were sold. When they had 
been at grass for a month I went to inspect them, 
and found them in w orse condition than when I 
sent them, from want of water and bad grass. 
I again waited on Mr. Betty, and reported it to 
him; he got quite exasperated at my interference. 
The cattle were kept at pasture for a considera- 
ble time, and when sold at last, after deducting 
the pasturage account from the gross amount, 
it netted only £5. a head for the cattle that ought 
to have been sold for £18. each. This is the 
way in which the poor orphans of colour are 
robbed and plundered of their property, when 
left to the care of greedy and unprincipled plan- 
ters. The poor children to whom this property 
^belonged were kept in a state of comparative 
/ destitution, with barely sufficient clothing to 
/ cover their nakedness, or food to keep them from 
, starving, while Mr. Betty, their father's friend, 
/ was fattening on the spoils of the property that 
9 was consigned to his charge. I am of opinion 


that there are not fifty cases in all Jamaica 
better than this, under executors. 

Russell Hall Estate. 

From Amity Hall I removed to Russell Hall 
Estate, St. Mary's; but as the severity of the 
discipline did not exceed the ordinary standard 
of cruelty, I need not go into particulars. The 
mill, during crop, was put about on Sunday eve- 
ning, and kept going night and day till the fol- 
lowing Sunday morning, so that the negroes had 
only a few hours in the middle of the day (Sunday) 
to procure their provisions for the following 

Cherry Garden Estate^ St. Dorothy's 

1 lived on this estate for eighteen months, as 



head book-keeper under Mr. Francis M* Cook, 
the overseer and attorney. By some M r. M* 
Cook was looked upon as a great tyrant, but I 
cannot accuse him of any thing of the kind. He 
was certainly fond of keeping np steady dis- 
cipline in the gang; but I never knew him to be 
guilty of any outrage. He was a man of strict 
integrity, and very upright in his dealings with 
every one ; in fact he was particularly generous 
towards the slaves. He was fond of jovial com- 
pany at times, and now and then would indulge 
in an Olympic shine, similar to the Marquis of 
Waterford. Still Mr* M'Cook was and is a safe 
man for the protection of property, and the 
best servant by far in Mr. Bernal's employ. 
— If he deserved otherwise, T would say so — he 
was no friend of mine after I left him. I dis- 
charged myself foolishly, because I was told by 
a brother book-keeper that Mr. M'Cook had cast 


reflections on my country men, from which I 
supposed I should stand no chance of pro- 

While on Cherry Garden, there was another 
book-keeper, named Donald Boss, who had been 
removed from Richmond estate^ in St. Ann's, to 
Cherry Garden. He related to me several anec- 
dotes about Mr. Charles Smith, the attorney of 
Richmond, and co-nttorney of Cherry Garden. 
Amongst other things he told me the following. 
Shortly after Mr. Smith was married to Miss 
Hurlock, he one day ordered a little girl about 
eleven or twelve years of age to go to a distant 
part of the estate, under the pretence of taking 
a message to the cattle -men. He followed 
and overtook her on horse-back. He then alight- 
ed, called her to him, and insisted on her sub- 
mittingtohisbrutalinclinations. The poor thing 
resisted, and pleaded her extreme youth. After 
struggling for some time, and finding himself 


baffled, he savagely took bis walking stick, and 
beat her over the head till she fell dowD and every 
time she attempted to rise he repeated the blows 
on her head, till he at last fairly stunned the poor 
child, and during the time she lay in that state 
he accomplished his horrible purpose ! Donald 
Ross declared that all this he witnessed with 
his own eyes. He happened to be among the 
cattle at the time, and under cover of the bushes^ 
had unseen been an unwilling spectator of the 
terrible outrage. Donald Ross was not a man 
of any tenderness of heart for the negro race, 
yet he declared that his feelings so overcame 
him when he heard the poor child's piercing 
shrieks, that it was as much as he could do to 
command himself, though he knew that his cer- 
tain ruin would be the consequence of his inter- 
ference. He spoke of the affair with the deepest 
horror, and entered into particulars which I 
cannot commit to paper. It is almost superfluous 
to say that the mother of the child, so far from 


obtaining any redress, dare not even give utter- 
ance to a murmur. 

Exeter Estate, Vere. 

I was employed on this estate by an old Irish- 
man, named Kelly who many years before, had 
made a fortune and left the country, but like 
many others, entirely lost it in speculations; and 
seventeen years after leaving Jamaica, he retur- 
ned to it to begin the world again as an over- 
seer. One of the modes by which he made his 
fortune, was by becoming an executor on a large 
scale. He had imported twenty *one poor Irish- 
men, to act as book-keepers and tradesmen on 
estates. Eighteen out of these twenty-one died 
at various periods after their arrival, every one 
of whom left him their executor. Kelly told me 
he was confident that there were not three of 


these poar fellows, who had been book-keepers, 
who had not met their deaths from the tyranny 
and oppression of the overseers they were under. 
Mr. Kelly was a very lenient manager, a father- 
ly old man to the slaves, but no person that 
lived in Mr. Ashley's employ dared to be other- 
wise : Mr. Ashley was a noble minded gentleman, 
who abhorred the villanous proceedings of those 
around him. He was well aware of the infamous 
conduct of planting attorneys in general; for he 
had been made to suffer during his own absence 
from the country — ^he was nearly ruined by 

I was taken with a very severe fit of illness 
just as Mr. Ashley was onthe point of promoting 
me to the rank of overseer ; and after being three 
months ill, I found myself compelled to leave 
that part of the country. 


Osborne Estate, St. George's. 

I went over to St. George's in August, 1827, 
and was employed as book-keeper by Edward 
Stirling the overseer, one of the most atrocious 
monsters I had yet met with. The poor slaves 
were in a most deplorable condition. There were 
not ten effective negroes on the whole estate ; 
they were utterly disabled and worn down, by 
the dreadful cruelties heaped upon them by three 
successive brutal tyrants. 

The general subject of conversation amongst 
the overseers in this quarter, when they assem- 
bled together, was the different modes of torture 
they adopted in punishing the negroes. I can- 
not stop to describe all that were invented, but 
I must mention one which I saw Stirling adopt 


on several occasions. There was a young cocoa 
nut-tree close to the end of the piazza; a rope was 
passed over the top of it, and the offender, after 
being stripped stark naked^ was tied by the wrists 
and hauled up till his toes just touched the 
ground, and in that torturing position he was 
lashed by the driver till Stirling gave orders to 
stop, which was seldom done till the victim was 
flayed, from theshoulders downwards. There was 
one young man, named Sammy, who was so fre- 
quently flogged in this manner, that the tree was 
generally called Sammy's tree. After one of these 
punishments, Sammy's back was in such a state 
of corruption, that he got maggots in the sores; 
he showed it to M'Keoy, one of the attorneys, 
but as usual without any effect. I must pass 
over the rest of the horrors I witnessed on this 
estate during the few weeks I lived there. One 
night I was keeping spell in the boiling-house 
and, as every thing was going on well, I was 
walking up and down, whistling. Stirling came 


in, and said '^ Mr. M'Mahou, is this the way yon 
are doing your duty 1 You are whistling for the 
amusement of the negroes" — and he forthwith 
discharged me for whistling. 

Agualta Vale Estate, St, Mary's. 

I have but little to say about this place. I 
was employed by the overseer, Mr. Holworthy ; 
and, although he did not act fairly by me, I 
must do him the justice to say that he was kind- 
hearted, honourable, and high-spirited, but he 
had an unfortunate, hasty, and irascible temper, 
which sometimes betrayed him into acts which 
in his cooler moments he must have regretted. 
In his treatment of the slaves he was strict, but 
generally just in his dealings with* them ; the 
only outrage I ever knew of his committing, was 
his keeping a woman for six months working 
in and out of the stocks, under a suspicion of 


her haviog attempted to poison a book-keeper 
of the Dame of Bannister, but which I believe 
to have been maliciously false. I left this estate 
on account of a quarrel with Holworthy's con- 

Spring Garden Estate^ St. George's- 

The overseer of this estate, Mr. Gladwidge, 
was one of the mildest and most amiable men 1 
ever met with ; he was deeply respected and be- 
loved by every slave upon the place — he was in 
fact altogether too good to be placed in the so- 
ciety of planters. He was always in good 
humour, and there was no flogging on the 
estate by his orders— ^whatever took place in 
that way was by the drivers or book-keepers. 
His kindness and humanity to the sick was most 
exemplary. He was at length removed from 
hence to Petersfield, in St. Thomas-in-the-East, 


to the mortification and regret of white and 

Mr. Gladwidge was succeeded by Mr. Robert 
Grey Kirkland, a gentleman of considerable 
abilities, a clever planter, a strict disciplina- 
rian, but judicious and humane in his treatment. 
I remember his once punishing two men for 
robbery ; and before flogging them he told them, 
*'he would rather go to the store and give them 
out a half barrel of pork, than give them punish- 
ment, that he hated flogging, but unfortunately 
he had no other means of putting a stop to 
their misconduct.'' 

I i^ain fell into very bad health here, and 
for a long time was unable to do any thing* 
Three times I sent to discharge myself, as I was 
doing nothing for the salary I was receiving, 
but Mr. Kirkland, in the most honourable man- 
ner, insisted on my remaining till 1 could re- 


cover. At last, findiDg 1 could get no better, I 
finally left the estate. 1 went down to Kings- 
ton with the intention of going to the island of 
Cuba, where I had very good prospects ; but I 
was taken so ill just at the time I was about to 
embark, that I was obliged to forfeit my paissage, 
and remain in the island. 

Passley Garden Estate, Portland. 

On my recovery I returned to Portland, and 
soon afterwards received the appointment of 
overseer on Passley Garden estate. It was in 
chancery, and Mr. John Sutton Minot, an at- 
torney-at-law in Kingston, was the receiver, 
and a legatee of the estate. It was a small 
place, but very fertile, and would have yielded 
a valuable income, had it been properly ma- 
naged. The slaves had been exceedingly ill- 
treated — half starved and worn out with merci- 


less floggiDg; they were squalid, meagre, and 
miserable; they did not receive even the trifling 
allowances ordered by law ; as to salt allow- 
ances, they never saw a salt-herring from new- 
year's day to Christmas. The consequence was 
they did but little effective labour, and were 
sadly given to theft, driven to it by sheer star- 
vation ; they chiefly supported themselves by 
night-fishing, and the wild fruits in the pastures. 
Mr, Minot was very poor, and very capricious 
in his temper; he seldom kept an overseer more 
than a few months, and generally left his salary 
unpaid on discharging him. Whilst I was there, 
the book-keeper discharged himself, and Mr. 
Minot requested me to pay him his salary. I 
did so, but was never repaid. Mr. Minot died 
intestate, and I never was able to recover one 
farthing for my services on the estate. 


Stirling Castle, St. Thomas in- the- Vale. 

I was employed oo this estate, as overseer, in 
Jaouary 1830. The proprietor, Mr. Kinkead, 
who some years previously had left the island 
with a fortune, had been compelled to return a 
ruined man« His annual crops, under the ma- 
nagement of his conscientious attorney, M'Innes 
and a succession of ruffian tyrants of overseers, 
had been reduced from 170 hogsheads down to 
40 ! This was clearly caused by the bad sys- 
tem of cultivation, and the murderous severity 
towards the gang weakening their strength, and 
diminishing their Dumber. Yet so blinded was 
Mr. Kinkead, on this matter, and I believe he 
still remains so, that he was constantly speaking 
of Sharkey as being the best overseer that ever 
managed the estate, because Sharkey had made 
some large crops, yet those very large crops 


were actually the ruin of the estate. This is the 
way in which proprietors delude themselves* . 

Od my return to this estate after a ten years* 
absence, I found that nearly the whole of those 
who composed the great gang ia 1820, had been 
flogged into their graves by the year 1830. 
This wholesale butchery was stopped from 
the time Mr. Kinkead returned to the country ; 
be was no lover of the whip; but his people 
were in a wretchedly poor condition owing to 
the extreme poverty of their master, yet they 
cheerfully submitted to their privations, as 
they were much attached to the old gentleman* 

I succeeded a person of the name of Twy ford; 
who was a drunken worthless vagabond. Mn 
Kinkead told me, *' that, on one occasion Twy* 
ford laid down a young fellow, named Sammy^ 
andgave him so dreadful a flogging as caused hira 
to commit a nuisance; when the punishment 


was over, Twyford had the unparalled barba- 
rity ta force the mao to eat some of his own 
filth." This, by the way, was not at all uncom- 
mon with some of the planters in Jamaica. 

Manchester Estate, Trelawney, 

After being at Stirling Castle about sixteen 
months I left it, and went to Trelawney, where I 
was employed by Mr. Lewis, the attorney of 
Manchester estate, as book-keeper, with a pro- 
mise of an overseer's situation in three weeks, at 
the end of crop. The overseers name was 
Scanlon. I was so much confined to the still- 
house» that I had no time to dine at the over- 
seer's table till crop was finished. The first 
Sunday after crop, several of the neighbouring 
planters dined with us on the estate. About that 
time the whole country was getting very much 
exasperated at the spread of religion amongst 


iHe slaves; and on this occasion the conversation 
at table was chiefly on that subject. They rela- 
ted to each other the different sorts of panish- 
ment they inflicted on the ** biack rascalr' for 
their praying, and going to the sectarian chapels 
on Sundays. Their bitterest curses fell upon the 
Baptists, and one of the missionaries (Mr« 
Whitehorn) came in for the largest share of their 
abuse. Nothing but his destruction would sa- 
tisfy them, I felt indignant at such language, 
and my feelings getting the better of my pru- 
dence, I ventured to take up the cudgels for 
Mr. Whitehorn and the other ministers of reli- 
gion, and declared they were doing a'great deal 
of good in the country, aad ought to be encou- 
raged by every one. While I was speaking is 
this manner I was frequently interrupted by the 
loud cursing and swearing of those present, and 
finding I would persevere in my remarks, they 
one by one rose from the table and went away. 

The sentiments I had expressed were soon con- 



veyed to Mr Lewis, my employer, aDd had the 
effect of stopping my promotion. He would not 
discharge me openly for what I said, but perse- 
cuted me, to compel me to discharge myself. 

I remained for some time doing the duty of a 
book-keeper, before 1 was removed, One day I 
was superintending about twenty selected peo- 
ple, who were digging trenches. One of them 
asked me, " if I knew Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. 
Macaulay, and Buxton, who, they were told, 
were their friends ;'* and as they never saw me 
drinking*) with the others, telling lies upon 
and abusing the negroes, or cursing the parsons, 
they supposed I must be their friend also* I felt 
surprised and much pleased at this mark of con- 
fidence, and replied* " that if they behaved them- 
selves properly, their friends in England would 
do good for them." They remarked, " that was 
just what their minister told them," but added, 
'* Pon't you see,Massa, that buckra constant pu- 


oisb we, only for going to God on Sunday; or 
saying our prayers in negro-house — and you 
know that's not right." 

Hopewell Estate, Trelawney. 

I was removed from Manchester estate to 
Hopewell, by order of the attorney, Lewis, in 
order that I might be more effectually sickened 
of my quarters. Lewis himself had formerly 
been one of the most savage despots over the 
slaves under his charge* when he was overseer 
of Hopewell; but he was by this time a changed 
man, advocating lenient measures, in all cases 
excepting those connected with religion — he 
would have uo mercy on those who attended dis« 
senting chapels, or were guilty of praying. To 
convey an idea of Mr. Charles Lewis's morality « 
I need but mention that he carried on an in« 
cestuous intercourse with his own daughter, a 

girl tiamed Eliza, who was a slave on Hopewell. 

A Mr. Kennedy was the overseer, He was an 
ill tempered, malicious and vindictive character; 
he tyrannised over both white and black. One 
of the book-keepers^ named Grey, after being 
harassed with incessant labour, fell sick, and 
was left without the smallest care or attention 
—he could not even get a drop of cold water to 
cool his parched tongue. He died, and in his 
dying moments he laid his death a:t Kennedy's 

I was sent to line cane-holes for a gang 
of jobbers. It was the rainy season — for the 
space of four days it rained in torrents without 
ceasing; the jobbers and myself were compelled 
to continue at work; they were tasked to perfoim 
each a certain amount of work, without any de- 
duction for weather; the consequence was that 
they had to be at it from daylight till dark, with- 


out even stopping for meals; they ate as tbey 
could, while working; they stripped themselves 
stark-naked on account of the rain, and in that 
way worked the whole day. Ou the fourth day 
I was seized with a severe attack of fever, from 
this constant exposure, and in two days was so 
alarmingly ill, that my medical attendant pro- 
nounced me past recovery ; but as I had always 
led an abstemious life, and had a strong consti- 
tution, to the surprise of all I began to recover. 
After that, I had fever and ague every second 
day, which tormented me for a considerable 
time. The first day I was able to leave my 
room, and appear at dinner, was in the Christ- 
mas week ; it was the awful period at which the 
rebellion (as it was called) broke out. Shortly 
after sitting down to dinner, we were startled 
by the sound of a horse galloping into the yard ; 
the rider instantly entered, calling out, ''the 
negroes are up in rebellion, and are burning all 
before them in St. James's and Hanover ; every 


fnaa must immediately joio his compaoy.'* This 
iotelligeDce was like an electric shock on our 
company; a dead sileuce followed for several 
moments; all pale and ghastly ; eating our din- 
flerwas out of the question, but I could not help 
laughing at their agitation and cowardice. 

At last, all prepared to go down to Falmouth, 
and the overseer ordered me to join them, aU 
though scarcely able to walk from my room. 
The negroes were very attentive to me, assisted 
in my preparations, and lifted me on my horse ; 
when I rode away , they took charge of my clothes, 
&c. during my absence. Change of air and good 
nourishment very rapidly restored me to health. 

Martial Law, 1832. 

I shall not pretend to enter into a minute ac* 
count of the rise and progress of the fatal in- 


sarrectiou amongst tbe slaves at this period, but 
Mrill briefly mentioD some of the priucipal inci- 
dents which occurred uuder my observation, 
and some which came to my knowledge from 
the most authentic sources. 

On Friday, the 30th of December, three com- 
panies of the Trelawney regiment, to which I 
was attached, were ordered up to Good Hope 
Estate, about eight miles from Falmouth ; here 
they mounted guard. On the very first night 
I had an opportunity of witnessing the courage 
of the valiant heroes of the militia, who were as 
bold as lions when torturing the poor slaves 
with the whip. I was a sentry on guard, and 
about ten o'clock at night a crash was heard 
near the guard-house: the instant it took place 
the officers, who were standing outside near me^ 
rushed into the guard-room, terribly alarmed, 
and bolted themselves in, leaving me alone out- 
side! After this there was a profound silence 


for nearly fifteen minutes. I went to the place 
whence the noise proceeded, and I found it was 
caused by a drunken comrade, who had tumbled 
against a rotten paling, which had given way 
under the weight of his body! Such is the 
courage of tyrants, when apprehending the re- 
venge of their persecuted victims ! 

On Sunday^ New-year's day, martial law was 
proclaimed, and we were ordered up to Golden 
"Grove Estate that same night. In endeavouring 
to go there by a short cut, the night being ex- 
tjeedingly dark, we lost our way; and after 
stumbling over one another for some hours, we 
were obliged to return, and take the main road. 
It was a providential circumstance that this de- 
tention occurred, because it was settled that we 
were to have surrounded the negro houses, and 
in that case the slaughter of the innocent and 
defenceless people would have been tremendous. 
As it was, we did not reach the estate till day- 


light. As we approached, I observed them ruD- 
DiDg out of their houses iu great coofusioD ; the 
militia then rushed forward, and commeDced fir- 
ing iu every direction on the unarmed and unre- 
sisting negroes, men and women, old and young, 
indiscriminately. The ground was fortunately 
exceedingly uneven, which favoured the escape 
of the people. One of the head drivers, who had 
been protecting his master's property all night,, 
was shot through both thighs; another man,, 
who was going to his work with a hoe on his 
shoulder, was shot through the head, and fell 
dead on the spot. Two or three others were re- 
ported to have been shot, but I saw none but 
these two. So wild and ungovernable was the 
fury of the militia-men in seeking to destroy 
the poor negroes, that, in their haste and con- 
fusion in running about the negro houses, firing 
in all directions, it wa« a miracle they did not 
kill one another. Some of the poor people 
rushed down to the overseer's house, and claim- 


ed fais protectiou. He behaved very properly, 
remonstrated with the cowardly raffians, and 
succeeded in stopping the carnage. It mast be 
remarked, that the negroes on Golden Grove 
had committed no offence, they had taken no 
part in the insurrection, but had been quietly 
pursuing their labours ; but they were suspected 
of some intention that way, on a mere idle ru- 
mour of the evening before. By this outrageous 
act they were driven into the woods. After 
this exhibition of folly and wickedness, we re- 
turned to Good Hope. That night Captain 
Brown, our commanding officer, in a drunken fit 
visited the guard-room, and put us through our 
manoeuvres in a place scarcely large enough to 
hold us. He addressed us as follows — "' Men! 
we have got a challenge from the rebels. Men! 
won't you follow me 1 Men ! won't you die 
with your captain I Your captain will die with 
you ! Now, prime and load— <make ready—pre- 
sent — fire! Now, port arms— charge bayonetsV 


On this the men rushed with their bayonets 
to the opposite side of the room, and ran their 
bayonets through the window, and smashed the 
panes of glass. These drunken freaks were com- 
mon throughout the disturbed district, and at 
these times a score of resolute men would have 
been able to destroy a hundred of these braggart 
militia-men. The next morning we were march- 
ed to Bunker's-Hill, and surrounded the houses 
at day-break. There was only one man in the 
negro village, and as he came out the whole 
company fired at him, and killed him on the 
spot. An old woman scarcely able to crawl 
was found, and dragged before the captain, who 
demanded where the negroes had gone, &c. 
She declared her ignorance, on which this Cap- 
tain Brown took his sword, and laid on the poor 
old woman with all his strength, using the flat 
side of his sword. After this we passed through 
several estates, which we found deserted, and 
we came to Dromily Estate, where the alarm 


was given that there were rebels in the Cane- 
piece. The militia was formed into line, and a 
rustling being at the moment observed in the 
canes, a volley was fired, by which several 
cattle, which were the cause of the alarm, were 
shot. We were then ordered to search the Cane- 
piece : while I was engaged in this duty, I 
found a stout able negro, with a cutlass in his 
hand, crouching down among the canes* No 
one being near, I said to him in a low tone, 
** lie down where, you are, and do not move, I 
won't touch you, but if you attempt to come 
near me with your cutlass, I'll shoot you." The 
poor man expressed his gratitude in dumb show 
with his hands ; immediately afterwards several 
others of the militia passed close to where the 
man lay, but did not see him. I pretended that 
I heard a noise in another direction, so as to 
draw them off, and thus the poor fellow escaped. 
After this fruitless search, the head ranger of 
the estate was called, ^nd asked where the people 


were concealed. He pointed out a place where 
he supposed they might be ; we marched to the 
spot, but found no one ; it was not to be ex- 
pected that the people would remain to be 
butchered in cold blood. The valiant militia 
then fell upon the poor ranger; the officers beat 
him with their swords, and several of the men 
in the most brutal manner struck the man with 
the butt end of their muskets, and smashed his 
head and face, the poor fellow calling out, " O 
Lord ! I beg you will shoot me one time !" He 
was not, however, quite killed then, but wa» 
afterwards taken to the bay, and hanged. 

After this we again returned to Good Hope. 
Every day afterwards we were sent on short 
excursions amongst the neighbouring estates,^ 
to find out any of the poor blacks to put ta 
death, but without effect ; they knew that no 
mercy would be shown, and therefore kept out 
of sight. 


Some days afterwards we were ordered to 
march to St, James's. We came to Barrett-Hall 
estate, the property of Mr. Speaker Barrett. In 
approaching the estate we met a man on the 
road, who became terrified at our appearance, 
and jumped over a wall to escape; the whole 
company immediately fired upon him ; he was 
struck but rose again, and ran, bleeding ; again 
he fell, rose up again, and several times fell and 
rose, running a few paces each time— ^the militia 
still firing on him. At length, one of the troop- 
ers sprang over the wall, went up to the poor 
creature, and began to hack and chop him with 
his sword, but without killing him; when finally, 
one of the others finished the brutal tragedy, by 
shooting him through the head« 

None of the people on Barrett-Hall had left 
the estate. They were all called out, and ranged 
ifl a row, the men separate from the women. 
The major (Dr. Neilson) demanded of the head^ 


driver, who it was that pulled down tho pvocla- 
matioD that had been posted on the door of th« 
works. He denied any knowledge about it. 
Major Neilson then ordered the company to 
direct their pieces at the driver, and if he of- 
fered to move, to blow his brains out. Neilson 
then addressed the gang, and said, " if they did 
not point out the man who had doneit^ he would 
shoot them from right to left;'' and turning to 
the driver once more, he demanded *'who it 
was;" the driver immediately pointed out a fine 
handsome young fellow as the delinquent. In 
an instant Neilson gave the fearful order— *'' tak^ 
that fellow ta the rear, and shoot him." He was 
seized, and had just time to call out, '' O, Lord, 
massa, don*t kill me," when just as he passed the 
rear rank, a blood-thirsty wretch, named "Wat- 
son, anxious to be foremost in the work of death, 
levelled his gun close to my breast, the muzzW 
within six inches of the poor man, and fired; th« 



ball passed through his wrist, then into tb^ 
mouth and through the back part of his head, 
and he fell dead without a groan ! The scene 
that followed beggars description. The poor 
slaves were overwhelmed with terror; some 
threw themselves on their knees, and raised their 
hands tp heaven, under the impression that the 
slaughter of the whole was intended; the women 
and children screamed fearfully, and the whole 
of them in the most piteous manner begged that 
their lives might be spared. After some fierce 
threats of vengeance in case of any thing going 
wrong, we were drawn off, and returned to 
Bounty -Hall. On the way we were divided into 
small parties hunting for negroes — ^it reminded 
me of a pack of harriers on the scent after hares. 
We met with no one on whom to gratify the 
planter's thirst for blood. 

The next place we visited was Leyden Estate, 
where we slept for one night. Next morning. 


when preparing iq marcb, one of the pruat^f, 
named Ponal^ M'Donald, was niissji|g*9--be h^d 
gone to the oegro-houses fpr the purpose of 
plunder, &c* While there, he met with ^ 
woman, whom he delil)erately B\iet ^h^ oiigb bot^ 
legs, at her own door — be then robbed her of 
various articles, such as gold ringsf, &c. Thiji 
infamous outrage was committed with perfect 
impunity. McDonald is now head-constable at 
Falmouth, tit a salary of d^OO. a yei^r. These 
robberies uppn the poor negroes were coipmop 
throughout mftrtial law^ On ope opcasipo qjir 
company visited Georgia Estate, which yy^B 
quite peaceable, tbe rebellion never hav|pg 
spread thus far. Tbe milijtia called there to see 
if the people were at wort, And found tbem flijl 
right. Notwithstajiding this, they deliberately 
UUed one of the men^ a^d destroyed alltbepigPp 
poultry, &c. that they coufd jGlnd, in t|ie mpet, 
wanton manner; tbey theji coninieaced ruMackr 
ing the uegro-houses, an^ robbed |the people pf 



their clotbes, and every valuable thing they 
could carry away. One of the privates found 
in the house of one of the tradesmen eight 
doubloons (£42.) in gold, and took possession of 
it. Lieutenant Neilson (who was afterwards my 
overseer) heard of it, and had it taken from the 
private: what Neilson did with it I know not, 
but it was never restored to the poor slave. 

From this time to the end of martial law, the 
incidents which occurred were not such as re- 
quire minute description. We were sent out 
every day in small parties to look for negroes, 
but they had retreated to the woods, and kept 
out of our way. One day a man was observed 
concealed in a high tree ; he was killed by a 
shot, without a word being spoken to him. On 
the following day, in our march we fell in with 
five men, who ran off the moment they perceived 
us : the whole company fired on the fugitives, 
and destroyed two of them. Three days before 


the terminatioD of martial law, I got leave of 
absence to return home, as the overseer Kennedy 
had died of fever since 1 left the estate. 

I will now mention a few facts which, aU 
though I did not witness them, were related to 
me on the most unquestionable authority^ 

At the commencement of the insurrection, 
when all the white people left the estates, a per- 
son named Jones, an engineer tradesman on 
Chester Castle, who was sadly addicted tp 
liquor, was left drunk in his room. The rebels 
came to the estate, surrounded the buildings^ 
and set fire to them. While they were burning, 
Jones was discovered, and was dragged out un- 
hurt ; some of the people called out, '' don't hurt 
him, he never trouble poor nega!*' They got 
him his hat, his arms, ammunition and accoutre- 
ments, and delivered them up to liim, without 
abstracting asingle cartridge. He could scarcely 

Walk, ti« was so dIruDk ; but tbey led fiittd to tb« 
gA%e^ and pushed bim outside, atad told bim to 
go aud join the other White people, (6f if he 
stopped with them, it might cause him to be 
suispected. When he reached the militia is^ation, 
his ^olnlrade^ were spebulatiDg t>ti his protaibi^ 
fate, prefdicting that thie niegtoes would to acer* 
tainty destroy him, perhaps with cruel torture! 

On aJ^otber occasion a i^bite carpenter w^its 
hi the int^or, and had no me&nd of joining his 
tomp^iiy without coming in contact with the 
rebels, and therefore dare not lnali:e the attempt; 
in this state he Wai^ met with by Behaney, the 
captain of the tebfels, who was acquainted with 
hfitii. Dehaney not only^roWected him from in- 
jli¥y, b%t escdrted Inm through bye "paths, and 
deliV^^^ell hiin \9iatfely to bis cetapiany, aftcrtwards 
rettttnlitg to his 6wn party to carry on the waN 
fer^. Yet this poo^ m«ti aftet being taken, tried 
by H iidutt-ebfiirtial, aliiA ecmdeinned to death 


(execution following sentence witkin a few mi- 
nutes), when he requested to be allowed to ap- 
pease the goawings of hunger before going to 
the scaffold, and while eating a piece of bread 
in perfect calmness, the executioner was or* 
dered, by some of the officers, to drag him away 
before he had finished the morsel. The man 
went up to Dehaney with the rope, on which 
was a running noose, and throwing it over his 
head as if he had been a horse, pulled it with a 
violent jerk, saying, " Come away with you !" 
and thus dragged him out of the court-house, to 
the scaffold in front of the building. This piece 
of heartless brutality created a lond laugh 
amongst the gentlemen assembled. 

I will close this aceount by relating a scene 
which occui;red on the last day of martial law. 
The company to which I had been attached was 
returning home~I bad already left them. They 
stopped on Flamstead estate for the nighty and 


divided themselves into parties among the caoe- 
pieces, stopping in thefewhuts that remained un- 
bnrnt. One party, in approaching a hut, met with 
fivenegroes coming out of it ; two of them were 
shot dead, the others escaped. Another party fell 
in with a fine young man, about twenty years of 
age ; they took him prisoner, and told him at the 
peril of his life to tell where the rest of the 
people were : he said they were scattered up 
and down every where, looking for officers to 
give them protection. They took him with 
them to the hut they were going to occupy, 
and made him get up the fire and cook for them ; 
after which they made him sleep in the hut 
along with themselves, sentries keeping guard, 
and patrolling through the cane piece at night. 
Next morning at day-break, the poor fellow 
was called out of the hut by a private named 
Wilkinson^ who immediately made a deadly 
plunge at him with his fixed bayonet, with the 
intention of running him through the body^ 


Tbe youDg mao sprang aside, and laid hold of 
the guD by the muzzle. The instaDt he did so, 
Wilkinson fired ; the ball entered his hand ob- 
liquely, and passed upwards, tearing up the arm 
as far as the shoulder, where it passed out. 
The poor fellow thus wounded, still clung to 
thegun with a death grasp, calling out, '* Massa 
don't, don't kill me-^on'tkillme — ^this death too 
hot." As Wilkinson could not extricate his gun^ 
he called out to Lieut. Dalryraple, who was 
coolly looking on without interfering, to lend 
him a pistol, to shoot the man ; Dalrymple re^ 
fused to do this, but he lent him his sword, with 
which Wilkinson commenced cutting and slash- 
ing with one hand while holding the gun with the 
other — still the roan did not fall; at last another 
private named Coultard came up and ran his 
bayonet through the man's heart ! immediately 
after this, this same Coultard, in going through 
another part of the cane piece, met one of the 
Serjeants with a prisoner under his charge with* 


6ttt saying one word, Conltard lowered bis mus-i 
ket, rushed upon the man, and drove his bayonet 
through his body. 

The scenes here depicted will convey to the 
reader a faint idea of the horrid butchery that 
prevailed for several weeks, in all parts of the 
parishes of St. James's and Trelawney. 

I may here just observe, that from all I could 
gather from the negroes themselves, as well as 
others, the overt acts of rebellion, such as firing 
the estates, &c., were almost exclusively con. 
fined to a few runaways, who had for years 
been living in fastnesses in the interior, where 
they had been driven by murderous persecution, 
and that the great mass of the slaves on the 
estates, who were denounced and treated as 
rebels, had merely left the estates to avoid being 
murdered by the savage and reckless militia- 
men. All that was designed, by the people on 


(b* ^estates, Was to lay down their boes and 
strike work. 

It is a great coDsolation to we to reflect, thai, 
tbrouglioiit tke rebellioa, although 1 was iJD ihe 
fiiidst of sach scenes of carnage, I iieTer once 
pointed a gun at a negro, nor ever hurt a hair 
of oae of tbei^r heads. AU my inclinatioDs, in 
foot, were to have joined with the unfortunate 
people,had I seeethe smallest chance of success. 

T returned to .Hopewell estate, and lived under 
George Neilson, who obtained the appointment 
of overseer after the death ot Kennedy. Neil- 
son was a drunkard^ and the most deceitful and 
treacherous man I ever met with. He was ex- 
ceedingly cruel to the slaves, when sober; but 
Wh^ti drunk, was disgustingly familiar. His 
whole system of management was one of in* 
tfigue and espionage — he could do nothing 
straightforward— all was done by craft and low 


cuDDiog ; but I shall only Deed to meDtibo the 
termination of his career, to shew his true cha- 
racter. He was discharged from Hopewell, 
shortly after which he was apprehended for 
robbing the mail, was brought to trial, and found 
guilty, but recommended to mercy by a jury of 
planters. He was sentenced to transportation* 
On his arrival in England, Mr. William Miller 
interceded for him with government, and ob- 
tained his pardon ! Had it been a black or a 
brown man who had done the same deed, tor- 
turing to death by slow fire would not have 
been too bad for him. 

After martial law, the planters observed no 
limits in their barbarity to the slaves. Their 
labours were increased, and the most fearful 
punishments followed the most trivial ofienc^s, 
often no ofience at all. The condition of the 
people was infinitely worse than before ; and 
had not the British public stepped forward to 


put an end to the system, I am certain the slaves 
would have been driven to repeat the attempt to 
break their yoke, and perhaps with far more 
disastrous consequences. 

I discharged myself from Hopewell, and be- 
came so disgusted with the planting line, that I 
made up my mind to leave it altogether. I com-^ 
roenced a little business on my own account, 
near Stewart's Town ; but, as 1 had only a 
small capital, it was soon sunk in speculations, 
and as the planters in the neighbourhood were 
entirely against me, I was unable to succeed. I 
pass over the succeeding years up to the middle 
of 1836, during which space I was in various 
capacities, straggling to obtain a livelihood. 

Peru Estate. 

In May, 1836, 1 was employed by Mr. R. Z. 
Hemming, on Peru Estate, as overseer. The 


apprenticeship system, was, of course, at this 
time, ia operatioo. The eertate had been very 
much neglected, and the people were in a sad 
state of poverty and destitution, as regards .pro* 
visions. Yet notwithstanding this, Mr. Hem- 
ming directed me to turn the cattle into the 
negro grounds, under the pretence tba^ they 
were trenching on the cane-pieces. This excuse 
for his unfeeling conduct was without founda* 
tlon, as only in one or two points there w^ a 
trespass of a few feet, and for this the whole of 
the grounds were to be destroyed, I delayed 
doing as I was told, for two months, and was 
then compelled to comply with the order. The 
consequence was, that one of my horses and a 
<;ow were destroyed immediately afterwards in 
the pasture, under the idea that the destruction 
of their grounds was my wilful act, although I 
bad explained to them that it was the positive 
order of Hemming, whom they supposed inca- 
pable of an act of such meanness and crueltf* 


This very matter was actually the origin of Mr. 
R. Z. Hemming's discharging me from the situ- 
ation ; for although he gave me the order in 
the most peremptory manner, and repeated it 
several times, yet he wished me to take the re- 
sponsibility on my own shoulders, so as to save 
him from disgrace at the government-house, the 
estate being in chancery* 

As a specimen of Mr. R. Z. Hemming's ht^nestyy 
I will lay before the reader the following facts. 
A book-keeper, named Hughes, was leaving the 
estate, a balance of salary being due to him of 
£7. As Mr. Hemming lived at a considerable 
distance from Peru, in order to save poor Hughes 
so long a journey, I paid him the amount, and 
took his receipt, on the part of the property, — 
in fact in Mr. Hemming's name, as if he had 
paid it. This receipted account I put into the 
hands of a merchant (Mr. Lyon), of Falmouth, 
to receive the amount from Hemmiug; enclosed 


the receipt to Mr. H., and requested payment, 
bat Mr. R. Z. Hemming kept the receipt^ aad re- 
fused to pay oue farthing of the £7, The next 
case is even worse than this. A carpenter be- 
longing to the estate named Reeder, had been 
employed, in his own time, to repair the roof of 
the hospital. I attested the account, and re- 
ceipted it for the man, and then enclosed it in a 
letter to Mr. Hemming, requesting him to trans- 
mit the amount to the apprentice. Mr. Hem«r 
ming kept the receipt, but never sent the money ; 
and twelve months afterwards I learned that he 
had never paid the amount to the poor appren- 
tice- When applied to by my successor, he 
replied, ^* / have paid the money ^ because I find 
I have the receipt for it r* 

The whole gang had been employed, in their 
own time, during crop, to work for wages, — 
and after crop Hemming sent his clerk, under 
the pretence of settling the estate's accounts, 


Instead of paying the people in money, be gavt 
them slips of paper, a sort of I O XJ*s, although 
I had previously warned the people not to take 
them. They were neve f paid. On Mr. Hemming's 
next visit to the estate, I drew his attention to 
the fact, and the people applied to him for pay- 
ment ; he replied, he had nothing to do with it, 
said he had given the clerk the money, and 
therefore he supposed the clerk's arrangements 
were satisfactory. Thus were the poor negroes 
robbed of the fruits of their industry, and Mr. 
Hemming had not sufficient regard for appear- 
ances to discharge the clerk; he retained him in 
his employ, perhaps to do the same elsewhere! 

I had a parcel of carpenters tools, remaining 
out of my stock in trade. The estate was very 
much in want of tools, and 1 sold them to it, to 
the amount of about £20. currency. On leaving 
I sent to Hemming an order for the payment,— 



he refased to pay, and re/used to let me take the 
tools back ! 

York Estate, Trelawney. 

I was employed as head book-keeper here for 
ten or eleven months, during which time nothing 
occurred that requires particular notice. The 
apprenticeship was easier in this quarter than 
in almost any other, owing, I believe, to the 
planter*s dread of the Rev. Mr. Knibb, who 
never failed to expose their evil deeds* 

York estate has been ruined by large crop's, 
and excessively bad management ; the labourers 
have been worn down by hard labour and the 
most outrageous persecution. On this head I 
could say much, but it would occupy too much 
space and time. I was discharged from York 


without any reasoa/beiog assigned ; and when 
I applied to Mr. Bridges^ the attorney, for the 
reason, he refused it, saying, *' You may blame 
yourself ; ask your own conscience." I was 
unconscious of having done any thing at all im- 
proper, but 1 afterwards learned that the real 
cause of my dismissal was this :— I had been 
speaking my opinions very freely to one of the 
head apprentices on the estate, against the' 
planters in general, and in favour of the Baptist 
ministers, as also of my intention to come home 
to expose matters. Some time after this I had 
a dispute with this man, when he, under the 
influence of passion, went to the overseer, told 
him 1 had been speaking against him and the 
attorney, as .to their management of the estate, 
as also the overseer's mistress and others. This 
was enough, and I was discharged a day or two 
after. This sort of treachery I have occasion- 
ally met with amongst the negroes, but I look 



oil it as the mere effect of slavery. 1 afterwards 
lound that the man was not esteemed by bi^ 
lellow-apprentices ; he was considered generally 

Latium Estate, St James's. 

I was engaged here as book-keeper, under 
one William Tinling, Mr. Henry Hunter being 
the attorney. The apprentices were very much 
oppressed, both by the overseer and the special 
magistrate. Although task work was forbidden 
by law, except with consent of the labourers, 
it was imposed on the gangs at Latium, and 
strictly enforced by the magistrate. The task 
put on the people was sometimes heavier than 
ever the people had been compelled to do in 
slavery. On one occasion I was ordered to line 
cane-pieces for the second gang, at the rate of 
ten labourers to the acre ; that is, giving to each 


300 cane roots, at four feet square, to clean and 
trash per day. This would have been con- 
sidered ^a very full day's work in slavery, when 
they were kept at it twelve or thirteen hours 
per day, and when the fields were only mode- 
rately foul ; but in this instance, not only was 
the cane-piece full of high grass, which in- 
creased the amount of heavy toil, but, in con- 
sequence of my being compelled to measure 
their work by the acre, I was under the necessity 
of exacting 400 instead of 300 cane holes per 
day. The consequence was, that the poor peo- 
ple could not perform the task set them, al- 
though they kept at work, with scarcely a 
moment's cessation, from day-light till dark. I 
was much hurt at hearing them, all through the 
day, abusing and muttering their complaints 
against me, on the ground that I was cheating 
them, which was very true, but I could not help 
it. as T was bound to obey orders. I therefore 
spoke to the driver, and told him that it was 


altogether agaidst my wish to put soch a task 
upon the people, but that if I did not do it, I 
should be discharged, and whoever succeeded 
me would be obliged to do the same thing, con- 
sequently they would be no better off, and 1 
should be thrown out of employment. The 
driver mentioned this to the people, and from 
that time they ceased to complain against me. 
When Mr. Carnaby next visited the estate, they 
made a formal complaint, that they were tasked 
beyond their strength, and requested him to 
have justice done to them. Mr. Carnaby refused 
to entertain their complaint, and insisted on 
their performing the full amount of labour 
required. He did this, no doubt, to save him- 
self the trouble of investigating the matter, and 
to avoid any collision with the overseer or 
attorney; for Mr. Carnaby, like many others, 
cared little for the rights or interests of the 
poor negroes, if he could only keep on good 
terms with the planters. 


It was really shameful to see how the people 
were imposed upon. Even the third gang, con- 
sisting of young children from nine to twelve 
years of age, were tasked to do an amount of 
work which kept them from dawn of day till 
dark at night, without giving them time to eat 
a single meal ; and this they were obliged to do 
in all weathers. It has often made my heart 
ache to see the little creatures, after working 
all day in the heavy rain, returning at night, 
shivering with cold and hunger. It is uot to 
be supposed that the negroes who have been 
treated in this manner could ever settle down 
quietly under such managers, when free to 
choose their own masters. It was the duty of 
the magistrates to prevent this (sort of oppres- 
sion, but that was a duty which very few of 
the magistrates bad the honesty or courage 
to perform. 

Mr. Carnaby 19 an improper person to hold 


tbe situatioD of special magistrate. I was once 
present when he was holdiDg his court on 
Latium estate, when a young woman in the last 
stage of pregnancy was brought before him, for 
refusing to continue at "work. He threatened 
to send her to the house of correction; on 
which she alluded to the state she was in, and 
openly reminded him that he was the father of 
the child ! 

But the following story^ which was related to 
me on very good authority, is much worse. Mr. 
Carnaby one evening went to WilliamslSeld 
estate, with the overseer of which (a Mr. Brown) 
he was on intimate terms, and remained there 
for the night. When retiring to bed, a young 
woman, one of the domestics in the house, was 
ordered to light him to his room. The overseer 
accompanied him to the door, and, before the 
girl had time to get out of the room, he locked 
the door outside, leaving the girl exposed to the 


brutal lust of the magistrate! There can be do 
reasonable doubt but that it was a precoDcerted 
plan between the two friends, as such was 
a common practice in slavery. How far Mr. 
Carnaby was criminal, as regards actual force, 
I cannot say ; but the girl's clothes were torn 
from her back, and the following morning the 
mother of the girl made so serious a disturbance^ 
about the matter, that Mr. Carnaby deemed it 
prudent to give her a sura of money, amounting, 
I was told, to £30., to prevent exposure at the 
Government House. 

The overseer of Latium estate, Tinling, was 
a notorious gambler, and such was his passion 
for it, that, when he had no better company, he 
used to send at night to invite (which was tan** 
tamount to ordering) the book-keepers to comer 
in, and play at cards with him. He was up to^ 
all the petty trick s and frauds of the game, and 
of course, always won. One of my brother 


book-keepers lost at different times to the 
amount of £11. ; and I, in the same way, was 
let in for upwards of £6, three pounds of which 
remained unpaid. I was disgusted with these 
proceedings, and refused to go on any longer ; 
and shortly afterwards, having a dispute with 
my brother book-keeper, on account of his 
attempting to throw the blame of his careless, 
ness on my shoulders, I discharged myself from 
the situation. On presenting my account to 
•Mr. Hunter, the attorney, he mentioned that he 
had been requested by Mr. Tinling to stop £3. 
out of my salary, which he said I owed to him. 
I asked Mr* Hunter if he was aware of the 
nature of the debt, that it was a gambling trans- 
action. He said he knew it, but that made no 
difference, he should hold back the amount : to 
this I objected, and insisted on being paid the 
full amount of my salary, and expressed my 
determination to bring the matter into court. 
Mr. Hunter, however, persisted in refusing to 


pay me, unless 1 submitted to the deduction* I 
therefore applied to the Clerk of the Peace, and 
instructed him to institute the necessary pro- 
ceedings; which had the desired effect. Mr. 
Hunter was afraid of such a disgraceful affair 
being brought before open court, and therefore 
sent me the full amount of my account ; and aft 
to Mr. Tinling's pretended claim, I never paid 
it, and never intend to do so, as he gave orders 
to the attorney for the stoppage of £5, the 
amount of his gambling debt, out of my salary ,^ 
and without my knowledge, which I looked 
upon as a base fraud. 

Flower Hill Estate, St. James. 

This was the last estate with which I had 
any connection. I was employed here by the 
attorney, Mr. Walcott, in January last (1838)^ 
and remained until the end of April. A Mr*. 


Faucus was the overseer. I have little or no- 
thing particular to report respecting the treat- 
ment of the people, as I was so much involved 
in trouble myself, that I had no leisure for 
general observation. I had here to witness 
a disgraceful specimen of the wanton destruc- 
tion of the property of absentee proprietors, 
which has been but too common at all periods 
amongst agents and overseers. 

When first I went to Flower Hill, there was 
a young man, named Charles Moulton, who was 
book-keeper in the still-house. The overseer 
and he quarrelled, which led to his discharge, 
and I was appointed to succeed him in the still- 
house. ' After a little time, Faucus, suspecting 
that I continued on friendly terms with Moul- 
ton and being of a most implacable and vindic- 
tive temper, did all in his power to annoy and 
injure me. The reputation of a book-keeper in 
the still-house depends on his making a fiB^ir 


proportion of rum to the sagar crop ; if he make 
less than the proportion, he is considered unfit 
for promotion, and yet his means of accom- 
plishing it are left entirely to the caprice of the 
overseer, who may throw a thousand obstacles 
in the way of justice being done. In this way 
many a young man, who has come under the 
displeasure of his overseer, has been entirely 
ruined. In this instance, Faucus commenced 
by ordering me to set the liquor according to 
his instructions, and not by my own plans. To 
this 1 assented, on the understanding that he 
would bear me harmless should any deficiency 
arise, which he readily promised in presence of 
the distillers. He then directed me to mix the 
molasses with water, at the rate of fifty per cent, 
and sometimes more, to which I was to add a 
little dunder. He allowed very little of the 
skimmings of the coppers, as the principal part 
was given to the mules and hogs. By this pro- 
cess one might have supposed he intended to 


make Dotbing but Yinegar. I was coRfident 
that it was not done through ignorance, but 
from a settled design ta destroy the rum crop, 
in order to ruin the book-keeper* 1 waited 
patiently to see the result of his folly ; and out 
of upwards of thirteen puncheons of molasAeSy 
we only procured three hundred gallons of rum 
instead of one thousand gallons, causing a loss 
to the proprietor of no less than seven hundred 
gallons, in about three weeks. Immediately 
after this, a young man was sent to succeed me 
in the still-house; but, after only three days 
trial, he threw up the situation in disgust, and I 
was again put back into the same occupation, 
but with the determination to be no longer 
instrumental in destroying the produce of a 
property where I was obtaining my bread* I 
therefore made every effort to preserve the 
sweets from destruction. The races at Montego 
Bay engaged the overseer*s attention, which 
enabled me to carry on my own plans. During 


bis absence 1 set up liquor in a proper manner, 
and from eigbt tbousand gallons of wash I ob- 
tained eight puncheons of rum, by which means 
the crop was in some measure redeemed, though 
still considerably below the mark. My repre- 
sentations to Mr. Walcott, the attorney, pro- 
duced no amendment. This is only one, out of 
the many hundred cases that occur in Jamaica 
eyery.year, where the absentee proprietor sus- 
tains serious loss, through the caprice or villany 
of his agent or oTerseer. 

I was now determined to put into execution 
the plan which 1 had for several years back 
resolved upon, of coming to England, to lay 
before the public, and particularly absentee 
proprietors, what I knew of the proceedings of 
the Jamaica planters; and for this purpose I 
sold all I possessed to enable me to pay my 
passage, &c. At the time of my leaving, I had 


no idea of the appreoticesbip being put an end 
to so early ; but, as that has happily been 
effected, I have considered it unnecessary to 
occupy much of the reader's time with the 
details of that system, but will just say, that, 
although, in many respects, the apprenticeship 
was far less atrocious than slavery, yet, in 
many other respects, the generality of the 
negroes were in a more destitute and miserable 
condition than formerly. The magistrates very 
seldom gave them any protection, and the over- 
seers, as they could not flog and tear the flesh 
of their victims, constantly vented their spite in 
the most dreadfully abusive and obscene lan- 
guage, which always hurts the feelings of the 
negroes even more than corporal punishment. 
The bad feeling which existed during slavery 
between the labourers and managers, has in 
most instances been increased instead of dimi- 
nished under the apprenticeship ; and I am 


confident that there will be neither peace nor 
prosperity in the country, while the present 
race of overseers continue to reside there. 

I rrow think it proper to make a few general 
remarks on the character and conduct of resi* 
dent proprietors, estates, attorneys, overseers, 
and book-keepers, illustrating the same with a 
few anecdotes respecting various well-known 
persons. This will enable parties at home to 
judge how far such men ought to be entrusted 
with the charge of properties, now that so much 
depends on a good understanding between th« 
land-owners and the labourers. 




The resident proprietors in Jamaica, were 
very few in number ; but their conduct in gene- 
ral was far from being unexceptionable. Take 
the following as a sample of the cases, which, 
but for my limited space, I might have ad- 

Mr. Coots, Montego Bay. 
The above gentleman was a married man, and. 


bad property at Montego Bay, on which he 
kept an overseer ; but although married, every 
female upou his property was compelled to yield 
to his bestial and lustful desires. Such youug 
females, as from fear of their mistress, or defi- 
ciency of age, resisted his approaches, were, at 
his direction, placed in the stocks by the over- 
seers, and the key of the hospital was then sent 
to him. In this place of concealment, he visited 
the objects of his passion, and accomplished his 
diabolical purpose npon these defenceless fe- 
males, whilst their feet were loaded with 
shackles of iron. There was an example for 
his* children growing up to maturity ! 

Mr. Richard P. Martin, St. Thomas-in- 

Mr. Richard Palmer Martin, proprietor of 
Mount Sion plantation, as also of other pro- 


perties, was for many years a magistrate in the 
island of Jamaica. He too was a married man ; 
but at one time be purchased his own daughter, 
a mulatto, from the Water Valley estate, in the 
parish of St. Mary's, and brought her to 
Mount Sion, where he resided with his wife and 
family. As this young female grew up, she was 
compelled to yield to her unnatural father's in- 
cestuous desires, and had several children by 
him. But the evil did not rest here ; for, as 
afterwards appeared, he had other children by 
his quadroon daughters : thus leaving, at the 
time of his death, mustees ; all of whom were 
grand-cbildren, or the great grandrchildren of a 
black woman, and he himself the father. So 
wickeid and barbarous was this monster in 
human shape, that, for the most trifling offence, 
be would cause pitch caps to be placed upon 
the heads of his peofde, and afterwards direct 
them to be dragged off by force ; thus leaving 
the bleediag victims in the ^ost excruciating 


agooies. In trayelling, he always boasted of 
carrying pistols by his side; and even in his 
hours of retirement he was never unarmed. As 
his life was that of an outcast from society, so 
bis death was a matter of public rejoicing to all 
in his neighbourhood. 

Messrs. Manderson, Spence and Co. 
Montego Bay. 

The above firm, who were residing for many 
years in the parish of St. James*s, at Montego 
Bay, and who were trading as merchants be- 
tween the islands of Jamaica and Cuba, had a 
sloop in their possession which was nicknamed 
" Blackbird," on account of its being employed 
to convey slaves, which had been kidnapped in 
Jamaica, to the island of Cuba for sale. For 
the promotion of their abominable traffic, they 
employed a negro, called ** Ned," belonging to 


Mr. Davis, of that town, to whom they gave 
certain sums of money for each slave he could 
induce to go on board. His plan was, wheo 
they were once on board, to give them plenty to 
eat and drink ; after which they fell asleep, and 
in all probability did not awake till the follow- 
ing morning; at which time, to their great sur- 
prise, " Ned" was gone, and they themselves 
were far out at sea. Such persons were never 
taken on board until the evening of the day on 
which the vessel was cleared out from the cus- 
tom-house, and consequently they set sail the 
same night for Cuba. This traffic continued 
for several years, and slaves in every quarter of 
the district were missing, the owners of whom 
supposed them to have fled to the woods as run- 
aways. At length, however, Ned succeeded in 
inducing the servant, or butler, of Mr. Perry, 
the custos of the parish, to go and sup with him 
on board the "Blackbird," for whom he had 
reserved the same fate as the rest. This young: 


man, by his activity and pleasing manners, soon 
rose in the esteem of his new Spanish masters, 
and as a natural result was allowed much more 
liberty than that which was granted to his 
fellow-slaves. Of this liberty he availed himself; 
and, though at imminent risk, seized upon a 
canoe, and, taking a few bottles of water with 
him, set out one night for Jamaica. He was 
taken up at sea, and conveyed in safety to his 
former master, to whom he explained the nature 
of his capture ; and at the same time informed 
him that he had seen many others upon the 
island, who were supposed to be run-aways, but 
who had been captured in a similar manner. A 
slave court was ordered, and the evidence being 
of the most convincing nature, poor '• Ned*' was 
found guilty, and sentenced to be hung before 
the Messrs. Manderson and Co/s door, whilst 
the promoters of this odious traffic escaped oa 
the ground of the inadmissibility of slave evi- 
deQ<ce against the whites. Many of the poor 


people, who were thus robbed of their slaves »• 
were compelled to sell their little properties, 
and run into debt ; whilst some of them, to the 
no small mortification of their feelings, had to 
return to a state of dependence upon their slave- 
relations. Such was the robbery committed 
upon the poor by men of affluence and of sup- 
posed respectability ; but by men upon whose- 
heads the blighting curse of the defenceless and. 
the orphan will continue to rest. 

Estate Attorneys 

Absentee proprietors consign the management 
of their estates to agents, who are here called 
attorneys. Some of these persons represent the 
interests of twenty or thirty estates, and conse- 
quently have great influence in the island. 
Some years ago, it was the practice of young 
attorneys to endeavour to rival each other im 


the production of large sugar crops ; by wbicfa 
some of them subsequently distiuguished them- 
selves as planters of the first class. For the 
immediate promotion of that object, these attor- 
neys employed overseers, remarkable for their 
blood-thirsty cruelty. S'uch overseers, though 
divested of the feelings of humanity, were deno- 
minated able planters. Their plan was this : — 
an arrangement was entered into between the 
overseer and the attorney, as to the number of 
hogsheads of sugar which would be required ; a 
good salary with every thing necessary to aid 
in the prosecution of his object, was promised : 
the overseer, therefore, regardless of every ob- 
stacle, determines to allow nothing to interfere 
with his interests. His failure to produce the 
requisite supply, after such an arrangement 
with the attorney, would end, not only in his 
being discharged, but in his being reported 
throughout the island as unfit to command.— 
With such motives operating upon the mind of 


a man, by do means alive to the tender sensi- 
bilities of our common nature, it is easy to per- 
ceive, that, where his interests were immediately 
concerned, neither treachery, bribery, nor any 
species of villany, would be left unemployed. 
From his book-keepers, his head labourers, and 
his domestics, he would at all times hear such 
stories, whether true or false, as would furnish 
him with a pretext, either to discharge or to 
torture, as the case may be, such persons as 
were under his command. The consequence 
was, that one book-keeper was watching ano- 
ther; the head people and domestics were view- 
ing each other with an eye of jealousy ; and all, 
by the meanest and most despicable stratagems, 
were endeavouring to ingratiate themselves in 
the esteem of the overseer. No one was secure 
from misrepresentation. From the highest to 
the lowest every one was equally exposed. Du- 
ring the time of making these forced crops, the 
labourers were driven with the cart-whip from 


iDoroing till night ; cartmeD, mulemen, and 
watchmeD were employed with the least possible 
intervals for rest ; and even grass-cutters, from 
seventy years old and upwards, w^re exposed 
to the same barbarous atrocities. This may be 
taken as a true picture of every estate on the 
island, where a forced crop was attempted. 

I should here remark, that, for the moat part, 
the estates upon which forced crops were at- 
tempted, were such as have been previously 
greatly neglected, or s uch as embrace a large 
quantity of virgin land, which at all times is 
exceedingly productive. Such estatea, under 
an effective gang of labourers, will continue to 
yield these crops for eight or ten successive 
years ; after which period they begin to show 
symptoms of complete exhaustioB. The pro- 
prietor, perhaps, has at this time some heavy 
engagement to meet with his banker, or others; 
and calculating, upon his returns of sugar being 


equal to those of the preceding years, his ar- 
rangementa for meeting these demands are made 
accordingly. He writes to his attorney, stating 
the presdng nature of his engagements, and 
hoping that, by a favourable season and a good 
crop, he shall be able to meet them. More cane 
land is now planted than the labourers are able 
to manage; the most horrid cruelties are re- 
sorted to by the overseen^, under the san-ction 
of the attorneys ; and, from the destructtoti of 
stock consequent upon this system of forcing, 
the property becomes ultimately involved. 

But let me here descend a littte more to par- 
ticulars. On every estate in the island of Ja- 
maica> where large crops area* object, all other 
improvements are entirely neglected. No atten- 
tioH is paid to fences, to the clearing of pasture 
lands, or to the repairs of the buildings. Large 
cane fields are planted without manure ; weeds 
are seen luxuriating in the midst of the canes. 


as they grow up, and all classes, old and young, 
are out at work, under the scourge of the lash, 
from four in the morning until dark at night. 
The overseer, perhaps, expecting about this 
time a visit from the attorney, rides round the 
estate, and observing the dirty state of the 
^^^p^»s takes summary vengeance upon the la- 
bourers. To complain under such circum- 
stances would only be to ensure an increase 
of punishment. They therefore tamely submit 
never daring so much as to offer a single remon- 

But this is not all ; the disastrous effects of 
this system of management present themselves 
to the eye in whatever direction it is turned. 
For, in the first place, under this system of 
management, the whole of the buildings in the 
space of eight or ten years, either require 
general repair^ or what is more frequently the 
case, to be entirely rebuilt. Secondly, the cant 


land in every direction is completely worn out. 
Thirdly, the trace of a fence is not to be seen on 
the estate. And fourthly, the roads are impas^^ 
sable; the pasture lands covered with under-* 
wood; the cattle pens inadequately supplied 
with fodder ; and the labourers' grounds almost 
entirely neglected, from their being unable, 
after the toil and barbarity to which they have 
been subjected by their task^masters for six 
days out of the seven, to cultivate them. The 
absentee by this time begins to discover, from 
tbc^ decrease of crops, and from the death of 
labourers and of stock, that his property is fast 
hastening to ruin. The attorney is then dis- 
charged, and his successor in all probability at 
once discharges the overseer. An accurate 
account of the condition of every thing belong- 
ing to the estate is then taken ; and the pro- 
prietor discovers, when it is too late, that his 
property, which ten years ^ago would have 



parish at the time ; and have frequently heard, 
both from the black and white people under his 
control, that merely a word from his lips would 
strike terror into their very hearts. By an 
unsparing use of the lash, he succeeded in 
making forced crops ; and as a reward for his 
merit, he was appointed to the attorneyship of 
Arcadia estate, on which he lived. At this 
time he purchased a gang of negroes for him- 
self, among whom was a violent and ferocious 
Ebo, whom he afterwards converted into his 
driver. This monster in human shape never 
carried a whip, but a bludgeon ; and with this 
fwhen aroused by a deficiency of work, or even 
/by a slighter cause, he would not hesitate to 
^spatter the brains of the wretched victims, on 
'the ground. Two or three cases of this kind, 
/perhaps, would occur in the course of the year, 
^ without the slightest legal enquiry as to the cause 
/of these poor people's death. All this, it must 
be understood, was done under the sanction 


of Mr. Miller, who on one occasion, as is said,> 
put a negro man into a puncheon with old nails,^ 
and then gave orders to ha?e him rolled down a\ 
steep hill into a sink-hole at the bottom, which < 
was the common receptacle for the bodies of all s 
such as were murdered upon that estate. ^ 

In spite of these atrocious barbarities, or 
rather as the result of them, Mr. Miller after- 
wards became the most extensive attorney on 
the island. His recommendation would place 
any man in any capacity he might wish ; whilst 
on the other hand, his wrath would entail de- 
struction upon any one who should happen to 
be the unfortunate victim of it. On all proper- 
ties that were under his control, he exercised 
his ferocious barbarity, by forcing large crops, 
which reduced the estate's capital by the death 
of negroes and stock: — consequently the estates 
fell into the grasp of a mortgagee. When the 
merchant who supplied the estate was the prin- 


cipal creditor of the absent proprietor, and who 
hoped shortly to come into possession of the 
estate, either by transfer or purchase, therefore 
the cultiyation of cane on all such estates was 
entirely neglected, until they fell into the pos- 
session of the merchant; after which period the 
faithful agent would double his crops. By this, 
and siihilar plans, the interest of th^ absent 
proprietor was invariably sacrificed to the mer- 
chant's interest, as the agency of the estates 
was generally obtained through merchants.—- 
While thus preparing an estate for the hammer, 
both the attorney and overseer seldom fail in 
making a fortune, Mr. Miller's favourite over- 
seers made large fortunes :-*^he himself amassed 
a princely one before be left for England, in 

William Miller, jun., the natural son of the 
above Mr* Miller, is now an attorney in Jamaica, 
and is remarkable for his ferocious disposition. 


In 1833, a gentleman having taken up a black 
labourer belonging to Steelfield estate, of which 
Mr. Miller, jun. is attorney, and having sent 
him as a deserter to Mr. Miller's house, Mr« 
Miller walked deliberately to the door, and 
desiring the man who was in charge of the hos- 
pital to bring four people and his whip, he first 
turned to the poor runaway, and said, " 1 will 

now suck your blood, you ;*' and then 

turning his attention to the four men who had 
been brought from the hospital, he had him laid 
down and flogged before bis eyes to such a de- 
gree, that he was carried to the hospital, where 
he shortly afterwards died. This person is now 
an extensive attorney :— how far he deserves to 
be trusted with such an office, I leave my 
readers to judge. 

Mr. James M'Donald, who also lived in the 
parish of Trelawney, was, next to Mr. William 
Miller, sen., the most extensive attorney on the 


island. The estates of which he Was attorney 
he seldom visited more than once a year, and 
that was usnally at the time of serving out clotb 
to the labourers. Three-fourths of the estates 
committed to his charge were involved in ruin. 
Unwilling to allow his overseers sufficient cattle 
to produce the requisite supply of manure, the 
cane land of course grew worse and worse; and 
in order to keep up the crops, a large number of 
acres were planted, from which, however, the 
returns would be scarcely more than adequate 
to the expence of cultivation ; from land, espe- 
cially in a tropical climate, requiring more than 
double the amount of labour to produce even 
less than an average crop. This extra labour 
was not only attended with increased cruelty, 
but with a fearful decrease in the amount of 
labourers and stock. The cause of this de- 
crease, however, was artfully concealed from 
the proprietors by fictitious entrances in the 
estate books. But in this plan of procedure 


Mr. McDonald was not peculiar. IVIost of the 
overseers in the neighbourhood of the estates 
under his management causing the blood of the 
labourers to flow in the cane-fields to such an 
extent, that hundreds of the unfortunate suf- 
ferers, horror-struck at the craclcing sound of 
the whip in the morning, would rush to the 
woods, and there remain till they perished. 

Mr. M'Keoy was joint attorney with Mr. 
M'Donald for several properties in the parishes 
of St. Mary and Trelawney. He, like most 
of the other attorneys, had risen from the rank 
of book-keeper, from having distinguished him- 
self as a man of an unfeeling and tyrannical 
disposition. Having left St. Mary's to take 
charge of York and 6ale*s Valley estates, the 
property of Mr. Morrant Gale, he practised the 
most horrid species of discipline among his 
labourers. In the course of a single week, he 
would adopt three or four distinct modes of 


punishmeDt; soEpetimes laying them on aUdder; 
at other tioies lushing them to fout p^s fasteped 
on the ground; and at others extending the 
arms and legs between two cart-wheels, so that 
they might not be able to resist the force of the 
lash. The daughters and wives of the labourers 
were obliged to submit to his brutal and lustful 
caprice; after which, perhaps, in a moment of 
jealousy, he would strife, upon the slightest 
deficiency in estate labour, to render them the 
objects of torture which baffles description. So 
great was his cruelty on York estate, that he 
not only pearly annihilated the estate labourers, 
but he may be regarded as a principal insti- 
gator of the disturbances which preceded mar- 
tial law in 1833; — from bis having driven so 
many labourers into the woods, who, famished 
with hunger and maddened with revenge, rushed 
forth from their hiding place, and applied the 
ioceudiary torch to the properties of their hated 
and detestable oppressors, Mr. M'Keoy was 


called by the plaoters, or white |jeopl<9, Meagre 
Fury^ a cognomen ' which he richly merited. 
The estate is a fine one, and possesses in itself 
all the elements of improtrenient, but is one of 
the worst managed estates in Jamaica. 

It would be fitearcely credible, except to those 
who haTe been eye* witnesses of the fact, that 
the appoiatfnent of book-^keepers of such san- 
guinary dispositions, and unparalleled tyranny, 
to higher official situations, should hare been so 
uniform ; nor can it be accounted for upon any 
other principle, than that of the ignorance of 
the proprietors, and the base dtssimulation of the 
men themselves. Were the proprietors ac- 
quainted with the true character of their attor- 
neys, I am persuaded that three-fourths of them 
would never have obtained their appointments ; 
and without the grossest iBattery and dissimu* 
lation on the part of these attorneys, I am 
equally persuaded that those appointments 


would long since have been annulled. I never 
knew or beard of a tyrant wbo was a good 
planter ; nor do I believe that there is one such 
in Jamaica at the present moment. In general, 
they have no knowledge of farming, an essential 
pre-requisite to the management of the soil, and 
of the general labour on the estate. A few men 
versed in the science of farming may be found ; 
but they, for the most part, are entirely disre- 
garded or unknown. I am, therefore, decidedly 
of opinion, that there can be no prosperity to 
the country, so long as the present race of 
planters are entrusted with the sole manage- 
ment of the estates. 

It is needless here to say much of Mr. John 
Blair, as he has been already described in a for- 
mer page :— suffice it to say, therefore, that he 
received all his attorneyships on the ground of 
his merciless employment of the cart-whip. 


Mr. Bridge and Mr. William Carey are two 
gentlemen of the old school planters, and are 
now attorneys for York and Gale's Valley 
estates. They are at this time making about 
ninety hogsheads of sugar on an estate which is 
at present capable of producing oue hundred 
and forty; and besides, by a different manage- 
ment) the above estate might be made worth 
from ten to fifteen per cent more, to the present 

Mr. John Haughton James is attorney for 
several estates in the parishes of Trelawney, 
St. James, and Hanover. Wakefield estate, Tre- 
lawney, is under his control. I visited that 
property in 1837, accompanied by a neighbour- 
ing overseer, to whom I can refer for the accu- 
racy of the following statement. The overseer 
of that property was a young man who had no 
knowledge whatever of planting. As a proof 
of this, he had determined at once to cut down 


the cane, aod set ou the mill to work ; but had 
not a single cart on the estate, to convey the 
cane from the field* In reply to some of our 
observations, he told lis that he hoped to borrow 
carts from some of the neighbouring estates i 
but, as every one at all acquainted wjitb plant- 
ing must know; the risk to the crop iq suoh a 
case would be immense :— 4ts remaining but one 
day beyond its proper time in the field, would 
render it totally unfit for sugar. It must^ there- 
fore, having been ground at the mill, be sent to 
the stilUhouse to make rum, at great loas to the 
proprietor. On this property there was a change 
of overseer every second or third month. The 
overseer's house was entirely uninhabitable ; — 
the mill-house, the boiling-house, the stilUhouse 
and the trash-shed, were in a state of cpmplete 
dilapidation ; and the woods, walls* fen<;e8, and 
pasture grounds, on every part of the esti^te, 
were most shamefully neglected. At the wme 
time, supposing all these things to have been 


kept Id repair , the crop did not exceed more 
than one-third of what might annually have 
been expected. Such are the lamentable conse- 
quences of absentee proprietors entrusting the 
management of their estates to unskilful and 
uninterested persoM. 

Mr. William Cary is an eminent attorney in 
the parish of Trelawney ; one upon whom the 
proprietors rely for straightforward and honor- 
able actions. I will make a few remarks on the 
moral conduct of this praise-worthy gentleman, 
and leave the reader to decide for himself on the 
character of men in authority and in good report 
in Jamaica. Mr. Cary is attorney for Spring 
Vale Pen, the property of Messrs. Aloes, Steele, 
and Harrison. On this estate there was a very 
fine effective jobbing gang : — Mr. Cary ordered 
them to go and clear pastures on New Canaan 
estate, a property of Lord St. Vincent's, on 
which he was also attorney. They consisted of 


35 io number, and worked at the rate of 2s* 6d. 
per day, at that time the established price for 
day labour od light work. After being thus 
employed for a short period, Mr. Gary ordered 
them to digging cane-holes on the same estate, 
giving them still no more than 2$. 6d. per day 
each labourer. It must be understood, that the 
digging of land into cane-holes, is the most 
severe labour that belongs to a sugar estate, 
and is consequently twice as expensive as any 
other labour. 

In this way, Mr. Gary was sacrificing the 
interests of Messrs. Aloes, Steele and Harris, to 
the extent of £4 12^. 6d. per day, for the benefit 
of Lord St. Vincent ; for the laying grounds 
into cane-holes in Trelawney, at that time, 
would have cost, by any other undertaker, £9. 
per acre instead of £4 7s. 6d. This labour was 
performed on Gongowill-piece, in the middle of 
October, 1835. I will farther remark, that 


Mr. Gary, at one period, had a stud of horse 
stock oo the Guinea-grass pastures of Spring 
Vale Pen ; and with this I think he might have 
been content, without taking from that property 
thirty -five labourers, to work at 2*. 6c/. per day 
in digging cane-holes, while such labourers 
could earn from 5s. to 6s. per day for their 
master, and something for themselves besides, 
on task work, according to custom. 

The charge against Mr. Gary, therefore, on 
this occasion, is not merely that of robbing his 
master, but also that of acting cruelly and op- 
pressively to the labourers. 

T have been eye-witness to the proceedings 
of the same gangs from Spring Vale Pens, in 
digging cane-holes on York estate, while I was 
employed as head book-keeper in lining out the 
ground for the gang. The work done on this 
property was done in the most shameful man- 


ner, and most destructive to the interests of 
the proprietor, Mr. Morant Gale. Several 
of the cane-holes were only from 2^ to 4 inches 
deep, instead of from 6 to 8. The estates la- 
bourers were obliged to re-dig the cane-holes 
before planting. The highest amount for labour 
was at the same time paid. This was on Gut- 
ter-piece, in November, 1835. 

With regard to chicanery, I will state no 
more at present ; but I must beg to trespass a 
little more on the time of the reader, while I 
relate what even some planters considered a 
little cruel. — Mr. Gary was overseer on Guara- 
deau estate, some years ago ; and here first dis- 
tinguished himself as a planter, by the adoption 
of the following plan. 

There are labourers now alive, who well re- 
> member the day when their 'flesh was worn on 
/ the grinding-stone of that estate, by Mr. Wil- 


Itam Gary's orders, in precisely the same man- > 
ner that a piece of iron or steel would be grounds 
by any of the labourers. He was, last year, 
appointed attorney for this estate ; and I trust 
he will not again adopt the plan of grinding 
human flesh. 

I have to apologize to the reader for relating 
so many unnatural and cold-blooded crimes, 
which, in the recital, makes my own blood run 
cold. I have been impelled to it by the general 
conduct of the planters, who have ever shown v 
a determination to crush to the earth every one v 
but those who were professionally, heartless ^ 

Mr. William Tharp is an extensive attorney 

for several estates, seven of which are situated 

in Trelawney, adjoining each other. The annual 

return of the whole crops would not exceed 

what could be obtained from one of the estates 



by a careful mode of cultivation : as an instance 
of this let the reader observe the following:— 

There were twenty-five acres of land dug into 
cane holes on Covey estate, and planted with 
cane which received the benefit of good seasons; 
when this piece was cut and manufactured 
into sugar, it only made two hogsheads and a 
half, whereas, if properly cultivated,, dug and 
planted, with cane, and afterwards received 
equal benefit of seasons — it would have made 
at least from fifty to seventy hogsheads, instead 
of two and a-half. Mr. Tharp keeps a mistress 
on every property for which he is concern- 
ed, under whose influence both overseer, 
and book-keepers are constantly liable to be 
discharged. The estates under his direction are 
fast falling into ruin ; while he, Mr. Tharp, 
is annually amassing 'a princely fortune — he 
keeps a butchery of his own, and supplies the 
different properties he has charge of, with 


abundance of firesh beef. I quote this merely as 
a hint to the absent proprietors, for this mode 
of disposing of fresh beef, is general amongst 
attornies; to suit their own interests, at the 
expense of the absentee proprietors. 

St. Thomas-in-the-Vale. 

Mr. George William Hamilton, formerly a 
book-keeper, but who afterwards became the 
agent of several estates in the above parish, was 
a man of liberal education and gentlemanly de- 
meanour ; forming, in this respect, a complete 
contrast to his brother attorneys. He had great 
interest at home, and owed his elevation to that 
single circumstance. I have no wish to im- 
peach him personally of cruelty ; but I cannot 
acquit him of conniving at the shocking bar- 
barities which were practised on the estates. 


His plan was, to look to the overseers for good 
crops; at the same time empowering them to 
alct in whiEit way they pleased: — so that the 
oyerseers produced a good sugar crop, they 
were left to act, in all other respects, as they 
thought proper. The complaints of the labour- 
ers, upon these estates^ against the overseers, 
was a mere farce: — no redress was ever ob- 
tained. So far from this, the labourer, who 
should be so unfortunate as to dare to prefer a 
complaint, would at once be a marked man, 
and would speedily be arraigned and punished 
for crimes of which he was as dear as the riven 
snow. Mr. Hamilton's overseers were gene- 
rally the worst planters I ever knew; and, from 
the advantage they took of that gentleman's 
non-interference with the practical manage- 
ment of the estates, they succeeded in bringing 
no less than ten in that one parish to entire 
destruction. Some of these estates 1 have kuowp 
to pass through several bauds in a very short 


time ; and even to this day there are no divisions 
between cane-fields and pasture land, and the 
provision grounds are all lying in a wild state. 

Parish of St. Mary. 

Mr. Abraham Hudson, father-in law to Mr. 
Philpotts, in Fencburch -street, was one of the 
principal attorneys of the above parish ; and 
from keeping a store in connection with his 
other duties, made a princely fortune. He was 
anr^xceedingly dangerous person to deal with. 
Many of the brown people, who resided in Mr. 
Hudson's neighbourhood, and who had slaves of 
their own, from dealings at his store, which 
were far from honourable, became involved, and 
were under the necessity of making a transfer of 
their human flesh and blood to liquidate his 
claims. His name stinks in the neighbourhood; 


and for seyeral miles round will be execrated 
by the orphans upon whose property he rapa- 
ciously and unjustly seized. But conscience is 
a faithful monitor; and never was this more 
strikingly exemplified than in the case of this 
tyrant, who, under the tremendous load of a 
guilty and burdened conscience, retired to a 
wood, and applied the instrument ot destruc- 
tion to his throat — ^but, by means of his dog, was 
miraculously preserved. 

But, to leave Mr. Hudson, the attorneys id 
this parish generally empowered their overseers 
' to act in the most tyrannical manner ; so much 
so, indeed, that it was far from unusual for them 
to flog the labourers almost to death. Should 
any thing happen to go wrong on the estate, by 
which any of the overseers were to be brought 
into difficulties at a distant period, this was sure 
to be avenged upon the head people in a 
ten-fold degree. In fact, so great was the mis- 


managemeDt and tyranny, that, but for the su- 
perior soil of the parish, the estates would be 
scarcely worth their acceptance as a present. 

Mr. Laws, one of the attorneys of St. Mary's, 
had the management of several properties in 
this parish ; and as I was informed by his own 
overseers, he purchased cattle from the estates, 
for which he was concerned, at from five to six 
pounds per head, being meagre stock, and after 
a period of three months sold them back to the 
same estate at twenty -five pounds per head : butv 
as this is so general a practice in Jamaica, iU 
scarcely perhaps deserves to be noticed. > 

Parish of St. James. 

Mr. Irving, in addition to other agencies, was 
attorney on the Sutherland estate, in the parish 
of St« James. After the proclamation of martial 


law io 1833, being aware that he should lose 
the attorneyship of Sutherland, he drove the 
cattle which belonged to the estate into West- 
moreland, and other places; and, having dis- 
posed of them, he put the proceeds into his own 
pocket, and some time afterwards left the coun- 
try* The property, of course, was nearly laid 

Parish of St. Anie's. 

Mr. Hyatt, of Hyatt's-field estate, in St. 
Anne*s parish, came to Jamaica in the capacity 
of a groom ; but, having directed his attention 
to planting, and having distinguished himself 
by his chicanery and cruelty, he soon rose to 
the rank of attorney ; and, from the emoluments 
of the estates entrusted to his management, he 
succeeded, in a few years, to purchasing three 
estates of his own. He died, leaving an im- 
mense property to his natural children, and to 
many of his relations in England. 


I caDnot here forbear DoticiDg tlielDtroductiou 
of a species of fraud to the notice of my readers, 
which I do not hesitate to say is general through- 
out the island. It is the business of the attorney 
to purchase the whole stock, such as steers, and 
mules for the estates. He may at this time per- 
haps, be in want of a few well-bred horses or 
mules for his own private use. He goes to a pro- 
prietor of the pen, and selects such horses or 
mules as may suit his purpose; and then proposes 
to take a large number of horned stock, on con- 
sideration of his being allowed to take his own 
at a sum which is far below their real value. The 
pen-keeper, perhaps, to save appearances, at first 
refuses ; but it is ultimately arranged that the 
whole, horse stock and mules shall be taken at 
one price and that the horned cattle shall be 
reckoned to the estate at so much per head ; a 
sum, in all probability, exceeding their real value 
by two or three pounds a-piece. By this plan, the 
attorney always gets bargains from the pen- 


keepers; but they are bargains which are pur- 
chased at a heavy expence to the estate. The 
attorney, it is true, does not always appear as 
the principal in these kinds of negociations ; 
for, in many cases, he leaves them to the manage- 
ment of his overseers, or other confidential per- 
sons, who are less scrupulous, perhaps, as to 
the bargain they agree for. 

Let it be understood that pen-keepers, in 
Jamaica, mean graziers, who are generally 
either attorneys, or old overseers, who made 
their fortunes while in charge of properties be- 
longing to their absentee proprietors. They 
generally reside on their pens, after purchasing 
them. Many of them keep a butchery, for the 
purpose of supplying other properties who have 
no butcheries established in their employ.— 'Ar- 
rangements are made for the supplying of all 
such properties with a certain number of 
pounds of beef weekly, say from forty to sixty 


pounds, according to the number of servants on 
the estate. This arrangement is made on a very 
liberal scale, to suit the interests of both the 
parties concerned. Some of the meagre work- 
ing stock, belonging to the estates, have to be 
sold annually. The estates' attorney sells these 
to the pen-keepers at a couple of pounds under 
their intrinsic value ; after which he purchases^ 
from the same pen-keeper, cattle and mules for 
working on the estates under his charge ; and 
for these he agrees to give two or three pounds 
more than their value. By this method, the 
proprietor of the pen and butchery does well, 
from the extravagant supply of his beef. By the 
sale of his working stock at an exorbitant price, 
and the purchase of meagre stock at an inferior 
price, the pen-keeper is left in the receipt of a 
thousand pounds a year, out of the properties of 
the absentee proprietors. Immediately after 
this, the worthy estate's attorney selects for 
himself some fine bred horses and draft mules 


He takes them at the same price as what he paid 
for the common mules for the estates; and, in a 
, month or two after, he sells them for three times 
/ the amount he paid for them. By this piece of 
/ policy he makes fully five hundred a year out of 
/ the pen-keeper. Such transactions are termed 
' in Jamaica, " hand go, hand come ;" meaning, if 
' you assist me, I will assist you. 

There are other estates' attorneys who have, 
pens of their own, whereon they keep a butche- 
ry, and an overseer to superintend it, who takes 
good care to dispose of all the beef he kills, by 
sending, at different times, to the estates under 
the control of his employer, twice the quantity 
ol beef required, knowing that the overseers of 
the properties dare not grumble, either at the 
quantity or quality. In these supplies, I have 
frequently seen fresh beef sent to estates not 
much better thau horse-flesh. In fact, the pro- 
ceedings of tho planting attorneys are so inter- 


woven with iDtrigue and extortion, as to be 
totally destructive of the interest of the absentee 

The merchant, mechanic, master of labouring 
gangs* medical attendant, and others, are all 
ready, at a word, to assist the planting attorney 
in his plans of speculation ; — inreturn for which, 
they receive abundant compensation in various 

It is my determination to give a full descrip- 
tion of overseers Towards this purpose, I have 
first to remark, that most of the planting attor- 
neys are men who have distinguished them- 
selves by forcing labour in making large crops. 
In accomplishing this, both negroes and stock 
have been killed, and innumerable barbarities 
have been committed. 

If an overseer were to pursue any other line 


of conduct than that of the ruffianly routine of 
his violent and savage employer, he would not 
only be discharged, but destroyed in reputation ; 
and would most probably be reduced to the 
situation of a book-keeper, and be loaded with 
cruelty and oppression to his grave. No over- 
seer dare marry, or perform any act dictated by 
honour and prudence. On the heads, therefore, 
of the attorneys fall the shame of the murders 
of the slaves, the robbery and swindling com- 
mitted on the merchants and the orphans under 
their charge, and should consign them to eternal 

Mr. Charles Smith is attorney for Richmond 
estate, in the above parish. Banks, Blenham, 
and the Cranbrook estates are also under 
his control. There are not worse managed 
properties, however, in the whole island 
than those three latter estates, although there 
is as superior land belonging to those pro- 


perties abutting the road-side as is to be found 
io Jamaica. The overseer of Llandovery 
takes from that estate I'rom fifteen to twenty 
bags of pimento yearly, as his perquisites. 
From the Cranbrook estate, which adjoins Llan- 
dovery, tlie overseer, Mr. James Lowe, who is 
a relation of Mr. Smith, is allowed to take 
thirty bags : — of this I myself was witness, in 
1829. It is also generally said that Mr. Smith 
allows Mr. Barnsley, overseer of Blenham, to 
do the same ; and, in fact, that it was a practice 
he invariably pursued himself upon the Rich- 
mond estate. It is surprising how absentee 
proprietors can thus suffer themselves to be 
pilfered and robbed ; and especially by servants 
in the capacity of attorneys and overseers, 
whose salaries, together with the accommo* 
dation provided, amount to little less than one 
thousand pounds per annum. This can be ac- 
counted for in no other way, thao by the decep- 


tioD practised upon them by the letters of their 
agents. Mr. Smith is supposed, at the present 
time, to be worth twenty thousand pounds ster- 
ling, independent of landed and other property; 
and his overseers, by these and other pilfering 
habits, have suceeeded in amassing considerable 

Westmoreland Estate- 

Mr. M'Neil is attorney for several estates in 
this parish. His habits are exceedingly dis- 
graceful and profligate. He also keeps a mis- 
tress on every estate for which he is concerned, 
although he has a large full-grown family of his 
own. He is also a great admirer of the ladies 
of the overseers ; and it is an understood mat- 
ter, that the overseer who winks at his immoral 
domestic intrusions, may manage the estates ia 
any way best suited to his interests. So galling 


and painful are these habits to the minds of the 
poor labourers, many of whom have been raided 
to a high state of moral and religious feeling by 
the influence of the missionaries, that they must, 
unless discountenanced and eheclLed, prove 
highly injurious to the interests of the absentee 
proprietor. After this exposure, the folly and 
sin of countenancing such men must in a great 
measure lie at his own door« 



Id the establishment of an overseer, there 
were usually from ten to twenty servants in 
constant attendance, of whom by far the greater 
part were females, who were expected on all 
occasions to yield their persons to his wishes. 
A refusal to comply with his desires would 
be followed by theiip being sent into the 
field, to common labour, where they would 
be exposed, not only to the lash of the whip, 
but also to the improper desires of the 


driter, who generally cohabited with most of 
the females of his gang. Shonld they still de- 
termine to resist these unlawful demands upon 
their persons, the driver, under the known sanc- 
tion of the overseer, was at liberty to cut or 
lash them, br even to place them in irons, under 
the pretext of insolence or inattention to work. 
Neglect, or disobedience of orders, was the 
common excuse of the driver to the overseer,—* 
of the overseer to the attorney, — ^and of the at- 
torney to the absentee proprietor, for any pecu- 
litt acts of cruelty of which they might have 
bMA guilty. The unfortunate sufferers, there- 
fore, had none to whom they could complain. 
After their day's work in the field, they were 
compelled, perhaps, to return to the diingeon at 
night, where they remained in irons, nursing 
the wounds they had received during the day. 
In some cases this punishment was not confined 
to the resisting female herself, but was extended 
to her parents and relatives, and especially 


when they were suspected to eocaurage her to 
retaio her chastity iaviolate. 

I huTe kDowD many iostances, in which a 
cook having displeased the overseer by not 
making his coffee sufficiently palatable, has 
been compelled to drink the whole of it herself 
before his eyes, and that, too, with as much 
nauseating medicine as would have been suffi- 
cient to kill an European. 

The house servants were very much exposed 
to complaints : whenever a plate, dish, cup, or 
any other article of crockery was broken, the 
servant who had done this was at once obliged 
to replace it, or have her days stopped, until the 
price of it was paid up. Some parents, who had 
children in the house, would meet so frequently 
with accidents of this kind, that they would be 
deprived of their days for three months; during 
the whole of which time, from an inability to 


attend their prdvision-grounds, they were either 
literally starving, or were dependent upon their 
black relations for support. Many of the over- 
seers were satisfied with thus stopping their 
days until the amount was paid; but there were 
others who flogged them first, and compelled 
them to pay afterwards. 

When any one of them had killed a hog, a 
sheep, or other small stock, it was customary 
for the overseers to dine together ; and on such 
occasions they would leave for their book- 
keepers, food that was scarcely fit for a dog. 
Some of them, too, would carry the key of the 
liquor case ; thus leaving them without the 
means of obtaining their customary beverage, 
At night, perhaps, they would return home in a 
state of beastly intoxication. All the head 
people are at the door, waiting for his orders, 
on some occasions, perhaps, till two or three 
o'clock in the morning. Some of them, 


in such a state, perhaps, may give their orders 
and retire to rest ; but others, would enquire 
whether any thing has gone wrong through 
the day; and, before they retire, would have 
some of the domestics put in irons for the 
most trifling offences. Sometimes, in this state 
of inebriation, they discharge their book-keep- 
ers, and commit various other disgraceful acts, 
of which they have no recollection on the fol-* 
lowing morning. At other times, two or three 
of them coming in company together, the resi-^ 
dent overseer calls for egg-punch, and directs 
the young females upon the estate at once to be 
assembled together, for the purpose of a dance^ 
Debauchery of the most horrid kind succeeds, 
not only on the part of the overseer himself, but 
also on the part of his guests ; and in many 
<rases, on the part of the book-keepers, who are 
called in to assist in the joviality of the evening, 
^uch meetings were oftentimes kept up till four 
o'clock in the morning; at which time the 


slaves and book-keepers should at once depart 
for their work : and in case any soch females as 
were at the dance on the previous evening 
should be late at their field-work, they would 
have to pay the dreadful penalty, by a sacrifice 
of their flesh and blood. Many young females 
have been known to lose their lives by these 
evening sports ; while to others they have been 
the precursors of diseases which have embittered 
the whol0 of their remaining days. 

The overseers in Jamaica generally kept one 
particular mistress, called by themselves *' house- 
keepers," but by the labourers their *' wives/t 
Such women^ in many instances, were the in- 
struments of much of the cruelty and robbery 
which was practised on the estate. Under the 
management of such a person, and especially 
when any real or supposed umbrage has been 
given, Ae table appointments are so bad, and in 
some cases so scanty, that the book-keepers 


and other white servants in the house, are 
obliged to order from their merchant, with 
whom they have always an account, little ne- 
cessaries for themselves. The herrings that are 
sent for the use of the labourers are frequently 
wasted, in the overseer's house, at the rate of 
a dozen or twenty per day s besides which, du- 
ring crop«*time, they are given to meagre stock. 
For every trifling thing that was stolen, and for 
even the slightest act which occasioned the dis- 
pleasure of the overseer, the herrings were 
generally stopped; so that the labourers are 
supposed, by the proprietors at home, to have 
had twice the quantity of provisions they ever 

The same plan was pursued, in reference to 
the serving of cloth. Eight or ten yards would, 
to all appearance, be measured with great ex- 
actness on the floor; but when the labourers 
came to carry home their allowance, it was 


found to ha?e been cut considerably short. All 
the pieces of extra cloth were carefully laid up 
by the overseer's mistress, and, of ceHrse, well 
appropriated to her own use. The blankets 
which were sent out for the mothers of children 
were sometimes converted into saddle-cloths ; 
but more frequently, in crop time, they were 
used as bags, through which the cane liquor 
was strained, from the syphon to the grand cop- 
per. A few, indeed many, have been given to 
some of the overseer's friends; but by far 
the greater number were appropriated to the 
purposes we have mentioned, or, through wan- 
ton negligence, were suffered to remain in the 
stores, until they were destroyed by the moths, 
which soon takes place in a tropical climate. 

In 1836 I saw with my own eyes blankets 
thrown away, upon the York estate, in 
Trelawney ; and, from residing at that time 
upon the estate, I have reason to know, that 


the long ells, which should have been served 
out that year, remained in the stores in 1837; 
and, contrary to the expectations of the pro- 
prietors, were not even then served out. 

It is impossible for any book-keeper, driver, 
pen-keeper, over-looker, head-herdsman, or 
domestic, to live with an overseer, with any 
degree of comfort to himself, except he be ready, 
on all occasions, to confirm, either by word or 
oath> whatever the overseer may wish, whether 
it be right or wrong. This subjugation to the 
authority, and concurrence in the feelings and 
wishes of the overseers, was found to be neces- 
sary, as a cloak to the illicit practices to which 
he sometimes resorted. 

Most of the overseers were in the habit of 
selling corn> and sometimes small stock, belong- 
ing to the estate, under the pretence of pro- 
viding necessaries for the house; when, in 


reality, it was ooly to supply either himself or 
his concubioe with articles of dress. Id cod* 
sideratiou of shoes^ stockiogs* or other articles 
of wearing apparel, it was by do meaDs luiusiial 
to forward to the merchant a puncheon of corn, 
which of course was so mncb value deducted 
from the proprietor's estate* I wish now (o be 
understood as speaking of overseerv who were 
the particular friends of the attorneys, in whose 
bands, perhaps, they had lodged money to aeon* 
sideraUe amount. Such persons could do as 
tliey wished with the entate. An a proof of tbif, 
I knew an overseer, nained Melburn, who had 
the management of a pen in St. Dorothy's, called 
Thetford to have no less thaa twenty weight head 
of his own horse-stock upon the pasture-land at 
a time. One of these horses, thus fed at the ex- 
pence of the proprietor, I myself purchased 
from him. 

It is usual with an overseer to be up mbA 


out by four o'clock in the morning, to see that 
the book-keepers and labourers are all at their 
posts in time. He would first gallop to the 
cattle pens, and then to the gang, where the list 
of names was at once called over :--h30 far the 
early hours and diligent attendance of the over* 
seers are commendable. It is not with these, but 
with the scenes of cruelty that follow* against 
which I wage war. The list is called over ; and 
two or three of the labourers are at the time, at 
a distance of no more than two or three yards 
from their work. No intreaties ran save them. 
The driver receives his orders, and the poor 
wretch is stretched upon the ground, and has 
his flesh torn and mangltfd by the merciless 
whip. It is at the peril of the driver that he 
attempt to spare the unfortunate victim :— this 
would be to subject himself to the punishment 
he should have inflicted on the rest. I have 
seen the big tear roll down the cheek of a pow- 
erful and athletic man, at the prospect of this 


puuisbmeDt; and I have seen him afterwards 
writbiug in agony upon the ground, from the 
intensity of his sufferings, occasioned by his 
old wounds (which had not had time to heal) 
being opened afresh. And where a young man 
or a young woman were remarkable for the 
cleanliness of their persons, I have seen the most 
miry and filthy spot selected, as that upon which 
it was most fit to inflict this sanguinary punish- 
ment. Many of them, from the effects of these 
wounds, wereunder the necessity of being im- 
mediately conveyed to the hospital. 

No European, who has not visited that coun- 
try, can form an idea of what a Jamaica hospi- 
tal really is. All persons in the hospital afflicted 
with ulcers, up to the time of the apprentice- 
ship act, were flogged every Monday morning 
until the ulcers got better, and the patient was 
enabled to leave. The reason assigned for this 
was, lest they should neglect the use of the 


remedies prescribed, and speod the time in the 
hospital which they should employ in the field. 
Mauy sach persons, therefore, dreading the 
weeklypuuishmeot, concealed their wounds; in 
consequence of which, inflammation increased 
to such an extent, that they were at last obliged 
to submit to the amputation of the diseased 
limb: — this, of course, was a loss to the proper- 
ty, and certain ruin to the labourer himself: dis- 
cipline of this kind was customary on every 
estate ; so much so, that 1 defy any planter to 
deny it : — it was called planter*s medicine. 

When a few able-bodied slaves, as would 
sometimes be the case, visited the hospital, in 
the hope of getting some simple medicine, such 
as a dose of salts, I have known them to gjet 
from forty to fifty grains of jalap, in a tumbler 
of water, by which their indisposition would be 
rather aggravated than diminished ! and I have 
heard it stated, again and again, as a reason for 



this conduct, that it was done with the design 
of rendering the slaves disgusted with the hos» 
pital. This wanton cruelty has, however, at 
times been carried too far; for, in some in- 
stances, it has terminated in death. 

It was customary to brand, with a hot iron, 
or with a silver mark, the different slaves who 
were peculiarly obnoxious to the overseer. To 
witness such a sight would make one's flesh 
crawl upon one's bones ; and yet they were far 
from unfrequent. 

To say what time was allowed to the labour- 
ers for rest, during the gathering of the crop, 
is scarcely possible. They were on spell from 
twelve o'clock in the day until twelve o'clock at 
night ; after which they were permitted to go 
to their houses; but» however great the dis- 
tance, they must be at their work again by day- 
break in the morning. There were no other 


hours of rest, except at the risk of the severest 
punishmeDt. Many of the book-keepers in crop 
time, from want of rest, grew sick and died ; 
being subject to the visits of the overseer at all 
hours of the night, endeavouring to catch 
some of them asleep. 

It was the constant practice of the overseer, 
not only in crop time, but the virhole year 
round, to keep his book-keepers at work on the 
Sabbath ; whilst he himself was spending those 
hours in card-playing, drunken carousals, and 
debauchery. This was the general practice 
throughout the island, up to the time of the 
arrival of the missionaries ; after which, it was 
in some measure abated. 

I shall now give a few cases, illustrative of 
the cruelties and knavery of the overseers, 
which are the result of several years' obser- 


Parish of St. Ann's. 

The overseer of Bank's estate, in the parish 
of St. Ann's, was a Mr. M'Kenzie. Mr. 
Currie was at the time his book-keeper, and was 
present when Mr. M'Kenzie was going to sup- 
per ; at which, after sitting down, a fork having 
fallen to the ground, he seized hold of the boy 
who was in attendance, and whose name was 
Wellington, and by striking him against the leaf 
of the table, disfigured his mouth and destroyed 
his teeth. 

Mr. Phillips, in the year 1830, was overseer 
of the Llandovery estate, in the above parish. 
In crop-time he was in the habit of visiting the 
gang in the fields in the afternoons, carrying 
with him a large stick, with which he would 
beat the labourers from right to left with his 


own hand. He would then return to the mill- 
house, where he would force the feeding of the 
mill, until all the coppers in the boiling-house 
would be flowing over. This would expose the 
boilers and stokers to the severity of his dis- 
pleasure : but, to avoid this, they contrived to 
open the syphons, and to convey the superfluous 
liquor into the still-house; by which means 
they managed to keep the vessels in the boiling, 
house empty, but at an extraordinary loss to 
the estate. Mr. Charles Moulton was his book- 
keeper at the time ; and has empowered me to 
say, that he is willing to attest the above upon 

Mr. Donald Cameron was overseer and attor-* 
ney for Cave Valley estate, in the above parish. 
Isaac Higgins was his co-attorney* In order 
to force the work upon this estate, Cameron, on 
visiting the gang, would stand behind one of 
the strongest of the labourers, and urge him 


forward, to the utmost degree of his ability, for 
two, or perhaps three or four hours. Of course 
the rest of the gang, in dread of the lash, would 
strain every nerve to keep up with the labourer 
who was thus urged forward by the overseer. 
Mr. Cameron would then step the ground, and, 
on having taken his land^marks, would leave the 
driver in charge of the men, pointing out to 
him the extent of work they had done under his 
own surveillance, and telling him that he should 
expect the same proportion throughout the day, 
or, perhaps, throughout the whole week. It 
was at the driver's peril to suffer them to flag. 
The clothes were cut off the poor labourers' 
backs, and the whip was used whilst one re- 
mained in the field to be whipped : — many, who 
were unable to keep up with the rest of the 
gang, although severely flogged, were after- 
wards compelled to remain, and finish their 
work. By this method of forcing work, Cameron 
secured for himself the name of an able planter ; 


and eventually succeeded inobtaining the attor- 
neyships of four or five properties. 

There was another overseer, also, whose name 
I do not remember ; but he is now in the employ 
of George Gordon, esq., in the parish of Han- 
over, and Mr. England jun. was his book-keeper 
in January 1838. Some years ago, this over- 
seer seized hold of a fine negro in the boiling- 
house, and threw him into a cooler of hot sugar; 
immediately after it had been taken from the 
fire, and when, consequently, its heat was equal 
to that of boiling lead. Of this atrocious mur-^ 
der no notice was taken by the authorities; and,« 
as an index to the state of public feelfng, it is \ 
sufficient to remark, that the man, upon whose >^ 
head the blood of the murdered negro rests, now ^ 
ranks amongst the most respectable planters on \ 
the island. 


Parish of St. Mary's. 

On one of the estates of Mr. Nathaniel Baylie, 
near Port Marie, there was an overseer in the 
employ of Mr. Henry Cox, whose name was 
Parrel. This man, having taken some nmbrage 
at one of the negroes upon the estate, he first 
punished him, and afterwards clapped him into 
irons. He then tied his great toes together, 
and twisted the cord tight with a small stick. 
He then pinioned him ; and, having fastened his 
thumbs in a similar manner, he left him in this 
position during the whole night. When the 
book-keeper went to release him from the stocks 
in the morning, he found that the poor man was 
deprived of the use of his limbs; and so he con- 
tinued for the remainder of his life* Mr. Cowan, 
my informant, resided on the estate at the time 
this melancholy occurrence took place. 


In 1818, Mr. Nicholas Gyles was overseer of 
Halifax estate, in the above parish. His dis- 
position was cruel in the extreme. No man ever 
made larger crops of sugar : but, to effect this, 
he nearly destroyed tbe whole of the estate 
labourers by his tyrannical and oppressive con- 
duct. Many of them were chained together 
while at work; and at night remained in the 
dungeon, with irons upon their necks and feet. 
Their food was either raw corn, or plantains, 
which was greedily devoured, without any kind 
of cooking. After six hours* rest, they were 
again taken out of the dungeon, and driven by 
the whip until the following night. From fif- 
teen to twenty^ them were worked by Mr. 
Oyles the whole year round, Sundays not ex- 
cepted, in the manner I have described. The 
dungeon was under ground, and had the most 
loathsome appearance. 1 have heard effective 
labourers say, that they did not think they could 
survive in it for one day. Mr. Gyles at this 


time had a savage African, who was in the 
habit of visiting the dungeon in which these 
poor creatures were lodged, and of carrying 
with him a pair of pincers, with which he pulled 
the hair from their heads. As an additional 
torture, he would sometimes employ this fearful 
instrument to flay their skin from their flesh. 
This driver was not only esteemed by Mr. Gyles 
for his cruelties, but was rewarded with innu- 
merable little indulgences. After some years, 
however, Mr* Oyles himself was discharged; 
when it was found that the estate labourers 
were not only in a state of the most wretched 
debility, but, with a very few exceptions, were 
actually without any children to supply their 
place. Such are the fearful consequences of the 
cruelty which is resorted to for the forcing of 
crops, and the necessary results is the destruction 
of the estates capital by death of the labourers 
and stock, 


Parish of St. George. 

Mr. Sprowl is now overseer of Lowlayton 
estate, in the parish of St. Oeorge, and is a man 
well known for his severity to all who are under 
his control. His neighbours who required to 
see him in the morning, were accustomed to go v 
where they heard the cracking of the whip ; — ^ 
there he was sure to be found, butchering one x 
half of his gang. Seldom were they to be seen x 
going to their work, except in a crippled state, v 
In 1829, the unfortunate labourers, from this 
continued severity, were unable to do one half 
of the work upon the estate; and as for an in- 
crease, it was not to be expected; for the women 
on all sides were to be heard expressing the 
hope, that they should have no children to be 
cut up before their eyes in so barbarous a man- 
ner. ' Mr. Sprowl is, without exception, one of 


the most cruel and short-sighted men I have 
ever knovirn. He has, however, saved a hand- 
some fortune, by laying up the whole of his 
salary, and by extensive dealings in horse-stock. 
To my own knowledge, he had £600 worth of 
his own horse-stock on the estate, and two of 
the estate negroes constantly attending them. 

Parish of Trclawney. 

Mr. Barnet was a married gentleman, and 
proprietor of the Hopewell and Manchester 
estates, then called Mark Cave Coffee Planta- 
tion. Mr. Charles Lewis, also a married man 
was his overseer ; but, from improper conduct 
with the female servants, his wife was compelled 
to leave him. 

Mr. Barnet was a simple minded and good-na- 
tured man, but entirely ignorant of the intrigues 


of tbe planters. His overseer, Lewis, had an 
acquaintance, named Cunningham, who was ex* 
ceedingly desirous of purchasing the Hopewell 
and Manchester estates. He proposed for these 
estates, but his proposal was rejected. Lewis, 
the overseer, now set his wits to work on behalf 
of his friend; and in this he was aided by Mr. 
Barnet's ignorance of plantership. Lewis plan*- 
ted cane in all the inferior land on the estates 
and he cleared the cane-fields only at the road- 
side, and by intervals. He next cut down 
wood-land, established grass-pieces, enclosed 
the cane-pieces by walls, repaired the work- 
tanks, trash-houses, and all the offices on 
estates. In fact, every thing was attended 
to, but the crop. Of course there was 
a failure there^ from this wanton neglect. 
He then represented to Mr. Barnet that the 
estate, in his opinion, would never pay for fu- 
ture labour. This opinion, to all appearance 
being confirmed by the failure of the crops for 


two or three successive years, he found no diffi- 
culty in persuading him to sell it to his fiiend» 
Mr. Cunningham, for one-tenth of its value. 
Lewis then got more cattle, and prepared 
very extensive cane-fields; by which, in the 
first year, he doubled his crop; and in the 
second, he trebled that of the first year : thus 
rendering it sixfold as productive as under the 
former proprietor; and in this state it con- 
tinued for several successive years. 

The above transaction, required the attention 
of the absent proprietor ; for at the present there 
are such schemes in general operation, as will 
not fail to bring estates to the hammer; if the 
old planters, are not immediately relieved from 
the charge of properties, now under their care: 
the intention of attornies, overseers, and trades- 
men, are to bring the properties of abs^it pro- 
prietors to ruin, in the hope, that by su<A arti- 
fice they may purchase the land for a trifle of its 


Lewis was generally understood to have 
had a guarantee from Mr. Cunningham, that, in 
the event of his getting the estate, Lewis 
should hold his present berth as long as he 
lived. His character was base in the extreme. 
The heinous nature of his crimes were sufficient 
to have drawn down the vengeance of Heaven 
upon the whole district ! He was a terror alike 
to the black and the white ; and, as a consum- 
mation of his wickedness, he kept a seraglio of 
seventeen persons, among whom were mothers, 
and their daughters, sisters, and nieces, all of the 
same family. 

Such are the revolting and heart-rending 
details of the habits and conduct of Jamaica 
overseers. It would be easy to swell them to 
an almost indefinite length ; but I forbear. 




Book*keepers were employed on estates, or 
other properties, to superintend domestic and 
field labour in all its branches. Their business 
consisted in reckoning up and making out a list 
of stock of every description for the overseer; 
in preparing and forwarding to the attorney 
adiar^ of every week's labour; and in attend- 
ing the cattle-pens, small stock, and provision - 
grounds, under the direction of the overseer. 
From preparing the lists for the attorney, the 
book-keepers were generally employed more on 
the Sunday than on any other day of the week. 


When sick, the book-keepers were left almost 
entirely unnoticed : their food tt of the most in- 
ferior kind, and their bed-chambers filthy in the 
extreme. Though visited by a medical man, 
who prescribes the needful remedy, it seldom 
happens that any thing is administered but 
doses of calomel and jalap ; after which he is 
left in his bed, without any one to assist him to 
so much as a drink of water. I speak now from 
experience. From the kind feelings of the do. 
mestics, they may sometimes go to the overseer, 
and say, ^'Busha, poo massa book-keepa— ^him 
berry sick — him quite low — nobody at-alla at- 
alla in him room — him room quite nasty-^him 
no ably to help himself. My good busha— -him 
will die — a lilly mo him die dis morning.'* To 
this the overseer replies, "Go to the hos- 
pital — send one for the doctor— and get another 
idler from there to clean out his room before 
the doctor comes. D— n the fellow— he was 
well enough a few days ago," *' My good 


basha," replies the domestic, '- we know alia 
could be dead siiice dary/'-«The doctor arrives, 
proDOUDces bis patient in a dangerous state, and 
holds out bat little hope of his recovery. For 
the first, time, the overseer begins to believe that 
he is sick, and, visiting his room, perhaps orders 
him a little chicken broth, just at the moment he 
is about to expire. The man dies. The over- 
seer then visits his room again; takes an inven* 
tory of his various articles of wearing apparel ; 
gives direction about his interment; and, in 
about a month afterwards, he disposes of all his 
effects. In making up the expences of the 
funeral, the overseer, in ninety-nine cases out 
of a hundred, takes care that they cover the 
amount of the deceased *s assets. A desire for^ 
the possession of the property of a book-keeper ^ 
bas made many a cold-blooded and assassin- x 
hearted overseer accessary to his death. ' 

If a book-keeper went to church or chapel on 



the sabbath^ay , be would be called a preacbing^ 
scamp, and migbt expect bis discbarge as the 
consequence : or if the black labourers spoke 
kindly of bim, he would be exposed to the ran- 
cour of the overseer ; and, under the character 
of a negrofied rascal, be dismissed from his em- 
ploy. The unfortunate man, under such cir- 
cumstances, rides, in all weathers, from one 
property to another, in quest of employment, 
but in vain. He then sells his horse, takes to 
drink, and becomes a confirmed sot. Thousands 
have thus been irretrievably rained ! 

I cannot here omit to mention one fact, which 
is notorious in Jamaica, but with which every 
well-disciplined mind will be shocked. To 
avoid persecution, book-keepers, following the 
example of their overseers, generally take to 
themselves mistresses: but, in extenuation of 
this moral delinquency, they sometimes urge 
the necessity of having some one to wash for 


them, to clean out their chambers and make up 
their beds, to take charge of their wearing ap- 
parely and to attend on them when sick. This« 
however, is no extenuation in the eyes of God 
or man : — ^it is a crying abomination, which, 
though chargeable in some measure to the attor- 
neys and overseers, must still lie at the door of 
the book-keeper himself. For a book-keeper to 
have married, it is true, would have secured 
his discharge; but it was for him to consider, 
whether it was better to serve God, or bow to 
the caprice of sinful man. 

The successful book-keepers were, in general, 
a class of men who had left their country with 
the determination of making a fortune in a slave 
colony at all risks. They executed with seve- 
rity all the commands they received from their 
overseer ; and, in company with the neigbour- 
ing overseers, they always took care to lavish 
praises upon their own. This was the high road 


to promotion : — cruelty and fawuing flattery 
were the two leading steps to office. A con- 
tinuance of four or five years in this coarse 
would be almost sure to bring the assistant 
under the notice of some attorney, who would 
advance him to the rank of overseer. If, in 
addition to his cruel and cringing disposition, 
he had a spice of profanity, and could take de^ 
light in a midnight debauch^ his success was the 
more certain. I can assert, without fear of 
contradiction by my fellow planters, that such 
men, and such men only, were those who ob- 
tained lucrative appointments on the island, 
except in a few cai^es, indeed, in which the in- 
terest of some wealthy merchant was employed. 




I shall here present to my readers a Irief 
account of the manner in which Jobbing Gangs 
were employed, labouring under ray own direc- 
tion and superintendence. 

In 1822, 1 was repairing the road from Bog^ 
iBklk to Spanish Town. On Monday morning 
the labourers had to carry with them the neces- 
sary implements, together with a sufficient stock 
of proTisions for the week. They belonged to 


Adam Steele, overseer of Byndloss estate, and 
proprietor of Harmony Hall. The nearest part 
of the work was ten miles from home, and the 
most, distant eighteen. They were obliged to 
be at their work on Monday morning by ten 
o'clock ; otherwise they were ordered to be 
flogged. Had I neglected to have observed this 
regulation, 1 should have been discharged as a 
worthless fellow, and should have been unable 
to get another situation on the island. Besides^ 
had the driver neglected to do his duty, he 
would have exposed himself to double punish- 

Towards the end of the week, provisions gene- 
rally became scarce, and several of them had to 
travel from the place of work to the provision- 
grounds, and there, by moon-light, to pull up 
the requisite supply of provisions ; and having 
loaded themselves, return to their work. Some- 
times this would take them the whole night, and 


occasionally more; bat if one of them should 
happen to return later than day-break, he was 
as deliberately punished, as though it had been 
occasioned by the grossest neglect. When 
cases of this kind have come under my notice, I 
have passed over them with as much secresy 
and dread, as though I myself had been guilty 
of some odious crime. 

It has often been said by planters, that one 
half-day is generally employed by the jobbing 
gangs in erecting huts to screen themselves from 
the inclemency of the weather. This I should 
scarcely have noticed, but with the view of in- 
forming my readers as to what these jobbing 
huts really are. 

Sometimes jobbing gangs have only to go to 
some neighbouring estate, at a distance of from 
three to four miles from home. In that case, on 
the first morning they would be able to arrive 


at the place of work, with their implements and 
provisions, as early as eight o'clock. They at 
once commence building their huts; which is 
done in the following manner* — Two small 
stakes, about five feet in length, are procured ; 
one end of which is sharpened to a point, and 
the other is forked. These two stakes are then 
driven into the ground, almost perpendicularly, 
at a distance of about eight feet from each 
other, and with the forked ends upwards. A 
rick-pole is then stretched from stake to stake; 
and from this, on either side, in imitation of tbe 
roof of a thatched cottage or cabin, are stretch*- 
ed, in a perpendicular slope, wattles, extending 
from the rick-pole to the ground. Long grass 
is thrown over the wattles on either side of this 
temporary erection; and one end of the hut is 
then stopped up, the other being left as a place 
of entrance. The time allowed for making this 
miserable shed was two hours and a-half ; if not 
finished then, they had to go to work, and finish it 


in their own time. Such was the wretched abode 
of these persecuted men week after week. In 
case of rain, they were unable even to stretch 
their wearied limbs upon the ground; but, not- 
withstanding this, they must be out to perform 
their accustomed task on the following day. It 
is a libel upon these poor wretches, therefore, to 
say that one-half of the day was occupied in 
making their huts; and it is a misapprehension^ 
of which we wish to disabuse the public mind, 
to suppose that tbey are capable of screening 
them from the inclemency of the weather. To 
the gang I followed, and in all the gangs I ever 
saw, it was the practice of the negroes to cover 
in and finish these miserable huts by night, and 
consequently, in their own time. And I can 
further add« that, when jobbing upon the road, 
and not upon any estate, the gang, of which I 
had charge, had no huts whatever, but lay under 
the rocks, and in other cavities : for it must be 
observed, that permission could not be obtained,. 


except in very rare iDstances, to cut grass or 
other necessaries upon the neighbouring estates. 

The sufferings of the jobbing gangs, in fact, 
were so numerous and so great, as to render 
it impossible, to attempt to exaggerate by 
any description. Women bad to carry their 
children, in addition to their implements 
and load of provisions, upwards of ten miles, 
and yet to be at their work at the appointed 
hour. If late, no excuse could be taken; thirty- 
nine lashes would at once be given ; and, if 
attended with a murmur of complaint at the 
harshness of the treatment, this was followed 
by thirty-nine more. The very appearance of 
the gang was distressing : — their tattered rags, 
— ^their pale and hungry visages, — their filth, 
wounds, and scars, — and their crippled forms, 
arising from a complication of disease, (the 
result of unparalleled oppression in the days of 
their youth) — combined with the fact, that a 


savage African, or a ferocious Ebo, was now^ 
staDdiDg at their backs, ready to flay the flesh, > 
and bespatter the gronnd with the blood of the ^ 
first who, from fatigae, should dare to place v 
himself in an erect position; — this, I say, would 
be sufficient to strike horror into the mind of 
any individual, whose feelings had not been 
blunted, and whose heart had not been rendered 
callous, by a personal participation in this 
brutal, oppressive, and most iniquitous system. 

I cannot dismiss this branch of my subject, 
however, without congratulating my readers 
upon the fact, that these jobbing gangs are at 
an end, and that all the labourers upon the 
island, whether men or women, are now jobbers 
for themselves. This is as it should be ! 



Parish of St. Ann's. 

In St. Ann's parish, in the island of Jamaica, 
there lived an old gentleman, whose name was 
Marshall, and who was proprietor of Ridge Pen 
and Coffee-walk, two properties which adjoined 
each other. In his time he was considered one 
of the most wealthy proprietors in that quarter. 
Though of a miserly disposition, his house was 
expensively and splendidly furnished. At the 
time of his death, he appointed Mr. Utton, of 
Ballyminor, his executor. Some years after- 
wards, Mr. Utton's nephew, now Mr. Todd, came 


into the country, a mere youngster, and was put 
into possession of Ridge Pen and CoflTee-walk ; 
together with the negroes, houses, and all the 
stock. All I know of this matter is, that, on the 
testimony of white, black, and brown people, 
the said Mr. Todd is now owner of these pro- 
perties, without ever paying a fraction in form 
of purchase. I myself was living, for a time, as 
overseer with Mr. Todd; and this was often 
made a matter of complaint by the deceased's 
labourers, particularly by one of Mr. Marshall's 
own domestics, who was also my servant during 
the time I was Mr. Todd*s overseer. 

Parish of Trelawney 

At Rio Bueno, in the above parish, there once 
lived a young man, who is said to have been in 
the habit of making out wills for different per- 
sons of property. Between him and Mr. Frater, 
now custos of that parish, there was an express 


uDderstaDdiDg. that, for every will he drew, ia 
which a blank space was left for the insertioo 
of Prater's name, as principal executor, the 
young man should receive a doubloon, which is 
equal to four pounds sterling of British money. 
However poor a man may have previously been, 
upon his appointment as executor to a wealthy 
individual, nothing is more common in Jamaica, 
than for him at once to become rich. Four or five 
years, at farthest, will raise him from poverty to 
affluence. The temptation to this misappropri- 
ation of trust property, was not, however, con- 
fined to the poor. When Mr. Frater, the custos 
to whom we have already referred, took charge 
of Mr. Gibs' Coffee Mountain, he found there a 
fine effective gang of labourers. The liabilities 
of that property were exceedingly small, when 
compared with the gross assets. The produce 
of two or three years would have been more 
than sufficient to clear off* every charge that 
was against it. Mr. Frater, however took from 


that, and placed upon his own estate, twenty- 
one fine effective labourers ; at the same time 
disposing annually of the produce of the pen, 
leaving the debt upon the property unnoticed, 
and exposing the young family to all the dan- 
gers and degradation of poverty. I can attest 
this upon my own personal knowledge. 

Parish of St. James. 

Some years ago, an old Irish gentleman died 
in St. James*s parish, whose name was Hill, and 
who, at the time of his death, was supposed to 
be worth forty thousand pounds. I do not now 
remember the names of his executors; but 
suffice it to say, that they took possession of the 
whole of his property, never having handed over 
a farthing to any of his surviving relations. In 
fact, I feel no hesitation in affirming, that for 


.the last sixty years, five cases of justice on the 
, part of executors have uot been known in Ja- 
/ maica. 

Of all the robberies committed in the island, 
none have ever afiected my mind more deeply 
than those which are practised upon the poor, 
young, innocent brown people who are thus 
thrown from af&uence into penury and want. 
During the life-time of the fathers, they are 
respected and flattered ; but, after his decease, 
they are neglected, or even shunned. The 
executors swallow up the whole of the pro- 
perty ;— they take all, and give none. The misery 
inflicted by these rapacious tyrants, if pro- 
perly described, would cause a heart of stone 
to bleed. But I feel myself iDCompetent to such 
a description. 

The case of the Creoles^ in almost eirery in- 


stance, is peculiarly distressing, wherever exe- 
cutors are concerned. Thence, the general, but 
not inapposite remark, so constantly employed 
by the natives, — when a man dies in Jamaica, 
HE is ruined for EVER ; — which is as though 
they said, " If a man dies worth fifty or sixty 
thousand pounds, in two or three years after his 
death, his estate will be declared insolvent by 
his executors." Cases are constantly occurring 
in the island, of the particular friends of the 
deceased, having come into possession of the 
property, appropriated the greater part of its 
proceeds to their own use, by virtue of their 
executorships, and then take the benefit of the 
act, and then leave the unfortunate children, 
with the miserable remnant, in the hands of 
practised and designing knaves. 

Other cases occur, in which the executor of 
the deceased holds the property in his own 
hand, and manages it for the children during 

p 2 


their minority. Id the case of boys, as sood as 
they arrive at the age of thirteen, or thereabout, 
they are indulged in every species of vanity and 
wickedness. No care whatever is taken of their 
education. A horse, a watch, a dog, and a gun, 
are all provided at the first expression ' of a 
wish.. By the time the youth arrives at age, 
he is an adept in gambling, horse-racing, cock- 
fighting, and every species of vice. This exe- 
cutor now presents him with his bill, in which 
articles with which he has been furnished, are 
charged at ten times their real value. This is 
followed by a recommendation to sell out 
his property, which is said to be of little value, 
and to take a situation as planter. In confor- 
mity with the wishes of his miscalled guardian, 
and with the most unequivocal assurances that 
his views shall in every way be promoted, he 
assigns over his claim. This executor now fur- 
nishes him with what he wants ; provides him 
with one or two horses, for which he is charged 


at the rate of £100 a-piece, when their iDtrinsic 
value is not more than £30; and then, as a 
means to get rid of one whom he has long felt as 
a burden, he procures for him a precarious 
situation. His early habits having unfitted 
him for business, he is now discharged ; when, 
on his return to his patron, to provide him with 
another berth, he is told,—" 1 got you one — why 
did you not keep it T— I shall give myself no 
further trouble about you !" — He is then brand- 
ed as one of the worst characters ; is scouted by 
those with whom he had previously associated ; 
and, as the ultimatum of his wretchedness, is 
compelled to live with the labourers—the last 
refuge for injured and plundered children. 

But the worst part of the story remains yet 
to be told.— When young females are left in the 
charge of executors, they have no sooner arrived 
at the age of puberty, than every flattering and 
seductive charm will be presented to the mind. 


to induce them to live us mistresses with the 
man, who was bound, by every principle of 
honour, to protect them. Old or young, no 
means will *be left unemployed which can pos- 
sibly aid in the accomplishment of his diabolical 
design. In too many instances, alas! have 
such unprotected females fallen victims to this 
seductive influence, and, after having been des- 
poiled of their honour, have been turned upon 
the world, to provide, with toil and tears, for 
the support of their illegitimate offspring :— or, 
in cases in which the executor has himself been 
personally successful in his attempts, he has 
sent them loose upon society, destitute of the 
common necessaries of life, and prepared to fall 
a victim to the first villain who may cross their 
path. I do not bring this as a special charge 
^against any particular executor^ but I assert it 
^to be the general practice throughout the island. 
Many a fine youth, with the feelings of patriot- 
ism and disgust for the country, struggling for 


the ascendancy in his bosom, have I known to 
abandon bis native shores, and go into vo- 
luntary exile, rather than be an eye-witness 
to the plundering rapacity, and brutal licen- 
tiousness, practised upon an unsuspecting but 
affectionate sister, perhaps by an hoary-headed 
villain, who was about to step into his grave- 
Many such instances flit before my eye at this 
moment ; — the blood runs cold in my veins at 
the recital—*! lay down my pen. 



To every honest planter it has long been a 
matter of deep and heart-felt regret, to see the 
fine estates around them, year after year, sink- 
ing into ruin. The cause of this I have al- 
ready in part explained. No sooner had the 
friends of humanity in Britain exerted them- 
selves for the complete and unconditional abo- 
lition of slavery, with a prospect of immediate 
success, than the planters in the colonies, anti- 
cipating that the day for an onslaught upon 


their plundering and nefarious practices was at 
hand, at once set themselves to work, to promote 
their own personal and individual interests. — 
For the last five or six years, the attention paid 
to the cultivation of the cane-fields has, for the 
most part, been exceedingly partial ; and, con- 
sequently, the proprietors at home have made 
great complaints of the falling off in the ex- 
ports of sugar from their estates. The planters 
alleged, as a reason for this, the unfavourable- 
ness of the seasons, but more especially the 
interference of the home legislature, by which, 
they asserted, that the negroes could not be 
compelled to yield more than two-thirds of their 
average labour; whilst the real facts of the 
case were, that they themselves, instead of at- 
tending to the crop, were employing every 
means in their power to promote their indi- 
vidual interests, and sow the seeds of discord in 
the country. 


As I have hinted above, the destractioo en- 
tailed upon the estates, by the neglect of culti- 
vation, or by other artifices, has been unjustly 
attributed to the interference of the true friends 
of the colonies. To this cause, they assert, all 
the failure in the crops is to be traced. This 
has been put forward, not only in their monthly 
returns to the proprietors, but has been urged 
in the strongest terms in the House of Assembly. 
I feel myself called upon to give this charge the 
most unqualified contradiction. And more than 
this, I fearlessly assert, that^ the failure has 
arisen from the fact of their having been so zea- 
lously employed in endeavouring to en high them^ 
selves, at the expense of their employers. 

I wish here to be understood as addressing 
myself particularly to West India proprietors 
at present residing in this country ; and I trust 
I shall be free from the charge of vanity or 
egotism, in the statements I am about to put 


forward. A residence of upwards of eighteen 
years in the island of Jamaica alone, enables me 
to speak with some degree of certainty as to 
the past, present, and future prospects of the 

Of late years, it has been the practice of 
attorneys and overseers, in expectation of some 
great change in the domestic economy of the 
country, as far as their means would allow, to 
purchase land wherever they could get it. 
Many others, who have taken advantage of the 
last five or six years to promote their own in- 
terests, and who now have money hoarded up, 
are impatiently waiting for an opportunity to 
invest it in a similar manner. Hence the at- 
tempts which have been made to induce the 
absentee proprietor to suppose, that but little 
was to be expected from the cultivation of the 
land, upon the system of free labour. Only let 
the proprietors, by a want of attention to the 


real facts of the case, be driven to despair, and 
put up their estates for sale ; and these hungry 
men, like cormorants upon a rock, will be ready 
to pounce down, and take them at a tithe of 
their real value. So certain am I of this, that I 
feel bound to state, that plans to effect it were 
a matter of serious and grave deliberation among 
the planters, long before I left the island. If, 
after this statement, the proprietors in this 
country still suffer themselves to be hood-winked 
and cajoled of their property^ I shall at least 
have the satisfaction of knowing that they have 
done it contrary to such feeble remonstrance as 
it was in my power to employ. 

Hitherto the control exercised by the pro- 
prietor over his employees in the colonies has 
been too slight, and of too general a nature, to 
secure any thing like an effective management 
of his estate. As a means of correcting this 
evil, I would advise, that either the following, 


or some similar entry, should be made in 
every plantation book, on every estate, for the 
guidance of all who may, either now, or at any 
future period, be employed as attorneys, over- 
seers, or book-keepers. 

1. That buildings of every kind on the estate 
should be kept in good and constant repair, and 
not on any account be destroyed, without the 
written sanction of the proprietor. 

2. That stone walls, or growing fences, should 
likewise be kept in good and constant repair ; 
and on no account be removed or destroyed, 
without such written sanction as above. 

3. That stone walls, or growing fences, should 
be established, for the security of cane-pieces, 
pasture-lands, and pro?ision-grounds of labour- 
ers ; and that the boundaries, and particularly 
the yard and works, should be inclosed, as a 


protection against night idlers or others, which 
might then be easily effected by a couple of 

4. That seeds of all hard woods should be 
planted on the sides of walls and other fences ; 
and that a grove of the same should be esta- 
blished where it would admit of waggon car- 

6. That bread fruit trees, cocoa-nut trees, and 
others of the fruit kind, be planted in glades, 
along fence sides, and on other spare grounds, 
and there to remain unmolested. 

6. That the provision-grounds of the labour- 
ers should on no account be disturbed or in- 
jured, or even changed, except for as good or 
better, and not even this, without the written 
sanction of the proprietor. 


7. That the cause of the decrease of stock be 
distinctly stated ; and that the age and period 
of working since purchased, as also the time at 
which broke for work, be distinctly notified. 

And, 8. That during crop-time the still-house 
book be kept correctly ; and that a copy of the 
same be forwardied to the proprietors monthly, 
with remarks on the state of the clarifiers, re- 
ceivers, vats, or cisterns, butts, stills, worms, 
pumps, and cocks, whether in good or bad 
repair ; with other remarks as the case may re- 
quire; the same to be attested by the still-house 
book-keeper at the risk of his salary. 

Had the foregoing restrictions been imposed 
upon the planters ten or twenty years ago, I 
am confident that the proprietors would now 
have found their estates equal to ten times 
their present value. With this attention to 
general improvement, and with one-third less 


labour, more sugar would have been produced, 
than could ever have been raised by flogging, 
chaining, or any other species of tyranny under 
any system of slavery. 

I have had occasion, in former parts of this 
work, to remark upon the destruction of estates 
by the sanguinary butchery of the present race 
of planters. At one time an excessive mortality 
had taken place among the labourers, and had 
been reported to the proprietor ; but the causes 
of this mortality have beed artfully concealed. 
^Innumerable cases of death, occasioned by the 
/use of the whip, or other sanguinary measures, 
^have been entered in the plantation book as the 
, result of general debility or consumption. At 
other times, the estate of the absentee propri- 
etor has suffered, from the female labourers on 
the estate having, for the most part, ceased to 
bear children. The aged and the infirm were 
dying off at a much greater rate than children 


were rising up to supply their place* On 
Bloxburgh, Augwalta, Vale, Palm, Cbarelton, 
Crawl, Manchester, Hopewell and on many 
other estates, pens, and coffee mountains, I have 
heard with my own ears, again and again, the 
female labourers saying, that they hoped they 
never should have children, and that they never 
would have one if they could help it, to be 
tortured and cut up at the idle and malicious 
caprice of a white overseen But they did not 
rest in words; — they proceeded to acts. Indis- 
criminate sexual intercourse on the various 
properties was without restraint. By this spe- 
cies of delinquency they hoped to succeed ; and 
it is painful to state, that to too great an extent 
their wishes were realized. A perseverance in 
this course for a few years would have tended 
to the depopulation of Jamaica, as certainly as 
the crime of infanticide tended to the depopu- 
lation of the Sandwich islands. Just at thi« 


time the missioDaries came and arrested the 
progress of the alarmiDg evil. At their solici- 
tatiou the negroes returned to conjugal fidelity ; 
and this plague-spot upon the island was spee- 
dily removed. The proprietors of Jamaica will 
never be able to repay these devoted men /or the 
service they have refidered to their estates; but 


But I shall be met here with the objection, 
that now, as slavery is completely abolished in 
Jamaica, these evils can no longer exist ; and, 
in the event of the old planters cultivating a 
good understanding with the labourers, the sun- 
shine of prosperity may yet smile upon the 
island. Admitted : but who ever heard of an 
act of parliament changing the dispositions of 
men ? — The old planters are at this day what 
thdy were, and they will continue what they are. 
Cruelty is the atmosphere they breathe'— 
tyranny has grown with their growth^ and 


strengthened with their strength. — *^ The old 
planters cultivate a good understanding with 
the labourers, indeed !" — Why, at this moment, 
as surely as though I was within hearing, they 
are cursing them as preaching rascals, denoun- 
cing their ministers as incendiaries, and de- 
scending to the use of epithets at which the 
better tutored mind of the poor African starts 
with instinctive horror,—*' The old planters cul- 
tivate a good understanding with the labourers, 
indeed !" — So long as they are in power, and so 
long as they retain their inveterate dislike to the 
religious habits of the negro, so long will acts of 
cruelty be perpetuated, and so long will the pro- 
perty of the absentee proprietor be held in a 
state of jeopardy. 

The object of every absentee proprietor should 
be, by every means in his power, to conciliate 
and encourage the labourers. If possible, a 
heifer should be procured for each family ; and 



they should be encouraged to keep cattle, for 
which they could easily pay, by a return of la- 
bour. The dung of such cattle would be inva- 
luable to the proprietor; for there is scarcely an 
estate in Jamaica which does not require onethird 
more manure for its proper cultivation, and some 
of them one half, than what their present stock 
makes. By the adoption of this plan, the interests 
of the labourers would be bound up in the in- 
terests of the estate on which he and his family 
reside ; otherwise he would, in all probability, 
wander from one property to another, proving 
of little use either to himself or his employers. 

Properties in Jamaica differ very much, both 
with respect to soil and climate; and, of course? 
can only be properly managed by an attention 
to these facts. Some are called planting estates, 
which are generally in the interior of the coun- 
try ;a n d others are called dry-weather estates, 
which range along the whole of the south side 


of the island, and are also to be found on some 
parts of the northern coast. 

With regard to planting estates, some are 
rocky, and are more suitable to the old mode of 
cultiyation, with the exception of being penned 
over after the cutting of the second ratoon ; by 
which method they would stand at least two 
years more before they would require fresh 
planting. A cane-piece judiciously penned 
over seldom fails to give as good a return 
as a new planting, and always better sugar. 
Dry-weather estates are in general exceed- 
ingly profitable ; but, without exception, they 
are the worst managed estates on the island. 
Although left to nature, they yield several ra- 
toons ; whereas by having plenty of cattle, which 
should be penned in the different cane-pieces 
immediately after cutting, the laud would be 
well manured, and its pores so compressed, as 
to enable it to withstand the dr^ weather,— 'the 


certain means of insuring a future abundaot 
crop. It may be necessary, too, where any 
plants have failed, to take other cane roots from 
a swamp, or other marshy place, and at once 
stick them down, to prevent the loss of ground, 
or inequality of crop. The mill should be occa- 
sionally stopped during crop-time, to admit of 
the labourers going over the different cane- 
pieces, and supplying the deficiencies arising 
from the failure of roots, to which we have 
referred above. Such attention to the cane- 
pieces* during crop-time, would render one- 
third less labour unnecessary on the following 
year; in addition to which there would be a 
better sugar, and a better crop. Besides, by 
thus stopping the mill, time would be allowed 
to dry trash for fuel, and both stock and labour- 
ers would be rested. 

Many of the planting estates, which usually 
lie low, and which are surrounded by bills. 


affording abundance of grass and timber, are 
exceedingly suitable for ploughing. It was the 
interest of the attorney, however, who had either 
a jobbing gang of his own, or who had such 
a gang to manage for another, to discounte- 
nance the introduction of the plough. Jobbers 
were sent to such estates, and cane-holes were 
dug, according to the depth of the soil: in some 
cases these holes were not more than two inches 
deep. The holes were then filled with manure ; 
and the plant, from eight to fourteen inches in 
length, was slightly covered. When such canes 
grew up, and become heavy at the top from an 
InsuflBciency of earth, they were torn up by the 
roots, and destroyed by the frequent breezes 
and heavy rains The shallow bed, in which they 
were deposited, was insufficient to hold them ; 
whereas, had the ground been ploughed and 
well pulverized, they would have been able to 
withstand either breeze or rain. In this case, 
therefore, the interest of the proprietor was 


sacrificed to the interest of the attorney, or the 
attorney's friend. 

On such low lands as have been now descri- 
bed, the May seasons set in before the trash has 
been turned ; and the cane-stools are frequently 
chilled and scalded by the heavy rains descend- 
ing upon the trash. All such cane roots as are 
now disturbed from their beds, are at this time 
destroyed; and it not unfrequently happens^ 
that one-third of such cane-pieces require to be 
re-planted ; so that no hope of a favourable re- 
turn for that year can be expected from such cane- 
pieces; therefore disappointment is the result 
of such estates, according to the old system of 
planting ; but by skilful and judicious manage- 
ment, it is far from being placed beyond the 
possibility of a remedy. 

I have lived upon many estates of this latter 
description, during my residence upon this^ 


island; and my observation and experience en- 
able me to say, that the only manner in which 
they can be cultivated, so as to yield to the pro- 
prietor the greatest retnrns, is the following : — 

1. Head trenches should be dug, for the con- 
veyance of the water from the flat lands ; and 
to such main trenches, small cross trenches 
should be joined, by which the water would be 
carried away after the heavy rains. 

2. Twenty acres of the most suitable land 
should then be penned over, bv what are called 
flying-pens, taking in about an acre to each 
pen. A sufficient quantity of cattle to manure 
this should at once be turned on. 

3. Immediately after the removal ot the pen, 
the land thus manured should be ploughed at 
least ten inches deep, the ploughman taking 


care to cut thio and deep, so as not to distresi 
the cattle. 

Aod, 4.— After the laod has been thus manured 
and ploughed, standing pens should be made on 
the same ground. This should be done about a 
month before the time of planting. The cane- 
boles should be opened by the plough, at the 
depth ofabout eight inches; and a basket of dung 
given to each cane-hole, after the usual manner, 
the plant should then be laid upon the green dung 
and covered light. If marl, or white lime, were 
at hand, either would answer exceedingly well 
to be put in the cane-holes as a substitute for 
dnng, on all lands having stiff clay. 

A piece of land — say from twenty to thirty 
acres — ^according to the size of the estate, might 
thus be annually prepared, until the whole cane- 
land on the estate was prepared in a similar 
manner; and it would then, I am sure, be found 


that one hundred acres of such land, under cane, 
cultivation would produce more sugar than three 
hundred upon the system pursued by the old 
planters; besides which there would be a decrease 
in labour to the amount of one third. 

It should be the object of every proprietor to 
have his pasture lands sub-divided by fences and 
otherwise generally attended to. Fruit trees, 
should be planted in all spare lands, and even in 
pastures; as it would be a strong inducement to 
the labourers to remain on the estate. When the 
ground provisions are burned up by the sun, the 
first answers exceedingly well as a substitute to 
the labourers. Every bread fruit tree is estima- 
ted by the labourer at, five pounds in value f 
and the cocoa nut tree is well worth from 
two to three pounds annually. Slangoe trees 
are also good, and the negroes feed upon them 
wherever they can get them, but they are great* 
ly inferior to the bread fruit or cocoa-nut. It i» 


a lamentable fact, that the cultiyatiou of these 
trees should have been so far overlooked; and it 
is still more lamentable, that where they existed, 
they should have been cut down by envious 
overseers, with the view of abridging the com- 
forts of the poor labourers. 

If the proprietors of West India estates 
consulted their own interests, they would forth- 
with send out young men, well skilled in farm- 
ing, to keep an account of estates labour, stock, 
produce, purchases, sales, &c« The estate 
should be entrusted to the management of a 
liberal attorney ; the head people should be 
encouraged; and it would be found that they 
would conduct the affairs of the estates in a far 
more satisfactory and profitable manner than 
under the old system. The black labourers are 
well known to be the best planters in tbe island. 
The best managed estates are at this moment 
under their direction only. They have the ad- 


vantage of being born on the property ; they 
are thoroughly acquainted with all the different 
systems of management ; and know well what 
land is most suitable for the growth of the cane; 
besides they are the best pen-keepers, the best 
judges of stock, and the best sugar boilers- 
Blany of the overseers of different properties, 
from their ignorance of their business, were com- 
pelled to leave the management of the estates 
with which they were entrusted to the direction 
of some driver or over looker; and as to boiling 
sugar properly, there are ninety-nine out of 
every hundred of them who do not understand 
it at all. 

Every driver, pen-keeper, overlooker and 
bead herdsmen on an estate, whatever be 
the fate of the other labourers, should un- 
questionably be enabled to keep both a horse 
and a cow. It has always appeared to me to 
be an indulgence to which they have a fair and 


equitaTile claim. And I am sure that do pro- 
prietor could pursue a plan more suited to the ad- 
vancemeut of his own ioterests, than to employ 
the head men, under tbe direction of his at- 
torney, to conduct the whole business of the 
estate at a certain fixed quarterly or half-yearly 
salary. He would thus get rid of an expen- 
sive and cumbrous white establishment, and the 
young men, experienced in agriculture, whom he 
might send out, would in twelve or eighteen 
months time, be thoroughly acquainted with 
their business, and would form a race of men, 
who it might be hoped, would prove a blessing 
to the country. At all events so long as the 




I here beg leave again to call the attention 
of the absentee proprietor, and trust he will 
farther peruse my few remarks on this subject, 
as I pen them in the earnest hope of engaging 
his notice to the contrast, not only as regards 
the labourers, but their directors also. In my 
early days, I had the opportunity of learning 
the various dispositions of the labouring class, 
including myself in a certain degree, and of ob- 
taining a perfect knowledge of stock, and the 


cultivation of the soil according to quality; 
and I, consequently, after a short period ia 
Jamaica, formed an opinion that slavery was an 
evil in reference to the interests of the pro- 
prietor, from the deficiency of labour given 
under it, as well as a curse and torment to every 
one concerned. It was my opinion that the 
» labour oi Jive free labourers was fully or more 
f than equal to the labour of eight slaves, of the 
A same bodily strength. This was my calculation 
of slavery, contrasting it with free labour, as 
early as in 1820; from which period, I never 
had occasion to difier in opinion, up to the time 
of the apprenticeship ; and at this period, my 
former opinions of the disadvantages of slave 
labour was not only confirmed, but was found 
lo be much under-rated. 

In proof of this, I beg the reader's attention 
to the following.— In 1836, I lived on York 
testate, in Trelawney, in the capacity of head- 


book-keeper; and in 1837, I lived on Latium 
estate, in St. James*s. On both of these estates, 
I lined cane-holes with two others* before thirty 
apprentices, while digging on their own time. 
In the days of slavery I lined cane-holes on 
Palm estate, St. Thomas-in-the-Vale, with two 
others of the same description as those I had on 
York and Latium, before eighty slaves of a 
strong and effective gang, and have had 
more time to spare than when lining before 
the thirty apprentices, digging on their own 
time, on York and Latium. In addition to this, 
I have farther to state, that the apprentices dug 
cane-holes in their own time, at the rate of £5 
per acre, currency ; during which period, from 
£8 to £9 per acre was paid to the masters of 
the labourers* gangs for every acre they dug 
into cane-holes. In further proof of my opinion, 
as to the greater expence of slave labour, I 
have to state, that while from £4 to £& per 



chain was paid for building stone walls on 
estates, or other properties, to the masters of 
labouring gangs^abourers, on their own time* 
/built walls of the same description at the ig- 
/noble rate of 23s. to 2&. per chain, finding the 
, materials in every respect, the same as the job- 
/ bers at £5. 

Transactions of this kind disheartened the 
labourer, and very justly.— That a cruel and 
ungrateful master should give a preference to 
a stranger over one who was once his property, 
and be willing to do this at a loss of £300 per 
cent, to himself, was very galling, and shewed 
that no single act of justice, no fair play, was 
to be expected by the black man. 

I can farther say, that six slaves cleared as 
much pasture, in 1837, on Latium estate, during 
the apprenticeship, as sixteen did in the days 
of slavery, under the cart-whip; when the 


clothes were cut off from the backs of the 
labourers. Daring the period of slavery, the 
slaves were emaciated, aud stiff iu their joints, 
through repeated unmerciful punishments, work- 
ing in chains for every trifling offence, and 
having the dungeon only at night for their re- 
pose ; but in the apprenticeship-time they re- 
covered, and their drooping spirits were enli- 
vened by the spiritual comfort they received 
from their ministers, and by whom they were 
instructed to labour as free-men should do. 

I have farther to say, that wherever 1 was in 
charge of a property as overseer, I found that 
slavery was productive of such evils as entirely 
retarded the progress of my plans for the relief 
of the property committed to my care. 

One of the greatest misfortunes attending the 
planting profession generally, had been, that of 
the merchants sending out, as their represen- 


tatives — ^bankrupts, disappointed clerks, profli- 
gates, soldiers, sailors, tradesmen of any and 
every description,— persons, who, on entering 
on the duties of their situation, had to take in- 
struction from men of an equally loose charac- 
ter, seven-eighths of all the planters being of 
this class. Persons, therefore, so ill initiated 
in their business, were not likely to make a fair 
contrast between the effects of freedom and 
slavery. They pursued the plan then in prac- 
tice, of forcing both labourers and stock beyond 
their strength. To such extent was this 
carried, that any one who adopted a plan for 
abbreviation of labour, or of any domestic im- 
provement, was not only sure of getting his 
discharge, but left the employ with a bad cha- 
racter. I have experienced this myself, even 
where my projected plans would have been a 
benefit to the estate. 

During the period of the apprenticeship I 
could not avoid observing that the majority of 


the special magistrates sold themselves to the^ 
planters : a good brealifast, at one place, a din- , 
ner or supper and bed at another place, grass ^ 
and plenty of corn at all times for his horse and ^ 
good entertainment for his servants led the spe- ^ 
cial magistrate always to see things as the plan- v 
ter saw them. In addition to this, their houses 
were supplied with comforts from the overseers 
at the expence of the absent proprietor. Mr* 
Phelps, a special magistrate in Westmoreland, v 
has frequently been known to decide complaints ^ 
without ever admitting the labourer to speak. % 
The apprentices were ever in terror of him 
and although a married man, he had the young 
females at his pleasure, and his progeny in this 
way are spread throughout his district. 

It is really painful to the narrator to find that 
any propiietor is so blind to his own interest 
as to support an extensive establishment for the 
mere accommodation of the white servants en- 


gaged on it, whose only object, to the most 
casual observer, seems to be, that of enriching 
themselves by every species of plunder on the 

The overseers' houses are generally from sixty 
to eighty feet square, and require a great number 
of servants and much furniture to render them 
respectable. An establishment of this kind on 
a three hundred hogshead estate, would in for- 
mer days have cost the proprietor five thousand 
pounds annually ; at the present time it can be 
constructed, and more efficiently, for five hun- 
dred pounds per annum, besides that formerly 
it would have cost from six hundred to one 
thousand pounds a year to purchase the neces- 
sary stock, while at the present time nearly the 
whole of this may be dispensed with by al- 
lowing the labourers to keep cattle. The muck 
from them will afford sufficient nutriment to the 
soil for the cultivation of the cane, and they 


will also allow them to he trained for working 
by which the estates would be greatly assist- 
ed. The few working steers required for gene- 
ral labour should be bred by the estate. 

It will also be found desirable for the pro- 
prietor to have the houses, for the residence 
of the white servants, made smaller and more 
suitable for those who occupy them. One ser- 
vant should be able to keep a house clean, 
whereas ten have formerly been employed in 
such service; for the overseers should be obliged 
to raise his own ground provisions, and with 
the exception of one or two barrels of pork, 
should be enabled, by their small stock, to sup- 
port themselves. 



In 1833, a bill passed the Jamaica House of 
Assembly, iu favour of European emigration to 
that colony. This bill, which was supposed to 
have been passed with the view of assisting a 
few bankrupts, but principally with the design 
of inflicting an injury upon the black and co- 
loured population, received the most determined 
opposition from all the brown gentlemen who 
were then in the House. The amount stipulated 
for these emigrants was fifteen pounds per 


bead. The Messrs. Myres and Lainonious at 
oDce chartered vessels, and set sail for Ger* 
many, their native country; and, by flattering 
accounts of Jamaica, succeeded in inducing a 
number of the inhabitants to accompany them 
on their return. The riches they would acquire 
in Jamaica, they were told, would enable them 
to return to their own country, in a few years, 
completely independent. Men ofthe lowest grade 
in life, totally unacquainted with agricultural 
labours, all volunteered their services as 
agriculturists, and came to the island, where 
they were at once disposed of at the stipulated 
rate. These poor people did not suit the 
overseers, as they could not understand each 
other ; and they were therefore sent to differ- 
ent parts of the country, amongst those who 
were born slaves, and were placed under 
the eye of a driver. Some English emigrants 
afterwards came to the country, and were 
treated in a similar manner. The emi- 


grants, after a very short time, began to see 
that they bad been deceived, and that the de- 
sign of the planters was to suhject them to 
a state of the most complete vassalage. This 
their European dispositions and habits could 
not brook. Quarrelling ensued : and as a neces- 
sary consequence, they left their employment, 
stating that they had worked for. months, and 
had receiTed no more than a scanty subsistence 
in return for their labour. I have seen them 
wandering about the island, in a state of the 
most deplorable destitution; and in fact, en- 
tirely living upon the hospitality of the black 
labourers. Many of them, as they traversed 
the island, were covered with filth, and not a 
few died upon the road, from hunger and thirst. 
Some, indeed, died in the woods, where their 
bodies remained as food to the birds of prey. 
Small children were wandering about the 
island, without the means of support, having 
lost their protectors. Fine young females. 


who had accompanied their parents, were 
robbed of their virtue by the wily intrigues of 
those who afforded them the means of sub- 

For a short time after this discontent with 
the overseers, the young men and old soldiers 
were taken into the police. An order for their 
discharge, however, was speedily issued, by the 
Governor, Sir Lionel Smith, on the ground 
that they had come to the country as agri- 
culturists, and had broken faith with their 
employers. Their distress now had arrived 
at the highest imaginable pitch. They were 
walking spectres, — ^the personification of misery 
and despair. They were hated and detested 
by the planters; and had no means of subsis- 
tence but that which the coloured population 
were pleased to afford. 

In September, 1886, I was in charge of the 


police statioD in the distinct of Moneague, in 
the parish of St. Ann's, when seven English 
emigrants came to me from Phoenix Park Pea, 
the property of Mr. Mitchell. They complained 
of hanger, and said they had been treated very 
ill by Mr. Breham, their overseer, and also by 
the attorney, Mr. Hamilton Brown. The ob- 
ject of their calling on me was, to try to get 
into the police; but 1 had received official 
orders, a few weeks before, to take no more 
emigrants; and they were therefore obliged to 
return to their employ. 

In two days after, these same individuals left 
the property again, for the purpose of pre- 
ferring a complaint against their attorney aad 
overseer, in Spanish Town ; supposing they 
should be unable to obtain justice at home, 
on the ground of the intimacy which existed 
between Mr. Brown, their attorney, and his 
brother magistrates. They went to the Queen's- 


bouse, and were there examined ; but, on their 
return, they were taken up by Mr. Brown, who 
was then in Spanish Town, as deserters ; and 
as such, they were sent back to me with a letter 
to Mr. Special Justice Lairdlow. The weather 
was very wet ; and when the men were given 
into my charge, they presented a most frightful 
appearance. I immediately received a letter 
from the Special justice, directing me to keep 
them in close confinement until an investigation 
should take place. On receipt of this, mounting 
my horse, I rode to the Special Justice, and in- 
formed him that there were no provisions at the 
station for the support of the prisoners, and 
that, according to police laws, none was al- 
lowed ; and that I would therefore thank him 
to give me an order on the property which they 
had left, which was about a mile distant. The 
Special Justice refused. I then despatched a 
policeman with a note to the overseer, request- 


lug him to send provisions for bis emigrants: 
but to this he replied, that he would not give 
them a morsel, and that, if they were to die, it 
was uothiDg to him. I went to the Special Jus- 
tice again, and stated the necessity of the case ; 
and told him, that if I kept them under the force 
of arms and starved them to death, I should be 
chargeable with their murder. He then asked 
me how they had supported themselves previ- 
ously ; and I replied, that I did not know, but, 
as they were under my charge, I ought to 
know how they were to be supported in future. 
At this he grew angry, and said, " They are 
your prisoners till they are liberated — I have 
nothing more to do with it." I then left, not 
knowing what to do, but was ultimately obliged 
to purchase provisions for them with my own 
money. I wrote to the Queeu's-house, stating 
the particulars of the case, but received no 
reply: — they were under my care, and were 


supported by me, fourteen days, in the manner 
I have stated, supposing every day their case 
would be heard. 

At last, Mr. Carter, a local magistrate, and 
Mr. Special Justice Wollyfrice, came to the 
station, accompanied by Mr. Brown, the attor- 
ney, Mr. Breham, the overseer, and several other 
gentlemen. The prisoners considered, that as 
they preferred the first complaint, they were 
entitled to be plaintiffs in the case; and the 
more so, as they had only left the property to 
further the ends of justice. This, however, was 
over-ruled, and the poor men were tried and 
found guilty of desertion. One of the emigrants, 
during the hearing of the case, endeavouring to 
explain the nature of their grievances, stated 
that their weekly allowance was barely suffi- 
cient for four days, and that whenever driven by 
absolute hunger, they dared to complain, their 
miseries were increased. At this the Special 


magistrate flew into a violent passion, and said, 
that such cases might appear strange before 
coantry magistrates, but that to him, sitttng on 
the Kingston bench, they were quite familiar. 
The court was then cleared, and six out of the 
seven were sentenced to five weeks' hard labour 
on the public roads, with the loss of all their 
wages up to the time of their return to the 
estate. The sentence of the one who had en- 
deavoured to explain their grievances to the 
Bench, was extended to seven weeks, with a 
similar loss of wages. One of the emigrants, 
who had seen better days, was so terrified at 
the sentence, that he immediately fell sick, and 
shortly afterwards died. 

Mr. Breham visited St. Ann's Ba^ some days 
after, and finding the emigrants at work in the 
inside of the gaol, he swore to the superinten- 
dent, that, unless they were sent out to work on 
the roads, although it was then raining in tor- 


rents, he would report bim to the Vestry, and 
have him removed. 

I have quoted the above case, not with the 
view of discouraging emigration to the colo- 
nies, but rather for the purpose of urging upon 
absentee proprietors the necessity of having 
some definite and fixed plan, by which the 
mutual interests of both master and labourer 
would be secured. 

Young men acquainted with agriculture, and 
of abstemious habits, should be selected, frm 
fifteen years of age to twenty ; or persons oi 
industrious habits, and of small families. A 
house should be built for their reception ; and 
lands, with plantain suckers, cocoa's, and some 
yams, should be allotted to them. This would 
be more agreeable to the labourer, and less ex- 
pensive to the proprietor, than feeding them 


from ttie estate stores. The bickerings aod 
heart-burniogs which existed between the over- 
seers and the former emigrants would not thus 
be revived : — they would be able to judge of 
their own constitutions, and their provision- 
grounds would afford them an ample supply. 

On their arrival at the colony, every family 
should be provided with a cow, and every single 
man with a heifer. They would thus have some 
stake in the country, and some inducement to 
locate themselves upon a particular estate ; and 
not be as the former emigrants, served with a 
scanty allowance of provisions, and left at the 
beck of a merciless driver. Besides, their situ- 
ation would be yearly improving, and, by frugal 
and saving habits, they might in time not only 
increase their comfort, but place themselves in 
a position of respectability and independence. 

For the first three months after landing, they 


might be accompaDied in their work by an in- 
telligent black labourer, who would explain to 
them a variety of things, with which they must 
be supposed to be unacquainted ; — such as the 
nature of the soil, the manner in which their 
provision-grounds should be attended to, the 
various seeds which should be put down, the 
time of planting, hoeing, cleansing, and a variety 
of other matters, too numerous to be mentioned. 

The hours of labour should be from half-past 
five in the morning until eleven o'clock in the 
forenoon, and from two in the afternoon until 
five, leaving them half an hour for breakfast, 
and three hours for rest and refreshment in the 
middle of the day ; thus making in all eight 
hours' labour in the day, except indeed, in crop 
time, when they might work for hire in extra 

For the first year, their employment should 


be the care of stock and domestics, cuttiog 
grass, repairing roads and fences, taking charge 
of carts and waggons, trenching swamp lands-, 
aad other jobs with tradesmen. In crop^time 
they might load cane- carts, and act as cart-men, 
mule-men, cattle-catchers, boiling-house, still- 
house, and mill feeders, as well as do a variety 
of other jobs on the estate. After the first year, 
they would get into possession of the various 
descriptions of labonr,and would be accustomed 
to the climate, as also to the habits and man- 
ners of the native people. 

They should be sent to church or chapel 
every Sunday; and great care should be taken 
to prevent them from falling a prey to spiritu- 
ous liquors, — ^that bane and curse of the whole 
colonies. The man in charge of the estate 
should encourage them, and endeavour in every 
possible way to secure their friendship and 
good will; and in proportion as these ends are 


obtained, in just that same proportion will they 
be valuable, or otherwise, to any estate upon 
which they may settle down. 

This, then, is the plan of emigration which I 
beg to submit to the notice of West India 
planters and proprietors; — a plan which is the 
result of much thought and observation ; and a 
plan which, if adopted, cannot fail of success. 
Such a system of emigration, any one may con- 
scientiously recommend or adopt ; but the men 
who should send out emigrants under the old 
system, would be chargeable with the crime of 
having been accessary to their death. This plan, 
let it be distinctly understood, supposes the 
emigrants to be raised above the tyranny and 
persecution of the former oppressive overseers. 
XJndeb theib managbmemt and control, I 



It may be said by some inexperienced and 
thoughtless individual, that the proprietors can- 
not thus afford to purchase cattle for their emi- 
grants and black labourers. To this it will be 
enough to reply, that without a sufficiency of 
cattle upon an estate, the requisite supply of 
manure cannot be obtained, and consequently 
there will be a deficiency of cane. It is to the 
interest of the proprietor, therefore, to provide 
for this. Besides, pen -keepers would be glad 
to give the proprietors twelve months* credit 
for whatever stock they might require; and 
long before that time, the outlay would have 
been repaid to the proprietor in estate labour 
and manure. The attention of the needy pro- 
prietor is therefore more especially called to 
this plan, as it cannot fail to issue in the welfare 
of his labourers, and in the growing and in- 
creasing prosperity of his estate. 

For the future guidance of the West Indian 


proprietors, I think it necessary to observe, that 
they should be cautious, and very guarded 
against all planters who are now in charge of 
their property : for, at this time, they are si- 
lently striving to displace the present propri' 
etors, and substitute themselves as owners of the 
land, which they hope to effect by cajoling the 
proprietor with the hope of good returns, made 
upon false estimates and false promises ; while, 
by neglectful cultivation and exorbitant ex- 
pences, the estates are falling into a state ruin- 
ous to the present proprietor. 

I have earned my bread for several years past 
on estates, and other properties in Jamaica, 
belonging to Gentlemen resident in Eng- 
land, to whom I feel it my duty to give my 
best advice, — the only form of gratitude now in 
my power. In justice to the absent proprietors 
of West Indian property, I have to remark, that 
they were entirely innocent of the glaring cru- 


elties that were practised by their planting at- 

I can distinctly prove, to the satisfaction of 
any West Indian proprietors now in England, 
who have canse to complain, as to the small 
amount of the nett proceeds of their estates, that 
the agents were the only cause thereof; this can 
be proved in various ways, by the estates' books 
now in the possession of the absentee propri- 
etor ; and if called upon to do so, I am willing 
to establish these, my accusations, at any period 
/between this and the fall of the year, when 1 
/intend to start for Jamaica, fearless of the result 
'of what this volume contains* 



The atrocities perpetrated during Martial 
Law, it would appear, had not satiated the san- 
guinary thirst of the planters, but rather increa- 
sed it, and the more they gloated over their un- 
offending and innocent victims, the more seems 
to have been their never satisfying desire, still 
to add to their recklessness. The discontinu- 
ance of Martial Law, arrested their progress,, 
and the Law no longer in abeyance, once more 
assumed its majesty: yet, means were found 


under the disgusted oames of '* truth and justice" 
to violate the law. Not content at the ruin 
which was already made, the murders that were 
committed by wholesale, and the innocent blood 
of the unsophisticated infants of nature which 
was shed, the planters sought to perpetuate their 
atrocities, under a band, and as if to add a solem- 
nity to their proceedings, and to lead the unwary 
to believe in the holiness of their acts, dared to 
insult an holy church by assuming to themselves 
a cognomen as a blind to hide their base pur- 
poses. Every parish on the island had its band 
of "Colonial Church Unionist," in which were 
enrolled Planters, Militia Officers, Magistrates 
and ev^n Clergymen. The originator was the 
iRev. George Willson Bridges, Rector of the 
/ parish of St. Ann. They resolved individually 
/ and collectively that they would expel by legal 
/ means, the missionaries of religion. This ex- 
pulsion could not be done legally ; for the tole- 
ration act of William and Mary gave free scope 


to the preaching and teaching in licensed places 
of worship. How was it to be effected I Fi-et-- 
armii. The introduction of the words " legal 
means" was only intended for the governor and 
attorney general. The latter certainly, although 
I doubt whether he had the desire, could not 
proceed against them on a resolution so care- 
fully worded, and could only wait till a violation 
of the law had taken place. Many such vio- 
lations did take place :— ^missionaries, with their 
families, were insulted in their own houses; — 
one Mr. Bleby was tarred and feathered; — their 
chapels were either burnt or pulled down; and 
the hired houses, in which christians met to- 
gether on the Sabbath, to lift their voices to the 
Holy One, and to pray to Him to have mercy 
ou their persecutors and slanderers, were also 
destroyed, But a few hours, which before be* 
held families living in comparative ease, and 
enjoying every comfort commensurate with 
their condition in lifer-'keen and bitter poverty 


became their iDheritance, from the misdeeds of 
those monsters io human shape,— with no other 
bed than the damp grass, and no other roof than 
the canopy of heaven over mothers and infants, 
now become homeless, and exposed to the 
utmost inclemency of the elements. The mo- 
thers and children, in terror at the presence 
of the Colonial Unionists' sought shelter in the 
woods. To such a height did the outrage 
reach, that the interference of Majesty was 
called in, to dissolve the associations. But the 
King's Proclamation, forbidding their meeting 
together, was treated with contempt, and torn 
from the public places on which it was 
posted. Citizens thinking the better to enforce 
their authority, made military harangues to the 
militia, when assembled on muster days, and 
they soon became an armed body. The Gover- 
nor, then Lord Mulgrave, now Marquis of Nor- 
mandy, seeing the fatal tendency that this 
would have, at once checked it^ by depriving 


the militia officers concerned, of their commis- 
sion. At Huntley Pasture, he stripped Mr, Ha- 
milton Brown, who held the commission of 
Lieutenant Colonel, of all his honours; — his 
officers and men then became so irritated, that 
missiles of every description were thrown at his 
Excellency; and a Mr. Tucker, who was caught 
in the fact by one of His Excellency's suite,'was 
also stripped of his honours as Lieutenant 
of Militia. To Lord Mulgrave were the mis- ^ 
sionaries and the island indebted for the total ^ 
extinction of this lawless band, and the peace ^ 
which prevailed during his administration. 



These good men were opposed in the prose- 
cution of their mission, on the moment of their 
arrival in Jamaica by both planters aod mer* 
chants« The animosity towards them was not 
confined to their own person ; but the greatest 
cruelty was exercised over the slaves who were 
known to attend prayer, or act in any way in 
accordance with them. Nothing was more com- 
mon than for a planter to ask a negro whether he 
was in the habit of praying. This question was 


usually answered by the negroes in the nega- 
tive, through fear of the consequences ; seeing 
that their ministers themselves were insulted 
and mocked by planters and merchants, who 
circulated lies of the most base nature con. 
cerning them through the medium of the press. 
These worthy men have frequently had to ride 
through torreuts of rain in performance of their 
duty, to their lodgings where worship was con- 
ducted, and although parsing by the houses of 
planters, have not dared to seek shelter there, 
knowing that they would meet with no christian 
courtesy. Apatch of land to build a place of wor- 
ship upon, was not to be had for twenty times its 
value. Notwithstanding the opposition made to 
their proceedings, their congregations increased 
weekly, not only with slaves, but with a great 
number of the colored population who were 
free. And the fruits of their spiritual labours 
were, a great decrease of the crimes which pre- 
viously pervaded every class of society. Obeah 


Poisoning, Drunkenness, Fornication, &c. gave 
place to Industry, Integrity and Christian-like 
habits in general. Formerly, twenty or thirty 
persons were required to watch the provision 
grounds, canes pieces, works and cattle pens ; 
and could not even then prevent theft, which 
frequently terminated in murder. When the ap- 
prenticeship took place, at which time, the 
gospel was generally preached throughout the 
island, four or five persons instead of twenty 
or thirty, above referred to, were all that was 
needed. The dwelling houses of the planters 
were even frequently left open all night, in 
which there were silver spoons and plate of 
considerable value. 

In addition to these good effects of missionary 
exertions, many of the brown population re- 
ceived spiritual and moral instruction. The 
cart whip, too became less active, and much of 
the previous brutal barbarity to the slaves were 


dim! Dished, The attornies had their share in this 
atneDdment, fearing, as they acknowledged, an 
exposure in the British Parliament by the Anti- 
Slavery Societies. The Rev. W. Knibb and 
the Rev. T. Burchell were a terror to ali. 




Persons unacquainted with countries in 
which slavery exists, would scarcely believe 
that such habits could gbtain as are to be met 
with in every slave colony. 

The children of slaves were allowed to run 
about naked up to five years of age, and in some 
instances, even full-grown male negroes went 


about with little or no covering, while working; 
and such was the force of habit that young ladies 
of the first distinction, and apparently invested 
with modesty and virtue, could stand delibe- 
rately viewing men in this state without the least 
annoyance to their feelings. I have known young 
ladies, who have received a polished education, 
with the accomplishments of music and dancing, 
quit their party to superintend the flogging 
of an unfortunate slave, and that done in 
the most indelicate manner too. I have known 
floggings to take place at the instance of 
ladies, under the disgusting orders that the 
clothes of the poor sufferer should be stripped 
off, in order that a full measure of vengeance 
should be inflicted. Indeed I have observed,^ 
that married ladies frequently excel their i 
husbands in the cruelty of the whip. 

And I wish them to know, that they owe it to 
my forbearance in respect of their sex only, 


that I do not here write out their names at full 
length. The inbred arrogance of a white child, 
brought up among black children, is painfully 
pressed upon the observation of a person unac- 
customed to such a land of tyranny as a slave 
colony always is. At even two years of age, the 
/black child cowers and shrinks before the white 
/Child, who at all times slaps and beats it at plea- 
/sure, and takes away its toys without thesmallest 
/ manifestation of opposition on the part of the 
^piccaninni. I have frequently seen a white child 
crying, vhen the little slave, so utterly a slave 
from his birth, would say to the crying child, — 
" Massa, knock me, don't cry ! — you, my massa; 
—me, you nega/' 

I now proceed to the vicious effects of the 
system on the youth of the white population. — 
So early as at fifteen years of age, it is quite 
common for a boy to select for himself a mis- 
tress; and this is usually done from among 


the waiting maids of his mother or sisters. He 
keeps her in the house of his parents, as his 
concubine ; and the produce of this connexion 
remain in the house until old enough to be 
taken, like beasts of burthen, and trained to 
undergo field labour. At this time the ties of 
father and mother are no longer considered by 
the owners ; but the child is driven out into 
the field, like any other part of the stock on the 
estate. This exhibits the amount of affection 
in a planter's bosom for the child of his own 
body ! 

I cannot close this section without remarking^ 
on the injurious effects which this profligacy of 
habit in the young men has on the moral sense- 
of the female part of the family. The inter* 
course between their brothers and their coloured 
mistresses being constantly before their eyes,, 
their own minds become necessarily free from 
the restraints imposed upon the indulgence of 


the passions in well regulated and moral so- 
ciety. I state it with feelings in which disgust 
and horror are equally combined, that several 
instances occurred, in the estates on which I 
resided, of sisters and daughters having become 
the objects of seduction by their own brothers 
and fathers. An instance is now present to my 
mind, of a fine handsome woman, of some dis- 
tinction in Trelawney, who, living under the 
same roof with her brother, was seduced by 
him, and became enceinte. It was kept un- 
known in the neighbourhood, until she deter- 
mined on going to Kingston, to get rid of the 
object of her shame. On the way there with her 
maid servant, she stopped at Moneague Tavern, 
in St« Ann's, for the night. She was there de- 
livered of a child. Her maid servant, on the 
following morning, was observed by Mr. Long- 
bottom, the tavern-keeper, to carry out a very 
large tin kettle. He so far indulged his curi- 
osity as to examine its contents, and found it to 


be the body of a new born child that had been 
murdered. In the first shock of horror which 
was created by this event, the unfortunate 
young woman confessed that it was a child she 
had borne to her own brother, who was a medi- 
cal man in the parish. I am sorry to say, that 
this is not a singular instance of the perpetra- 
tion of crime so unnatural. 

There is at this period a gentleman at Tre- 
lawney, of the best education and of high clas- 
sical attainments, who has similarly completed 
the destruction of his own white daughter; once 
his chief pride, but now a living public memorial 
of his and her i-nfamy. These are some of the 
fruits of slavery, and not wwcommcwi fruits, where- 
ever slavery obtains its footing. 

The debasing effects of the slave system were 
as offensively exhibited in their effects on the 
male population of mature age. Men arrived 


even at seventy years ot age, were in the babit 
of keeping mistresses in their houses, along 
with their grown-up daughters. It is not ne- 
cessary to depict, for the notice of a father or 
mother of grown-up daughters in England) the 
demoralizing influence which such a course of 
libertinism must have on young won^u arriving 
at womanhood. But there are still n^re debate 
sing habits resorted to, towards accomplishing 
the gratification of sensual indulgepc^t The 
history of Mr. M^Clean, an attorney of emi^ 
nence, a man arrived at aevenfy years of age, 
would furnish evidence of such attempts to 
awaken the exhausted power of indulgence, as 
is too disgusting to be further detailed. 

1 think it necessary to call the attention of 
proprietors still farther to the conduct of attor- 
neys, as described in page 139, &c., as well as 
that of overseers, sanctioned by these faithless 
and mercenary attorneys ; and Itrust that absen- 


tees will do me the justice to say, that I have 
not screeoed the delinquencies of their servants. 
On the contrary, I know that I have exposed 
myself to their future animosity. Should they 
attempt to exonerate themselves from the stain 
of my accusations, by resorting to a prosecu- 
tion :^t will only farther enable me to make 
other exposures. I make use of no expressions 
against the planters, but what are to be met 
with in the common discourse of overseers at ta- 
ble. The entire substance of their conversation 
it would be impossible to pen with propriety ; 
for what planters know of each other, are secrets 
to all of a different profession. Proprietors 
should give the charge of their properties to 
men only who live on the spot, and not to any 
one who has the charge of more than six. It 
would be also necessary, that the proprietors 
should communicate with the overseers in charge 
of their property, by which they would al- 
ways know the true state of cultivation and 


other improvements carried on in the estate, — 
the situation of an overseer always depending 
on his abilities as a planter, — There are many 
of the attorneys who know nothing of the pro- 
fession, and therefore they are entirely depen- 
dent on the abilities of the overseer. Many want- 
ing the good sense to avail themselves of the 
overseer's information, and following their own 
plans, pursue such measures as necessarily in- 
volve the estate in ruin. Many discharge their 
overseers, and employ their friends, who know 
nothing of the management of an estate; whereas 
if there was a proper understanding between the 
proprietor and the overseer, it would greatly 
assist towards the prevention of such mischiev- 
ous acts as are frequent with attorneys. 

In concluding this volume, I feel myself 
called upon to make the following remarks, 
trusting that the reader will not entertain a 
doubt of what I here set forth. — I left Jamaica, 


with an intention to do justice to every class of 
society there, connected with slavery; so far as 
truth would bear me out. I therefore com- 
menced my narrative of professional habits 
both cautiously and timidly, lest the people of 
England should not only believe my statements, 
but exaggerate them : — of this I can speak con- 
Gdently^— there is not a planter in Jamaica who 
will deny them. A seven months' residence in 
London has made much alteration in this opi- 
nion of mine, as I find it difficult to induce some 
of my friends to believe the customary, nay 
daily, practices of my profession in Jamaica. 

I have a claim to belief, in that it is against 
my interest to raise a false accusation. I am 
professionally a planter, and intend to continue 
in that line of life, by returning to Jamaica, 
where I can be brought to account for every 
line contained in this volume. I therefore mis- 
represent no man. According* to the view of 


libel which my UDderstaudio^ will alone admit of 
I libel no raan : — by this I mean, that truth 
is DO libel. I am aware that this book will fall 
into the hands of many an imprudent youth, who 
may thirst after the persecution of all under 
his control :— such an ojie^will pay but •. lit- 

/bring upon me. 

B. M*Mahon. 

J. Matthew, Printer, 12, Naysau Place, Commercial Road, East. 

APR 6 - 1915