Little England: A Brief Socio-Political History (1)

Submitted by Looking Glass

Contrary to some beliefBarbados was not discovered byColumbus, nor was it ever owned and or control by the Portuguese. It was first discovered by an English trader in 1625. Except for a handful of Arawak Indians who had fled the Caribs ravage ofDominica and Amerindians it was unpopulated. By the time settlement of the island began in1627 the Arawaks had migrated toGuyana or had died out. Settlement was financed by private English capital and with the blessing of the Crown. By the 1630s the island had been settled by English settlers and English indentures. They grew food and products like cotton, indigo and tobacco for export toEngland andAmerica. The first slaves were not black but white indentures (the legal name) from the motherland who after five years of servitude were each given 5 acres of land (Drax Hall) and their freedom.

The slave trade wasn’t planned but started by accident. The first blacks arrived in the early 1630s when a British ship with indentures bound for the island encountered a Portuguese slaver, attacked it and found a cargo of 8 slaves who were sold in the city of Bridgetown. Eventually the Dutch ship captains bought camels and black slaves from their brethren in Africa for as little as $9.0 and sold them for up to $30.0 in Bridgetown. Thomas Oldmixin a wealthy tobacco farmer bought three of the first eight and his former indenture, John Tatum bought one. The two men along with Tatum two sons Will and Isaac would become very prominent in the political development of the country.

Around 1636 the matter of slavery and servitude became a matter of concern. It was unclear how long servitude was to last. Some wanted it for a specific period and for children of slaves to be free and others disagreed. Authorities passed an ordinance to the effect that slaves whether Indian or African and their children would be slaves for life. When the law was passed they were fewer than 70 slaves in a population of 6000. By1649 the number of blacks and whites were about the same in a population of 30,000 clearly structured along class lines. At the top were the wealthy white plantation owners who managed the island, other whites and indentures who owned little of nothing in the middle and all blacks at the bottom. Upward mobility was not encouraged.

One of Tatum’s slaves, a Yoruban named Hamilcar, with a great capacity for leadership began to organize a rebellion in the form of secret meetings with blacks on the island. The Tatums treated their slaves well and humanely, so much so their maid Naomi had become attached to Will who taught her the alphabet and English which at a time was forbidden. Blacks were forbidden from learning English or education, could not meet in groups or attend church. The best way to control a population was (and is) to keep them in ignorance.

The night before the rebellion Naomi advised Will Tatum to remain at home and not to go into the field. Asked why she replied “blood, promise me do not tell anyone.” Will and his brother, Isaac, decided something was in the air and set about to inform the planters. As a result Hamilcar and 17 accomplices were hanged. Some of the whites who supervised the hangings let out that it was Naomi who had betrayed the plot. Shortly after Naomi was found dead in her hut with her throat cut. And so the very first slave insurrection was exterminated.

The death of King Charles 1 beloved by the island Royalist divided the country into two warring camps contesting the right to govern the country: The Cavaliers led by Thomas Oldmixin were gentry, of good breeding, conservative and loyal to the king. The Roundheads led by Henry Saltonstall were liberal middle-class businessmen who preferred parliamentary rule which they thought to be more effective than Royalty rule. Tension mounted in 1650 when Oldmixin declared the island loyal to King Charles 2 who was still in exile inFrance: this at a time whenEnglandunder Roundhead parliamentary rule and most of the American colonies and the islands were against Royalist rule.

Cromwell appointed Lord Willoughby to govern the island who, on Oldmixin advice. chose Isaac Tatum as his principal assistant. But when those in power continued to ignore the rules that governed England Cromwell decided to send in Sir George Ayscue and troops to force the islanders into submission. LordWilloughbygoaded by the Cavaliers promptly removed all Roundheads from positions of influence and shipped their principle leaders back toEngland; among them Henry Saltonstall who left his property in care of Will Tatum. The Cavaliers organized into regiments and trained to repel landing forces.

And so the Roundheads and Cavaliers became the first democratic parliament as we know it today in the world outsideBritain. Eventually Cavaliers became the Conservative party I believe in 1943 and folded around 1952. The Barbados Labour Party created in 1938 replaced the Roundheads who folded in 1944. The Conservative Party faded in 1954 and the Democratic Labour Party was established in 1956.

Sir Ayscue, 7 ships and 2000 troops arrived in October 1661 but avoided real combat. In January 1662 Sir Ayscue and Lord Willoughby met in a session at the Mermaid Tavern in Oistin and agreed on 20 rules (Articles) by which the island would be governed in future, among them:

  • that a new law be passed with a heavy penalty ‘forbidding any reviling speeches remembering or raveling into former differences into former differences and reproaching any man with the cause he formerly defended.’ #20
  • that all estates sequestered or detained be returned to their owners #17
  • that liberty of conscience be allowed to all #1
  • that all persons on both sides be discharged set free and that all cattle, goods, servants Negroes returned to their right owners #12
  • No one shall be imprisoned or put out of his possessions without due process as per English law #4

Will Tatum sought to regain custody of Saltonstall estate (Lower Estate) only to discover that a secret agreement betweenWilloughbyand Ayscue had been exempted the estate. His brother Isaac (and wife Clarissa) was now the legal owner. Clarissa intent on getting her brother-in-law out of the way accused him of, among other things, Blasphemy and taking the Lord’s name in vain before the Church of England who at the time was the guardian of propriety and orthodoxy. The church in turn presented the case and ‘evidence’ to the magistrate. Will Tatum was found guilty of stigmatism, sentenced to 2 hours in the public pillory in the city and branded B with a hot iron on his cheek. On release he headed for the Dutch ship Stadhouder and departed.

Charles 11 was anointed king in 1660 and in 1661 awarded 7 baronetcies to be passed on to generations in perpetuity and 6 knighthoods to expire at the death of the recipients to nine Bajans. Among the barons were Sir Thomas Oldmixin and the exiled Sir Henry Saltonstall, to Isaac Tatum a knighthood. And soBarbadoshad become the first country or island in the world outsideEnglandto be granted knighthoods and baronetcies and to have and established democratic parliament.

In 1672 Charles 11 passed a couple of laws, SEED TO SEED and LEND LEASE, which formally legalized the ownership of the island and which to my knowledge has to this day remained unchanged. Thus it would appear thatIndependence gives us the right to management and self-government but not ownership. The ills of colonialism notwithstanding the mother country facilitated and supported the socio-economic ‘development’ of Little England which remains not only the Gem of the Caribbean but one of the best places on mother earth to live. Part 2 later.

0 thoughts on “Little England: A Brief Socio-Political History (1)

  1. The slave trade wasn’t planned but started by accident.
    Everything in Barbados has remained or evolved in that manner and that is why we have lagged behind in many things-even proper attitude

    • Slightly off topic:

      New California Law Requires LGBT History in Textbooks
      Posted on July 15, 2011

      On Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that requires public schools to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender role models in America. California becomes the first state in the country to redesign social studies classes for children in K-12 schools with the new curriculum. The bill passed largely on a party-line vote by the Democratic-majority Legislature last week.

  2. Off topic Fruendel Stuart like he face down atm kamla and the trinis The Express reporting Redjet flying to Port of Spain from July 28th. Lets wait and see if this is not one more trinidadian lie alike the numerous lies told by the infamous Jack Warner. Fruendel leaped to the top in my estimation the way he told kamla where to get off and that he can play the game as well as her once he knew the rules. keep representing us like that Mr. Prime Minister.

  3. @Charles

    The revolt which led to the signing of the Charter in the Mermaid Tavern at Oistins, wasn’t it based on the the principle “no taxation with out representation”? And it that was the case, woulnd’t that have to be reflected in the Charter?

    The Slave Trade was not by accident, but by designed. When the Pope and his allies decided to divide up the new wolrd they knew that they had to conguer the heathens and thus that is why they introudced their religion to seize control of thr minds of their captive, and once that was achieved they were able able to dominate.

    Thats why the slave trade and the papacy was so intricably linked. The Pope had given his bleessing for the potuguese to embark on escapades to conquer new world, and Portugal , Spain ,England and the Dutch were in the forefront of the development of the slave trade.

  4. Those two surnames are intersting.

    I have never come across either the surname Tatum or Oldmixon before in the work I have done on early Barbados.

    I looked through the index of wills up to 1715 (Saunders/Macree) and found the name Tatham and Tatam, no Tatum.

    Nathaniel Tatam, mariner, of the island of Bermudos 1711 Will reference RB6/5/481

    Thomas Pecke of West New Jersey refers to his “friend” (probably neaning Quaker) John Tatham also of West New Jersey RB6/11/344.

    I can’t any Oldmixon wills in the index.

    I have heard of the surname Oldmixon as an author but that was probably in the 1700’s, a century later.

    I’ll have a look on the PRO website and see if I can find any wills filed in England tor that period.

  5. Neither!!

    I like things to make sense and have some sort of an order where possible.

    I don’t like guessing when I don’t have to.

    In this world it isn’t always possible in all things, but some times it is possible!!

  6. @John

    I with you on that, i believe that any views we put forward we should be able to defend emperically..

  7. Where are the oral or academic historians on this blog site? Where are they? Where is Dr. Rodney Worrrell – Pan-Africanist Historian? Mr. Trevor Marshall – Cultural Historian? Professor Hilary Beckles – so-called Economic Historian? Where is Professor Alvin Thompson – Retire African ( West) History Professor? Where is Professor Henry Fraser – Oral Historian?

    Where are they?

    Why can not they be found on this very popular BU blog?

    Do not they realize that sometimes much of Barbados’ oral and written history is being savaged and torn to threads by some people on this blog?

    Can they be told by many BU readers/visitors that much of the written history of Barbados lies perilously at stake on BU? that are some people who, though remaining anonymous – come onto this blog, and in respect of, the various subject matters at hand, spew out entire loads of garbage that some times pass for studied history ( twistory) on this blog site?

    Can somebodies tell them – to the faces or from far – again? and tell the same thing to others like them too, that they have a moral secular duty to come and defend the truth about the learnable learned written history of Barbados, and/or a duty from within and an expectation from without to counter challenge the twistory that is being peddled by some persons on this BU site, persons who themselves have only a modicum of knowledge and understanding of Barbadian history enough to beat their chests – BUT surely never enough knowledge and understanding about the history of Barbados to lecture at any serious history based conference anywhere?

    Can some bodies tell them that they are wanted urgently on here to correct many of the false and injurious misrepresentations of these people who themselves can easily cast doubt in the minds of the average lay person on here, or can easily be miseducating them on here, because these lay persons are not so equipped with the relevant historical knowledge and experience (quantum/quality), whenever it is called for, for them to rebut the nonsensical twistory that would be emanating from these history upstarts on here?

    Dont they – these particular named historians – and others like them – realize that they have a moral christian duty to access or make themselves available to all possible potential actual mediums/channels of public interchanges/exchanges of ideas/thoughts/principles, etc, including BU, and where so ever else they are located in the Barbados sphere, esp. to participate in discussions on whatever historical current issues, and especially to do so as that these discussions relate to many persons who duly attempt to or recklessly pontificate, right or wrong, about the learned history of Barbados, but who in the final analysis are going to be heaping such information – gross mistakes, errors and all – on an otherwise submissively uncritical portion of the reading viewing public for their possible absorption?

    So, where are all these supposed guardians of Barbadian historical faith and truth?

    Busy in some of their own quarters creating their own histories – or is it her/theirstories?

    But, we in the PDC have previously seen a few economists, lawyers, doctors, engineers (recognized by their names) – in itself not enough though – at times in the past discussing ideas and exchanging views on topics specific to their training practice, or essentially outside of those, etc. on here BU but – with the exception of Historian Dr. Karl Watson – who deals with issues connected with his profession and his other varied activist interests on BU and elsewhere – where are these supposedly learned black and other white historians, with their baruffle of academic and other qualifications, and who have previously benefited – directly or indirectly – or have been benfitting – in what ever ways – from “free secondary and tertiary education” in Barbados on this BU site?

    What the PDC must ask of them from this far distance: is whether coming on BU, and giving some of their time and energy not also a part of, or is it not to be included in, the concept and practice of giving back some thing to the Barbadian community?

    But it seems that it is not!!

    Anyhow, we have decided to present the above serious concerns against the backdrop of some of what we have been seeing in the above lead thread.

    And we must state that we are thoroughly dissatisfied and displeased that this person, who goes by the pseudonym of Looking Glass – can – once again – this time in another lead submission – be putting across such rank and erroneous misinformation on this BU blog site.

    That Looking Glass can come on here and provide NO HISTORICAL SOURCES to support many of his or her arguable statements is a rather poor reflection on the academic writing abilities of him/herself – For sure,this is a no-no in academic circles – certainly in no historically based essay sent to a History Professor will this person normally get a good overall grade for this failure from the examining Professor. What trash writing indeed, for a start!!!

    Then, look, at this mammoth egregiousness here – many Barbadians have been taught that the Treaty of Oistins was signed in 1652 – –; yet this person who seems to have a morbid aversion to serious detail historical searches suggests that the Treaty of Oistins was agreed to in 1661 – What patent historical nonsense!!!

    Too, many people have been told – and a few older people who are alive can attest to this – that the DLP was formed in 1955 in this country; yet in a matter of fact way this Looking Glass could be caught lying saying that the DLP was established in 1956 – a gross error of historical fact. What a thunderous embarrassment from a person who has exhibited clear DLP leanings, also!!

    Now, what else is so factually shocking about this article. Let’s see. Here is it: this person writes in the said above missive, that the enslavement trade of our Black forbears was an accident, when mounds of historical evidence suggests otherwise – when too at the time he or she so refers – 1630s – the transatlantic enslavement trade would long have started in the 1500s.

    This person surely needs an intellecual whipping to bring him/her to their senses, and to help teach them to do some serious research and study before coming unto the blog with so many fundamental errors of fact.

    And finally what is of even greater insult is that the person refers to Great Britain as the motherland – when in truth and in fact such a land were a wretched unholy land which MOTHERED SUCH colonizing bandits thieves looters and murderers who committed all kind of horrific barbarous crimes against humanity against our black forbears – The Black African Holocaust. Surely, for all Black people their is only one MOTHERLAND – KHEMIT – AFRICA – where all present day civilzation startedli!!!

    So what an bewildering intellectual nuisance bugbear he or she is!!!

    Then, of course, it could only be here now concluded that the making of such profound and staggering errors and misjudgments by such a political slug cum self styled historian must be a sad and unfotunate reflection on the lack of greater effort on the part of our more learned oral and academic historians in Barbados to use every available sphere to properly inform and educate Barbadians about the history of Barbados.


  8. Some slight oversights.

    Line 5 down – Retired, not retire.

    Line 15 down, Insert mentally the word “they” between the words “that” and “are”.

    Line 98 down – It should have been the word “Detailed” – not detail.

    Line 125 down – It should have been word “there” – not their.

    Linw 128 down – insert mentally the letter “a” instead of the word “an”, between the words “what” and “bewildering”.

    Thank You.


  9. @PDC

    Why don’t you email the link to a selected few?

    Some of the academics are loath to post on BU because it is not an academic journal.

    They should take heart however from Jeff Cumberbatch, Doc Watson and even Doc Don Marshall who posted a couple of times.

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