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

Submitted by Looking Glass


Barbados was ‘built’ on agriculture. The early settlers grew crops for food, cotton, indigo and tobacco which were exported to England in exchange for items needed. They imported English ‘bondsmen” (indentures) to do the slave labour. By the 1640s the island with its Dutch style red-roof houses set among spacious parks and clean streets with churches at the crossroads was thought to be a delightful place to live. Stores sold products supplied by the Dutch after an English law obligated settlers to trade only with English firms who in turn decided on the prices to be paid. As the Merrymen reminded us Beautiful Barbados was and remains “the Gem of the Caribbean” and a delightful place to live. Please preserve it. In 1645 Thomas Oldmixin introduced a new settler to Bridgetown then asked: “have you ever seen a better island than this….My friend, this is Little England, and some of us believe it is better than the big one.” The pseudonym lingers today.

Early soil depletion and growing inability to compete in quality and quantity with crops grown in Virginia, Carolina and Georgialed to the introduction of sugar by Oldmixin and with it the increased demand of slave labour. By 1700Barbadoswas by far the largest and best sugar producer. In 1732 Samuel Trevelyan (Trevelyan plantation in Jamaica) visited Oldmixin who had the most profitable sugar business to find out the secrets. But Oldmixin would not divulge them. Later Ned Pennyfeather, owner of the Giralda Inn in the city, directed Samuel to Sir Isaac Tatum who provided the information.

By 1800 Blacks far outnumbered whites and continued to increase by black reproduction (those born locally) much more so than by the importation of slaves. Of course slavery and the sins associated with it continued. But contrary to popular opinion not all slave owners/masters treated their slaves badly. Some gave slaves their freedom long before the abolishment, some recognized their black offspring, and a few of their immediate offspring took black (coloured) wives. Some even passed on part of their wealth to their black offspring.

Nor did all the white settlers favour slavery, at least not as we understand it. Unlike America they believed Niggers had souls and strongly advocated its abolishment. Roundhead Richard Osler objected to a 1650 UK law forbidding certain traffic because it “opposed to the freedom and well being of the country….This will be a slavery far exceeding all that the English Nation has yet suffered.” Christopher Codrington left his plantation (now Codrington College) to the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) to teach slaves to read and write and to educate them.

The passing on of white ‘wealth’ to black offspring around the early 1800s gave birth to a second class structure, the black class structure. It was similar in some respects to the white system but differed remarkably. Based largely on skin colour (different shades of black) it was in effect a differentiation tantamount to social inequality among slaves. With the remarkable decline in black wealth, increased black education and ‘white collar’ employment the system became more differentiated and vicious as it developed, the top and middle each split into three levels.

Within black society discrimination based different shades of black was and remains a form of racism in many ways worst than white racism. The tradesman earning more than the white collar worker remained low class. You couldn’t even get beyond the gate of certain homes. How you were treated depended on who you were and associated with. Play or associate with the bare-foot boys on Weymouth or the Gully Hill and some school mates when in the company of certain souls and others passed you straight or look the other way. Sport was no different. Membership in the Spartan club was restricted regardless of ability and the lines in the lower class Empire club were clearly drawn. Members of both clubs mixed but socialisation remained restricted. By the way ask who ‘discovered’ the great Sir Gary. At a high school ‘debate’ in 1950 sponsored by the British Council it was argued that Harrison College boys should marry Queens College girls and Combermere boys St Michael girls. Low class schools like the Modern, Green Lynch and Rudder just did not qualify. There was no room at the inn for peasantry.

Unlike those at the apex the low class slaves and their offspring made a tremendous contribution. Today they occupy the most prominent positions and professions on the island. A few even became successful in the business arena. The Johnsons were slaves at Colleton Plantation. Alice’s grandfather, old Kenny Pile, recognized his black offspring and treated them well but left them no inheritance. Upon release from slavery they went into business. Their five children (3 boys and 2 girls) gave birth to 3 Prime Ministers. Alice’s sister added a fourth PM. In addition the clan produced a bundle of scholars and professionals, some very prominent there, in Canada, and one exceedingly prominent soul in the USA. Today they are four in Parliament. The black class system introduced and delivered blacks to an eternal tyranny of psychological inferiority and the need for acceptance, recognition and appreciation…And we did it to ourselves, not colonialism or the white man.

The first Jews did not arrive as refuges from Dutch Brazil in 1654, nor was the Synagogue established in the 1600s. The first Jewish settlers arrived from England and Ireland around 1804. The first Jewish indentured slaves arrived in 1832, the second group in 1836, the third group in 1842. Like the English indentures they were given five acres of land after servitude. By the mid 1800s most of the indentures had settled in Speightstown along with the blacks, the settlers mainly south of Bridgetown. Four of those who arrived on the same ship in 1842 chose land in St George, St John and St Philip and started businesses in the city. Today, like the English settlers, they figure very prominently in Bridgetown, the manufacturing sector, own the mayor plantations and remain by far the largest source of employment generation. A former captain of the region’s cricket team was the offspring of another indentured Jew.

In 1862 Colonel Drax, himself an English Jew, ‘recruited’ six Jews from Brazil to work on his estate and at that of his Jewish friend Colonel Holdip. They were the only ones ever to come from Brazil. Nisan managed Drax Hall, his brother Locust Hall. Nisan, himself a brilliant manager, married Annu the highly educated daughter of Chief Dosu. Colonel Holland, an English Jew, gave them HollandBay. (Slavery: A Specious Disposition). They had three children, his brother two. Three of their sons married black women.

Thanks to an Oldmixin law Jews had become free people in 1881, by which time they were a large part of the white population, Roundheads, in government, well represented in business, and renown for presenting gifts of pies filled with gold coins to officials whose services were needed and or were willing to turn a blind to those engaged in business. And Swan Street was called Jew Street.

Yes the Jews needed to have their own place to worship. “I wish you to join me in seeing that a worthy synagogue rise from the ashes that were once my little store; a beautiful temple where the scattered of Israel can sing praises to their God for keeping his promises made to our forefathers.” This statement by Papa Burgos to Captain Ham at a meeting at Trinity Hall in St Peter in 1886 led to the creation of the first synagogue around 1887. Later they considered building a second synagogue in Speightstown.

Contrary to some opinion Jews did not vacate the island but multiplied and contributed substantially to the island’s development. Today a large portion of the black population is of Jewish ancestry. Barbadosis not and never was a caste or a multi-ethnic society. Except for a handful of Indians who arrived from Trinidadin the 1900s the population remains bi-racial. The national social structure consists of two distinct and separate structures /systems based exclusively on colour which is a rarity. Given the economic limitation, education and population increase, the social environment and human relations within the black and white sectors becomes more ‘marked’, complicated and conducive to ‘tension’ especially within the black system, more so with a surplus labour force and educated underemployed.

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

    • is sittting watching the lawlesness and looting on television transfixed in absolute amazement – now its spread from london to manchester, birmingham and liverpool – why has this been allowed to reach this magnititude where decent law abiding citizens are afraid to go out of their homes and hard working small businesses are seeing their livelihood go up in flames – cat o nine tails is what i say!!!

      Someone who lives in England

  1. Well you in the gem of Little England better take heed and start cracking down on crime. Don’t ignore the ‘small’ acts of criminality. If not, you may end up like ‘Big’ England, where youths are running amok. Smashing shops, stealing trolley loads of goods and in some cases burning the buildings. We don’t know yet if anyone has died in any of the fires – there are apartments above some of these shops.

    The youngest arrested, so I hear is 11 years old. Goodness knows what is up with the parents – there seem to be a lot of teenagers running around in the early hours.


    Hey Boris, read your own European /British history – then come again!!!

    It’s hard when it is on your doorstep…

    I guess it a’ight when it’s in someone else country backyard!!!

    Time to “TRULY” face the SOCIOLOGY* if you really want to have a DEBATE*…

  3. Mr. Blackett would you please educate us mere mortals the reason for the lawlessness which has gripped several cities in the U.K.?

  4. Something caught my attention; people spoke of men twenty something years old in the rioting part of London who never had a job. Does any one find this strange? If socially these individuals are reduced to survival, are we surprised by the anger that is being exhibited in the riots. The reports indicate that people are taking food stuff and baby supplies; do you know that all people took in 1937 was bread, and were shot by black police for it. This problem of social suppression does not only reside with the people of carribbean heritage, but with eastern and other people of colour. English you nasty little racist slip is showing for all the world to see. Those horrors perpetrated on your many overseas colonies may now be coming home to ruse. Right in the heart of London. I do not believe that this is simple lawlessness.

  5. To Blackett:
    If you serious analysis is simply repeating things you have read in newsweek or books, please do not waste mine precious eye sight.

  6. Martin Luther King put it brilliantly when he said of rioting:

    “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

    Those are the words of a revolutionary who succeeded through peaceful non-cooperation…

    For those who have not been listened to before – WELL, THEY ARE BEING LISTENED TO NOW!!!

  7. @ LEMUEL…

    I don’t know where you live but I have lived, worked, studied and researched as a socio-criminologist in the white man’s country for too many years to number…

    You are FREE* to debate, read, argue or disregard what is clear EMPIRICALLY FACTUAL research findings (truths that are legally corroborated) and findings that are inarguable from whatever standpoint you hold…

    You have a choice BRUV* but SERIOUS* sociological/psychological engagement is crucial to solving the subterranean problems which have plagued Britain since the 1960’s…

    50 years on and still no real POLITICAL WILL* to resolve issues of white supremacy given the historical connotations…

    Riots are symptoms… and the youth are FEARLESS* (unlike the rest of us who are stupefied and stultified on FLUORIDE)…

    Let’s get REAL* folks – IT IS TIME FOR THE REST OF US TO WAKE UP!!!!

  8. Please, these are NOT riots! You are telling me that an 11 year old knows anything about social injustices? These civil disturbances are orchestrated by youths black, indian and white, who, knowing how soft authorities are on punishing individuals just run amok – all aided by their Blackberries.
    Enough of this crap about social injustice in the U.K., it existed there centuries before the arrival of the wonderful concept of a multi cultural society.

  9. just hypothesising..
    could these riots be similar to ones in middle east springtime
    maybe a practice run for usa 2012 election campaign riots
    by nwo owg neo con fox news freemasons bilderbergers type

  10. Unlike here, the Brits have recognised, and are challenging,
    the corruption of the ruling class, particularly their lawmakers.
    We here still like to believe everyone of our elected officials serves the country
    for the purest of patriotic motives, and they will sue readily if these are questioned.

    When the world is in economic turmoil, and the oil rich Middle East appears ready
    to die for change in their dictatorial regimes, is it not a little hypocritical to
    deny the very same rights of protest to our own people, that our foreign troops risk
    their lives to support the very same abroad, when convenient?

    There are many reasons for popular discontent in the UK, some being:-

    Denial of the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
    MPs allowed to return stolen funds with no legal consequence.
    The very same city bankers who orchestrated this crisis receiving
    7 figure bonuses from a public bailout.
    The tripling Higher Education Annual Fees.
    Locally, in London, £15,000,000,000 spending on the three week Olympic Games,
    whilst closing small neighbourhood youth centres in the name of austerity.
    Rampant inflation.corrupt

    It’s not just the youth, for I’m sure they just absorb the negative vibe and not
    the actual divisive details.
    The whole of the UK, and mark my words here, the rest of the world, will very soon
    revolt against the total injustice being heaped upon the poorest to bail out the
    avaricious folly of the government funders.

    Get a looter nicking a Play Station from Currys, 3years m’lud.
    $150 trillion derivative scam, not even an arrest.
    Oops I’m sorry, Madoff actually had the temerity to scam the rich, he paid.

    To all you tut tutters re:UK, be patient your turn will surely come as placid Bajans
    actually realise the damage done to them by those they elected to represent them.
    Watch the USA, move out of Chicago, if you can.

    P.S. @BT Everything according to plan but no mega UFOs on the horizon…yet.

  11. to Terrence Blackett:
    Start with the facts; caribbean people were taken to the mother land to perform menial tasks. These people are now, and for a long time, not needed anymore. Hence, trained to be they are inferior, useless and will never be an important cog in britain.

  12. @LEMUEL ARETI: “Hence, trained to be they are inferior, useless and will never be an important cog in britain.

    So, then, it is your job to prove they owe you something.

    Sorry for stating the facts. But this is the truth.

    Philly mayor: ‘No excuses’ for flash mob attacksBy the CNN Wire StaffAugust 9, 2011 6:48 p.m. EDT

    Nutter: Gov’t can’t raise childrenSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
    Some young people have to be home by 10 p.m.; others by midnight
    The city will enforce a stricter 9 p.m. curfew in some neighborhoods
    Repeat curfew breakers could face a $500 fine
    (CNN) — Philadelphia’s mayor described his stiff curfew on teenagers’ “flash mob” attacks on city residents as a dose of “tough love” and called for parents to keep better watch on their kids.

    “I have an understanding of what of our parents are facing, but others are in very challenging situations, and I appreciate that and understand that, but there is no excuse for young people being out so late at night by themselves and then making bad decisions and literally assaulting other citizens,” Mayor Michael Nutter told CNN’s “American Morning” on Tuesday. “I will not tolerate that.”

    There have been several assaults by teens on residents in recent weeks, and the beatings have left people badly injured. The city cites the culprits as members of a “flash mob,” which is a group of people who decide to gather at a given place via e-mail and social media.

    Nutter, who is African-American, delivered a frank sermon at his church, Mount Carmel Baptist in West Philadelphia, on Sunday about the problem.

    The mayor lashed out at the attackers, saying “you’ve damaged yourself, you’ve damaged another person, you’ve damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you’ve damage your own race.”

    On Monday, Nutter signed an order reducing curfews to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for people under the age of 18 in Center City, the heart of Philadelphia’s downtown, and University City, a neighborhood to the west where the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University are located.

    In the rest of the city, the curfew will remain at 10 p.m. for people under age 13 and midnight for people under age 18.

    First-time curfew breakers will be fined $150. Repeat offenders could be slapped with fines up to $500, the mayor’s office said.

    In tandem with the curfew, the city will expand recreation center hours throughout the city.

    One example of the violence occurred in late July. Philadelphia police arrested three juveniles and a 19-year-old on assault, reckless endangerment and robbery charges after a mob struck the Center City area.

    Two people were injured. The youngest of the juveniles to be arrested is 11, according to Officer Christine O’Brien. The others are 16 and 17; none of them are being identified because of their age.

    The 19-year-old was identified as Raymond Gatling, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

    “We will be prosecuting these young criminals to the fullest extent of the law,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in the mayor’s Monday news release about the curfew. “There is no excuse for what they did, and they have brought great shame upon themselves and their families.”

    The problem has overshadowed attention on achievements among youths across the Philadelphia region, one of America’s most populous metro areas.

    For example, the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement won a competition in San Francisco recently, only to return to Philadelphia with little fanfare and news of the flash mobs on the front page.

    “It’s very frustrating,” said Perry “Vision” Divirgilio, a performance coach and poetry movement mentor. “While that’s going on, we have kids who are waking up on Saturday to go to a writing workshop. It’s hard to keep telling my kids to keep doing well when the ones causing the problems get the attention.”

    But the issue has emerged as a major topic of conversation.

    A Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, Annette John-Hall, called Nutter’s church sermon a “good old-fashioned whipping” of the black community. She likes his tough stance on crime, but at the same time, she was disturbed by his remark at the church about race.

    “There, he said it. In a way that his white constituents would hear him loud and clear. At that point, he wasn’t talking to black people anymore,” she wrote.

    Nutter said his words at church were well-received. He said “senseless, stupid, ignorant, violent” actions won’t be tolerated.

    “Teens need to make better decisions. Parents need to step up and take care of their children. We, as a government, cannot raise people’s children. You want to have children? You have to take care of them.”

    Nutter said city authorities are working to be “more anticipatory about things and not just reactive,” and are using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

    But ultimately, Nutter said, the problem stems from home life.

    “What are parents doing with their children? Do you know where your child is?”

  14. To Chris Halsall:
    you disappoint me; in a relationship where we are always holding the shitty end of the stick, what is there to prove. How many generation must die before some of you recognise that the dream of the mother land is over. Peolple of colour have two choices to the caribbean or africa. You will need an army enough to take on the white man in britain, europe and the us to fully control the mother land. It was never a mother land that was a myth.


    I must thank you for showing that you are lying with just about everything you say.

    You are not a Bajan.

    You are, instead, the Bajan’s oppressor.

    I’m happy to defend that statement, under oath, in any court of law.

  16. It is perhaps apt that this blog comes immediately after the blog on revisionists.

    This version of events by “Looking Glass” in the absence of any facts is at best amusing.

    Until facts can be supplied to support his/her/its/their thesis, it remains like part I, ….. another long story.

    It is apparent from the comments that there are other more important things on peoples’ minds than one more attempt to revise history.

    Show me the independently verifiable facts and I will change my tune!!!!!!!

  17. To chris Halsall and Terrence Blackett:
    Whether I am bajan or not, those facts that I described are true, not his story. Why are you showing this anger whether I am bajan or not deal with the facts. The reason for caribbean people being in britain has transpired. What you have going at present is a blossoming of social oppression and repression in a attempt to stifle caribbean people receiving their rightful place in britain. And not with the current position where even those who are BORNED there are classified as THIRD CLASS citizens. Regularly, people of colour with english sounding names apply for jobs , but after they are SEEN, they are not employed. Where do you tell this generation to go.

  18. HM | August 9, 2011 at 8:45 AM |
    Well you in the gem of Little England better take heed and start cracking down on crime. Don’t ignore the ‘small’ acts of criminality. If not, you may end up like ‘Big’ England, where youths are running amok.
    Could not agree with you more,but over the years we have allowed minor infractions of the law, by mainly children ,to pass without reprimand. For instance Barbados is probably the only country in the world, where bicyclist, mainly youths, have priority on the highways,and where motorists are the ones who are expected to apply caution and vigilance when cyclists are around.
    Tomorrow is another game, played under similar rules. As the London teen said, the guvment or police can’t touch us.

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