Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Chapter 14. The Third and Fourth Generations

The third generation of Anguillians were those born in the thirty-years between 1711 and 1740.  The fourth generation were those born between 1741 and 1770.  There is not a great deal of material on their living conditions during this period.  We must sift through the few documents that survive to gain a glimpse here and there into what their life was like at that time.
We saw that when Governor Walter Hamilton received word in late 1717 that the Anguillians migrated in numbers to Crab Island, he visited both islands.[1]  In both of them he took a census of the persons present, giving the names of the free white men and the numbers of persons present in their households.  The names of the persons mentioned in the 1717 Anguilla census are of interest.[2]  If one examines it carefully, one notices gaps in the first column of ‘men’.  These gaps indicate that the men named were missing on the day the census was taken.  The likelihood is that they were the men who went to Crab Island with Abraham Howell Sr.  They left their families, households, and estates behind in Anguilla, as they tried to carve out a new life for them and their families.  The majority of the absent men were not, as we might reasonably have assumed, young single men with no families and few responsibilities.  They were for the most part married with children and estates.
The 1717 Crab Island census tells us that there were 46 white planters settled on that island.[3]  Most of the Crab Island settlers were accompanied by slaves.  This indicates that the immigrating planters were men of some substance on Anguilla.  We saw that 42 men signed the 1717 Petition to settle Crab Island.  Of this number, a comparison of the names indicates that, not surprisingly, 40 of them went to Crab.  This high ratio of petitioners to emigrants indicates the determination of the men involved.  In addition, they took along with them 6 other planters who did not sign the petition, and 62 slaves.  We are not told the names or any other information about the black slaves who accompanied them.  At the time of Hamilton’s visit to Crab, there were, therefore, 46 white planters and their indentured white servants and 62 black slaves present at the prospective new colony.
The 1717 Crab Island census gives us the names of the 46 white persons, but only the numbers of slaves who went with them to Crab Island, not their names.  Some of these early Anguillian names disappeared from the Anguillian records after this fiasco.  We may assume that some of them died when the Spaniards from Puerto Rico destroyed the settlement.  Others who survived their subsequent incarceration in the Spanish gaols later emigrated to other islands.  Such were: Henry Osborne, Thomas Allen, George Garner, Abraham Wingood, William Beal, Joseph Mason, Andrew Watson and William Smith.  Among the important planters that we lose track of around this time are Peter Downing, Bezaliel Howell, Nehemiah Richardson, Abraham Chalwill Sr, and Samuel Floyd.  Some of the Crab Island names do re-appear in subsequent documents as evidence that they survived the Crab Island adventure.  These include, of the major planters, Abraham Howell himself and Thomas Gumbs.  Other Anguillians who survived and continued to play a role in Anguilla’s affairs included Thomas Hodge, Thomas Coakley, Thomas Howell and Abraham Chalwell Jr.
The 1717 Anguilla census shows who the major planters were.  They were only the third generation of Anguillians, in this difficult period of Anguilla’s history.  At the head of the list, both literally and figuratively, is Captain George Leonard with his wife, four children and forty one slaves.  Compared to the other planters of the island, his was a large establishment.  There were only seven others, out of just over one hundred planters, who possessed twenty or more slaves.  The biggest planters after Leonard were John Rogers, Peter Downing, Thomas Gumbs, Thomas Howell, Bezaliel Howell, Thomas Rogers and John Richardson.  Three of these seven major planters, Downing, Gumbs and Bezaliel Howell were with Abraham Howell on Crab Island in 1717.  This suggests that almost one half of the influential planters of Anguilla joined Howell in the attempted exodus to Crab Island.  The situation on the island that year was desperate for such a course of events to take place.
The starving condition of the Anguillians due to the lengthy drought was not appreciated by those who did not experience it.  We have seen John Oldmixon’s scathing description of Anguilla in the first decade of the eighteenth century.[4]  It is clear from what he wrote that he never visited Anguilla, but only repeated the old canards and libels.  He related how it was called ‘Anguis Insula’ or ‘Snake Island’, which is utter nonsense.
The country, he wrote, was level and woody and the soil fruitful.  The English first settled there, he wrote, in 1650, in the area where the island was broadest and there was a pond.  By this, he seems to be indicating that the first settlers occupied the fertile areas around Cauls Pond and Bad Cox Pond in the east end of the island.  The Fahlberg map made from observations in the year 1792, shows Anguilla in the familiar tadpole shape of later maps which it was not to lose until the Carter Rey map of 1921 restored its true contours (see illus 1).[5]

1. Samuel Fahlberg: Chart of Anguilla St Maarten, and St Barthelemy.
The major ponds of Anguilla at this time were believed to lie in the east of the island.  This view, that the first settlements lay in the Stoney Ground-Cauls Pond area, accords with the surviving documents of the earliest period of Anguilla’s history.  They deal mainly with titles to land in the Stoney Ground and Shoal Bay areas.  Oldmixon claimed that the only reason why the Anguillians were so poor at this time was that they were the laziest creatures in the world.  He claimed, out of ignorance of the real soil and climate conditions, that if only an industrious people were in possession of Anguilla it would soon be developed.
In 1717, a few days before Abraham Howell led his party of settlers away from Anguilla to Crab Island, Robert Lockrum of Tortola but formerly of Anguilla executed a conveyance of his plantation in Stoney Ground in favour of Thomas Lake.  He obtained his Stoney Ground Plantation by a 1704 patent from Governor Christopher Codrington Jr.  His 1704 patent is now lost.  It was for land bordering other land at Stoney Ground granted in the same year by Codrington by a surviving patent to his brother Edward Lake.[6]  Thomas Lake’s plantation is described as being bound on the north by the land of Edward Lake and the land of Gilbert Roe, west with Cockpit estate, east with the land of Thomas Call and south with the land of Rice Williams.  The reason for Robert Lockrum selling his estates in this manner is not clear.  Neither he nor any of his family of five children and three slaves joined Abraham Howell in the exodus to Crab.  We know this from the 1716 census.  Robert Lockrum's name is still preserved today as a place name.  Lockrums Estate is the area between Little Harbour and Blowing Point.  He and his family probably emigrated to Tortola to join the Quaker settlement in that island.  Thomas Call is remembered today only as the eponymous owner of the pond and plantation that lies to the east of Stoney Ground and that bears his name.
Oldmixon claimed that the people of Anguilla at the beginning of the century were completely without any culture or learning.[7]  They lived, he wrote, without any concern for anything other than to be able to have something to eat and something to wear.  Of the two, he jeered, their food was of a better standard than their clothing.  They gave themselves to each other in marriage, without the benefit of any lawyer to put them to the expense of a marriage contract, or of a priest to pluck money out of their pockets for licences.  Though their marriages were only common law marriages, they stayed faithful to each other as a change could never improve their condition, every one being equally poor.  He concluded his libellous description by claiming that in Anguilla, due to the absence of law, every man was his own master.  It was a primitive society, he wrote, where no man's power exceeded the bounds of his household.
By 1724, the date of Governor Hart’s estimate of the population of the Leeward Islands, the number of settlers on Anguilla is still declining.[8]  The long drought has not yet ended.  There are approximately 360 white men, of whom 85 are in the militia (see table 1).  Governor Hamilton just four years earlier put the population of whites at 409, with 121 in the militia.

St Christopher
Spanish Town
Table 1: Governor Hart’s Estimate of the Population of the Leeward Islands, 1724. CO.152/13.
One indication that conditions improved in Anguilla after the long drought, and that the population was increasing, occurs in the year 1734 when Governor Mathew reported that the militia was now increased from 85 to about 100.[9]
The tough conditions forced the early Anguillians to look elsewhere for the means of survival.  In this early period, one significant destination was the Virgin Islands.  There are in the Anguilla Archives fleeting glimpses of Anguillians who immigrated to Crab Island and the other Virgin Islands.  In his 1731 will, Peter Rogers Sr, left his estates to his children in equal shares.[10]  This is what he wrote:
Imprimis.   I give my beloved children all my lands equally to be divided between them, both what land I have in said Island and in the island of Tortola to them and their lawful heirs forever.
Item.   I give my son Peter Rogers one Negro man named Jacob to him and to the lawful heirs of his body freely to be possessed by them.
Item.   I give my daughter Elizabeth and the lawful heirs, of her body a Negro wench named Marrote with all the increase that shall come from said Negro wench.
Item.   I give to my daughter Mary and to the lawful heirs of her body a Negro wench called Lucilla with all the increase that shall come from said Negro wench.
Item.   I give unto my son Bezeliall and to the lawful heirs of his body one Negro man named Sampson.
Item.   I give unto my daughter Rebecca and the lawful heirs of her body one Negro man named Jupiter.
Item.   I leave the rest of my Negroes to the disposal of my lawful and now married wife Mary to give and dispose of them amongst our children according as she thinks proper.
He devised land in both Tortola and in Anguilla to his children.  The likelihood is that he emigrated, residing in Tortola for at least a part of each year.  Peter Rogers died the same year he made his will.  He died quite young, as the children in his will were minors.  He was probably a son of Mannin Rogers, and one of Thomas Chalkey’s Quaker converts.  He was one of those Anguillian settlers who did not accompany Abraham Howell on the third illegal venture to Crab Island in 1717.  Instead, he sought to improve his lot by acquiring additional land on the British settlement of Tortola.
In the will, he described himself as a planter.  He did not say whether he planted cotton, sugarcane, or only food crops.  He did not mention any mill-house, still, or other sugar works.  The likelihood is that in spite of his extensive landholdings in Anguilla and Tortola, he survived in typical Anguillian fashion by keeping small stock and growing pigeon peas, corn and sweet potatoes when the weather permitted it.
His will is an example of an early Anguilla document being fortuitously preserved in the Archives as a result of its production in evidence in a land dispute many years later.  There is a note written on it that it was presented for recording in the Secretary's Office in Anguilla in 1760.  This is the earliest Anguillian will preserved in the Archives.
Samuel Downing was another Anguillian who emigrated.  In his 1739 deed, he conveyed for the price of £172 10s his Crocus Bay plantation to Elizabeth Rogers.[11]  We last saw Samuel Downing in the 1717 Anguilla census listed as a married man with six children and with a grown daughter in his household.  He was now described in the 1739 deed as "of Tortola, merchant."  He emigrated from Anguilla to Tortola, where he did well.
Deputy governor John Richardson was another Anguillian with extensive family connections in the Virgin Islands.  His 1741 deed from William Hodge of Tortola and his wife Elizabeth Hodge reveals him purchasing, just before his death, a plantation of the late Jacob Richardson, on the south coast of the island in Spring Division.[12]  The deed reads:
Anguilla.   Know all men by these presents that we William Hodge of the island of Tortola and Elizabeth my wife do for ourselves our heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns as also for and in the behalf of Rachael Richardson daughter of my said wife and Jacob Richardson deceased the former husband of my said wife in consideration of the sum of one hundred pistoles current cash of this island to us in hand already paid by John Richardson Esq of said island the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge and ourselves therewith fully and entirely satisfied
have given granted bargained and sold and by these presents do in plain and open market according to due form of law give grant bargain and sell unto the said John Richardson Esq, his Heirs, Executors, Administrators and assigns for ever, a certain parcel of land or plantation situate lying and being in the Spring Division of the said Island being butted and bounded as follows on the eastern side with the lands of said John Richardson Esq and Benjamin Gumbs, on the south part with the sea, on the west side with the land formerly belonging to Edward [ . . .] now in possession of the said John Richardson Esq and the land formerly belonging to Patrick Campbell and lately in possession of Bezeliel Rogers deceased, and on the north part bounding with the neighbouring plantation
to have hold occupy possess and enjoy the aforesaid parcel of land or plantation to the only proper use benefit and behoof of him said John Richardson Esq his heirs executors Administrators or Assigns together with all the appurtenances benefits and privileges thereto belonging there from arising or in anywise . . .
Jacob Richardson died a young man.  He was an infant at the time of the 1716 census.  His name first appears in the Archives when he signed the 1727 Proclamation.  His widow Elizabeth Richardson remarried William Hodge of Tortola, a leading member of the Tortola branch of the Hodge family.  By the law of succession of the time, Elizabeth required the signature of her new husband to the deed, which was also expressed to be made on behalf of Jacob's daughter and heir, Rachael.
Anguillians are credited with introducing the Society of Friends, or Quakers, to the Virgin Islands.  As James Birkett wrote to John Dilworth in 1740,[13]
Tortola has been settled above 20 years, and the first that professed our principles there was the present governor's father Abednigo Pickering.  He came from Anguilla where formerly a small meeting was held and he at times frequented the same.  After settling in Tortola, he was instrumental in convincing his overseer and steward, who is now a very conscientious and honest friend, and an example worthy of imitation by those who enjoy far greater privileges.
Abednigo Pickering previously lived in Anguilla for twenty years at least.  He owned property purchased as early as 1698.  In either that year or the following year, he purchased from Jacob Howell the plantation that Howell acquired in 1698 from deputy governor George Leonard.[14]  He appeared in the 1717 Anguilla census listed as a planter.  He was then married with four children and ten slaves.  He emigrated to Tortola sometime after 1717 and settled there.
James Birkett’s 1740 letter describes how Abednigo Pickering attended Quaker meetings in Anguilla before he emigrated, and how he brought the principles of Quakerism to Tortola.  His son, John Pickering, subsequently became deputy governor of Tortola.  Thomas Coakely also describes holding Quaker meetings at John Pickering’s house in Tortola.
It was not unusual for the deeds and patents of this period to grant several parcels of land in different parts of the island.  In the years before sugar was grown, the cotton and provision grounds of a planter might be scattered in different parts of the island.  So, Edward Lake’s 1704 patent granted him three separate parcels.[15]  The first was an estate south of the Lake's estate at Shoal Bay.  The second was Waters’, or Wattices, which previously belonged to Ann Hackett.  The third was Hazard Hill estate, the location of which is now lost, and which reappeared again in William Gumbs' will of 1748.[16]  We have noted that this is one of the first surviving Anguillian patents granted directly by the hands of the Governor-in-Chief Christopher Codrington Jr.
In the year 1711, Anne Williams, the widow of Rice Williams, made a most complicated and unorthodox arrangement for the disposal of a portion of her cotton and provision lands.  Her land was a part of the estate of her late husband Rice Williams.  The deed reads as follows:
Anguilla.   Know all men by these presents that I, Ann Williams, of the Island of Anguilla, widow, for and in consideration of the love, goodwill and affection which I have and do bear to my well beloved son-in-law Thomas Lake of the said island, planter, have given and granted and by these presents do freely clearly and absolutely give and grant unto him the said Thomas Lake his heirs executors administrators or assigns for ever a certain part or parcel of land out of the plantation I now dwell on known by the name of Well Ground, bounding eastwardly with the rocks above the well, so running westwards to the foot of the Rosemary grass, bounding north with the rocks, and south with the stone wall and Rowland's Cotton Ground.
Likewise if the other part of the plantation should come to be divided or parted at my death that he is then to have his equal share of all the rocks and woods as far forth as any other of my natural children.  On the contrariwise if the plantation should never be divided then he shall occupy and measure as far forth as any other of my children as aforesaid.
So that likewise if the plantation should be divided as aforesaid and the land whereon the said Thomas Lake's house doth stand should fall to any of the other children that he shall have free liberty to withdraw his said house and the said Thomas Lake is not to debar or hinder me nor any of my children of the well and nut tree.
By this deed of gift, she granted her son-in-law Thomas Lake a portion of her Well Ground Plantation.  This was a cotton estate lying adjacent to Edward Lake in Shoal Bay.  It was bound, she wrote, on the south by Rowland's Cotton Ground.  We first saw Rowland Williams in the 1716 Census, married with one child and 5 slaves.[17]  This was the household of a typical Anguillian small cotton farmer of the time.  The same Census listed Ann Williams as a widow with one child and 3 slaves in her household.  The areas called the Well Ground, the Rosemary Grass and Rowlands Cotton Ground are now unknown.  This document is primary evidence of the continuing cultivation of cotton in Anguilla in the last years of the long drought.
Ann Williams intended that if, after her death, the remainder of Rice Williams’ estate was divided among the heirs, then Lake was to share equally in the estate.  If, at that time, the land on which Lake's house stood should fall to the lot of one of the other children, then he should be free to take up his house and move it to another site.  This type of home-made deed of gift could only be made in a community where small parcels of land were cultivated, and sugar cane was not yet introduced.
Quite what legal right she claimed to be dictating how her husband’s estate was to be disposed of is not clear.  The deed reads more like a will than a deed of conveyance.  It must have caused her heirs countless years of confusion and litigation.  It will not surprise us to learn that a copy of it is preserved in the records of the Court of Common Pleas of Anguilla.
The Thomas Lake Sr mentioned in the deed of gift owned several pieces of land.  He was a member of one of the oldest families on the island.  Yet we notice that he occupied a chattel house.  A chattel house was one that was so small it could be lifted onto a cart and moved, by mule or donkey, to another location.  The paucity of eighteenth century stone ruins in Anguilla confirms that the housing of the early settlers and planters were in the main chattel houses, if not wattle and daub ones.
Wattle-and-daub houses were a common sight throughout the islands as homes of the less well-off.  Such a house was made by daubing a mixture of cow-dung and mud over a lattice-work of canes or wattles to build up a wall.  The floors of such houses were normally the same as the ground outside.  Most of these in Anguilla were destroyed by Hurricane Donna.  They were replaced by concrete houses, the preferred building style of the Anguillians until the end of the twentieth century.[18]
The houses of the early eighteenth century Anguillian worthies were not substantial stone houses as were those of their peers in the other Leeward Islands.  Chattel houses remained the common habitation of the Anguillians until well into the second half of the twentieth century when the last of them were removed by Hurricane Donna in 1960.
Edward Welch witnessed Thomas Lake’s deed of gift from Ann Williams.  He was one of the Welch family that owned the area in the north-east of Anguilla that we now know as Welches.  Of the three persons who executed this deed, two of them, the grantor Ann Williams and one of the witnesses Edward Welch, were unable to write their names.[19]  They signed by making their marks.  The writing of the letter ‘X’ in lieu of a signature is a recognised procedure for persons who cannot read and write.  They sign a legal document by marking the letter ‘X’ in the designated spot after it is read over to them and they confirm to the witnesses that they understand its contents and agree to them.  Thomas Howell, on the other hand, was a man of some education and standing.  At any rate, he was literate as he was able to write his own name.  We see him later appointed to be a member of the Anguilla Council.  In the absence of any lawyer on the island, he probably drew the deed himself.
[Continued in Part 2]

[1]       Chapter 10: Crab Island Revisited.
[2]       Ibidem.
[3]       Ibidem.
[4]       See Chapter 6: War and the Settlers.
[5]       Dr Samuel Fahlberg (1758-1834) moved to St Barts as a physician in 1784 after the island was ceded to Sweden by France.  In 1803 he was named Director of Survey of St Barts, and thoroughly mapped the island for the Swedish West India Company.
[6]       Chapter 5: The Second Generation.
[7]       Chapter 6: War and the Settlers.
[8]       CO.152/14, folio 325: Hart to the Committee on 10 July 1724, enclosure: Answer to Queries.
[9]       CO.152/20: Mathew to the Committee.
[10]     Anguilla Archives: Peter Rogers’ 1731 Will.
[11]     Anguilla Archives: Elizabeth Rogers’ 1739 deed.
[12]     Anguilla Archives: John Richardson’s 1741 deed.
[13]     CF Jenkins, Tortola: A Quaker Experiment of Long Ago in the West Indies (1923), p.9, quoting Birkett.
[14]     As appears from an endorsement of Jacob Howell’s 1698 deed in the Anguilla Archives.
[15]     Chapter 5: The Second Generation.
[16]     See Chapter 18: Sugar Arrives.
[17]     Chapter 10: Crab Island Revisited.
[18]     One 1978 architectural report on the housing of Anguilla amused itself by describing the post-Hurricane Donna houses of Anguilla as belonging to the “neo-Puerto Rican concrete style of architecture”.
[19]     Probably the father of deputy governor Edward Welch of 1749.  See Chapter 17: The Council.