Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chapter 7. The Leeward Islands (Part 2)



By 1727, under an ageing and increasingly absent deputy governor, George Leonard, government in Anguilla was at a low stage.  The settlers were essentially left to fend for themselves without any forms of constitutional government.  The arrangement whereby deputy governor Phips would visit Anguilla from time to time to conduct the affairs of government hardly appears an improvement to the previous situation.  It was still essentially absentee government with the added aggravation that the new lieutenant governor was not a native and did not reside on the island.
There is no record of the date of George Leonard’s appointment as deputy governor.  It is likely that he was appointed by Codrington Sr as early as 1689.  He served until about 1735 in which year he probably died.  The date of his death and the place of his burial, as with that of Abraham Howell, are not known.  The uncertainty of the dates of appointment of the two earliest Anguillian deputy governors contrasts with the certainty of the dates of appointment of the deputy governors of the larger and richer islands of the Leewards.  The reason for the uncertainty is that the deputy governor of Anguilla was not appointed by the Governor under a patent which was recorded and preserved.  The deputy governor of Anguilla was, from the beginning until the end, as we have seen, informally appointed by the Governor.  He governed by the force of his personality rather than by the rule of any law.  This situation lasted until 1825, when government of Anguilla was assumed by the St Kitts Council and Assembly.  From that date, laws passed in the St Kitts Assembly applied to Anguilla.  Local government ordinances were made by the Vestry of Anguilla under the Vestry Act of the St Kitts Assembly.  The St Kitts-appointed Magistrate chaired the Vestry until its eventual abolition and replacement by the executive power of the Magistrate, acting as Warden of Anguilla.  He represented the government of St Kitts in Anguilla.  This unsatisfactory situation lasted until the Anguilla Revolution of 1967 forced out the Warden and the several police officers who represented government in Anguilla.  From that date, the locally elected members of the Anguilla Council, later the Executive Council, governed.
Leonard in his youth, like Abraham Howell, was one of the earliest of Anguilla's long tradition of sea-going traders.  The sloops that he and Abraham Howell owned and traded through the islands were small, between two and thirty five tons.  We know this from the weights of the vessels recorded in Antigua as trading with Anguilla at this time.  The Customs Office in Antigua was diligent in recording the name of each vessel, its captain, its weight, where it was registered, and its cargo.  If we sift through these lists we can find the ships that were arriving from or departing to Anguilla.[1]
Those for the period 1704-1720 include:
Date
Vessel
Master
Burthen
Registered
General cargo
1704
12 Jun
Sloop Rose
Simon Rogers
10 tons
Nevis
Cottonwool, hammocks
18 Aug
Sloop Recovery
Peter Lynch
15 tons
Antigua
Cotton, cocoa
1706
18 Jan
Sloop Merit
Charles Keagan
8 tons
Antigua
Livestock
24 Jan
Sloop Lark
Samuel Skinner
35 tons
Bermuda
Coconuts
1707
22 Sep
Sloop Great Britain
James Atkinson
15 tons
Antigua
Cotton, yams
31 Dec
Sloop Elizabeth and Mary
Paul Rowan
14 tons
St Christopher
Cotton, hammocks
1708
20 Jan
Sloop Great Britain
James Atkinson
15 tons
Antigua
Yams
25 Mar
Sloop Caesar
John Trott
28 tons
Antigua
Yams
4 Apr
Sloop Ann
John Kenny
14 tons
Antigua
Yams
17 May
Sloop Content
R Richardson
10 tons
Antigua
Yams, livestock, hammocks
2 Sep
Sloop Content
R Richardson
10 tons
Antigua
Hammocks, livestock
22 Sep
Sloop Content
R Richardson
10 tons
Antigua
Hammocks, livestock
Table 2:  Antigua: An account of the imports made by sundry vessels to this island from Anguilla between 6th June 1704 and 25 December 1715:  CO.157/1.
The names of the sloop captains in table 2 that are familiar to us as being Anguillian names include, Paul Ruan in 1707 and Richard Richardson in 1708.  The latter appears again in table 4, still captain of the sloop Content.
Date
Vessel
Master
Burthen
Registered
General cargo
1708
7 Jan
Sloop Great Britain
James Atkinson
15 tons
Antigua

3 Mar
Sloop Great Britain
James Atkinson
15 tons
Antigua

9 Sep
Sloop Content
Richard Richardson
10 tons
Antigua

Table 3:  Antigua: An account of the ladings of what vessels were in the several harbours of this island [bound for Anguilla] from 25 December 1707 to 25 September 1708:  CO.157/1.
Date
Name
Place
Master
Burthen
Registered
Cargo
1712
26 Oct
Sloop Sea Flower
Anguilla
John Downing
2 tons
0 guns, 4 men
Nevis
Cotton, stock, hammocks
15 Nov
Sloop Sea Flower
Anguilla
William Downing
2 tons
0 guns, 4 men
Nevis
Hammocks, turtle
5 Dec
Sloop Elizabeth and Ann
Antigua
John Kenny
15 tons
0 guns 6 men
Antigua
Livestock
1713
16 March
Two Mast Sloop Sea Flower
Anguilla
Hugh Fleming
5 tons
0 guns, 9 men
Nevis
Livestock, hammocks
1714
11 May
Sloop Susanna and Mary
Anguilla
William Downing
5 tons
0 guns, 5 men
Antigua
Hammocks, livestock, tobacco
6 Jul
Sloop Sea Flower
Anguilla
William Beal
2 tons
0 guns, 3 men
Nevis
Hammocks, livestock
1715
4 Jul
Sloop Elizabeth and Sarah
Anguilla
John Downing
5 tons
0 guns, 4 men
Nevis
Hammocks, livestock
7 Jul
Sloop Content
Antigua
Florentius Cox
10 tons
0 guns, 5 men
Antigua
Hammocks
17 Oct
Sloop Mary
Anguilla
Thomas Hodge
5 tons, 0 guns, 5 men
Nevis
Provisions, hammocks
Table 4:  Antigua: Account of the ladings of what vessels have arrived to this island together with their numbers of men and guns [from Anguilla] from 1st November 1712 to 25th December 1715: CO.157/1.
Table 4 provides us with John Downing, William Downing, Hugh Fleming, and Thomas Hodge.  Their cargos included cotton-wool, hammocks,[2] coconuts and yams. 
Date cleared
Name
Of what place
Tons
From
Captain
Cargo
Quality
1718
18 Jun
Defyance
Antigua
3 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
John Noah

Two-masted boat
1719
27 Jun
Dolphin
Antigua
9 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
John Jenkins

boat
3 Jul
Defyance
Antigua
3 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
John Noah


6 Oct
Defyance
Antigua
3 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
Francis Kegenor

Sloop
11 Oct
Hopewell
Anguilla
6 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
William Beal

boat
15 Oct
Hopewell
Anguilla
6 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
William Beal

Sloop
13 Nov
Phoenix
Anguilla
5 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
John Norton

Sloop
26 Dec
Defyance
Antigua
3 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
John Thompson

boat
1720
5 Jan
Defyance
Antigua
3 tons
Anguilla
John Thompson

boat
8 Jan
Eagle
Antigua
8 tons
0 guns
Anguilla
John Thompson

boat
Table 5: Antigua: A list of all ships and vessels that have cleared at the Naval Office in His Majesty's Island of Antigua [bound for Anguilla] from 25th March 1718 to 25th March 1720:  CO.157/1.
In his youth, George Leonard carried similar freight in his sloop.  A little turtle, hardwood stakes for fencing, and dressed and undressed lumber and dyewoods would occasionally appear in his freight.  Much-needed Dutch-made goods, ie, clothing and crockery, and general hardware and other dry goods, were smuggled from the Dutch and Danish islands to the French and English islands around Anguilla.  Leonard knew all the bays and reefs of all the islands about.  He acted as pilot to Royal Navy ships in the waters around.  Codrington was able to say of him that he was the best pilot in all the islands.
We have the record of only one of Leonard's escapades from the early period when he was at the peak of his prowess.[3]  Deputy governor James Norton of St Kitts was tried in disciplinary proceedings before Governor Codrington Jr and the Council at Old Road in 1700, and dismissed from office.
From the transcript of the trial, we learn that Norton forced Philip Leonard, George Leonard's brother, into indentured service on his sugar estate in St Kitts.  Philip Leonard endured the usual conditions of near slavery involved in indentured servitude.  His evidence at the trial was that Norton forced him to work in the fields as a slave, almost naked and half-starved.  Once or twice a week he was tied to the pillory and whipped.  Norton caused pickle of beef brine to be put on his whip marks and sores, to add to the torture.  Eventually, George Leonard was able to purchase his release, but not on amicable terms.  On a later date, deputy governor Leonard visited St Kitts to make his report to the Governor-in-Chief on the state of his Government in Anguilla.  On his leaving, Norton jeered at him for running away from him.  When he answered that other business called him home, Norton swore at him and struck him on his side with his cane.  Norton threatened to run him through with his sword, cut off his ears and send him home.
These threats and assault were Norton's undoing.  On Leonard’s complaint, Codrington and his senior members of council brought legal proceedings against Norton.  The council took evidence from George and Philip concerning the incident.
Norton testified in his defence and was represented by counsel.  But, he was convicted and removed from his office.  The relevant extracts from the transcript of evidence make interesting reading.


1. An extract from the testimony of deputy governor George Leonard in the trial of deputy governor James Norton:  CO.152/4. (UK National Archives®)
St. Christophers.  At a meeting of His Excellency Christopher Codrington Esq, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty's Leeward Caribbee Islands in America, together with the Members of His Majesty's Council of this Island at Old Road on Tuesday the tenth of December anno domini 1700
Present:
His Excellency the General
The Hon Colonel Edward Fox, Lt Governor
The Hon Colonel Roger Elrington, Lt Governor of Nevis
William Moad
John Mc Arthur
William Willott
His Excellency and Council being sat (and Colonel Norton present) George Leonard Governor of Anguilla and his brother appearing as witnesses against Colonel Norton were sworn to answer the truth to such questions as His Excellency and Council should demand of them.
Philip Leonard being upon oath declared that Colonel Norton came on board of a frigate where he had him pressed for England in His Majesty's service sometime past and persuaded the said Leonard not to go to England for the cold would kill him:  upon which the said Leonard did tell the said Colonel Norton he would give him a year's service to take him on shore which Colonel Norton said he could not accept of, but told him he should go on shore, and he would take care to send him to his brother (who was governor of Anguilla).
To which the said Leonard complied, and went to Colonel Norton's house.  Afterwards the said Colonel Norton tendered to said Leonard certain Indentures of Servitude to sign for the term of three years, which he refused to do and thereupon the said Colonel Norton did threaten that if he refused so to do he would break his bones, calling him bloody son of a whore, and bloody son of a bitch upon which menacing the said Leonard did sign the said Indenture of Servitude.
And after, he was bound he was forced to work in the fields as a slave without any clothes, except only a [ . . . ] shirt, a pair of drawers and a waistcoat, and for his diet only a small bit of beef and cassava bread for four and twenty hours’ time, and once or twice every week the said Colonel Norton did cause the said Leonard to be whipped in the pillory till the blood came, and caused the pickle of brine to be put on his sores.
George Leonard Governor of Anguilla being sworn declared that hearing of the cruel usage that his brother received from Colonel Norton, he made his application to Colonel Michael Lambert (a member of His Majesty's Council in this Island who was then at Anguilla) desiring him to procure his brother's discharge or releasement from Colonel Norton's service; which was accordingly obtained from said Colonel Norton by Colonel Lambert for and in consideration of the sum of eighteen pounds current money of this country which was accordingly paid.
Sometime afterward, hearing of the said Lieutenant General's arrived in these Islands he came to this Island to pay his respects to the said Lieutenant General and to give him an account of the posture of affairs in the government where he the said Leonard commanded, which he having done, he took leave of His Honour the Lieutenant General, who was pleased to give him liberty to return to his government.
And coming to the town of Palmetto Point in order to go home, one Mr Biskott came to this deponent and told him [ . . . ][4] this deponent made answer he was not, but that some other occasion called him home, upon which Colonel Norton did swear God damn him, he lied like a son of a whore, and at the same time gave this deponent a fulch on the side with his cane and swore he would run him through, that he would cut of his ears and send him home, and further Colonel Norton told him this deponent Captain Perry had sent him a message which made him follow the deponent to Basseterre, adding withal that he had escaped a scowring, for if he had come up with him he would have laid him down with his pistols.
Written in the margin of the above deposition in the Colonial Office files at the National Archives at Kew Gardens in what appears to be Codrington's own handwriting is this further comment, made for the information of the Board of Trade:
There are one hundred men on Anguilla.  This Leonard is an honourable old sloop man, and, being now retired to that island and having the best cotton plantation there, was made governor by my father.  He is the best pilot in all the islands and very useful by reason of the experience he has to the King's ships in these parts.
Many years later, in 1735, Governor William Mathew described George Leonard as being then full four-score years old, ie, over eighty years of age.[5]  He was even then still serving as deputy governor of Anguilla.  He was born in or shortly before 1655, and by 1735 was long past his prime.  He was nearly 50 years old when he left the sea to work his cotton grounds.  He invested his savings not only in Anguilla but also in land in Antigua and Tortola, in all three of which islands he held plantations.  He is last mentioned in the surviving Anguillian records in the year 1717.  From about that year he spent increasing periods of time in Antigua.  By 1719, drought conditions in Anguilla seem to have made it impossible for him to make a living in Anguilla.  In June 1720, Governor Walter Hamilton reported that he and several of the major Anguillian planters migrated from Anguilla to Antigua.[6]  The records show him living in Antigua up to at least 1735.  The likelihood is that his children moved with him to reside in Antigua and were brought up there.  His sons and grandsons were educated in England like the other children of the major planters of that time.  With better prospects open to them than Anguilla could afford, the Leonard family eventually disappear from Anguilla, some to reside in Antigua and others in St Martin and Tortola.  The family name did not last for long even in Antigua.  The 1753 census of Antigua shows a number of Anguillian names recorded as residing in that island (see table 6).[7]
Family
Men
Women
Boys
Girls
Catherine Carty

1


Margaret Carty

1


Samuel Carty
1



James Coakley
1
1

1
Lucy Gibbons

1
1

Dr John Richardson
2
2

3
Mary Roberts
1
1
3
1
George Roberts
1



Edward Welch
1
1
2
1
James Welch
1



Richard Welch
1



Table 6.  An extract from the List of the inhabitants of Antigua, 1753: CO.152/27.
Table 6 indicates that by the 1750s, the Leonards were no longer resident in Antigua.  The likelihood is that by that date they emigrated to more promising lands.  Leonard, like Howell before him, gave many years of service in the undoubtedly unprofitable and burdensome position as deputy governor of Anguilla.  Howell appears to have spent all his years in Anguilla.  Leonard alternated residence between Anguilla, Tortola and Antigua.  The likelihood is that he died in one of those three islands in about 1735, as in that year John Richardson replaced him as deputy governor.
Absentee governorship was not conducive to good government.  Nor would Leonard's advancing age have made government of Anguilla any easier.  In 1727, as we have seen, the government of the Virgin Islands and Anguilla was placed under Francis Phips, a planter of St Kitts, in an attempt to control the unruly settlers.  There was still no Assembly elected to make laws for Anguilla.[8]  In the absence of an Assembly to enact laws for good government as in the other islands, a deputy governor of Anguilla needs must rely on his personal standing in the local community, not to mention his physical prowess, to maintain his authority.  As Governor John Hart wrote in 1724 of the deputy governor of Anguilla, “If his cudgel happens to be one whit less than a sturdy subject’s, good night, Governor.”[9]
Ten years later, in 1734, the system of government was not improved.  Governor William Mathew again used a familiar metaphor when writing of the island.[10]  He obviously read the earlier correspondence.  He wrote,
I know not what to do with the inhabitants of Anguilla . . . They live like so many bandits, in open defiance of the laws of God and man . . . As for being under government, they are out of all notion of that.  From time to time deputy governors from among themselves have been appointed by His Majesty’s Chief Governor of these islands, but they have no authority over them but what they are able to enforce with a cudgel.  He that is at Anguilla now writes that he cannot nor will not continue such among such reprobates any longer.
We know from Thomas Chalkley that the deputy governor in question was George Leonard.  We also know from the appointment of John Richardson to succeed him in 1735 that George Leonard must have died shortly after Governor Mathew wrote this dispatch.
To summarise, in their administration of the Leeward Islands, each deputy governor was, at least in theory, assisted by a Council and an Assembly.  The former consisted of up to twelve persons, appointed by the Governor-in-Chief upon the recommendation of the deputy governor.  These were invariably, according to the custom of the time, the richest and most influential of the planters and merchants of the particular island.  The Council advised the deputy governor in the administration of the island, and performed certain judicial functions.  Individual members acted as Justice of the Peace, took oaths, and sat in summary courts.  The whole Council sat with the deputy governor as a superior court of sessions, with appeal to the Governor-in-Chief in Nevis or Antigua.  Stapleton described the executive power as being in the Provost Marshall, by warrant from the deputy governor, who also signed all executions, letters of administration, probates of wills, and licences of marriage after banns.
The planters and merchants of each parish elected two representatives to the Assemblies.  These made local laws.  Stapleton described the Assemblies of the Leeward Islands in the 1680s as being composed of two freeholders from each parish chosen yearly.[11]  The constitutional procedure for the enactment of law is familiar to us.  It is the system that prevails in the British Overseas Territories in the West Indies to this day.  Laws made by the Assembly were required to be assented to by the deputy governor.  He was empowered to veto such laws.  These locally made laws were transmitted to the Governor-in-Chief from time to time and he in turn would submit them to the legal advisers to the Committee for Trade in England.  These locally made laws remained in force only for two years unless the Royal Asset was given.  Annual sessions, at least, of the Assembly were a necessity in the larger islands, as financial bills lasted for one year only.  Both Council and Assembly represented, needless to say, chiefly the interest of the major planters, not of the white free men, free coloureds, African slaves or small planters.  None of these forms of organised government was established in Anguilla during the early period when first Abraham Howell and then George Leonard were deputy governors of Anguilla.  Of them as with their successors, their ability to govern rested solely on their persuasive power and the grudging support their people gave them.


[1]       CO.157/1: The Antigua lists of Shipping, 1704-1720.
[2]       The hammocks were not only for the Navy.  Few households in Anguilla and elsewhere in the islands could afford wooden beds.  Most of the poorer houses used only hammocks.
[3]       CO.152/4, No 13, folio 33: Codrington to the Committee on 14 January 1701, Enclosure: Proceedings of the Enquiry Held on 6 December 1700.
[4]       Two lines of the transcript are lost in the binding of the copy in the Colonial Office records.
[5]       CO 152/21 No 86, folio 100: Mathew to the Committee on 20 July 1734.
[6]       CO.152/13 No , folio 67: Hamilton to the Committee on 14 June 1720.
[7]       CO.152/27: A List of the Inhabitants of Antigua.
[8]       The first Assembly for Anguilla was not elected until after the Anguilla Revolution of 1967. This gives Anguilla the distinction of being the last territory in the West Indies to which all the trappings of government have come.
[9]       CO.152/14: Hart to the Committee.
[10]     CO.152/21, No 79, folio 88: Mathew to the Committee on 17 June 1734.
[11]     CO.153/2, folio 139: Stapleton to the Committee on 22 November 1676: Answers to Inquiries.