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Waterton's Wanderings
Barbados - Page 1

Extract from the 4th Journey of Charles Waterton's Wanderings:

From St. Lucie [St. Lucia] I proceeded to Barbadoes in quest of a conveyance to the Island of Trinidad. Near Bridgetown, the capital of Barbadoes, I saw the metallic cuckoo already alluded to [on the Island of Martinico (Martinique)].

Barbadoes [Barbados]is no longer the merry island it was when I visited it some years ago:

"Infelix habitum, temporis hujus habet."

There is an old song, to the tune of "La Belle Catharine," which must evidently have been composed in brighter times:

"Come let us dance and sing,
While Barbadoes bells do ring;
Quashi scrapes the fiddle-string,
And Venus plays the lute."

Quashi's fiddle was silent, and mute was the lute of Venus during my stay in Barbadoes.

The difference betwixt the French and British islands was very striking. The first appeared happy and content; the second were filled with murmurs and complaints.

The late proceedings in England concerning slavery and the insurrection in Demerara had evidently caused the gloom. The abolition of slavery is a question full of benevolence and fine feelings, difficulties and danger:

"Tantum ne noceas, dum vis prodesse videto."

It requires consummate prudence and a vast fund of true information in order to draw just conclusions on this important subject.

Had Queen Bess weighed well in her own mind the probable consequences of this lamentable traffic, it is likely she would not have been owner of two vessels in Sir John Hawkins's squadron, which committed the first robbery in negro flesh on the coast of Africa.

As philanthropy is the very life and soul of this momentous question on slavery, which is certainly fraught with great difficulties and danger, perhaps it would be as well at present for the nation to turn its thoughts to poor ill-fated Ireland, where oppression, poverty and rags make a heart-rending appeal to the feelings of the benevolent.

But to proceed. There was another thing which added to the dullness of Barbadoes and which seemed to have considerable effect in keeping away strangers from the island. The Legislature had passed a most extraordinary Bill, by virtue of which every person who arrives at Barbadoes is obliged to pay two dollars, and two dollars more on his departure from it. It is called the Alien Bill; and every Barbadian who leaves or returns to the island, and every Englishman too, pays the tax!

Charles Waterton, 4th Wandering.

Barbados Blue EnsignThe Treaty of Oistins and the American Declaration of Independence
Oistins is a small town on the south coast of Barbados, famous for its fish market, but 350 years ago it was tied up in the English Civil War. Barbadian society was dominated by wealthy land and slave owning families, the core of whom dated from the first settlement in the 1620s, but the political situation in England had caused the migration of many wealthy Royalists to Barbados in the 1640s.

After the execution of Charles I in 1649, these landowners refused to acknowledge the authority of Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth parliament.
Uncertainty in England had led to greater autonomy for Barbados, which the planters welcomed and, in the uncertain political climate, closer trade relationships had been forged with the Dutch.

Following Charles's execution, most planters declared Charles II to be their lawful sovereign so Cromwell instructed the navy to force the Barbadians to give their allegiance to the Commonwealth.
On October 16, 1651, a seven-vessel fleet arrived in Carlisle Bay under the command of Sir George Ayscue and preparations were made for a land battle. A Parliamentary army of about 2,000 was opposed by a force of 3,000 led by Lord Willoughby the island's Governor. After heavy rain, both sides realised a battle would be futile and on 17th January1652, the Treaty of Oistins, setting out favourable surrender terms, was ratified at Ye Mermaid's Inn in Oistins Town.

This treaty contains a clause: 'That no taxes, customs, imports or excise shall be laid, nor levy made on any of the inhabitants of this island without their consent in a General Assembly'.
This was the principle adopted by the thirteen American colonies in 1773 when they dumped 342 chests of tea, on which the British had imposed a tax, into Boston harbour - the famous Boston Tea Party.
The concept of 'no taxation without representation' was included in the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.

A careful reading of the two documents shows that a signincant portion of the Treaty of Oistins was incorporated in the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson, who drew up the Declaration, may not have been familiar with the Treaty, but may have been introduced to it by George Washington, later to become the 1st President of the United States of America, who had visited Barbados in 1751 for a stay of a few weeks. George had taken his half-brother, Lawrence, there in a vain attempt to cure his tuberculosis.

The Declaration of Independence is very different from the 1787 American Constitution. The Treaty of Oistins had no bearing on the language of the latter.
[source James Roache, Halifax.]

Barbados was the only country he ever visited outside colonial America. A consequence of his short stay at the house, was that it was assured it of a place in the history books and the tourist trade.

The George Washington House is now a museum in Garrison, Bridgetown, Barbados.


The Flag of Barbados
The Flag of Barbados.

Click to enlarge
High Street, Bridgetown, 1895.

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A planter's House. Sir Frederick Treves, The Cradle of the Deep, 1908.

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View of five sugar plantations, circa 1938, from a postcard.

Click to enlargeBridgetown Harbour in the 19th century.
[old postcard]
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The Chamberlain Bridge.
The original bridge of this name replaced a swing bridge, which, in turn, replaced a wooden bridge, named Indian Bridge. Before that, there was, apparently a primitive bridge built by the Arawaks
The bridge was formally commissioned on 18th April 1872. A hurricane struck it in 1898, causing severe damage to the structure. It was refurbished with funds granted by the British Government under Joseph Chamberlain, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, thus the name. The present structure was completed in 2006. (1)
Click to enlarge.
Trafalgar Square, Bridgetown, with its statue of Admiral Lord Nelson (Horatio Nelson 1758 - 1805, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté KB.)
[1920s, old postcard]

1. See Wikipedia, Chamberlain Bridge article, (accessed 22 Mar 2019) and Warren Alleyne, Historic Bridgetown (1978; St Michael, Barbados Government Information Service, 2003). ISBN 976-8080-47-7.

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