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Historical Notes St Vincent and the Grenadines

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Information at time of Emancipation

1) On August 1, 1834 the total ex-slave population was 22,250. 18,102 slaves became apprentices; 2,959 children under 6 years of age were freed immediately; 1,189 persons were aged or otherwise incapacitated; the number of field slaves attached to estates was 14,797; No of unattached field slaves was 512.{{more}}

The total number of domestic slaves was 2,793; the total amount granted as compensation to the planters was 1,601,307 pounds sterling.

2) Stipendiary Magistrates were appointed to overlook the period of Apprenticeship and to ensure that the terms of the Emancipation Act were enforced. Of the more than 100 men who were selected as magistrates, nine served in St.Vincent. Among them were John Colthurst and John Anderson who left journals that provide a great deal of information about the period of apprenticeship.

3) On October 31, 1837, some months before the termination of Apprenticeship, there were 123 estates in the island.

Charlotte parish had 27 with an apprenticed population of 5,263; Grand Sable with 515 apprentices had the largest number (Grand Sable was the largest estate in the colony); Lot 14 – 276 and Colonaire Vale 256 with one of the smallest being Richland Park with 69.

St George had 48 estates with an apprenticed population of 4, 981; among the largest of the estates in this parish were Prospect 238, Ratho Mill 201, Argyle 213, Arnos Vale 206 with Ashburton only 18.

St David had 13 estates with 1,102 apprentices. Richmond had 258 apprentices, Wallibou 142 and Fraser’s Farm 3.

St Patricks had 20 estates and 1,439 apprentices. Of the estates in that area Mt. Wynne had the most apprentices- 188, Rutland Vale had 180, Cumberland 108 with Mrs Priddie 7 and Bellwood Cottage 12.

The Grenadines had 15 estates, the largest being Union Island with 333 apprentices, Cheltenham 188, Careenage 186, Industry 174 and Hope only 35.

4.) In a letter to the Governor on 11 August, 1838, following the termination of the Apprenticeship period, Administrator Sir George Tyler reported on the reaction to emancipation:

“I have much pleasure in acquainting your Excellency that the first of August has passed over in this colony without the slightest interruption to the peace and good order of society and the day observed throughout the government with every mark of solemn respect highly creditable to the community at large.”

But this calm did not last very long for there was unrest, particularly in the Carib country where there was conflict over the terms of the apprenticeship. Some among the working people refused to work for the wages offered. A large number of them had been reporting sick and going to the hospital even though there were no detectable signs of any illnesses.

A Methodist missionary at that time stated that it was possible to ride from Biabou towards the Carib country and not see a solitary individual cultivating the soil.

One hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation

A Century of Freedom (Editorial in the Times newspaper, July 30, 1938)

“It is not for us to contemplate the past with bitterness. Slavery was not only degrading to the slaves, but has been a blot on our Christian civilisation. The past is irrevocably passed. The unknown future with its wealth lies before us. On the foundations of the past we should seek to raise the superstructure of the coming centuries. It is for us to go on from emancipation and to erect an edifice which will be a monument to the race, an immortal monument to the claims of freedom…

Physical emancipation of the body is but the first step; of far greater importance is emancipation from the stranglehold of economic slavery, intellectual and spiritual emancipation…We must look within and not without for help.”

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