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Historical Notes St Vincent and the Grenadines

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Petition from the Caribs of Morne Ronde following the 1902 Volcanic Eruption

“May it please your Gracious Majesty; We Your Majesty’s humble servants pray you of your gracious goodness to receive this our humble Petition, believing it to be our special privilege to address our sovereign Lord the King.{{more}} We Your Majesty’s humble servants are the descendants of the Caribs of this island who remained faithful to their allegiance when the rest of their fellow countrymen rose in rebellion in 1795 against the British arms and after the war the Imperial Government settled our forefathers on a grant of land at Morne Ronde which we were to possess without individual freehold rights and to work as a community”.

Because of landslips “and the invasion of water they found it necessary to remove their houses from Morne Ronde – after the hurricane of 1898 Government offered a place of residence at Rose Bank ‘some miles distant from our lands, but, Your Gracious Majesty, in order to work our lands at Morne Ronde, we must have used boats along the Coast and as Rose Bank Bay is a wild rough landing place most dangerous for women and young persons, we protested and at first refused to go there’.”

The protests were handed to Government and an assurance given that there was no other locality available so reluctantly consented to move to Rose Bank, ‘owing however to the danger to our women and children only a few of us had so removed prior to the late eruption of the Soufriere’.

All they had had been destroyed by the eruption; the Morne Ronde land was impracticable for cultivation. The Government directed that they go to Rose Bank ‘but the houses they are building there for us are very inferior to and smaller than those built for other sufferers…’

A reference was made to George Robertson receiving a grant of 400 acres and considerable money. “…our Chiefs suggested to His Excellency the Governor that he should purchase Rutland Vale estate and locate us there- this purchase has been made but we are ordered to remain at Rose Bank where it is impossible to obtain land in one block sufficient for our wants, and we cannot live at Rose Bank and work land at Rutland Vale.”

“We Your Majesty’s subjects as Caribs of Morne Ronde, have always worked our lands in common and been governed by our own Chiefs, separate from the general community as is provided for in the Act for amnesty and agreement for settlement made by the Government with our forefathers and should we be compelled to receive land in small lots such as are available at Rose Bank or its neighbourhood it would be a complete break up of our rules and traditions as recognised by the Government…

We Your Majesty’s most devoted subjects pray you, Sire, graciously to grant to us a tract of land in one block in exchange for the Morne Ronde land, and to put us in the same position as regards houses as other Sufferers from the Soufriere; and whereas we are mainly boatmen and fishers, to remove us from the dangers to our women and children of the Rose Bank Bay and give us residences near to or upon the tract of land we pray for and as in duty bound to Your Most Noble Majesty we should ever pray.” Signed by P. Foster Huggins, J.P, Chief and Referee by Election: marks made for John Francois Chief, J. Geo. Delpesh, Robert Francois, John Goode, Charles Ashton, Thomas Francois (Headmen)

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