Friday, May 7, 2010

Presidents, Governors, & Witchcraft the Barbados USA Connection

For many when they think of Barbados they think of England and rightfully so. After all it was the English who claimed Barbados as their own in 1605 and Barbados would later be known as "Little England”. However England is not the only place that Barbados shares a great history with. The History shared between the United States of America and Barbados is one of great intrigue and importance.None could be perhaps as important of those that involved the lives of George Washington and Richard Morris.

The first gentleman George Washington was the first president of the United States. In 1751 George Washington’s half brother Lawrence Washington was suffering from tuberculosis. On the recommendation of his doctors Lawrence along with his young nineteen year old brother George left Virginia and sailed to Barbados. The doctors had hoped that the warm climate and fresh breezes would help the ailing Lawrence. The Washington’s also had family on the Island and had planned to stay with them on arriving.

This was not to be as when they did arrive there was an outbreak of Small Pox and therefore arrangements were made for Lawrence and George to stay at the Bush Hill Plantation House which is located at the Garrison Savannah. The Garrison at that time was the headquarters for the British military troops on the Island. The house itself was owned by Captain Crofton. He commanded James Fort, the fort that protected Barbados from invaders.

While George was on the island he met many English soldiers and watched as they practised their drills on a day. He also learnt a lot about crop rotation. He paid special attention to this as he was very interested in agriculture

George Washington stayed in Barbados for 4 months. A few weeks before he was to return to Virginia he came down with smallpox, which caused him severe pain and a burning fever. Fortunately he recovered from this horrible, disease that killed so many all around the world.
In one way, he was fortunate, for it gave him immunity to the disease that would be the number one killer during the American Revolution.
His trip to Barbados was the only voyage he would ever took away from the United States.

The second man mention was Richard Morris who left Barbados at a period of mass emigration that took place between 1650-1680. Morris left Barbados and made his way to the Bronx New York where he built the manor of Morrisania.

Richard Morris's son became the Chief Justice of New York, his grandson Governor of Pennsylvania. His Great grandson Louis Morris was one of the forefathers who signed the declaration of independence and Louis's brother Gouveineur Morris wrote most of the final draft of the US constitution. It is also worth mentioning that the declaration of independence which was written by Thomas Jefferson was inspired by a document written by Thomas Sandford a Barbadian Plantation owner in 1651 called the Liberty document. Thomas Jefferson himself was the third president of the United States

Theirs are not the only stories of the US, Barbados connection. There was also Sir John Yeamans, A planter in Barbados who in 1665 led a colony from Barbados and settled Charles Town, Clarendon (now Brunswick) County North Carolina. Sir John then became Governor of the same area.

There is much more to the story of Sir John Yeamens. He was the neighbour of Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Berringer who built St Nicholas Abbey. The house is believed to be the oldest building in Barbados, and one of three existing Jacobean houses in the Western Hemisphere (the other two being Drax Hall in Barbados and Bacon's Castle in Virginia. Lieutenant Colonel Berringer was married to Margaret Foster, daughter of the local Reverend. It is said that Lieutenant Colonel Berringer left the Island and returned to live in England for a period of a few years. On returning to Barbados he learnt that his wife had become romantically involved with his business partner Mr Yeamens. As the story goes, the two men competed for the affections of Berringer's wife, Yeamans arranged to have Berringer poisoned, and thus he became the sole owner of St Nicholas Abbey as well as taking the widowed Mrs Berringer for his wife (11th April, 1661). In Barbados Mrs Berringer became known as a black widow as she remarried yet again after Sir John Yeamans died in 1674 under mysterious circumstances. She also outlived her third husband William Whaley

John Manley a naval officer, born in England, in 1733; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 12 February, 1793. He was a sailor from his youth, settled at  Massachusetts, and became master of a merchant vessel. On 24 October, 1775, he received a commission from General Washington to cruise in the vicinity of Boston, and intercept supplies that were intended for General Thomas Gate's army. He went to sea captured the brig "Nancy," which had on board a large mortar, several brass guns, muskets, ammunition, and various military supplies. He captured three other transports on 8 December, and succeeded in bringing into port all his prizes. The guns and ordnance stores were of great assistance to General Washington in the siege operations. Captain Manley continued to cruise during the rest of the winter.  Manley was given a captain's commission in the Continental navy on 17 April, 1776, and on 22 August was assigned to the command of the frigate "Hancock," of thirty-two guns, then building at Boston. Of the captains in the navy, as it was regularly organized after the Declaration of Independence, he was the second in seniority and rank.

In 1779 Captain Manley and his crew were captured  off  he Windward coast of Barbados by the Royal Navy and imprisoned in the town hall in Bridgetown. However Captain Manley and his men escaped one night by making a rope ladder and climbing down the south east side. They made their way to the ward where they departed from the Island. It was obvious that their escape was made possible by persons on the outside  but no action was taken against the suspects due to lack of prof.
The last but certainly no less intriguing is Tituba, and her connection to the Salem Witchcraft Trials. Tituba moved to Boston in 1689 the slave of Samuel Parris, a merchant from Barbados. Parris was invited to become the minister of Salem Village. He arrived at Salem Village in 1689, and brought with him his wife Elizabeth, his daughter and his niece along with Tituba and her husband.

Tituba of Amerindian and African decent was very familiar with voodoo-like African rituals. Tituba entertained the two girls with mystical tales that dealt with Magic. Other girls from the village began to attend these stories, as they dealt with exciting topics for a Puritan town. By the winter of 1691, attendance of these clandestine meetings had grown considerably. The girls and their friends started practicing fortune telling.

In February of 1692, Parris’s daughter became strangely ill. She contorted in pain and suffered convulsions. At the time, however, there was no explanation for her condition. Rumours of Witchcraft in Salem Village grew Soon the girls playmates began to exhibit the same strange behaviours. At the end of February, Parris’s daughter and niece named Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne as their afflicters and accused them of witchcraft. They were arrested on February 29th and soon brought to trial.The whole episode might have been dismissed, had it not been for Tituba's confession of guilt. The witch-hunt ran through Salem Village as swiftly and deadly as a raging fire Inspired by Tituba's tales. In all, 200 people had been accused of being witches, nearly one third of the town's population. Nineteen of them plead innocent and were hung. One man, Giles Corey, refused to acknowledge the court's authority and was legally crushed to death. Of the ones who plead guilty and were sent to jail, many contracted illnesses and later died. Tituba was eventually released from prison and slavery. She and her husband moved from the area and disappeared in to obscurity.

I am sure there must be many more interesting stories that connect these two countries. However the one thing that I am sure of is that it will continue to fascinate me how one small Island affected a country more than 22856 times its size.

This story is provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados

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