Posts Tagged ‘English Civil War’

South Carolina – John Colleton

October 11, 2009

Some of South Carolina’s roots lie in the English Civil War.

Our school books simplify that war by saying it was fought between the Puritan Roundheads and the Anglican and Catholic Cavaliers, the men of Massachusetts versus the planters of Virginia and Maryland. As with most wars, the conflicts were more complex. The west of England, centered on the port and merchants of Bristol, was competing with the upcoming merchants of London on the eastern shore. Parliament was jockeying to maintain its privileges against a monarch who believed he had absolute power. The House of Lords, representing inherited landed money, was under siege by the House of Commons which represented the merchants and new wealth. The Scots, Irish and Welch were still protesting union.

Many credit John Colleton with suggesting the settlement of Carolina to Anthony Ashley-Cooper, a Londoner with investments in Barbados. However, his background did not automatically qualify him for such reward from the Stuarts. His family had risen to the status of gentlemen in Exeter, the center of the Devon woolen industry in southwestern England. His father, Peter, was high sheriff in 1618; his sister Elizabeth married Hugh Crocker who became mayor.

When war came in 1642, mercantile and industrial Exeter supported Parliament against the king. Royalist forces laid siege to the town in August, and forced men like Colleton and Croker to retire. Colleton apparently lost his rights to income from his estates in Cornwall in the ensuing months.

When John Berkeley asked him to raise and arm a private army to support the dominant royalist force in the region, he agreed. They apparently fought at the Battle of Stratton in May of 1643 which Berkeley won for Charles I. Parliament won the war in 1645, although Exeter remained royalist country until Thomas Fairfax defeated Berkeley in 1646.

Colleton next appears in the public record in 1648 asking to have the income from his estates reinstated. Meanwhile, Charles was still fomenting rebellion and new fighting broke out soon after Colleton received his dispensation in March. In August he must not have been considered a rebel because he was granted permission to go to Calais.

After Charles was executed in 1649, supporters of his son regrouped in exile and had the younger Charles issue demands for recognition of his succession from the colonies. Massachusetts refused, but Virginia, where Berkeley’s brother William was governor, agreed. Barbados chose to stay as neutral as possible to protect its trade with both London and Amsterdam.

Disgruntled and impoverished soldiers from the royalist army fled to the colonies, including Barbados where Humphrey Walrond refused to accept neutrality and forced the governor to pledge to Charles in 1850. It was in this year John Berkeley says he ran into Colleton in Holland.

Oliver Cromwell sent a fleet to blockade Barbados in 1651. In 1652, a compromise was signed with now Colonel Colleton supporting Cromwell’s admiral, George Ayscue, who then appointed Daniel Searle governor. Soon after, Charles sent Francis Willougby as his governor of the island.

Colleton, in fact, was an ally of Thomas Modyford, who had arrived in Barbados in 1647. Modyford had been a mayor of Exeter and George Monck refers to both Modyford and Colleton as cousins in a 1663 letter to Willoughby. Both joined the subsequent plots to overthrow Searle.

The royalist cause was not a simple one, when men like Walrond squabbled with men like Modyford. After the restoration of the Stuarts many had to rearrange their biographies to emphasize when they had supported the ultimate winners. John Berkeley did the rehabilitation for Colleton in 1660 when he wrote a letter that became the model for all the heroic biographies that followed our civil war some 200 years later.

Berkeley said Colleton had sacrificed his fortune to support the royalist cause in the English civil war, left the country for the Caribbean after Charles I was executed in 1649 to avoid taking an oath, and continued to scheme for his son’s return from exile. He even introduces the now contemporary euphemism used to denigrate civil war in Ireland as mere “troubles.”

However, while Berkely would like to have used Colleton to remind Charles of his own service, he hedged his language with “to the best of my knowledge” in case reports surfaced that suggest Colleton was not quite as steadfast as proclaimed.

Berkeley knew the myth of loyalty was more important than the reality, and that personal self-interest was best wrapped in that myth. When he lobbied for the Carolina grant, he gave us both a colony and a narrative legitimizing disobedience.

Berkeley’s letter to Charles II as reproduced by William Betham in The Baronetage of England, 1802.

These are humbly to certify to your sacred Majesty, THAT John Colleton, some time of Exeter, Esq. engaged for your majesty’s royal father, in the beginning of his troubles, raised and commanded a regiment under me, consisting of 1100 men, well armed, without any charge to his then majesty, or compulsion of his people, which was very costly to him, he never receiving any pay or free quarter, to my knowledge, and the soldiers very little either; that he furnished moneys and arms, to a good value, when he was driven from his habitations and estate, in Cornewal, before the Battle of Stratton, for which I am confident he hath not had satisfaction; that he being chosen a commissioner by the county of Exon, for the carrying on of the service of your Majesty’s royal father, in the associated counties of the west, did therin good service.

That he did, at several other times, procure and lend moneys, and procure and furnish good store of armes and ammunition, when his majesty’s affairs were in great straits, and gave credit, and staid long for considerable sums yet unpaid, of many of them, whereby a good sum must de due to him. That he suffered much by your majesty’s enemies, by being of your part, I believe to the value of above sixty thousand pounds, and he was well contented to stay for his disbursements, and bore his sufferings cheerfully, proposing to himself no other satisfaction, that I could perceive, than your majesty’s restoration. That after your majesty’s exile, he was ever active and helpful to your majesty’s agents, in England, in his person, and with his purse, which I my self know to be true, and have been informed thereof by divers others.

That he forsook England, for many years, to avoid the oaths, subscriptions, &tc, imposed upon your subjects, by your enemies, destructive of your majesty’s interest, as I found him, in Holland, in the year 1650, and returned not until your majesty’s restoration.

That he hath kept his loyalty unspotted, to the last, as far as I can be informed, or understand.

I am sure he hath done your majesty, faithful and good service many ways, and all this, in order to his duty and allegiance, without any respect to reward or gain, that I can perceive by him.

19th of Xth, 1660
Jo. Berkeley

“Letter from George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, to Francis Lord Willoughby,” 31 August 1663, reproduced on University of North Carolina docsouth website, mentions the cousinships.


South Carolina – Primogeniture

October 4, 2009

Aristocratic South Carolina wasn’t promoted by England’s aristocrats, but by their sons who were disinherited by primogeniture, the law that dictates the eldest son inherits everything.

The legal tradition, dating back to the Normans, produced a large number of ambitious young men with no inherent stake in the status quo, not only ready to support whoever seemed most likely to further their personal needs to amass fortunes, but willing to reconsider alliances whenever it suited them. The changing course of civil war in England in the 1640’s increased the fluidity in society.

After the execution of Charles I in 1649, his sons, Charles and James, took refuge in Holland, where their supporters could see the profits made by the Dutch West Indies Company from sugar and slavery. When Charles II returned to England in 1660 and began consolidating a loyal peerage by granting new titles, the largest number, indicating the greatest concentration of wealth, went to 13 men in Barbados in 1661.

When the Stuart brothers were restored, their supporters maneuvered for patents to establish new colonial enterprises. The charter for lands stretching south from Virginia was issued in 1663 to Anthony Ashley-Cooper, John and William Berkeley, George Carteret, John Colleton, William Craven, Edward Hyde, and George Monck.

Some were direct supporters of Charles like Monck and Ashley-Copper who engineered his return, but most were friends or supporters of his ambitious, younger brother, James, who had no resources to reward them himself. Hyde’s daughter, Anne, was James’ wife while Craven was financially supporting his aunt Elizabeth. John Berkeley and Carteret drew closer to James during their shared exile in Holland.

More important, of the original Lords Proprietors, three were oldest sons, but only one enjoyed the privileges of fortune and rank. Craven’s father was a self-made man who had risen to mayor of London without title. Ashley-Cooper’s father died in Dorset when he was a minor and the estate dwindled through trustee mismanagement. Carteret was the son of an unpropertied man on Jersey.

Of the others, Colleton was the second son of the high sheriff of Exeter, Monck was the second son of an Exeter gentlemen in straitened circumstances, Hyde was the third son of a Cheshire county family, and the Berkely brothers were the fourth and fifth sons of a courtier to the king from Somerset who died in debt.

Monck and John Berkeley are the only ones who were active in battle for some period of time. John’s brother William spent the war in Virginia, Carteret retired to Jersey, and Craven stayed in Bohemia. However, each contributed funds to the royalist cause when necessary. Of the others, Ashley-Cooper changed from a royalist to a supporter of Parliament and Hyde moved the other way. Colleton raised troops for John Berkeley in the early 1840’s, but then steered a moderate course in Barbados in the 1850’s.

The quest for title and fortune meant most of the Carolina proprietors were involved as investors or proprietors in at least one other colonial grant. Many of these began as schemes promoted by the Stuart cousin Rupert, the younger son of Elizabeth. The first, to explore for gold in Africa in 1660, included Ashley-Cooper, John Berkeley, Craven, and Monck. Three years later, the company was reorganized to handle the African slave trade and included John Berkeley, Carteret, Colleton, and Craven.

When England took possession of the Dutch territories north of Virginia in 1664, Charles II gave them to his brother, who then gave the part of the land now New Jersey to John Berkeley and Carteret. The first investors in 1665 in what became the Hudson Bay Company of Canada included Carteret and Peter Colleton, John’s oldest son. In 1668, Ashley-Cooper, Craven, and Monck became involved.

The swirling coterie of younger sons and ruined oldest ones circling the younger Stuart seeking reward for temporary loyalties in overlapping charters is reminiscent of the crony capitalism of George Bush’s presidency when the energy, mortgage and private equity industries flourished in a time of negligent surveillance. There even came a time when the need for more money to finance the colonial stock companies brought in the talented men in the next orbit like Robert Boyle and John Locke.

As we pick through the debris of the current economic crisis, we recognize how many were simply out to amass wealth with as little effort as possible, and how few were willing to do the hard work necessary to build new enterprises. Likewise, among the Carolina proprietors, the ones with some experience in the colonies, regardless of their royalist ties, were the only ones willing to work to convert the charters and investments into profitable enterprises. William Berkeley sent William Drummond to colonize the Albermarle area in 1664 while Ashley-Cooper sent settlers from England to what’s now Port Royal in 1670, after Colleton died in 1666. In the next generation, the only Carolina settler was the third son of Colleton, James.

Note: Many of the proprietors are now better known by their titles. In order of rank, Monck became the Duke of Albemarle while Hyde was made Earl of Clarendon, Ashley-Cooper the Earl of Shaftesbury, and Craven the Earl of Craven. John Berkeley rose to the Baron of Stratton. The others were made baronets without rights to sit in the House of Lords.

South Carolina – Bacon’s Rebellion

September 27, 2009

Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion is the first use of force in what was to become the United States to thwart the policies of the legally established government.

The governor, William Berkeley, had become somewhat rigid with age and longevity in office. In 1676, the House of Burgess, responding to demands from Bacon, proposed reforms that would limit Berkeley’s power and restore some rights to landless men. Bacon stormed the sitting assembly with 500 armed men and demanded a military commission. His men then attacked local Indians, before returning to burn Jamestown. The rebellion collapsed when Bacon died and England sent Berkeley reinforcements.

The revolt has been ensconced in popular history as the first battle between freedom loving poor folk and the tyranny of an unelected government, even though the dispute lay over the rights of native Americans to land they had cleared and developed, which the government sought to protect. Some even think much of it was motivated by family feuds between Berkeley and his wife’s family, the Culpepers, who were related to Bacon.

The psychology of fear in Virginia was closer to the reaction of New Englanders to attacks by Indians encouraged by England’s enemies in the French and Indian Wars, which coincided with the Salem witch hysteria in 1692, than it was with the reactions of men allied with the losing side in the English civil war who supported Humphry Walrond in Barbados in 1650 because they felt mistreated.

The difficulties of early frontier life were real. Richard Thompson migrated to Maryland in the 1630’s on a ship that had stopped en route at Barbados. In 1637, he returned home to find his wife, children and servants killed. During the English civil war he remarried and moved to the Virginia area between the Potomac and Rappahannock, where he died in 1649 when his children were still toddlers.

In 1662 his son Richard came of age and named Thomas Willoughby his legal guardian. He had been granted land south of the James near Norfolk and married Willoughby’s daughter, Sarah. Willoughby’s grandfather, Thomas, had migrated to Virginia and acquired land through his connections with Percival Willoughby, an investor in the Virginia Company.

The Willoughby family entered the English peerage with Christopher, who was knighted by Henry VIII for military action at Tournai in 1513. His oldest son, William, established the Erseby line, his second son, Christopher, began the Parhams, and his youngest of five boys, Thomas, served as Chief Justice and married an heiress. Their son Robert married Dorothy Willoughby; their grandson, the Percival, married Francis Willoughby of the Eresby branch.

Francis Willoughby of Barbados was descended through the Parhams. Jorge H. Castelli thinks the immigrant Thomas may have been the fifth son of Francis’ great-grandfather Charles.

The Willoughbys not only intermarried, but maintained other face-to-face contacts. Thomas, the husband of Sarah Thompson, was sent to London for his education at the Merchant Taylors School founded by one of the livery companies in London. In 1655, Francis Emperor wrote to the same Thomas Willoughby in Barbados for help in recruiting a Puritan minister.

Emperor had left Barbados in 1650, probably when the royalists, led by Humphrey Walrond, were threatening dissidents, and moved to the Norfolk area which, April Hatfield says, had become a magnet for emigrants from the island. The local economy was tied to export trade, supplying naval stores and dried meat provisions. Settlers from England were more likely to move north of the James where tobacco was grown.

Men like Emperor continued to trade with relatives in Barbados, and provided an example for islanders who needed more land than was available there. In 1652 Thomas Modyford had written to Berkeley about the possibility of sending settlers. In 1662 Francis Willoughby had done the same. Even Guy Molesworth, who’d been forced to leave the island in 1650, was in Jamestown in 1660 as an aide to Berkeley.

Hatfield says about 9% of the population of Virginia’s eastern shore were immigrants from other colonies. The son of Isaac Allerton, a somewhat unscrupulous New England merchant who had originally trained as a tailor, moved to Virginia where he became active in the tobacco trade. The younger Isaac eventually married Thomas Willoughby’s sister Elizabeth and moved to the area above the Rappahannock that had been opened after the Indians were subdued.

When Bacon rebelled, personal experience as much as family ties determined who supported whom. Richard Thompson, the Willoughby in-law who grew up hearing about Indian depredations, supported Bacon and later issued a written apology. Allerton, the Willoughby in-law who grew up hearing about family ties to the leading Pilgrim magistrates, supported Berkeley. Thomas himself was dead and his son, Thomas, was too young to participate.

When you look for concrete links between generations to show the diffusion of attitudes towards government and threats of armed rebellion, it is extremely difficult to do more than establish people knew one another. Everyone knows brothers who never speak, and anyone who’s looked at family genealogies knows the problems that arise when the same name is repeated. Some still aren’t convinced Allerton’s wife wasn’t Elizabeth Thompson, sister of Sarah and Richard, instead of their sister-in-law, Elizabeth Willoughby.

But I suspect somewhere in those dusty records, more likely in those for an indentured servant following Francis Emperor than for a major landowner, lay the lines of influence that possibly tie the uprising in Barbados with later ones in this country through oral history. We can only guess what might have been, not what was.

Allerton, Walter Scott. A History of the Allerton Family in the United States: 1585 to 1885, 1900.

Brooke, Francis Taliaferro. “Some Contemporary Accounts of Eminent Charaters,” William and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine, 1908, on Richard Thompson.

Castelli, Jorge H. “Willoughby Family of Parham,” Tudorplace website.

Hatfield, April Lee. Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century, 2007.

Kennedy, Mary Seldon. Seldens of Virginia and Allied Families, volume 2, 1911, on Willoughby family.

Lepore, Jill. Review of Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil’s Snare, The New York Times Book Review, 3 November 2002., discusses Indian background of Salem witch trials.

Nichol, Margaret Nolan. “The Thompson Family” of Northumberland County, Virginia, Genealogenie website.

South Carolina – Humphrey Walrond

September 20, 2009

Humphrey Walrond’s rebellion in Barbados occurred more than 350 years ago. Historians can either dismiss the similarities to today’s more extreme conservative activists or argue similar conditions produce similar responses or that there are direct connections from person to person. In other words, they confront the classic case confronting anthropologists: coincidence, reinvention or diffusion.

In some ways, the psychological case is the easiest to make.

Humphrey Walrond was the oldest son of a junior branch of a family that established itself in Somerset. His grandfather Humphrey had amassed a fortune in Chancery, bought land in the village of Sea, and opened the local grammar school.

When civil war broke out in England, Walrond was 43 with ten children. He showed no particular inclination to serve either side, but later told Parliament he had done what he could to protect his roundhead neighbors from the depredations of the royalists who dominated the countryside.

In 1645 he fell foul of both sides when the nature of the war changed. Parliament had wearied of protracted warfare that depended on local militias, and established the New Model Army as a professional force, an action akin to Lincoln’s when he elevated Grant, Sherman and Sheridan in our civil war. The first forays under Thomas Fairfax were in Walrond’s area.

As Fairfax neared, the royalist hounded Walrond from his home. He fled to the nearest fortified town, Bridgewater, which Fairfax soon made his first example of Parliamentary resolve by laying siege to the castle and lobbing fire bombs that destroyed much of the town.

Walrond was among the fifty gentlemen taken prisoner when the town was defeated, sent to Gatehouse, and stripped of his property. His oldest son, George, lost as arm sometime fighting for the royalists. When his petitions to Parliament were refused, he sold his property and moved to Barbados.

The town’s local historian, James Street, observed the “Col. Walrond, across the Atlantic, was (as we have said) a strangely different character” than he had been in Sea.”

He used every method of the roundheads – legislative maneuvers, war, sequestration of estates, purification of all but the most loyal – to destroy representatives of the men he felt had wrongly punished him. He borrowed the oaths of the Stuarts, but was more an inversion of the men he felt had destroyed him than he was a royalist.

His ally in Barbados, Francis Willoughby underwent the same psychological transformation. During the war, he fought for Parliament, but in 1647, after Charles I had been defeated, he supported Parliament in its disputes with the New Model Army. When the army took London, he was jailed for six months, then fled to Holland to support Charles I.

Once Willoughby took control in Barbados from Walrond, he appeased the moderate royalists, who wished to remain isolated from England’s wars. However, when the banished landowners continued to sponsor partisan accounts of Walrond’s activities, Darnell Davis says Willoughby confused the personal with the political and redirected his anger from the Commonwealth toward anyone who disagreed with him.

As the blockade continued, he nursed his grievance, and wrote his wife “since they began so deeply with me, as to take away all at one clap, and without any cause given on my part, I am resolved not to sit down a loser and be content to see thee, my children, and self ruined.”

With no sense of the realities of a plantation economy that had always depended on trade for most of its food, he believed they “can neither starve us with cold, nor famish us with hunger” and so told her “If ever they get the Island, it shall cost them more than it is worth before they have it.” It was this indifference to ruin that led moderate royalists to abandon his cause.

The two men, both sons who had inherited to follow the lines of their caste, were shocked when their reflexive responses not only weren’t adequate, but judged wrong when circumstances changed in unexpected ways. They reacted a bit like war prisoners today who internalize some of the attributes of their tormenters at the same time they lose any sense of causality in the outside world.

When Charles II was made king in 1660, Willoughby returned to Barbados, with Walrond as his assistant. By the end of the year, Walrond had displaced him and began prosecuting Thomas Modyford for treason, unmindful of the fact the moderate royalist was related to the man who helped engineer the restoration of the Stuarts, George Monck.

Walrond was expelled again in 1662, and a year later charged with trading with Spain in violation of the Navigation Laws his behavior in Barbados had prompted Parliament to introduce. During his previous exile from Barbados, he had offered his services to Spain, which then was putting down rebellions in Catalonia and Portugal. He angered everyone in England, but managed to leave his son George the most necessary inheritance of a royalist, a title, albeit the Spanish Marquis of Vallado, and debt.

Willoughby never returned to civilian life, but died in battle with the Dutch in 1666.

Davis, Nicholas Darnell. The Cavaliers & Roundheads of Barbados, 1650-1652, 1887, quotes Willoughby’s letter.

Street, James. The Mynster of the Ile, Or, the Story of the Ancient Parish of Ilminster, 1904.

South Carolina – Humphrey Waldron’s Rebellion

September 11, 2009

Humphrey Walrond’s royalist revolt on Barbados in 1650 is the first instance of the deliberate use of lies and threats of violence to overcome the will of the legal majority that I know might have influenced South Carolina.

When England tried, sentenced and executed Charles I in 1649, Barbados was a fragile society. Slavery was still new and the mechanisms for control weren’t yet in place. Indentured servants had plotted rebellion in 1647. In September of 1649, Oliver Cromwell told Parliament he had executed every tenth soldier captured at Drogheda and sent the rest to Barbados along with Catholic soldiers caught in other Irish towns.

The recent, unwilling arrivals had not yet been absorbed by a society that was rapidly converting to slave labor nor had many yet had the opportunity to remigrate to newly opened islands like Antigua. Any references made by agitators to violent rebellion or enslavement were heard against this background.

Land title on the island was dependent on the Lord Proprietor, and through him, on the English government which granted him a charter. In 1648, Francis Willoughby assumed the Barbados patent when he paid some debts of the current Earl of Carlisle. James Hay’s son James then revoked the appointment of Philip Bell as governor. Willoughby had appointed no successor and Bell was still in place.

Not only was there no legitimate chain of authority, most landowners realized their titles ultimately depended on the good will of the government that was still being petitioned by the creditors of William Courteen, who claimed his grant had priority over that of Hays-Willoughby. Most Barbadians wished to offend as few people as possible in England and so wished to remain neutral.

The Walrond rebellion began in Bermuda in 1649 when royalists overthrew the governor and replaced him with one who refused the request for loyalty from the Commonwealth’s Council of State and declared Charles I’s son Charles the legitimate power in England. They also banished the Independents to the Bahamas.

The term Independent was used for any dissident from the Anglican church, including a number of Puritans sent by the chief shareholder in the Somers Isle Company, Robert Rich, the Earl of Warwick. Their rebellion was then against both the state and their landlord.

Bermuda sent agents to the wealthier Barbados asking it to support Charles Stuart and join a mutual defense alliance. Royalists on the island favored the Bermudans, but one of the largest landowners, James Drax, convinced the government it could sell arms but should remain neutral.

Walrond began plotting against Drax, who he began calling an Independent, and infiltrating the key positions in the civil government. The treasurer, Guy Molesworth, was banished for his alleged role in the servant plot two years earlier. William Byam, recently deported from the Tower of London, was made treasurer and Master of the Magazines. Molesworth told Parliament that Drax was responsible for the false rumors.

By mid April, moderate royalists like Thomas Modyford, who were concerned that Walrond’s continued maneuvering for recognition of Charles Stuart could ruin the island, proposed a widely support Act for Uniting the Inhabitants of the Island under the Government which simply required every citizen obey the island’s government.

Walrond’s lawyer brother, Edward, added inflammatory language that anyone who attended an Independent service or did not attend communion should be sentenced for three months on the first offence, and then banished if he persisted.

Drax suggested to Bell that he should call an election for the General Assembly that, in effect, would be a referendum on the Modyford-Walrond bill. Humphrey Walrond responded with libelous broadsheets against Drax, each more scurrilous. He finally wrote the men who petitioned for an election:

“are Independents, their aim is wholly to Cashier the Gentry…and change for our Peace War, and for our Unity Division. Colonel Drax that devout Zealot (of the deeds of the Devil and the cause of the seven headed Dragon of Westminster) is the Agent…I have vowed to impeach him and prosecute him, but not in point of Law; for then I know he would subdue me (but at the point of Sword;)..against the pretense of Liberty, for thereby is meant Slavery and Tyranny” [Spelling modernized, emphasis added]

Walrond then began gathering armed men to force the governor, Philip Bell, to proclaim Charles king. When Bell wasn’t able to gather an equally strong military, he acquiesced at a showdown on the outskirts of Bridgetown. The next day, Francis Willoughby appeared in the harbor, talked with Bell and agreed to return in three months to assume power.

That gave Walrond time to deport as many people as he could, including Drax. Some of the wealthier men went to London to explain conditions to the Council of State. Inevitably, the Commonwealth declared the island in revolt and, in 1651, dispatched a fleet to blockade, then subdue the rebels.

Willoughby grew increasingly angry with the banished landowners, and seized more estates to pay for war. Men began to question the validity of Willoughby and Walrond’s claims of a vast, Roundhead conspiracy. Others, no doubt including the Roman Catholic refugees, grew less comfortable with the demands for religious conformity.

In December, Modyford began negotiating with Cromwell’s representative, George Ayscue. When Willoughby refused any treaties, Modyford raised a thousand men to match Willoughby’s thousand. The two armies spent several days in the rain in January, 1652, contemplating battle, which would necessarily have been war between neighbors, before Willoughby surrendered.

The treaty forgave as many actions as possible, and only made one action the grounds for future prosecution:

“the main and chief cause of our late troubles and miseries has grown by lose, base and uncivil language, tending to sedition and derision, too commonly used among many people here: it is there further agreed that at the next General Assembly a strict law be made against all such persons, with a heavy penalty to be inflicted upon them that shall be guilty of any reviling speeches of what nature soever, by remembering or raveling into former differences, and reproaching any man with the cause he has formerly defended.” [emphasis added]

In March, Willougby banished the still threatening Walrond, his brother Edward, Byam and several more of their hard core supporters, but not before the pattern of minority subversion through threat of force and intemperate language was set.

Notes: Nicholas Darnell Davis, The Cavaliers & Roundheads of Barbados, 1650-1652, 1887 and available on-line, is the best place to start understanding the rebellion. More recent historians, no doubt, correct his errors and provide better analysis, but they offer less clear chronologies.

South Carolina – Barbados

August 30, 2009

South Carolina’s history begins with the ambitions of men who looked to the Caribbean islands where Spain was generating so much wealth. In 1625, soon after the Virginia Company started settling North American, men financed by London merchant William Courteen landed on Barbados, far east in the Lesser Antilles near the coast of South America.

The early years were spent attracting settlers and finding a commercial crop to pay their rents to Courteen and then the Earl of Carlisle, James Hay, who granted 10,000 acres to London merchants to repay his own debts. James Holdrip arrived in 1629 as Hay’s agent, but instead acquired 1,000 acres of his own.

Karl Watson says that within 20 years, there were 11,200 farms and plantations on the 166 square mile island, before much of the interior was cleared of forest. In 1650, Larry Gragg says 75% of the holdings were less than 50 acres and 21% less than 10 acres with a population of 23,000 in 1655.

Much of the early labor came from indentured servants, many of them young tradesmen who shipped from Bristol. They probably are the ones who bought small pieces of land when they had earned their freedom, and may have resold even smaller, unregistered pieces to increase their own capital.

The principal export was tobacco, a labor intensive crop that can be cultivated on small tracts. However, the leaf quality was poor, and prices fell when better tobacco from Virginia flooded the London market and civil war broke out in England between Parliament and the forces supporting the king, Charles I, in 1642.

Earlier, the Dutch West Indies Company had introduced sugar cultivation and African slave labor into the eastern horn of Brazil known as Pernambuco. In the ongoing wars for supremacy between European powers that form the background of many colonial enterprises, the Dutch took control of that section of Brazil in 1630 and built the port of Recife.

Holdrip and James Drax were the first to attempt to grow sugar commercially on Barbados in the early 1640’s. Drax solved the first critical problem, converting the cane into something which could be shipped profitably, when he imported a mill and distilling apparatus along with someone with knowledge from that Dutch enterprise.

The other problems were amassing enough land to make the mill cost effective and controlling the labor to do the hard work of clearing and maintaining land. The Dutch had already learned the maximum acreage in northeastern Brazil was about 1500 acres, according to David Watts. Men began clearing the interior and buying out smaller land holders. In 1640 Drax owned 400 acres; in 1654 he had 700 acres worked by 200 African slaves.

The conversion to a capital intensive crop that depended on African slave labor occurred just as the English Civil war was sending men to the island who had lost any wealth they might have had. In 1646, captured supporters of Charles I were sentenced to the island as servants, followed by officers from both sides. Irish rebels captured at Drogheda in 1649 were exiled, as were the prisoners taken in the closing battles of 1649. Men who supported Penruddock’s uprising in Somerset were sent in 1655.

Meantime, the Portuguese retook Pernambuco from the Dutch in 1654, exiling the very people who best understood how to grow sugar cane profitably. Some, at least, immigrated to Barbados. In 1668, the Netherlands took over Surinam, which gave the Dutch refugees a new home and sent some of the English settlers who grew sugar there to Barbados.

Dutch merchants were more interested in underwriting the sugar trade, than they were in producing the crop, and so advanced credit to those who could provide them the necessary collateral. They naturally favored the larger land owners trying to buy or clear land over the ones just rising above subsistence. At the time, people claimed 10,000 left between 1645 and 1665 for newly opened islands, a number Archibald Thornton thinks exaggerated. Still, the racial composition of the population changed from 86% white in 1643 to 34% in 1664.

Neither Cromwell nor Charles condoned the trade with the Dutch, and the efforts of each hindered the efforts of men trying to grow sugar. Planters continued to squabble over the competing grants made to Courteen and Hay until Charles II expropriated the island in 1663 and imposed a yearly tax.

By the middle 1660’s, there probably wasn’t a person on the volatile island who didn’t have a personal grievance against an action by some form of the British government. Such tales of personal loss are the ones passed on within families that propel and exaggerate the quarrels of the past into the future, especially among those families who don’t have newer, more positive experiences to replace them.

Gragg, Larry Dale. Englishmen Transplanted: the English Colonization of Barbados, 1627-1660, 2003.

Thornton, Archibald Paton. “The Organization of the Slave Trade in the English West Indies, 1660-1685,” The William and Mary Quarterly 12:399-409:1955.

Watson, Karl. “Slavery and Economy in Barbados,” BBC website 1 May 2001.

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