SLAVE-OWNERS

 

Charles Myners (Miners)

Betsey Williams

Captain John Ingham

Robert Darrel (Darrell)

John Adams Wood Jr.

 

Slave-owners

 

 

Charles Miners

 

Mary Prince was born in 1787 or 1788 at Brackish Pond, Bermuda. Brackish Pond is a geological feature of Devonshire Parish, but when Mary was young the name Brackish Pond also referred to the entire parish. Mary’s first slave-owner was Charles Miners. She was an infant, and her mother was a domestic who did household work.

 

Betsey Williams

 

When Mary was an infant, “old” Captain George Darrell purchased Mary and her mother from Charles Miners, and he gave both of them to his granddaughter Betsey Williams as a “gift.” Mary was about the same age as Betsey. She was Betsey’s playmate, and her mother worked as a domestic about the house.

 

Captain George Darrell may have been called "old" by Mary because he had a son whose name was also George. The designation "old" was a way to indicate the difference between father and son.

 

Betsey’s mother was Sarah Williams. She was Captain George Darrell’s daughter from his first wife. Betsey’s father was Captain John Williams, who was often away in the West Indies.

 

Mary had several siblings. They were all younger than she was. Her sisters were Hannah, Dinah, and Rebecca. She doesn’t relate the names of her younger brothers, but there were seven. Rebecca was the youngest of all the children.

 

Sarah Williams died when Mary was 12 years old. Captain John Williams wanted to remarry. Against Betsey’s wishes, Mary, Hannah, and Dinah were sold at an auction in Hamilton. This was to raise money for the wedding.

 

Captain John Ingham

 

Captain John Ingham purchased Mary at an auction in Hamilton for £57 Bermudian currency. His son Benjy (Benjamin) took her to the Ingham farm, located at Spanish Point, Pembroke Parish. Captain Ingham’s wife was Mary Spencer Albouy. The Captain was a privateersman, and he also had a store in Hamilton. Mary’s work was to care for the children, tend to the farm animals, and do the household work.

 

The Captain and his wife were very cruel taskmasters. Mrs. Ingham pinched Mary and the other enslaved people on their cheeks and arms, and she pinched Mary on her neck. She also used a whip on them. Once, Mary was tied to a ladder and Captain Ingham gave her 100 lashes. She was injured terribly. Another time, he hit her repeatedly with his boot and injured her back.

 

Because of the Inghams’ cruelty, Mary ran away to her mother, who was living at Richard Darrell’s residence. When Mary's family had been divided after Sarah Williams’s death, Mary’s mother had gone to live there. Richard Darrell was the half brother of Betsey’s mother, Sarah.

 

Mary's father Prince was a sawyer, and he was owned by two brothers, Daniel and Francis Trimingham. They had a shipbuilding yard at Crow Lane, and they both lived in Paget Parish, nearby to Richard Darrell's residence. Daniel Trimingham's wife was Catherine Darrell. She was Richard Darrell's sister, and Betsey's aunt.

 

Therefore, Mary's mother and father were owned by a brother and sister of the Darrell family: her mother was owned by Richard Darrell, and her father was owned by by Catherine Darrell, although it was Catherine's husband Daniel Trimingham who listed Prince in the Paget Vestry Assessments as “1/2 Prince £50.”

 

Daniel Trimingham indicated a shared ownership of Prince in the Paget Vestry Assessments. He shared Prince's ownership with his brother Francis Trimingham, who also listed Prince as “1/2 Prince £50." Prince was valued at £100. Please see Government of Bermuda Archives in the Primary Sources section of this website for details.

 

Eventually, Mary had to go back to the Ingham farm. Her father Prince took her. A few years later, Captain Ingham put her aboard a sloop headed for Grand Turk Island.

 

Robert Darrell

 

Robert Darrell (Mr. D—) had two residences. One was in Bermuda, and the other was on Grand Turk Island. He was a salt proprietor in the Grand Turk Island salt industry. His son was Richard (Dickey), and his wife was Mary Ball.

 

Although Robert Darrell shared his surname with the Richard Darrell where Mary's mother lived after Sarah Williams had died, it may be that the two were not closely related. They would have had a common British male ancestor, but that ancestor had probably lived more than a few generations earlier. However, it may be that the two did business together.

 

When Mary Prince arrived at Grand Turk Island, she was taken to Robert Darrell's house. He was to be her new "owner." The next day, she was put up at auction to find out her value. Robert Darrell purchased her for £100 Bermudian currency.

 

She worked as a member of a gang of enslaved people that made solar-evaporated salt. Her tasks were raking salt, measuring salt to load on vessels, and turning machines that drew water out of the sea into the ponds.

 

Salt was a very valuable commodity before refrigeration. It was used to preserve meat and fish. Bermudian salt merchants traded salt with other British colonies, such as Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. They also sold salt to Americans.

 

When it wasn’t the salt season, Mary Prince and the other enslaved people were set to build a stone wall. Mary dove in the ocean nearby the shore for rocks to build the wall with, and she cut mangroves. The mangroves were set ablaze to heat shells that would convert into quicklime. When water is added to quicklime, it boils and becomes lime putty. Lime putty was used as mortar to build the stone wall.

 

Robert Darrell was a cruel taskmaster, and his son Richard followed in the path of his father. Mary and the other enslaved people were frequently flogged for not keeping up with the gang. They also suffered from poor nutrition. The main staple of their diet was Indian corn. Sometimes, Indian corn was all they had to eat.

 

After about ten years on Grand Turk Island, Robert Darrell returned to his Bermuda residence, and he took Mary with him. His son Richard was left on Grand Turk Island to carry on the family’s salt business.

 

Back in Bermuda, Mary was put out to work at Cedar Hill, where she did laundry. She was paid for her work, but all of her earnings were turned over to Robert Darrell.

 

John Adams Wood Jr.

 

When Mary Prince was employed at Cedar Hill, she learned that John Adams Wood Jr. was going to Antigua, where he lived. She wanted to get away from Robert Darrell, so she asked if she might go in Wood’s service. Although Wood did not want to purchase Mary, it was agreed that she could go.

 

John Adams Wood Jr.'s wife was Margaret Gilbert Albouy. He was a rentier, or jobber, which means he rented enslaved people to others. Often these enslaved people were let out to sugar plantations, where they were set to work in the fields. Perhaps Mary would have been put to work in the fields, had it not been for Mrs. Wood. She saw that Mary was a good worker, and she wanted to purchase her.

 

The Woods purchased Mary from Robert Darrell for £100 Bermudian currency. She worked for them as domestic in Antigua for 13 years.

 

In July, or early August, 1828 the Woods left Antigua for London, England. They took Mary with them. Two or three months after they arrived, Mary walked out of their residence and was free—but only in England. She could not return to Antigua and remain free.

 

Please read more about John Adams Wood Jr. and Mary's time in London in the Mary Prince section of this website.