What remains of the Barbados Carolina Shared Influences

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Rhoda Green 19 Comments Download PDF

Evidence of Barbados Carolina historical vestiges…are there any?

Past – present – future…a continuum beleaguered by daunting ghosts, implications and repercussions set in motion by those long departed.   Attitudes and customs adroitly and meticulously conceived and implemented have now been indelibly imprinted on the psyche of subsequent generations.

Holetown

Holetown, Barbados

As I alighted from the aircraft in Barbados on my recent visit…the warm tropical breezes swirled around me as if to envelope a daughter of the soil.   Intoxicated by what’s familiar on the island, an avalanche of emotions immersed my quickened awareness of shared history. I reminded myself I would not be beguiled and distracted by aqua blue waters, dashing waves upon white sandy beaches, swaying palms and coconut trees.   This visit is for reflecting on the past – the present – the future. As is now my practice on my virtual journeys, I’ve packed my virtual apparatus – my time-sensitive binoculars. This time I added a laser-like instrument to amplify past frequencies that escaped me as a child growing up in Barbados.

During the past 36 years living in Charleston, South Carolina, I’ve become acutely sensitized to the role of history both in Barbados and the Carolinas. Charleston is a mecca for colonial history…the Barbados Carolina shared influences are inescapable. Embedded in every fabric of South Carolina’s society, one finds indisputable traces of shared colonial precedents.    From this vantage point and perspective – with intuition activated, I invite you to accompany me ”on a spin around Bim” in Bajan parlance.

As a precursor…Barbados’ population is no longer majority British. Sugar production resulted in an exponential demographic shift.  Hundreds of plantations supplanted tropical vegetation and age old trees. Barbadians of Europeans lineage and descent began migration in large to other Caribbean islands, North America, and the Carolinas in particular. People of African descent now make up 90 percent of the population.

Charlestowne Landing

Charlestowne Landing

As I travel along the coastal roadway…occasional glimpses of the Caribbean Sea could be seen breaking on the shoreline. My first stop is Holetown, St. James. The first British settlers landed here with ten enslaved Africans in 1625. The Holetown Monument marks the spot. With feet firmly planted on familiar earth I traversed as a child, I’m reconnected to childhood memories and the way things were. About a mile inland is where Lascelles Plantation stood. Recently released information reveals the vast holdings of the Lascelles family in Barbados/Caribbean.   Their descendants today still enjoy substantial wealth acquired during the colonial period. The village uphill is Sea View, where I was born.   I recall the sugarcane planting cycle well – from field preparation to harvesting of the ripened cane. My imagination is unleashed – I see an Englishman wearing a cork hat – an indication he is of the planter class or one of the planter’s agents. He sits perched on his horse and surveys the sugarcane field punctuated with “laborers” – silhouettes – faceless and nameless…as they dutifully perform their assigned tasks. This scene is replicated on every plantation across the island. This was the norm – the existence of the majority in Barbados.

Barbados Carolina Links:

  • Hurriedly, let’s make a brief stop at St. James Anglican Parish Church.   I ponder… there’s also a St. James Anglican Church in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Certainly this isn’t happenstance.  It’s where the Goose Creek men live. Many of them left Barbados for the Carolinas and settled in Goose Creek area.   In Barbados they became skilled practitioners in building a plantation society.
  • Traveling north my next stop is Gibbs, St. Peter which provides access to Gibbs Bay and the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The Gibbes family owned some 219 acres on the island. The name “Gibbs or Gibbes” lives on in Charleston, South Carolina. There’s a Gibbes Art Museum as well as a plaque situated at Washington Park, Charleston, South Carolina, which attest to Robert Gibbes of Barbados stature and standing in the Carolina settlement.
  • Next stop is Speightstown, St. Peter, dubbed “Little Bristol.”   Bristol, England was a major seaport during the Atlantic Slave Trade and this was “Little Bristol?” This quaint little seaport has long lost its original glory and appeal…but it fascinates me. It was from here British colonists, then called Barbadians, embarked on their expedition to the Carolinas.
  • Next stop is Haywood (sometimes Heywood), St. Peter. The Haywood family owned some 153 acres on the island. Most recently the very popular hotel Almond Beach Hotel was located here. Historical records show a John Haywood left Barbados around 1730 for Carolina. He and his family left a profound imprint on North Carolina’s history and landscape. Today there’s Haywood County and Haywood Plantation in Mt. Gilead, NC.
  • The name “Colleton” has a familiar ring if one is familiar with the    Carolinas.  Colleton County, South Carolina, evidences this historical link to Barbados. The Colleton family owned a plantation in St. Peter. All totaled they owned 770 acres in Barbados.
  • Veering off the coast and driving inland, I must stop at Cherry Tree Hill. From this hill one can behold a breathtaking and panoramic view of the verdant green fields, pasture and flora below.   Next stop is Nicholas Abbey. Don’t be surprise…it’s not an abbey – it is a plantation.  It has long been known for its architectural features and relevance to the colonial period. One of its earliest owners was Sir John Yeamans, the second .governor of South Carolina. He owned some 409 acres which included Cherry Tree and Nicholas Abbey. It’s he, historians tell us, who introduced chattel slavery to the Carolinas. In South Carolina, Yeamans Hall Plantation was Sir John Yeamans and Lady Margaret Berringer’s plantation home.   Today Yeamans Hall is an exclusive gated community on the outskirts of Goose Creek which still bears the Yeamans name. From Virginia to the Carolinas, Sir John Yeamans was a larger than life figure in colonial North America.
  • I’m quickly making my way to the East Coast…it’s beautiful – it’s rugged.   At times it’s raging and foreboding in sharp contrast to the calm and inviting West Coast we just left.   Some notable planters who later migrated and influenced the Carolina settlement owned large plantations in the parish of St. John. Two historic sites worthy of note are Codrington College and St. John’s Parish Church. The Colleton family also owned plantations in St. John. Here the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPGA) which influenced early Carolina had firm footing.
  • Now to an area of the East Coast that only recently has gotten quite a bit of public attention.   This vicinity – off the beaten track – is where indentured servants of Irish and Scottish ancestry lived during the colonial period. They were disparagingly called “Barbados Redlegs,” because of their sun-burned legs. Some of their descendants still live here today. One of their descendants is no less a celebrity than Rihanna. Many Irish and Scottish indentured servants were shipped to other Caribbean islands – many others migrated to North America.   But who are they? With a 20/20 perspective, let’s explore.   As a child growing up in Seaview, I remember “Red Ellie.”   She was a small, slender woman who lived in our village. I recall she was different. She seemed to have had no friends – always alone. But I do recall she could tote water on her head as adroitly as if she were of African descent. Miss Ellie, as my family respectfully referred to her, would mutter and talk to herself. Now peering into the past with 20/20 perspective and a historical context, I can say assuredly: Miss Ellie was a “Barbados Redleg” as was my great grandmother Durant. Most Redlegs racial pride didn’t permit miscegenation.   Others like my great grandmother, their life unfolded differently. Intermarriage and cohabitation with close relatives negatively impacted the Irish Scottish population.  They became a marginalized and disfranchised people on the fringe of Barbados society.

Indeed the past presents a complicated picture of human existence. Pieces of our history have been strewn or heaped along the corridors of time. Some pieces are considered relevant and others are not. Yet our human inclination drives us to look instinctively to the past for answers and solutions that took root in the past. Hopefully we can find answers and solutions for our todays and our tomorrows.

There are considerably more Barbados Carolina links than these shared…Let’s stay connected.

Rhoda Green

Barbados and the Carolina Legacy Foundation, CEO
September 4, 2014

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19 comments

  • Doug McGrory says:

    Very well done !!!!

  • rhodagreen says:

    Very much appreciated. Thank you!

  • familytyessc says:

    Quite succinct! You continue to be an inspiration ….. Thank you for your diligence!

  • Ann Rudder says:

    To Be Succinct Rhoda You have met your next occupation of Historic Speightstown Comes To Charleston Journalism Congratulations, and of note The Cottage is Still available in Speightstown…I am sorry to have not shown it to you…irregardless of govnt…it is WAITING for an exquisite client, NOT as a cable phone store …

  • Scott Jones says:

    Hi Rhoda,

    My name is Scott Jones and I live in Westmount, Montreal, Canada. I am an 8th generation descendant of the ‘Gaskin family’ that arrived in the mid to late 1600’s in St.James, Barbados. Over the next 250 years our family members were involved as vestrymen in the Anglican Church, became prominent members of the house of assembly as well as owned several plantations in and around the time of the abolition of slavery in 1834. After 10 years of research at the National archives and online it is clear to me that through efforts such as your organization, the University of London,Google books and others, we may finally get a more thorough understanding of the profound effect that Barbados has had on the development and shaping of our society.

    Rhoda you have a wonderful writing style. Congratulations and keep the information flowing….look forward to hearing more.

    Best regards,
    Scott Jones

    • Ramona says:

      Hello Scott,

      How are you? I am a colleague of Rhodas. I recently was in Barbados as well. I am reaching out to you, as I am close friends with the Gaskins of Barbados. In fact, there are extended family and recently received me as guest this summer. I welcome an opportunity to connect you all.

      Thank you.

      Ramona La Roche

  • Scott Jones says:

    Hi Ramona,

    Thank you for reaching out. I am sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.

    I have finalized the dates for my next visit to Barbados. I will be on the island from December 24th until January 7th 2015. I plan on continuing research at the archives in BlackRock, St. Michaels during the holiday. It would be great to hear from some Gaskins to see if there is a connection.
    I will be staying at Port St. Charles apt. 236, my cellular phone number is 514-926-4456 and can easily be reached via email at scott.jones@addisplay.ca or by inmail on linkedin.
    My present research, is to see if I can connect with Gaskins that may have knowledge of the defunct Bushy Park plantation (a.k.a Bushy Park race track) in St. Phillip parish, Colleton Plantation in St. John’s parish as well Reeds plantation in St. James.
    My research has specifically been focused on Hon. John Sheafe Gaskin member of legislative assembly in 1835 and president in 1848,1849 and 1852. I am interested in my 5th great grandfather involvement in the abolition of slavery as well as his son John Gaskin, my 6th greatgrandfathers’Gaskins Rum Patent’ in 1850. Another area of exploration is the interracial marriage of my 6th great grandfather to an Antiguan woman at a time when interracial marriages were not the norm. I am assisting with the University College London (UCL) in England to help build a more comprehensive database for present and future researchers regarding Gaskins in Barbados. It is apparent through my research, that there is a Gaskin connection to the Carolinas. I have already been in touch with William Gaskin from North Carolina, he has been instrumental in my quest since 2005.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  • Scott Jones says:

    John Gakin was in fact my 4th great grandfather and not my 6th.

  • Rhoda Green says:

    Thanks for the updated information. Very interesting indeed. I’m familiar with the surname “Gaskin” in Barbados and the people I know are of African ancestry. I’m not familiar with “Gakin” though. No question the links are there.

    • Rhoda Green says:

      This is Rhoda and I’d be happy to put you in touch with the persons you need to reach in Barbados to research the topics you’ve mentioned. I’ll do that in private email.

  • Paul Brown says:

    Thank you for that lovely summary of the time treasured links between Barbados and the Carolinas. As you know I am set to arrive within the next day or so to see for myself. Your work is invaluable and will stand the test of time.

    • Rhoda Green says:

      We all live in history’s now. Recognizing and connecting the links to our past is a therapeutic journey of retrieval. Thanks for your supportive comment. Appreciated!

  • ARCHER says:

    TODAY IS BARBADOS INDEPENDENCE, “HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY” HOWEVER, JUST LAST NIGHT I WAS WATCHING A PROGRAM ON LOCKUP AND I WAS SO SURPRISE TO HEAR THE PEOPLE FROM JOHNS ISLAND ACCENT JUST LIKE BAJAN, AND ONE LADY WAS SAYING THAT THY ARE NOT JAMAICAN, AFTER I DID MY RESEARCH AND FOUND OUT THAT SOME OF THE FIRST SETTLERS CAME FROM BARBADOS I GOT MY ANSWERS, BARBADOS, YOU MADE THE WAY AND THAT WHY SO MANY PEOPLE IN AMERICA HAVE BAJAN ROOTS THANKS..

    • Your email and shared information is most gratifying. Thanks for your interest. The B&CLF endeavors to highlight shared connections between Barbados and Carolina, in particular, as well as broader connections with other former British colonies in the Caribbean. Yes, I’ve come across a large document chronicling the history of James Island and Johns Island on line. The document states these two islands were named after St. James and St. John, Barbados. The British settlers from Barbados brought enslaved people from Barbados with them. That accounts for a similarity to Barbados’ dialect
      (Bajan) in the speech pattern of many in the Lowcountry.

      Please stay in touch and please share information about the B&CLF with your friends and contacts. And do visit and like us on FB.

      Appreciated!

  • Very late to the discussion but what a really nice recount of your own history and visit to the island. Maybe one day I can speak to you .

  • heywood@bu.edu says:

    Trying to locate the Heywood connection. I can trace my mixed African-British descended family of Heywood’s (Cummins, Green) back to the 1820s in Barbados in St. Peter and St. Thomas Paris. Do you have any more leads on the Heywood family? I will be in Barbados in August to do conduct research on another topic but will definitely visit the site where the Heywood plantation was located.

    Linda Heywood
    Prof. of African and African American History
    Boston University
    heywood@bu.edu

  • Good evening. Thanks for your inquiry. I must ask this question before I go any further: Would your lineage be connected to Anna Julia Cooper (nee Haywood) whose father was John Haywood, born in Barbados 1685? This family from Barbados was a leading family in North Carolina. Anna Julia Cooper was biracial, her mother was enslaved by John Haywood. As you’d know the different spelling of “Heywood” wouldn’t be unusual during this time period. I’d refer you to http://www.creolelinks.com/1913-Barbados-plantation-owners-names.html. There was a Heywood Plantation around Speightstown, St. Peter. There’s a competent and eager staff at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society that will assist you if contacted. You may also visit the Barbados Genealogy FB page where a number of Bajan genealogists share information regularly. I also hope to be in Barbados in August, Please stay in touch and let me know if I can be of further assistance. Rhoda Green

    • heywood@bu.edu says:

      Hi Rhoda,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to reply and for the incredible information about Anna Julia Cooper Barbados link. I have not done the deeper history of my Heywood connection. Yes, some members of the family who migrated to Grenada used the Haywood instead of the Heywood spelling. Can you give me the contact information for the staff member at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society? I’ll like to write her before my trip which begins August 8. Also, can you send me the link for the Barbados Genealogy FP page? I tried connecting to it but could not.

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