Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Barbados; a mid-Victorian...
 The colonial office, confederation,...
 Administrations of Rawson and Freeling...
 Hennessy; the first months (November...
 Riots and repercussions (April-December,...
 Towards a solution (1877-1885)
 Index of persons

Title: Barbados & the confederation question, 1871-1885
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00078434/00001
 Material Information
Title: Barbados & the confederation question, 1871-1885
Series Title: Barbados & the confederation question, 1871-1885.
Physical Description: xviii, 149 p. : ; 26 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hamilton, Bruce, 1900-
Publisher: Published by the Crown Agents for Oversea Governments & Administrations on behalf of the Govt. of Barbados
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1956
Subject: Constitutional history -- Barbados   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Barbados
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 115-140.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00078434
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - ADR9722
oclc - 05020172
alephbibnum - 000727300
lccn - 57029214

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
    Barbados; a mid-Victorian cross-section
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
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    The colonial office, confederation, and Barbados
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    Administrations of Rawson and Freeling (1869-1875)
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
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        Page 37
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    Hennessy; the first months (November 1875 - March 1876)
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
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        Page 50
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    Riots and repercussions (April-December, 1876)
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
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        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
    Towards a solution (1877-1885)
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
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        Page 141
        Page 142
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        Page 145
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    Index of persons
        Page 147
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        Page 149
Full Text





51- 129/ /


Published by the Crown Agents
for Oversea Governments & Administrations,
4 Millbank, London, SW1, on behalf of
the Government of Barbados


To be purchased from
the Office of the Chief Secretary, Barbados
and the Crown Agents for Oversea Governments
& Administrations, 4 Millbank, London, SW1




Barbados today. Its people. Colour lines. Middle and working classes. Government;
a sketch of its origin. Background of the Confederation policy. Jamaica. Canada.
The Leeward Islands. The Windward Government.

CHAPT ER ONE Barbados; a mid-Victorian cross-section 1
Superficialprosperity.Absenteeism. The mortgagees. The bounty system. Population.
Wages. Located labourers; the "Masters and Servants" Act. Poor Relief; the
Vestries. Emigration. Justice. Crime and hunger. District magistrates. Prisons.
Other public institutions. The Press. The Constitution. The Franchise. Legislative
Boards and Committees. Money Bills. The "Sessional Order" resolution, 1863.

CHAPT E R TWO The Colonial Office, Confederation, and Barbados 16
Political heads and permanent staff. Carnarvon. Lowther. The officials. The routine.
Altruism and complacency. Herbert. Origin of the Confederation policy sketched.
Reduction of scope of the plan. Appointment of Rawson to the Windwards. The
raison d'etre in Barbados; desire for efficiency and economy. Spontaneous
Federation ?

CHAPT ER T H REE Administrations of Rawson and Freeling
(1869-1875) 28
Rawson on obstacles to Federation. Hopes for a Single Chamber. Brandford
Griffith's letters to the Barbados Press. Their reception. Herbert and Rawson.
The Governor rebuked. His memorandum on Federation. Faint Praise. Trouble
with the Assembly. Injustice of the Colonial Office to Rawson. Appointment of
John Pope Hennessy. Acting-Governor Freeling. Public meeting on Confederation.
Alignment of parties. Personalities. Reeves. Briggs. Semper. Threatening letters.
Freeling opens the Legislative Session. The controverted election in St. Thomas.
Action of the House. Freeling dissolves the Assembly.

CHAPTER FOUR Hennessy; the first months (November 1875-
March 1876) 44
John Pope Hennessy; his career and character. Goodwill and optimism. Speech
on opening the new Legislative Session. The replies. The "Six Points". Plans for
a Conference. The Six Points before the House. Resolutions of P. L. Phillips.
Hennessy's Prison Minute and release of prisoners. Separation of the Councils.
Opposition hardens. The 3 March Speech. Its effect in Barbados. The "Defence
Association". Reply of the House to the 3 March Speech. Petition of the Chamber

of Commerce. Violence of the Press. Public agitation; charges and counter-
charges. False reports. The St. Philip freeholders. The Confederation Press. The
"emissaries". Morris and Duesbury. Semper's Council speech. Semper and
Morris. Delusions of the negroes. Victimisation. The Mount Prospect disturbance.
The Incident near Dodds. General apprehension. The Colonial Office and Hennessy.
Agitation of the West India Committee. The first deputation. Trollope. Walker.
Provisional reassurance.

CHAPTER FIVE Riots and repercussions (April-December 1876) 71
Beginning of the disturbances. Byde Mill. Methods of the rioters. Their beliefs.
Hennessy's prompt action. Military measures. The case of "Piggy Toomey".
Excess of zeal. Hennessy's restraint. The casualties. Resignation of Reeves.
Bishop Mitchinson. Hennessy ordered to retract. Virtual end of a Confederation
policy for Barbados. The recall motion. Its postponement and final adoption.
Hennessy's reports to England. His purpose. The opposition telegrams. Carnarvon
receives the delegates of the Defence Association. Proceedings in Parliament.
Hennessy's attempts to forestall criticism. New appointments to the Legislative
Council. Resignations. A political deadlock. The Queen's birthday. Quarrel over
the Special Commission. Its implications. A solution found. The cases of Brewster
and Greenidge. Carnarvon's statement in the Lords. The House's reply. Appoint-
ment of Lushington Phillips to the Special Commission. Proceedings of the Special
Sessions. Lushington Phillips's strong words. Hennessy transferred. His departure.

CHAPTER SIX Towards a solution (1877-1885) 96
Reaction. Reeves's resolutions. Their reception in Downing Street. Delay in
calling a new Assembly. Lushington Phillips's proposals. Carnarvon's despatch
read to the Assembly. The "Nominee" Bill. Wavering. Reeves's decisive speech.
Resignation of Carnarvon. Reeves's plan again rejected. Defeat of second
"Nominee" Bill. Reeves returns to the attack. Changed minds at the Colonial
Office. The Executive Committee Act, 1881. Reeves rewarded. Extension of the
franchise and other measures. The Executive Committee made permanent.
Amendment of the "Masters and Servants" Act. Failure of a smaller Windward
union. Separation of Barbados from the Windward Government. Conclusion.

NOTES .115


APPENDIX A The 1937Disturbances 141

APPENDIX B Hennessy's later career 141

APPENDIX C The Bill to provide for a separate Executive Council,
1854 142

APPENDIX D The "Bushe" experiment, 1946 144


SOME EXPLANATION about the title is desirable. This work was undertaken
as a thesis for the degree of Ph.D. at the University of London, but in the
course of research it became clear that the title and dates for which I had
secured approval and to which I stood committed: "Barbados and the Con-
federation Question, 1871-1885"-would be to a certain extent a misfit. It
will be seen:
(1) That the Barbadian conflict was fought out on ground at once broader
and narrower than that of the Confederation policy; broader because
so many vital local issues strictly irrelevant to Confederation were
involved, narrower because the moves for a closer association with the
other Windward Islands were, in the course of the struggle, reduced to
moves to modify the constitution and internal administration of
(2) That the word "Confederation", habitually used both in England and
in Barbados to describe the policy of the Colonial Office, can only be
very loosely applied to a series of projects which varied according to
time and circumstance, and which at some periods amounted to no more
than plans for administrative unification.
(3) That the genesis of the policy for the Windward Islands lies farther back
than 1871, a convenient starting point being provided by A. W. Birch's
memorandum for the consideration of Lord Granville, drawn up in
December 1868. (See pp. 23-24.)
(4) That the conflict really terminated not with the separation of Barbados
from the Windward Government in 1885 (however great the symbolic
satisfaction that step may have given to the Barbadians) but with the
passing of the local Executive Committee Act of 1881.
A rather more accurate title might therefore be "Barbados and the
'Confederation' Question, 1868-1881".
It should be added that the explanatory Introduction is based almost entirely
on secondary material, and expressions of opinion to be found therein are put
forward with the diffidence proper in such cases. The author has to acknowledge
the probable existence of gaps, faults, and misplaced stresses in this part of the
work. The account of contemporary Barbados was first written in the early
'forties, since when the changes in the domestic picture, social, political and
economic, have been enormous. The attempt to bring this section up to date in
relation to the main part of the text is clearly and perhaps inevitably inadequate
in many respects.
A further apology is called for by the absence, for unavoidable reasons, of
a proper Index. It is hoped that the detailed Chapter headings (supplementing
the Index of Persons) will supply this want to some extent.
No attempt is made to put on record the present situation and prospects of
British West Indian Confederation. The inclusion of such material, which is
easily accessible elsewhere, would only make an unnecessary addition to the
already considerable length of the book.


Barbados today. Its people. Colour lines. Middle and working classes. Government: a
sketch of its origin. Background of the Confederation policy. Jamaica. Canada. The
Leeward Islands. The Windward Government.

IN THE seventh decade of the last century, the British Colonial Office experi-
enced, at the hands of a small West Indian community, a severe and striking
It could not, of course, be a defeat without qualification. The issue, although
magnified by the violence of misrepresentation and personal abuse, was not of
sufficient consequence' to induce the Home Government to exert its full
authority in a decisive manner. The triumph of Barbados, in retaining its
traditional institutions alone among the Caribbean colonies in which they were
challenged, has been qualified in practice by constitutional modifications,
administrative reforms, and a breakdown of the oligarchical principle for which
the patriots of 1876 were contending. Nevertheless, in spite of the altered
character of Barbadian autonomy today, it remains a very remarkable thing that
yesterday a handful of resident planters and attorneys, absentee proprietors,
merchants, shopkeepers, and professional men were strong enough to compel
the Colonial Office to abandon a policy which, however vague, uncertain, and
even opportunistic it may have been in matters of detail, had in its broad
outlines been pursued for a considerable period with great pertinacity.
The details of the struggle are not, as will be seen, always edifying, and they
do not always testify to the liberal-mindedness of those who, in the name of
liberty, agitated, debated, and calumniated their way to final success. But they
do indicate astonishing vitality. Presently it will be necessary to discuss at
some length what kind of people these were, and what kind of life they were
living at the time. Before that, however, a brief description of the colony as it is
today, and a rapid sketch of the historical background to the conflict between
the Islanders and the mother country, is perhaps requisite by the way of

Barbados2 is roughly the size of the Isle of Wight and the shape, in plan, of a
leg of mutton. The population was, according to the census of 1946, 192,841,3
denser by far than that of any other political unit in the New World, except
perhaps tiny Bermuda. Probably about 90 per cent. of the people are of African
or mixed African and European descent,4 and about half5 of the inhabitants
are concentrated in the neighbourhood of the capital, Bridgetown, the only port
and the only centre of population containing more than 2,600 people. With the
exception of the volcanic "Scotland" district-actually more closely reminiscent
of certain parts of the Cornish coast-the island is of coral formation, and in
appearance it differs very markedly from most of its neighbours, where high
humps of densely wooded hills appear to jostle each other in a frantic struggle
for living space. The first view of Barbados is disappointingly untropical, with

the land rising in a series of terraces, almost treeless, and brown rather than
green before the by no means reliable rainy season begins around August, to the
moderate height of eleven hundred feet. Over the surface, the north-easterly
trade wind sweeps from December to July, with great regularity and con-
siderable but diminishing force, so that for a great part of the year the heat is in
most districts not extreme, and though the temperature hardly ever falls below
75 degrees Fahrenheit it seldom rises above 90 degrees. Hurricanes were formerly
frequent and devastating, but the last really catastrophic one took place in
1831. The island is in fact regarded as the health resort of the West Indies, owing
not only to the climate but also to the absence of the more virulent tropical
diseases, but testimony that this has not always been the case is afforded by the
very high death-rate of former Governors of the Colony, particularly in the
eighteenth century."
During the first fifteen years of the Colony's existence, a humble class of
English settlers scratched experimentally at the soil in the hope of successfully
raising a variety of crops, including tobacco, at that time, in the light of the
example of Virginia, considered the proper thing for all tropical or sub-tropical
American colonies. But since about 1640 the staple industry has been the culti-
vation of the sugar cane, by black labour. The great days of West Indian sugar
were nowhere reflected with more splendour than in Barbados, until supremacy
among the islands was wrested from her by the more slowly developing colony
of Jamaica. Even emancipation and the repeal of the Navigation Laws did not
affect the superficial prosperity of Barbados so severely as her sister islands,
owing to the abundant cheap labour supply of negroes, most of them strongly
attached to their home and not always willing to emigrate even when permitted
to do so. But for nearly a hundred years now the competition, in a generally
unprotected market, with beet sugar, has in Barbados as elsewhere been a losing
battle, with bankruptcy ever round the corner. However, certain factors, notably
the bonus system and the work of a Department of Agriculture which has suc-
ceeded in obtaining an enormously higher yield of sugar per acre, have kept
complete disaster at bay.

In trying to assess the characteristics of the people, it must at once be realized
that they do constitute a nation. In the first place they feel themselves to be one.
They display in their attitude towards and relations with sister colonies a
national pride (or complacent insularity) which, however galling to their
neighbours and faintly ridiculous to the detached observer, is undoubtedly
deep-seated and unaffected. Furthermore, whether the cause is geographical,
historical, and political isolation, or some fundamental condition of life peculiar
to the island, there are certain habits of mind and temperament which nearly
all true Barbadians share, however extreme their differences in racial origin.
There is a prevailing easy-going good nature, a less agreeable side of which is
seen in a quite excessive tolerance of small abuses. There is a quick sense of fun,
sometimes childish but often quite subtle, and capable of being effectively
directed, in true British fashion, against any form of pretentiousness. There is a
refreshing realism of outlook, degenerating sometimes into a bad habit of smart-
aleck cynicism, the morbid form of which displays itself in a proneness to
attribute base motives to any and everybody. There is a simplicity and restfulness
of behaviour which creates a delightfully easy and soothing social atmosphere,
but which is liable to break down, under very small stresses, into gesticulating
excitability. There is a slowness of tempo, seemingly an indispensable con-
comitant to existence in the tropics, to which strangers just have to adjust them-
selves if they want to keep their balance; and it is compensated by an infinite
readiness to oblige, exhibited with such unforced courtesy that the recipient of

favours is made to feel no sense of obligation. There is among all classes a
passionate and knowledgeable love of games, but over-keenness of rivalry and a
faulty sense of proportion, which seems fundamental to the native character, too
often introduce into local sport a disagreeable sea lawyer's spirit. Indeed, to an
even higher degree than with most people, it might be suggested that at the birth
of the average Barbadian a good and a bad fairy attends, the latter, unable to
take away the fair gifts conferred by the former, doing its best to vitiate or
nullify them.
The educational system of the island, though imperfect in many respects, is
probably more thorough and extends to a higher proportion of the population
than in any other West Indian colony. There is very little complete illiteracy, and
the crowds of people of the poorest class at the Public Library in Bridgetown
show how widespread is the habit of reading. Nevertheless, the general standard
of culture and taste is low. It is fairly reflected in the correspondence columns
of the local press, where verbosity, prolixity, turgidity and often virtual
illiteracy, are the rule rather than the exception.
The tastes, manners and morals of the upper and middle classes do not differ
very markedly from their equivalents in England, but it is noteworthy that a
higher degree of refinement, delicacy of speech and manners, and liberality of
outlook is often shown by the educated people of colour than by the whites.
Possibly this superiority is, here and in many countries with a predominantly
coloured population, the by-product of a historically inferior social and economic
Yet the colour-bar in Barbados, although sometimes described as more rigid
than anywhere else in the British West Indies, is at first sight not very noticeable.
It is true that the Princes Albert Victor and George, visiting the island in 1879,
recorded having seen only black faces outdoors during the day and white faces
indoors at night.7 But this is quite out of the picture today, even at Government
House. There are no "Jim Crow" buses, or Church or theatre seats. At business,
in the street, or at public or sporting functions white and coloured men will be
seen talking on terms of perfect equality. At Harrison College, the principal
boys' school, racial feeling seldom comes to the surface, and genuine friendships
often cut right across colour lines. Yet these friendships die of under-nourish-
ment when the boys leave school, for it is still not usual to find white and
coloured people visiting each other's homes, and the lesson learned at school is
forgotten in a bad social atmosphere which tends to emphasise and exaggerate
differences rather than similarities.
It is not, however, difficult to understand the point of view of each section.
The coloured middle class resents being made the victims of an exclusiveness in
no way based on intellect, manners, character, or capability, an exclusiveness
which is more important in its economic than its purely social aspects. Unless
his parents have the means to pave his way to a professional career or set him
up in business, a coloured youth of excellent character, who has obtained a
Higher Certificate, will be only too glad if, after months of anxious unemploy-
ment, he qualifies for an indifferently paid post in the Government Service,8
while white boys of mediocre ability are able to leave school in the Fourth or
Fifth forms to take jobs, with good prospects, in the Banks, business houses,
the Cable company, the Trinidad oilfields or elsewhere. The attitude of the white
community is equally intelligible. As a class it is large enough to feel sensible of a
substantial common interest. It is distressed by the penetration of coloured
people into politics, and fears eventual submergence. It is profoundly aware of
its numerical inferiority, and the ghost of the shadow of a "slave rising" hovers
in the background of its consciousness. It is not as a group willing to admit the
coloured middle class to a state of equality, partly because such an admission is
all against its training and tradition, but even more because it very naturally
wishes to retain the privileges and advantages it still (though much less than

formerly) enjoys. But these feelings will seldom struggle through to utterance;
the most articulate defenders of white supremacy prefer to put forward dubious
arguments about racial superiority or the dangers of miscegenation.
The great majority of the population is of course of the working class, of which
all but a small fraction-the devitalised descendants of political exiles of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries-are black or coloured. The labouring
folk are on the whole intelligent, hard-working when satisfied about incentives,
and adaptable, accustomed to living contentedly on a very low economic level,
able to find materials for happiness in vociferous religion, sport, outings,
occasional sprees, and "brams", and in that inborn disposition to cheerfulness
which is the peculiar gift of the African race. Certain less desirable tendencies,
by no means universal, such as thriftlessness, love of gambling, a propensity to
small larcenies, and sexual promiscuity, may be regarded very largely as a legacy
of slavery, but even more, in the case of the agricultural labourers, as a product
of the seasonal nature of employment. During the crop season there is plenty of
work, but this accounts for less than half the year, and for the rest of the time
there is often great hardship for those whom field or factory can no longer
absorb, and who have not their own small plots to fall back on. This condition
has helped to breed a lumpen proletariat of unemployed, who rapidly become
unemployable, and usually drift to town, where they contrive to exist, pre-
cariously and undesirably, by begging, touting, prostitution, pimping, and

The island is the victim of an elaborate and often obstructive system of local
government-now indeed in the process of liquidation-the origins of which
go back to the early years of the settlement. There are eleven parishes, admin-
istered by Vestries which are very jealous of their powers. These include
administration of Poor Relief, and, to a diminishing extent, control over Highways
and Public Health. Rates and taxes are levied to provide funds for these purposes.
The conduct of parochial business exhibits as a rule no very high level of
political morality, particularly in the more populous parishes of St. Michael
(which includes Bridgetown) and Christ Church. In the case of the former, a
prominent vestryman declared to the Moyne Commission in 1939 that the
Vestries Act had completely outlived its usefulness.9 A lively interest is taken in
the annual Vestry elections, but usually many of the successful candidates are
professional politicians, jobbers, and log-rollers. Until quite recently the
proceedings of most of the parochial boards took place behind closed doors,
and in some cases they still do. Effect has not yet been given to plans contem-
plating a sweeping change in the system, drastically reducing the number of
units of local government.
The central government of Barbados, with which this work will be much
concerned, operates under a constitution of great antiquity. Its representative
character, which it shares with Bermuda and the Bahamas, has always differ-
entiated it from Crown Colonies in the stricter sense. Until recent times it could
be best compared with the Government of most of the North American Colonies
before the Revolution.
The Legislature consists of a Governor, a Legislative Council, and a House of
The Governor, since Charles II finally resumed proprietorship from the
patentees of the early years, has been appointed by the Crown. He derives his
authority from his Commission; from Letters Patent which set forth the
functions and limits of his government, and which have been changed from
time to time; and from special Royal instructions periodically issued. "The first,
issued to each individual Governor, is his authority for exercising such powers

of government, legally vested in the Crown by prerogative, as are defined in the
other two instruments."'0
The Legislative Council consists normally of nine members appointed by the
Crown, usually on the recommendation of the Governor. It is an upper House
whose members are men of property or high standing in the community, and I
believe it is correct to say that up to quite recent times its members have been
exclusively of European descent. Its powers of veto and of initiating legislation
are only restricted in matters of finance; it cannot initiate or alter a money Bill.
The House of Assembly consists of twenty-four members, two for each parish
and two for the City of Bridgetown, elected first biennially and more lately at
greater intervals, since annual parliaments were abandoned in 1937, on a
franchise which has been periodically extended until it has come to comprehend
most of the adult population of the Island. In Barbados, as in other colonies
under the old representative system "the Crown was held to have made an
irrevocable grant of its legislative powers. ... The Assemblies could only be
modified by their own action, or by the intervention of the Imperial Parliament.
Local acts regulated the franchise and method of representation. . The
constitutional foundation is the instruction from the Crown by which the
summoning of the Assembly was first authorised, and this has been filled out
by local acts and by the growth of customary procedure"."
The early history of the Assembly can best be studied in V. T. Harlow's
Barbados, 1625-1685, which gives a remarkable picture of the vitality, the
tenacity, and the independent spirit of the Barbadians. The earliest assemblies
were meetings of freeholders, the first elected assembly being called in 1639
by Governor Hawley, under the patent by which Charles I had conferred the
proprietorship of the island on the Earl of Carlisle. In 1650 there was a petition
for yearly assemblies, "according to the privileges of English freeholders". The
constitutional privileges of the island, including a proviso that no imposts
should be levied without the consent of the General Assembly, were ratified
in 1652, after Sir George Ayscue's expedition had, not without difficulty,
exacted submission to the Commonwealth. In the period that followed local
demands became ever more extreme. In 1652 there was a movement for direct
representation in the English Parliament, and in 1653 a mainly royalist assembly
called for what Governor Searle, in rejecting the demand, described as a free
state, independent to the Commonwealth, only to remain under England's
protection, but not to own England's jurisdiction". Further, in 1659, a petition
for virtual independence was not only put forward but substantially accepted.
The right to elect the Governor was not granted, but an elected council, and
wide control over appointments and finance were among the concessions made.
The Restoration prevented the coming into operation of what was in effect a
modern Dominion constitution.
Charles II, after negotiations complicated by the claims of the estate of the
Earl of Carlisle, finally confirmed Barbadian privileges in return for a perpetual
grant to the Crown of a 4 per cent. duty on all exported produce, which, not
being applied to local purposes according to the original bargain, remained a
constant source of friction till its abolition in 1838. But the limits and scope of
the rights of the Assembly remained to be worked out by conflict and custom
over a period of time. For example, a challenge to the Council in 1674-5, when
the Assembly claimed a "bill for raising of money ought to move primarily with
them" was unsuccessful, the Council retaining the right to frame money bills
for some time longer.12 Indeed this important question seems to have been
finally settled not by positive enactment, but by the House securing practical
control of finance by naming the Treasurer in the text of Bills.13
During the last century men of colour were rarely elected to the House.
Two outstanding coloured members were Samuel Jackman Prescod and
William Conrad Reeves. More lately extensions of the franchise have opened

the road to a much larger number, until today almost all the members are of
African or mixed descent. The majority belong to or are closely associated
either with the Barbados Progressive League, an orthodox Labour Party, or
more recent and less compact organizations of the left. On the other side stands
the Electors' Association, which although at first professedly non-partisan and
particularly concerned with the interests of clerks and shop assistants, can be
properly regarded as a conservative counter-blast to the Progressive League and
other left-wing groups. It has had considerable success in sponsoring candidates
to the Assembly, and even more in Vestry elections.
The Executive consists, firstly, of an Executive Council of five-the Governor,
the Colonial Secretary, and the Attorney-General, ex officio, and two nominees
of the Crown, usually members of the Legislative Council. This body is a kind of
Privy Council, and its explicit powers as such-as distinct from its advisory
powers, and the powers of the members in a different capacity to be presently
mentioned-are slight and rather nebulous. Up to the time of the Confederation
trouble it was identical in personnel with the Legislative Council. The West
India Committee in 1876 stated that "the functions of the two bodies have
always been so closely intermixed, that it is difficult if not impossible to separate
them, but the Governor has endeavoured to do so, and by raising a distinction
between the Executive and Legislative powers which did not exist before, a
change has been made which is not warranted by the spirit or practice of the
constitution".14 This declaration seems to have been not only bad constitution-
al doctrine, but misleading in point of fact. The Minutes of the Council for
14 August 1810, show the following:
"Honourable Board of Council in Council Chamber in Town Hall .... The
Governor proposed that in future the Council in its Legislative capacity and the
Privy Council should be distinct from each other, to which the Board agreed,
and the Governor withdrew."
The Governor was Sir George Beckwith. This was the last time a Governor
sat in Council in its legislative capacity, sitting thereafter only in Privy Council.
At the meeting following Beckwith's withdrawal, the style "Honourable Board
of Legislative Council" was used for the first time.
More important than the Executive Council is the Executive Committee.
For many years after its initiation in 1881, this consisted of the whole Executive
Council, ex officio, one member of the Legislative Council, and four members
of the Assembly, appointed at the beginning of each Session. It forms a bridge
between Executive and Legislative, introducing all money Bills, preparing
estimates, and initiating all government measures. As the creation of this body
forms the climax of the story to be told in these pages, it will be convenient to
defer a detailed examination of its origin, purpose, functions, and more recent
To make a detailed examination of British policy towards the West Indian
Colonies during the period following Emancipation would be to travel beyond
the limited scope of this work. But before considering the particular problem of
Barbados, and, in the Island's relation to its neighbours, the official policy
symbolised rather than accurately epitomised by the word "Confederation", it
will be desirable to remind the reader of some general circumstances which must
certainly have been in the minds of the Englishmen whose task it was to manage
these affairs.
Of fundamental importance to the creation of official opinion, and revealing
its influence in psychological imponderables as well as in matters of broad outline
and small detail, was the recent history of Jamaica, the largest, most populous,
and most troublesome of all the island colonies.
The intransigence of the Jamaica Assembly had, as is well known, served

to produce a parliamentary crisis in 1839, when Melbourne's ministry, having
secured the barest majority for a Bill suspending the constitution of Jamaica,
resigned. On the swift return of the Whigs to office after the Bedchamber
wrangle the Bill was dropped, but no reconciliation followed. Subsequently, the
attitude of the home government became defeatist, and in 1849 Jamaica was
offered responsible government on the Canadian pattern.15 Earl Grey, who made
the proposal, probably realized clearly enough that under conditions of perma-
nent conflict there was no middle road between full Crown responsibility and
Colonial autonomy; but he can hardly have been convinced of the fitness of
Jamaica for self-government, and the terms of the proposal appear to suggest
some confusion as to the implications of responsible government, which indeed
had hardly emerged from the experimental stage in Canada. At all events,
ingenuously or otherwise, he put the offer in such a way as to suggest that the
innovation would reduce the financial power of the lower house, and it was
rejected. Later, in considering the Duke of Newcastle's proposals, a Committee
of the Assembly resolved that "what is termed responsible government is neither
required nor practicable in Jamaica".16
The economic and political condition of the island, however, continued to
deteriorate. Many estates, mortgaged over and over again, were abandoned, it
being impossible either to raise any more money on them or to find buyers,-
owing to the weight of the encumbrances and uncertainty of title.17 The
Assembly, repeating the tactics of 1838, went on a prolonged strike, making it
impossible to raise money through the ordinary channels. The chaos into which
the finances of the colony were thereby allowed to fall called for some positive
action; and in 1859 Governor Barkly came out to Jamaica with instructions for
reform conveyed in a despatch by the Duke of Newcastle.18 Characterising the
Jamaican Government as "opposed to all received principles, and to the practice
of every country in which the science of government is understood", Newcastle
noted "an utter absence of responsibility" and "excessive waste and corruption
in the public expenditure". The despatch goes on to detail some of the assump-
tions by the Legislature of executive and administrative functions: "The same
body-sometimes under the name of a Legislative Assembly-sometimes under
that of a Board of Accounts-and at other times (in conjunction with the
Council) under that of a Board of Works, takes upon itself all the executive as
well as all the legislative functions connected with the colonial finances. It
imposes the taxes, superintends their collection, votes the appropriations,
expends the money voted, and audits the accounts."
Newcastle put forward three requirements. First, the renunciation of the
irregular powers of the Assembly over finance, by the abolition of the Boards of
Accounts and Works, their duties being transferred to paid officials. Second, the
devising of some system by which the executive could have one or more spokes-
men in the Assembly. Third, the framing of Estimates by the Government, and
the restriction of the right of initiating money votes to the spokesmen of the
In accordance with these principles, and with the encouragement of a loan
of 5,000 guaranteed by the British Government, the local legislature passed in
1854 an Act which drastically revised the constitution of the colony. Its
machinery was to be applied within the next five years to more than half of the
Leeward and Windward Islands, and has formed, with important modifications,
an essential part of the Barbados Constitution since 1881.
The Act of 1854 divided the Jamaica Council's duties between two bodies, for
executive and legislative functions. The Legislative Council, whose members
were to be nominated for life, could initiate any legislation other than money
Bills. The "Privy Council" remained as the Governor's executive body, and there
was added to it an Executive Committee of one member from the Legislative
Council and three from the House of Assembly, selected by the Governor. This

Executive Committee was to propose all money votes in the name of the Crown,
to replace the Commissioners of Accounts, "to assist the Government in
preparing the annual estimates, in levying and disbursing public moneys, and
in the general administration of the finances of the country". Its advice could
be taken on other matters, and in the Assembly and the Legislative Council its
members were to be the "official organs of all inter-communication between the
Governor and such Houses respectively, and for the authoritative disclosure
of the policy of the Government on all questions". They were to be paid by the
Legislature a salary of 800 a year, it being understood, although rather vaguely,
that they held office only so long as they had the confidence of the House of
Under the provisions of this Act, obviously defective as it was in respect of the
equivocal position of the members of the Executive Committee, the government
of Jamaica operated uneasily for another twelve years, until the riots of 1865
brought for a time an end to representative institutions in the Colony.
The violent repression of those riots under Governor Eyre, and the almost
equally violent repercussions at home, may be said to have clinched the view of
the Colonial Office, that the Government of these Colonies, with the great
majority of their population consisting of slaves and the descendants of slaves,
could no longer be safely entrusted even in part to a system which allowed power
only to the small minority of planters and merchants. As there could be no
question of a general enfranchisement of the negroes, no alternative remained
but the assumption by the Crown of full responsibility. The voluntary surrender
of the island's constitution by the Jamaica Assembly, thoroughly frightened and
for the moment desirous only of strong government, made the task of setting
the West Indian house in order along these lines appear by no means in-
superably difficult.
Before leaving Jamaican affairs, it may be well to invite attention to a few
features of the story which either afford a close parallel with Barbados affairs
later, or which substantially affected the official attitude towards Barbados.
(1) The description in the Duke of Newcastle's despatch of the irresponsible
functioning of the Boards of the Jamaica Legislature. We shall find almost
exactly similar conditions prevailing in Barbados, but a much stiffer resistance
to the design of eliminating them.
(2) The division of the Jamaica Council into two clearly defined bodies, a
Privy Council and a Legislative Council. We shall find the application of this
principle to Barbados, on royal instructions, producing an outcry which had a
definite effect on the crisis of 1876.
(3) The inauguration of an Executive Committee in Jamaica, intended as a
bridge between the Executive and Legislative powers. We shall find the Colonial
Office, defeated in its main objectives in Barbados, at first rejecting this device,
but finally and successfully falling back on it at a time when it had been aban-
doned in all the other West Indian colonies where it had been tried.
(4) The unexpressed but definite effects of the Jamaican rebellion of 1865.
We shall find government policy towards Barbados, both at home and in the
island, conditioned by the haunting apprehension of a recurrence of the
Jamaican catastrophe.19
By the British North America Act of 1867 the principle of Federation, the
distinctive contribution of the United States to modern political practice, was
first established in the British Empire. It is an odd irony that at a moment when
the first great modern war was being fought to decide whether or no the American
Union should continue to exist, the first discussions-at the Quebec Conference
in 1864-were being held to work out the details of a scheme for a Canadian
Federal Union, the main objective of which was the bringing into harmonious

relation of two provinces differing sharply in race, religion, history, and tradition.
In the United States the Union cause prevailed, in Canada Federation was
achieved; so it is not surprising that in Whitehall encouragement was given to
the belief that the formula could be applied with local modification to other
British territories abroad where the machinery of government stood in need of
development or overhaul.20
Among the earliest of these territories to receive Government attention from
this point of view were the islands of the West Indies, which the Jamaica
tragedy had drawn within the orbit of an uneasy public and official opinion.
In a later chapter it will become necessary to look at the particular plans enter-
tained by the Colonial Office for bringing together these colonies. In this
Introduction it will be sufficient to give a brief account of what was accom-
plished prior to the serious attempt to solve the problem of confederating
Barbados with the other Windward Islands.
Speaking generally, then, the ultimate aim of the Colonial Office was to
confederate or unite the islands; the immediate one, to alter their constitutions.
On behalf of the latter purpose it was argued21 that the constitutions made good
government impossible; that the financial condition of the islands necessitated
Imperial grants which the Crown was unwilling to provide unless it controlled
their use; and that the interests of the lower classes could only be effectively
secured if nominated Councils were substituted for elected bodies.
Towards this end some progress was quickly achieved. Although, as will be
seen, it was not the original design, it is natural that the first step should have
been taken with the Leeward group. These islands, Antigua, St. Kitts, Nevis,
Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, and Dominica-separate colonies with a
Governor-in-Chief at Antigua as the sole link between them-had with the
exception of Dominica all been settled rather than conquered. This meant that
in matters of religion, political and legal institutions, and the race of their
ruling class, they were mostly similar to one another. Furthermore, no great
physical distances were involved; so that taking everything together this group
was clearly the easiest mark for reforming activity having as its end some form
of consolidation.
By 1866 all the Leeward Islands had been persuaded to adopt Single Chamber
Legislatures, partly nominated and partly elected, in the place of the former
Assembly and Council.22 In a Circular Despatch of 17 August 1868, the Duke of
Buckingham, Secretary of State for the Colonies under Lord Derby, claimed
(not without complacency) that the Assemblies had realized that they not only
failed to provide for the welfare of the inhabitants at large, but even for the
interests of those whom they did represent.23
Having secured more pliable legislatures in the Leewards-the Single
Chambers were to sacrifice their elective character entirely before the close of the
century24-the Colonial Office proceeded to move directly towards the larger
objective. The instrument selected was Sir Benjamin Pine, Governor of the
Leewards, who had previously administered the government of three of the
islands, and was well acquainted with the leading inhabitants.25 Pine was sent
out in 1869 by Lord Granville, Colonial Secretary in Gladstone's first ministry,
with instructions "to form these islands into one colony, with one Governor, one
Council, one Superior Court, and one Corps of Police"26-proposals of which
the stress seems to lie rather on the unification of the Colonies' institutions
than on federation. What Pine, after eighteen months negotiation, did however
obtain, was the consent of the island legislatures to a measure by which the
"law of property and persons, mercantile and criminal law, education, the
administration of justice, a general police force and convict prison, posts and
currency, weights and measures, quarantine, audit, and some other matters"
were to be entrusted to a Federal Legislature. This body was to be partly
nominated, partly "elected" by the island legislatures, to which were reserved

law-making powers on matters not specifically allotted to the Federal
This compromise was only obtained by methods of persuasion which seem
to have been questionable. Without accepting reservedly the allegations of the
enemies of Confederation; that Pine had conducted an over-zealous propa-
ganda, had sent out "paid emissaries" to get up petitions of doubtful authen-
ticity, and had brought an unethical and unconstitutional pressure to bear on
the local assemblies, 28 it is clear that the Governor held out altogether excessive
hopes of benefits that would accrue to the islands if Confederation were adopted;
and the wheels were certainly greased by the promise of a transitional Parlia-
mentary grant-in-aid of the Revenue.29
By whatever means, the work of persuasion was done, and effect was given
to the Confederation of the group by the Leeward Islands Act of the Imperial
Parliament in 1871.30
The task in the Leewards had been comparatively simple. The several legis-
latures had been reduced to uniformity with no more than mutters of resistance;
with the exception of Dominica, always a misfit in this group, the islands
exhibited a fair amount of homogeneity, and no one island possessed any great
predominance over the other, either in population or wealth. But the Colonial
Office regarded Leeward Federation as only the first step in a much wider
scheme, the creation of a British West Indian Confederacy that should embrace
the Windward Islands, and perhaps eventually other Caribbean colonies as well.
"You are no doubt aware," wrote Lord Kimberley, Granville's successor as
Colonial Secretary, to Governor Rawson of the Windwards on 1 May 1873,
"that in promoting the union of the Leeward Islands, and in desiring that the
Windward Islands should follow the same course, Her Majesty's Government
have not contemplated, unless possibly as a temporary measure, that Barbados
and the other Windward Islands should form a Federation separate from that of
the Leeward Islands; and in the 32nd section of the Leeward Islands Act, 1871,
provision was expressly made for the admission of other West Indian Islands
into the union which at present comprises the Leeward Islands only .... There
are strong reasons in favour of the union of the Windward with the Leeward
Islands. The strength of the Federal Legislature and the value of its measures
would be obviously increased in proportion to the numbers and importance of
the Colonies represented in it, while the cost of the joint public institutions,
legislature and administration would be proportionately diminished."31
This broader plan had indeed, as will later be noticed, been in the mind of the
Home Government for some time before Rawson's appointment as Governor
of the Windwards-of which group a brief account should now be given. It
consisted of five islands-Barbados, the headquarters, Grenada, St. Vincent,
St. Lucia, and Tobago. The last four of these were conquered colonies which had
been for long periods under foreign occupation, the French character and
institutions of St. Lucia being particularly marked.
The association of some of these islands under one government was ancient,
but had not been continuous. Leaving aside the confusion and changes of the
proprietary era, the first occasion was the tissue of a new Commission to
William Willoughby, appointing him Governor of Barbados, St. Vincent,
St. Lucia, and Dominica in 1672.32 Subsequently the Windward Islands other
than Barbados were mostly under French rule until the Peace of Paris in 1763,
when they were constituted into a separate government. In 1833, on the appoint-
ment to Barbados of Sir Lionel Smith, Grenada, St. Vincent and Tobago were
placed under the Governor of Barbados, who became Governor-in-Chief of the
Windwards. In 1838 Smith's authority was extended-though in a very shadowy
fashion, as it only existed when he was actually present-to the Crown Colonies

of British Guiana, Trinidad, and St. Lucia.3 In the case of the first two the
association was very brief, but St. Lucia remained, as the only true Crown
Colony in the Windward government.
It was shortly after this period when the greatest numbers of colonies were
subject, however loosely, to one Governor, that the first hint of a possible
consolidation of the Windwards appears to have been put to their people. In
opening the Barbados Legislative Session for 1844 Sir Charles Grey, Governor
from 1841-1846, spoke of the advantages which might be derived from uniting
the islands into one province, with institutions and laws common to all. In such
a union he forecast a great future for Barbados, with the scope offered to
Barbadian labourers, often without employment through a redundant popula-
tion, by the opening up of fertile lands in other islands uncultivated through
lack of labour. Referring to the superior character and happy circumstances of
the negro in Barbados, he declared: "In that source lies also a strength and
power which is sufficient, if you please, to unite and assimilate to yourselves the
other islands of this government." The line of argument was one unlikely to
appeal to the legislators of Barbados, and their replies showed a lack of warmth.
The Council told the Governor, in effect, that a closer union and a common
legislature might come when they met on the beautiful shore. The House of
Assembly, a little more liberal with courteous words, avowed that "at present,
they entertain no larger hope for Barbados than that she may continue to move
in her present orbit, with her light undimmed, and her usefulness and importance
No link between the Islands existed during the 'sixties apart from the
authority of the Governor-in-Chief and the existence of a Windward Islands
Appeal Court, instituted in 1859.35 With the exception of St. Lucia, under an
Administrator, all the islands had their own legislatures, Grenada, St. Vincent
and Tobago being under Lieutenant-Governors. Of these legislatures only
St. Vincent, which adopted a single chamber constitution in 1867, was not
Of the five islands, the principal one was Barbados. With a much greater
population and wealth, a ruling class of British origin, and a set of political
institutions which had developed without interruption for two and a half
centuries, this island dwarfed its neighbours to such an extent that it was obvious
that the success of any attempt at consolidation depended on whether it could
be cajoled or coerced into accepting it.
It is with this key island that this work is concerned; and it is now necessary
to make a detailed examination of the shape of Barbadian society, some
seventy or eighty years ago.


Chapter One

Superficial prosperity. Absenteeism. The mortgagees. The bounty system. Population.
Wages. Located labourers; the "Masters and Servants" Act. Poor Relief; the Vestries.
Emigration. Justice. Crime and hunger. District magistrates. Prisons. Other public
institutions. The Press. The Constitution. The Franchise. Legislative Boards and
Committees. Money Bills. The "Sessional Order" resolution, 1863.

"ODIOUS self-complacency and narrow prejudice.... Like the white snails of
Hans Andersen, who, living under burdock leaves upon which the raindrops
pattered, flattered themselves that the world consisted of white snails and that
they were the world"-John Mitchinson, Bishop of Barbados, on the Barbadian
upper class, at Codrington College, 4 February 1876.
"Barbados . has not acquired for itself a reputation for a generous and
cosmopolitan spirit of legislation"-Governor Rawson, 8 September 1871.
"The well-known characteristic of Barbadians is, also, to consider that they
and their institutions are perfect, and to be indignant at criticisms from
strangers"-Acting Governor Freeling, 9 August 1875.
"It (the House of Assembly) once more appeals most disingenuously to the
other branch of the Legislature, to go hand in hand with the Legislative Assembly
for a prosperous future .. to breast the billows of our political world, however
rough or adverse, and unitedly to warp our bark into a haven of safety"-Draft
(finally rejected) of reply prepared by a Committee of the Assembly to Governor
Rawson's speech opening Legislative Session of 1869.
"With regard to the articles in the Agricultural Reporter, they have been
marked from the day, now two years ago, when the Rev. Mr. Austin entered
upon its editorship, by the most unseemly personalities . There is scarcely a
public officer who has not been wantonly attacked in this paper. ... Its tone,
I am sorry to say, is very low.... The editor, when remonstrated with by his
brother clergyman on the objectionable nature of its personalities, replied that
without them no newspaper in Barbados would pay"-Governor Walker,
9 April 1865.
"An arrant hypocrite and dissembler ... possesses no more power to touch
or tamper with the Constitution of Barbados than the Czar of Russia or the
Sultan of Turkey"-Agricultural Reporter on Lord Carnarvon, 21 December
"A notorious drunkard ... canting hypocrite... detected thief, who because
not dragged to justice and publicly whipped for his villainy . vomited forth,
in Monday's Herald, three columns of the foulest abuse of us as could be found
in the repertoire of the most base-minded blackguard"-Ibid., on a rival editor,
16 December 1881.

It is no pleasure to preface a chapter with quotations like the first three of the
foregoing. Nor must it be too readily assumed that they say the last word on the
subject. For the Englishman abroad, whether he is an official displaying an
aloof arrogance not necessarily sustained by evidence of any particular ability,
or a traveller delivering glib opinions by the light of strictly domestic standards,
has traditionally been known to offend and misrepresent less thin-skinned
people than the Barbadians. Nevertheless, the chorus of English censure at the
period was so unanimous, both in generalities and detail, and had such strong
factual support, that it is impossible to disregard it in an attempt to picture
Barbadian life on the eve of the Confederation crisis.'
Compared with the neighboring islands, Barbados enjoyed a superficial
prosperity, if the price of land can be taken as an index. In 1875 two estates, of
203 and 297 acres, were sold for 16,600 and 17,500 respectively-striking
figures when compared with four good Grenadian estates, with an aggregate
acreage of 3,778, which were expected to fetch less than 8,000 in the Encum-
bered Estates Court.2 The sum of 30,000 is said to have been offered for
another estate in Barbados, by no means among the largest, at about the same
time.3 But these prices were, according to James Walker, administrator in 1859,
"spurious and exorbitant". "The competition to obtain an estate when it is for
sale," he wrote, "is so great that the most exorbitant bids are made for it, and
the possessor enters upon a property for a price the very interest money on
which eats up half his crop."4 Moreover, the greater part of the island's wealth
went to England. It is true that Governor Hennessy, when he first came to
Barbados, in 1875, wrote of "a long established resident proprietary, and their
influence on the exceptional prosperity of the Island".5 But within six months
he felt compelled to recant this, and endorse the view of his predecessors,
Hincks, Walker, and Rawson. The former had noted absenteeism as a growing
evil, and Walker in 1867 had pointed out how rare it was for the owner of an
unencumbered estate to reside in Barbados. "The finest properties of the island
belong to absentees. The best blood of the place is squeezed out of it, and is sent
to England never to return again in any shape." Worse still, according to
Hennessy, was the rather sinister pressure exercised on the struggling planters
of Barbados by the great mortgagees of Mincing Lane, chief among them the
powerful firm of Thomas Daniel and Co., who, in view of the low price of sugar
in Europe, continually urged on the planters economies that could only be
effected at the expense of the labouring people.6 A few years later we are told
bluntly how Daniel and Co., "have contrived to become possessed of large
numbers of estates in the island, they hold heavy mortgages over others, hence
their attempt" (in advancing consignee's claims) . "to set aside the rights of
others, and secure all that they can for themselves".7
Behind all this pressure lay of course the situation created by the increase
in production of beet sugar in Europe. The bounties paid to the exporters of
beet sugar by foreign governments had since the Sugar Conference of 1864
been a grievance beginning to replace the outcry against the free import into the
home market of slave-grown sugar after Great Britain's final abandonment of
free trade. But it is true that until near the close of the seventh decade of the
century hardly anyone in Barbados appeared to realise the seriousness of this
threat to the staple industry. Neither in speeches of members of the Legislature,
addresses to representatives of the Crown, nor even in newspaper articles and
letters do we find the question raised as a major issue until after the Con-
federation Crisis had passed. Then in May 1878, we hear of a Memorial from the
West Indies presented to the Secretary of State on 8 May, and early next year
the House of Assembly, in replying to the speech of Governor Dundas opening
the Legislative Session of 1878-9, requested that the evil effect on the island

of the foreign sugar bounty system should be pressed on the consideration of
the Home Government.8 Thereafter, as the Colonial Office papers show, com-
plaints about this matter became ever more frequent; but there is no evidence
to show that it was looked on, either in Downing Street or Barbados,
as having any bearing on the problem of Confederation, at the time when
Confederation was being pressed.
As has been already indicated, the strain of a difficult economic situation was
inevitably passed on to the class least able to bear it-the lowest, of whose
condition at the time it is now necessary to give some account. In dealing with
this, as with many other matters, the writer feels bound to pay a tribute to
W. Brandford Griffith, Auditor-General of Barbados, whose Financial Report
for 1874 is a document of very great value to a student of the place and period.
We shall hear more of Griffith, who, along with Hennessy, Sir Graham Briggs,
and the Attorney-General, Semper, became the target for the most violent
extremes of abuse. He was not entirely invulnerable to ridicule and censure. His
style, as evidenced by this Report and certain communications to the press which
will be noticed later, is not free from prolixity, and is disfigured by a too conscious
literary character, with an excess of quotation. In the case of the Report he
seems to have been partly aware of this, admitting disarmingly that certain
points might not be within the scope of an official document, but expressing
the hope that "if he should be deemed to have travelled beyond his province ...
his error may be forgiven". It was not; in June 1875, the Report was returned by
the House for amendment, with instructions to confine himself to the duties
required of him by the Act under which he was appointed.9 Nevertheless, taken
on the whole, it is a sincere and courageous piece of work, showing a genuine
public spirit, and, at times, a moving indignation.
From his 1875 Report-a much briefer and more circumspect one-the
population figures are conveniently obtained. The Census of 1851 gave 135,939;
that of 1861, 152,275; that of 1871, 162,042;10 the increases being in spite of losses
by cholera and emigration in the respective intervals. Griffith gave reasons for
putting the 1875 figure as high as 180,000, saying it would have been considerably
higher, "but for the frightful mortality among children".
Of the working-class majority, the greater part was engaged, directly or
indirectly, in the production of sugar." The average wage of a field labourer
throughout the year is generally put at Is. a day during crop (it was possible to
earn much more), and 10d. for the rest of the year.12 But the annual income
cannot be obtained by multiplying this figure by the number of working days, as
continuous employment was rarely available. Sir Graham Briggs, speaking in
the Legislative Council in 1872, gave the average yearly wage as no more than
$24.00 to $26.00-not enough, he said, to support the labourer and his family.13
The family, of course, would be working too, at a lower rate for the women, and
a very much lower one still for the children; and the planters could point to
certain mitigating circumstances;14 the low price of food, and such conditions
of life in the West Indies as the small expenditure required for fuel and clothing.
Small as they were, there was little security for these wages, which were
subject to fines and deductions at will. Hennessy refers to "the arbitrary practice
of stopping part of the week's wages as a punishment for alleged indifferent
work" as common.15 In times of stress, too, the labourers were the principal
sufferers. Hennessy reports in May 1876 the dismissal of labourers, the reduc-
tion of wages, and the demand of more work for the same wages. "Even the
apparently paltry economy has this year been introduced on some of the estates
mortgaged to Messrs. Daniels of stopping the long established custom of
allowing the labourers to consume cane juice and syrup during the crop time."'6
Combinations to raise wages remained, apparently, illegal. In 1877, Samuel

Carrington was found guilty and sentenced to twelve months hard labour for
"entering into a conspiracy to raise the rate of wages on a sugar plantation"."
Although it was claimed that the working classes paid no taxes except
indirectly as consumers, and that these were infinitesimal, as the import duties
on food were so low,18 24,330 was levied on imported foodstuffs, of the sort
used by the poor, in 1873.19 Hennessy quoted Hincks20 in 1858, and the West
Indian newspaper21 in 1874, as calling attention to how taxes on provisions
used by labourers had been largely substituted for taxes on land. Actually, the
duties varied a great deal. Some, as those on Salt Fish (2d. per 100 Ib.) and
Coffee (2s. per 100 lb.) seem inconsiderable. Others, like Salt Meat (4s. 2d. per
100 lb.) and Tea (2dd. per lb.) were much more severe.22
A more serious grievance was that of the many "located labourers" who
occupied houses, for which they paid rent, as incidents to service. Their con-
dition, as well as that of all servants employed by monthly contracts or agree-
ments, was regulated by the "Masters and Servants" Act23 of 7 January 1840.
This law, of a type common in the West Indies in the years following Emancipa-
tion, but which survived for Barbados far longer than anywhere else, yielded
in its operation abuses so gross as to be almost incredible to a modern reader
studying the institutions of a supposedly free community.
The situation in which the Act came into being is admirably put by Samuel
Jackman Prescod, the coloured editor of the Liberal, for many years a member
of the House of Assembly, and perhaps the most intelligent public man in
Barbados of the nineteenth century. The article in the Liberal,24 from which the
following account is abridged, was enclosed in a despatch by Sir Francis Hincks
to Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, then Colonial Secretary, who was so much struck by it
that he ordered it to be printed for the House of Commons in 1859.
The system arose when emancipated labourers were left in their houses and
on old allotments. In the first year or two following apprenticeship they con-
tinued occupation, not paying rent but giving labour, generally five days a week
at a fixed rate of wages, some 20 to 30 per cent. below the common market rate.
This caused constant bad feeling and litigation, the labourer being anxious to
work for higher wages away from home when he could, the planter seeking to
involve all members of the labourer's family in the obligation to work for the
estate at a fixed rate. But the law did not bear out the planter's claim to this,
and a system of direct renting came into use, with the condition of service at a
fixed rate of wages still attached to the renters.
The "Masters and Servants" Act of 1840 had been framed for the then existing
state of things, providing for the resumption by planters of houses and lands his
hired servants occupied as incidents of service; the latter were given the right of a
four week's notice to quit, and of reaping their crops or receiving their appraised
value, at the option of the planter. But this did not coincide with the new state of
renting. "Tenures incident to service were tenures at will with a circumstance, and
the Act of 1840 was made in special reference to that circumstance." It could
not easily be strained to apply to simple tenancies at will, as were most labourers'
holdings; and in 1850 a Bill was passed bringing all such tenancies in which rent
was payable at less than quarterly periods under the provisions of the 1840 Act.
Thus the state of the tenant labourers was as follows: He had a house and
allotment, paying a weekly rent, in money or labour, for the house, and was
additionally bound to give the estate a stipulated number of days' labour at a
fixed wage, varying from one sixth to one third less than the market rate. The
tenant, of course, was in respect to the services required under the bidding of the
landlord, who was the sole judge of the rights of each party. The penalty for
resistance was ejection from his allotment at four weeks' notice, his growing
crops being taken over at an appraised value, generally below the real value and
paid grudgingly. If notice was given by the tenant, the crop was forfeited.
The upholders of the system argued that its evils were theoretic, that the power

of ejection was rarely exercised. This, answered Prescod, was bound to be true
in any society not in perpetual convulsion, but the power was completely
effective in enforcing submission.
Prescod, the occasion of whose article was the passing at a planters' meeting
of a resolution in favour of the Act, gave a recent instance of its operation. The
manager of Halton, St. Philip, had charged four located labourers before the
District Magistrate for a breach of the Act, for absenting themselves from work
for the whole of the previous week. The manager, who got his judgment, stated
that he had given them 300 cane holes to dig for 20c-a day's work. This was
their average work, for five days a week. But at the time the common market
price for this labour was 10c for 100 holes, some planters paying 12c. "These
four labouring men were therefore required, in addition to their rent, to give
their labours to the estate for five out of the six working days of the week, at a
reduction of just one-third of the common market value of their labour.
Fifty cents, two shillings and a penny sterling a week were they required, one
and all, to surrender out of their poor incomes. Mr. Connell exacted it, 'twas 'in the
bond', and the law bore him out in the exaction, that law which, we are blandly
assured, 'is sufficient in itself to carry into effect the reciprocal duties of master
and servant', under which 'since the abolition of slavery, the best of feeling is
promoted between employers and employed'; and which affords such 'full and
ample protection to both parties'."2
A correspondent in the Barbados Times26 gives a later example, of an ejected
labourer's crop being appraised "by a neighboring planter or two at a little
over $3.00. Eventually it was valued by impartial and experienced appraisers at
$40.00". The same letter puts what it claims to be a characteristic instance with
some liveliness: "Sambo rents an acre of land from Mr. Legree. His utmost
exertions have been used to convert it from a rocky pasture to the condition of a
garden, and now, after 18 months of patient industry and toil, his hopes seem
about to be rewarded. It is the month of August, we will suppose, and his canes
promise to make him over a hogshead of sugar. Mr. Legree is aware of this fact
as well as Sambo, and the elastic conscience of the former stretches from one
act of imposition to another.... Mr. Legree calls in a few of his confreres, who
appraise the growing crop for a few shillings as cane meat" (i.e., fodder for live
stock). The failure to perform five or six days labour a week, it is added, leads
in the absence of a doctor's certificate to fine and imprisonment, which will be
confirmed if the victim appeals to a higher court where the interest of the
planters is still paramount.
But the most astonishing feature of the Act, as applied not only to located
labourers with allotments, but to domestic and other servants, is found in the
penal clauses. For breach of contracts, not necessarily written, payment for the
benefit of the master of not more than one months' wages could be exacted, and/
or imprisonment with or without hard labour for not more than 14 days and/or
dissolution of contract. The penalties for masters were not to exceed one
months' wages, damages, and wage arrears of not more than 10, and not more
than 5 for injury. No master could be imprisoned under the Act.27
However infrequent ejection from tenements might be, the constant enforce-
ment of this law to the full for breach of contract is shown by a list of returns of
decisions in 1875.28
There are literally hundreds of cases, all of them brought by employers. A few
were dismissed, very rarely with costs against the master, but in the great
majority a verdict was given for the complainant. In the country district courts
there was seldom a sentence of imprisonment, but in the cases-mostly non-
predial-heard in the City and St. Michael's Courts, where P. H. Delamere
was the Magistrate, it was almost the rule for the maximum punishment to be
inflicted. The examples below are quite characteristic:
C. Adams Howell v. Ann Browne. Breach of contract as a servant refusing to

obey orders on 30 December: 10s. and 7s. costs to complainant, plus 14 days
hard labour.
Robert Arthur v. Jas. Blackett. Breach of contract, absenting himself without
leave as coachman on 11 October: 1 5s. Od. to complainant, plus 14 days hard
labour. Neither to be enforced unless complainant applies.
Conrad Reeves v. Zachariah Reece. Breach of contract as groom: 1 5s. Od. to
complainant, 6s. costs, 14 days hard labour. Committed and issued.
Geo. W. McLean v. Rachel Alleyne. Negligently and improperly performing
her stipulated duties as cook on 1 April: 16s. 8d. to complainant, 8s. costs, 14
days hard labour.
John T. Greaves v. Cornelius Payne. Negligently and improperly performing
his duty as carter by allowing one of his cattle to get injured which was under his
charge, 27 July: 16s. 8d. to complainant, 5s. costs, 14 days hard labour, plus
(special order) a month's wages.
W. and J. Spencer v. Thos. Glasgow. Neglecting his duty as watchman on
Pine Estate by allowing canes to be stolen on 30 August: 1 2s. Od. to com-
plainant, 5s. costs, a month's wages, 14 days hard labour.

It might be supposed that some mitigation of the lot of the humblest class
existed in the form of Poor Relief for the infirm and aged, and facilities for
emigration for the able-bodied. In neither case however was the position at all
The system of Poor Relief had few defenders even within the island. Public
medical relief, apart from one or two parish dispensaries, was obtainable only
at the General Hospital in Bridgetown, where indoor accommodation and
outdoor treatment were in practice available almost exclusively to the inhabi-
tants of St. Michael and the neighboring parishes. Of indoor relief of the
ordinary kind there was none.
The care of the poor was the province of the vestries, and dissatisfaction with
the way in which they performed their duties was universal, except perhaps
among the parochial tax-payers. A Joint Committee of the Council and Assembly,
reporting in September 1869, was "unwilling to speak disparagingly of what is
now done in this matter in the rural parishes, but they cannot refrain from
saying that in their opinion more ought to be done, and that there should be a
more organised, a better defined, and more uniform system of relief throughout
the island".29 No legislative effect was given to the proposals of this Committee,
nor did the representations of Rawson meet with much practical response.30
In opening the Legislative Session of 1874-5 for the first time in the new Public
Buildings Rawson expressed his regret that while the colony "had made such
ample provision for the convenience of the Legislature and the Public Officers,
there should be any hesitation, or delay, in providing adequately for the humane
treatment of the sick and insane among its population . and the sufficient
relief-provident, but not niggardly-of the destitute and infirm. The inadequacy
of existing arrangements in all these respects is brought to my notice almost
daily, by those who imagine I have the power, because they believe I have the
will, to effect the needful change. My power is exhausted, and my duty is
fulfilled, when I press these questions urgently on your notice."31
Griffith thought the weak point of the 1869 Report was that its proposals left
reform to the parishes themselves, pointing out that the Vestrymen, in the
interests of the parishioners, were "actuated by a spirit of economy which is
perfectly marvellous".32 A clergyman visiting in the island in 1867, inhibited
by no official responsibility, put it more bluntly. Referring to "a shameful and
inhuman parsimony" in this matter, he went on: "The legislature permits but
does not insist upon a portion of the parochial rates being expended on poor

relief. The consequence of this is, that some parishes grant no relief at all, while
others give a miserable pittance to a most limited and insufficient number of
favoured objects."33
This was the impression of a visitor. The opinion of a man, obliged by his
position to acquire a close knowledge of the Vestry system, is more detailed and
even more damning. In 1876 Bishop Mitchinson wrote a confidential letter on
the subject to Hennessy. The chief points he made were: (1) The Vestries were
constructed on a faulty principle, being microcosms of the Legislative oligarchy:
and all legislation as regarded the Vestries was mainly permissive. They were
thus quite irresponsible, and could not be compelled to do their duty. (2) They
were hotbeds of class and race prejudice, which showed itself particularly in the
matter of education. Many exclusively white schools were maintained out of the
parish rates, though little or no provision was made for elementary schools.
(3) There was no obligation to provide Indoor Relief; one parish still made no
such provision, while others had only recently begun to do so. The granting of
Outdoor Relief was entirely haphazard, in practice being left in the hands of the
Churchwarden, who was usually unable to give sufficient time to his duties.
(4) The Vestries failed in their strictly ecclesiastical duties. (5) There was
extreme diversity between the systems and methods obtaining in each parish.
(6) There was negligence over meetings, extravagance, and jobbery.34
With regard to emigration, it was of course recognized that the chief con-
tributory factor to the superficial prosperity enjoyed by Barbados alone among
the islands was that the negroes "on emancipation, found themselves in an
Island fully cultivated and fully peopled, and that they were driven, by the
absence of unappropriated land, to work for wages with a regularity unknown
in the other islands".35 To conserve this happy state of affairs was therefore a
principal concern of the ruling class and its legislature; but it is interesting to
note the transition from unabashed realism in the years immediately following
the abandonment of Apprenticeship to a kind of apologetic excuse-making as
the representatives of the Home Government became more insistent that cause
should be shown why emigration should not be helped rather than hindered. In
the Barbadian for 31 July 1844, we find this tirade against Prescod, just elected
to the House "to the eternal disgrace of the City": "Was he not devoting all his
energies, and all his ability to the injury, yea, to the ruin, of the landed pro-
prietors; for, did he not set up an Emigration Shop, and exert every effort to
seduce the able-bodied labourers to emigrate to Trinidad and British Guiana?
... Such an infamous use of the liberty of the press ought not to be forgotten."
This sort of bluntness is no longer to be found a quarter of a century later. The
arguments then are that labourers don't emigrate on a large scale because they
don't want to,36 that the preponderance of male over female emigrants leads to
excessive charges on poor relief,37 that restrictions and regulations imposed on
emigration are designed only to protect the prospective emigrant from victim-
Actually, the resistance of the Legislature to a free emigration remained strong.
In 1872 it was censured in the Press for declining overtures from Demerara to
relieve Barbados of its surplus population.39 The following year an Emigration
Bill was passed, in the teeth, according to the same newspaper, of strenuous
opposition by the Plantocracy.40 A letter in the same issue quoted Rawson as
saying that the establishment of an Emigration Office had been a check to
Emigration, suggesting that the agent had been so zealous in the interests of
intending emigrants that he had greatly decreased their number. At a later
period the Attorney-General stated in the Council that the work of the Emi-
gration Agent was impeded by regulations prohibiting him from obtaining
information from Emigration Agents in the other colonies.41
But the main objection to the Act of 1873 was that while it appointed an
officer and placed 200 a year at the disposal of the Government to facilitate

emigration, it expressly excluded agricultural labourers and artisans from any
benefits.42 In the circumstances it is not surprising to find the Emigration
Officer, in his Report for 1875, emphasising a "continued and notable decrease of
emigration from Barbados".43 Only 19 13s. 9d. of the sum allotted to promote
emigration was spent; this however was a distinct improvement on the 2 2s. 1 d.
for 1874. It is true that the Report indicates other reasons for the dwindling
emigration figures than discouragement at home. It concludes, after noting the
growth in population, and pointing out the signs of increasing poverty, in these
"If the limit of production has been reached, but population goes on in-
creasing, it is a necessary consequence that poverty should be increasing also.
The rate of increase of poverty, measured justly by the amount of poor relief,
is most serious, and suggests the remark that if pestilence does not decimate the
people before the arrival of the year 1881, a large emigration must be en-
couraged; otherwise the burden of poor relief will become intolerable, for the
hearts of liberal vestrymen never will devise liberal things to save the most
needy distress."44

Finally, as a means of dealing with a situation created by extreme and wide-
spread poverty, there remained the gaol.
It will have already been realized that the Barbadian ruling class, in its
attitude towards the negroes, remained in general unwilling to accept the
implications of Emancipation. In no matter was this more striking than in that
of penal theory. Sir Charles Grey, a wise and humane Governor, had noticed
this many years earlier. "Do not," he begged the Legislature, "by the use of
harsh and inconsiderate punishments call into existence, even in the breasts of
criminals, those bitter feelings which are the matrix of atrocious crime... do not
treat the people with contempt or disregard. Do not permit anyone, unanswered,
to calumniate or unfairly vilify their general conduct and disposition".45
Nevertheless, the practice continued of punishing delinquencies of all kinds,
from serious crimes to the most petty of misdemeanours, by prison sentences.
The idea of placing a stigma on, or corrupting the nature of persons possibly of
good character was not present in the minds either of legislators or magistrates.
We have seen this attitude at work in connection with the "Masters and Servants"
Act, and there are other examples. A return of persons imprisoned for debt46
shows that between 1870 and 1875, 1,306 males and 335 females were sent to
prison for terms up to four months, mostly for failure to pay quite petty amounts.
These were liable to be locked up at the Town Hall Gaol in wards containing
thirty or more,47 where no discrimination, apart from that of sex, was made
between short-term prisoners and those awaiting trial for serious crimes, young
or old offenders, respectable women and prostitutes. The provision made for
juvenile delinquents yields a still more appalling picture. There was then no
industrial school, but in District B (St. George) there was a juvenile prison.
Here Hennessy, paying three visits between November 1875 and January 1876,
"found children undergoing sentences of imprisonment with hard labour for
stealing sugar-cane who were not of the age of reason, that is, who were under
seven years of age".48 On calling for proofs of the ages of these miscreants he
found there were none, and it transpired that the magistrate simply accepted
the statement of the prosecuting planter, who always gave the age as over seven.
Hennessy adds that the prison defaulters' book recorded punishments inflicted
on these babies for such offences as "wetting his blankets", and "laughing
and playing".
That hunger was by far the most prolific source of crime can hardly be
disputed. Sir Graham Briggs49 attributed most of the petty crime that prevailed,

particularly cane stealing, to the instigation of hunger. A return of magistrates'
proceedings for March 1876, showed 152 persons charged with stealing food
as against 75 up for other offences: in District B, where rioting started, the
proportion was 47 to 9. It is true that Hennessy's aim in giving these figures was
to controvert the statement that provisions were plentiful and cheap just before
the riots, and he says these figures were excessive and unusual, but he offers no
evidence for this.50
Perhaps the chief obstacle in the way of a more healthy administration of the
criminal law was the fact that many of the Police Magistrates were either
incompetent or excessively attached to the planters' interests. The local press
during 1874 and' 1875 is full of violent criticism of these magistrates. Most of
them came in for castigation at times, but the target for the most violent abuse
was Captain P. H. Delamere, whose Draconian enforcement of the "Masters
and Servants" Act had already been noted. An "ex-military gentleman who had
been pitch-forked into the magisterial office,51 who always seemed to regard
those before him merely as a file of a black regiment to be drilled",52 Delamere
was charged with convicting a youth for a theft committed when he was in
gaol, shouting down the accused's answer:53 with imposing a "heartless and
severe" sentence which was reversed on appeal:5 with allowing an alleged
murderer to escape by a blunder over a deposition;55 and finally, with utter
ignorance of the law, complete inability to inflict suitable punishments, and
self-importance.56 This last foible was illustrated by his "excessive convictions
for contempt""7 (a matter Hennessy was to bring up later) with figures showing
twenty-four such convictions in a period of two years.58 J. R. Gooding of
St: James, afterwards to be dismissed for misconduct after the disturbances, was
another to be frequently pilloried, on one occasion for sending to prison, for
failure to perform work, a labourer whose tenancy was agreed to be on a cash,
not on a labour basis.59
It is true that the appointment of these magistrates was in the hands of the
Executive, but in practice the field was restricted. The appointment of strangers
was generally criticised,60 and as there was no statutory requirement that these
posts, though paid, should be filled by barristers, the line of least resistance was
to choose the least unlikely of the local gentlemen who wanted to take it on.
The view of their duty taken by these men seems to have been the one tradition-
ally attributed to many of the unpaid magistrates in England-they interpreted
it according to the interests and prejudices of their class. Hennessy told
Carnarvon how Rawson had received magisterial returns showing with what
confidence the managers were able to bring their labourers before the Police
Magistrates and get them fined and imprisoned.61 His own observations bore
this out, and his private efforts to check the process, particularly in the case of
juveniles, were unavailing. "Neither the planters nor the police magistrates
(with very few exceptions) paid any regard to my opinion on the subject; nor
indeed did they pay any greater deference to the official remonstrations addressed
to them by my predecessor Sir Rawson Rawson. . Nearly all the police
magistrates are intimately connected with the planting interest, so that Sir
Rawson Rawson's wishes in this matter, as well as mine, are disregarded.""62
Nor was the situation much better in the higher courts. During the troubles in
1876 the complaint was made that members of the anti-Confederation party,
against whom existed the clearest evidence of acts of violence, were protected
by the Grand Jury and Petty Jury.6 The record of the Special Sessions in that
year gives confirmation to the charge. "In the face of the fullest evidence as to
the grossest outrage," wrote Bishop Mitchinson to Hennessy, "it would be
impossible to obtain a conviction at present in favour of an unpopular suitor.""
Hennessy claimed that Confederation men were outside the protection of the
law, and sent home the deposition of an assaulted man, to the effect that a
juryman told him "I ought to be very glad I had got a few slaps and not been

killed". Other jurymen addressed this complainant in the same terms, but he
was asked no questions, and his case was dismissed.65 The Attorney-General
later alleged that Court Officers were in the habit of picking the names of
Jurors as they pleased.66
The prisons themselves were a source of bitter controversy between the
Executive and the Legislature. At the time of Emancipation the only gaol had
been at the Town Hall in Bridgetown, consisting of cells underneath the building
where the Courts of Justice still meet and where the Legislature assembled up
to 1875. Shortly after, District Police Stations were erected with lock-ups, but
these proving insufficient, it was found convenient to send prisoners sentenced
by the Magistrates to Bridgetown. These were lodged in the Town Hall Gaol,
which in its turn became congested, so that a large prison, Glendairy, was
erected for long-term prisoners.67
The two points at issue were accommodation and discipline. Great con-
gestion was undisputed. With respect to the District Prisons and Glendairy,
there were bickerings over the Governor's transfer of prisoners to relieve
crowding in the case of the former, and over the cost of extension in the case of
the latter. The situation at the Town Hall Gaol was however more serious. It
was the task of the Grand Jury to visit this gaol and report on it at the opening
of every Grand Sessions. Up to the 'sixties the reports were generally formal and
uncritical,68 but later they became successively less favourable, until at the
December Assizes in 1874 the Grand Jury remarked: "We have inspected the
gaol, which we cannot report to be in a satisfactory condition, as not only is
there a great want of ventilation in the cells, but the intolerably offensive
effluvia arising from a cess pool above the building cannot be otherwise than
prejudicial to the health of the prisoners."69
Griffith gives a grim account of the conditions leading to these strictures,
pointing out that overcrowding led to prisoners being allowed only a little over a
quarter the recognized amount of air space required for each individual, and
telling how the turnkeys, on unlocking the cells in the mornings, found that the
atmosphere had become so polluted that they were forced to return into the
open air before unlocking all the wards.70
Nevertheless, in spite of the Grand Jury's reports and all remonstrances
from the Executive, respectable public opinion, in its determination to prevent
the condemnation of a building which could only be replaced at considerable
cost, made it a point of faith to maintain that the Town Hall Gaol was hygienic.
Overcrowding as an impediment to discipline was admitted, but neither the
Legislature, the Lower House of which in 1875 went so far as to speak of
the healthy conditions of the Town Hall,71 nor the press, as represented by the
Agricultural Reporter, which suggested that the Grand Jury's report of
December 1874 had been officially inspired,7 would concede an inch on this
With regard to discipline, Hennessy, as we shall see, was shocked by the
number and savagery of prison punishments; but he was preceded in this feeling
by members of the Legislature, on whose shoulders direct responsibility for
prison administration cannot justly be laid. The House of Assembly and the
Press did not fail to point out that full control over prison discipline was vested
in the Executive by Imperial Statute-the Colonial Act of Victoria, 1838. By
reference to this the tables were turned on Hennessy, who, it was pointed out,
was criticising his own predecessors. The argument was reinforced by a reminder
of how Rawson had invoked the same statute to reject brusquely a motion for a
Commission of Enquiry arising out of the case of a man named Inniss who had
died of dysentery, apparently due to neglect and punishment he was unfit to
It was not of course quite so easy for the Executive as its enemies suggested.
Although information could be obtained from Inspectors of Prisons deriving

their authority directly from the Crown, and all sentences of flogging or solitary
confinement imposed by the Visiting Justices required the sanction of the
Governor,74 the frequent interference with prison management or with the deci-
sions of the Justices was a burden few governors would care to assume-it
required a man like Hennessy, with a particular interest in penal reform.
Rumour suggested that Rawson was no believer in lenity towards convicted
prisoners.75 But the root of the trouble was probably the imposition of a dubious
penal system,76 which to have any chance of working well required proper
accommodation and competent officers at proper salaries, on a community
where, mainly owing to the parsimony of the Legislature, these conditions could
not be fulfilled.
So it was also with the Lunatic Asylum, which, according to Dr. Thomas
Allen in an interim report on the institution, was utterly bad in both administra-
tion and accommodation, with the plans for a new building totally inadequate.77
The Lazaretto presented a similar picture. The Report of 1873 showed that
between one-sixth and one-fifth of the male inmates (mostly under thirty years
of age) had died in twelve months. Possibly the scanty diet, which allowed only
one solid meal a day, and no meat at all on Wednesdays and Fridays, may have
contributed to the excessive mortality.78
By comparison, the Island's system of education comes out rather better.
Griffith, while deploring the lack of industrial training, praises Harrison College,
and the work of the Legislature, the Education Board, and the clergy.79 But
Bishop Mitchinson, who got into dreadful trouble by some remarks at the Lam-
beth Conference in 1878, was less happy about the results. After speaking of the
"inbreeding" of the Barbadian clergy, and declaring that the prosperity of
religion was on the surface alone, he described the standard of elementary
education as low, condemning "a tendency to cultivate observation and memory
by purely mechanical methods, but to leave intelligence unevoked and the moral
sentiments untrained".80 And a Mr. John Savage, who was asked by Lord
Carnarvon, in 1876, to report on the state of education in Barbados, produced
a very dismal account to the same effect-though probably no worse than would
have been elicited by any other West Indian Colony of the period. "The inevit-
able conclusion is forced upon one," Savage wrote, "'that the education imparted
in the elementary schools in Barbados is very defective in one essential point,


A word of explanation about the Barbados press may be welcome at this stage.
Prescod's Liberal and Abel Clinckett's ultra-conservative Barbadian had expired
in the early 'sixties. During the period material to this work, however, there were
no fewer than five newspapers, each published twice a week-the West Indian,
the Times, the Agricultural Reporter, the Globe, and the Herald. Unfortunately,
complete files of these are not available. The Barbados Public Library, which
houses the only reasonably good collection in reasonably good condition, offers
no Globe between 1853 and 1886, no West Indian between 1851 and 1876, and
again between 1878 and 1883, and no newspaper at all for 1880-an important
year. Fortunately, there are copies of the first three mentioned for 1876. The
Herald, a progressive and well-conducted paper, did not commence publication
until near the end of the 'seventies.
The most notable common feature of the two papers which are fairly con-
sistently available is not so much a reactionary domestic policy as an extreme
insularity, a resentment of non-Barbadians as such, and a propensity to scur-
rility of the true Eatanswill type. Apart from this, their resemblance was small.
The Agricultural Reporter, the professed organ of the planting interest, was
conducted for many years by the Rev. P. B. Austin, an erratic clergyman and

planter who was to play a fairly prominent part in the Confederation excitement.
Its attitude on domestic questions was always uncertain, but not uniformly
illiberal. It was capable of criticising Barbadian institutions, when they were not
attacked by strangers; it occasionally reflected the planters' jealousy of the
merchants, and particularly of the mortgagees, tilting more than once at Thomas
Daniel and Co., 82 and, when not blinded by passion, could argue a case reason-
ably and forcibly. But, in general, the hysteria and savagery of its tone, and above
all its prolixity, exhaust the early amusement of the reader, and finally disgust
him. This is equally true of the Times, whose director however was coloured, and
which, while vying with the Reporter in the intemperance of its opposition to
constitutional change, and at times even exceeding it in violence of invective,
was, within limits, the champion of the negro against domestic oppression.
The West Indian, judging by the copies available, was in an entirely different
category. It displays a balance and a sense of proportion that make it refreshing
to turn to after its contemporaries. Not always quick to make up its mind, its
management incurred odium and suspicion by its slowness in jumping on the
anti-Confederation band-waggon in 1876. Finally, it joined in the chorus of
condemnation, but without sacrificing its moderation or good taste.

"Barbados," Rawson informed Lord Kimberley, "has not acquired for itself
a reputation for a generous and cosmopolitan spirit of legislation." Yet the
satisfaction of Barbadians with their general system of government and particu-
larly with their constitution, at times bordered on fatuousness.
This infatuation, as will frequently be seen, was often accompanied by a
dangerous ignorance as to the scope and limits of the constitution. P. L. Phillips,
a lawyer and a prominent member of the House of Assembly, declared at a
public meeting in 1875: "We have a Governor who is the representative of the
Crown; we have a Council which represents the House of Lords in England;
and a House of Assembly, composed of representatives of the people, which
performs the same functions as the English House of Commons. As was the case
in England, the power of governing was vested, not in the Governor, in the
Council, or the House of Assembly, but in the people."83 In a similar strain of
drastic over-simplification, the West India Committee addressed the Secretary of
State for the Colonies. "The said constitution has always been regarded with
reverence and affection by the Colonists, not only for its intrinsic excellence and
its beneficial working, but because of its similarity to the Constitution of
England.""4 "The Constitution of Barbados is similar in principle to that of this
A realisation of the widespread character of this and ancillary delusions is an
important requisite for understanding events from 1875 onwards. The defence of
the Constitution of Barbados, although fundamentally of the character described
by Sir Samuel Romilly in 1816,86 was, in the eyes of the defenders, a popular
movement. It was without conscious hypocrisy that traditional principles of
English liberty were invoked to protect a small class whose representatives made
laws with small regard to the interests of the great majority of the population.
The right to vote at the annual elections for the Assembly was conferred by the
Franchise Bill of 1842. Freeholders of property with an annual value of
12 16s. 4d. and ratepayers of 3 4s. Od. could vote, and there was also an occu-
pational and a Leasehold franchise. A bill to extend the franchise was read once
in the House in 1868, but the House voted against going into Committee on
it.87 It was not true, as Anthony Trollope88 said, that "none but white men do
vote at these elections, though no doubt a black man could vote, if a black man
were able to obtain a freehold. Of course, therefore, none but white men can be
elected." Black and coloured men did obtain freeholds, did vote, and did,

although rarely, sit in the Assembly. One of the delegates of the Barbados
Defence Association, addressing Lord Carnarvon, was able to claim that nearly
half of the members of that organisation were coloured.89 They belonged, how-
ever, exclusively to the middle class. Carnarvon, relying on the information
given him by Hennessy, stated in the House of Lords on 1 August 1876, that
there were not more than 1,300 voters out of a population of at least 160,000;
and this figure was not seriously contested. The House, in reply, went no further
than to point out that the number would rise to 2,500 if all qualified troubled to
register, and, while admitting the time for extension had arrived, claimed, fairly
enough, that agricultural labourers could not be included in any scheme based
on property and education.90
The Legislature, consisting of men regularly occupied in planting, commerce,
law and occasionally medicine, met, according to Acting-Governor Freeling, in
1875, for an average of three hours during twenty-nine or thirty days in the
year.91 An examination of the Minutes bears this out as far as the number of
meetings is concerned. Uusally they were fortnightly, but at times the adjourn-
ment would be for a shorter period. Weekly meetings only became the rule as
recently as 1938.
It was not from lack of business that the meetings were so infrequent. Free-
ling, thoroughly annoyed with the Legislature, and not taking sufficient account
of the private occupations of these amateur legislators, nor of other public busi-
ness, presently to be noted, which took up their time, went on to express his
disgust at their supineness and the attitude of the landholders who elected them.
"I am led to imagine they have rather endeavoured to prevent reforms and to
keep the poor in their present low state, instead of to ameliorate their condition,
and this, I fear, for the double reason of obtaining labour at the lowest possible
rate, and of avoiding expenditure which would increase taxation." Whatever the
cause or excuse, it is true that measures introduced into the House on behalf of
the Government commonly petered out before a second reading, among them,
during Rawson's administration, a Franchise Bill, a Bill to abolish Imprison-
ment for Debt, and one providing for registration of births and deaths.92 To an
acknowledgement of the Governor's messages to the Legislature during the 1871
Session is appended a list of them, and it is noteowrthy that the words "No
action has (yet) been taken" occur in 10 out of 25 cases.93 Rawson, opening the
Session of 1874, attributed the failure to deal with measures he had recom-
mended to a reluctance to give them time for a proper examination. 94 The reluct-
ance was certainly present; so, under the existing arrangements, was the shortage
of time.
It was many years since Sir Charles Grey, long before the Duke of Newcastle
expressed his wishes in regard to a similar matter in Jamaica,95 had, in opening
the Legislative Session of 1844, deprecated "your method of conducting almost
all public business by Boards and Committees of the Legislature," and sug-
gested, not their abolition, but a secretary at a proper salary for each Board,
holding his appointment from the Government and thus "more directly amenable
to the Executive power, and more constantly and immediately in communication
with it," thereby giving "a more effective and energetic execution to the acts
of the Colonial Legislature."96
Neither Council nor House had considered it necessary to make any reference
to this plea in the replies. The system continued unchanged, except for the crea-
tion of a Consolidated Board co-ordinating the activities of the separate Com-
mittees in some matters, right into the 'seventies. Rawson condemned this
cumbrous method of carrying on Public Works in more specific terms at the
opening of the 1872-3 Session. It is a waste of time," he said, "of a number of
gentlemen, who are brought together, sometimes after repeated calls, for the
consideration either of professional questions which they do not pretend to
understand, or of trifling details which their clerk would be equally competent

to settle. It would be contrary to human nature to suppose that the result, in the
majority of cases, would be any other than indifference on the part of the mem-
bers, and frequent delays, which are equally vexatious to contractors and injuri-
ous to the public."97
Griffith gives a list of the 13 several Boards and the three Standing Com-
mittees of the Assembly, with the number of members on each, and a table
showing how the duties were apportioned among the different members of the
Legislature. The President of the Council and the Speaker of the House were
ex officio on 9 and 7 respectively; one other member of the Council and two
other members of the House served on 8. In addition, there were Committees of
the Legislature appointed to investigate particular subjects and Commissions for
special purposes appointed by the Governor, and requiring the services of mem-
bers of the Legislature. Griffith quoted the report of one of the former
"appointed to consider the question of a more punctual transaction of public
business, and a less frequent and fruitless call on the time of the members com-
posing the Legislative Committees and the Executive Committees." "These
Committees," it was found, "although often consisting of the same or nearly the
same members, are independent of, and unconnected with, each other; and,
consequently, it not infrequently happens that several of them are summoned to
meet on different days of the same week, or at the same hour of the same day-
in the former case to the great inconvenience of the members, especially those
who reside at a distance from the town, and in both instances to the detriment
of the public service.""98
The case against these Boards from the point of view of the Government was
put very forcibly by Rawson in 1869. "The Legislature has charged itself with
duties which elsewhere are responsible to no authority. The Governor, who is
responsible to the Queen for the good executive government of the Colony,
cannot interfere with these bodies, either to move them to action or to prevent
them from improper action."99 The records of the period amply demonstrate
the vexatious and perpetual conflicts provoked by this situation.
An even stronger ground of complaint by the Executive related to the method
of introducing Money Bills. The exclusive right of the Assembly to grant or
withhold supplies was of course undisputed, but members traditionally extended
the protection of this privilege to the practice of allowing any member to get up
and propose a money vote at any time. A few examples from the year 1844 will
illustrate the procedure, which had not changed with the years. On 8 January
Mr. Springer moved that the House should go into Committee on his Bill to
grant the Treasurer an annual salary. Mr. Springer had it all worked out, and
had filled up the blank with 200 per annum. The motion was carried.100 On
the same day Mr. Donovan gave notice of a Bill to increase the salaries of the
Clerk of the Market and the Toll-Gatherer.101 On 23 March Mr. Bovell moved
that the House should go into Committee to grant a sum of money to the
Hospital.102 On 30 April, different members introduced petitions: (1) for a loan
to extend St. Andrew's Church, (2) to grant a salary to the President of the
Council, (3) to repay the cost of accommodating the jury in a recent trial, (4) to
provide for the maintenance of lepers, (5) for relief to a widow.103
Griffith dedicates an exclamation mark to the "extraordinary circumstance"
that the House did not require the submission of annual estimates of income and
expenditure from any responsible authority"-nor indeed of any estimates.
"The present mode of proceeding", he goes on, "is just so much groping in the
dark, for it is impossible to foresee what the expenditure of a year may be, as
at almost every one of the fortnightly meetings of the Assembly some fresh
application for money is made, and it is just a toss up in the end whether the
income squares with the expenditure of the Colony."'04 The Auditor-General
returns to the charge in his Report for the following year, in almost identical
language, and, aptly enough in view of the peculiar local ideas as to the paral-

lelism of the British and Barbadian constitutions, quotes Mill's Considerations
on Representative Government, on the principle that "though the supplies can
only be voted by the House of Commons, and though the sanction of the House
is also required for the appropriation of the revenues to the different items of the
public expenditure, it is the maxim and uniform practice of the Constitution
that money can be granted only on the proposition of the Crown. It has no
doubt been felt that moderation as to the amount, and care and judgment in the
detail of its application, can only be expected when the executive government,
through whose hands it is to pass, is made responsible for the plans and calcu-
lations on which the disbursements are grounded. Parliament, accordingly,
is not expected, or even permitted, to originate directly either taxation or
expenditure. All it is asked for is its consent, and the sole power it possesses is
that of refusal."
During the administration of Walker, an unsuccessful attempt to remedy this
abuse had been made. In 1863 Walker ventured to tell the House that "it would
only be following one other step of Parliamentary usage if you were to adopt
the Standing Order which the House of Commons has, Session after Session
for upwards of 150 years, passed before proceeding to business, to the effect that
the two Houses will receive no petition for any sums of money relating to
Public Service, or proceed upon any motion for granting any money, but what
is recommended by the Crown". This, added Walker, in asking for a year's trial,
might end "the wayward initiation of money votes".105
No immediate reaction was provoked, but later, when Brandford Griffith
introduced a resolution to this effect,106 the storm broke. There was a violent
outcry against the proposal, as a deprival of the House's dearest and sacred
privilege. Prescod, writing in the Liberal, seems to have been one of the few men
to keep his head clear on the subject, pointing out that no privilege was being
limited; merely the occasion of its exercise. The Governor would be given no
new power, and all money votes would still be initiated in the House. The
measure would indeed impose on the Governor responsibility rather than
confer on him additional power. Its adoption would protect members from
indecent solicitation and check jobbing. Under the existing system, a probable
estimate of expenditure was impossible, to the detriment of the tax-payers'
Prescod's voice, however, was raised alone. The "Sessional Order" Reso-
lution was defeated by 14 votes to 7,108 and the subject buried for another
seventeen years.

Chapter Two

Political heads and permanent staff. Carnarvon. Lowther. The officials. The routine.
Altruism and complacency. Herbert. Origin of the Confederation policy sketched.
Reduction of scope of the plan. Appointment of Rawson to the Windwards. The raison
d'etre in Barbados; desire for efficiency and economy. Spontaneous Federation ?

DURING the period covered by this work the Secretaryship of State for the
Colonies was held successively by Lord Kimberley, Lord Carnarvon, Sir
Michael Hicks-Beach, Lord Kimberley again, and Lord Derby. All these, with
exception of Kimberley, were members of Conservative ministries, but the
matter of political affiliation, at least as far as Barbadian policy is concerned, is
almost without significance. Carnarvon once spoke of a "growing indisposition
to connect colonial questions with party politics".1 Kimberley, early in 1876,
wrote a sympathetic letter2 on the Confederation policy to Carnarvon's Con-
servative appointee as Governor of Barbados, Hennessy; and, when news of the
Barbados upset first reached London, gave Carnarvon warm support in the
House of Lords.3 In the Commons, three months later, Liberal members backed
up Hennessy far more strongly than the Under-Secretary of State.4 At an earlier
stage the Liberal Secretary Lord Granville had written a minute expressing a
desire to confirm if possible the West Indian arrangements of his Conservative
predecessor, the Duke of Buckingham.5 West Indian affairs indeed, after the
Jamaica rebellion, hardly occupied sufficient public attention to make it at all
likely that they would become a party question, and their relative unimportance
in the Colonial field also meant that the formation and conduct of policy would
probably be left mainly in the hands of the permanent staff of the Office.
It is indeed not easy to draw an exact line between the working responsibility
of a Minister of State and that of the Permanent Officials in his department.
In these days most people would agree to the truth of a rough generalisation
allotting to the department the task of producing evidence to an extent which
amounts to a suggestion of policy, and to the Minister that of deciding, in
consultation with the Cabinet, how far that policy can be "sold" to Parliament
and to the electorate. When there is a Minister of particularly decided views or
character, or when an important party issue has been made of a change of
policy with a change of Government, there will be modifications. But it is
obvious that no modern Minister can expect to familiarise himself with all the
business of his office, except in the most superficial way, and that he is practically
bound to accept in good faith the advice given to him, by experienced Civil
Servants with an honourable tradition behind them, in almost all matters except
controversial ones of first-class importance.
If that is the situation today, how far was it true of seventy years ago? The
present writer, commencing this work in Barbados, assumed, perhaps some-
what ingenuously, that the main actual as well as nominal responsibility for the

West Indian Confederation policy rested with the successive Secretaries of
State. He was considerably unsettled by a perusal of Mr. W. L. Burn's fasci-
nating account of the Colonial Office in the 'thirties in his Emancipation and
Apprenticeship in the British West Indies. From this the significance of the
Permanent Officials became manifest, and a fortiori he was led to expect that
forty years later, with the increasing complexity of official business, he would
find a similar state of affairs in being. He had to wait until circumstances
permitted him to return to England and study the Colonial Office papers
before forming a final conclusion, which was, however, a very decided one-
that the officials, and particularly the Permanent Under-Secretary, were, in the
West Indian field, the substance, the Ministers little more than the shadow.
Nevertheless it is impossible to dismiss the Ministers out of hand as mere
cyphers, or rubber stamps registering other people's decisions about the colony
of Barbados. There is abundant testimony, for example, to Carnarvon's
industry in office,6 and going by the best evidence, the amount of Minute paper
covered in commenting on despatches, there is nothing to show that his pre-
decessors and successors were conspicuously less conscientious in dealing with
official business. In particular Kimberley, Secretary of State in two Liberal
ministries, from 1870 to 1874, and from 1880 to 1882, is revealed as an active,
intelligent, and a generous-minded man7 who was able, possibly because South
African affairs had not reached their most critical stage, to give plenty of time
to West Indian business during his first period as Colonial Minister.
But since Carnarvon was in office during Hennessy's administration, the
central period which is inevitably the core of this work, something more needs to
be said about him. As a statesman he might be fairly described as a specialist
in the Colonial field. It is true that on the two occasions when he differed from
the majority of his party and resigned office, the issues were questions in the
first case of domestic, in the second of foreign policy; but apart from his period
as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in his later years, all his official life was spent at
the Colonial Office. At the age of twenty-seven he was given office in Derby's
first ministry, being Under-Secretary for the Colonies in 1858 and 1859. During
the last two months, when his chief, Bulwer Lytton, was in poor health, he was
virtually doing the work of the principal Secretary.8 Bulwer described him as
"by far the first young man of his rank in public life", and as "very accomplished,
very honest, very hard-working, very ambitious, very sensitive to praise or
censure. . If he attain the highest hereafter it will be in spite of a certain
want of vigour in his style of speaking and of virile grasp of thought on difficult
In 1866 he was Colonial Secretary, taking over in the same month as that in
which the new Jamaica constitution was established by Order-in-Council-the
climax of a series of events which could hardly have been without their effect
in shaping his attitude towards West Indian problems. It was this first period as a
Minister of the Crown that saw the greatest positive achievement in politics
with which his name is associated. This was the preparation and introduction
of the Bill for confederating the North American provinces,10 which however
only finally passed after his resignation in 1867.
In his second and last period as Colonial Secretary, in Disraeli's second
ministry between 1874 and 1878-the important period for our subject-he was
mostly concerned with South African affairs. This meant that he was able to
give less attention to the claims on his time of West Indian business."1 Indeed
he admitted this on at least one occasion, when he noted in a minute that he was
unable to read the enclosures with Hennessy's despatch on the Barbados
disturbances until they were printed, owing to "extreme pressure of business
in the office".12 Nevertheless, the frequency with which his handwriting appears
on the minute papers suggests that he did everything he could, and it is plain
not only from these notes, but from his dexterous handling of two deputations

from the West India Committee, and from the clarity and cogency of his
principal speech on the subject in the House of Lords, that all through he kept a
firm grasp on what he regarded as the essentials of the situation.
He seems to have brought large-minded views to his work in the Colonial
field. His conception of Imperialism was a generous one; he deprecated its
identification with "mere bulk of territory and multiplication of subjects"
protected by large standing armies, pointing out that England's imperial
function was to draw the Colonies closer to herself, and to hold the balance
between her colonists and the native races.13 An example of his dislike of
treating colonial policy as a party matter has already been quoted. He took a
high view of the place of the Crown in colonial government. "Whether in India
or in the Crown Colonies," he told the House of Lords in March 1876, "and in
every case except those of responsible governments, the Crown must be the
governing principle."14 But he looked on the Crown as the symbol not only of
authority, but also of protection for the weak. In 1877 he wrote of "that direct
protection by the Crown of the unrepresented classes, which takes the place of
representation and which is afforded by the constitution of a Crown Colony".15
His understanding of colonial sentiment would, however, appear to have been
imperfect. He never grasped the strength of custom and conservatism among the
upper classes in such a colony as Barbados, mistakenly regarding opposition
to reform from such quarters as the factious and vexatious agitation of not very
important vested interests, which could, as a last resource, be cajoled or over-
awed into submission. Further, in one matter at least, he seems to have been
something of a doctrinaire. The part he played in the passage of the British
North America Act may have unduly disposed him to regard confederation as a
formula of universal application to groups or colonies which were giving
difficulty.16 The Confederation policy for the West Indies was not indeed
originated while he was Secretary of State, but during his regime it was revived
and pressed with renewed urgency; and, like his subordinates he never became
fully aware that conditions for a spontaneous federation simply did not exist
in the West Indies. A full realisation of the weight of opposition in Barbados
came later in the day than it should have done, and even then was incomplete.
Associated with Carnarvon at the Colonial Office during Disraeli's second
ministry was James Lowther, Parliamentary Under-Secretary. Although Low-
ther, on behalf of this chief, put his name to answers to many of the letters with
which the department was bombarded from England during the Barbadian
crisis, no evidence is forthcoming that he was to any great extent familiar with
West Indian affairs. Indeed, his statement in the Commons on 28 July 187617
suggests rather the reverse, that in fact he had taken no more than a quick run
through the papers recently printed for Parliament, and had some conversation
with prominent members of the West India Committee. He seems to have been
a much more orthodox Conservative than his chief. A letter he wrote in 1875, on
the projected re-opening of the Eyre case, shows a certain insensitiveness. In it
he refers contemptuously to the "weak-kneed brethren"-apparently those who
thought that the manner in which the Jamaica rebellion had been suppressed
afforded any grounds for criticism whatever.s8

It is now necessary to take a glimpse behind the scenes at the Colonial Office,
with of course particular reference to the management of Barbados affairs.
John Bramston, who became an Assistant Under-Secretary and a legal adviser
to the Colonial Office in 1877, later in life wrote an article on the working of the
Office during his period.19 Every incoming despatch, he says, "is forwarded to
the Geographical Department to which the Colony belongs, where it is taken in
hand by one of the junior clerks, who writes on the minute paper a pr6cis of the

contents, giving his views of the action to be taken". The despatch (and of
course the minute paper) then went to the principal clerk of the department,
then to the Assistant Under-Secretary in charge of the particular colony, then
(if there was any doubt) to the Permanent Under-Secretary. "Twenty years ago
(i.e. around 1880) every despatch went to the Permanent Under-Secretary, and
probably three-fourths of the correspondence was seen by the Secretary of
State." That, however, later ceased to be practicable, owing to the increase in the
volume of business.
Bramston gives figures to show the increase in business, which began in
the period with which this work is concerned. In 1870, 13,541 despatches
were received, and 12,136 sent; in 1880 the respective numbers had risen to
20,367 and 18,084. One consequence was an increase in personnel. In 1870 the
legal adviser, H. T. Holland (later Lord Knutsford) was appointed Assistant
Under-Secretary, and when he retired in 1874, two barristers were brought in to
divide the legal business, and share in the work of the geographical depart-
ments.20 It was not until 1877 that the Upper Division clerical staff was recruited
by competitive examination; before then many officials had had colonial experi-
ence. Herbert had been Premier of one colony, Sir Julian Pauncefote Attorney-
General of one colony, Chief Justice of another; Bramston himself had been a
Colonial Attorney-General.
The description given by Bramston of the procedure is fully borne out by a
study of the papers concerned with Barbados and the Windward Islands. The
adventures of a minute paper were perhaps a little less rigid than he indicated.
After the pr6cis writer had, in the case of a lengthy despatch, done his best, and
often (according to the excellent system prevailing) made his own comments or
suggestions, the minute paper would pass through a variety of hands, few or
many, according to the character, complexity or importance of the subject. If,
for example, it was a matter of law, constitutional or otherwise, it would go to
one of the legal advisers-Holland, Pauncefote, Bramston or E. Wingfield,21
according to the period; if ecclesiastical business was in question, R. P. Ebden
appears to have been regarded as the specialist in the early 'seventies. Comment
would sometimes be perfunctory, sometimes exhaustive, taking up to three or
four pages from individual Secretaries or Clerks. Humour was not quite ex-
cluded, and apparently no one was barred from marginal annotation of the
despatch. The remarks on the minute paper would commonly end in a concrete
proposal or a suggestion as to the nature of the reply.
The one handwriting which is almost invariably to be found on the paper is
that of the Permanent Under-Secretary, R. G. W. Herbert, who would often
have it back twice or even three times. If the despatch required anything more
than an acknowledgement or an obvious answer, he would generally employ
some such words as "I would reply by etc. .. .", preceding his suggestion.
And this was authoritative. The Secretary of State, to whom despatch and
minute paper finally came, would sometimes offer a comment, rarely reject or
modify the proposal before him, more rarely still draft a despatch or part of a
despatch himself; but far more often he would be content with a chatty line and
the not very dynamic words "I agree. Reply as proposed" or something of the
sort. The despatch as drafted and as finally sent (often with deletions, additions
and alterations) would be substantially, often exactly, in the words suggested on
the minute paper by Herbert, or less frequently by one of the specialists.
With certain unavoidable reservations, a fairly clear picture of the Colonial
Office and its personnel emerges from a perusal of the papers. Firstly it is plain
that the officials made up a good team, working happily and harmoniously
together. Internal evidence bears out Sir Herbert Jekyll's statement to this
effect,22 for if there had been any serious conflicts or antipathies it seems in-
credible that they would not have been at least unconsciously reflected in the
manifold hasty jottings which made up so large a part of the work of the servants

of the department. There were, of course, differences of opinion and tempera-
ment. Sir Julian Pauncefote, for example, who for a short time had been Chief
Justice of the confederated Leeward Islands,23 seems to have completely assimi-
lated the attitude of the West Indian ruling class, and become violently negro-
phobe. "The negroes," he wrote in one minute, "are incorrigible idlers and
prefer living in filth and squalor and disease to working more than is absolutely
necessary to keep the wolf out." They were thieves, beggars, etc. "This is such an
admitted fact as to be a 'platitude'; but I think it should not be lost sight of in
justice to the planters on the question of the 'oppressed negro'."24 More such
snappish comment, of a kind that might have been expected to proceed from an
enraged member of the West India Committee, may be found over Paunce-
fote's initials, and it is plain that his views were rather shocking to most of his
colleagues, whose attitude on the subject was in general intelligent, humane, and
slightly academic. But disagreement, as always, was implied, rather than ex-
pressed; no one is ever discovered giving an opinion that one of his fellows is
wrong. Herbert, in the case quoted above, complimented Sir Julian, but de-
murred: "The opposite view is however not improbably entitled to some
weight-i.e., that the negroes would do more work if they could get it, but the
planters cannot employ and pay more than a limited amount of labour, and
prefer to have a large number of labourers competing for very small wages, to
paying somewhat higher wages to the fewer persons who, if employed more days
in the week, could do all the work." Lord Carnarvon noted both views in the
manner of an amiable Chairman presiding over a conference of a learned society
-and it is worth noting that there is no indication that Pauncefote allowed his
quite frequent private deviations from the orthodox departmental line to betray
him into public indiscretion, or failure in that loyalty which the Office so
successfully exacted.
Secondly, there can be no doubt about the fundamental integrity and altruism
of the officials, nor of the highly honourable view they took of their duties. The
bureaucratic heartlessness and cynicism of the Circumlocution Office are notably
absent; these men believed they were doing a job that was worth doing, and they
gave their best to it. They had, at least as far as the West Indies were concerned,
a clear conception of their own function. "It is this office alone which will took
after the labourers' interests," is one comment made in 1884;25 and the idea is
implicit throughout. It would be wrong to picture with too drastic a simplifica-
tion the work of Downing Street, but it is true that an enormous mass of it was
concerned with persistent attempts to bring about improvements in prison con-
ditions, hospitals, asylums, education, poor relief systems and so forth, in the
teeth of strongly entrenched colonial opposition, which habitually regarded such
paternal efforts on behalf of the negro as intolerable interference. These men
believed that they were the midwives of progress. A modern civil servant, beset
by the uncertainties of the present age, might well feel some wistful envy of fore-
runners who had so clear an idea of where they were going, and so unshakable
a conviction that it was in the right direction.
Such a state of mind had, of course, its weaknesses and dangers. From it there
is prone to develop an Olympian rectitude which does not please the taste of
today. Something of this is, as will be seen, particularly noticeable in the attitude
of the Office to the Colonial Governors.26 Here there is, perhaps, some excuse,
for although it appears from this limited research that the Governors were all
men of excellent abilities, at least so far as devotion to duty and skill in writing
State Papers are criteria, it should not be forgotten that appointment in the first
place was a matter of patronage. Hennessy himself received his first Government
when he was financially in low water, through the good offices of influential
friends.27 Rawdon Crawleys indeed were no more, and it was a far cry from the
eighteenth century, when a good West Indian Governor was like a fine day in
February, something which you were glad to get, but had hardly expected. Yet

it is understandable that there should have been official suspicion and uncer-
tainty about men who were often without official training and tradition, a
tendency to award praise or censure as to incompletely trusted Public School
prefects, in the light of the sometimes cloistered philosophy and limited worldly
experience of a broad-minded Public School headmaster.28
The thing, however, went deeper than this. An advantage of official anonymity
is that it can inspire possibly quite timid men with courage; the corresponding
disadvantage is that immunity from personal criticism may build in them a con-
viction that they are never in the wrong. These public servants had access to the
full facts of any case to an extent entirely denied to the opponents of their
policies. They knew it to be true that the greater part of the criticism offered,
whether in Parliament, in the press, or in private correspondence, was either
trivial, or interested, or wide of the mark. Rebuttal was usually easy, or if the
point was too general to admit rebuttal, an official snub could always be admin-
istered. Was there not some danger that in these circumstances a set of highly
intelligent, but not unduly humble-minded men might, in the end, almost come
to identify their own judgments with absolute truth? Such an impression un-
doubtedly is conveyed by the Colonial Office minutes. One misses any note of
diffidence, of careful exploration in imperfectly chartered waters; making full
allowance for the fact that men in office have no time to indulge the philo-
sopher's luxury of qualification, these busy scribblings often have the character
of setting forth immutable decrees rather than fallible human opinions.
Allied to this is a kind of aloofness on the part of the officials, a Pilate-like
neutrality, almost a ring-keeper's attitude towards Lilliputian contestants (one
being the Queen's representative) engaged in a struggle which often seems to
interest them more as spectators than participants. The thing is too impalpable
for specific reference, a matter of tone rather than particular words, but through-
out the Governments of Rawson and Hennessy it is continually creeping in. It
might be praised as impartiality were it not that both these Governors were
expected to promote the cause of Confederation; it was rather hard that their
efforts should become the subject of so much cheerful disinterested comment on
the part of the instructors, who at moments seem almost to forget their own
A few lines above, it has been suggested that the permanent officials had access
to facts to an extent never enjoyed by the opponents of their policies.29 As far as
facts can be rendered on paper this is so clearly true as to be a platitude. But one
important element to the formation of a sound final judgment was inevitably
missing; understanding of the particular mental climate in which particular
Colonial problems had to be worked out. There was in the end, perhaps, a want of
realism. The Colonial Office, in pursuing its Confederation policy in Barbados
was too sanguine in its estimate of the practicability of its proposals,30 too blind
to the strength of local opposition, too deaf to the warnings of one Governor,
too obtuse to realise that it was driving another Governor into doubtful methods
of overcoming opposition, too prone to blame others rather than itself for
failure. It was a want of realism due to a defect in imagination. One may believe
that if Herbert had spent a month or two in Barbados in 1875, it is barely possible
that Confederation would have been ultimately achieved, but almost certain that
there would have been no Confederation crisis.
For although he inherited rather than inaugurated the West Indian Con-
federation policy, it is certainly Herbert who was the driving force behind it from
1871 onwards. That was the year in which, after a short period as Assistant
Under-Secretary, he became the permanent Chief of the department. Before that
he had enjoyed a wider experience than falls to the lot of most Civil Servants.
He began his public career as private secretary to Gladstone in 1855, and after
being called to the Bar in 1858 accompanied Sir George Bowen, first Governor
of Queensland, to Australia. In the first ministry he was Colonial Secretary, and

a little later became Premier, holding the post for five years until 1865. A short
period at the Board of Trade preceded his appointment to the Colonial Office,
where he remained for the remainder of his official life, serving under nine
Secretaries of State.31
Making due allowance for obituary style, it is evident from the tributes paid
to him on his death that he was a very popular man. A farewell dinner on his
retirement in 1892, when Lord Kimberley praised "this very eminent and most
lovable member of the permanent Civil Service," may almost be classed as an
obituary notice.32 Two colleagues testified in the highest terms to his ability,
industry and personal kindness. W. R. Malcolm wrote: "Though he did not
always suffer fools gladly, yet if he had a lame dog in the Service he would always
help him over the stile, even at the cost of multiplying his own labours, and it is
needless to say that in return he reaped the reward of loving service."33 A. W. L.
Hemming has a few revealing comments. After describing Herbert as a very
rapid worker, he says: "As a despatch writer I should doubt if he has ever been
excelled, especially in the difficult art of conveying an unpalatable decision to a
Colonial Ministry, or a reprimand or warning to a Governor." He adds that
Herbert's charm of manner sometimes led visitors to expect a compliance with
their wishes which was not forthcoming; hence there was frequent disappoint-
Herbert was a cousin of Lord Carnarvon, and had been his exact contemporary
at Eton.35 He is described by the latter's Private Secretary as being on intimate
terms with his chief,36 and private letters in the Carnarvon Papers show that
when writing off the record honorifics were dropped on both sides. Herbert's
position was in this respect an unusual one, and it may have contributed to
giving him an even more decided pre-eminence than falls to the lot of most
Permanent Under-Secretaries. Of his pre-eminence, which was made more
effective by his extraordinary industry, there can hardly be any doubt. When
one finds an official in the great majority of cases not only giving the advice
on which action is based, but also setting the action into motion by drafting the
material despatch himself, it is reasonable to regard him as the prime author of
Such was certainly believed to be the case in Barbados. A communication
from the Barbados Defence Association of 29 August 1876, informed Lord
Carnarvon that Sir T. Graham Briggs "openly and ostentatiously asserted that
he was in the confidence of the Colonial Office, that he was in constant com-
munication with the Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Mr. R. G. W. Herbert,
who, he implied, virtually directed the policy of the Colonial Office on this
question, and was determined to carry it in the Windward Islands".37 Hennessy's
covering despatch, indeed, strongly denied the truth of the allegation against
Briggs, and the whole nature of its presentment not only gives it the character
of gossip of the type the Defence Association was not above repeating, but
suggests a rather naive attempt to set Carnarvon, Herbert, and Hennessy about
one another's ears. Downing Street was indeed extremely annoyed.38 The
Defence Association received a very severe reply, but privately Briggs was
blamed. Herbert, almost self-exculpatory, wrote of having had "a terrible
number of very wearisome interviews with Sir Graham Briggs" as well as with
Sir James Walker, Sir John Sealy etc. "Sir Graham Briggs is a very weak person,
and I think it very likely he may have talked foolishly about what he imperfectly
understood me to say or mean"39-he may have produced letters, but these were
always "curt and meagre".40 Carnarvon showed impeccable loyalty. "This
attack on Mr. Herbert," he wrote, "is of a piece with the general proceedings of
the Defence Association, and is as malignant as it is unfounded." But the chance
shot had got home.
The names should at least be mentioned of a few other officials who had a
subordinate but substantial share in the framing and execution of the Windward

Islands Confederation policy. Sir Henry Taylor, veteran of the Apprenticeship
days, and one of the most famous of all Civil Servants, was still at his desk up
to 1873, as Principal Clerk of the West Indies Department. He was liberal with
giving advice born of long experience, which made him much less sanguine than
most of his younger colleagues, and in the period before Herbert's complete
ascendancy, he looms larger than any other figure. He was succeeded by another
busy writer of minutes, C. Cox-whose second-in-command was J. Hales,
who advanced from pr6cis writing to take an important share in the deliberations
of the office. R. H. Meade, Assistant Under-Secretary, and R. P. Ebden were
others to be closely involved in the earlier stages of the Barbadian business, and
the work of Sir Julian Pauncefote-usually a little out of step with his colleagues
-John Bramston, and E. Wingfield-successively in charge of the West Indian
Department from 1878 to 1880 and from 1880 onwards-has already been
touched on.


These men indeed, with the partial exception of Taylor, were not responsible
for the initiation of the broader West Indian Confederation policy. The genesis
of this lies outside the chronological limits of this work, where an exhaustive
treatment of it would be out of place; but it will be desirable to go a few years
back to find some points of contact between the policy at large and its particular
application to Barbados and the Windward Islands.
An account of the earlier history of the Confederation plan is given in
December 1868, by A. W. Birch in a memorandum on the "Proposed re-
arrangement of Governments of Trinidad and Windward and Leeward Islands"."
Here, and in the decisions that followed, a few general points deserve notice.
Firstly, there is no hint of any co-ordination between the plans for the West
Indies and the idea of the Confederation policy as applied or to be applied at
large to the different units of the Empire; references to the recently achieved
Canadian Federation are throughout as conspicuously absent as references to
the South African Federation presently to be attempted. Secondly, there is
shown an uncertain hovering between administrative unification and a more
genuine federation; an uncertainty which extends to terminology, for during the
period the minutes of some officials, and even occasional despatches, use the
expressions "Federation" and "Union" without apparent distinction.42
Thirdly, there are alternations between a comprehensive plan and separate ones
for the two groups of islands. Fourthly, a glimpse is given of the extent to which
the various projects were subject to such purely administrative considerations as
the existence of vacancies, through the expiry of the time of individual
Governors and Administrators, permitting new appointments on new con-
According to Birch, in May 1866 Cardwell, Colonial Secretary, had con-
sulted Pine, then Acting Governor-in-Chief of the Leewards, on the "proba-
bilities of increased efficiency and economy in the administration of justice"
being obtained by the amalgamation "of Leeward judicial staffs or even Leeward
and Windward Courts". Pine thought this object would be best obtained by a
general legislature of all the Leeward islands which should consist of the
Governor-in-Chief, Lieutenant-Governors and certain members of each local
legislature. The powers of this Federal Council, Pine had proposed, should be
clearly defined and extend only to such subjects as laws relating to real and
personal property, criminal law, the practice and procedure of Courts of Justice,
Post Office regulations, bankruptcy and insolvency, and quarantine. To these
might be added regulations relating to militia and police, leaving the several
island legislatures to deal with financial and other local arrangements.

When this correspondence came before the officials, Sir Frederick Rogers,
then Permanent Under-Secretary, wrote a minute in which he proposed "that
this scheme of Federation should be enlarged, and embrace both the Windward
and Leeward groups, the Governor-in-Chief residing at Barbados with quasi-
permanent administrators in each separate Island", and probably certain
officers of the general government resident at Barbados.
The question, Birch tells us, nevertheless remained in abeyance till 1867, when
the proposed reconstruction of the Colonial Secretary's office in Dominica
brought it up again. Taylor took the opportunity to revive the question of
consolidation of the governments, and went very fully into the whole subject.43
His analysis came before the new Secretary of State, the Duke of Buckingham,
who decided to recommend a new scheme. By this, briefly, the Governor of
Barbados was to be Governor-in-Chief of both Windward and Leeward Islands.
He would be required to visit each island when its Legislature met, and to appoint
a time for an annual meeting of Lieutenant-Governors in Barbados. The
Lieutenant-Governor of Antigua was to be a man capable of acting as
Governor-in-Chief. Tobago was to be separated from the group and placed
under the Government of Trinidad.
"It will be observed," Birch noted, "that this Scheme comprises only the
Administrative Federation and does not enter upon the legislative consolidation
proposed by Sir B. Pine." It was this plan which with unimportant modifications
had been submitted to the Treasury, and which had, in the letter to which
Birch's memorandum was appended, received the sanction of that Board in
respect of the alterations of salaries that would be necessitated.
Before the authority of the Treasury had been solicited, however, Rawson had
been appointed by Buckingham to the Windward government,44 and had been
told that the Leeward as well as the Windward Islands45 would probably be
placed under his supervision with a salary increased from 4,000 to 5,000.
At the end of his memorandum Birch gave a r6sum6 of what had been done by
way of administrative preparation for the change-in effect merely the appoint-
ment at reduced salaries of two new Lieutenant-Governors at Dominica and
St. Kitts-Nevis. But, as the plan embraced the abolition of the general govern-
ment at Antigua, nothing, he pointed out in conclusion, could be done until
Governor Hill of the Leewards retired in the following March.
That was the situation when Granville, who had succeeded Buckingham as
Secretary of State, received the blessing of the Treasury for his predecessor's
proposals. But, now the execution of the plan seemed fairly in sight, his advisers
were beginning to pour cold water upon it. Rogers, commenting on Birch's
memorandum, was the most explicit. The administrative change proposed by the
Duke of Buckingham was,he wrote, intended to be accompanied by a judicial
consolidation and the constitution of a central legislature of Crown nominees,
to take charge of all large subjects, thus reducing the importance of the lesser
and subordinate legislatures. But," he added, "I do not think we can take any
real step towards this till we have got all the Islands of the combined Govern-
ment to abandon their representative institutions. And even then the matter
would have to be carefully manipulated." Rogers's advice was to defer the issue
of Rawson's commission until Hill's retirement enabled Lord Granville to give
the new Governor the full post and to postpone consideration of the rest until
Rawson (who was in the Bahamas) came to England.
Granville's own minute shows him as being glad of a respite giving time for
reconsideration, and the draft of the reply to the Treasury says that "Lord
Granville is of the opinion that... it is not expedient for the present at least to
make any change in existing arrangements".
The fruit of reconsideration was, as we have seen, the decision to appoint
Pine as Governor of the Leewards, with an assignment limited to that group.
Rawson, disappointed of the larger government, was given a commission for the

Windwards alone, with the intimation that he was to pursue enquiries with a
view to bringing about their federation."


From the next chapter onwards, we shall be principally concerned with events
in Barbados, although frequent reference back to the effect of these events in
England will be necessary. But before proceeding to an account of the circum-
stances leading up to the Barbadian crisis of 1876 and its aftermath, it will be as
well to give some preliminary illustration of the impact on the minds of the
officials in London of the Island's institutions and practices, in their bearing on
the question of reform and confederation.
As Birch noted in his account of the consultations between Cardwell and Pine
on the larger project,47 it was a desire for a greater efficiency and economy that
lay behind the proposals for change. So with Barbados it was the inefficiency and
wastefulness of the local system that principally convinced Downing Street of the
need of reform.
More than anything it was the incompetence and selfishness of the pocket
legislature, purporting to be representative, but elected by a tiny fraction of the
population, that gave offence. "The more of helpless and unqualified blundering
might the sooner bring about their extinction and the establishment of a Crown
Colony Government," wrote Taylor of the Barbados Legislative bodies in 1871,
when Rawson reported their undertaking new harbour works without plan, or
estimate, or sufficient funds in hand for the charge.8 Again, on a similar question
of legislative control of public works,49 Taylor noted that "the Assemblies used
to resent even a suggestion on such subjects," and Herbert became very positive:
"If without assigning good reasons any West Indian Assembly was to refuse to
give the initiation of money votes to the Governor, I think it would become the
duty of the Home Government to insist on its doing so."
On Rawson reporting one of the repeated failures of the Barbados Assembly
to pass a Registration Bill,50 Meade commented: "We must hope the new
assembly will be more sensible-probably a vain hope," and Kimberley added,
"Very vain, I fear". Another despatch requested authority for the rather irregu-
lar proceeding of allowing Briggs to remain in the Barbados Councils after
accepting a seat on the Leeward Federal Council.51 This drew from Herbert
scathing words about "little Governments which are allowed to exist in their
present shape only because in being ridiculous they are not seriously injurious;
and the advantage of giving an enlightened Councillor52 to two Colonies in the
person of a man who may be very influential in federating them into one group,
may be allowed to override any technical objections". The question of Coun-
cillors on another occasion elicited a similar view from Taylor: "The persons
of which Governors have a choice for Executive Councillors, especially in the
smaller Colonies, are often far from being worthy of much confidence, at least
as to discretion."53
The refusal of the Legislature to improve the Town Hall Gaol was another
matter which continually angered the officials. The gaol was described by E. D.
Fairfield as "the worst in the West Indies,""54 and the patience of Taylor about
the "scandal of the Town Hall Gaol"55 was evidently exhausted when he noted
that it was in vain to repeat recommendations to which the Crown has no power
to give effect. "Except," runs an unsigned marginal comment, "by interfering
with the constitution, a step which Lord Carnarvon would be reluctant to advise
without further appealing to that sense of decency and duty which he must hope
the Legislature possesses." Later, Taylor suggests the invocation of the Imperial
Statute empowering the Crown to close bad gaols,56 and this was actually done
by Hennessy at the close of his Government.57
Along with impatience with the legislative bodies went the desire for economy

-a motive for Confederation frequently stressed in the printed despatches, and
one which could be more easily made public without giving offence. In 1871
Rawson was instructed to unite the offices of Judge and Chief Police Magistrate
in the lesser Islands, and the views expressed on his discouraging reply58 show
the trend. E. Knatchbull-Hugesson works out the saving that would be effected,
and Ebden, proposing the union of the Chief-Justiceships of St. Lucia and
St. Vincent puts it thus: "The step need not be represented to the Colonists as a
step towards Federation, but as recommended by economy, efficiency," etc.
Rawson in 1873 had it quite clear in his mind that economy was a principal
object of the proposed changes, but he did not think it would work out so in
Barbados, in view of the example of the Leeward Islands.59
This was undoubtedly one of the difficulties. How was it possible to attract
the Windward Islanders with a picture of the financial relief that federation
would entail, when it was manifestly doing the other thing in the Leewards?
It might be true that the increased costs were largely transitional,60 but the public
justification of the change required something rather more positive than an
excuse, if its extension to a neighboring community was to be successfully
recommended to its inhabitants. Privately the Colonial Office officials made no
attempt to conceal from themselves the failure of the Leeward Confederation
to come up to expectations. "If a strong successor to Sir B. Pine could be got...
Barbados and perhaps some of the other Windward islands might join the Lee-
ward Confederation spontaneously," noted Herbert in 1871:61 and next year
Kimberley put the blame on Pine himself. "It would be a false move to attempt
to deal with the Windward Islands till the Leeward Islands experiment had had a
fair trial. What we want is an able administrator, in the Leeward Islands to
succeed Sir B. Pine, who was very successful in carrying through the constitu-
tional change, but seems unable to work the new system with vigour and
decision."62 Time passed, and the attempt with the Windwards was made, but
very evidently not because the condition laid down above by Lord Kimberley
had led to the desired result. Early in 1876 Berkeley, Governor of the Leewards,
was making gloomy speeches about the situation in his Government, speeches
which Hennessy complained were being widely used in Barbados by his
Nevertheless, the Downing Street idee fixe about the possibility of a "spon-
taneous" federation or alteration of the Barbadian Legislative system remained
for a long while unshakeable. A quotation made a few lines above shows
Herbert as believing it; Taylor, too, seemed to think that the chaos produced by
incompetent legislators would ultimately lead to a willing surrender of their
powers;64 "Sir G. Briggs thinks otherwise" is an unsigned marginal annotation
to Griffith's statement that the respectable white natives "would never consent
to exchange it" (their charter) "for the Single Chamber of the neighbourhood".65
Whether or no it was induced by paying too much attention to the afterwards
despised Sir Graham Briggs, certainly the belief existed that there really was a
strong Federation party among the upper and middle classes of Barbados.
From the above, the attitude of the Downing Street officials towards Barbados,
an attitude of which further illustration, pari passu with the development of the
situation, will necessarily appear hereafter, may be briefly summarised in the
following points:

1. They believed that the local legislature was not only hopelessly incom-
petent, but also unwilling to perform its duties.
2. They thought that the errors of the legislature might be expected to
produce such chaos as to lead eventually to its abolition and the setting up of
Crown Colony government.
3. They were aware that in the last resort the Home Government was in a

position to insist on this, or on some such lesser reform as the securing of the
initiation of money votes to the Executive.
4. They were however unwilling to override or interfere with the Barbados
constitution as an act of power, and wished to bring about Confederation, their
own solution for the problem, by methods of persuasion.
5. They hoped to effect this persuasion by demonstrating that Confederation
would result in greater economy.
6. When, after the Leeward Islands were federated, the expected result of
economy was not achieved, they realized that this line of persuasion was
unlikely to succeed.
7. Nevertheless, they continued to believe, as will be seen incorrectly, in the
existence of a substantial Barbadian public opinion favourable to Confederation
or reform, or at least capable of being won round.

Chapter Three


Rawson on obstacles to Federation. Hopes for a Single Chamber. Brandford Griffith's
letters to the Barbados Press. Their reception. Herbert and Rawson. The Governor rebuked.
His memorandum on Federation. Faint praise. Trouble with the Assembly. Injustice
of the Colonial Office to Rawson. Appointment of John Pope Hennessy. Acting-
Governor Freeling. Public meeting on Confederation. Alignment ofparties. Personalities.
Reeves. Briggs. Semper. Threatening letters. Freeling opens the Legislative Session.
The controverted election in St. Thomas. Action of the House. Freeling dissolves the
WHAT Rawson W. Rawson, the new Governor of the Windwards, was expected
to do when he took up his appointment in April 1869,1 appears in general terms
from a recapitulatory despatch2 he wrote to Kimberley about two and a half
years later.
It is unfortunate that there seems to be little else to rely on. The Royal
Instructions, issued to each Governor along with his Commission, are totally
unhelpful in regard to matters of policy, consisting as they do of routine
directions for the management of his Government. One direction in fact,
appearing in Hennessy's instructions as well as Rawson's, definitely dis-
qualifies these documents as a medium for conveying secret or semi-secret
orders. Rawson was required "to communicate forthwith to our Said Councils
these our Instructions".3 From the context, the Councils meant are the Executive
and Legislative Councils of Barbados, and the premature disclosure to these
bodies of a policy likely to arouse in them the spirit of strong opposition can
hardly have been intended. Of course, the objects of the Colonial Office emerge
quite clearly from Rawson's own despatches, and more particularly from the
official comments on them and the draft replies. What is lacking is a record of
any specific instructions on the matter of Confederation given to Rawson at the
time of his appointment. These, apparently, must have been given partly
verbally at private interviews, and partly in private letters which have not found
their way into the Colonial Office books. One oblique reference to this does
exist. On 8 March 1869, shortly before his departure for Barbados, Rawson
wrote to F. R. Sandford from a London hotel: "In accordance with the desire
expressed in your letter of the 4th instant, I have communicated with Sir
Benjamin Pine, who is of the opinion that under present circumstances, a
confederation of the Leeward Islands for general Legislations must precede the
institution of a Union for prison purposes only."4 But Sandford's letter of
4 March is not available, nor at this period is any other letter to or from Rawson
bearing on the subject, nor, if an exception be made of the statement that
Rawson had been provisionally offered the Government of the Leewards as well
as the Windwards,5 any other material record on a minute of conversations
between Rawson and the Secretary or any of the officials. The same difficulty
will be seen cropping up again presently in the case of Hennessy.6

So we have to fall back on Rawson's own brief account, in the despatch men-
tioned in the first sentence of this chapter; and as the minutes on the despatch
disclose no contradiction or suggestion that he was wrong, it is fair to regard
his view of the objectives set before him as being correct.
Rawson explains that the instructions (evidently informal) given him by the
Duke of Buckingham when he was first appointed, to bring about Confederation,
(a Confederation which at that time, as we have seen, was intended to embrace
the Leewards as well as the Windwards) had been modified by Granville, who
had hesitated to proceed with such a step without making further enquiries.
These Rawson had prosecuted; but he found a position which he describes as
being very different from that of Sir Benjamin Pine in the Leewards. There the
first step had already been taken, the conversion to Single Chambers; also Pine,
having already administered the Government of three of the islands, was well
acquainted with the leading men. In the Windwards, on the contrary, there was
only one Single Chamber, in St. Vincent, and one Crown Colony, St. Lucia; the
other three legislatures were still bi-cameral. Further, so far as relationships with
the local people were concerned, he had inherited a quarrel between his prede-
cessor, Sir James Walker, and the Barbados Assembly,7 and had found the whole
atmosphere clouded by suspicion and fear for the constitution, engendered by a
knowledge of the Duke of Buckingham's proposals. The understanding that in
the proposed Single Chambers the Government would have a preponderance
through a majority of nominated over elected members had made it unlikely
that the Assemblies would surrender their power,8 "except under the pressure
of grave circumstances, as in Jamaica, or exasperated by the growth of petty
abuses as in St. Vincent". The Governor's early conclusion, endorsed by
Granville, had been that the best way to bring about a Single Chamber in each
island was to promote administrative reforms and economies.
A number of despatches, written in 1870, reflect this opinion of Rawson's that
nothing substantial could be done immediately. In January he expressed himself
as not hopeful about Windward Federation; what was going on in the Leewards
was likely to set people against it. Opposition would come particularly from
"Attorney-Generals, Barristers, Attorneys, and the smaller fry who live upon,
and by, the local courts".9 There was more in the same strain in March, with
awson apparently making the curious assumption that the Barbados Assembly
would legislate for the other Islands-an idea which Taylor notes must be
scotched.10 In July he advised that there was little hope of a unified Windward
judicial system," and more to the same effect in December seems to have
effectively discouraged the Colonial Office for the time being. Rogers noted on
this last despatch, "Lord K. seems to have decided to defer changes in the Wind-
wards, till we see what happens in the Leewards".12 That a deferring, not an
abandonment of reform in the Windwards was meant, is shown by this comment
by Herbert on the previous despatch: "When 'Permissive' federation has had a
full trial and failed, it would be worth while considering whether the matter
should not be taken up more strongly." The expense, inefficiency, and danger of
insolvency of the local governments, Herbert added, "would justify the pressure
on them of a thoroughly well-considered scheme of Government".13
Rawson's early explorations in search of a formula had taken him to the out-
Islands of his Government. With most of the officials he met he was not im-
pressed; but whereas in Grenada he got from the Attorney-General the opinion
that the Island was ripe for a single Assembly, and in St. Vincent found suffi-
cient support for the abolition of the local legislature and its combination with
that of Barbados to lead him to believe that the opposition would not be great,14
in Tobago (where the President of the Council told him "he could govern the
Island with the assistance of a clerk") the disposition to accept a Single Chamber
had decreased since the fear of coercion by the Home Government had ceased to

By September, 1871, when he wrote the recapitulatory despatch, Rawson had
been brought no nearer a conviction that a consolidation or confederation of the
Windward Islands was feasible or even desirable. The judicial system still pre-
sented obstacles to a change, the financial and fiscal arrangements of the Islands
would not be materially improved by it, the economic advantages looked for
were also likely to be illusory. In the same rather lugubrious strain Rawson
dwelt on the difficulty of getting good representatives from the lesser Islands to
come to Barbados, and pointed out that the population at Barbados, comprising
well over three-fifths of the whole, would together with its greater wealth give
to that island a preponderance unacceptable to the others.
Nevertheless, he concluded, the time was more propitious than it had been
two years before for a preliminary step, in the form of the introduction of Single
Chambers in the islands where there were double ones. This was true even of
Barbados. "I believe," he wrote, "that if one member-the Auditor-General-
were to retire from the Assembly of Barbados, the remaining members would
prove themselves so incapable of carrying on the public business that there
would be a general demand for a Single Chamber in the Island."16
It is difficult to imagine the Barbadians of the time making such a demand;
and probably this suggestion of the Governor represents nothing more than one
of those moods of cheerfulness which did, although rarely, now and then relieve
the prevailing pessimism of his outlook. In any case, he did his best to safeguard
himself against any urgent pressure to action from home by saying, at the end of
his despatch, that it was not politic to hasten Federation until existing institu-
tions had been remodelled, and public opinion prepared.
Kimberley's reply was in effect an endorsement of Rawson's views.7 But by
this time Sir F. Rogers, whose minutes to the despatches show him to have been
favourably disposed to Rawson, and in no hurry over the Confederation policy,
had been replaced as Permanent Under-Secretary by Herbert, who was in a
hurry, and who had a poor opinion of Rawson. In 1870 he had written that "the
Federal scheme requires much abler recommendation to the Colonists than it is
at present receiving;"18 and in commenting on the despatch of September 1871
he is very severe. Rawson was "not the man, in my opinion, to push or carry the
federation of the Windward Islands".19
Indeed, Herbert's activities in the Barbadian field at this period seem to have
been of the kind proverbially ascribed to new brooms. In the year that followed
evidence on the Barbadian situation was collected in England, and on
18 August 1872 Wodehouse, Lord Kimberley's Private Secretary, wrote in a
memorandum to Herbert20 that Sir Graham Briggs and A. F. Gore, Colonial
Secretary in Barbados, had both told him, separately and independently, that
"an attempt might be made with a very good prospect of success," to substitute
a Single Chamber, but initiative from Rawson was wanting, probably because
he was insufficiently assured of Her Majesty's Government's desire for such a
change. Therefore, suggested Wodehouse, Rawson should be given this assur-
ance, in unmistakable terms.
It was apparently on the strength of this report that Herbert, who had noted
that Rawson "does not take hints," amended the draft of a despatch to Barbados
in such a way as to put the requirements of the Colonial Office more forcibly to
the Governor; and Kimberley further amended so as to make more explicit the
nature of the Single Chambers required-they should be equally divided between
nominated and elected members, with a casting vote reserved to the Crown.21
This was something stronger than a hint. Yet the evidence on which the con-
clusion that Rawson was culpably dilatory was based seems by no means satis-
factory. We have already seen in what small esteem Briggs was held at a later
date ;22 while Gore's name figures in the Colonial Office papers principally as a con-
sistent but unsuccessful seeker after promotion, of whom the officials in general
held a poor opinion.23 And certainly, nothing in the Barbadian political climate

during the period lends the slightest colour to their belief that a Single Chamber
in Barbados could have been secured in any other way than by an act of power.
Rawson, however, was not to be hurried. He was not a young man,24 he was
perhaps temperamentally a little fussy,25 and as his administration proceeded he
became progressively more embroiled with the Barbados legislature, to such a
degree as to make him both an unfit and unwilling instrument for attempting to
effect any drastic changes. Also, he had a much more realistic apprehension of
the opposition the project would raise in Barbados than anyone in the Colonial
Office. Just before he could have received Kimberley's admonitory despatch,
the spectacularly unsuccessful results of an attempt at kite-flying in Barbados
had given him clear warning of the strength of the opposition, and probably
clinched his views on the subject.
On 9 September 1872, Brandford Griffith had sent to the Agricultural Reporter
a letter26-not, it is to be feared, distinguished by any greater economy or
purity of style from the general run of such communications-advocating the
substitution of a Single Chamber for the existing Legislature of Barbados. This
first letter was confined to generalities; the details of the scheme appeared in the
following issue.27 Here the familiar charges against the Legislature are rehearsed;
the wastage and inefficiency caused by the conduct of public business by the
boards, the loss of members' time on these and the consequent insufficiency of
time given to Council and House meetings, so that "a mass of crude measures
become law, and require constant amendment", the method of introducing
money resolutions and the total disregard of ways and means, the inability of the
legislative machine to deal with such momentous social questions as emigration
or poor relief, and so on. Griffith rejected the normal type of Single Chamber as
then existing in the Leewards, proposing instead a Combined Parliament in three
sections: (a) The Crown, represented by the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-
General, the Colonial Secretary, and the Auditor-General (b) The Council with
ten members (c) The House with fifteen, one from each parish and one from the
City, with the remaining seats being given (with a quaint and rather arbitrary
distribution of favours) to Speightstown,28 the Chamber of Commerce, and
Codrington College.29 These sections would of course sit as one body, and it was
worth noting that, contrary to the practice of the Leeward Chambers, the elected
members would have a majority of one. This, said Griffith, was suggested in
deference to popular feeling. The Assembly would last three years, a circum-
stance which would increase its dignity. The sections representing Crown and
Council would constitute an Executive or Privy Council, and the onus of executive
business, and the initiation of money votes, would lie with the Crown. Estimates
would be submitted at the opening of each Session. The work of the legislative
Committees was to be handed over to a "Board of Works and Supplies", a
proposal which had been made by a Committee as long ago as 1847.
Griffith's plan was put forward with modesty, even diffidence, albeit long-
windedly; but it was received with a little consideration and a great deal of abuse.
The consideration, unexpectedly enough, came mainly from the Reporter,30
which, while asserting that the Council would always vote with the Crown and a
sufficient number of Assemblymen would always be found to tip the scale in the
Crown's favour, allowed that the plan might get a better hearing if the proportion
of elected members were increased. It was further conceded that Griffith's
argument about the Legislative Boards contained much truth, but claimed that
this question was wholly unconnected with that of the Single Chamber. The
Globe thought the proposal "so little bold and sweeping that the future Macaulay
of Little England will class it among the projects of the 'Trimmers' "; but,
though in general hostile, thought there was a good case for the projected
Board of Works.31

The Times did not descend to argument. Its tone was set by the urbane
suggestion that Griffith's first letter was assisted by drink,32 and, encouraged by a
correspondent who suggested that the Auditor-General's motive was to secure
his seat in the Legislature-he had been turned out for one Session in 186733-
proceeded to write the whole thing down as an attempt to obtain a Lieutenant-
Governorship. Griffith, however, kept plugging away, writing, according to the
Reporter, a letter of from two to four columns in nearly every issue of the
West Indian, the Reporter,34 and the Globe. Finally, the excitement petered out,
with repetitions of a familiar fallacy as that by W. H. Whitehall, a member of
the House, defending the exclusive right of the Assembly to initiate supply,
which, "as the merest tyro in Constitutional History must be aware, has always
been regarded as one of the cardinal features of the British Constitution";35 and
idiotic tu quoques, of a type presently to become very common in the Barbadian
press, as the suggestion that since Earl Grey had complained of wasted time in
the Imperial Parliament, no one had the right to criticise the Legislature of
Barbados on that ground.36
The episode closed with Rawson writing dolefully to Lord Kimberley. He
advised against any immediate steps towards Federation. It was better to hasten
slowly, and allow discussion a chance to produce a less suspicious attitude. By
the unanimously unfavourable reception of Griffith's moderate proposals he
was "reluctantly led to the conclusion that the time has not yet arrived for
endeavouring to effect the desired change in this Island".38


This attempt to test public opinion elicited sharp disapproval from home.
Taylor and Lord Kimberley, although their minutes both implied a belief that
Rawson's enterprise and energy were unequal to the task, showed some recog-
nition of the difficulties, and were comparatively moderate. Herbert, however,
was really angry, and proposed sending a despatch conveying strong disapproval.
Of course there were difficulties, he wrote, there had been in the Leewards, whose
case also showed how they could be overcome by strong determined action.
Griffith had meant well but had done more harm than good, and he had also
broken the Colonial Office rule by writing to the press on a political question.
It would look as if Griffith, whose plan suggesting a majority of elected members
was not acceptable to the Government, had Government approval.38
Herbert apparently at this stage was able to see no difference between the
Windward and Leeward problems, nor did he recognize the special position of
Barbados, as a populous and superficially prosperous island which, having always
paid its way, was not at all likely to be susceptible to arguments which might
have worked had it been in a semi-bankrupt condition. So simple did the task
seem to him, that he still felt able to hold out for a nominated majority in the
projected Single Chambers. Experience presently taught him better. About four
months later he was beginning to have second thoughts about Griffith's plan;
was it not better than nothing, since things in Barbados were so bad?39 But this
is not the only occasion on which his mind exhibited a certain slowness in
distinguishing between ideal arrangements and those which might be practically
and peacefully feasible.
In accordance with Herbert's suggestion, a despatch was sent to Rawson
which contained a virtual rebuke. "As you have been aware, from the time of
your appointment as Governor, that Her Majesty's Government are anxious
that the Islands of the Windward group should be federated under a stronger
and more efficient system of administration than can be secured to each of them
while they continue separate, it is to be regretted that, finding yourself opposed
to that policy, you should not have at once laid fully before Her Majesty's
Government the reasons which may have led you to differ from it. I have only to

repeat that the present condition of affairs in the Windward Islands (where,
especially in Barbados, the influence of the Governor continues to have very
little weight with the Assembly) confirms Her Majesty's Government in their
The Governor was undoubtedly out of favour; in fact at this stage almost all
the references to him in the Colonial Office papers are critical or satirical. It was
Herbert who gave the lead; but the others followed. To Kimberley, Rawson
was a man who "could see nothing but lions in his path" ;41 to Pauncefote he
seemed to be in great awe of what another West Indian Governor had called
"village Hampdens";42 Fairfield sneered at "one of those see-saw despatches of
Governor Rawson's accounting for him having done nothing" ;43 and another
comment suggested that "no doubt Mr. Griffith is of great assistance in enabling
Mr. Rawson to lead a quiet and peaceful life in Barbados".44
It was all very unfair, for Rawson knew perfectly well what the Colonial Office
only realized after the event; that a Governor seriously attempting to carry a
scheme of Federation including Barbados would be up to his neck in hot water.
He set himself to prepare his defence; and in February 1873 produced a "Con-
fidential memorandum on Federation", in which he set out his views at
considerable length.
In this paper45 Rawson expresses father greater optimism than before, though
in a slightly academic spirit, as if he hardly expected much to be done in his
own time. From the example of the Leewards it now seemed to him that more
scope was left to the local legislatures than he had expected-a favourable
circumstance. But the first step would have to be the improvement of the local
assemblies, and a big obstacle would be the fear that the middle and upper
classes would be deprived of employment or the opportunities of employment
now open to them, and be replaced by highly-paid stranger officials.
He did not believe that the economies expected from Federation would
amount to anything much, in view partly of the example of the Leewards, and
partly of the figures of estimated economies which he set out in two appendices.
These showed the abolition of about ten offices in Barbados and the saving of
2,944; in St. Vincent a full saving of 2,250 (1,550 to the Colony); in Grenada
2,892 (2,072 to the Colony); in Tobago 1,656 (956 to the Colony); in
St. Lucia 650. These gave a total of 8,172; and with the expense of new Federal
Officers estimated at 6,080, the saving "to meet Transport and unforeseen
increase" would be 2,092.
Rawson next discussed the proportion of representatives under a Federation.
He suggested that the proper proportion was, Barbados 57 per cent., St. Vincent
and Grenada 13 per cent. each, Tobago 6 per cent., St. Lucia 11 per cent., from
which a Federal Council where the apportionment of members was respectively
five for Barbados, and one for each of the lesser Islands could be deduced. But
would not a combined Windward and Leeward Federation be better? What
about a joint Council in which the islands were represented in a ratio giving four
members to Barbados, two to Antigua, and one each to the other islands? Such
a wider union should suit the Barbadian desire for pre-eminence, it would be
more economical and efficient, particularly the latter, and just as easy to achieve
as a smaller union.
But, Rawson gave warning, this was merely a paper scheme; and current
affairs in the Leewards had not weakened objections to the change. The task was
hard. If a Governor was to do anything, he would need to have clear authority
behind him. "The Governor needs three things-straw wherewith to make his
bricks, a plan of the edifice he is desired to erect-and orders to erect it"-in
order to convince opponents who might hesitate to oppose the clearly expressed
view of Her Majesty's Government.
Rawson closed on a personal note. He had received from Sir Graham Briggs
the impression that the Colonial Office thought him lukewarm, and he quoted a

recent letter from Freeling, Lieutenant-Governor of Grenada: "The Secretary
of State little knows the difficulties there are in the way of a Single Chamber
here, and also, I imagine, in Barbados. At present it is simply impossible." The
passage from Freeling's letter continues with a side-hit at Pine, who was evi-
dently believed to have been speaking critically of the failure to get anything done
in the Windwards. It had been all very well for Pine in the Leewards; he had only
secured Leeward Federation through Single Chambers, which he had not
originally wanted. Did he expect the Windward Government to effect a Con-
federation without Single Chambers?
The comments of the Colonial Office staff on this paper are interesting. On
the statement that the example of the Leewards did not encourage the view that
a Windward Federation would produce economy, Herbert noted marginally,
"I don't doubt that economy will ultimately be a leading feature of Leeward
Confederation"-a forecast that has hardly been fulfilled.46 In connection with
the apportionment of members from the different islands suggested by Rawson,
he observed that population need not be strictly followed, and sketched a Wind-
ward Federal Council in which Barbados would have a mere five members out of
eleven-thereby revealing once more the failure to appreciate the significance of
the leading island in the group. Kimberley, stung by Freeling's reflections on the
ignorance of the Secretary of State, wrote that he never thought the conversion
to Single Chambers would be easy; he had thought Briggs was too sanguine-
but his earlier minutes give no very strong support to his statement. An unsigned
marginal jotting on the proposal for a combined Windward and Leeward
Federation dismisses it as difficult if not impossible-although it had been the
original plan and was presently to be again set forth in a despatch as the ideal.47
But on the whole the memorandum was given praise, awarded, it is true, in a
rather unpleasing pedagogue's fashion. "A good paper," condescended Herbert,
and Kimberley, agreeing, thought it showed Rawson had endeavouredd
honestly to think out his subject. He should be written to in an approving and
encouraging tone."(!)48
This was done, and in the last of the despatches to Rawson to be later printed
for Parliament49 abstract meditations on the value of Confederation, and
attempts to controvert actual or potential opposition, not only echo Rawson's
own tone, but accept by implication the validity of his arguments. Indeed this is
the first despatch over Kimberley's name to show real appreciation of the exist-
ence of a strong opposition in the Island. It was carefully worded, the draft
undergoing considerable alteration, in Kimberley's own hand, for reasons stated
in the margin.50 A hope expressed as to the "reduced cost of Leeward Federa-
tion" was prudently excised as being "too sanguine". A soothing passage on the
local constitution was also cut out-"I would not lay too much stress on this
.. the tendency should be to reduce them (the separate Governments) to muni-
cipalities, though it must be done very cautiously." A verbal change was the
deletion of the word"important"-Kimberley would not allow the union of the
small colonies to be so described.
Nevertheless, the general tone of the despatch was one of blandishment.
Rawson was requested to lay the despatch before the Windward Legislature, in
the hope that its reassurances might contribute to a change of heart. Were the
heavy costs of Leeward Federation alarming to the Windward taxpayers?
Needlessly so; these costs were only transitional, due to the continued employ-
ment of men who had held office under the former regime. Did the Windward
Legislatures fear they would be reduced to impotence? It would be quite other-
wise; a reference to the Leeward Islands Act of 1871, and to current practice in
the several Presidencies, would show "that in all matters not specially made
subjects for Federal Legislation, the Island Government and Legislature would
continue to exercise authority"-Single Chamber government, although desir-
able, was a question separate from Confederation. Would the proud colony of

Barbados find its importance reduced and its interests submerged in an associa-
tion with Islands of less consequence? On the contrary; "Barbados would derive
special advantage from such an arrangement, as her population and wealth
would entitle her in such a union to the leading position, which would be one of
considerable dignity and influence"-especially if the hope of the Home Govern-
ment for an ultimate joint federation of the Windward and Leeward groups was
ever realized.

For the remainder' of his period Rawson was subjected to no very severe pressure
from Downing Street. He continued to remind his superiors that he had not
forgotten the constitutional question. He thought of opening the Barbados
Legislative Session of 1873 with a reference in his speech to modified Single
Chamber proposals; but Briggs and Griffith warned him that the moment was
inopportune, the Government legal representation in the Assembly being not
strong enough.51 A little later he reported a conflict of opinion between these
two advisers. Briggs thought that Federation should come first, Griffith thought
the establishment of Single Chambers a necessary preliminary; Rawson himself
would move when the difficulties mentioned in his Memorandum were overcome,
but time and patience were needed.52 A proposal he made towards the end of
1874, for the separation of the Executive and Legislative Councils, was to have
important consequences, which will be recorded later.53
The Governor's troubles during the last two years of his administration came
mainly from local sources. In spite of his go-slow policy, he had failed to win the
goodwill of the local interests. The tone in which he was referred to in the local
press was generally disparaging or satirical, while the reply of the Barbados
House of Assembly to his last speech opening a Legislative Session was far from
cordial." Almost his last public act in Barbados brought a minor storm on his
head. He returned to the Assembly a Public Works Bill for reconsideration on
the ground that the Superintendent's salary for which the House had filled in
the blank was not enough to secure the services of a properly qualified man.
The terms of the Message were such that it was difficult for offence to be taken,55
but Rawson had bought his experience, and the last paragraph foreshadowed
the possibility that his action would be misunderstood. It was. 56The House
chose to regard it as unconstitutional and a breach of privilege, one historically
minded member going so far as to compare the Governor asking for recon-
sideration of a Bill with Charles I attempting to arrest the Five Members.57
So this unlucky Governor went home without having won much goodwill or
appreciation from any quarter. It is possible that,as had been unkindly suggested,
he was looking for "a quiet life" in Barbados,58 but it is difficult to see how a
more active life would have produced any better results. The soundness of the
general line of his arguments to the Colonial Office was fully borne out by
subsequent events; and it seems that the only field where he might have shown a
more fruitful activity was in bringing about constitutional modifications in the
chronically insolvent and therefore weaker out-Islands of his Government.
In this matter his solitary success was the adoption of Single Chamber govern-
ment by Tobago in 1874. Presently the lesser Windward constitutions were to
come tumbling down. The new Tobago Legislature surrendered its powers in
1876 and the Island became a Crown Colony in the following year; St. Vincent
went the same way in 1876-1877; and Grenada, after its Assembly had thrown
out a Bill changing its constitution in June 1875, resolving "that it should be
torn in pieces and trampled under foot" (an odd motion that was duly carried
into effect)59 four months later adopted Single Chamber government, which
gave way in 1876 to full Crown Colony government. But these changes were
made under the administration of Rawson's successor.

The forgiveness and even conviction of error exhibited by the Colonial Office
after Rawson's Confederation Memorandum appear to have been no more than
partial and temporary. The belief that all that was wanted in Barbados was a
Governor of resolution had suffered a check, but quickly revived. When Rawson's
term of office was approaching expiry, and the usual despatch referring to this
was sent, the tone of the formal compliments was distinctly lukewarm.60 One is
glad, however, to know that when Rawson sent a personal letter to Lord
Carnarvon asking for another Government, he never saw the comment which it
elicited. "He is a very weak Governor," annotated the Secretary of State, "but a
well-meaning man."6' Rawson received, according to Carnarvon's instructions,
a kindly intimation that there was unlikely to be anything further for him in the
service, and he replied rather pathetically, pointing out that he was younger
(apparently sixty-two) than Lord Carnarvon probably thought, and expressing
the hope that his administration had not given cause for dissatisfaction.62
Which of course it had, rightly or wrongly; but the conclusion that he was
retired (consoled with a knighthood) because he had a far better grasp of the
practical problems of his Government than his official superiors, whom he
constantly irritated by the repetition of unpalatable truths, is difficult to avoid.
No direct evidence is forthcoming as to the reasons for the appointment as
Rawson's successor of John Pope Hennessy, early in 1875. It may be conjectured
that he was regarded as a strong man, able to give vigorous effect to the policy
of rationalising the Windward Government. And, however unreasonable was
the hope that he should bring about change, without coercion, by promoting a
supposed but actually non-existent desire in Barbados that it should come about,
he was, as will presently be seen, given certain instructions,63 tending to a drastic
but by no means revolutionary acceleration of the tempo in dealing with a
matter which it was clearly felt had been hanging fire too long.
Hennessy's appointment, though not announced in Barbados till April 1875,64
had been rumoured at least five months before, and, while still in the stage of
rumour, criticised in the European Mail and The Rock-the latter an English
publication, apparently strongly Protestant and chiefly concerned because
Hennessy was a Roman Catholic, who would be "permitted to flaunt the
performance of his Popish Mass before the faces of the Protestant islanders".65
Barbados, however, remained calm. The Reporter, indeed, rebuked the
"endeavour to foment a deliberate and unfounded prejudice against an untried
man", and the Barbados Times took the same line.66 In fact, vocal opinion in the
island seemed to be that any change from Rawson would be for the better. The
Barbadians were soon to learn the meaning of the fable about the frogs and their
In accordance with constitutional custom, the President of the Council, Grant
E. Thomas, became Administrator on Rawson's departure in May. A few weeks
later Sandford Freeling, who had been appointed Acting Governor pending
Hennessy's arrival, took up his duties. Freeling, a former captain in the Royal
Artillery, had had experience both in the Leewards and Windwards, having
been Lieutenant-Governor of Dominica from 1868 to 1871 and of Grenada since
the later date.
He arrived at a period when an atmosphere of intense suspicion was being
generated in Barbados. The long delay between the first whispers of Hennessy's
appointment and the still uncertain date of his arrival, the rumours reaching the
island of the intention of the Colonial Office, and, above all, the appointment in
February, as Attorney-General, of Hugh Riley Semper,67 who had taken a
leading part in putting through Leeward Confederation, had all contributed to a
disquiet which was none the weaker because it was vague and lacked the
justification that would have been given by an official pronouncement.

On 24 June, a few days before Freeling's arrival, a large public meeting was
called to ventilate the question of constitutional change. It was attended by
members of the Legislature, together with many planters and merchants, and
was presided over by Nathaniel Foderingham, a member of the Council.
Although, on taking the chair, Foderingham described the object of the meeting
as being to ascertain the will of those present on Confederation and kindred
subjects, there can be no doubt that the true purpose was to organise and direct
public opinion in opposition to any changes whatsoever. In this the meeting
was entirely successful, and its results were to have an important bearing on the
events that followed. Foderingham himself led off with pugnacity, a member of
the House stated that the Governor should be responsible to the people of his
colony (presumably the handful of electors) and denied him the right of veto;
several speakers referred to the failure of Confederation to produce the benefits
promised for it in the Leewards, and one to Pine's frequent references in his
despatches to the Windwards, especially Barbados, and to his obvious expecta-
tion that the Windwards would follow the northern isles. With a few exceptions,
the tone and temper of the speeches was reasonably moderate. But a resolution
was almost unanimously passed expressing confidence in "the free constitutional
and representative form of government which the people of this Colony have had
the privilege to enjoy for more than 200 years", and calling on the members
elected to the House in the forthcoming elections to resist any change, which
it was prophesied would have disastrous results.68
The meeting at least had a healthy effect in giving a clear indication of the
alignment of parties in the coming struggle. It was of the simplest possible
character. Nearly all members of the Legislature, all planters and merchants and
their dependants and satellites were, with one important exception, opposed to
change. All the higher Government officials, again with one important excep-
tion, were ready to help press forward such reforms as the Colonial Office and its
representatives should require. The mass of unorganised working-class opinion
as yet remained to be shaped.
What the anti-Confederation party principally lacked at the outset of the con-
flict was leadership. Foderingham, although described by Freeling as "not only
not a supporter of Government, but a dangerous and impracticable adversary"69
-words unfairly distorted by C. P. Clarke, in his partisan account of the
troubles, to impute to the Acting Governor a charge of anarchism against
Foderingham-was too old and too reactionary, being, in the words of the
Agricultural Reporter, "a staunch conservative of the effete 'Let ill alone'
school".70 Sir John Sealy, "whose great experience of Colonial affairs renders
his opinion especially valuable," as Carnarvon wrote in the first months of
optimism,71 and who, with his five sons, "all men of a culture which no English
county would be slow to acknowledge, and all filling and maintaining positions
of importance to the welfare of the island,"72 constituted the most influential
family in Barbados, was too old73 and perhaps too aloof for a popular move-
ment. Of the more active politicians, P. L. Phillips, a young barrister of decided
character, personal charm, and considerable oratorical gifts, which he after-
wards gave to the service of the Church,74 seems to have been disqualified for
more than a temporary leadership by a certain lack of intellectual flexibility.
Along with Phillips, probably the ablest, as in general the most moderate opposi-
tion members of the House in the early stages, were W. H. Jones and J. W.
Carrington; but both were second-rate men. Jones, the Chairman of the
Chamber of Commerce, apart from occasional lapses of temper and unfortunate
excursions into history and constitutional theory, showed throughout consist-
ency, and firmness combined with fair-mindedness. Carrington, a lawyer,
described by Hennessy at a time when such praise required a high degree
of magnanimity as "a highly intelligent gentleman, usually moderate in his
views and courteous in expressing them,"75 was often a very effective

exponent of the case against the Government, but lacked boldness at critical
This failure in personnel was to be rectified, at the time when the crisis was
reached, by the defection from the Government party of a man of much higher
William Conrad Reeves76 was born in 1821, the son of a doctor, Thomas
Phillips Reeves, by a negro slave, Peggy Phyllis. As a youth his ability attracted
the attention of Prescod, who employed him on the Liberal. Reeves taught him-
self shorthand, and soon proved capable of managing the paper. Disappointed
in his hope of securing a post in the Government service, he was enabled by the
kindness of friends to go to England, where he entered the Middle Temple in
1860, and was called to the Bar in 1863. In the following year he returned to Bar-
bados and practised, in the year 1867 acting as Attorney-General in St. Vincent
for a short period. In 1874 he was elected to the House for St. Joseph, in a bye-
election caused by the appointment of Brandford Griffith as acting Colonial
Secretary.7 In the following year he was appointed Solicitor-General-a very
notable promotion for a man of his antecedents.78
This, then, was the office he occupied when Freeling came to Barbados, but
which, with rare political judgment, he was to resign in less than a year. The
decision to separate himself from the Government party at a moment of crisis,
knowing that if the Government were victorious, all his chances of preferment
were likely to be forfeited, must have been a grave one for a self-made man whose
main object in politics was, as far as was consistent with personal and public
integrity, the promotion of his own career. The step might have led to political
extinction and virtual obscurity; instead, so sound were his intuitions and so far-
seeing his sagacity, it brought him financial reward, the grateful affection of
his white fellow citizens, and, in the end, the Chief Justiceship of Barbados and a
knighthood-honours absolutely without parallel, at the time, for a man of
colour in the islands.
Reeves was never a man of liberal opinions. His views were those of the con-
servative middle class, holding property to be the only possible basis for the
exercise of political power. His attitude to the question of colour was qualified
by this assumption. While not above a personal sensitiveness which once led him
to show warm resentment of an omission to provide his family with a card of
admission for the ceremonial opening of a legislative Session,79 his sympathy
towards the African race seems to have been limited to those who held property.
In the debate on the address in reply to Carnarvon's House of Lords speech, he
did indeed express resentment of fancied patronage by Hennessy towards a depu-
tation of negroes-but the deputation consisted of freeholders. The blacks did
not need protection and petting, said Reeves, they could protect themselves, and,
as many were property owners, could obtain political influence and improve their
social status; the same point was repeated in his very able speech on the first
Nominee Bill, and on both occasions he revealed a complacency about the con-
dition of the working class exceeding that of most of his white fellow-members.80
A seemingly harsh prosecution of his under the "Masters and Servants" Act has
already been recorded,81 and his sense of the dignity of black labour can be
gauged from his successful sponsoring of a Bill on behalf of a patentee in Tokyo
to introduce rickshaws into Barbados.82
These views and predilections have, perhaps, endeared his memory to the
upper class in Barbados as much as his great political services. But he was some-
thing more than the darling of a class, for whose recognition as an equal he had
so strenuously and successfully contended. At moments he was capable of
descents into loose thinking, bad history, and even silly rudeness,s3 no better
than those of his associates, but most of his public utterances were characterized
by an intellectual force and even depth quite beyond their reach. His mind, too,
was genuinely constructive, and his share in achieving the compromise which

finally terminated the crisis in Barbados alone entitles him to rank as the most
remarkable man of his place and period.
Of the more prominent partisans of the Government, all with a single excep-
tion, were officials. The exception was Sir Thomas Graham Briggs, created a
Baronet in 1871 in recognition of the services of himself and his father in promot-
ing the welfare of the communities over which they presided.84 Briggs, one of the
biggest landowners in the island, also owned two palatial houses, Farley Hill,a
magnificently-situated mansion at which royal personages were more than once
entertained, and Erdiston, close to Government House. His interests extended
to the Leeward Islands, for he owned considerable property in Nevis, and had
taken a prominent part in bringing about the Federation of the Leewards. For
many years a respected member of the Council in Barbados, he had wider per-
sonal interests, having been educated at Cambridge and frequently visiting
England. His social connections in England were elevated. He was a close friend
of Lord Frederick Cavendish and was intimate with other famous English
families.85 It seems likely that Briggs was so deeply committed socially to his
English friends and connections that they looked to him for help which he could
not refuse when the attempt to reform West Indian administration was under
way.86 His relations with the Colonial Office have already been touched on.87
At all events, he gave his unreserved support to the plans of the Government,
putting himself into opposition to the unanimous sentiment of his class in Bar-
bados. At the public meeting on 24 June his voice alone was raised on behalf of
Confederation, past and future, and his vote was the single one cast against the
He was more than once charged with having shown no care for the welfare
of the working class prior to the raising of the Confederation issue. But a study
of the Barbados Official Gazette from 1867 does not bear this out, his name
occurring in the Minutes of the Legislative Council in connection with more than
one progressive measure. Griffith, as we have seen, was able more than once to
quote him as showing a lively regard for the welfare of the working negroes,88
and his 1874 Report, before the two men had been driven into close alliance
by the pressure of events, paid a tribute to Briggs's "liberal and extended
views". Although he may have been something of a busybody, there seems no
good ground for impugning his sincerity, and his choice, as far as Barbados
was concerned, cost him dear. He was ostracised and virtually driven from the
island in 1876, and seldom returned. Perhaps he consoled himself with the
reflection, in the valedictory words of the Reporter, that he had "in this matter
been fighting against God, not against man".89
Of the officials, the most important was Hugh Riley Semper, who had
renounced the Chief Justiceship of the Leeward Islands to become, at a smaller
salary, Attorney-General in Barbados. The sacrifice may have been more
apparent than real, and it was commonly suggested that he had hopes of a
substantial reward when Windward Federation was accomplished. He was
stated by the Defence Association to have been appointed on the recommenda-
tion of Briggs, as "the finest lawyer in the West Indies", the only man who
might be able to carry Confederation in Barbados, and who, along with Briggs,
had been largely instrumental in carrying Leeward Federation under Pine.90
Semper's views on the whole question, seen in retrospect, seem to have been
less extreme than appeared at the time. In 1881 he was reported as telling the
Colonial Institute in London that he would never have supported Leeward
Federation if he had believed it would involve the sacrifice of the representative
principle,91 and in private conversation, after his resignation in Barbados,
he is said to have advised members "to have nothing to do with so insidious a
measure as the Nominee Bill".92
No such moderation or care for the representative principle was however very
evident during his period as Attorney-General in Barbados. There was every

excuse for the excesses into which he was led. Almost from the moment of his
arrival he became an object of detestation and the target of savage abuse from
the anti-Confederation party. "I was," he wrote bitterly, "together with Sir
Graham Briggs and one or two others, pointed out to the lower classes by persons
of standing in the island as objects for hate, distrust, and insult. It was actively
circulated that the wages of the labourers were to be considerably reduced, that
a poll-tax was to be imposed, and finally they were to be made slaves of, Sir
Graham Briggs and myself having been specially sent to the Island by Her
Gracious Majesty to do all this. As might be expected, the feeling of hatred
against us became intense; my servants, who had accompanied me from
Antigua, declared that they would be compelled to leave me in consequence of
the threats made against them, and from various sources I was warned that my
life was in danger."93 In the light of press comment at the time, this would not
appear to be an exaggeration. Old scandals were dug out against him; he had
been fined 5 Os. Od. for contempt of Court in St. Kitts;94 capital was made, with
much unsavoury detail, of his alleged relations with a married woman in
Antigua;95 he had been expelled from the St. Kitts' legislature in 1855-this
under the caption "whines piteously like a schoolboy and begs to be forgiven" ;96
he was an "excrescence", and "whines like a whipped hound".97
It is understandable that this sort of thing should have produced its effect
on Semper's mind. The fact is, the part he played in the Confederation crisis
was rather equivocal. His partisan zeal, as will be seen, passed permissible
limits, his own intemperance of language became at times extreme, and he
seems, although the case is not quite proved, to have been guilty of having
recourse to methods of propaganda incompatible with the position of a high
Government official. His conduct as prosecutor, before and during the special
sessions, is also open to criticism. Tribute, however, must be paid to his loyalty
to Hennessy, and to his courage. He fought back at his adversaries on every
front, and never yielded an inch.98
By comparison, the remaining officials were rather lesser men. Enough has
been said about that industrious servant of the Government, Brandford
Griffith, "who has hitherto led the life of a political and social Cain",99 and to
whom reference was made by the Reporter in. censuring "the contumelious and
unmannerly rejoinder by Mr. R. G. W. Herbert to the application for removing
a swindler from a position of high responsibility in the City".100 Griffith,
unhappily, was vulnerable to attack on the ground of entanglement of his
personal finances. A. F. Gore, the Colonial Secretary, a rather pompous person,101
and an assiduous promotion-seeker, was dealt with rather less severely by the
press, but Colonel John Clements, Inspector-General of Police, came in for
his share. This loyal but indiscreet and somewhat feckless officer was imprudent
enough, on being called "an unmitigated liar", to allow himself to be drawn into
a newspaper controversy. He had very much the better of the argument, but his
letters displayed a certain ingenuousness, and exposed him to further un-
merited ridicule and abuse.102 Later he fell into disgrace, narrowly escaping
dismissal for the "grossest negligence" over his official duties.103

In July 1875, came the Assembly elections, for which considerably greater
preparation was made than usual. The resolution passed at the meeting on
24 June had in effect demanded from the candidates pledges that they would
oppose any scheme of Confederation, and with one or two exceptions pros-
pective members showed themselves eager to promise resistance to proposals
which had not yet been made. Reeves himself gave public approval to the
exaction by the electors of pledges, on a matter of constitutional change,
justifying the constitution on the ground of its success, and expressing the

opinion that Federation was unsuitable for a scattered community of varying
interests like the British West Indies.104 Briggs's warning to his fellow-
countrymen, "not to commit themselves to a blind opposition to they knew not
what, except that it was rumouredd' to be the wish of Her Majesty's Govern-
ment".105 fell on deaf ears; but Jones only gave his pledge with great reluctance,
later declaring that he would never do such a thing again,106 and two members,
Augustus Briggs, brother to Sir Graham, and Carleton Howell, were unseated
for refusing to give the pledges required.107 This is how Freeling put it, but in
fact Briggs and Howell withdrew their candidature, and the only contested
election was in St. Thomas. Here the unsoundness of J. W. Parris, who answered
questions in a way unsatisfactory to the extremists,108 and would not withdraw,
led to a three-cornered fight, with consequences which will be seen presently.
At a meeting of the Executive Council, 109 a few days before the new Legisla-
ture met, Briggs drew the attention of the Acting Governor to the circulation of
rumours that the Government, through Briggs, intended to change the con-
stitution and restore slavery, and to certain anonymous threatening letters that
he had received. These letters disclose a craziness and illiteracy beyond even
that of most anonymous communications. One states that Foderingham accused
Briggs of wanting to begin his revival of slavery by reducing wages to 15 cents a
day. Another, signed "A White Man", ended "If Tom briggs, the son of a good,
honest, hard-working, and industrious old man Now defunct (knew the peril
of his son's life, he would say, My sons, Carry Turkeys on your head, as I did on
mine, sooner than trouble with barbadian Negroes." There is a postscript to
this: "Shot you will be, by a Cosmopolite. Trmph when done."
Freeling spoke strongly about these rumours, and expressed his regret at the
assumption made in the press and the speeches of members of the House that
the Government was going to introduce measures that would ruin the country.
When he called on members of the Council, as property owners, to support the
Government in their own interests, the atmosphere became warm. "Mr. Foder-
ingham replied in an excited manner. He said he knew it was the intention of
Government to bring forward Federation and alter the Constitution, and it was
the duty of all to pledge themselves to oppose this; and more to the same effect,
showing a marked hostility to Government."
On 28 July, Freeling opened the new Legislative Session. "My residence here
has been short," he wrote Carnarvon, in transmitting his speech, 110 and there
has been so much excitement about ideal government measures, that my task
was somewhat difficult. But I have endeavoured to allay irritation without either
showing indecision, or compromising the Government." Actually, he spoke
almost entirely on matters of detail, urging the Legislature to show increased
activity in dealing with such matters as Registration of Births and Deaths, the
improvement of the harbour, the provision of a proper water supply, the altera-
tion of the present law, "of the harshest possible character," relating to imprison-
ment for debt, and the provision of more prison accommodation, reminding his
hearers that by Imperial Statute he had power to prevent imprisonment in any
gaol he considered unfit. As a means of allaying irritation, with its insistence on
the delays of the Legislative body, and its veiled threats, his speech was not a
conspicuous success, and a fortnight later Freeling had to report that it had
"caused a certain amount of offence to both the Council and the Assembly, as
well as to many of the principal landholders"."' The replies of both Council and
House reflect this annoyance, and a good deal of the complacency against
which Freeling was inveighing in his despatches. Glib excuses are made for
legislative delays, including the traditional one of the deliberation required by
the importance of certain measures, other of the reforms suggested are not
wanted, and resentment is expressed by irritating tu quoque statements about
delay over statutes in the Imperial Parliament.x12
The House, however, settled to its work in such a way as to give promise of a

more fruitful session than usual;113 when its labours were brought to a sudden
termination by an incident which raised passions to a heat hitherto unknown.
The contested election in St. Thomas"14 had been a very close thing. The
senior Member, W. G. Ellis, had a comfortable plurality with 58 votes, but the
return gave the second seat to J. F. Marsh by the lead of a single vote over Parris-
42 to 41. Two of the votes for Marsh were doubtful, and the Sheriff, ignoring the
return, subsequently declared Ellis and Parris elected. Petition and counter-
petition followed, with detailed and rather pettifogging objections to about
thirty votes (including, in Marsh's petition, that of Ellis) and the House finally
informed Freeling of its decision to declare the whole election void, asking him
to issue a new writ for St. Thomas.
This proceeding, said Freeling, seemed to him so extraordinary that he sub-
mitted the matter to the Attorney-General for his opinion. Semper furnished
this, at great length, arguing, with reference to English and local precedents,
that the action of the House was ultra vires, since the case of Ellis was not before
it. Though at some pains to show the utmost respect for privileges of the House,
he was in no doubt that Freeling would be wrong in assenting to such an en-
croachment on the legal right of the St. Thomas freeholders, and of the member
whose election was undisputed.
Accordingly, Freeling requested the House to reconsider the matter. The reply
was a tart negative. The House, reading Freeling a little lesson in his constitu-
tional duties, claimed firstly that he should, in compliance with the terms of
Act No. 134 of 1840, have sought the advice of the Council in the matter, and
secondly that the local Act of February 1696 gave to the House the exclusive
right to decide the truth and legality of any election in case of dispute and
"This reply," wrote Freeling on 28 October, "left me no option between aiding
and abetting an illegal action, by calling on the Council to issue writs, and dis-
solving the General Assembly-I therefore decided, although with regret, that it
was my duty to dissolve, which I accordingly did this day by proclamation ....
The constitutional question in this case is, however, of so much importance, that
I would suggest that the opinion of the law officers of the Crown be taken on the
matter and promulgated here. If their opinion is favourable to my view and that
of the Attorney-General, the advantage that will accrue will be immeasurable;
it will prove the ignorance of the House of Assembly and the lawyers in the
House, it will ensure respect in future for the opinion of Mr. Attorney-General
Semper, it will strengthen the hands of the Executive, and will show that the
Legislature is neither all-wise nor all-powerful."
Freeling's action, then, was in a sense a challenge. On the legal point he and
Semper were ultimately upheld. The opinion of the Crown Law Officers, Sir John
Holker and Sir Hardinge Giffard, later communicated by Carnarvon to Hen-
nessy,115 was that the House of Assembly did not possess the unlimited powers
contended for, "that the return of the two members, though joint in form, is in
truth several in respect of each person elected and returned, and that inasmuch
as there was no petition against the return of Mr. Ellis, there was no jurisdiction
to entertain the validity of his return". Mr. Freeling, adds Carnarvon, was
therefore, justified in the course he adopted, and was actuated by no desire to
curtail the privileges of the House, but only to protect the individual rights of
its members.
The relevant words of the local act of 1696, to which the House referred, are
"... the truth and legality of all Elections of any member or members to serve in
the Assembly, when any dispute shall arise touching the same, shall be tried by
the Representatives of the People of this Island only; and the members of the
Assembly shall by plurality of voices decide all such controverted elections".11
The critical words appear to be, "when any dispute shall arise concerning the
same," and it is further to be noted that three times in the text of the Act the

intention is expressed of assimilating Barbadian to English Parliamentary prac-
tice; so that if, as seems certain, the Commons have no right to deprive a member
of an undisputed right to sit, afortiori the Barbados Assembly cannot claim it.
On the other point made by the Assembly, that the proper course of the Acting
Governor would have been to refer the matter to the Council, the view of the
Crown Law Officers is not available. Some of the members of the Council had at
least expected that this would be done.17 Briggs expressed no opinion on the
constitutional issue, but he informed Gore that the Council, if consulted,would
certainly have taken the part of the House, and "the Administrator would then
have been placed in this position; he must either have disregarded this advice and
dissolved the House of Assembly, contrary to that advice, or he must have gone
against the opinion of his sole constitutional advisers on legal questions and
obeyed their wishes".118 Semper, who was absent on leave in the later stages of the
dispute, expressed to Hennessy his surprise at finding the General Assembly
dissolved on his return; he had expected Freeling to prorogue.119
There the matter must be left to the lawyers. The Colonial Office, it should be
noted, supported Freeling without reservation. Pauncefote, indeed, thought the
action of the House so obviously absurd that there was no question to go before
the Law Officers, at least, not until the House had stated "on what grounds of
Law or Reason the Assembly defend their action".'21 Whether, apart from its
constitutional aspects the dissolution was an act of political wisdom, is open to
question. In connection with his speech to the Legislature, Freeling had solicited
Carnarvon's approval of his taking upon himself "the odium of exposing scandals
instead of courting popularity by doing nothing, and thus leaving all the un-
pleasant work to Mr. Pope Hennessy".x20 Freeling had the courage of his con-
victions, but the storm of indignation which his action raised, on the very eve of
his departure, was an unenviable legacy for his successor.
On 1 November, four days after the dissolution, John Pope Hennessy arrived
in Barbados.

Chapter Four
(November, 1875 March, 1876)
John Pope Hennessy; his career and character. Goodwill and optimism. Speech on opening
the new Legislative Session. The replies. The "Six Points". Plans for a Conference.
The Six Points before the House. Resolutions ofP. L. Phillips. Hennessy's Prison Minute
and release of prisoners. Separation of the Councils. Opposition hardens. The 3 March
Speech. Its effect in Barbados. The "Defence Association". Reply of the House to the
3 March Speech. Petition of the Chamber of Commerce. Violence of the Press. Public
agitation; charges and counter-charges. False reports. The St. Philip freeholders. The
Confederation Press. The "emissaries". Morris and Duesbury. Semper's Council
speech. Semper and Morris. Delusions of the negroes. Victimisation. The Mount
Prospect disturbance. The incident near Dodds. General apprehension. The Colonial
Office and Hennessy. Agitation of the West India Committee. The first deputation.
Trollope. Walker. Provisional reassurance.

THE new Governor was quite a young man. Born in Ireland forty-one years
before, he was sent to Parliament by King's County in 1859, the first Roman
Catholic Conservative to sit in the Commons.1 He was an admirer of Disraeli,
and T. P. O'Connor indicates a sentimental relation in which the older man found
Hennessy's reverence very pleasing.2 His parliamentary career had been charac-
terised by exceptional industry and the exercise of considerable independence of
judgment. In spite of his party affiliation he was open-minded on the Irish
question, and later in life became a Home Ruler. His zeal for reform was
evidenced in the affairs of his own country by his obtaining the amendment of
the Irish Poor Law, and by his urging the amendment of the land laws and the
reclamation of bogs to stop emigration, more generally by his important share
of responsibility for the Committee which recommended the throwing open of
the public service to open competition, and by his part in the Prison Ministers
Act and the Mines Regulation Act, for which activities he was thanked by the
English Roman Catholics and miners respectively. He also took a leading part
in the Commons all-party demonstration in favour of the Poles on the occasion
of the 1863 rebellion. The Liberal Daily News, it is true, later described him as
an ultramontane Roman Catholic, a hater of popular liberty except in the case
of the Catholic Poles, and "The last man in the world to excite poor people to
interfere with the comfort of rich people",3 but, whatever the vacillations in his
early ideas, his later official acts at no time seem to bear out this somewhat
partisan characterisation.
In spite of the belief entertained by the Barbados negroes,4 Vanity Fair hit
the nail on the head in hinting that indigence was the reason for his abandon-
ment of politics for colonial administration.5 From the beginning he had been a
young man in search of a career. This is not to be understood in any dis-
honourable sense-Trollope's part portrait of him in Phineas Finn and Phineas
Redux, though somewhat idealised, and not very solid, puts the matter in its
proper perspective. Alfred Austin, who was very friendly with this "most lively

of Irish companions", gives some valuable information about Hennessy's early
career,6 and reveals him to have been something of a gambler. According to
Austin, in 1859 he resigned his post as a Clerk in the Education Department, at a
salary of 120 a year, his sole source of income, to stand for King's County.
Austin thought he was crazy, but the young man was successful, and within a
week of his election, the expenses of which were paid for by other Irish members,
he received an invitation to an official dinner from Disraeli.
There can be no doubt that Hennessy had entered Parliament in the hope of
office. This was denied him, a rather surprising circumstance, in view of his
obvious talents, his industry, and the excellent general impression he made
inside and outside the House of Commons. He made his mark, wrote Austin,
"by the suavity of his manner, the plausibility of his facts and arguments, and
perfect command over his temper in parliamentary, as in private life, which no
rudeness in others could disturb". But a line or two later Austin affords a
possible clue as to why a dozen years of apparently successful public life yielded
no reward. Hennessy was provided by wealthy friends with funds enabling him
to make frequent trips abroad.7 Apparently he told too many traveller's tales,
and "ended, unintentionally, by making himself what is called a bore in the
House." Other tenuous indications suggest that he may have literally talked
himself out of office. When at last his career in Parliament was interrupted by
the failure of the King's County electors to return him, he was financially in very
low water, from which he was rescued by the kindness of a patroness, Lady
Ely, who in 1867 secured for him the Government of Labuan.8
Thus he embarked on a career which was to involve him in ceaseless conflict
and the hottest of water to the day of his retirement in 1889. In Labuan, where
The Rock alleged he was called "the Pope's Brass Band",9 his administration is
described as "hardly successful". Opinion about his next brief governments, the
Gold Coast and the Bahamas, was divided on strictly partisan lines; in both
cases there was controversy. In the former his policy of reducing taxation seems
to have earned the gratitude of the negroes,10 who, according to the Dictionary
of National Biography in 1896, at that date still kept "Pope Hennessy Day" as a
holiday once a year. The Bahamas was his last government before the Wind-
ward Islands.
His appearance, as far as one can infer it from photographs and from cari-
catures in the Barbadian comic press," was impressive. Depicting a small man,
clean-shaven apart from fairly generous whiskering, with plenty of hair on his
head and a big nose of the Roman type, even the unfriendly portrayals fail to
conceal the decision and force of character shown by the face. His handwriting was
bold and clear.12 He could talk with remarkable fascination; T. P. O'Connor
called him the most brilliant conversationalist he had ever heard.13 His very great
personal charm was recognized even by his opponents,14 whose personal
esteem he was often able to retain in spite of the bitterest political differences5
He was capable of such magnanimous gestures as granting men leave of absence
for the purpose of agitating against him, and of praising, without irony, the
intelligence, moderation, and courtesy of a politician who had impugned his
honesty, and was proposing a motion for his recall.16
Yet all these advantages and fine qualities, added to his wide and genuine
humanitarianism, were vitiated by a kind of crassness. He was never clearly
able to perceive the consequences of his actions. Through occasional lack of
smoothness of address he was liable to turn potential friends into enemies, and
thus prepare the way for the failure of his dearest plans. His too vigilant sense
of the dignity of his office exposed him on occasion to ridicule and humiliation.
He was prone to a looseness and inexactitude of statement which made charges
of falsehood appear not altogether preposterous. He exhibited an unrivalled
talent for self-deception; the unkind word is fatuousness. Above all, he was the
victim of an impulsiveness and an excess of zeal which frequently committed

him, in speech and deed, to positions which he could only maintain by the
exercise of a rather dubious casuistry. It is impossible to work on the Parlia-
mentary Papers relating to Barbadian affairs in 1875 and 1876 without con-
ceiving high respect, even affection, for Hennessy as a human personality; but it
is equally impossible to survey his record of twenty-two years of colonial
administration without realising that there must have been something radically
wrong about his approach to public affairs.
Nevertheless, the conviction emerges that, in spite of his faults of tempera-
ment, he was fundamentally in the right in most of his quarrels. This Irish
Quixote, with his pity for the under-dog and his hatred of all oppression, had the
Irishman's love of a fight, and he brought to his campaigns against sluggish
colonial assemblies entrenching vested interests a pugnacious zest which is
almost inspiring. His courage was indomitable, and his ability to come up from
severe punishment and renew the battle, or start another, inexhaustible. And in
spite of the disturbances of which he was the harbinger wherever he went, the
Colonial Office was extraordinarily patient with him. It almost seems as if the
authorities, appreciating his peculiar qualities, developed a tradition of giving
any particularly sticky or static colony a dose of this warm-hearted, vigorous,
and cantankerous Governor.

His arrival was the occasion of almost as much pomp and stir as might have been
expected in the case of a royal personage. There was a "Levee" at Government
House, also a "Drawing Room," with a long list of guests in each case.17
Evidence of a disposition to do honour to a Governor credited with a dis-
tinguished record was shown on every side. Describing him as "a gentleman of
genial and plain, yet dignified bearing," the Reporter wrote that "the entire
country regards his advent to the Executive Office as an event which promises
an administration under which we can repose in safety".xs Nor did Hennessy,
basking in this sunshine of goodwill, and perhaps not unready to make some
display of a benevolent vice-regal authority, fail to do his part. In addition to his
"pretty lavish" entertainment, private acts of generosity were credited to him, as
his payment of $60.00 expenses for a band concert, so that the 98th Regiment
bandsmen might get the full value of their benefit,19 and the expenditure of
$18.00 to liberate an imprisoned debtor, "groaning with rheumatism" in the
Town Hall Gaol.20 A business-like spirit was shown by the announcement in the
Official Gazette, that the Governor would see members of the Legislature and
Heads of Departments on business between 11 and 4 every week-day. Before
this he had given reassurances on a matter which had been causing the more
positively Protestant islanders some concern. In reply to an address of welcome
by the Bishop and Church of England clergy, he declared his determination to
support the established Church, and referred, not without a touch of the bizarre,
to a kind of Paul Revere ride he had made from Eastern Europe, travelling night
and day, to reach the Commons just in time to record his vote in an important
division on the side of the Church, thus producing a tie that was resolved in
favour of the Church by the Speaker's casting vote.21
To some degree, however, this glowing wine of reciprocal cordiality seems to
have gone to Hennessy's head, leading him to commit himself to utterances
which he was to regret before long. Within two days of his arrival he had issued
writs for a new election, and shortly after, in commenting on the political situa-
tion to his chief, he expresses a guarded disapproval of Freeling's action in
dissolving, without taking the view of the Council, and, in the absence of the
Attorney-General, against the advice of the Solicitor-General. He found no pre-
cedent for such a dissolution later than 1820, when Lord Combermere had
dissolved, on the grounds of neglect of measures recommended and an improper

interference with the Royal Prerogative, and on an occasion when a narrow
majority of the Assembly had carried a virtual vote of censure against him. But,
in the recent case, Hennessy argued, the view of the House was unanimous, and
their action was not directed against the Government. Moreover, all the meas-
ures recommended by Freeling were in the process of being dealt with by the
Assembly, and one at least, so he was assured by the Solicitor-General,would but
for the dissolution have already become law.22
These assumptions about the Assembly suggest a certain credulity in Hen-
nessy, for which time would speedily provide the cure. At the close of his
despatch, however, he strikes a note of caution, possibly as a kind of insurance
premium against blame for failure. With unconscious thanklessness towards
Freeling, who had professed the wish to save him the embarrassment of making
an unpopular decision as soon as he arrived, he wrote of the dissolution having
caused general distrust of the Government that was likely to stand in the way of
his securing a "frank communication" with the local gentlemen for some time
to come. "Under the circumstances," he wrote in another unprintedd) despatch,
"though Mr. Freeling evidently acted from a high sense of duty-and I venture
earnestly to impress that fact upon your Lordship-yet it is impossible but
to regret that he did not wait the four or five days until my arrival, when it might
have been possible to have got over the difficulty without involving the Colony
in the grave crisis in which I found it."23
The election resulted in the return, without contest, of the same members as
before, with Ellis and Marsh coming in for St. Thomas. In opening the Session
on 23 November, the new Governor made his first important official utterance.
In accordance with tradition, he spoke at no great length, but he was still on the
band-waggon, and was not sparing with nourishment for his hearers' self-esteem.
"During the present century," he said of the late legislature, "no Assembly in
Barbados has had so brief a Session. Yet for the short period of its existence, I
cannot find any legislative body in the history of this colony, that displayed more
of the business-like qualities of true Parliamentary life." To these words of praise,
which were presently to be used so effectively against him, he added a detailed
list of measures which had been in the course of successful passage through the
Legislature-a list which may have caused uneasy stirring among members
who knew from experience how unlikely it was that more than a small fraction
of the measures named would have been concluded.
What everybody was apprehensively awaiting was, of course, some reference
to Confederation. But Hennessy made only a very gingerly approach to the
fringe of the subject. "As Governor-in-Chief," he declared, "I shall have to ask
you to consider .. some plans by which I hope to render more efficient certain
departments of the general administration of the Windward Islands." Immedi-
ately after this he gave the impression of taking a bold step forward in a sentence
which seemed to foreshadow an announcement of general policy; but at once
darted away again with a series of platitudes, among which, however, he was
careful to wedge an explanation of how a Governor's policy depends on the
commands of his sovereign and the instructions of Her Majesty's Secretary of
State. He finished reassuringly: "In an old and contented community like this,
I believe that a Governor should not underrate local experience; that he should
not lightly disregard the conservative spirit of the local traditions ... and above
all, that he should scrupulously respect the constitutional rights and privileges
of the local Legislature.""24
For an interim declaration, while the Governor was feeling his way, this open-
ing speech was in most respects an adroit enough performance, although the
evident hope, that the members would behave co-operatively so long as they
were given praise, was fallacious. It gave no handle for opposition,but of course
nothing short of an announcement that the British Government had abandoned
all or any plans for Confederation could have allayed the growing disquiet. The

replies of both Chambers were however cordial; that of the Council indeed almost
fulsome.25 The note of reserve is more apparent in the address of the House,
although the debate on the motion to adopt the reply produced adulatory words
for Hennessy (at Freeling's expense) from Jones, Phillips, and W. H. Whitehall.
The reply itself, while in general brimming over with good htmnour (and inci-
dentally flinging Hennessy's praise for the activity of the late Legislature in the
face of former Governors who had passed strictures on the political apathy and
the Parliamentary incapacity of former Houses) stated cautiously that the House,
though not of course aware of the precise nature of the Governor's plans for the
reform of the Windward administration, "are fully impressed with the convic-
tion that they will not be such as to affect in any way injuriously the constitution
or institutions of the Colony". The concluding words, too, were equivocal, and
might almost be taken as minatory. "While your Excellency continues to be
animated by these sentiments, and so long as your administration is guided and
controlled by these maxims and principles, your Excellency may surely reckon
on the unwavering confidence and earnest co-operation of the House of
Assembly."26 So long and no longer!
Before the replies were received Hennessy had come to certain positive
conclusions, which are revealed in an important confidential despatch headed
"The Distrust of the Government evinced by the people".27 He believed, in view
of the more friendly and favourable atmosphere, that the time was ripe for Lord
Carnarvon to announce his views on Confederation. But the issue should be
lifted beyond the petty question of the Barbados boards, best dealt with by the
Governor's personal influence-show rather how efficiency was being hindered
for want of Confederation, and how urgent was the need for a uniform system,
for reasons of Imperial defence, as well as of local welfare. Reassurances would
have to be given. "I would despair of accomplishing it or even making any
step towards it," unless it was made clear that the Barbados constitution would
be preserved and the Treasury not united with those of the other islands.28
These suggestions were approved, and a despatch drafted in accordance with
them, much of it embodying Hennessy's own language. This was the despatch
of 28 December, laid before the Legislature and referred to in the fatal speech
of 3 March, and it is right, in view of the belief people in Barbados still entertain
about Hennessy, to remember that it was he himself who insisted that no attack
on either the Constitution or the Treasury must be made.
In the meantime, in private conversation with prominent members of the
House, and collectively to the Executive Council, Hennessy had drawn particular
attention to the material paragraph in his Address. A few days later he felt able
to report having found general agreement on the desirability of a number of
reforms tending towards consolidation, provided-again-they were not to be
looked on as the thin end of a wedge designed to break up the constitution or to
destroy the independence of the Island's Treasury. These reforms were the well-
known Six Points; of which it may be truly said not only that their formulation
marked the opening of the Governor's campaign, but also that they were the
basis of the only proposals tending to Confederation ever submitted to the
Island's Legislature. They were as follows:
1. That the auditor of Barbados should be appointed Auditor-General of the
Windward Islands, his salary and clerical staff being increased, but such
additional expense to fall entirely on the other Islands.
2. That the power of transporting prisoners from Barbados to other Islands,
and of receiving prisoners from the other Islands there, should be secured to the
3. That the new lunatic asylum should also be open for the reception of
lunatics from the other Islands.
4. That a similar arrangement should be made about a common lazaretto.

5. That there should be a Chief Justice of the Windward Islands, and a
remodelling of the judicial system based on the necessity of centralising it in
6. That there should be a police force for the Windward Islands.29
It would be hard to imagine a less revolutionary set of proposals, for all of
which Hennessy was able to advance a strong case from the experience of recent
abuses. Nor ideed is there any evidence that they were at first taken as being
revolutionary, by the limited number of people to whom they were communi-
cated before being embodied, six weeks later, in a Joint Message to the Council
and Assembly. The universal excitement and opposition that was to develop
early in the New Year was not, as we shall see, foreshadowed by anything said
or done in the Executive Council in these early stages. Something may be dis-
counted for the sanguine complacency of Hennessy's mood at this period, but it
is incredible that he could have reported to Carnarvon in the terms he did unless
the Council had given him substantial grounds for believing that the obstacles
would be a matter of method and detail rather than serious antagonism to the
general aim.
On 6 December Hennessy sent for Sir John Sealy, and, in his own words,
"spoke to him very frankly". He found that Sealy, who had lately returned from
England, had been prepared by a conversation with Herbert at the Colonial
Office for definite action on the part of the Government, and was ready to
co-operate. On the following day, at the meeting of the Council, Hennessy
read three of his despatches, including the one in which he had set forth the
Six Points; and, mentioning the word "Confederation" for the first time, caused
only the slightest of flutters. The general view the Governor reported to be one
of relief at the breaking of official silence on a topic about which there had been
so many mutterings, and of readiness to consider details. Sir John Sealy, as he
had agreed to do the day before, then proposed a Conference Committee of
12 Members, 3 from the Legislative Council, 5 from the House, and one each
from the Legislatures of St. Vincent, Grenada, Tobago, and St. Lucia, to meet
in Barbados and frame details which, if sanctioned, could be submitted to the
Legislature of the Colony. Dr. Thomas, President of the Council, and Fodering-
ham both took a constructive part in the discussion that followed, suggesting
proper persons to be members of the Conference Committee.
This account of the proceedings is Hennessy's own, and, as will presently be
shown, contained some minor inexactitudes of statement, due probably to
compression rather than any wilful misrepresentation, but the result obviously
put him in high feather. In soliciting Carnarvon's telegraphic approval he clearly
regarded the Conference Committee as being as good as assembled, anticipating
a meeting at the beginning of February and, "if the business is well handled",
the carrying of a joint resolution on which Imperial legislation could be based
in the coming session.30
The necessary authority was sent on 5 January,31 and on the 13th a Joint
Message to both Houses was passed by the Executive Council.32 In this
Hennessy reminded the Legislature of the paragraph in his earlier address
foreshadowing administrative improvements, and, laying stress on the respon-
sibility of the Governor of Barbados for the general administration of the
Windwards as Governor-in-Chief, pointed out that his duties could only
properly be carried out if changes were made on the basis of the Six Points,
now put before the Assembly for the first time. After dwelling on a simpler and
stronger judicial system and the establishment of a central prison as the more
important of the reforms, the Message finished by referring to the need for
machinery to carry the Six Points into effect, and inviting the co-operation of the
Legislature, along with representatives of the other Islands which would be
affected by the proposed changes.

As the composition of the Legislative and Executive Councils was identical,
in effect it was only the House that was being told anything new, and a further
message a fortnight later,33 submitting extracts from his own despatches and
announcing Carnarvon's approval for the plan for a Conference Committee,
was addressed to the House alone. On this occasion Hennessy found it necessary
to give reassurances of a type that were becoming familiar, pointing out that the
word Confederation was only used in a restricted sense, and that the extension
along existing lines of the partial co-operation between the Islands already in
being would not affect the representative principle or the independence of the
Barbados Treasury.
By this time he had been brought to realise that everything was not going to
be quite so simple, at least as far as the House and the local public were con-
cerned. Press reaction to the Message of 13 January had been mixed. It is true
that the Times, for almost the last time, expressed complete confidence in
Hennessy,34 but other articles showed greater suspicion. Examples were made of
Hennessy's own recent dissolution of the General Assembly of Grenada, and the
abolition of representative institutions in the Leeward Islands and St. Vincent,
as conditions precedent to bringing about a supposedly more efficient admin-
Disappointment and a more qualified optimism are evident in a despatch of
28 January,36 when for the first time Hennessy is found striking a note that
becomes ever more insistent and emotional with the passage of time-that is,
regarding himself as a popular champion. He writes: "As regards the great bulk
of the population, I have reason to know that they wish my policy to succeed;
not that they understand much, or care much, for administrative reforms, but
because they pay me the compliment of regarding me as their sincere friend, and
they have confidence in the justice of any plans I propose."
In the meanwhile Hennessy had paid short visits to Grenada and St. Vincent-
to the former, as has been noted, on business held to be rather ominous for the
Barbados constitution;37 and both by private conversation and correspondence
had been canvassing official opinion in the lesser Islands of his Government.
Dundas, Lieutenant-Governor of St. Vincent, gave full,38 Graham of Grenada
only qualified,9 support for the Six Points; and a few weeks later Des Voeux of
St. Lucia and Harley of Tobago were to come into line with only minor reserva-
tions.40 In reporting to his Chief41 Hennessy characteristically ignored the
reservations (which however could speak for themselves in his enclosures)
and stated, with apparent justification, that the Lieutenant-Governors had
assured him that there would be no difficulty in passing the plan. The change
from Rawson's time was to be attributed firstly to a new realisation that the
lesser Islands might expect to acquire surplus Barbadian labour, and, secondly,
to the abolition of the elective element in their constitutions. The first of these
reasons also induced the people of Barbados to support Confederation; but had
led the planters to oppose it.
For by now there was no doubt about the opposition. Towards the end of
January the Times, taking an entirely new tone, announced the return from the
Windwards of the Governor, "pregnant with schemes which are fraught with
mischief", and made elegant allusion to the influence of "toads squatting at the
vice-regal feet".42 On 1 February the House met, and with one dissentient,
J. T. Greaves, who proposed the total rejection of the plan, decided on con-
sidering the Governor's messages in Committee.43 This was done a weeklater,
when an important debate took place on two consecutive days.
At the outset, it was clearly quite uncertain which way the wind was going to
blow. H. Pilgrim led off with a violent speech against the proposals, but two
influential members, Carrington and Jones, both hedged. The question which
continually came up was not so much the merits of the scheme as whether or no
members were bound by their election pledges to oppose it. In other words, did

the Six Points imply Confederation or not? Carrington accepted three of the
Points as innocuous, and in any case did not favour a direct challenge of the
Home Government by a downright refusal to consider the plan. Jones, while
expressing confidence in the Government, wanted a more detailed scheme,
promising to vote against it in accordance with his election pledge (which he
would never repeat) if he believed it meant Confederation. Both these men spoke
with great moderation, as did Reeves, who, equivocally placed as Solicitor-
General, remained on the fence, and gave no help to the wavering members. He
saw no reason for doubting that "one of the most able and upright rulers" ever
to be Governor still deserved the confidence of the Assembly, but he would
never allow his official position to interfere with his responsibility as a member
of the House. He was against Confederation; but did the proposals disclose
Confederation? That was a matter for the House. And so on.
They were all waiting for a lead, and at last got it, in a speech by P. L. Phillips,
who opposed all the proposals, and expressed his faith that the British Parlia-
ment, and "that Statesman who had so nobly stood forth in that very Parlia-
ment to plead for the downtrodden Poles" would not be so illiberal as to act
against Barbados in a spirit of resentment, as feared by Mr. Carrington.
Phillips's speech reads rather turgidly, but that was perhaps no disadvantage
in a country not without a taste for fustian oratory, and it was assisted by a rich
and impressive delivery. At all events, it made a tremendous effect, starting a
perfect landslide, with member after member getting up to declare his opposition
to the proposals. Phillips was cheered inside and outside the House, and presented
with a threepenny piece by an old black woman in the courtyard outside the
Public Buildings-"the sum", as Phillips described it, "of my political efforts".4
The meeting closed with the passing of three resolutions proposed by Phillips
-important as clarifying and consolidating the attitude of the House, which
from that time forward exhibited an implacable and practically unanimous
opposition to Hennessy. Briefly, the Resolutions stated:
1. The House would give Hennessy as Governor of the Windwards every
assistance within its "constitutional legal competency".
2. The consideration of the House to the Six Points could not be given so far
as they affected the Windwards, over which the Barbados Legislature had no
legislative power; and in so far as the Governor's message appeared to ask for
the implied recognition by the House of the desirability or expediency of Con-
federation. The House had no intention of accepting Federation, or surrender-
ing or modifying "their ancient representative form of government", under
which the Colony had prospered and was steadily progressing.
3. The House would consider any proposals of the Governor with which it
had constitutional competency to deal, if put before it in detail and in such a
way as the House could deal with it by Bill or otherwise, in accordance with
traditional constitutional practice.45
These resolutions, constituting an instruction to a committee to prepare a reply
to the Governor's Messages, were accepted fairly enough by Hennessy for what
they were-a rejection of Confederation in general and of the Conference
Committee in particular. Nevertheless, his confidence was very little disturbed
by what he interpreted as no more than a momentary setback. His smiles of
approval for the Barbados legislators were not erased, although perhaps
becoming a little fixed, when he applauded the tone of the debate as being "highly
creditable to the various speakers", and forecast the passage of at least three
of the Six Points in the current Session. Only Greaves, who had claimed to
speak as a representative of the people, and who sat for St. Andrew, a parish
with 24 registered electors, some being pluralists and absentees, out of a popu-
lation of 7,572, came in for a waspish word. "Anything like a comprehensive and
fixed scheme of West Indian Confederation," he recognized, "could not be
carried in the present exclusive Assembly.".He was still however able to delude

himself with the belief that "the Council were entirely with the Government.
They have even urged me to go a little faster than I thought prudent".4
The formal reply to the two Messages came on 22 February; on the same day
as Reeves gave notice of three Bills, destined to be still-born, dealing with those
of the Six Points which Carrington had found unexceptionable, the three relating
to the centralisation of Asylums and Lazarettos and the interchange of
prisoners.47 The reply, which was carefully worded, was in effect an amplifica-
tion of the Phillips resolutions, but the important new point was made that
Federation with colonies that had surrendered their representative institutions
"would be impossible, except on the condition that this Colony likewise parted
with its representative form of government"." The importance of the reply is
that it inspired Hennessy with the intention of making a fuller explanation,49
in a more singular and striking manner-a step that was to prove fatal to his
hopes of accomplishing anything by peaceful persuasion, and to bring already
simmering passions right up to boiling point.


But before then Hennessy had irretrievably lost his popularity with the upper
and middle classes, and the atmosphere of Barbados had begun, in the words of
C. P. Clarke, to "get hot".
On 11 February, on the same occasion as that on which Bishop Mitchinson
made his unkind comparison of the islanders with "white snails", Hennessy
made a soothing speech, in which he referred to the unusually high proportion
of university graduates sitting in the Legislature,50 and spoke of the vigorous and
independent local press-this in sharp contrast to the Bishop's mention of the
"garbage" offered by the local papers. But the magic worked no longer. The
Times, for example, unmollified by a promise to throw the public service open to
competition, without respect to class or creed, brusquely impugned the
Governor's sincerity.51
Two further steps by Hennessy now added oil to the flames. On 12 February
he forwarded through the Colonial Secretary a Minute to the prison authorities.
In this he drew attention to the excessiveness and savagery of floggings and other
prison punishments in Glendairy-a "grave scandal" which "showed that in
Barbados alone of all Her Majesty's Colonies, some of the worst practices of the
days of slavery still prevailed." In 1875 in Barbados, he went on, 50 persons had
been flogged for prison offences as compared with no floggings in St. Lucia,
St. Vincent, and Grenada; and in the male department of Glendairy, with an
average daily number of prisoners of less than 72, there had been in the same year
555 punishments, as against 3 in St. Lucia for an average daily number of
prisoners of over 30.52
Hennessy, of course, had a particular interest in penal reform, and the
Minute might have passed without much comment-indeed, it was praised in
the West Indian of 18 February-if the Governor had not followed it up with
a more drastic application of his views on the subject. About a fortnight later he
ordered the release on ticket-of-leave of 39 prisoners of good conduct who had
served more than two-thirds of their sentences.53The release was of undisputed
legality, and the Governor had the concurrence of the Attorney-General, the
Chief Justice, Sir John Sealy, and the Inspector of Prisons; but this large scale
gaol delivery led to a furious outcry in the Press. It was stated to be without pre-
cedent, although a Report of the Governor (Sir James Walker) on prison condi-
tions in 1868 discloses that in the five years prior to that date 144 prisoners had
been released on ticket-of-leave, of which number only 11 were known to have
been re-convicted.54 It was later also alleged, without the support of any very
reliable evidence, that the liberated prisoners were prominent in the demonstra-
tions in favour of Confederation, that they were soon stealing again, that

prisoners in Glendairy were pretending to be mad, as the shortest way of getting
the Governor to release them, and that the porters were saying they could now
steal with impunity.55
The next step was to be more immediately damaging to the Governor's
hopes of maintaining among the local gentry a party favourable to the projected
reforms; but, inasmuch as he was acting on explicit instructions from the Crown,
the odium he incurred was unjust. Nor for that matter, is it possible to blame the
Secretary of State for ordering a change that was manifestly desirable. However
much room is left for difference of opinion about some of the other matters at
issue in this period, it can hardly be denied that this is one of the cases in which
the attitude taken by the custodians of local interests was an ignorant and refrac-
tory one, supported by arguments showing a complete misunderstanding of
constitutional history, theory and practice.
On 28 January Carnarvon had written: "The constitution of Barbados is so
far clearly defective that it fails to provide for an Executive Council composed
of public officers directly responsible to the Crown, to consult with the Governor
as in many other Colonies. I cannot, however, doubt that on such a question as
this the Legislature of Barbados, with its practical knowledge of affairs, and its
just sense of the administrative requirements of such a Colony, will readily con-
cur with me in the expediency of establishing an Executive Council such as
exists in all the great Colonies."56
Some time between then and 25 February Hennessy received the new Letters
Patent, dated 11 January. The material change in these occurs in the 3rd Para-
graph: "And whereas we have deemed it expedient that, for the purpose of
advising you, there shall henceforward be in our Island of Barbados an Execu-
tive Council; We do therefore, by these Presents, grant, provide, and declare
that there shall henceforward be within our Said Island of Barbados two distinct
and separate Councils, to be respectively called the Legislative Council and the
Executive Council of our said Island."57
The wisdom of separating the personnel of the two Councils, indeed its neces-
sity if responsible and efficient government was to be secured, hardly needed the
justification Carnarvon offered in a later despatch; but in it the case was put
very clearly. It was necessary for the chief administrative officers of the Crown to
be in constant contact with the Governor for the discussion of public affairs and
the formulation of policy, and the Executive Council was the obvious body for
such contacts. These meetings were of course confidential, and it was under-
stood that all present supported any policy agreed. But hitherto in Barbados
active opponents of the Government had been present at confidential meetings,
and often had left the Council Chambers to oppose, as members of the Legisla-
tive Council, policies which had been disclosed to them as members of the
Government. The logical result would be to render the Executive Council useless
by withdrawing from it the discussion of all delicate and important controversial
questions, and the substitution of informal meetings of administrative
The argument was hard to answer; but when the Royal Instructions were dis-
closed the Council, headed by Sir John Sealy, chose to make a major issue of the
matter; and later the West India Committee was unwise enough to give its
support. Further, the Council took the opportunity of withdrawing from their
previous position in regard to the Six Points. Sealy declared that Carnarvon's
despatch of 28 January, put before the body at the same time, at once justified
the opposition of the Assembly, and showed that Hennessy and Carnarvon had
misunderstood his views about Confederation. He was able to make the technical
point that his original proposal had been for a Conference Committee of Wind-
ward Councillors rather than Legislatures, but the Minutes disclosed that he had
concurred in the plan for a broader assembly.59 Behind Sealy was the whole
Council except Briggs. It is difficult to say whether their withdrawal of support

from even the discussion of the Six Points was due, as Hennessy clearly be-
lieved,60 to the members' pique at a derogation of dignity through their being
deprived of their executive functions, or whether they were merely seeking for an
excuse to fall into line with the now clearly shaped opinion of their own class.61
Neither explanation does the members particular credit.
The new Executive Council consisted of Briggs, Semper, Gore, and Colonel
Porter, the Senior Military Officer, the last three being also appointed to the
Legislative Council;62 it must of course be understood that the separation of the
two bodies did not mean that members of the smaller one should not, as hereto-
fore, be drawn from members of the larger. As an attempted sop to the old
Council, Dr. Thomas, its President, was constituted an official member of the
Legislative Council, giving him precedence over non-officials, but the gesture
was not effectual. Thomas, with the uneasy permission of Hennessy and Car-
narvon, continued to vote against the Government.63
All this time excitement was rising, and the conflict was being transferred to
the arena of public discussion and agitation. At the period when the Six Points
were under consideration by the Assembly, Colonel Clements, Inspector-
General of Police, reported that certain managers of estates and leading white
shop-keepers were circulating absurd stories about the return of slavery. One
shopkeeper, it was stated, called the black porters and others in the street and
said: "If these Six Points pass today, I shall be able to buy you as slaves to-
morrow at 12 o'clock."64 Another story Clements heard was that the Six Points
would mean a Poll-Tax on every black man. Counter-charges of agitation from
the anti-Confederate side were now also beginning. In the course of a gorgeous
piece of Eatanswill in the Globe, with "brazen effrontery", "superficial schem-
ers", "coward", "traitor", "treachery", and "assassin" among its choicest
expressions, the suggestion was made, apparently for the first time, that Govern-
ment officials were attempting to create a Confederation party by agitation
among the masses of the people.65 Further reference to these counter-accusations
will have to be made presently.
It must have seemed to Hennessy that his attempt to guide matters the way he
wanted, by the exercise of tact and charm, had been fruitless, and that the situa-
tion as regards Confederation was slipping out of his control. He was still
susceptible to moods of fatuous optimism, as when he declared of Confederation
that "the present House of Assembly, if they should oppose it, will not be re-
elected,"66 but the general picture was not favourable. The Assembly had
successfully stonewalled; lately he had lost the Council; and it now appeared
that an organised attempt was under way to deprive him, by public agitation,
of the popular support he believed he enjoyed. In the circumstances, being the
fighter he was, he had no idea of giving in, but decided on taking a more drastic
step, of a kind which cannot have been without a strong appeal to his sense of
the dramatic.
On 3 March, having raised excited speculation by his request to the House to
meet, to hear him communicate certain Letters Patent from the Queen, and
address both Houses on matters of public importance, he went down to the
Council Chambers in State, accompanied by his wife, two A.D.C.'s and the Vice-
Admiral of the North American and West Indian Station with his staff. There
was some hitch in the proceedings, but on the arrival of the members of the
House the Colonial Secretary read the new Letters Patent from beginning to
end; and subsequently the Governor delivered a long speech.
This was the critical 3 March address, avowedly designed by Hennessy to make
clear the intentions of the Imperial Government, to dissipate misunderstandings
about Confederation, and to make a frank demonstration of the necessity of
changes; but interpreted by his enemies as an attempt to intimidate and overawe
the Legislature, and to stir up the masses of the people by appealing to them over
the heads of a ruling class that was depicted as selfish and inhuman.

Hennessy began with a reference to the changes in the Council, and made
some comments on the unsatisfactory state of the sugar industry. He adminis-
tered his first shock, after congratulating the planters, manufacturers and mer-
chants of Barbados on their continued prosperity, by pointing out that it was the
duty of the Legislature to look also to the interests of the small shopkeepers, the
labourers, and the masses of the people, the condition of whom was deplorable.
Testimony to this was afforded by a Grand Jury charge of three years before and
a recent report of the prison chaplain, and was confirmed by the crowded state
of the gaols and the extraordinary number of prison punishments. A Royal Com-
mission appointed by Freeling to investigate the state of the poor had "developed
a terrible picture of the material and moral condition of the people," while the
Bishop and Free Church leaders had told him that in no other community had
they experienced "such intense and apparently hopeless poverty".
Touching with no great brevity on incendiarism, a form of crime towards
which he always displayed an unusual inflexibility,67Hennessy then proceeded
to indicate the remedies for the growth of discontent and crime. These were the
provision of regular employment; lighter taxation for the working class, cheaper
and better summary justice, and an improved scheme of public instruction.
On the second of these points he mentioned the heavy licence fees paid by huck-
sters, etc., to the abandonment of which, in spite of Rawson's recommendation,
no legislative effect had been given, and excessive parochial taxation, over which
the governor had no effective control beyond the power of dismissing the
Parochial Treasurers. But, he continued, "the question of lowering taxation is of
secondary interest, compared with the question of getting employment and fair
wages for our redundant population; let me point out to you how that object is
to be accomplished, by complying with the wishes and policy of Her Majesty's
Government on the subject of Confederation."
Kimberley's despatch of 1 May 1873,68 and Carnarvon's of 28 January 187669
were both being laid before the House for its consideration, since no act of Con-
federation could pass except on the spontaneous request of each of the Legisla-
tures concerned. "It was therefore essential to make known the objects of the
Imperial Government, seeing that the proposed changes were designed to benefit
the people as well as the other classes, and to find employment for the hopelessly
Under Confederation, "our redundant population will find a natural outlet in
the neighboring Islands when by a uniform political system, the same laws, the
same tariff, and constant means of rapid communication, the now unoccupied
Crown Lands and half-tilled estates will be available for their labour, and they
can come and go from the various Islands as readily as they now pass from
parish to parish in Barbados".
The extension of Confederation beyond the Windward Group, foreshadowed
by Kimberley's despatch, was not a matter for immediate action, although, in
Carnarvon's words, the administration would be cheapened and simplified in
proportion to the extent of Confederation; further advantages of taking a more
extensive view had been shown many years before by Sir Charles Grey.
Addressing the House alone, Hennessy then said he had tried to meet their
wishes by sending down, through the Solicitor-General, Bills dealing with
Points 2, 3 and 4. He would again communicate with the House about Points 1
and 6. With respect to Point 5, the unification of the Judicial systems, which he
regarded as the most important, he took issue with the House, whose strange
mistake in describing the proposal as "unconstitutional", and "beyond the
competency of the Assembly" illustrated "the necessity of accurate knowledge in
dealing with public affairs". Admittedly, legislation on this point would imply
recognition by the Barbados Legislature of the principle of Federation; but the
thing was not only constitutional, it had already been done. In 1837 Sir Bowcher
Clarke, 70 "the highest living authority on your constitutional law", introduced

in the House a Bill "for the better administration of Justice in this Island and
the other Colonies composing the Windward Government". The Bill passed the
Assembly and Council, received the sanction of the Crown, and was still on the
Statute Book. The main object had been to establish a Supreme Court for
the Windward Islands; this had been delayed by the non co-operation of the
Grenada Assembly, and the failure of the Islands to contribute the sum required.
But both these obstacles had now been overcome, by the change in the con-
stitution of Grenada and the voting of a more than sufficient'sum by the Island
Hennessy then went on to claim that contrary to popular report, the Treasuries
of the Leeward Islands under Confederation were in a flourishing condition;
to instance, from personal observation, the benefits which the Straits Settlements
had received from the system; and to repeat the reassurance that Confederation
would neither endanger the representative system nor curtail the privileges of the
Barbados Assembly, nor interfere with the independence of the Barbados
Treasury. He closed with the following words:
"I feel confident that no intelligent person who loves Barbados will take the
responsibility of standing between his poorer countrymen and the wise policy
of the British Government; a policy not devised for Imperial objects only, but for
promoting the general advancement of every man in the Colony.
"I reserve for my concluding sentences the public expression of my gratitude
to the members of my late Executive Council for the valuable advise they have
always given me, and the loyal support they have ever rendered to any measures
I put before them.
"With great satisfaction I record the fact that we have never differed on any
single point; and I shall ever look back with pleasure on our official co-operation
and friendship."72
When Hennessy left the Public Buildings a crowd swarmed round his carriage,
which, by removing the wheels and attaching ropes, they bore in triumph through
the streets.73 "Nothing could be more gratifying than the reception my speech
obtained," wrote the Governor a week later; but in this he showed, not for the
last time, that his ears and eyes were open only to what he wanted to hear and
Up to this point, as the West India Committee afterwards acknowledged,74
the Governor's proceedings had been beyond reproach. His manner had been
urbane, and even excessively tender to the sense of dignity of the local gentry.
He had closely followed his instructions, pressing the matter of Confederation
zealously, but without importunity or intimidation. When the Assembly had
rejected consideration of the Six Points by the method proposed, he had accepted
its invitation by sending down some of the measures afresh in the form of Bills.
Even in the 3 March speech itself, he was to a great extent still following the
directions of the Secretary of State, quoting his words that the Imperial Govern-
ment could not proceed with any measure of Confederation except on the
spontaneous request of each legislature concerned;75 and obeying the request
that the despatch in which these words occurred should be placed before the
Legislature, along with Kimberley's 1873 despatch.76
In view of the nature of the task he was trying to perform, he could in no
circumstances have retained the goodwill of the Barbados ruling class for long.
But on the assumption, Utopian as it was, that Confederation could really be
secured "on the spontaneous request" of the Legislature, it was obviously
essential to avoid giving any unnecessary offence; and from this point of view
Hennessy's action was, beyond question, a serious blunder. It is not hard to
understand his feelings. A man with some experience of Colonial administration,
he was shocked by the social conditions he found in Barbados and the apparent
indifference and complacency of the governing class; he was impressed by the
hopelessness of expecting action from an antique and cumbrous form of central

and local government, masquerading as being representative; he was exas-
perated by the tergiversation of the Council, who had failed him in the pettiest
spirit the moment an encroachment was made on its dignity; and, perhaps above
all, he was conscious of having a positive policy, backed by the full might of the
Imperial Government, which surely had only to be explained to break down the
walls of inertia and rouse a public spirit and public opinion, at least among those
who might discern in the projected reforms the hope of alleviation from their
But words and deeds coming with unquestionable propriety from the leader
of a party became equivocal when uttered by a representative of the Crown,
between which and the local ruling class a reciprocal understanding had always
existed, often disturbed by friction, but regarded as axiomatic to the relation
between Colony and mother country. This Hennessy, through some deficiency of
imagination, failed to grasp. It is fair to assume that he had no full realisation
of how his speech would be interpreted; but it is equally fair to render the gist
of it as it would be understood by most of his hearers, with brutal crudity, thus:
"I am having read to you Her Majesty's Letters Patent to show what you are
up against, the irresistible weight of the British Government.
"The condition of your poor is the worst in the world, and this is the fault
of yourselves and your institutions.
"This state of affairs can only be rectified by your accepting Her Majesty's
Government's policy of Confederation.
"Do not imagine you can obstruct this policy by half-baked arguments as
to your constitutional competency to do this or that.
"If you are prepared, on behalf of your selfish class interests, to stand in the
way of relief for your suffering working class-beware!"
The blandishments which accompanied the veiled threats-the proviso about
the "spontaneous request" of the Legislature, the reassurances about Consti-
tution and Treasury, the insincere compliments to the Council-can have
weighed very little with the self-satisfied but spirited class to which they were
addressed. It was a class with a long tradition of independence and complacent
mismanagement of its own affairs; a class entirely and justifiably sceptical of
the power of a few administrative changes to bring about a heaven on earth in
the British West Indies; a class by no means disposed to encourage any plan
favouring an emigration which would deprive it of its advantageous position
in the sugar market. But more than anything it was a class having an outlook
still guided by the mentality of a slave-owner, and still haunted by the fear of a
slave rebellion. To such people, Hennessy's words can have appeared nothing
less than a call to the descendants of former slaves, to rise against their masters
and avenge their wrongs, in the assurance that behind them lay all the power of
the Queen of England and her deputy in Barbados.

A few days before Hennessy's address, it was announced in the press that a
Vigilance Committee had been appointed to watch the Governor's proceedings,
and that funds were rapidly being subscribed for the purpose of sending a depu-
tation to England to lay the case of Barbados before the Secretary of State."
This was the seed of the "Barbados Defence Association," which blossomed into
vigorous life at a public meeting on 2 March, when a series of resolutions were
passed, the most important stating that "the policy which had been adopted by
the Colonial Office towards this Island, and the measures which its emissaries
are resorting to in their endeavours to carry out that policy here" made neces-
sary the formation of an association with the object of preserving the Constitu-
tion, protecting the interests of Barbados, and maintaining order "and a good
understanding between the different classes of the population".7

This Society was to be a thorn in the flesh of Hennessy and his party for the
remainder of his term, and although it was very far from fulfilling its promise to
maintain order, its activities undoubtedly assisted materially in the defeat of the
government. In noticing its formation, Hennessy commented contemptuously
that with the exception of Sir John Sealy's son there was no person of much
weight in the original committee.79 Actually it contained a number of business
and professional men, with one or two former members of the House, but there
are indications that some of its more active members were men of very much the
same character as that presently attributed to the Government "emissaries".80
Throughout the struggle, however, the organisation had something of a dual
character. While its shadier representatives were carrying on a somewhat ques-
tionable agitation in Barbados, it continued to receive very respectable support
and patronage. The events of 3 March naturally gave it a tremendous fillip, and
before long it was able to claim Sir Charles Trollope, who had important
interests in Barbados, as its President, and Sir Bowcher Clarke as a Vice-
President.81 Very soon, too, it had appointed its delegates to visit England-
P. B. Austin, clergyman, planter and proprietor of the Agricultural Reporter,
and P. L. Phillips. A slightly delicate situation arose because both men required
leave of absence from the Governor-Austin as Rector of St. Philip, Phillips as
Commissioner of Probates, an office by virtue of which alone, Hennessy claimed,
he was monetarily qualified for a seat in the Assembly. Leave was granted in
both cases,82not without some parade of magnanimity on the part of the Gov-
ernor, and the pair left the island amid scenes of great enthusiasm, on
31 March.83
In other ways repercussions to the 3 March Speech were not long in being
heard. The Reply of the House indeed was delayed; it was 28 March before a
carefully-drafted and exhaustive address to the Governor was ready. Although
some of the criticisms were fairly enough met this document exhibited an un-
pleasing tone, with its throwing in Hennessy's face of his early compliments to
the late Assembly, its tu quoque arguments from English statistics on the un-
satisfactory state of the poor in the mother-country, its somewhat too personal
sneer about Irish emigration to America, and the language in which it rebuked
the strictures on the House's knowledge of constitutional law. More significant
than these rather cheaply scored debating points was the utter failure to recognize
that social conditions could be, except in the most superficial way, the proper
sphere of legislation. Hennessy was told that the condition of the labouring
classes was "dependent altogether on their own energy and intelligence", that
"the wages of labour depend upon causes and circumstances utterly beyond the
control of any legislation," and, in the matter of emigration, instead of confining
itself to pointing out what was true, that Confederation could not provide an
instant solution to the problem of surplus population, the House tried to argue
what was manifestly false, that emigration was already unrestricted and even
encouraged. In his rejoinder to this reply Hennessy introduced some new matter,
following his predecessors in condemning the irresponsible and improvident
method of carrying on the public works of the Colony by boards of the Legisla-
ture, and announcing his veto of a bill to extend Glendairy on the ground of
extravagance. He offered to save 4,000 on the undertaking if the House would
entrust it to the Executive-a trifling sum compared to the economy that would
be effected, "if you relinquish the many costly executive functions you now
endeavour to discharge, and leave to the Government the responsibility of econo-
mically expending the public money, that it is your constitutional right to vote
for the service of the Crown".84
Several days before the House's reply was ready the Chamber of Commerce

forwarded a petition to Hennessy, asking him to receive a deputation.85 Although
the first signatory was the Chairman, the usually moderate W. H. Jones, this
address was characterized by extremely intemperate language, so much so that

Hennessy very properly declined to receive the deputation or even to reply, as it
was "written in a tone which should not be used in addressing the Governor of
this Colony". Hennessy later gave Carnarvon86 the further reason that it was
improperly interposed between his own speech and the reply of the Assembly.87
In the document Hennessy was accused of countenancing, if not originating an
agitation among the lower classes, encouraging them to believe that they would
get higher wages under Confederation, with the result that they were now
excited and using threats, believing that the Governor would pardon violations
of the law. This agitated manifesto also touched on a number of topics raised on
3 March, in much the same tone and without skill.88 On its rejection Jones
promptly requested that the correspondence should be forwarded to the
Secretary of State.89
Press comment was by now showing a complete absence of restraint. On
22 March the Times thundered against the "dusky lickspittles, catspaws,
flunkeys and other dirty emissaries" who had listened to the "oily gammon" of
Hennessy. And earlier still, the Reporter had written, in reference to a comment
made in Hennessy's speech on the advantages of Confederation in times of war;
"Those who know the West Indies are well aware that in time of war, far from
uniting for the purposes of defence, these communities would be only too happy
to be captured by some foreign power, from which they might at any rate,
receive just treatment."90 From the organ of the clerical delegate of the Defence
Association, this comment on the loyalty of the "ever-British colony" deserves
The battle of charge and counter-charge was now in full swing. At a later stage
it appeared important to each party to profess its own innocence in the matter
of beginning a public agitation, Confederationists and anti-Confederationists
both maintaining hotly that their enemies did it first, and that the propaganda on
behalf of their own cause was the spontaneous expression of indignant citizens
trying to save their fellow-countrymen from being deluded. It would be profitless
to try to allocate an exact proportion of responsibility. On several occasions
Hennessy denied, in general and in detail, that he was guilty of sending emissaries
to stir up the people on behalf of Confederation,91 and there is no reason to
doubt that he was speaking the truth; but it is quite certain that some of his
supporters were less discreet, and that persons of doubtful character were em-
ployed, at least after the Defence Association campaign got going, on doubtful
occasions. On the other hand, it seems probable that the majority of the more
active members of the Defence Association were sincere in their belief that they
were combating and not initiating an agitation, although the body afterwards
put itself hopelessly in the wrong by disavowing responsibility for meetings
organised by its leading members.92 But at what exact point of time the speech-
ifying and canvassing, the bribery and cajolery, the intimidation and victimisa-
tion actually began, and by whom it was begun, is now practically impossible to
disentangle from the flying clouds of rumour, calumny, and unsupported
Nevertheless the case against the anti-Confederation party receives strong
confirmation from the fact that both Carrington and Jones, in the debate of
8 February, felt it necessary to deprecate the spreading of false reports, as the
one that Hennessy intended to reintroduce slavery.93 The language of both men
was unambiguous and strong. Carrington hoped that soon "those who made it
their business to disseminate false reports among the populace, with a view to
instigating them to mischief, will receive that punishment which such conduct
deserves". Jones found it "a matter for regret that throughout the length and
breadth of the land words had been uttered to stir up the worst feelings of the
people." In each case specific reference was made to the rumours about the
restoration of slavery.94 Further, in a letter to the West Indian on 11 February,
Agricola (Thomas Sealy, son of Sir John, and a member of the original

Committee of the Defence Association, was alleged by Hennessy to have
repeatedly avowed authorship)95 wrote in the same strain, and, while professing
the righteousness of the anti-Confederation cause, made use of these significant
and prophetic words. "They (the agitators, whom he has strongly condemned)
fail to perceive that they are endeavouring to bring into operation a force, the
power of which they cannot measure, and which they will find themselves unable
to control once they have put it in motion; it may burst forth in a manner and a
direction not contemplated by them, and may be productive of results they
never dreamt of... they are setting a dangerous example ... showing how easy
it is to trade on the prejudice and ignorance of the masses, and how easy it is to
deceive them and inflame their passions by false representations.""96 The
importance of this letter and the two speeches is that they proceed from quarters
opposed to Confederation, at a period before the events of 3 March had given
reasonable grounds for alarm, and before the circulation of the first stories
about the Governor's "emissaries". It is also noteworthy that C. P. Clarke, in
his strongly partisan account of the troubles, makes no mention of this evidence
at all.
After 3 March, of course, the tempo was greatly accelerated, with the difference
that the campaign was now mainly conducted by members of the Defence
Association. Several meetings were publicly announced for the middle and later
part of March, together with a "Caution" to house owners not to lend or rent
their houses to "unscrupulous political agitators"-presumably the "emissaries".
An article in the West Indian condemned Anti-Confederation meetings addressed
to the labouring classes as unnecessary and provocative, and even recommended
the Governor to put a stop to them. But Hennessy would not do this, fearing that
such a step would be taken as evidence that Confederation was to be forced on
the people. A verbose report on the meetings by Clements discloses, at this
stage, nothing very startling.97
The charges against Hennessy and his party are too numerous for detailed
examination. Some were entirely trivial, others serious enough, if they could be
substantiated. Throughout, in the mass of material accumulated by the Defence
Association, there is a disposition to accept ex parte statements and hearsay
evidence. When it has been sifted, however, there is left a residuum sufficient to
show an improper excess of zeal on the part of certain officials, although
Hennessy is nowhere directly implicated. His final responsibility was widely
hinted, but the personal accusations made against him were few in number and
unsatisfactory in character.
Towards the end of January Hennessy had gone into the country, owing to
protracted repairs at Government House.98 He stayed first in St. Philip at Long
Bay Castle, a mansion with a vivid and romantic history. Here he was alleged
to have entertained, and improperly addressed on behalf of Confederation, a
couple of dozen St. Philip freeholders, one of whom described his remarks in
these picturesque words: "It looked to me as if he was touching us with honey,
or like the sea running round us".99 At the worst there was nothing much in it,
although C. P. Clarke's account betrays some disgust at Hennessy for giving
his black visitors refreshments, and Reeves (note that it was a deputation of
freeholders) was later to pour scorn on the patronage with which the Governor,
as he said himself, withdrew and ordered his butler to give the men some refresh-
ment.100 Hennessy was confirmed in his denial that he invited the party, as was
alleged against him; and his "address" was clearly nothing more than a few
impromptu words suitable to a lower middle class body.101 Similarly, at
Blackmans, St. Joseph, where he moved after leaving Long Bay, he was said to
have had many intimate conversations with "a notable thief, which has worked
the gang already" and to have habitually gone into the negro yard and talked
to the labourers in their houses.102 The latter activity would hardly be regarded
as scandalous behaviour in a Governor nowadays; of the former Hennessy

only recollected a single conversation on his gallery with a young odd-job man
about whose character he knew nothing.103
Of the same nature was the allegation, upheld by "four sworn statements
obtained by the Defence Association", that Hennessy, in the company of
Lieutenant-Governor Graham of Grenada, had paid a parting visit to C. Kemp
Sturgeon, "the forger, who was liberated from prison in St. Kitts before the
termination of his imprisonment".104 Sturgeon was in Barbados for a short
time as foreman printer for the Confederation Press, which will be mentioned
presently. Hennessy absolutely denied the visit, or any contact with Sturgeon
except a few minutes talk at Government House on the man's arrival. The
incident affords a good illustration of how a whisper, if repeated often enough,
inspires its hearers with the faith of true believers. Clarke, writing many years
afterwards, was apparently prepared to go to the stake for his belief that
Hennessy was lying, having been informed that the report was true by "a
gentleman whose veracity was unquestioned". But a reputation for veracity
does not exclude the possibility of error, and Clarke's attitude was not worthy
of an experienced lawyer.
Another category of charges is that relating to supposed improper methods of
publicity. What was done in this way seems however to suggest a deficiency in
humour rather than turpitude. By Gore's order, nearly 2,000 extra copies of the
Official Gazette, containing the 3 March Speech and an extract from the West
Indian, were printed and distributed gratis.106 The story got about that "the
Governor's paper" together with a shilling was being given away to all comers,
causing a genuine demand.106 To the anti-Confederation party this must have
seemed another devilish plan to appeal to the people instead of their somewhat
inadequately elected representatives. A week later there appeared the first
number of a Confederation newspaper, The Barbados People and Windward
Islands Gazette. Briggs was responsible for this, as also for the importation from
Antigua of Sturgeon,107 owing to the difficulty of getting a foreman printer
locally. The director was one John T. Dottin, alleged to have led the ovation
when Hennessy left the Council Chamber, and described as having acquired
notoriety in the Bankruptcy Court. The first issue of the paper, Clarke tells us,
was announced by "the half starving hired emissaries of Sir Graham Briggs,
rushing about town like a gang of Bedlamites brandishing umbrellas"; and the
enterprise does not seem to have justified itself commercially, to judge by an
announcement made a few weeks later, that "in consequence of the great demand
it will only be published at present on Thursdays"-hitherto it had been issued
twice a week.'08 Dottin however was rewarded for his services later in the year,
being appointed to the Commission of the Peace and made Coroner of
St. Michael.109
Then there were the famous "emissaries". Some of the mud thrown at these
supposed hirelings was random and almost farcical. S. C. Ellcock was a "village
lawyer" and a "radical demagogue converted to Federal doctrines by a shake of
Governor Hennessy's hand". "Doc" Davis was the brother of a notorious
St. Philip character, Sandiford was a tailor "believed to have served a term in the
penal gang in Demerara".110 The truth is that there is a section of the slightly
educated coloured lower middle class to which public utterance is the breath of
life, and which requires no bribery to induce it to speak its mind, extensively and
to as large an audience as it can get, on the topics of the hour. But one or two of
the charges made are more serious and substantial.
According to the sworn statement of Gibson, an overseer on Vaucluse Planta-
tion in St. Thomas, a certain David Morris is said to have solicited signatures for
a petition in favour of Confederation, and to have told the crowd that under
Federation the "smallest labourer" would get three shillings a day. Further, he
had distributed money among the women, promised more to the men, and
claimed that he was receiving a dollar a day from the Governor for doing what

he was doing. Similar testimony was offered against Samuel Duesbury. He too
was soliciting signatures, the rumour being that he was receiving a shilling a
head. Duesbury, on being told that he ought to be hanged, offered the riposte
that the Governor would have every one who refused to sign the paper shot.111
Both were obviously ignorant men. Some of the language they are said to have
used on another occasion is so violent and foolish as to suggest they were drunk,
and appears at first sight to rob the charge of its more serious implications.
"By God!" said Morris, "There should be a bloody fire here before long."
Duesbury threatened that with a hundred good men like himself he would go into
the white people's houses and would break their blasted necks through the
windows and take out what they had in their houses, and set the houses on fire.
Also he intended to go to St. Philip and bring down some of the Hound Dogs;
they would know what to do.112
W. G. Ellis, one of the members for St. Thomas, and the proprietor of Vau-
cluse, forwarded Gibson's affidavit to Hennessy. The latter had no difficulty in
disproving the absurd statements the men had made about him, and showing
that he had discouraged all petitions on behalf of Confederation."13 A peculiar
correspondence between the two men developed, Hennessy complimenting
Ellis on his public spirit in drawing his attention to the matter, Ellis insisting
that the important point was that Hennessy should issue a proclamation denying
that he had authorised any such rubbish to be spoken on his behalf.14 In this
connection, Semper becomes involved in the business, and the part played by
him is, at least, ambiguous.
On 14 March, the day on which the Legislative Council discussed their reply
to the Governor's address, Semper had delivered a challenging speech. What he
actually said is uncertain, for the obviously abridged report in the Confedera-
tion newspaper, reprinted in the Parliamentary Papers,"5 is at variance in many
details with the newspaper account, no longer available, which Clarke quotes.
Whatever the strength of language used, it is clear from the officially accepted
account that Semper, in a scolding tone mitigated by a few expressions of un-
convincing flattery, devoted most of his attention to a very unfavourable com-
parison of the state of Barbados with that of the Confederated Leeward Islands,
where, it was claimed, free medical aid, cheap justice, and education were avail-
able to an untaxed labouring population to an extent undreamed of in Bar-
bados.116 It seems that Semper had the trick of irritating people, and his speech
is said to have been accompanied by frequent hissing. But it was also punctuated
by vociferous applause, for the Council Chamber had been invaded by a dense
crowd of the lower orders, "negro boys without trousers", and so on."7 In an
atmosphere of which the heat was rendered more oppressive by the overcrowd-
ing, tempers gave way, and when the meeting broke up Semper was man-
handled outside, being pushed and jostled and, according to one account,
"actually kicked a posteriori".11 From this uncomfortable situation the
Attorney-General was rescued, by his own account, through the intervention of
several black and coloured strangers, foremost among whom was Morris, "who
behaved admirably in repressing this violence".119
The question is, how far did Morris remain a stranger? According to the
sworn statement of a man Jordan,120 who claimed to have known Semper in
Antigua, Morris was frequently in the Attorney-General's company, and had
often received money from him and his clerk. The whole statement is extremely
damaging. Jordan asserted that Semper had personally given him a petition to
circulate for signatures, and either directly or through his clerk presented him at
different times with from 12 to 14 shillings. Most of the meetings took place at
Semper's house, where Briggs also was frequently in evidence directing activity
and giving away money; and another statement that the petitions annexed to
Jordan's affidavit were in the handwriting of Semper's clerk was not contested.
Semper's reply conceded that he had permitted the clerk to make some copies of

the petition, and that he had indirectly given the man, who had complained
against wage stoppages, and who professed loyalty to the Government, money to
pay his rent, but characterized the other statements as a tissue of fabrications-
without however explicitly denying contacts with Morris at this stage.
There followed an interview between Hennessy and Ellis. Semper, who was
present, denied that he had advised against a proclamation repudiating state-
ments of the sort which Morris was said to be making. Ellis, said Semper, had
made no such request, and that he was satisfied with the course taken was
indicated by his letter, of thanks to the Governor. On receipt of Gibson's affi-
davit, however, the Attorney-General had at once sent for Morris, who cate-
gorically denied having used the words of which complaint was made. Semper
accepted this, and took no action.
Subsequently, however, an information against Morris was laid before the
Police Magistrate for St. Thomas, J. R. Gooding, and he was committed to the
Assizes. While he was in prison Semper, so the House alleged, sought and
obtained private interviews with him. It is unnecessary to emphasise the impro-
priety of such a course, but Semper's denial here is quite unequivocal. "There is
not even a circumstance calculated to mislead. Whoever put forward the state-
ment must have done so knowing its utter falsity."'21 Nevertheless, the proceed-
ings against Morris at the special Sessions in October leave an impression not
quite satisfactory to the conclusion that the relations between the two men were
of a character that could stand the fullest publicity.122 Semper, prosecuting,
agreed with Moylan, Morris's counsel, that the indictment was defective, and
having refused the suggestion of the Acting Chief Justice, Lushington Phillips, that
he should frame a new one, proceeded after a prolonged legal argument on the
original one, which he said was bound to fail. Yet Morris was found guilty, and
sentenced to two years' imprisonment, being respited until reserved legal points
were decided by the Windward Court of Appeal. However, before the decision
of the higher court, Morris was granted a free pardon by Hennessy. The situa-
tion during the trial had been complicated by newspaper articles prejudging the
case and making charges of conspiracy between Semper and Moylan; also by
Semper's strong opposition to the Acting Chief Justice's proposal that Reeves,
who had framed the indictment and prosecuted in the lower court, should be
heard as amicuss curiae". Semper's method of conducting the case may have
been due to a conviction that the charges were trumped up, perhaps on account of
vindictive feelings against himself. But it is hard to resist the conclusion that at
an earlier stage he had allowed his partisan zeal to outstrip his discretion, and
that he was bound to protect Morris because of damaging revelations that were
otherwise likely to come out. It is fair to say that Lushington Phillips expressed
dissatisfaction with the Jury's verdict. Reporting on the case to the Colonial
Secretary he declared, with what looks like an excess of lenity, that the words
attributed to Morris were of abuse and threat, not for the purpose of inciting an
unlawful assembly. It was on the basis of this report that Hennessy freed
To complete the tale of charges against the Confederation party, mention
should be made of those against the Police Force, whose rather emotional
Chief, Colonel Clements ("Military John" of the comic paper cartoons) was a
strong adherent of Hennessy's. Of numerous hints suggesting improper be-
haviour by members of the Force the most specific is the affidavit sworn against
a Sergeant Deane, said to ave harangued a mob on 15 March outside the Central
Police Station with hot words against the "damned worthless white vagabonds"
who were opposing Confederation. Another witness credited Deane with saying
that "as soon as orders were given he would take pleasure in shooting every
damned white man he came across, as they were the cause of all the
So much for the accusations of the House, the Defence Association, and their

friends. Some were thin,125 some explicit but unable to bear the construction
placed on them, some explicit and convincing enough to justify the application
of the often very misleading maxim about there being no smoke without fire.
That there was an agitation affecting all classes, and stimulating the excitable
Barbadians to the utterance of wild words, is evident enough. But injustice it must
be added that nearly all the serious charges made against persons of responsible
position were firmly and absolutely denied.
Such an atmosphere however was of course particularly favourable to the
circulation of fantastic rumours which could only aggravate the excitement.
The most widespread and persistent was that under Confederation there would
be a general hand-out to the black population either of money or land. .12The
shape the idea took often had a picturesque simplicity. One version was that the
land would be so cheap that the labourers would be able to buy it. "The Queen
sent out the same law to Governor Rawson, but he hid it from us and joined with
the white people to keep us in slavery, but Governor Hennessy, being a great and
rich man, does not care about their favours." Another had it that there was no
need for the labourers to work, "as the Governor has given orders that they shall
have two shillings a day and as much land as they wish to plant, and they can't
be certain when it is to commence, it may be next week".127 Clarke quoted, from
sources unknown, a negro's words, "De gubnor say de Queen gib de rest of
Gubnor's money fou help we, but dey no gib we. He gwine gib we, and gib we
land too"; an overheard conversation between two labourers, one of whom
acknowledged that Kendal and Colleton were good estates, but decided to take
Pool; and, as typical of the ignorance of the masses, an old woman who had
missed seeing the Prince when he came to Barbados, but was determined to see
"Federation" when he arrived.128
Even uglier symptoms of the temper of the hour were to be seen in an outbreak
of letters threatening Hennessy,129 written according to Clements by white
persons of position and respectability, and a tendency on both sides to victimise
members of the opposite party. Clarke mentions, without giving any authority,
the cases of the dismissal of a policeman for expressing views against Con-
federation and of a clerk in the Colonial Secretary's Office because his father
had attended anti-Confederation meetings. More definite is the statement sworn
to Clements that ten labourers, who replied to a direct question from a planta-
tion manager that they were on the Governor's side, were discharged and told
to go to the Governor, Briggs and Dottin for employment;130 and the un-
abashed admission of the Reporter on 4 April that the Rev E. R. Smart, organist
at the Cathedral, had been "summarily dismissed by the Vestry of St. Michael,
in consequence of certain impudent remarks made by him in reference to our
delegates". The paper forecast an attempt to have him dismissed from his more
important post as a master at Harrison College. From a subsequent correspond-
ence it appears that Smart's offence was his refusal to take an active part in a
Cathedral service celebrating the departure of the Defence Association delegates,
in particular to play the hymn "For those in peril on the sea". Smart was
avenged later, when the "purified" Legislative Council dismissed the Rev. T.
Clarke, Dean of St. Michael, from the snug little post of Chaplain to the Council,
partly on the grounds of having been a party, as ex officio Chairman of the
St. Michael's Vestry, to Smart's dismissal.131
It is questionable whether at this stage Hennessy did everything he could to
allay the rising tide of excitement and unreason. Surrounded as he was by sym-
pathetic officials, blind to a knowledge of the extent to which the whole island
was convulsed by exaggerated fears and equally exaggerated hopes, and too
secure in the knowledge that Barbados had long enjoyed a reputation for freedom
from disturbance, he was not prepared to compromise his case by any show of
weakness. A proclamation to the effect that Confederation could only alleviate
the lot of the working class, but not at a stroke redeem them from poverty, that

any persons claiming to make promises in his name had no authority to do so,
and that unlawful actions would be dealt with by due process of law, would have
had a sobering effect on everybody; but Hennessy's view was that any such
declaration would suggest that the Government was not in earnest about its
policy and would unfairly muzzle its advocates to the advantage of its opponents.
Later, he was compelled to issue a series of such proclamations in circumstances
humiliating to himself. That it should have been so indicates a lack of foresight,
and it is only too plain that in the same way as he minimised the significance
of the troubles that presently arose, he was beforehand totally unable to see the
direction in which things were tending, and was taken entirely by surprise.

The first acts of positive violence took place at a Defence Association meeting
at Mount Prospect, in St. Peter, on 28 March, a day or two after some roughness
at another meeting at Colleton in St. John'32 had just stopped short of injury to
any one. At Mount Prospect the rival versions of what took place are so ludi-
crously at variance, each being supported by the usual spate of affidavits, that it
is impossible to offer a decided opinion as to where the ultimate responsibility
lay. Publicity of a provocative kind had been given to the meeting by both
sides, and a considerable crowd assembled, obviously ready for a row. Sticks
were brandished and stones thrown by the blacks, revolvers were drawn and
fired by the whites, and a negro, Moses Boyce, was shot, probably but not cer-
tainly by E. Parris, a white man. The wound was not fatal, but at the time it was
believed that Boyce, whom nobody accused of any act of violence, had been
killed, and the anger of the crowd rose. There was a rush, and the planters had
to stand a regular siege in the estate house. Finally Parris escaped with his face
blacked and in women's clothes, and the crowd dispersed when it realized that the
object of its wrath had got away. Later Parris was arrested, charged with
attempted murder, and committed for trial-bail being granted.
This was the fracas about which the Defence Association telegraphed to the
West India Committee: "Action of Governor Hennessy, Briggs and emissaries
through false representations to the labouring classes, culminated in serious riot
last night at Prospect Plantation, in which a man was shot and several managers
wounded and ill-treated. Repetition of Jamaica tragedy likely to follow any
moment." The customary crop of rumours soon began to accumulate. Briggs,
from his neighboring estate at Farley Hill, had given some of his labourers
money, rum, and instructions to demonstrate for Confederation at the meeting;
one of his managers had directly incited to riot; a great part of the crowd came
from St. Philip, inspired by the Governor's inflammatory addresses in that
parish. Briggs wearily but convincingly denied, the manager was charged and
committed for trial, while Hennessy properly ignored the innuendoes about
Another incident, trivial in itself, deserves to be put on record for the light it
throws on the temper of the moment, the attitude of an excited white population
towards firearms, and the manner in which the opponents of Confederation
were able to make the most unpromising material serve the turn of their propa-
ganda. Near Dodds in St. Philip half a dozen white boys, including three sons
of the Rev. P. B. Austin, began ragging the driver of a truck, jumping on and
injuring a new stove he was conveying to his master. The man remonstrated with
the boys, and tried to put them off the truck, on which one of the Austin boys
produced a loaded revolver and threatened him with it. A passer-by, one
Sergeant Clarke, a black armourer of the West India regiment, with a record of
21 years good service, came to the rescue, and managed to get hold of the
revolver. The sequel was a charge of robbery against Clarke!-whose pay was
stopped by the military authorities. The magistrate seemed inclined to take a

view hostile to Clarke, and at the District Station there was a violent altercation
between Carrington, representing the Austin boy, and Semper, instructed by
Hennessy, who wanted to stamp out the reckless use of revolvers, to watch the
proceedings on behalf of the Crown. Semper stated that the evidence would not
justify his indicting Clarke, and indicated his support for the counter-charge
against Austin.34 In the end both were committed, and the Grand Jury at the
Special Sessions characteristically threw out the bill against Austin and sent
forward that against Clarke; but a nolle prosequi was entered, and Lushington
Phillips reduced the affair to its proper proportion in the course of some sensible
remarks.135 What is noteworthy is that the House's petition for Hennessy's
recall and Semper's dismissal had presented the facts in such a way as to suggest
that the Attorney-General had, in a public court and to the accompaniment of
the cheers of the populace, declared his refusal to prosecute a notorious thief.136
After Mount Prospect there seems to have been a general expectation of im-
pending trouble. In the House J. T. Greaves spoke of gangs moving about the
country "committing depredations and inciting the people to disturbance".
Lawlessness in St. George was said to be rife, and it was whispered that dreadful
threats were being made against white women. Hennessy, informed that there
was always a certain excitement during the Easter holiday, does not seem to have
been seriously disturbed. Only from one Police District was he advised that addi-
tional precautions were necessary, and he ordered that the rural constables, a
somewhat dubious body, should be called out to assist the police. One anxious
communication he forwarded to Clements, who reported that the patrols in
St.George had come across no gangs and that the district was quiet and orderly,
and that the same was true, according to the Sergeants in charge, of the other
districts. As for the anxiety of "respectable females," said Clements, this was due
to the silly agitation of their husbands in putting forward ridiculous statements
about the labouring classes, so that husbands and wives "are alike unnecessarily
terrified at the Frankenstein they themselves have created. (sic)"''137
All of which was no doubt very true; but both Hennessy and Clements were
too complacent in assuming that because the bogey had been raised for political
purposes, it had no real existence. They failed to give credit to the real effective-
ness of the anti-Confederation campaign, and to inevitable results of it which had
been foreseen by a few people like Carrington, Jones, and Thomas Sealy, but to
which most members of the opposition party had wilfully blinded themselves.
Some time later, Bishop Mitchinson told Hennessy how, before the rioting
started, certain Bridgetown merchants had admitted that their violent efforts
against Confederation were creating a spirit they dreaded very much. One
remarked that the black porters whom they had engaged to shout "No Con-
federation" during the day had been heard saying at night "These white gentle-
men would not be against Confederation so strong if it was not a good thing for
us".138 So also the London Times on 6 May, which wrote, "the planters may have
treated Confederation as so formidable a matter, and may have raised such an
excited agitation against it, that the blacks may have naturally concluded it to
mean something very revolutionary". It was the old story of the sorcerer's
apprentice, who called forth the waters when he wanted a drink, but when he
tried to stop them found he had forgotten the spell, and came near to being

It is time to shift the scene, and to examine a little more closely the view
Downing Street was taking of Hennessy's actions and the progress of the con-
troversy in Barbados.
Although Herbert cavilled at a phrase used in the speech in which Hennessy
opened the new Session,'39 the first reaction was one of approval for the way in

which the Governor had persuaded the Assembly to drop their agitation about
Freeling's dissolution,140 and his apparently skilful engineering of the projected
Conference on Federation. "Mr. Hennessy is doing his work well and apparently
with great judgment," Carnarvon observed on the latter point,141 and his first
printed communication to Barbados is a telegraphic endorsement of the pro-
posal.142 The Six Points Message was also approved, although Pauncefote thought
the Assembly would "'trample' on his Six Points, to use the Grenada expres-
sion". But Herbert advised leaving it to Hennessy, "who is very anxious to
succeed, but also very anxious to make out that he has achieved success even
though there may be very small results attained"; and'Carnarvon saw "a very
reasonable chance of winning".143
The cable in which the Conference Committee was approved contained the
often quoted words that changes could only be made "on the spontaneous
request of the Legislatures," and subsequent despatches display no lack of
optimism about the likelihood of the Barbados and other legislatures taking the
initiative in bringing them about. One must again express surprise at this belief,
at least as far as Barbados was concerned. In its favour was the fact that the
thing had recently been contrived-by methods of pressure about which the
Colonial Office was unlikely to have had a very exact knowledge-in the Leeward
Islands; and now that all the old Assemblies in the Windwards, except one, had
been liquidated, there was some excuse for expecting a similar result. Also,
Herbert's chief Barbadian consultant had been Briggs, whose views seem to have
been wrongly accepted as representative of at least a substantial section of the
local gentry; while Sealy, who later changed his opinion, was probably, like so
many West Indian magnates in England, far less assertive away from his own
domain, and possibly quite encouraging in the course of his talks at the Office.414
On the other hand, the peculiar history and special position in the group of
Barbados was a fact to which great weight was bound to be given, and the rela-
tion between the local legislature and the Executive during recent years should
have told its own tale. It is no very harsh criticism of Carnarvon to suggest that
he was not intimately familiar with West Indian business when he first
tackled the problem of Windward Confederation,145 while it is clear that his
advisers had paid insufficient attention to the warnings of Rawson, and had in
close consultation no persons acquainted with the ground who were both able
and willing to point out the magnitude of the difficulties ahead.
The 3 March speech provoked, on the reception of the text in London, hardly
a ripple. Comment was all favourable, although the note of detachment is begin-
ning to be noticeable. "At last the Barbadians have a Governor who is their
master in message writing," Herbert wrote. "We must see that he has fair play;
which most certainly the planters in this country have been doing their best to
deprive him of; and that he plays fairly himself."'4 Minds were changed, how-
ever, in a rather typical fashion, when time for reflection and opportunity for
studying colonial reaction had been given. The reply of the House, "a cleverly
worded document," touched, Herbert thought, a weak spot in referring to
Hennessy's statement that Confederation would secure employment and fair
wages for the redundant population; actually it "would make extremely little
difference in any way; it is education and social advancement that would show
the negroes how and where to obtain better wages".47 Carnarvon's mind was
moving in the same direction. The Address of the House was "very temperate
and courteous-and well-reasoned. Hennessy's (rejoinder) is short-not as good
as usual, and not quite happy in tone."'"" Fair criticisms; although the praise
given to the tone of the Assembly's reply is surprising. What appears less fair is
that Hennessy should later have been severely scolded149 for using in his speech
expressions which were before his superiors from the beginning, and which had,
in the early stages, elicited no more than a mild caution qualifying praise given
to the speech as a whole.150

After 3 March the bombardment of the Colonial Office began. In the earlier
stages much of the shooting came from private sources, but later, as the forces of
the opposition became better co-ordinated, the still very influential West India
Committee, with the help of the Defence Association delegates, shouldered the
burden. Of the private individuals the most pugnacious and vociferous was
Lt. General Sir Charles Trollope, who at once accepted the Presidency of the
Defence Association, and as early as 16 March wrote to Lowther, the Under-
Secretary, that he had received "distressing information from Barbados of the
proceedings and coercion ... to force upon the people a Confederate system of
despotic government", and called for "a suspension of the operations of the
Governor".'51 A somewhat tart reply did not discourage Trollope, who returned
a single sentence (eleven lines in the Parliamentary papers) of ungrammatical
farrago, finishing with the assertion that "terror has been struck into the minds
of the people of Barbados, lest their ruin should be accomplished by the Parlia-
ment of Great Britain and the ministers of the Queen".152
On the following day the West India Committee sent a memorandum153
which, although more reasoned in its tone, was little more likely to make the
Colonial Office lose faith in Hennessy than Trollope's vituperation. It was
indeed a pitifully inadequate document, exhibiting bad logic and no genuine
apprehension of what was being attempted. A feeble defence of the system under
which the personnel of the former Councils was identical was attempted after a
fourth form essay describing the history of the Barbados Constitution; the un-
true statement was made that Hennessy had delivered addresses on Confedera-
tion in different parts of the country; unjustified apprehensions were expressed
that the attempt was being made to deprive the Barbados Assembly of its elec-
tive character; an almost odious complacency about the achievements of the
Legislature was displayed; and in two sentences the cat was let out of the bag of
the opposition with probably unintentional frankness. "The Governor appears
to under-estimate, however, the importance of a large population, and conse-
quent command of labour, for carrying on the sugar cultivation. But for the
relative cheapness caused thereby in the production of the staple, the Island
would not be so successful as it is. . ." Mention was made of cane fires and
attacks on property (none had been made at that date, 24 March) and a picture
of lawlessness was painted which did alarm Carnarvon. Shortly afterwards news
reached him of the Mount Prospect disturbance, and he twice wired to Barbados
for information, strongly enjoining caution to prevent a popular agitation.
Hennessy's answers denied an agitation on the part of the Government, quoted
Clements as reporting officially that the agitation was "caused entirely by the
resident planters and attorneys for absentees trying to rouse the native popula-
tion against the Government," and, giving a rather one-sided account of the
happenings at Mount Prospect, promised a proclamation forbidding further
In the meantime the Colonial Office had replied to Trollope and the West
India Committee reassuringly, and on the following day, 31 March, Carnarvon
received a deputation from the latter. The official report'55 of this meeting
suggests that, from the point of view of the West India Committee, it was
premature. The members had really nothing to go on except private letters
expressing disquiet, a telegraphic account by the Defence Association on the
Mount Prospect disturbance, rather more garbled than Hennessy's own, and a
statement from Sir Bowcher Clarke, who had heard from a correspondent that
the Attorney-General said that Hennessy intended to appeal to the people if the
Assembly opposed his policy! Nor was the case strengthened by the further
quotation from Bowcher Clarke that the Governor had entertained "some of the
lowest and commonest of the population at his table"-these must have been the
poor St. Philip freeholders. Carnarvon's urbane reply, that while he did not deny
that some of the incidents alleged may have taken place he was utterly without

confirmation of them, and his disbelief "that the Governor would lend himself
to any agitation such as is supposed to have taken place," an agitation utterly
at variance with Colonial Office policy as revealed by a despatch which he quoted,
indicated his opinion of the evidence put before him. The deputation indeed
retreated in something like disorder, with permission to call again if they
received any serious news. After this a further letter from the empurpled
Trollope, demanding the recall of Hennessy, who "evidently has sinister motives
for setting one contented class against another contented class and being (sic)
the destruction of the Island," was dealt with very curtly.156 "Lord Carnarvon,"
wrote Meade, "must however observe that he has received with astonishment
and regret from an officer of your experience and distinction such a proposal as
that a Governor should be recalled without enquiry or hearing, and on account
of statements which have not only not been substantiated, but have as yet, so
far as explanations have been possible, been denied."
The attitude of polite scepticism and suspended judgment, which Carnarvon
had adopted towards the deputation, was maintained in another letter to the
West India Committee,157 but evidently he was becoming worried. At about this
time he wrote to Herbert, in connection with a complaint about the meeting with
the St. Philip freeholders: "Is this statement as to Hennessy true? And is he with
his love of intrigue working on the black population?"-a question which
affords one of the few available glimpses of Hennessy as seen through Colonial
Office eyes during this period. Herbert, in this off-the-record exchange of notes,
replied with equal frankness: "It looks like it, but those from whom such state-
ments come are so absolutely unscrupulous that it is impossible to pay any
credence to anything they report."'15
Further protests were however coming in the whole time, including some to
which weight had to be attached, as those from the Earl of Harewood, one of
the wealthiest of the absentees, and, at a critical moment a little later, from Sir
James Walker, a former Governor of the Colony.159 The latter, who had only
recently returned from a visit to Barbados, expressed his dismay at the 3 March
Speech, suggesting that the sentiments it expressed, while rousing the labourers
to hope for better wages under Confederation, were "intended to cow his
employer into acceptance of the scheme". Walker forecast trouble when the
crop was over, if no steps were taken to arrest the "wild and visionary expecta-
tions" instilled into the minds of the masses, "with whose character and habits
Mr. Hennessy could have been little acquainted when he began his cruel agita-
tion". This sentence, allowing the presumption that the writer had swallowed
the Defence Association statements whole, rather invalidates the argument.
Walker was old and in poor health, bound to the Island "by some strong ties of
friendship and blood", and clearly afraid of anything being done to upset a
society which he describes, towards the end of his letter, in unwarrantably
idealised terms.'60
All this pressure resulted in the Colonial Office sending to Barbados anxious
requests for information and exhortations to discourage violent discussion.16'
Hennessy's replies brought small comfort, containing little beyond cryptic
reports on the repercussions of the Mount Prospect affair, and rather jauntily
conveyed information not specially material to the point that was giving
anxiety. Thus, "I have, in answer to the Legislature on the 21 and 28 of March,
urged 'No agitation and dispassionate consideration of the subject of Con-
federation.' I have recommended the reduction of expenditure, and I have there-
fore vetoed an extravagant Money Bill. The Solicitor-General now declares that
the Assembly will be compelled by the Elective Body to support economy and
Confederation."'e2 The last statement almost makes one gasp. Such words are
absolutely incredible as coming from Reeves, and it is difficult to understand how
Hennessy could have persuaded himself that they had been uttered.
A few days later a mail arrived bringing a batch of despatches which, out-

lining the events of the latter part of March, partly cleared up the darkness in
which Carnarvon had been groping, and confirmed his belief that the prime
movers in the agitation were the opponents of Confederation themselves. His
own next series of despatches show a tone of greater cordiality and trust, and
approval, both general and particular, is given to most of the actions Hennessy
had taken. He even praises the 3 March speech, although a qualified doubt is
ventured, "whether your language, however accurate and well justified in the
abstract, was in every way suited to the conditions of the time and place," and
reasons for the doubt are given, along obvious lines.163 In short, Carnarvon,
although still anxious for further information, had found reinforcement for his
belief in the contumacy of his opponents. What particularly stung him was an
unlucky expression in the resolutions passed at the formation of the Defence
Association, by which it was professed that the objects of the Association was to
resist the "policy which has been adopted by the Colonial Office and its emis-
saries towards the Island of Barbados," and Hennessy was requested to invite
Thomas Sealy to justify such extraordinary language.4"
Then came the riots; and for a time, to unprejudiced English eyes, the affairs
of Barbados became obscured behind a thick veil of hopeless confusion.

Chapter Five

(April-December, 1876)

Beginning of the disturbances. Byde Mill. Methods of the rioters. Their beliefs.
Hennessy's prompt action. Military measures. The case of "Piggy Toomey". Excess of
zeal. Hennessy's restraint. The casualties. Resignation of Reeves. Bishop Mitchinson.
Hennessy ordered to retract. Virtual end of a Confederation policy for Barbados. The
recall motion. Its postponement and final adoption. Hennessy's reports to England.
His purpose. The opposition telegrams. Carnarvon receives the delegates of the Defence
Association. Proceedings in Parliament. Hennessy's attempts to forestall criticism. New
appointments to the Legislative Council. Resignations. A political deadlock. The Queen's
birthday. Quarrel over the Special Commission. Its implications. A solution found. The
cases of Brewster and Greenidge. Carnarvon's statement in the Lords. The House's reply.
Appointment ofLushingtonPhillips to the Special Commission. Proceedings ofthe Special
Sessions. Lushington Phillips' strong words. Hennessy transferred. His departure.

The rioting began on Easter Tuesday, 18 April, at Byde Mill, an estate of about
320 acres extending into the parishes of St. John, St. George, and St. Philip.
There was a touch of the farcical about the proceedings. Two Dottin brothers
(apparently unconnected with John T. Dottin) entered the yard, one bearing a
long cane with a red flag attached to it, the other brandishing a sword. One of
them declared hewas a Confederation man straight from the Governor, and
asked for liquor.1 A rural constable attempted to arrest him, some blows were
exchanged, and presently one of the Dottins blew a conch shell, on which the
estate people turned out in force and began digging up the sweet potatoes in the
fields near by. Reece, the under-manager, then sent for the district police
magistrate, Arthur Sealy, who sent three unarmed policemen. Their efforts to
arrest the ring-leaders were naturally without avail, and one of them was injured
by a stone. Later Sealy himself arrived, and "read the Riot Act"-perhapsun-
wisely, as he had no means of enforcing the law-and the crowd continued its
methodical plundering of the potato fields. Sealy left, but sent more unarmed
policemen, who made a number of arrests, not without sustaining further minor
Afterwards it became a matter of some concern to Hennessy to show that the
treatment of the labourers at Byde Mill had been particularly bad. His first
messages to London made the suggestion that the rioting was due to a dispute
over wages.3 Making use of former despatches of Sir James Walker,4 he argued
that such wage riots were not uncommon, and that there was nothing uncommon
about these ones. What he was seeking to do, naturally, but not very success-
fully, was to dissociate the trouble from the agitation about Confederation,
except so far as he could prove that the agitation was entirely on the other side.
He did succeed in showing that at Byde Mill there had been harsh usage, with
which the name of the under-manager, Reece, was consistently mixed up.5 He
had received a petition from a woman, a located labourer on the estate, and

other complaints. On the day after the riots began he summoned Mr. Evelyn, the
Byde Mill Attorney, to Government House, and there followed two acrimonious
interviews. In the second the estate books were on the table, and on Hennessy
pointing out recent items showing that labourers had only received a fraction of
the small wage due to them, Evelyn lost his temper and declared: "Your Excellency
this won't do; you are picking out all the smaller amounts, and not the larger ones.
I see you want to make some use of it, and you are not doing it fairly."6 Hen-
nessy was, of course, trying to support his brief, but the West India Committee,
while expatiating on the cheapness of food and demand for labour at high wages
during crop-time, abstained from committing itself too deeply to a defence of
the Byde Mill management.7 Evelyn may have been irascible and intolerant of
criticism,8 Reece was almost certainly a petty tyrant; and the impression prevails
that, although Hennessy's attempt to argue that the rioting was unconnected
with Confederation was foredoomed to failure, all was not well on this particular
plantation, which may for that very reason have been chosen as a starting point
by the ring-leaders.
April 19 was comparatively quiet, but on the Thursday there were serious
outbreaks, mostly in the parishes of St. John, St. Joseph, and St. George, con-
tinuing with increased violence up to Saturday the 22nd. Eighty-nine estates in
all were alleged to have been attacked,9 and almost everywhere the procedure
was the same.10 The marauders, under the general direction of the Dottin
brothers, consisted of about a thousand persons, moving from estate to estate
in gangs of about a hundred, generally one step ahead of the police or the
soldiers. On their arrival they blew a shell, and called on the estate people to join
them, sometimes but not invariably with success. Then they would address
themselves to pillaging the fields of growing crops, in some cases killing or
cruelly mutilating stock, and more rarely attacking the plantation house,
demanding money and destroying or carrying away what valuables they could
lay their hands on. Physical violence was hardly ever offered to white people,
and resistance to police and military, when it was made at all, was usually
The tragi-comic aspect of these acts of folly was that, beyond any doubt, and
after making full allowance for the exaggeration of propaganda, the mass of the
rioters believed that they were acting with the authority and approval of the
Governor. At Joe's River, where the manager's house was stoned, and the store
room and stock yard cleared, someone suggested lighting a match, but another
stopped him, saying "The Governor says we must not set fire nor take life, but
take everything else"." At Lower Estate, the ring-leaders sounded a trumpet
and said, "This is John Pope Hennessy's business"; whereupon the crowd took
away all the eddoes and potatoes. Here people were also heard saying, "We
cannot break locks, or enter buildings, nor shed blood, unless we are attacked
first, and then we will slaughter as we go".12 A paper to the same effect was read
to the Postmaster of St. John by the leaders of a crowd bearing away potatoes.13
At Colleton the cry was "God bless Pope Hennessy".14 Thus, in the words of the
West India Committee, there was exhibited "the strange and probably unpre-
cedented spectacle of a large class of the population in a British colony turning
out in immense gangs to plunder and riot believing that they had the sanction
and were fulfilling the wishes of the representative of the Queen".15
Except on the Saturday, when there was trouble near Government House, a
bare mile away, the disturbances never came very near Bridgetown. The north
of the island, apart from some disorder at Speightstown, apparently started by
sailors called in to maintain order, was hardly affected at all. The only serious
clash between the rioters and the armed forces at the disposal of the Govern-
ment was at Halton in St. Philip, where Clements had gone with a detachment
of police to look for one of the Dottins. He found a crowd plundering the estate
grounds, but his order to disperse, followed by the reading of the Riot Act

Proclamation, encountered only threats, gestures with bills and knives, and a
volley of stones, by one of which he was injured. On seeing this the police fired,
and seven men were wounded, some fatally. The greatest violence was shown on
the Saturday at Applewhaite's, St. George, where the house was sacked, furni-
ture destroyed, stock killed or taken away, and money and clothes extorted by
threats from the terrorised family of the owner, James Hinkson. Here one man
was shot dead, and another badly wounded.16 At Springfield, St. Joseph, the
manager's house was sacked, and the rioters offered to return some children's
clothing they had stolen for money; they were given 4s. 6d. and gave back some
of the clothes. At Crab Hole, St. Joseph, the principal sufferers were poor
It was afterwards extensively alleged, and is still widely believed in Barbados,
that Hennessy was half-hearted and dilatory in the measures he took to repress
the disturbances. The evidence however points entirely the other way. However
slow he may have been to apprehend the danger of the situation before 18 April,
and however misleading the accounts he sent to England after that date, it is
clear that from the moment the mass lawlessness began he acted with prompti-
tude, firmness and restraint.
On receiving Arthur Sealy's report on the Byde Mill affair Hennessy at once
made contact with Clements, and sent him to the scene of the disturbance, with
a small party, which assumed charge of the prisoners taken by the district police.
On the 19th, warrants were issued for the arrest of fourteen rioters, thirteen of
whom were in custody by the 20th. On the morning of the same day Clements
came to Government House to report the affair at Halton and his own injury,
an uncomfortable wound on the temple which kept him out of action during
most of the remainder of the period of acute excitement. This was the first intima-
tion that rioting was organised and systematic, and Hennessy requested Colonel
Sargent, the officer in command of the troops, to send half a company of soldiers
respectively to Gun Hill in St. George and Moncrieffe in St. John, two key
points commanding the principal centres of disturbance. This was done and a
further detachment sent to relieve the Police Station in Bridgetown, while patrols
were sent out along the roads in the direction of the estates from which trouble
was reported; but Sargent was unable to grant numerous requests for troops
from private families and planters, owing to the necessity of protecting St. Ann's
Garrison with its magazine and military stores.17
On the 21st, Hennessy rode out to Byde Mill, Halton, and other areas where
trouble was reported or threatened, and addressed the labourers on the estates,
denouncing the conduct of the plunderers, and stating that he was taking steps
for their speedy punishment. This warning was made public in a Proclamation,
which declared the Governor's intention of appointing a special commission for
the trial of the offenders, and offered a reward of 100 for information leading
to the detection and conviction of the ringleaders.18 On the same day, Police
Magistrates were authorised to swear in special Constables, a permission pre-
sently extended to all Justices of the Peace.19 Further, a deputation of merchants
resulted in Hennessy granting leave to supply arms, as far as they were available,
to a special volunteer corps of sailors from the ships in the harbour.20 These
last two bodies actually proved to be more of a nuisance than a substantial help.
On the whole, however, the measures of precaution were instantly effective.
It is true that the following morning saw the peak of the rioting with the attack
on Applewhaites, and the climax of a panic which drove hundreds of white
people to take refuge in the ships in the bay, the Garrison buildings, and other
places where military protection was available.21 On this Saturday, Hennessy
issued a second proclamation promising to urge on the Legislature material
recognition of the conduct of those labourers who had defended estate property,
and, to reassure the planters, whose absence from their estates might encourage
attacks, wired for reinforcements to Jamaica, Demerara and Trinidad. But the

request was almost immediately countermanded, and it did not prove necessary
to detain H.M.S. Argus, which had come from Jamaica in response to a
request to the Admiralty by the Colonial Office, for more than a few days.22
The wave of disorder, as far as the negro population was concerned, had spent
its force, and the chief source of anxiety during the period immediately following
was the behaviour of certain planters and white volunteers.
From a military point of view, the most important contribution to the restora-
tion of tranquillity was the step taken by Colonel Sargent, when he was satisfied
that the gangs moving about the country had broken up, of dividing the larger
detachments of troops into parties of two or three and distributing them among
threatened estates. Sargent, a rather long-winded writer of despatches, after-
wards thought it necessary to enter an elaborate justification for taking a course
in violation of the military principle which condemns the splitting of a small
force,23 but in the absence of an organised enemy it would seem that he was
making rather too heavy weather of the matter, and the good effect was secured
of getting the planters back home and the reaping of the crop renewed. Unfor-
tunately, the instructions given to the soldiers forming these small parties were
not sufficiently careful. The planters at whose houses they were stationed, par-
ticularly those who were on the Commission of the Peace, regarded the soldiers
as being at their absolute disposal, and used them to hunt down alleged male-
factors and ringleaders on their own responsibility. One very bad case resulted
from this. John Hinkson, manager of Newton in Christ Church, led the soldiers
at his disposal in pursuit of a man named Braithwaite, alias "Piggy Toomey".
The party came up with their quarry on some cliffs at Seawell, a few miles away.
Braithwaite surrendered, but in spite of this Hinkson ordered one of the soldiers
to fire twice, and the man received a wound from which he died eighteen days
later.24 After this Sargent issued explicit orders forbidding his men to go outside
the boundaries of the estates to which they had been assigned, and Hennessy
published a Circular Order to the same effect, ordering that arrests in future
were only to be made on warrants of the District magistrates, to be executed by
the Police Force only.25
This was not the only difficulty Hennessy had to face from the excess of zeal,
and in some cases vindictiveness, of the temporary defenders of the law and
order. The volunteers from the ships got out of hand at Speightstown and had to
be disbanded, not without some difficulty.26 The rural constables proved rather
worse than useless,27 and the specials were a worry from the beginning. Certain
magistrates refused to enrol any who were not whites and professed anti-
Confederationists.28 By the Saturday, however, about 500 men had been sworn
in.29 Hennessy was strongly urged, in one case almost with threats, to sanction
the arming of this body,30 but after taking a look at its members on duty in town
he refused. "I should be sorry to entrust them with firearms," he records in a
minute. "They seemed zealous, but far too nervous and excited."31 He received
further representations, not all from members of the opposite camp, calling for
the proclamation of martial law, and summary shootings and floggings.32
Impelled perhaps partly by a recollection of the experience of Eyre in Jamaica,
as well as by his own humanity and good sense, he would have nothing to do
with these proposals, pointing out that he had already promised a speedy trial
by Special Commission, and undertaking to suppress the disturbances with the
force and law then at his disposal.33
The latter assurance he made good, while his failure in the case of the former
was, as will be seen, hardly his own fault, and does not detract from the firmness,
temperance and energy he showed in dealing with a situation which might, in
less capable hands, have ended in a real catastrophe. In extenuation of the
general importunities for the infliction of extra-legal deterrent punishments it
must however be pointed out that on the 22nd, when the matter was discussed
at a meeting of the Executive Council, there were adequate grounds for believing

that the troubles were by no means over. As the country shopkeepers had been
afraid to go to Bridgetown for supplies, a shortage of provisions was threatened,
and the closing of the Banks had prevented the planters from getting the money
for wages on Friday,3 their regular day for doing this. Also, a very general
impression prevailed in the week or two following that the cessation of disturb-
ance amounted to no more than a lull, perhaps until the end of the crop season,
but of which the duration or permanence would depend on the sternness and
rapidity of the measures taken to punish the offenders. Weight was given to this
view by the fact that it was taken by Colonel Sargent, whose attitude was in-
distinguishable from that of most of the planters, and who shows in his corres-
pondence with the War Office a veiled but marked suspicion of the Governor.35
Two further proclamations were issued by Hennessy in connection with the
riots. The first of these, issued on 26 April,36 would have been more effective if
made, in rather different terms, a fortnight earlier. In effect it was a denial that
acts of lawlessness had his authority; and the warmth of the language in which
his political enemies were accused, rather unreasonably, of personally encourag-
ing this fantastic belief does not conceal the 'grudging admission that a large
number of people had acted under its influence. The second proclamation, two
months later, was published under duress, and is important as marking the close
of the first phase of the conflict between the Imperial Government and the
Barbados oligarchy. Its contents, and the circumstances in which it was issued,
will be recorded presently.
During the period between 20 and 25 April eight persons appear to have been
killed and something over thirty wounded. The figures published by the
Chamber of Commerce,37 in justification of an alarming telegram they had sent,
are by including small injuries not requiring medical treatment brought up to a
considerably higher total than the return of Clements,38 which, based on admis-
sions to the General Hospital, is probably too low. Clements' return shows six
wounded and five killed by the Police, mostly at Halton, and only one, Braith-
waite, by the military. A number of police officers and men were hurt, but not
seriously. No soldiers were hurt. About a dozen people are recorded as
"wounded by civilians", or "wounded, not known how received". Some of these
cases were certified by Brandford Griffith as the result of the unprovoked attacks
by Special Constables.39 Clements has one man down as "shot by Mr. James
Hinkson of Applewhaites, defending his employers property" but the evidence
given elsewhere is by no means conclusive against Hinkson. Another was
reported killed at Applewhaites, but of this man Clements had no information.
Not a single white person, apart from Clements himself, is on record as having
suffered a scratch.40
A few days after quiet had been restored Reeves resigned his post as Solicitor-
General. The only important official who was not an adherent of the Confedera-
tion cause, his position and attitude had been a source of embarrassment to both
parties, and perhaps not least to himself. The importance of his final defection
from the official coterie lay in its indication that, in the opinion of a highly
intelligent man, Confederation as far as Barbados was concerned was a dead
letter. It is no very severe criticism of Reeves to suggest that if he had held any
real belief that the plans would go forward, he would hardly have placed himself
in a situation which would have deprived him of any likelihood of further
As has been noted, his attitude from the beginning had shown caution, quali-
fied by assurances that he would give no support to any scheme involving the
destruction of the sacred constitution.41 He was a member of the Committee
which drew up the reply to the 3 March Speech, and had voted for it. Hennessy
decided to treat the matter in the same way as he had treated the parallel but less

important case of Dr. Thomas-that is to grant Reeves full liberty of action on
the subject of Confederation inside and outside the Legislature. This course was
in conflict with a special instruction from Carnarvon to Rawson in 1875, to the
effect that support of the Government is the express condition under which the
Solicitor-General takes office,42 but Hennessy, with Carnarvon's uneasy approval
and stipulation that no precedent should be held to arise, waived the point,
indicating his forbearance as "another illustration of the mode in which I have
put the question of Confederation before the Colony".4
Reeves, anxious to retain office so long as he could decently do so, evidently
felt the need of giving the Governor something. In his official capacity he intro-
duced bills covering three of the Six Points, rightly holding that by doing so he
in no way committed himself to Confederation, and on 11 April, in reference no
doubt to the brawl at Mount Prospect, he addressed to the House strong and
salutary words on the irresponsible use of firearms: "We had a good cause and
there was nothing to fear so long as we adhered to a constitutional defence of
it. But he had a horror of resorting to the revolver as a means of defence. There
was no surer way to ruin the cause . When the revolver was taken up, he
should despair of the country. ... He was not a friend of the cause but its worst
enemy who resorted to unconstitutional weapons in its defence."44 These words
apparently gave offence. At the next meeting, behind closed doors, he was
according to Hennessy taunted with support of Government, and improper
motives were imputed to him. Evidently the proceedings convinced Reeves that
he could no longer maintain a foot in each camp. Accordingly he resigned, with
the customary courtesies about cordial personal relations with the Governor-
"nor can I omit to refer to the circumstance that Your Excellency has never
sought to control my action as a member of the House of Assembly".45 The
decision may well have caused Reeves a great deal of anguish, but undoubtedly
it was the correct one from every point of view.
Reeves was not alone among the highly placed in giving Hennessy additional
matter for anxiety at this period. John Mitchinson, Bishop of Barbados,
although avoiding political discussion, had so vehemently criticised the attitude
towards society of the Barbadian well-to-do as to qualify for inclusion at the
head of a "Return of Persons of Confederate tendencies" in the Reporter on
4 April, along with "Sir Briggs" and others described as "late of the penal
gang, St. Kitts", "Quack doctor", "insolvent debtor", brieflesss barrister",
"bankrupt merchant" and so on.46 But now, to Hennessy's perhaps too sensitive
imagination, he seemed to be deserting the ship. The Church of England clergy
and four Moravian ministers had sent him for transmission to the Secretary of
State an address in which it was stated that the disturbances were not due to
lack of employment or the dearness of provisions but to the belief, shared by
Church people, that the Governor had authorised plundering and that the land
was being wrongfully withheld from the blacks, to whom, at the Governor's
instance, it had been awarded by the Queen. The memorial was tactlessly worded
in that it failed to express the signatories' opinion on the justification of the
belief, but what chiefly offended Hennessy was the Bishop's endorsement-
"Their testimony is entirely worthy of credit; and as far as my own observation
and knowledge of facts extends, I personally endorse their statement as
correct." Hennessy took up the challenge sharply, asking the Bishop in rather
peremptory language how many cases of the prevalence of the alleged belief
were derived from the Bishop's personal knowledge; further, whether he had not
heard of dismissals or threats of dismissal to labourers who would not express
views hostile to the Government measures. To this the Bishop replied, fairly
enough, that he believed that there had been such cases, on the same grounds
as those inducing him to endorse the Clergy Memorial-the testimony of per-
sons of credit with access to reliable information. Nor did he fail to point out
that Hennessy had himself attached some credence to the rumour in his

proclamations of 26 April and 25 May.47 The Governor and the Bishop then
made it up, but the little explosion was not the only symptom of Hennessy's
frayed nerves at this time.
He had indeed anxieties and mortifications enough to make more than a little
jumpiness excusable. Late in May he had received a despatch from Lord Car-
narvon which conveyed a shattering blow, not only to his own self-esteem but
to the cause for which he had given such strenuous devotion. By the same mail
was enclosed a budget of correspondence, newspaper cuttings, and a report of
the second deputation from the West India Committee, containing the objec-
tions to the 3 March Speech and the charge of appealing to the lower classes
on finding the Legislature opposed to his policy, and, in Carnarvon's words
"even by secret or unconstitutional or irregular agencies through which the
passions of the people were excited by unjustifiable representations". Carnarvon
"in the absence of full and unquestionable proof" disclaimed belief in the
"imputation that you have not only placed yourself in an attitude of direct oppo-
sition to my express instructions, but have resorted to a course of action which,
inexcuisable on the part of a Governor in any case, must in the presence of a
very ignorant and excitable coloured population, be fraught with the greatest
danger". The words quoted, however, are those of a man who has gone more
than half way towards credulity; and the sting was in the tail, for Carnarvon
closed by requesting, in terms which made denial impossible, the issue of a pro-
clamation. The essential part of this should be a declaration "that it would be a
great mistake to suppose that Confederation could either injure or benefit in any
considerable degree the social condition of any class, and that beyond possibly
affording facilities for emigration or employment in a larger field, it could do
little to change the condition or prospects of the labouring class".48
All this was undoubtedly true, but then Hennessy had, not perhaps entirely
without encouragement from home, held out hopes of much greater benefits.
He was being asked to eat his words, and he did so. The proclamation of 25 May
embodied almost the exact words of Carnarvon's despatch, with the addition of
a rather pathetic plea that loyal subjects should avoid attributing improper
motives to those who might differ from them in opinion. But probably it was not
without a touch of malice that Hennessy, in reporting to Whitehall, enclosed a
document issued by the Defence Association-a not ineffective placing in parallel
columns under the headings "Look at this Picture! ... And at this!" of extracts
from the 3 March Speech (which Carnarvon had approved) and from the
recent Proclamation.49
The Proclamation did indeed mark the end of the policy of a Windward Con-
federation to include Barbados. If Her Majesty's Government expected only
minor reforms to arise from its policy, it was obviously not prepared to press for
it in the face of a really strong local opposition. Since the strength of the opposi-
tion had been demonstrated, it followed that this phase of the struggle was at an
end. The conflict over the Constitution of Barbados was not finished, but hence-
forth it would be fought out on more limited ground.
To plague Hennessy further, there was the motion for his recall and the dis-
missal of certain members of the Executive. Notice of this was given by Carring-
ton on 26 April.50 The text of the resolution was published next day, and was the
subject of newspaper comment in "somewhat inflammatory language". Hen-
nessy discussed the resolution with the Council, who, he told Carnarvon,
earnestly recommended him to try and stay the proceedings. He also claimed
that certain magistrates had warned him that a political discussion terminating
in such a resolution would lead to a renewal of the disturbances on a far greater
scale, and that it would be necessary to send soldiers to protect the houses of
every member of the Assembly. It would be easy to name one or two magistrates
who might have expressed such an opinion, but the warning was hardly of a sort
that could be taken seriously. However, the message which the Governor sent to

the House the day after was sensible and moderate. It pointed out that at such a
time of crisis any attempt to weaken the Executive by such a resolution, involv-
ing a grave political question as well as the prerogative of the Crown, could not
fail to excite intense public feeling, and as the Executive Council considered its
discussion at that time dangerous to the public peace, the House was asked to
abstain from it for the present.51
Nevertheless, Carrington went ahead to move the Resolution, making a fiery
speech in which he inveighed against the Governor and the other Executive
Officers named "not as political partisans and advocates of Confederation but
as disturbers of the public peace".52 George Sealy followed with dark hints
about plots hatched at Erdiston, Briggs' town residence,53 and the revelation,
apparently intended to startle, that at a ball at Long Bay Castle Hennessy had
spoken in complimentary terms of the House of Assembly and its conduct.
Everything seemed set for a debate of the familiar type, with one tirade after
another. But during the luncheon interval it was made known that Hennessy had
prepared a message proroguing for a few weeks, and the proceedings afterwards
made an almost ludicrous anti-climax, with Jones abruptly moving the adjourn-
ment of the debate, which was agreed, and the subject being changed in a marked
manner. Jones, Reeves and Ellis were praised by Hennessy for their efforts in
persuading the House to drop the resolution for the time being.54 Telegrams
were promptly sent to London stating Hennessy had threatened to dissolve, and
Carnarvon wired for a denial of this, which was given. The West India Com-
mittee was willing enough to disbelieve that a threat to dissolve had been made,
and agreed that the postponement of the Memorial was desirable.55
The debate on the motion was twice further adjourned, on the second occa-
sion Jones saying he did not believe any member had changed his mind on the
justice or necessity of the resolution, and Carrington agreeing to postponement
in order to avoid giving any pretext for imputing responsibility for any further
disturbance to the House.56 On 30 May Hennessy sent a Message stating that
"the public ferment in the Colony had so far subsided that he desires no opinion
of his to delay any further the determination to which the Legislative bodies may
desire to come respecting the political resolution now before the House," and
closing with an appeal for the conduct of public business in a temperate and
conciliatory spirit.57 The debate was then continued and concluded, the resolu-
tion with some alteration being carried unanimously, and a Committee
appointed to draw up the Petition.58
Between then and the adoption of the Memorial Hennessy seems to have made
friends with Ellis,59 who told him that the suggestion for the recall motion had
emanated from London, to strengthen the case of the West India Committee in
making the same request at the same time, and that the resolution as finally
carried, calling for a Special Commission to investigate Hennessy's proceedings,
was intended to supplement60 a similar motion to be made in the House of
Commons a day or two later. It had been hurried off by schooner to St. Vincent
to catch the mail, without being submitted to the Governor according to the
procedure required by Colonial Regulations. In reporting this Hennessy also
mentioned the circulation of petitions for his recall, adding, with a characteristic
touch of unconscious pathos, that if he had allowed petitions in favour of the
Government to be signed, they would probably have outnumbered the hostile
ones by ten to one.61
On 7 July the petition was adopted, it being decided that George Sealy, Jones
and Phillips should be delegated to present it to the Secretary of State, and a
printed copy sent to Hennessy. Carrington said it was usual to forward docu-
ments by the Governor, but the special circumstances justified the adoption of a
different course. A slight uneasiness about the text was shown in the course of
the debate and at the next meeting by two members, one of whom was the

In matters of detail the uneasiness was justified, but on the whole the docu-
ment was well written, without great extravagance.6 No important new points
were made, but a historical exposition of the familiar ones-that Hennessy had
improperly appealed to the people from the Legislature on 3 March, and on
other occasions by other means; that he had betrayed manifest partiality in his
proceedings in the Mount Prospect affair and in his actions in general on behalf
of the labouring class; that his telegrams had given a totally false impression
of the nature and seriousness of the disturbances-was made with skill and more
temperance than usual. It was conceded "that the Executive Government did,
however, in the actual case, rouse itself into action to suppress the riots". A
large part of the petition was taken up by the repetition of charges against
Semper, finally the only other person whose removal was requested, and rather
too much was made of his Council Speech on 7 March and his alleged relations
with Morris. The charges about "emissaries" agitating the ignorant labourers
were brought forward once more-the word had become a fetish"4-but the
House, ignoring the fact that emissaries postulate an emitter, rather boggled
about naming Hennessy or even Semper in this connection. The Memorial ended
in the terms of the resolution as finally passed, praying for a Royal Commission
of enquiry, and the removal of Hennessy and Semper. Twenty-two documents
were appended to the petition, which was sent by Sealy, Phillips and Jones-
all three then in England-to Carnarvon on 31 July.65

In England, however, in spite of the prophecy in the Barbados Times of
6 May, that if Hennessy was not recalled the ministry would fall, the calm
surface of politics during the period was barely rippled by the backwash of this
Colonial upset. It became the theme for a few stately but vague articles in the
press, and two Parliamentary debates of the sort which fails to disturb the peace
of mind of many members other than those with a special interest in the subject;
and that was about all. In the Colonial Office however it became a matter for
some concern, owing chiefly to the difficulty of ascertaining the true facts from
the mass of contradictory testimony reaching Whitehall.
The first intimation of disorder came in two telegrams from Hennessy, prob-
ably despatched on 19 and 21 April. The first reported the plundering of provi-
sion gardens (arising not from political causes, but a dispute about wages), the
reading of the Riot Act "without necessity by the brother of the Secretary of the
Defence Association", and the restoration of quiet; the second announced
renewed plundering, the shooting of a man by the police, and the despatch of
troops to the country stations. This telegram added, "Similar events have
occurred in August last and in previous years"66-a contention which Hennessy
later made laborious but not very successful efforts to justify. The disturbances
about which Hennessy was cabling were of course those at Byde Mill and
Halton, and although the first telegram might pass, the second certainly under-
rated the seriousness of the situation. At the same time as these messages Car-
narvon received Walker's letter,67 and an alarming note from the West India
Committee;68 and almost immediately the confusion began. Two further cables
from Hennessy, received on the 23rd and 24th, stated that tranquillity was
restored, that reinforcements had been countermanded after consultation with
the officer in command, that plunderers had been captured, and that troops
patrolling the rural districts had had no necessity to act. On the following day
Carnarvon was told that the sugar works were going on as usual, but that on
account of the planters' panic more troops had been telegraphed for. The origin
of the disturbance was as described in Sir James Walker's despatch of 1863.
No white person had been injured by the negroes. Merchants and planters were

urging illegal and extreme punishments, which Hennessy was resisting stead-
fastly. "Place reliance on my firmness" one of these telegrams concluded.69
It was later urged against Hennessy that his cables gave a grossly misleading
impression of the seriousness of the troubles. Yet, unless a quibble is made over
the omission of any references to Clements' injury, it is not possible to show
that any deliberately false statement was made. Where a reasonable ground for
complaint lies is that except in the case of the first wire, sent before rioting had
become general, and in the second, when it can be argued that far too little was
made of the affair at Halton, Hennessy altogether abstained from using the tele-
graph until such time as he could truly assert quiet had been restored, and that
he therefore gave no immediate news of the troubles at their worst at all. Also,
the general character of the messages was tendentious, in its endeavour to show
that the riots arose over wage disputes and were not abnormal in their dimen-
sions, and to fasten upon the Defence Association, the merchants, and the
planters, the imputation of exaggerating the extent of the disturbances. It looks
as if Hennessy perfectly understood that he would receive blame, and was trying
to forestall attack by getting his blows in first.
If however Hennessy was guilty of understatement and misplaced emphasis,
some of the opposition telegrams handed in at the Colonial Office on 24 April70
were at least equally open to the charge of falsification. Three of them gave the
facts fairly enough, infused by no more than a reasonable amount of political
colouring, but two went further than this. Thus the Defence Association:
"Riots throughout the Island; plantations and houses sacked, animals
destroyed, enormous destruction of property, over forty rioters shot, troops
actively employed, city threatened, business suspended, families seeking ship-
ping, rioters repeat they have Governor's sanction, Hennessy immediate recall
necessary, save Colony."
Of this it may be noted that the region of disturbance was about half the
Island, that the destruction of property could by no scale of computation be
properly called "enormous", that nothing like forty rioters were shot, even if the
word be taken as meaning wounded by firearms, that the City was never closely
approached, and that the necessity of Hennessy's recall to save the Colony was
proved by the issue to be non-existent. The elaborate and detailed attempt to
substantiate this telegram, later made by the West India Committee on behalf
of the Defence Association,7 employed much casuistry without succeeding in
effacing the impression that the wire did, quite apart from particular inaccu-
racies, misrepresent the true facts by its very colour and tone. The same
criticism can be applied with even greater force to a telegram from the superin-
tendent of the Barbados branch of the Colonial Bank to the Head Office:
"Fearful riots, whole island (Bridgetown) in danger, but will hold out."
The words "Bank untouched. Barnes and Jones moved into town," come as
rather an anti-climax at the end of this terrifying message. It is not to be won-
dered if Carnarvon feared that his department was about to find another
Jamaica rebellion on its hands, with all the public and political repercussions
that had arisen on that occasion. He got in touch with the Admiralty, securing
the despatch of the Argus,72 and wired Barbados for further information, indi-
cating the inconsistency between the official and private telegrams, the latter of
which reported continued and most serious disturbances.73 This was on
25 April; and as Carnarvon did not indicate the dates of the private telegrams
Hennessy, on the assumption that they had been despatched subsequent to
the 22nd, was able to reply that there was no truth in the private telegrams, that
the Island had been quiet since Saturday.7 But a further report from the
Colonial Bank,75 putting the number of killed and wounded at 40, and the

prisoners at 500, suggested to Carnarvon that the outbreak had been on a
larger scale than any message of Hennessy's would indicate. He wired for exact
figures, and asked whether renewed outbreaks were apprehended, requiring an

immediate answer to assist him with his statement in the Lords on the morrow.76
The answer gave 90 as taken plundering, 320 later on suspicion, one killed, two
died of wounds, 16 wounded; and closed: "I have no apprehension of renewed
outbreaks, my only anxiety is from gentlemen threatening extreme measures
such as hanging, shooting, and flogging".77 The understatement about casualties
is mitigated by the fact that no official return had been made by the date of the
wire, on 27 April, and that some of the deaths took place a considerable time
after the wounds had been received.
In the meantime Carnarvon had been afforded an ample opportunity of
acquainting himself in detail with the case against Hennessy. On 25 April he
received a second deputation from the West India Committee, including the two
delegates of the Defence Association. A long statement drawn up by the Com-
mittee, touching on the points where Hennessy was held to have exceeded his
instructions, was read, and T. D. Hill, perhaps in order to give point to the dis-
tinction drawn between Hennessy's actions and a general policy properly put
forward, said rather surprisingly that the West India Committee would be
delighted to entertain and consider any scheme of Confederation. But the star
turn was the appearance of Austin and Phillips, both of whom addressed the
Secretary of State at some length.
Phillips spoke first. It must have been pointed out to him that the reason for
much of the lack of sympathy for his cause which he found in England, and
which was being given voice in articles in the English press on Barbadian affairs,
was due to the belief that a white upper class was struggling to protect its privi-
leged situation against a black and coloured majority. He therefore opened with
a denial that the Defence Association was an exclusively white affair, claiming
that there were almost as many black members as white. In the same vein he
developed an idyllic but not very convincing picture of a paternal society in
which "the resident proprietors are deeply interested in the welfare of the in-
habitants".78 He then got into deep water with a clumsy reference to a despatch
to Freeling, and when Carnarvon pulled him out and suggested a return to the
point, went to pieces almost completely, rambling all over the place from the Six
Points and back again, the gist of the argument apparently being that the
Assembly was on the point of passing most of the Bills it had been requested to
consider at the time Hennessy made his charge of neglect of public business.
There followed a tirade against the 3 March Speech, stating that the crowd who
pulled the Governor's carriage were fired by his words still ringing in their ears
(they had not of course heard them) a repetition of the charges that Hennessy
had inflamed the people of St. Philip's and St. Joseph's from whence the worst
of the threats of violence had come, and the accusation that he had persuaded
"the very lowest class of persons to get up petitions in favour of Confederation".
When every allowance is made for bad reporting-and it is evident that the
official who took notes of the meeting, and who was obviously not very familiar
with the Barbadian language, was at sea for a large part of the time-there can
be no doubt that Phillips' remarks, diffuse, sanctimonious, and frequently
irrelevant, were of no great service to his cause. But Austin did even worse.
Describing himself as a friend of the people, he justified the title by abusing his
black parishioners in St. Philip, describing them as people "particularly ready
for any sort of mischief". He then gave tongue to a number of vague charges
about Hennessy's supposed agitation, while admitting his lack of evidence for
them, and quoted, apparently for no better reason than pride of authorship,
from a boorish letter he had thought of sending to Hennessy on receiving his
leave of absence. Confederation, he informed the Secretary of State, had no
friends in Barbados except five or six persons "and their emissaries, and the
ignorant masses, who, of course, are delighted to hear of anything that would
bring them higher wages, or what they prefer to higher wages, simply food
without wages, plenty to eat and sleep without work". With regard to poverty

at Barbados, "that is simply the result of the people's own idleness". At this
point the irascible editor-parson seemed to realise that these observations could
not easily be squared with his role of a friend of the people, and he recoiled
violently in the other direction, finishing by saying that the poor people "are not
a bad people at all, and a more good-natured set of people I never met, and I
think they quite excel our English labourers, and I have held a curacy in an
English parish and know something about them". What impression this drivel
must have made on Carnarvon, after a long afternoon spent listening to other
speeches and an interminable Memorial, it is not hard to imagine. Wearily, and
by now more sceptical than ever, he gave the stock answers, shortening his task
by carefully dissociating the disturbances from the question of Confederation,
which could not advantageously be discussed at such a time and place. He could
not believe that Hennessy could, in defiance of his instructions, have conducted
an agitation of the kind alleged against him. With regard to the riots he called
attention to the discrepancies between the telegrams-which Lowther had read
in the Commons an hour before-and suggested that a great exaggeration of the
facts had been made by the informants of the West India Committee. At the
same time the situation was serious, and every precaution had been and would
continue to be taken. As to recalling Hennessy, he regretted that the West India
Committee should have made such a proposal, and he could not think "it would
be just to recall any Governor on an unproved and ex parte statement without
anything being proved against him by evidence, and without having given him
an opportunity of making his defence". The affidavits in the report that had been
read, and the statements of the delegates, related to minor or irrelevant points
indicating a state of disorder, but they failed to connect the Governor with any
agitation. Hennessy had been asked for full explanations on the charges brought
against him, but without some evidence it was impossible to say that the
Governor should be peremptorily recalled, and an indelible stigma fixed upon
his name.
A member of the deputation then promised to produce all the evidence the
Committee had received, to which Carnarvon replied, rather tartly, "I should
then have, perhaps, some evidence which at present I have not had before
me" ;79 and the interview terminated. But Carnarvon probably felt more anxiety
about the discretion of his impetuous subordinate than he cared to acknow-
ledge. His confident request to Hennessy for a direct and absolute denial of the
charges, and any explanations that might throw light on the general misappre-
hensions as to his conduct,80 was of course an obvious and almost automatic
step; but the despatch of 1 May, couched in language that was conditionally
severe, and requesting a proclamation pointing out the very limited benefits that
could accrue to the labouring class through Confederation, showed an advance
in mistrust.81 Not only did this despatch throw up the sponge as far as Con-
federation was concerned, but it showed a lack of sensitiveness to the embarrass-
ment Hennessy would be caused in recanting words that had received at least
the partial approval of his superior. As Carnarvon hardly seems to have been a
man deficient in delicacy of perception, the language used could only mean that
Hennessy no longer enjoyed the confidence of the Secretary of State and his
The proceedings in Parliament at this stage were brief and unimportant. On
25 April, while the West India Committee deputation was giong on, Lowther
read the telegrams to the Commons, and on the 27th Disraeli himself answered
a question, on the Defence Association telegram giving its version of the casual-
ties, and concluding "Confidence Government entirely gone." This raised a
horse laugh,which Disraeli did not take very well, but he had nothing to offer
the House, saying he could throw no light on the mysterious telegrams being
systematically forwarded to England. Carnarvon's statement in the Lords on
28 April was only an interim report, giving cautious approval to the idea of

Federation so long as it was not forced, supporting Hennessy so long as his
instructions had not been exceeded, and reading out the telegrams. More inter-
esting than this non-committal utterance was the warm support and endorsement
the Secretary of State received from his Liberal predecessor in office, Lord
Kimberley. The Barbados question came up once more in the Commons on
5 May, in the form of a decorous duel, with a Mr. Charley putting the case of
the planters, Lord Frederick Cavendish that of the Colonial Office, then
Mr. Thornhill that of the planters again, until Goschen stopped the cycle by
suggesting suspension of judgment until the papers had been published for
Parliament, and Lowther summed up, uninformatively.82
Nor was the London Press able to satisfy such public curiosity as existed in
England. The Daily News accounted for the inconsistent telegrams by pointing
out the natural anxieties and proneness to exaggeration of small white com-
munities living with large coloured ones, and therefore by implication accepted
Hennessy's version, but only on the ground that Hennessy's previous record,
somewhat perversely described as that of a reactionary of reactionaries,83
rendered it impossible to see him in the light of a passionate lover of the negro
or a turbulent supporter of democracy. The Times supported the Government,
as did also the Pall Mall Gazette, with rather less emphasis, and a leader in the
former, a little later, made a good point when it suggested that if the request
of the planters for a Royal Commission were granted they must expect to find
it advising the Crown to abolish the local constitution.84

During May and early June Hennessy was engaged in the process of "covering
up". Fully aware of the nature and the bitterness of the attack upon him, he
addressed himself to the making of uneasy exculpations, not without skill and
subtlety, but self-revealing in a high degree. On 1 May he recanted his former
"somewhat premature" praise of the Assembly, which, so far from being a
business-like body, met only once a week or once a fortnight, and then more to
make speeches than to consider practical legislation, and whose conduct not
only justified a statement of Lord Granville that what the Legislature of Jamaica
had been the Legislature of Barbados continued to be, but also made a settle-
ment of the constitutional question imperative.85
On 18 May he sent an important but rather cunning despatch,86 the occult
purpose of which was certainly to shake the credit of two of his enemies, T. D.
Hill, the most considerable figure on the West India Committee, and Sir James
Walker, whose strictures87 appeared particularly damaging as coming from a
former Governor of the Colony. Walker was handled by the use of his despatches
to endorse views Hennessy had himself expressed, and by being described as
intimately related to some resident planters, and attorney for an absentee pro-
prietor during part of the twenty years when he was Colonial Secretary,88 so that
"his prejudices, if any, would naturally be with the proprietors". Hill was the
head of the powerful firm of Thomas Daniel and Co. the "great Mortgagees of
Mincing Lane,"89 who exercised, said Hennessy, a "sinister influence" over the
community. "They have advanced over a million of money on the security of
estates, in many cases to the full nominal value. But this nominal value is
spurious. Hence their interest of 6 per cent., their commissions, and the arrange-
ment by which the sugar must be consigned to them, all constitute a charge on
the estate out of all natural proportion to the value of the crop. The planters
are as much at their mercy as the labourers are at the mercy of the planters. This
artificial system is maintained by the mortgagees at any risk. Any change that
would bring about a more wholesome state of things is to be opposed, because
it would reduce the price of property to a more natural value." In this connection
Hennessy quoted a member of the House as having recently told Semper that

the real objection to Confederation or constitutional change, never openly put
forward, was the fear that the West India Encumbered Estates Court might be
applied to Barbados.90
Another half defensive, half aggressive despatch91 on 7 June struck a more
personal note. After going over the way in which he had put the Six Points to the
Legislature, having received the unanimous approval of the old Executive
Council, he rebuts the charge that he had afterwards sought popular support
outside, not only on the ground of its inherent absurdity, but because of the
"well-established fact" that he already enjoyed the full confidence of the great
bulk of the population. "I know of but one way," he continued in rather pitiful
words, "that a Governor should aspire to gain popularity, and during the whole
of my career I have never employed any other, and that is by governing the com-
munity committed to his care with strict impartiality and with a firm resolve to
allow no class prejudices to interfere with the course of justice, or with the
patronage of the Crown." These principles of freedom from class or colour pre-
judice he had applied, but he found such prejudices more deeply rooted in
Barbados than anywhere else. Although Grey, Colebrooke, and Hincks had
done much to destroy them, Hincks' successor had allowed them to spring up
again and flourish unchecked (this was another side-hit at Walker). Conse-
quently Hennessy's liberal policy, while earning for him the affection of the
under-dog, had met with antagonism and misunderstanding among the upper
class. The only rational explanation of the reckless charges of the West India
Committee was that, knowing nothing of the real causes of his popularity,92
they had formed the theory of "emissaries" or "underhand occult agencies" to
account for it.
About this time any remote possibility of a partial reconciliation between
Hennessy and the local interests was finally removed. N. J. Pile, a member of the
Legislative Council, died, and Brandford Griffith was provisionally appointed in
his place. At the same time Thomas Kerr, a magistrate and an adherent of the
Government party, was likewise provisionally appointed in the place of Briggs,
who had gone to England.93 These appointments entirely shifted the balance of
power in the Council. Two divisions on 7 March record the earlier situation.
Briggs, the Attorney-General, the Colonial Secretary and the Officer in com-
mand of the troops had voted for the Government, Haynes, Sealy, Pile and
Foderingham against, with Thomas giving his casting vote on the same side. 94
But the changes gave to the Government a majority of one, with the officer in
Command, Gore, Semper, Griffith, and Kerr always able to outvote the re-
mainder. The infuriated minority then seceded, a decision of which Carnarvon
was immediately acquainted, on 8 June, by Austin and Phillips, who had re-
ceived a telegram.95 Carnarvon wired Hennessy to request the withdrawal of the
resignations, "strongly but courteously".96 The resignations had been brief,
circumspect, and courteous in form, only Foderingham getting anywhere near
the bone of the matter in stating that he no longer saw any prospect of his
services being of benefit to the country,97 but the answers to the request for with-
drawal were expressed in different language.98 The seceding members were not
quite prepared to take the line that they were relinquishing their duties because
they no longer enjoyed a majority, and fell back on the weaker, if more respect-
able ground, that neither Griffith nor Kerr were proper persons to be members
of the Board. All except Thomas referred to the possession of property as an
indispensable qualification, and Foderingham bluntly described Griffith as a
notorious insolvent and Kerr99 as a man with no stake beyond the salary he
received from the Treasury. These imputations stung Hennessy, whose tone in
his covering despatch became warm as he answered the "cruel and unjust "asser-
tion about Griffith who "has been (for his loyalty to the government) pursued
unscrupulously by certain persons here,100 and especially by one, the agent of the
house of Daniel and Co." Griffith's property was mortgaged like nearly all the

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