THE TRINIDAD HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 181.
The Governor of Trinidad to the Secretary of State.
Source : -Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
i8th February, 1802.
In answer to Mr. Sullivan's letter of the 8th January,
I have to observe that the white inhabitants in general, have
shown a disposition to tranquillity and good order and appear
to have substantially benefited by the miseries they have
either partaken of or witnessed. A few despicable characters,
amongst these some English merchants, are alone to be
excepted from this general observation. They are however,
too insignificant to merit attention and are sufficiently
punished by the regret attending their defeated cabals and
the contempt of every respectable person.
A very large majority of territorial proprietors are
foreigners (generally Italians or French). The cession of
the Island to His Majesty's Government has given such an
impulse to property that they are all become rich and already
meditate a retreat to their native countries. We may
therefore, count upon a very early emigration of a large
proportion of that class.
There however, will remain a certain number of
respectable emigrants, gentlemen, who have suffered much
from the Revolution and who with great industry and
economy are now beginning to emerge from want and misery.
These from their inconsiderable number can never become
objects of jealousy or suspicion to the Government and are
entitled by their respectable and loyal conduct, to much
attention and consideration.
The Spaniards of any respectability are very few in
number, not above six or seven. Some of them from their
general conduct, have deserved well of His Majesty's
Government and have given unequivocal marks of attachment,
The more numerous of the inhabitants are the French
free people of colour amounting to nearly three thousand,
a dangerous class which must gradually be got rid of. It is
to be hoped that a great majority of them will emigrate on
the giving up of the French Islands. The adoption of proper
measures will gradually reduce their numbers.
The commerce with the Spanish Continent must
generally be considered a contraband one. The class of
enterprising people who are employed to carry on this
commerce by the rich Spanish merchants, yield in activity
and daring enterprise to no people in the world. The whole
of this valuable commerce is carried on by them. If they are
certain of meeting with a good depot of merchandise, they
will make their way to it. The British merchant has nothing
to do but to make a judicious selection.
A very relaxed police is observable in all the West Indian
Colonies. I take the liberty of enclosing to Your Lordship,
the Regulations which I have thought it expedient to establish
here, the result of which has answered my most sanguine
I must beg leave to refer Your Lordship to my letter
of 14th October ult. any sudden change would probably
be productive of much inconvenience here. The situation
of society is not prepared for a government wholly similar
to that of the old established Islands. Elections, particularly
under the present circumstances, would I fear occasion
much confusion and evil. I would by all means advise the
calling a certain number of the most respectable proprietors
to compose a first Assembly. The number of reputable
characters we may expect in Tobago with those I have
already mentioned to Your Lordship in my letter of I4th
October will afford a considerable field for selection.
So much enterprise and capital may be expected from all
the old Islands and even from Jamaica where the lands are
worn out and yield but small returns, that it will not be
necessary to hold out any considerable advantages as a spur
All the intelligent planters who have resided in Trinidad
agree that the soil is more congenial to the sugar cane than
that of any of the other Islands and that with much less
art and intelligence in the mode of manufacture the sugar
is of much finer quality and the return much larger.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's very faithful Servant,