THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 293.
Sir Ralph Woodford to Earl Bathurst. The Registration of Unregistered
Source.-Red House, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad Duplicate
Published by the courtesy of His Excellency the Governor.
No. 5. PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD,
4th January, 1814.
With Reference to the latter part of my Dispatch No. 36,
I have the honor to acquaint you that from the Want of Roads
and the difficulties of communication with the Interior
Quarters of the Island, The Proclamation of the i5th Octr.
and allowing one month for the enregistration of unregistered
Slaves was upon the opinion of the Solicitor-General and two
of the principal legal Characters here, extended for the benefit
of the Country to an equal period from the date of promulgation
in the respective Districts of the Island, so that the Month
which expired in the Town of Port-of-Spain on the I5th Novr.
continued in force for the Country until the 20th December.
This enabled the Registrar to complete the Task, he
considered was to commence at the expiration of the Month,
that of reading the Returns twice over with his Clerk, altho
it may be presumed it was intended to have been done as
the returns were entered, and also to insert the headings
of the Returns which from the expressions of the Order in
Council and the mode in which the Books were prepared
in England, it was doubted, by the Registrar were to be
inserted. The Registry of the Returns is still imperfect from
the want of Space in the Books for the former Owners, but
as it was necessary to complete the Registry before the Close
of the Year, The Registrar has not ceased for several weeks
to employ himself night and day to comply with what was
generally considered to be the meaning of the Order, and
I am happy to announce to Your Lordship that the Books
were authenticated in the mode prescribed before me on
the 31st Ulto.
When Martial Law ceases on the qth instant, a Proclama-
tion will enforce the subsequent Regulations of the Order.
I cannot however conceal from Your Lordship that the total
ignorance in which many of the Free Coloured Owners live,
the great distance from the Towni, the ifcquent Casualties
of Sickness and Infirmity, will be tilc caui, of converting
the penalties of neglect and Disolbdience into :ceri ous hardships,
and perhaps ruin to the aged and ignorant owner of one
or two domestic Slaves, and I may also add that such has
been the total Indifference of the people to the orders of
Government, that they are perfectly lnaccustomed to obey
any which does not happen to suil some object of personal
The completion of the Registry therefore has been
accompanied with delays and difficulties which would not
have existed elsewhere. The Order in Council alludes to the
Collectors Certificates required under the 46th of the King
for Slaves brought into the Island, but as the Act only requires
that Officers Cognizance for more than two Slaves being
domestics, a doubt has arisen how far it is intended by the
Order to confirm that exception, or oblige all Slaves, be it
one or more, to be declared to the Collector, but as I do not
apprehend that such can be the intention as it would require
a new Provision in the other Islands, I ha\e directed the
Registrar to take my Secretary's Certificate of Domestic
Slaves not exceeding two until this point is more precisely
Europeans who are fortunate enough to save their lives
and a few slaves, are still seeking protection here from the
Main, and where the number exceeds two I have permitted
them under their particular case to land upon entering into
a bond that they do not sell, transfer, or dispose of the Slaves,
and that they be always forthcoming at my Order, and in
continuing to do this I hope Your Lordship will approve
of the Steps I have ventured to take upon myself in favor
of these unfortunate people.
I doubt very much the practicability of all future Annual
Returns of Slaves being made into the Registrars Office in so
short a space as ten days-and am of opinion that a month
would be a more reasonable period to allow them for that
purpose as it often requires three Weeks for a Boat to reach
the Town from those Quarters to which there is no communica-
tion by land.
The Registrar has reported the following to be the numbers
()f his Registry :
1,882 Personal Returns contg.... 8,633 Slaves.
649 Plantation do. do. ... 17,084 do.
2,531 Total Returins c tg ... 25,717 Slaves.
I am happy to add that the Books have been completed
in a manner very creditable to Mr. Murray, and with a
Correctness which, from the scanty number of persons
accustomed to such emplo ment here, is surprising.
I have the honor to be
Most Obedient &