THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 348.
The Governor General of Grenada 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.
December 3rd, 1770.
As events are usually magnified by reports, it seems to me
not improbable but some accounts may have reached England
of His Majesty's Colony of Tobago having been almost
destroyed or at least brought into great danger by a late
insurrection of their slaves.
But it is with much satisfaction I seize the first opportunity
of informing Your Lordship that however alarming the first
appearance might be of the barbarous outrages committed by
these desperadoes, their combination proved not of a general
nature and their dependance on making it such has been
happily frustrated by the exertions of the inhabitants and
garrison, encouraged and aided by the speedy succour in
troops, military stores and provisions I dispatched for their
Insomuch that by the last letters dated three days ago,
of two of which I send copies enclosed, almost half the gang
seem to have been killed, taken or found dead and there
seemed scarcely to remain twenty of them abroad and those
too, in great dispersion.
This incident however, by the public expenses it has
occasioned as well as the losses to individuals in Negroes and
by the interruption of labour, will not fail to be sensibly felt
in so young a Colony and it is certain that, independent of
any naval or other protection necessary against a formal
attack, Tobago ought not to have less, at least for some time,
than five or six companies of foot quartered in it; which
with the aid of a proper slave law and a well regulated Militia,
though of no great numbers (two measures that are now
likely to be effected), might give a reasonable security both
against their slaves and the depredations of privateers in case
of a rupture with the neighboring Powers. But I really think
that so small a Military Force as their present garrison of
only two companies, is both discouraging and insufficient.
At the same time while I think it my duty to His Majesty
to give Your Lordship my opinion thus candidly, I am far
from pretending to judge of the objections and difficulties
which may be preclusive of its having effect as most probably
they may depend on matters I am little or not at all
I have the honour to be with great respect,
Your Lordships most obedient and most
To The Right Honourable
THE EARL OF HILLSBOROUGH.
P.S.-In the place of two Members of His Majesty's
Council, Messrs. Hall and Fairholme, lately dead at Tobago,
I beg leave to recommend to Your Lordship, Mr. Gilbert
Francklyn and Mr. Archibald Stewart, both gentlemen of fit
qualifications and considerable properties in the Island ; the
former is supposed now to be in London but expected to
return soon and the latter who is resident, means to remain
and is very ambitious to exert himself in this capacity for the
service of His Majesty and the Colony.
The great expediency of keeping the Council as complete
as possible in that Island where frequent meetings must be so
necessary for some time and yet so difficult, will be too obvious
to Your Lordship to require my saying anything of it.
From Captain Ferguson, Commanding His Majesty's Forces in
Tobago to the Governor General of Grenada.
November 29th, 1770.
I had the honour of your letter dated 2nd November some
time ago but have been unable to acknowledge the receipt
of it by a severe flux which has confined me to bed ever since.
We are very glad that you are sensible of our wants here
and much obliged to you for the trouble you have taken to
The small detachment which we had at Courland Barracks
were attacked and two of them killed by the Negroes who
made their first attempt on them. Since which the remaining
men have been withdrawn and in my.opinion, until there are
at least three companies here, it will not be prudent to make
detachments which at present, from the low state of our
companies, must be very small.
There was a report here that the insurgents designed to
attack this post and were to begin by setting fire to our
powder; although the report met with but little credit yet
it shows that the very slaves are sensible of our being exposed
by the want of a magazine.
Besides the Sergeant and Soldier killed at Courland, the
Maroons have wounded two soldiers, one of whom will
I have the honour to be with great respect,
Your most obedient and most humble servant,
Commanding His Majesty's Forces in Tobago.
From President Robart Stewart to the Governor General.
November 29th, 1770.
The Government Sloop, Grcnville, arrived at Granby Fort
on Monday last November 26th and I had the honour of
receiving Your Excellency's letter of the i8th of this month
with the dispatches accompanying it, on the evening of the
same day at Mr. Campbell's in Sandy Point Quarter. Your
Excellency's letter of the i6th instant came to hand two or
three days before.
I called a Council upon Tuesday and laid these dispatches
and letters before them. We are sensible of the many and
particular obligations which the Colony is under to Your
Excellency. The countenance and support you have ever
shown to the settlers in Tobago have, in no small degree
contributed to advance and promote their undertakings but
the concern you so warmly express at the alarming and
unhappy event which has now happened amongst us and the
remarkable exertions which in the present critical situation of
public affairs, }ou have been pleased to use in sending all the
aid and succour you could to our relief, demands in an
especial manner, a fresh tribute of our best and sincere
Your zeal for His Majesty's service, for the success, safety
and preservation of the Colonies under your Government, is
too well established to admit of any additional reputation
from any thing we could say on this occasion but we are
certainly bound by the strongest ties of gratitude cvcr to bear
the most ample testimony thereof in eve! way we can.
The detachment by the Grenville Sloop has arrived in
good health and spirits and I hope will be very serviceable.
The military stores and the provisions arc landed at Granby
It is with pleasure that I inform Your Excellency that we
have had but little disturbance from the rebel slaves except
for the fatigue of going on parties and watching, for about
On Wednesday the I2th after Mr. Lucas and Mr. Piggott
went from hence, they made a most bold and daring attack
upon Mr. Hamilton's house about ten at night. There
happened to be three soldiers lodged in the house to go upon
a party the next morning who behaved exceedingly well and
were of great use in defending it. The attack continued so
long that Mr. Leith with his people were obliged to come to
Mr. Hamilton's assistance.
I was at Mr. Campbell's where we had a Sergeant and
eight men and we marched up from thence through the deepest
and worst road that can be conceived. It was also very dark
but we got up in time to come upon them in the rear before
they desisted which so frightened and depressed them that
I believe that they have been in only scattered parties since.
We have reason to think that one was killed and several
wounded ; five or six were taken up in a few days after who
having separated that night, never joined again.
The villain who mangled poor Mr. Hall as Sandy directed
him and another capital offender, were tried, condemned and
executed at Mr. Hamilton's on Sunday the i8th. Three
remain prisoners besides a young fellow belonging to Messrs.
Hall and Gibb who was evidence.
Five dead bodies have been discovered lately in the wcods
which we apprehend to be the bodies of some wretches who
have destroyed themselves or been killed by the most desperate
of them to prevent them being taken or becoming evidence.
It does not appear that there were ever more than thirty
or forty of them and of these about eight or ten dangerous,
the rest women and new Negroes. They have hitherto been
disappointed in their chief expectation which was, that upon
the first success many would join them. The next to Sandy
was killed in the attack upon Mr. Leith's; the two executed
were likewise principals. The prisoners are two women and
two new Negroes who however were of the gang.
Sandy, the most daring and dangerous villain, and some
others who have been Chiefs from the beginning, are I am
afraid, still in existence and we can never be safe until they
are either taken or destroyed.
At the attack upon Mr. Hamilton's, Mr. Hamilton was
wounded in the thigh but he soon will be well. A carpenter,
a very valuable man, received a wound of which he died.
A soldier was wounded and is doing well. In our party
coming from Mr. Campbell's, a soldier was wounded who
I imagine is dead or cannot live much longer.
On Monday or Tuesday night after the executions, they
killed in Mr. Leith's negro houses, a sickly negro man, a
woman who had a child at her breast and wounded a man
who died soon after; they were negroes who had had the
yaws and were on that account kept apart from the rest.
Sir William Young's driver, an excellent good Negro, has
died of his wounds. Since that time gangs have now and
then been heard in the woods in different places, particularly
in the night, but they have not shown themselves nor
attempted anything of consequence.
On Friday the 23rd, Mr. Brown, Mr. Campbell, two other
persons and myself were returning to Mr. Campbell's through
Carnbcc about eight o'clock at night or rather earlier and
they fired at us from the house as we were coming up to it
but they immediately fled and as we had no Negroes to
pursue them, they escaped. We have however got their
ammunition and their booty, and one of them bawled as
H.M.S. Quebec arrived at Courland Bay on Wednesday
the 21st, Captain Reynolds having heard at St. Vincent on
the Monday before that there was an insurrection of the
slaves in the Island, came immediately to our relief and we
are under the greatest obligation to this gentleman both for
the extraordinary dispatch he made in coming to our assistance
and for the time he has staid at the Island which undoubtedly
has had the best effects. But I am afraid that lie cannot now
remain with us much longer.
We filled up in Council the Writs of Election lately
received, returnable the 12th of next niontli when I hope we
shall by that time make a House of Asscmbly and I dare say
every person will then give his attention seriously to public
I wish our Lieutenant Governor was come to take upon
him the duty of his office. Mr. Gibb who is in every respect
so great a sufferer, is at present, while Captain Reynolds
assists him, occupied in getting his things into some state of
security and his plantation matters into some kind of order
that I have but little assistance from him which makes writing
a heavy task upon me.
I wrote to Barbados on Friday tlie I6th instant and we
expect some volunteers and assistance from there, particularly
small arms which we are much in need of.
I am afraid this is a diffuse and yet imperfect account of
matters but I am so often interrupted that I cannot help it.
I will take the first opportunity of transmitting a more exact
and clear relation of what happened and will trouble you no
further at present than beg leave to declare myself with the
utmost respect and sine' c attachment
Your Excellency's much obliged, most obedient
and faithful humble servant,
P.S.-Since writing the above I hear that the day before
yesterday as Mr. Leith's Negroes were bringing sand from
the seaside, one of those villains shot his driver, one of the
best negro men in the Island, from behind a tree. The other
Negroes were frightened and ran away while the murderer
escaped. The gentlemen in the Sandy Point Quarter are
very assiduous and keep parties constantly out and I hope
they will soon take or destroy the rest of these desperate
I want much to go to the Fort to Captain Ferguson whom
I have not been able to see since the disturbance began.
I doubt not but with him some useful measures may be
An Account of the Negroes supposed to have been in insurrection.
Sandy belonging to Hall and Gibb; the first proposer and
chief of all ............ I
Sir William Young's ...three of them capital fellows ... 5
Mr. Kennedy's ...two of them principals ... ... 4
Mr. Carew and Brown...two of them principals ... ... 4
Mr. Hamilton's ...who went with him in a party to
pursue the insurgents and left
him in the woods ... ... 5
Messrs. Hall and Gibb...new Negroes ... ...I3
Mr. T. Melvill ...joined them after they had been
some days in arms ... ... i
Mr. Brown's ...two of whom were executed ... 4
Sir William Young's ...killed at the attack on Mr. Leith's,
the second in command next
to Sandy ... I
Messrs. Hall and Gibb...taken ... ... ... 2
Mr. Hamilton's lately returned ... ... I
Mr. Melvill's ...taken by Brunswick and Tom
Flower ... ... ... I
taken yesterday by Mr. Campbell's
Negroes ... ...... I
discovered dead in the woods ... 5