Page images

the precincts of the parish, is one of the oldest dwelling-houses in the island: it is built in the intermediate style between the Elizabethan and our own period, and the surrounding garden harmonizes with its architecture. An avenue of mahogany-trees leads from the mansion to Cherry Hill, the summit of which presents one of the finest prospects in the island. A succession of cliffs and hills stretch from Boscobelle towards Hackleton's Cliff, enclosing in a kind of amphitheatre the hills of Scotland District. A conical hill at the very extreme point of the parish is known as Peak Teneriffe in the recent maps; by the people it is generally called Pico; in a French map of the West Indies published about 1745, I find it named the Tower. It stands separated from the cliffs, on the very edge of the seashore, and its pointed form has procured it the distinguished name, although in height it is a mere molehill in comparison to its great prototype. According to Barrallier, it is only 268 feet high.

A large cave in this parish is called Indian Castle; it is of some extent, and entirely protected by the overshelving rock against wind and rain. In the neighbourhood is a reservoir of water, partly natural, partly excavated, called the Indian Pond. The soil is here clayey, and it is conjectured by Hughes that the Indians made their earthenware of it. A large idol, the head of which alone weighed sixty pounds, was found in this neighbourhood; it stood upon an oval pedestal above three feet high. Several others, of smaller size and of burnt clay, were likewise found here. Various other traditions of the sojourn of Indians in this part of the island, are related in detail by Hughes': Six-Men's Bay is said to have received its name from the circumstance that the first settlers saw here six Indians.

The Parish of St. James.-Area 7800 acres; population 5704; number of sugar-plantations 33. St. James's is the tenth in point of size, and possesses the smallest number of inhabitants; it borders on the sea, and forms a low tract of land along the shore. Parallel with the shore run long lines of cliffs or escarpments, like steps one behind another, with undulating ground and table-land intervening. Near Black Rock four of these terraces may be distinctly traced.

Jamestown, or as it is better known Holetown, consists of only a few houses. Here the English landed under Richard Deane in 1625. Some of the crew of the Olive on her intended voyage to the Wiapoco or Oyapoco, had previously landed in 1605, and erected a cross hereabouts, and cut on the bark of a tree, "James K. of E. and this island." There is a tradition in the island, that towards 1780 this tree was still standing, and about eighty names of the first settlers had been carved on it; but it was subsequently felled for the sake of its timber; according to others, it

1 Hughes's History of Barbados, pp. 6, 7.

* That is, "James King of England and this island.”

was blown down in the great hurricane of that year. From this spot the explorers followed the shore eastward, until they arrived at Indian River, where they repeated the ceremony of taking possession of the island.

Jamestown appears to have been a place of some consequence in 1700. We have Oldmixon's account, who styles it a pretty town with about a hundred houses in it; and Père Labat, who visited it in the year 1700, gives a similar description, observing that it was built near a bay of considerable depth and defended by two batteries. It has been stated by historians that the name Holetown was a corruption of the "Old town," in contradistinction to the town near the Bridge, which was settled somewhat later by Wolferstone's party. This is not probable; the bay on which Jamestown was situated was called the Hole, as is evident from Ligon's map; and as Oistin's Town derived its name from the bay on which it was situated, it is evident that the town near the Hole received its name from a similar circumstance. Oldmixon calls it "the Hole." Its shipping-place is commodious for the planters in the parishes of St. James and St. Thomas, and it consequently assumes during croptime an appearance of activity. There is a police-station in the town.

St. James's Church stands at a short distance from Holetown, and is one of the few churches which escaped during the late hurricane. A projecting point on the northern side of the bay is called Church-point. There is a chapel-of-ease called St. Alban in connection with the church, and a temporary place of worship at Westmoreland.

The Parish of St. Joseph.-Area 6010 acres; population 6753; number of sugar-plantations 38. This is the smallest parish according to its superficial area, and the ninth with regard to its population. It possesses the same features as St. Andrew's, and forms part of the tract called Scotland District. The parish-church was formerly situated in the valley, but being blown down in 1831, its site was changed, and it has been rebuilt in a pleasing style on a hill close to the road leading to Joe's River. A chapel built near the seashore on an eminence called Little St. Joseph belongs to this parish; the rectory stands in its neighbourhood.

The soil is very fertile, especially in the estates which are situated in the valley; they labour however under the great disadvantage that, owing to coral-reefs and a boisterous sea, their produce cannot be shipped from the shore, and has to be conveyed up a steep hill about a thousand feet high. The highest elevation in the parish is Chimbaroza, which, according to Barrallier (who erroneously calls it Mount Wilton), is 1131 feet in height. Nearly on the summit of Bissexhill is the police-station of District F: the view from hence is one of the most picturesque in the island; and this applies also to Hackleton's Cliff, from whence the white buildings of Bissexhill form a prominent object in the landscape. Hackleton's Cliff is much visited, and the view from it has been cele


brated by the Rev. G. Hughes in his History of Barbados,' who compares this remarkable defile to Glover's beautiful description of the Straits of Thermopylæ :

"There the lofty cliffs

Of woody Eta overlook the Pass;

And far beyond, o'er half the surge below,
Their horrid umbrage cast1."

The cliffs are here very bold, and form part of the amphitheatre-like wall of coral rocks which encompasses Scotland District. Viewed from any of these eminences, that part which is called "Below Cliff" and Suranaam, appears as if it had sunk. This is evidently the case near Union and Rose Villa, where a great portion of the cliff has sunk downwards for twenty or thirty feet, maintaining its horizontal position : it is now cultivated with sugar-cane. A narrow defile, which leads between two cliffs towards St. Joseph's Church, has received the name of the "Devil's Bowling Alley." The signal-station called Cotton Tower occupies the summit of the defile, and is 1091 feet above the sea.

Several houses extend along the shore between Joe's River and St. Joseph's parsonage these are called Bay-houses, and are resorted to for change of air and sea-bathing. Bathsheba and Tentbay are the largest among them.

The Parish of St. Michael'.-Area 9580 acres; population 34,344 ; number of sugar-estates 42. St. Michael's is the most populous although not the largest parish: it contains the city of Bridgetown.

The first settlement effected in Barbados was Jamestown, on the 17th of February 16253. Charles Wolferstone, who in the name of the Earl of Carlisle disputed the right of the former settlers, arrived in the bay, which was afterwards called after the Earl of Carlisle, and landed on the 5th of July 16284 sixty-four persons. Among the settlers were Mr. Bulkley and Mr. John Summers, from whom the author of the 'Memoirs of the First Settlement of Barbados' received valuable communications, apparently both by documents and word of mouth. The settlers fixed their residence on the bay in the neighbourhood of the creek, which received the surface waters from the adjacent heights. Here the Indians had constructed a rude bridge over the narrowest part, from which circumstance the new settlement received the name of the Indian Bridge. It is referred to as such in several of the public acts of the

1 Hughes's History of Barbados, p. 24.

As the description of St. Michael's will occupy the largest space, the author has preferred to let it follow as the last.

3 The dates are given as stated in the works which are quoted, without attempting to convert them into the new style, which would only conduce to confusion. 4 ✦ Memoirs of Barbados, p. 11.

earliest date on record1; and when John Jennings published the Acts and Statutes of the island of Barbados, he certifies them to be correct copies of the originals from his office "at the Indian Bridge, July 9th, 1654." When a more solid structure was substituted for the rude Indian Bridge, the new settlement received the name of Bridgetown. At the time of the occupation however the settlers were called the Windwardmen, in contradistinction to the former settlers under the Earl of Pembroke, who were called the Leewardmen.

The selection of this spot for the erection of the town was made with a total disregard to salubrity. The water which accumulated from the valley and the ingress of the tide had formed a large swamp, from which those noxious vapours ascended that in all climates prove injurious to health, but doubly so in the tropics. The convenience of landing and shipping their goods was doubtless the reason that a healthier situation was not selected by the settlers. Ligon states that in his time the Bridge (as he generally styles the town for brevity's sake) was about the size of Hounslow. Du Tertre, who left the West Indies in 1656, says of Barbados that it "may boast of having two regular cities, in each of which more than a hundred taverns may be reckoned, as well-furnished as in Europe." M. de Rochefort, who published his work on the Antilles about 1658, states "that Barbados possessed several places which might be called towns, where might be seen large streets with a great number of fine houses built by the principal officers and other inhabitants of this celebrated island. From a general glance over the island, we might consider it as consisting of one great city, in consequence of the short distance from house to house; among these, many were built in the English fashion; the shops and storehouses were filled with all kinds of merchandize; fairs and markets were held here; and the whole island, in imitation of great cities, was divided into parishes, each of which had a handsome church, where the ministers (of whom there were many) performed divine service." It is evident that Barbados was held up at that period as an example to all the other islands.


Bridgetown, or, as it was formerly called in all official documents, "the town of St. Michael's," was destroyed by fire in 1666, and during the conflagration the chief records are said to have been lost; what was spared by the fire was destroyed by the succeeding hurricane. The town was rebuilt and enlarged, and by a special act the Assembly ordered what materials the town should be built of; for the inhabitants having begun to reconstruct their houses of timber, a stop was put to

Among other acts, I would only observe as an instance, "an Act for the keeping clear the wharfs or landing-places at the Indian Bridge."

'Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Antilles de l'Amérique, 2de édition, p. 26. • Sir Jonathan Atkins's and Sir Richard Dutton's Reports. (MSS.)


further building until this act came into force, which obliged them to use


Sir Jonathan Atkins appears to have been the first Governor who fixed his residence at Fontabelle, which was rented for him by the colony : in his report he informs Government that the town was partly built of bricks, but principally of stone, with handsome streets.

Father Labat, who visited Barbados in September 1700, describes the town as "handsome and large with straight and long streets, clean and well-traced; the houses," he says, "are well-built in the English taste, with many glazed windows and magnificently furnished; in a word, the whole has an air of neatness, politeness and opulence, which one does not find in the other islands, and which it would be difficult to meet with elsewhere. The Townhall is very handsome and well-ornamented: the shops and the merchants' stores are filled with all that one can desire from every part of the world. There are numerous goldsmiths, jewellers, watchmakers and other artisans, who work a great deal, and appear to be at their ease; consequently the most considerable trade of America is here carried on. It is affirmed that the air of the town is not salubrious, and that the adjacent swamp renders the place very unhealthy; I have not however observed any proof of this in the complexion of the inhabitants, which is fine, especially that of the women; every part swarms with children, for every person is married, and the women are very prolific. The Government House is about three hundred steps from the seashore; it is magnificent and well-furnished; there is a library of books, upon all subjects, well-selected and in good order. The landingplace opposite is defended by a battery à merlons of six guns, with a guard-house and an intrenchment1."

This account agrees with the description which Oldmixon gives of the town; he says that it contained 1200 houses built of stone, "the windows glazed, many of them sashed, the streets broad, the houses high, and the rents as dear in Cheapside in the Bridge, as in Cheapside in London?." The church dedicated to the Archangel St. Michael was described as being as large as many of the English cathedrals, and possessed a fine organ, with a good peal of bells and a fine clock.

The Governor's residence had been previously at Fontabelle; but during the administration of Sir Bevil Granville, a small plantation above Bridgetown, with twenty-two acres of land attached to it, was leased for twenty-one years at the annual rent of £120; an elegant house was erected for his use. During Mr. Worsley's administration upwards of two thousand pounds were paid for the repairs of the house and gardens

1 Nouveaux Voyage aux îles de l'Amérique, vol. vi. pp. 188, 191.
* Oldmixon's British Empire in America, vol. ii. p. 79.

« PreviousContinue »