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Division of the Island into Parishes and Districts, and their description. DURING the short administration of Sir William Tufton as Governor, the island was divided in 1629 into six parishes, and the several bounds settled as follows:
1. The Windwardmost to begin at Mr. Oistin's and extend to Mr. Digbie's, to be called Christ Church.
2. From Mr. Digbie's to Mr. Ashton's at Jacob's-well: St. Michael. 3. From Mr. Ashton's to Mr. Le Gouche's: St. James.
4. From Mr. Le Gouche's to Mr. David Rowland's: St. Thomas.
In 1645, Governor Philip Bell divided the island into eleven parishes; St. George, St. Philip, St. John and St. Andrew being now added to the former.
In March 1683 Sir Richard Dutton signed a Bill for ascertaining the bounds of the several parishes, and enclosing the churchyards within the island. This Act could not have been sufficiently carried into effect, as during the administration of Robert Lowther, an Act passed the Legislature, on the 21st of June 1720, appointing "the members of the Council in such parish where they severally reside, and the General Assembly of this island in such parish which they severally represent, or any two of them, as commissioners, to lay out, fix and ascertain all the bounds of the respective parishes, the same to be fixed by William Mayo, Surveyor, who is required to make a map, or plot, or draught thereof, with necessary description and explanation, and to deliver the same into the
1 Memoirs of Barbados, pp. 14, 15. Referring to the map which accompanies Ligon's history, and which is from Captain Swann's survey, it appears that Oistin's was situated near Kendal's point; Digbie's, to judge from the situation, must have been near Kirton; Ashton's near the outlet of Fontabelle River; Le Gouche's, north of Holetown, between Church-point and Queen's Fort; Rowland's to the north of Speight's-bay; and Hargreave's in the neighbourhood of Six-men's-fort, which latter part appears to have been thickly inhabited at the time when Swann took his survey, if compared with the other parts of the island. This map is very incorrect; indeed it could scarcely be expected to be otherwise, when it is considered how overgrown with wood the island must have been at that period. Speightstown is placed about the middle, between Carlisle Bay and the northern point, and while the southern part is consequently much reduced, the part north of it is made much more extensive than it is in reality.
secretary's office. The bounds of the parishes so ascertained shall be deemed for the true and real bounds, and shall remain so unchangeably and unalterably, whether they be the same with the former bounds or not1." This Act is still in force, but Mayo's map has now become very scarce, and the change in the site of several plantations and boundary-marks, which has occurred during the last century and a quarter, renders it almost necessary that these bounds should be re-established, and new marks planted where the old ones have been obliterated or are doubtful2.
With regard to magisterial proceedings, and excluding the city of Bridgetown, the island is divided into five rural stations or districts, which are numbered according to the alphabet. District A comprises the rural part of St. Michael. District B, the parishes of Christ Church and St. George. District C, St. Philip and St. John. District D, St. James and St. Thomas. District E, St. Peter and St. Lucy. District F, St. Andrew and St. Joseph.
Without being mountainous, Barbados possesses some hills which rise upwards of a thousand feet above the sea: the following list of heights has been principally taken from Barrallier's map, and a few others, which the author ascertained by means of a mountain barometer, have been added.
Parish of St. Philip.-Moncreiffe, 564 feet; the high road at the foot of Moncreiffe, 282 feet; Fairfield, 125 feet; Six paths, 84 feet.
Christ Church.-The hill near Adam's-castle, 405 feet; the Rising Sun, 370 feet.
Parish of St. George.-Golden Ridge, 910 feet; Gun-hill, 728 feet; hill near Stepney, 342 feet; Hanson's, 350 feet; Police Station B, 264 feet; cross-road between Bulkeley's and Buttal's, 170 feet.
Parish of St. Michael.-Fort George, 391 feet; hill near Lower Birney's, 270 feet; High Gate, 259 feet; Two Miles' Hill, 210 feet; Friendship, 178 feet; Waterford, 124 feet; Grand View Villa, 170 feet; Pilgrim, the Governor's residence, 80 feet.
Parish of St. Andrew.-Mount Hillaby, 1148 feet; the Spring Plantation Hill, 955 feet; Red Hill, 856 feet; Granade Hall, 837 feet; Mount Nicholas, 824 feet; Chalky Mount, 571 feet; Green Hill, 207 feet. Parish of St. Lucy.-Mount Gilboa, 449 feet; Pumpkin Hill, 365 feet; Checker Hall, 184 feet; Whitehead, 173 feet.
Parish of St. John.-St. John's Church, 823 feet.
Parish of St. Thomas.—Mount Misery, 1085 feet; Grand View, 770 feet; Reed's Hill, 629 feet; Monkey Hill, 619 feet; Clermont, 445 feet.
1 Hall's Laws of Barbados, p. 250, Act 146.
* The definition of the parish lines according to Mayo are added for the sake of information in the Appendix; and the sites of the former marks, as far as they could be ascertained, have been noted in the map.
Parish of St. Peter.-Four Hills, 904 feet; Black Bess (second point), 501 feet; Mount Brevitor, 388 feet; Pico Teneriffe, 268 feet.
Parish of St. James.-Lankaster Hill, 596 feet; Black Bess, 581 feet; Mount Alleyne, 396 feet; Westmoreland Hill, 348 feet; Oxnard's, 275 feet; Mount Standfast, 234 feet; Black Rock, 176 feet.
Parish of St. Joseph.-Chimbarozo1, 1131 feet; Marshal Hill or Cotton Tower, 1091 feet; Hackleton's Cliff, 1026 feet; Bissex Hill, 989 feet.
The Parish of St. Philip.-Area 15,040 acres; population 12,820; sugar-plantations 562. St Philip's is the largest parish in the island and is third in respect to population. With the exception of St. Lucy's, it is more level than any other parish. Sober's or Sobery bottom, a swamp, is famed for the large accumulation of water which during a severe rain in October 1819 threatened destruction to the town3. Tradition says that a part of this swamp is bottomless, and that all attempts at draining it have proved vain. The western part of the parish is fertile, chiefly during seasonable rains; but the eastern or sea-shore, which extends for ten miles, is sterile and only fit for the produce of cotton and aloes, which are chiefly cultivated in this part of the island. The parish church is a very pretty building, and one of the largest in the island. The former church was one of the seven blown down during the hurricane in 1831, and the foundation-stone of the present one was laid with the usual solemnities in June 18354. There are also in the parish three chapels of the Established Church, Trinity, St. Martin and St. Catharine, and a Wesleyan chapel called Ebenezer: the latter has been built by the voluntary contributions of the labourers.
The north-western part of the parish is mountainous, and the hills rise at Moncreiffe to an elevation of 564 feet. The great St. Philip's road, one of the main arteries of the internal communication, leads behind the church gradually up to Bishop's-hill. The repair of that part of the road in 1809 was attended by a sad accident. A number of negroes were employed by parochial assessment of negro-labour in repairing the public road, and sixty to seventy were digging and removing marl to Bishop'shill from a contiguous pit, which from long use for similar purposes was so excavated as to form an immense cavern, and by a gradual inclination was upwards of forty feet deep. A little after five in the afternoon of the
i Chimbarozo is called Sugar Hill in Barrallier's map, and he refers to Mount Wilton the height of Sugar Hill.
* The population is stated as ascertained by the census in 1844, and the number of sugar estates existing in 1846; this refers likewise to the other parishes. Barbados does not possess a registrar for deaths and births to keep approximately the increase and decrease of the population.
See ante, p. 52.
The Appendix contains a statement of the size and cost of the churches which were rebuilt after the hurricane in 1831.