The Story of a Slave Owned by her Daughter
Outtake from a work-in-progress
This is a chunk of the book I am working on, which is not likely to make it into the finished version. One of the tricks to writing a long nonfiction work is to find a focus and stick to it. This piece of text is slightly off the main topic, and, fascinating as it is, it is ever so slightly tangential, and so, alas, must go. It is dealt with in a terse, summary form elsewhere in the book.
Andrew Whiteman was a planter on Grenada and the tiny island of Carriacou in the late 1700s and first decade of the 1800s. Carriacou is about 11 1/2 kilometres long; you’d have to run laps to get in a full marathon. A French colony from about 1650, it was ceded to the British in the Treaty of Paris in 1763 (the same treaty that gave Canada and the Mississippi to the British). The tiny capital is a beach-side town called Hillsborough. Unlike Grenada next door, which has mountains, rain forests, and tumbling rivers, Carriacou is mostly deforested and arid, dotted with the remnants of old stone-built cisterns the planters used to catch water. Nonetheless, the French and British planters were able to establish productive cotton and, for a while, sugar estates worked by people brought from Africa. The white population was about the size of a small village and vastly outnumbered by the slaves.
In my attempt to personalize history, I have been on the lookout for any bit of data involving named enslaved people. One source of this kind of material is the wills of planters who had mixed-race children. They often mention these children, free them, or leave them money. The story of the Whitemans and the enslaved woman Laurencine, who became the property of her own freed daughter, was freed herself, and eventually became a slave owner, is a bizarre illustration of the complexities and contradictions of slavery, especially when it crosses into the realm of sex and family.
The Story of a Slave Owned by her Daughter
The planter Andrew Whiteman used his ownership of one of his mistresses to punish her and her children (presumably his children too) after his death. Owning another human is one kind of abuse, but to use that power vindictively, over a person whom you once may have cherished, at least in bed, is a whole other order of malignancy. Whiteman owned half of an estate called Upper Latante on the island of Grenada and a conjoined estate called Ance Noire & Friendship on Carriacou. When he wrote his will he was living at Willow Walk, Kentish Town, in England but was planning on returning to Grenada. He died in 1813, still in England.
I am most interested in Whiteman’s Carriacou estates, Ance Noire & Friendship, which he valued at £9,000 in his will and which he turned over to Walter McInnes and Robert Starret as attorney-managers. In 1817, Walter McInnes was still in charge, but by 1823 (when he was beginning to divest himself of his Carriacou interests) it was in the hands of a man named Joseph Belleman (possibly Bellemar). Probably, McInnes and Starret were managing the estate prior to 1813.
Andrew Whiteman’s will is mind-boggling for a reader trying to sort out his various mistresses and children and their bequests. And then there is a codicil, and another, and another. The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery tries to summarize as follows. To start with Whiteman is owed
a sum of £2000 'I am due David Mogailas of Malta', a legacy from his late brother Mike Mogailas of Carriacou. Subject to this £2000 payment, he [the testator] owned two-thirds of an estate formerly called Ance Noir, now Friendship, left to him by Mike Mogailas, while the other third had descended to him from Pierre Mogailas after the death of the latter's natural daughter subject to two payments of £500 each to two women in France, sisters of Mike Mogailas who had never been heard from since his [Mike's] death in 1795.
Whiteman had married a woman named Smith in London in 1791 and had three sons and a daughter by her. He left them well off, though his eldest son got the bulk of the estate. But then the plot thickens. According to Rachel Lang who wrote a lovely post about Whiteman for the LBS blog:
Also mentioned in the will are four illegitimate daughters:ྭ Judith and Catherine Louisa (whose mother was Rose Mogailas of Carriacou), Clarissa (daughter of Whiteman’s slave Magdelonette) and Jane Anne (daughter of Whiteman’s slaveྭLaurencine). Andrew had paid £100 each for the manumission of Clarissa and Jane Anne in 1806.
Andrew Whiteman bequeathed £300 sterling each to Judith and Catherine Louisa, to be paid in three annual instalments of £100, as well as £247 10s Grenada currency due to each of them as legacies from the wills of Mitre Mogailas and Pieter Mogailas. Clarissa and Jane Anne were to be given £300 each on reaching the age of 18, again in three annual instalments, with the interest of £15 per year each to be spent on their upkeep. This wasn’t unusual; planters often made provision for their illegitimate offspring although others ignored them completely. Where the will becomes remarkable is that Andrew Whiteman also bequeathed to Clarissa and Jane Anne ‘ownership’ of their own mothers.
Thus in the Slave Register of 1817, William Henry Whiteman registered the enslaved people Laurencine age 27 and Gilbert age 1 as guardian of their ‘owner’ Jane Anne Whiteman. Likewise in the Slave Register of 1821 (which shows only an increase or decrease in the total numbers), Clarissa Whiteman recorded that she had manumitted her mother Madelonitt [sic], age 48. By 1821, Jane Anne had acquired two more half-brothers, also her ‘property’. At some point between 1829 and 1831, Jane Anne manumitted her mother Laurencine and one of her half-brothers; in the Slave Registers of 1831 Laurencine had the unusual role of registering her own manumission as agent of her daughter Jane Anne.
This band of Whiteman progeny, freed people and slaves, grownups and children, was transferred from Carriacou to Grenada where they came under the protection of Whiteman’s eldest white son William Henry Whiteman at Upper Latante Estate. No doubt, Walter McInnes, the estate attorney, was instrumental in the transfer since several of the enslaved children belonged to the Ance Noire & Friendship Estate. The slave lover Laurencine has her own entry in the LBS database because she received £41 5S 8D compensationfor two slaves who were in fact her own sons, Jean-Baptiste and Alesson (children conceived while she was still a slave but after Andrew Whiteman’s death, father unknown). Laurencine remained her own daughter’s slave until 1831 when, acting as her daughter’s agent, she signed (actually made her mark) her own manumission papers. It is recorded in the slave registers that the prolific Laurencine had “a large hairy mole on her chin.”
But Whiteman turned positively vindictive in his treatment of another mulatto slave woman who was probably his lover. I leave it to Rachel Lang to explain:
Andrew Whiteman’s will provides a stark and chilling illustration of the power involved when some people are the designated owners of other people. He provides for the manumission of his “true and faithful” mulatto slave called Regis and also gives him ‘ownership’ of Regis’s son Charles. Regis is also bequeathed all of Andrew Whiteman’s clothes and the sum of £50 sterling to be paid in five annual instalments. By contrast, “In consequence of the late base and shameful conduct of the mulatto female slave named Anne (whom I ever intended to manumit and make free) I do request and direct that the said female named Anne together with her children may be sold and disposed of for the benefit of my executors in Grenada”. It’s tempting to think Anne was another former mistress who had somehow ‘betrayed’ him; certainly his intention to manumit her would indicate she was important to him. If so, then the children he ordered to be sold would probably have been his own.
There are Whitemans in Grenada to this day, some prominent, including Unison Whiteman, the foreign minister of Maurice Bishop’s ill-fated government in the early 1980s. And genetics and heritage and pigmentation remain everyday topics. Here is a highly entertaining forum thread — a dialogue between Calypso, Expat, and Slice — from a site called The Spiceislander Talkshop, entitled “The Whiteman’s (sic) of Grenada: A Complex History of Slavery”:
#1 Jul 12, 2018 6:21 am
Calypso: I came across this document about the Whiteman's of Grenada. What can you tell me about their off-springs? The white side of the family originated from England but procreated with slave women. Are there any off-springs still in existence?
#2 Jul 12, 2018 1:59 pm
Expat: Me neighbour is a Whiteman, but I have no idea if he is from THOSE Whiteman's.
#3 Jul 12, 2018 4:30 pm
Calypso: He might be. Ask him. Show him the article.
#4 Jul 12, 2018 8:57 pm
Expat: Oh, I know Joslyn. and his Wife.
#5 Jul 13, 2018 5:48 am
Slice: And then there was Unison Whiteman from the PRG [People’s Revolutionary Government]. There are a few of them in Grenada. Yes Unison was almost white, he could be ah direct like to that Whiteman you spoke about.
#6 Jul 13, 2018 7:16 am
Calypso: Slice, he doesn't look white to me.
#7 Jul 13, 2018 2:28 pm
Expat: None of these Whitemen seem to have that much of the white mans Whitemans genes.
I love that last line. I am not sure that I couldn’t spend the whole book unpacking it.
This was an indemnity paid to planters by the British government when the slavery ended in 1834.