1832 Inventory of Almost 200 Enslaved People on 3 Jamaican Sugar Plantations
(SLAVERY & ABOLITION--JAMAICA.) Detailed inventory of almost 200 enslaved people on three Jamaica sugar plantations. 8 manuscript pages, 13 x 8 inches, on 2 folding sheets; short separations at folds. Jamaica, June 1832
An extremely detailed listing of enslaved people owned by the heirs of Jamaica sugar planter James Irving (1713-1775), as divided between three plantations and four of his grandchildren. Irving acquired the Ironshore and Hartfield plantations in 1755, and the Irving Tower plantation in 1759. By 1832, he had been dead for several decades, but his descendants (scattered across the globe) were still enjoying the profits. Here are listed approximately 180 of the enslaved inhabitants of the plantations, with their "old names," "Christian names," occupations, "condition," age, value as of 1831 and 1832, and yards of cloth allotted.
For example, Caesar at the Ironshore plantation was renamed William Green. He was aged 34, a "driver to grass cutter," and his value had depreciated from £80 to £60 over the past year. The occupations are wide-ranging: "1st gang," watchman, "exempt having 6 children," "3rd gang cook," "cattle boy," "head boiler," etc. Most are "able" or "healthy," or "weakly," with one "idiot," one blind, one "venereal," and several small children "weaning." Most intriguing is Cassius of the 1st gang, aged 52, who is recorded as "absent during the rebellion & since." This likely refers to the recent Baptist War or Christmas Rebellion, in which several hundred enslaved people were killed or executed, and many others escaped to freedom in the island's interior. Within each plantation, the enslaved people are organized by the cousin who had inherited them: Jacob Aemilius Irving (1797-1858) of Ontario, Canada; Lucy Ann Irving (1806-1848) and her mother Susanna; James Irving III (1792-1857); and John Serocold Jackson (1777-1850) of Australia. Each grouping is given an appraisal; as the appraiser signatures are all in the same hand, this must be a contemporary transcript. It offers a vivid portrait of plantation life, rendered even more dramatic by the mention of a man who escaped during the recent revolt.