I was digging around in the Archives last week looking for manumission records only to find that the tomes (big heavy books) I wanted were closed because they were in such bad condition. I was very frustrated, but I am even more concerned about the loss of history that we will suffer if something is not done to preserve these precious records before they get to that stage.
Thankfully, all was not lost that day because I found a deed of indenture (a contract) dated March 10, 1830 where Henry Peter Simmons leased Vaucluse for one year for peppercorn rent of five shillings to a Mr. James Neil. The lease included the fields, the manor house, the outbuildings and the slaves. The number of slaves being leased was given as 272 and all of their names were listed in the agreement.
What I found very interesting was the fact that according to my research Vaucluse would have had about 281 slaves at that time so Henry Peter did not seem to include nine of his slaves. I also did not see the names of his sons, Harry and John Alleyne, listed among the slaves to be leased, although other slaves their age and younger (according to the Slave Registers) were listed so I assume they were excluded from the lease. Who were the other seven that were not leased out?
That makes me wonder why he did not include his sons in the lease arrangement. Was it that he did not see them as slaves? I also wonder whether he leased the plantation because he was planning to spend some time in England. I know from his first letter to the Lord Earl Grey that he was in England in 1832 and returned to Barbados in January of 1833, but I am not sure when he arrived in England. And why for peppercorn rent? He must have been quite wealthy by then and not needed the money.
The boys would have been 14 and 11 at the time so I wonder if he took them with him to England and if they were manumitted during that time. I know that between 1832 and 1834 (or even earlier) they were manumitted so I am trying to find out when. Many questions, so I continue my search for answers. I am waiting for some information from the British Library about the manumission records. When I get that I’ll share it with you.