The featured photo is actually of my character Sarah in “Free in the City”, but in the same way Sarah was the mistress of Thomas Edwards in that novel, Molly Harry seemed to have been in a similar relationship with Henry Peter Simmons. In my blog, The Will, I mentioned that Molly Harry was the mother of Henry Peter’s coloured sons and in his will he referred to her as “a woman on my plantation”. Not terribly romantic.
When I found Molly in the first Slave Register in 1817, under HP’s slaves, she was listed as a house slave and estimated to have been born around 1801. In the same slave register, HP’s first son, Harry, was listed as 10 months old and the date of the record was May 1. So working backwards I calculated that he would have been born in July 1816 at the latest which means he would have been conceived around October 1815.
If that is accurate then Molly Harry would have been at least 14 years old when she conceived Harry. I was shocked! I’m not sure why. She would not have been the first fourteen year old to be pregnant, but I guess it was more because of her vulnerable situation. Then my daughter reminded me that these things still happen today. Nevertheless, I was pretty disgusted with HP. After all, he would have been 39 at the time as well.
Three years later, at about 18, she had a second son, John Alleyne. Both Harry and John Alleyne were in the slave registers until 1834 but were listed as emancipated in March of that year. (I will delve into that another time). What is interesting, is that while other children their age were classified as either Labourers or Domestics, they appeared to have had no assigned duties.
So their mother seems to have been the mistress of HP and her children therefore had favoured status. Then I started to wonder…out of about 100 female slaves on Vaucluse, why did he choose her? What was it about her that drew his interest? What was the mystery of Molly Harry?
This is where I am at liberty to use my artistic license to create the story. I love it! Back to my writing…18,000 words and counting.