Thursday, 1 October 2015

Bath 2015: 18th Century Theme Park without the Slavery

A calm, windless, nimbus sort of day,
When a Bristol slaver would have made slow progress across the Atlantic,
But with sharks still following in a wake of hopeful expectation
(A slow rate of knots could mean eventual rich pickings,
As food and fresh water supplies ran lower and lower),
My train was slow, too, delayed by signaling problems -
Bored, I compared world weather reports:
16 degrees in Bath, 29 in Bermuda and stormy,
Then made my way to platform 4,
Where I studied a cinema poster:
Slavery Free
We eventually left forty minutes late,
Red berries on the hawthorn, stunted barley in the chill September fields,
And made slow progress towards Chippenham,
Through rose bay willow herb railway cuttings,
Past site workings for the electrification of the line,
Through Box Tunnel and on towards Brunel’s castellated Bath bridges
(The railway heritage plaque at Bath Station said Brunel’s line
Was ‘sympathetically’ woven into Bath’s land and city scape,
But didn’t mention the Bristol slavery compensation capital,
That helped pay for the Great Western Railway in the first place),
I spent the journey musing on why I had never got on with Jane Austen –
Something to do with my politics and gender, I suppose –
But she is inevitably part of my cultural headspace:
‘Did you not hear me ask him about the slave trade last night?’
‘I did – and was in hope the question would be followed by others.
It would have pleased your uncle to be inquired of farther.’
‘And I longed to do it – but there was dead silence!’

Anyway, we at last arrived at Charles Dickens’ ‘Ba -ath’,
And Jane Austen’s too, of course:
‘They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight, - her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already.’

My tourist map led me to a UNESCO plaque:
‘…This identifies the city as a masterpiece of human creative genius whose protection must be the concern of all.’
And past the Pump Room and its ‘A novel idea’:
The map told me about the Abbey: ‘The … fine example of English Perpendicular … was … conceived by the Bishop of Bath in 1489 after experiencing a vivid dream. The Bath Abbey Heritage Vaults elaborate on this dream’,

But there was no mention of the fact that no where else in the country
Has so many memorials connected with West Indies plantations,
But the pleasure, the leisure, the dandies, the fops, the ladies, the daughters,
the matriarchs, the balls, the calling cards, the firework displays, the music,
the gardens, the promenading, … it was almost palpable and visible:
‘My dear Mr. Bennet,’ said his lady to him one day,
‘have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”

But where the sugar canes? Where the slavery? Where the plantations?
Where the acknowledgement that some of this Georgian splendour was directly financed through the triangular trade, and, much of it, presumably, through an Augustan Age of Enlightenment Keynesian multiplier effect?

Pulteney Bridge, for example.

But not according to the map:
‘Shopping and sightseeing can be combined when visiting Pulteney Bridge, which, like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, has shops lining both sides.’
‘Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune … he came down on Monday in a chaise and four …’
‘What is his name?’
So overwhelming is this postmodernist hyper-reality Regency Disneyfication:
‘They tell me you’re the most photographed man in England’
(American tourist to bewhiskered man in period costume by the street model of a woman in period dress outside the Jane Austen Centre),
That it’s easy to forget that Hannah More lived at 76 Great Pulteney Street,
And William Wilberforce stayed at number 36.
They must have had a reason.

 Jane Austen did, of course, have some familial plantation connections –
She lodged at 25 Gay Street, and lived at 4 Sydney Place:
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a slaving city in possession of a good reputation must be in want of the truth’,
A truth not pursued by Charles Dickens in Pickwick Papers,
But the Dickens plaque doesn’t mention how he satirized Bath either:
‘Never in Ba-ath, Mr. Pickwick?’
‘In the tea-room, and hovering round the card tables were a vast number of queer old ladies and decrepit old gentlemen … match-making mamas … lounging near the doors and in remote corners were various knots of silly young men’.

I passed Guinea Street
(So many plaques on walls in Bath, but not one here),
Thinking on Chiwetel Ejiofor’s words:
‘We don’t really investigate what Bristol and London and Bath would be without the slave trade’ …
But at the moment, Bath is Joanna Trollope’s ‘Quality Street tin’,
‘All spring muslin and “oh la sir.”’

But here is the Bath list of those who received compensation fin 1834,
For the ownership of slaves when that institution was abolished:

1.     Anne St John Maxwell Adams – 216 slaves in Barbados  -  £4,400 8s 7d
2.    Alexander John Alexander – MARLBOROUGH BUILDINGS
3.     Sir Willoughby Aston 5th. Bart. – 24 slaves in Antigua - £412 7s 6d
4.     Mehetabel Austin (nee Piercy) 369 slaves in British Guiana £19, 514 0s 5d
5.     William Austin – ditto
6.     Simon Barrow – LANSDOWNE GROVE – 9 slaves in Barbados  - £165 1s 3d; 81 slaves in Barbados - £1,879 16s 1d, 120 slaves in and Jamaica - £2,536 18s 0d
7.     Colthurst Bateman STANLEY VILLA WESTON PARK – 175 slaves in Jamaica - £3,258 0s 2d, and 95 slaves in Jamaica - £1,784 0s 11d
8.     Thomas Beard – 9 RABY PLACE – 164 slaves in Barbados - £3,466 7s 2d a
9.     Ditto PULTENEY STREET 128 slaves in Barbados - £2,693 9s 5d and 279 slaves in Jamaica - £5,546 9s 5d
10. Charles Blair 15 PULTENEY STREET 218 slaves - Jamaica - £4,442 13s 1d
11. William Blenman
12. George Weare Braikenridge QUEEN’S SQUARE 256 slaves in Jamaica - £4,673 9s 7d
13. Rebecca Broadley – 124 slaves in Antigua – £1,842 17s 7d; 71 slaves in Montserrat - £1,079 18s 6d; 47 slaves in Tobago - £952 1s 6d
14. Jane Elizabeth Bunting WALCOT 6 slaves in Jamaica - £126 17s 8d and 13 slaves in Jamaica - £252 4s 4d
15. Philip Caddell 18 ROYAL CRESCENT 257 slaves in Barbados £5,705 8s 4d
16. James Chopin – 89 slaves in St Vincent - £2,526 6s 3d
17. Edward Hudson Clarke 4 OXFORD ROW 34 slaves in Jamaica - £754 19s
18. James Crowcombe - 89 slaves in St Vincent - £2,526 6s 3d
19. Eliza Rebecca Cuthbert  34 PARK STREET 124 slaves in Antigua - £1,842 17s 7d and 71 slaves in Montserrat - £1,079 18s 6d
20. Elizabeth Cuthbert (nee Willock) ditto + 47 slaves in Tobago £952 1s 6d
21. William Lindsay Darling 15 CATHARINE PLACE 59 slaves in Dominica - £1,303 6s 7d and 6 slaves in Dominica - £98 6s 11d
22. John Hyde Doyle – 102 slaves in Antigua - £1,704 6s 11d
23. Edmund Jordan Eversley – 12 slaves in Barbados - £221 7s 7d and 209 slaves in Barbados - £4,109 2s 9d
24. Sarah Ann Findlater SEYMOUR STREET 60 slaves in Jamaica - £1,296 8s 1d and 45 slaves in Jamaica - £895 2s 0d
25. Rev. George Ingram Fisher 13 BENNETT STREET 342 slaves in Jamaica - £6,359 0s 6d
26. Jane Fitzgerald (nee Welch) 26 PARK STREET 147 slaves in Jamaica - £2,660 0s 11d
27. Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Lewis Fitzgerald – ditto
28. Thomas Inigo Wickham Freeman – 167 slaves in Antigua - £2,728 15s 9d and another duplicate entry for him at 3 JOHNSTONE STREET
29. David Graham PRIOR PARK BUILDINGS 33 slaves in Trinidad - £1,536 10s 3d and another 6 slaves in Trinidad - £322 8s 1d
30. Rev. William Gunthorpe – 297 slaves in Antigua - £3,922 3s 0d
31. J.P. Hardy 18 GREEN PARK BUILDINGS 35 slaves in Barbados - £454 3s 10d
32. Thomas Noel Harris – 301 slaves in Barbados - £6,736 11s 9d
33. John William Hicks 17 LANSDOWNE CRESCENT 144 slaves in Jamaica - £2,948 2s 3d
34. Samuel M. Hinds 7 RABY STREET 125 slaves in Barbados - £2,914 17s 2d
35. Frances Ottley Horne (nee Ottley) 103 slaves in St Vincent - £2,556 18s 3d
36. John Eykyn Hovenden 6 CAMPEN CRESCENT 225 slaves in Jamaica - £4,273 6s 2d
37. Charles Snell Kensington 21 GAY STREET 59 slaves in Tobago - £1,250 19s 1d
38. Catherine W. Lawrence 26 PARK STREET 1 slave in Nevis - £19 18s 10d
39. Eliza Lawrence spinster – ditto
40. Charlotte Augusta Lyall (nee Bayley) 17 HENRIETTA STRETT 162 slaves in Jamaica - £3,272 14 s 7d
41. John Lyons senior – 274 slaves in Antigua and £4,236 3s 7d
42. James Heywood Markland 1 LANSDOWNE CRESCENT 410 slaves in Barbados - £8,558 2s 2d; 438 slaves in Jamaica - £7,262 16s 6d; 91 slaves in Jamaica - £1,868 5s 3d; 41 slaves in Jamaica - £8,291 7s 0d
43. James Dottin Maycock 3 PARAGON BUILDINGS 5 slaves in Barbados - £64 16s 8d; 122 slaves in Barbados - £2,726 9s 9d; 151 slaves in Barbados - £3,369 5s 4d; 160 slaves in Barbados - £3,600 7s 2d;
44. Jonathan Morgan 8 THE CIRCUS 165 slaves in St Vincent - £4,386 11s 0d; 185 slaves in St Vincent - £=5,056 5s 4d; 110 slaves in St Vincent - £2,9269 5s 10d
45. Ditto, but 19 ROYAL CRESCENT
46. Mary  Dehany Mountague 26 PARK STREET 81 slaves in Jamaica - £1,641 19s 10d
47. Rt. Hon. Lord James O’Bryen 3rd Marquess of Thomond 217 slaves in Antigua - £2,919 14s 8d and 217 slaves in Antigua - £2,919 14s 8d and
158 slaves in Antigua - £2,571 17s 9d
48. Thomas Parker senior
49. Rev. Charles Paul Writhlington Rectory, Radstock, 126 slaves in St Vincent £3,480 16s 2d
50. James Aylmer Paynter 13 GROSVENOR PLACE 80 slaves in Jamaica - £1,697 7s 10d
51. Mary Penfrill 13BENNETT STREET 342 slaves in Jamaica - £6,359 0s 6d
52. Francis Ford Pindar GAY STREET 15 slaves in Barbados - £277 13s 11d; 204 slaves in Barbados - £4,307 4s 4d
53. Mary Ann Prince – 182 slaves in Jamaica - £3,017 0s 11d
54. Bezsin Reece 7 SYDNEY PLACE PULTENEY STREET 163 slaves in Barbados - £3,188 13s 11d
55. John Reece 3 BORTHWICK TERRACE 67 slaves in Barbados - £1,033 13s 7d
56. Mary Rollinson 16 slaves in Nevis - £297 3s 7d
57. Annie Roper (nee Findlater) SEYMOUR STREET WALCOT 29 slaves in Jamaica - £709 18s 5d
58. Rev. Alexander Scott PULTENEY STREET 276 slaves in Antigua - £4,194 12s 7d; 122 slaves in Barbados - £2,538 2s 3d; 179 slaves in Barbados - £3,837 5s 4d
59. Mary Shute 2 PARK PLACE St JAMES’S SQUARE 82 slaves in the Virgin Islands – £1,170 5s 7d
60. Joseph Trotman 15 HENRIETTA STREET 178 slaves in Barbados - £3,926 11s 11d; 231 slaves in Barbados - £5,080 2s 2d; 22 POULTENAY STREET – ditto
61. Samuel Athill Turner 15 CIRCUS 42 slaves in Antigua - £716 13s 10d; 152 slaves in Antigua - £2,075 15s 9d; 63 slaves in Antigua - £932 4s 2d.
62. Nathaniel Wells 9 PARK STREET 86 slaves in St Kitts - £1,400 9s 7d
63. Anne Went – 54 slaves in Barbados - £1,242 16s 10d
64. Dr. John White and Sarah Elizabeth White – 8 slaves in Barbados - £106 17s 0d DANIEL STREET  - ditto
65. Frances Woodley widow – 4 slaves in St Kitts - £68 17s 10d
66. Jane Young (nee Blizard) BROCK STREET

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