An introduction to

Thomas Thistlewood arrived in Jamaica, the most important of the British sugar colonies in 1750, when he was 29 years old. He became the overseer or manager of the Egypt sugar plantation near the small port of Savanna la Mar. He stayed in Jamaica until his death in 1786, and throughout this period he kept a diary, which eventually ran to some 10,000 pages. It is a unique, extremely rich document, which historians have begun to exploit only in the last two decades.

        Among the many characters that appear in this extract dealing with the early part of Thistlewood’s career, we meet:-

William Dorrill, his employer, who owned the neighboring Paradise & Salt River plantations

Colonel Ricketts, Colonel Barclay, local magistrates & planters

Maroons, "Wild Negroes," Capt. Cuffee, Col. Cudjoe, Capt. Quaque, descendants of fugitive slaves who had fought the British and signed treaties with them in 1739-40, which recognized their freedom in return for their capturing in future other runaway slaves

Mrs. Anderson, free woman of color, ex-mistress of Dorrill

       Vocabulary: Nago=Yoruba (from western Nigeria); buboes=venereal swellings; barcadier=jetty; pistole & bit=units of currency; cropover=end of harvest; morass= swamp; yaws=skin disease; bill=machete; obia=sorcery; Hhds=hogsheads (barrels);

        Thistlewood employs here and there certain phrases in Latin:  cum (with); sup. me lect. (on my bed); illa habet menses (she is menstruating); stans. (standing).

This extract is taken from Douglas Hall, In Miserable Slavery, which is on reserve in Library West with the other recommended reading for the course.

RETURN  to LAH4471.