British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

22
JAMAICA: GOVERNOR THE DUKE OF MANCHESTER TO LORD BATHURST 20 December 18161

King's House, Jamaica.

. . . The consolidated Slave Law has been revised and some new enactments made which will contribute to the comfort and advantage of the slaves, and, so far as it manifests a disposition to consider the subject, it is well, but it does not extend so far as it ought to do.2 The principal objects of it are to ensure twenty-six days in the year to the slaves exclusive of Sundays and holidays, some very judicious regulations giving facility to the establishing the freedom of slaves manumised by will, and a regulation to prevent persons detained in custody on account of not being able to produce proofs of their freedom being sold without due enquiry and examination. There were however two material points which have been objected to and which the Council endeavoured to obtain, of which one was to put an end under the severest penalties to the use of any collars or instrument of iron on the person of a slave, whether intended as a punishment or as a prevention from escape; but all that could be effected has been, that no collar can be put upon a slave except by order of a magistrate; a precaution which will be constantly evaded. The other point was to have a duration clause, so as to render it necessary that the subject should be necessarily reconsidered within a limited time. This however was refused. And I am sorry to say that there appears a tenacity of opinion and sentiments on the subject of the slave code, and a disinclination to adopt new regulations adapted to the improved state of civilization to which the negroes have arrived, which it is difficult to reconcile to the professions which have been constantly made of their readiness to accede to any practicable mode of improving the condition of the slave population. . . .


23
CAPE COLONY: LORD BATHURST TO ACTINGGOVERNOR SIR RUFANE DONKIN, 20 May 18203

SIR,

It being of the highest importance to prevent on the one hand any further introduction of slaves into the settlement under your

____________________
1
C.O. 137/142.
2
James Stephen, the younger, as legal adviser to the Colonial Department, reported that the Act was likely rather to create than to obviate uncertainty as to the existing law.
3

C.O. 49/12. Printed in R.C.C., vol. xiii, p. 135. Major-General Sir Rufane

-555-

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