A few interested souls have asked me why the slave-owners of Mary Prince called her Molly. Actually, she went by more names than these two.

The 24 June 1829 petition that abolitionist lawyer George Stephen presented to British Parliament on Prince’s behalf shows that she went by “Mary Prince, or James” (Ferguson 127), but was “commonly called Molly Wood” (127). The surname James is because of her marriage to Daniel James at Christmas 1826.

Spring Garden Moravian Church, St. John's, Antigua, Christmas 2011. The church is new, but this is the location where Prince married Daniel James 185 years previous, at Christmas 1826. The cistern in the foreground dates from the Moravian Mission when Prince was a member of the congregation.

Spring Gardens Moravian Church, St. John’s, Antigua, Christmas 2011. The church is new, but this is the location where Prince married Daniel James 185 years previous, at Christmas 1826. The cistern in the foreground dates from the Moravian Mission when Prince was a member of the congregation.

As well, Thomas Pringle, the editor of her narrative, pointed out in a useful footnote that the copy of Mrs. Trimmer’s Charity School Spelling Book that she was given by Church of England Rev. Mr. Curtin, dated 30 August 1817, indicated her name to be “Mary, Princess of Wales” (T. Pringle in Prince 84). Pringle elucidates on this, pointing out that colonial slave-owners often gave slaves ridiculous names such as this, and that it underlines their contempt for them. What he didn’t mention (possibly to avoid ruffling the feathers of certain readers) is the contempt for the monarchy that this practice also indicates.

But back to the name Molly.

My reading is that because the first name of several of Prince’s female slave-owners was also Mary, she was given this moniker. First, the brutal wife of Captain I— (Captain John Ingham) was Mary Spencer Ingham (née Albouy). Secondly, the wife of Mr. D— (Robert Darrell) was Mary Darrell (née Ball), and there was a daughter who was also named Mary. Finally, a daughter of John Adams Wood Jr. and his wife Margaret Gilbert Wood (née Albouy) was Mary Caroline Wood. That’s four white female slave-owners—two wives and two daughters—with the name Mary.

Prince was given the moniker Molly to avoid the confusion of having two women with the name Mary living under the same roof. Because Prince was a slave-woman, it was she who took on the moniker. However, it may also have been because one (or more) of the slave-owning women did not want to share her name with a slave-woman.

The first time it is used in the slave narrative is in the Antiguan section when Prince was ill and living in a “little old out-house” (Prince 79). This was at the Wood residence. The Wood family’s cook brought food to Prince, shoving it through the door, and calling out “Molly, Molly, there’s your dinner” (79). Therefore, the Wood family may have pressed the moniker on Prince, or it may have been used before she arrived at Antigua.

I find Prince’s choice of the name Mary Prince compelling. The slave-owning brothers Francis and Daniel Trimingham owned her father Prince, Richard Darrell owned her mother (whom I believe was Dinah), and her last slave-owner was John Adams Wood Jr., yet she chose to take her father’s first name rather than a slave-owner’s surname. This shows agency on her part—by refusing a slave-owner’s name, she resists the institution of slavery.

It also shows, however, that she knows who her father is and that he is Prince. In the case of her own parentage, at least, her choice of Prince for her surname tells us that her mother had not been sexually exploited by a slave-owner, as had so many other slave-women.

_______________

Prince, Mary. “The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself.” In Moira Ferguson (Ed). The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself. Revised Edition. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1997. 57-94.

 

 

Margot Maddison-MacFadyen:

This was first published by Anne Furlong on her blog Unexpected Nomad. The church is St. Mark’s in London. If you’re familiar with Prince’s slave narrative, you might remember her mentioning the Rev. Mr. Mortimer, “the good clergyman of the parish, under whose ministry I have now sat for upwards of twelve months” (Ferguson 92). St. Mark’s was his charge.

Originally posted on UnexpectedNomad:

St Mark's Church

I came to this church with a friend who is tracing the steps of Mary Prince: born into slavery in Bermuda, brought to the UK on a soon-broken promise of manumission, she left her captivity under the narrow shadow of the law. [1]

The Moravians offered refuge, and Thomas Pringle, connected with this place, gave her the work that led to her autobiography. Pringle had failed to make a living as a writer, a teacher, and a publisher in Scotland and South Africa.

In London, the Anti-Slavery Society engaged him as Secretary, a position he filled for seven years, until his death. Think of it. The African Caribbean woman in drab, dirty London, and the Scot from bright, hot Cape Town. They met here, in the new built church, and changed the world.

[1] Margot Maddison-MacFadyen: Storied Lives

View original

Billy MacInnis (fiddle), Remi Arsenault (bass guitar), and Leon Gallant (acoustic guitar) played at the rustic Trailside Café in Mt. Stewart, Prince Edward Island, last Saturday night. It was packed.

Leon Gallant (acoustic), Billy MacInnis (fiddle), Remi Arsenault (bass).

Leon Gallant (acoustic guitar), Billy MacInnis (fiddle), Remi Arsenault (bass guitar).

Billy, Remi, and Leon kicked it up with tunes written by Billy, like “Bootleggers Two Step” and “Judy MacLean Shuffle.” They also played a couple of waltzes: “The Maritime Waltz” (written by Stompin Tom Connors) and “The Porter’s Waltz” (another tune written by Billy).

Of course, there were more tunes written by others, such as “Maple Sugar Sweetheart” by H. Lariviere and W. Allen and “The Older the Violin the Sweeter the Music” by C. Putman. Plus, they performed traditionals, such as “Listen to the Mockingbird” and “Orange Blossom Special.”

Leon Gallant (acoustic guitar), Billy MacInnis (fiddle), Remi Gallant (bass guitar).

Here they are again: Leon, Billy and Remi.

When Lisa MacInnis joined in for a specialty song, we mellowed. Yeah, it was like a big kitchen party. My family and I had a terrific table at the back with a clear view of the stage. The food and drink was great.

Lisa MacInnis with Billy and Remi.

Lisa MacInnis with Billy and Remi.

Billy, Remi, and Leon are currently on the road, headed to Ontario. Check out details at Billy’s webpage: billymacinnis.ca. There’s a new CD, too. Guess what it’s called? Live at the Trailside Café. It’s Billy’s eighth! You can get it on iTunes.

Live at the Trailside Cafe, recorded 2014.

Live at the Trailside Cafe, recorded 2014.

For a treat, here’s a video of Billy taken and posted by another. It’s the “Louis Riel Reel.” He performed it with the Tim Hus band at the 2011 Palmer Rapids Festival in Ontario. To view it, click here.

 

 

 

But before I get into that, here’s a couple of gorgeous photographs of sunflowers in Legacy’s gardens.

Sunflowers at Prince Edward Island's 2014 Legacy Garden.

Sunflowers in Prince Edward Island’s 2014 Legacy Garden.

Sunflower's face--one of 1,000s at Legacy.

Sunflower’s face–one of 1,000s at Legacy.

We got the news a couple of days ago that, sadly, all tomato plants had to be removed from Legacy immediately due to late blight, which is a nasty air and water borne destroyer of both tomatoes and potatoes.

Suspicious that this would happen, I had, thankfully, already removed most of my larger, but still green, tomatoes and had brought them home to ripen on windowsills.

Green tomatoes piled on my kitchen table.

Green tomatoes piled on my kitchen table.

Read the rest of this entry »

Margaret Caroline Beaumont Maddison (née Saint) taken in Vancouver 1928.

Margaret Caroline Beaumont Maddison (née Saint), Vancouver, 1928.

I’m working on a series of poems and stories about my days growing up in West Vancouver back in the ’60s and ’70s. As I write them, I’m sending them out for consideration by possible publishers.

Happily, a poem, “Those Even Older Were Witches,” found a home this summer in the Newfoundland Quarterly. It’s about my great grandmother Margaret Caroline Beaumont Maddison (née Saint) who migrated from Bonavista, Newfoundland to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1888 when she was eighteen years old. She died in 1963 when I was six.

Other poems already published from this planned series are “Beautiful Golden-Brown Women of a Gauguin Painting” that appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Still Point Arts Quarterly, and “Going Up the Country” that appeared in the 2013 anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s & ’70s published by She Writes Press.

“Beautiful Golden-Brown Women,”  is currently posted on The Prince Edward Island Poet Laureate (PEIPL) website. To read it, click here. While you’re at the site, check out the work of other PEI poets. We’re a plentiful bunch, and the poems you’ll find there are wonderful.

For a treat, click here to visit my friend E. E. Nobbs’s poem “Childless in the City,” which is posted on the PEIPL site. Even better, click here to visit elly from earth, her website.

My 100 square foot allotment at the PEI 2014 Legacy Garden

My 100 square foot allotment at the PEI 2014 Legacy Garden. 

Tropical Storm Arthur ripped the leaves off my okra and bell peppers, leaving them green swizzle sticks. They started to rally, but then a nasty nocturnal bug feasted on the okras’ new leaves. Currently, they are sketchy, at best. What my grandmother would have called “so-so,” which means there’s hope, but the long-term prognosis isn’t good.

Sweet Red Bull peppers.

Sweet Red Bull peppers. These were planted after Arthur stormed through.

But the rest of my 100 square foot allotment at the PEI 2014 Legacy Garden thrives. I’ve been eating lettuce, radish, and green onion grown in it for weeks. And the Legacy Garden itself? The whole, big, visionary thing? It’s one of the best things going in Charlottetown. Cross my heart. I’m not fibbing.

Variety of tomatoes: beefsteak, patio, and a low-acid yellow.

Variety of tomatoes: beefsteak, patio, and a low-acid yellow.

We’ve started trading veg. Jean gave me a banana pepper in exchange for future handfuls of cilantro. She’s into salsa and has planted everything she needs for it, except cilantro, which I am going to have in abundance. It’s a win-win deal. The both of us, plus Gail, munched on fresh peas as we examined plants and discussed successful, and not so successful, experiments in growing them.

Flowering watermelon vine.

Flowering watermelon vine.

Mini-greenhouses made from clear plastic juice containers worked for me. I cut out the bottoms, removed the caps, and placed them over basil and watermelon plants. The plants that were sheltered by these small innovative hot houses survived, when bugs ate others that did not have their benefit.

My allotment with "Three Sisters" in background. Elly's allotment is next to mine on the right.

My allotment with “Three Sisters” community plot in background. Elly’s allotment is next to mine on the right.

That structure at the back end of my allotment is a cucumber frame made by Gary out of peeled poplar. Behind it is a section of the community garden devoted to the “Three Sisters,” which are the three main agricultural crops of many North American indigenous peoples. Beans, corn, and pumpkins are planted together in a mound. The beans run up the corn stalks, and the pumpkins spread beneath them, shading the soil and helping to retain its moisture. Imagine the hundreds of pumpkins, thousands of corn ears, and bizillions of beans come harvest time.

 

 

 

 

Rock wall at Cavendish, Devonshire, Bermuda © Valerie Richmond

Rock wall at Cavendish, Devonshire, Bermuda
© Valerie Richmond, 2014

Prince’s History is the result of the work of an abolitionist storytelling, compiling, and editing team with Prince as storyteller, Susanna Strickland (later Moodie) as compiler, and Thomas Pringle as editor and the financial backer of the project. The original pamphlet, published in 1831, was forty-four numbered pages, plus two unnumbered pages in length. Twenty-three of these pages were devoted to Prince’s History. The remaining twenty-three pages were comprised of the unnumbered preface and the supplement, both written by Pringle, and an appendix. The appendix was a relatively short slave narrative titled “Narrative of Louis Asa-Asa, a Captured African.”

There are many gaps in Prince’s History. One type of gap was due to the constraint of space. What would be included in those twenty-three pages devoted to the History? And what would be left out? Researchers, including myself, are working to fill them.

My February 6, 2014 blog post outlines how the maintenance building at the Ocean Club Golf Club, Devonshire, Bermuda fills one of these gaps. It was once the home where Prince’s mother was living when Prince and her two younger sisters, Hannah and Dinah, were readied for the slave auction.

In the narrative, there is only one sentence that refers to this and gives the clue of where to look. Prince indicates that at the time her mother was at the home of the child slave-owner Betsey Williams’s father’s sister’s house. Who was this aunt? and Where was her home? If you are interested to find out more, please refer to the already mentioned blog post.

A similar type of gap exists in the text when Prince ran away from the Ingham farm. Again, only one sentence refers to where she went. She reports that she “went to her mother, who was living with Mr. Richard Darrel” (70). Who was Richard Darrel (now spelled Darrell)? Where was his home? and how did Prince’s mother happen to be living there? Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers