Slave Ships in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, 1807-08

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This record was last updated on 18 Jun 2016

Image Reference

John A. Waller, A Voyage in the West Indies (London, 1820), facing p. 3.

Shows shipping in bay with capital, Bridgetown, in background. Waller, a surgeon in the British Navy, lived in Barbados for a year in 1807-08, but it is not known if this scene is based on a sketch that he did. Carlisle Bay was the island's major port. Of the scene he witnessed when he first arrived in April, 1807, Waller writes: "The bay was covered with boats, conveying backwards and forwards the merchants of the place, rowed by their slaves . . . . A number of slave ships too, just arrived, were lying close to us, whose owners were taking all possible advantage of the last weeks of their expiring commerce [Britain was to abolish the slave trade shortly]. The poor wretches were going on-shore by hundreds from the slave-ships, in large barges, for the purpose of being exposed to sale." Barbados had no deep water harbor and ocean going vessels had to transfer their cargoes (human and non-human) to barges or lighters.