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In the name of God amens Thomas Gunston of the parrish of St. Georges in the Island of Barbados […] by Thomas Gunston (?-1683) - July 6th 1683 - from Artem / Rare Books (SKU: 2122)

In the name of God amens Thomas Gunston of the parrish of St. Georges in the Island of Barbados […]

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In the name of God amens Thomas Gunston of the parrish of St. Georges in the Island of Barbados […]

by Thomas Gunston (?-1683)

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About This Item

Will of an early Barbados sugar plantation owner, 1683.

Thomas Gunston (?-1683).

In the name of God amens Thomas Gunston of the parrish of St. Georges in the Island of Barbados […]. Saint George, Barbados, July 6th 1683.

Folio (40x32 cm.), Amsterdam watermarked laid paper sheet, folded 4 times. Manuscript in ink. [2] pp.

Thomas Gunston, "being sad and weake in body butt of sound minde and perfect memory" declares in this will and testament that he gave his whole estate to his wife Ursula Gunston. Furthermore he donates several annual sums to people in England and he gives an annual sum to his local parish vestry in Barbados for "the benefit and use of the poore".

Barbados quickly became the center of sugar production in the Americas after the Brazilian-Portuguese was dislocated. Barbados was first settled by the English in 1627. By the early 1650s Barbados could be described as the richest spot in the New World. We have no date for the start of the Gunston plantation but it was surely one of the first given the date of the present will. We traced two other documents relating to Gunston's plantation: a land indenture in the Smithsonian and a marriage settlement that was sold by Peter Harrington. The Smithsonian land indenture of the Gunston plantation is dated 28th March 1684. The deed declares the sale of the Gunston estate from Thomas Gunston's widow Ursula to his niece and nephew Joan Gunston Spinster and John Gunston. The document describes the boundaries of the plantation and lays out a price of 700 British pounds, including slaves and more: "togeather with the moyety of all houses Edifices Mills Ingenios Copper Stills Woods Underwoods Timber Timber Trees And Negroe Slaves upon the said Lands or Plantac[[i]]on". This indicates that Gunston ran a sugar cane plantation and produced sugar as well with the associated industrial works: "ingenious copper stills". The marriage settlement was made up just before the present will, dated 13 May 1682. It lays out the contents of his estate, including "A List or Schedule of all and every ye Negro-Slaves, Horses, Cattle & Stock, Coppers, Stills & Materialls belonging to ye Plantacion of Capt. Thomas Gunstone..." The deed proves how much the production of sugar relied on heavy slave labour. In 1645 Barbados had less than 6,000 slaves and in 1698, 42,000. The deed shows that Gunston owned 58 slaves, excluding children, and 3 indentured servants: "27 Men Negroes; 31 Women Negroes; 10 Negroe Boyes; 9 Negroe Girls." A provision in the deed for the purchase of five able-bodied slaves each year shows the appalling rate of attrition amongst the slave population.

Condition: Creased as folded, a couple of tiny holes at fold corners, otherwise in very good, clean condition.

Reference: Smithsonian, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2010.1.316; Peter Harrington 40303: "(BARBADOS, SUGAR & SLAVERY) Marriage settlement relating to Thomas Gunstone of the parish of St. Georges, Barbados, planter, and his wife Ursula. The settlement between Gunstone and Major Rowland Bulkeley, Captain John Cousins, Richard Forde and Henry Byrch, all of Barbados".

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Details

bookseller
Artem / Rare Books NL (NL)
Bookseller’s Inventory #
2122
Title
In the name of God amens Thomas Gunston of the parrish of St. Georges in the Island of Barbados […]
Author
Thomas Gunston (?-1683)
Format/binding
Amsterdam watermarked laid paper sheet, folded 4 times
Book condition
Used
Quantity available
1
Place of Publication
Saint George, Barbados
Date Published
July 6th 1683
Pages
2 pp
Size
Folio (40x32 cm.)
Keywords
Barbados, West Indies, Sugar, Slavery, Manuscript
Bookseller catalogs
Slavery; Colonial History; America; Manuscripts;
Size
Folio (40x32 cm.)

Terms of Sale

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About the Seller

Artem / Rare Books

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
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The Hague
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About Artem / Rare Books

Dutch dealer of Art & History on Paper.

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