Land Grant Number
Give a brief description of the inhabitant. The man. The legend. Do we know any significant details about these guys? If yes, great! Include that here. If not, then this can just be ignored.
About the Project
We have made a number of assumptions, including:
In classifying land grantees, we chose an arbitrary cut-off date of 1778. If we were able to identify individuals in birth, baptism, marriage, census, or tax records, or in wills in the Bahamas, prior to 1778, we classified them as Old Inhabitants. There were a few individuals who were attainted as traitors in the Colonies prior to 1780, the earliest of whom was Thomas Roker, who arrived in the Bahamas in 1778.
The term “Loyalists” in our project has been used in a very specific manner. We refer only to those individuals who were living in the 13 American Colonies prior to 1780, and Loyal to the British Crown. The entire population of the Bahamas, Bermuda, and other English colonies were obviously loyal to the crown, as well, and signed oaths of Loyalty, making them “Loyalists.” For the purposes of the project, however, we use the word as a synonym of the term “American Loyalists,” which does not include anyone outside of those individuals who, having had their property confiscated in the 13 colonies, were forced to flee elsewhere (in many but not all cases, ending up temporarily in East Florida).
We further assume that these American Loyalists generally left the American Colonies no earlier than 1783 (including to Nova Scotia, in the mass exodus leaving Florida for the Bahamas, and elsewhere).
Furthermore, we knew that some individuals had left the Bahamas in 1782, when the Spanish gained possession of the Bahamas (and Bahamians were forced to swear an oath of loyalty of the Spanish Crown or leave). Many went to Florida, where existing ties meant a more familiar life. In 1783, when the Bahamas was turned back over to England, these former Bahamians wished to return to their homes, and were almost certainly lumped in with former American Loyalists wishing to move to the Bahamas. By 1784, shiploads of “Loyalists” for Abaco and other islands in the Bahamian archipelago included both American Loyalists and those displaced Bahamians headed home.
Therefore, assume that the Talbot Bethel source is wildly inaccurate, particularly as we do not know his sources. The very first individual we learned about, Abraham Adderley, was listed as a Loyalist, even though we knew that his family had been in the Bahamas for many years prior to 1778. We believe that Bethel included in his lists of Loyalists departing East Florida for the Bahamas in 1784-5 two discrete groups of individuals, including East Florida residents who had been settled there long before the arrival of American Loyalists from the north, as well as Bahamians who had fled to East Florida from the Bahamas when Spain took over in May of 1782. Eleven months later, when Deveaux and his mixed band of American and Bahamian Loyalists retook Nassau, the exiled Bahamians returned along with the American Loyalists and a number of East Floridians seeking new lives in the Bahamas.
We believe that some people had claimed they were Loyalists in order to be granted land, or fraudulently reimbursed for losses, so we exercised extreme caution on this point. We also recognize that the term “Loyalist” was then and is still now used loosely, with the Crown having rewarded the 170 men who joined Deveaux with land as “Loyalists.” The Rumer memorial on Harbour Island is a reminder of this.
In order to sort through those individuals who were American Loyalists who had had land and/or property confiscated, and who had fled to the Bahamas, we narrowed our accepted sources for lists of Loyalists. The first and foremost resources we used were the numerous letters and petitions sent to the government by individuals who self-identified as Loyalists. Thus, membership in the Board of Loyalists was determined to be absolutely accurate. Next, we used the lists of Military members from Georgia and the Carolinas.
Those American Loyalists receiving land grants were individuals and families who had lost land and property in the nascent United States of America. We believe that, for the most part, this did not include privates in the British Army, who we assume were not landowners. We assume that many of the officers were landowners, and that these people brought with them plantation culture from the Southeastern colonies.
However, we do assume that privates and non-commissioned officers who served in military companies with officers who received larger land grants on Long Island are slightly more likely to have received land grants, even if they were non-commissioned members of the military.
If the same name appeared in lists of Loyalists AND Bahamas records prior to 1780, we weighed the already-present Bahamian more heavily, unless the individual signed letters or petitions as a member of the Board of [American] Loyalists.
We assume that when we find the scant and sporadic evidence for pre-Loyalist occupation of Long Island, we can also look at similar islands for hints. These similar islands include Exuma, Cat, Acklins, Crooked, and—potentially—the Turks & Caicos.
Anea Knowles Thomas
Currently teaching, Anéa Thomas (nee Knowles) is a Long Island native, and as she grew up, she became passionate about history — and particularly the history of Long Island. This passion for History in general (and Long Island history especially) led to Anea pursuing a degree in History from the University of The Bahamas, where she gained skill and experience working with well known Bahamian historians and archaeologists.
She has also gained a tremendous amount of experience as a researcher, with particular interest in Bahamian genealogy. Anea’s passions also led her to a fortuitous meeting with Jackie and Fennelle when the three of them participated in an archaeological excavation of an 18th century plantation ruin. It was this meeting back in 2010 that led to the birth of this project.
FENNELLE MILLER; MA, RPA
Fennelle Miller is a professional archaeologist and historian, with degrees from Bryn Mawr College and Temple University. After having
lived in multiple places around the US, she now splits her time between Washington State and Long Island, Bahamas.
Ms Miller has previously managed a number of projects utilizing GIS to capture, analyze, and display historic information for county and state agencies in Washington State. She first became interested in Bahamian History in 2009, and has been working with her colleagues Anea Knowles and Jackie Hunt since that time.
Jennifer Hackett runs a GIS (digital mapping) company in Ellensburg, Washington that focuses on using maps to help people understand issues and find out more about their community. Her work on the Bahamas project has focused on creating a framework that makes it possible to integrate historic maps and information about the people and properties shown on the maps. For more information and to see other samples of her work, go to www.washingtonhometown.com
Isabel Hackett is a senior history major at Carleton College. Excited to get involved with this public history project but with no previous experience putting together a website, Isabel learned a lot of practical skills related to web development/design and how to make history more accessible while getting a sense of what a career in history might look like.