top of page


Burnt Ground

Land Grants

D-121 (90 acres, 20 Oct 1790). Co-owner with Abraham Eve of D-106 (68 acres, 11 Sept 1789), D-56 (740 acres, 25 Jun 1788)

Abraham Adderley. Origin: Old Inhabitant.

The Bahamian Adderley progenitor had originally arrived in New Providence before 1767. This was Abraham Adderley, likely the fourth or fifth in his line, born in 1735, most likely in Bermuda. Like his namesake ancestors, Abraham Adderley of New Providence was a mariner who owned and operated sailing vessels that plied the trade route between the Bahamas and the American Colonies. Abraham and his first wife, Mary, had children named Abraham Jr. (b. before 1787 in Nassau), Nicholas, Martha, Elizabeth, and Nehemiah. Martha Adderley married Abraham Eve.

Mary then died before 1779—and that same year Abraham married a second time, to Frances Lewis. Abraham and Frances then had 2 more children: Mary (b. 1785 in Nassau) and Isaac Adderley (b. 1787 in Nassau). Abraham Sr., wife Frances, two small children, and grown son Nehemiah moved to Long Island sometime around the later part of the 1780s, although the original land grant was not formalized until 1790.

Nehemiah’s wife Harriett was a Walker girl from Bermuda—perhaps the families knew each other from Bermuda and stayed in touch over the generations. Their children included Emeline Adrianna, Henry (b. 1803), George (b. 1805), William Walker (b. before 1809), and Eliza Meadows (b. after 1809). All of these children were born on Long Island. By 1807 there were 140 “whites” and 800 persons of color on the Island, according to William Wylly’s estimation recounted in Craton and Saunders (1986:80). Nehemiah’s brother Nicholas married Ann Walker of Bermuda, probably his wife’s sister; Nicholas was listed as a planter on Rum Cay.

Nehemiah’s son Henry Adderley left Long Island at an early age, became the Bahamas’ first millionaire, and then left for England after he made his fortune. He had married Mary Ann Perpall of Nassau (b. 1806) in 1828, and they had a daughter Eliza Margaret Adderley (b. 1833 in Nassau). Henry died in England in 1875.

In 1788, Abraham Adderley of New Providence, in partnership with his son-in-law Abraham Eve, selected a large parcel of land on Long Island available to persons who could afford a rent of 2 shillings per 100 acres. Because it was a 740-acre parcel, John Gorman calculated that the men had “a combined ownership of 27 slaves.” The proclamation under which this was possible was issued primarily to encourage the settlement of the Bahamas by Loyalists fleeing prosecution and land seizure in the new country of America. Most of the Loyalists who settled the Bahamas used slave labor to grow cotton. Unfortunately, cotton was very hard on the thin soil of Long Island and other islands of the Bahamas, and there were insect infestations around the turn of the 19th century, leading to the exodus of Loyalists from the Bahamas as cotton crops failed and plantations collapsed. The abolition of slavery by the British Crown in 1834 was the final straw, and even the hardiest, luckiest, and most determined of Loyalist cotton plantation owners left the islands.

This plantation included the original Abraham Adderley (and Abraham Eve) Land Grant of 740 acres. Eve was Adderley’s son-in-law, married to Martha Adderley. The Adderley family had arrived on Somer’s Island (Bermuda) in 1613, and for the next century and a half, they had bounced around the Caribbean, frequently intending to settle in the Bahamas, but always ending back in Bermuda. However, sometime before 1767, Abraham Adderley had moved his family to the Bahamas (most likely New Providence), and was heavily engaged in a maritime business, as had been his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him.

Unlike many other slave-era plantations in the Bahamas, the Adderley Plantation did not grow cotton as its major source of subsistence, or if it did in the beginning, it was quickly abandoned. Rather, this appears to have been primarily a livestock operation, in which “stock, horses, horned cattle, sheep, goats, [and] hogs” were raised. When Abraham Adderley died in 1809, he left behind the livestock plantation, 740 acres (soon expanded through purchases to 2,450 acres), and 33 slaves—in addition to an unknown number of buildings.

The built environment of this site is divided into two clusters—the owners’ buildings, and the slaves’/servants’ buildings. The 2010 archaeological test excavation project focused on the owners’ buildings because we had been unable to locate the slaves’/servants’ houses. The slave houses have now been tentatively identified and should be subjected to test excavations.

There are at least six ruined structures on the owners’ portion of the site, in addition to a cemetery and “dock,” two wells, and many rock walls. We have identified a cookhouse, a great house, a second residential building, a privy, a grain-threshing bin, a storehouse/commissary, and a ruined building of unknown function. There are also stairs, platforms, broad walkways, and walls throughout this part of the site, which is over five acres in extent.

With the knowledge that the Adderley Plantation/Heron Bay was a livestock plantation, it is likely that large quantities of meat and fish would have been needed to be preserved. Thus, large amounts of salt would have been required, and we can assume that the rectilinear water bodies present were used as salinas. Both human and domesticated animal residents would have required freshwater, and there are two identified wells on the site. Animals were likely left to wander the landscape, with seasonal collection (for shearing and birthing, as well as butchering and selling) in large rock-walled enclosures.

Reference: BHSJ Vol 22, 2000, Abraham Adderley Will, JR, DM, Craton & Saunders.

Abraham Adderley

bottom of page