Born to a household slave and shipyard sawyer in Brackish Pond, Bermuda, Mary Prince was bought and sold numerous times, ending up on the island of Antigua in 1815 where she joined the Moravian church in 1817 and learned to read. Despite not having received a formal education, Prince went on to be recognized as a National Hero of Bermuda for her slave narrative, “The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself”, which shares a first-hand description of the brutalities of enslavement. Published in 1831, a time when slavery was still legal in Bermuda and the British Caribbean colonies, the book caused a sensation, going through three printings in the first year alone.
In her book, Prince recalled being sold “like sheep or cattle” on the same day as her younger sisters Hannah and Dina were sold to different masters: “When the sale was over, my mother hugged and kissed us, and mourned over us, begging of us to keep up a good heart, and do our duty to our new masters. It was a sad parting; one went one way, one another, and our poor mammy went home with nothing.” Two lawsuits for libel were filed against the book’s publisher in 1833, and Mary Prince testified at both, effectively rebuking any claims that the book was inaccurate or defamatory. On August 1, 1838, some 800,000 slaves living in British colonies throughout the Caribbean were finally set free, following the passage of Great Britain’s Slavery Abolition Act, which was passed by Parliament two years after the publication of Mary Prince’s book.
Bermudian researcher LeYoni Junos recently gave a conference paper entitled “My Name is ‘Sue’: The Mother of Mary Prince and the Racialised Abdication of Bermuda in the Authentication of Her History”, adding new information to Mary Prince’s story.
#MaryPrince #bermudaheroes #bermudahistory #historymatters #herstory #herstorymatters - 13 days ago