Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 28 August 1781

Taylor’s callous disregard for enslaved people as anything other than commodities and units of labour is evident in his reaction to the effects of the storm at Arcedeckne’s Golden Grove estate, which he managed as Arcedeckne’s attorney. The shocking human cost of the hurricane is nevertheless apparent, although Taylor conflates this with a diatribe about the various hardships that Jamaican planters are facing as a result of the war, including high sugar duties and a lack of security for transporting produce and supplies around coast of the island. We can only imagine the feelings (or motivations?) of those enslaved people ‘carried off’ by ‘Spanish pickeroons’ raiding the Jamaican coast or of those they left behind on Taylor and Arcedeckne’s plantations.

[…] I did apprehend that there would have been orders come down to have sent up some provisions to Golden Grove by this time, tho’ I do not see any, and the negroes were crying out very much before I came down, and I saw their negroe grounds exceedingly damaged and little or no ground provisions, as I before wrote you, your negroes were but very weakly and not in a condition to make the crops that you had a right to expect from the numbers you have put on the estate. There is a large Guinea man at present in but from the extreme scarcity of provisions it would be the height of imprudence to buy negroes to put on the estate untill there is something for them to eat, and besides the times are so very precarious a person must be afraid to risque any part of his capital but what he cannot help in the West Indies where our foes are so potent, the minds of people much disatisfied [sic] and growing more and more so daily from the new duty on sugar and the contrivances of the refiners should the latter take place we must throw up our estates and remove our negroes to some other government where we may be able to make a shift to live and not to be held in Egyptian bondage. Our fleet is sailed our admiral is retired to his mountain to plant cabbage and potatoes, and our governor to his estate, while the Spanish pickeroons are dayly committing ravages on our coasts and no such thing as any vessell attempting to scour the coast about fourteen days ago they took two negroes belonging to me who were fishing close off our reef, and three days after landed at the east end and carried off two negroes belonging to me, three to you and four to Duckenfield Hall, the carelessness of our commanders is scarce believable and except they are removed and some more careful ones sent it will not be in our power next year to ship our produce. Your Irish provisions are at last arrived and to be delivered at Morant Bay, it is intolerable there is more risque to carry them from Morant Bay or Port Morant than to bring them from England or Ireland to Morant Bay. […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1781/21, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 28 August 1781)

Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 18 August 1781

On 1 August 1781, another hurricane hit Jamaica. It was less severe than the hurricanes of 1780, and again much of the damage was in the west of the island. However, as Simon Taylor’s letter mentions, shipping was driven ashore in Kingston Harbour, and there was damage in eastern districts, where Simon Taylor’s Lyssons estate and Chaloner Arcedeckne’s Golden Grove estate were located. Taylor went from Kingston to inspect the damage.

[…] we had a very sever gale of wind which has drove ashore a great many ships that were at anchor at Port Royall some of which are lost and others greatly injured but I can give you no further information of them further than the papers as I sett out for this part of the country as soon as ever the river was fordable and have employed my whole time in going to the different estates I am concerned for and doing what i can to assist the negroes who really want it. It has ruined all the provisions on every estate. The storm last year threw down a great many plantain tress the very dry weather putt those that escaped back so the negroes were obliged to live on ground provisions which were just out as the storm happened and in a few weeks they would have been very well of everywhere with respect to plantains and corn had not this unfortunate matter happened what they are to do now I know not flour is at a most exorbitant price and there are no pease to be had neither is there any ground provisions any where or will be for some time. I was at Golden Grove and your plantain walk and negroe grounds are quite down and very foul and your negroes are weakly indeed and it will require a prodigious deal of work to bring the estate in order […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1781/20, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Lyssons, 18 August 1781)