Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 8 May 1782

The victory of Sir George Rodney over the combined French and Spanish fleet at the Saintes on 12 April 1782 ensured that Jamaica would not face an invasion. Taylor remained fearful of the number of enemy troops who remained in the region and worried about the diminution of the white population of Jamaica. Nevertheless, with Rodney’s victory, the fall of Lord North’s government, and a parliamentary vote to cease military initiatives in North America, the immediate anxieties of war appeared to be passing, and Taylor turned his mind to the sort of peace that might be achieved.

[…] You will long before this have heard of the signal victory that Sir George Rodney has gained over the French fleet which was in its way to join the Spanish & French people of colour at Hispaniola to invade us, 6 line of battle ships with the admiral taken, 1 burnt & 1 sunk, & we yesterday had an acct. of the Corronne an 84 gun ship having foundered from the damage she received in the action, a 32 gun & 1 18 gun frigate taken, is great & glorious news; the consequences are martial law is taken of, Sir Samuel Hood is cruising off Hispanioloa & Sir George is getting his ships ready for sea as fast as possible. The French & Spaniards have a great number of troops at Hispaniola which cannot act untill sir George leaves these seas, & how long he will continue in them is uncertain; we really want a great many more soldiers for the defence of this island than we have for our militia is daily decreasing by death; a great many of the young people went on the fatal expedition to St. Johns [Saint Juan on the Mosquito Shore] & the war prevents others from coming here by going into the army. […] pray my dear friend have you any real grounds that the Americans wish for peace & would give up the French alliance & become our allies (for subjects there is no chance of), in that case it will be very right to carry on no further warlike or offensive preparations, but if they will not give up the French alliance & continue an offensive war against us what is then our situation. You must best know the grounds on which the House proceeded, there are good men on both sides & I sincerely hope a lasting & happy peace with America may be the result & which must be the true interest of both nations, for we cannot fight all the world together […] I am happy to hear you are well, I hope to God we & our families shall live & die under the British government & enjoy the happiness of peace & tranquility [sic] again. […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1782/18, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 8 May 1782)

Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 8 May 1782

During the early 1780s, Simon Taylor’s already tense relationship with John Kelly, the overseer of Chaloner Arcedeckne’s Golden Grove plantation, worsened. Arcedeckne was persuaded to dismiss Kelly in favour of his friend, Taylor. Here Taylor bemoans Kelly’s mismanagement of Golden Grove and ill-treatment of the estate doctor, before thanking Arcedeckne for trusting him over Kelly.

[…] It would have been much for your interest if Kelly had taken a little more care of your negroes by which means they would have lived, but then there would not have been any jobbing for him, & that would not have been for his interest, which has always been with him preferable to yours. – The Doctor’s life was really so uncomfortable at Golden Grove that he could not stay there, & both breakfasted & dined at Holland every day. Ten acres of land about his house during your pleasure cannot do you any harm, & his living in the house is rather of service to it, to air it, than detriment. He has been offered by Mr. James Pinnock the care of Amity Hall & Winchester which I consented that he should accept, but no other estates, & I would not have consented to these but that they were so close to Golden Grove that it was next to impossible for you to receive any injury from it […] The confidence you have reposed in me shall never be forgotten, & I shall by the blessing of almighty God I hope in a very few years shew you the difference between his [Kelly’s] conduct & mine, by looking on your property as a sacred deposit in my hands belonging to you, by treating your slaves as human creatures, by looking on your stores as sent for the use of your property, & your mules & cattle not to have any work but for your benefit, & your pastures as set aside for the feeding of your cattle, & not for cargoes of Spanish mules. […] I also think of buying 40 negroes p ann [for Golden Grove] get them grounds, houses & ca. season them in making & clearing pastures & light work for the first year untill they are settled & then work them on the estate, by that means we will keep them alive to work for you & yours & not kill them to make a jobbing acct.; in every thing I will act for you as I do for myself, & thank God I have done pretty well, & I hope in three years your estate will be in as good order as any one in the West Indies […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1782/18, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 8 May 1782)