Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 24 February 1783

After taking full control of Arcedeckne’s Jamaican properties from John Kelly, Taylor sought to reassure his friend that they would be well managed. This extract illustrates how far the sugar estates relied upon a large and healthy enslaved workforce and aspects of the economic relationship between livestock rearing farms, or pens, and the estates. Both Taylor and Arcedeckne owned pens, which served the needs of their estates for cattle.

I do intend as soon as it is convenient to begin to buy the negroes you consent to and will endeavour to bring your estate into proper order at the least expense possible, you have been very ill used indeed for had the negroes you had bought been taken care of, you would have had nearly enough for every purpose, but it is too late now to repine, and will not mend matters. In regard to the penn near Spanish Town the great use it will be of to you, will be to draw off the old cattle annually from the estate and penn at Batchelors hall as soon as the crop is ended which is about Aug. and when there is generally good grass, and as soon as they get fatt to sell them off before the dry weather setts in, that will save your opening the land at Ventures at least for a time while the war continues, for it is by no means prudent to send negroes there at present for fear of their being stole off by the Spanish privateers.

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1783/9, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 24 February 1783)

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)