Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
[After two months they return to Jamaica, and we resume reading the diary.....]
Sailed over the Pedro shoals, made the Pedro bluff Jamaica; beat up to Port Royal and anchored : 13th January  in KINGSTON for the 3rd. time!
Friday again, now comes a woeful tale!!
When I called on our late friends Mrs. Dights, they ran away from me!! her Mother threatened to arrest my Father for a bill of £10 which he was obliged to owe her for our board etc. and she said she would charge his lodgings at £1. per week. Every thing and every body appeared altered!, My Father was asked by nobody to dine out, or invited by his old friends Dr. Binns Mr. Lyne, Mr. Grindly, Mr. Levingston, Mr. Pacifico etc. etc. Having no money, we were compelled to eat and sleep on board; but when, the vessel sailed, we slept on the floor in a room with a number of sailors and this cost us 1/6d night. My Father now luckily saw Colonel Smith who promised to learn fencing and bring his officers; this made my Father take a most capital room at Mr. T. Edwards who sells Morison's pills, and whom my Father knew in Hampshire; we were now well off, as we had a room for our things, which had been left in the Wharfingers store, on the key and we made ourselves as comfortable as we could: my Father always uneasy and low spirited about my Mother.
I shall now keep a weekly Journal.
29th. January Sunday. Wrote home to my Mother.(this letter survives) My Father tolerably successful, but not up to his expectations. Went to Mr. Pacifico's wharf and assisted him in his business.
5th. February, Sunday: My Father received a letter from Mr. Richings, but not one from my Mother which makes him very uneasy. Made a kite for Tommy and went and bathed with him. Obliged to take my 2 jackets unfinished from Mr. Lyne's school, as he is going to London.
12th. Sunday: There is no more publications of my Father's name in the Newspapers, he has likewise kept the Colonel's name from appearing, as he is very much disliked here. My friend Morrison called upon us twice and was very glad to see us; he is an exception to the rest of our friends.
19th. Sunday: My Father's scholars got into a row at the Playhouse, which prevented their taking lessons all the week! My Father was dumned by young Edwards for the rent; Mr. E. has gone to Montego Bay. The people here are afraid to send their children or go themselves to England as they say they all die of consumptions, from the bad foggs and cold climate and we in England say that this climate kills all Europeans. My Father is of the same opinion as the Creoles, but I am not, My Father says it is impossible for him to enjoy such good health in England as he does here.
26th. Sunday: I buy a dozen oranges for 3d, they are new in season and are most excellent. My Father the other day called a negro woman "a beast" when he was gone she said to me "Look upon me Massa, am I anything like a beast? I walk like your Father upon 2 legs and him say him no understand him speak English; him speak his English cross a wata, me speak English dis side wata." Morrison called on me and asked me to visit him at Port Royal. Another packet arrived, but no letters from my Mother!! there are hundreds for the Colonel but when he will get them Heaven knows! My Father has had another very bad week owing to the Playhouse row.
5th. March Sunday: Tomorrow I shall drink my Mother's health and all my sisters, Brothers and relations and friends in England, I wish very much I was there, if all countries were like this then give me England; every thing is so dear here and so difficult to get money; we could live in London for less than half what we spend here; they charge 1/8d for shaving, drawing a tooth a doubloon etc and every thing in proportion, except labour for you can a Negro man to work for 1/6d or 2/0d a day whereas in England you must pay 3/0d; besides its such a dusty and dirty town, for there are no common sewers so that when the rain comes down they throw everything into the street which is washed into the sea, but there has been no rain but one night for these 2 months. The people here are very clean for they change their clothes (which is all white) 2 or 3 times a day, for I saw Mr. Grindly send 3 dozen and a half suits of clothes to the wash and he sends the same quantity every month. My Father is obliged to wash his feet every night and shave in cold water; he is all anxiety what to do, he expects to hear from Costarrica and how to get away he does not know, as he is no longer a governor, we have no more friends to ask us to dinner! Morison still remains friendly and he treats me as I did him when he could not help himself on board a ship. One good turn deserves another. The events of this week have been very vexatious to my Father; except last night when he was asked to a most sumptious dinner, at Mr. Gyles! there were 7 or 8 gentlemen, all of the first consequence in Jamaica, the first toast after dinner was my Father's health. I came too late but I got a few pieces of sweet meats after which I went to the market and bought some meat, yams, pine apples, oranges, etc. etc. for our dinner today.
12th. March Sunday My Father and I are tired and miserable in this place! where we can do nothing and get nothing! My Father has tried every where to procure me some employment, but every thing is crammed full and over full. My Father must give up Fencing as nobody comes, he has given but one lesson all last week and we are in want of every thing!! nobody will lend us a shilling; how unlucky it was that we came out here. The John crows are better off than us, they have their belly full, they eat all the filth which is thrown away or lies in the street, you are fined and punished if any one dare touch them. This week has been very wretched to me. I have only gone to the sea side to pick a few shells for Janey.
19th. March, Sunday. Another eventful week past, we fared tolerably well as I went to market and bought salt fish, liver etc. but the liver was bad, I shall buy no more of it. My Father greatly vexed and disappointed at not receiving any letter from my Mother: he received a large packet from the Colonel but it was written the day after we left Salt Creek; of course he knew nothing about the Columbians; how it will operate on his mind as regards my Father's future destiny, is what makes him very thoughtful and always savage with me; he received likewise another parcel from Colonel Harrison the U. States Consul. I am endeavouring to get employment, but I find it very difficult tho I have the assistance of Dr. Binns and others. My Father had a new scholar this week, Mr. Simon Taylor and he dined yesterday at Mr. Gyles's where he met a Monsr. Giojin who left Ireland purposely to become a fencing master in Jamaica but he will be wofully disappointed!! The Isabel arrived here last Tuesday with Captn. Humphries my Father waited on him; among other things Capt. H told him that he took Colonel Paredes the governor who succeeded my Father a prisoner and carried him to the capital of Vaagua. I hope this week will turn out better than the 2 preceeding ones.
25th. March, Easter Sunday: My Father's situation becomes every day more irksome! we are both very badly off but my Father feels the most. A French fencing master being here but finding he can do nothing, he wishes my Father to have a public assault with him, my Father has consented, provided he can get 40 subscribers, at a dollar each, which is to be divided between them, but the people here have no taste for fencing, or indeed any of the fine arts! they are simply tradesmen etc. agriculturists, and even these are over done, numbers are out of employment! I can get nothing to do. Talk of the negroes! my Father says (and I know he's right) they are less workt and are better provided for, than any peasantry on the face of the Earth, yet they say in England how very miserably they live and talk of their slavery - there is, my Father says in London and in all of our manufacturing towns more actual misery, labour, coercion, want and disease. than can be found amongst the whole slave population! they will soon find out the difference, 2 years more will make them as free as Englishmen !!! then will come toil, want, misery and death !!
I am become the marketer and cook; a good joke occurred this week; my Father and I had been eating beef, which I bought for mutton and made broth etc. of it, they kill meat here twice a day as that killed in the morning will not keep for the evening, fish the same, the price of provisions here is but a little dearer than in England, 'tho at taverns you pay double and treble as much.
I am very sorry we left Bocatoro, where every thing was plentiful and cheap. This day twelve month we sailed from Port Royal to go there, what an eventful year my Father has had. I have done pretty well, I was a great deal better off there than I ever shall be here or perhaps any where else.
2nd. April, Sunday: Yesterday being April fools day, brought to my recollection how the untutored Indians at Bocatoro behave to the educated and what is called polished life of Europeans! the people in Central America know nothing of these foolish customs on particular days: yesterday (as a hoax) a young man hoisted the signal for the packet's arrival which brought the P.M and D.P.M.G and all concerned from their country houses to town.
Speaking of the Indians, my Father often makes this observation. "In Africa the men have curly hair and the sheep straight hair; in Europe it is quite the reverse, the sheep are curly and the men straight".
Last Tuesday Colonel Johnstone died! and the day following Major Light! both my Fathers friends. The custom here is to bury people in 12 hours after they die. My Father says I have caught the Negro brogue, I hope not for I can't understand what they say, they pronounce our common name like Mottle-dar. I have just been to market and bt. a beef steak to make a pie; my Father dines out, but I shall keep him enough for his dinner tomorrow; there is such a mob of Negroes and Mulattos that the city guard is obliged to be in the market to keep order. Whilst I am writing the packet has arrived but no letters!!
1st May. Monday. Monthly Journal.
The events of the past month have been shockingly bad and full of vexations. I went out to a Pen with my Father in a chaise to take a view and on my return I found I had been robbed of all my money which I had saved to buy myself a hat and pair of shoes!! My Father suspected Edwards and so did I. I mentioned the robbery to him, when he became insolent and afterwards shoved my Father's door open and ordered all his things out! the servant took away every thing which old Mr. Edwards had put into the room; my Father took him before a magistrate, who made him pay 9 dollars (we got nothing of it) the magistrate told my Father to remain at Edwards's as long as he liked; but we soon got another lodging in a Negro hut, which I like very well, but the noise, dancing and singing, greatly annoys my Father.
On the 14th. April my Father had an assault with a Frenchman, but he got only £1. by it; Fencing and the fine arts are not valued in Jamaica, everything here is show, trade and making money. 4 packets have arrived and no letters for my Father, he does not know how to act, or what to do; nor I either; I could get a book-keepers place in the mountns but 1 should not like to live here when my Fathers gone! besides he cannot do without me, I go to market every day, (the custom here) cook the vituals, get his breakfast and dinner etc. make his bed, carry his foils etc. etc.
1st. June, Thursday.
My Father has just received a letter from his son at San Jose! tis the first time he has heard from him, since he left him at Salt Creek 11th. December 1836. The insults my Father received from him personally before the Captain and all the crew (to say nothing of his shocking treatment to me) has so altered my Father's opinion of him that I don't think he will venture to put himself again in his power; for my part I think he's mad I mean the Colonel, for, who but a madman would have sent my Father to govern a country, belonging to another power and behaving like a great ruffian to my Father for leaving the place 'tho he had not, nor could he get one soldier, nor one shilling!! his conduct was alike, he landed at San Juan, where there is a garrison, (such as it is) good Heavens!! his dress was without shoes or stockings, in his short and trousers and he is Colonel and commander of all the forces !!!
My Father is distracted not knowing what to do. Neither does he hear from any body in England to know what impression is made on their minds.
My Father has unfortunately lost 3 of his best friends, Colonel Johnstone and Major Light are dead and Dr. Binns has gone home! What he will do I cannot tell, but whatever he determins on, I hope it will not be to return to the Colonel; I know my life would not be long, he would contrive (which he might easily do in his country) to get me put out of his way; and I am sure he would not serve my Father much better.
2nd. July. Sunday.
The last month, June has been a little better than the former ones, that is we have had more money consequently more comforts. I have drest some very good dinners, which my Father enjoyed very much; he has now, thank Heaven; made up his mind not to return to Central America to live upon the bounty of his son who would treat him as he did before and like the ancient monsters of antiquity, Pharnaces, Tiberius, Nero etc. who murdered their parents!!! My Father advertised that he intended shortly to leave Jamaica, when Mrs. Dight forbid him in all the papers, saying "If any master of a vessel or owners dared to take him off the Island they should pay the debt which (she says) he is justly indebted to her.!" this is the law here (and a pretty law it is!) Now my Father is worse off than ever!! he cannot go and can't get enough to remain! what we are to do God knows! There is no such thing here as a pawnbroker! and people never trust; so that if you have no money, you must starve. I could not get trust, nor borrow 3s yesterday for our breakfast. The people here have neither honour, nor honesty. A Mr. Jackson a descendant of the great Sir Walter Raleigh (and who lives in a magnificent pen on the Port Royal Mts.) I have ran after and watched him, days and hours when he comes to town, but I can get no money from him, my Father made a beautiful drawing for a Mr. Gyles, who gave him only 2 dollars for it! the Revd. Mr. Hill served him the same etc. I have now only one wish to return if possible to England. My Father has been to the Mayor but he could not, or would not do any thing for him! Colonel Gutamer (head of the police) has given some hopes, if my Father memorializes the house of Assembley, they may order him a passage free; but what will be done about Mrs. Dight? In my Father's words "all is misery".
1st August past and we are still here and with very little hopes of leaving it till next year all ships bound to England must leave before 1st. August or they must pay double insurance; they have all of course sailed and the river (or rather sea) is now quite clear, except a few Drogers. If Moses had ever seen Jamaica he would have written that all condemned souls should be sent here, instead of purgatory. There are no amusements here, no play grounds, no intercourse at public or private houses, or indeed anyone national enjoyment. The Negroes have it all to themselves, they riot, they sing, they drink and are dancing all night; I have not heard of a ball among the white people since I have been here. The shopkeepers (for there are no merchants) all open their stores at 5 a.m. and continue then till 5 p.rn. when the streets are filled with carriages, gigs, horses etc. to carry them home, where they remain till the next morning, and the streets are quite deserted, you may fire a cannon ball from 5 till 5 and not hit a single person; our lives are as monotonous as theirs. My Father rises at day light and works at his map untill I get coffee which is at 7 as there is no bread baked before that time, he then continues till dinner time, taking a second breakfast (as it's called here) about 12 n. which is a glass or two of rum and water with some biscuits; after dinner my Father returns again to his work, but he generally gets tired about 4 p.m. he then dresses and we go to the Commercial rooms to read the papers, these rooms are as dull and silent as Erelres or Noctibus, not a soul opens their mouth, they all appear like living statues, the rooms close at 5, when we walk on Pacifico's pier for fresh air, and I sometimes paddle in a canoe, at sun set we return home to bed, this has never or seldom varied since we have been doomed to exist on this dreary and miserable Island, Robinson Crusoe's was a paradise to this, besides if good fortune should have sent a ship to his island they would have taken him on board, which was ultimately the case; but here no ship dare take away my Father !! The Attorney general has promised my Father to do all he can for him, but I have no faith, now all ships gone!! Colonel Gulzmer has said nothing this fortnight. What we shall come to yet, I dread to contemplate.
[Philip is writing in an exercise book and reaches the last page, if he continued in another book it does not survive.
They did get back to England, Philemon died in London in 1840 aged 70, and Philip in 1842 in London aged 19.
With regard to the 'all our letters are opened', reference is made to this
in the "Jamaica Despatch and New Courant" No 1192 (Kingston 12 May 1836) p3.]
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