Tag Archives: History

Sam Lord’s Castle – A request for information about George Cunningham Cook, died in 1928

George Cunningham Cook. (1871-1928) Commander Royal Canadian Navy, Superintendent and representative of a the Canadian Government Merchant Marine (CGMM) in Barbados.

by Jonathan Bryan

Unfortunately, I never knew of Sam Lord’s Castle until this year, four years after it became a camp fire and opportunity to make s’more’s or charcoaled hot dogs. The pictures are amazing. The Castle must have been quite the experience in first person, and I can’t help but feel empty for what could have been. Reading the comments of many about their visit is inspiring for me though…….but you might ask yourself, why do I have any feelings for the place at all?

Well, besides being a lover of the historical, I am a genealogy researcher, live in Virginia, USA, and through my research, have been introduced to the former edifice. My wife’s had a ‘cousin’ who passed away while living in the Castle on November 21, 1928. Was he renting or owner? I’m not sure, not having access to deed information. If he owned it, what happened after he died? This cousin was George Cunningham Cook. He was a Commander in the Royal Canadian Navy, a Superintendent and representative of a the Canadian Government Merchant Marine (CGMM) in Barbados. He would often travel from Halifax, NS, Montreal, Que, and St Phillip, Barbados. Sadly, he died young due to complications of an explosion on board a steamship a few months later. He was 57, leaving a wife, Lilly, and son, George Elliott Cook (born 1901).

When George C. Cook passed away, he was buried next to Lord family tomb. That further leads me to think he may have been owner of Lord’s Castle at the time of his death. His headstone is located in St Phillips Parish Church cemetery. I don’t know where Lord’s tomb is, but would love to have a photo of George’s stone and any family buried with him.

Would anyone mind looking into Mr. Cook there in Barbados? Any photo’s and info could be posted here.

I must give credit to a fellow researcher, Patricia Lumsden, who provided much of the info I’ve shared.

(BFP Editor’s note: see book “Cook Descendants – Inlaws and Outlaws” by Patricia Lumsden)

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Filed under Barbados, History

Will Owen Arthur write his memoirs?

David-Jessop

Who will write our Caribbean history?

By David Jessop

As far as I can determine, few if any of the current group of Caribbean Prime Ministers, or opposition leaders keeps a diary recording events and conversations of importance. Moreover, on demitting office no longer does there appear to be any desire to produce an autobiography or even encourage a biography explaining the detail of their experience in government or in politics. The same holds true for the private sector.

Unlike their counterparts in other parts of the world senior Caribbean figures either do not have the time, or they lack the desire to explain to history what drove them, or the reasons why decisions, domestic, regional, or international were taken or avoided.

It was not always so. Many internationally respected figures in the region’s past, including Michael Manley, Errol Barrow, and Edward Seaga, and some who came before, either wrote about their experience, their philosophy, or to a lesser extent their exchanges with colleagues and regional counterparts; while a small number of others, with or without permission, have published books about regional figures.

Some like the late Tom Adams and a few of the region’s diplomats carefully recorded while in office the events and conversations that changed the region; but almost without exception, these private records have yet to see the light of day.    Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, History, Political Corruption

A Bit of Barbados History: 1855 letter to W.W. Somerville, 69th Regiment of Foot in Barbados

barbados letter 1855 front  (click photo for large)

by Cliverton

There was a time on this rock when governments, both colonial and post-independence, did everything they could to erase every vestige of our origins. It was almost as if some people thought we could progress only if we forgot about the past. What foolishness!

Our government left gorgeous plantation houses and noble public buildings to rot – forgetting (or maybe not forgetting) just who built these structures: slaves and the children of slaves. Not satisfied with destroying historical buildings, they also let the humidity, salt air and rot take care of books, letters and historical objects. The destruction was so long term and widespread that it simply must have been deliberate.

It is true to say that much of Barbados history has faded away irrecoverably – gone forever.

So it is that when I see a tangible bit of Bajan history I get excited, because I know that with a little bit of work on the internet I will discover so much more about this piece of soil where my navel string is buried.

Today’s discovery is offered by Scotia Philately – a letter to Medical Doctor W. W. Somerville of the 69th Regiment in Barbados, West Indies postmarked September 2, 1855 at Plymouth and stamped received in Barbados on September 21, 1855. That’s nineteen days from England to Barbados, a distance of 3504 nautical miles for an average speed of 7.5 knots postal stamp to postal stamp. Meaning that the Royal Mail sailing vessel probably averaged over 10 knots on the journey. Clippers (fast sailing vessels on the mail and opium runs) could easily make 13 or 14 knots and maintain that speed in all but the worst weather.

Who was Doctor Somerville and why was the 69th Regiment of Foot in Barbados? (or “Barbadoes” as it was then called.)
Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, History, Slavery

How Bridgetown built the economic foundation of the British Empire – only to be discarded when the profits were gone.

Barbados_Slave_License2.jpg

Slavery Reparations have never interested me because I know that whatever we receive will never be enough for the victims class, and that anything we do receive will be stolen by the political class. No reparations will ever touch my hand. No amount of reparations will provide a steady flow of clean water from my pipes or establish a modern sustainable economy.

Britain could pay us 10 billion pounds and not one new hospital bed or surgery will appear at that slum we call the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – or anywhere else. A trillion pounds will not erase the arrogance of government employees towards citizens, nor will it cure the ‘Island Time’ syndrome that makes foreign business investors run like mad from the Caribbean once they get over the rum, sun and sand.

Barbados is incapable of receiving and delivering reparations honestly and effectively for the general good.

Whose fault is that? I’m not sure, but I do know that at one time Barbados was the driving economic force and secure military base that built and maintained the British Empire.

Whatever Tristram Hunt has written in his new book Ten Cities that Made an Empire, he’s probably 50% correct and 50% nonsense. After all this time, who can say?

But I look forward to the read.

Cliverton

Ten Cities that Made an Empire by Tristram Hunt, review: ‘enthralling and compelling’

A fascinating account of 10 cities that were shaped by, and helped shape, British rule

Bridgetown, Barbados has always held a particular appeal for the British. The legacy of empire is all too apparent, and is, indeed, exploited for tourists. The series of historical attractions based on Plantation House present, as Tristram Hunt writes, “a sepia version of the colonial past”. Nostalgia for cricket, rum cocktails and the old plantation lifestyle trumps the blood-drenched history of slavery on the island. Bridgetown is a modern city, but the colonial memory continues to reverberate.  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Economy, Human Rights, Slavery

Time for the Barbados Museum to stop hoarding! Must become an active worldwide promoter of Barbados History… and of Historical Tourism

Barbados Museum

Barbados Museum & Historical Society suffers from a Hoarding Mentality

Submitted by BMHS longtime member Sinsten Merriweather (BFP editor: as contrived a name as we’ve every seen!)

The Barbados Museum’s website claims they have a collection over half a million ‘artefacts‘ (yes, that’s how they spell the word to the world online) that “tells the story of the people of Barbados and preserves our history for future generations.”

“Indeed, our history is preserved for future generations because none of the current generation can access it.”

… BFP’s Cliverton

The Museum has photos of precisely 19 of those 500,000 artifacts displayed online, with no explanation, description or provenance attached.

Do you want to know what the Barbados Museum has in inventory that might interest you? Well, don’t look for a list or a working searchable database online – you’ll have to email Mrs. Marcia Griffith and in a few days she might (or might not) get back to you with further clarifications. God forbid that the museum actually put a database online where people can search for topics, historical periods, artifacts and documents that interest them!

Barbados Museum Website

And half the time the existing website (as limited as it is in vision and function) doesn’t work, or maybe sometimes might perhaps work… if, sort of.

Missing: A vision of Telling the History of Barbados to the world

What is the Mission Statement of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society? Your guess is as good as mine and I’ve been a member for over ten years. If I had to guess, I’d say that the mission of the BM&HS is to do whatever the current management, staff and Board desire as their whim without reference to any written mission statement.

It is true that in the last ten, and especially the last five years, the leadership have done some wonderful things with little money. In particular some of the bus tours of the island (not many recently though) awakened a thirst for Bajan history amongst some of the young people.

But…

… the Barbados Museum is falling down disastrously in making history accessible to the people. In this day, that means online – not just certain items displayed in a glass case to those who visit a physical building. The mission statement should be to make Barbados history available to anyone around the world, instantly, and in so doing to encourage people to take an interest in Barbados and to visit our country (and to spend their money while doing so!)

What the Barbados Museum should be   Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, History

Graves Of Barbados – Respect and Love For Our Families, Our Friends and Our History… Or NOT!

BFP:

Barbados Cemetery History

More discarded human bones, coffins at Barbados Cemetery

Updated June 18, 2014

Once again it’s time to report on the latest indignities to buried friends and relatives. Every six months we read of another ‘find’ in this churchyard or that: human skulls, coffin parts, bones of the dead still dressed in their burial clothing. The latest is in The Nation: Relative jolted by scene at cemetery.

We’ve destroyed all the historical buildings we can on this rock. Practically nothing remains of our slave history.

Practically nothing remains of the military forts and bases that ringed this island right up to the cold war. Now we destroy our generational history and disrespect our friends and family members. Every person for themselves! Full speed ahead with that new iPhone or Samsung big screen handset! Fancy trucks! Party Party Party!

And cast the bones of the dead on a heap of garbage.

That’s our modern Bajan culture.

Here are BFP’s prior reports on this phenomena…

Originally posted on Barbados Free Press:

UPDATED: October 11, 2012

Six skulls, bones, body parts found in open graveyard pit

With Monday’s discovery of an open pit containing burned skulls, bones and other body parts at the Christ Church Parish Church, our thoughts immediately turned to a previous article by our own Robert.

Sad. So sad. And what does it say about us?

Somebody should lose their job over this, but you know that’s never going to happen.

Here is the current story from the Nation, and then BFP’s original story…

Shocker in Christ Church graveyard

Mourners attending a burial in the Christ Church Parish Church’s cemetery on Monday evening were mortified when they stumbled upon a hole containing burnt skeletal remains.

An upset woman told the MIDWEEK NATION that they were disgusted by the sight in the graveyard.

“I counted at least six skulls and I could see teeth, hair and bones and what appeared to be…

View original 777 more words

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Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Religion

Was a bribe paid to Town and Country Development Planning Office?

Barbados Historical Building

Were promises made?

by passin thru

bribery.jpgWe know how it is on this rock. How many examples do we have of historical buildings rezoned and torn down before anyone knows? How many examples do we have of land-use changes that are pushed through on a Friday afternoon with no notice, and often in opposition to common sense? One of those ‘unexplained’ land use changes murdered a family, or have we forgotten?

This time another historical was building torn down without notification and in the middle of controversy.

Was someone in the Town and Country Development Planning Office paid off? Was a promise made?

We know how it is on this rock, and my stomach turns every time I see another ‘mistake’ by which somebody profits.

To HELL with them all. My anger is righteous because the rule of law is nothing in this place. If I could only get a green card I would be gone.

Landmark torn down

“We were working with a number of Government agencies to secure this building,”

“The only difficulty we were aware of, in terms of its safety, was its balcony that was overhanging the road. The fact that we got to this stage – that an historic building was demolished without any notification being given to either the National Trust or anyone else – it shows a huge failing in the system,”

The fact the building was delisted by the Town and Country Development Planning Office “for no viable reason for which a building should be delisted” was worrying, but delisting was still of no merit since it was in the World Heritage Site.

“It should have come under consideration. It is a serious matter to demolish one of these buildings,”

… Peter Stevens, Vice President of the Barbados Historical Garrison Consortium Inc. quoted in The Nation

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, History