What would Sarah Ann Gill think about our silence over religious persecution in China?

“They shot tear gas at our group of 20 — some of us completely unarmed, all law-abiding religious citizens.  Wielding their batons, they beat, kicked and prodded the people.  Many police officers and plainclothes agents beat two sisters to the floor (one of the sisters is relatively advanced in age).  They passed out on the spot with foam coming from their mouths and convulsions in their hands and legs.   We demanded that they be sent to the hospital immediately.  The officials wouldn’t listen to us and continued to hit the people with their batons.”

Chinese Christians tell of police raid on an “unauthorized” house church, February 23, 2011, Zaoyang City, Hubei Province, China

Barbados National Hero risked everything to pray at her home.

Every Barbadian knows the name of Sarah Ann Gill, the only female declared as one of our country’s ten national heroes. On this National Heroes Day, we should ask ourselves if we really remember what Sarah Ann Gill did, and why she did it.

In October 1823, a mob of whites burned the Methodist Church in Barbados where Gill was a member. At that time the Methodist Church in England was in the forefront of the movement to ban slavery and that didn’t go over very well with the slave owners in Barbados.

The response of the Mother of Barbados was to open her own home for prayer services. Gill was relentlessly prosecuted by the authorities and threatened with death.

Some sources state that Gill was charged under the Conventicles Act of 1664 which forbade assembly of more than five persons for divine worship unless in a licensed meeting place and led by a licensed preacher. The act had already been repealed but that apparently didn’t stop the authorities.

Gill acquitted herself so well that the same authorities who persecuted her sent soldiers to guard her home when a mob attempted to burn it on October 19, 1824. Gill continued to hold worship services at her home and raised money for a new church.

On June 25th, 1825 The House of Commons in England declared that “ample protection and religious toleration be secured to all” – and Sarah Ann Gill and other religious dissenters secured their right to worship where they saw fit, without needing the blessing of the state.

What would Sarah Ann Gill think of Barbados cuddling up to China today? What would she think of our silence for our Christian brothers and sisters – beaten and jailed in China?

Something to consider as we look out over these fields and hills on National Heroes Day.

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24 Comments

Filed under Barbados, China, History, Human Rights, Religion, Slavery

24 responses to “What would Sarah Ann Gill think about our silence over religious persecution in China?

  1. 77

    We have an ambassador now living and working in China. Barbados is a Christian community, maybe The Ambassador should bring the subject to attention of The Chinese Government, don’t you think? Jesus says if you disown me now, I will disown you before my Father, but if you confess to know me now I will make you known before my Father. So here is a great opportunity for heads of State to Talk.

  2. John

    Much of what we claim to know of our National Heroes is not based in fact, alot is surmise.

    This is particularly true of those heroes whose lives were lived and deeds done in the 1800’s, long before living memory.

    I am not sure given what I have read that we know much about who exactly Sarah Ann Gill was. If you visit her grave at James Street Methodist church you will see a date of birth of 1795 on her headstone.

    It is claimed that she was born Ann Jordan, daughter of Edward Jordan and a slave or free colured woman and married Alexander George Gill.

    When the marriage certificates are checked, either at the archives or on line, familysearch.org, Alexander George Gill is shown to have married in Ann Jordan in 1809 meaning Ann Jordan/Gill was only 14!

    While this is not impossible I believe it is highly unlikely as Alexander George Gill appears to me to have been in his sixties when he married. Like Ann Jordan he too was the son of a “white” father (George Gill) and a slave/free coloured woman, Jemima. He had a half sister Christiana Gill.

    It is felt that the birth date on the headstone is incorrect and she was born in the early 1780’s but nobody seems to know for sure. I would tend to agree as that would make her a woman in her late 30’s or early 40’s at the time of her deeds, 1823 and over 20 when she married which is more believable. I can’t find a baptism that would confirm this theory but it might just be that she was never baptised.

    Alexander Gill died before 30 April 1814. I know this because I have read his will which was proved on 30 Apr 1814. He left property, including slaves to Ann Gill. Her returns of the slaves she owned can be viewed online at ancestry.com.

    In 1817 she made returns of two slaves as executrix of the estate of Alexander Gill and eight slaves which she owned in her own right. If the birth date on the headstone is true then she was only 22 when she made the returns and inherited the two slaves when she was 18.

    I know Alexander Gill and his wife Ann baptised two sons because the baptismal records support this.

    Their names were
    1. EDWARD GEORGE GILL – International Genealogical Index Gender: Male Christening: 05 JUL 1811 Saint Michael, Barbados, Caribbean

    2. ALEXANDER BOVELL GILL – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Christening: 23 MAR 1813 Saint Michael, Barbados, Caribbean

    Alexander Bovell Gill died 21 Oct 1813.

    Edward George Gill married Emily Henrietta Young on 2nd April 1839. They produced six children. One of them died sometime in or before 1936.

    Here is how wikipedia describes her and why sometimes it is necessary to check and recheck facts. I admit I could be wrong in what I have written but I cringe when I read wikipedia because I know what research I had to do before getting the few “facts” I have shared above.

    Here comes wikipedia’s version.

    “Sarah Ann Gill (16 February 1795 – 25 February 1866) was named as one of Barbados’s national heroes on the basis of her exploits during the slavery era.[1]

    She was born of a black mother and a white father (Gill), and baptized with the name Ann. The circumstances of her birth disqualified her from any meaningful participation in social and economic life, in a society which was based on racism. In Barbadian society, anyone with a taint of African ancestry, however distant, was considered the natural inferior of all persons of unmixed European descent. Sarah married Alexander George Gill, like her, of mixed ancestry, and inherited property from him at his death when she was 28 years old. The couple had one son who, apparently, died before reaching full adulthood.”

  3. The man wiv no name!!

    I wonder what she’d think of YOUR obsequious attitude towards Bourne!!

  4. Dessalines

    @77 All not most of what we know of Jesus is not based in fact either. Its no more true than Jack and the beanstalk. Which is why we need faith to be a follower of christ. China has seen how Christianity has destroyed cultures around the world and turned rationale thinking people into sheep. Africa is an telling example of this. As recent as the last election cycle n the Ivory Coast it is was a priest who proclaimed that Gbagbo would be ruler for life and only ‘God can remove him from power’. Well God did last month when he was captured in his bunker by Ouatarra’s soldiers but so far we havnt heard of Gods future plans for Gbagbo, whether it be prison or death.

  5. John

    Dessalines
    April 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm
    @77 All not most of what we know of Jesus is not based in fact either.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    There is a whole big able Book written from before He was ever born all about Him.

    To that Book were added are eyewitness accounts about His life … death ….. and that other thing that make people nervous.

    What you mean no facts!!!

    The best we can hope for is to have our births and deaths recorded on somewhere on history’s page.

    Jesus has a whole Book written about Him.

  6. Dessalines

    @ John The authors of the Old Testament (Jews) that was written before Jesus themselves do not believe in Jesus. By the way the Hebrew bible states that the future messiah name was Emmanuel not Jesus. However this does not stop the early Christian church fathers from making him up and fostering it on an unsuspecting (and illiterate at that period in time) public – who are referred to as sheep over and over again.
    There are no eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life or death. The 1st 4 NT gospels had no authors and were written some 70 years after his death according to the dating of the scrolls. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s names were ascribed to these gospels by the early Catholic leaders. From all accounts of that culture only Matthew of the four would have been literate or numerate anyway. What I mean by no facts is that whole books are written about Superman, Thor and Frodo in Lord of the Rings – that doesnt make it fact. The fact is no other writings corroborate the existence of Jesus apart from the Bible. All other non biblical mention of Jesus from Herodotus and Pliney for example are dated after the new testament texts. Truth and fact are held to a much higher standard than myth and faith. Facts can be proven scientifically or historically, while myth just needs some imagination, a sense of belonging or connection to some higher power and a multi-billion marketing campaign to be accepted as truth.

  7. John

    Dessalines
    The 1st 4 NT gospels had no authors and were written some 70 years after his death according to the dating of the scrolls.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I am curious to know what fact you are basing this assertion upon and exactly what scrolls you mean.

    http://www.datingthenewtestament.com/manuscripts.htm

    According to this link “The community that kept the Dead Sea Scrolls was destroyed in 68 A.D., so no Dead Sea scroll can be older than that.”

    I have never really researched the earliest appearance of the New Testament but it would seem that if the Dead Sea Scrolls contain parts of the New Testament that it had to be written before 68AD and not 70 years after Jesus’ death.

    If after reading his you agree, please signify that you accept the NT was written prior to 68AD.

    It is accepted that Jesus died in 33AD …. at least that is what I have always understood ….. maybe you know different so it seems to be entirely possible that the New Testament was informed or even written by persons who lived at the time he lived and was crucified.

    They simply bore witness to what they saw.

    As I said, I have never really researched this detail so please set me straight … if you can.

    Frodo, Superman and Thor are products of persons imagination …… now that is a fact.

    I am not sure what you mean that the NT had no authors!!

    I would also like to point out that I believe that scientific dating procedures can deliver a range of years, not a single precise year.

    My belief however does not make it a fact so maybe it is actually possible to date an artifact to a precise year.

    Two facts which you do not dispute are that the Bible does exist and that the Old Testament speaks to the coming of the Messiah long before Jesus was born.

    A start.

  8. Dessalines

    The Old Testament (Hebrew bible) speaks of the coming of the Messiah but the authors of that book and their followers do not believe in Jesus. In fact they (the Jews) are still awaiting the messiahs return – Emmanuel. Thats a start. And for me personally this is where I start asking questions. I do accept that the text were written, when exactly I do not know but by whom were they written is the 500 lb gorilla in the room.
    The Old Testament is not without question as ‘Gods true word’ either. Moses is said to have written the first 5 books, which is impossible since the last book Deuteronomy describes in detail his death and burial. Again here there is no historical proof that Moses existed either – neither is the story of the Jews being enslaved in Egypt (and we both know the Egyptians were meticulous about their recorded history) or their sojourn in the desert for 40 years or even their escape to Canaan, which by the way was under Egyptian rule during that period. The Romans do not have any records of Jesus either, neither his birth, life or execution is mentioned in Roman history.
    When I say the NT has no authors I mean that the scrolls that were found and translated were anonymous. The authors Matthew ,Mark etc were ascribed to them years after they were written. In fact no one knows who ‘Mark’ is. He was not a follower of Jesus so its doubtful that he was an eyewitness. Many bible scholars agree that Matthew and Luke (Luke was not a disciple either) gospels were written using the gospel of Mark as their ‘source’.
    Even if the scroll datings were inaccurate my main point is that the gospels or stories in the Old and New Testament cannot be verified independently. Don’t you find it even remotely bizarre that God is a male, his angels are males, his first creation was a male, he had a Son, his prophets were all males, his sun’s disciples were all males – do you see a pattern here. If the bible is God’s inspired word, God who is omnipresent and omnipotent – how is it that the biblical stories are so devoid of any inspirational ideas, instead of just reflecting the misogynistic, racist and prejudiced culture of the elites of that period.

  9. John

    Dessalines
    May 1, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    The Old Testament (Hebrew bible) speaks of the coming of the Messiah but the authors of that book and their followers do not believe in Jesus. In fact they (the Jews) are still awaiting the messiahs return – Emmanuel. Thats a start.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    This statement is false.

    The authors of the Old Testament died before Jesus was born.

    The authors clearly believed in the Messiah.

    It is a fact that Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but that applies to Jews alive after His birth.

    That is why Christian Churches send missionaries to Israel to spread the Good News of the Gospel just as they send them to Africa or China or Timbuctu or anywhere unbelievers exist.

    There are even missions in Barbados spreading the Good News!!

  10. John

    Dessalines
    May 1, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    If the bible is God’s inspired word, God who is omnipresent and omnipotent – how is it that the biblical stories are so devoid of any inspirational ideas, instead of just reflecting the misogynistic, racist and prejudiced culture of the elites of that period.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Here is the simple understanding I have arrived at not by any extensive study of the Bible but by listening and watching.

    The Jews are God’s chosen people not because they were elites, prejudiced and somehow set apart from Gentiles.

    He chose them for two reasons, firstly to bring his Word to mankind and secondly to give mankind His Son.

    Jesus was a Jew, not a Gentile.

    God set the Jews apart.

    He did not make them elite otherwise they would never have suffered as they did throughout history because they were set apart.

    The rules they follow are God’s rules because they entered into a covenant, if you like contract, to follow them.

    The societal structure you observe they follow is because, if you like, they signed on the dotted line that they would.

    His rules are thus not a reflection of the mores or customs of any culture, rather the mores and customs of the culture which you see is a reflection of His instruction long before the Advent of Jesus.

    Thus, instead of seeing prejudice or elitism when you look at the Jews look again and see the inspiration of His Word in the culture adopted by them.

    The Old Testament inspired a group of people to such an extent that today, thousands of years later you can find the instruction their forefathers rceived demonstrated visibly in their daily lives.

    Like all of us, none of them are perfect, like all of us they are part of mankind …. and like us theyare recipients of God’s Gift described in the New Testament!!

    The New Testament is the source of further inspiration to all mankind.

  11. John

    …. and like all gifts the Gift in the New Testament can be accepted ….. or refused …. by an act of free will.

  12. Dessalines

    Here’s my predicament John. If the Israelites/Jews are the chosen people who received the true word of God, how is it that they rejected Jesus as the son of God. How is it that they did not recognize him if he was genuine.

    Are you saying that God chose these people, set them apart, blessed them with land and riches and then forgot to give them the memo that their messiah was among them on earth? Now why would he/she do something like that?

  13. John

    Dessalines
    May 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Are you saying that God chose these people, set them apart, blessed them with land and riches and then forgot to give them the memo that their messiah was among them on earth? Now why would he/she do something like that?
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    It is about free will …. no force from God.

    Man chooses what he wants to do, whether he is a member of the chosen or not.

    If he makes a mistake and realises it and repents the Gift referred to in the New Testament has his back.

    Accept/reject …… a matter of man’s free will.

    There is a New Deal/Covenant with all mankind, Jews/Gentiles.

    Admittedly it is about 2000 years old!!!

  14. mlutleyj

    What does all this have to do with Sarah Ann [Jordan] Gill, Barbados National heroine?
    She received a very substantial legacy in the will of Edward Jordan (her father?) [Books: RB6/42. p. 304. (Proved) Dec 23rd 1799] and also benefited, together with her brother and sister, Edward and Elizabeth, all free mulattoes, children of Sarah Ellcock, from the will of Dr. Joseph Jordan (their uncle?) of 1789.
    Barbados baptismal records show:
    ST. MIC. P. 36, RL1/5, 1774 Feb. 25, Edward Jordan a free mlo. child.[169]
    ST. MIC..P. 48, RL1/5, 1775
    Apr. 9. Sarah an adult, slave to the Honble. Edward Jordan [172]
    The birth date on her memorial stone seems very late and probably reflects a late baptismal date, rather than a birth date.
    She was said to have died in 1865 at the age of 84, giving a birth date of 1771. This would make her 38 years old (somewhat old) at marriage, but it is also said that she was a 28 year-old widow (in 1813?0, giving a birth date of 1784.

    None of this circumstantial evidence is conclusive, but what do you deduce from it?

  15. John

    I would deduce that we need to send our historians back to school!!

  16. John

    Ann Gill made two returns in 1817 in respect of slaves she owned in her own right, possibly inherited from Edward Jordan, and as executrix of her husband’s estate.

    I believe Ann Gill married Alexander Gill, also a free mulatto, when he was 60 which makes the age you suggest for her more believable.

    I flat don’t believe a 14 year old would marry a 60 year old … but hey that’s what needs to have happened if our historians are right.

    In returns which follow she traded in slaves also.

    Check ancestry.com for their names.

  17. mlutleyj

    John, where does your info on Alexander Gill and family come from? I can find almost nothing on the web.
    I note that it is said that the Methodists gave Ann Gill the name of Sarah as a tribute to her courageous struggle, yet, in the will of Joseph Jordan, of 1789, long before this, she is referred to as Sarah, a mulatto CHILD, but in the will of Edward Jordan of 1799, as Ann Jordan, young free coloured WOMAN of Bridgetown. In the latter, she has an option of either a house owned by the testator in Church Street, Bridgetown or 800 pounds, if she prefers, 4 mulatto slaves, 50 pounds annuity for life, charged on Molyneux. Presumably, she must have reached the age of majority (21) by this time. A conveyance of Molyneuz in 1828 refers to an annuity of 50 pounds payable to Ann Gill, widow, formerly Ann Jordan.
    She was probably somewhat wealthier than her husband.
    There seems to be no foundation for the suggestion that her father was a Gill.
    Note that, if my deductions are correct, Ann’s mother was Sarah Ellcock and her paternal grandmother was Ann Dottin. Her brother had the name of his father, Edward Jordan, and her sister the name of her paternal great grandmother, Elizabeth Brewster. It is to be presumed that Edward and Elizabeth had died before 1799, since the are not mentioned in Edward, the father’s will
    The irony in all this is that part of the Jordan family fortune was being used to support the Methodist Church in its struggle for abolition at the same time as Gibbes Walker Jordan (Ann’s cousin), the Colonial Agent in London, was defending the economic necessity of slavery in Barbados!

  18. John

    Try family search.org

    Here is the marriage in 1809

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XL2P-7YB

    This is what I have so far … may have mistakes … sorry about formatting

    1 ? John Gill b: Abt. 1629
    …….. 2 John Gill b: Abt. 1660 in estates in engl and barbados; fr. hen. alleyne d: Aft. 1719 in St. Michael, Barbados; will dat 28feb1719
    ………… +Mary Wheeler
    ………………. 3 Jno Gill b: 18 Jun 1703 in St. Michael
    ………………. 3 William Gill b: Bef. 17 Feb 1703/04 in St. Michael, beq. plantation in berkley co., so carolina
    ………………….. +Mary ?
    ……………………….. 4 Robert Gill b: Bef. 1724
    …………………………… +Mary Hartle b: Bef. 1724
    …………………………………. 5 William Gill b: Abt. 1744 Baptism: 01 Jul 1744 Ch. Ch
    …………………………………. 5 George Gill b: Abt. 1745 d: Bef. 19 Nov 1801 in St. Michael, will probated 1801 Baptism: 08 Aug 1845
    …………………………………….. +Jemima ? b: Abt. 1735 d: Bef. 21 Sep 1825 in St. Michael
    ………………………………………….. 6 Alexander George Gill b: Abt. 1760 d: Bef. 30 Apr 1814 in St. Michael
    ……………………………………………… +Ann Jordan
    ……………………………………………………. 7 Edward George Gill b: Abt. 1811 d: 1856 in St. Michael, will probated 1868 Baptism: 05 Jul 1811
    ……………………………………………………….. +Emily Henrietta Young
    ……………………………………………………………… 8 Elizabeth Anna Gill b: Abt. 1841 Baptism: 11 Jun 1841
    ……………………………………………………………… 8 Elizabeth Glorvina Aurelia Gill b: Abt. 1843 Baptism: 28 Apr 1843
    …………………………………………………………………. +Herman Luther Bagley
    ……………………………………………………………… 8 Alexander George Gill b: Abt. 1844 Baptism: 08 Nov 1844
    ……………………………………………………………… 8 Elysia Jordan Gill b: Abt. 1846 in Baptised Weslyan
    ……………………………………………………………… 8 Mary Augusta Gill b: Abt. 1848 in Baptised Weslyan
    ……………………………………………………………… 8 Agnes Henrietta Young Gill b: Abt. 1852 in Baptised Weslyan d: Bef. 1936 in Will probated
    1936
    ……………………………………………………. 7 Alexander Bovell Gill b: Abt. 1813 d: 21 Oct 1813 Baptism: 23 Mar 1813
    ………………………………………….. 6 Jonathan Gill d: Abt. 1813 in Will probated c. 1813
    ………………………………………….. 6 Sarah Hester Gill
    ………………………………………….. 6 William Gill
    ………………………………………….. 6 John Gill
    …………………………………. *1st Wife of George Gill:
    …………………………………….. +Joanna ?
    ………………………………………….. 6 Christian Gill
    …………………………………. 5 Mary Gill b: Abt. 1747 Baptism: Sep 1747 Ch. Ch
    …………………………………….. +Richard Hart
    ………………………………………….. 6 John Hart
    ………………………………………….. 6 George Hart
    …………………………………. 5 Alexander Gill b: Bef. 1756
    …………………………………….. +Angelitta Mascoll b: Bef. 1756 d: 1811 in St. Michael
    ………………………………………….. 6 George Gill b: Bef. 31 Mar 1778 in St. Thomas, Barbados; bap
    ………………………………………….. 6 Jemima Gill b: 01 Oct 1780
    ………………………………………….. 6 Robert Robertson Gill b: 04 Nov 1778
    ………………………………………….. 6 Christabella Gill b: Bef. 18 Jul 1784
    ………………………………………….. 6 John Robinson Gill b: Bef. 31 Jan 1785
    …………………………………. 5 Elizabeth Gill b: Abt. 1756 Baptism: 29 Jun 1756 Ch. Ch
    …………………………………. 5 Ann Gill b: Abt. 1758 Baptism: 10 Apr 1758 Ch. Ch
    …………………………………. 5 Robert Gill b: Abt. 1761 Baptism: 16 Sep 1761 Ch. Ch
    …………………………………. 5 Thomas Gill b: Abt. 1763 Baptism: 11 Apr 1763 Ch. Ch
    ……………………….. 4 William Gill b: Bef. 1724
    ………………. 3 Frances Gill b: Bef. 20 May 1706 in St. Michael
    ………………. 3 Anne Bellwain Gill b: Bef. 30 Sep 1707 in St. Michael
    ………………. 3 Mary Gill b: Bef. 03 Mar 1707/08 in In st. m
    ………………. 3 Jane Gill b: Bef. 17 Jun 1710 in St. Michael

  19. John

    There is a lot on the web that is now available.

  20. John

    There is a book by Woodie Blackman you should look at.

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