Category Archives: History

Barbados History: Bajan handyman turned axe-murderer – Julian Carlton massacred seven at Frank Lloyd Wright home in 1914

Barbados Axe Murder Wright Architect

“Julian Carlton said he was from Barbados and he had good credentials, having worked previously for a prominent Chicago caterer. There was not much more known about him.”

Mass murderer said to be from Barbados… but was he?

September 15, 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of the mass-murder of seven at ‘Taliesin’, the Wisconsin estate home of famed Welsh/American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The murderer, Julian Carlton, and his wife Gertrude had always been reported as being from Barbados, but later accounts say the couple was ‘reportedly’ or ‘said to be’ from Barbados – indicating some doubt. It might be that the doubt originates only from the hundred years since the crime, but could it be that Julian and Gertrude Carlton only said they were from Barbados?

Can any of our readers confirm or deny that the Carltons were from Barbados? Julian Carlton was said to be 30 years old at the time of the murders, making him born around 1884.

Could it be that Julian and Gertrude Carlton only said they were from Barbados?

Frank Lloyd Wright Murder click photo for large

‘God’s judgement’ or a mentally ill man gone berserk?

In 1914 many folks said that the murders were God’s judgement upon Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress for their open adultery. Pretty mistress Mamah Borthwick Cheney was the younger wife of one of the architect’s clients when they started a torid affair in 1903. Frank Lloyd Wright left his wife of 20 years and six children for the delights of Mrs. Cheney and scandalised Wisconsin when he built an estate for her that the newspapers of the time dubbed the “Bungalow of Love”. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, History

George Waldron – from Black Rock, Barbados to Guyana in the 1920′s or 1930′s

Black Rock Barbados History

I would love to hear from the Waldrons of Black Rock

I am an avid reader of the Barbados Free Press and am very happy that I can get to access your news online.

My reason for sending this email is to request some information about some long lost relatives that I would love to connect with in Barbados.

My great grandfather, now deceased, came to Guyana many years ago. His name was George Waldron and was from Black Rock. He came to Guyana sometime in the late 1920′s or early 1930′s and never returned to Barbados.

I would like to connect with the old and the young folks of the Waldron family. I am a Guyanese citizen and presently living in Guyana.



Photo courtesy of’s The Tramways of Bridgetown Barbados


Filed under Barbados, Guyana, History

Bajan Roots: Looking for historical information about the Byram family in Barbados


Dear Barbados Free Press,

I would like to learn about the history or origin of the Surname BYRAM in Barbados.

My ancestor, Nicholas Byram was born in Kent, England about 1610. He was in Barbados sometime during the period 1620 – 1635.

I have found in Facebook two persons with the surname Byram who have family roots in Barbados but one, a lifeguard named Selena Byram, worked at a beach in Barbados and was killed by a shark. The other person’s grandparents lived in Barbados but had no knowledge of the history of their Byram surname.

Jerry Byram


Filed under Barbados, History, Slavery

“Cumba” – the story of one slave woman owned by Captain John Burch, Christ Church. From Africa to Barbados to England


“Mr. Maverick was desirous to have a breed of Negroes, and therefore seeing she would not yield by perswasions to company with a Negro young man he had in his house…”

… from John Josselyn as recounted in Two Voyages to New England, published 1674

One story of millions

by West Side Davie

“Cumba” was her name. She died a slave in Romford, England in April, 1668 – the property of John Burch and his wife Margaret of Hogsty Plantation. (I’m not sure whether Captain John Burch of Barbados is also referred to and is the same as Colonel John Burch of Barbados, but this family history and other websites seem to say it is the same man. I remain open for correction!)

Today, Cumba is remembered as Havering’s first black resident in an excellent article by Professor Ged Martin just published in the Romford Recorder:

It was 350 years ago this year that a fabulously rich couple, John and Margaret Burch, arrived in Romford.

They’d made their money in Barbados, exploiting slave labour to produce the bonanza crop: sugar.

In 1664, they retired to England, buying Romford’s biggest estate, Gidea Hall, then usually called Giddy Hall. The mansion, demolished in 1930, stood just east of Raphael Park.

Madam Burch, as she was fawningly called, brought her personal maidservant from Barbados, the ultimate status symbol.

Cumba was Havering’s first black resident. A slave, a piece of property, Cumba survived the English climate just four years.

But when she died, in April 1668, somebody had the humanity to record her name in the register of Romford’s St Edward’s church. “Cumber, a ffemale Blackamore servant from Guyddy Hall, buried.”

Today, “blackamore” is an offensive term. But in 1668, when “black” was used to ­describe complexion, it was an attempt to identify Cumba with some dignity. The double “ff” ­indicated a capital letter.

… read the entire article Cumba: Havering’s first black resident remembered on the 350th anniversary of her arrival.

We know very little about Cumba, but we still know far more about her than we do about millions of other people who were enslaved with her and since. We know about the times in which she lived, and we also know a little about the socially-condoned cruelty of slave owners. I believe that much of history has been ‘cleansed’, but not all of it. What passed for ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ when Cumba lived gives us some idea of her personal circumstances, what she probably saw even if she was not herself subject to all of the abuses. We simply don’t know the details of her life, but we know the times.

So to learn more about Cumba, we will talk of the people around her: the powerful elites of society at the time… Continue reading


Filed under Africa, Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, History, Human Rights, Race, Slavery

Afghanistan in 1967… and now

afghanistan history 1967

Surfing the web, wandering aimlessly at 1am as the rain keeps coming.

Like Iran, there was a time when Afghanistan was coming into a new age with increased freedoms for women, and a growing economy that had nothing to do with opium.

Those days are gone.


Filed under History, Human Rights

Barbados 1780 rum made by slaves fetches highest price ever

harwood rum barbados

Queen Elizabeth’s cousin sells 12 bottles from secret stash for US$127,555.65

In 1780 on the island of Barbados, unknown slaves without names distilled and barreled rum for their master: Edward Lascelles, the first Earl of Harewood. The rum was shipped to jolly old England in barrels where it was bottled and tucked away in a cellar at the family mansion… where it sat for 231 years before being discovered. Wuhloss! It wouldn’t have lasted a week ’bout my home!

Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, the Earl (later promoted to Viscount Lascelles) owned some 22 plantations and 2,947 slaves in the Caribbean – including Lascelles House near Holetown.

All these years later his descendant, David Lascelles, 8th Earl of Harewood, is the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and great-grandson of King George V.

Mount Gay Rum owns the Barbados estate.

What did the 8th Earl of Harewood do with all that money from the sale of slave rum? Good for him… he gave the money back to the Caribbean people – to the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

Good for the Queen’s cousin!

But he only gave back the money from 12 bottles of rum.

We still waiting for the money from the sale of the family mansion: bought an paid for with the blood and tears of thousands of slaves.


Further Information about this event:

Harewood House Auction and the Rum Ambassador



Filed under Barbados, History, Human Rights, Slavery

Great train robber Ronald Biggs dead – Good riddance to an evil man

Ronald Biggs Sex Pistols

“In 1981, Biggs was kidnapped by a gang of British ex-soldiers and smuggled to Barbados. But legal efforts to have him brought back to the UK once again stalled and he was allowed to return to Brazil.”

… CNN: ‘Great Train Robber’ Ronnie Biggs dies, aged 84

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, in its obituary, makes the point that while Biggs won notoriety for the heist and his subsequent life on the run, “people tended to forget that he had seriously wounded the train-driver, Jack Mills, who died six years later having never recovered his health.”

All along the news media were Ronald Biggs’ business partners.

Ronald Biggs cultivated his flamboyant Robin Hood image and celebrated his fame without shame. With a smirk on his face he told one interviewer that he was “proud” of his part in the Great Train Robbery.

Looking back at the past 47 years you can trace the change in the way the media handled Biggs. Journalists helped a vicious thug become a dashing and daring Robin Hood, a celebrity and finally, a victim himself when he came back to Britain penniless and was thrown in jail until his compassionate release in August of 2009 because he had “weeks to live”.

How remorseful is “Ronnie” a year after his release?

Judging by this news article, not at all…

… from BFP’s Kidnapper of Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs returning to Barbados


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, History

Old time Barbados

Saw it, had to share.


Part two here! You will always be a Bajan!


Filed under Barbados, History

Guide to tracing your Barbados roots

Convent School Barbados 1944 click photo for larger

Everywhere you go… you’ll find a Bajan

My great-great-grandfather Sandy Powell Sr. moved to North Carolina in the late 19th century. The story is that he came from Barbados after 1865, as a free man. No one knows why or under what conditions. We don’t know from where in Barbados he traveled, either. Was he part of a larger migration from the Caribbean to the Carolinas? If so, how do we trace that information? —Bettina Judd

It is true that everywhere you go today, you’ll find a Bajan. Here at Barbados Free Press we’ve been contacted by Bajans in China, Greenland, Panama, Russia, Antarctica and Peru to name a few. And way back when during the aftermath of Britain’s anti-slavery laws and movements, Bajans also traveled far and wide… but not always at their own desire. Over-crowding and poverty on Barbados was the catalyst for many young men and women to seek better lives over and away. They still do, and many for the same reasons – deny it as you will.

Many Bajans ended up in North and South Carolina both before and after slavery and the civil war, and many Americans from the Carolinas combine an annual vacation in Bim with the search for their roots and relatives.

We hear in the rum shop that a year ago former Prime Minister Owen Arthur received a young family from South Carolina who are related in some way to him a long time ago. It is a small world sometimes.

Places to look and see…

The Root: How Did My Free Bajan Ancestor End Up in North Carolina?

Ursuline Convent School of Barbados: A short history.

Photo credit: Ursuline Convent School of Barbados Photo Book

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Filed under Barbados, History

Bright lights, big city didn’t work out for expat Bajan… or did it? Merry Christmas, Rosalie.


Should Rosalie have stayed in Barbados?

The call beckons, especially to the best most industrious Bajans: Go over and away. You can make more money, have a better life for yourself and your children.

Some of those adventures work out, and some don’t. For Marcus and Shona in Brooklyn, New York, it worked out but after a few years they came home anyways.

For Rosalie, it was another story…

Does Rosalie have any regrets after leaving Bim more than 40 years ago? At 87 years old she has nothing, and lives in Montreal, Canada on welfare, food banks, subsidized housing and the charity of others.

But at 87, she’s accepted it all and at least feels accomplished in her steadfast goal of granting her daughters a better life abroad.

“I read my Bible and I try not to worry. Why worry about what you don’t have when you can be thankful for what you have?” she said. “I don’t believe (it’s good) to mope, you have to be careful not to depress yourself. It doesn’t make sense to pull yourself even further down worrying that you can’t have this or that. It doesn’t make sense.

“And it’s amazing how the Lord will send someone to give you a biscuit or a little sugar when you need it. So you worry for nothing.”

Rosalie is among the thousands who are to receive a $125 cheque from The Gazette Christmas Fund this year. The money helps families and individuals in need get through the holiday season.

… read the entire article at the Montreal Canada Gazette: Rosalie gave up everything to give her daughters a better life


Filed under Barbados, Economy, History

When a beautiful woman infuriated the Bajan clergy

Carolle Bourne Barbados

Tongue-in-cheek I say “Sorry old friend…”

I’ve just discovered a photo of your mum (now passed on) in her younger days.

As politely as I can, let’s just say; I can see why your father fell in love, and I can see why you are here!


Carolle upset all those fine upstanding men of the cloth…

I can see why!



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Filed under Barbados, Freedom Of The Press, History

Former colonial officer William Bell’s obituary offers some clues on the demise of the West Indies Federation

William-Lewis-Bell Barbados

Initially the appointment of Bell, a former colonial administrator in Uganda, was greeted with suspicion. The press in Barbados heralded his appointment with the headline “Britain sends us another colonial cast-off”.

“The appointment of Bell was greeted with suspicion.”

And well it should have been. After three hundred years of sucking everything it could from its ‘colonies’ in the Caribbean and around the world – with strategies including the use of slavery, genocide and enforced drug addiction – in the late 1940s post-war Britain looked at the balance sheet and discovered that many of her former assets had become economic and political liabilities.

So Great Britain finally decided to heed the calls for independence – not out of any sense of duty or doing the right thing – but like a business that casts aside a long-term employee who was injured on the job, Britain started dumping the old colonies that were no longer strategically or financially useful. That included Barbados and a host of other Caribbean islands.

And what of all that revenue from sugar’s heyday? What about the benefits to The Empire when Bridgetown was a strategic military base and supply centre? What about the revenues from the slave trade?

Doan talk about that boy.

William Bell: Oppressor? Neutral functionary? Midwife of Bajan independence?

You decide.


Filed under Barbados, History

Looking for photos of The Regent / Golden Palm Hotel / Chefette in Holetown

Barbados Holetown Chefette

Can BFP’s readers help me? Do you have any old photos of the Regent Hotel / Golden Palm Hotel or the Chefette in Holetown?

I went there on holiday in Summer 1996 when I was twelve and I loved it! It’s such a shame to see what happened to it. Unfortunately I only have one photo remaining from my holiday, a picture of the pool.

I would be very grateful if you had any photos that you could share with me, be they holiday snaps of it in it’s prime or photos when it was abandoned.

Martin Daniels

Editor’s note: Send your photos to and we’ll publish them here for all to see, or Martin wants to post his email address in the comments, readers can send their photos directly to him.

Martin was looking at BFP’s article Sale Of Holetown Chefette For “$40 Million Plus” Highlights The Killing Impact Of Condos Upon Tourism And Local Businesses

2007 photo of Chefette Holetown by Gary Bembridge used with permission.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy, History

One year since the passing of Nenyin Alison Attah (Coleman): How a Bajan ended up First Lady of Akwa Ibom State Nigeria

Alison-Attah Barbados Nigeria

“When we finally reached Nigeria, I was certain that I had reached my resting place on earth. There would be no return to Barbados or UK”.

… Mrs Alison Attah, April, 2012, in an interview in Lagos.

Tuesday October 29, 2013 will mark exactly one year since Mrs Nenyin Alison Attah, the former First Lady of Akwa Ibom State departed this world for eternal life. For the two children, Felicia and Christopher, and for His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah, the Father of Akwa Ibom State, it has been a long year; made longer by the absence of the centre-piece of every home – a loving wife and mother. Life had ceased to be the same for them; but life must go on.

But it was not only the husband and kids who will miss her. Eno, the house help of over three decades, who through the generousity of the former First Lady, had sent two kids to university and is the proud owner of three bedroom bungalow, with boys quarters attached, had refused to go. Like the Biblical Ruth she had decided that even in death “Your people shall be my people”. She represents a lot of people who are still to come to terms that their long term benefactor had gone – never to return…

Read the entire article at the Vanguard Nigeria: From Barbados with love for Nigerians

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Filed under Africa, Barbados, History

Bajan Ralph Straker passes in the UK – One of thousands recruited from the Caribbean by London Transport in the 1950s

Ralph Straker Barbados London Transit That’s Ralph on the left!  :-)

Left Barbados for London Transport in 1956

Many of those who came to Britain had expected to stay for a few years, but remained for most of their working lives. They often maintained strong links with home, as well as making new friends at work and in the community.

Ralph Straker, recruited as a bus conductor in 1956, agrees.

He said: ‘I have a house already waiting on me there.

‘But my wife isn’t quite ready yet.

‘She’s waiting on the grandchildren… I am waiting to put my foot on the sands and sip my rum punch.

‘I’m looking forward to the day when we can do that.’

… from a 2010 article in Transport for London (here)

Ralph Straker passed on Saturday October 12, 2013 at 77 years old – which is not that old in Bajan terms, but he’d been living in the UK since 1956 and that fast pace must take a few years off a person. But Ralph and his wifey Monica had been married for 54 years, had hundreds of friends and their children and extended family, so Ralph by all accounts led a good life. He was a verger at his church for 45 years and you can’t call a man like that anything but a bedrock of the community and a true leader by example.

Mr. Straker was one of thousands from the Caribbean recruited in the 1950s by London Transit to counter the exodus of Brits after the war to places far afield like South Africa, Australia, America, Canada and the orient. That adventure alone is worth a read.

Our prayers for the Straker family and friends.

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Filed under Barbados, History

Ralph Dungan: Aide to President Jack Kennedy passes in Barbados

Ralph Dungan Jack Kennedy

(Photo: Ralph Dungan in Barbados, and in 1962 with Kennedy)

Another old man dies in Barbados – and takes his secrets with him

That old man in St. John’s? Quite the walking piece of history until he couldn’t walk anymore an de smiling lady wheel him about. Went for surgery and he is gone now…

Here, here and …

Ralph Dungan served as aide in Kennedy White House

By Bruce Weber / New York Times News Service

Ralph Dungan, a prominent aide in the Kennedy White House who was later caught up in tumultuous Chilean politics as an ambassador and bitter university politics as New Jersey’s first chancellor of higher education, died Saturday at his home in St. John Parish, Barbados. He was 90.

The cause was complications after surgery, his niece Molly Rowley said. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, History

Finding Barbados when you are drunk on Royal Navy rum…


You think it was difficult stumbling home from Christ Church last Friday night?

Try doing it without a mobile phone and GPS location.

God; how I miss you, my brother.


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Filed under Barbados, History, Science

Meet Barbados’ future King: His Royal Highness Prince George

Prince George Birth

Kate and, what’s his name? Oh yeah, William. Anyway they are a nice young couple across the pond and they have just had their first little one, a boy. His name is George Alexander Louis. (Yahoo! News story here)

George for his great-great grandfather, Louis for his great-uncle (?) who was murdered by the Irish Republican Army and Alexander for some distant relatives in Scotland.

Unlike many other children born on the same day in Barbados and around the world, George will never be hungry for long. He will never have malaria or gum disease. George will never experience parasitic worms in his eyes or have trouble finding clean water to drink.

George will have soap available to him every day. A good school and tuition for anything he wants to do are a given. Should he ever have a health problem it will be spotted as early as humanly possible and then treated immediately with the resources of an entire nation. George is already wealthy and as he grows he will have real power and authority (the two are different, you know). As with his wealth, George won’t have to earn that power and authority because it will simply be handed to him.

This little one is truly blessed, and good for him and his proud parents.

George’s task now is to use his blessings to change the world for the better. That’s up to him – he can work hard at using his position to advance the human race, or he can choose to do little or nothing in that regard.

And to those who begrudge the fact that little George has such a good start in life – I remind you that the privileged children of the Bajan political class (and elsewhere) are born with the same silver spoon of assets, family influence and political ties to help them along in life. The difference is only in the size of the assets and influence.

Some of those who are critical of the Royals tend to forget that Barbados has its own royal class, and if the test is to judge how much good they have done with their blessings, our island’s royal class has already failed the test.


Filed under Barbados, Celebrities, History