All who sat in the House of Assembly, before 1834, were slave owners. Slaves were the only source of wealth and you had to be a landowner with wealth to sit in the House of Assembly.

There is apparently a floor stone in the aisle, of Christ Church Cathedral, Nassau, in tribute to James Moss Senior, who was the wealthiest slave owner in the Bahamas in his day. He was a British Loyalist and Member of the Bahamas House of Assembly. James Moss Senior was granted 160 acres of land in Exuma by the British for his loyalty.

James Moss Senior, unexpectedly dropped dead, on 23 October 1820, while in the process of selling 1,000 Bahamas slaves to the brutal sugar plantations and fields of British Guiana.

Slaves in the sugar, tobacco, fruit and mining production British slave colonies like Jamaica, Barbados, and British Guiana to name a few, needed constant replenishing. Slaves died very quickly under the harshness of field work, the unrelenting physical punishments and the constant degrading mental torture of life ownership/chattel of the slave master.

With such an incredible number of slaves being sold in 1820 by James Moss Esq., it is more than obvious that the Bahamas had become a slave producing colony. The Bahamas in all likelihood had become a breeding farms as such, to feed the need for labour in other slave colonies.

James Moss Senior (1759 – 1820) made it clear in his will that his property, his slaves, were to be sold to fund annuities for his sister, his niece and several unrelated women.

In 1822, Henry Moss, a nephew of James Moss Senior, sold 129 slaves to slaveholders in Jamaica. It is possible that the slaves were sold to the Hon. Samuel Jackson late of Falmouth Jamaica and Alfred-Place Bedford Square Middlesex who died on or about 13/03/1837.

Listed below are the slaves sold from the Bahamas by Henry Moss Esq., as part of his inheritance of slaves owned by James Moss Esq.

Babies, young children, teenagers, girls, boys, women and men. Old and young. Taken from whatever island they had been loaned out to work on. Their names, ages and the islands where they were employed before being sold to Jamaica are listed. Also listed is whether they were Creole or African. This distinction can only mean if whether or not they were born in the Bahamas or were recent acquisitions from Africa. Those marked African may have been part of slave gangs liberated from Spanish or Portuguese slave ships. Instead of being liberated, they were enslaved.

Biography and Will Of James Moss Senior, Loyalist, Slave Trader and Member of the Bahamas House of Assembly

Bahamian slave-owner, in the process of moving 1000 enslaved people from Crooked Island in the Bahamas to British Guiana on his death in 1820, uncle of John Moss, Henry Moss of Liverpool and James Moss junior.

1 Will of James Moss senior, merchant of the island of New Providence proved 22/06/1822. To nephew James Moss junior, then in Cuba, he left his dwelling house in Nassau ‘and my servant named Fanny and her three children’ as well as his farm or plantation two miles west of Nassau originally granted to his brother William ‘and twenty-eight negroes and other slaves thereon’, whom he named. To his sister Ann Tarbuck of Liverpool he left his farm originally granted to Robert Johnson and lately bought from representatives of Christopher Huxley [?] deceased and five negroes thereon. He manumitted his ‘faithful servant’ Phillis who had long ‘had the management of one of my farms’ and gave her during her life the services of her carpenter son Sam, who was to be freed on her decease. The trustees appointed for all his slaves in the Bahamas and his property in Cuba were his ‘friends’ James Moss junior of ‘the Havana’ [his nephew], Henry Moss of Crooked Island, James Meadows and Abraham Eve, to sell the property to fund annuities of £200 p.a. for his sister Ann Tarbuck, £100 p.a. for his niece Elizabeth Welsh and several further annuities to apparently unrelated women, with the residue to be divided among the children of his nieces and nephews, the latter identified as James, Henry and John Moss. There appears no mention of Anna Regina in Demerara in the will.

2 The brothers James and William Moss were merchants in Nassau and the principal slave importers to the Bahamas. William, who was described as a British Loyalist, was a significant plantation owner and on his death in 1796 James inherited his property, becoming one of the wealthiest men on the island. James was a senior Member of the House of Assembly. After spending some years expanding his holdings, upon his death in 1820 he was the largest slave-owner in the Bahamas. His business was helped by his family connection to Liverpool. William and James’s brother Thomas was a successful Liverpool merchant whose ships were used by James to import slaves and goods to the Bahamas. James resided in three storey brick house called New Providence in Nassau. In 1816 James was charged by the Attorney General Wylly for persistently under-supplying forty-two enslaved people on Perseverance Estate, Crooked Island in contravention of a law passed in 1797. James was one of very few individuals to actually be legally pursued for the mistreatment of slaves. Following the testimony of his fellow planters as to his benevolent nature, James was acquitted. The only person to be changed, prosecuted and imprisoned for this crime during the period 1800-1811 was a free coloured man. Shortly before he died James had been given permission by the Colonial Office ‘to remove his Negroes consisting of about 1,000 from the Bahamas to Demerara on certain terms.’ He only succeeded in moving 211 enslaved people before he died. Having remained unmarried he bequeathed most of his estate to his three nephews John, James and Henry (the sons of his brother Thomas), and tasked them to finish the transfer. With the antislavery cause gaining momentum again in the early 1820s there was an extended political wrangling over the movement of the enslaved people. However in 1823 the nephew James sent a shipment of 840 enslaved people from Acklin’s Island and Crooked Island to Jamaica. It was the largest single transfer of enslaved people during the period.


1 PROB 11/1658/306

2 Paul Farnsworth, ‘The Influence of Trade on Bahamian Slave Culture’ in Historical Archaeology, Vol. 30, No. 4 (1996) , pp. 1-23. Published by: Society for Historical Archaeology. Article Stable URL:; Graham Trust, John Moss of Otterspool (AuthorHouse, 2010); Michael Craton and Gail Saunders, Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People: Volume One: From Aboriginal Times to the End of Slavery (University of Georgia Press, 1999). See especially the chapters ‘The Lifeways of the Loyalist Elite’ and ‘The Decline of Cotton and Slavery’ which have extensive material on James Moss and the Moss family more generally; Michael Craton, ‘Changing patterns of slave family life in the British West Indies’ in eds. Gad Heuman and James Walvin, The Slavery Reader (Routledge, 2003), p.284.

Legacies of British Slave Ownership UCL (London) James Moss Senior BAHAMIAN SLAVEOWNER Courtesy of University College London website

James MOSS died 23 Oct 1820, aged 61. Floor stone in aisle, Christ Church Cathedral, Nassau, Island of Providence, Bahamas. BIRTH: Abt 1759. He was age 61 when he died 23 Oct 1820. Floor stone in aisle, Christ Church Cathedral, Nassau, Island of Providence, Bahamas.

DEEDS: Loyalist Grant 160 acres Exumas.


One hundred and twenty-seven slaves were registered. A baby, made one hundred and twenty-eight.

Bahama Islands

List and description of 128 slaves belonging to the Estate of James Moss, Esq., Deceased, exported in the Brigantine Pan de Civil Joseph Prudden Master for Jamaica May 13th 1822.


Henry Moss esquire named in the last will and testament of James Moss Esquire deceased being duly sworn saith that an infant child named Fanny, the daughter of the mulatto named Jenny No. 450 and which said woman and child are about to be shipped in the Brigantine Pan de Civil was born on Crooked Island since the first day of January last past that at which the above the one hundred and twenty-seven slaves were registered in the Slave Registry of these islands.

Sworn before me this 13th day of May 1822

(signed) Henry Moss

Customs House, November 13th 1822

Jr. J. Forbes, Actg. Collector.