A significant part of the dynamic history of the Bahama Islands, is associated with the ownership, sale and development of land.  The significance of control can often be traced through generational lines and social ties, which enabled access and advantages.  From the very first lease of the entire country to the Lord Proprietors, to the first mass migrations into the islands under formal British government, to the mass distribution of land to British Loyalists, to national independence in 1973, to crown land leased for tourist development – land in the Bahamas, has been of vital interest to both the prosperity and problems of the country.

One important aspect to land ownership, sale and development, which has been largely overlooked in Bahamian history, is that so much of land, has long been in the hands of private owners. It has been so ever since Governor John Murray Dunmore owned almost every acre of Hog Island in 1787.



From the mid 1700s, there was a growing and profitable real estate industry headquartered in Nassau on the island of New Providence. Generational owners of land held by their ancestors were offering vast amounts of acreage and properties for sale.  Huge acreages that were held as bits of paper locked away in safety deposit boxes and under mattress were being pulled out as the big land grab was underway. America and Europe were awakening to the new money making possibilities in the west indies as natural resources were exploited and the new tourism industry began to take off.

In 1925, one of the most successful real estate companies was F. R. Rae & Co. owned by Fernley Rattray Rae.  Through his maternal family line, Fernley Rattray Rae can be traced back, some one hundred and fifty years, to the Rattrays of Rock Sound, Eleuthera. Rock Sound, Eleuthera was first called New Portsmouth, Eleuthera.

The significance of the early Rattrays of Rock Sound is that they were slave owners.  After emancipation, part of the land was apportioned for the freed slaves to occupy. The apportioned land became known as Freetown.

The area called Freetown was later changed to Green Castle, Eleuthera.

The Lineage  of  Fernley Rattray Rae (1892-1984).

F. R. Rae was a Bahamian, born in Nassau on 2nd November 1892.

The Rattrays originally emigrated to the Bahamas from Scotland at the close of the 18th century. The Rattrays settled in New Portsmouth, Eleuthera later renamed Rock Sound, Eleuthera.

William “Buddy” Rattray

William was baptised 14 February, 1777 in Forfar, Angus, Scotland. William arrived in the Bahamas as a clerk for a Nassau mercantile house in 1795.

Will dated 12 Nov 1844 at New Portsmouth (Rock Sound), Eleuthera. Of Mount Rattray Estate on Eleuthera, Parish of St. Patrick. Probated 27 Dec 1853. (Bahamas records Book N4, page 163)

William “Buddy” Rattray married Mary (Knowles) Rattray

their marriage produced several children including:-

Son: James Sampson Rattray Sr. (1805 – 1880)

his marriage produced several children including:-

Son: James Sampson Rattray Jr. (1840 (Rock Sound, Eleuthera) – 1889 (Nassau))

his marriages produced several children including:-

Daughter: Elma Adele (Rattray) Rae (1869 (Nassau) – 1956 (Connecticut))

Elma later married James Maclure Rae  (1852 – 1919) who came from Greysouthen, Cumberland, England. 

Elma Adele Rattray was born on April 15, 1869, in Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas.  She had five sons with James McClure RAE between 1881 and 1907. Elma Adele Rattray died on September 30, 1956, in Hartford, Connecticut, at the age of 87.

James McClure Rae was a lawyer by profession and employed in the civil servant in Nassau.  He was admitted to the Bahamas Bar in 1877.  In less than a year he was appointed justice of the peace and resident justice and collector of revenue of the Crooked Island district. In 1880 he was assistant commissioner at the Turks and Caicos Islands. He eventually became a Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate and served the country in this capacity for many years. He died 16 April 1919 in Nassau, Bahamas at 66 years of age.  He had five children with Elma Adele Rattray.

When Fernley Rattray RAE was born on November 2, 1892, in Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, his father, James, was 39 and his mother, Elma, was 23.  Fernely was the eldest child.

Fernley Rattray Rae married Constance McClure Green and they had one daughter together. He left the Bahamas sometime in 1931 moving possibly to Connecticut. He applied to be a naturalised American citizen.

At the age of 81, Fernley married Grace Ethel Knowles age 73, on September 24, 1974, in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

He died on January 4, 1984, in Hobe Sound, Florida, at the age of 91, and was buried in Bloomfield, Connecticut.