The historical significance of Canterbury to British history, is perhaps equal to the historical significance of an Arch, named after Bahamas Governor John Gregory, who was born, in Canterbury, in 1795.
Gregory’s Arch, in Nassau, stands as the most significant historical gateway, in all of the Bahamas. Millions have passed under this time portal. It was the passageway which separated the races, and the economic levels, on the capital island, New Providence. This separation has existed in the Bahamas, since before emancipation. Gregory’s Arch connects Bay Street, the main commercial centre in the city of Nassau with Grant’s Town, the historical settlement of liberated Africans and freed slaves.
Gregory’s Arch was a marker, a line hewed out of solid limestone rock. All on New Providence knew the Arch separated life between black and white, rich and poor, commerce and the labourers which made business in Nassau possible.
In the old days after emancipation, negro labourers and workers would walk through the Arch at sunrise, and had to be back on the other side of the Arch by sundown. This carried on well into the early 1900s.
Appointment of a new Governor for the Bahamas 1848
(The Norwich Post, East Anglia, England December 27, 1848)
Oddly enough, Governor John Gregory (1795-1853), was not a Sir. Most of the colonial governors of the Bahamas, beginning with Sir James Carmichael Smyth (1829-1833) where knighted men. Invariably, the majority of the colonial governors began their austere careers as lowly civil servants, administering British law in inhospitable colonies. They worked their way up to high position.
John Gregory was appointed Governor in 1848. He arrived to take up his post in early 1849. By October or so in 1849, the inhabitants of Pitts Cove in Eleuthera had petitioned his excellency to change the name of their area to Gregory Town.
Gregory Town still stands today.
(The Commercial Advertiser, Monday 3rd December 1849)
John Gregory (1795-1853), was a colonial treasurer, before arriving as Bahamas Governor in 1849. Gregory was born on 26 October 1795 in the Precincts, Canterbury, the fourth (and youngest) son of the Rev. William Gregory. He attended The King’s School, Canterbury, and the University of Edinburgh.
In late July of 1853, at age 58, John Gregory was attacked by a tropical fever.
He took sick on Monday.
Got worse on Tuesday.
Rebounded on Wednesday.
Became sicker on a Thursday.
Died on Friday.
Buried by Saturday July 30th 1853, at six pm.
The fever could have been anything from malaria to a viral infection. He was interred in Potter’s Field in New Providence.