As early as 1752, in an effort to populate the many near uninhabited islands of the Bahamas, the British began a program of convict, miscreant and vagabond “transportation.” Convict transportation was a hugely successful exercise for the British. It achieved both goals of foreign land colonisation, as well as, the unburdening of European streets of the presence of undesirables in society. The more British subjects who settled foreign lands, irregardless of who or what they were, meant an important line of defence against other European encroachment, in the early scramble for the West Indies.
For the West Indies, during the height of the slave trade of the late 1700s, these convicts and vagabonds, eventually became slave owners themselves. With a measure of wealth, they turned from social outcasts in their home country, to lords of the manor in deserted island spaces.
How these many convicts affected the story of Abaco, or indeed any of the islands in the Bahamas that they were deposited on, is a story only a good weaver of tales can offer. Without question they did affect the history, language and culture of Island life, as norms and traditions and genetics were passed down through the generations.
1752 – PROJECT BEGINS TO SETTLE MORE BAHAMA ISLANDS WITH VAGABONDS WHO INFECTS THE STREETS OF EUROPE
We hear that there is a Project on Foot for peopling immediately, and at a small Expense to the Publick, the Bahama Islands, than which there is not a more valuable Country possessed by the Europeans in America; and indeed it were to be wished, that since we find so many Inconveniences from the Multitude of Vagabonds that infect the Streets and Roads in and about London, some effectual Methods could be devised to defend honest People’s Properties, and these unhappy Creatures (if possible) from the Gallows.
(The Derby Mercury, England, 20 October 1752)
Extract of a Letter from Dublin, Ireland September 21.
On Tuesday 109 convicts , cast for transportation, were carried on board a vessel bound for Abacco, one of the Bahama Islands; where a life of Regularity and Labour may perhaps we claim the most of them, from being the past and outcast of society, to be useful Members to Community.
(The Derby Mercury, England, Thursday 29 September 1785
1894 – IRISH BLACKS IN THE BAHAMAS
The Irish language is spoken in the Bahamas among the mixed descendants of the Hibernian Patriots banished long ago by Cromwell to the West Indies. One can occasionally hear it said, black sailors in the London docks who cannot speak a word of English, talking Irish to the old Irish apple women whom they meet and thus making themselves intelligible without a knowledge of the Saxon tongue.
(The Weekly Gazette, Thursday July 12, 1894)
£500 FROM BAHAMA LEGISLATURE TO HELP THE IRISH AFFECTED BY THE FAMINE 1847
The Great Famine or the Great Hunger, was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and emigration.