Beginning with Woodes Rogers, one thing can be said of most, if not all, of the early colonial governors. They came to the Bahama Islands to make money. Why else would men leave the security of England, or some comfortable appointment in the new Americas, to come to a tiny rock like New Providence. Other than yellow fever, typhoid outbreaks, slave problems, constant threats of Spanish invasion, and disagreeable colonists, there wasn’t very much to the early Bahamas, except for the one thing nature wasn’t making anymore of – Land!
Dunmore was a Loyalist. Lord John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore and 4th Viscount Fincastle was the last royal Governor of Virginia before coming to the Bahamas.
Dunmore was Governor of the Bahamas for nine years, between 1787 to 1796.
Just two years after Dunmore arrived, the inhabitants were writing to England to have him recalled.
1789 – Bahamas Inhabitants Have Come to Despise their Obstinate and Violent Governor Dunmore
PORTRAIT OF LORD DUNMORE
From a Bahama Paper of July 29.
“The character of this nobleman is so generally known, that it is almost superfluous to give it here. Obstinate and violent by nature; of a capacity below mediocrity, and little cultivated by education; ignorant of the constitution of England, and of the rights of British subjects; his principles of government are such as might naturally be expected from the lordly despot of a petty clan.–
Nor is his private life by any means less reprehensible than his public character. To descend to particular instances where his arbitrary and ungovernable temper has overleaped all the bounds of law, justice and common decency, would be exceeding the intention of this publication, and is further prevented by regard to the feelings of his amiable family and noble connections.
The ruddy faced, red haired, Governor Dunmore could have cared less who didn’t like him. He did as he wanted, and in 1791, he wanted Hog Island. Dunmore was a Loyalist, who like others loyal to the Crown during the American War of Independence, lost considerable property and money, when they had to abandon the United States.
Perhaps Dunmore felt he was entitled to the land due to the losses he incurred in the Americas.
Dunmore took Hog Island, then told everyone to get their belongings off it, or he would use the law to prosecute them.
The Scotsman didn’t mince words with his notice in the local Nassau paper in 1791.
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, That the Earl of Dunmore is now Proprietor of the whole of Hog Island, except thirty Acres belonging to Mr. Russel the Ship Builder. His Lordship having informed, that some People have Stock on the Island, and that others cut Wood, Grass, &c. this is to declare that the former will remove their Stock before the 1st of June, and that the latter will desist immediately from cutting Wood, &c.
Persons offending may be assured of being prosecuted against as the Law directs.
May 20, 1791
ENGLAND GETS DUNMORE’s BAHAMAS LAND BACK IN A CLEVER WAY
Governor Dunmore died on 25 February 1809 in Ramsgate in Kent, England at the age of 79.
Dunmore must have struck a deal with Parliament, in London, when he was due to retire. In order for Dunmore to receive his pension, he had to relinquish certain lands in the Bahamas. One of these lands, may have been the whole of Hog Island, which he took sometime in 1791.
In 1838, twenty-nine years after his death, and nineteen years after the death of his wife, the Countess of Dunmore, we see from a list of colonial pensions that DUNMORE’s daughter, Lady Virginia Murray, age 63, was receiving her father’s pension at 184 pounds.
Murray, Lady Virginia. Age 63; 184£—-Daughter of the Earl of Dunmore, Governor of the Bahamas.
It is stated that this pension was granted in consideration of the surrender by Lord Dunmore of certain lands to the government. By reason of his attachment to the cause of the crown he also suffered considerable losses in the United States.