Being a parent, in 1800s Bahamas, was apparently as complicated as it is today. Strong-willed children—or as Bahamians like to say, ‘head-strong’ children— throughout all history, were apparently always annoying, even in the most trying and dangerous of circumstances.

Henry Forbes Sr. a free black man in 1809, had a son also named Henry Forbes who ran away

Children see no danger, even when danger stands before them. The only sound they hear is the passion of their own hearts.

Nevertheless, 1809 was an extraordinary time. Running away was no fairytale and the times were far from adventurous or carefree for blacks. There was a comprehensive slave law, and laws otherwise, which heavy-handedly governed the movement of all negroes across New Providence, and all the inhabited Islands.

So why would the son of a free black man, run away from the safety of his father’s home, during a such dangerous time in history, when free blacks were at risk of being kidnapped and sold into slavery or picked up for any petty crime and sentenced to jail or the workhouse?

The Royal Gazette, Saturday 15th JULY 1809

Was young Henry a kid in love? Was his father too strict? Did he not like doing chores or working in the fields or at the blacksmith’s? Did he get a whipping? Was he objecting to a slave being sold? Where could he have run to, when New Providence was 90% bush and jungle, at that time?

These are all certainly plausible questions, anyone reading the Royal Gazette, that day in 1809, would have considered.

The Royal Gazette, Saturday 15th JULY 1809

Henry Forbes marries Judith M’Naughton in May 1814

It is uncertain whether this was the elder or the younger Henry Forbes who married in 1814.

The Royal Gazette, Saturday 21 MAY 1814

Henry Forbes, the elder, dies leaving his son, who had ran away in 1809 as his executor

Henry Forbes and his son must have made amends and reconciled in the years since 1809. In 1816, when the elder died, his son was named executor of his father’s estate.

The Royal Gazette, Saturday 9th NOVEMBER 1816