Land, is a contentious topic, in the Bahamas. And for good reason. A famous person once wrote, “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.” Herein lies the problem, the problem of heroes. It reaches across time, seizing hold of the immense historical significance the land has to the inhabitants of this small island nation. The vast majority of Bahamians today, don’t consider themselves to be the hero, of their land story. So much of it had been granted, gifted, quieted, stolen, sold, squandered and squatted upon, that there exists a feeling of futility amongst generations of islanders. When one considers that large scale development, especially private land development and tourism development, has really only been accomplished by foreign investors, this has led to further futility and acrimony within the native Bahamian community. It has been so, for more than a hundred years.
If truth be told, the land was gone long before national independence in 1973. What had been happening since the 1800s, was a selling and subdividing of vast parcels of land originally granted, gifted or settled by the British, and to a lesser extent, the French and the Spanish.
From 1670, and in the ensuing two hundred years of English settlement of the Bahama Islands, vast amounts of land was granted away to encourage settlers. More land was then gifted away to reward the Loyalists and those who did what the English monarch at the time considered as good work on behalf of the realm.
By the 1800s, a number of English slaveowners, tired of hot island life and foreseeing the end of slavery or finding their vast plantations more trouble than they were worth, soon began selling. The children of slaveowners, upon their death, realised that more value lay in subdividing the land. They too began selling their parent’s slaves and plantation land, which had been originally granted or gifted, by the Crown.
March 13, 1822 – THE EXECUTORS OF THE LATE JOHN SINGER OF WATLINGS ISLAND, DECEASED, WILL SELL 34 VALUABLE SLAVES AND 1,129 ACRES OF LAND
FEBRUARY 15, 1822 – TO BE SOLD JAMESTON PLANTATION ANDROS 1,000 ACRES OF EXCELLENT LAND INCLUDING NEGRO SLAVE HOUSES
FEBRUARY 13, 1822 – MR. E. I. SOLOMON WARNS TRESPASSERS OFF HIS HOG ISLAND LAND
(Hog Island is now Paradise Island)
February 9, 1822 – FOR SALE “THE FARM” 153 ACRES OF LAND NEAR ORANGE HILL PLANTATION ON THE ISLAND OF NEW PROVIDENCE
JANUARY 19, 1822 – 350 ACRES OF LAND SOUTH OF BLUE HILLS ON NEW PROVIDENCE. TO BE SOLD IN TEN ACRE LOTS
DECEMBER 26, 1821 – LOT AND PROPERTY OF THE LATE MR. ROBERT BELL CONSISTING OF LAND AND HOUSES NEAR HARBOUR ON WESTERN SUBURBS OF NEW PROVIDENCE
4th JANUARY 1822 – TO BE SOLD: A NEGRO MAN NAMED JOE, THE PROPERTY OF MR. SHERMAN TROWBRIDGE, TO SETTLE DEBTS
JANUARY 5th 1822 – A NEGRO WOMAN AND HER CHILD ABOUT 8 YEARS OLD: TERMS CASH
JANUARY 5th 1822 – 80 ACRES OF LAND ON LONG ISLAND, PROPERTY OF BENJAMIN THOMPSON
JANUARY 9th, 1822 – FOR SALE: TWO LOTS OF LAND WITH BUILDINGS IN NASSAU COURT
FOR RENT: DWELLING HOUSE, WHARF AND STORES ON THE BAY OWNED BY HENRY AND JAMES WOOD
JANUARY 23, 1822 PROPERTY AND SLAVES OF THE LATE ROBERT BELL
NEGRO MAN NAMED MINGO AND NEGRO WOMAN NAMED SARAH
According to will slaves MINGO and SARAH may purchase their freedom for £170 and £100 paid to the Executor
March 7, 1822 – FOR SALE: YOUNG BLACK WOMAN, ABOUT 21 YEARS OF AGE
March 27, 1822 – FOR SALE: A TRACT OF LAND BEYOND BLUE HILLS and FARM CALKED STONEY BATTER
MARCH 16, 1822 – LOT OF LAND AND BUILDING ON CHURCH STREET OPPOSITE CHRIST CHURCH