The fate of mulatto children —the children of white slaveowners— was as precarious as any other slave. All depended on the sensibilities of the owners. Some slaveowners sold off their progeny like any other chattel. Some however, legitimised their children by manumitting them, educating them, introducing them into society and bequeathing inheritances for them.
1822 – The Hon. Lewis Kerr and his mulatto daughter Eliza
Lewis Kerr, an Irishman, came to Bahama Islands in the late 1700s as part of the Loyalist encursion. He was called to the Bahamas Bar in 1809.
In 1822, Lewis Kerr, placed an extraordinary advertisement in the Nassau newspapers. One of his slaves, a mulatto woman named Eliza, about 20 years old, had runaway.
Eliza ran away with her quarteroon child. Quateroon meant that the child was classified (as was the custom at the time) as being near white. Kerr suspected— as noted in the advertisement —- that some white person, was harbouring, Eliza and her child, on New Providence.
Lewis Kerr’s 1825 slave return shows Eliza, had been returned. In that year, she was 23 years old. Two of the mulatto children listed, may have been more of Kerr’s children, or Eliza’s quarteroon children.
Lewis Kerr’s 1828 slave return reveals that in 1826, Eliza and two other mulattos, Jessy about 6 years old and Robert about 4 years old, had been gratuitously manumitted by Kerr
Lewis Kerr, Attorney General and Speaker of the House of Assembly
By 1828, Irish born, the Hon. Lewis Kerr, had been twice elected as Speaker of the House of Assembly. Lewis Kerr was a lawyer who had also been appointed Attorney General for the Bahama Islands. Politically, he had an excellent career and was well respected.
In April 1832, Lewis Kerr, joined a number other white freeholders, blacks and coloureds — some 51 persons in total—- who delivered a letter to protest Governor James Carmichael Smyth’s sudden dissolution of the House of Assembly.
Governor Carmichael Smyth, whose administration of the government had been stymied and blocked, by an adversarial faction of slaveowners in the House of Assembly, simply decided to dissolve it.
Lewis Kerr (1778 – 1834) is no more! Died suddenly in October 1834
The Hon. Lewis Kerr, arrived in Philadelphia on 9th August 1834. He died at there at aged 56. He may have been there on business when he suddenly became ill. He was buried there.
Eliza A. Kerr, is noted as the eldest daughter of the late Lewis Kerr, Esquire. She married Lieutenant F. C. Richardson, 2nd W. I. Regiment in May 1837
Eliza Ann Kerr’s died May 1853 ( born around 1802) meant she died at age 51.
Eliza Ann Kerr’s first husband must have died at some point, because by the time she dies in 1853, she had remarried to a James Jarrett, Esquire, a Bay Street merchant in New Providence.
More daughters of Lewis Kerr…
1849 – Mrs. James Boggis, one of Lewis Kerr’s daughters, died in Dublin Ireland.
1853 – Annie, fourth daughter of Lewis Kerr, who married Lieutenant Maydwell Smith, 3rd West India Regiment, dies in New Orleans
1852 – Widow of the Hon. Lewis Kerr finds herself in penury and begs the Bahamas Assembly for her husband’s pension almost 20 years after he died
James Jarrett who was married to Eliza Ann, the oldest daughter of Lewis Kerr, in 1852 sat in the House of Assembly, contributing to the debate over a pension for Lewis Kerr’s widow.