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Caribs on St Vincent

Opening from pamphlet giving information on censusGeorge Dundas. Précis of information concerning the colony of Saint Vincent, West Indies. St Vincent: Government Printing Office, 1880[FCO Historical Collection F2106 DUN]Not all the Caribs on St Vincent were deported in 1797; scattered groups remained in isolated areas, mainly in the north and east of the island.

In 1805 the island’s legislature granted a pardon to those Caribs that had not previously surrendered and they were allocated 230 acres of land to live on at Morne Ronde on condition that they did not alienate it or grow sugar on it.

Portrait of Captain George and his familyCaptain George and his family, from: Frederick A Ober. Camps in the Caribbees: the adventures of a naturalist in the Lesser Antilles. Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1880 [FCO Historical Collection F2001 OBE]The eruption of the volcano La Soufrière in 1812 caused some Caribs to flee the island, further diminishing their numbers.

The census of 1871 showed that out of a total population of 40,000 people on St Vincent only 431 were Caribs, but according to George Dundas (1819-80), the lieutenant-governor of St Vincent at that time, of that number many were not pure Caribs, there having been ‘a good deal of intermixture with the Negro.’

The plate on display shows a family who lived at the Carib settlement of Sandy Bay around this time. The father, called Captain George, was a Black Carib, while his wife was a Yellow Carib.

They were sketched by the naturalist Frederick A Ober (1849-1913), who spent time among the indigenous communities of St Vincent and Dominica in 1876-8 while on a field trip for the Smithsonian Institution.

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