PoWI Archives - 1835 Petition

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The Historical Society of Trinidad and Tobago.
Publication No. 796.


     To the Lieutenant Governor of Trinidad.

     The humble Petition of the undersigned subjects of the Crown of Portugal respectfully sheweth

     That with many others of their countrymen, they were induced by certain evil disposed persons, under false pretences, to quit their native country, Fayal, to become agricultural labourers in this Colony.

     Of the whole number thus cajoled, one third only are still in existence. The rest have fallen victims to the unhealthiness of the climate or to the cruelties of the slavery system to which we, equally with the unfortunate blacks, have been subjected. For let speculators in human blood deny it as they will, the awful calamity which has occurred among our countrymen, in so short a period as ten months, must have resulted from one or the other of these fatal causes, or from both combined.

     Men, women and children, have suffered the greatest misery and oppression on the several estates where they have been forced to work far beyond their strength by coercion of the whip, without proper shelter at night or adequate food during the day.

     The consolation of religion has been denied them in the hours of sickness and death; whilst the bodies of the miserable victims of avarice have been thrown into holes and ditches without Christian burial.

     The cries of the fatherless children and widows have been loud in the land, but there was no response from Christian charity to soften their grief, no arm of justice to relieve them from the hands of oppressors.

     Few are they who are left to tell their tale of woe.

     Your Excellency has often been apprised of these truths but our sufferings are unheeded. We have been advised that an appeal to the Governor Genral for the information of His Britannic Majesty's Government, would be attended to; but we hope Your Excellency will obviate the necessity for such an appeal by mercifully acceding to the prayer of your humble petitioners;

     which is

     That Your Excellency will be pleased to collect together the few Portuguese labourers yet in existence in this Colony;

     That you will humanely relieve their immediate and pressing wants, particularly those of the poor and helpless orphans;

     And that you will cause them to be transported back to their native country.

     Rosa Constancia (who has lost her husband and three children in 10 months)

     Felicia Perpetua de Castro (who has lost her husband and one child in 10 months)

     Maria Constancia (who has lost two children in 10 months)

     Mariana Francisca (who has lost four children in 10 months)

     Josef Francisco Macieda (who has lost his wife and four children in 10 months)

     Antonio Francisco Dabla (who has lost two children)

     Anna Perpetua (the mother of seven children)

     Francisco de Utro Perreira (whose wife and four children are at Fayal).

     and 28 others.

Source: Truths from the West Indies. By Captain Studholme Hodgson (19th Regiment of Foot). 1838.

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