John Lorimer on Middle Caicos
John Lorimer set up Haulover Estate after being granted 504 acres of land on Grand Caicos (Middle Caicos) on the 23rd February 1791. On his death in 1807 Wades Stubbs purchased the estate.
Lorimer has gone down in local folklore as the best of the slave owners, treating his slaves well and freeing them on his death. However, the truth is slightly different. It is clear that Lorimer treated his slaves better than most; in fact this had started in the USA with him freeing his first slave. However, other slave masters at this time were freeing slaves for a whole variety of reasons. John Lorimer probably came to the forefront due to his will, which was issued in 1807 following his death. The will has been miss-reported as stating that he would free all his slaves on his death and that his body was to be carried by six of his slaves (if he had any left). In fact it appears he freed only one slave, Rose, and left two slaves to her in his will.
John Lorimer’s Slaves
The first record we can find of Lorimer’s slaves in the Caicos Islands comes from the Parish Records for Grand Turk. Here we can find a record of “Rosana, property of John Lorimer Esq., born April 16th 1795” baptized in March 1800. This is the period when John Lorimer was the acting King’s Agent and was spending time in Grand Turk. It is unclear why just this one slave of his appears in the baptism records. Does it mean the other slaves are not being baptised, that this is the child of his favourite slave, or even could it be his child.
Rose Lorimer provides a tantalising story that is so well hidden that the full story will forever remain untold. The story of Rose Lorimer is a bit of enigma. The facts that we do know are that in 1807 John Lorimer frees his “faithful Negro woman slave, Rose”, and leaves her two slaves in his will. John Lorimer’s Will recorded “I wish my body to be carried to the grave by six of my Negroes (if I have any) dressed in white. For long service rendered me by my Negro woman Rose, I leave her free…..leave Rose any two of my young Negroes born and raised at the Caicos or Turks Islands which she may choose. Also that the Negro woman Betty and her issue be the property of said Rose being bought for her from Robert Darrell” (Kozy, p125).
The 1822 slave register record No. 805 shows “Rose Lorimer, free black woman” in the Turks Islands owning two slaves and lists them as, Joe, male, 30, Black. Turks Islands and Hannah, female, 30, Black. Turks Islands. It is likely that the ages have been rounded up or down, as is the case for many in the slave records. Unfortunately the following records have no entries so we do not know what happens to Rose or these two slaves. Many other questions remain unanswered. Why weren’t these two slaves just given freedom? Did Rose treat them as slaves? Did Rose give them freedom in all but name? Were they Rose’s family, or even children? These questions are likely to remain unanswered.