Mary Prince was a British abolitionist and autobiographer, born in Bermuda, to an enslaved family of African descent. While she was later living in London, England, she wrote The History of Mary Prince (1831), which was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in the United Kingdom. Mary Prince was born into enslavement at Brackish Pond in Bermuda, known today as Devonshire Parish, Bermuda. Her father (whose only given name was Prince) was a sawyer owned by David Trimmingham, and her mother a house ...
Mary Prince was a British abolitionist and autobiographer, born in Bermuda, to an enslaved family of African descent. While she was later living in London, England, she wrote The History of Mary Prince (1831), which was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in the United Kingdom. Mary Prince was born into enslavement at Brackish Pond in Bermuda, known today as Devonshire Parish, Bermuda. Her father (whose only given name was Prince) was a sawyer owned by David Trimmingham, and her mother a house-servant held by Charles Myners. She had three younger brothers and two sisters, Hannah and Dinah. When Myners died in 1788, Mary Prince, her mother and siblings were sold as household servants to Captain Darrell. He gave Mary and her mother to his daughter, with Mary becoming the companion servant of his young granddaughter, Betsey Williams. At the age of 12, Mary was sold for ???38 sterling (2017: ???4484) to Captain John Ingham, of Spanish Point. Her two sisters were also sold that same day, all to different enslavers. Mary's new enslaver and his wife were cruel and often lost their tempers, Mary and others were often severely flogged for minor offenses. Ingham sold Mary in 1806 to an enslaver on Grand Turk, who owned salt ponds. The Bermudians had used these seasonally for a century for the extraction of salt from the ocean. The production of salt for export was a pillar of the Bermudian economy, but could not easily be produced. Originally, raking had been performed by whites due to the fear of black enslaved people being seized by Spanish and French raiders (the enslaved were considered property, and could be seized as such during hostilities). Blacks crewed the Bermuda sloops that delivered the rakers to and from the Turks Islands and delivered salt to markets in North America, engaging in maritime activities while the whites raked. When the threats posed by the Spanish and French in the region reduced, however, the enslaved were put to work in the salt pans. As a child Mary worked in poor conditions in the salt ponds up to her knees in water. Due to the nature of salt mining, Mary and others were often forced to work up to 17 hours straight as owners of the ponds were concerned that if the workers were gone for too long rain would come and soil the salt. Generally, men were the salt rakers, forced to work in the salt ponds, where they were exposed to the sun and heat, as well as the salt in the pans, which ate away at their uncovered legs. Women did packaging of salt. Mary Prince was returned to Bermuda in 1810, where her master at the time had moved with his daughter. While here, she was physically abused by her master, as well as forced to bathe him herself under threat of further beatings. Mary resisted her master's abuse on two occasions: once, in defense of his daughter, who he also beat; the second time, defending herself from her master as he beat her for dropping kitchen utensils. After this, she left his direct service and was hired out to Cedar Hill for a time, where she made money paid to her master for washing clothes.
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