Tag Archives: antigua-barbuda

More People Should Know About

Eliza Moore.

This one is for Antiguans and Barbudans. Does that name ring a bell?

I am still amazed at all I continue to learn about us. Today’s tutorial comes via one of our best working historians – best for me because of how she manages to humanize and particularize history, our history – Dr Natasha Lightfoot. I love that, though she works in American academia, so much of her research is Antigua-Barbuda specific, and not just broadly Caribbean. It’s important to me because for small islands like us, there are so many gaps and so much disinterest even in Caribbean-specific spaces and institutions. I remember because I’ve been in those spaces, spent time in those institutions. And I didn’t have the material that’s available now because of Dr. Lightfoot’s work.

For example, the life of Eliza Moore, who acheived something of legal significance when she petitioned for her freedom from another jurisdiction in light of the Emancipation Act which had made slavery illegal in Antigua and all of the English-speaking Caribbean (i.e. the then British West Indies). Though born in Antigua, she was by then living in the Danish West Indies and from there she made her case and won. It couldn’t have been easy but I would argue that it was a significant precident. And I thank Dr. Lightfoot for bringing it to our attention, affording me the opportunity to share it with you.

The article, published January 2022 in William and Mary Quarterly, is linked in our 44th Reading Room and Gallery.

Excerpt 1: “Eliza Moore was born in Antigua between 1794 and 1797 and was sold by her first enslavers, the Gillam family, to William Armstrong, a sugar estate owner in Saint Croix, sometime between 1807 and 1809… Armstrong sold Moore in 1815 upon his departure for Copenhagen; after that, she was exchanged at least two times between slaveholders on the Danish island of Saint Thomas before 1836, when she first appears in British records inquiring about her right to be free.”

The article noted that though the slave trade in the British Empire had legally ended in 1807 and slavery itself in 1834, as we know, it did not properly stop the trade, nor did it inhibit the capture (e.g. as spoils of war) and/or removal of enslaved people from one jurisdiction to another (think of people hiding their money and other valuables today offshore and their failure to see the natural humanity of the people they enslaved, certainly over profit). Eliza certainly would not have been the first nor only ensnared in these or other loopholes. But she found a way out.

Excerpt 2: “Her advantages, and those of her kinfolk, derived from domestic servitude that translated into various forms of access that supported her claims in the first place. Even the chance encounters that allowed for Hughes to run into Moore in Saint Thomas or that gave Blackstone the opportunity to inquire into her sister’s whereabouts with Sarah Gillam all those years prior reflect the circumstances of enslaved domestic workers, who could travel and interact familiarly with whites. For Moore herself, proximity to her first owners as a child allowed for her education, acquisition of literacy, and mobility. These experiences and the information they furnished her with undergirded her ability to approach the authorities with the entitlement of a British subject, an act that an illiterate bondswoman employed in the fields, for example, might not have been able to attempt. Moore’s successive journeys from her British Antiguan owners to her Danish Saint Crucian and Saint Thomian owners seem to have funneled her through positions of domestic labor, allowing those opportunities for certain forms of privilege particular to her occupation to continue.”

It’s been months since I read the article but, from memory, Hughes in the excerpt above refers to the childhood friend whose paths crossed with her old friend and interceded on her behalf once she was back in Antigua. Blackstone is Moore’s sister, who had not seen her since she had been carted off first to England – with a detour to, I believe, Spain after the ship carting her was waylaid, and finally to the Virgin Islands. It goes without saying, or should, that “access to whites” and whatever advantages that afforded her came with a flipside, the dangers of proximity, e.g. sexual violence. But the connectivity was vital in this case.

Final excerpt: “The two people who vouched for Moore’s birth and life experiences in Antigua with the most depth were Black women who had until recently been enslaved themselves, her half sister Hester Blackstone and her friend Mary Hughes. Moore did not know her own date of birth, and the retelling of her early life in Antigua rested on the estimates of women who were equally unsure about details of Moore’s biography and the exact moments when she was taken from and returned to the island. But the women speaking on her behalf skillfully figured out how to circumvent their inability to provide exact dates. Hester and Mary used imperial events in their 1838 depositions, a tactic manifested in their testimonies in so similar a fashion as to suggest deliberate coordination. Hughes and Blackstone linked important moments in Moore’s life with notable British imperial administrative and military events at the turn of the nineteenth century, such as the installation of a new governor in Antigua or the outbreak of war in the Caribbean. Their use of imperial time made their affirmation of Moore’s birth and life in Antigua as a child more legible to the powerful administrators hearing testimony from these formerly enslaved women. Their success, however, should not obscure the reality that the strategy they adopted out of necessity calls our attention to yet another dehumanizing aspect of enslavement: the negation of enslaved people’s sense of themselves as beings in time, and thus as autonomous participants in their life stories. Their inability to know time intimately and the denial of the privilege to preserve a record of important dates in their lives, such as their own birthdays and the births and deaths of loved ones, helped to compound the exploitation deeply embedded within enslavement. The depositions of Blackstone and Hughes nonetheless underline the crucial function of community in slavery as the support system that facilitated both survival during bondage and individual enslaved people’s acts of fugitivity and claims to freedom. The British government would not have taken Moore’s case seriously if these women had not vouched for her. Eliza’s first point of self-presentation was to invoke her Antiguan-born mother, Sally Carr, which both Blackstone and Hughes reiterated. Proclaiming her birth to an enslaved mother in Antigua and demonstrating her sisterhood and friendship with formerly enslaved Antiguan women all grounded Eliza in that British colony and contributed to the colonial administrators’ serious consideration of her case. These details subtly show how enslaved people fostered and deployed loving relationships even over time and distance.”

The article is entitled ‘”So Far to Leeward”: Eliza Moore’s Fugitive Cosmopolitan Routes to Freedom in the Nineteenth-Century Caribbean’. It is by Natasha Lightfoot. It appears in The William and Mary Quarterly, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Volume 79, Number 1, January 2022.

Remember, the Reading Room and Gallery series is constantly being updated. Use the Search feature to the right to make sure you don’t miss anything.

This Natasha’s book – the story of Eliza, as far as I know, does not appear in this book.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. Subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.


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At the Half Year

I usually do a year-end top posts of the year post on my blogs. But I’m in the mood for a half-year assessment just now so here’s the top ten so far for 2018.

Seat of Power

#1 – the most viewed post of the year so far – Art ‘Revelations’ (Antigua-Barbuda) – This art show, located at the Antigua Girls High School, featured the work of a handful of local art teachers and was an opportunity to check a pulse point of local visual arts evolution. The success of this post is also, to my mind, an indicator of interest in this type of content, and is one of the drivers behind launching/reviving the CREATIVE SPACE series on my author/writer services blog. – The post actually ties for second most shared on the blog so far this year and though it’s only received one comment, it’s a good one “Enjoyed the exhibit, and appreciate the writing of (it) … Gives a feel of the busyness and buzz in the room. As an artist it was quite refreshing to see the heavy weights of the industry within our 268 take front stage.” (pictured is one of the images from the show, Seat of Power by Bernard Peters)

Rilzy 2Yohan book

#2 – this was an interesting one – Vote for Your Favourite Antiguan and Barbudan Book of the Year – posted in December 2017,  and inspired by a similar poll in Trindad and Tobago, it got a lot of looks and tied with the #1 post for second most shares but had next to no response, not enough even to hit the minimum number of votes to select a winner; hell, not even the writers voted. Maybe it’s not a thing anyone wants, maybe they hadn’t read even one of the books yet, maybe I just launched it too late, maybe it didn’t run long enough, maybe all of these maybes but because I think it’s a good way to push not just an author but the literary culture in Antigua and Barbuda, I’m inclined to do it again (maybe in sync with the Wadadli Pen Challenge season) – but then I’ve been wrong before. In case we do try this again, and if you want to get a jump on the 2018 poll, the A & B releases (limited to books/literary CDs where Antiguans and Barbudans are the main or primary author and/or editor) for 2018 so far, according to the blog’s records are: The Plantations of Antigua, the Sweet Success of Sugar, Volume I (w/Donald Dery). AuthorHouse. USA.(Agnes Meeker); Learning Bible Verses: the Bow, the Wow, the Now. (Elloy DeFreitas); Milo’s First Winter (Milo’s Adventures). Amazon Digital Services. (Juneth Webson); The Nakedness of New. CreateSpace Independent Publish Platform North/South Carolina, USA. (Althea Romeo Mark); Fu You Tongue Heavy Lakka 56. USA. (Iyaba Ibo Mandingo); The Royal Wedding. Antigua. (Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau). (pictured are the 2017 books by Antiguan and Barbudan authors that tied for most votes)


#3 – Creak by Kyle Christian (Wadadli Pen Winning Story, 2018) – the winning story in the 2018 Wadadli Pen Challenge got a lot of views and a lot of shares  – it’s typical for one of the winning stories (if not always the winning story, as in 2017 for example) to make the top 10. The reviews for Creak have been positive if few: “Excellent!”; “Brilliant, bold and witty, delivered with passion; drawing attention to (a) hidden history”. (pictured, Kyle Christian)

Rosie Pickering

#4 – Damarae by Rosie Pickering – this was an honourable mention in the estimation of the judge of the Wadadli Pen Challenge. It was a win for the readers as the fourth most viewed and first most shared post so far of the half-year. (pictured, Rosie Pickering)


#5 – Shout out to Caribbean Actors in Black Panther – well, duh. (pictured, Wakanda forever!)


#6 – Barbados, Guyana, Bermuda Finalists for the Burt Award – this post title is actually something of a misnomer as it begins with news of the 2018 finalists but gives the full listing of all the books that either exist or have had a bigger reach because of this prize – as a reminder, submissions are invited for the 2019 prize – and you (and your teen) are encouraged to read all the books. (pictured are some of the winning books through the years)

winners2b#7 – Who Won What in 2018? – another regular in the top 10 because there’s always a high level of interest in the outcome of the annual Challenge which is good for both our patrons and participating writers/artists, both of which we always need more. (pictured are winners from 2018 and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse, holding the Alstyne Allen Memorial Challenge plaque, sponsored by the Best of Books, at the awards ceremony)

Aye Write April 2014

#8 – Literary Arts in Antigua and Barbuda: a Reflection – I have been recently reminded that when you share the journey (the good and the bad), people read and sometimes mis-read the full accounting of your life. Rest assured that my full life will never be shared on social media (so be careful how deeply you read) but my journey in writing and my frustrations with and love for Antigua and Barbuda, and Antigua and Barbuda in relation to the arts, and the literary arts in particular, that I have shared to a fair degree. In order to vent sometimes, yes, but also in order to inform understanding about the journey and about the challenges artists face, celebrate the victories, and underscore that they are often hard-won. I try to pass on what knowledge I can – resources, to opportunities, to my own hard-earned lessons, stumbles, breakthroughs, and triumphs. What an upside down world we live in when the people who create are pitied for doing what they were put here to do, for continuing to work against the odds to explore, interrogate, and affirm our existence for a time in this space called life. Well, this post is about what some of our literary artists (not just me, have been doing in our space and time). (this picture is actually from 2014, a Commonwealth panel in Scotland which I was invited to be a part of after my story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge, submitted to the Commonwealth short story competition and losing, was selected for inclusion in the collection Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean – which included the winning Commonwealth short story and the best of the also-rans to the best of my understanding. Amelia is now one of my most travelled stories and is a reminder to me that on the writing journey the road may be potholed but keep moving, you never know where you might end up…and, if you’re lucky, your art will travel further than you do and sometimes take you along for the ride)

Wadadli Pen Logo

#9 – Kyle Christian Wins Wadadli Pen – This was the announcement press release re the Challenge – so no surprises about this being in the top 10 – the Challenge is our main project; it attracts submissions from young writers in Antigua and Barbuda who are typically eager to hear how things turned out for them and in the Challenge as a whole. (pictured, the Wadadli Pen logo which was created by Ken Shipley)

author books#10 – Writers Shoutout, Diversity Discussion – you know I had someone hit me up on social media recently to push back on all this diversity talk and all I’ve got is a hit dog will holler. Diversity isn’t about taking anyone’s place (it’s about making space for other voices) nor is it about tokenism (funny how people go there as if the hushed voices are inherently inferior), it is about all the interesting landscapes, voices, stories, perspectives that the world is missing out on (it is about making the world a richer place). This popular piece is just one part of the discussion. (pictured, books by Yolanda T. Marshall which were the jump-off for the most recent diversity post)

With thanks to anyone who engages with any thing I write or share in this space – keep reading and sharing; like and comment more (what’s up), and let’s see if these favourites hold up to the end of the year.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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