Kristin White 2017-05-02 03:38:13
PILOT JAMES “JEMMY” DARRELL'S HOME- THE FIRST OWNED BY A FREED SLAVE IN BERMUDA- OFFERS A UNIQUE SPOT ON THE AFRICAN DIASPORA HERITAGE TRAIL. A grey cottage sits at the junction of Silk Alley and Aunt Peggy’s Lane, in the old winding streets of the Town of St. George. This 400-year-old town has many stories, and the cottage tells the tale of Pilot James “Jemmy” Darrell. Born a slave, Jemmy Darrell purchased this property in the early 1800s, becoming the first known black person to own a home in Bermuda. Known for his extraordinary skill as a boat pilot, he received his freedom in 1796 after impressing a British naval officer by manoeuvering a huge ship through Bermuda’s rocky reef line. During the 15 years following the Haitian slave revolution in 1791, several laws were enacted in Bermuda to limit the rights and numbers of freed slaves, as lawmakers felt that they would be the ones to stir rebellion amongst the enslaved. One law stated that freed slaves were to be forbidden from learning a trade. Another that, if they were freed under the age of 40, they were not permitted to remain in Bermuda. And still another that they could not will property to their heirs. Pilot Darrell and his colleagues fought against these unjust laws, using their influence with the British Navy to send petitions to the Colonial Office in London. This advocacy led to the expiration of the law stating that properties could not be handed down and, as a result, his descendants still live in his home to this day. The area is now known as Pilot Darrell’s Square. On the outside of Pilot Darrell’s home, a bronze plaque marks this cottage as a spot on The African Diaspora Heritage Trail, a global route highlighting places that tell significant stories of African history and culture. The trail was started in 2001 by a Bermuda Minister of Tourism, The Hon. David Allen, and then spread across the world. In Bermuda, there are several ADHT sites to visit, with the majority located in St. George’s Parish, including Barber’s Alley, which teaches us about Joseph Rainey, the first black man elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the graveyard for blacks and freed slaves in the St. Peter’s historic churchyard. Pilot Darrell is buried there, his home visible from his grave.
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