From 'A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica' by James Hakewill (1778-1843).
BRYAN CASTLE ESTATE was settled in 1793 by Bryan Edwards, Esq., and afterwards became, by purchase, the property of the late Alexander Donaldson, Esq., and is now in the possession of Alexander Grant, John Meek, and Joseph Green, Esqrs., trustees nominated by his will. The property contains 1402 acres of land, 300 of which are in canes, 600 in pasture and pimento, and the remainder in negro and provision grounds. The crops have averaged, during the last twelve years, 300 hogsheads of sugars, with the usual proportion of rum, and in good seasons 300 bags of pimento. On the estate are 165 negroes, the extra labour being made up by jobbing. This estate is pleasantly situated within three miles of Rio Bueno, the nearest shipping port, to which there is a good road; it is like the generality of sea-side estates, subject to frequent droughts, but in good seasons is very productive. The works are on an extensive scale, and in high preservation; and at the distance of half-a-mile from them is the Great or Mansion House, represented in the annexed view. Above stairs is the Study, where the original founder of the estate compiled his much esteemed work, and his books and furniture are still preserved there.
Bryan Edwards, the very able and accurate historian of the West Indies, was born May 20, 1743, at Westbury, in Wiltshire. His father inherited a small paternal estate in the neighbourhood, and died in 1756, leaving a widow and six children, of whom Bryan was the eldest.
Mrs. Edwards had two opulent brothers in the West Indies, one of them a wise and worthy man, of a liberal mind and princely fortune. This was Zachary Bayly, Esq. of this island, of whom some further account is given in the description of the estates in St. Mary’s, now the property of his nephew Charles Nathaniel Bayly, Esq.
Mr. Bayly took the family under his protection, and directed that no expense should be spared in their education.
In 1759 a younger and only brother of his uncle came to reside in England, where he was successively Member of Parliament for Abingdon and for his native town. This gentleman, at the end of the same year, sent his nephew to Jamaica, where he resided with his uncle, and continued his classical studies under a Mr. Teale, with unabating assiduity.
In 1773 Mr. Edwards was left heir to the great property of a Mr. Hume, of Jamaica, became an opulent merchant, returned to England, and in 1796 took his seat in Parliament for the Borough of Grampound. He represented that place till his death, which happened at his house, Polygon, near Southampton, July 15, 1800. His first publication was a pamphlet entitled, “Thoughts on the Proceedings of Government respecting the Trade of the West India Islands with the United States of America,” 1784. This was followed by “A Speech delivered by him at a Free Conference between the Council and Assembly at Jamaica, held on the 25th November 1789, on the subject of Mr. Wilberforce’s Propositions to the House of Commons concerning the Slave Trade.” But his distinguished performance is his “History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies,” 1793, 2 vols. 4to. a work of very superior merit, and of the highest authority, particularly in the commercial part. To a new edition of this work, published in 1801, 3 vols. 8vo., is prefixed a short Memoir of his early Life, written by himself. In 1796 Mr. Edwards published “The Proceedings of the Governor and Assembly of Jamaica in regard to the Maroon Negroes,” 8vo. In all these works Mr. Edwards’ style is easy and elegant, and many of his remarks highly valuable, as the result of long experience and observation.
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