Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > Rest of the World > Caribbean > Barbados
Reload this Page >

The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

Old Jan 4th 2010, 9:09 pm
  #1  
Banned
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 35
reslax is an unknown quantity at this point
Default The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

There has been quite a bit of chatter on the internet lately about the Redlegs of Barbados. The Redlegs are the poor descendants of indentured servants (White Slaves, some people call them). Most of them live in the parish of St. John, but they live elsewhere on the island as well. They were discussed recently in an article titled "Remnants of an Indentured People" in the Saturday, December 19, 2009, issue of the Irish Times Online. Most recently, they were profiled in a documentary shown on TG4 in Ireland on December 28, 2009. I recommend that you all watch the documentary.

To view it, type Tg4.tv in the search engine
Click on the "Faisneis – Cartlann" link
Scroll down and click on the link that says "Redlegs: Sclábhaithe Siúcra na hÉireann - 29/12/09"

You will have to read some subtitles, but the documentary is worth it. Before the documentary starts, you will see some advertisements and other things not related to the documentary, but be patient, it will come on. Most of the discussions with Redlegs appear at the end of the video.

Following are excerpts from the December 19, 2009, issue of the Irish Times:

"Today, most Red Legs have bad or no teeth due to poor diet and lack of dental care. Illnesses and premature deaths due to haemophilia and diabetes have left men blind and without limbs."

"They are no longer plagued by the old diseases of hookworm, typhoid, and cholera, but school absenteeism, poor health, the ill effects of inter-family marriage, large families, little ownership of land and lack of job opportunities have locked those remaining on the island into a poverty trap. Even today the Red Legs still stand out as anomalies and are hard pressed for survival in a society that has no niche for them."

Please watch the documentary. I hope you will get a better understanding of why some Bajans want more emphasis placed on accommodating Bajans and less on accommodating foreigners, though we welcome most visitors. History will continue to repeat itself if society continues to ignore poor Bajans, Black and White. Many of them need to be rescued by others, because they don't believe they can rise above their circumstances. Some of you are probably wondering why I am telling you about the Redlegs. It is because most of them are the descendants of Brits and the Irish. They are your people as well as mine. Someone suggested on a blog a couple of days ago that the Irish government help them. It would be a shame if they had to rely on the Irish government to help them and not people living in Barbados.

Last edited by reslax; Jan 4th 2010 at 9:27 pm.
reslax is offline  
Old Jan 4th 2010, 9:55 pm
  #2  
Banned
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 116
neal brown is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

As far as i learn the Red Legs was a bunch of criminals from all over the place that was brought to Barbados to keep an eye on the slaves.They were thief that people brought from prison.And as far as i gather they still had a better living than the slaves themselves.I know a few red legs that are living on Brighton beach and has it quite good.
neal brown is offline  
Old Jan 4th 2010, 10:09 pm
  #3  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 77
karibspices is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

Not all, neal, some where also stolen women and children.

I know plenty as my family is from St John. Many are drunks and illiterates due to their circumstances. We were allowed to play with them as children but cautioned not to turn out like them.

Anyways, some do rise up and try to hide their humble beginnings.
COW and Bizzy are Redlegs. I think Hoad as well but not 100% certain.

I don't know about the missing limbs as most I know have all of them. And plenty have intermarried, so it's not always clear who is or is not.
karibspices is offline  
Old Jan 4th 2010, 10:15 pm
  #4  
Banned
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 35
reslax is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

Neal, lol. Please watch the documentary and read the article "Remnants of an Indentured People" in the Irish Times. Like you I grew up believing that all of the White indentured servants who were sent to Barbados were criminals and prostitutes. I learned recently that, that was not the case. The following excerpt is from the article I referenced:

"AN ESTIMATED 50,000 “white slaves” were transported from Ireland to Barbados between 1652 and 1657. Having succeeded in recruiting Irish men to die in the services of France, Spain, Poland and Italy, Cromwell turned his attention to others – men and women press-ganged by soldiers, taken to Cork and shipped to Bristol where they were sold as slaves and transported to Barbados.

This included the landlords who refused to transplant and whose properties had been confiscated by Cromwellian settlers, men who refused to join foreign armies, children from hospitals and workhouses and many prisoners. It was a lucrative business."

Regardless of how their ancestors got to Barbados, because they are Bajans, I want to see them rise above their circumstances and prosper. I firmly believe that a country cannot fully be successful unless the majority of its people are educated, healthy, and comfortable, if not prosperous. I want to see ALL Bajans living well.

Please don't hijack this thread, Neal. I would be interested to see how others feel about the documentary.
reslax is offline  
Old Jan 5th 2010, 2:13 am
  #5  
 
Sunniebgi's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: Barbados
Posts: 1,281
Sunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond reputeSunniebgi has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

my husbands family are decedents of the redlegs, having come or been brought to Barbados over 300 years ago as indentured servants.. I'm not going to say that the circumstances have changed, but some have made a name for themselves, and some, as they documentary shows, have not. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime, (but they have to want to learn and put some effort into it..). (I've paraphrased that) but you get my meaning. I'm not saying that some haven't been looked down on and not given the opportunities, but you also have to make the most of your situation and try to help yourself in the process. There are redleg dependents who have done just that.

It's very unfortunately that the Government of Barbados hasn't done more, but remember, the island is 95pct black, 5 percent other, with the white population in the other. So, my guess is that if the government decided to start helping the Redleg Descendants in St. John, there would be some type of back lash.

I have seen most if not all of the show (it was aired on BBC a while back and written up on a previous thread and also on the other travel board)

Reslax you stated this "I firmly believe that a country cannot fully be successful unless the majority of its people are educated, healthy, and comfortable, if not prosperous. I want to see ALL Bajans living well.".. I'm pretty sure, if you looked at statistics, the majority of people in Barbados are educated, healthy and comfortable, so by all accounts.. Barbados is Successful, even if some are left behind.
Sunniebgi is offline  
Old Jan 5th 2010, 2:15 pm
  #6  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 184
Ikon is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

Thanks for posting about this reslax, it looks interesting and something many of us probably don't know enough about. It's certainly sparked some healthy debate here so far, so I'm intrigued to watch now when I find time later this evening!
Ikon is offline  
Old Jan 5th 2010, 2:28 pm
  #7  
Just Joined
 
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 16
Bajan Police is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

It a very worthwhile programme and shows the descendants of the families still living in Barbados. Quite a moving story makes you think what life was like then.
Bajan Police is offline  
Old Jan 5th 2010, 3:28 pm
  #8  
Forum Regular
 
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 33
Cuchullain is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

Thanks for that link Reslax. It was nice to hear the Irish language been spoken, makes me feel a bit closer to home!!

It is a very interesting topic and I think it is good that people are finally getting to hear the real story of the "redlegs". I think that the Irish and Barbadian governments should at least get together to commemorate what happened in some way.

With regard to the present situation of the "redlegs" I'm sure they have access to free education like every other Barbadian and things will surely improve for them. There former reluctance to intermarry with black Barbadians was a major impediment in the past, but, as edvidenced by the woman at the end of the film, this barrier is finally being removed.

I read a book a couple of years ago that tells the story of an Irish girl abducted from Galway in the 17th century and sent to Barbados. It gives you an excellent impression of what the situation was like from a personal point of view. I would recommend that anyone with an interest in the subject read this book: Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl, by Kate McCafferty
Cuchullain is offline  
Old Jan 5th 2010, 5:14 pm
  #9  
Concierge
 
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,164
pgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond reputepgtips has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

It is quite amazing that after 300 years of being Barbadosed by Cromwell the decendants of these Irish slaves are still living like this.
I remember when my parents came to England in the 60's and were met with signs in shop and hotel windows saying "No Blacks, No Dogs, and NO Irish".
I always wondered what the Irish had done to the English to merit this treatment. I knew whites could behave disgustingly towards non whites, but this kind of treatment to other white people from Ireland always puzzled me This explanation below somewhat has now satisfied my curiosity.

In the 1800’s when Irish immigrants took up whole neighbourhoods in New York City, many business owners put up “No Irish need apply” signs up. Many business owners did not want Irish to apply, especially in New York City, because of the reputation they had as drinking loud mouths. The Irish were also seen as dirty and disease ridden and it was a common belief that the potato blithe in the Great Potato Famine could be passed through humans and was a disease.

It was regularly seen in England in the 60's and 70's too. At boarding houses, where labourers would stay, you could commonly find signs like:
No Blacks No Dogs No Irish. This was to impose a colour bar and deemed Irish and Blacks as inferior, or as low as dogs......



All I can say is that some people had a somewhat warped view of life and other human beings, and I dare say this is still prevalent in some sectors of society, only now behind closed doors.

Last edited by pgtips; Jan 5th 2010 at 5:17 pm.
pgtips is offline  
Old Jan 6th 2010, 12:59 am
  #10  
Banned
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 35
reslax is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

Cuchullain,

I bought the book Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl , by Kate McCafferty, many years ago. It has been sitting on a shelf unread for years. I didn't remember I had it until you mentioned it. I guess this is a good time to read it.

Last edited by reslax; Jan 6th 2010 at 1:12 am.
reslax is offline  
Old Jan 6th 2010, 8:42 pm
  #11  
Just Joined
 
sapphirerose127's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Birmingham, UK
Posts: 22
sapphirerose127 is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: The Redlegs, the forgotten White People

The book To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland by Sean O'Callaghan may intrest some of you.
http://www.amazon.com/Hell-Barbados-...2814330&sr=1-1

Last edited by sapphirerose127; Jan 6th 2010 at 8:46 pm.
sapphirerose127 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.