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Location notes
Ridley was recorded as administrator (attorney) of Vreed en Hoop ('Peace and Hope') - today a town but formerly a plantation - as well as of Turkeyen and Henrietta. [1] Both sites were located in Demerara, an area now part of Guyana, on the east coast near Georgetown.
Date notes
We do not have a record indicating Ridley's date of arrival in Demerara. The earliest mention we have of him in Demerara is in 1811. In The Essequebo & Demerary Royal Gazette, Saturday December 14, 1811, he is listed as receiving a promotion within the Essequebo Militia: '4th Company – Commanded by Captain M'Pherson ... Chas. Ridley, Gent. to be Second Lieutenant.' [4]
Biographical information
Charles Dawson Ridley was born in 1787 in England. He married Mary Eliza Forrester in 1816. [5] Ridley lived and managed plantations in Demerara - today part of what is known as Guyana. He was the attorney of plantations Vreed en Hoop ('Peace and Hope' - today a town on the west side of the mouth of the Demerara River) and Turkeyen and Henrietta as late as 1826. Attorneys had a lot of authority within the Caribbean plantation management system - they were responsible for managing the estates of 'absentee' owners (those who owned plantations but lived elsewhere). [1] Ridley was business partners with James Walcott, who also oversaw plantations and lived in Demerara. They were likely also brothers-in-law: both married women born in Demerara who had their first children there, before both families moved to Britain and then onto Western Austraila. Two of Ridley’s children also went on to marry Walcotts. [1] On 31 May 1871, his youngest daughter Susan Hinds married Robert Thomas Brockman, the second son of R. J. Brockman [2]
Links to slavery
Ridley was Attorney of Vreed en Hoop ('Peace and Hope') plantation, as well as of Turkeyen and Henrietta. Attorneys had a lot of authority within the Caribbean plantation management system - they were responsible for managing the estates of 'absentee' owners (those who owned plantations but lived elsewhere). By 1832 over 80% of the large sugar plantations had absentee owners, which allowed attorneys to amass considerable wealth. [1] Turkeyen and Henrietta was a major sugar plantation. It was purchased by Liverpool merchant and absentee owner John Gladstone in 1828, and by the time of the emancipation there were 415 enslaved people held there. [6, 1] Slavery heritage of Demerara: Demerara is today part of what is known as Guyana. Some of the earliest settlers of Guyana were Arawak, Carib, and possibly Warao. Although Christopher Columbus sighted the Guyana coast in 1498 and Spain claimed the area, the first Europeans to colonise the land were the Dutch in the late 16th century. In the mid-17th century the Dutch began bringing over enslaved people from West Africa to cultivate sugarcane. From the 1740s, English settlers from Caribbean islands began to move in on the region, first on the island of Wakenaam, then on the coast of Essequibo, followed by Demerara. By 1760, the British were the largest contingent in Demerara. During the Napoleonic wars the British and French in particular fought over the land, but in 1796 the British captured the territories and except for short intervals held 'possession'. In 1831 the British combined Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice to form 'British Guiana'. In 1823 Demerera was the site of one of the greatest uprisings of enslaved people in history: the 1823 Demerara rebellion involved over 10,000 enslaved people and was crucial in the dismantling of Caribbean slave systems. [1]
Attitudes around race
Attitudes around labour
An Illustrated History of British Guiana by George Hanneman Bennett:
[1] Jane Lydon forthcoming article [2] The Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth, WA) 14 June 1871 [3] [4] [5] [6] The London Gazette, no. 17693 31 March, 1821, [7] Western Australian Dictionary of Biography, 'C. D. RIDLEY' [8] City of Swan, Altone Local Area Plan, January 2016 [9] [10]