Harriet Balfour (1818-58): Nickerie’s Premiere
by Lilian Pickering Neede
Please click here to visit the page on the Nickerie district of Suriname.
Lately, for many reasons, people of the African diaspora have taken an interest in finding out about their roots. In the Americas and Europe this automatically brings up the history of slavery and plantations. Even the descendents of Europeans of those times now want to learn more about the plantations and the people formerly enslaved by their ancestors.
The country of Suriname was a Dutch colony and for a short period of time under British rule. From its most western district, Nickerie, it was much easier to cross the river to Berbice than to travel to the capital Paramaribo, because the many creeks and rivers, swamps and dense jungle made Paramaribo harder to reach. Therefore, there was more frequent trade and interaction between the populations of Nickerie and Berbice.
Pictured right - an old map of Nickerie, showing the plantations (including Waterloo). The image is a cropped section of a larger map of Nickerie and the surrounding area. The larger map is worth viewing, and can be seen by clicking here (opens in a new tab or window).
Whoever searches the internet to learn about the history of the Waterloo plantation in Nickerie, Suriname, is bound at some time to stumble upon Herriet or Premiere, the mulatto housekeeper of the famous - or should it be infamous? - owner of the plantation, Dr. James Balfour from Dalgety, Scotland. A mulatto (in Surinamese malata) is a child of a white and a black parent, and Harriet would have had a pure black parent, for at that time, they had names for every shade and grade of blackness: mulat, mestice or carboeger, castice, and more.1
It was August Kappler, a young colonial soldier of German nationality, who, in his book “Six Years in Suriname,” first made the world aware of Harriet’s existence and of her relationship to Balfour. Thanks to him, we know of her origin – for he mentions quite casually that a mulatto woman whom Balfour had fathered with one of his slaves, was a slave herself and did his housekeeping.2 Serving in Suriname when he was in his twenties, he had visited Balfour quite often on the Waterloo plantation and thus knew about Harriet, who was just a few years younger than him.
From 1826, after the slave trade was prohibited, it was mandatory for slavers to register the people in their possession in slave registers in order to prevent illegal trade3. In James Balfour’s slave register of 1830, Harriet was listed as “Herriet or Premiere” without any further information. Her manumission records of 1841 show that she belonged to the Waterloo plantation.
The law did not recognize Harriet as Balfour’s daughter; in Suriname, she was only a slave, not a person, mother unknown, no place of birth, and no last name - until Balfour died. Then Harriet rose in importance. Now, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, mention is made of her in Scotland’s history, and her name has been included in the New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, published by Edinburgh University Press in 2018.
The story of Harriet begins a few years after the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, when the Guianas began to be recognized individually as British, Dutch and French Guiana. Before then, Essequibo, Demerara, Berbice, and Suriname were all Dutch (although at times under French or British occupation).5 Many Dutch names remain in Guyana to this day (e.g. the historic Stabroek Market and the tongue-twisters Uitvlugt and Vergenoegen), just as many British names are still found in especially the Western districts of Suriname (Totness, Friendship, Hampton Court, Longmay, Waterloo and others).
Years went by before I found out that Balfour was practicing medicine in the British colony of Berbice at the time Harriet was conceived6, but, when I did, I quickly found her in the slave registers of Berbice. Fortunately, they gave more descriptive details of the slaves there, than the registers in Nickerie:
“Premiere, ½ year old, mother: Diena.” The registration was done on plantation Woordtsburg, named after the first owner, Jan van der Woordt, a Dutch man, and then owned by his son-in-law A.H. Bonn. Date of the registration: 1st of February, 1819. Because they were so precise to mention ages of even one third of a year, Premiere must have been born sometime in July or August of 1818.
Extract from the slave register of 1819. Please click on the image to see the full page (Premiere is second from the bottom).
Premiere’s mother was registered as a 21 year old enslaved woman from Africa, whom the slaver had named Diena. Diena was a black field worker who stood only 4 foot 11 inches tall. On her right arm the initials IVDW (for Jan van der Woordt) had been branded, to let everyone know – in case she would try to run away and be found – whose property she was.
On the Berbice and Canje Rivers most of the plantations bore Dutch names, such as De Dankbaarheid, Santvoort, and De Dageraad, Gelderland, Goedland, Woordtsburg, etc. Among them, next to the Woordtsburg plantation, two were situated with Scottish names: Glasgow and Edenburg. These grounds had been allotted in 1792 to the Scotsmen William MacFarlane and M. Munro, respectively.7 In later years, the name Munro is often found in documents in Suriname, in connection with business matters of the Balfour and Kirke families.
Perhaps James Balfour lived on or near the Edenburg plantation. One can only guess about the way he got to be with the woman Diena and impregnated her. The result was that a mulatto girl was born.
The name Premiere, or Premier for a man, was often given in those times. To me it indicates a ‘first’ or ‘most important’ somehow. Diena already had four children.8 Was this new baby named Premiere because she was clearly a mulatto, the child of a white man? That fact alone would set her apart with a more privileged life than the black slaves like her mother.9
It is not clear at what time Premiere was taken to Suriname and how James Balfour acquired her. Had he bought her from the Woordtsburg plantation at a certain point in time, or had she been gifted to him? Had Balfour calculatingly ‘hired’ a slavewoman to bear him a child that he could take to Nickerie with him? We will never know the details of the story.
Sources state that James Balfour acquired land in the bordering Surinamese district of Nickerie in 1821, but the Surinamese Almanac of 1819 already lists him as the owner of the Waterloo plantation. He must have renamed his daughter Herriet. Slaves had only one name, but in several documents in Suriname she was registered as ‘Herriet of Premiere’ (of being the Dutch word for or) - indicating that in Suriname, she was known by both names. In Berbice it had been only Premiere. She must have gotten the name Herriet (spelled with an e) in Suriname, possibly at her christening.10
Balfour was a wealthy man, one who later owned over 700 slaves, and it would have been very easy for him to find a krioromama (literally creole’s mummy or slave children’s nanny) to take care of the little mulatto girl he brought from Berbice (assuming Premiere went with him when he moved to Nickerie).11
I have not found any records (yet) of Balfour entering Nickerie with his slaves. There are some records of him buying slaves from other plantations and moving them to Nickerie.12 Since Premiere was entered in James Balfour’s slave register of 1830 (pictured right), she must have lived in Nickerie at least from her twelfth year. Her life would not have been as hard physically as that of the field workers, since house slaves were in a privileged position when it came to work.13 She was probably trained from when she was a young teenage girl to be a housekeeper, to take good care of the master and to serve the guests such as Kappler who came to visit. I suspect that she would have been close to her father, since he was old and single and had nobody else to be somewhat attached to. Also, it was common practice among the slavers to get close to an enslaved woman, so one would stay informed of what was going on among one’s slaves,14 though I wonder if the slaves would have trusted Premiere, she being the master’s daughter.
In the night of May 17th to 18th, 1833, there was a big fire on the Waterloo plantation, that caused enormous damage. It was supposedly set by rebellious slaves, trying to flee the plantation.
While it wasn’t until July 1863 that the enslaved in Suriname would be emancipated, in 1834 slavery in Berbice and all of the present Guyana was abolished. By that time Balfour had owned the plantations in Nickerie for over ten years and it is said that he had brought slaves from abroad to Nickerie. It is not clear when, from where, and over what period of time he had done so.
At any rate, Premiere must have known when her people in Berbice were freed. Slaves talked among themselves. There were some, even Balfour’s slaves, who fled the plantations trying to make it to British Guiana where they would be free.15 Since Premiere had to serve Balfour’s guests refreshments, she must have caught something about it when he and visiting colleagues discussed the emancipation in British Guiana. As Balfour’s house slave, she must have been bilingual; she understood English and Sranantongo or Surinamese (the language the enslaved used to communicate among themselves and with their masters, although in Nickerie of those days it might have been more of a pidgin English). She would have heard that the British Guianese slaves were free, when she was still enslaved. Even if she loved her father dearly, she must have resented him for keeping her in bondage. When, oh when would he free her? What if he would die suddenly? She would remain a slave, a nobody, forever.
Premiere grew up and no doubt was an attractive young woman. James Balfour never married and had no legitimate children. Therefore, his next of kin were going to inherit all he had. His brother Thomas had been banned from Suriname a few years before (in 1824) for killing a female slave, and his sister Helen, who had married a Carnock weaver named Robert Kirk, had passed away in 1826. Two of the Kirk sons, Robert Kirk junior and David Balfour Kirk, had come to Suriname to work for their uncle and learned from him how to manage a plantation. The young men showed promise, especially Robert, whose managerial talents greatly impressed his uncle. When James Balfour knew that his life was nearing its end, he discussed his business affairs with his nephews, and Herriet (Premiere) most certainly was part of ‘the business’. He appointed Robert Kirk as his successor16, and one of the four executors of his will. (The other three were James Gordon, Thomas Gray and Boyd MacDonald, who himself died soon after Balfour.)17 On 20 June 1841, as death approached, Balfour signed his last will and testament. Balfour also formally requested the government’s permission to free his daughter Herriet who had literally served him as a slave. He more than owed it to her. The request was announced in the newspaper of 12 July 1841 (pictured left)
James Balfour died on 13 July 1841. Herriet’s Kirk cousins were there to support her in her new role as the daughter in mourning, and they would have organized everything together, exactly as Balfour would have it. His funeral consisted of a feast presided over by his corpse in a coffin, to which all significant people in the district were invited.18 Seeing her father lying there, having the highest place among all the dignified guests, would have made her strangely aware that, though dead, he was still the master. It was a sad occasion and she would certainly miss the old man, but the prospect of freedom felt very good, especially with the knowledge that she would be a woman of her own means: according to Kappler, Balfour had left her a large legacy.19
Herriet or Premiere was officially manumitted on the 4th of August 1841, some three weeks after James Balfour had passed. She was now twenty-three years old. Her manumission slip read (translated from Dutch):
Family name Schoonebeek20
Slave name Herriet or Premiere
Date of manumission 04-08-1841
Date of... 02-08-1841
Guarantors Boyd MacDonald and Willm. MacIntosch
Owner James Balfour (since deceased) (126: pl Waterloo; 3393: Boyd MacDonald as representative of James Balfour and coming from pl Waterloo)
Further information GR 04-08041, no. 923; GR 24-12-41, no. 1502: Herriet Schoonebeek, and the nephews of the late James Balfour request name change: Herriet Balfour21
Slaves were not allowed to take on an existing surname at their manumission. Often, the name of their master or their father was chosen, but with the spelling slightly changed. A letter might be omitted, syllables turned around or the whole name spelled back-to-front. They were allowed to request a name change once they were freed. They named Herriet after Jan van Schoonenbeek, the land surveyor who mapped out the Woordtsburg plantation where she was born. Her name as a free woman would be Schoonebeek, Herriet, or, as the slave register reads, Henriette Schoonebeek.
Without documentation one cannot say what all happened in those last few months of 1841, with Robert Kirk II and David Balfour Kirk likely to be in the house to help Miss Schoonebeek take care of business. There may have been rules of etiquette to follow, now that she was a free woman. It is not known whether arrangements were made for her to be chaperoned by an older woman – perhaps even a slave woman - or whether Balfour’s nephews stayed at another address. After all, it was in the Victorian era22, and, even though Suriname was far from Scotland, Queen Victoria’s influence had spread all over the world. However, one way or another, there must have been frequent contact between Herriet and the young men, and in due course Herriet married her cousin David Kirk. A romantic soul would hope that young David fell head-over-heels in love with his beautiful cousin, who was one year his senior, and that he asked her to marry him. But it is also possible that Herriet’s fate was sealed by her father before he passed. Their marriage may have been arranged by Balfour, to ensure that his daughter would be taken care of and that his wealth would not be spilled outside of the clan. However, regardless of the background to the marriage, it does appear that Herriet and David were happy together.
By the end of that year, as requested by Balfour’s nephews and the lady herself, Herriet Schoonebeek’s name was legally changed to Harriet Balfour (see copy of Government notice on the left). Now that she bore the name, she would be more readily accepted as Balfour’s child, and as such she would be a more suitable marriage partner for David B. Kirk. On the 11th of January, 1842, Harriet and David officially registered their intent to get married. Customarily, the wedding would follow two weeks to a month thereafter. The couple must have married around the end of January 1842, and since they were in mourning at the time, the event would have been simple and solemn.
In April it was announced in the newspapers – as was the custom – that they intended to leave the colony. They must have decided that they could be self-sufficient: David would be relatively well off, and Harriet had her substantial legacy. David's brother Robert had received the lion's share of Balfour's estate, and he was well placed to run the plantations on his own. So David and Harriet (already pregnant) decided to leave Suriname for Scotland without delay. The Kirks may have taken a boat to Gordon’s Point and another one from there to Georgetown in Demerara to Britain, sailing by several Caribbean Islands before crossing the ocean to reach Britain. On arrival in Scotland from Suriname, they stayed initially in Cairneyhill in the Parish of Carnock, where David had been brought up and where he still had many relations. It is likely that they stayed with his father, the elder Robert Kirk.
The changes in Harriet’s life must have been an incredible adventure.
It happened quite often in Suriname that a planter would take one of his female slaves, and start a family with her. Sometimes the slave would be living in his house, as his 'housekeeper’ and concubine. Sometimes he would set up this woman in a home of her own if he already had a lawfully wedded wife. And once in a while he would have both a wife and a concubine living in the same house or at least on the same grounds. Harriet, in contrast, had been a slave first, albeit in a special position, and in a short time turned into an official daughter and heiress, by which she became a slave owner herself - and then she also married a well-to-do planter with slaves. She had already been keeping house for her father, so being her husband’s housekeeper would be easy, except that by moving to Scotland she had to get used to living in a white society with a different culture, in a cold climate, and learn how to cook and eat different produce. Even though Harriet may have had ‘high-yellow’ skin (mulattos can be brown), her curly hair and other African traits must have been noticed by the people in Scotland. Maybe news had already gotten around in Fife that one of the Kirk sons had married a Surinamese woman. Would Harriet have been accepted in society around that time? Did people look down on her, or was she a friendly curiosity? And what about the Kirk family? Did she fit in?
Harriet and David had their first child on 17 November, 1842, when Harriet was being confronted with the cold Scottish climate. Her first Christmas in Scotland was warmed by the joy of having her own family, for on Christmas Day the baby girl whom they named Helen after David’s deceased mother was baptised by the Reverend John More, Minister of the United Secession Church in Cairneyhill.
Helen Balfour's birth and baptism registration from the Old Parochial Register.
Sometime after Helen’s birth they settled into their new home in Culross on the Firth of Forth - Gowerville House23, a substantial dwelling with nine rooms, and just a few miles from Carnock and Cairneyhill (see box on the right). Since the house was situated on the road to Dunfermline, through Cairneyhill, it was relatively easy to take the dogcart and visit David’s relatives, which was nice and convenient; but, at the same time, she and David had their own lovely house to retreat to and enjoy their new little family in peace. Their comfortable lifestyle was exemplified by David's membership of the Art Union of London.
Their second daughter, Harriet, was born on 3 November of 1844. Mum Harriet was adjusting well to her changed life. She and David were happy. Never before had her life been so fulfilled.
Harriet Balfour's birth and baptism registration from the Old Parochial Register.
Sadly, at that time people were still ignorant of the fact that hygiene and health go hand in hand. Cholera, tuberculosis and typhus were spreading fast in the Scottish cities. David and Harriet’s happiness was short-lived. An infectious or contagious disease, quite likely to be cholera, snuck into their house and on July 24th of 1845, they lost their daughter Helen to the disease. Only two weeks later, baby Harriet died.24
A year of mourning followed for the Balfour and Kirk families, for soon after Harriet and David’s daughters, in October of that same year his uncle David Balfour, who had worked in Suriname since James Balfour died and later resided in Crossford near Dunfermline, passed away.25 It truly was a sorrowful time for the two families. Harriet had very mixed feelings, for her husband David’s sister Janet and husband Thomas Duncanson were expecting their first child. She was happy for them, but how she longed for her own. The approaching birth lifted everyone’s spirit some, but just as the child was born - a son whom they named John Janet Kirk Duncanson - they were thrust back into sorrow, for Janet died the day after her baby’s birth.26 John Janet Kirk Duncanson himself would eventually become a distinguished surgeon and noted amateur botanist. He is buried in Cairneyhill Churchyard.
With all they possessed and with the privileges Harriet and David had in Culross society because of that, she still became homesick for Nickerie. It wasn’t until June 1848, however, that they returned to Suriname. The fact that David accompanied her then, and that Harriet had moved to Scotland with David six years earlier, indicates the strength of their relationship.
In Suriname they would have found some solace in their frequent contact with David’s brother Robert and his sister Margaret, and they enjoyed their company for about a year. Then Robert and Margaret Kirk returned to Scotland.27
A few months after, when Harriet and David’s son James (known as Jimmy) was born, Harriet’s heart was full of hope that life would be better to her now. A son … a Kirk son. One who might be part African, as she was, but who looked white. In Suriname’s society of those days skin color determined social status. The lighter one’s skin color, the higher up on the ladder one could get.28 Her son would be able to move among the members of the upper class unimpeded by his African heritage. His father would train him to be a good manager of the plantation, and James would grow up and have his own land some day.
But again fate struck. David contracted yellow fever, and at the end of January in 1850 Harriet’s beloved husband died. And to add to her sorrow, not even one member of his Scottish family could be present to lay his body to rest. Harriet felt so alone. Though she was a wealthy widow now, all she had left was little James. She resolved to do her best to raise him in a way that would have made his father David proud.
Robert Kirk junior was married in Scotland in March 1850. With David gone, Robert and his young wife Janet Johnstone returned to live in Nickerie, which gave Harriet some consolation. While in Nickerie, in 1851, Robert and Janet’s first child Catherine Johnstone Kirk was born. Harriet became a loving aunt to the baby girl.
News came from Scotland that Harriet's father-in-law, the old Robert Kirk, had passed on the 3rd of November, 1851. Only two months after his grandfather, little Jimmy died.29 He was only three years old. Now Harriet had no one left of her own family. It seemed like misfortune was following them, but people in those times had learned that death was a part of life. In Harriet’s life the resilience of the formerly enslaved is clearly seen. Life on the plantation had trained her to endure hardship, to pick herself up and to keep going. After all the tragedy in her life, she somehow found the strength and the courage to go on.
At some time after Jimmy’s death she must have returned to Scotland. Though I have not found proof of it as yet, I suspect that she traveled with Robert junior and his family in the Spring of 1852: young wife Janet Johnstone or Kirk, baby Catherine ‘Kate’ Johnstone Kirk, and the baby’s nurse. The nurse was a twenty-three year old black woman named Petronella Vaak (who later changed her name to Hendrick), who had just been manumitted for the sole purpose of leaving the colony with the family, when they went to make their home in Scotland again. If Harriet left Suriname with them, she may have attended Margaret Kirk’s Christmastime wedding - though Harriet was still mourning her son’s death . Margaret’s marriage ceremony may have been a small affair, since the year of mourning for the old Robert Kirk was just over. With Margaret’s wedding the sun began to shine again for the Kirk family, for a few days after the wedding, Robert and Janet’s second child, Helen Balfour Cruickshank Kirke was born. (The owner of “Paradise”, the plantation next to the Kirke’s in Nickerie, was a Cruickshank – maybe a relative, or just very close friend.)
It is still a question where Harriet met the young man, William Carmichael Welch, who would become her second husband. In 1858, when living in Edinburgh he had described himself as 'formerly sugar planter in Surinam', but we do not know when that was. At the time of their marriage, he was only twenty-one and she was thirty-five. It isn’t clear whether she had her Kirk in-laws' approval, but on the 3rd of March, 1854, she married Welch, the son of a baker, at Saint Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London. Their addresses on their marriage certificate look temporary and we do not know their permanent addresses at the time. It may be that they had eloped.
Harriet and William's 1854 marriage certificate.
Was Harriet still on a quest for happiness, was she longing for a child of her own, did she need a man to help her with David’s inheritance businesswise?
Nothing is known about the last years of her life. She does not seem to have had any more children. Hopefully, she had some happy years with William Welch. About 1857 she must have fallen ill and wanted to settle her business matters. Early in 1858, her husband, acting on her behalf, for such was the law at that time, had one eighth part of her properties - maybe David’s inheritance - transferred to Robert Kirke. At that time, a news article reads, Harriet was living in Nickerie, and her husband in Edinburgh.
Harriet died that same year, on the 20th of December, 1858, at Nickerie, only 40 years old. The date of death is taken from a subsequent letter from M. Munro, attorney for Welch, stating that Harriet had a testament in Scotland, and requesting transfer of her assets to him. The letter also says that Welch 'had not been able to be in town' when she died, so she died alone. As Welch was in Edinburgh in early 1858, it is likely that he was still there when Harriet died.
A later report dated January 5th, 1859, stated that Harriet's personal clothes and bed linens had been burnt as ordered. And that was Harriet's end.
Eight years later, the Gentleman’s Magazine announced the marriage at Twickenham of William Carmichael Welch, Esq., of Adrishaig, Argyllshire, Scotland, to another respectable and wealthy lady, Adelaide Weideman Bury, eldest daughter of the Rev. Charles Bury, of Arthington, Yorkshire. Was William Carmichael Welch a gold digger, or did he love Harriet, or was it perhaps a bit of both? It is likely that he inherited her estate when she died; and it is certainly true that his second wife was also a wealthy woman. It is interesting that William's elder brother Charles (who was the main witness at William and Harriet's marriage) was one of the parties in a notorious Scottish divorce case in 1883, when he attempted to deprive his wife of all her assets.
We can only hope that Harriet and William did enjoy some happiness.
The Kirk (now Kirke) family in Burntisland respected Harriet’s memory enough to include her and her children’s names on the family’s memorial obelisk which they erected in Cairneyhill churchyard. There is not a word on the memorial stone about Harriet having remarried.
Above left - the Kirke obelisk in Cairneyhill churchyard; above right - the detail of Harriet and her family.
Alas, there is no headstone to be found anywhere in Nickerie to mark Harriet’s grave site. According to Kenneth Donk of Nickerie, there had been a graveyard near the old Moravian church that Robert Kirke had commissioned to be built on the Waterloo plantation. However, the building was only erected twelve years after Harriet had passed. A year after her death, a mission post was established on the grounds that Robert Kirke had allotted for that purpose. Harriet and David might have been buried around there. The graves in the old churchyard, however, were in more recent times desecrated, plundered, and even cleared. The church building is now gone. Only James Balfour’s violated empty tomb remains in another spot than where the graveyard was. He was buried in a brick tomb, placed between the sugar mill and the slave houses – so that the slaves would continue to pass by him each day.30
An old photo of the Waterloo Plantation.
The Waterloo sugar plantation was closed in the 1960s.31 A part of the grounds has been used for housing projects, another for agriculture. Harriet’s only known memorials for now are the obelisk in Cairneyhill churchyard and her life story.
I am grateful to Iain Sommerville of Burntisland Heritage Trust for his very considerable assistance with this article. Also to Philip Dikland of KDV Architects, Paramaribo, and Kenneth Donk, historian of Nickerie, for their comprehensive research on the history of the Waterloo, Hazard, and other Nickerie plantations. It was their work and writings that triggered my interest in the history of the plantations and led me to contact Iain Sommerville.
Sources and links
1) Sabi Yu Rutu - https://www.facebook.com/sabiyurutu/posts/while-the-category-of-the-mixed-blood-mulatto-appeared-as-a-separate-category-in/573958376102999/
2) August Kappler, Sechs Jahre in Suriname (Stuttgart, 1854)
3) Cornelis W. van Galen &Maurits S. Hassankhan - A research-note on the slave registers of Suriname, 1830-1865, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1081602X.2018.1507917
4) Enslaved people were the property of the plantations where they lived and worked. Some, especially in the capital Paramaribo, were private slaves of their owners.
5) David Alston: Scottish Slave-owners in Suriname, The development of Guiana, Slaves & Highlanders – spanglefish.com https://www.spanglefish.com/slavesandhighlanders/index.asp?pageid=375135
6) David Alston: Scottish Slave-owners in Suriname, James Balfour. https://www.spanglefish.com/slavesandhighlanders/index.asp?pageid=607712
7) 581A Kaartboek van de navolgende gronden uitgegeven in de kolonie Berbice, met acten van meting (1790-1793): https://www.nationaalarchief.nl/onderzoeken/archief/4.VELH/invnr/%40C~C.4~C.4.3~965~581A --- Also “Lijst van eigenaren van plantages, en houders van hypotheken op plantages in Berbice, Demerara en Essequebo, 1818-1819” transcription by Paul Koulen, 2014
8) Besides Premiere, four other children were registered as Diena’s: Abraham, seventeen years old, Charlotta of ten years and three quarters, Margo, aged six, and Prins, three and one third year. The first two or all four were possibly orphans who were placed with Diena to live together as a family. Premiere may have been her first child, for twenty was the usual age for enslaved women in Dutch colonies to get a man and begin breeding children; if all were her biological children, she must have been much older than twenty-one. Birth years were usually guessed. It was only in the eighteen fifties that the true birth dates of the enslaved were recorded, at least in Suriname.
9) ON COLORISM - http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_69.html https://www.npr.org/sections/newsandviews/2007/10/for_lightskinned_only.html OR https://www.nccj.org/colorism-0
The tragic mulatto myth – Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia https://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/mulatto/homepage.htm
10) The enslaved usually received new first names from the minister who baptised them. They would go by both names: in church it was their ‘christian name’ and on the plantation the master would call them by their slave name. The question is, did Balfour have Premiere christened? He does not seem to have been a religious man.
11) Every plantation had a krioromama because slaves were being bred on the plantations to increase the work force, and the nanny was needed so the mothers could go to work in the fields or wherever they were assigned. Maybe there was a krioromama among the slaves Balfour imported from Berbice. VARA TV documentary, History 24, 100 Years Abolition of Slavery Suriname, 1963 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SYcYDD-2tc&t=55s
12) A newspaper ad shows a number of slaves being transported from the plantation Visschershaven to Nickerie, among them the woman named Mimie, the mother of Petronella Hendrick, another Surinamese woman who was taken to Scotland and made it into the New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, 2018.
13) House Slaves: https://spartacus-educational.com/USASdomestic.htm
14) Doortje Swaters, Tegen de grens van Emancipatie, De ontwikkeling van slavernij in Nickerie,1820 – 1842, Bachelorwerkstuk Geschiedenis, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 2018 – pg https://theses.ubn.ru.nl/handle/123456789/7526 https://theses.ubn.ru.nl/bitstream/handle/123456789/7526/Swaters%2c_Doortje_J._1.pdf?sequence=1
15) National Archives The Netherlands and Suriname: Slave Registers - https://www.nationaalarchief.nl/onderzoeken/zoekhulpen/suriname-slavenregisters
16) Iain Sommerville, Burntisland: a Social History, published by Burntisland Heritage Trust, 2009
17) Newspaper archives, delpher.nl
18) See note 5
19) See note 2
20) At manumission everyone received a surname. The manumitted were not allowed to take on an existing name, however. So, in Suriname, the names of the slavers were often used with a slight change, such as an omission of one letter, a change of one letter, rearrangement of the syllables or even a back to front spelling of the whole name. In Suriname, we have the names Alfour, Dalfour, and Belfor, all hinting to Balfour.
21) Newspaper archives, delpher.nl
22) Victorian Days (website), Death and Mourning http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/mourning.html
23) John Burnett of Burntisland Heritage Trust
24) Kirke family memorial gravestone at Cairneyhill, Fife
25) David Balfour’s will
26) Duncanson family gravestone at Cairneyhill, Fife / Family search.org
27) Newspaper archives, delpher.nl
28) Colorism, see note 9
29) Kirke family memorial gravestone at Cairneyhill, Fife
30) The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 219, pg 235
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