A planned slave rebellion that struck terror in the hearts of Bermuda’s white population was foiled when the plotters were overheard discussing their intentions.
Smith’s Parish seaman John Vickers overheard a group of enslaved people talking about killing their owners on the evening of October 12, 1761 and notified the authorities. Reaction was swift. Countless slaves were rounded up and jailed.
Had the plot—which occurred 30 years before Haiti’s 1791 slave revolution—been successful, it would have changed the course of history, historian Cyril Packwood wrote. Governor William Popple was convinced that half of the island’s white residents would have been butchered. He believed the main conspirators were free blacks.
The trial began in April 1762. It ended with the conviction and execution of five men and one woman, Nancy, who was owned by Jonathan Tucker. It was first time a black woman had been executed in Bermuda in connection with a slave rebellion.
Peter, who was owned by Edward Parker of Warwick, was suspected of being the ringleader. He was hanged and burned at Parker’s estate, although he protested his innocence to the end.
Some of the enslaved were executed before 1762 and others were banished to remote parts of Maryland.
The planned uprising resulted in tough new laws enacted against blacks, both enslaved and free.
Source: Chained on the Rock by Cyril Outerbridge Packwood