Video: Mary Prince Inducted As National Hero

June 16, 2012

[Updated with video] Premier Paula Cox proclaimed Mary Prince — who was born into slavery in 1788 — as the National Hero for 2012 at an Induction Ceremony held this evening [June 16] at Barr’s Bay Park.

The Induction Ceremony was attended by over 200 people, and featured an interpretative dance entitled “A Woman Named Prince” based on an excerpt from Mary Prince’s autobiography, which was choreographed by Conchita Ming and performed by Shahnel Woodley.

The programme also included a dramatic reading by Tramaine Stovell, music by Kassandra Caines, Negro Spirituals sung by Marsden First United Methodist Church’s Praise Team and MP Ashfield Devent reading an a biography of Mary Prince.

Mary Prince was a Bermudian woman born into slavery in 1788 at Brackish Pond [now known as Devonshire Marsh] in Devonshire, Bermuda. Her parents were both slaves, her father – whose only given name was Prince – was a sawyer owned by David Trimingham; her mother – was a house servant owned by Charles Myners.

When Myners died in 1788, Mary Prince and her mother were sold as household servants to Captain Darrell, who gave Mary to his granddaughter. When she was 12, Mary Prince was sold for 38 pounds sterling to Captain John Ingham of Spanish Point. She never took easily to the indignities of her enslavement and was often flogged.

As punishment, she was sold to another Bermudian, probably Robert Darrell, who sent her in 1806 to Grand Turk to work in the salt industry. Mary returned to Bermuda in 1810 and was sold to John Adams Wood in 1818 for $300 and sent to Antigua to be a domestic slave.

She joined the Moravian Church, and in December 1826 married Daniel James, a former slave who had bought his freedom and worked as a carpenter and cooper. For this impudence, she was severely beaten by her master.

In 1828, Wood and his family took Mary with then to London as a servant. After years of abuse, Mary ran away from her master and took shelter with the Moravian church in Hatton Garden. Within a few weeks, she had employment with Thomas Pringle, an abolitionist writer and Secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society – she ‘broke the silence’ by telling her story to the anti-slavery society.

In 1829, Wood refused to either manumit her or allow her to be bought out of his control. His refusal meant that she could not return to Antigua, without returning to slave status.

48 minute video of the Ceremony:

Her autobiography, ‘The History of Mary Prince’ published in 1831, was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in the United Kingdom. Mary Prince spoke of slavery with the authority of personal experience.

In 2008, Bermuda’s first selected National Hero was Dame Lois Browne-Evans. Last year, honourees included Dr. Edgar.Fitzgerald Gordon, Dr. Pauulu Kamarakafego [Dr. Roosevelt Browne] and Sir Henry ‘Jack’ Tucker.

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Comments (40)

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  1. Past Dwellers says:

    Correct me if i’m wrong? But it seems in order to be recognized as a National Hero in Bermuda , you have to be a SLAVE????

    You ppl make me laugh I tell you

    Tire of hearing people always bringing up the Slave Days.

    • Reality Check says:

      Not Slave Days. This is History for both Whites and Blacks. Don’t Hate participate.

      • Come Correct says:

        +1 but I still ask, who will our children honor? Really, who?

    • hmm says:

      Some comments are not even worth a response. Unfortunately they only serve to show the ignorance that is prevalent in some people.

    • just asking says:

      was Sir Henry Tucker a slave….I did not know that…

    • Just Curious says:

      ask the Jews “ppl” how they feel about Holocaust!
      and you “ppl” altitude, is not laughing matter.. and being tired of slave days, well would like to be a slave in your life or u r family???

    • Cinderella says:

      No, darling, it was because the written account of her life events ignited the passions of those in Britain who did not like the idea of mistreating another person who happened to be a servant.

    • Cleancut says:

      In 1860 there were at least six Negroes in Louisiana who owned 65 or more slaves. The largest number, 152 slaves were owned by C.Richards and her son P.C.Richards, who owned a large sugar cane plantation. In the 1800s free Negroes owned slaves some of them owning up to 20.

  2. Ess Dee says:

    Dumb a$$….I take it u think Dame Lois was a slave and so was Dr Roosevelt Brown….the epitome of ignorance…..and I guess “you ppl” means Black people…..u r the joke quite frankly! Are you that angry that a black person was honoured? After all the years I have had 2 study your history, you truly don’t want to have a 5 minute lesson about my history…..get a life and get over it….your hatred is what is keeping us as people apart….and as long as you keep your sorry a$$ mentality, we will never become unified as people….let’s focus on real issues as opposed to your inability to get over your own insecurities!…..umjusssayin

    • street wise says:

      Oh contraire… perhaps it’s your attitude, as demonstrated by your angry, resentful post above, that keeps us apart. Something about a pot and kettle….

  3. honestly??? says:

    Ess dee nah straight up it is the black peoples hatred for the whites on this island that keeps us apart. You cannot even begin to say that this is not the PLP or black population attemptin to rub the bads parts of history in our face??? When truthfully no one white or black remembers anything about the slave trade. It was ended over 250 years ago. Plus just to mention many many europeans were sold as slaves around north africa long before the atlantic slave trade so delve a little deeper and you will find every nation was once slaves of another its human nature not white nature, blacks had slaves, whites had slaves even asians had slaves a lot of them.

    So study a little harder, stop trying to bring up the mistakes of the past because as much as we have to remember and learn from them. These things do not have to be plastered all over the island with plaques and have fancy 5000 dollar partys at barrs bay park for an hour. Honour these people but do it in the privacy of your own homes. Ure not curing the problem you are being antagonists which will drive our races further apart. This needs to end and my idea to end it is elect a national hero with a little more relevance maybe one who’s still alive or atleast died in this century…

    RIP Mary Prince…

    • I gotta be me says:


      • Let's move on says:

        I agree, plus slaves existed then and long before. Moses freed them long before Mary Prince and they were held much longer. If people want to do something for slaves help the ones that are kept TODAY.

        • Nothing But the Truth says:

          I completely agree and whats funny to me is that most Bermudians are mixed so the Black & White thing is Crazy

  4. wondering says:

    This is pathetic……we have alot of history to celebrate and there will always be some sense of ” you left us lot out”. the fact remains that people of colour have not had their his-tory told for centuries and noone should feel left out. you can’t erase the ills of the past by not recognizing all.. the Portuguese community have a sticker a few years ago that pertains to all – “Building the future on the foundation of the past”.

    That is where we need to gravitate towards.

    • Finally left! says:

      But at the same time there are some saying “why didnt whites come”….

      just annoyance from both sides… one saying you left us out..the other saying why werent you there… at the end of the day a hero was decided… those that want to learn, learn and celebrate.. those that dont just keep your mouth shut..

      a lot of people were bitchign about the holiday being changed from the queens birthday, so dont get whiny now that you didnt get the hero you want either.

  5. I gotta be me says:

    what is “his-tory” ?

  6. Bermudian Overseas says:

    just a question but do you guys all think that all of the national heroes we’ve had in the past are a FULL representation of Bermudian people? Almost half the country is not black so there must be others to recognize too.

    FYI I am not against the choosing of Mary Prince but was just wondering if in the future it could ever be somebody who was not black

    • racist says:

      Whether you realise it or not, your comment is pretty racist, talking about having a National Hero who isn’t black, like it MUST be a white person for you to be happy. Also, clearly you don’t read as last year they honoured a white man. Mary Prince is someone who overcame a lot, and just as she’s not white you aren’t happy.

      • LOL (original TM*) says:

        Correction the ” white man” was not honored in the manner the Dame and Ms. Prince where at all. His honor was down played as during his year he was honored along side two others on the opposite side of the political divide and was a slap in the face to white people on this island. On that day I would wager the majority of people who celebrated honored only some of the hero’s on that day and not all of them. Another reason they should have all been done in their own years and not together. It is because of how it was done that in my opinion it was done basically so that people such as you could say “well they honored a white person so they must not be racist” and that’s really it. It was a show nothing more and had no meaning. Anyone else notice that out of all the posters of the past heroes M. Tucker was not to be seen? Not saying there wasn’t a picture of him somewhere but driving through town all the others were quite visible.


  7. hmmm... says:

    @Bermudian Overseas: There have been non-black National Heroes, at least one or two to date. @honestly???? How can you construe this as an attempt by the “plp and black people” to rub the bad parts of Bermuda’s history in your face? Have you read the History of Mary Prince? Do you know anything about slavery in Bermuda? What differentiates slavery practiced in other parts of the world and during different epochs from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade/New World Slavery? Does anyone tell the Jews they should forget their Holocaust? Do people tell them they should get over it? Observe their rememberance in private? If the Jews decide to honour Anne Frank, do the Germans and Dutch say they are rubbing the bad parts of history in their faces? History can not be undone, and it must not be forgotten. The History of Mary Prince stands as a testament to humanity. This is not just Black history, this is Bermudian History, a true history, something that we should present and celebrate and remember

    • street wise says:

      But the Jews do not throw the Holocaust in your face all the time.

  8. Catherine DL says:

    Oh for pity’s sake – the reactions above are an embarrassment to white folk the world over. If white folk are going to comment in this fashion, is it any wonder they don’t make it as national heroes ?!! It is laudable to honor those whom have not been honored in their time. “The first shall be last and the last shall be first”! Stop with the pettiness and embrace the spirit of the holiday, honoring those who have brought change. In reality, Mary Prince may not even have existed exactly as Mary Prince, but slaves did exist and the sooner we recognize it, the more likely we are to prevent atrocities of slavery that still go on today. Let’s expend our energies to change what we can now while we can instead of bickering like toddlers.

  9. Wondering about others says:

    Does anyone know if the Portuguese and Spanish celebrate their emancipation from the Moors , a black North African people who enlsaved the people of the Iberian Peninsula for more than twice as long as the North Altantic slave trade lasted ?

    • LOL (original TM*) says:

      Did you forget the part that they used to demand the daughters of those people so they could send them to Africa as sex slaves? Makes you wonder what the “Crusades” was really about init. Religion was the excuse.


  10. Jamudian says:

    These comments; I’ll tell you right now I am not suprised. The very first comment started it all off. It is an embarrassment and a diservice to white folks…Especially those that have a good heart and pure intentions…
    Like the post ealier said; some things are better off if ignored…Sheet disturber!!

    I would like to add that I agree with Mary Prince being a nat. hero. This should not be about black or white but about Bermuda and her history…
    One that Black people can be proud of and whites can learn from–Guilt freeee. That is the problem here.
    Soo many whites feel guilty about slavery. Dont be silly, be fearless in addressing it in an open and honest way.
    Blacks appreciate when a white person can be real about that part of history. But yall feel guilty.
    Let me tell you all….Non of the white people that are here right now had anything to do with slavery. You did not do it!!! Remember that.
    However, just as much as the remnance of slavery affects blacks today; whites bemefit in a positive way.

    But like most whites that I know…I know ALOT..They would rather pretend that it never happened and not to speak about it.
    That is a dangerous way to be. We shall Never FORGET!!! ALWAYS AND FOREVER REMEMBER AND BE PROUD AND LOUD ABOUT IT!!! That way we honor those that suffered so that we can be here.
    Whites would do well to be the same way. This is how we as humans move forward–ensuring these things never ever happen again!!!

    • street wise says:

      “Soo many whites feel guilty about slavery.” What makes you think that? As a white person why should I feel guilty about it, it had nothing to do with me? Most of us are just sick and tired of hearing about it. The use of the race card and the choice of Mary Prince has a political agenda, IMO. Let’s move on, shall we. Together.

    • LOL (original TM*) says:

      I talk about race all the time as honestly as possible in a balanced way as possible. Although I admit that since the conversation I face is very one sided filled with angry hurt people whom feel no way about lashing out or are calculating to throw up stumbling blocks deliberately it is a hard balance between showing the other side of the coin and being compassionate to those who generally are tired of race being the stopping point of uniting the island.


  11. hudson says:

    While Mary Prince clearly deserves a place in the history books and arguably recognition as a national hero this might have been a good year to actually recognise Queen Elizabeth in her jubilee year especially given we no longer recognise her birthday and like it or not we are still all British subjects. Just sayin’.

  12. hudson says:

    Btw – I agree totally with Catherines comments above. We must accept we have a past – some good much bad but it is who we are and we have to embrace eachother (works both ways) and look forward.imho

  13. Beacon says:

    Here’s a suggestion/nomination for a ‘white’ National Hero… GIBBS HILL LIGHTHOUSE!!!!!
    He/She is ‘white’… and how many lives has he/she saved in the century+ of service he/she has silently and steadfastly given in service to ALL BERMUDIANS AND VISITORS ALIKE!!!???

    This could be a great opportunity for Bermuda to return the kindness and service our ‘white’ National Hero has given us! Give Gibbs Hill Lighthouse some much needed recognition and attention – in the form of repair and paint! I’m sure that will go much farther than a medal, a few speeches and a party!

  14. Liars! says:

    looks like cox and all her little followers are the masters now…….all of them in the pictures above dont have any white friends, l can tell because their friends are not in the photo above….

    Calling us white people racist, then telling us we should participate and get more involved, yet look at this shining example that the leaders of this wrecked country show us…….photo ops, ohh look at me, look at me, l’m with the premier….

  15. Liars! says:

    ashfeild and alex…really

  16. Roger says:

    Next year I am going to start an online petition for a hero everybody on the island can relate to regardless of color.

    Presently I am torn between Iron Man and Superman, I think the latter would be a better role model.

  17. jt says:

    It’s a day off work. Relax.

  18. Liars! says:

    it say above that she was born into slavery in 1788….then it goes on to say that when her father died in 1788 she and her mother were sold to someone…..its funny how the detailing here is only on the NAME of the families that owned them, to harass them in 2012, and not the actual story, which is slavery is bad and not good for any human being.

  19. Truth is killin' me... says:

    We’re all slaves to bills!!!

  20. united says:

    How about this, look at the current heroes, the mothers and fathers of Bermuda trying to make a go of it with sky rocketing prices and still be able to care for their children. Sometimes working two jobs to pay their bills. Plus their children are respectable and respectful of others and their belongings.

  21. WOLF says:

    You people will argue over anything.