Irish Slavery and the Caribbean.
While not a subject commonly known in our school curriculum. White Slavery is and was unequivocally real, even if not politically correct. I do not wish to talk about the slavery aspect, but to write an article about mixed race unions and how they affect our genes today.
In a tagline and genealogy, study published in 2012 about the Melungeons of the southeastern United States,
“Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.”
While not at all about melungeons, the name often comes to mind as a buzzword throughout the southern Appalachians that I call home.
Were these sub-Saharan men and white women in consensual relationships? Or ,were these unions forced? That is what I wish to examine.
Irish Slavery began when 30,000 Irish prisoners were sold as slaves to the New World. The King James I Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade from West Africa to the New World was indeed harsh and brutal, did the white slaves fair any better?
In reality, White slaves fared no better a fate as unwilling human property than did contemporary captive Africans. At times, they were even treated worse then their Black counterparts due to economic considerations. This was especially true throughout most of the 17th century, as White captives were far more inexpensive on the slave market than their African counterparts, and hence were mistreated to a greater extent as they were seen as a conveniently disposable labor force.
It was not until later that Black slaves became a cheaper commodity. An account dating back to 1667 grimly described the Irish of Barbados as “poor men, that are just permitted to live,… derided by the Negroes, and branded with the Epithite of white slaves.” A 1695 account written by the island’s governor frankly stated that they labored “in the parching sun without shirt, shoe, or stocking”, and were “domineered over and used like dogs.” It was common knowledge among the Irish of this era that to be deported, or “barbadosed”, to the West Indies meant a life of slavery. In many cases, it was common for White slaves in Barbados to be supervised by mulatto or Black overseers, who often treated captive Irish laborers with exceptional cruelty.
The mulatto drivers enjoyed using the whip on whites. It gave them a sense of power and was also a protest against their white sires. White women in particular were singled out for punishment in the fields. Sometimes, to satisfy a perverted craving, the mulatto drivers forced the women to strip naked before commencing the flogging and then forced them to continue working all day under the blistering sun. While the women were weeding in the fields in that condition, the drivers often satisfied their lust by taking them from the rear.
Such instances of horrific rape and unwilling sexual union between Irish female slaves and Black slave drivers were encouraged by many of their White masters. Mulatto children, who resulted from such unions were seen by the plantation masters as a potentially unlimited breeding stock of future native-born slave labor, acquired free of charge and without the costs of transportation. Public records on Barbados reveal that some planters went as far as to systematize this process of miscegenation through the establishment of special “stud farms” for the specific purpose of breeding mixed-race slave children. White female slaves, often as young as 12, were used as “breeders” to be forcibly mated with Black men. Although no all mixed breed children derived from such unions, the majority did.
Punitive violence, such as whippings, were used against Irish slaves, and was often used on them immediately upon their arrival in the colonies to brutally reinforce their enchained status, and as a warning against future disobedience. The dehumanizing and degrading cattle-like physical inspections used to assess and display the “qualities” of each captive for prospective buyers, which reached infamy with the Black slave markets, was also practiced upon both White slaves and indentured servants in the colonies of the West Indies and North America. Irish slaves were marked off from their free White relatives through a branding of the owner’s initials applied to the forearm for women and on the buttocks for men by a red-hot iron.
White slave owners who purchased them as sexual concubines, in particular saw Irish women, as a desirable commodity. Others found themselves sold off to local brothels. This degrading practice of sex slavery made Irish men, women and children potential victims to perverse whims of many unsavory buyers.
We do know that many black men carrying “white” y-dna haplogroups are also the products of rape and inhumane lust. It goes both ways.