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BHM: Samuel Lord – Bajan buccaneer


BHM: Samuel Lord – Bajan buccaneer

Social Share continues celebration of Black History Month, with another article written by a student from the visual and performing arts division of the Barbados Community College. All students in that section are required to take a course in Caribbean Cultures.

SAMUEL HALL LORD was a famous buccaneer known throughout Barbados for being a very creative pirate.

This paper follows his family history, events in his life, where and how he lived and died.

Samuel, also known as “Sam Lord”, led a very interesting life and many people still have questions about him and what he did. He is very much a part of Barbadian history and seemed a suitable topic to write about. He was a famous Barbadian pirate who left his mark on the island’s history.

Samuel Hall Lord was a very wealthy man who lived in a castle/mansion in the parish of St Philip that was built in 1820.

It all began back in 1778 when John Lord and Bathsheba Hall Sergeant welcomed him into the world. Samuel had two brothers and three sisters. When his parents died in the early 1800s, Samuel and one of his brothers inherited everything their parents owned, including their slaves (most of whom were Barbadians and a few of them Africans) and the Long Bay and Pool plantations.

Samuel, along with one of his brothers, lived on the 72-acre plot in the plantation house that their parents had left behind. It was replaced with a Georgian style mansion/castle shortly after their deaths, which Samuel renamed “Sam Lord’s Castle”.

Three daughters

Sam Lord married an Englishwoman named Lucy Wightwick, against her family’s wishes, and they sailed from England back to Barbados in 1809. They had three daughters – Oceanus, Emma Lucy and Cecelia.

Oceanus died at age two. Emma Lucy was born on April 22, 1811, and Cecelia on November 17, 1812.

It is reported that Samuel Lord often kept his wife locked in the basement while he enjoyed the fine treasures and art that he stole (Butler, 1991). However, it is said that she eventually escaped home to England by bribing the slave jailer with jewels.

Samuel also had children with one of the maids at the estate. Together they had two boys – Edward Samuel Lord and William Lord.

Edward married Elizabeth Armour and moved to St Lucia where they raised their four children. Not much is known about the other son William.

In 1831 the “Great Hurricane” struck the island of Barbados and partially destroyed the castle, which was rebuilt by 1834.

Hanging lanterns

Samuel Lord was known as one of the most unusual and creative pirates within the Caribbean because rather than facing the seas like most pirates, he found a very unique way of making his profits by conquering ships from on land.sam-lord-s-castle

Legend has it that Sam Lord hung lanterns in the coconut trees on the beach near his castle to attract ships. The confused captains, thinking that the lanterns were the lights of Bridgetown, would wreck their ships on the reef when trying to dock. He would then board the ships and keep the cargo and riches for his castle.

However, there is great speculation as to whether Sam Lord actually committed these crimes.

He is accused of causing shipwrecks that occurred on their own. The confusion exists because some records show that at the time when some of the shipwrecks occurred Sam was not even on the island (Bladen).

Before May in 1875, when the lighthouse at Ragged Point was built, wrecks on Cobblers Reef were frequent. Even when the lighthouse was built, ships continued to run aground. In calm weather the crew would usually be able to get ashore, but when the seas were rough from bad weather, the ships would be forced into the rocks and reef and then into the shallow water near Long Bay.

Between 1820 and 1834 five wrecks occurred and Sam Lord was said to have been away for three of the years from 1824 to 1827. Therefore, he could not be seen as being responsible for the shipwreck in 1826.

In the 1833 shipwreck, Sam had entertained the captain of the Barque Wanderer for a few weeks and so there really could be no connection to him leading that captain astray and making him crash into the reef.

Sam was also away on a trip to England from 1834 to the beginning of 1839 and so would not have been involved in the two wrecks in December 1834.

This means that the only wreck Sam Lord could have caused was that of an unnamed vessel between 1827 and 1832.

From 1835 to 1841 a total of 16 shipwrecks were recorded near Long Bay. Documents also show that Sam Lord was in England from 1835 to 1839, when he travelled back to Barbados.

Among those 16 wrecks recorded, only the names of two were noted: The Brig. Susan Crane and the Barque Esmeralda. Sam was barely back on the island when the first occurred and he had been entertaining the Trollopes at a wedding party for his niece Frances.

It is said by some that the treasures were stored in a network of tunnels and in the dungeon located under the beach and the castle. However, this tunnel has never been located.

In 1884, at the age of 67, after constantly being at odds with the law, Samuel Hall Lord left Barbados for England and died on November 5 later that year. He was buried in the catacombs of the Kensal Cemetery.