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NameWALBS bios - Charles Dawson Ridley
DescriptionBiographical data and locations of Charles Dawson Ridley between 1811 and 1838, as part of research into people of interest for WA Legacies of British Slavery project (ARC)
TypeOther
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ContributorIsabel Smith
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Added to System2022-01-14 17:13:48
Updated in System2022-01-14 17:21:55
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Vreed en Hoop, Demerara (Guyana)

Placename
Vreed en Hoop, Demerara (Guyana)
Type
Other

Details

Latitude
6.818278
Longitude
-58.153667
Start Date
1811-12-14
End Date
1811-12-14

Description

Extended Data

Location notes
Ridley was recorded as administrator (attorney) of Vreed en Hoop ('Peace and Hope') - today a town but formerly a plantation - as well as of Turkeyen and Henrietta. [1] Both sites were located in Demerara, an area now part of Guyana, on the east coast near Georgetown.
Date notes
We do not have a record indicating Ridley's date of arrival in Demerara. The earliest mention we have of him in Demerara is in 1811. In The Essequebo & Demerary Royal Gazette, Saturday December 14, 1811, he is listed as receiving a promotion within the Essequebo Militia: '4th Company – Commanded by Captain M'Pherson ... Chas. Ridley, Gent. to be Second Lieutenant.' [4]
Biographical information
Charles Dawson Ridley was born in 1787 in England. He married Mary Eliza Forrester in 1816. [5] Ridley lived and managed plantations in Demerara - today part of what is known as Guyana. He was the attorney of plantations Vreed en Hoop ('Peace and Hope' - today a town on the west side of the mouth of the Demerara River) and Turkeyen and Henrietta as late as 1826. Attorneys had a lot of authority within the Caribbean plantation management system - they were responsible for managing the estates of 'absentee' owners (those who owned plantations but lived elsewhere). [1] Ridley was business partners with James Walcott, who also oversaw plantations and lived in Demerara. They were likely also brothers-in-law: both married women born in Demerara who had their first children there, before both families moved to Britain and then onto Western Austraila. Two of Ridley’s children also went on to marry Walcotts. [1] On 31 May 1871, his youngest daughter Susan Hinds married Robert Thomas Brockman, the second son of R. J. Brockman [2]
Links to slavery the slave trade
Ridley was Attorney of Vreed en Hoop ('Peace and Hope') plantation, as well as of Turkeyen and Henrietta. Attorneys had a lot of authority within the Caribbean plantation management system - they were responsible for managing the estates of 'absentee' owners (those who owned plantations but lived elsewhere). By 1832 over 80% of the large sugar plantations had absentee owners, which allowed attorneys to amass considerable wealth. [1] Turkeyen and Henrietta was a major sugar plantation. It was purchased by Liverpool merchant and absentee owner John Gladstone in 1828, and by the time of the emancipation there were 415 enslaved people held there. [6, 1] Slavery heritage of Demerara: Demerara is today part of what is known as Guyana. Some of the earliest settlers of Guyana were Arawak, Carib, and possibly Warao. Although Christopher Columbus sighted the Guyana coast in 1498 and Spain claimed the area, the first Europeans to colonise the land were the Dutch in the late 16th century. In the mid-17th century the Dutch began bringing over enslaved people from West Africa to cultivate sugarcane. From the 1740s, English settlers from Caribbean islands began to move in on the region, first on the island of Wakenaam, then on the coast of Essequibo, followed by Demerara. By 1760, the British were the largest contingent in Demerara. During the Napoleonic wars the British and French in particular fought over the land, but in 1796 the British captured the territories and except for short intervals held 'possession'. In 1831 the British combined Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice to form 'British Guiana'. In 1823 Demerera was the site of one of the greatest uprisings of enslaved people in history: the 1823 Demerara rebellion involved over 10,000 enslaved people and was crucial in the dismantling of Caribbean slave systems. [1]
Attitudes around race
Attitudes around labour
Images
An Illustrated History of British Guiana by George Hanneman Bennett: https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/An_Illustrated_History_of_British_Guiana/pe0jAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&printsec=frontcover
References
[1] Jane Lydon forthcoming article [2] The Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth, WA) 14 June 1871 [3] http://sites.rootsweb.com/~nyggbs/Transcriptions/RoyalGazette/RoyalGazetteTranscriptions.htm [4] https://www.vc.id.au/edg/18111214edrg.html [5] https://www.vc.id.au/tb/bgcolonistsR.html [6] The London Gazette, no. 17693 31 March, 1821, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/17693/page/740/data.pdf [7] Western Australian Dictionary of Biography, 'C. D. RIDLEY' [8] City of Swan, Altone Local Area Plan, January 2016 [9] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/639434?searchTerm=ridley [10] https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146652249

Sources

TLCMap ID
t798e
Created At
2022-01-14 17:14:02
Updated At
2023-11-17 15:39:57

London, England

Placename
London, England
Type
Other

Details

Latitude
51.50325
Longitude
-0.127722
Start Date
1827-01-01
End Date
1827-01-01

Description

Extended Data

Location notes
We do not know the exact location Ridley stayed at in London so have given the estimate of central London on Downing Street.
Date notes
There is no recorded date of Ridley's departure from Demerara to England. We have located it between 1823 and 1828 due to the recorded birth places of his children - his third child Joseph Beete was born in Demerara in 1823, while his fourth child Lewis Forrester was born in London in 1828. This suggests the Ridleys remained in Demerera until at least 1823, reaching Britain by 1828. Ridley was also Recorded as administrator of Vreed en Hoop and Turkeyen and Henrietta as late as 1826. Though it is possible he was an absentee administrator, we have given the estimated date of 01-01-1827 for his arrival in England. [1]
Biographical information
Ridley and his wife Mary had nine children: Charles (b. Demerara, 1819, died 1848 WA), Eliza (1821, Demerara, died 1834 WA), Joseph Beete (b.1823 Demerara, died 1893 Toodyay), Lewis Forrester (b.1828 London, died 1898 London), Mary Forrester (b.1833 WA, d.1835 WA), Ellen Bull (b.1836 WA, d.1891 WA), Harriet McKenzie (b.1838 York, d.1838 Perth), Susan Hinds (b.1842 WA, d.1919 Perth), and Elizabeth (b.1846, WA ‘deceased’?) The births of third child Joseph Beete in Demerara in 1823, and fourth child Lewis Forrester in London in 1828, suggest the Ridleys remained in Demerera until at least 1823. Ridley was also recorded as administrator of Vreed en Hoop and Turkeyen and Henrietta as late as 1826, however it is possible he was an absentee administrator and was not in fact living in Demerara at this time. We assume that Ridley and his family were in England by 1828, before moving on to Western Australia.
Links to slavery the slave trade
As above
Attitudes around race
Attitudes around labour
Images
References

Sources

TLCMap ID
t798f
Created At
2022-01-14 17:14:02
Updated At
2023-11-17 15:39:57

Walyalup (Fremantle)

Placename
Walyalup (Fremantle)
Type
Other

Details

Latitude
-32.056861
Longitude
115.741389
Start Date
1830-01-30
End Date
1830-01-30

Description

Extended Data

Location notes
Date notes
Biographical information
Ridley and James Walcott, along with their families, are described by the Legacies of British Slavery database as ‘what appears to have been a group of people moving from Demerara to Western Australia c. 1830' [10] Both arrived at Walyalup (Fremantle) aboard the Wanstead on 30 January 1830. [1]
Links to slavery the slave trade
As above
Attitudes around race
Attitudes around labour
Images
References

Sources

TLCMap ID
t7990
Created At
2022-01-14 17:14:02
Updated At
2023-11-17 15:39:57

Caversham / Lockridge

Placename
Caversham / Lockridge
Type
Other

Details

Latitude
-31.883111
Longitude
115.990139
Start Date
1830-05-01
End Date
1830-05-01

Description

Extended Data

Location notes
Date notes
This is the date Ridley was officially granted the land. [1]
Biographical information
Along with Walcott, Ridley was one of the first large land grantees in WA. Both had substantial capital and were awarded prime allotments on Wadjuk Noongar Boodjar (Country), on Derbarl Yerrigan (the Swan River), opposite the Governor of WA and near the junction of the Helena and Swan Rivers. American historian Warren Bert Kimberly described Ridley and Walcott amongst those first colonists who had ‘chosen places where the soil appeared most promising, and where they could partake of the advantage of river transit’. [1] Kimberly recorded awards of land in 1830 on the Swan 'to C. D. Ridley, 1,432½ acres in fee simple, 1st May; and on 14th December 1830 James Wallcott, 16,083, fee simple; 17th December, Charles D. Ridley, 8,750.' [1] Ridley was granted 12,546 acres of land. The Western Australian Dictionary of Biography states that he selected '8750 acres in the Avon district, 317.5 acres at Helena and 143.5 acres at Swan'. [7] Jane Lydon explains that 'Before 1832 ... colonists arriving before the end of 1830 could claim 40 acres for every £3 of capital invested, and those arriving after December 1830 could claim 20 acres. According to the land schedule (or Return of Property on which land has been claimed from 1st September to 30th June 1830) ... Ridley’s property comprised one wife, four children, one friend, six servants; £93 servants and children, £154 12s. 10d. livestock, £429 9s. 2 ½ d., provisions £107 6s. 4 ½ d., seeds and plants £5 10s. 6d., miscellaneous £151 17s. 8d., totalling £940 16s. 7d. (inapplicable £214 1s). [1] Though Ridley and Walcott had adjoining blocks, there are signs that they went their own ways after arrival, such as a dispute in late 1835 regarding an agreement to erect a party fence between their adjoining properties. But they were still neighbours in February 1837 when the local newspaper reported a terrible fire at the Walcott property, 'which, in less than ten minutes, destroyed the whole of the thatched dwelling-house, and kitchen adjoining, with about thirty bushels of barley, and ten of wheat, in the latter building.' Ridley's son is referenced as one of the Walcott's neighbours in this article. [1]
Links to slavery the slave trade
As above
Attitudes around race
Attitudes around labour
Images
References

Sources

TLCMap ID
t7991
Created At
2022-01-14 17:14:02
Updated At
2023-11-17 15:39:57

Avon Valley, near Northam

Placename
Avon Valley, near Northam
Type
Other

Details

Latitude
-31.643861
Longitude
116.648472
Start Date
1838-08-18
End Date
1838-08-18

Description

Extended Data

Location notes
We do not know the exact location of Ridley's Avon Valley block, but have located it just outside of Northam
Date notes
Though the Avon Valley block was awarded to Ridley in 1830, colonists did not expand inland into this region until 1831. We do not know the exact date that Ridley began working on this block, but the earliest mention we have is on 18 August 1838, when the Government Gazette reported 'in regard to the Division Line between the Districts of York and Toodyay, to include in the former Mr. Ridley's Farm'. [9]
Biographical information
Ridley was working on land in the Avon Valley by August 1838, taking up land near Northam. In October he was advertising in the newspaper for wheat and for ‘hands’ to ‘clear land, plough, &c’ at the farm. [1] The block officially became part of the York district that year. Jane Lydon explains that 'the York farmers' demands for labour - along with their techniques of discipline such as flogging - were already widespread by the late 1830s.' ... Among the "big York farmers", Ridley was a prime mover in the district’s Agricultural Society, which aimed to disseminate techniques of labour discipline and promoted a variety of labour schemes, seeking variously to put Noongar to work, to import British "Orphan and Destitute’"children, poor German families, or labourers from places as distant as Singapore, China, and Tasmania.' He was Secretary in May, 1833, when it announced a special meeting to discuss ‘the propriety of opening a Correspondence with the Society in London, “For the permanent Support of Orphan and Destitute Children, by means of Apprenticeship in the Colonies.”’ This led to one of the earliest British child migration schemes, conducted by The Society for the Suppression of Juvenile Vagrancy.' [1] Ridley also led the exploitation of timber - in particular jarrah (which did not take off) and the very successful sandalwood - as well as the cultivation of sugar cane, not as a staple product, but to supply the colony with sugar, syrup, molasses, rum, vinegar, and conserves. [1]
Links to slavery the slave trade
As above
Attitudes around race
Attitudes around labour
Jane Lydon explains that 'the York farmers' demands for labour - along with their techniques of discipline such as flogging - were already widespread by the late 1830s.' ... Among the ‘big York farmers’, Ridley was a prime mover in the district’s Agricultural Society, which aimed to disseminate techniques of labour discipline and promoted a variety of labour schemes, seeking variously to put Noongar to work, to import British ‘Orphan and Destitute’ children, poor German families, or labourers from places as distant as Singapore, China, and Tasmania.' He was Secretary in May, 1833, when it announced a special meeting to discuss ‘the propriety of opening a Correspondence with the Society in London, “For the permanent Support of Orphan and Destitute Children, by means of Apprenticeship in the Colonies.”’ This led to one of the earliest British child migration schemes, conducted by The Society for the Suppression of Juvenile Vagrancy. [1]
Images
Newspaper notice referring to Ridley's farm between the York and Toodyay Districts: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/639434?searchTerm=ridley
References

Sources

TLCMap ID
t7992
Created At
2022-01-14 17:14:02
Updated At
2023-11-17 15:39:57
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