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Prince’s part in ending slavery

Margot Maddison-MacFadyen details the life of National Hero and abolitionist Mary Prince (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Landmarks from the life of Mary Prince, a Bermudian ex-slave who became an icon of the abolitionist movement, were explored last night in a lecture by a Canadian historian dedicated to researching her life.

Margot Maddison-MacFadyen is also starting fresh research into Ms Prince this month in partnership with Clarence Maxwell, a Bermudian historian.

Their work, sponsored by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, will explore her role “both as an abolitionist, and as part of the humanitarian revolution”, according to Lovitta Foggo, the community affairs minister.

Dr Maddison-MacFadyen maintained that Ms Prince’s autobiography, published in 1831, hastened the emancipation of slaves signed into law by the British Government in 1834.

“The Government was pressured in England to bring about emancipation sooner than it would have happened,” she told the audience at the Earl Cameron Theatre in City Hall.

Slave resistance plays “a huge role” in toppling slavery, Dr Maddison-MacFadyen added, likening Ms Prince’s narrative to the accounts of Holocaust survivors.

Her life encompasses a “triangle” between Bermuda, Antigua and Britain, with Ms Prince becoming the property of five different Bermudians before securing her freedom.

A trove of historical details as well as Bermudian sites of interest in her life, is provided on the site maryprince.org.

They include the residence where she was taken with her sisters to be made ready for their sale in Hamilton. The building is now a maintenance facility at the Ocean View Golf Course in Devonshire.

Another key place is at the Cavendish Hall site in Devonshire: a “hole in the rocks” where Ms Prince hid as a fugitive after enduring a beating from her third “owner”, Captain John Ingham.

A picture of the site, exposed in 1969, was shown last night.

The Emancipation Commemoration comes a week before Cup Match, during debate over renaming the second day of the holiday to commemorate Ms Prince.

The lecture comes after a Bermudian historical researcher, LeYoni Junos, submitted a paper to the University of Oxford last November titled: My Name Is “Sue”: The Mother of Mary Prince and the Racialised Abdication of Bermuda in the Authentication of Her History.

According to the university, Ms Junos’s “ground-breaking research” marked the first time that Mary Prince’s mother had been named in external research.