Beete, Joseph

Joseph Beete (1753-1815) was born in London. He spent most of his life in Grenada and Demerara, now known as Guyana. He bought land in Grenada in 1785  and was Secretary of the Island Council in 1795.1 Grenada was a French colony from 1690 until 1763, when it was ceded to the British under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763).2 Beete was a member of the British governing council during Fedon’s Rebellion (March 1795 – June 1796). This rebellion led by Julien Fédon, a free planter of mixed-heritage, primarily fought against marginalisation of mixed-heritage francophone planters by the British.3 While approximately 7,000 enslaved people (as well as approximately 600 free people of mixed heritage and white people) joined the rebellion, it was not clear to what extent calls for freedom would be realised for the enslaved collaborators.4 After much bloodshed during the rebellion, Beete was a member of the court that tried and executed over 100 free men, mainly of mixed heritage. By 1796, around 400 people were banished or transported to other islands for treason. This action was empowered by the Legislative Assembly which encouraged courts to violently punish those involved in the rebellion.5 

Beete was a resident enslaver in Guyana in 1797, holding positions in the colonial government. Beete’s nephew, as his executor, claimed after the Abolition of slavery for the enslaved people on the Best & Phoenix and Waller’s Delight estates.6 Beete died in Bath in 1815.

Reviewed by Lisa Kennedy, Consultant, 2023.

  1. Grenada Registers of Records, pp. 479-487, downloaded from Item 1 microfilm FHL 1563378. Reproduced in: Smith, Jim A Genealogy Hunt, Part 528s, 2011. [Online]. Available from: http://agenealogyhunt.blogspot.com/2011/06/part-528s-smith-robertson-genealogy.htmls [Accessed 21 June 2023]

  2. Britannica. Treaty of Paris 1763, 1998. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/event/Treaty-of-Paris-1763. [Accessed on: 02/06/2023]

  3. Day, Chris. ‘Excessive severity’: Treason and the Grenadian Rebellion of 1795. [Online] Available from:  https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/excessive-severity-treason-and-the-grenadian-rebellion-of-1795/ [Accessed 21 June 2023]

  4. Cox, Edward L. “Fedon’s Rebellion 1795-96: Causes and Consequences.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 67, no. 1, 1982, pp. 7–19.  Available from: JSTOR  https://doi.org/10.2307/2717757. [Accessed 21 June 2023]

  5. Murphy, Tessa .‘A Reassertion of Rights, Fedon’s Rebellion, Grenada, 1795-1796′ Economie politique et Revolution francaise, (14), 2018 [Online since 18 June 2018]. Available from: https://doi.org/10.4000/lrf.2017 [Accessed 21 June 2023]

  6. British Library, Endangered Archives Programme EAP 295 Digitising the endangered archives of Grenada: EAP/295/2/6/1 Court of Oyer and Terminer for Attained Traitors Record Book [1796], 2009. [Online]. Available from:  http://eap.bl.uk/sites/default/files/legacy-eap/downloads/eap295_2_6_1_transcription.pdf [Accessed 21 June 2023]

  7. Legacies of British Slavery database Joseph Beete of Clifton, 2023. [Online] Available from: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146633269 [Date accessed: 21 June 2023]

 

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