Mary Prince: a National Hero
Bermudian Mary Prince was the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to the UK Parliament, and the first black woman to write and publish an autobiography. Ms Prince was born into enslavement in Bermuda in 1788 at Brackish Pond, now known as Devonshire Marsh in Devonshire Parish. She was sold away from her family age 10 and thereafter was moved throughout a number of Caribbean islands.
In 1828, she was brought from Antigua to London by her slave owners, Mr and Mrs Wood. When Ms Prince relocated to London, the Slave Trade Act had already passed, in 1807, and Ms Prince was freed. Enslavement remained legal in the British colonies, and Ms Prince, wanting to return to the Caribbean a free woman, advocated for full abolition. She presented the petition to the British government in 1829.
Mary’s memoir ‘The History of Mary Prince’ was published in 1831, outlining her life story and the brutality that her circumstances entailed. The Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833, the same year that Mary passed away. Ms Prince and her fellow abolitionists were instrumental in the movement, leading to the passing of the 1833 Act and dismantling slavery, freeing 800,000 enslaved people in Bermuda and the Caribbean.
In 2012, Ms Prince was named as a Bermuda National Hero.