Henry Hawley (governor)

Henry Hawley was the English Governor of Barbados from 1630 to 1639/40.[1]


Henry Hawley was the younger son of James Hawley,[2] who held the lease for Brentford Market in Middlesex and, until 1622, the lease for Boston Manor nearby. James Hawley was a mercer[3] also trained at the Middle Temple, one of the Inns of Court.

Hawley himself served a mercer's apprenticeship at the Three Cranes Tavern in London. Almost all of his siblings embarked on colonisation in the New World; one exception was his younger brother Gabriel, who left his draper's[4] apprenticeship to serve in 1622[5] his mercer uncle Henry Hawley, who newly appointed as the English East India Company's chief merchant in the East Indies.

Hawley's brother, James,[6] had served his mercer's apprenticeship with his uncle Henry Hawley and may have settled in Virginia. Hawley appointed his brother William to colonise and govern St. Croix, one of the Virgin Islands, but the islands were taken over by the Spanish.[7]

Hawley's sister Susan, married Richard Peers,[8] another planter, and in Hawley's absence, the acting deputy governor.[2] In addition, he was also brother in law of Richard Ashcraft (1590–1600).[9]

Hawley's eldest brother, Jerome, was one of eight investors in the founding of Maryland colony and served in the colony's General Assembly.

Governor of BarbadosEdit

As Captain Henry Hawley, he was appointed governor of Barbados in 1630, arriving in June that year initially in the capacity of Commissioner to James Hay, 1st Earl of Carlisle. After a struggle over patents with Sir William Courten and the Duke of Marlborough, Hay had emerged as the proprietor of the island. He died heavily in debt in 1636 and, for the minority of his son, trustees were appointed to administer his estate. They made onerous tax demands on Barbados to settle the Hay family debts. Hawley enforced high taxes and tariffs, at a cost of damage to trade.


Recent historians such as Larry Dale Gragg[10] and Mathew Parker[11] look back on Governor Henry Hawley's rule of the island and write that he "was universally held to be a tyrant" and a "drunkard". It is contended that he brought in the first ever slave code in 1636[12] that Black Africans brought to the island to be sold should be enslaved for life, although some[13] doubt it ever existed. Darryll Clarke,[14] author of Governor Henry Hawley and the 1636 Slave Code makes the case for its existence and points out that this slave code is central to our understanding of what is now considered to be the origin of racialised slavery. Exactly when, how and why the English enslaved Black Africans for life in the decades leading up to and immediately after 1636 lacks a clear explanation.

A new interpretation[15] of Barbadian early colonial settlement suggests that the initial wave of settlers brought to the island in 1627 and funded by Sir Willem Courteen, a Dutchman living in England, may have been Puritans.[16] Sir Willem Courteen, a Protestant Lutheran who held favour with King James I, may have been representing these Puritans and lobbying the King for a patent secretly on their behalf. The arrival of Governor Henry Hawley on the island signalled the determination of the secret Roman Catholic faction in England to wrestle control of the Caribbean from the Puritans by having their frontman, James Hay, the Earl of Carlisle, lobby the King for a patent on their behalf. Evidence for such a secret faction has been found[17] centred in and around Brentford where Governor Henry Hawley's family held the lease for Brentford Market since 1560. This secret Roman Catholic faction is linked [by whom?] not only with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 but with determined and repeated attempts to colonise, not just Barbados but the rest of the Caribbean and the Americas from 1583 onwards.


  1. ^ Schomburgk, Robert Hermann (1848). The History of Barbados. p. 684. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library: MONUMENTAL INSCRIPTIONS. PARISH OF ST. MICHAEL. ST. MICHAEL'S CATHEDRAL CHURCH.
  3. ^ See londonroll.org for Mercer company archives using all possible variations on the surname of Hawley including Halle, Halley, Haule, Hauley etc. The existence of intergenerational Hawley family members can be discerned dating back to the 1400s.
  4. ^ See londonroll.org
  5. ^ See East India company minutes for that year available through British History online
  6. ^ See londonroll.org Mercers'records
  7. ^ THE EARLY EUROPEAN COLONIZATION OF ST. CROIX (1621-1642). Written by Alfredo E. Figueredo. Page 1.
  8. ^ see parish records for 1624 for Clement Dane Church in London
  9. ^ Ancestry.com Notes for Richard Ashcraft bC1590-1600. Richard Peers and Susan Hawley took Richard Ashcraft's orphaned son with them to Barbados in 1628 as an apprentice, who later married their daughter, Elizabeth.
  10. ^ Larry Dale Gragg: Englishmen Transplanted: The English colonisation of Barbados 1627-1660
  11. ^ Mathew Parker: The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War in the West Indies
  12. ^ The 1636 slave code appeared in a 1741 publication called Some Memoirs of the First Settlement of the Island of Barbados which recalled that 'It was resolved that Negroes and Indians that came here to be sold, should serve for life, unless a contract existed to the contrary'.
  13. ^ Prof. Jerome S Handler, (2014) Custom and Law: the enslavement of Africans in seventeenth century Barbados
  14. ^ 2017 ebook only available on Amazon
  15. ^ Darryll Clarke (2017), Governor Henry Hawley and the 1636 Slave Code
  16. ^ Evidence of this is found in the marriage of Sir James Drax's daughter's into the Pye family, the four Hawtaine brothers who were Courteen settlers (their mother left a bequest in her will to a minister who became one of Oliver Cromwell's Divines at the Confession of Westminister) and Henry Winthrop, whose father gained control of the Puritan colony in Massachusetts
  17. ^ Darryll Clarke, Governor Henry Hawley and the 1636 Slave Code