John Ross of Demerary
John Ross was established as a merchant on Mahaica Creek, Demerara, by 1804, when he married Mary Wasson, the widow of William Craig [E&DG 1 Dec 1804: the transcript has the surname as 'Watson' but the Cromarty Parish Register has 'Wasson']. He owned boats able to transport goods along the coast, crewed by experienced slave-sailors:
Valuable Negroes for Sale
AN experienced Boat Captain, well acquainted with the navigation from Essequebo to Courantyne River; also three prime able Sailors - price of the four, £600 Sterling.
Plantations on Mahaica Creek, 1798
A ‘Mrs John Ross of Demerary’ was in Cromarty (Scotland) in November 1809, when she subscribed one guinea (=£1.05p) to an appeal for the families of those drowned when a ferryboat sank at Meikle Ferry in the Dornoch Firth [Inverness Journal, 3 Nov 1809]. A subscription of 30 guineas (=£31.5) was also made, in John Ross's name, towards the establishment of Tain Academy [Tain Museum, transcript 2794]. However, these subscriptions may have been made by John Ross, later of plantation Cromarty, whose wife, Jane Simpson, may also have been in Cromarty in 1809.
Mrs Ross returned to Demerara. During her absence John Ross had offered for sale:
A Stout healthy Young Woman, named Present, with her Mulatto Child about Eight Months old. She is warranted to be a first-rate Sempstress and Washer; - she is also a good Cook, and understands taking care of a house. [E&DRG 9 Jan 1810]
The child may have been Ross’s own.
In 1817 Ross announced his intention to wind up his affairs in Demerara and quit the colony with his family and one servant, presumably a slave [E&DRG 29 Mar 1817 & E&DRG 7 June 1817]. Mrs Ross was again in Cromarty in January 1821, when her daughter Maria Euphemia was born. Maria was baptised in Cromarty on 2 March 1821, along with a younger sister, Susanna Catherine, born in Demerara in April 1818. An entry was made at the same time in the parish records of two other children born and baptised in Demerara - John, born in December 1813 and baptised in April 1816, and Charlotte Elizabeth, born in December 1815 and baptised in August 1816. [Parish Register].
The reduction of human beings to the status of property is vividly illustrated by the lottery organised in Guyana in 1807, with tickets available from John Ross in Mahaica, in which the prizes included ‘A Negro Man named Rowden’ and ‘A Negro Man named Kewley 1,500’. [E&DG 25 Apr 1807]