Some Exuma History

Exuma was settled in 1783 by American loyalists fleeing the Revolutionary War. They brought a cotton plantation economy to the islands and George Town was named in honor of George III, to whom the settlers maintained their loyalty.

The British crown granted Englishman Denys Rolle 7,000 acres here in the late 18th century. He brought enslaved Africans and cotton seeds to the island and set to work building up five plantations. Rolle Town and Rolleville were the first; Mount Thompson, Steventon and Ramsey followed. His son, Lord John Rolle, followed in his footsteps, and by the time of the emancipation in 1834, he had some 325 enslaved men and women working on Great Exuma. When cotton proved to be a financial failure and the prospect of emancipation loomed, Lord Rolle generously deeded all his lands to the enslaved people working his plantation. Following the custom of the day, they adopted their master’s surname. Thus Rolle is a widely shared local name.

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