The Life of Indentured Servants in Colonial Barbados

The English Commonwealth in 1651 had a challenge on their hands. During the third English Civil War, their commander Oliver Cromwell defeated the forces of Charles Stuart (the future King Charles II) first at Dunbar, and then precisely a year later, at Worcester. But Parliament was left with a pressing concern: What to do with the thousands of Scottish prisoners that they had captured?  Catch and release, even with exacting a promise not to raise arms against them again, wasn’t a viable option, and Parliament didn’t have the resources to keep thousands of Scottish prisoners indefinitely. After the Battle of…

Sugar Production in 17th century Colonial Barbados

Part of researching my next novel, The Severed Knot, included learning about sugar production in 17th century Barbados and how this sweet substance transformed the island. Sugar wasn’t just a luxury commodity. It served as the chief form of currency on Barbados (slaves and servants were paid for in pounds of sugar) and fuelled British colonization in the Caribbean. Colonial Barbados was at the centre of the sugar trade going back to the mid-17th century and was known as the Sugar Island. Colonizing Barbados The earliest English settlement was established in 1627 through a private venture corporation headed by the Courteen…

A 17th century sugar plantation in the Caribbean #Barbados

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front as I’ve been writing a new novel that continues on the next leg of the journey on the road to the Restoration. The Severed Knot picks up on the fate of the Scottish prisoners (at least one in particular) following the Battle of Worcester and how they were transported to Barbados as indentured servants.   I find that starting a new novel can be both exhilarating and nerve wracking as I wrestle with my Muse to get the story down. One of the most enjoyable aspects of starting a new historical fiction novel is…

The HNS New Novel Award 2018

I’m especially really pleased to share with you my good news. My second novel, The Severed Knot, has been longlisted for the HNS New Novel Award 2018. Making the long list is a huge accomplishment. The Historical Novel Society is a respected literary society devoted to the promotion of historical fiction. The Severed Knot is set in the UK and Barbados during the 17th century and follows one of the characters from Traitor’s Knot after the disastrous Battle of Worcester. Here is what they had to say about my work: The Severed Knot Bleakly impossible choices face the protagonists in…

Quackery and 17th Century Medicine by Deborah Swift @swiftstory #Stuarts

I am especially pleased to be able to turn over the blog today to acclaimed author, Deborah Swift. Deborah is best known for her historical fiction novels which are set during the Restoration. Her stories are rich in historical detail and are a direct portal to the 17th century. Deborah’s latest series revolves around some of the women mentioned in Samuel Pepys’s diary. The first in the series, Pleasing Mr Pepys, was one of my favourite reads this year. I couldn’t put it down. The second book in the series, A Plague on Mr Pepys, has just been released July…