Rachel Pringle, Barbados, 1796

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Image Reference

Illustration by Thomas Rowlandson, published by William Holland (London, 1796); engraving held by the Barbados Museum.

Engraving of Pringle at the age of about 36 sitting in front of her hotel/tavern/house of prostitution in Bridgetown, capital of Barbados; man on left has elephantiasis. Rachel Pringle was born a slave around 1753, the daughter of an African woman and her master, a Scottish schoolmaster. In the 1770s, she became the first free woman of color to own a hotel-tavern (and house of prostitution) in Barbados; when she died in 1792, at the age of 38, she was a relatively wealthy woman. See Jerome S. Handler, Joseph Rachell and Rachael Pringle-Polgreen: Petty Entrepreneurs, in D.G. Sweet and G. B. Nash, eds., Struggle and Survival in Colonial America (Univ. of California Press, 1981), pp. 376-391. Slide of engraving, courtesy of the late Neville Connell, Director of the Barbados Museum.)