Tobago is the smaller island of the twin republic of Trinidad & Tobago, and not without its own unique wonders and secrets. One of the old mysteries of Plymouth is the tomb of Betty Stiven, who died in the 18th century. On her tomb is inscribed the strange epitaph:
Beneath these walls are deposited the body of Mrs. Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death, which happened upon the 25th November 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgence to him.
Locals have many theories about what transpired between the reputed husband and wife, most of which involve the clever concealment of an inter-racial romance between a white slave-master and black female slave which would have been taboo at the time.
The stories, though, are a bit too big to believe: that Betty gave birth to four children while unconscious, whose existence was then concealed from her. Also, the story relies on the idea that once a man takes a woman’s virginity, he becomes her husband, even without a ceremony. Another, contradictory story claims Betty was a wanton woman who fell in love with a man and got him drunk enough to marry her without his consent, but proceeded to indulge his every whim. After getting pregnant, she got sick and gave birth in an unconscious state.
While none of these theories have ever been validated, there continues to be much hypothesizing.
Know Before You Go
From Crown Point Airport:
Take the Claude Noel Highway all the way to Scarborough and then fork left towards Plymouth. Alternately, may take first left on Claude Noel highway towards Grafton and follow the road along the coast to Plymouth.
Tobago is extremely small and has excellent signage to guide the adventurous. Make certain of having a full gas tank as stations are few and far between.
- http://www.nalis.gov.tt/Places/places%20-Tobago_PlymouthHistory.htm Article by Bert Allette, Trinidad Express, pg 71; November 7, 1999