History : May-Jun 2016
82 MAY/JUNE 2016 Rachel did not show up or refute the allegations. On June 25, Lavien received a divorce that per- mitted him to remarry, while Rachel was strictly prohibited from doing so. In one swiftly effec- tive stroke, Lavien had safeguarded his son’s inheritance and made it impossible for Rachel to remove the stigma of illegitimacy from her other sons. In 1765 the Hamilton family moved back to St. Croix after James Hamilton received a business assignment in Christiansted in April. Stripped of whatever cover of legitimacy had sheltered them, it would have become glaringly evident to Alexander and James Jr. for the first time that their mother had been a notorious woman. Soon after the move, the Hamilton boys were dealt the first of several crushing blows when their father deserted his family forever. Alexander offered a forgiving but plausible reason for his father’s desertion: he could no longer afford to support his family. Because James Jr., 12, and Alexander, 10, had attained an age where they could assist Rachel, James Sr. may have believed that he could wash his hands of paternal du- ties without undue pangs of guilt. Alexander probably never set eyes again on his vagabond father, who stayed in the Caribbean. Father and son never entirely lost touch with each other, but a curious psychological and geographical distance separated them. Rachel’s return to St. Croix had probably been premised on support from her sister Ann and brother-in-law, a hope that never quite panned out. As prominent sugar planters, the Lyttons had enjoyed success at first, but a business scandal forced them to move back to Nevis in late 1765, just months after Rachel and her two boys arrived in St. Croix. Within one year, Ann Lytton was dead, leaving Rachel as the last sur- viving Faucette. SOLID REMINDERS In the 18th century St. Croix had more than 200 sugar plantations, many with their own mills to crush the cane after harvesting. Most plantations are gone, but ruins of the mills (above) remain. LEON WERDINGER/ALAMY/ACI Soon after the move, the Hamilton boys were dealt the first of several crushing blows when their father deserted his family forever.