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LAND USE AND POPULATION IN ST. VINCENT, 1763-1960

A CONTRIBUTION TO THE

STUDY OF THE PATTERNS OF ECONOMIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE

IN A SMALL WEST INDIAN ISLAND



By
Joseph Spinelli



A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE
COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL
FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY



UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1973



^



@ 1974



JOSEPH SPINELLI



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



To the Memory of My Father and My Mother



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

In the course of this study, I have incurred innumerable
debts to persons and Institutions who have assisted me in one
way or another. I can never repay Professor David L. Niddrie
for his faithful guidance, sharing of experiences, sage advice,
constructive criticisms, and patience throughout the preparation
of this work. It was, Indeed, Professor Niddrie who first sug-
gested to me a study in the former British Caribbean, particular-
ly in St. Vincent. His knowledge of the Vest Indies opened many
doors for me and smoothed the path for my initial reconnaissance
of the area and, later, for a more extensive stay in the island.
For this impetus and understanding, I remain forever in his debt.
I wish, in addition, to acknowledge the valuable help and
encouragement I received from the past and present members of the
Department of Geography at the University of Florida.

It is impossible to thank personally the many people in
St. Vincent and elsewhere in the West Indies who aided me during
my three visits to the area. Several individuals and institu-
tions, however, deserve mention for their welcomed contributions
to my work. Dr. I. A. E. Kirby, Chief Veterinary Office, St.
Vincent, his wife, Monica, and their two children took me into
their family life and introduced me to the non-academic side
of Vincentian society. They made my stay in Kingstown an



iv



unforgettable experience. In addition, "Doc" Kirby helped me to
see and understand the physical environment of St. Vincent to an
extent uncommon even among many native Vincentlans. For this , I
am ever grateful.

Among the others who rendered valuable service, advice, and
experience, I wish to thank: Miss Grace Malcolm of the Save the
Children Foundation in Kingstown; Mr. Clifford Williams, formerly
Acting Chief Surveyor of St. Vincent, and his ever-eager staff in
the Department of Lands and Surveys; Mr. O'Neil Barrow, Clerk
of the Legislative Council, St. Vincent; Mr. Ernest Laborde,
Labor Commissioner, St. Vincent; Christian I. Martin, formerly
Economist in the St. Vincent Planning Unit; the personnel of the
Department of Agriculture, the Department of Statistics, the
Central Housing Authority, the Office of the Registrar-General,
and the St. Vincent Banana Grower's Association.

Mr. Joe Brown, who captained the yacht Stella Vega , has
my gratitude for his kindly allowing me twice to accompany him
on trips through the Grenadine dependencies.

For services rendered outside of St. Vincent, I wish to
thank the staff of the Central Statistical Office in Port-of-
Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; the members of the United Nations
Eastern Caribbean Physical Planning Project in St. Ann's Court,
Barbados; and the Chief Librarian of the Population Research
Center at the University of Texas at Austin who provided a copy
of the elusive 1911 census of population for St. Vincent.



I also wish to thank the Director of the Center for Latin
American Studies at the University of Florida for a grant-in-aid
to cover the costs of transportation and housing for the initial
reconnaissance and later field work in St. Vincent.

My gratitude to the many Vincentians who freely offered
information and hospitality during my many trips through the
countryside will be repaid by my memory of their kindnesses.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page



Acknowledgments
List of Tables
List of Figures
Abstract

Chapter I



Chapter II





iv




xli




xiv




xvili


Introduction


1


The Problem


4


The Working Hypothesis


7


Definitions of Terms and Limita-




tions in the Study


8


A Review of the Literature


9


Studies of St. Vincent


10


Studies of Other British West




Indian Societies


12


General Studies of the West




Indian Economy and Population


13


Summary of the Economic and




Population Literature


16


The Organization of the Study


17


Notes to Chapter I


19


The Physical Environment


28


The Physical Landscape


28


The Climate


34


The Natural Vegetation


36


Soils


39


Agricultural Land Capability in




St. Vincent


42


Summary


43


Notes to Chapter II


45



PART I THE EVOLUTION OF THE ECONOMY

OF ST. VINCENT 48

Chapter III The Sugar Industry of St. Vincent,

1763 to 1838 49



vii



TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)



Early Settlements in St. Vincent,

Pre-1763 49
The Advent of the Sugar Industry, 1764

to 1800 52
The Zenith of the Sugar Industry,

1800 to 1828 63
The Waning of the Sugar Industry Before

Slave Emancipation 68

Summary 76

Notes to Chapter III 77

Chapter IV The Sugar Industry cf St. Vincent, 1839

to 1902 83

Post-Emancipation Labor Shortages 83

Free Villages 87

Land Purchase 89

Squatting 90

Labor Supply Problems 91

Alien Labor Immigration, 1845 to 1880 95

Portuguese Madeiran Immigration 95

"Liberated" African Immigrants 96

East Indian Immigration 99

The West Indian Encumbered Estates

Act in St. Vincent 104
The Sale of Encumbered Estates in St.

Vincent, 1856 to 1888 106
The Number of Working Estates in St.

Vincent, 1854 to 1902 113

The Demise of the Vincentian Sugar

Economy, 1854 to 1902 115

The Sugar Cane Industry 116

Beet Sugar Competition 120

Natural Disasters 124

Epilogue 126

Summary 128

Notes to Chapter IV 129

Chapter V Kajor and Minor Economic Crops in the

Vincentian Economy 141

The Arrowroot Starch Industry 141
Nineteenth-Century Birth of the

Industry 142

Market Gluts in the United Kingdom 146

The Competition of Other Local Crops 147
The Emergence of the United States

Market 149
The Supply Difficulties and Distress

in the Arrowroot Industry 154

The Cotton Industry 156
The Cotton Trade in the Late 18th

Century 157
The Cotton Trade in Decline,

1800 to 1850 163



TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)



The Cotton Industry in the Second

Half of the 19th Century 164

The Introduction of Sea Island

Cotton of St. Vincent 167

The Early Years of Development

and the First World War 170

The Cotton Boom and Slump, 1919 to

1928 174

The Great Depression and the

Second World War, 1929 to 1945 177
The Demise of the Sea Island
Cotton Industry in St. Vincent 180
The Banana Industry 183

The Early Banana History in

St. Vincent 183

The Development of the Modern

Banana Industry of St. Vincent 187

The Minor Agricultural Industries of

St. Vincent 190

The Cocoa Industry 191

The Copra Industry 194

A Review of the Agricultural Economy 197

The Balance of Trade 200

Summary 203

Notes to Chapter V 204

PART II THE POPULATION OF ST. VINCENT 221

Chapter VI Population Change in St. Vincent,

1763 to 1960 222

An Evaluation of Historical
Population Data 222

The Periods of Population Change

in St. Vincent 224

Pre-Censal Estimates: The Era of
Slavery and Apprenticeship 225

The Era of Alien Labor Immigration,

1844 to 1881 232

The Era of Emigration, 1881 to 1931 236

The Era of Rapid Population Growth,

1931 to 1960 241

Population Distribution and Density 252

Population Distribution in St. Vincent 252

Population Density in St. Vincent 254

Percentage Distribution of

Population 265

Summary 273

Notes to Chapter VI 275



TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)



Chapter VII The Composition of Population in St.

Vincent 284

The Age Structure 285

The Age Composition of St. Vincent 286
The Age Structure, by Sex, for

St. Vincent 290
Intra-Island Variations in Age and

Sex Structure 299

Variations in St. Vincent's Burden

of Dependency 314

The Sex Composition 317

The Sex Ratio for St. Vincent 317

Intra-Island Variations in the

Sex Ratio 322

The Sex Ratio by Age Group 325

The Racial Composition 330
The Historical Racial Composition

of St. Vincent 333
Intra-Island Variations in Racial

Composition 334

Racial Variations by Age and Sex 335

The Rural-Urban Composition 337
The Number and Size of Settlements

in St. Vincent 338

The Sex Ratio of Principal

Settlements 340

The Occupational Status 346

The Composition of the Labor Force 346

Summary 355

Notes to Chapter VII 358



Chapter VIII Summary and Conclusions 369

Problem and Hypothesis 369

Summary of the Export Economy 370

The Sugar Industry 370

The Arrowroot Starch Industry 372

The Sea Island Cotton Industry 373

The Banana Industry 375

Minor Cash Crops 377

Summary of Population Change 379

Pre-Censal Estimates 379

The Era of Alien Labor Immigration,

1844 to 1881 380

The Era of Emigration, 1881 to 1931 380
The Era of Rapid Population Growth,

1931 to 1960 381
The Spatial Distribution and

Density of Population 382



TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)



Summary of the Composition of
Population

The Age Structure
The Sex Composition
The Racial Composition
Rural-Urban Residence
Occupational Status

Conclusions



Appendix I
Appendix II
Bibliography
Biographical Sketch



382
383
384
384
385
386
387

391

393

395

427



LIST OF TABLES



Table 1 Land Capability Class, St. Vincent

Table 2 Number of Slaves, by Parish, St.
Vincent, 1819 and 1833

Table 3 Number of Slaves, by Parish,
St. Vincent, 1819-1852

Table 4 Number of Portuguese Madeiran, Liberated
African, and East Indian Immigrants, by
Year, St. Vincent, 1844-1880

Table 5 Estates Sold Through the West Indian
Encumbered Estates Act, St. Vincent,
1858-1888

Table 6 Arrowroot Exports to Principal Markets
by Volume and Per Cent, 1922-1932

Table 7 Estimated Percentage Peasant and Estate

Arrowroot Production, by Crop and Season,
St. Vincent, 1940-1945.

Table 8 Average Price per Pound of Arrowroot,
Decennially, St. Vincent, 1910-1960

Table 9 Area of Banana Cultivation, St. Vincent,
1934-1940

Table 10 Area of Banana Cultivation, St. Vincent,
1956-1960

Table 11 Banana Exports as a Percentage of Total
Exports, St. Vincent, 1950-1960

Table 12 Components of Population Change,
St. Vincent, 1735 to 1960

Table 13 Child-Woman Ratio, St. Vincent 1911-1960

Table 14 Vital Rates, St. Vincent, 1947-1959



Page

44

73

85

97



190

228
246
249



LIST OF TABLES (continued)



Table 15 Population Density, Selected Caribbean

Countries, 1844-1960 260

Table 16 Population Densitv, St. Vincent,

1844-1960 262

Table 17 Area of St. Vincent 263

Table 18 Percentage Distribution of Population,

by Enumeration District, St. Vincent,
1844-1861 268

Table 19 Total Age Profile, Kale and Ferrule Coo-

bined, by 10-year Age Groups, St.
Vincent, 1S61-1960 288

Table 20 Dependency Ratio, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1911-1960 316

Table 21 Racial Composition, by Major Census

District, St. Vincent, 1787-1960 331

Table 22 Sex Ratio of Principal Towns and

Villages, St. Vincent, 1844-1960 345

Table 23 Sex Ratio of Economically Active

Population, by Major Industrial
Group, St. Vincent, 1861-1960 348



LIST OF FIGURES

Page

Figure 1 Windward Islands 29

Figure 2 Physical Features of St. Vincent 31

Figure 3 Geomorphology of St. Vincent 33

Figure 4 Natural Vegetation of St. Vincent 37

Figure 5 Soils of St. Vincent 40

Figure 6 Plan of St. Vincent, 1764-1807 54

Figure 7 Sugar Production of St. Vincent, 1815-

1937 57

Figure 8 Volume of Vincentian Cocoa and Coffee

Exports to Great Britain, for Selected
Years, 1765-1833 59

Figure 9 London Price of Sugar, 1760-1937 61

Figure 10 "Carib Country" Estates of St. Vincent 66

Figure 11 Average Number of Slaves, by Parish,

St. Vincent, 1819-1852 84

Figure 12 Distribution of East Indians, by Estate,

St. Vincent, 1861-1880 102

Figure 13 Estates Sold In the Encumbered Estates

Act Court, St. Vincent, 1858-1888 112

Figure 14 Number of Sugar Estates, St. Vincent,

1854-1903 114

Figure 15 Index Numbers of London Sugar Price and

Volume and Value of Vincentian Sugar
Exports, 1854-1886 119

Figure 16 Beet Sugar Exports from France and

Germany, 1826-1895 121



LIST OF FIGURES (continued)

Page

Figure 17 Value of Sugar and Arrovroot Starch

Exports, St. Vincent, 1850-1920 125

Figure 18 Extent of Ash Deposits fron Eruption of

Soufriere Volcano, St. Vincent, 1902 127

Figure 19 Value and Volume of Arrovroot Exports,

St. Vincent, 1830-1960 144

Figure 20 Annual Value of Chief Exports, as Per-
centage of Total Exports, St. Vincent,
1850-1960 145

Figure 21 Value and Volume of Cotton Exports,

St. Vincent, 1765-1960 158

Figure 22 Percentage Distribution of Cotton Imports
to Great Britain from Kajor Suppliers,
1786-1883 159

Figure 23 Volume of British West Indian and United
States Cotton Exports to Great Britain,
1780-1815 160

Figure 24 Average Price of Cotton Imports to Great

Britain, 1811-1884 161

Figure 25 Grenadine Dependencies of St. Vincent 165

Figure 26 Value of Chief Exports, St. Vincent,

1850-1900 168

Figure 27 Acreage and Yield of Cotton, St. Vincent,

1905-1960 171

Figure 28 Average Annual Prices for Selected Cotton

Varieties, Liverpool, 1S99-1929 173

Figure 29 Value of Chief Exports, St. Vincent,

1900-1960 175

Figure 30 Total Cotton Acreage and Average Size of
Farm Unit for Estates and Small Growers,
St. Vincent, 1920/21-1954/55 178

Figure 31 Volume of Sea Island Cotton Lint Exports,

1904/05-1960/61 181

Figure 32 Value and Volume of Banana Exports, St.

Vincent, 1932-1960 185



LIST OF FIGURES (continued)



Figure 33 Volume of Exports of Cocoa Beans and

Copra (Coconuts), St. Vincent, 1893-1960

Figure 34 Value of Cocoa and Copra Exports, St.

Vincent, 1858-1960

Figure 35 Percentage Distribution of Chief Exports,

St. Vincent, Decennially, 1850-1960

Figure 36 Value of Exports, Imports, and Balance

of Trade, St. Vincent, 1850-1960

Figure 37 Distribution of Slaves or Laborers, by

Estate, St. Vincent, 1833 and 1839

Figure 38 Population Distribution, St. Vincent,

1960

Figure 39 Population Density St. Vincent, 1844-1960

Figure 40 Major Population Enumeration Districts,

St. Vincent, 1844-1960

Figure 41 Age Profile by 10-Year Age Groups, St.

Vincent, for Selected Census Dates,
1861-1960

Figure 42 Index Numbers of Age-Sex Profiles, St.

Vincent, 1861-1960 (1861 - 100)

Figure 43 Age-Sex Profile, by 5-Year Age Groups,

St. Vincent, 1911-1960

Figure 44 Age-Sex Profile, St. Vincent, 1946

and 1960

Figure 45 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District

St. Vincent, 1871

Figure 46 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1871

Figure 47 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1881

Figure 48 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1891

Figure 49 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1911



Page

193
195



253

257

264

266

289
291
294
297
300
301
302
303
304



LIST OF FIGURES (continued)



Figure 50 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1921 305

Figure 51 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1931 306

Figure 52 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1946 307

Figure 53 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,

St. Vincent, 1960 308

Figure 54 Sex Ratio, by Major Census District, St.

Vincent, for the Censuses 1844-1871 319

Figure 55 Sex Ratio, by Major Census District, St.

Vincent, for the Censuses 1911-1960 320

Figure 56 Age-Sex Profile of East Indian Immigrants,

St. Vincent, 1861-1880 321

Figure 57 Sex Ratio, by Broad Age Groups, St.

Vincent, 1891-1960 326

Figure 58 Sex Ratio, by 5-Year Age Groups, St.

Vincent, for the Census Years 1911-1960 327

Figure 59 Racial Composition, by Census Year, St.

Vincent, 1946-1960 336

Figure 60 Age-Sex Profile for Selected Racial Groups,

St. Vincent, 1946-1960 339

Figure 61 Number of Settlements, by Size, St.

Vincent, 1861-1891 341

Figure 62 Size of Principal Towns and Villages,

St. Vincent, 1844-1960 342

Figure 63 Location of Principal Settlements,

St. Vincent, 1960 343

Figure 64 Percentage Distribution of Labor Force, by
Age, Sex, and Major Industrial Group, St.
Vincent, 1946 352

Figure 65 Percentage Distribution of Labor Force, by
Age, Sex, and Major Industrial Group, St.
Vincent, 1960 353

Figure 66 Major Industrial Groups as a Percentage of

Total Labor Force, St. Vincent, 1861-1960 354



xvii



Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the

Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial

Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



LAND USE AND POPULATION IN ST. VINCENT, 1763-1960

A CONTRIBUTION TO THE

STUDY OF THE PATTERNS OF ECONOMIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE

IN A SMALL WEST INDIAN ISLAND

By

Joseph Spinelli

June 1973

Chairman: Professor David L. Niddrie
Major Department: Geography

The purpose of this study of St. Vincent is to recon-
struct the historical economic and population geography of a small
West Indian island. It was observed that many of the 20th-century
problems encountered in St. Vincent were linked directly to past
conditions in the former British West Indies. The time spec-
trum for this study extends from 1763 (when Britain acquired the
Island) to 1960, the date of the latest published census.

A subsidiary goal of this study is the presentation in a
single source of a considerable amount of historical data
gleaned from numerous and sometimes hitherto untapped references,
many of which may soon pass out of existence from disuse or
deterioration.

The problem of concern in this investigation is the rela-
tionship between fluctuations in the export economy and changes
in the population. An analysis of the economically "dependent"



status of the island and the major population changes over nearly
200 years revealed a pattern suggesting the paramount role of the
export economy in affecting the rate of population growth and
changes in the components of demographic composition.

It was, therefore, hypothesized that the size, distribu-
tion, and characteristics of St. Vincent's population have been
affected by variations in the national export economy. A compre-
hensive analysis of the economy and population between 1763 and
1960 supports this hypothesis.

Part I of this study involves a reconstruction of the
overlapping periods of monocultural cash crop production, be-
ginning with the sugar industry in the late 18th century. It was
primarily during the 19th century, however, that sugar production
was developed and expanded, at first with slave labor, then, after
emancipation in 1838, by the use of indentured alien laborers-
Portuguese Madeirans, "liberated" African slaves, and East Indian

"coolies." The demise of the inefficient muscovado sugar in-
dustry in St. Vincent followed the entry of subsidized European
beet sugar into the British market after 1880 and was hastened
by the twin natural disasters of a hurricane in 1898 and an
eruption of the Soufriere volcano in 1902.

It was in the 20th century that St. Vincent experienced
monocultural production of Sea Island cotton, arrowroot starch,
and bananas as primary economic activities. Each of these
activities overlapped its predecessor as it rose quickly to a



xix



■ i i Yim - i [ ri Miimiiii - 'tiiii^li - -f " f'-T i-r rn -|- ■ ' - - ■



position of supreme importance before waning in the face of exo-
genous market forces.

Part II traces the demographic changes that reflected
local and international fluctuations in the primary producing
industries. With the abolition of the slave trade in 1808, the
population of St. Vincent grew very slowly, as the effects of
natural increase were reduced by the mass emigrations of Vincen-
tians between 1880 and 1931. Thereafter, St. Vincent's popula-
tion grew rapidly as mortality declined and emigration was
stifled by international restrictions.

By 1960, St. Vincent still showed the results of past
emigrations of males and the more recent high rates of natural
increase - a low sex ratio and a heavy burden of economic depend-
ency, concentrated among children under 15 years of age.
Partly as a consequence of monetary remittances from relatives
working abroad and the changing attitudes of both sexes toward
agricultural employment, the labor force shows a low level of
female participation and a growing proportion of workers enter-
ing the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.

The results of this economic and population analysis
demonstrate the lasting effects of shifting patterns of economic
activity on the rate of population growth and composition. Any

attempt to improve the demographic situation of St. Vincent must
take into account the disruptions attendant upon unpredictable
and sometimes violent fluctuations in the fortunes of cash crop
export production.



INTRODUCTION

The days of laissez falre are at an end for most nations of
the world. Instead, a degree of planning, prediction, and action,
based on viable data has become the prime consideration. In the
last quarter of a century, all West Indian governments and
institutions have tried to gain an understanding of their
political, economic, social, and demographic problems before
going ahead with their individual island plans. Preliminary
discussions after the Second World War dealt, for example, with
the concept of a federation of the British West Indian colonies
and produced numerous analytical statements about the difficulties
inherent in such a step. It was not long before both scholars
and politicians realized that inventories of individual problems
would be required for adequate planning.

The colonies in the Caribbean area differed in many ways
each from the other. The larger and more important territories,
such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and British Guiana [now
Guyana], overshadowed the smaller islands of the Lesser Antilles
in t">t attention paid to domestic problems. Yet there was no way
to mold these countries into a unitary political, economic, and
social framework without talcing into account individual charac-
teristics. If the colonies were to become one entity, what effect
1



vould this have, for example, on population movements from the
less developed British Caribbean islands to the sore developed
ones? Would black immigrants be welcomed into nixed societies
facing their own employment difficulties? Who would speak for
the needs of the smaller colonies? Would the "rich" grow richer
in the West Indies at the expense of the politically and
economically impotent?

These unanswered questions, together with the rapid growth
of national self-awareness and self-consciousness, resulted in
attempts to appraise the contemporary scene, which, however, had
roots in the past; to understand the present, it was, therefore,
also necessary to understand the historical sequence of changes
in the political, economic, social, and demographic variables.

National economies and population growth quickly became
popular topics for investigation. It was only natural that the
larger and more important colonies (those, it was thought, which
would form the foundation for an intra-Caribbean political
federation) were most often studied. Attention was directed to
Jamaica, at the western end of the British Caribbean, to Trinidad
and Tobago, and to British Guiana, well over a thousand miles
apart. Considerably less attention, if any, was devoted to the
smaller Islands between the "giants." That the projected West
Indian Federation came into being in 1958 and was dissolved by
1962 Is, in part, a disfunction of these disparate units. The
larger islands and continental territories went their own
particular ways leaving a major problem yet to be solved — how



vere the "Little Eight" to evolve a form of government, a
rational socio-economic plan, without re-submitting themselves
to neo-colonlalism and international beggary?

The present study is an attempt to add to the store of
information available describing the patterns of change in
St. Vincent's economy and the resulting changes in population
variables. Emphasis has been placed on historical trends, of
paramount importance if the present problems are to be under-
stood. The fields of economic and population geography are
thus both served by the historical nature of the investigation.
As Zelinsky states: "... population geography is, ipso facto ,
historical geography"; the same also applies to economic



Online LibraryJoseph SpinelliLand use and population in St. Vincent, 1763-1960. → online text (page 1 of 26)