Copyright
William Henry Parr Greswell.

Outlines of British colonisation online

. (page 2 of 31)
Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 2 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


fewer than 4000 colonists were planted there, the policy of
Cromwell being to force Scotch and Irish immigration. In
1666, Sir Thomas Modyford brought over 1000 settlers from
Barbados. Nevis, St. Kitts, and the Bermudas all sent their
contingents.

In 1682, an aided immigration of some importance took
place, and this was of French Protestants who had to fly from
their country in consequence of religious persecution. An
Order in Council is extant by which a passage was provided to
Jamaica for forty-two French Protestants, ' whose names are to
be certifyed unto them by the Right Rev. Father in God, the
Lord Bishop of London, to be transplanted to His Majesty's
Island of Jamaica, with the first conveniency they can.' These
refugees were commended to Sir Thomas Lynch, the Governor
of Jamaica, by Sir Leoline Jenkins, a Welshman, who had taken
up arms on behalf of the Royalist cause, and was a well-known
Jesus College man. He was a friend of Fell and Sheldon, to
the latter of whom he rendered great services in the establish-
ment of the Sheldonian Theatre and Printing Press at Oxford.
Sir Leoline Jenkins subsequently urged the King to found and
endow two additional Fellowships at Jesus College, according
to the terms of which the holders were to go to sea and
exercise clerical functions, either in the fleet or the plantations.
This idea, although held in abeyance for a long time, was
eventually carried out. 1

In 1669, the remnants of a Scotch colony that had been
planted on the Isthmus of Darien came over to Jamaica ; later
on, and especially after 1713, the date of the Assiento, Port
Royal became a great depot of the slave trade. As the sugar

1 Anderson's History of the Colonial Church^ vol. ii. 362.



The West Indies 7

industry developed, white immigration ceased to flow. The
day of small holdings was over. A statement of the component
parts of the population at various times confirms this view.
In 1658 the colony contained 4500 whites and 1500 negroes ;
in 1673, 8564 whites and 9504 negroes; in 1828, Mr
Montgomery Martin estimated that a population of 500,000,
or a proportion of about 78 persons to the square mile, was
a low estimate. Of these only 35,000 were Europeans. At
present the population is 639,491, of whom only 14,000 are
Europeans a great diminution contrasted with the estimate of
fifty years ago.

Meanwhile, in addition to the African population, which
shows signs of increase, must be reckoned the newly imported
Indian and Chinese coolies. It is worth recording that no fewer
than 20,000 Jamaican blacks have emigrated to Panama,
attracted by the high wages on the Canal works. In Jamaica
there are 60,000 peasant proprietors, who keep the industry of
fruit-culture on a small scale almost entirely in their hands.
The Central American States, such as Venezuela, Guatemala,
and the Colombian States, offer to the Jamaican negro a good
opening as a labourer, where his services are highly prized.

Together with Jamaica must be considered (i) the Cayman
Islands. The largest of these, the Grand Cayman, lies about
178 miles north-west of Jamaica. Little Cayman is 70
miles north-east of Grand Cayman, and Cayman Brae lies
close to Little Cayman. (2) The Turks and Caicos Islands,
formerly part of the Bahamas, and separated from them by the
Caicos Channel. The whole area of this group is 169 square
miles, being nine in number. The Turks Islands are so called
from a cactus which grows there of a shape resembling a
Turk's head. The products of these islands are salt, cave
earth, sponges, and the pink pearl. The oldest industry was
salt-raking. (3) The Morant Cays and Islands are 36 miles
from Morant Point to the south-east. 1

1 For facts and figures see Appendix I. Section A.



8 British Colonisation

BARBADOS.

Barbados, situated in lat. 13 4' N. and long. 59 37' W.,
is the most easterly of all the Caribbean islands, the island of
St. Vincent lying 78 miles to the west. In shape it resembles
a shoulder of mutton. Its size is about that of the Isle of
Wight, being 21 miles long and 14 J miles broad. It has been,
and still is, the most thickly populated of the West Indian
islands, emigration from its shores being almost a necessity.
In 1674 the population was reckoned at 150,000, of whom
50,000 were white; in 1786 the white population numbered
16,167, an d the blacks 62,953 ; in 1832 the slave population
was 81,500, the white under 13,000; in 1891 the population
was 182,322, being 1098 to the square mile. It is easy to
understand, therefore, that Barbados has been a centre whence
emigration has taken place to other islands on a large scale.
It has already been noticed that Barbadian colonists crossed
over to Jamaica. The name of the island was one of ill omen
to those many victims of Cromwell's high-handed Trans-
portation Acts. To be transported to the plantations, and
especially to Barbados, for offences against the law or the
Government, was a very common process. The wretched
prisoners who were seized at Exeter and Silchester on pretence
of the Salisbury rising were hurried away to Plymouth, thence
shipped to Barbados, and sold as the goods and chattels of
their masters. Their sufferings were plaintively described in
a pamphlet called England's Slavery ; or, Barbadoz Merchan-
dise^ published in 1659.

The island is said to have been so named from the bearded
vines growing on its shores, which hang down and strike root
in the earth. It was discovered by the Portuguese, and nomi-
nally taken possession of by the captain of the English ship
Olive Blossom, who raised a cross in honour of the occasion,
and left in 1605 the following inscription: 'James, King of
England and of this Island.' With Newfoundland Barbados
has sometimes disputed the title of being the oldest of all



The West Indies g

British colonies. From the date of occupation it has main-
tained its title, without a single interruption, of being a British
colony, although just before Rodney's crowning victory an
invasion of the French seemed imminent, and colonial levies
mustered in haste from all quarters. It was at this island that
the immortal Nelson arrived in June 1805 during his search
for the fleets of France and Spain, four months before the
victory at Trafalgar ; and a statue to his honour stands in
Trafalgar Square, at Bridgetown, as 'the preserver of the
British West Indies in a moment of unexampled peril.'

After the discovery of the island by the British, King James
granted a charter to the Earl of Marlborough, then Lord Leigh,
giving him the proprietorship of the island; and under this
charter Sir W. Courteen, a British subject of Dutch extraction,
sent out a venture in 1625. The following year the William
and John brought out thirty emigrants the first of those
numerous bands of British colonists who seemed resolved to
colonise and cultivate Barbados and make it a bond fide
settlement. It was here that the sugar-cane was first grown
and cultivated, and Barbados sugar became well known. In
one of the numbers of the Spectator it is observed that * the
fruits of Portugal are corrected by the products of Barbados,
and the infusion of a China plant is sweetened by the pith
of an Indian cane.' It may be remarked here that tea and
sugar, associated in our minds with most peaceful recreation
and most homely entertainment that of the cup that cheers
but does not inebriate have been the cause of most disastrous
events and most calamitous policies in the annals of the British
colonial empire. A tea-chest was at the bottom of the Ameri-
can revolt, and sugar was the proximate cause of slavery,
cruelty, and a vast monopoly to be undone, truly enough, by
national repentance, but bringing extraordinary consequences
in its wake. Free Trade seemed to turn upon sugar questions,
and sugar bounties are still a bone of contention between
nations.

In the seventeenth century, and indeed at all times,



io British Colonisation

Barbados was noted for its loyalty, and became the refuge of
many Loyalists, who defended themselves against Cromwell.
After the Commonwealth, Charles n. conferred the dignity of
knighthood upon thirteen gentlemen of Barbados as a reward
for their attachment to the Royalist cause. Prince Rupert
had made the West Indies a refuge, and Prince Rupert's Bay
in Dominica still indicates this fact. It was with the double
object of punishing the Loyalists in Barbados and also of
crippling the power of Holland that the well-known Navigation
Laws of 1650 were passed by the Long Parliament, by which
the ships of any foreign nation were prohibited from trading
with any of the English plantations without a licence from the
Council of State. Against these laws the Barbadians issued a
manifesto, and secretly evaded the provisions, whilst they were
obliged openly to recognise them. After the restoration of
Charles IL, however, they were revised, amplified, and enforced
with a stringency which precluded the colonies effectually from
all intercourse with foreign nations. The Barbadians were
naturally surprised and hurt at this somewhat unexpected con-
firmation by Charles n. of the Protector's policy. They com-
plained that they would be ruined by the double monopoly of
import and export claimed by the Mother-country. 1

The prosperity of Barbados was also affected by an Act
passed in September 1663, which gave an export duty of 4^ per
cent, of all dead commodities of the island to the King and
his heirs and successors for ever. This tax continued until
1838, when it was repealed and an end put to a long-standing
grievance. It was calculated that in the period during which
the duty was leviable no less than six millions had been paid
by the planters a sum three times the fee-simple value of theii
lands.

Barbados is famed for the Codrington College, founded by
General Christopher Codrington, who bequeathed two estates,
Consetts and Codrington, consisting of 763 acres, three wind-
mills, sugar-buildings, 315 negroes, and 100 head of cattle, to
1 See Foyer's History of the Barbados, 1808.



The West Indies 11

the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. General Cod-
rington was descended from an ancient family which had
fought on the King's side in the Civil War, and had afterwards
settled at Barbados. He was born at Barbados, and was sent
to Oxford to be educated, where he became a Fellow of All
Souls. He entered the army, and served both in the West
Indies and at the siege of Namur. He died at Barbados in
1710, and his remains were disinterred and carried to England,
finding a resting-place in the Chapel of All Souls. Codring-
ton College is still an active power for good, being affiliated to
the Durham University, and sending from time to time many
students of divinity. The first Principal of Codrington
College was the Rev. T. H. Pinder, who, previous to slave
emancipation, had done his best to make the life of the West
Indian negro more endurable. He was appointed to the post
by Bishop Coleridge, the first Bishop of Barbados (1824),
a prelate who may be said to have occupied in the West
Indies a somewhat similar position, as missionary Bishop, to
that of Bishop Gray in South Africa and of Bishop Patteson
in the Pacific. Mr. Pinder was well-known afterwards for his
work in the diocese of Bath and Wells.

Throughout its history Barbados has been able to point to
martial exploits, and to timely assistance given often against
the enemies of England. When Jamaica was taken in 1655
the island sent an auxiliary force of 3500 volunteers ; in 1689
Barbadian troops assisted to recover St. Kitts from France,
and in 1603 helped to foil French designs upon Martinique.
In 1762 they raised a regiment for the British expedition
which captured Martinique. Just as in Canada, along the
valley of the St. Lawrence, off the coasts of Cape Breton,
Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, England was assisted in her
mortal struggle with France by her New England and Canadian
colonists, so in the Caribbean Seas she received great help
from the stalwart and loyal Englishmen who made their
homes and settlements there. 1

1 For facts and figures see Appendix I. Section B.



12 British Colonisation

TRINIDAD.

Trinidad has been often described from the day of its first
discovery to the present. Columbus, who approached the
eastern extremity of the island, and gave it the name of Punta
de la Galera from its resemblance to a galley under sail, wrote
with enthusiasm of the ' softness and purity of the climate, the
verdure, sweetness, and freshness of the country equalling the
delights of early spring in the province of Valentia in Spain.'
He named the narrow strait on the south-west, between Point
Icacos and the mainland, the ' Serpent's Mouth,' which seemed
to flow ' with as much fury as the Guadalquivir swoln by
floods ' ; and to the strait that separates the north-west corner
of Trinidad from the long promontory of Venezuela he gave
the name of the 'Dragon's Mouth.' This long promontory
Columbus, thinking it was an island, called Isla da Gracia.

Trinidad was also visited by Sir Walter Ralegh in 1595 on
his first Guiana expedition, who found the Spaniards cultivat-
ing the tobacco-plant and sugar-cane. Hearing of the cruelties
of the Spaniards, he attacked and took the town of St. Joseph,
where he found five Indian caciques or chiefs bound to one
chain and subjected to terrible torture. Ralegh took captive
the Spanish Governor, de Berreo by name, from whom he
heard many rumours of the fabled El Dorado on the continent.
More than twenty years afterwards (1617-18) Sir Walter was
again at Tierra de Brea in Trinidad, on that last and well-
known search for the Guiana El Dorado. Captain Lawrence
Keymis, in company with Sir Walter's young and gallant son,
was sent up the Orinoco, whilst the Admiral himself remained
on the island. The sequel of this expedition is well known.
Sir Walter's son was killed fighting against the Spaniards,
'dying as a soldier of England ought to die,' to use the words
of his grief-stricken parent, written to Lady Ralegh ; and
Keymis, failing to discover the Guiana mine, destroyed himself
after rejoining Sir W. Ralegh at Trinidad.

Young Ralegh was a friend of Ben Jonson, and a humorous



The West Indies 1 3

story is told of his wheeling 'rare Ben' into his father's
presence in a wheelbarrow after the sage had partaken too
freely of a good vintage of Canary wine. In his Every Man
in his Humour Ben Jonson eulogises Trinidad tobacco as
' your right Trinidado,' and it is possible that the sage had
the opportunity of knowing the good qualities of this tobacco
through the Raleghs.

The island has been alluded to by the celebrated Alexander
von Humboldt, and described by Canon Kingsley, and more
recently by Lady Brassey. In the well-known cruise of the
Royal Princes in the Bacchante, which entered the Gulf of
Paria through one of the Dragon's Mouths, mention is made
of the green hills of Trinidad. The Princes left their name
to Princes' Town in the island. For poetical description of
Trinidad climate and scenery there is nothing to equal the
writings of Canon Kingsley in his At Last. Kingsley passed
the Christmas of 1869 in Port of Spain, and lived in 'The
Cottage,' close to the Botanical Gardens. Until recently the
room in which the great novelist wrote and the gallery where
he smoked his pipe were shown to visitors. Kingsley 's cane-
brake and the ' great arches of the bamboo clumps ' are also
show-places.

The whole island is full of tropical marvels, both indigenous
and imported. The bread-fruit, the jujube, the mango,
cinnamon, cloves, nutmegs, the loquat tree, the eucalyptus,
cinchona, rubber-trees, and even sugar and coffee, are all
strangers, but they thrive wonderfully in Trinidad. The
climate is described as intertropical tempered by insular
influences, and according to Dr. de Verteuil, the best-known
authority on Trinidad, healthy for Europeans. In the midst
of so much that is beautiful and strange there are three objects
of surpassing interest : ( i ) the cascade of Maraccas, which
has a fall of 340 feet; (2) the forest trees and the wonderful
trailing parasites and orchids ; (3) the Pitch Lake, 99 acres
in extent, the greatest curiosity of all.

When Trinidad was first discovered by the Spaniards it was



14 British Colonisation

thickly peopled by West Indian aborigines; but with their
usual cruelty the Spaniards depopulated the island either by
murdering them or transporting them to the Hispaniola mines.
In 1783 the population was only 2763, and the ground was
thus clear for imported slave labour. In 1831 there were
41,675 souls, of whom 21,302 were slaves. There were also
a few Chinese labourers, who were first introduced in I8I6. 1
In 1888 the population of the island was calculated to be
189,566, giving 1 08 to the square mile. The East Indian
population is a remarkable feature in this island, there being
in 1 88 1 no fewer than 49,000. They are imported at the rate
of 2000 a year. The character of the population is very
mixed ; the white inhabitants, of whom there are more than
is usual in a West Indian settlement, comprising descendants
of French and Corsican families, English and Scotch settlers,
and many immigrants from the neighbouring territory of
Venezuela.

In point of size Trinidad comes next to Jamaica ; but its
historical record is far less interesting to us, although, perhaps,
more simple. In 1802, the date of the formal acquisition, the
new regime was about to commence in the West Indies, and
the question of free labour was faced under less embarrassing
circumstances than in Jamaica, where slave traditions were
strong. Perhaps the most pressing problem in Trinidad is its
development in all branches by means of Asiatic coolies, who
in Natal and elsewhere are gradually supplanting the less
industrious and thrifty African. 2

TOBAGO.

Together with Trinidad must be considered Tobago, a small
island nineteen miles north-east of Trinidad, and supposed by
some to have been the original Robinson Crusoe's island an
honour usually accorded to Juan Fernandez, no leagues off

1 Martin's History of the British Colonies, vol. ii. p. 246.

2 For facts and figures see Appendix I. Section C.



The West Indies 1 5

the coast of Chili. It was first discovered by Columbus in
1498; but the British landed there in 1580, and in 1608
James i. claimed the sovereignty over it. Together with
Trinidad, Barbuda, and Fonseca it formed part of a grant to
the Earl of Montgomery in 1628. The island was not occu-
pied, however, and twice the Dutch endeavoured to colonise it,
calling it New Walcheren. It remained for many years a kind
of debatable ground for Dutch, French, and English colonists,
and was declared neutral in 1748 by the Treaty of Aix-la-
Chapelle. In the wars between England and France the
island was captured and recaptured more than once, until in
1814 it became part of the British Empire. The trade of this
island has dwindled down considerably of late years, and the
cotton and indigo industries, for which it was once famed,
have disappeared. The island was described a hundred years
ago (1792) by Sir W. Young, and from his account the little
colony must have presented a more prosperous appearance
than of late years. 1

BRITISH GUIANA.

The name of Guiana, or ' the Wild Coast,' is given to that
part of the South American continent lying between 8 40' N.
latitude and 3 30' S. latitude, and between the fiftieth and
sixty-eighth degrees of W. longitude. It is shared by several
nationalities, and is divided into (i) British Guiana, (2)
Venezuelan Guiana, (3) Dutch Guiana, (4) French Guiana
or Cayenne, (5) Brazilian Guiana. British Guiana is there-
fore a tract of the South American continent, and the portion
now occupied by England was originally colonised by the
Netherlands. Broadly speaking, there are two eras of British
colonisation in Guiana, the first beginning with the romantic
enterprises of Sir Walter Ralegh in 1595, and ending with an
evacuation of that part of it known as Surinam in 1694. The
second era, lasting to the present day, begins in 1795, when
1 For facts and figures see Appendix I. Section D.



1 6 British Colonisation

war broke out between England and Holland, then a depen-
dency of France, and England gained Essequibo, Demerara,
and Berbice.

Sir W. Ralegh took up the task of Guiana colonisation in
1595, and Sir ^Robert Cecil participated in the enterprise by
contributing to the outfit. Somewhere in this part of South
America it was believed that a people and city existed of
fabulous wealth. ' The very boxes and troughs were of gold
and silver, and billets of gold lay about as if they were logs of
wood laid out to burn.' This fabled city was called El Dorado,
although the Spaniards applied the term not to a city but a
king, of whom the Indians had said that he was wont on
certain solemn occasions to anoint his body with turpentine
and then roll himself in gold dust. 1 In this state El Dorado
entered a canoe and proceeded to bathe in a lake. This
strange story had a fascination for European adventurers of
those days, who constantly went in search of the king and the
lake. As early as 1530 a body of 200 Spaniards, setting
out from Coro, on the coast of Venezuela, went in search of
the city. Between 1530 and 1560 seven or eight distinct
expeditions had been despatched from the neighbouring
Spanish settlements, one of which was commanded by Gonzalo
Pizarro, a brother of the conqueror of Peru.

Sir Walter Ralegh has left descriptions of the navigation of
the Orinoco, that 'labyrinth of rivers' noticed afterwards by the
great Humboldt and the multitude of islands, each island
' so bordered with high trees as no man could see any further
than the breadth of the river or length of the branch.' Pre-
sently they caught a glimpse of the inland champaign country,
' where the plains were twenty miles in length, the grass soft,
short, and green,' and where the deer came down feeding to
the water's edge, 'as if they had been used to a keeper's
call.' They explored the Orinoco for a distance of 400 miles
from the Gulf of Paria, and still the golden vision of El Dorado,
or the 'great city of Manoa,' seemed ever to recede from before
1 Edwards's Life of Ralegh, vol. i. p. 164.



The West Indies 17

them. The ships' crews toiled incredibly hard the officers
and gentlemen labouring at the oars equally with the seamen
living how they could on edible birds and the store of fruit.
The variety of trees and flowers was such, we are told, as to
make ten volumes of herbals.

Ralegh reached a point on the Orinoco near the junction
with the Cayuni River, placed by Humboldt at latitude 8 8'
N. The Orinoco is a vast river, with a drainage of 270,000
square miles. It receives into its waters 436 rivers and more
than 2000 smaller streams. Sir Walter Scott, speaking of the
conflict of Marston Moor, writes :

' The battle's rage

Was like the strife which currents wage,
Where Orinoco, in his pride,
Rolls to the main no tribute tide,
But 'gainst broad ocean urges far
A rival sea of roaring war ;
While, in ten thousand eddies driven,
The billows fling their foam to heaven,
And the pale pilot seeks in vain,
Where rolls the river, where the main.'

The scenery of British Guiana has been described since the
days of Sir Walter Ralegh by many able writers. Humboldt
has spoken of its wonderful river system. Schomburgk, who
visited the country in 1837-1840, has described its gigantic
trees, strange parasitic lianas, clusters of palm-trees, magnifi-
cent flora, its brilliant foliage, rare birds, and thousands of
phosphorescent insects, and all the wonders of a tropical night.
Mr. im Thurn has told of the famous Kaieteur Falls on the
Potaro River and the glories of the lonely Roraima Mountain,
with its ' sheer wall of red rock,' deemed to be inaccessible
until he scaled it. Dr. Hancock, the Rev. W. H. Brett, and
Mr. Trollope have all recorded their impressions of this tropical
colony and its inhabitants, linked so inseparably in the past
with the first projects of British colonisation.

Of British Guiana Mr. Washington Eves has written :

B



1 8 British Colonisation

' British Guiana, therefore, in its history so much mixed up
with the Dutch ; in its one dominant industry ; in the coolie
immigration by which alone it has resuscitated and maintained
that industry ; in its constant endeavour to keep out the sea ;
in its human relics of the old Caribbean Indians (formerly,
perhaps, kings, but now hewers of wood and drawers of water,
and small customers of shops) ; in its large unknown interior



Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 2 of 31)