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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
See end of this file for all of our many History files
1504. New World trade was strictly controlled by Spain. Under the conditions of the Casa de Contratacion (established in 1504), all trade with the New World had to be processed through Spanish ports. While England followed Spanish policy (they were then allies) it never accepted Spain's exclusive rights over North America and the Caribbean.
1505. Bermuda was discovered by accident by Spanish ship captain Juan de Bermudez and the island-chain was named after him. He commanded the La Garza. The Spanish vessel was part of a Spanish treasure fleet sailing from Cadiz to Mexico. Bermuda had water, wood, and a pleasant climate suitable for growing crops, but Spain had no reason to establish a colony there. There was no silver or gold, and no natives who could provide labor or be converted to the Catholic faith. Juan de Bermudez ordered the release from his shop of a pair of male and female hogs for them to breed ashore to help any other distressed shipwrecked mariners .The Spanish treasure fleet used the island as a waypoint on their trips back home when ships were loaded with silver and goods from Mexico. Because Bermuda had nothing to justify a colonization the island group remained uninhabited and unsettled until 1609, except for the occasional shipwrecked mariner. However, the pigs not only survived but flourished on the island, while Bermuda remained uninhabited by human beings except the occasional involuntary marooned mariner for a century.
1509. It was first recorded in European journals that in the early Islamic states of the western Sudan, including Ghana (750–1076), Mali (1235–1645), Segou (1712–1861), and Songhai (1275–1591), about a third of the population were enslaved. It was reported in London and other journals that instead of ritually killing captured tribes or enslaving them themselves, African chiefs profited by selling them instead to Arab and European traders.
1509. King Henry VII of England died and was succeeded by his son, King Henry VIII.
1511. In Spain a book of Spanish discoveries in the Caribbean published by Peter Martyr had a map (see below) of La Bermudas (or Garza, after the ship captained by Juan de Bermudez) well north of the Caribbean. It was Bermuda's first-known appearance on a map.
First known map to include Bermuda (shown as La Bermude, top right. lower case, upside down)1515. Spanish courtier, writer and historian Gonzalo Ferdinandez 'Oviedo y Valdez sailed near Bermuda but was unable to land. However, he recorded an account of the island as it was then.
1527. January. A petition was made by Hernando Camero, sometimes referred to as Ferdinand Caemlo, a Portuguese from the Azores, to claim and people Bermuda for the crown of Spain, but was never followed up seriously. A later war involving Spain may have been why. However, Spain clearly dominated the New World throughout the sixteenth century. It had a number of settlements in the Caribbean (most notably, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica), and later claimed Mexico.
1527. June. Spain's King Charles V authorized the colonization of Bermuda so that his country could have a North Atlantic port. But this too never happened.
1543. A Portuguese slave ship sank off the South Shore, Bermuda. From this tragedy, the inscription of the "Spanish Rock" at Spittal Pond may derive.
1543. A French map of the world showing La Bermuda was published.
1543. In Bermuda, Portuguese Rock was inscribed with this date, plus a cross, by Portuguese mariners.
1544. Sebastian Cabot's Mappo Mundi was published. (Many Bermuda resources including the Government of Bermuda official website and late Bermudian author Terry Tucker's book Bermuda Today and Yesterday claim this map showed Bermuda as "ya de demonios" (Isle of Devils, in Spanish). But this has been disputed by an American historian, apparently for cause, with the assertion that the copy of Cabot's map in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, which for many years was the only known copy, has Bermuda clearly labeled "La Bermuda." Whatever, the devilish sounds were not demons but the cries - wild, eerie shrieks of sea and land birds, cahows indigenous to Bermuda and also likely, the sounds of hogs sqealing, not indigenous but landed there by sailors to provide food in the event of being shipwrecked.
1554. The birth, in Lyme Regis, England, of the man who discovered and colonized Bermuda, Admiral Sir George Somers.
1556. From the port of La Rochelle, France, set out a man-of-war of some hundred tons, along with a pinnace of twenty-five tons, crewed by one hundred fifty soldiers and sailors, and commanded by a sea captain from La Rochelle by name of Captain Mesmin. The privateer took a Spanish prize in the Caribbean and headed home, with half the crew manning the newly-pirated acquisition. Unfortunately, the Bermuda reefs intervened and the prize became one of the early shipwrecks at the island. Some of the crew from the wreck were probably the first people to set foot on Watford Island, from which place the largest bridge in Bermuda was later so named, spanning the gap between that island and Somerset. The story is one of treachery and ethnic betrayal that began from the moment of the wrecking of the Spanish vessel. Captain Mesmin, in the French ship, hung offshore and received entreaties from the wrecked crew to take all of them aboard his ship and back to France. But he refused. Mesmin left the 45 men to their own devices, their ship still partly afloat, but firmly wedged and half sunk on the reefs. With their ship breaking apart under their feet, the abandoned sailors made two rafts, the better to reach dry land at Bermuda, seen in the distance. Enduring a bashing from the sea, both rafts floated to land, but one ended up at the eastern end of Bermuda and the other grounded to the west. The occupants of the latter, having set foot back on terra firma, with no loss among their number, they began to walk along the coast hoping to find some trace of their companions. But they had not got very far when they came across an obstruction in their path in the shape of a river which was at least 300 paces across. That obstructive “river” is believed to be the channel between Watford and Somerset Islands. The 25 shipwrecked mariners were obliged to return to the remains of their raft and reuse it to traverse the gap from Watford Island to Somerset. In so doing, as they had demolished part of the raft for firewood, five of the men were left behind on Watford Island, becoming in a way its first settlers. The other score took two weeks to travel to the eastern end of the main island of Bermuda, where they found the other members of the shipwrecked crew. Due to prickly pear, “they were forced to cut up their hats to put them on their feet as soles, because their shoes were all ripped and torn”. The treacherous saga continued and a boat was built to take the men back to the Caribbean. This was accomplished, but three of the sailors, being ethnic Normans and not from La Rochelle, were left behind in Bermuda. A ship sent out from Normandy to that end later rescued them.
1558. Queen Elizabeth 1 assumed the throne on the death of her older half-sister, Queen Mary 1.
1558. Birth of Thomas Smith (Smythe), later Sir Thomas and the Treasurer of the Virginia Company, who had links to Bermuda
1560 to 1570. The first known visit to Bermuda by a Frenchman was by Captain Russel or Roussel, shipwrecked here then. His ship struck a reef and was so badly holed that lives were lost. Russel and the remainder of his crew made a smaller boat out of materials from the perished ship and sailed to Newfoundland where they got passage back to France.
1561. A storm near Bermuda interrupted the return of the Spanish treasure fleet and sank one of the ships. The ship with the son of the man in charge of the fleet, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, disappeared. The loss of a ship was not a uncommon event. (But it was one link in the chain of events that led to the 1565 founding of St. Augustine, the oldest continuously-occupied city in North America founded by European colonists).
1562. Sir John Hawkins first went to the New World and began the British slave trade from Guinea. But the Portuguese started their slave trade earlier.
1570. The Spanish attempted to start a colony on the Chesapeake Bay, now part of Maryland.
1580. The Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal were united, with the union lasting until 1640. During that time, both countries had significant dealings with Bermuda, as details below show. Portugal was always friendly, as Britain's oldest allay, Spain's was periodically hostile.
1582. Establishment in Newfoundland of first British colony in New World.
1584. January 11. The Spanish ship Santa Lucia was wrecked off Bermuda. Captained by Juan Lopez, she had been part of a fleet of ships that had left Spain for the Indies in 1583. She was not carrying any merchandise or treasure and her function was that of a courier ship, carrying government, financial and private documents, as well as gathering information on the progress and condition of the fleet, and of the various port cities visited. Once the fleet reached Vera Cruz in Mexico, she was to return home as soon as possible. However, en route from Vera Cruz, via Havana, to Spain, she ran into a storm and was unable to negotiate Bermuda’s reef-strewn waters. Her wreck was not discovered until 1964 and originally she was believed to be the store ship La Viga, which had wrecked in 1639. Known as the Western Ledge Reef Wreck, the Santa Lucia’s remains have been extremely well preserved, mainly because of the largest ballast pile that covered her lower hull section. During the sixteenth century around twenty Spanish ships ran aground on Bermuda’s treacherous reefs. A number of these have been found, and several studied archaeologically, but none have provided such a detailed picture of sixteenth-century Spanish ships as the Santa Lucia.
1585-1589. The first of two attempts to establish a colony on Roanoke Island were organized by Sir Walter Raleigh. The second disappeared without a trace in 1589. British explorer John White made a map and other drawings when he traveled to Roanoke Island in 1585 on an expedition commanded by Sir Ralph Lane. In 1587, a second colony of 116 English settlers landed on Roanoke Island, led by White. He left the island for England for more supplies but couldn't return again until 1590 because of the war between England and Spain. When he came back, the colony was gone. White knew the majority had planned to move "50 miles into the maine," as he wrote, referring to the mainland. The only clue he found about the fate of the other two dozen was the word "CROATOAN" carved into a post, leading historians to believe they moved south to live with American Indians on what's now Hatteras Island.
1587. A report from Spanish sailor Pedro de Aspide reported pearl fisheries in waters around Bermuda and begged royal assent to exploit them. (Later, it was established they had no pearls, only mollusks).
1589. Thomas Gates, later knighted and Governor-designate of Virginia but shipwrecked in July 1609 off Bermuda, edited and published A Summary and True Discourse of Sir Francis Drake's West Indian Voyage in which he too had participated.
1593. St. Augustine in Florida was founded by the Spanish, as the first continuously lived-in settlement by Europeans in the New World.
1591. April 10. Three ships sailed from Plymouth, England for the East Indies. They were the Penelope, Merchant Royal and Edward Bonaventura. In the latter was English seaman Henry May, transferred by his captain, James Lancaster, to a French vessel. The French ship was under the command of M. de la Barbotiere.
1593. November 30. Captain de la Barbotiere sailed from Laguna, Hispaniola, on the voyage described above.
1593. December 17. Seventeen days after leaving Laguna, Captain de la Barbotiere and his pilots thought they were out of danger of the Isle of Devils or Bermuda. They miscalculated their position. They got their wine of height for a safe latitude, drank long and deep, with a minimal deck watch, but erred severely in their navigation. At midnight, the ship struck the north-west reefs of Bermuda and was so badly damaged that out of fifty five men, only twenty six reached the shore alive. Englishman Henry May and Captain de la Barbotiere were among the survivors. It is the wreck of this French ship on the Bermuda coat of arms. The crew cut down Bermuda cedar trees and built a seaworthy craft of eighteen tons. They caulked her seams with lime salvaged from the ship and oil extracted from local tortoises they caught for food. They ate turtle meat fish, birds - and some wild hogs. They loaded 13 live tortoises onto their ship before sailing to Newfoundland five months later (see below) to catch a ride home with one of the fishing fleet there, later reporting that the feral pigs were a poor source of food. They reported that where they had been stranded on the south part of the island of Bermuda there were many fowl, fish and tortoises but the hogs were so lean that they could not be relied on as a good source of food.
1594. May 11. Captain de la Barbotiere and his repaired ship sailed from Bermuda to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on May 20, where the Englishman, de la Barbotiere and crew observed the settlement before continuing to Newfoundland, where May boarded another French ship directly for Europe. He reached Falmouth, Cornwall, two months later in 1594.
1594. The Spanish map published this year by Petrus Plancius shows Bermuda. Bermuda had water, wood, and a pleasant climate suitable for growing crops, but Spain had no reason to establish a colony there. There was no silver or gold, and no Native American who could provide labor or be converted to the Catholic faith.
Source: Boston Public Library, USA, 1990
1596. November. En route from Cartagena, Columbia to Cadiz, Spain, and laden with treasure, the 350-ton merchant ship San Pedro was wrecked on Bermuda’s inner reef. A treasure ship from the Spanish colonial period, she was part of the Nueva Espana fleet which carried manufactured goods from Spain to the New World and returned with gold, silver, coins, jewels and other valuable products. (She was discovered in 1960 by veteran shipwreck diver, Teddy Tucker and Robert Canten. Among the treasures they recovered was a gold pectoral cross with seven emeralds, said to be one of the most valuable pieces of jewellery retrieved from any Spanish shipwreck. Other items included a thirty-two ounce gold bar, two small gold ingots, a bronze mortar, a navigating instrument, a pewter porringer, tools, Chinese ceramic, glazed pottery, French coins, an ostrich egg, pearl-studded gold buttons and race Carib Indian weapons. It was the first major treasure recovery as well as the most significant Tudor period find of the twentieth century).
1597. Sir Thomas Gates, later appointed Governor of Virginia but shipwrecked in July 1609 off Bermuda and a resident there for nearly a year, participated in the British fleet that successfully attacked the Portuguese-held Azores Islands.
1598. March 4. Sir Thomas Gates, later appointed Governor of Virginia but shipwrecked in July 1609 off Bermuda and a resident there for nearly a year, was admitted to Grey's Inn, one of London's Inns of Court.
1600. The East India Company of England was founded.
1600. In England, the lode stone acquired by Admiral Sir George Somers to magnetize his compass needles and later used by him to discover Bermuda, was manufactured.
1602. New England was first named and explored by English mariner Bartholomew Gosnold. He was the first Englishman in the region, after sailing from the Azores and then again from Maine to Cape Cod. He named the region after his homeland and Martha's Vineyard after the first name of his eldest child.
1603. Queen Elizabeth was succeeded by King James I of England and VI of Scotland.
1603. Diego Ramirez, captain of a Spanish galleon, spent 3 weeks on Bermuda with his crew to repair their ship and sent a description to his superiors in Seville, Spain. A black crewmember was Venturilla. He was sent ashore with a lantern and axe to cut a piece of cedar while the rest of his crew waited on the ship. When on land, he was mobbed by many cahows and yelled to his crewmates for help. They assumed he was being attacked by the devil, rushed to his aid and that night captured more than 500 birds which they ate. All left after repairing the ship. The map created by Captain Diego Ramirez during his visit that year is the first-ever known map showing a representation or shape specifically of the island of Bermuda. He also discovered tobacco growing in Bermuda, at Spanish Point where he landed, named after his nationality. It is possible that the Spanish, well acquainted with tobacco since 1492, planted tobacco in Bermuda during one of their shipwrecks and if so it was probably the better quality Caribbean variety than Raleighs Indian tobacco planted in Virginia.
Captain Diego Ramirez's 1603 map of Bermuda1605. Annapolis Royal, in Nova Scotia, became the first permanent English-speaking settlement in North America.
1606. February 1. Guy Fawkes and others were executed in London, drawn and quartered, for attempting to blow up Parliament. Their limbs were severed, stomachs were disemboweled and heads held aloft on spiked staves.
1606. January. King James I issued a charter - the First Charter - to the Virginia Company for land along mid Atlantic coast. British investors had earlier failed with their settlement on the Kennebec River in Maine. The First Supply arrived in April 1608. Christopher Newport brought the John and Francis first, and the Phoenix arrived after being blown off course. Together they brought 120 new settlers. Christopher Newport returned with the Mary Margaret in September 1608, bringing 60 new colonists in the Second Supply. Jamestown, in Virginia, their second location, was also to struggle to survive. Those two resupply expeditions followed the "normal" pattern of sailing from Europe to the New World. Ships sailed south from England to the Canary Islands where water and supplies could be restocked if necessary. (Even though the Spanish controlled the islands, restocking vessels from other nations could still be profitable.) Ship captains then took advantage of the tradewinds blowing from the northeast to go west, following the Tropic of Cancer across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. After reaching the West Indies near Puerto Rico, the English sailed north, catching the Gulf Stream to go past the Bahamas to Virginia. That route took the English far south of the island of Bermuda.
1606. Dutch painter Rembrandt was born.
1606. The Second Charter helped revitalize interest in the Virginia Company. London investors expanded their commitment and recruited new investors
1606. December 20. Captain Christopher Newport left London with the Godspeed, Discovery and Susan Constant for Virginia.
1607. The Virginia Company of London was established.
1607. Near Fort Popham, on the Kennebec River, in Maine, the English Popham Colony was established, abandoned after George Popham died. Yet they built the pinnace Virginia, the first English vessel launched from the mainland.
1607. May 13, 104 male settlers arrived at James City for the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
1607. May 30. When England this year sent parties of settlers to the land that later became Maine and Virginia, Spain faced a bold challenge for this was an affront to Spanish hegemony in the region. Spain's King Philip III considered forcing the English settlers out of North America, as they had done with the French Huguenot settlers in Florida years ago, but realized this would mean an unwanted war with England. Instead, he instructed his ambassador to England, Don Pedro de Zuniga, to keep a close watch on English plans for Virginia. If it became clear England wanted to establish a colony there Spain would then decide what steps should be taken to prevent such action. The ensuing diplomatic correspondence between the king and Don Pedro reveals increasing concern about the English presence in North America. Don Pedro believed Virginia would be used as a base for privateering and for launching attacks on Spanish merchant fleets and strongly advised immediate action to oust the English. Spain was clearly hostile to the Virginia settlement; England was well aware of this as were the settlers who lived in daily fear of attack.
1607. May 26. In Jamestown, Paspahegh Indians attacked the colonists, killed two and wounded ten. On June 15, James Fort was completed. On September 10, the Council accused Councilor George Kendall of discord. He was placed under arrest on the Discovery and executed. On September 12 the Council found President Edward M. Wingfield guilty of libel. He was deposed and John Ratcliffe took his place. On December 10 Captain John Smith went up the Chickahominy for food but was captured. On December 29 he was brought before Powhatan but his daughter Pocahontas saved Smith's life.
1608. January 1. Smith returned to James Fort and saw only 38 of the original 104 settlers. Smith was accused of deaths of men on his expedition. He was tried and condemned to be hung. But Captain Christopher Newport returned on the John and Francis with the First Supply of food and more settlers. Newport halted the Smith execution. In February, Smith took Newport up the York River to meet Powhatan for an exchange of beads for provisions and sons. Thomas Savage lived with the Indians and Namontack with the British. They acted as interpreters and liaisons.
1608. Champlain founded the French settlement at Quebec City, courted Indian traders and imported French missionaries.
1608. Birth of famous English poet John Milton, whose poetical works are still popular today.
1608. In September the "Second Supply" with 70 new immigrants arrived on the Mary and Margaret, including an Elizabethan bed for Powhatan, a five piece barge to explore the Richmond Falls and two women, Mrs. Thomas Forrest and her maid Anne Burras.
1608. In November, Jamestown had its first wedding, with much celebration, when Anne Burras was married to John Laydon, a carpenter who had arrived earlier.
1609. May. The Virginia Company of London issued the colony's new governor, Sir Thomas Gates, confidential "Instruccions orders and Constitucions by way of advise sett downe declared and propounded to Sir Thomas Gates knight Governour of Virginia … for the Direccion of the affaires of that Countrey."
1609. June 2, not long after her launch, the Virginia Company's ship "Sea Venture" sailed on its maiden voyage from Plymouth, England for Jamestown, Virginia. She was built in 1609 in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England, and was England's first purpose-designed emigrant ship. She displaced 300 tons, cost £1,500, and differed from her contemporaries primarily in her internal arrangements. Her guns were placed on her main deck, rather than below decks as was then the norm. This meant the ship did not need double-timbering, and she may have been the first single-timbered, armed merchant ship built in England. Her hold was sheathed and furnished for passengers. She was armed with eight nine-pounder demi-culverins, eight five-pounder sakers (cannon), four three-pounder falcons (also cannon), and four arquebuses. Her uncompleted journey to Jamestown appears to have been her maiden voyage. Sir Thomas Gates was Lieutenant Governor designate. Admiral Sir George Somers, a British naval hero of Lyme Regis, Dorset, The historic English town from where Bermuda's History began (see how Lyme Regis records it under "Lyme Regis and Bermuda") commanded the "Third Supply" Relief Fleet of nine vessels. Captain Christopher Newport was chief officer of the fleet. George Yeardley was then commander of land forces under Gates. 600 colonists included John Rolfe and his pregnant first wife, who died later in Bermuda. The fleet was to relieve the struggling British colony established in 1607 under Captain John Smith after failure of the Roanoke Island venture of Sir Walter Raleigh. It was the largest and most expensive colonization.
1609. July 28, a hurricane that had begun on July 24 sank one ship and threw the flagship Sea Venture so far off course that it was wrecked on a reef in Bermuda. All 150, including John Rolfe and his pregnant wife were saved. Also aboard the Se Venture was the greatest part of the food intended not for passengers but for hungry colonists at Jamestown. Their food was instead eaten by the passengers wrecked in Bermuda. The colonists later painstakingly rebuilt two boats, Deliverance and Patience, from the wreckage at Buildings Bay, St. George's. All crew and passengers survived the sinking. The list of passengers included Sir Thomas Gates, Governor for Virginia; Sir George Somers, Admiral of the flotilla; Rev. Richard Bucke, chaplain to the expedition (since that time the Church of England has always had an active presence in Bermuda); William Strachey, Surrey, Secretary-elect of Virginia Company; Silvester Jourdain, of Lyme Regis, Dorset; Joseph Chard; Henry Shelly; Robert Walsingham, coxswain; Robert Frobisher, shipwright; Nicholas Bennit, carpenter; Francis Pearepoint; William Brian; William Martin; Henry Ravens, master mate; Richard Knowles; Stephen Hopkins; Christopher Carter; Robert Waters; Edward Waters; Samuel Sharpe; Henry Paine, shot to death for mutiny; Humfrey Reede; James Swift; Thomas Powell, cook; Edward Eason; Mistress Eason; baby boy Bermuda Eason, born in Bermuda the previous-mentioned; John Want; Mistress Horton; Elizabeth Persons, maid to Mistress Horton; married Thomas Powell while in Bermuda; Capt (Sir) George Yeardley, experienced veteran of the Dutch wars; Jeffrey Briars (died in Bermuda); Richard Lewis, died in Bermuda; Edward Samuel, murdered by Robert Waters; William Hitchman, died in Bermuda; Thomas Whittingham, later lost at sea with Ravens; Edward Chard; Captain Matthew Somers nephew and heir of Sir George (was aboard the "Swallow" on the same expedition); Robert Rich, the brother of Sir Nathaniel Rich, a shareholder; Christopher Newport, Captain of the Sea Venture, former privateer; Stephen Hopkins; John Rolfe, a young man in his twenties and traveling with his wife. Their baby girl was born in Bermuda, christened Bermuda 11 February 1610 and died shortly thereafter and buried in Bermuda. His wife died shortly after reaching Virginia Spring 1610 and he married Pocahontas in April 1614; Mistress Rolfe, first wife of above; Henry Bagwell, aged 35; Thomas Godby, aged 36; Lieut. Edward Waters, aged 40; Elizabeth Joons, aged 30, servant; John Lytefoote; John Proctor; Josuah Chard; Henry Bagwell; Samuel Sharp; Capt. Wm Pierce; George Grave; Richard Buck with wife, Miss Langley and four Buck children; Stephen Hopkins; Wm Pierce. All these first involuntary British settlers in Bermuda, denied for many months the ability to get to Jamestown in Virginia, were extremely fortunate in several major respects. They had arrived on an island with no prior continuous human habitation, just a few signs of temporary earlier castaways, most likely Spanish or Portuguese. They found ready sources of food from coastal waters teeming with fish and other edibles from the sea. Big, fat birds - Bermuda cahows, later nearly extinct - were there for the eating. Feral wild hogs galore, most likely left there by Spanish mariners as a source of food in the event of shipwrecks, roamed the island. Found growing was an onion, much appreciated by the new settlers. Although hot and humid in summer the climate was wonderfully mild in winter, especially when compared to the United Kingdom and Jamestown. Whereas in Virginia, conditions in the first English settlement in the New World were far from glamorous (early settlers in Jamestown were often starving, and forced to eat dogs, mice, and shoe leather to survive devastating winters. A few written accounts take things one gruesome step farther and suggest that some Jamestown colonists even ate their own dead. Native American Indians were constantly hostile.
Spanish feral hogs, descended from those first imported in 1505, were found and consumed, a choice source of food for the newcomers.
1609. July 30. Seven small ships of the nine that had sailed in the Third Supply fleet (but not the flagship Sea Venture wrecked in Bermuda) arrived at the Jamestown colony with even more new colonists to feed, and few supplies, most of which had been aboard the larger flagship.
1609. Admiral Sir George Somers was rowed around the island and from the trip made the second known manuscript map of Bermuda, (after the one by Ramirez) which has survived in two copies, one in Bermuda in the collections of the Bermuda National Trust and the other at the British Library. In the Admiral's honor Bermuda was renamed as the Somers Islands. It is still known as such in certain quarters as the additional name for Bermuda.
1609. September 3. Henry Hudson, on behalf of English investors, first encountered (but did not discover) and explored the Hudson Bay later named after him.
1609. November. In Virginia, Powhatan invites a party of about thirty colonists, led by John Ratcliffe, to Orapax on the promise of a store of corn. The English are ambushed and killed; Ratcliffe himself is tortured to death. Powhatan Indians lay siege to Jamestown, denying colonists access to outside food sources. The Starving Time begins, and by spring 160 colonists, or about 75 percent of Jamestown's population, will be dead from hunger and disease. This action begins the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609–1614). This was the scenario that later involved both Sir Thomas Gates and Admiral Sir George Somers when they arrived in 1610 from being shipwrecked in Bermuda since July of this year.
1610. February. Birth in Bermuda of the daughter, named Bermuda, the first child known to have been born in Bermuda, of John Rolfe and his wife Sarah Hacker Rolfe. Rolfe was born in Heacham, Norfolk, England as the son of John Rolfe and Dorothea Mason, and was baptized on May 6, 1585. John Rolfe is one of the most famous of the 17th century new world arrivals. He and his wife were Sea Venture castaways. But Mrs. Rolfe and her daughter Bermuda died less than two months later in Bermuda, some say Jamestown, later. (Mr. Rolfe, as a widower, continued on to Jamestown, Virginia where in 1614, he married native American Princess Pocahontas.)
1610. March. At St. George's, Bermuda, Sir Thomas Gates, as acting Governor of Bermuda, oversaw the public execution of Henry Paine, one of the crew of the 1609 Sea Venture.
1610. May 10. The "Deliverance" left Bermuda for the Virginia colony, arriving on 23/24 May at Jamestown, VA. She was about 80 tons, about 57 feet in length with 64 ft foremast,72 ft mainmast, and 44 ft mizzen mast. She carried Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers, William Strachey and 100 settlers (all except for three, who as deserters had remained in Bermuda). They included widower John Rolfe who later achieved fame as the husband of an Indian princess, Pocahontas. He made a point of taking with him from Bermuda to Jamestown a quantity of Bermuda-grown tobacco found growing, taken and left there by Spanish and Portuguese mariners who had been there temporarily. Strachey wrote for Sir Thomas Gates, Admiral Sir George Somers and Captain Christopher Newport a thrilling account of the shipwreck off and discovery of Bermuda. Only three members of the original castaways refused to go on to Virginia. They were imprisoned for mutiny but escaped and fled, believed to have been to the Walsingham area of the Main Island. The three who chose to stay, These miscreants were Edward Chard, Robert Waters and Christopher Carter, who were later fancifully but falsely referred to themselves as the “Three Kings of Bermuda”, purely because they were the only known inhabitants for a while. As fugitives, they lived as such, instead of trying to redeem themselves by improving their lot. They grew tobacco at their campsite on Smith’s island, which is confirmed in Jourdain’s writings. He stated that they, Carter, Chard and Waters "made a great deale of tobacco, and if some would come that have skill in making it, it would see very commodious both to the merchant and to the maker of it.” Later, in 1612 when Bermuda was settled by design and not by accident as before, they were caught appropriately punished and deported in irons back to England.
1610. May 21.
1610. May 23. Sir Thomas Gates, Admiral Sir George Somers and the survivors of the shipwreck of the Third Supply mission's flagship Sea Venture finally arrived at Jamestown in two makeshift small ships Deliverance and Plough under the command of Captain Christopher Newport they had constructed while stranded on Bermuda for nine months. They found fewer than 100 colonists still alive, many of whom were sick. Worse yet, the Bermuda survivors had brought few supplies and only a small amount of food with them, expecting to find a thriving colony at Jamestown. The latter's settlers were faced with abandoning Jamestown and returning to England. It has been speculated but so far this has not been proved that Sir George Somers and John Rolfe (both on the Sea Venture which was wrecked in Bermuda on its way to Jamestown in July 1609) took the Bermuda Tobacco seed (found growing at Tobacco Bay and possibly also planted at Spanish Point, Pembroke, prior to 1603 in Bermuda by shipwrecked Spaniards en route back to Spain from the New World) to Virginia from Bermuda on the two ships they built, the Deliverance and Patience.
1610. May 24. Sir Thomas Gates, with Admiral Sir George Somers and Sea Venture survivors arrived at Jamestown to find 60 gaunt remnants of the 240 or so people who had crowded into James Fort the previous November. These men and women, under the command of George Percy, had barely survived what came to be known as the Starving Time. The Jamestown colony was collapsing until they were saved by the arrival of ships from Bermuda. During the winter of 1609-10, the colonists suffered through sickness, starvation and Indian attacks led to the deaths of more than 200 men, women and children crowded into James Fort. Later, it was proved from forensic evidence that cannibalism occurred. Of the 200 to 300 settlers crowded inside James Fort only 60 emaciated survivors remained to greet the arriving ship from Bermuda. Unlike at Fort Algernon, where all the colonists had survived the winter, the Virginia Indians had made it impossible for the James Fort settlers to hunt or forage. In an attempt to instill military discipline, Gates issued on his first day at Jamestown the first of a set of regulations published in 1612 as For the Colony in Virginea Brittania. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, &c. Food, not discipline, proved most important, however, and, unable to procure adequate provisions, Gates ordered the colony abandoned after just a few weeks; he planned to sail his charges to Newfoundland, where they would find passage back to England aboard the fishing fleet. The colonists happily loaded what they could onto four pinnaces, and buried the fort's cannon near the main gate. They likely would have burned the fort down as good riddance were it not for Gates's insistence that, according to Percy, they "let the towne Stande."
1610. June 7. Both groups of survivors (from Jamestown and Bermuda) boarded ships, and they all set sail down the James River toward the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
1610. June 8. While sailing up the James River toward the Chesapeake Bay and then Newfoundland, Jamestown colonists encounter a ship bearing the new governor, Sir Thomas West, twelfth baron De La Warr, and a year's worth of supplies. The colonists returned to Jamestown that evening. The new governor, arrived at Jamestown and heard a sermon delivered by Reverend Richard Bucke, the reverend who had earlier been one of the involuntary, shipwrecked Bermuda colonists.
1610. July 9, 1610. In Virginia, after the colonist Humphrey Blunt is taken by Indians and tortured to death near Point Comfort, Sir Thomas Gates, formerly of Bermuda, attacks a nearby Kecoughtan town, killing twelve to fourteen native Indians and confiscating the cornfields.
1610. July 15, 1610. In Jamestown, Virginia, William Strachey, writer and earlier one on the 1609-1610 Bermuda colonists completes his True Reportory, a revised version of a letter about the Sea Venture shipwreck and the condition of the Virginia colony. It was addressed to an unknown "excellent lady" in England. The full indication of this Repertory as printed, probably for the first time, in Purchas, Part IV, lib. ix, ch. vi, shown below in facsimile. It would much later (1625) be published posthumously by Samuel Purchas as "A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight." In the Reportory and The Tempest are several striking verbal coincidences, both in the account, of the storm and, in the description of the birds and berries of the island; and the probability is strong that Shakespeare had access to Strachey's original manuscript, which seems to have been brought to England by Sir Thomas Gates immediately after it was written. Strachey was a man of genuine poetic power; and it is interesting to note that in 1612 he had a lodging in the Blackfriars, where Shakespeare purchased a house in 1613.
1610. July 20. Sir Thomas Gates departed Jamestown, Virginia, for home in England, and his arrival caused a sensation. Having survived the disastrous Sea Venture voyage, having staked out Bermuda for future planting, and having helped save the Jamestown colony, he was a hero in England. It was also salvation for the Virginia Company that had been beset from war between the natives and colonists, starvation, and disease in Virginia, plus resultant bad publicity at home. Investment in the company had dwindled, but Gates's tale of survival and redemption saved the day. With him were two Virginia Indians recently taken prisoner: the chief, Sasenticum and his son Kainta.
1610. October. Silvester Jourdan (Jourdain) went to England with Gates in 1610, and in this month published his narrative of the Sea Venture wreck under the following title: A Discovery of the Barmudas, otherwise called the Ile of Divels: By Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Sommers, and Captayne Newport, with diuers others. Set forth for the loue of my Country, and also for the good of the Plantation of Virginia. Sil. Jourdan, London, 1610, Jourdan's pamphlet describes the region as "never inhabited" but "ever esteemed and reputed a most prodigious and enchanted place." "Yet did we find there the ayre so temperate and the country so aboundantiy fruitfull for the sustentation and preseruation of man's life . . . that we were refreshed and comforted."
1610. November 9. Admiral Sir George Somers, just arrived back in Bermuda for much needed food for the Jamestown, Virginia colonists, died on the island at the age of 58, it is said from a surfeit of pig. His heart was buried in St. George's, and his body later taken and buried in Dorset, England, where he was born. Sir John Smith, the famous explorer and early colonial historian, believed Sir George as an unselfish friend to Virginia. He went to Bermuda to fetch “hogs and other good things” for languishing Jamestown because “his noble mind ever regarded a general good more than his own ends.” Despite his age (nearing 60), he made the “dangerous voyage” in the Patience and, upon arrival, exerted “extraordinary care, pains, and industry” to gather food. But alas, “the strength of his body” was not equal to the “ever memorable courage of his mind.” He died “in that very place which we now call Saint Georges town” after exhorting his sailors “with all expedition to return to Virginia” with food. (The unsubstantiated but oft-quoted assertion that he died “of a surfeit eating Pork” comes from Edward Howe, an English chronicler who was not involved with the voyage.)
1610. November. In the report A True Declaration of the estate of the Colonie in Virginia, the Virginia Company suggested that the story around the saving of the Sea Venture saga was animated by "the direct line of God's providence."
1610. An important experimental collection of seeds was brought to Bermuda by a Frenchman by order of King James 1 of England. He ordered mulberries to be grown in the islands with the silk trade in mind. (In 1627, an Act was passed requiring 50 mulberries to be planted on every share of land for three successive years). Rich in vitamin C, the fruits are eaten raw or cooked to make jams and wine.
1610. November 9. In Bermuda, where he lay in state, Sir George Somers’s men embalmed his body, pickling in in brine to preserve it. (Another account notes however that the corpse of Sir George was not openly placed on board but secretly stowed aboard the Patience in a cedar chest, because “superstitious mariners” would have refused to carry it as the portage of dead bodies was deemed “prodigiously ominous).” His nephew, Matthew Somers, who had been instructed by his uncle to sail back to Virginia with all speed regardless of any other eventualities , disobeyed him and instead sailed back to England from Bermuda, in a voyage that took a number of months on the Patience bearing his uncle's pickled body minus his heart for burial in Lyme Regis. The so-called ‘Three Kings’ of Bermuda, Christopher Carter, Edward Waters and Edward Chard were the only colonists left behind, possibly to help defend the island against a Spanish takeover, so as not to leave the island abandoned. On reaching the UK, Matthew Somers sailed the Patience to Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire, for the burial at Whit-Church.
Admiral Sir George Somers, Founder of Bermuda
November 1. Publication in Jamestown of A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia, With a Confutation of such scandalous Reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise." It was the third narrative of the shipwreck of the "Sea Adventure," and a description of the regions involved. The title reads: In this anonymous pamphlet, purporting to be published "by Advise and direction of the Councell of Virginia," the wreck is said to have been caused by a thunderstorm; the after events are called a "Tragicall-Comaedie"; and the Bermudas are described as "an inchanted pile of rockes, and a desert inhabitation for divels"; but, adds the writer, "all the fairies of the rocks were but flockes of birds, and all the divels that haunted the woods were but heardes of swine."
Publication in Jamestown of a set of verses, a ballad with the following title: Newes from Virginia, The Lost
Flocke triumphant, with the happy Arriual of that famous and worthy knight, Sr
Thomas Gates, and the well reputed and valiant Captaine Mr, Christopher Newporte,
and others, into England, With the manner of their distresse in the Hand of
Deuils (otherwise called Bermoothawes), where they remayned 42 weekesy and
builded two Pynaces in which they returned into Virginia. By R, Rich, Gent,, one
of the Voyage, London, 1610. The third stanza repeats the interesting
spelling "Bermoothawes" (cf. note, I, ii, 229):
The seas did rage, the windes did blowe,
distressed were they then;
Their ship did leake, her tacklings breake,
in daunger were her men.
But heaven was pylotte in this storme,
and to an iland nere,
Bemioothawes call'd, conducted then,
which did abate their feare.
1611. August. Sir Thomas Gates returned to Virginia at the head of a second expedition, which included three ships, 280 men, 20 women, 200 heads of cattle, 200 swine, and various other supplies and equipment. Spying the fleet as it entered the bay, Dale feared that the Spanish had returned. In the end, however, he welcomed his old comrade back to Virginia, and Gates became the colony's lieutenant governor.
1611. George Yeardley, on the Sea Venture in 1609 before he went to Virginia in 1610, was knighted ( and later became a two term Governor of Virginia).
1611. June 1. Lyme Regis records state that the body of Sir George Somers arrived there on this day. Unexplained still is why there was a seven-month interval between Sir George’s death in Bermuda and his arrival in England? Did Matthew Somers and the crew of the Patience stay on in Bermuda into the spring of 1611? A typical passage from Bermuda to Dorset took less than a month. Or did they spend the spring venturing in Caribbean or North Atlantic waters, with Somers’s body lying in the hold all the while? Somer's body was taken to and brought ashore near the Lyme Regis village church of St. Candida and Holy Cross. There, he was honorably buried, with many vollies of shot and the rites of a soldier.” Smith even gives the Latin inscription carved on Somers’s tomb, which in English read: "Alas Virginia’s Summer so soon past. Autumn succeeds and stormy Winters blast. Yet England’s joyful Spring with joyful showers. O Florida, shall bring thy sweetest flowers."
1611. The Virginia Company set about promoting colonization and recruiting pioneer settlers to Bermuda. It gave Sir George Somers a unique credential by bestowing his surname upon the new colony. Thus his most enduring contribution to Bermuda occurred after his death. Renaming Bermuda “the Somers Islands” meant an official substitution of the name of an English knight instead of that of the Spanish mariner Juan de Bermudez upon the world’s maps. By giving his name to an entire colony, Somers surpassed Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, Martin Frobisher, Humphrey Gilbert and his other Elizabethan seafaring peers.
1611. In London, the first King James Bible was published.
1611. September. Sir Thomas Gates, once from Bermuda then Jamestown, Virginia took advantage of the soldiers he had brought from England and dispatched Sir Thomas Dale to near the falls of the James River in Virginia. There he attacked and defeated the Powhatans and founded the City of Henrico , or Henricus, the first permanent English settlement outside Jamestown. This milestone made possible another cluster of settlements, founded by Dale and known as the New Bermudas or Bermuda Incorporation: Bermuda City, Bermuda Hundred, Digges Hundred, the Upper Hundred (or Curles), and West and Shirley Hundred and Island .
1611. November 1. in London, England, at Whitehall, for King James VI of Scotland and I of England, the first performance of the original dramatic and musical work THE TEMPEST by the British dramatist and playwright William Shakespeare, with music by the British composer Robert Johnson. See http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/tempest-first-performed. The drama was based on true accounts by English writer, historian and lawyer William Strachey, of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, and Sylvester Jourdain of the accidental discovery of and residence on the island of Bermuda, later called the Somer's Islands to honour Admiral Sir George Somers, later referred to as the father of Bermuda. Both Strachey and Jourdain had been in Bermuda with Somers, as passengers on the Sea Venture until it sank off Bermuda and then on the Deliverance until they got to Jamestown, Virginia and ultimately went back to England. Whole sections of the original text were taken by Shakespeare from their dramatic accounts and the story of Admiral Sir George Somers. But Shakespeare obscured facts with fiction on his mythical Italian island.
1612. July 11. Bermuda created it's own legal system. Its laws were based on English Common Law, Principles of Equity, and most of the English Acts that were in being as from that date. However, these latter laws and principles were subject to legislation passed by Bermuda’s Legislature from that date.
1612. Virginia's boundaries were extended to include Bermuda. For three years Bermuda was regarded officially in the UK and Jamestown as a dependency of Virginia.
1612. July 11. Recognition of Bermuda's importance, from a strategic point of view, provided the basis for early specific English interest in Bermuda. It was why Bermuda was colonized. For a few short years (1612-24), Bermuda guaranteed the English a presence in the 'New World' by providing them with their only secure footing in North America: Virginia was an unstable colony and Spain, even though a declining power, still laid claim to parts of North America and much of the Caribbean. These facts lead to the arrival in Bermuda of the Plough, across the Atlantic from England in a voyage that took only 61 days. She had a very smooth and uneventful voyage when compared to that of the Sea Venture three years earlier. She was described in British records as a “shippe” rather than a pinnace or another type of sailing vessel. She was not very big, had only 60 (another account says 50) settlers and supplies on board (the Sea Venture, by contrast, was 300 tons and had 150 sailors and passengers on board). Unlike the Sea Venture, the Plough's voyage to Bermuda was both voluntary and deliberate, carrying settlers specifically for Bermuda. She had been sent by the Virginia Company based in London (the corporation that had established Jamestown, Virginia, five years earlier) with Richard Moore, the new Governor appointed by the Virginia Company. Richard Moore (1583-1618), was a native of Leckhampton, Gloucestershire, England. He was married to Elizabeth Norwood (1588-1632), who was also a native of England. Richard was a ship’s carpenter by vocation, but he was “an able and resolute man.” He was “armed with the subjoined commission from the Virginia Company in 1612 to serve as governor and manage the company’s resources invested in the Islands of Bermuda.” His wife Elizabeth accompanied him. Their son, Edmund, was said to have been born in Bermuda but this has been disputed. After a few years, Richard moved his family to Virginia where they lived for a time. He and Elizabeth eventually returned to England where they died in Manble, Worcestershire). There were also sixty settlers (Bermuda was then called the Somers Isles). The latter were the first permanent settlers. The Plough arrived off St. David’s Head at about 10am. She slowly approached the island and entered the natural channel leading into St George’s Harbour as plotted out by Sir George Somers for the Deliverance and Patience a year and a half earlier. The captain almost immediately turned abruptly south into Smith’s Sound through Bremen Cut and anchored at the eastern end of Smith’s Sound — and just off the only visible beach in Smith’s Sound — at about 4pm. This historic beach is at Vaughn’s Bay Park. As such, it could navigate the shallow and narrow Bremen Cut into the Smith’s Sound anchorage. The Plough was similar in size and design to the Godspeed, which brought some of the first settlers to Jamestown in 1607. Bremen Cut is not a deep channel — it is fairly narrow and at low tide today is only seven feet deep — but Captain Davis, the Plough’s navigator, knew what he was doing — earlier, he had been well-briefed on the approach to Bermuda and where to rendezvous with Christopher Carter, Edward Chard and Edward Waters, the three men left behind on Bermuda earlier in 1611 when Mathew Somers had left Bermuda on the Patience with Sir George Somers’ body on board. Carter, Chard and Waters had concluded the vessel they saw approaching was English so launched their boat and rowed to the Plough to join the settlers for a great celebration. Carter, Chard and Waters had also written to say they would set up a camp near the channel to keep an eye out for any approaching ships. An inbound English ship may have been instructed to turn into Smiths Sound to distinguish it from a Spanish or other potentially hostile vessel. Davis probably had Sir George Somers’ map with him. Only two copies of this map survive — one in London and one in Bermuda Archives. Even before all the new arrivals from the Plough came ashore, from the greeting they got it was obvious they found these three English inhabitants, former fellow-passengers from the Sea Venture, not only alive and healthy, but well-provided with a great variety of food supplies. They heard with amazement how an acre of good corn was ripe and ready to be harvested, with other supplies readily available including a large number of pumpkins and Indian beans, as well as many tortoises trapped and ready, and a good supply of hog-meat salted and made into sides of bacon. The three had cultivated about an acre of garden there growing “Corne, great store of Wheate, Beanes, Tobacco and Mellon and many other good things for the use of man. Having arrived safely in Smith’s Sound, “in a very safe harbour near S Georges Iland” (originally Tortus Island) the Plough disembarked all its passengers at Vaughn’s Bay using her longboat. The new arrivals immediately “went to prayer” and commenced their service of thanksgiving. The sailors, in contrast, had noticed a large school of fish following the Plough in and got out their hooks and lines and caught more than enough to feed the entire complement of 60 people. They had earlier departed from their camp, likely located in the fertile (deep red soil) valley east of the escarpment that runs North to South at the narrow waist of the island. This site boasts good landing areas on the North and South sides of the island. The next day was the Sabbath, spent in prayer and rest, but on Monday they moved the Plough nearer to the harbour to be closer to Carter’s camp on Smith’s Island. After a few weeks on Smith’s Island and following “the ambergris affair”, the Plough left to return to England and Governor Richard Moore decided to move the settlers to the bigger island originally known as Tortus island, due to the many hilly humps on the Island. It was there that he established St George’s (earlier also called New London) and built the first dwellings and church in August, 1612. The first long-term dwellings were constructed there, initially of cedar wood and palmetto thatch. The newcomers discovered to their delight that the virgin soil soil produced a great variety of simples, many fine tall cedars, an innumerable number of palmettos, many mulberry trees and wild olives. This encouraged them later to "grow (as the first British colonists in the New World to do so) a fine quantity of white, red, and orange-coloured potatoes (originally from Peru) from seed brought earlier by the colonists from England, sugar cane, indigo, parsnips, very large radishes, American bread-fruit, cassava, Indian pumpkin, watermelons, musk melons, and the delicate pineapple, and in short, whatever else of this sort may be wanted to satisfy either necessity or pleasure. But beyond all the rest of the elements, the sea is found to be most abundantly generous to these islands. In it there are as many excellent fish and of as great a variety and most easily caught, as anywhere in the world. Plus, in terms of game, there was a good supply of many sorts of fowl, such as the grey and green plover, some ducks and mallards, red-shanks, sea wigeons, grey bitterns, cormorants, white and grey herons, a profusion of sparrows and robins, woodpeckers, and very many crows, who for a while were too bold in their wonder at the new sight of men, until many of them paid the price for their curiosity, consumed by the colonists." And the feral wild pigs, left by Spanish castaways, were abundant. Also found was a great deal of tobacco, which became a very successful export for Bermuda as it was high quality and attracted high prices.
Spanish feral hogs, a choice source of food for the newcomers.1612. For a number of decades from this date, St. George’s was most a village of timbered houses, thatched with palmetto, with the exception of the State House of 1621. They remained this way until the early 1700s when limestone was used instead. Governor Richard Moore decided that Paget Fort, on the island of that name, was the most important place to be defended. He had platforms for guns cut on the southeastern end of the island as this overlooked the entrance to the channel. (This appears to be below the present site of the fort). Among the settlers were the first swarms of bees, deliberately included. Bermuda was subsequently sold by the Virginia Company to the new Bermuda Company.
1612. In Virginia, John Rolfe, by then a tobacco farmer, was producing a crop of tobacco, either from from a Spanish plant that he had rescued from his sea chest when he and follow-colonists had survived shipwreck in Bermuda, or from tobacco he had found growing in Bermuda, planted there from Spanish survivors of ships wrecked off Bermuda reefs. He was producing tobacco at least as good as anything produced in Spain.
1612. Partly to help save the Jamestown settlement, Lord De La Warr and the Council issued the legal code "Laws Divine, Moral and Martial" (1612) which governed the colony until 1619. Much of this particular document was written by William Strachey, originally from Lyme Regis and also a Bermuda survivor. He had also written an excellent account of the voyage of the Sea Venture and how its passengers arrived safely from Bermuda in 1610. (His signet ring was found centuries later in Jamestown).
1612. The island of Bermuda now referred to as Cooper's Island was claimed by Christopher Carter in payment for his share of ambergris forfeited to the Bermuda Company. He spent years there digging in vain for what he thought was buried treasure.
1612. In Lyme Regis, Matthew Somers, troubled teen and protégé, who carted his uncle Sir George Somers body back to England to prove he was dead and thus claim his inheritance, had his claim disputed. Somers’s will left most of his property to Matthew, but a document dated this year revealed that Matthew’s older brother, Nicholas, was then in possession of most of the estate. Doubts had emerged about the authenticity of the will that Matthew produced.
1612. The first Government House was built. It stood on Water Street, St. George's, near the Town Square.
Government House Bermuda 1612 - sketch1612. The Town of St. George was established, with the assistance of the ship Elizabeth which arrived on her first visit, with 30 settlers.
1612. The foundations of the original St. Catherine's Fort in St. George's Parish were constructed, by order of Governor Richard Moore.
1612. December. An un-named ship arrived at Bermuda with 30 passengers and provisions.
1613. March. The first Governor of Bermuda, Richard Moore, was much occupied in raising a timber watchtower on a hill overtopping the town of St. George's to the westwards, to serve for the discovery of shipping upon the coast. From that tower, signals would be sent to the town below about sails on the horizon, reinforced one way or the other as soon as the ship was gleaned to be friend or foe. Signals have been continuously sent out from that hill, where Fort George (Harbour Radio) now stands, since then. It was originally called Rich's Mount (see graphic above) partly after the Governor of the time, and a single tower. It is the only military site in continuous occupation since the first days of the settlement of Bermuda in the late summer of 1612.
1613. April. In Virginia, Captain Samuel Argall (1580-1626) captured Pocahontas, daughter of the paramount chief Powhatan. Bargaining for the girl's return helped to end the war, although, in the end, she did not return to the Powhatans. Instead, a month after Gates's departure in 1614, she married John Rolfe.
1613. June. Smith's Fort, on Governor's Island in Bermuda, approved in 1612, was completed, to repel Spanish and other enemy ships.
Smith's Fort remnants1613. June. The ship Martha arrived at Bermuda with 60 settlers.
1613. Bermuda Hundred, named after the island of Bermuda, was established near Jamestown as the first administrative division in the English colony of Virginia. It was founded by Sir Thomas Dale, six years after Jamestown. At the southwestern edge of the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers opposite City Point, (annexed to Hopewell, Virginia in 1923), Bermuda Hundred was a port town for many years. The terminology "Bermuda Hundred" also included a large area adjacent to the town. In the colonial era, "hundreds" were large developments of many acres, arising from the English term to define an area which would support 100 homesteads. The port at the town of Bermuda Hundred was intended to serve other "hundreds" in addition to Bermuda Hundred. The area of the peninsula between the James and Appomattox Rivers on which Bermuda Hundred is located was part of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign during the American Civil War (1861–1865). No longer a shipping port, Bermuda Hundred is now a small community in the southeastern portion of Chesterfield County, Virginia.
1613. The ship Elizabeth arrived with 40 settlers on her second visit.
1613. The book "A Plaine Description of the Barmudas now called Sommer Ilands" was published. Authors were William Crashaw and Silvester D. Jourdain, a passenger on the Sea Venture. 51 pages. The second book written about Bermuda. Whittingham, London.
1613. Just before Christmas Richard Norwood (1590-1675) arrived in the Somers Isles (Bermuda). His grandfather was the Usher at Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire, England where Richard too was a pupil. The school still exists. His advice had been very helpful to the captain when the ship they were on went aground on one of the outer reefs. It was only a year and a half after the first boatload of settlers which included Bermuda’s first governor, Richard Moore. Norwood had been sent to the islands as a “technical specialist”, meaning that he had been hired as a pearl diver in search of what proved to be Bermuda’s non-existent pearls. When that job fizzled out, it was sheer chance that launched him on a career that would give him a very special place in Bermuda’s history as its first map maker and surveyor. He was a man of exceptional ability in those occupations, as well as in the many other pursuits in which he engaged during his long lifetime. Norwood had already distinguished himself as a mariner, navigator, and diver and would later prove his genius as a mathematician, textbook writer, schoolmaster and historian, as well as surveyor and map-maker. He had many other interests, too, such as nature and religion and in 1638 wrote a journal of his early life. Its detail and clarity have proved invaluable for historians. The original document, passed down through generations of his descendants, is now in the Bermuda Archives. In 1945 the Bermuda Historical Monument Trust had the journal published. The pearl-diving eventually came to nothing, and he then commenced a survey of the coastline for Governor Moore and Governor Daniel Tucker. The ancient record says: ‘’The first tribe to the Eastward was then called Bedford Tribe, now Hamilton's [i.e. Hamilton Tribe or Parish, not the City of Hamilton]; the second, Smith’s Tribe; the third, Cavendish, now Devonshire; the fourth, Pembrook's; the fifth, Paget's; the sixth, Mansils, now Warwick's; the seventh, Southampton; the eighth, Sandys.’ The persons whose names have been perpetuated were: James Hamilton, second Marquis of Hamilton; Sir Tomas Smith or Smythe; William Cavendish, first Earl of Devonshire; William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke; William Paget, fourth Lord Paget; Robert Rich, second Earl of Warwick; Henry Wriothesley (pronounced ‘Rocksley’) third Earl of Southampton; and lastly (the farthest west) – Sir Edwin Sandys.’’ Norwood had the help of Charles Caldicott. There were some 120 islands to be surveyed, all densely covered with cedar forests and without roads. The final survey, begun in the summer of 1616, was completed by May 1617. The resulting map, published in London in 1622, five years after Norwood’s return to England, was engraved by several cartographers (including John Speed in 1631, Abraham Goos 1626 and Hondius). It still serves as the basis of all land tenure to the present day. Before Richard Norwood sailed for England with all the data for his map in May 1617, he was involved in what became known as the scandal of the overplus. The fact was, Governor Tucker was due three shares from the Company; if the survey had continued straight ahead from east to west inevitably the expected overplus, the Governor’s perquisite, would fall at the extreme west end. But at a middle stage of the work, the Governor suddenly ordered Norwood to begin working from Sandys eastward, the reason given being that the rats had not yet attacked that part which therefore could easily be laid out. Norwood complied. The overplus which he had correctly anticipated, now fell in a specially luscious vale between Southampton and Sandys which Tucker immediately claimed as his bonus. Feelings ran high and when, undeterred, the Governor proceeded to build himself a fine house on this 200 acres the Rev Lewis Hughes denounced him bitterly as building a ‘flauntinge’ cedar mansion for himself while leaving ‘Gods house...but a thacht hovell.’ Even the Somers Island Company in London seemed likely to deprive the retiring Governor of the overplus and the house built at their expense. But in his last term of office he managed to send a huge consignment of tobacco from Bermuda, and appeared himself in London to state his own case. The result was that he retained the by then famous house (on the property later designated The Grove) and a little less than half the overplus property – a large and beautiful slice of land. Norwood was innocent of any complicity in the overplus plot, if plot there had been. He remained away from Bermuda for twenty years during which time he wrote several learned books on trigonometry, on navigation, on fortifications – books which went through many editions and continued being published for over half a century.
1614. March. After having sailed in February 1614 from Santo Domingo bound for Spain with a fleet of three naos, Captain Domingo de Ulivarri took the best route north with the Gulf Stream into the latitude of Bermuda, from where the east-blowing trade winds would sweep the fleet home to southern Europe. Spanish captains were under orders to check out the settlement at Bermuda, because it was close to the direct sea lane to Europe through which Spanish treasure ships passed and Spain wanted both the ships and the route to remain in Spanish hands. A few weeks out, one of the naos sprang a leak and was abandoned, the complement transferred to the other two vessels. The actions of Captain de Ulivarri that occurred thereafter at Bermuda were recorded in a contemporary report. On 14 March at the 33rd latitude, they woke and found their ships three leagues south of the islands of Bermuda. The captain, knowing that His Majesty in Spain desired to know about the English colony, was determined to reconnoiter it. He approached the island from the south until he was in eight fathoms of water. Smoke was spotted on the island and immediately turning towards it, it was found to be emanating from two forts about 100 paces apart. One appeared to be built of mortar and stone and the other of wood. They saw people going from one to the other wielding artillery. There were ten to twelve pieces in both forts. One of the ships sailed into the [Castle] harbour. Thinking the visitors English, the colonists put out in a small boat, stopped a musket shot away, and refused to board. When they recognized the ship to be Spanish, the forts fired. The launches that put out to them were newly built and, they judged, of native wood, because it had very red oars of cedar, which is plentiful on that island. From a Bermudian report, Governor Moore, 'who was a very good gunner', blasted off two cannonballs from the King's Castle fort on Castle Island, one passing 'through and through' one of the ships, which turned tail and departed for Spain. The irony was that there was only one cannonball left in reserve and in firing the others, the good gunners spilled the only cask of gunpowder under the gun. The de Ulivarri account is positive proof of the presence of masonry fortifications at Bermuda from the earliest days of settlement. This was how the only shots ever fired in anger from Bermuda were sent whistling seaward on that date. Those shots across the bows of the two Spanish vessels became a legend in the early history of Bermuda.
1614. March 6, the ships Blessing, with 100 passengers and the Starre with 180 new immigrants arrived in Bermuda. The Governor took their names and immediately put them all to work on his projects' including the King's Castle.
1614. The ship Margaret arrived from England along with two frigates bringing the surveyor Bartlet and others.
1614. May 24, in Virginia, colonist John Rolfe - once a castaway in Bermuda and a widower, whose wife and child Bermuda has died in Bermuda - married Indian Princess Pocahontas in the first known inter-racial marriage, possibly for political reasons but also as a love-match. Rolfe was born in Heacham, Norfolk, England as the son of John Rolfe and Dorothea Mason, and was baptized on May 6, 1585. Later, he and Pocahontas had a child, Thomas Rolfe.
An imagined portrait of John Rolfe and Pocahontas.1614. June 28. John Rolfe of Jamestown, earlier of Bermuda, by then married to Pocahontas for only about a month, shipped the first tobacco from Virginia to England. At the time, Spain held a virtual monopoly on the lucrative tobacco trade. Most Spanish colonies in the New World were located in southern climates more favorable to tobacco growth than the English settlements, notably Jamestown. As the consumption of tobacco had increased, the balance of trade between England and Spain began to be seriously affected. Rolfe was one of a number of businessmen who saw the opportunity to undercut Spanish imports by growing tobacco in England's new colony at Jamestown, in Virginia. Rolfe had somehow obtained seeds to take with him from a special popular strain then being grown in Trinidad and South America, even though Spain had declared a penalty of death to anyone selling such seeds to a non-Spaniard.
1614. A map of Bermuda (see below) was produced by Captain John Smith.
Captain John Smith's 1614 map of Bermuda1614. November 23, the Virginia Company formally surrendered Bermuda to the Crown. It figured Bermuda was a poor investment. In a 1611 accounting, all of Bermuda was then deemed to be worth only £2,000. Bermuda became the first legal offshore colony of Britain.
1615. The ship Welcome took away Governor Moore and left provisions.
1615. The ship Edwin arrived bringing supplies.
1615. June 28. Bermuda, also known as the Somers Isles (after Admiral Somers), was transferred to a new company formed by the same shareholders, the Somers Isles Company, (which oversaw it until 1684, when the Crown revoked the company's charter.
1615. June 29. Somer Islands Company Charter of James I came officially into force. Its official title incorporated shareholders under the Governor and Company of the City of London for the Plantation of the Somers Islands, namely the Bermuda Company. This separate and autonomous Company, formed by 118 English investors who were shareholders of the Virginia Company, took over, for £2,000 the Charter formerly held by the Virginia Company, under a charter granted by King James for the Plantation of the Somers Isles and under his command. Its purpose was to develop Bermuda as a profit-making enterprise.
1615 Coat of Arms of the Bermuda Company
1615. June 20. Hogge money was created uniquely for Bermuda. Having no available currency, the Bermuda colonists had resorted to using tobacco as legal tender, as had been done in Virginia. However, on this day in order to encourage commerce, King James I of England and VI of Scotland granted the colony (then considered a plantation) permission to produce coinage. The first of the "hogge money" coins - so called because they featured an image of a Bermuda hog - was issued in Bermuda (then called the Somers Islands) as the earliest of all British colonial coins. It is believed they are also the only coins ever to feature hogs or pigs. The hogs had been found running wild and easy to catch by the 1609 colonists and were a major source of meat. It was believed they had been deliberately dumped overboard alive by Portuguese or Spanish mariners using these islands first sighted by the Spaniard Juan de Bermudez but then uninhabited, en route to the Spanish Main Caribbean Islands, Mexico and South America, to swim ashore and become food for the mariners in the event of a shipwreck.. The governor of the islands, Richard Tucker, arranged for an English mint in London to produce the coinage and send them to Bermuda. To keep the coins from being exported out of the islands they were intentionally made in a crude fashion from a low-grade, brassy copper. Their appearance was enhanced by a thin wash of silver (which unfortunately did not hold up well in the salty Bermuda environment). Made in denominations of two, three, six, and twelve pence, the obverse showed a hog with the denomination in roman numerals above the animal and the legend "SOMMER ISLANDS" within two circles of beads (the two pence and three pence coins have only a single circle of beads and lack the legend). The reverse displayed a ship, the Sea Venture, with a single circle of beads around the border and no legend (the two and three pence denominations had an S to the left of the ship and an I to the right for Sommer Islands). There were also a shilling with either large or small sails and sixpence varieties with either large or small portholes. There were small "secret" marks visible on the obverse under the hog, probably identification marks of the diemaker. These marks are as follows: on the shilling, a single pellet between the front and rear feet; on the sixpence a diamond shaped group of pellets between the front and rear legs; on the three pence four pellets in a square with another pellet in the center, this design is found in front of the forefeet; and on the two pence a star between the front and rear legs. The two pence came in two varieties, one being distinguished by a larger star and also having the second I in the denomination II being lower that the first, with the other variety having a smaller star and the II in the denomination being of equal height. It was once thought these crude coins were produced using the hammer strike method. However, they may have been made on a roller press. The Sommer Islands tokens were the first English coinage made for use in the Americas. The weight/value ratio of the coins was based on a weight of tobacco, not the weight of the metal, thus the metal content was far below the stated value on the coin. These crude, light weight coins were not well received and went out of use by 1624. After their experience with this so-called "Hogge money," Bermuda did not have another coin of its own until the 1793 copper penny which was produced in Birmingham at Boulton's Soho Mint. After 1793, no other coins were produced in Bermuda until the commemorative crowns of 1959 and 1964. It was not until 1970, with the introduction of decimal system in the United Kingdom, that Bermuda began regularly minting coins. Interestingly, the current Bermuda cent coin depicts a hog on the reverse. Before the 1960's few Hogge coins were known to have survived. However, with the widespread use of metal detectors in the past few decades, about fifty additional examples of Hogge coins have been uncovered in Bermuda, but most are in very poor condition. Very few readable examples are extant.
Hogge money coins of Bermuda from 1615. The bottom photos show the sixpenny piece, shown as the Roman numeral VI, front and rear.1615-17. After he arrived in 1616, Richard Norwood used a canoe to go from place to place in Bermuda to survey the islands before preparing his detailed pap of Bermuda. He also brought with him to Bermuda a diving bell for pearl diving and wreck salvage.
1615. Captain John Smith was imprisoned by French pirates but survived.
1616. In Bermuda, the first General Assizes were held, at St. George's. Bermuda was divided into shares and tribes (parishes) by surveyor Richard Norwood. Each parish was named after investors in the Bermuda Company.
1616. Cassava: was introduced to Bermuda by colonists (and was the principal export in 1868–1869).
1616. On her second visit, the ship Edwin brought "many" passengers including the first Indian and first black man and proceeded to the West Indies, returning from there in the same year.
1616. April 23. Death of famous English poet, playwright and actor William Shakespeare whose fictional Tempest was based on the story of the English colonization of Bermuda.
1616. May. The ship George brought Captain Daniel Tucker and others, and returned to England.
1616. The ship Sea Flower with Captain Gardener arrived. She arrived again in 1619, bringing a preacher, and proceeding for Virginia. She is again mentioned in 1632 with John Rose master.
1616. Daniel Tucker was sent out by this company as the first Governor under the new charter. He succeeded Moore and ruled Bermuda with an iron fist. He was known to hang people who disagreed with him. He also ensured the construction of another battery below and in front of the original semi-circular platform, on Paget Island. He caused the islands to be surveyed, dividing them into eight tribes, and public lands. These tribes, or proportional parts, assigned to each charter member, were for the most part what are the present-day parishes, being Sandys, to Sir Edwin Sandys; Southampton, to the Earl of Southampton; Paget, to William, Lord Paget; Smith's, to Sir Thomas Smith; Pembroke, to the Earl of Pembroke; Bedford, now Hamilton Parish, to the Countess of Bedford; Cavendish, now Devonshire, to Lord William Cavendish; Mansil's' now Warwick, to Sir Robert Mansil; St. George's, St. David's and adjacent small islands were public lands. The tribes were subdivided into fifty shares of twenty-five acres each. Norwood's second map showing these tribes and shares is the basis of land titles in Bermuda today. Governor Tucker's rule was harsh. The colonists included many criminals and convicts from English jails, so a merciless discipline seemed to him necessary. The severest penalties were enforced, executions, brandings and whippings were frequent. Negro slaves were introduced from Virginia in the endeavor to make money for the proprietors. Progress was made in building the town of St. George. Roads and fortifications were constructed and the land planted with tobacco and semi-tropical fruits.
1616. August. The English ship Edwin sailed back to Bermuda after a voyage from Africa via the Bahamas in the Caribbean. In addition to plantains, figs and other fruit it brought the first slaves, one Indian and one black man. They were brought to Bermuda by Captain George Bargrave on the instructions of new Governor Daniel Tucker to bring what he could find in slaves, plants and more. The newcomers were destined to have a particular purpose afer they had been observed fishing and pearl diving in the sea with extreme skill. It was believed there was money to be made harvesting pearls off the coast. As it proved unsuccessful, they were put to work planting and harvesting the initial large crops of tobacco and sugar cane the ship brought.
1616. The ship Hopewell with Captain Powell arrived with passengers and proceeded to the West Indies. She returned with 3 prizes in 1617.
1616. Because of the popularity of the fast-dwindling cahow of Bermuda as a source of food for the colonists, a law was enacted to protect them and other species. It was the earliest known conservation law in the New World.
1616. Bees were first imported to Bermuda, from England. They were sent by Sir Nathaniel Rich from the UK to his brother, Robert Rich.
1616. Hog or Hogge Money - Bermuda's first minted currency and first coinage for any overseas British colony, earliest of all British colonial currencies - was created in London by the Bermuda Company and circulated until 1624. They were "Summers" coins, not notes. They were named after the wild feral Spanish hog found by the first colonists, dropped off ships. They were left to swim ashore by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century. The coins included a six pence, two pence, three pence and a shilling. In 2019 Only eight of the three pence coins are known to exist and half of them are held by private collectors. The coins are prized by collectors because of their rarity. A Somers Island sixpence sold at auction in New York for $70,500 in 2015. Hogge money was introduced four years after deliberate settlement began in 1612 under the leadership of Daniel Tucker, who was appointed by the Bermuda Company. Brass coinage with a thin silver coat was created in denominations of two pence, three pence, sixpence and a shilling, with Roman numerals used for values. But tobacco remained the main medium of exchange for larger transactions.
Bermuda feral hogs. From them came Hog or Hogge Money.1616. June 3. John Rolfe, one of the earliest Bermuda colonists in 1609, who went to Virginia in 1610 and his Virginian wife Pocahontas (then Rebecca) arrived in London.
1616. The Virginia Company began the headright system by giving 50 acres to anyone who paid the fare and an 50 additional acres to each person brought with him.
1616. Port Royal Church in Southampton Parish was first built. It survives today at St. Anne's Church.
1617. March 17. Pocahontas, whose husband John Rolfe had been one of the original Bermuda colonists, and whose first wife died in Bermuda, died in Gravesend, England. There is a statue there commemorating her time in England.
The first cargo of Virginia grown tobacco reached England.
1617. Slaves were first mentioned in Bermuda records. African and American Indian slaves brought to the islands by early settlers were unofficially counted and were found to outnumber white settlers.
1617. One of the earliest homes that began construction was a house called The Grange, in Southampton (on a part of what is now the Port Royal Golf Course) former fairway at the golf course. It was the home of Bermuda's second Governor Daniel Tucker. (Also see 1618)
1617. September 29. The death, in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, of Joanne Raymond of Sussex, wife of William Raymond. But it was as Joane Somers, widowed wife of Admiral Sir George Somers who discovered Bermuda, that she had earlier fame. She was childless with both husbands.
1617. In Bermuda under Governor Daniel Tucker, five men including James Barker were so fed up with his attitude that they stole a boat and rowed to Ireland and freedom.
1617. October 29. Sir Walter Raleigh was executed for treason at the Tower of London.
1617. Bermuda was divided into twenty five acre strips of shares by surveyor Richard Norwood in his survey.
1618. May. The Indian chief Powhatan died.
1618. After Governor Daniel Tucker had begun constructing his timbered dream house, "The Grange", at the Overplus in Southampton, courtesy of the public purse, labour was dragooned into service. Some men were set to work to dig cellars, others to burn lime and make mortar, others to make shingles.
1618. In the division of land that occurred, the parish of St. George’s was reserved for the use of the governor, his ministers and the military garrison.
1618. June 18. Sir James Lancaster died in England. He was a merchant adventurer who knew Admiral Sir George Somers well and often sailed with him.
1618. In Jamestown, the "Great Migration" until 1623 increased the population from 400 to 4,400. But most died from disease, starvation or Indian attack.
1618. A Flemish or Dutch ship went aground and sank off what is now Wreck Hill in Sandys Parish (then Flemish Hill) on the northernmost tip of the Main Island of Bermuda. According to the late Bermudian author Terry Tucker in her book "Bermuda: Today and Yesterday" a messenger told the governor (one of the six temporary governors of the time whose neglect and self-interest were pushing Bermuda into a state of decline) the Dutch ship had an abundance of treasure. In fact there was just £20, which the governor pocketed. So began the Bermudian tradition of salvaging ships. The captain of the ship was John Powell, once considered a notorious Caribbean pirate. The buccaneer ship had legal status as a privateer. It had sailed against the Spanish under a Letter of Marque by the Dutch prince Maurice of Orange, so was technically not a Flemish ship but a Dutch one. The British Government did not like the presence of Powell in St. George's, Bermuda so Governor Miles Kendall banished him to what is now Ireland Island. It was from there that Powell and crew tried to build a new ship. Powell is alleged to have earlier captured, likely from a Spanish ship, a group of African slaves. As his involuntary crew members, he made them help in his ship-building efforts. (In 1625, he achieved a claim to fame as the European discover of Barbados, with his brother Henry Powell. Barbados had earlier been deserted by Carib Indians).
1618. The ship Neptune was sent to Bermuda for the purpose of whale fishing.
1618. The ship Diana was the first magazine ship to arrive in Bermuda and took away 30,000 lbs of tobacco.
1619. The ship Garland left London bound for Virginia but ended up in Bermuda - then the Somer's Islands - where she was seized.
1619. July 30. In Jamestown, Virginia, seven years after a similar event occured in Bermuda on July 12, 1612, the first legislative assembly of what would later become the United States of America met, then known as the House of Burgesses. (Some American historians have later said, wrongly, it was the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World).
1619. The ship Giliflower arrived in St. George's, Bermuda with supplies.
1619. The privateer ship Treasurer arrived in Bermuda from Virginia, with Africans brought via Jamestown by Captain Daniel Elfrith (sic?). It was reported that acting Governor Miles Kendall had about 29 Africans from that ship locked up because he believed they were stolen from a Spanish ship in the West Indies. It was later discovered they came originally from Angola. Those who arrived in Jamestown on this ship were the first black African slaves to be imported to the USA. Historians have claimed that Angolan people were stolen from Spanish traders and delivered to Virginia and Bermuda. They were captured during warfare in their home country and placed in the São João Bautista, a Portuguese slave ship bound for the Spanish colony of Vera Cruz in modern-day Mexico. That vessel was attacked by the White Lion and the Treasurer, English privateers, which went to Jamestown and traded Africans for provisions. The Treasurer continued on to Bermuda, where more slaves were landed. Between 1616 and 1619, Bermuda quickly surpassed Virginia in importance to the Crown, and by 1622, Bermuda’s population was greater even though it had only been colonized a decade earlier.
1619. Jacob Jacobson, a shipwright from Holland, was wrecked off Bermuda but swam to shore and began a boat-building tradition by building several large boats for Bermuda's third Governor, Butler, for the defence of Bermuda.
1619. October. One of the early Bermuda forts was made of wood and burnt to the ground.
1619. Sugar Cane was introduced and later exported to Virginia, but the ground was said to be too rocky and there was more interest in tobacco farming.
1619. The first civilian stone structure to be commenced in Bermuda was the State House in St. George's.
1619. Governor Nathaniel Butler, soon after he arrived, wrote an account of how he found Sir George Somers’s cross neglected “in a by-place, all overgrown with bushes and rubbish.” The wooden cross had been located at the intersection of present-day Duke of York and Duke of Kent Streets, the roads forking at the tomb. Deciding “so noble a gentleman deserved” better, Butler fashioned “a small monumental tomb” three feet high, using a handsome marble stone imported from England. Butler also composed an epitaph, which he had engraved on a brass plate set into the stone: "In the year 1611, Noble Sir George Somers went hence to Heaven, Whose well tried worth, that held him still employed Gave him the knowledge of the world so wide, Hence ’twas by Heaven’s decree that to this place He brought new guests and name to mutual grace. At last his soul and body being to part, He here bequeathed his entrails and his heart. "Neither accurate nor elegant, Butler’s words and his tomb endured for at least two centuries.
1619. Governor Nathaniel Butler built a new platform at forts on Paget and nearby Smith's Islands. Although periodic repairs were attempted during the next century, none lasted.
1619. November 16-19. Like many ships that made it to Bermuda from England at that time the ship Garland was waylaid by a storm or blown off course and took months to reach the island. All such ships brought goods not generally available locally for the settlers, plus gunpowder and guns for the defence of the island, in particular to hold it against a Spanish attack. Life for the sailors was precarious at sea and because Bermuda was in the track of hurricanes, ships were often endangered, along with their cargoes, as they sat at anchor, usually in Castle Harbour. The Garland had left England eight weeks before the Warwick brought the new governor Nathaniel Butler and had arrived on October 20, 1619 but unlike the Warwick had been overdue for some weeks. She had been delayed by bad weather, and was forced to the southward, where the ship and her crew had laid beating against the wind for so long that their water supply was almost gone, and a great many of her passengers and seamen sick or dead. For these three days, the Garland and the Warwick rode at anchor in Castle Harbour, awaiting loading of cargo, mainly tobacco. Then a late hurricane occurred that caused the Garland to cut down her mainmast. The Warwick fared much worse. Moored not far from the Garland, the Warwick slipped all her anchors, was driven onto the rocks, and was completely wrecked. Governor Butler managed to raise some guns from the shipwreck for the forts and in the late spring went back to the site, with little military success. Some floating barrels of beer were taken out of the hold, but only after a lot of trouble; some of these were in much better condition than was expected, even though they had lain under water for almost six months. More guns were taken out of the wreck of the Warwick in ensuing years while Warwick slowly rotted away, until all that was left, under a pile of ballast, was a section of the starboard side of the vessel, preserved when the wreck rolled onto its right side. Governor Nathaniel Butler recorded the sinking of the Warwick in which he himself had traveled to Bermuda six weeks earlier. She was the “magazine” ship of Robert Rich, the Earl of Warwick, one of the major shareholders of the Bermuda Company. The Warwick had a noble purpose, to take supplies from Bermuda to Jamestown, Virginia. Governor Butler became heavily engaged not only in the salvaging of the Warwick but also what remained of the Sea Venture ship. (To the huge surprise of scientists several hundred years later, they dug up the Warwickand discovered she had been armed to the teeth, far too heavily armed for a mere supply ship. Her remains are still there, reburied in the sand. She was one of the newest and most technologically advanced ships of her era).
1620. Sir Thomas Smith (Smythe) resigned as Treasurer of the Virginia Company after being challenged by his rival Sir Duncan Sandys.
1620. August 1. The first Bermuda Parliament was held at St. Peter's Church in St. George's, the site of the colony’s first settlement, in response to explicit instructions from the Bermuda Company. It was the only building then in Bermuda large enough to accommodate the parliamentarians. The Parliament was convened here in Bermuda's first capital by then-Governor Nathaniel Butler, who had assumed office in 1619, in compliance with instructions from the Somers Island Company directing him to summon a General Assembly which was to include two representatives ("the ablest and best understanding men") from each of the eight Tribes into which the colony was divided after Richard Norwood, commissioned by the Bermuda Company, completed his first survey of the islands. The Governor presided over an Executive Council which ruled the country in consultation with the House of Assembly. The representatives on this occasion were selected by “voice vote” (open balloting) by male landowners. This was the first example locally of an election franchise for seats in Bermuda’s Legislature which was then restricted to males and which was property-based. In Governor Butler's opening speech he reminded members of their duty to God, their allegiance to the King and of the folly of "choosing and electing your own Governor here." The Gavel which is still used in Parliament, was constructed from a cedar tree in St. Peter's Church courtyard, it is inscribed with the words, "This Gavel and Base was made from the Cedar Tree under which the First Assembly met at St. George 1st August 1620."
1620. Matthew Somers, still without money and having had his inheritance claim denied in Lyme Regis after having brought the body of his uncle Sir George Somers back to Lyme Regis from Bermuda, approached the Virginia Company court, claiming that his uncle had invested £1,100 in Virginia and asking for it back. A quick check of the company accounts revealed that the actual figure was £470; the company gave no refunds, but Matthew could obtain a dividend of land in Virginia instead. Four months later, Somers promised to transport 100 settlers to Virginia, but asked for £200 in advance “in regard to the personal worth and merit of Sir George Somers.” This attempt to bank on his late uncle’s fame drew a refusal and aroused suspicion. The Virginia Company thereafter referred to Matthew as Sir George’s “pretended” heir.
1620. Work began on the construction of a Town Hall (Sessions House or State House) in St. George’s. The building, the first administrative structure in Bermuda constructed entirely of stone and now referred to as the State House, served (after completion three years later) as the meeting place for Parliament on numerous occasions until 1815.
1620. By Royal Assent, Bermuda was granted limited self-government.
1620. The ship Treasurer was a wreck lying in a Bermuda creek. Governor Nathaniel Butler salvaged some guns from her that year and erected them on the Smith's and Paget Island forts. The ship's end was recorded by Captain John Smith in 1624.
1620. Under what were possibly the first conservation laws in the New World, turtles - referred to as young tortoises - in Bermuda were protected by an act of the local parliament. It became illegal locally to kill them.
1620. The State House, otherwise known as the Town Hall or Sessions House, in St. George's, commenced in 1619, was completed and opened.
1620. St. Peter's Church in St. George's was built - and equipped with the famous "Dole cupboard."
1620. Governor Butler of Bermuda employed Dutch shipwright Jacob Jacobson to instruct settlers in boat building. Thanks to him, Bermudians were first taught ship building skills. It has long been thought that Jacobson was the originator behind the Bermuda rig.
1620. Governor Butler’s Fifth Act in his General Assembly of 1620 ordered the “construction of certain public bridges and their maintenance,” essential for footpaths allowing people to gather on public occasions.
1620. After being toppled by a hurricane, Moore's Mount was rebuilt just after Easter by Governor Butler as a triangular work. This tower, being absolutely finished and perfected . . . hath already stood stiffly in many a terrible storm, without the least damage that can be discerned and may be hoped to do so in many more, was given the new name of Rich's Mount.
1620. The creation of Maine, by Sir Ferdinando Gorges in 1639 (until its merger with Massachusetts in 1791, before it again became a separate state later); North Carolina by eight noblemen in 1663; first North then South Carolina, again by eight noblemen, from 1663; New York, by the Duke of York in 1664; New Jersey, by Berkeley and Cartaret in 1664; Pennsylvania, by William Penn in 1681; and Georgia, by James Oglethorpe in 1732.
1621. Potatoes arrived in the British Colonies when the Governor of Bermuda, Nathaniel Butler, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Governor Francis Wyatt of Virginia at Jamestown. (The first permanent potato patches in North America were established in 1719, most likely near Londonderry (Derry), NH, by Scotch-Irish immigrants. From there, the crop spread across the country).
1621. The Spanish vessel San Antonio was wrecked off a Bermuda reef. Local divers retrieved a spice jar from the Ming Dynasty (1583-1620).
1621. Construction in St. George's, on Princess Street, of the State House, now a major Bermuda landmark. It was built by Governor Nathaniel Butler, constructed nine years after the first stone-built military property in Bermuda, Paget Fort on Castle Island. It was constructed specifically but not solely to serve more appropriately (instead of at St. Peter's Church as before, from 1620) as the meeting place of local parliamentarians. The State House's design is unique in Bermuda, it was constructed with Bermuda limestone rock and the mortar that was used was lemon and turtle oil from turtles caught by the colonists. The parliamentarians met here until 1815 when Parliament moved to Hamilton. The Governor also wanted to encourage others to build in masonry. Part of his idea was to stop using scarce cedar timber for houses, for there was an inexhaustible supply of stone, and of limestone which would not burn easily as wood did. It is now administered by the Old State House Preservation Society. It's design was perhaps influenced by the Italianate style introduced to England by Inigo Jones from about 1610. Except that an Italian flat roof proved to be completely the wrong idea for Bermuda's porous native limestone building material. Various changes had to be made from a flat roof to a hip roof. It was rebuilt yet again, this time with a flat roof once more, from the level of its downstairs windows in 1969 using John Smith's engraving as evidence and with technical overseas assistance. It later became a Freemasons Lodge but is open to the public. It was the first stone-built civilian property in Bermuda and one of the oldest standing stone structures erected by English colonists in the New World. Its flat roof is not original, a reconstruction of the original flat roof from Gunpowder was stored in this building for more than a century and a half, until 1767. During the American Revolution, British troops from New York and South Carolina were quartered here from September to December 1780. From the time of Governor Butler until the capital of Bermuda was moved to Hamilton in 1815, it was also referred to as the Sessions House - as the seat of the local parliament and Courthouse, where legal justice was dispensed. Today, it is leased by the Government of Bermuda to the prominent Masonic Lodge St. George No. 200 of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, for the annual rent of one peppercorn.
1621. Southampton Fort, on Brangman's Island, St. George's Parish, near and opposite Castle Island, approved in 1620, was completed.
Southampton Fort, Brangman's Island, completed 16211621. The Virginia Company gave a tract of land in what is now Chesterfield County to the shareholders of The Bermuda Company in compensation for the small area of Bermuda they bought in 1612.
1621. June 21. Death of William Strachey, one of the original Bermuda castaways in 1609 who went to Jamestown to receive prominence and write laws. He was one of the principal authors of the document that described the tempest off the Azores, arrival in Bermuda and eventual arrival in Jamestown. He returned to London and was a writer before he died. (His signet ring was found in Jamestown in 1999).
1621. July. From unsubstantiated local rumors, Bermuda colonists were led to believe that Spain, which had earlier declared its hostility to British colonization of the entire North American and Caribbean area, had invaded the island. A messenger had in apparent great urgency informed Governor Nathaniel Butler that 100 Spaniards had landed in Sandys' tribe with a large number of Spanish ships seen at sea. With the seat of government at the eastern end in St George's, and with the alleged invasion in the western end, immediate verification was not possible. Governor Butler ordered all forts placed on alert and sent a contingent of men to Sandys Tribe to investigate. Instead of finding a Spanish force braced for attack, the contingent came upon a weary, distressed and altogether emaciated band of Portuguese and Spaniards who had been caught in a storm and shipwrecked off Bermuda.
1621. December. The Governor of Bermuda sent two cedar chests to Virginia with various agricultural products grown in Bermuda contained in them. One contained the first potato seen by colonists in Jamestown. It originated in Peru. It apparently went from Peru to Europe. The history of the Jamestown colonists has proven they did not have or grow potatoes before 1612, there was no trade at that time between Jamestown and Peru and that they did in fact get their first shipment from the British colonists sent from the UK to Bermuda. This does not claim this is how the American white and sweet potato started, it merely says and has been proved that the first shipment of potatoes in Jamestown came from Bermuda).
1621-1627. In Bermuda, nine churches were constructed of wood, plaster and palmetto thatch.
1622. The laws of the Bermuda Company were promulgated, outlining, inter alia, the roles and status of the Governor, the Governor’s Council and the elected Assembly. Included in these laws was a stipulation that each of the eight tribes (parishes) was to elect four members to the Assembly, while the occupiers of the general lands (i.e. the lands which were held by the Bermuda Company) were entitled to choose eight individuals, bringing the total complement of elected representatives to forty. The main functions of the Assembly were to formulate and pass legislation (which was not to be contrary to the laws of Britain and which could be vetoed by the Governor and his Council, acting on behalf of the Bermuda Company) and to manage the finances of the colony, the latter prerogative specified in Law 143 and worded as follows: “The Governour shall not lay any taxes or Impositions upon the Lands in the Summer Ilands; or upon the people or Commodities, otherwise then by the authority of the generall Assembly; to be levied and imployed as the said Assembly shall appoynt.” There is also a reference in Law 120 to the Secretary’s role. Apart from his many other responsibilities outside of Parliament, his main functions were outlined as follows- “The Secretary shall also in all Generall Assemblies, hold the place of Speaker; and have care that all things proceed and passe in due order; and shall keepe a Register Booke of all the Acts there passed being first signed by the Governor and Councell present.”
1622. May. A small barque cleared Bermuda bound for Jamestown, Virginia, and her ballast was limestone, possibly indicating that stone was being cut or quarried for export for building or burning into lime.
1622. On March 22 a Powhatan Indian attack killed 347 colonists in Jamestown and began a war that lasted a decade. On April 18, Sir Richard Hawkins died in England. On December 20 the Abigail arrived in Jamestown with no food and an infectious load of passengers. Plague and starvation reduced the colony to 500 persons. They held out hope for the arrival of the Seaflower.
1622. A map was published by Blaeu of Holland showing how Bermuda was divided into twenty five acre strips of shares by surveyor Richard Norwood in his survey of 1615 to 1617.
1622. Having obtained no money from the Virginia Company, Matthew Somers petitioned King James in 1622. He was then heavily in debt. He claimed that The Virginia Company’s “injustice and oppression” had forced him to seek compensation for his uncle’s “discovery” of Bermuda from the crown. By casting Carter, Waters and Chard as his uncle’s agents, his petition asked King James to grant him (as Sir George’s heir) a share of the enormous lump of ambergris the men had discovered, which he claimed was worth £12,000. The cash-strapped Virginia Company had rebutted each of Matthew’s points. Sir George, they stated, was a company employee in 1609; anything he discovered belonged to the investors who employed him. Two years later, rebuffed by the Crown, Matthew, still in prison for debt, asked for his half of the £470 that the Virginia Company admitted Sir George had invested. The company told him that the investment belonged to Nicholas Somers, the “right heir”; Nicholas was two years Matthew’s senior, and primogeniture in intestate cases bestowed all of Sir George’s assets upon him. Matthew again got nothing.
1622-1623. Richard Norwood produced his Survey of the Land and Landholder’s of Bermuda. It was "An accompt of the Generall Lands belonging to the Somer Islands taken out of Mr Richard Norwood’s survey booke by him made in the yeares 1662, 1663." Richard Norwood completed two surveys for the Somer Islands Company (als Bermuda Company). Born in 1590, the son of an indigent gentleman, he arrived in Bermuda in late 1613 at age 23 to dive for pearls for the Company. There were no pearls and Governor Moore hired him to make a rough survey of the Islands, completed in 1616/7, compiled in 1622, and published in 1626 (click here to go to 1622 survey). He returned to England, married and after various activities returned to Bermuda in 1637/8 to start a school. He was again asked by the Bermuda Company to update the survey. This was completed in 1662/3 and descrived the holdings and their owners and/or occupiers. He died at the age of 85 in 1675. (Ives, "The Rich Papers", p401). The following is an account of it:
St George Island:
The Governor :12 shares at the east end of St George’s, 300 acres, in the occupation of:
Bristowe, John (Marshall)
- Smith, Samll (the psent minister): 2 shares, 50 acres
- Nicholls, John (Sheriffe): 100 acres
- Tucker, Henry: 2 shares, 50 acres
- Vaughan, John, on lease from Mr Casewell: 1 share, 25 acres
- Brackley, Edward: 2 shares, 50 acres
- Bristowe, John (Marshall): 2 shares, 50 acres
- Stalvers, M’s: 2 shares, 50 acres
Small Islands neare St George’s:
- 2 Islands, 5 acres
- Tucker, Captaine Francis (Commander): Pagetts Fort on Penestons Island with a house in occupation of Jonathan Stokes – 31 acres
- Asser, Captaine Godheard (Commander): Smith’s Fort on Smith’s Island – 61 acres
- Hen Island (near west end of Smith’s Island) – 3 acres
- Stirrup, John & Wright, Ralph (weavers) tenure and occupancy of Long Bird Island – 46 acres
- Stalvers, Henry occupant of Conny Island lying at Burnt Point – 14 acres
- Certaine small island, abt 10 in ye towne harbor Mullett Bay – 2 acres
S Davids Island:
- Tucker, Capt Francis (Commander of Pagetts Fort), in occupation of Stokes, Jonathan (Lt) & Hurt,
- John – 60 acres
- Higges, Miles – 1 share, 25 acres
- Harding, Hugh – 1 share, 25 acres
- Allen, William – 1 share, 25 acres
- Jennyngs, Capt Richard of Smith’s Tribe (Commander of Southampton Fort), in occupation of Grazbury, John & Davis, Randall – 2 shares, 50 acres
- Hilton, Lieut. Tho: - 2 shares, 50 acres
- Burcher, Robert: 1 share, 25 acres
- Brangman, Lieut. Edward and son Brangman, Samuel: 1 share, 25 acres
- Bell, William: 25 acres
- Sparke, Tho: (once belonging to Bernard, Capt John): 1 parcell, 10 acres
- Sparke, Tho: aforesaid in occupation "where he dwells" (belonging to Trott, Perient) and another in occupation of Cox, M’s widdow: 3 shares, 15 acres
- Adams, William "holdeth of" Axton, Jacob and belonging to Wicks, Matthew: 5 acres
- Mountaine, Mrs Mary (formerly Stow, Mary), part in free tenure to Place, John: 15 acres
- Mountaine, Mary holding 2 shares belonging to Hubbart, Capt George of Devonshire Tribe: 2 hares, 10 acres
- Fox, Lieut. John "holdeth of" Asser, Capt Godheard (dwells on the parcel), which belonged to the late Mr Delbridge: 3 shares, 15 acres
- Sharpe, Henry, 15 acres of which formerly belonging to Capt Covells: 30 acres
- Lyndale, John "holdeth of" Whitney, Saml (of Sandy’s), formerly belonging to Mr Dykes: 30 acres
- Moore, John "holds freely" a parcell previously of Day, John, now belonging to Mr Webb: 5 acres
- Moore, John "holdeth of" Burroughes, Mihil (occupant): 10 acres
- Nailer, Elizabeth "holdeth of" Waterman, Mr, previously land of Caswell, Rich: : 25 acres
- Stow, Tho: (of Davids Is) holds freely, in tenure of Canter, Capt: 5 acres
- Stow, Tho: "holdeth of" Stowe, John "& he of Trott, Perient , previously that of Earl of Warwick: 25 acres
Islands of Southampton halbo’ als Castle Harbor:
- 10 small islands: 8 acres
- Ming, David: Cooper’s Island, 77 acres
- 4 small islands: 3 acres
- 5 small islands: 2 acres
- None-such Island: 15 acres
- 3 small islands: 1 acres
- Southampton Fort under command of Jenyngs, Capt Rich: 1 acre
- "The fellow of it": 0 acres
- King’s Castle under command of Governor Seymor, Capt Florentio: 3 acres
- Charles Fort now decayed: 3 acres
- 3 islands near Charles Fort: 1 acre
- some other islands: 1 acre
- Gleab land in tenure of Cromby, Abo: : 2 shares, 50 acres
- Moore, Wm & Moore Joseph (his son): 2 tenements & 2 shares, 50 acres
- Atkinson, Samll : 1 share, 25 acres
- Marrow, Daniel: 1 share, 25 acres
- North, Nathaniel: 1 share, 25 acres
- Wilkinson, Parnel (widd): 1 share, 25 acres
- Jones, Lieutennt Wm : 1 tenement & Grazebury, James: 1 tenement & mother Jones, Mary: 1 tenement : 50 acres total
- Clinch, Tho & Newman, Wm & Browne, John, each a tenement: 95 acres
Islands in Common:
Islands of the Great & Little Sound:
In the Great Sound:
"The totall of all ye shares of land sett apart for publique use as p this booke are 86 shares"
1623. Erection began of Holy Trinity Anglican church, Bailey's Bay. Hamilton Parish. It was topped by a palmetto-thatched roof.
1623. Castor Oil was introduced to Bermuda by settlers. This plant has been used for thousand of years. The seeds/beans contain the oil which was often taken as a laxative but taken in large doses resulted in poisoning due to its alkaloid and protein content and polysaccharides which cause violent reactions in humans.
1623. In Bermuda, ministers and parishioners, seriously alarmed about all forms of witchcraft, selected church wardens from each Parish. Their job was to seek out all sorcerers, enchanters, charmers, witches, figure casters, fortune tellers, conjurers has or seems to have any consort with the devil. Persecution and victimization started locally.
1623. An Act "to restrain the insolence of the Negroes" was legislated in Bermuda. It forbade blacks to buy or sell, barter or exchange tobacco or any other produce for goods without the consent of their master.
1623. March 18. In Bermuda, the Seaflower was blown up due to the negligence of the Captain's son.
1623. April. Edward Sackville was briefly governor of the Bermuda Islands Company. It is not known whether he actually arrived in Bermuda because in May that year he received a license to travel for three years and was nominated ambassador to Louis XIII of France again in September.
Edward Sackville, 4th Earl of Dorset. See above story.1623. May. Jamestown. Captain William Tucker concluded peace negotiations with a Powhatan village by proposing a toast with a drink laced with poison prepared by Dr. John Potts. 200 Powhatan Indians died instantly and another 50 were slaughtered.
1623. An Act was passed that required boats ferrying passengers to be kept running on regular schedule and in sea-worthy condition. Ferry boats were the only way to get from one island to another.The ferry service was to be maintained each day from sunrise to sunset except for the Sabbath. No fares were to be collected from passengers. To discourage hack boatmen the Act threatened them with a public flogging if they dared extort money or its equivalent from patrons. The service was open to everyone, even to young boys and slaves provided they produced a pass written by their masters. However, at that time, such was the poverty of the colony that in spite of the Act there were times when the boats would lie idle at their moorings because the Government employees hired to operate them had received no salary for two consecutive years.
1623. In the publication of this year known as the "First Folio" The opening page of Williams Shakespeare's play The Tempest appears in this the first edition of his collected plays. The publication was "Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, histories, & tragedies. Published according to the true original copy. London : Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. The Tempest was believed to have inspired in part by the real-life shipwreck of the Sea Venture that took place off the coast of Bermuda in 1609. The castaways took refuge on the uninhabited island chain, and later accounts of their harrowing adventure and providential delivery circulated throughout London's literary circles, seducing even the city's most famous playwright. Shakespeare probably wrote The Tempest in 1610 and 1611; the action begins with a ferocious storm at sea and the survivors taking refuge on an island, mimicking the events surrounding the Sea Venture.
1623. September. There was the last known reference to James City and surveyor William Clayborne laid out the streets of New Town, a suburb outside the James Fort.
1624. Captain John Smith published his Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and Somers Isles (Bermuda), see graphic below. Three bridges were marked on Captain John Smith’s chart.
Captain John Smith's 1624 bookCaptain John Smith published his Bermuda map showing forts erected in defense of the islands, see graphic below.
Captain John Smith's 1624 Bermuda map showing forts.1624. The book "The Unmasking of Virginia" was published, by Nathaniel Butler. 1624. Butler had gone to Virginia after serving as a capable Governor of Bermuda. The book was mostly about the 1622 Indian massacre. It helped bring about the end of the Virginia Company.
1624. June. The Virginia Company lost its charter and Virginia became a royal province, from mismanagement of the colony. Elsewhere, the Dutch settled New Amsterdam.
1624. In the United Kingdom, George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), was born.
1624. The ship George again arrived in Bermuda with settlers and provisions.
1624. Slaves weaved home-grown sea island cotton into cloth dyed with indigo. There was a time in which the early inhabitants had little clothing and cotton was ordered to be grown on every share of land.
1624. Bermuda was exporting 70,000lbs of tobacco per year but by then Virginia’s tobacco exports had caught up to Bermuda. (By 1630, Virginia had far surpassed Bermuda’s exports of tobacco).
1624. A new law was enacted that required owners of hogs to stop allowing them to roam at will throughout the parish. The pigs would feed on the handiest plantation, and thus save their owner the cost of their sustenance. Governor Forster, at the request of aggrieved land owners, issued a proclamation to stop this trend and commanded the hog owners to keep the animals in stys and to feed them out of their own provisions. Those who ignored this and offended regardless were subjected to a heavy fine.
1624. In the town of St. George's, a charge was laid before the coroner’s jury in St. George’s after a certain unregenerate drunkard who swallowed a tot or two too much, and died of acute alcoholism. After weighing the evidence carefully the jury found the man guilty of his own murder and promptly devised a punishment fitting to such a crime. Governor Butler, who was a no-nonsense stern man, ordered the body of the deceased to be buried in the public highway with a stake driven through its chest. The unsavory job was assigned to the dead man’s fellow revelers who as they worked were compelled to wear notices on their backs which read: "These are the companions of him who killed himself with drinking. " Not content with this gruesome warning to potential drunkards Butler waited until the body was interred and then had one of the conscriptive gave-diggers lashed to a cannon, because the man happened to be a soldier. The cannon was then discharged with a full blast of powder. The other, a civilian, was flogged at the public whipping post.
1625. King Charles I ascended the throne, on the death of King James I of England and VI of Scotland.
1625. In Lyme Regis, England, Matthew Somers, who brought the body of his uncle Admiral Sir George Somers home from Bermuda in 1611, died after a term in prison for debt. Also in Lyme Regis, John Somers died on July 12, a grandfather many times over. He was the last survivor of the brothers of Admiral Sir George Somers.
1625. William Strachey's account of the 1609-1610 Sea Venture adventure, "A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight", was published in 1625 and was then confirmed as the probable source material, given to William Shakespeare much earlier, for his play 1610-1611 The Tempest
1625. Virginia became a royal colony with the governor and council appointed by King James I.
1625 to 1640. An estimated 1,000 or
more indentured servants arrived in Virginia each year, some orphans and condemned
criminals but mostly the unemployed seeking economic opportunity.
Norwood's second survey divided the island into 50-acre shares of land and
was published as a map by John Speed. It showed the unusual shape of
September. St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in Warwick Parish was
constructed. (It celebrated its 390th anniversary in September
2016) . The church was started by a group of Warwick farmers who
wanted to get together for regular prayer. That first building was likely a
wooden hut made of cedar, the present-day stone structure was built by 1830.
Since then, the 105-member church has undergone many transitions.
1626. Richard Norwood's second survey divided the island into 50-acre shares of land and was published as a map by John Speed. It showed the unusual shape of Bermuda.
1626. September. St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in Warwick Parish was constructed. (It celebrated its 390th anniversary in September 2016) . The church was started by a group of Warwick farmers who wanted to get together for regular prayer. That first building was likely a wooden hut made of cedar, the present-day stone structure was built by 1830. Since then, the 105-member church has undergone many transitions.
1627. By law in Bermuda, pilchards and fry were only allowed to be taken for bait or food, not for oil. Similar laws went into force to protect cedar trees.
1627. Death in Jamestown, Virginia, at the age of 40, of Sir George Yeardley, one of the senior survivors of the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture in Bermuda. His last resting place is believed to have been in a crypt in the main church in Bermuda’s sister colony of Jamestown. Sir George commanded the soldiers on the flagship Sea Venture, which was part of the Third Supply Fleet sent to the starving colony in Virginia by the London Company. But the fleet was split up by a major storm and the floundering flagship was steered on to the reefs off St George’s in July 1609. Sea Venture survivors worked for the next ten months to salvage what they could from the wreck, and built two smaller ships, The Patience and The Deliverance to go on to their original destination. The crew also surveyed Bermuda and two men were left behind as punishment for mutiny, which marked the start of the first permanent settlement of Bermuda. The two new ships arrived in Jamestown in June 1610 just after a major famine and the supplies helped the colony to survive. Sir George became governor of the Jamestown colony three times and was in charge when the first representative government assembly in British North America convened in July 1619. Bermuda’s House of Assembly sat for the first time almost exactly a year later. Sir George was born in Surrey, England, in 1587. He was also one of the first holders of slaves in Virginia, who are thought to have arrived in 1619.
1629. The establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the Puritans, as a separate entity from the Plymouth Colony.
1629. At St. George's, Butler's watchtower was thrown down the hill by a passing hurricane.
1629. In Bermuda, the population was calculated as 2,500 white and between 300 to 400 black and Native American.
1629. Christmas Eve. Bermuda's first slave uprising occurred.
1630. English Puritan leader John Winthrop founded Boston.
October 1630. Scots exiles were sent to and sold as slaves at the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, Berwick in Maine and Bermuda by General Oliver Cromwell following the Battle of Dunbar (Sept 3, 1650). He sent them on the ship 'Unity' with instructions to sell them "into perpetual servitude." There is no known surviving listing in Bermuda of such sales.
1630-1650. Economic, political and religious unrest cause mass emigration from Britain to North American colonies including Bermuda.
1631. In June, Captain John Smith died in England at the age of 51. He had tried to join the Pilgrim Fathers bound for America in 1620 but had been rejected.
1632. King Charles I issued a charter for colony of Maryland. It was named in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria.
1633. Richard Norwood completed a third survey of Bermuda. It was never published but exists in several manuscript copies.
1633. Dockyard Lime was brought to Bermuda by settlers. It was used as rent payment to landlords and exported to North America. The juice can be used to keep mosquitoes away. Jams and jellies were also made from it. The fruits contain pectin which is used today in some parts of the world in anti-diarrhea medicines.
1633. Dutchman Willem Blaeu published his second map, below, of Bermuda, five years before his death.
1633. England was introduced to bananas when Thomas Johnston displayed a bunch from Bermuda in his shop window on Snow Hill, London.
1634. Establishment of Maryland by Lord Baltimore as a proprietary colony.
1635. Colonization of Connecticut began.
1635. June 10. The ship Truelove left from England with more colonists for Bermuda.
1635. September. The ship Dorset did the same.
1636. The establishment of Rhode Island and later the city of Providence by Roger Williams as a self governing British colony with complete religious freedom.
1636. The establishment of Connecticut as a British colony, by Thomas Hooker.
1636. In Massachusetts, Harvard College was founded.
1637. Richard Norwood returned to Bermuda as a schoolmaster, bringing his wife and four children. His first school was probably in Devonshire Tribe, but later he built his own school on his estate in Pembroke. This estate is still called Norwood – the house on it today was built about 1711 by the husband (Saltus) of Richard Norwood’s great granddaughter, but there are no remains of the school house.
1637. Governor Chaddock arrived and almost immediately had two boats built, one with a giant capstan or crane purpose-built to recover cannon or heavier objects from the many shipwrecks around Bermuda. He salvaged so many on one area of the wreck-strewn reefs to the west of Bermuda that the area became known as the Chaddock Bar.
1639. January 11. King Charles I granted colonists in America the right to call their General Assembly. He set a precedent for partial self rule for British colonies.
1639. The establishment of the separate British colony of Maine, by Sir Ferdinando Gorges, the famous seaman from Somerset, England (until its merger with Massachusetts in 1791, before it again became a separate state later).
1642. When Governor Josias Forster arrived, he upheld, encouraged and helped in the persecution and death of supposed witches in Bermuda. In his honor, the Forster Chair was made. It was used by him and future Bermuda Governors to deliver Throne Speeches. (The chair is normally on display in the Senate Chambers, but in 2009, Bermuda's 400th Anniversary Year, was part of an exhibition at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Museum. A Bermuda Coat of Arms carved out of Bermuda Cedar, and usually on display above the Forster Chair, was also sent to Jamestown. The exhibition, which opened on March 2, explored the shared history and links between England's first two permanent colonies in the New World, Bermuda and Jamestown). The Forster Chair is made of Bermuda Cedar and is decoratively carved with the following inscription: Capt Josias Forster Esq Governor Of the Sumer Islands Ano. Do. 1642.
1640s. In Bermuda, a dole cupboard (still extant) was given to St. Peter's Church for the collection of alms for the poor.
1642. 11 August. The ship Gillyflower, Elias Pillgram master, left Bermuda for Virginia.
1644. 26 July. The ship Hopewell of the Somer Islands, John Sessiones factor, brought cargo from Barbados.
1644. A large group of slaves arrived in Bermuda by ship, commanded by Captain William Jackson, whose fleet had made a seep of a number of Spanish-held Caribbean islands. The 36 captured slaves included a number of Indian women.
1645. English poet Edmund Waller published his poetic piece on Bermuda, waxing eloquent about the island he visited.
1647. A group of so-called 'Eleutheran Adventurers', sick of religious intolerance under Cromwell's rule in England that extended to Bermuda, left Bermuda to find a place where they could practice religious freedom. They encountered a storm and the ship they were sailing in ran onto rocks, which were later called the Devils Back Bone north of Spanish Wells, in the Bahamas. The Company of Eleuthian Adventurers. led by Captain William Sayle who had twice been Governor of Bermuda, with about 70 prospective settlers, found their way to shore and took refuge in what was later called Preacher's Cave. They named their group from having arrived on Eleuthera, then known as Cigatoo. A religious service was held in Preacher's Cave every year for the next 100 years on the anniversary of that day. They had envisioned establishing a flourishing plantation colony, but unproductive soil, internal discord, and Spanish interference dashed their hopes. Some of the settlers, including Sayle, later returned to Bermuda.
1640s (to 1650s). Bermudians Anthony Peniston and John Stowe built cedar ships to trade in the West Indies.1647. Richard Hunt and his wife Sarah, of Bromley, Kent, England, arrived in the Bermuda Islands and took possession of the estates, etc. of the then Earl of Manchester in those islands in which he was one of the proprietors. Sarah Hunt was one of the nieces of the Earl. He had devised by his last will his landed property in the Bermudas in trust to the Earl of Warwick, Lord Holland and Sir Nathanial Rich, his executors, for the benefit of one of his nieces deemed the most worthy. Richard and Sarah Hunt brought with them a daughter, also named Sarah.
1648. George Fox founded the Society of Friends (Quakers).
1649. January 31. King Charles I was beheaded in London by Parliamentary forces under Oliver Cromwell. The English Commonwealth was formally established.1649. In Bermuda, the execution by beheading in Whitehall, London of imprisoned King Charles I caused "Bermuda's Civil War." To end it, militia members were embodied. The majority of colonists swore allegiance to the crown and later (see 1650) forced the Independents or Puritans to leave Bermuda for the Bahamas.
1650. January 1. In London, the Committee administering the affairs of Bermuda wrote to Captain Josias Foster, the island's Governor, ordering him to fund and accommodate Ministers from New England for the purpose of teaching letters and Godliness to adults and youth. As a direct result, Bermuda's first school, Warwick Academy, was created from the New England model of 1635.
1650. In England, John Churchill, the future first Duke of Marlborough, was born. Rene Descartes died. So did Sylvester Jourdain, who became famous after his Bermuda experience. He was buried at St. Sepulchre Church, Newgate, London.
1650. Mass immigration of British settlers to Bermuda ended.
1650-1651. Cromwell's New Model Army (NMA) invaded Scotland. The Scottish Covenanters' army was heavily defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar (3rd Sept 1650), and some 5,000 prisoners were marched south of the border by the NMA to Durham. During the infamous death march some escaped, some were shot as a warning to the rest, some were set to work around Newcastle and many died of famine fever at Morpeth after eating cabbage raw from the fields. Just 3,000 survived to be ordered into their temporary prison of Durham Cathedral, where the dying from infection and fever continued. The order was given to transport 900 of the healthiest prisoners to Bermuda, the American colonies in New England and Virginia. to be sold into indentured labour. It is known that on 7th November 1650, about 150 Scottish prisoners of Dunbar were transported aboard the Unity. After landing in Bermuda and Charlestown, New England, the ones who survived the voyage were sold for £20-£30 each as indentured servants, 60 of them to the Saugus Ironworks in Massachusetts. Up to 300 more may have been sent to Virginia too, although shipping records have not survived. A year later, he Royalist army under Charles II went down to its final defeat at Worcester, and again several thousand Scottish soldiers supporting Charles found themselves prisoners of war in England. Again, many were ordered for transportation – and on 8th November 1651, the John and Sarah took sail with around 300 Scottish prisoners on board. 272 of them survived to reach Bermuda and Charlestown, where they suffered the fate of the Unity prisoners a year earlier.
1650. October. With Bermuda on the Royalist side during the English Civil War, as one of six colonies to recognize Charles II as King on the execution of his father, Charles I. it was targeted by the Rump Parliament in London in an Act that prohibited trade with Barbados, Bermuda, Virginia and the others. In retaliation in Bermuda, because the local militia controlled affairs, they deposed the non-Royalist Governor, Captain Thomas Turner and elected John Trimingham to replace him. Exiled from Bermuda were a number of Parliamentary-leaning independents. Under the leadership of former three-term Governor Captain William Sayle they sailed to the Bahamas and became known as the Eleutheran Adventurers. Parliamentarians in London organized a naval force to attack Bermuda but Bermuda's coastal defences, ring of forts and artillery batteries were too powerful for the task force sent under the command of Admiral Sir George Ayscue to recapture the Royal Colonies. The Parliamentary Navy was forced to blockade Bermuda for several months until the Bermudians negotiated a piece.
1650. November. Former Bermuda Governor Captain William Sayle and the Eleutheran Adventurers, who had sailed from Bermuda earlier, settled the Bahamas. Governor Sayle became the first Governor of the Bahamas and first Governor of Carolina (before it was split in two as North and South Carolina).
1652. A British fleet representing the Parliament of Oliver Cromwell arrived off the Virginia island coast. Berkeley surrendered Virginia. As a result, the Virginia legislature was dominated by the House of Burgesses until 1660.
1656. A slave uprising in Bermuda was foiled, two, Black Tom and Cabilecto, were executed and all blacks previously given their freedom were banished, shipped against their will to Eleutheria in the Bahamas.
1658. Oliver Cromwell died in England.
1659. A Virginia Company ship, the Eagle, was transporting immigrants from England to Jamestown when it was wrecked on a Bermuda reef. All passengers were saved.
1660. March 3. The Virginia Assembly elected Berkeley as Governor.
1660. May 29. The monarchy was restored in England. Charles II became King and the Anglican Church regained its status.
1661. In Bermuda, another conspiracy of slaves - this time, joined by white Irish indentured servants - was foiled. The militia began a nightly watch.
1661. Virginia institutionalized slavery with a law that made the status of the mother determine slave or free status of the child.
1661. In England, Charles II received Tangier and Bombay as part of the dowry from Catherine of Braganza, Portugal.
1661. In Bermuda, during a severe storm, the ill fated armed British merchant ship Virginia Merchant became grounded near Boat Bay in Southampton Parish. She was a total wreck and sank there with great loss of life. Of the 179 people aboard, only 10 survived.
1661. The first of the Butterfield family (later, of local banking fame) arrived in Bermuda from England.
1662. Jamestown's status as the mandatory port of entry for Virginia ended.
1662. The merger of what had been the separate British colony of New Haven in Connecticut as a separate British colony, with Connecticut proper.
1662. The English Book of Common Prayer was revised. The Royal Society received a charter from Charles II. Louis XIV of France began the Palace of Versailles.
1662. Bermuda colonists sent the first exports of honey and beeswax to the Caribbean islands and American colonies.
1662. In Bermuda, Warwick Academy was founded as the first school in the New World. There are two versions. One is that it was founded by the Earl of Warwick. This appears most likely as the school’s mascot and crest animal, the bear, is a symbol of the Earl of Warwick's passion for the Elizabethan pastime of bear-baiting. The Warwick Academy School Badge consists of a Crest with a Motto. the Crest contains two parts of each of which is interesting historically. The Bear and Ragged Staff device has been, from earliest times, incorporated in the heraldic crest of the House of Warwick. When the Bermuda Trading Company controlled the Islands of Bermuda in the Seventeenth Century the Earl of Warwick was one of the shareholders. The School is established on land, which once formed part of that original share. The device of the Bear with the Ragged Staff which by kind permission of the present Earl, is now used as part of the school badge, has a prominent place in history, for the same device marked the advent of Warwick the Kingmaker, and of Richard of Beauchamp who fought with Henry V. At Crecy in 1346 the same Bear and Ragged Staff adorned the armour of Thomas who led the vanguard into battle. There seems to be little doubt that the first buildings were on land donated by the Riche Family (Earls of Warwick). Richard Norwood, an outstanding mathematician and navigator, was the first headmaster but only for a very short time as there seem to have been difficulties in agreement over salary, and about 1659 the Rev. Jonathan Burr took over. Burr undertook to “teach, writing, ciphering (arithmetic) and Latin for nothing, and navigation for a fee” but did not succeed and once again Norwood returned. However, there were still financial problems owing to lack of support and Norwood could not agree with his ushers or assistants. The Company made an enquiry at this time and informed the Governors that a learned schoolmaster was one of the greatest needs of the colony, as at least one-third of the men could not even write their own names and those who had had some instruction were educated only to the most elementary level. A learned schoolmaster was duly obtained. A less likely version - not shown in the school history but claimed in 2012 - is that Francis Estlack was a Quaker minister who founded the school in 1662 after he fled to the Island from Devon, England, to avoid religious persecution. If this version is true, the founder became involved with the Quaker religious movement as a teenager. The Quakers, or Friends as they are often known, believed that they did not need clergy to hear the word of God. That belief was considered blasphemous in 17th century England. Francis and his wife left England thinking things would be better there. They spent 15 to 20 years on the Island. Somewhere around 1675 when Joseph was just a year old, the family moved to the United States.
1663. The establishment of the British colony of North Carolina by eight noblemen.
1663. South Carolina, on the mainland of North America, had been granted by King Charles II to eight of his friends as lords proprietors, and they later appointed William Sayle, a former two-term Governor of Bermuda, as South Carolina’s first governor.
1663. March. Bermuda bananas were introduced to England.
1663. Richard Norwood completed his second map of Bermuda.
1663. November 30. At a Bermuda court, it was resolved to prohibit New Englanders and other strangers from importing wine and setting up booths and warehouses to sell their products, in competition with Bermudians.
1664. Built the northern side of Shelly Bay was a Bermuda-stone boat slip, with scored cuts offering proof this was the great shipyard of Shelly Bay. That year the first recorded vessel in Hamilton Parish, the Bermoodian Aventure, was launched at Shelly Bay before going on voyages to London and the West Indies during the 1660s and taking part in the salt trade. At the time the shipbuilders would have seen the western tip of the island.
1664. The establishment of the British colony of New York, by the Duke of York. It was done in a bold military way in the event of trouble but the merchants of the city accepted it willingly, with no damage to the city. The British simply annexed the Dutch American colony of New Netherlands and renamed its capital of New Amsterdam as New York.
1664. The establishment of the British colony of New Jersey, by Berkeley and Cartaret.
1666. New Providence was first settled by a new group of Bermudians. Both Sayle and certain of those who had interested themselves in the settlement of New Providence independently drew the attention of the lords proprietors to the possibilities of the Bahama Islands. In consequence, the duke of Albemarle and five others acquired a grant of the islands from Charles II in 1670, and they accepted nominal responsibility for the civil government. New Providence, with the largest population and a sheltered harbour, became the seat of government.
1666. Expectation of a Dutch invasion caused mobilization of all slaves, men and boys over the age of 14. They were ordered to carry weapons when an alarm was sounded. The slaves were required to be obedient to their masters and respective commanders “under paine of death.”
1669. May 15. Sir John Heydon, a relative of Jeremy Heydon, an original investor in the Bermuda Company of the early 17th century, became Deputy Governor then Governor of Bermuda. He arrived at Castle Harbor aboard the Bermuda Company ship "Summers Isles Merchant." He was an uncompromising Puritan and tried his best to inflict his puritanical beliefs on other colonists, much to their annoyance. Although unpopular, he remained in Bermuda after retirement. When 80 years old, he was charged with treason. It was claimed he had allowed Dutch sailors to chart the reefs of Bermuda for a possible invasion by the Dutch and Spanish. Heydon was acquitted and before he died a few years later was charitable enough to apply Christian forgiveness to his neighbors by establishing the Heydon Trust Estate still surviving.
1669. The establishment of the separate British colony of South Carolina, again by eight noblemen.
1670. In Bermuda, John Hardy described boats of five tons with two masts and loose-footed triangular sails. He praised their seaworthiness and noted their ability to sail close to the wind.
1670. The Bermuda legislature began efforts to stop the importation of any more slaves, deemed not necessary for a small island the economy of which at that time was based largely on shipbuilding and sailing.
1670. The building now known as the Waterlot Inn was first constructed, at the water’s edge in Jew’s Bay. It was passed down through family generations until it was converted into an old, English-tavern-style inn by Claudia Darrell.
1670. Population of Bermuda was estimated at 8,000 men, women, children and slaves. The latter were about 25%, triple the number of the 1629 statistics.
1673. Bermuda claimed and settled the Turks Islands. The salt trade was established.
1673. Christmas Eve. In Bermuda, Governor Sir John Heydon and his Council found out how six black men were plotting a slave rebellion. At what is now the Foot of the Lane but what was then the bottom of the Laine, six conspirators were branded with the letter "R" for rogue, had their noses slit and were whipped. Others were also whipped and branded. The Government attempted to restrict the importation of slaves and imposed strict controls on the existing slaves.
1673. A hand-colored and copper-engraved map of Bermuda was included in Montanus’ De Unbekante Neue Welt, and is based on Blaeu’s chart of 1635. Blaeu’s map is one of the most influential early maps of the island based on the famous 1618 survey by John Norwood of the Bermuda Company. It shows the division of the island into its original “tribes” and lists various landowners in a table below the map. The Roanoke colony is also depicted on the map and mentioned in the title.
1675. The first formal recognition of the Bermuda rig is a manuscript that describes the "Bermoothes saile."
1675. The Bermuda Company issued an order that no houses should be built thereafter without tiled or shingled roofs, and until 1816 this edict sufficed.
1676. Bermuda Governor Sir John Heydon banned the future importation of black and Indian slaves at a time when colonies elsewhere were clamoring for a greater supply. Heydon also exiled the island's tiny free black, mulatto, and Indian population by ordering them to leave the island within six months or be re-enslaved. This order, irregularly invoked into the 19th century, sought to conflate race with legal status by eliminating free nonwhites and succeeded in keeping Bermuda's free black population small until the eve of Abolition in 1834. (Despite the deportation and the import ban, the island's black population continued to grow, reaching 1,737 in 1684 to compose a little under a quarter of Bermuda's inhabitants).
1676. Map of Bermuda by John Speed was published, see graphic below
John Speed's 1676 Map of Bermuda above and that part specific to St. George's Parish, below1676. September 19. Nathaniel Bacon led south Virginians against the Indians in violation of Governor Berkeley's wishes. He opposed Berkeley and burnt Jamestown to the ground. On October 26 he died of dysentery.
1677. William of Orange married Princess Mary, daughter of the Duke of York.
1677. In Bermuda, an Act of 1675 prohibiting the importation of slaves is upheld.
1678. Bermudians first sailed south to establish the Turks Islands in the Caribbean as the center for decades of their industry for salt raking and salt trading. It was six years before the end of the Bermuda Company. They realized the value of salt in preservation. Their ships had two masts and loose-footed sails. They were used for storage, fishing and going from island to island.
1678. August 16. Death of English metaphysical poet, satirist and politician Andrew Marvell (born 31 March 1621) who wrote an inspired poem "The Bermudas" based on the Tempest shipwreck of the Sea Venture ship in 1609. Marvell never went to Bermuda himself but had a friend who was a Puritan minister in Bermuda. He sat in the UK's House of Commons at various times between 1659 and 1678. During the Commonwealth period he was a colleague and friend of John Milton. His other works and poems range from the love-song "To His Coy Mistress", to evocations of an aristocratic country house and garden in "Upon Appleton House" and "The Garden", the political address "An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland", and the later personal and political satires "Flecknoe" and "The Character of Holland".
Andrew Marvell1679. April, the ship "Mayflower" left Barbados for Bermuda and Providence Island in the Bahamas. At the same time, the ship "Providence" left Barbados for Bermuda and Boston.
1679. The population of Bermuda totaled 8,000 including slaves, about 1,000 of whom were fit to bear arms.
1680. Bermudians owned only fourteen vessels, a figure that was to increase by much, later.
1681. In Bermuda, an Indian slave named John, the "property" of William Mulligan of Smith's Parish, was convicted of setting his master's house on fire and firing shots at Mulligan's family. John was hanged, drawn and quartered at Gibbet Island.
1681. Bermudians raised militias from the seasonal population on the Turks Islands, over which Bermuda had effective control of from 1681 until the British government assigned them to the Bahamas at the end of the Eighteenth Century
1682. In Bermuda, a slave conspiracy involving 5 men was discovered and quelled.
1883. Colonel Richard Coney became Governor of Bermuda. He complained bitterly to the House of Assembly that every room in what was then Government House in St. George's leaked and requested a new residence. But it was not to be.
1684. Jeremiah Burrows of Wreck Hill, Sandys, was brought before the governor for bringing into Ely’s Harbour a French ketch that had run aground, and then stealing the goods upon it. He was said by other residents of the area that he had lit a bonfire on Wreck Hill to lure ships onto the rocks.
1684. In Bermuda, privateering became, with salt-raking, the major economic activity. From this year, for over 150 years, Bermudians via their enterprise, innovation and insular independence, shaped the Bermudian character for centuries.
1684. The Somers Island Company was dissolved. Direct control of the administration of Bermuda was transferred from the Bermuda Company to the British Government. Bermuda became a crown colony. Following this transfer of authority, British-appointed Governors, representing the Crown, played an all-encompassing executive role in the management of our affairs for almost three centuries. Britain assumed control of Bermuda’s affairs and from then on sent out Governors on an ongoing basis as official representatives of the Crown. The government of Bermuda reverted to the Crown, after disgruntled Bermuda colonists had joined forces with Perient Trott, a London merchant and renegade company member, to launch a legal attack on the company's charter. In what turned out to be the opening salvo of Charles II's judicial battle to rein in England's American colonies, Bermudians ultimately succeeded in dissolving the company after a five-year quo warranto trial. After the fall of the Bermuda Company in 1684, the Crown claimed all of the company’s public land, including what was then the commons in St. George's, later the park, then Somer's Garden. The dissolution of the Somers Island Company was a watershed in the history of the colony. Free from company trade restrictions, Bermudians abandoned tobacco agriculture and took to the sea in pursuit of commerce. They developed an extensive carrying trade, selling salt from Turks Island and trading goods between North America and the West Indies. This formed the basis of the economy of Bermuda until the early 1800s.
1685. King Charles II died and James II - briefly - ascended the British throne.
1685. The economic shift from field to sea was a maritime revolution that fundamentally transformed Bermuda's society and landscape. For over 15 years Bermuda's annual tobacco exports fell from more than half a million pounds to fewer than ten thousand. In the same period, the island's merchant fleet rose from a handful to more than seventy vessels. Taking advantage of their island's advantageous location, Bermuda's first generation of mariners profited from connecting emerging regional economies in North America with the wealthy sugar-producing islands of the Caribbean. Freighting cargoes for other colonial merchants and buying goods on speculation enabled Bermuda to prosper far more than the older tobacco economy had allowed, and the island's extensive tramp trade made Bermudians among the best-informed denizens of the North Atlantic.
1685. King Louis XVI of France revoked the Edict of Nantes and exiled thousands of French Protestants (Huguenots).
1685. In Germany, J. S. Bach and Handel were born.
1687. The Parthenon in Athens was badly damaged by the Venetian bombardment of Turks on the Acropolis.
1687. Following dissolution in 1684 of the Somers Island Company and with direct control of the administration of Bermuda transferred from the Bermuda Company to the British Government, the first Crown-appointed governor, Royal Naval officer Sir Richard Robinson, arrived in Bermuda. When he took office he governed with the cooperation of an elected Parliament which had been a partner in the legislative process since 1620. Finding the state of defences less than satisfactory, he raised a militia of 780 men, with provisions made to arm those men with no weapons of their own. He also pushed an Act of Parliament, Militia Act 1687, through the reluctant Colonial Assembly, raising two troops of horse. A standing watch was raised to patrol through the parishes, with three 'well armed' footmen and a horseman in each parish (then known as 'tribes') on each night.
1687. September. The first elected Assembly convened under the direct authority of Britain met and passed twenty-five pieces of legislation, one of which established a Judiciary, with provisions for a Chief Justice and five assistants - a development which removed judicial responsibilities from the Council’s portfolio and enabled that body to concentrate more on its advisory functions and legislative affairs. Another Bill passed by the Assembly in the same year proposed to reduce the number of representatives in each parish from four to two, but the legislation was never brought into operation because there was no formal communication of the Royal assent - a necessary final step in the law-making process.
1687. Sir Robert Robinson arrived in Bermuda as the new Royally-appointed Governor. He replaced Sir Richard Coney, the last of the Bermuda Company Governors, who had been re-appointed by King James II.
1687. Bermudians owned forty-two vessels, a huge increase from seven years earlier.
1688. King James II, the last Roman Catholic monarch, was driven from the English throne because of his religion and went into exile.
1688. King William III and Queen Mary II were enthroned and reigned in England.1689. The English Declaration of Rights was published.
1690. Militia Act 1690/91. Another Militia Act was passed in Bermuda, requiring every man, whether free or enslaved, between the ages of 15 and 60 to 'appear at every exercise and muster and provide himself with sword and musket. Slave owners were responsible to provide weapons to their slaves.' Those found negligent could be fined, and those not paying fines could be flogged. King's Castle thus received a guard of four men, under a Lieutenant. Two men were posted at Paget's Fort, and a lookout at the highest point in Saint George's.
1691. St. George’s was first referred to officially as the ninth parish of Bermuda with representation equal to the other parishes (four members each), thereby lowering the total of the elected representatives from all the constituencies to thirty-six. An Act was passed which confirmed that all parish constituencies, including St. George’s, were entitled to four representatives in the House of Assembly. The relevant section of the legislation was worded as follows- “In every General Assembly hereafter to be held and called in these islands, there be chosen four representatives for each of the respective tribes in these islands, and four for the town and parish of St. George’s.”
1691. Thomas Tew, pirate, arrived in Bermuda from Rhode Island. Some contemporaries maintain that Tew had come to the island to settle permanently on land. But the promise of fortune beyond the horizon lured him. He was an unrefined man with the language and manners of the sea. At first, he entered the somewhat reputable state-sponsored brand of piracy. For 300 pounds he bought a letter of marque – a licence to privateer – from Governor Isaac Richier. Next, he found himself a crew – probably former salt traders tempted by the promise of greater riches. Little is known about Tew’s first voyages on the Amity. Around this time, however, something occurred which would alter the destinies of all sea-faring Bermudians. The Governor of the Bahamas, Ellas Askett, began a policy of seizing Bermudian ships in the Caribbean. Bermuda shares much in common with the Bahamas. During the English Civil War puritans in Bermuda found refuge there when loyalists here drove them into exile. Free blacks also were forced in to exile there during the slave rebellions in Bermuda during the mid-17th century. There are still many Bahamian families, especially in the northern islands, with Bermudian names. But at that time, the tensions between the two colonies threatened war. Governor Askett is recorded as saying: “I have never hanged a Bermudian, but would make no more of it than to hang a dog.” This incident is thought to mark the beginning of Bermudian piracy. Thomas Tew was commissioned to raid a French settlement in East Africa. Somewhere along the way, he offered to his crew to forfeit the protection of the Crown and become pirates. The response has become famous: “A gold chain or a wooden leg, we’ll stand by you!” The only surviving account of what happened next is The History of Pyrates by one Captain Johnson. Scholars have long suspected that this was a pen name for Daniel Defoe (of Robinson Crusoe fame), but this is now considered seriously doubtful. “Tew sailed around Africa, in to the Indian Ocean and eventually in to the Red Sea. It was fairly easy for pirates because it concentrated with ships. Tew found an Arabian vessel laden with gold and protected by 300 soldiers. His crew, although outnumbered, managed to capture the ship and the gold it contained. After that, if we follow the Johnson account, Tew then met a French pirate called Captain Misson who persuaded Tew to follow him to Libertalia. It was supposedly a pirate’s utopia in Madagascar where there was no slavery. From there, Tew sailed back to Rhode Island where he and his crew divided their treasure among them. The Bermudian crew, of both black and white members, was given £3,000 each, while Tew took £12,000 for himself. Tew’s Bermudian investors, hearing of their good fortune, soon arrived to collect their share. According to legend, Tew directed them to a beach and instructed them to start digging. They all became very rich men, very quickly. It is believed the Gilbert family used their new-found wealth to purchase a sizeable amount of land in Devonshire.
1692. Bermudians who had established in 1678 a salt business in the Turks Islands first encountered opposition to their salt trade, from a Governor of the Bahamas who was originally from Bermuda. one Nathaniel Trott, whose family had been largely responsible for ensuring the end of the Bermuda Company. At that time, with the Turks Islands under the influence of the Bahamas and its English owners and at the latter's direction, Trott began to levy taxes on salt exports from the Turks Islands. Bermudian salt makers protested but in vain.
1693. In Virginia, the College of William and Mary was founded. Some Bermudians went there.
1694. Queen Mary of England died.
1694. A law adopted by this Bermuda Colony was titled "An Act Laying an Imposition on all Jews, and reputed Jews, Trading or Merchandising on These Islands." It levied a five pound tax on any Jew, or "reputed Jew" wanting to do business in Bermuda. Why? According to the bill's preamble, Jews "have come to and resided in these islands, and have sold and vended great quantities of goods, wares, merchandizes and commodities, and the monies thereby received and gotten do still send out and carry away from these islands into foreign and remote parts and places, to the great impoverishment, hurt and prejudice of their majesties subjects in these islands."
1698. Bermuda's Attorney-General became (until April 1, 1999) the principal legal advisor to the Government of Bermuda. In addition to being the chief legal advisor he was also the principal prosecutor in all criminal matters in the Island’s Courts.
1699. The second Government House was erected, again in St. George's, at what is now called the Globe Hotel, opposite St. Peter's Church. The earlier Government House was a wreck by the mid-1680s and so Governor Samuel Day built a new one of stone. When his rule was up, Day refused to relinquish the building, which became his private home.
1699. A population account revealed there were then 3615 whites and 2247 blacks in Bermuda, 803 white males and 566 black, with 1050 white women and 649 black.
1700. Beginning of the end of the era of English indentured servants as cheap field and house labor in Bermuda. They were replaced by slaves acquired mostly from Africa via the West Indies, a few from Central America.
1700. In Bermuda, in addition to a fleet of 60 sloops, 6 brigantines, 4 ships, 300 to 400 two-masted boats for coastal waters, Bermudians built large boats for foreign clients as well. It was one of the best years ever for Bermuda ship-building. Bermuda cedar was crafted into superior boats that were light, fast and resistant to rot. The industry lasted for about 150 years. Only with the age of steam and beyond did the industry decline. Today, no vessels are made commercially in Bermuda.
1701. With war between Britain and France imminent, the British Government decided that Bermuda should be protected by regular soldiers. The small military force, the Independent Company of Foot, was sent from England.
1701. May. On HMS Lincoln, the first 50 full time soldiers arrived in Bermuda with Governor Benjamin Bennett, who had commanded a company in Ireland. They were detached from the 2nd Foot over protests of General William Selwyn who had clothed them in England. They were headed by Captain Lancelot Sandys, with Lieutenant Robert Henly and had 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer and 50 privates. They became known as the "Independent Company."
1701. Governor Benjamin Bennett arrived in Bermuda. He brought with him a Silver Oar, emblem of Admiralty Court jurisdiction and initiated the practice of placing it before himself at meetings of the Governor’s Council. Instead of handing it over to the Admiralty Court in Bermuda, he kept it as a personal symbol of his authority after experiencing for himself the irreverent attitude Bermudians displayed towards the Crown.
1701. In St. George's, Bermuda, Fanny Fox's Cottage was built on Duke of Clarence Street.
1702. Queen Anne ascended the British throne.
1702. Britain entered the War of The Spanish Succession, against France. This war also included a French campaign, with Allied Native Nations (Indians) against British possessions in North America. The previous year, with this war looming, a Company of Regular infantry had been sent to Bermuda and made an 'Independent Company (the first Regular Army deployment to the colony). With the onset of the war, the militia in Bermuda was strengthened. Six hundred men were armed and trained with lances. A troop of Horse Grenadiers was raised amongst those wealthy enough to afford a horse. The war continued until 1713.
1704. In Bermuda, another Act to punish the "insolence of Negroes" was passed, this time with castration. (The act was repealed in 1705 at the insistence of the British Government in London as it containing "some inhumane penalties," although "whipping and imprisoning" were considered acceptable).
1705. In St. George's, Bermuda, the Old Rectory was built.
1705. In St. George's, Bermuda, Reeve Court was built by Dr. Thomas Holland, minister of the parish church. For centuries, it was the tallest building in the town.
1706. Spanish and French forces seized the Turks, until then controlled by Bermudians who were unable at that time to defend them successfully.
1709. Longford House is believed to have been home to the very first resident physician in St George’s. It was built for Doctor Roger Thomas and was worth the princely sum of one pound. It was a prestigious and distinguished ‘mansion’ that lay at the very heart of the old St George’s and boasted a long hall, brick-lined fireplaces and a deep chasm of a cellar. Dr Thomas had emigrated to Bermuda 1709 and his house was one of the most expensive in the capital. (When he died of pleurisy in 1715 the property passed on to his wife Sarah. But it is unclear who occupied the premises after she died three years later as it was probably rented out to visiting merchants and businessmen. The Foote family occupied Longford House in the late 18th century and expanded it to its current size. Lt John Foote had been posted to Bermuda from England with the Independent Company at the tail end of King George’s War. And although he lived in the premises until he died in 1754 he never actually owned the property. His family continued to live there after his death and his son, William, was appointed Clerk of the Assembly. William was also a successful merchant as well as churchwarden and scribe and he purchased Longford in 1781 for £1,000. In the early 19th century it was home to Jehoaddan Lagourgue — the widow of a French St Domingue sugar planter who had lost everything during the Haitian slave revolt and revolution. But this marked the beginning of a long decline and by 1950 the house had become a ruin of no value. Today the shell of the building remains clearly visible, as do the large fireplaces and the cellar rooms. But the site has become overgrown with trees and plants. The roof has long disintegrated and the interior walls of this once majestic old house have crumbled away).1710. A Bermudian crew under Captain Lewis Middleton sailed south in the Bermuda privateer Rose and succeeded in recapturing the Turks Islands, expelling the French and Spanish who earlier invaded and taken over the Bermudian salt industry interests. It was probably Bermuda's only independent military action. This time, unlike earlier, there was no interference from the Bahamas, with the French and Spanish having almost completely wiped out the earlier Bahamas interference.
1710. "Verdmont," now a Bermuda National Trust museum, in Smith's Parish, was first built, partly by slaves.
1710. A Bermuda silver tankard was made by Thomas Savage Sr, (1664-1749) a silversmith who worked in both Boston and Bermuda. He was born in Boston and trained as a silversmith from 1678 to about 1685. Savage and his family moved to Bermuda in the early 18th century and he is known to have lived and worked in Bermuda between 1706 and 1714. Only 14 pieces made by Savage are recorded in the standard reference book on Boston silversmiths. Seven of these pieces are tankards and almost all of these have Boston rather than Bermudian associations.
1711. In St. George's, Bermuda, the Tucker House was built.
1711. In Bermuda, an Order in Council was issued to authorize the master of any ship greater than 44 feet to use as many Blacks and or slaves as crew as he thought necessary. But it limited the number of whites to six.
1711. So many slaves wore fine clothing and fancy dresses to their own balls and gatherings that the Bermuda Assembly passed a law that forbade masters from allowing their slaves to "wear any silk, lace, ribbon, rings, bracelets, buckles, . . . nor other ornaments." These "merry meetings and midnight festivals" reflected a synthesis of European fashion and African and Native American traditions perhaps best exemplified by the costume, dance, and music of gombey dancers. Despite the reforming efforts of the Assembly, numerous clandestine public houses served rum and bibby (a liquor made from fermented palmetto sap) to black clientele, sites where slave sailors could relax after months at sea. Goods and specie flowing in Bermuda's internal slave economy testify to the success of Bermudian slave sailors in obtaining creature comforts for themselves and for the slave community as a whole, while their celebrations and rituals reveal their ability to create and maintain cultural traditions independently expressed from that of the white families with whom they lived.
1712. Earliest documented evidence of knowledge of Argus and Challenger Banks for fishing and salvaging wrecks.
1712. When the original owner of Verdmont in Smith's Parish, John Dickinson, died this year, only two years after Verdmont was built, he had 14 slaves, many of them associated with his maritime travels. It is possible slaves may have lived in the lower level of one of the cottages of what was then the Verdmont Estate.
1712. On September 8 the first of two very severe hurricanes that damaged many Bermuda buildings including St. Peter's Church in St. George's. Bermuda's first settlers had built almost everything out of cedar wood, including commercial buildings and churches. It was as a direct result of these hurricanes that the decision was taken to quit building structures of wood and instead make them out of limestone, to better withstand hurricanes. New construction methods were developed to cut stone from hillsides to create solid limestone buildings. (Many still survive).
1713. Pirates seized much of the Bahamas chain of islands and threatened Bermudian salt interests in the Turks islands. Fortunately for them, a former privateer, Woodes Rogers, assumed control of the Bahamas and flushed out the pirates.
1714. George I ascended the throne of England.
1715. Britain went to war with Spain and Bermuda's Independent Company of troops was alerted.
1716. Another very severe hurricane damaged many Bermuda buildings.
1716. All ninety-two Bermuda-registered vessels, a huge increase from when last counted, were sloops.
1716. Christ Church, or Old Devonshire Church, was first built, from an earlier religious edifice that had first commenced in the 1660s. It replaced a place of worship that blew down in a hurricane. (It was reconstructed after fire from arson in the 1970s).
1717. A fast, shallow draft cedar-built 8-10 gun sloop made in and known initially as "Bermuda" (later, Adventure) was a gift from former pirate Benjamin Hornigold to the pirate known as Blackbeard, Edward Teach.
1718. Blackbeard the Pirate, real name Edward Teach, successfully blockaded Charleston, North Carolina. By taking hostages, he forced the town’s people to hand over a large quantity of money and a medicine chest. Reports reached England that he was threatening to take over Bermuda. In June that year Blackbeard set sail and steered towards Bermuda but became distracted by plunder on the high seas and did not carry out his plan. One of his ships, was the sloop Bermuda, gifted to him by another pirate, Benjamin Hornigold. Blackbeard renamed it Adventure.
1718. In Bermuda, another slave conspiracy was feared. It was reported that Negro men had grown very impudent and insulting of late. In fact, some slave conspiracies began, known as the "poisoning plots" until 1730.
1718. May 10. Nathaniel Catling came ashore in Bermuda and went to see Governor Bennett. He told the Governor that he was one of the crew of the Bermuda sloop "Diamond". On April 14 they were sailing off Rum Key in the Bahamas when they were intercepted by the pirate ship "Ranger" commanded by Captain Vane. The pirates beat up the captain and all the crew of the "Diamond", and looted the vessel of a black man and 300 pieces of eight. Nathaniel Catling was singled and hanged by the neck until they thought he was dead. When they let him down on the deck, he was seen to revive, whereupon one of the pirates hacked him across the collarbone with his cutlass and would have continued until he had murdered him had not one of the other pirates persuaded him it "was too great a cruelty". The pirates' final act was to set fire to the "Diamond".
1718. May 15. 5 days after Catling made his report, Edward North, the commander of the Bermuda sloop "William and Martha" came to see Governor Bennett with a similar story. He said that his ship had been attacked by Vane off Rum Key within 3 hours of the attack on the "Diamond". The pirates had boarded his vessel, violently beaten him and his crew, then dragged one of the seamen to the bows, bound him hand and foot, and tied him to the bowsprit. As he lay there helpless on his back, the pirates put burning matches to his eyes and the muzzle of a loaded pistol in his mouth, thereby to oblige him to confess what money was on board. In this instance they did not set fire to the ship, but Captain North reported that while they were on board, the pirates were continually cursing the King and the higher powers, and swearing damnation on the Governor."
1718. November 22. Death in a naval battle against Britain's Royal Navy of Edward Teach (also Edward Thatch), better known as Blackbeard. He was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. Earlier that year, he had threatened to attack Bermuda. He incurred a number of sword slashes and musket fire wounds. His head was chopped off and displayed from the bowsprit of the vessel that captured him, as proof of his capture to earn the reward.
Blackbeard's gruesome end
1719. July. It is believed that in Bermuda black involvement in the maritime trading economy began, arising from a meeting between Bermuda Governor Benjamin Bennett and his Council, arising from reports of a number of white Bermudian sailors colluding with pirates. The concern was that these white sailors, acting as pilots, would lead pirates through the treacherous shoals of Bermuda to the Islands. But of even more concern was the fact that the number of local whites available to defend the island was being depleted by overseas trading. Bennett was particularly worried about the salt rakers in Turks Island. He declared at that meeting that pirates were taking these men and that it was “...very detrimental to the Inhabitants of these Islands”. (Minutes of the Governor’s Council, Bermuda Archives, 1706-21, p. 120). The low white male population and its military implications were likely reasons for Bennett’s plan to arm and muster slaves. By an Order-in-Council it was declared that the number of white men employed in the local merchant marine be circumscribed. It was hoped this would deprive the pirates of potential pilots and at the same time expand the number of men available for the muster. Thereafter, no vessel of 40 feet or more keel and belonging to and departing from the Islands was to have “...any more white Sailors than Twelve...”; and no vessel of 39 feet keel or less was to take out any more than nine ‘white’ sailors. All captains of vessels of any dimension whatsoever could take out “...as many Negroes or other Slaves as he or they shall think proper". All sailors taken out by vessels were to be brought back to the Islands by the same vessels on which they left. Hence began the expansion of the international reach of local ‘black’s trading’, as ‘Negroes’, ‘Mulattos’, and ‘Indians’, in bond or free, would begin to slowly expand their presence in the Bermudian merchant marine. Between 1708 and 1720, about 28 percent of the men constituting a sloop’s crew were ‘black’ according to 18th Century documents. This rose to 34 percent in 1720. Those who were employed as mariners within the ‘black’ community were not all Bermuda-born and raised; and among the community of sailors were men with at least a foreign and plausibly Spanish Caribbean heritage. Slave labour shifted from performing diverse agricultural tasks to skilled artisan crafts. A few male slaves had fished, hunted whales, and salvaged wrecks in local waters during the company period, and these early maritime slaves were among the first recruited by Bermudian masters embarking on inter-colonial trade. Other male slaves, particularly boys, learned seamanship when their owners eschewed planting and took to the sea. A third group became sawyers, joiners, caulkers, blacksmiths, and shipwrights and formed the backbone of the colony's shipbuilding labor force. As more and more slaves were integrated into the maritime economy, the shipping fleet swelled and the island prospered from its increased trade. From a white perspective, the shift enabled white masters who went to sea to use their previously underemployed male slaves more productively.
1719. November 17, the Cobbs Hill Methodist Chapel in Warwick Parish, Bermuda, was built by slaves at night
1720. Of the 17 boats in Antigua, 9 were from Bermuda.
1721. Robert Dinwiddie commenced his role as a colonial administrator with his appointment in Bermuda (see 1751). A graduate of the University of Glasgow and with his parents successful merchants in Glasgow he became the Collector of Customs, a post he held for 16 years. Later, he was the Governor of Virginia.
1721. The third Government House was started, yet again in St. George's, on the site largely occupied now by the Unfinished Church.
1721. The Silver Oar, brought to Bermuda in 1701 by Governor Bennett as the emblem of Admiralty jurisdiction, and initiated by him as the custom of placing it before himself at meetings of the Governor’s Council, was purchased by the Bermuda Government.
1722. When Colonel John Bruce Hope became Governor, major work was done on Paget Fort (or Queen's Fort as it was sometimes called). It seems likely that the rocks on which the lower battery stood were undermined by the constant pounding of the waves, particularly in the winter. It took several years to complete the repairs on both Paget and nearby Smith's Forts, at great cost.
1724. Henry Rost, a German national, applied unsuccessfully to the Bermuda legislature for financial help in establishing a vineyard in Bermuda.
1725. June 1. Bishop George Berkeley, after having proposed a scheme for the erection of a college in Bermuda for "the converting of the savage Americans to Christianity" obtained a charter from King George I to build a college in Bermuda to be known as St. Paul's, for the university education of Americans, Indians and black Bermudians. But funds never came.
1725. The "William" vessel was seized by Robert Dinwiddie, Bermuda Collector of Customs, for smuggling and for having a substantially black crew (3 of 4 crew members). Master of the William was Solomon Frith. He successfully smuggled a hogshead of Virginia tobacco by discharging his white crew at Turks Islands and taking a slave crew on to Virginia. By law, slaves could not testify and therefore he could not be found guilty of smuggling for lack of witnesses. She was acquitted from seizure.
1726. Governor John Hope Bruce buried his wife, Charlotte, in what by then had become the Governor's Garden in St. George's (later, Somer's Garden) erecting a stone tomb along the garden’s southern wall.
1727. King George II was enthroned.
1727. Fourways, in Paget, was built of native coral stone and cedar. It was commissioned by John Harvey of Harvey's Bristol Cream fame, who made it his home. It was aptly named Fourways because it spread modestly in all four directions and was enclosed within two and a half acres of walled gardens at Amen Corner, a vital crossroads in Bermuda for over 250 years. Fourways' reputation for gracious hospitality was established from the very beginning. Guests attending Mr. Harvey's elegant dinner parties enjoyed lavishly cooked meals, an excellent wine cellar and - because they were forced to travel many miles by horse & carriage - they were offered overnight lodging as well. For more than two centuries this lovely Georgian home was retained as the private residence of the Harvey family and several other owners, and remained a fixture on the Island's social scene. Extensive renovations and additions were made, but the uniquely Bermudian character of the house was carefully preserved.
1728. Bermuda received a shipment of military supplies from Britain.
1728. Militia Act 1728 created 'The King's Independent Company' of 50 men in Bermuda, taking part of the name of the earlier Independent Company.
1730. June 6. After being tried on June 1, Slave Sally Bassett, owned by the estate of Francis Dickinson, of Southampton, was sentenced to death and then burned at the stake on a scorching hot day for poisoning several persons including her master Thomas Forster who owned Sally's grand-daughter Beck, his wife Sarah Forster and Nancey, a household bondswoman. Sally was charged with giving Beck the poison that Nancey discovered in the wall of the kitchen outlet. She always maintained her innocence and said God would send a sign to prove it. People then found the Bermudiana flowering out of her ashes and Sally became a focus of the anti-slavery movement. Bermudians refer to a really hot day as a Sally Basset Day.
1730. An Act affecting Negroes and other slaves imported into Bermuda was approved. It levied a tax of £5 on all imported slaves, except those arriving directly from Africa. The Population was then 8,774 - 5,086 white and 3,688 black.
1731. In St. Georges, Bermuda, the Mitchell House (now the St. George's Historical Society) was built.
1731. More than half the black population of Bermuda were urged by militant slaves to rise up and attack the slave owners while they slept. But the planned attack was foiled.
1732. Establishment of Georgia as a British Colony, by James Oglethorpe.
1736. In an inventory made for Colonel John Trimingham, there were 18 Bermuda-made carved chairs in his living room, made partly or wholly with cedar - and mahogany imported from the West Indies, much prized. It was a good time for Bermuda-made furniture.
1737. Alured Popple was appointed lieutenant-governor of Bermuda. Upon his arrival, Popple wrote back to London "Notwithstanding the information I had in the Plantation Office, Bermuda never appeared to me to be of such consequence as I now find it to be." A year later, he was appointed Governor.
1737. Between 3 September and 31 December, 38 sloops entered or cleared Norfolk, and of this total, 25 were registered in Bermuda, the famous cedar-built Bermuda sloops. Their hulls, with significant dead rise, combined with low freeboard, less superstructure and lighter spars to enable them to increase speed and stability. Strong, light cedar found in abundance in Bermuda, and used for framing as well as planking, reduced vessel weight, and the common sail plan, with raked mast and square topsails, made Bermuda sloops good sailors with speed under fair conditions.
1738. Alured Popple (1699 - 17 November 1744), who had been appointed lieutenant-governor of Bermuda less than a year earlier, was appointed Governor.
He had earlier been an English civil servant, with a well-connected family. Popple's great-grandmother, Mary Marvell, was a sister of the poet Andrew Marvell. Mary married Edmund Popple, Sheriff of Hull. Their son William was a correspondent of Marvell's and developed a friendship with John Locke, whose Letter on Toleration he translated into English. Popple's brother William (1700/1-1764) published verses, plays, satires, and translations (including one of Horace's Ars Poetica published in 1753). He was also the co-author (with Aaron Hill) of The Prompter, a dramatic periodical published 1734-1736. Unpublished translations and stage adaptations by William Popple are at the British Library and the Bodleian. Alured Popple held a clerkship at the Board of Trade during his early years, and in 1722 was appointed secretary to the Board, a post held by his grandfather and father before him (William from 1696-1707, William Jr. from 1707-1722). Alured held the post until 1737, when he relinquished it to his brother William. During his tenure he implemented a system of fees for the services carried out by the office, replacing the system of informal graft that had developed. He was known for his "great knowledge and capacity of governining." In 1737 Popple was appointed lieutenant-governor of Bermuda, and a year later he acceded to the governorship. Upon his arrival in Bermuda, Popple wrote back to London "Notwithstanding the information I had in the Plantation Office, Bermuda never appeared to me to be of such consequence as I now find it to be." During his governorship, Popple worked to increase Bermuda's fortifications, supported various agricultural experiments, tried to unknot certain difficulties with the island's currency system, and generally attempted to bring order to Bermuda's political climate. Popple was housed in the third "government house" in St. George (which stood on what is now the site of the Unfinished Church). At some point during his tenure the house leaked; as Henry Wilkinson put it, "when the roof leaked over Alured Popple so that he had to rent a dwelling in the town to save his books and portraits, St. Georgians felt the humiliation so keenly and expressed it so tenderly that His Excellency in turn was touched by their solicitude and spurred to hasten his return to 'government house,' as it was then called." In the meantime Popple stayed at Bridge House (today owned by the Bermuda National Trust). Popple introduced Freemasonry to Bermuda, being appointed Provincial Grand Master of the Bermudas or Somer's Islands under a patent granted by Lord Strathmore. Popple's brother William (who replaced him as governor at his death) was granted the same position. Popple died of a "bilious fever" on 17 November 1744, after an illness of nine days. His elegant grave marker is mounted inside St. Peter's Church, in St. George's, Bermuda. Popple's extensive library of more than a thousand volumes, starting with the Latin classics and then the Greek in translation, traversed all the standard poetry, prose, and drama not only of England but of France, with an ample supply of biography, history, law both civil and ecclesiastical, theology, medicine, commerce, fortifications, natural science, pure science, and pseudo-science including the veterinarians' and farriers'. There was nearly everything from rhetoric, through six volumes of Pills to Purge Melancholy, to shorthand, and the collection included Captain John Smith's History of Virginia, Oldmixon's History of the British Empire, several volumes on the buccaneers, Dampier's Voyages, Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe. Popple's library includes some very significant works, including titles by Galileo and Newton. Among the other scientific items in Popple's study were "A Pair of Globes," "A Camera Obscura," "A Microscope," "An Universal perpetual Mathem[atical] Instrum[ent]" and various navigational tools. In the inventory of Popple's estate taken after his death, the library is appraised at £175/1/3, a sizeable percentage of the entire estate (valued at £761/5/5). The list of books consumes seven of the ten pages of the inventory (Bermuda Book of Wills, Vol. 8, pp. 19-28). Just what happened to his books is a mystery.
1741. In Bermuda, the Spanish privateer Francisco Lopez landed a raiding party at Boat Bay in Southampton Parish. The Spaniards seized local fishing boats and towed them behind their ship. The local militia and two armed Bermudian sloops arrived too late to retrieve them. The boats and the retreating Spanish were never heard of again.
1744. November 17.Death in St. George's, Bermuda, of Governor Alured Popple. He introduced Freemasonry to Bermuda, being appointed Provincial Grand Master of the Bermudas or Somer's Islands under a patent granted by Lord Strathmore. Popple's brother William (who replaced him as governor at his death) was granted the same position. Popple died of a "bilious fever" on 17 November 1744, after an illness of nine days. His elegant grave marker is mounted inside St. Peter's Church, in St. George's, Bermuda. Popple's extensive library of more than a thousand volumes, starting with the Latin classics and then the Greek in translation, traversed all the standard poetry, prose, and drama not only of England but of France, with an ample supply of biography, history, law both civil and ecclesiastical, theology, medicine, commerce, fortifications, natural science, pure science, and pseudo-science including the veterinarians' and farriers'. There was nearly everything from rhetoric, through six volumes of Pills to Purge Melancholy, to shorthand, and the collection included Captain John Smith's History of Virginia, Oldmixon's History of the British Empire, several volumes on the buccaneers, Dampier's Voyages, Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe. Popple's library includes some very significant works, including titles by Galileo and Newton. Among the other scientific items in Popple's study were "A Pair of Globes," "A Camera Obscura," "A Microscope," "An Universal perpetual Mathem[atical] Instrum[ent]" and various navigational tools. In the inventory of Popple's estate taken after his death, the library is appraised at £175/1/3, a sizeable percentage of the entire estate (valued at £761/5/5). The list of books consumes seven of the ten pages of the inventory (Bermuda Book of Wills, Vol. 8, pp. 19-28). Just what happened to his books is a mystery.
1745. Establishment of the Royal Navy's North America & West Indies Station. The squadron was formed to counter French forces in North America, with the headquarters at the Halifax Naval Yard in Nova Scotia (now CFB Halifax). Operationally, it began with the area of command first been designated as the North American Station in 1767, under the command of Commodore Samuel Hood, with the headquarters in Halifax from 1758 to 1794, and thereafter in both Halifax and Bermuda until later run solely from Bermuda.
1745. June 25. Birth in the Town of St. George, Bermuda of Thomas Tudor Tucker. The family had been prominent in the colony since his ancestors immigrated from England in 1662. His parents were Henry (1713–1785) and Ann Tucker. As a youth, Thomas studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, UK. After graduating in 1770, he moved first to Virginia in the 1760s, then settled in Charleston, South Carolina (which had been settled from Barbados in 1670, under the leadership of William Sayle, and which had a large community of expatriate Barbadians) and opened a practice. His younger brother St. George Tucker followed him to Virginia, studying law and eventually being appointed as Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. He served as a surgeon in the Revolutionary War. Elected as a Delegate from South Carolina to the Continental Congress, he served from 1787 to 1788. Elected as a Representative from South Carolina to the United States House of Representatives, he served from 1789 to 1793. Appointed as (third) United States Treasurer by President Thomas Jefferson and served in that capacity from 1801 to 1828, when he died in office.
1746. So many prisoners-of-war were brought in by Bermudian privateers that the only place available to accommodate them was Paget Fort. They were guarded by locally-quartered troops and had a food allowance of one shilling a day.
1747. As a result of the Militia Act 1747, with the War of the Austrian Succession looming and providing a potential threat to both Britain and Bermuda, the Troop of Horse Grenadiers earlier established was split into Eastern and Western Sections.
1747. The death, in Bermuda, at more than 100 years old, of Sarah Durham (nee Hunt). Her husband - who pre-deceased her - was several times Commander-on-Chief, Bermuda. She was the child of Richard Hunt and his wife Sarah, of Bromley, Kent, England, who arrived in the Bermuda Islands in 1647, with their child, also named Sarah.
1749. Death of Thomas Savage Sr, (born 1664) a silversmith who worked in both Boston and Bermuda.
Bermuda's Speaker of the House of Assembly, Cornelius Hinson, told several
people at a parade in St. George's that he would give 10 pounds to any soldier
who would shoot Governor William Popple in the head. The Speaker was never
prosecuted for this treasonous talk.
1750. The size
of the Bermuda fleet of ships had grown and diversified to 115 vessels:
eighty-one sloops, fourteen schooners, eighteen brigantines, and two others.
1750. The size of the Bermuda fleet of ships had grown and diversified to 115 vessels: eighty-one sloops, fourteen schooners, eighteen brigantines, and two others.The speed of the Bermuda sloop made it a highly sought-after carrier whose masters found ready customers in ports abroad, especially during wartime. The flexibility of the rig allowed it to sail in wind conditions that kept square-riggers at anchor, and the shallow draft of the typical Bermudian hull could navigate over sandbars that stopped larger vessels and up rivers to reach markets deep in the North American interior. The durable, native Bermuda cedar from which the sloops were built was highly resistant to rot and marine borers, giving Bermudian vessels a lifespan of twenty years and more even in the worm-infested waters of the Chesapeake and the Caribbean. The Bermuda sloop was wonderfully adapted to overcoming many of the physical and geographic obstacles in America's inter-colonial trade, a factor that played no small part in the island's success.
Bermuda-built vessel circa 1750
1751. December 29. The ship Hunter Galley, built in Bermuda and launched in 1847, was wrecked on a Bermuda reef at Hogfish Cut at the western end of Bermuda. It is known she was commanded by Clement Conyers on her passage to South Carolina from the island of St. Eustatius some days earlier. During the early part of the voyage, gale force winds damaged the rigging, sails and ’top timbers’ forcing the ship to head to Bermuda for repair. Bermuda was visible and the ship headed for port. Because of the treacherous weather conditions, the Captain and crew could not get the ship into the harbour, and moored her in Hogfish Cut. Captain Conyers sent members of the crew to get an anchor and some rope to secure the vessel but they were unsuccessful and, during the night, the force of the winds battered the ship to such an extent that the next day the Captain was forced to cut away the mast, leaving the ship to sink. At the time of loss, the ship was engaged in the trades with the American Colonies and those of the Bahamas and West Indies. Manufactured goods from Europe and America, rum and sugar from the West Indies and stone from Bermuda would have been some of the cargo carried by this vessel.
1751. November 20. Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie (born 1693) of Virginia and his family, after setting sail a few days earlier from Bermuda, arrived in Williamsburg to take up his new post in Britain's largest overseas colony, retroactive to July 4, first under Governor Willem Anne van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, and then, from July 1756 to January 1758, as deputy for John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun. Since the governors at that time were largely absentee, he was the de-facto head of the colony for much of the time. When the Dinwiddie family arrived the Governor's Palace was under repair. Arrangements were made for their temporary residence at the house next door, today the Robert Carter House. It would be a year before they could relocate to the Palace, and no sooner had they settled in than construction of the ballroom wing began. Dinwiddie came from a line of Scottish merchants, but moved into colonial administration as a young man. His first assignment took him to Bermuda, where he met his wife to be, Rebecca. She was the only child of Andrew Auchinleck, the colony's principal Anglican minister and once, briefly, acting governor. Dinwiddie was much older than she. They were married in Bermuda, and in 1738 their first daughter, Elizabeth, was born. The younger child, Rebecca, arrived three years later. Life in Williamsburg with two young ladies—the girls were ten and thirteen when they came—must have been a busy round of household management, lessons, and social activities. As lieutenant governor, Dinwiddie saw the beginnings of the conflict on Virginia's frontiers that led to the French and Indian War. He was a firm advocate of British expansion into the west. He sought the help of the Indians and the other British colonies in the struggle against the French, pressed the legislature for defense funds, and favored the use of regular armed forces in place of the less reliable militia. Dinwiddie made George Washington a lieutenant colonel in 1754. Generally, Dinwiddie was able to work in harmony with the Virginia Legislature. He did, however, prompt a serious conflict with the House of Burgess shortly after he took office. In hope of increasing the British King's revenues, Dinwiddie tried to levy a fee for land patents, which would also require landholders to pay quitrents to the Crown. This precipitated the famous "Pistole Fee" controversy, in which the lower house charged that the governor had imposed an unlawful tax that endangered colonial liberty - a precursor of the arguments of the American Revolution. The pressures of office and the war badly taxed Dinwiddie's health. At his own request he was relieved of office in 1758, and with his wife and two daughters returned to Britain. He died in London on July 27, 1770 leaving his widow and daughters comfortably established. Daughter Elizabeth died at thirty-five, unmarried. Rebecca Dinwiddie died in London in 1793, 101 years after her husband's birth.
1752. Like the rest of the British Empire, Bermuda changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Eleven days were lost when September 3 under the old system became September 14 under the new one.
1752. Arrival in St. George's, Bermuda of British-born artist Joseph Blackburn. The sheer quality of his artwork led him to paint leaders galore of elite local society and their wives and/or families, including members of the Harvey, Jones and Tucker families. He is known to have completed more than thirty portraits in Bermuda. Noteworthy paintings from Bermuda include Mary Lee Harvey (Mrs. John Harvey), a seated half-length portrait of a fifty-three-year-old woman holding an open book and a fan in her lap. Mrs. Harvey, adorned with a lacy cap, a strand of pearls, and lavish lace and ribbons at her neck, bodice, and sleeves, conveys a stately air.
1752. Birth in Bermuda, near Port Royal, of St. George Tucker, who became famous in Williamsburg, Virginia (see 1827).
1753. A Dutch ship, the Manilla, was wrecked on the north eastern reefs of Bermuda. She also became known both as the Ginger Beer Bottle wreck. Artefacts recovered from her include tiny glass trade beads, stone ginger beer bottles, pottery and glassware and a quantity of manillas, bronze bangles produced in Europe and used as currency to purchase slaves from African chieftains. Many large iron guns embedded in the reef around the ship and these, along with other items found, led many to claim that the Manilla was involved in the slave trade, an armed escort rather than a carrier of slave cargo, and was returning to Holland from the West Indies before proceeding to West Africa.
1753. British artist Joseph Blackburn, ambitious to find a much bigger market for his work than tiny Bermuda, relocated from Bermuda to Newport, Rhode Island, then an important US shipping base covering trade in the Atlantic Ocean. The accomplished portraits Blackburn had earlier produced in Bermuda reflected many of the characteristics for which he would become known in Boston and other New England port cities. His elegant works in pastel colors depicted the sitters as wealthy, graceful, and refined.
1754. May 28. Death in Bermuda of British Army Lieutenant John Foote, officer of His Majesty's Independent Company of Foot, Bermuda's first British Army unit.. His date of birth or place of birth is unknown. He had one son, Lt. William Foote and a daughter Mary Foot or Foote. Wife is unknown.1755. The death, in Bermuda where he had close family ties, of the South Carolina planter and historian Edward Wigg. He was believed to have been buried at St. Peter's Church.
1758. After the Seven Years' War began, a Troop of horse and a Regiment of Foot of nine Companies was formed in Bermuda arising from the Militia Act 1758. Each of the nine Parishes was to provide a Company under the command of a Captain, a Lieutenant and an Ensign. The Troop of Horse would have, in addition to these officers, a Cornet and two Brigadiers (not the high UK Army rank).
1759. The Honorable George Forbes, originally from Strathdon, Aberdeenshire and an emigrant to Bermuda, by then a Councilor and member of the Executive Council of the Bermuda Government - purchased Paget Island - then called Paget Ford Island and 36.35 acres - in St. George's Parish for sixty pounds sterling.
1760. King George III was enthroned in Britain and acknowledged in Bermuda by the Colonial Government..
1760. The Bermudian anti-Jews bill in effect since 1674 was repealed. This was written into the repeal bill: "For as much as these islands are supported by trade only it must be very prejudicial to prevent any person from trading in the said islands. And for as much as our neighboring islands who have permitted Jews to trade there have reaped great advantage therefrom, the said act so laying an imposition on all Jews trading here must have been very prejudicial to the inhabitants of these islands...."
1761. A slave or servile conspiracy was uncovered in Bermuda. Over half of the black population laid plans in a bid for freedom. A slave uprising was deemed imminent. The militia were embodied. Six slaves were executed, including one female. The Legislature reacted by banning all black festivities including Gombey dancing,because the Bermuda Gombey tradition started with slaves, who were allowed to gather on holidays, especially Christmas. However. the ban was later lifted.
1762. A Watch Law was enacted in Bermuda. Any slave not found by night where they belonged would receive 100 lashes.
1762. By year-end, Bermuda had exported 30,000 turkeys and as many ducks, mostly to New York, a major cash boost for local farmers.
1763. The French ship "L'Union" struck a reef in good weather and sank off Bermuda. It yielded good wooden artifacts.
1763. Bermuda's House of Assembly in a significant majority (by five to one) vote that St. George's should remain as the centre of Bermuda trade, despite murmurings from a number of influential people that there should be a new town built on the Pembroke side of Crow Lane, about midway in Bermuda,
1763. The end of the Seven Years war led to the withdrawal from Bermuda of the Independent Company of Militia. It was replaced by a detached Company of the 9th. Regiment of Foot, from Florida. Although it was attempted to bring this unit up to strength with men taken from the Bahamas Independent Company, it never had more than 20 Privates ( a Company of that day being comparable to a modern platoon, with 45 to 50 men).
1763. Isaac Chauvet, a French national, applied unsuccessfully to the Bermuda legislature for financial help in establishing a vineyard in Bermuda.
1764. August. Appointment of George James Bruere as Governor of Bermuda, formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army. He arrived in Bermuda with his wife and nine children on the Prince of Wales, and remained in office for the next sixteen years.
1764. A French flotilla from Santo Domingo attached Bermudian salt-rakers in the Turks Islands, destroyed their houses and effects and carried them off as prisoners. Bermudians had been salt-rakers there since 1678 but the capture made the British Government in London look into the real ownership of the Turks Islands. They were deemed part of the British Crown but part of the colony of the Bahamas. Bermudians living there were given advance notice to quit.
1765. Bermuda families living in the Somerset Bridge area formed themselves into a social group called the Somerset Bridge Club and began their own private library, for members only.
1765. On September 4, in Ayr, Scotland, Claude William McCallan was born, the son of William and Jean McCallan. He was shipwrecked on Bermuda's north reefs in 1786. He was rescued with his shipbuilding tools by a local fisherman, Daniel Seon. McCallan never left Bermuda. Instead he selected a local bride, Lucy Burrows Mercer, and erected his lovely home in 1799 to 1800 near where he first arrived, at Callan Glen in Hamilton Parish. At one point, Callan Glen it owned all the property east, south and west of it.
1766. Governor George Bruere, earlier concerned about the casual and almost paternal way some slaves were treated in Bermuda and two years after his appointment, made a speech to the House of Assembly in which he proposed the need for stricter controls, including "...haveing the Doors lock'd where they are, under the inspection of a white Person." Familiar with the control of slaves in other colonies, he advised the Bermudians to Bring your Negroes to a better regularity and due obedience... prevent their unlawfull Assemblys, Thefts, and pernicious practices of leaving their Masters Houses and going to meetings... by night."
1767. 21 March. Bermuda's House of Assembly resolved to appoint a Committee consisting of its Speaker and eleven other members to address His Majesty the King (George III) on "the tyranny and oppression of the Governor" if they deemed it necessary during the House's adjournment.
1767. Following the establishment of the Royal Navy's North America & West Indies Station in 1745, formed to counter French forces in North America, with the headquarters at the Halifax Naval Yard in Nova Scotia (now CFB Halifax), operationally, it began with the area of command under the command of Commodore Samuel Hood, with the headquarters in Halifax from 1758 to 1794, and thereafter in both Halifax and Bermuda until later run solely from Bermuda.
1768. The detached Company of the 9th. Regiment of Foot, having arrived in Bermuda from Florida in 1763, was returned to Florida, leaving Bermuda without a regular garrison. Except for a period during the American War of Independence, the colony's military defence was left, thenceforth, to its own militias until 1793.
1772. November. Customs officers seized the sloop "Molly", suspecting a cargo of foreign rum. The Captain Perient Trott, owner Alex. Stockdale and others boarded the vessel, forced off the officers, and made for sea. (Bermuda and the American Revolution; Kerr, W; pg 37).
1774, early. The ship "Industry" of Limerick was stranded on the north rocks. The ship was stripped by Bermudians. (Bermuda and the American Revolution; Kerr, W; pg 37).
1774. 20 August. Governor George Bruere of Bermuda wrote to the Colonial Secretary, the Earl of Dartmouth, to report that some Bermudians were showing sympathy for the rebellion on the North American mainland. "As the People here have thought themselves of Sufficient Consequence, to Choose Delegates and Address the Congress at Philadelphia, I hope the Government will think they have Sufficient Reason to put some Check upon them and Support the few Officers of Government."
1775. April 19. Britain and the USA went to war, with the Battle of Lexington, outside Boston, the "shot heard round the world."
1775. June. Governor George Bruere of Bermuda lost his eldest son John, who was killed fighting as a Lieutenant in the British Army at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
1775. August 14. To the great outrage of Bermuda Governor George James Bruere, himself a former British Army Lieutenant Colonel, a party of armed Bermudians led by Colonel Henry Tucker, having previously plotted to do so illegally, furtively approached under cover of darkness, overpowered a single militia guard at the fort then known as Warwick Castle and scaled the high walls of the Powder Magazine in St. George's. The air vent that capped the magazine was quietly pried away and a man lowered by rope into the magazine where he was able to unseat the door from its hinges being careful not to cause a spark and set off the dry gunpowder stored within.
They then proceeded to steal nearly all the island's British Army-supplied of 80-100 barrels and half-barrels of gunpowder from Powder Magazine. Local residents were "persuaded" if loyalists or eagerly volunteered to carefully - because of its unpredictable explosive nature -cart the gunpowder to the shores of Tobacco Bay where a pre-arranged group of locally-made cedar dinghies were present to carry the precious cargo out beyond the reef to the waiting American sloops. The Charleston, SC committee of safety had sent the schooners "Lady Catherine", "Charlestown" and "Savannah Packet". They had arrived secretly by night and had stayed clear of the reefs, also out of reach of British boats based in Bermuda then in Castle Harbour. The American ships, led by the "Lady Catherine" with 40 crew and Captain George Ord as its master, reached Charleston safely and deposited the powder with Captain John Cowper of North Carolina, Colonel Henry Tucker's agent in Charleston. The powder was later used to good effect at Fort Moultrie. The daring robbery later became known as Bermuda's 1775 Gunpowder Plot. As a result, the Continental Congress embargo was then (briefly) lifted. The need for gunpowder by revolutionary forces in America was acute. The majority of soldiers there had barely enough for one firing, Most had arrived from France but it was not nearly enough. There were no facilities on the mainland to produce it. General George Washington and his advisors had hatched plots galore to steal it from British colonies in and beyond Bermuda.
1775. August 15. By dawn an alarm was raised that the magazine had been raided and a Bermuda Pilot boat was dispatched to chase down the American sloop, the ships of the British Navy being too slow on the water to catch her. The Pilot boat eventually caught up to the sloop but being vastly outgunned by the American it turned around and headed back to Bermuda. However, the pilot boat skipper and crew identified the sloop as the Lady Catherine of Virginia. On shore, the British militia scoured the island looking for the gunpowder thieves. The Governor posted a reward of 100 pounds sterling for any one who would testify against the gunpowder thieves. Despite the size then of this reward, there is no record of anyone willing to give evidence against Colonel Henry Tucker, who had arranged the theft of the gunpowder with his men. It was probably due to the huge influence of that family at that time, both in Bermuda and America. (Two of the Colonel's forefathers had been Governors of Bermuda). The Governor was furious and reported his anger to the King back in England. Later that day, a British Army Captain of militia found and burnt a Bermuda sloop being fitted out for an overseas journey by one of the US sympathizers. It transpired that Colonel Tucker was in the process of having built at a shipyard at Mangrove Bay in Somerset for that purpose. Tempers flared among other local residents also sympathetic to the cause. A Royal Navy sloop boarding party also sent to investigate was armed with fixed bayonets. The increasing number of rebellious Bermudians initially kept the militia and naval party at bay. The next day, this infamous "Gunpowder Plot" created a sensation in Bermuda where those loyal to the Crown were outraged at the treason of certain Bermudians. However, the friendliness shown by the USA towards Bermudians did not last forever. British Regular Army troops were brought in to prevent another such plot.
1775. August 20. Britain's Royal Navy dispatched HMS Scorpion to the island on the instructions of Gage and Admiral Howe, its primary purpose being to remove a number of artillery pieces to prevent the rebels from America returning to seize them.
1775. In Philadelphia, the American Continental Congress announced a trade embargo against all colonies remaining loyal to the Crown. When Bermuda tried to bargain with salt, the American colonies refused and requested gunpowder instead. George Washington himself wrote to Bermuda, saying the cause was just for him to obtain the supply. A copy of his letter is still available in Bermuda for interested locals and visitors. A group of Bermudians became sympathetic to the Revolution.
1775. American invasion of Canada, ultimately unsuccessful. It was the first major military initiative by the newly formed Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The objective of the campaign was to gain military control of the British Province of Quebec, and convince the French-speaking "Canadiens" to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies. One expedition left Fort Ticonderoga under Richard Montgomery, besieged and captured Fort St. Johns, and very nearly captured British General Guy Carleton when taking Montreal. The other expedition left Cambridge, Massachusetts under Benedict Arnold, and traveled with great difficulty through the wilderness of Maine to Quebec City. The two forces joined there, but were defeated at the Battle of Quebec in December 1775. Montgomery's expedition set out from Fort Ticonderoga in late August, and began besieging Fort St. Johns, the main defensive point south of Montreal, in mid-September. After the fort was captured in November, Carleton abandoned Montreal, fleeing to Quebec City, and Montgomery took control of the city before heading for Quebec with an army much reduced in size by expiring enlistments. There he joined Arnold, who had left Cambridge in early September on an arduous trek through the wilderness that left his surviving troops starving and lacking in many supplies and equipment. These forces joined before Quebec City in December, where they assaulted the city in a snowstorm on the last day of the year. The battle was a disastrous defeat for the Americans; Montgomery was killed and Arnold wounded, and the city's defenders suffered few casualties. Arnold then conducted an ineffectual siege on the city, during which Loyalist sentiments were boosted by successful propaganda campaigns, and General David Wooster's blunt administration of Montreal served to annoy both supporters and detractors of the Americans.
Americans invaded Canada 17751775. September 6. General George Washington, Commander in Chief, 13 Colonies of what later became the USA, not knowing that British gunpowder had already been stolen in Bermuda and shipped to America, wrote this letter (see below) to the Inhabitants of Bermuda: "Gentlemen, In the great conflict which agitates the continent, I cannot doubt but the asserters of freedom and the right of the constitution are possessed of your most favorable regards, and wishes for success. As descendants of freedom and heirs with us of the same glorious inheritance- We flatter ourselves, that, though divided by situation, we are firmly united in sentiment. The cause of virtue and liberty is confined to no continent or climate- It comprehends, within its capacious limits, the wise and good, however dispersed and separated in space and distance. You will not be uninformed, that the violence and rapacity of a tyrannic ministry have forced the citizens of America , your brother colonists, into arms. We equally detest and lament the prevalence of those counsels, no alternative but a civil war- or a base submission. The wiser Disposer of all events has hitherto smiled upon our virtuous efforts. These mercenary troops, a few of whom lately boasted of subjugating this vast continent have been checked on their earlier ravages, are now actually encircled in a small space, their arms disgraced, and suffering all the calamities of a siege. The virtue, spirit, and unison of the provinces leave them nothing to fear, but the want of ammunition. The application of our enemies to foreign states, and their vigilance upon our coasts, are only the efforts they have made against us with success. Under the circumstances, and with these sentiments, we have turned our eyes to you, gentlemen for relief. We are informed there is a very large magazine on your Island under a very feeble guard. We would not wish to involve an opposition, in which from your situation, we would be unable to support you; we know not therefore to what extent to solicit your assistance in availing ourselves of this supply; but if your favour and friendship to North America and its liberties have not been misrepresented, I persuade myself- you may, consistently with your own safety, promote and further the scheme, so as to give it the fairest prospect of success. Be assured that in this case the whole power and exertion of my influence will be made with the honorable Continental Congress, that your Island may not only be supplied with provisions, but experience every mark of affection and friendship, which the grateful citizens of a free country can bestow on its brethren and benefactors." (The original is in the safekeeping of the Bermuda Historical Society).
1775. US Congress authorized Mr Edward Stiles, of Pennsylvania and a former Bermudian, to send the brig "Sea Nymph" Sam Stobel master, to Bermuda with cargo (such as lumber, soap, and candles).
1776. May. The
sloop "Betsy & Ann", Ben Tucker master,
was given permission to exchange 1700 bushels of salt and two puncheons of rum
for provisions at Greenwich, Cumberland, NJ.
1776. Summer. St George Tucker, his father and one other purchased the sloop "Dispatch" to smuggle rice, loaded with salt at Turk's Islands in Nov 1776, and proceeded to Virginia and sold the cargo.
1776. Summer. Admiral Lord Howe sent two Royal Navy sloops of war to interrupt Bermuda trade with the rebellious colonists of America, the "Nautilus", Capt John Collins (arrived Jun 19, departed Oct 20 1776), and the "Galatea", Capt Thomas Jordan, (arrived Sep 7 1776).
1776. St George Tucker purchased the sloop "Adelphi" for trade as he had the "Dispatch" above. He apparently chartered the sloop to Norton and Beale, master George Gibbs.
1776. December 25. General George Washington led his troops on a surprise attack of British-backed forces by crossing the Delaware River in adverse weather conditions. Stationed in Pennsylvania, Washington devised a plan to take his troops across the river in New Jersey to surprise opponents in Trenton. Between the holiday and poor weather, the attack was unexpected by the enemy forces. The element of surprise was the only way that he and his army stood a chance of defeating the highly trained Hessian mercenaries. The night of the crossing, high winds, sleet, rain and snow made for rough waters on the river, where chunks of floating ice added to the dangers. Combined with the dark of night, the conditions also contributed to low visibility for the Continental troops as they tried to make their way across the treacherous river. Three other forces had previously attempted to cross the river that night but were unsuccessful, leaving them a few thousand people short for their battle plan. Washington's forces attacked a stronghold of Hessian soldiers the following morning, catching them largely off guard. The result was a decisive victory for the Patriot troops, taking on very few wounded in the battle. The casualties they did endure were a result of exposure to the harsh winter elements during the march rather than the battle itself. The victory helped to boost the morale of American fighters who had previously suffered significant losses against British forces. The event inspired soldiers to keep fighting for their cause and has ensured a spot in American history as one of the most iconic moments of the Revolutionary War.
Artist's depiction of Washington's forces as they cross the Delaware River. (George Caleb Bingham/Chrysler Museum of Art)1777 Bridger Goodrich bought a fine Bermuda sloop, a prize of the "Galatea" and refitted her as a privateer. On his initial commission he took 5 prizes of which two were Bermudians which he brought back to Bermuda. His seizure of Bermudian vessels raised a storm of indignation particularly at the Western end of the Island and Henry Tucker of Somerset formed an association to boycott Bridger. The latter took this opposition in his stride and engaged himself to marry Elizabeth Tucker, a kinswoman of Henry; the association's threat took little effect.
1777. Bermuda was invaded briefly by the USA. During the American Revolution, British militia soldiers manned the isolated 17th century battery near Wreck Hill on Somerset Island in Bermuda. The old fort had a strategic position protecting the West End Channel, one of the few passages between the reefs. It was one of the few passages through the dangerous ring of reefs for sailing ships. The soldiers at the fort had the presence of mind to exchange gunfire with two armed brigs that advanced in a threatening manner although they then flew British colors. The brigs, thought to include Bermudian expatriates familiar with local waters, answered with broadsides from their cannon, lowered their Union Jack flags, hoisted the red, white and blue striped ensign of the United States of America and proceeded to invade Bermuda with landing parties. To avoid meeting this much bigger force, the Bermuda based militia men retreated from the battery. The Americans spiked their guns and destroyed the walls of the fort but were forced to retreat themselves when more local soldiers and a Royal Navy detachment responded to the alarm. The Americans escaped on their ships in what became only the second time in the history of Bermuda that it was invaded. It was regarded by military experts in Britain that until something substantial could be done to strengthen Bermuda's defenses, the islands, as a geographically remote British territory in the mid-Atlantic, remained vulnerable to further American and possibly other invasion attempts.
1778-1779. British troops were sent to Bermuda, as the result of the local militia failing to deal with the pro-American sentiment. Some took charge of a condemned vessel "Southampton" apparently against the wishes of the customs officers. The first permanent British Army garrison was established. Tensions between locals and the troops often ran high. When the soldiers arrived, they often took Bermudian livestock and firewood for themselves, and as reprisals for the Bermudians aiding the Americans, would seize or burn Bermudian ships, as happened to a Mr Hinson whose £600 ship was burned in 1778. That year, the garrison had claimed an American ship carrying food that had been stranded on a reef in the West End. But the British did not bargain for the piloting skill of a group of slave fishermen. A chase ensued with the fishermen easily winning. They reached the ship first and off-loaded it. The soldiers found the slaves’ empty boat, traced it and discovered it was owned by local resident Hinson. His boat was destroyed,
1778. St George Tucker sent the "Adonis", Capt Trimingham to Curacao, the ship falling to the French on return.
1778. The British sailing vessel Lord Amberst struck a reef and sank. Much of its glassware was later recovered and is at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.
1779. The Bridger Goodrich fleet of Bermuda privateers maintained such a blockade in Chesapeake Bay that Governor Thomas Jefferson wrote John Jay, President of the Congress "Our trade has never been so distressed since the time of Lord Dunmore."
1779. December 1. "HMS Delaware" and attendant convoy supply ships arrived in Bermuda from America, carrying British Army reinforcements, officers and men of the Royal Garrison Battalion.
1779. December 1. Four warships sent by the US Continental Congress to capture Bermuda arrived, but seeing HMS Delaware and British Army troops patrolling, left quickly, without putting their plan into action.
1780. An American named Zephaniah Pinkham arrived in Bermuda from New England where the whaling industry was strong and created much interest in a big revival in the business of whaling. Bermudians had tried whaling in the past but in a small and localized way. He taught Bermudians how to cut blubber with spades, thus avoiding waste. For more than 50 years, it was one of the colony's most important industries.
1780. July 27. In the annals of the Massachusetts Historical Society there is a record of a treasonous, co-operative accord between Bermudian men of high status and the American military. An invasion of Bermuda was discussed with the Honourable Timothy Pickering, Jr, of the American Board of War by a Captain B. Joel of Bermuda. He gave the names of those from Bermuda, including a judge and secretary of Government, a doctor and comptroller. He drew up a map showing which buildings in the Bermuda capital housed "Friends of America." Colonel Timothy Pickering, Jr. had headed up the Salem/Essex Militia, with whom he had been associated before the revolution against tea and other taxes began. Pickering's irregulars stopped short of a strategic spot from which they could have annihilated the Redcoats streaming back to Boston from their drubbing at Lexington and Concord, and guerilla losses on that retreat. Capt. B. Joel wrote to Pickering, who by then was Adjutant General and a member of the US government's Board of War: "I trouble you once more to mention a circumstance I did not until now think proper to make public, & which I intended to communicate only to you. In the attempt on Berd. I have likewise a design of seizing between two & three thousand pounds in specie, which the governor always keeps by him. Money arising from the Custom of the Island for which he gives the Collector Bills, on England from the Admiralty, and from his own revenues. With this he pays the Garrison, and furnishes the Barracks, Commissary, & other departments. With the approbation of the (War) Board I could induce a merchant of this City (?Boston), from view of private interest & emolument to furnish a vessel for the attempt." The phrase "in the attempt on Berd." is taken to suggest a possible invasion, either for total control, or only as a singular attack of Bermuda. Capt. Joel also transmits with his letter a list of those sympathetic to whatever he was cooking up with Pickering and augments that roll call with the map showing some of their homes in St. George's. Had Joel's papers been discovered by Bruere or British officials, it would perhaps have resulted the removal of his head, along with those of the treasonous worthies, a number of whom sat on the Governor's Council. The Joel map of St. George's of 1780 with adjacent islands and forts was known to Bermudians and was published by Dr. Henry Wilkinson in his four-volume Bermuda books much later.
1780. September 10. Death of His Excellency, Governor George James Bruere, Lieutenant Colonel in His Majesty's Service, at the age of 59 years. He was put under the floor of St. Peter's Church, in a manner coldly contemptuous of his person and his office, probably resulting from the Anglo-American War of 1775-1783. Bruere did not make it through the end of that conflict, which was resolved with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. He had arrived in Bermuda with his wife and nine children on the Prince of Wales in August 1764, and remained in office for the next sixteen years, until his untimely demise, probably from the scourge of yellow fever. One daughter, Frances, married into the Tucker family, descendants of the former Governor Daniel Tucker (1616-19). Among his good works, Bruere spoke against the evil of slavery, years before it came to the fore in the London Parliament. He took a keen interest in agriculture, which he thought was a neglected economic arena, and it that regard he and his wife bought 60 acres to the north of the Town of St. George to grow grapes with the intention of producing a very fine Madeira." He became ill in July 1780, probably due to stress after the locals stole his gunpowder and gave it to the Americans, and died two months later, said by the great Bermuda historian, Dr. Henry Wilkinson, to be "the victim in the eyes of his family of five years of incessant strain and foul play", a situation brought on by the machinations of the locals in their dealings with the rebels in what became the United States of America three years after his death. Because he died of fever he was buried under St. Peter's Church, St. George's. Bruere, a former British Army Lieutenant Colonel who lost a son also in the army fighting the Americans, was outraged when he discovered what had happened and put up a reward for the capture of the Bermudians responsible but to no avail. Bruere was Governor from 1764 until his death. Of all Bermuda's governors since 1612, his term of office was the longest. He had a difficult time during the American Revolutionary War and is thought to have died of stress caused by the interplay of Bermudians and Continental rebels, as well as the yellow fever. His portrait hangs in the Bermuda National Trust's Tucker House museum in the heart of St. George's.
1780. September. During the USA's War of Independence, American prisoners-of-war confined in the prison (much later, the Post Office) in St. George's, were the first to suffer from what became a terrible Bermuda epidemic. It spread quickly throughout Bermuda. Because of a shortage of food, resistance to the disease was low.
1780. Late Governor George Bruere was succeeded as Governor of Bermuda by his son, also George Bruere (1744–1786), who as a lieutenant in the 18th Regiment of Dragoons, Royal Hussars, (with his brother John who died there) had been wounded at Bunker Hill, and who in 1777 had married Martha Louisa Fatio, then aged fourteen. The younger Bruere was Lieutenant Governor of the Bermudas from 1780 to 1781.
1781. 40 acres of cotton were found growing in Tucker's Town, which led directly to the British government encouraging the planting of cotton as a commercial crop in 1788.
1781. December 16. An American loyalist, William Browne born in Massachusetts 27th Feb 1737 but who had fallen foul of rebel bigotry and fled to England, where he was called on by Lord North from his (he said) 'profoundest retreat' , took over as Bermuda's Governor. He had been a friend of John Adams who thought him a solid judicious character, which turned out to be correct as on arriving to take up office, a lesser man would have thought his task insurmountable. The Islands had a serious lack of food, especially bread and prices were exorbitantly high. The towns were crowded with Loyalists and rents had risen to unprecedented levels. Both smallpox and typhus were present and unchecked in their course. His official residence was in such a state of disrepair it struck him with horror. Enemy prisoners where everywhere taking notes on everything and the danger of attack was greater than ever before. Browne set about organizing island affairs appointing other Loyalists to key positions, one from Virginia as attorney general another from Massachusetts as chief justice, he reinstated the local militia officers and made whaling license free. He took numerous measures and initiatives that went down well with the islanders. He in fact turned out to be a model governor and the islanders had quickly taken to someone who had suffered so much for his loyalty to the Crown. He was able to see that the likelihood of America becoming independent meant this enchanting, tranquil, beautiful isle of pink sand would make it the 'Gibraltar of the west' and imperative for British commerce, so he built up the island's small garrison. Independence was also pretty obvious to the Loyalists and more and more of them arrived and collected at the east end of the island, but were dispersing to other colonies almost as soon as they had arrived. At the end of the war when Loyalists were being evacuated from New York he had them re-provisioned before continuing their journeys. With peace declared, Bermuda was quick to restart trade with the USA and he pressed for it to become a free port, for such he appointed another Loyalist from Connecticut as comptroller. Browne's summing up at the end of his governorship in 1788 was "Bermuda is divided on domestic business but is united in it's loyalty to His Majesty."
1780s. The Bermuda fitted dinghy started racing. Teams of black sailors who were slaves competed against each other for their master's honor, prize money and often a turtle dinner.
1782. May 9. At sea, late in the US War of Independence, the masthead lookout of the Continental frigate Deane saw a strange sail on the horizon. The vessel with the raked-back masts to leeward was a Bermudian privateer, Regulator. Only fast runners, privateers, and warships cruised the waters off the Carolinas. She was caught on a lee shore with nowhere to run and her sixteen six-pound cannon no match for the frigate's twenty-eight twelve-pounders. Trapped and out-gunned, Captain George Kidd struck his colours and Regulator fell prize to the United States navy. The men of the Deane were amazed to find that 70 of the 75-man crew on the Regulator were black slaves. Kidd and his four officers were the only white men on board. A further surprise occurred at the vice admiralty court trial of the Regulator when, breaking with precedent, the Massachusetts justices offered the slaves among the crew their freedom rather than condemn them, as forfeited chattel, to be sold at auction. To a man, the black Bermudians declined the offer and asked instead to be sent to their island home as prisoners of war on the next flag-of-truce. Rather than embrace the freedom offered to them by this new republic, they chose to return to Bermuda and slavery.
1783. Captain Andrew Durnford, Royal Engineers, wrote his "Bermuda Defence Report" of that year: "To the unequal distribution of that carbonate of lime in solution . . . I attribute, not only the caverns and sandflaws, but the pinnacle . . . The most remarkable groups are at Tobacco Bay, St. George's Island, and at the North Rock."
1783. HMS Cerberus, 5th Rate 32 gun ship, apparently launched in 1779, struck rocks in Castle Harbour and sank. (Note, on January 10, 1777 an American shore battery drove away HMS Cerberus, it is not known if it was the same one). Her commander was Sir Jacob Wheate — a Royal Navy captain. Where she went down is now a dive site also known as the Musket Ball Wreck. It is not known whether Wheate was aboard when she sank and survived, or was not aboard at the time. He is believed to have died later that year, from yellow fever and was buried underneath St. Peter's Church (a corpse believed to be his, from a coffin plate found by it, was discovered in August 2008 during excavations).
1783. September 3. Treaty of Paris signed at Versailles ended the War between Britain and the USA which had been raging for almost nine years, during which time Bermuda was threatened with possible starvation, due to a potential blockade of British ports. The defeat at Yorktown caused a change in the British government. Prime Minister Lord North and the Tory party were ousted, and the Whigs, under Rockingham, assumed power. This new government opened negotiations with the American commissioners in Paris. The American had eight main goals, four of which were considered to be essential to any peace settlement, and the other four to be favorable additions. The four essential terms included 1) Independence from Great Britain and removal of all British troops from United States territory; 2) Settlement of all boundaries; 3) Canadian territory to revert to those boundaries before the Quebec Act; and 4) American rights to fish in the Grand Banks and use of Canadian shores to dry and cure the catch. (The optional terms included Britain ceding all of Canada to the United States, British payment for damage caused by British military action, a formal apology by Parliament admitting that Britain was wrong to have caused the war, and allowing American ships and merchants to have the same rights and privileges of commerce as their British counterparts within the British Empire.) By November 1782, the British and American commissioners had reached agreement and signed preliminary terms of peace. However, under the terms of the Franco-American alliance, this peace treaty could not go into effect until Britain and France reach agreement. In turn, France had an additional alliance with Spain, so no Anglo-French treaty could go into effect until Britain and Spain also reach agreement. Unfortunately, Spain's nominal contribution to the war was counterbalanced by the most ambitious territorial demand - the return of Gibraltar by Great Britain. The French proposed that Gibraltar be returned to Spain, that Great Britain be compensated by awarding her several French islands in the Caribbean, and that Spain cede control of Santa Domingo to France. The war-weary British expressed interest in this plan. In September 1782, Spain had mounted an expedition, attempting to retake Gibraltar. Negotiations were frozen as all eyes turned expectantly to view the result. It was a humiliating failure, which, together with the French naval defeat in the Caribbean, reinvigorated the British and hardened their negotiating position. Spain and France were now forced to be more accommodating at the negotiating table. The British put forth a proposal in which they would retain Gibraltar, but Spain would be bought off by awarding her East and West Florida. The Spanish were also reluctant to accept the Mississippi River as the western border of the United States, having their own claims to the territory between the Mississippi and the Appalachian Mountains. (Spain had gained control of Louisiana after the Seven Years War.) France, on the verge of bankruptcy, pressured Spain to accept this settlement and thus end the war. Finally, on January 20, 1783, all parties reached agreement and an armistice was declared. A change of British government and minor modifications to the French and Spanish treaties, as well as Anglo-Dutch negotiations, delayed the final ratification of the Treaty of Paris until September 3, but on that day the War for American Independence officially concluded. Treaties were duly signed between Britain and the French, Spanish and Dutch allies of the Americans and some swapping of countries took place, with the Bahamas, Grenada and Montserrat, all islands, being returned to the English: as it had not been captured during the War, Bermuda remained a British territory, as it had not thrown in its lot with the rebels on the continent. The treaty terms also meant Britain lost forever all its American east coast ports.
1783. After the Treaty of Paris ended the American War of Independence with Great Britain the national geography of North America was re-written in British eyes. From the Royal Navy came the new order. Operations off and in Bermuda came under the "River St. Lawrence and Coast of North America and West Indies" station. The loss of most of the American colonies in the American Revolution left Bermuda as the only British port between Halifax and the West Indies: an ideal location for a Royal Navy dockyard.
1783. Lieutenant Thomas Hurd, Royal Navy, was told he was going to lead what became 11-year survey of Bermuda as a potential Royal Navy base, to replace the reliance on Halifax which was vulnerable to attack from America.
1783. Following the Treaty of Paris, there was a resurgence of shipping in Bermuda.
1783. With peace concluded between the British and Americans, Britain's Royal Engineers began a comprehensive survey of the defenses of Bermuda. They anticipated future hostilities with the new USA. The fear of an American threat to British dominion on the western front of North Atlantic was to lead in 1809 to a large dockyard and a successive rearmaments and works for the defense of Bermuda The defense continued through the 1820s and even still to the 1870s. The final round of armament began in the final days of Queen Victoria’s reign in the late years of the nineteenth century. The forts built in Bermuda from then on by the British Army were intended to protect the islands against a hostile takeover from the United States, and they performed their job admirably, even if a shot was never fired in anger.
1784. In Bermuda, a slave named Quashi was convicted of murdering his master John McNeill and was hanged on Gibbet Island.
1784. Construction, in the then-emerging town of Hamilton, of the Customs House, oldest surviving building in the city and now referred to as the Old Town Hall. From 1815 to 1817 it was used for meetings of the Legislature and from 1875 to 1968 it housed the city's fire engines.
1784. January 17. The beginning of a Bermuda newspaper. In the town of St. George, Joseph Stockdale arrived from England to edit, print and publish The Bermuda Gazette. He was the King's Printer in Bermuda. He also delivered mail along with the newspaper as a public service. This successful mail system continued intermittently until an official postal system was established on March 6, 1812.
1784. On March 1, in one of its first editions, the Bermuda Gazette reported snow fell in Bermuda on the night before.
1784. Postal service in Bermuda was started by Stockdale in the town of St. George. He placed a letter box outside his office on Printer's Alley.
1784. Nathaniel Butterfield was first involved in a general merchandise business in goods ranging from cedar slabs to port wine.
1784. The Bermuda Marine Assurance Company issued its first policy to cover a shipment of cargo from Bermuda to Philadelphia (but went out of business by 1811). As the trade between Bermuda and North America expanded, British insurance companies were encouraged to appoint and support general agents in Bermuda.
1785. Nathaniel Butterfield of Bermuda sold the hull of the 118 ton Bermuda-built brig Adventure to Daniel Astwood, Senior for £890. Both men were members of a syndicate that owned a number of smaller sloops.
1785. Nathaniel Butterfield was elected a Member of the Bermuda General Assembly.
1785. October 29. Twenty one gentlemen of Bermuda including four members of the House of Assembly signed a document the purpose of which was to create Pembroke Town as the new capital and trading centre of Bermuda.
1787-88. Because Bermudians did not confine their fishing, hunting for turtles and whaling to home waters, they went for cod off the Newfoundland Banks with 34 sloops of 30-60 tons, manned by 8-10 men and a Newfoundlander pilot, Newfoundland complained to London. Bermudians were forbidden to further violate the terms of the Treaty of Paris, 1763. Bermuda's Governor Henry Hamilton had to ensure this was obeyed.
1787. Some eighteen months after a group of concerned private citizens had taken unofficial steps to create a new town on the Pembroke side of Crow Lane, the House of Assembly heard about steps to build what was then referred to as Pembroke Town, partly as the result of an agreement with Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, then one of the largest land owners in Pembroke with her 48 acres,
1788. Birth of Bermudian slave Mary Prince at Brackish Pond, on a farm owned by Charles Myners. Her mother was a household slave and her father was a slave in the shipbuilder's yard at Crow Lane. Her story is both the first-hand account of slavery in Bermuda and the first ever compiled by a woman. She was sent to the Caribbean to work in the Turks Islands, then taken to London by new master John Wood, tried to escape, came under the protection of the London-based Anti Slavery Society and her story became famous.
1788. June 24. Birth of Nathaniel T. Butterfield, son of prominent Bermudian merchant Nathaniel Butterfield. The younger Nathaniel later became the founder of the Bank of N. T. Butterfield.
1788. The Royal Engineers arrived in Bermuda from Britain to begin the refortification of the islands.
1788. Major Andrew Durnford
was one of the Royal Engineer officers who arrived from England.
He re-built Paget Fort.
Lieutenant Thomas Hurd RN, team leader and Lieutenant Evans began their vitally
important work of charting the whole of Bermuda, a
process not completed until 1797. Their priority was to survey the
islands and to determine Bermuda's suitability for a naval port or dockyard.
They measured the sea depths at thousands of locations using a plumb line to map
the seabed. They also meticulously recorded the position of the edges of the
reefs. Among unique records is the earliest detailed record of North Rock, the
northernmost point of Bermuda, and the chart contained a proposal for the
building of a lighthouse and gun battery on the platform of reefs. It also had a
vignette of the six main pinnacles, of which only one is now extant. During the
project Lieutenant Hurd lived in the Stiles building off St George’s Town
Square with his wife. The couple’s son, Samuel Proudfoot Hurd, was born in
Bermuda and later served at the Battle of Waterloo. Hurd
1788. Lieutenant Thomas Hurd RN, team leader and Lieutenant Evans began their vitally important work of charting the whole of Bermuda, a process not completed until 1797. Their priority was to survey the islands and to determine Bermuda's suitability for a naval port or dockyard. They measured the sea depths at thousands of locations using a plumb line to map the seabed. They also meticulously recorded the position of the edges of the reefs. Among unique records is the earliest detailed record of North Rock, the northernmost point of Bermuda, and the chart contained a proposal for the building of a lighthouse and gun battery on the platform of reefs. It also had a vignette of the six main pinnacles, of which only one is now extant. During the project Lieutenant Hurd lived in the Stiles building off St George’s Town Square with his wife. The couple’s son, Samuel Proudfoot Hurd, was born in Bermuda and later served at the Battle of Waterloo. Hurdand Evans were the first persons to establish the correct position of Bermuda with great accuracy using the stars and the planets and worked with pilots Jemmy Darrell and Jacob Pitcarn to complete the survey. They also discovered during this process that the longitude for St George’s previously been measured was wrong. Lt. Hurd spent almost a decade in Bermuda waters charting the extensive reefs and plotting the channels through them, including the only major one for large ships, off the east end of St. George's Island. Hurd and Evans also identified the site of a naval facility at Grassy Bay. Their work set new standards for such charts. After leaving Bermuda in 1797, Lieutenant Hurd, who had already been promoted to commander, was made Hydrographer for the Royal Navy in 1808 and served in this top role until he died in England in 1823. Francis Beaufort, who invented the wind force scale for indicating wind velocity for shipping, succeeded him in that office.
1789. Beginning of the French Revolution, which was felt in Bermuda.
1788. October 27. William Browne (a British Loyalist born in Massachusetts, USA), left Bermuda never to return, although he was technically still Governor of Bermuda more than a year later.
1788. October 29. Henry Hamilton, after arrival in Bermuda two days earlier, became acting or Lieutenant Governor, later as Governor. He had been appointed on February 26, 1787 by King George III of Britain as Lieutenant Governor of Bermuda (or Somers Isles) in America, and Commander in Chief of Forts King's Castle, Fort Hamilton, Fort Popple and Fort Paget He was then 53 years old. His commission had authorized him to act as full Governor in case of death or absence of Governor in Chief and Captain General William Browne (a British Loyalist born in Massachusetts, USA), who left Bermuda on October 27, 1788, never to return, although he was technically still Governor of Bermuda more than a year later. Hamilton was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1734, as the fourth of seven children. His great grandfather was Sir Frederick Hamilton, Baron Paisley and Governor of Ulster, a position which necessitated a change of residence from Scotland to Ireland for the family and resulted in Henry's birth a century later. Henry's grandfather, Gustavus Hamilton, had a distinguished military career, was raised to the King's Privy Council and became Viscount Boyne in the Irish peerage. Henry's father was the third son of Viscount Boyle, a member of the Irish Parliament and Collector of the port of Queenstown (now Cork). Hamilton spent his youth in Cork. He was commissioned into the 15th Regiment of Foot in the British Army. He earned distinction in British victories at the battles of Louisburg and Quebec in the Seven Years War (French and Indian War in the USA). Following the passage of the Quebec Act in 1774, he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Detroit, where he led the King's 8th Regiment. From Detroit, he directed the Indians during the American Revolutionary War. He soon acquired a notorious reputation from American historians of the time as the "Hair Buyer of Detroit") for helping British financed Indians scalp rebel Americans on the frontiers. In February 1779, he was one of the many of the King's 8th Regiment captured by the Americans at Vincennes in the famous expedition led by George Rogers Clark and was sent in chains to Williamsburg, Virginia. His eventual parole, release to the British for a huge ransom, exchange in 1781 and repatriation to London were difficult and complex because of the American complaints. From there, he was Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, then Governor, from 1782 to 1785. He was dismissed from office for reasons not his own and returned to England. But his reputation and the intercession of his influential family and friends returned him to favor. In every way, he was a very good, capable, honest, efficient and trustworthy bachelor Governor.
Governor Henry Hamilton
1788. Two weeks after his arrival, acting Governor Henry Hamilton gave his first address to the House of Assembly, during which he mentioned that an able and experienced Royal Engineer military officer had volunteered to supply a plan for a new town in Pembroke for the consideration of the legislature. It is not well known, even by locals, that the city motto "Hamilton Sparsa Collegit" is not directly about the city but about how Governor "Hamilton had brought together the scattered."
1789. In Bermuda, with more than 186 vessels registered at Customs House belonging to the island amounting in aggregate to nearly 18,000 tons, there was a resurgence in shipping. Forty new craft were built locally from cedar and launched that year. One person with a substantial interest in them was Nathaniel T. Butterfield.
1789. The Bermuda Ship Registry was established.
1789. Under the Militia Act 1789 a Volunteer Artillery Company was raised to augment the Troop of Horse and the nine Companies of the Regiment of foot. This consisted of 20 Privates, 2 Sergeants and a Lieutenant.
1789. Legislation was passed in Bermuda to give statutory recognition to the property-based criteria for the franchise and for candidates in general elections. This Act, which closely paralleled relevant British law at the time, established minimum property values of forty and two hundred pounds for voters and election candidates respectively.
1790. January 1. Henry Hamilton officially became full Governor of Bermuda.
1790. April 21. The House of Assembly agreed unanimously to introduce a bill to allow for the "Collection of Trade" at the west end of Bermuda. Before this, all such trade, in other words collection of customs duties, had been limited to St. George's in the east end. The measure was of material assistance in the establishment of the town of Hamilton.
1790. Major Andrew Durnford, Royal Engineer, re-built a part of the sea battery at Paget Fort, but it was destroyed in January 1791 by a violent gale.
1790. Following a petition from a number of merchants in the Central and Western Parishes, the Bermuda Government appointed a Commission to acquire 145 acres for what became later the town, then city, of Hamilton. Regulations governing the incorporation required the streets to be 50 feet wide, with the land on the harbour side reserved for wharf development (now Hamilton Docks). Average price of town property was then £20 per acre (about $1.60). Similar property today would fetch in excess of $4 million.
1790. May. The House of Assembly decided to name the proposed new town in Pembroke as Hamilton, "in order to perpetuate for posterity the name of the Governor under whose auspicious administration so salutary a measure has been drawn into effect."
1791. The merger of the formerly separate British colony of Maine, with Massachusetts, before it again became a separate state later.
1792. In Bermuda, Freemasons established Prince Alfred No 233 (EC), originally chartered under the Moderns as No 507.
1792. Nathaniel Butterfield was elected Speaker of the Bermuda General Assembly.
1793. With the threat of war with France, the Governor of Bermuda directed Major Andrew Durnford to build a new Barbette Battery on the height of the land above Paget Fort on Paget Island.
1793. Arising from the French Revolution, a detachment of the 47th Foot of the British Army was posted to Bermuda as part of the garrison and from that time for nearly two centuries it was decided by the British Army that units of it would be posted to Bermuda to augment the colony's defences.
1793. Bermuda finally got another coin of its own to replace the original hog money of 1615. The 1793 copper penny was produced in Birmingham. England at Boulton's Soho Mint and sent to Bermuda.
1793. Hundreds of people arrived by boat in Bermuda, refugees from the slave revolts in Haiti and Santo Domingo.
1793. June 29. the Town of St. George, first established in 1612, was officially incorporated by Act of Parliament and received its first Mayor, Major Andrew Durnford.
1793. June 29. The then-infant town (now City) of Hamilton, named after Sir Henry Hamilton, Governor 1778-1794, was incorporated by Act of Parliament, with the motto "Hamilton Sparsa Collegit" meaning "Hamilton had brought together the scattered." The Freeholders were granted authority to elect from among them 1 Mayor, 3 Aldermen and 5 Common Councilors. The new town replaced St. George's as Bermuda's capital.
1793. With the threat of war between the UK and France, which would have affected Bermuda and the Caribbean as well, the Governor directed Major Andrew Durnford, a Royal Engineer, to build a new Barbette Battery on the height of land above Fort Paget on Paget Island. It was called Upper Paget to distinguish it from the original fortification. What became Upper Paget Fort was later built on and enlarged as Fort Cunningham. Those who visit Fort Cunningham have been able to see the remnants of Upper Paget Fort.
1794. First Customs Warehouse, later, Town Hall, now offices, was built in Hamilton.
1794. Then-Captain Thomas Hurd completed his 11-year planned survey of Bermuda. HMS Cleopatra (Captain Penrose) transited the Narrows to Murray's Anchorage. Naval Watering tanks were constructed at Tobacco Bay, St. George's. They were first used by HMS Hermione. The establishment of a Royal Navy base in Bermuda had been delayed for a dozen years due to the need to survey the encircling barrier reef to locate channels suitable for large warships. With this completed, a base was established at St. George's, with the fleet anchoring at Murray's Anchorage in the northern lagoon, named for Vice Admiral Sir George Murray, who became the Commander-in-Chief of the new River St. Lawrence and Coast of America and North America and West Indies Station. The Admiralty also began purchasing land at Bermuda's West End, including Ireland Island, Spanish Point, and smaller islands in the Great Sound with the intent of building the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda, and a permanent naval base there, with its anchorage on Grassy Bay. The construction of this base was to drag on through much of the nineteenth Century.
1794. With the Militia Act 1794 and the end of the American War of Independence, Bermuda began to assume an importance to the Admiralty that would see it become the base of the North America and West Indies Squadron, and the site of the only full Naval dockyard West of Portsmouth, England except for Halifax in Nova Scotia and of possibly more strategic importance in the event of invasion of Canada by the USA. With the above-named Act of the Colonial Assembly it replaced the single Volunteer Artillery Company with three Companies, each of eight Privates. At this time, the Commanding Officer of the Militia decided what uniform was worn, which each man provided at his own expense. the Captain of each company of foot had to provide for a Colour, a drum and a fife. Horse Troopers had to provide their own mounts. Bermuda also assumed great importance to the Admiralty, which determined to develop Bermuda it throughout the Nineteenth Century as a naval base, dockyard, and admiralty headquarters. The concurrent build-up of the regular military garrison to protect the naval base meant that Bermuda's militia later came to be seen as superfluous.
1794. October. Admiral Murray, Royal Navy, learned of Captain (promoted from Lieutenant) Thomas Hurd’s finding at Bermuda and sent the frigate Cleopatra there “to bring information of a Harbour, which I learned was lately discovered there, fit, it was said, to admit Ships of any Class.” The resulting report described the new anchorage as having “capacity enough for all the Navies in the World to ride in from 7 to 9 or 10” fathoms.’
1795. January. First elections of officials in Hamilton. Daniel Tucker, Mayor; Richard Peniston, Joseph Stowe, William Hall, Aldermen; Benjamin Cox, George Harvey, Richard Darrell, William Morris and one other as Councilors.
1795. August 11. Captain Francis Pender, Royal Navy, earlier dispatched to Bermuda by Vice-Admiral the Hon George Murray, RN, arrived as a passenger on HMS Oiseau (formerly a French frigate, captured). His orders included the stipulation he acquire some of the fast sloops of the island for service in the Royal Navy. He ordered the building of such Bermudian vessels, renowned for their speed and agility, especially being able to sail sail close to the wind.
1795. Approval was given by the relevant authorities in London, England, for the purchase of Ireland Island, Bermuda, as a Royal Navy base. The site was chosen by Captain Pender.
1795. Admiralty House was then in St. George's.
1795-1809. Cottages were built on Hen Island, St. George's and a wharf there was adapted for careening.
1795. September 30. Vice Admiral the Hon. George Murray, RN, arrived in Bermuda on the 74- gun HMS Resolution. It was accompanied by HMS Cleopatra and HMS Thesly. The warships were piloted safely through the reefs by James ("Jemmy") Darrell (born 1749, died 1815, then a slave) and into what later became known as “Murray’s Anchorage” in St. George's, near Tobacco Bay. For his skill as a pilot, Admiral Murray later (see 1796) ordered the Royal Navy to purchase Darrell's freedom and appoint him one of the first of the Island’s “King’s Pilots. Admiral Murray was so impressed with Darrell's piloting skills that he recommended he be freed. He became one of the first to be made King’s Pilot and was the first free man of colour to own his own house in Bermuda. Once freed, Mr Darrell challenged laws that imposed restrictions on free blacks and slaves. He also petitioned against plans that would see a drop in income for King’s Pilots. He died aged 66 in 1815 and his property, located on Aunt Peggy’s Lane, still remains in family hands.
1795. October. After Admiral Murray, Royal Navy, having made his quick visit to Bermuda, named his Flag Captain the “Superintendent of the Port” at St George’s, directing him to establish a depot there and to purchase several fast Bermuda-built cedar vessels for use as advice boats. So began the two-century association in Bermuda of the Royal Navy.
1795. Following the visit of and survey ordered by Admiral Murray, Ireland Island in Bermuda was selected for the establishment of a Royal Naval Dockyard. Other islands in the Great Sound were also purchased.
1795. Captain Francis Pender, Royal Navy, on behalf of the latter, purchased a Bermuda-built cedar sloop, which he called HMS Bermuda, and put it under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Hurd, RN, then engaged on a survey of the Bermuda reefs. Hurd was also searching for a channel to allow Royal Navy warships to enter the inner anchorages of the island.
1795. December. Thomas Forbes Winslow was born in Bermuda. His parents were Thomas Winslow of the 47th Foot Regiment and his wife Mary ( Mary Forbes b Feb 1774 St Georges, Bermuda). Hers were believed to be Dr Robert Forbes b 1741 Bermuda and Mary (Mary Rush) b 1749.
1795. One of the first acquisitions of the Royal Navy in Bermuda in an area removed from Castle Harbour was the purchase of a then-small house on the North Shore of Bermuda, with some uniquely valuable land. What made it attractive for the Navy to purchase Seven Wells was the fact that (a) it had seven wells of fresh water immediately available for Royal Navy purposes and (b) was located adjacent to Devonshire Dock, from where the fresh water could be taken in barrels to ships-of-war.
1795. A channel, afterwards named the North Shore Channel, was established for British shipping and a major anchorage was found at Castle Harbour at the east end of the island. Thus a Royal Naval depot was first established in Bermuda, initially at St. George’s.
1795. The first three vessels commissioned by the Royal Navy from Bermudian shipyards were Bermuda cedar-built 200 ton, 12-gun sloops-of-war, commissioned as HMS Dasher, HMS Driver and HMS Bermuda. There were to be many more.
1795. Wreck Hill, Somerset, was bought by the Royal Navy which then considered the site an ideal one for a lighthouse. (However, this was never implemented)
1795. A slave conspiracy in Bermuda was alleged to have been instigated by Haitian Mulattoes who had arrived from Haiti in 1793.
1796. Preliminary work commenced on the design and layout of the Bermuda Royal Naval Dockyard.
1796. February. Royal Navy contracts for two cedar Bermuda-built sloops were given to Claude McCallan and John Outerbridge who built vessels at Bailey’s Bay, Hamilton Parish, and Nathaniel Tynes the Elder, whose shipyard was on the North Shore in Devonshire Parish. Those two yards produced HMS Rover and HMS Hunter, classed as 16-gun Royal Navy sloops and later referred to as two of the fastest ships ever built in Bermuda.
1796. March 1. "I do hereby declare the said Jemmy Darrell to be exonerated and released from all and all manner of Slavery or Servitude whatsoever, and I do earnestly request all Persons to treat him, as a Man actually and bona fide Free." With these powerful words, Governor James Craufurd released him from his enslavement. (He was also made a Kings Pilot on May 23, 1796.) Pilot Darrell's life, however, as a free man was not much different than during enslavement because of legislation consistently introduced to limit rights of the freed slave. He, however, fought these regulations which sought to limit his hard-earned rights. Pilot Darrell earned his freedom through his abilities and steadiness in navigating the British Rear Admiral George Murray's flagship through the Island's reefs to Murray's Anchorage safely in 1795. he Admiral recommended that he be freed and commissioned as a Kings Pilot. Pilot Darrell's freedom, however, brought little relief as Bermudian legislators fearing free people of colour to be the primary instigators of slave conspiracies, continued to curtail their rights.
1796. Bermudian slave abolitionist St George's Tucker wrote and published "A Dissertation on Slavery: With a Proposal for the Gradual Abolition of it," in the State of Virginia.
1796. November 12. The Bermuda Gazette and Weekly Advertiser published a special report.
Bermuda Gazette November 12, 17961796. 2nd December. The death in Bermuda at the age of 46 of His Excellency, Governor William Campbell, Lieutenant Colonel of the 24th Regiment of Foot, who died of fever then raging in the colony only a few days after his arrival. He occupied his office for only 8 days.
1797. Paget Island was bought by Captain Francis Forbes Hinson, nephew of Dr. George Forbes. Hinson was a complex, eccentric and wealthy man, a mariner, shipbuilder, whaler and farmer. On Paget Island he added orchards, created pastures and cultivated planting land. He was also said to have planned to catch whales in an unusual way. He ordered and received a huge whale net from England made out of stout cordage. One evening he planted it in the sea across the Narrows Channel leading to Murray's Anchorage. Instead of catching a whale he caught a French brig-of-war trying to sneak a look at Bermuda. He made a good profit from that transaction. But when his mother and eldest son died on Paget Island he lost interest in Paget Island, bought property in Salt Kettle, Paget on the main island and lived there until his death in 1832, after which his estate that then still included Paget Island was offered for sale. By 1912 Paget Island had become derelict.
A plaque on the right wall of St. Peter's Church in Bermuda. Photo by the author exclusively for Bermuda Online
1797-1798. Captain Francis Pender, RN, then still based in Bermuda, order two more Bermuda-built cedar vessels, which were launched this year and in 1798 as HMS Driver and HMS Dasher, out of the same Bailey's Bay and North Shore shipyards as the previous orders. The latter sloop later earned the reputation pf being able to outsail every other Royal Navy sloop of war. Later, Bermudian shipyards built about 50 more vessels for service in the Royal Navy in the next three decades or so. Those were the days, long gone now, when small local north coast shipyards and Bermuda's economy generally benefited hugely from the sound of hammer, saw and adze, as they sawed into local cedar that produced some of the fastest vessels afloat at that time for what was then the largest navy in the world.
1797. August 7. Lodge St. George No 200 (SC) was given its Charter.
1797. August 9. Atlantic Phoenix No 224 (EC) was given its Charter.1797. This Bermuda map was published in Laurie & Whittle's "West-India Atlas," reprinted from a plate used by Thomas Jefferys in 1775. It is 20.5 inches by 15.25 inches.
Bermuda Map 17971798. Maria Hill Fort on the high Hill of Ireland Island, commanded by Captain John V. Seymour, is of a square form, sunk in the rock, some part of the platform, which is stone, is found to be soft and therefore will require to be laid with wood; here are nine twelve-pounder cannon, as good as new, unmounted, and new carriages. This Hill is well situated to annoy an enemy passing round Ireland and should be capable of defending the passage into the Great Sound. A report by a British officer that same year to 'The Most Noble Marquis Cornwallis, Master General of His Majesty's Ordnance' suggests some disparity in the number and size of its guns. "A considerable enclosed Battery mounting eight eighteen pounders has been built upon the summit of a Hill in the Island of Ireland. This Redoubt is in good Repair & commands well the Entrance into the sound and anchorage called Grassy Bay, where large Ships may ride out the severe Gales with safety."
1798. September 1. Recording of Last Will and Testament re his Bermuda Property of Major Andrew Durnford, British Army and Bermuda fortifications engineer. See http://durnfordfamily.com/wills.html.
1798. September 10. Death in St. George's, from Yellow Fever, of Major Andrew Durnford, Royal Engineers, and former Mayor of St. George's. He was born in 1744 in Ringwood, UK. He was the first British Army royal engineer to begin work on the refortification of Bermuda after the American War of Independence. Durnford was assigned to Bermuda from the UK with one of his specific assignments to oversee, maintain and improve as needed or ordered the construction work of the British Army's forts in St. George's, including Fort Cunningham on Paget Island. He built several new forts and modernized others. He stayed in Bermuda. It has since been claimed, but never proved, by some of his fellow officers, that part of the funds allocated for forts were diverted to build his house. later became the first mayor of the historic Town of St George. He died at his home he built in 1795, Durnford House, now historically important and is buried there. His memorial is still there.
Major Andrew Durnford1799. May 10. Rev. John Stephenson, the first Methodist minister appointed to Bermuda, arrived and served with dedication and diligence as he developed a church in the Methodist tradition until his departure on April 11, 1802. A man of warm sympathies and graciousness, with a distinctive preaching ability, Rev Stephenson quickly made friends with all who gathered to hear his gospel presentations, including slaves and free persons, regardless of colour, first in the then-capital of St George’s, where he was headquartered, and then throughout the Island. His refusal to accept Bermuda’s racial divisions soon brought him into conflict with the powerful of the day, many of whom were slave owners. As a result he was arrested on June 15, 1800 for violating a law designed to stop him from preaching to slaves and free persons, regardless of colour, and ultimately spent six months in prison. Undeterred, the Methodist minister continued preaching to anyone to whom he could speak through the bars of his cell on Featherbed Alley.
1799. The British government towed the hulk "Somerset " - formerly a Royal Navy warship - to St. George's.
1799. Nine soldiers, including two of the guardsmen on duty at the time, stole a small boat and set sail for the coast of America. When the deserters were missed a sloop was dispatched in chase. The fugitives were discovered in a half-starved condition with adequate provisioning for the voyage. They were brought back for trial, and the two guardsmen were sentenced to death, while the others were to be flogged a thousand lashes each. At dawn, before an assemblage consisting of the entire garrison, the two deserting sentries were shot. The soldiers were then ordered to march slowly about the bodies, as a reminder of the terrible consequences of the worst of military crimes, desertion. After part of the floggings had been executed upon the other seven, the Governor relented and pardoned them while they still lived.
1799. Convict Bay in St. George's Parish was so named, from a concept borrowed by the British government of using obsolete warships as floating prisons, prison hulks, at New York City during the American Revolution.
1799. Turks Island, so long a dependency of Bermuda and the centre of Bermuda’s salt trade, from where Bermuda acquired all its salt that was sold to many places overseas, sent by ship, was formally annexed by the Government of the Bahamas. This seizure, which was not protested by the British Government in London despite the angry protests of Bermudians, was to have a traumatic effect on Bermuda’s entire economy.
1799. The Sting was built of cedar in a Bermuda shipyard. Originally, she was a civilian ship, a merchantman and privateer. She was one of the vessels that plied between Bermuda, the Caribbean and beyond. In 1803 while in Jamaica, because of her speed, she was purchased by the Royal Navy, armed with cannon and became HMS Pickle. Later, she achieved her claim to fame as the fast little ship that sailed from Trafalgar to bring the UK public the news of Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
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