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Bermuda's History from
1800 to 1899
record of nineteenth century social and economic development
Archibald Forbes (see About
Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda
To refer to this
web file, please use "bermuda-online.org/history1800-1899.htm" as
- 1800. To counter Stephenson,
Parliament passed a law permitting only Church of England ministers to preach
in Bermuda. Stephenson was arrested when preaching a service at the home in
St. George's of silversmith Peter Pallais. So was Pallais but only Stephenson
remained behind bars. He continued to conduct services from his cell until in
active defiance of the authorities until he
was released by order of the Privy Council in London. As a direct result, Methodism
in Bermuda became legal
and the first of what became a number of Methodist churches in Bermuda soon followed.
- 1801. The ship
"Firefly" - formerly the "John Gordon" and likely a
privateer, earlier built in Bermuda of cedar, was purchased by the Royal
- 1801. May 11. Burial in
Bermuda, at St. Peter's Church, St. George's, of Anne Bingham, in her 37th year, born in
1764, daughter of Thomas Willing of Philadelphia. At the age of 16, she
married Senator William Bingham, possibly the wealthiest man in America,
owning at one time more than a million acres of the state of Maine. She was
said to be the most beautiful woman in the USA. They
spent some years in Europe and it was there that Anne contracted an illness,
for which Bermuda was prescribed as a place of cure. Unfortunately for her, a cure
was not to be had and she died in Bermuda. Her headstone was restored in 1883 by her relative Edward
Willing. Anne Willing Bingham's reputation and fame yet survives,
for she is supposed to have been the model for the famous Draped Bust
portrait on the obverse of the American silver dollars and other United
States coinage between 1796 and 1804. The famous artist Gilbert Stuart is
said to have made a portrait of Anne in 1785, when she was 21 years old.
From that sketch, the "Miss Liberty" of the Draped Bust coins was
probably created. Her grave is visited periodically by the the Somers Isles
chapter and other visiting members of the Daughters of the American
- 1801. The Cox family of
Bermuda built a house which they named Orange Valley from the fruit trees
that then grew there, at the corner of Happy Valley and Parsons Roads,
later reputed to be haunted. When completed in 1802 it was sent in 15 acres
of glorious woodland gardens and citrus orchards. It was first owned by
Bermudian sea captain William Cox, in an estate he had owned since 1796.
- 1802. HMS Leander, a Royal
Navy warship, 50 tons, flying
the flag of Sir Andrew Mitchell, passed the winter of 1802/3 in Bermuda.
"During the long winter of our slothful discontent at Bermuda, caused
by the Peace of Amiens, the officers and young gentlemen of the flagship...
were constantly flitting away among the cedar groves and orange plantations
of these fairy isles."
- 1802. Militia Act 1802
disbanded the Volunteer Artillery (The Royal Artillery of the British Army
was stationed on the island).
- 1803. A General Order was
issued by the then-President of the appointed Governor's Council (it filled
the role today served by the Cabinet, drawn from the MPs of the ruling
party). This gave the Commander-in-Chief (normally, the Governor who also
held that title) and Field Officers of the Militia the power to raise an
alarm, whenever either deemed it necessary for the safety of the Colony.
It also stated that 'as often as any vessels shall be seen coming to, or
hovering about, any part of the coast which in the joint opinion of any
Captain of a Company and any Captain of a Fort, shall afford just ground to
apprehend and suspect that they are the vessels of an enemy, and actuated by
any hostile intention, such Captain of a Company and such Captain of a Fort,
shall co-jointly have power to cause a general alarm to be raised, sending
immediate notice of their apprehensions or suspicions to the nearest Field
Officer. When such an alarm was raised, all males obliged to bear arms were
to muster at their Parish rendezvous.
- 1803. 29th August. The
Bermuda cedar-built (in 1801) brig, 105 tons, then called "Morne
Fortunee," named after a place in St. Lucia, was purchased by the
Royal Navy for £3000 sterling. She was originally the brig
- 1803. The ship
"Ant", 75 tons, was built in Bermuda from cedar and sold to
the Royal Navy.
- 1804. Irish Poet Tom Moore arrived
in Bermuda. During his four month stay and work as an official with the
Admiralty he met and had a love affair with
Hester Tucker, whom he called "Nea" in his love poems. Otherwise, he was quite
bored. Unfortunately for him, his Bermuda stay led to many financial
problems for him, through no fault of his own but for which he was blamed
for the cheating of another. Tom Moore's Tavern was later named after him.
In Ireland, he is never referred to as "Tom Moore, always as Thomas
- 1805. The Bermuda-built sloop - small
warship - HMS Pickle of the Royal Navy played a unique role in the Battle of
Trafalgar in which the Royal Navy, with 448 dead and 1,241 wounded,
soundly defeated the French. Their navy had 4,408 dead, 1,545 wounded and lost
23 of their 33 ships in the battle. HMS Pickle, built of Bermuda cedar wood, was the fastest and one of the
hardiest ships in the Royal Navy. Thus it was chosen to cover the 1,000 mile
journey from Cape Trafalgar to England with exclusive news of the battle. It
was a 9-day journey, during which the ship ran into a gale. On arrival at
Falmouth, the officer with the dispatch raced to Whitehall in London by horse
and carriage. He arrived at 3 am. Prime Minister William Pitt, the King and
Royal Family and newspapers, were awoken to hear the news of the victory and
the death of Admiral Lord Nelson.
Bermuda Sloop, developed on the island, was the fastest boat afloat in the
1700s and became highly desirably to seaman, particularly those in illegal
trades such as piracy, and for privateering and as advice vessels for the
Royal Navy. Bermudians
used their ships for commerce and travel between the island, the Caribbean,
the continental Americas and wider afield and they were manned by men from
all sectors of the community, free and slave, the latter until Emancipation
from a painting in the UK.
- 1806. Writing to his London
headquarters, Simon Frazer, Royal Artillery, Commissioner for the UK
military in St. Georges, noted the potential value of Bermuda if held by
enemies of Britain or, if armed by the British, against the United States.
As a direct result. three years later,,the Dockyard was built and Bermuda
- 1806/1807. First
Bermuda-rigged sloop or schooner was built in Bermuda. She was the Laura, a Ballyhoo schooner, based on the Royal Navy's "Lady
Hammond" class, but designed for fast transport of perishable cargo and
as a dispatch vessel. She was designed to be way over-canvassed, on a very
low freeboard and with a huge mainsail on a 60 feet boom. She was a fast
and maneuverable boat, much envied by foreign sailors.
- 1807. Slave registers,
including those in Bermuda, were made compulsory by the British
Government after the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, 1807. They were
intended to monitor plantation owners and other masters to ensure they did
not buy new slaves.
- 1807. March. The ship Merchant,
bound for Bermuda from New London, Connecticut, was carrying beef and pork in barrels
and half-barrels, hams, lard, cheese, superfine flour, bread, corn, peas,
potatoes, nuts, candles, soap, tea, brandy, cider, and some dry goods, ended
up on the Bermuda reefs.
- 1808. Vice Admiral Sir John Warren submitted a report that led to the
creation of a dockyard at Ireland Island and the acquisition of other land
and islands for what was eventually considered “the Gibraltar of the
West”. In Richard Norwood’s 1616 survey of Bermuda, the dockyard island
was already named apparently after a Mr. Ireland, but the land appears to be
general or common. By 1663, Ireland Island had been subdivided by a “Mr.
Perinchief” and Norwood’s survey of that year records some 18 plots.
Captain Florentius Seymour owned the easternmost area at Ireland Point. 25
families in all then owned Ireland Island. Others included Joseph Seymour,
Hinson Gilbert, Darrell and Henry Harvey, families of Fowles and Burrows,
Dickinson, Young, Morris, Outerbridge, Talbot, Burch, Young, Taylor, Roach,
Williams, Evans, Leaycroft, Bedlow, Gibbs, Woods, Jauncey and Righton.
Ten of the properties seem to have been owned outright by women.
Methodist minister Joshua Marsden arrived in Bermuda and preached to slaves
and encouraged them to learn to read and write, contrary to the opinions
preaching to Bermuda slaves
- 1808. Three years after she achieved
her claim to fame at the Battle of Trafalgar, the Bermuda-built cedar schooner
HMS Pickle struck a shoal when entering the Spanish port of Cadiz and was
Great Britain's Royal Navy
Commander-in-Chief in the West Atlantic, Vice Admiral Sir John Borlase
Warren, Bt, KB, was in operational command when Bermuda's
Ireland Island (75 acres), Boaz and Watford Islands were sold to the British Government by
way of compulsory purchase for the establishment of a naval base, following
US Independence. The Royal Navy had operated from the Town
of St. George in Bermuda for a dozen years while an adequate channel was
sought by which large naval vessels could reach the West End of Bermuda.
Thus Bermuda became, first the winter location, and then the permanent
location of the Admiralty for North America and the West Indies, as well as
the base for a naval squadron. Its
purpose was to serve as a replacement for all the ports on the eastern
seaboard of the new United States that were, until 1783, British
the reaches of Maine, with all its great ship timbers, to Boston, New York,
the Chesapeake and Charleston, His Majesty's Fleet had nowhere to retire for
rest and repair, in between various spats with the French and now the new
"Americans." Having retained the
Canadian Maritimes to the north and some of the Caribbean islands to the
south, Bermuda, halfway between, was both the logical and only sound
geographical position for the creation of a new naval base. From
there, the new United States could be controlled, as long as the Royal Navy
ruled the sea-lanes of the Western North Atlantic. As a British officer
would later declare, it was a nation "hitherto unable, if not
unwilling, to control among its people a wild spirit of aggression dangerous
to the maintenance of peace." Ireland Island was chosen for the new
Dockyard base, after considering cutting a channel into Harrington Sound
because of its protected harbour. Such a major engineering work would have
been simple and inexpensive, when compared to the final cost of the western
site, for all of it was composed of some of the hardest,
"bastard", rock of the Walsingham formations. Undeterred
by geological intransigence, the Royal Engineers, "purveyors of
technology to the empire", began blasting soon after the erection of a
few buildings on flat ground, facing the original cove of Grassy Bay.
- 1810. Ireland Island in Bermuda
formally began construction as a Royal Navy Base, to replace Castle Harbour, four years
after the Hon. Thomas Grenville, First Lord of the Admiralty, spoke in the
House of Commons on the strategic value of Bermuda as a base between British
Canada and the West Indies following Britain's defeat in the USA's War of
- 1810. The Zion Chapel, at
the corner of Church and Wesley Streets, was the first church where blacks
and whites worshipped together as equals. Built under the direction of
Reverend Joshua Marsden, it was the first Methodist church in Bermuda.
- 1810. May 4. A Royal Navy
Captain of H.M.S. Swiftsure fell overboard and was drowned, off the Bermudas. He was
Captain John Conn R.N.
(August 1764 - 4 May 1810),
a senior captain, whose shining career included service at the battles of
the Saintes, the Glorious First of June, Copenhagen and Trafalgar ended
tragically in a shipboard accident before he could reap the rewards of his
long service. Conn could also claim membership of Nelson's "Band of
Brothers", a clique of dashing naval officers who participated in
Nelson's campaigns during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, as
well as a close friendship with the admiral himself, who once said: A better
or more zealous officer than Captain Conn is not in His Majesty's service.
Born to a Royal Navy warrant officer of Irish extraction in Devon, England,
on 1764, Conn gained first hand experience of the sea at twelve on his
father's ship HMS Weasel, before securing a place on HMS Arrogant as a
midshipman on board which he saw action at the battle of the Saintes in
1782. In 1788 he was made a lieutenant but had to wait five years before
being given a good position, during which married Margaret, a vicar's
daughter. Serving aboard the flagship HMS Royal Sovereign at the Glorious
First of June, he came to the attention of Admiral Lord Howe and further
distinguished himself in 1798 in HMS Foudroyant at the battle of Donegal
which resulted in the destruction of a French invasion fleet headed for
Ireland. In 1801 As a commander at the first battle of Copenhagen, his
expertise with bomb vessels caused terrible damage to the Danish fleet, and
he participated in Nelson's disastrous attack on the French invasion force
in Boulogne shortly afterwards, gaining his commanding officers attention
and respect. Promoted to
Post Captain in 1802, Conn commanded the veteran ship HMS Culloden
accompanied by his nine year old son Henry, before transferring to the
French prize ship HMS Canopus and being specially requested by Nelson in the
Mediterranean. In 1805 he was given temporary command of the first rate
flagship HMS Victory and his old ship HMS Royal Sovereign whilst their
commanders were on leave and further contributed to his reputation as a
reliable and steady officer. On 10
October he returned the Royal Sovereign to Admiral Collingwood and
was given the fast new second rate HMS Dreadnought to command. Eleven
days later Conn and his crew where thrown into battle as the Franco-Spanish
fleet attempted to break out of Cadiz. Situated halfway down Collongwood's
division, Conn struggled to reach the action, only getting there around the
time Nelson was mortally wounded in the northern division. Making up for the
delay, Dreadnought tangled with the San Juan Nepomuceno, rescuing the
battered HMS Bellerophon, killing the Spanish captain Cosmé Damián
Churruca and forcing his ship to surrender. Charging on from this victory,
the Dreadnought engaged the Spanish flagship Principe de Asturias, mortally
wounding the Spanish admiral, but being unable to defeat the enemy, which
succeeded in escaping back to Cadiz. Conn even managed to rescue his prize,
the San Juan Nepomuceno being one of only four captured enemy ships to
survive the storm. Following
the battle, in which Dreadnought suffered 33 casualties, Conn continued in
service taking over the massive 112 gun HMS San Josef and then the 120 gun
HMS Hibernia as flag captain before moving as a commodore to the West Indies
in HMS Swiftsure in 1810. Admirals' rank was not far away when tragedy struck on the 4 May when during the
chase of a small French ship near Bermuda, Conn became overeager, slipped
and fell overboard. Swiftsure was halted and a search was conducted but Conn
had drowned before help arrived. His passing was mourned in Britain and
especially in the Navy where he was a popular and much-respected figure. Sir John
Borlase Warren, an old commander and friend, expressed regret at the death
of so deserving an officer as Captain Conn.
- 1811. An Anglican day school for
black children began in the Town of St. George.
With the formal abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire
including Bermuda, the authorities in London asked the colonies to keep
a census of their slave populations as a way of
trying to control that trade.
March 6. an official postal system was established. By May 20, the St.
George’s and Hamilton post offices had opened. Soon after, a
twice-weekly service to various points on the island via horseback began. Overseas
mail, however, remained a problem, so the General Post Office in London
appointed a Postmaster for Bermuda with special responsibility for receiving
and dispatching letters to and from the United Kingdom.
War again broke out between the USA and Britain, not to cease until
1814. Bermuda became heavily involved, as shown below. One way was in use by
the Royal Navy the coastal area of Devonshire, Bermuda, known as Devonshire
Dock, at the junction with Dock Hill. Thousands
of seaman and soldiers arrived here, or departed from nearby camps. From
nearby, at the Seven Wells property acquired by the Royal Navy in 1795, new
and improved potable fresh-water wells were dug by a combination of British
Army sappers and miners, locally-recruited labor and
the Royal Navy personnel
especially for the 1812-14 War against the USA,
and carried in wooden barrels to the ships either alongside or moored
offshore by pinnaces to serve crew and marines. Nowadays, the dock
is used for fishing and pleasure purposes by local fishing craft, and other
small craft owners.
- 1812. One
of the first Naval actions of the 1812-14 War between the USA and UK, which
involved Bermuda too as a British colony, was the capture of the Bermuda
sloop, HMS Whiting, in a US port.
Having sailed from Plymouth, she
entered Hampton Roads on 8 July 1812 with dispatches for the American
government, and lowered her anchor. Unfortunately war had been declared
about two weeks earlier. As her captain was being rowed ashore, the American
privateer Dash, under Captain Garroway, was leaving port and captured her.
Dash had one large gun on a pivot, and a crew of 80. Not only were a third
of Whiting's crew in her boat, the
rest were not at the guns as they were unaware that Britain and the United
States were now at war. Some
regard this as the first naval capture of the war. However, Whiting was
carrying official dispatches for the American government, which ordered her
release. (The first capture by either side was
the British capture of USS Nautilus on 16 July).
- 1812. Bermuda, as a
colonial outpost of Britain strategically close to the USA, was
strategically involved on the second war that began this year with the USA.
Largely overshadowed by the Napoleonic Wars of Europe, it not only
guaranteed Canada's independence but helped define the Anglo-American
relationship for the next century and a half. The war's causes are obscure
even today but the American invasion of Canada this year was repulsed.
Later, British historians and the British Government viewed the war as an
ill-fated attempt by the brash young American republic to annex Canada.
For British Canada, populated by many Loyalists who had fled the American
Revolution and had paid a huge price in having their homes and lands
confiscated forever, it was a war for survival. Without any doubt at all,
the single major reason for the war was to capture Canada by force of arms,
to assert the nationhood of the Americans on the global stage and
simultaneously expand their territory both northward and southward.
- 1812. The British 18 gun brig
"Frolic" was consort to 14 merchantmen homeward from Honduras and
was separated from her convoy on Oct 16 in a heavy gale. She was repairing
damage on the 17th when she sighted sail which proved to be the
American brig "Wasp". The following day, after 43 minutes of
fighting, Frolic lost both her masts, 2 officers, and 15 seamen, 43 wounded
out of the total ship's company of 110. The Wasp lost 8 men and about 8
wounded. A few hours later, the British 74 gun ship "Poictiers",
Capt Sir John Poo Beresford, hove in sight, captured the "Wasp"
and recaptured the "Frolic" and brought them both to Bermuda. Capt
Beresford's wife died in Bermuda and was buried in St George's. He was the
brother of Marshal Beresford who organized the Portuguese Division in
Wellington's Army in the Peninsula. Both were bastard sons of Earl of
Tyrone, afterwards 1st marquess of Waterford. Jacob Jones commanded the Wasp
at the capture of the Frolic on Oct 18, 1812. The next day the Wasp and her
prize were taken by the Poictiers to Bermuda.
- 1812. William R.
Higginbottam - sometimes spelt Higinbottam - became US Consular Agent in
- 1812. Marryat arrived in
Bermuda aboard the HMS "Africa."
1812. 27 August. The "Lydia", master and owner Captain
Comfort S Rena, sailed from New London, Conn. bound for St Bartholomew in
the West Indies with a full cargo. She was a combination brig/schooner
(brigantine), 113 tons. A week out she was captured by the British
ship-of-war "HMS Orpheus", Capt Hugh Pigot & master's mate
John Hooper, and set for Bermuda where she made port 8 Sep. There she was
brought before the Admiralty Court as a prize. From about this time and for
months time there were more than 175 captured vessels held in Bermuda.
- 1813. With the start of the
American War of 1812 Bermuda's Militia
Act, 1813 was passed as a wartime expediency. Once again, Bermuda was
empowered to have its own Militia after its importance had been
substantially reduced after the end of the American War of Independence and
declaration of peace in the 1790s. The Act reorganized Bermuda's
nine-company regiment of foot into two battalions. The total strength of the
local militia was, by then, nominally 450 men, but, as always, this was, at
any moment, effectively reduced by half due to the seafaring occupations of
the better part of the colony's men. Evidently, the militia no longer
included any of the colony's black population, whether free or enslaved, as
Lt. Colonel Francis Gore, on assuming the Governorship of Bermuda, felt it
advisable to boost the militia's strength by raising a colored corps, though
this was not, in fact, done. Despite the state of the Militia at the War's
start, on the occasion of an emergency being declared (when strange vessels
were spotted lurking offshore), the colonists responded admirably in full
strength, standing watch through the night. The War Office in London had
begun the War considering the Bermudians to be of dubious loyalty. This was
largely due to the theft of a large quantity of gunpowder from a St.
George's magazine during the American War of Independence, in 1775. That
powder had been sent to the rebel army of the American colonies, under the
Virginian General George Washington, and at his personal request. The close
blood-lines and common history of Bermuda and Virginia, particularly, just
as many in 1813 as there were in 1775 were also worrying. The Governor was
prompted to try to get the Colonial Assembly to en-act a permanent Militia.
Throughout the Militia's history, its strength and efficiency had waxed and
waned, more with the response to declarations of wars, and to the scarcity
of manpower due to the maritime industry, than with any dictum of the
Colonial Assembly. The British Army in Britain wanted something a little
more reliable. The Colonial Assembly, lacking any strong self-interest, and
perhaps wary of obliging itself to the maintenance of a force that, with the
growth of the Regular Garrison, must become ever less under its control,
would only agree to provide funds on a temporary basis.
- 1813. April 27. American
forces raided York (Toronto) looting and burning buildings, including the
governor's house and the provincial legislative building. This was the
second American invasion since 1812. Later, they were repulsed by
British Army forces. Until that
happened the Americans destroyed property throughout Canada, turned citizens out
into the cold in the depths of winter and burnt their homes.
- 1813. June 1. HMS Shannon (38 guns) captured the "Chesapeake" (44 guns)
off Boston Light after a sharp and decisive engagement that lasted only
fifteen minutes. The commander of the "Chesapeake", James
Lawrence, who was mortally wounded in the fray, was related to the Cox
family of Bermuda, and his senior officer was William Cox, son of a
Bermudian who had emigrated to America. The Chesapeake (pictured below) was
initially sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia but was shortly afterwards brought to
St. George's, Bermuda by HMS Shannon and the ship, her officers and men became
Capture of the
Chesapeake by HMS Shannon
- 1813. The Bermuda Post Office was
established, initially in the Town of St. George.
- 1813. A midshipman's grave was
dug at Clarence Cove, originally Abbott's Bay. He was a 16-year
Royal Navy midshipman, Charles Francillon, of the Royal Navy ship HMS
Spartan. He died from phthisis, a form of tuberculosis, a highly
contagious disease of the time, on April 18, 1813 - during the 1812 to 1814
War. Francillon was born in Harwich (then in Essex, England), the
fourth son of Francis Francillon of Harwich, a Purser in the Royal Navy. He
was 15 years old when he joined the ship as a First Class Volunteer, a rank
created in 1794. It was a first step for boys, who later became Midshipmen
for three or more years, then Lieutenants. He was a patient of what was then
the Royal Naval Hospital - much later, Admiralty House - when he died. The
letters D. D. appear beside his name, which mean he was "Discharged
Dead". He probably received the posthumous rank of Midshipman
while still technically a First Class Volunteer.
- 1814. July. HMS
Dictator, and HMS Diamond, both 64s, along with HMS Royal Oak, 74, arrived
at Bermuda between July and August 1814 with the 4th, 44th, and 85th Foot
aboard. Altogether a brigade of 3,500 troops disembarked on the North Shore,
near Devonshire Dock, at a place still called "Forces Point",
under the command of Maj-Gen Robert Ross of an Ulster family.
- 1814. July. 6 British frigates
arrived at Bermuda from "up the Straits" having on board the
7th Fusiliers and 3 other regiments. They were soon joined by those brought
on the Royal Oak, Dictator, and Diamond.
- 1814. July. British soldiers
under the command of Major General Robert Ross arrived in Bermuda from
Britain and camped out near Devonshire Dock in their hundreds, for two
weeks on the island. In Murray’s Anchorage, some 18 ships of the line,
including the flagship, HMS Tonnant (86 guns, originally the French Le
Tonnant, captured by Nelson in 1798 at the Battle of the Nile) and HMS Royal
Oak (74) lay at anchor, awaiting a signal for departure for the continent.
The Admiral in overall command, Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, was able to view the entire fleet from his
strategic hill-top home at Mount Wyndham in Hamilton Parish, his official
residence rented from Stephen Outerbridge.
- 1814. July. One of the
British men-o-war which assembled at Bermuda to attack the American coast
was the HMS Royal Oak, with Major (later Lt-Gen) Sir Harry Smith (1787-1860)
age 27 who wrote an account of the arrival at Bermuda. She left Bermuda with
Rear Admiral Malcolm and 30 or 40 sail of transport, on board troops
recently arrived from Southern France, to rendezvous in Chesapeake Bay with
the "Tonnant" and the "Surprise". "The wind blowing
from the east made it difficult for the "Royal Oak" to leave the
anchorage. The Admiral resolved on the boldest thing ever attempted, to take
the fleet out through the North East Passage, never done before save by one
frigate. There was but one man capable of piloting the "Royal Oak"
(Joseph Hayward, "Uncle Joe") and he feared her bows would touch
when the rudder was clear. Sir Harry Smith wrote: "To my honour there
appeared not a foot to spare, it was a most extraordinary thing ever seen,
the rocks visible all around the ship." At one moment the wind was very
light, it almost died away; the only expression of Admiral Malcolm was
"Well, if the breeze fails us it will be a good turn I have done the
Yankees". The undertaking was successful, the expedition went up the Pawtuxent
and carried out the attack on the city of Washington." See http://www.atlascom.us/defender.htm.
- 1814. August 1. HMS Tonnant,
with Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane K.B. and the frigate
"Surprise" with Sir Thomas Cochrane, sailed from Bermuda, destined
for Chesapeake Bay. The British Royal Navy fleet was piloted by James Darrell of
St. George's aboard HMS Resolution through a difficult passage to Murray's
Anchorage until it reached the open sea. It had been ordered to assemble in and
Bermuda to successfully attack and burn Washington DC, in retaliation for the
American attack on and burning of Yorktown, now Toronto, in Canada. Pilot
Darrell — known as Jemmy — is often cited as the first black man to buy
a house in Bermuda and it is certain that he was one of the first to own
land. He was a slave until then. His nautical
prowess led to him becoming one of the Island's first King's Pilots and
eventually his release from slavery, aged 47. The father-of-one later
campaigned for better pay for pilots and for a change in the law to allow
black people to leave their property to their family. After it burnt
attempted the same thing on Fort McHenry in Baltimore. During that engagement,
Francis Scott Key wrote the words of what became the Star Spangled
Banner, as a temporary detainee on one of the British warships. The melody
is from a bawdy British drinking song by a London based composer. The fleet's
voyage ended in Halifax, where hundreds of slaves who had lined the shores of
the Pawtuxent River and elsewhere nearby to implore British troops to help
them escape from bondage had been rescued and were also on the British
warships cheering on and actively assisting the sailors who had set them free,
were promptly and officially given their freedom.
- 1814. August 4. Led by HMS
Royal Oak, a fleet of 16 ships departed Bermuda via the North Rock Eastern
Channel. Bermudian pilot Joseph Nicholas Hayward was deemed the only man
in the island who would undertake to pilot the Royal Oak through. But
another pilot, Outerbridge may also have been involved as later a brooch of
silver and paste jewels was found stating “Rear Admiral Cockburn to Mrs
Outerbridge, commemorating her husband’s daring feat of piloting through
North Rock Passage the British Fleet responsible for the sacking and burning
of Washington. Bermuda 1814.”
- 1814. August 24. The
British Army captured the City of Washington in America and burnt the White
House. British troops who entered Washington commandeered four
paintings of George III and Queen Charlotte found in a warehouse in
Washington. Admiral Sir George Cockburn had the portraits put on board
his flagship HMS Euryalus, and on her arrival in Bermuda presented portraits
of the Royal Couple to each of the newly created Corporations of St.
George’s and Hamilton. Those paintings, war booty from the sack of
Washington were later put on display in Bermuda’s House of Assembly, and
at the Colonial Secretariat, later the Cabinet Office.
- 1814. September. The
captain of HMS Menelaus, Sir Peter Parker, BT, died in battle against the
USA and his body conveyed on the "Hebrus" to be buried in the
Islands of Bermuda. He was buried 14 Oct 1814 at St George's Church burial
grounds by the Rev George Rennell, Chaplain of the HMS Albion.
- 1814. The present Fort St. Catherine
was built, from an earlier fort.
- 1814. Thomas Tudor
Tucker, born at Tucker House, St George’s, Bermuda and named for his
uncle, the Treasurer of the USA, commanded HMS Cherub in an engagement off
Valparaiso in the company with HMS Phoebe, when the USS Essex was captured.
- 1814. The Georgian style house at
Par-la-Ville (then not in Hamilton) in Bermuda was completed by Hamilton
merchant William Perot whose son William Bennet Perot, first postmaster of the
town (later a city), lived here all his life. The house fringes a beautiful
park, originally laid out as a private garden of the Perot family.
- 1814. When it was announced that the
seat of the Bermuda Government was to be transferred to Hamilton from St.
George's, N. T. Butterfield (later, the Bank) moved to Front
- 1814. October 8. HMS Albion,
Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, A Scot, and the HMS Hebrus, frigate, arrived in Bermuda from
- 1814. At Ghent, British and
American negotiators resolved to end the War of 1812 between Britain and the
USA, in which Bermuda had been involved. But peace was not easily and
instantly achieved in the days before the telegraph. Since on three previous
occasions America had insisted on modifications after her envoys had signed
treaties, this time Britain insisted that the treaty could and would not
become effective until both parties had ratified it and why it continued
- 1815. January. The units
the British Army used in the Battle of New Orleans included the 93rd
(Sutherland) Highlanders, who charged the Americans led on by their pipers.
Lieutenant C. H. Gordon later described how, within 150 yards of the
American lines " a most destructive and murderous was opened on our
column of round, grape, musketry, rifle and buckshot, with officers and men
mowed down by ranks." Although the battle was a defeat for the British
the war was a success for Britain for it guaranteed Canada's independence
from the USA. It also gave a further impetus for the British to defeat
Napoleon for good in Europe.
- 1815. January 15.
"HMS Endymion" (Capt. Hope), the "Pomona", and the
"Tenedos" engaged in firing shots at the US Navy warship USS "President",
forcing the latter's surrender. The "President", Capt Stephen Decatur, was
brought to Murray's Anchorage, Bermuda. For a fuller account of
the action see http://1812privateers.org/NAVAL/president.html
February 22. Midshipman Richard Sutherland Dale, the oldest son of Commodore
Richard Dale from Philadelphia, died in Bermuda from his wounds and was
buried at St. Peter's Church, At. George's. . He was 20 years old when he
lost his leg after his ship President engaged the British warships above in
the 1815 war between Britain and the US. He was brought to St. George's for
treatment and cared for in Stennet's Hotel where the Bank of Butterfield now
sits in the Town Square. However, he succumbed to his injuries. But he was
never forgotten. Every February 22, when the US Marine Corp was stationed on
the US base in St. George's, a small parade would be held to honour the
Midshipman who gave his life in the last military action on the seas between
the US and England. The ceremony ceased when the base withdrew in 1995.
However, the Friends of St. Peter's Foundation, which works to preserve and
increase interest in the church in St. George, reintroduced the ceremony in
2006. Midshipman R B Randolph, also from the President, later escaped the islands for NY.
- 1815. January 23. The town of
Hamilton became the capital of Bermuda. It replaced the historic Town of St. George in the east end of
Bermuda, over the huge objection of its townsfolk and those of the Eastern
Parishes. The first gathering of the House of Assembly in the new capital
took place in the Town Hall on Front Street. Richard Darrell was then Mayor. He remained as such from 1807 to
1848 (41 years). With the change of capital, Bermuda's Parliament moved to
Hamilton and its first locale there was the Town Hall on Front Street. The
Town Hall was on the upper floor of a long waterfront building that housed
the Customs warehouse on its bottom floor.
- 1815. After the end of the
British-American War of 1812-15 the British Government made repeated pleas
for a Militia in Bermuda to be maintained, but, other than short-lived
militias raised by the Governor, or the Royal Navy, without an Act or the
funding of the Colonial Parliament and no interest from Bermudians, no part-time Bermudian units would be
raised, despite the continuing pleas and threats coming from London, until the formation of Volunteer Army units in 1895.
- 1815. April 12, 1815. Death,
in St. George's, of Pilot James Darrell, who piloted his name to fame in
- 1815. April 2. HMS
Hebrus, frigate, sailed from Bermuda and took the body of Sir Peter
Parker, commander of HMS Menelaus to England.
- 1815. St. Peter's Church, the
parish church of St. George’s, was considerably further expanded when
Major John Till purchased a clock for the tower. The clock counted the hours
over the graveyard and the town.
- 1816. December 2. British
artist Thomas Driver, then in Bermuda, painted this watercolor of Bermuda
slaves gathering wood to prepare a ship-building site at Paynter’s Vale,
on the coast of Harrington Sound, Hamilton Parish.
- 1816. With the Royal Navy
station in Bermuda in course of construction at Ireland Island, the Bermuda
Government deemed it appropriate for the colony to offer a permanent
residence for the senior Royal Navy officer based in Bermuda and purchased
the Dunscombe estate at St. John's Hill in Pembroke Parish, overlooking the
sea. It cost the government £3,000 and was made over as a gift to the
Crown. (John Dunscombe, who sold the property, became a prominent citizen of
Newfoundland and eventually lieutenant governor of that colony. When the
foundation was laid of Newfoundland's capital city, St. John's, it was named
after his old Bermuda home).
- 1816-18. Colonel James Robertson
Arnold of the British Army, the son of Benedict Arnold by his second marriage
to the Philadelphia-based Loyalist, was stationed in Bermuda, in his 35th to
37th year, as the second recorded Royal Engineer to come here. (The first came
in the 1790s and devised the construction, or reconstruction, of the forts on
the islands in St. George's and Castle harbors). Colonel Arnold devised the
early massive building and engineering program for HM Dockyard, that led to
Bermuda being referred to later as the "Gibraltar of the West." His obvious
accomplishments, skills and obvious leadership qualities in Bermuda were such
that he was marked for prompt promotion and increased military
- 1817. Sessions House in Bermuda was
constructed. On Church, Court and Parliament Streets. It was initially a a
four-square Georgian structure, two years after Hamilton, instead of St.
George's, became the capital. It was deliberately placed then atop the
highest ground in the city, not far from the Anglican Cathedral. To
coincide with the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887, it was
embellished substantially on its southern ceremonial front, complete with
towering arches, very likely by the Scottish architect William Hay who
designed the Anglican Cathedral not far away on Church Street. Bermuda's
Westminster style Parliament, referred to locally as the House of Assembly,
meets here, upstairs, while the Supreme Court meets on the ground floor.
Bermuda's House of
Assembly, Sessions House, built 1817
- 1818. The Royal Navy
Dockyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was moved to Bermuda. Halifax
suffered a further economic malaise for a few years, that had started when
peace was declared in 1815 between the USA and Britain.
Construction of the RN Hospital near the Dockyard began, in the same
pre-fabricated manner as the Commissioner's House. In addition to cast iron
structural features, such as veranda columns, floor joists, and possibly
cast and wrought iron roof trusses, some of the stonework for the building
was the hard local limestone.
During World War 2, it treated and often saved the lives of many brought in
from torpedoed ships. Royal Navy left in 1950s. That
great building ended its life as an egg farm, then finally was deliberately
burnt to the ground by the Fire Department in November 1972. Part of it
became the site for Lefroy House, for senior citizens.
- 1818. After serving in Bermuda
since 1812, William R. Higginbottam - sometimes spelt Higinbottam -
initially as US Consular Agent, was appointed Consul from 1818 to 1832. He
opened an office in St. George's in August 1818. Earlier as US Agent for
Commerce and Seaman appointed by President James Monroe, Higginbotham dealt
with American shipping and trade issues. But he faced many diplomatic
hurdles because Bermuda's English Governor did not officially recognize
- 1818. May. The ship Caesar
ended up on the reefs of Bermuda, when bound for Baltimore, Maryland
from Newcastle, with the marble cornice for a Baltimore church, also with
bricks and grindstones for flour mills, bottles and glassware, including
medicine vials and decorative flasks, and white, red and black lead oxides.
The British Government in London formally asked all territories of the
British Empire including Bermuda to prepare slave registers and submit
them to London. This was because although the slave trade had been
abolished in 1811 throughout the British Empire,
had not been much compliance.
- 1820. George IV ascended the throne in London.
- 1820. The fourth Government
House was built, not in St. George's as before but at Mount Langton in
Pembroke (Fay and Geoffrey Elliott Collection, Bermuda Archives).
- 1821. The
first slave register from Bermuda was prepared and sent to London, in
compliance with the British Government in London order of 1819.
- 1822. Following its purchase in
1816, the St. John's Hill in Pembroke Parish property, bought by the
government for £3,000 and made over as a gift to the Crown, was renamed
Admiralty House and its location was changed from St. John's Hill to
Clarence Hill, in honor of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence. (It is
now St. John's Hill again). A side street was named Clarence Avenue.
- 1822. On the northern side
of Bermuda's Fort Victoria, the Ravelin Tower gun emplacement was
- 1822. When West Indian ports were
reopened to American shipping, Bermuda's trade suffered and the population
dropped to 10,000 although the colony continued to maintain its lucrative
trade in salt.
- 1823. Nathaniel
T. Butterfield, later the founder of Butterfield's Bank, got
- 1823. May. Samuel
Wade Smith was sent out to Bermuda by Edward Holl, the Surveyor of Buildings
for the UK's Navy Board. He brought with him the plans for the
Commissioner's House at HM Dockyard which Holl had designed. The former was
responsible not only for the building of Commissioner's House, but also all
of the quarrying and leveling of the dockyard site, the construction of the
breakwater and the great wharf walls, and all the other buildings which
constituted what became known as ‘The Works.
The Martello Tower at Ferry Reach was built by the British Army in
Bermuda. It is the Island's only egg-shaped fort and with walls as thick
as nine to 11-feet, the fort remained largely resistant to cannon fire.
Restored in 2008, including bringing in an "18-pounder" cannon
from Fort St. Catherine and creating a cannon mound on top of the building
so it would look as it did in the 19th Century. The
fort is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday in the summer and in
the winter by appointment only, by calling the Parks Department. This
is the only one in Bermuda ever built as part of the unique system of
British military fortifications that once was so prominent along the English
coast from Kent to Sussex and spawned their own name in British history. Two
others were planned but never built as British Army fortifications
protecting the old Royal Naval Dockyard. This one was built after the one on
the island of Barbuda in the Caribbean, after those in England.
- 1823. Commissioner's House began at
the Royal Dockyard, Bermuda (and took 5 years to build).
Finished in 1828, it
epitomized British imperial style, power and engineering might in the 19th
century. An experimental building, it was the first British domestic project
to use cast iron to support its floors and roof. Taxpayers in Britain were
irate at its cost.
- 1824. A
second prison hulk arrived at Convict Bay in St.
George's at the instigation of the British Government, to accompany the
"Somerset" while others were at the Royal Navy Dockyard in Sandys
Parish. Today, it is a residential area for non-felons but the name has
- 1824. February 4. Arrival in Bermuda from
England of the first ship, the Antelope, a de-activated Royal Navy frigate
with 300 white convicts
with guards, as a new labor force. She had sailed under the command of
Lieutenant Henry Hire, RN from Spithead on 5th January. By an Act enacted in
the UK dated 4th July 1823, offenders convicted in the UK and sentenced to
transportation could now be sent to other parts of His Majesty's dominions
and colonies outside the UK. They could be confined on land or sea,
including aboard any ship and kept on labour at HM Dockyards and Public
Works projects overeas. The convicts were first used in the
initial construction of the Royal Naval Dockyard. They were sent in part
because the previous work force of Bermudians, mostly slaves and free men of
color who were skilled tradesmen and laborers, worked so slowly yet
expensively. They were housed on the Antelope in very poor conditions. Items they carved were used to barter for fresh fruit,
tobacco and rum. Many items were thrown or swept overboard when the carver
died. (Convict labor continued to be used until 1863, after all slaves were
freed). Also on the ship, as guards during the voyage but to be deployed as
Dockyard Guards on their arrival in Bermuda, were 200 Royal Marines.
- 1824. 25th February. The
"Antelope" - referred to above - lying off Dockyard, Ireland
Island, was paid off and handed over to Commissioner Briggs who alone held
legal authority over all the British convicts sent and to be sent to
- 1825. Blacks of Bermuda were put on
a regular education roster, which some alleged had a religious bias because it
was the Society for the Conversion of the Negroes.
- 1825. Construction began at
Dockyard (and lasted until 1843) of the immense Casemates Barracks for the
Royal Marine Light Infantry who manned the guns and units defending the
Dockyard, The barracks remained in use as a soldiers and officers sleeping
and working quarters for over a century.
- 1825. September 3. Gunner
Thomas Squires, then based with a field battery on Hen Island, was
injured during a storm on
the island and subsequently died from those injuries. It is believed he was
buried on the island.
- 1826. The Bermuda House of
Assembly - Parliament - formally moved from the Town Hall on Front
Street (where it had been since 1815 when Hamilton replaced St. George's as
Bermuda's capital) to Sessions House, Parliament Hill, Hamilton, its current
- 1826. Arrival in Bermuda of
the convict hulk "Dromedary" with 100 convicts, all put to hard
labor to help build the Dockyard. 300 more newly arrived convicts joined
them. Until 1819 she'd been a Royal Navy warship. She was then
decommissioned as such and converted to a convict hulk. She'd been around
the world as such, having originally sailed on 12 September 1819 under
Captain Richard Skinner for Australia with 370 convicts. After delivering
the convicts she proceeded to New Zealand and Norfolk Island to procure
timber for the home Dockyards. She arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)
on 10 January 1820, after a voyage of 121 days. She landed 347 convicts at
Hobart, and another 22 at Sydney. She also carried a detachment of the 84th
Regiment of Foot, and some passengers. From 20 February to 25 November
Dromedary was in New Zealand collecting wood for the Navy to see if it would
be useful for spars. At the same time Coromandel was also in New Zealand
waters gathering timber. Dromedary loaded her spars at Whangaroa and
Coromandel loaded at the river Thames. It would take almost a year to
complete loading. Dromedary unloaded her timber at Chatham in June 1821. She
was then refitted at Woolwich 1822-23 and then in 1825 again with Richard
Skinner as Master she sailed for Bermuda. She then spent some 37 years at
one spot close to the quarries and construction sites where the convicts
labored. In 1851, after the convicts had built a bridge to Bows Island and a
new barracks there, 600 convicts moved from the hulks Coromandel and
Dromedary to the island. For the next 12 years Dromedary served as a kitchen
for the working prisoners and those who guarded them.
based at Dockyard, Bermuda
Col. Edward Fanshawe, Royal Engineers, British Army, wrote his Report on the
Defences of Bermuda, it included the comment: "I also think
that the occupation of the Eastern Hill by a work under the command of
Retreat Hill with a heavy Sea Battery would materially strengthen that side
of St. George's, and cooperate in the defence of the Narrows."
St. Peter's Church in St. George's was
consecrated by Bishop Inglis. Before that it was known as the St
George's town church or more simply, the town church, not St. Peter's.
Act was passed by the Legislature “to Ameliorate the Condition of Slaves
and Free Persons of Colour”, this being the first time in the history of
Bermuda that a comprehensive law had been enacted to define the rights of
the black population. Although slaves were now allowed to own property
under the new legislation, they, along with free Blacks, could not vote in
general elections or run as candidates for public office.
A second Bermuda slave register was prepared and sent to London in
compliance with the 1819 directive of the British Government in London.
Archives, slavery in Bermuda 1825 at Flatts
November 10. Death in Warminster, USA of Bermuda-born-and-reared lawyer,
trader, inventor, scholar, professor, judge, essayist, poet, gardener,
stargazer St. George Tucker, born near Port Royal, Bermuda, in 1752, the
son of Colonel Henry Tucker, a trader and owner of the Grove plantation. His
christening name, St. George, had been in the family since about 1600, when
Frances St. George married George Tucker of Kent, England. Tucker sailed for
Virginia at age 19 to pursue an education in the law. He enrolled at the
College of William and Mary in 1772 and read under George Wythe, who had
instructed Thomas Jefferson. Wythe examined and approved Tucker for the bar
on April 4, 1774. Virginia's courts closed as the Revolution began, and
Tucker could not pursue his practice. He returned to Bermuda in June 1775,
two months after the raid on Williamsburg's Magazine. Before he departed, he
told Peyton Randolph and Jefferson of the existence of a similar magazine in
Bermuda that might be a target for rebel retaliation. The Continental
Congress had banned trade with colonies that remained loyal to Britain, and
Tucker's father, the colonel, traveled to Philadelphia in July to argue for
Bermuda's exemption. He received it by negotiating with Benjamin Franklin
the capture of the powder his son had mentioned earlier. Two American
vessels carried away 100 barrels from the Royal Powder Magazine in Bermuda
the night of August 14, 1775. St. George Tucker hinted that he helped roll
some of the barrels to the ships. Tucker returned to Virginia on January 3,
1777, landing at Yorktown aboard the Dispatch (a ship purchased for
him and his associates by his father, the colonel) with a cargo of smuggled
salt. Tucker became his father's Williamsburg agent and made himself
financially comfortable in a deal that dispatched indigo valued at £10,000
in four ships from Charleston, South Carolina, to the West Indies to trade
for arms. He also fell in love with a woman he met at Bruton Parish Church.
The object of his heart was Frances "Fanny" Bland Randolph, 25,
the widow of John Randolph and the mother of three. They married on
September 23, 1778, and moved to the Randolph plantation Matoax near
Petersburg. When the British entered Hampton Roads in 1779, Tucker joined
the militia as a major. He later fought at Guilford Courthouse, where he
sustained a minor wound; chasing a runaway soldier, he ran into the man's
bayonet. Fluent in French, he served as Governor Thomas Nelson's liaison
with the French army at the Battle of Yorktown. His letters and diary from
those days are rich in historical detail, and his description of General
George Washington's arrival in Williamsburg before the battle is widely
quoted. After the war, Tucker practiced law in the Petersburg area until
1788 when Fanny died shortly after bearing their sixth child. That year he
accepted appointments as the professor of law and police at the College of
William and Mary, and as judge of the Virginia General Court at Richmond. He
succeeded George Wythe at the school and, as was true of Wythe before him,
Tucker's tenure was marred by disputes with the administration over
instructional methods. Tucker favored lectures, and he preferred to teach in
his home (the St. George Tucker House on Market Square, Williamsburg), where
his law library was handy. He usually had about a dozen pupils. One of them,
William Taylor Barry, wrote: "He is a Man of genuine Cleverness and of
the most exalted talents." Tucker married again in 1791, this time to
Mrs. Lelia Skipwith Carter, 24, a widow with two children. She bore him
three more, all of whom died early. In 1796, Tucker wrote and published the
pamphlet "A Dissertation on Slavery: With A Proposal for the Gradual
Abolition of It in the State of Virginia." Cogently argued, it
nevertheless had little effect. During these years he also edited
Blackstone's "Commentaries on the Laws of England" to put them in
an American context and make them more useful to students. It was published
in Philadelphia in 1803 and earned Tucker the title the "American
Blackstone." Twentieth-century legal historian Lawrence Friedman said
Tucker was "one of the most eminent of Virginia lawyers." But he
was best remembered in Williamsburg for writing a spirited defense of the
city and its inhabitants. It was a reply to a critical passage in a
geography and tour book published by the straight laced Reverend Jedediah
Morse. Morse was a progenitor of Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the
telegraphic code – a subject that would have excited Tucker. In 1794, he
was enthusiastic over the new French "Telegraphe," a semi
mechanical semaphore signaling system. He had a colleague set up part of the
apparatus at the Capitol to signal him at the college on the other end of
Duke of Gloucester Street. Tucker is credited with the construction of
Williamsburg's first bathroom; he converted his backyard dairy house and
installed in it a copper bathtub into which heated water was piped. The tub
had a drain. He also invented an "earth closet" for his home that
removed "night soil" through the wall and designed a water pump
driven by a steam engine. An amateur astronomer, and an avid gardener, he
was a charter member and officer of "a Society for the Promotion of
Useful Knowledge" in Williamsburg. Continuing disputes over his
teaching methods led to Tucker's departure from the college of William and
Mary in 1804, when he was appointed to the Virginia Court of Appeals in
Richmond. He had built a law office modeled after a Grecian temple there in
1803, but the change of locale and his appointment were delayed by scandal.
Gambler Robert Bailey of Staunton accused Tucker of soliciting a 100-guinea
bribe for the acquittal of a current gaming charge. Tucker vigorously
defended himself against the accusation, even traveling to Staunton to
gather depositions about Bailey's character, thereby convincing the public
of his innocence. At the new capital he lodged in the Swan Tavern, a
legendary inn. Though he wrote memorable poetry, he was also given to
humorous doggerel, and he wrote these lines:
"There was a sorry
judge who lived at the Swan by himself.
He got but little honor, and he got but little pelf [i.e. wealth],
He drudged and judged from morn to night, no ass drudged more than he,
And the more he drudged, and the more he judged, the sorrier judge was
In 1813, St. George Tucker
became United States District Court judge at Richmond, serving until 1825.
By then two of his sons were on the way to becoming prominent judges
themselves. Tucker died at the home of his stepdaughter Mary Cabell in
Warminster. He was 75 years old.
- 1828. The Royal Gazette newspaper of
Bermuda was issued for the first time.
- 1828. A
survey showed the sugar-loaf hill of Maria Hill Fort as the first fort of
the Ireland Island, 19 years after the founding of the Dockyard on the
shores of Grassy Bay in 1809. This small redoubt predates the establishment
of the Dockyard and thus lays claim to being its first, if utterly obsolete,
fort. Maria Hill Fort was not among the great works of the Royal Engineers,
who left such an enormous legacy of their trades at Bermuda, but was
constructed by the citizens of the west end of Bermuda. It enjoyed one of
the best panoramic views in the western parishes. It was a small redoubt in
the shape of a diamond, with a commanding position in the middle of Ireland
The diary of Surgeon Brown, Royal Navy, on board HMS Tyne at the Royal Navy
Dockyard Bermuda, then being built by convicts sent from the UK and
housed on prison hulks, read: "The
Convicts in cutting through a portion of the rock near the fortifications
discovered a very large cave, which I visited this forenoon. It was in the
shallowest part 16 feet deep of water and had an evident ebb & flow
communicating with the sea by some subterraneous passage. Into this they had
lowered a boat & were in search of curiosities. One large piece while
they were hammering separated, and felt into the boat, which sent them all
floundering into the water. The roof of the cave is covered with stalactites
some nearly a yard in length. It will require to be filled up ere they
proceed with the works."
- 1829. Archdeacon Spencer opened a
free day school in Paget, Bermuda, for the education of blacks. It was
followed by the opening of three other day schools for blacks, as well as
several Sunday schools.
- 1829. Devonshire College opened for
white students, with accommodations for 100 students drawn from Warwick,
Pembroke and Devonshire Parishes, and was run on a £600 trust fund. (The site
is now part of St. Brendan’s Hospital).
- 1829. June 24. In London,
England, Bermudian-born black slave Mary Prince, through her trusted English
intermediary and Member of Parliament, presented a petition to the British
Parliament. It read as follows: "A
Petition of Mary Prince or James, commonly called Molly Wood, was presented,
and read; setting forth, That the Petitioner was born a Slave in the colony
of Bermuda, and is now about forty years of age; That the Petitioner was
sold some years go for the sum of 300 dollars to Mr John Wood, by whom the
Petitioner was carried to Antigua, where she has since, until lately resided
as a domestic slave on his establishment; that in December 1826, the
Petitioner who is connected with the Moravian Congregation, was married in a
Moravian Chapel at Spring Gardens, in the parish of Saint John's, by the
Moravian minister, Mr Ellesen, to a free Black of the name of Daniel James,
who is a carpenter at Saint John's, in Antigua, and also a member of the
same congregation; that the Petitioner and the said Daniel James have lived
together ever since as man and wife; that about ten months ago the
Petitioner arrived in London, with her master and mistress, in the capacity
of nurse to their child; that the Petitioner's master has offered to send
her back in his brig to the West Indies, to work in the yard; that the
Petitioner expressed her desire to return to the West Indies, but not as a
slave, and has entreated her master to sell her, her freedom on account of
her services as a nurse to his child, but he has refused, and still does
refuse; further stating the particulars of her case; and praying the House
to take the same into their consideration, and to grant such relief as to
them may, under the circumstances, appear right. Ordered, That the said
Petition do lie upon the Table."
- 1829. A distinctly eccentric man
arrived in Bermuda. His name was William Nisbett, an Anglican Church official
who had been based in Nova Scotia, as a member of The Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel. He had been one of those involved in the Society's
Madras System schools for Africans in the Canadian Maritime Provinces. He had
become disillusioned with his Negro charges in Nova Scotia and had claimed
that they were universally superstitious, mad, ridiculous and given to
monstrous absurdities in the place of religion. He dammed the Negro Refugees
in Canada - those who had fled to Canada from slavery in the USA - for being
indolent to an extreme, insensible to kindness, dishonest and untrue and in a
deplorable state of moral degradation. In total exasperation, Nisbett quit his
work with them, and arrived in Bermuda for what he considered a less fruitless
task in a warmer climate where Negroes were considered to be closer to God. He
began work in Bermuda with the Society for the Conversion of the Negroes. He
began the Nisbett family still in Bermuda today, none of whom are his
- 1829. The 118-ton Bermuda-built
cedar privateer, completed in 1825, also with the name Pickle in honor of the
vessel of 1803, took part in a severe Royal Navy action of the northeast coast
of Cuba that resulted in the capture of a Spanish slave-trading ship, the
Boladora and the release of 330 slaves aboard.
- 1829. April (until May 1833) Lieutenant
Nelsen, Royal Engineers (RE), was in Bermuda and wrote an
extensive Paper XI in Vol. 4 of the RE series entitled "Engineer
Details" on the comparative values of convict and other labor. He
referred to Ireland Island and St Georges. There is some narrative,
details of rations, pay, convict shops, comparison of "task work"
and "piece work." The purpose
of the paper was to compare production rates between various types of labor,
civilian and convict directed by officers of the RE and under day-to-day
superintendence of the NCOs -
the Royal Sappers and Miners. Experiments on strength of mortar mixes etc.
are also described as well as quarrying and trimming of dimension
stone for quoins of fort walls etc.
- 1837. On the death of King William IV, Queen Victoria
ascended the throne.
- 1837. In Bermuda's first
post-Abolition of Slavery General Election, James Athill, a successful ship
builder from St. George's, born in Antigua in 1788 and who came to Bermuda
when he was about 19 years old, cast his vote and was also elected a Church
Warden of St. Peter's Church.
- 1837. Fort Albert, on Retreat Hill,
was begun and completed in 1840. Near the Town of St.
- 1837. Governor John Henry Lefroy
persuaded the Bermuda Legislature to vote a sum of money for the drainage and
improvement of the constantly flooding Pembroke Marsh. From this came the
- 1837. Lieut.
Richard Nelson, Royal Engineers, wrote his paper "On the geology of the
Bermudas", Trans. Geological Society, V.1.
January 8. Sinking off Bermuda of the French warship L'Herminie,
launched in 1824 but not completed until some four years later. For a naval
warship of her day, she was huge, 300 feet long and carrying 60 cannons.
Earlier, in 1837 she was ordered to Mexican waters to enforce France's
claims during the revolution. But, upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, on August
3, 1837, 133 members of her crew came down with yellow fever. Figuring her
crew would be useless in battle, France's high command recalled her back to
France. Under the command of Commodore Bazoche, L'Herminie left Havana for
home on December 3, 1837. During her Atlantic crossing she encountered
increasingly heavy seas. The captain decided to take shelter in Bermuda. By
the time land was visible, however, the big ship had inadvertently wandered
well inside a treacherous stretch of the Bermuda's northwestern facing
barrier reef. Shortly after, L'Herminie got grounded on the reef. Before the
ship started to break up, a group of local boats from Ely's Harbour came to
her assistance. Given the sea conditions, it is amazing that all 495 members
of L'Herminie's crew were safely evacuated from the doomed ship. The
following day, several of the ship's stores were successfully salvaged.
Today L'Herminie rests in 35 feet of water four miles west of Ireland
Island. Since her wooden hull has been down for 160 years, little remains of
her other than 58 of her original 60 cannons. The wreckage is
scattered across white sand in the middle of the reef. Two cannons lay atop
one another forming a cross. Surrounding the wreckage are the very coral
heads that ripped the hull to pieces. ther than the cannons, divers can also
see one of L'Herminie's two massive anchors propped up against a large coral
head, as well as several of her square shaped, iron holding tanks, now half
eaten by the sea. They once held the ship's supply of drinking water. Buried
in the sand are some of the ship's timbers and cannon balls, as well as a
collection of small artifacts such as broken glass, bottles and pottery.
- 1838. 11th September. The
Royal Gazette carried this advertisement: "For Rent, for such term of
years as may be agreed on, the delightfully situated dwelling house known as
Mount Wyndham in
Hamilton Parish, and some time since occupied by Admiral Sir David Milne,
Royal Navy. The beautiful situation of this dwelling, commanding as it
does a view of the whole of the Island, sis too well known to require a
description here." It was a reference to the fact it was the first
residence from about 1808 of the Admiral and was when this location overlooking
then militarily important Castle Harbour, not the much later Dockyard not
then built, was the first base of the Royal Navy in Bermuda. (Not until
after 1812 did the Admiral move from Mount Wyndham to Admiralty House at
Clarence Cove, Pembroke).
- 1838. Government education
grants of approximately £300 were given to all elementary schools, one of
which at least existed in each parish.
- 1839. Newfoundland and
Bermuda were formed into a separate Diocese, and the Rev. Aubrey S.
Spencer, who came out as a missionary to Newfoundland in 1819, but who was
Archdeacon of Bermuda at the time of the foundation of the new see, was
consecrated its first bishop. "At my consecration," says Bishop
Spencer, "to the see of Newfoundland, I found only eight clergymen of
the Church of England in the whole colony; the Church itself in a most
disorganized and dispirited condition; the schools languishing, many of them
broken up. The clergy of Newfoundland are maintained mainly by the noble
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Lands; but the people
are called on by the Bishop to provide a house and a small stipend,
according to their respective means, for their several missionaries."
The Bishop set himself at once to establish a Theological Institution for
training young men for [85/86] the ministry. He also divided his Diocese
into three Rural Deaneries Avelon, Trinity, and Bermuda. In his letter to
the S. P. G., 1841, he says--"In the course of my visitation during the
present year, I have travelled by land and by water 1188 miles, visited
thirty-five stations, confirmed 1136 persons, consecrated six churches,
organized or assisted in the building of twenty-one new churches, ordained
two priests and eight deacons, and founded or restored more than twenty day
schools or Sunday schools."
- 1839. Governor Sir William Reid arrived
in Bermuda (and stayed until 1846). He was the author of "The Law of Storms,
based on his study of the aftermath of the Barbados hurricane of 1831 which
killed 1,477 people there. For that first scientific study of hurricanes,
Reid was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London for the Improvement
of Natural Knowledge, the oldest learned society still in existence. One of his first duties, which he took very personally, was to begin the
Public Library as we know it today, now the Bermuda National Library. Also,
Governor Reid caused the revitalization of agriculture, as a direct result of
which the first agricultural exhibition (now an annual tradition) was held
that year. As a further tribute to him, Reid Street in Hamilton became the new
name of the through way.
- 1839. September 17. A hurricane
(Reid's hurricane, after the Governor and author of that name) struck Bermuda
and did great damage. Governor Sir William Reid was able to see his
recently published book on storms come alive.
- 1840. Lieut. Richard Nelson,
Royal Engineers, reported that "the
Bermuda Rock is a stratified and calcareous sandstone, of all degrees of
hardness and density, ranging from a loose sandstone to a compact limestone;
the sorts used in building varying between the softest Bath stone, and a
second-rate Portland. The distribution of these varieties is most irregular:
at St. George's, and generally throughout the islands, the former abound;
but at Ireland Island, the eastern half is one quarry of the latter and
- 1841. The Bermuda Legislature
enacted the Currency Act, under which the local pound, previously at 40%
discount to the London pound, was raised to parity. Bermuda formally adopted
the United Kingdom pound sterling as the official legal tender. As a
result, the previous property values legislated in 1834 for voting in
general elections and vying for representation in the House of Assembly were
now expressed in pounds sterling – sixty pounds sterling for the right to
vote (previously one hundred pounds in Bermuda currency) and two hundred and
forty pounds sterling to qualify as a candidate (previously four hundred
pounds in Bermuda currency). The conversion to pounds sterling also impacted
on the property qualifications in elections for the offices of Mayor,
Aldermen and Common Councillors in the municipalities of Hamilton and St
George’s and for positions on the parish vestries.
- 1841. The elegant and
important building later known as the Colonial Secretariat in Hamilton was completed.
It was remodeled in 1938 as the Colonial
Secretariat, and after 1968 became the office of the Premier of Bermuda,
heading the Bermuda Government. It also houses the Senate of Bermuda - which
meets here every Wednesday in the 8 months or so the House of Assembly is in
session at Sessions House).
- 1841. 28 April. The Bermuda Legislature passed an "Act for the Safe Custody of Insane Persons
charged with Offences. " It was the first local legislation to deal
specifically with persons with mental problems. Persons charged, if found to
be insane, were kept in custody until they could be sent to an
- 1841. May 28. Vice
Admiral Sir Thomas Harvey, KCB, Royal Navy, stationed in Bermuda and
Commander in Chief of the North American and West Indies Naval Forces, died and
was later buried in the Royal Naval Cemetery, Bermuda. He was 66 years
- 1841. Renovation was
completed on St. Peter's Church in St. George's, damaged by hurricane for
the third time in 1830. It became the last stylistic alteration to the
church which has not changed much since then.
- 1841. After being moored at
the wharf behind the Custom House in New London, Connecticut, for a year and
a half, La Amistad was auctioned off by the U.S. Marshall in October 1840.
Captain George Howland, of Newport, Rhode Island, purchased the vessel and
then had to get an Act of Congress passed so that he could register her. He
renamed her Ion and, in late 1841, sailed her to Bermuda and Saint Thomas
with a typical New England cargo of onions, apples, live poultry, and
- 1841. Such
was the American concern of the new British military works at Bermuda and the British West
Indies islands that Daniel Webster, the Secretary of State, sent a secret
agent to assess the situation. His name was
Albert Fitz, who immediately was made aware that Bermudians were
“particularly jealous and distrustful of American visitors, and also of
Frenchmen, whom they consider our probable allies.” Nonetheless,
Albert, playing the tourist, was able to get about and look at the
fortifications then erecting, with the possible exception of the dockyard at
Ireland Island, which was out of bounds to anyone “disconnected” with
that naval establishment. Once back at his hotel, he made sketches of the
forts and these have survived in the National Archives at Washington. Agent
Fitz noted that there were no fortifications between the dockyard and the
Martello Tower at Ferry Reach and thus the Americans could land their forces
on the South Shore beaches and march east to attack St. George’s and west
to assault the dockyard. He notes the presence of signal stations at Ireland
Island, Gibbs Hill, Government House and Fort George and comments on the
access to Bermuda’s harbors by channels through the reefs. Plus, Timlin’s
Narrows by Hinson’s Island had recently been blasted to allow ships with a
draught of 14 feet to enter Hamilton Harbour. None
of the great forts of St. George’s Parish were completed by Fitz’s visit
in January 1842, with the exception perhaps of Fort St. Catherine. From
gossip, he surmised that the British Government was thinking of buying
Prospect Hill in Devonshire Parish for a great military camp, as it had
“an uninterrupted view of the sea upon every side”. From
Bermuda, Secret Agent Fitz extended his “holiday” to the Bahamas,
Jamaica and Barbados, the last he ranked as first in strength in the British
West Indies. The locals made him aware that
the climate in the Caribbean was deadly to the European soldier, so that it
was intended “to raise two more Regiments at Sierra Leone”, that is,
African soldiers to man the West Indies stations for the British. Such
regiments were already deployed at St. Helena, the west coast of Africa,
British Guiana, the West Indies and British Honduras. However,
all the forts in the West Indies were fast going to ruin and only at Bermuda
were new works being constructed. The
strategy in the Caribbean would be to reply on the guns of the ships of the
Royal Navy, rather than the shore batteries. Fitz painted the contrast, for
while he was at Bermuda, the Fleet, comprising seven ships-of-the-line, was
at anchor at Grassy Bay off the dockyard. These
vessels of war mounted almost 300 cannons, three times the number in the
Bermuda forts of the day. Throughout his
visits Fitz stated that “great caution and assiduity have been
requisite. I have confidence in
asserting, that in no instance, has a suspicion been excited of the real
purpose of my tour, and that the whole transaction remains a profound
so it did until Professor Anthony Brescia published Fitz’s report in 1994
in the Journal of the Bermuda Maritime Museum.
Another American spy was sent to Bermuda by US Secretary of State Daniel
Webster. Captain Minor Knowlton was no stranger to Bermuda when he was
sent to look at its defences by General J.G.Totten, Chief Engineer, US Army.
He came originally for his health, as he suffered from epilepsy. This did
not deter him from a spying mission to Canada, where he examined Fort York
at Toronto two years prior. His policy in Bermuda was "to form few
acquaintances and to avoid entertainments altogether."
He gave the impression that his walkabouts, even
up to the fortifications, were to improve his health. Customs officers,
however, must have wondered why his luggage on departure contained "two
blocks of shell limestone, each a little more than one foot cube, which I
brought from Bermuda as specimens of the type of stone used in the
fortifications of those islands. It is a soft kind of shell sandstone which
may be advantageously shattered by hollow shot." Upon
his return in June 1849 to New York after three months in Bermuda, Knowlton
wrote to Totten promising a full report, of which there is no trace. What
has survived is an original plan of the Dockyard by George Taylor, Survey of
Buildings to the Navy Board in London, which Knowlton must have obtained by
paying someone from the dockyard.
- 1842. March 1. The
first steamship to enter Bermudian waters anchored at Five Fathom Hole.
She was the Royal Mail Steam Packet Thames, inaugurating what would become a
regular call on her trips between the West Indies and England. Her route
originated at Nassau in The Bahamas and the stop at Bermuda afforded an
opportunity to both pick up and deliver mail in transit to and from the
English port of Southampton.
- 1842. At Queen Street, at the
junction with Reid Street, William B. Perot, nineteenth century first
Postmaster of the city and Assemblyman of French Huguenot extraction,
established his little post office. Six years later, in 1848, he hand
printed Bermuda's first postage stamp from this little post office and
produced the first British Empire "colonial" stamp. One was
sold in November, 1985, for $92,000. A photograph of the famous stamp is on
display inside. Perot built his home adjacent, in the building now housing
the Bermuda Historical Society, next to the Bermuda National Library. He ran
this little post office on the edge of his estate until 1862 when he
retired. It was restored by the Bermuda Government as a branch post office
of the General Post Office in 1959, the year of the 350th anniversary of the
settlement of Bermuda by the British.
- 1842. A local savings bank was
established under the auspices of the Bermuda Government (later the Post
Office, until it was sold to the Bank of Butterfield in the
- 1842. An Act to encourage emigrants
to Bermuda from the United Kingdom was passed. It was an effort to increase
the white population.
- 1843. What is now the Cabinet
Building in Bermuda was constructed.
- Halifax, Nova Scotia, began to
play a key role in the trade of Bermuda and the world. Entrepreneurs built
their Bluenose schooners to ship forests of timber, coal, fish, even ice.
Halifax was also the principal supplier to Bermuda of hardware, riggings,
canvas, financer, insurance and more.
- 1844. July 1. The foundation
stone was laid and building began of Bermuda's original Anglican cathedral.
The Right Reverend Edward Field, consecrated Bishop of the Newfoundland
diocese which included Bermuda, had approached a Scottish architect working
in Newfoundland at that time with designs for a Bermuda cathedral. William
Hay, who also later designed the “Unfinished Church” in St. George’s,
executed James Cranston’s original designs - with a few modifications.
(The church, known as the First Trinity, was completed in 1883).
- 1844. November 1. A private yacht club,
the Bermuda Yacht Club, was established by a party of thirty gentlemen, mostly officers in the British
Army, in the 20th Regiment then stationed in Bermuda. It became the Royal
Bermuda Yacht Club.
- 1844. The Royal Dockyard School
opened in Bermuda to provide technical education to apprentices and the
general education of Admiralty employees. Attendance was compulsory and no
distinction was made in race or color.
- 1844. March 28. Citizens of
Hamilton resolved at a public meeting that
the Parish Church of Pembroke, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, was
considered not up to par by them or for the wants of the Church. A
bigger and better church, a Cathedral, was called for. It was agreed to
erect a major new edifice on Third (later Church) Street. A cornerstone was
laid "opposite the Presbyterian Kirk, now occupied by Vallis's Saw Mill
on July 1 that year. But that site proved unsuitable and so a new one was
obtained where the Cathedral presides over the town today.
shortly thereafter and in due course the tower was roofed with a "dwarf
finish", under a design by James Cranston, architect at Oxford.
Difficulties ensued, despite obtaining the services of George Grove who had
been engaged on the building of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, and the famous
architect William Hay of Edinburgh was brought in to assist. In his report
Hay noted: "It is difficult in a Colony like this to form an estimate
that can be regarded as anything beyond a mere approximation to the actual
cost, where the labour is the chief expense and the habits of the workmen so
variable and unsettled."
- 1845. The Bermuda Cricket Club was
founded in St. George's and played its first game against the
- 1845. Construction began,
on what is now Church Street, Hamilton, of the first Trinity Church. It
was a compact, stubby building, compared to its successor. It commenced at
the east, or chancel end, and progressed very slowly to the west.
- 1845. At
the invitation of the Bermuda Yacht Club's Commodore, Lord Mark Kerr, His
Royal Highness Prince Albert, the first Duke of Edinburgh, consented to become
Patron of the Club and a year later gave permission for the Bermuda Yacht Club to become
the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. (There are now approximately 850 resident and
- 1845. William David Jeans,
CB, RN, arrived in Bermuda on board the flagship for the Station, HMS Vindictive.
He was Secretary to Admirals on the North America and West Indies Station in
After the Admiral, the Secretary was one of the more
important persons on the Station, for he not only chronicled the events of
the Station, he also controlled access to the Admiral, the highest ranking
official in the great North America and West Indies Station.
Jeans had several tours of duty on the Station and was the son of a naval
officer and progenitor to others. He served first as Secretary to the Flag
Officer and then to the Admirals on the Station. Later, in 1848 he was
aboard HMS Wellesley as Secretary, first to Admiral Sir Francis Austen and
then to his successor, the famous Lord Cochrane, the 10th Earl of Dundonald.
His next tour of duty in 1853 was aboard HMS Cumberland, as Secretary to
Admiral Sir George Seymour. During the periods of service, Jeans spent time
in Bermuda and at Halifax; at the latter, he met and married the Nova
Scotian, Elizabeth (Bess) Hartshorne.
Jeans went on to serve in the Crimea under Admiral Boxer, followed by duty
in the China War under his close friend from Bermuda days, Admiral Michael
Seymour. It was in the Crimea that the fourth of seven children, a boy, was
born to William and Elizabeth. He was named Francis Austen Jeans, indicative
of the warm association his parents had with Sir Francis, who was also the
boy's godfather. The Jane Austen Society also visited Bermuda for the
occasion of the opening of the Exhibition on Jeans.
During the China War, Jeans was present at the taking of the Taku Forts and
took charge of the treasure later captured at Canton and shipped to England,
for the safe and trustworthy custodianship of which the English Treasury
paid him £600 a few years later. Appointed CB in 1859, William David Jeans
retired from the Royal Navy in 1871, but enjoyed only a short respite from a
working life, mostly spent away from home and hearth in the way of service
in the Royal Navy, and died of a stroke at his home in Pinner, Middlesex,
seven years later at the age of 63.
Letters between Jeans and his wife portray life in Bermuda in the mid-1800s,
as well as illustrating the sacrifices that naval men made through a service
that included much separation from family and friends. A booklet on the life
of William David Jeans was much later produced for the National Museum of
Bermuda. Also on board that ship in 1845 was Flag Captain Michael Seymour,
who painted a wonderful set of watercolours of Bermuda. Jeans and Seymour
established a friendship on the Vindictive that would last until Jeans'
death in 1878.
Also on the Vindictive was the new commander of the Station,
Vice Admiral Sir Francis Austen, brother of the famous English novelist,
Jane Austen. He was one of the last to be allowed to bring his family on
- 1846. Prince Albert,
Consort of Queen Victoria and the Royal Patron of the club, formally
gave his consent to the new title of the Bermuda Yacht Club as the Royal
Bermuda Yacht Club.
- 1846. May 1. Gibbs Hill
Lighthouse was put into service for the first time, to reduce the number of
shipwrecks near the island. Its flashing beacon was lit for the first time and
was visible up to 40 miles away.
- 1846. A key point began in
the timeline of Bermuda’s postal history with the passage of the Post
Office Act of 1846, which provided for the prepayment of all inland
postage. The-then Postmaster of Hamilton, William Bennet Perot, created his
own stamps to meet the mandate of the Act.
- 1846. A further Act was passed to
establish a hospital for the reception of "insane paupers." It enabled the
Governor, Lieutenant Colonel William Reid, to buy land in a central parish for
an asylum. Seven acres of land on the North Shore were acquired for 400
pounds sterling and two cottages were built for 600 pounds sterling. The
Governor had to approve admissions and discharges to the asylum and in which
categories incoming people were, as a lunatic or insane person or idiot or
pauper or person of unsound mind.
- 1847. The immense Indian rubber tree
(still there) was planted in the grounds of the Georgian style house at
Par-la-Ville by Hamilton merchant William Perot.
to 1851 - 1st and 2nd Battalions, 42nd Regiment (Royal Highlanders), then
the Black Watch. The men wore dark tartan to distinguish them from
Guardsmen or Red Soldiers - hence the name Black Watch. At one time (1848)
Casemates at Ireland Island in Bermuda was their barracks. They were then
guarding the convicts building the Dockyard. One of the officers was Captain G. W.
who lived in St. George's at what was then Rendell House, later the Redan
Hotel, now Clyde's Cafe. It is believed one of the soldiers was Richard
Brackey, married, whose son was born in Bermuda. Several of this unit's
soldiers died in Bermuda from yellow fever and are buried at St. Peter's
Church in St. George's. They include Ensign Maitland, Ensign Abercromby and
beside them the grave of bandmaster Philip Goldbergh. Many
members died and were buried elsewhere in Bermuda from yellow fever.
In Aberfeldy, Perthshire,
Scotland, a monument - still there - was erected in 1887 to mark the
enrolment in 1740 of the Black Watch as the 42nd Regiment of the line. The
"Watch" as it was known originally was first raised in 1667 by
various Whig clan chiefs in Scotland "to be a constant guard for
securing the peace in the Highlands and to watch upon the braes."
Black Watch in
Bermuda 1847 to 1851
- 1847. May. Captain Sir Michael
Seymour, RN, painted HM Dockyard, Bermuda, from Commissioners' House.
- 1847. The Legislature voted £400 as
an encouragement bounty for the owner of the first vessel that brought in
- 1848. March. About two acres of land
in Devonshire, Bermuda was purchased by John Williams and William Robinson for
£80 from three granddaughters of William Watlington. Mr. Robinson subsequently
bought the property in its entirety and set aside a small portion of it, 35
feet by 25 feet, for a school for the black children of Devonshire. It was the
very beginning of what became Elliott School, Elliott # 1, Elliott # 2,
and Howard Academy.
- 1848. April. Elliott School opened,
with Henry Robinson as its first teacher. It was called Elliott because it was
financed by the Governor, Captain Charles Elliott. Education of both black and
white children was one of his main concerns.
- 1848. Death in Bermuda of
Hezekiah Frith. Born in Bermuda in 1763
had a reputation for being the most feared privateersman on the high seas.
Through plundering ship's cargo with the full consent of the British
Admiralty he became the wealthiest man in Bermuda. He captured at least 40
ships during his career, won an election to the House of Assembly and lived
at Spithead, on Harbour Road, Warwick.
from a painting originally at Spithead
20. Arrival in Bermuda via the "Scourge" of British
prisoner/convict John Mitchel, an Irish nationalist, who had earlier
established a newspaper in Dublin, through which he advocated a "holy
war to sweep this island clear of the English name and nation. Mitchel was
tried for treason-felony and was sentenced to transportation overseas for 14
years. At the Dockyard, Mitchel was to find his "appointed home",
as a solitary on the hulk Dromedary for the next ten months.
- 1848. The Chapel of Ease
church was established at St. David's, governed by St. Peter's in St.
- 1848. Somers Pride of India
Lodge was formed under a Pride of India tree in St. George’s. It was
established after a group of Bermudian black men were inspired by a Peter
Ogden who established the Grand United Order of Oddfellows in America (GUO
of in 1843, in New York. With his own slavery background and grit as a
self-educated man, Odgen did not take lightly the rebuff he got when he
sought to join an Oddfellows lodge in New York, which proved to be a
“white only” lodge. His hope and expectation in seeking to join was to
receive some of the benefits such lodges promised men of character seeking
to protect themselves and families in times of sickness and adversity. when
the Peter Odgen story reached Bermuda, it so fired the imagination of a
group of black men they decided to go to the USA and became members of the
New York lodge there. Upon their return home they made known their highly favored
impressions about Oddfellowship which resulted in the first of that Order
established in Bermuda.
- 1849. Black Watch Well was dug. When the Governor of the period
ordered British soldiers to seek a fresh water supply for the poor of
Pembroke Parish and their cattle during a prolonged drought, the Black Watch
Regiment (see under 1847) of the British Army then in Bermuda was the first to volunteer and dug so thoroughly the facility still exists
today. At the site, a sign says: "This is the well of the Black Watch -
so-called in memory of some soldiers from the First Battalion, 42nd
Regiment, Royal Highlanders, by whom it was sunk for the relief of the poor
and their cattle. "
Well in Bermuda
- 1849. November. The first Portuguese immigrants
were imported to Bermuda from the Portuguese island of Madeira. They arrived on The "Golden
Rule" owned by the Watlington family, under the command of Captain B.
W. Watlington. She was purchased from Captain John Thomas Watlington's uncle
Joseph Dill of the Bermuda firm Dill, Wood & Co. (She was later sold to
purchase the "Koh-I-Noor").
- 1850. Temperance Hall, in Hamilton
Parish, was built.
- 1850. Samuel Cunard
began a steam packet service from Halifax to Bermuda.
- 1850. A British convict, William
Wheeler, arrived in Van Diemens Land (original name for Tasmania) on the
ship Neptune from Bermuda via the Cape of Good Hope.
- 1850. Ireland Island,
Bermuda, was formally physically connected to its nearest neighbor, Boaz
Island. The Admiral on the North America and West Indies Station
(headquartered at Bermuda), Lord Cochrane, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of
Dundonald, opened The Grey Bridge between those two military islands at the
extreme northerly tip of Sandys Parish. The bridge was built to accommodate
the expansion-in-Bermuda aims of the Royal Navy. It was named in honor of
the Rt. Hon. Henry, Earl Grey,
one of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State.
- 1850. The Earl of Dundonald,
the Bermuda-based Admiral Cochrane of the Royal Navy, nicknamed Cochrane the
Dauntless, was aghast at British Government proposals to spend £11,000 on
rebuilding Admiralty House in Pembroke Parish. In pithy terms, he warned
against it, citing the horrendous expenditure on Commissioner's House at the
Bermuda Royal Navy Dockyard as example of wasting money. At Admiralty House,
he organized a grand ball, and also displayed for the first time the unique
changes he had made there, including a tunnel to the fruit and vegetable
gardens and the excavated caves, accessed via a flight of stone steps into a
room 14 feet by 40 feet over the sea with places for small boats to tie up.
- 1851 (some say 1952). In Hamilton, Bermuda, during
the term of Mayor Henry James Tucker, the cornerstone of the original Hamilton
Hotel was laid by Governor of Bermuda Captain Charles Elliott, RN.
Hamilton had long experienced the urge for respectability.
were made to tidy up Front Street, where the debris of trade, the smells of
goods unloaded from trading ships of the day, the rotting odor of the
horse's d'oeuvres carrying the goods and the filth
of garrison privies blighted the waterfront, made all the more pungent on a
hot and humid summer day. It
was the brainchild of Henry James Tucker, elected mayor of Hamilton in 1851.
In 1852 British Army soldiers were paid extra to help dig the foundations in
their off-duty hours. Originally,
it was designed to have 36 rooms. It was the first
hotel in Bermuda and pioneered Bermuda's fledgling tourist industry.
would take nine years before the structure was completed, with a mere 26
rooms, at the northern end of Queen Street. There it stood for almost a
century, with many elaborations. It was deemed "necessary to the
prosperity of the town, and required by its commercial and geographical
position." It was
extended and modernized at the beginning of the 20th century. It stood where
the City Hall Car Park is now located. It was destroyed by fire on December
begin in 1851, finished in 1852
third American spy was sent to Bermuda by American Secretary of State Daniel
only plan record that survives of the first phase of Fort Albert is
preserved in a sketch of the forts at Bermuda made that year by Lieut.
Frederick Prime, the American spy. The drawing shows that the fort was
constructed to the Duke of Wellington's specifications, but in addition, it
had two eight-inch howitzers and two ten-inch mortars, thus incorporating
the three types of artillery of the day, the cannon (for low level and
long-range), the howitzer (for higher level, shorter range) and the mortar
(for high level, short range, for "plunging fire" again the
unprotected decks of ships).
fort was constructed of Bermuda stone, with some details in the harder
limestone, probably carved at the dockyard, and had a deep ditch with
reverse fires and a "Keep" for housing the officers and gunners. Lieut.
Frederick Prime also reported to General Totten at Washington, DC. Having
graduated first in his class at West Point in 1849, he found himself at
Bermuda three years later. Prime was
clearly taken by Bermuda, so much so that he returned to the subject of its
invasion while on duty at Fort Alcatraz some years later. In his "Notes
on an expedition against the Bermudas", he examines all of the
channels, the strength of the garrison and the nature of the fortifications.
Prime defines the weakest point as Castle Harbour,
which could be entered easily without coming under fire from the major forts
on St. George's Island, those on Castle Island being in disrepair. Having
reduced the Martello Tower at Ferry Reach, the American invaders could
effectively cut off St. George's and its forts from the rest of Bermuda.
taking St. George's from the rear, the subjugation of the rest of the island
would soon follow, as the enemy would control the Narrows Channel, the only
sea access to the dockyard and Hamilton, a blockade from the land as it
were. The most remarkable piece of this
espionage is Prime's sketch of the major Bermuda forts in 1852, reproduced
here from the National Archives in Washington, DC. These little fort maps
are remarkable for their detail, considering that the forts were
"visited but once and sometimes under such circumstances that nothing
would be committed to paper for many hours after". This
detail is important as all of the major forts of the 1820s-1860s were
heavily altered in the 1870s and some again in the 1890s.
- 1852. Alexandrina Lodge No.
1026 was established at Alexandrina Hall in
Court Street, Hamilton, as a lodge built by black Bermudians
following the 1834 emancipation from slavery.
- 1852. Albert Lodge No 1027
was established in Somerset, as a lodge built by black Bermudians
following the 1834 emancipation from slavery.
- 1853. William Dowding opened
St. Paul's School for "white boys and youths of African descent"
but this attempt at a college failed through prejudice against the education
of the latter.
- 1853. The launch of the
subsequently famous Bermudian cedar clipper ship Sir George Seymour.
- 1850s-60s. From the United Kingdom, the Portsmouth
Roman Catholic Diocese was the one that began the British Army's Military
Chaplaincy in Bermuda in the 1850s and 1860s. It was because a number of
Catholics soldiers serving in Bermuda were from Ireland.
- 1853. Bermuda was struck by a
terrible epidemic of yellow fever. Father Thomas Lyons, the Catholic priest
quiet hero who had been administering to the spiritual needs of the convicts
on the prison hulks, began to work among the sick. It did not matter whether
they were Catholic or Protestant, he did what he could for everyone. He and a
visiting Priest, Father Phelan, went and did where and what others were afraid
to go and do, lest they catch the disease. In addition to acting as priests,
Lyons and Phelan acted as doctors and nurses as well. Unfortunately, the long
arm of the disease finally caught Father Lyons in its iron grip, due to his
selflessness. He died of yellow fever on November 13, 1853. Because there was
no Catholic cemetery in Bermuda at the time, he was buried in St. John's
churchyard in Pembroke Parish. He was a man who truly followed in the
footsteps of the Lord.
- 1853. Easter Lilies were introduced
to Bermuda from Japan - and began a tradition.
- 1853. In July, the first fitted
dinghy races were held in Bermuda - and began a tradition.
- 1854. Gibb's Hill Lighthouse in
Bermuda was built.
- 1855. St Paul's School opened as a
non-segregated institution for the education of Bermudians and students form
the West Indians. It was modeled on Bishop Berkeley's plans but met much
opposition. It closed in 1856.
- 1856. Men of the 3rd
Company of the 56th bivouacked at the Oxford home in Pembroke Parish
belonging to Mr. John Bluck, in hope of escaping the Yellow Fever
disease, at the order of Bermudian physician Dr. Harvey. They were lucky
enough to escape the disease-carrying mosquito. To record their genuine
thanks, as so many of their comrades had been felled by the epidemic, the
men erected at the very top of Bluck's Point a stout monument surmounted by
a cannon ball. The landmark still exists.
Maria Hill Fort was demolished, with the hill partly quarried away to supply
the Dockyard with soft Bermuda stone, a quality of the rock indicated in
several military reports.
In his report titled Defence of Bermuda" Colonel A. J. Hemphill, Royal
Engineers, included this comment about the defence of the Dockyard: "There
are mounted altogether on the Land Front and its outworks four 32-pdrs,
fourteen 24-pdr guns and eleven 24-pdr carronades, and in rear of it,
covered by its ramparts is a Bombproof Barrack, constructed for 13 officers
and 307 men, with tanks underneath for 120,000 gallons of water; and on the
flanks of the barrack, but at a lower level, bombproof magazines for 2500
barrels of gunpowder, (but now unused owing to the dangerous proximity of
the Dockyard new blacksmiths), and a range of bombproof buildings, containing
Commissariat offices, storehouses, bakery, etc., and barrack stores."
- 1858. A Board of Education
was established and an inspector of schools appointed. The annual education
grant allocation was increased to £450.
Trinity Church, in Hamilton, begun in 1845, progressed so slowly that by
this date there was only the stub of what one presumed should have been a
long nave and the edifice lacked a spire. As historian Thomas Reid noted:
"One bay of the Nave was built and the West end boarded up, presenting
a rather old appearance, reminding one of a Norwegian church of the 14th
- 1860. Gosling Brothers Ltd.
imported its first barrels of Caribbean rum into Bermuda. Numerous different
blends were tried until one was formulated and deemed ideal, from British
Guinea (now Guyana) now known as
Black Seal Rum.
- 1860. Fort Hamilton in Bermuda was
built by British Army Royal Engineers.
- 1860. Fort Albert, sometimes
referred to as the Eastern Redoubt, was expanded by order of Governor Sir
- 1860. Theodore
Godet's 1860 treatise on Bermuda was published.
- 1860. The first plan for a Bermuda
Moongate was brought from a Chinese flower garden by a Bermudian sea
captain - and began a tradition.
- 1860. March 8. Vice
Admiral Sir Alexander Milne arrived at the Bermuda Dockyard to become
commander-in-chief of the North America and West Indies Station, a
position he was to hold through all but the last year of the American Civil
War. Forty-three years earlier, when the
Dockyard was but an embryonic facility, Milne had been on station as a
midshipman in HMS Leander, once the flagship of his father, Sir David Milne,
"one of the most distinguished seamen in British naval History".
Milne, the son, in 1837, while commanding
HMS Snake, captured two slavers on the Brazilian Station.
- 1860. US Civil War began. It
lasted for nearly 5 years. Bermuda, with its convenient access to open
ocean and its St. George's in particular, became the second-largest, after
Nassau, Bahamas, transshipment base for large British-built but not
British-approved (because Britain was officially neutral) ships crossing the
Atlantic and smaller but faster, also mostly British-built but
Confederate-owned fleet of blockade runners. In contemptuous defiance of
British neutrality laws or regulations, large ships from the United Kingdom
unloaded in St. George's huge cargoes of arms and ammunition, cannon,
gunpowder, lead and other tools or weapons, plus huge amounts of smokeless
anthracite coal from Wales, into town warehouses, where they were stored until
loaded aboard fast steamers bound for Confederate ports. Confederate
purchasing agents and British speculators - English, Scots, Welsh and Irish -
rented every available wharf, storehouse and warehouse, often at exorbitant
rates, while Bermudians made fortunes from renting or leasing their wharves or
warehouses. It turned usually sedate St. George's into an overcrowded,
polluted, often lawless and dangerous town, especially with sailors looking
for liquor and women. Bermuda was openly on the side of the
Confederacy, to the consternation of Britain. However, many young black Bermudians
joined the Union not the Confederacy and fought bravely (see 1865). To
geography, the physical nearness of the US Southern atates, was added the political advantage that many in the islands were
sympathetic to the Confederacy: "This feeling, in Bermuda at least,
effervesced to the point of violence toward United States citizens, and
extreme courtesy to Confederate commissioners and agents". Bermudians came down on the side of hard cash, for it
was with the southern, not northern, states, that money could be made in the
Civil War. The Confederacy was short of
many types of supplies, especially war materiel and such had to be imported
from Europe. The line of transportation, however, was due to be interrupted
by the blockage of the southern ports by the navy of the North and so a new
system of importation was devised. By
that method, freighters brought cargo to St. George's, Bermuda, and Nassau
in the Bahamas, at which harbours the goods were transferred to a new type
of ship, the blockade runner. This was a fast, sail and steam powered
vessel, with a low hull profile to help escape detection.
An oarfish - a little-known creature with oar-shaped pelvic
fins and a blood-red dorsal crest running the length of its body which lurks
in the depths of the ocean - was seen in Bermuda, swimming off Hungry
Bay, Paget. It was spotted by a Scottish botanist and a drawing was
published in Harper's magazine. Described by sailors for centuries as a
strange fish which propelled itself with "oars" it was determined
much later that these fish live some 2,000 to 10,000 feet below the surface
and are only spotted, usually in poor condition, near the shoreline. They
float to the surface after storms or if they are sick. No one has
photographed an oarfish in the ocean and the shape and contours of a live
specimen can only be imagined from photos of dead ones.
1860 sketch of an
oarfish in Bermuda
- 1861. May 6. The first Royal
Visitor to Bermuda was Prince Albert, Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen
Victoria, on board HMS St. George. He was met by Governor Colonel H. St.
George Ord and stayed six days.
- 1861. Marsden Church was
established by it's black community in Tucker's Town.
- 1861. Hamilton Hotel
first opened, ten years after its cornerstone was laid.
- 1861. The Royal Navy's HMS
Desperate was headquartered in Bermuda during the US Civil War
- 1861. Arrival in Bermuda
from the UK of the mysterious
artist Edward James, who lived in St. George's until his death in 1877.
He became especially known for his paintings of ships, particularly blockade
runners, those swift paddle steamers that ran the American blockade into
Southern ports, during the American Civil War.
- 1861. September 28. The SS
named after its port of departure, was the first of a new type of cargo ship, a blockade
runner, a fast, sail and steam powered vessel intended to supply the
Confederacy, and with a low hull
profile to help escape detection, arrived at Savannah, Georgia.. (After
other successful runs, the Bermuda was captured in April 1862).
- 1861. November. Civil
War matters came to a head with the famous "Trent Affair" when two
commissioners of the Confederate (or southern) States were forcibly removed
from a British vessel, the Royal Mail Steamer Trent in Bahamian waters,
in effect a neutral ship, by the U. S. Navy. War
fortunately was averted and Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, C-in-C Royal
Navy, Bermuda, who had intervened successfully in the affair and used his
diplomatic skills to prevent war between the USA and Britain, spent much of
his remaining time on the Station dealing with the defence of British
America and the issues surrounding the transshipment of goods from England
and Europe, via Bermuda, to the Confederacy. This
became a boom time for the island, as well as for the Bahamas, as they were
best situated geographically for such shipping activity to and from the
coast of what is now the southern United States.
December 31. "If Bermuda were in the hands of any other nation, the
base of our operations would be removed to the two extremes, Halifax and
Jamaica, and the loss of this island as a Naval Establishment would be a
As written by Vice
Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, then commander-in-chief of the North America
and West Indies Station, based in Bermuda.
The following Royal Navy warships were at anchor at HM Dockyard, Bermuda:
Diadem, Nile, Immortalitie,
Melpomene, St. George, Hero, Aboukir, Agamennon, Diadem.
- 1862. April. The last Bermuda-built brig,
Cedrine, launched only a few months earlier on January 16, designed by John Martin and built
by Davis and Outerbridge, crashed and sank off the shore of the Isle of Wight,
England, on it's maiden voyage. It was
the end of an era for Bermuda boat-building. She was carrying the last of the
UK's sentenced-to-Bermuda convicts back to
the United Kingdom after they had served their sentences. All
survived. But the disaster cost Bermudian Captain Thomas Melville Dill his
- 1863. Following major
improvements in British shore-based British Army gunnery in terms of range
and accuracy, Fort Langton in Devonshire was built as part of the massive
British Army deployment plans in Bermuda. It became the only fort
ever constructed on the north shore of the main island of Bermuda.
- 1863. June 15. The birth,
at Lough House (renamed Banana Manor in the 20th century), 4 Blockade Alley,
St. George's, during the American Civil War, of a son to the Confederate
military agent in Bermuda, Major Norman Stuart Walker, and his wife. They
had leased the house. At the special request of Mrs. Walker, a Confederate
flag was ceremoniously draped over her lying-in bed.
- 1863. July 18. While
serving with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/54th_Massachusetts_Volunteer_Infantry
- a Bermudian Sergeant was killed in action. He was Sergeant Robert J
Simmons. He had fought in the Union assault on the Confederate Fort Wagner
in South Carolina. Despite their valiant effort, the 54th suffered heavy
casualties and Union forces failed to capture the fort. He died in a South
Carolina prison after being taken prisoner during the assault on Fort
January. The Nola, built as a paddle-wheel steamer in late 1863 and
intended for use out of Bermuda in running the blockade, was on her maiden
voyage to the Confederacy. But she struck the reefs near the Western
Blue Cut and was lost.
- 1864. A Board of Health
hospital was established at Cedar Hill, St. George's, for victims of the
Yellow Fever epidemic then raging in Bermuda.
- 1864. September 13. The "Mary
Celestia" a 225 foot long, 207 tons, Confederate blockade runner smuggling much needed guns, ammunition,
supplies and food to the troops in the South, sank off Bermuda. She was
built in Britain. It has been claimed, but never substantiated, that the
Confederate Forces for whom her cargo was due were British-backed. She was under the
command of Captain Sinclair and piloted by a local Bermudian, John Virgin.
One of the
swiftest of her class, she had made at least five successful trips
delivering goods into the south. After leaving St. George's bound for Wilmington, South Carolina,
she struck a reef off the South Shore
off Gibb's Hill Lighthouse and sank in 20 fathoms. First officer Stuart announced some breakers he had spotted
ahead, but the local pilot who was steering the vessel replied that hew
knew every rock there. Within moments, the vessel had slammed hard into
the reef. The ship's cook was the only casualty. He had returned to his cabin and never made it out of the sinking
ship. The vessel, which took about seven minutes to sink, was a total loss, cargo nearly so.
Unauthorized cargo, probably at the behest of the crew, included several
crates of wine. The
circumstances were described as "suspicious." The
remnants of its paddle wheels and a portion of the deck still sit on the
sands and are a major attraction for scuba divers. British Bermuda-based
artist Edward James memorialized the sinking in a watercolour, as shown
Sinking of the
Mary Celestia, 1864 by James
- 1864. September 25. Lynx was a long,
very fast paddle-steamer with two stacks and two masts, all painted white. She
met her end bound for Bermuda, running out of Wilmington NC, under Captain
Reid, with 600 bales of cotton, passengers and special cargo, including
$50,000 in gold. She was hit eight times, six below the waterline, by the
100-pounder and 30-pounder rifles of much slower USS Howquah, assisted by
Niphon and Governor Buckingham. Sinking, with one of her wheels damaged, Lynx
was beached about six miles below Fort Fisher. The Confederates all escaped,
along with the gold, although Federal sharpshooters got near enough to wound
one crew member. The ship's remains were set afire.
- 1865. January 1. The
Princess Hotel in Pembroke Parish opened for business. The
hotel quickly became a beacon to travellers and saw Bermuda go from a winter
destination for wealthy New Yorkers who arrived by steamship to a spring
break capital for east coast college students to a destination for
discerning travellers looking for something different from what other
Islands offer. The
opening date was just two years after Princess Louise, who was the fourth
daughter of Queen Victoria, visited Bermuda and called it "a place of
eternal spring." From that day, hotel
became part of the fabric of the Bermuda community. It
was when Bermuda's nascent tourism season was winter, when guests arrived by
steamship from New York and stayed on the island for months, when horses and
buggies transported passengers along dusty roads. In
those days, as ocean liners entered Hamilton Harbour and sailed past The
Princess, it was tradition for our staff to welcome them, dressed in white
jackets and waving pink handkerchiefs. Over
the years it had its fair share of celebrities, including Mark Twain who was
known to recite poetry while smoking a cigar on the veranda. The
hotel has played a leading role in more recent Bermuda tourism. A
key ingredient in the hotel's success from the start was the loyal,
dedicated and professional staff, many who have been there for more than 20
years and the commitment by the hotel's various owners since the opening,
who have kept the Grand Dame tastefully decorated and equipped with the
latest furniture and fixtures, and first-class hotel amenities. This hotel
also played a significant role in Bermuda's economy.
William Perot’s Bermuda homemade stamps were replaced by printed postage
stamps, which were printed almost exclusively using the engraved, or
gravure, printing method.
To help in it's battle against yellow fever that was then becoming an
epidemic in British Army and Royal Navy units then based in Bermuda, the
Royal Navy sent Dr. Henry Domville, of the RN's medical service, to the
Royal Naval Hospital, Ireland Ireland. It is believed he and his wife were
there for several years.
- 1865. In January, when Wilmington,
North Carolina was captured by Union forces, the fleet of blockade runners
based in Nassau and St. George's, Bermuda, vanished - and so did the
prosperity that the US Civil War had brought Bermuda by being so hugely on the
side of the Confederates.
- 1865. British painter Edward James
painted St. George's Harbour. (He painted in Bermuda from 1861 to
Fort Albert was modernized for four ten-inch Rifled Muzzle Loaders by the
- 1865. When the US Civil War
ended with victory for the Union, it emerged that many Bermudians had fought
for it, some with great bravery. They included Wate
O. Harris, 6th US Colored Infantry; Samuel
Rollins, 26th US Colored Infantry; Robert J. Simmons, 54th Massachusetts
Infantry: George Smith, 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry; Robert Tappin
(Tappan), 31st US Colored Infantry; Joseph Thomas, 31st US Colored Infantry;
John Thompson, 26th US Colored Infantry; James Jacobs, 5th
Massachusetts Cavalry: John Wilson, 31st US Colored Infantry. US Military
records reveal that at least 40 Bermudians of African descent served in the
Union navy. Despite its small size, Bermuda was among the foreign nations
with the highest number of black sailors in the Union Navy. Bermuda's
numbers exceeded many South American and Caribbean nations that had larger
African descent populations. In comparison to Jamaica and Canada, Bermuda
had a higher representation of sailors per each country's population size.
of the Union foreign sailors of African descent like those from Bermuda were
already experienced seamen prior to their enlistment. At least half of the
40 Bermudian sailors reported having nautical occupations at the time of
their enlistment. Some may have already been in the American Navy prior to
the outbreak of the war so their enlistment may actually have been a
re-enlistment. It is worth noting that of the known Bermudians who served in
the Union Army, most were sailors prior to their enlistment. Aboard
the USS Hartford was Bermudian Augustus Simmons; and on the USS Brooklyn was
Bermudian John Tucker.
Enactment by the Bermuda Government of the Defence Act 1865. This followed
alarming news from the British Government of the
threat posed by the war-like United States of America looking for revenge
for Bermuda's involvement in the US civil War. One repercussion was the
disappearance of White's Hill in Devonshire Parish. It commanded a high
central position over Hamilton and the harbour and therefore an invading
force could not take the capital by surprise. Furthermore its comparative
isolation was thought to minimize the camp from the threat of yellow fever,
the scourge of the military in Bermuda during the 19th century. The Defence
Act meant that generations of Bermudians were uprooted from ancestral homes,
causing much consternation and anger. Such was the upheaval that thought was
given to abandoning Devonshire Parish and incorporating the remaining areas
into Pembroke and Smith's. This never happened but as a direct consequence
the British Army built Forts Langton, Prospect, and Hamilton to ward off
attack from land and sea. Prospect became a garrison town complete with
barracks, school, church, gymnasium and married quarters plus the Garrison
- 1865. HMS Challenger
visited Bermuda for the first time, en route to her epic voyage of
discovery. She was based at HM Dockyard.
1965 off Dockyard
- 1866. March 19. A
confidential Dispatch from the Major General in command of British and
Canadian troops in Halifax, Nova Scotia, warned the Officer Commanding HM
Troops, Bermuda, that a signal had been received from Sir F. Bruce, the
British Government's Minister in Washington, DC., that a Fenian attack under
General Sweeney could be made on Canada and Bermuda. Military precautions were
taken but the attack from America never materialized. On May 15, 1866, as part of the precautions
referred to above, the ship on which the 2nd Battalion, the 16th Foot, British
Army, was traveling from Nova Scotia to Barbados, ran aground on a Bermuda
reef when trying to enter harbor. The voyage was delayed for five
Following the establishment a few weeks earlier in St. George's of the
joint-stock St. George's Marine Slip Company located on the western edge of
the town for the purposes of hauling, repairing and maintaining ships, it's
first operation was the slipping of the Norwegian bark Grenmar. It's
arrival was recorded by the Bermuda-based British painter Edward James who
had earlier painted many ships which had called at Bermuda during the
American Civil War.
August. The building of the floating dry dock "Bermuda" commenced
near London. At one time there were 1400 hands employed See 3rd
September 1868 and 1869.
The wealth Joseph Rainey had acquired in four years in Bermuda instantly
elevated his social status when he and his wife Susan returned to South
Carolina. Already the son of Georgetown's richest black man, he settled into
his father's house and worked actively in the Republican Party, soon
becoming its county chairman.
- 1867. November. First
Bermuda visit of
Mark Twain, Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was a passenger on
the SS Quaker City, 1,800 tons, powered by steam and sails. She had left New
York City on June 8, 1867 for the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Holy Land.
Her first call was at Horta in the Azores on June 21-23, then Gibraltar and
points east. She arrived back in New York on November 19, via Bermuda.
During the voyage, he penned The Innocents Abroad. During t his first
visit, Twain viewed the enormous rubber tree (still there) in the grounds of
Par-la-Ville Park, in front of where the Bermuda Historical Society now
stands. It had been the town house of Postmaster William B. Perot, who laid
out the gardens in the mid 1800s. Mark Twain pretended to be
disappointed with the rubber tree. He complained - with a twinkle in his eye
- that it did not bear a crop of hot water bottles and rubber overshoes! He
was noted for his humor and consideration for others. He penned the
famous phrase that Bermuda was a paradise but one had to go through hell to
get there. It was because ships' voyages made him sea sick. He hated ships
but had no other means of crossing seas and oceans. He became Bermuda's most
famous visitor by far, so much so that several busts of him remain in
Bermuda, plus a famous local hotel named a prestigious suite after him. He
used the 1867 voyage to introduce his readers to the history of Bermuda, a
British colony that for purely coldly profitable reasons had openly and
massively supported the Confederacy in the American Civil War and given the
North's Consul in Bermuda a consistently hard time with often open hostility
directed against him. As a result, Bermuda was a place few Americans wanted
to visit in the post-war years. More than any other person or entity, it was
he and he alone who introduced Americans to traveling to Bermuda for its own
distinctive long-term charms not its short-term American Civil War history
and not just for a short summer vacation but for an extensive visit over
several months in America's often bitter winter but Bermuda's balmy winter
where there was never any snow and the climate was much more invigorating
than in the Caribbean 1,000 miles to the south. It was from Bermuda, because
of its newly-established telegraphic facilities, he dispatched
letters to San Francisco's Alta California news journal. In their revised
form (1869), they were his The Innocents Abroad which won him
virtually immediate international attention.
When U.S. blacks became citizens in this year, they were able to serve in
the state militia, so Joseph Rainey - lately of Bermuda - joined, rising
through the ranks to become a Brigadier General. Also that year, voters in
Georgetown, South Carolina elected him to the South Carolina Constitutional
Convention where he was instrumental in drafting one of the most progressive
state constitutions in history. Under
that new Constitution, he was elected to the State Senate, immediately
appointed to the State Senate Finance Committee, and then made its chair.
3rd September. The
building of the floating dry dock " HMS Bermuda" was completed
near London, after having commenced in August 1866. At one time
there were 1400 hands employed See 3rd September 1868 and 1869.
- 1868. The Lunatic Asylum moved from
the North Shore to the former Devonshire College and eventually became known
as St. Brendan's.
- 1869. January. F
Company of the 61st Foot of the British
Army in Bermuda was moved to Warwick to work on the Military Road (now,
the South Shore Road), following which they constructed the rifle ranges at
Warwick Camp. Two companies of the 15th Foot continued working on the
road, west of Warwick Camp, and also built a new battery for the coastal
artillery at Whale Bay. The Camp enclosed Warwick Long Bay and Horseshoe
Bay, which, today, are Bermuda's two most popular public beaches, and all
the land between. The rifle ranges were placed here, on the south side of
the road, and between the beaches. The Camp also included an area to the
north of the road where permanent buildings were erected. No barracks were
built until after the Great War, however, as the Camp had no permanent
establishment of its own. Use of the camp was allotted for different periods
throughout the year to any, or several, of the army units comprising the
military garrison. The regular troops used the Camp for rifle training and
for tactical training, as did the Volunteers/Territorials (part-timers), who
used it for annual camps. The part-time units originally had no camps of
their own, their sub-units being divided amongst a number of drill halls, or
attached to the regular complements of coastal artillery batteries.
January. The Royal Navy, both in Bermuda and in England, resolved to end the
primary limitation of Bermuda as a Dockyard because of the porosity of its
limestone sandstone, which prevented construction of a proper dry dock. It
decided to remedy the problem with a floating dry dock. This (and its
successors), was a large hull, with a U-shaped cross section. It could be
partly-submerged by filling ballast tanks with water, so that a ship might
be brought in and braced into position. The tanks were then emptied to lift
the ship out of the water for repairs below its waterline.
Colonel William Drummond, Royal Engineers, British Army, based in Bermuda,
wrote his Report on the Defences of Bermuda which included these words
about Fort Scaur: "With a view to prevent the capture or
destruction of the Naval Establishment by an enemy who might have succeeded
in effecting a landing, two positions have been selected, viz.: 1st, a line
between the head of Hamilton Harbour and the Navy Wells, on the North Shore,
called the Prospect Hill position; 2nd, a line between Ely's Harbour and the
Great Sound, called the Somerset position.
latter being only 500 yards in extent, may be most advantageously defended
by a continuous ditch and parapet from shore to shore, with a small keep in
the centre, to prevent the position being turned. Plans are now being
far-sighted men, dissatisfied with what they deemed the then existing racial
situation in Bermuda, set the wheels in motion that brought African Methodism to
Bermuda, with the creed of its founder Richard Allen being God Our Father,
Christ our Redeemer and Man our Brother. Generations of Bermudians quick caught
the spirit of Allen.
May 6, Ascension Day. Trinity Church, on Church Street, Hamilton, was
consecrated. It remained in service for the next fifteen years.
- 1869. July 28. Bermuda's first Floating Dock,
the mammoth HMS Bermuda, arrived after being towed
from the United Kingdom starting on 20th May that year to Bermuda's Royal Navy Dockyard, following the
decision taken to order it. In May 1869, the construction of
what was then the world's second largest floating dry dock, HMS Bermuda, was finally
completed by the company which had employed more than 1,400 skilled workers
for the job. The floating dock was over 47,000 square feet in total size,
381 feet long, 123 feet wide, and 74 feet deep. It was ordered from Campbell's
Patent Floating Dry Dock expressly for for H M Dockyard at Bermuda. It
was designed by Col. Clarke R E. and built at Messrs Campbell Johnstone and
Co Works, Silvertown near North Woolwich and launched by Col. Clarke's wife
on Sept 3rd 1868. It was designed for docking ships of the 'Bellephron' class
when waterlogged between the caissons and capable of lifting without the
caissons a vessel of 8,700 tons weight which with the weight of the dock
itself 8,000 tons gave a total displacement of 16,700 tons. It was designed to
accommodate ships up to 370 feet long and 25 feet wide. Due to her size,
only three docks in the world were able to receive the 'Warrior',
Portsmouth, Liverpool and Southampton - all in England. She could, however,
berth at the floating dock at Bermuda. Floating docks were less expensive
than investment in major permanent construction. Additionally, there was the
strategic advantage of having moveable docking and repair facilities. It was in use
there until 1904 (while being towed away to a ship breaker's yard, the dock
broke loose and stuck at the foreshore, Spanish Point, where some remains
are still visible in the water).
dock lay in Grassy Bay until the following April when it was brought to the
North Basin and moored against the Great Wharf. As
a functioning Dockyard, this facility had ammunition depots, deep water
berths, barracks, chapels, soldiers and sailors to guard it. The soldiers
were based at the fort here, the largest in Bermuda (now the Bermuda
Floating Dock for HM Dockyard. Thomas Dutton, artist and engraver. Original in
the National Maritime Museum, London
was towed out by HMS Agincourt and HMS Northumberland (see above) as far as Porto
Santo, Madeira, where HMS Warrior (Britain's first
iron-hulled, armored warship, built in Blackwall on the River Thames in 1860 as a
counter to the naval ambitions of Emperor Napoleon III of France, the
fastest, largest, strongest and best-armed warship in the world but by 1869
she was obsolete, nevertheless recognized as one of the Royal Navy's most
historically important warships) and
her sister-ship HMS Black Prince took over.
(left) and HMS Black Prince (right)
Terrible and a small gunboat both fast astern, the voyage took 35 days. It
caused a huge local crowd when the two vessels above, the world's most powerful
and modern warships at that time, arrived in Bermuda with their tow and other
smaller escorting ships. (HMS Warrior still exists in England, having been
restored. HMS Black Prince was later scrapped).
arrives in Bermuda 1869
Bermuda Floating Dock, Royal Navy source.
Rev. R.R. Norris was sent from the USA as the first resident pastor of St.
Paul's AME Church, Hamilton. He stayed until 1877.
February. Representative Benjamin F. Whittemore resigned his northeastern
South Carolina seat, having been charged with selling appointments to U.S.
military academies. The Republican Party nominated Joseph Rainey, formerly
of Bermuda, to replace Whittemore for the remainder of the term and for
a full term in the 42nd Congress (1871-1873). Rainey won the full term by a
substantial majority over his Democrat opponent and was sworn in on December
12,1870, the first African American to serve in the U.S. House of
Representatives. Other African Americans had been elected to Congress before
Rainey, but many white congressmen had refused to recognize their
legitimacy. Rainey immediately demanded treatment equal to that of his peers
when he took his congressional seat .A very proper man who never forgot his
time in Bermuda, Rainey expected decorum and civility from whites. Rainey's
work on the Committee on Freedmen's Affairs-created in 1865 to handle all
legislation concerning newly freed slaves-earned him great recognition.
He also generally opposed legislation that restricted Asian
immigrants entering the United States. Public
discrimination was rampant at the time, and a black Congressman was
certainly not immune.
Rainey insisted he be treated equally in public accommodations and
exposed segregation he witnessed in Richmond, Virginia, even filing a
lawsuit when he was forced off a streetcar because he was black. He
eventually withdrew the suit, but it preceded the landmark Plessy v.
Ferguson case by more than 20 years. From
the beginning of his time in office, Rainey steadfastly defended both
Southern blacks' civil rights and amnesty for former white rebels.
Joseph Rainey, center
April 1. Republican Congressman Joseph Rainey, formerly
of Bermuda, delivered his first major speech, advocating the use of
federal troops to protect Southern blacks from the Ku Klux Klan. He detailed
the dangers of returning to South Carolina during congressional breaks,
where he and black colleagues would be exposed to violence by white
supremacist organizations. After his speech, Rainey received a letter
written in red ink warning him and other advocates of black civil rights to
"prepare to meet your God." Though President Grant signed the Ku
Klux Klan Act into law that month, white southerners ignored it, and it did
nothing to stop terrorism. Eventually, the act's opponents in Congress
killed it by eliminating funding, forcing Rainey to argue for federal
appropriations needed to enforce the act, less than a year after it passed.
On the House floor, Rainey said, "I tell you that the Negro will never
rest until he gets his rights. We ask (for civil rights) because we know it
is proper, not because we want to deprive any other class of the rights and
immunities they enjoy, but because they are granted to us by the law of the
land." As a result of his moderate policies, many white voters approved
of Rainey as much as African-American voters did, and he was re-elected to
the 43rd Congress in 1872 without opposition.
- 1871. The opening of the
Causeway, the road linking St. George's with the Main Island of
Bermuda. Over the years it has has been damaged and at times been put out of
bounds due to hurricanes, most recently Hurricane Fabian in 2003 and the
closure to traffic during September 2006's near miss from Hurricane
- 1871. November. The British
Army's 69th Regiment of Foot, which had arrived earlier from Canada before
being posted to Bermuda, spend a period on Boaz Island to help protect
HM Dockyard Bermuda before being re-assigned to Gibraltar.
- 1871. Loss at sea off
Bermuda of the ship Republique, before that the Mont Organise of the Haitian
Navy, before that the Columbia and in 1867 as the Quaker City, during his
trip to Europe on her, the scene of some of the tales related by Mark Twain
in his book "The Innocents Abroad." Quaker City was a
1428-ton (burden) wooden side-wheel steamship, built at Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, in 1854. She was chartered by the Navy in April 1861, soon
after the outbreak of the Civil War, and sent to enforce the Federal
blockade of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Over the next five months, she
captured or took part in the capture of ten would-be blockade runners.In
August 1861, shortly before Quaker City's charter was to expire, she
was purchased for formal conversion into a warship. She was commissioned as
such in December 1861. She was then sent to sea to search for the
Confederate cruiser Sumter
and was later similarly employed when necessitated by the activities of
other Confederate raiders. While she did not encounter any enemy warships on
the high seas, on 31 January 1863 she was damaged in a fight with the
Southern ironclads Chicora
State off Charleston, South Carolina. Quaker City continued
her campaign against blockade runners, participating in the capture of more
than a dozen during 1862-1865. In December 1864 and January 1864, she was
part of the powerful fleet that supported the capture of Fort Fisher, thus
closing Wilmington, North Carolina, to enemy commerce. While serving in the
Gulf of Mexico area in May 1865, she assisted in the chase of CSS Webb
as that ship made a dramatic run down the Mississippi River in an abortive
attempt to escape from the collapsing Confederacy. Decommissioned in May
1865, Quaker City was sold a month later and resumed her commercial
- 1872. August 8.
Bermudians first celebrated their emancipation from slavery in a new way -
by making a point of including the British game of cricket in their
celebrations. Hitherto it had been played
officially by Britons in the British
Army and Royal Navy then based in Bermuda, and unofficially among local
teams not white in complexion. The unique match was to commemorate the
annual August "Emancipation" Carnival-like celebrations after
Britain enacted in Bermuda and the rest of the-then British Empire its
formal, official and final Abolition of Slavery Act on August 1, 1834. Was
this inclusion of British cricket into their celebrations a belated
acknowledgement to Britain which had ended slavery after the strenuous
efforts of the British politician William Wilberforce had finally been
successful after many years of trying? Or was it simply because Bermudians
wanted to make cricket as much of a Bermudian sport as a British one? We may
never know for sure. What is known is that this cricket match was the very first of its kind in
a cricket "eleven" (the number of men in a cricket team)
Lodge No. 1026 of Hamilton and a similar "eleven" from the Victoria and Albert Lodge No. 1027 of
Somerset. It may also have been the first time in the cricketing world that
non-white teams are recorded as having competed in what was, until then, a
mostly-white if not wholly white British sport. If so, Bermuda is certainly
due some long-belated cricketing and socio-economic credit. Both Masonic Lodges
there and then had played a leading role in getting former
slaves recognized as real men despite their darker complexions and in
getting them jobs, self-worth and respect for them as individual
contributors to the human race in their own distinctive ways, not as people
to be looked down on racially. All black members of both teams were Masons,
members of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows. The event took place at the
Cricket Ground in Somerset and was won by 43 runs by the Somerset side. Both
sides played in fraternal friendly sporting rivalry, not in the
win-at-any-cost way many
cricket matches overseas are played today.
- 1872. The rebuilt Anglican Cathedral in
Bermuda was mostly completed. Bishop Field wrote from
Ascension Day I consecrated the Nave of a very beautiful church, the Chancel
and Transepts of which I consecrated on the same Holy-day seventeen years
- 1873. January 1.Sinking off
Bermuda of the ship Minnie Breslauer, on her maiden voyage. She was a
large (300 foot long) English steamer, built and launched in the latter part
of 1872. Bound for New York she departed Portugal with an assorted cargo of
cork, lead ingots, dried fruit and wine. There were 25 crew including the
captain. Intending to use Bermuda as a landmark, the captain edged his new
ship close to the islands off the South Shore. He did not have the
appropriate navigation chart and was unfamiliar with the waters. Cruising at
full speed, the ill-fated ship rammed into a submerged reef one mile
offshore, causing the bow section of the hull to collapse. Not realizing the
extent of the damage, the captain desperately tried to back his ship off the
reef. This caused it to begin sinking. south but not far from the
Southampton Princess Hotel beach. She lies on her starboard side on a coral
slope, with her crumpled bow at 40 feet and her stern against the flat sand
bottom at 70 feet. Her huge steam boiler sits amidships.
- 1874. In St. George's, Bermuda, the
Unfinished Church began.
- 1874. March.
Though the representation was largely symbolic, Joseph Rainey, formerly of
Bermuda, presided over the South Carolina House of Representatives as
Speaker pro tempore, the first black to do so. Having been appointed to
the Committee on Indian Affairs, he oversaw the debate on an appropriations
bill providing for the management of Native American reservations. Rainey
faced Independent Republican Samuel Lee, another African American and a
former speaker of the state house of Representatives. Although he won with
52 percent of the vote, Rainey faced violent threats from Lee's supporters
during the campaign
- 1874. January. The first
regular New York-Bermuda service was opened by the Quebec Steamship Co,
which was awarded a contract by the Government of the day. Although Samuel
Cunard had operated a service between Halifax and Bermuda from 1833 to 1886,
the Quebec Steamship Co provided the first regular connection with New York,
and built the first new ships for the Bermuda trade in the 1880s. (This
company remained on the run until December 1919, when after forty-five years
service, it was taken over by Furness Withy & Co Ltd, to become the
well-known Furness Bermuda Line).
- 1874. Legislation was
enacted which introduced the secret ballot in Bermuda. Following the
enactment of a similar measure in Great Britain two years earlier. It
was a momentous procedural change which reduced the possibility of
recrimination and reprisal often associated with open voting and encouraged
a strategy referred to as “plumping.” This was the practice of an
elector deliberately restricting his vote in a parish constituency to only
one of the names listed on the ballot sheet, the underlying purpose being to
increase the election chances of a preferred candidate.
- 1875. Governor of Bermuda
General Lefroy persuaded photographer James B.
Heyl to make an expedition to North Rock to photograph the pinnacles. North
Rock, called on early French maps "La Petite Bermude", is the
northernmost land in the Bermuda archipelago, at least some of it is during
the hours of low tide. Lefroy
wanted a image to publish in his upcoming book on the early history of
Bermuda and he, his Aide-de-Camp, Capt. Trench RA, and a group of friends
all went on the adventure. As the
"wet-plate process" was then in use, Heyl had to take his
chemicals and a tent to develop the photographs immediately, as so required
by that process. The tent-darkroom and the camera were set up on the eastern
perimeter of the North Rock boiler and the resulting images captured the
site on film, possibly for the first time. To the he east of North Rock, a
channel to the open sea is defined to the east by the Great Breaker, which
always breaks, and therefore around which the ocean constantly heaves.
- 1876. Governor Lefroy,
great compiler of the earliest historical records of Bermuda, made sure a
memorial tablet was erected in the Somers Garden, St. George's, with the
following inscription: "Near
this spot was interred in the year 1610 the heart of the heroic Admiral Sir
George Somers who nobly sacrificed his life to carry succor to the infant
and suffering Plantation now the State of Virginia. To preserve his fame to
future ages, near the scene of his memorable shipwreck of 1609, the Governor
and Commander in Chief of the Colony for the time being caused this tablet
to be erected, 1876."
Major-General John H. Lefroy RA, Governor of Bermuda, in his
magnificent "Memorials of Bermuda" noted It
will be necessary to erect on the North Rock a lighthouse, which is said
also to be very practicable, in order to serve as a mark by day and night.
- 1877. Mark Twain made his
second visit to Bermuda, this time accompanied by his friend the Rev. Joseph Twichell. They
stayed four days in a private boarding house. The trip resulted in Twain’s
15,000-word sketch "Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion"
which was published in four installments in the Atlantic Monthly from
October 1877 through January 1878.
- 1877. At Fort Albert (expanded
in 1860) in St. George's, a huge fire occured. With much gunpowder stored
there, all St. George's was threatened. Heroic efforts by men of the Royal
Artillery and 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers stemmed the fire.
- 1878. April 1.Captain
John Moresby R.N., arrived in Bermuda via the Mail Steamer Canima from
New York, and succeeded Captain Somerset as Superintendent of the Naval
Establishment at the Dockyard. in November of that year he was appointed a
Justice of the Peace by the governor. He carved a unique piece of Bermuda
history for himself in his three years in Bermuda. He also had a military
parade area and cricket ground named after him. He left Bermuda in April
1881 to gain more fame in the Pacific, via the Mail steamer Flamborough. He
was succeeded by Captain Thomas Barnardiston, RN.
- 1878. March 24, 4:30 pm. There
was a tragedy at sea on an elderly British warship, HMS Eurydice, bound from
Bermuda to the United Kingdom. She was caught in a sudden and severe gale in
blinding snow which came down the channel from the northwest. Off the Isle
of Wight, the ship capsized and sank with only two survivors. More than 300
passengers aboard her died. One of them was Captain Louis John George
Ferrier of Belsyde in Scotland, Commanding Officer since 1877 of the 32nd
Company of the Royal Engineers in Bermuda. He was going home on leave and
had boarded the ship on 6 March in Bermuda. His body was identified by his
brother Captain George Henry Ferrier of the 105th Foot which was stationed
at Colchester. Captain Louis John Ferrier was 38 years old. That
"hurricane" also caused much
damage to the Floating Dock in Bermuda at the Dockyard.
sinking of the Isle of Wight
- 1879. August. Formal establishment
of the Bermuda Police force with the enactment by the Bermuda
Legislature of the Police Establishment Act, 1879.
- 1879. October 1, Bermuda's
first full time Police Force was officially formed, with officers mostly
imported from England.
- 1879. November 21. Following a
meeting at the Town Hall in Hamilton, six pages of a minute book were filled
with signatures agreeing to a declaration to promote the “object and
intention” of the recently-formed Berkeley Educational Society. At least
nine of those who signed were unable to write their names and were obliged
to simply make a mark on the paper – evidence, if any were needed, that
the society’s goal, to found a school to educate all, was desperately
needed in Bermuda. It was to be 18 years before that school, Berkeley
Institute, was established but its name can be traced back to 1724, when
Irish philosopher Bishop George Berkeley formulated a plan to build a
college for white boys and North American Indians in Bermuda. A Proposal For
The Better Supplying Of Churches In Our Foreign Plantations And For
Converting the Savage American To Christianity By A College To Be Erected In
The Summer Islands, Otherwise Called The Isles Of Bermuda contained a
detailed scheme for St. Paul’s College – but the project was abandoned
for a number of reasons, including a lack of funding and the Island’s
isolated location. Bishop Berkeley never made it to Bermuda but his surname
has, for more than a hundred years, been one of the best-known and most
often referred to on the Island. For though it was not recorded anywhere at
the time of the founding of the Berkeley Educational Society in 1879, it is
believed that the parent body which eventually opened the Berkeley Institute
in 1897 was named after the Bishop.
- 1879. November 3.
Overlooking the South Shore, the St. David's Lighthouse at Mount Hill, the
highest spot on St. David's
Island, St. George's Parish, on the north eastern coast of Bermuda, was
completed and formally handed over to the government's lighthouse
commissioners. It was the second lighthouse to be built in Bermuda
after the construction of Gibb's Hill Lighthouse. It became a landmark.
Building had begun in September 1976. Then on almost seven acres of land
compulsorily purchased from local landowners for the purpose deemed to be in
the national interest, it was constructed not from iron but sturdy Bermuda Stone (limestone of a type
unique to Bermuda and then commonly used in building construction as a cheap
local source of building materials). The builder was Francis Hill. The structure
was 55 high to the
lantern. Then plainly whitewashed, it showed a fixed white light of the second order, about 30,000
candlepower, 208 feet above sea level. It continues to warn ships. Since
then it has undergone many changes and improvements. Instead of the original
kerosene burner of the ordinary wick type it had a hood petroleum burner
installed in June 1922. It was deliberately constructed inland, on a hill, not on the shore
line, to be seen from afar. It was built to stop St. David's Islanders from
luring ships with other kinds of lights to come too close to the reefs and get
their bottoms torn out for easy plundering. When the lighthouse defeated their
illegal activities, they became fishermen and excellent pilots. From that
time, St. David's Islanders were appointed as Lighthouse Keepers of the
Lighthouse since 1879
- 1879. December 14. Sinking
of the Lartington, an old steamer freighter that crashed into Bermuda reefs.
She had departed Savannah, Georgia, for Russia with a cargo of cotton. She
had encountered numerous storms and heavy seas. A giant wave cracked her
hull, causing a massive leak. The ship's water pumps could not keep ahead of
the incoming sea and the captain decided to make a run for Bermuda. Instead,
she ran aground on the reef five miles northwest of the Royal Naval
Dockyard. The crew abandoned ship in lifeboats and was soon spotted and
towed into Hamilton by a pilot boat. The Marine Board of Inquiry attributed
the stranding to gross negligence and carelessness. The Captain should have
taken information for depth and should never have altered his course.
Subsequent storms scattered her remains but her bow section was fairly
intact. She lies in 15 to 30 feet of water with her steam boilers, stern
section and propeller still visible.
- 1879. Following on from the
earlier-established and flourishing Bermuda branches of the American-based
Grand United Oddfellowship, the Manchester, England-based
Independent Order of Oddfellows took formally root in Bermuda. It
stemmed from the fraternization of British military personnel - in
particular members of the 1st York North Riding Regiment then based in the
Island - with black Bermudians, leading to formation of the Loyal Flower of
Day Lodge, and more thereafter.
- 1880. January 1. The
English iron barque, North Carolina, approximately 205 feet in length, about
533 tons, en
route to Bermuda from Liverpool, with a general cargo, including cotton,
bark and fuel, struck a reef and sunk 8.5 miles west and 0.5 miles south of Gibbs
Hill Lighthouse. UK Board of Trade Casualty Returns1879-83 stated she
was then three years old, was registered in Liverpool,
owned by H. Barber and under the command of Captain Alexander Buchan. Nearly
four weeks later, on January 27, a salvage attempt was made to re-float the
vessel. The attempt failed when the North Carolina's massive anchor broke
free and crashed through the ship's hull. She was upright in 25 to 45 feet
stamp of wreck of North Carolina January 1, 1880
- 1880. A hurricane struck Bermuda and
did great damage.
- 1880 to 1885. Dr. Edward
Lewton Penny was the Dockyard parson, schoolmaster and librarian. A
scholar, he described himself in Latin as "unhappily submerged and
badly treated in the Bermuda Islands. " In this sketch by him he notes
in Greek that the man who borrows a volume and does not return it is
committing a sin. He hoped for the best but expected the worst.
- 1880. Prince Albert, 16,
and Prince George, 15, sons of the-then Prince of Wales, later, Edward VII),
arrived in Bermuda as midshipmen on HMS Bacchante.
- 1881. April 1. Captain
John Moresby, RN, later Rear Admiral, left Bermuda after a three-year
assignment at the Royal Naval Dockyard: ‘I handed over my command to
another, when parting kindnesses, warm farewells, and much speechifying,
poured in on me from all quarters, together with gratifying official
recognition; but I think the Commander-in-Chief Sir Leopold McClintock’s
last words were my greatest pleasure, when he simply said: “I hope I shall
be regretted as you are when I also give up my command.”
- 1881. There were slightly
more than eight hundred registered voters in Bermuda at this time, a
statistic which underscored the fact that the franchise was restricted to a
- 1881. September 26. A new
newspaper began in Bermuda, the New Era or Home Journal. It was a weekly, published on a
- 1881. December 27. The
Royal Gazette printed and published this edition.
- 1882. The
fifth Government House was started, at Mount Langton, Pembroke.
- 1882. The Merchants' Bank
of Halifax (later, the Royal Bank of Canada), established in Halifax in
1864, opened an agency in Bermuda via the local Butterfield's
- 1882. December 6. A Transit of Venus occured, clearly visible from
Bermuda for several hours. A team of British scientists and astronomers
from the Royal Greenwich Observatory were sent to Bermuda to
witness it. They set up camp a few weeks before the event. They were led by
well-known astronomer and meteorologist John Isaac Plummer and their viewing was conducted from Gibb's Hill,
Southampton. In the USA, from its sightings there, US composer John Phillip
Sousa composed the march "The Transit of Venus" in its honor.
Sousa's Transit of
- 1883. January. Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848 to
1939), third daughter of Queen Victoria,
wife of the Marquess of Lorne, Governor of Canada, made her first trip to
Bermuda. She referred to it as "Shangri-La" and as a result
extended her stay to 10 weeks at
Inglewood, Paget. One of her duties was to present the Princess Louise Cup to
what then became officially known, with her Royal Assent, as the Royal
Bermuda Yacht Club. Her arrival and stature meant that Bermuda was suddenly
transformed from a sleepy, Atlantic backwater into a trendy tourism
destination for wealthy Americans.
- 1883. The first black
elected as a member of
Parliament in Bermuda was William Henry Thomas Joell (born 1838, died 1885), of the city of
Hamilton. He was
responsible for building Glebe Road. He Served on the committee that founded
Berkeley Institute and was also a cabinet maker and carpenter. Joell's Alley
in Hamilton is named after him. “Plumping” appeared to have played a
critical role in the election of Mr. Joell, who was voted in as a
representative for the constituency of Pembroke, his success being largely
attributable to the support given to him by the Pembroke Parish Political
Association. Much later, the Tennis Stadium in Pembroke
was named to honour
W.E.R Joell, the grandson of W. H. T. Joell.
Thomas Joell, Bermuda's first black Member of Parliament
- 1883. Bermuda's original
Anglican cathedral, then known as the First Trinity, was completed in 1883,
having been commenced in 1844.
- 1883. The paper "An
Account of Bermuda, Past and Present" was written by John Ogilvy, born
Aberdeen, Scotland 1831, died Frimley, Sussex, England 1899. He entered the
British Army in 1853 as assistant surgeon, retired before 1885 with the
honorary rank of Surgeon General. Listed in the Army List as Principal
Medical Officer to Bermuda, 1882.
- 1883. October 6.
First Bermuda Banknote was printed, in Ottawa. See details below:
Banknote, 1883. A Canadian $5 note printed for the Merchant Bank of Halifax and
converted to a £1 1 shilling (one guinea) note for use in Bermuda.
The Merchants' Bank of Halifax
(later, the Royal Bank of Canada), established in Halifax in 1864, opened an
agency in Bermuda in 1882 via the local Butterfield's Bank. On October 6, 1883,
it issued its own money for use in Bermuda. It began circulating a $5 Canadian
note printed by the American Bank Note Company in Ottawa for its bank in Halifax
and converted to a one pound, one shilling (guinea) note for use in Bermuda.
This Canadian/Bermudian note has considerable historical value as the first
"Bermudian" paper money to arrive in Bermuda; some 31 years before
Bermuda got its own official currency notes. Later, the Merchants' Bank of
Halifax divorced itself from Butterfield's Bank in Bermuda and ran its own
branch bank in Bermuda for four years. Thus it also became the first (and only)
non-Bermudian bank in Bermuda. Later yet, the Merchants' Bank of Halifax's
Bermuda operation was bought out by banking newcomers in Bermuda who established
from it the present day Bank of Bermuda Ltd.
- 1884. January 27. The church,
known as the First Trinity, only completed in 1883, was almost completely
destroyed when arsonists torched the building. Only the walls were left
standing. Five months later a building
committee was organized and architect Mr. Hay, who had been working at the
East End on what would become known as the “Unfinished Church” at the
time, was called back. Ironically he abandoned this impressive gothic
vestige looming out over St. George’s on the eve of its completion,
perhaps in part because the funds were diverted to the rebuilding of
Hamilton’s fire-ravaged Cathedral. Mr. Hay, also involved with the
original church here, called in another architect,
George Henderson - the men later formed a partnership - and together work
began on rebuilding the Cathedral. As they set about the project the men
decided to use something they had an abundance of, native Bermuda stone. And
they imported Caen stone from Normandy, France to frame the doors and
windows. The final result was a typical Restoration Gothic-style cathedral
in the shape of a Roman Cross. The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity was
finally completed in 1905 with the addition of a nave and tower under the
watchful eyes of Mr. Henderson’s assistant, Alan Lawrie Goodwin, who took
over the work following Mr. Henderson’s death some months before. The
church was dedicated by Bishop Lewellyn Jones in 1911. Mr.
Goodwin was also responsible for the rebuilding of the choir area from 1906
to 1911, while the tiled roof was replaced in copper in 1926 by Harold
Tarbolton and completed by Lawrence Harrower Smart in 1927.
- 1884. Bermudian John Smith,
born at Bermuda in 1854 and in the US Navy at the time, received the Medal
of Honor from the President of the United States. The Medal of Honor is the
highest military award given by the US Government and is conferred on an
individual by the Congress through the President for outstanding acts of
gallantry under enemy fire and also in peacetime circumstances. He jumped
overboard from his ship, USS Shenandoah, at Rio de Janeiro in 1880, and
saved a shipmate from drowning. The USS Shenandoah was a wooden screw
sloop of the United States Navy and was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard
in 1862. It was involved in Civil War actions, including the December 1864
attack on Fort Fisher, a Confederate Army stronghold.
- 1885. January 1. Following
the success of the Hamilton Hotel, the Princess Hotel was established.
Originally the Pembroke Hotel, it was re-named after Princess Louise
Caroline Alberta. Harley Trott, a leading businessman of the time, saw
opportunity and had the new hotel built to provide a winter haven. The hotel
opened two years after Princess Louise’s visit to the Island and was named
“The Princess” in her honour. It became affectionately known as “The
Pink Palace” because of its architecture. The original hotel was an all
wooden structure. One of the original focal points was a beautiful sweeping
veranda that came right up to the harbour. Patrons loved to sun themselves
on lounge chairs on this veranda, wrapped in their fur coats, as it was a
winter destination. Afternoon tea was also served on the veranda and the
ladies would appear in their best dresses. Over the ensuing years it had
some very distinguished patrons including author Mark Twain whose bronze
statue now sits in the lobby, and Frances Hodgson Burnett author of ‘The
Secret Garden’, and much later, Robert Kennedy and singer Michael Jackson.
Many guests houses also sprang up in Hamilton and
elsewhere. Bermuda's winter tourism trade began to create its own special
niche, the envy of many other small Atlantic and Caribbean islands.
- 1885. Opening of St. Paul's
AME Church, Hamilton, as a direct result of what happed in 1869. From
then on the impact of the AME Church in Bermuda, with St. Paul's at its
epicenter was profound, widespread and continuing. St. Paul's became venue
for political, cultural and educational forums.
- 1886. Thomas S. Reid, in
his booklet Trinity Church, Bermuda, a Sketch of its History, wrote this:
time wore on and Hamilton increased in population and importance it was
found inconvenient to have no Church within town limits, and the Parish
Church, moreover, was unequal to the wants of the Church. An agitation began.
The subscriptions were general and liberal. The Legislature came forward to
supplement private liberality."
- 1886. End of the Samuel
Cunard-operated shipping service between Halifax and Bermuda that was
begun in 1833.
- 1886. The Merchants' Bank
of Halifax, Nova Scotia was established in Hamilton, after splitting off
at the same time from its original agency-holder, N. T. Butterfield &
- 1887. Saltus Grammar School opened at the instigation of Samuel
Saltus for the education of white boys, and was operated from part of the
funds left from the defunct Devonshire College. It is no longer solely for
whites, blacks have equal access.
August 2. Joseph Rainey, formerly of Bermuda and firebrand politician, died.
Although he repeatedly won election as a Congressman, he became embittered
when blacks were further prosecuted in the USA, mostly under the white
supremacist wing of the Democratic Party to which he had long been opposed.
In the 1878 election he lost his seat to w white Democrat, John Richardson,
by more than 8,000 votes. He never recovered from his political loss. It was
said he was offered a post as Clerk to the House, then the offer was
withdrawn. Rainey became an agent for the Internal Revenue Service but gave
that up, then started a brokerage business in Washington DC but after 5
years it collapsed. After his father died in 1883 he sunk into a
John Henry Thomas Jackson became the second black Bermudian to be
elected to Parliament.
The Bermuda Government considered and approved a new feature of the House of
Assembly, the Florentine Clock Tower, to commemorate Queen Victoria’s
Golden Jubilee. Unfortunately work was delayed for a few years.
After a great storm cut communication between Somerset and the Royal Naval
islands, it accentuated the need for a bridge. Later, when the Dockyard was
to be expanded a “Watford Island Bridge” was deemed essential. Works on
the South Yard of the Dockyard and what was intended for the new bridge
meant that the descendants of any Bermudian families of today who now live
in Somerset first came to Bermuda to be employed on the construction of the
South Yard and the bridge.
- 1887. Buildings
on Maria Hill near the Royal Navy Dockyard were erected as the Single
- 1887. Installation of
Bermuda's first telephones.
- 1887. British artist
Margaret Wilson Walker visited Bermuda and painted the watercolor below.
- 1888. A structural change
of Parliament was enacted which created two bodies called the Executive
Council and the Legislative Council. The Governor’s Council was replaced
by these two newly-created bodies, the latter serving as the second
law-making branch of Government and being referred to as the Upper House. The Legislature became bicameral.
Since then the Legislature consisted of an elected Lower House (The House of
Assembly) and a Upper House (The Legislative Council). The Legislative
Council comprised of civil servants and other members, all of whom were
appointed by the Governor.
- 1888. The former Royal Navy
gunboats Vixen and her sister ship the Viper were towed to Bermuda as coast
defence ships after reaching the end of their careers. H.M.S.
Vixen displaced 1,230 tons and was built by Lungley Shipyard, Deptford,
England, in 1864, and launched in 1867. Vixen was the first twin-screwed
vessel of the Royal Navy. Her iron hull was completely clad in teak wood.
This design was made in an effort to overcome problems that iron hulled
ships were having with marine organisms. The teak also produced extra drag
on the ship, therefore, resulting in Vixen being the slowest ironclad vessel
in the Royal Navy. Another very interesting aspect of this ship is that she
was built with a ram type bow. Her heavily supported bow protruded forward
almost nine feet under the water line. Unfortunately, after sea trials, the
Vixen and her sister ship, Viper, were considered too slow as well as
un-seaworthy. They were withdrawn from service in 1887.
Sir Edward Newdigate Newdegate KCB (June 15, 1825 to August 1, 1902) became
Governor of Bermuda, until June 1892. He was a member of the Newdigate
family. He was born at Astley, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, the second son
of Francis Parker Newdigate and Barbara Maria Legge. He was a professional
soldier and reached the rank of Lieutenant General in the Rifle Brigade. He
served in the Crimean and Anglo-Zulu Wars. On retirement from the Army he
was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He changed his
surname by Royal Licence in 1888 to Newdigate Newdegate. He married Anne
Emily Garnier on 1st June 1858. Their home was Astley Castle, Astley,
Warwickshire. In his honour, Bermuda, in Warwickshire, England, is named
The American House hotel at the top western end of Queen Street, Hamilton
(where Boyle's Shoe Shop now stands) was an elegant Bermudian structure of
two main buildings with verandas. In operation earlier, from this year Ii
was managed by Mr. A Paschal and by 1908 had some 65 rooms and several
suites. By 1909, "the American" was lighted by electricity and
August. The first
phonograph known to have appeared in Bermuda was imported by Reginald Aubrey
Fessenden, formerly the principal and only teacher at Whitney Institute
for two years from 1884.
- 1889. A hurricane devastated the
Causeway linking St. George's Island to the Main Island. It had to be
- 1889. The Bank of Bermuda
Ltd. was founded, in Hamilton, as the beginnings of a second major
banking house, as a going concern - by taking over the 3-year old branch in
Bermuda of the Merchants' Bank of Halifax, Nova Scotia which split off in
1886 from its original agency-holder, N. T. Butterfield & Son Ltd. It
was formally established and incorporated in 1890 and is now the largest
bank in Bermuda by a considerable margin.
- 1889. The Windsor Hotel, on
Queen Street, Hamilton, was opened. It had hot and cold baths and,
unlike the Hamilton Hotel, which closed for half the year (June to
November), the Windsor was open year round. It became a much-favored retreat
for both local Bermudians and Canadian visitors. (Americans tended to go to
the American House Hotel opposite it).
- 1890. February. The New York
Times newspaper noted that the streets of Hamilton were full of American
people and the shops full of American customers. Unlike now, the season at
that time was in winter when Bermuda could provide relief from the snows and
frigid temperatures of the US East coast.
- 1890. March 3. Mount
Saint Agnes Academy (MSA) convent began in Bermuda at Woodlands (where
Saltus Grammar School now stands). The school was started after the officers
of the Irish Garrison, who were stationed in Bermuda, appealed to the
Archbishop of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1889 to open a school for the
children of Irish soldiers.
In response, four Sisters of Charity of St.
Vincent DePaul were sent to Bermuda and at the request of the Archbishop,
the Sisters chose St. Agnes (Agnes being the name of the Archbishop's
mother), as the patron of the school. This was also appropriate, as St.
Agnes is a Patron Saint of youth. The
soldiers were recalled before the Sisters arrived, but the need for a girls'
school would serve not only Bermudian children, but also the children of
visitors who wintered here. Since its
founding, MSA has become co-educational and has moved twice. In April 1892
the school was moved from Woodlands to Experiment Hill, which is on the
corner of Cedar Avenue and Laffan Street, and now houses the mosque Masjid
Muhammad #1. The property, with its
additions and improvements over the years, was more often referred to as
'the Convent' and was utilised for teaching until 1967 when the entire
student body was moved to the school's present location. Throughout
its long history, Mount Saint Agnes Academy has remained dedicated to the
principles of Catholic education, which form the basis of the school's
- 1890. August. (until July 1891).
2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards arrived in Bermuda. After refusing to serve
at Wellington Barracks in London, this unit was sent - exiled - to Bermuda
as a punishment. It overlapped the stay of the Leicestershire Regiment and
King's Regiment (Liverpool). Stationed in St. George's. Their many exploits
included enlarging and leveling a playing field by the little lane running
by it (now called Grenadier Lane). Brass tablets in memory of the six men
who died in Bermuda were affixed in the Garrison Church (gone now), then
Prospect Chapel (gone now), then St. Peter's Church in St. George's. The
Bermuda Historical Society has many glass slides showing NCOs in family
situations. Because of the stature of the Grenadier Guards and in ignorance
of the real reason they arrived in Bermuda, their presence in Bermuda
marked more parties, more social events, more military involvement in sports
and pastimes like sailing than any other period in Bermuda's British
- 1891. A little over a decade after
his first visit, Prince George returned to Bermuda in command of the gunboat
The Bermuda Legislature enacted the black Bermuda Militia Artillery (BMA)
and Bermuda Militia Engineers (BME), under white officers, the white
Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps (BVRC) and Bermuda Volunteer Engineers (BVE).
It was a hugely significant and historic move given what happened later.
Both major units sent two contingents overseas during the 1914-1918 Great
War First World and each sent one contingent overseas in the Second World
War. Of the two units, the Bermuda Militia sent 240 men to the battlefields
of the Great War while the BVRC sent 232 men.
Government House, again at Mount Langton, Pembroke, begun in 1882 was
finally completed (Moniz Collection, National Museum of Bermuda). That
new building ran over into difficulties (of the types both monetary and
masonry), based on a design by William Hay, architect of the Anglican
Cathedral in Hamilton. Two Bermudians, W. Cardy Hallet, the Colonial
Surveyor, and the master carpenter, John Henry Jackson, were brought in to
sort out the site.
- 1893. The Public Gardens - later,
the Bermuda Botanical Gardens - were established.
- 1893. The Bermuda Jubilee
Turret Clock was housed in the tower of the Sessions House with its four
faces illuminated by oil lamps.
- 1893. The Government of New
Zealand enacted legislation which allowed women to vote in general
elections. Bermuda was far behind.
- 1890s. Bermuda faced agricultural
tariffs from its main market, the USA.
- 1894. March 11, Hospital Sunday.
Patients of all classes who required hospital treatment were admitted to the
little rectangular structure known as the Cottage Hospital which had only a
handful of beds. It was the first civilian (but not military, as there were
two) hospital in Bermuda. It was on elevated ground near the east end of
Pembroke Parish on the Military Road from Fort Hamilton to Prospect.
- 1894. Bermuda High School
for Girls was established.
- 1894. The Bermuda
Volunteer Rifle Corps (BVRC) was established, after being legislated in
The St. John Ambulance Brigade was established in Bermuda. It is one of the
oldest charities in the world, dating back to the 11th century.
brigade provides first aid and ambulance services to large and small events
throughout the year.
- 1894. Many West Indians began their
relocation to Bermuda.
- 1895. The Bermuda Historical Society
was established, by Archdeacon George Tucker.
- 1895. Born
to a Bermudian, Maria Susan Hayward, and an English father, John James
Bushell published his first guide to his "beloved Bermuda" at
the age of 23. In the same year he married Rosalie Popham and moved to
"Palm Vale" off the South Road, one of her family's properties.
For many years afterwards, he produced the definitive yearly-updated
guidebook to Bermuda for visitors and newcomers.
- 1895-1896. In two
successive years, there were attempts in Bermuda to pilot legislation
through Parliament for the express purpose of extending the vote to
property-owning women. On both occasions, the franchise Bill was
rejected by the Legislative Council by a narrow margin after having passed
the House of Assembly.
- 1896. After The Bermuda Militia Act
four years earlier, the Bermuda Militia Artillery (BMA) was officially formed
by Act of Parliament and embodied on a three-month training exercise at a
camp in St. George's as the
result of a threat of world conflict and the need for local security. Its
purpose was to operate coastal defense facilities previously manned by
elements of Britain's Royal Artillery.
After removal of her engines and machinery, the former Royal Navy gunship
HMS Vixen, towed to Bermuda in 1888, was scuttled to block a narrow channel
off Daniel's Head. The scuttling was done to prevent possible attacks by
torpedo boats on the Dockyard.
- 1897.September 6. The first
school mostly black children in Bermuda, Berkeley Institute, was opened.
had 27 pupils, one of whom was white. (See origins on November 21,
- 1897. Professor Edward
Laurens Mark, with Charles Bristol of New York University, was one of the
founding fathers of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. He began his
association when he brought a party of students to Bermuda by
- 1897. November. The
Ordnance Survey of the Bermudas, the necessity for which both for military
and civil purposes, had long been recognized by the authorities, was
commenced by Lieutenant Savage of the Royal Engineers. Arthur Johnson Savage
was only 23 years old when he arrived at Bermuda. He later served in South
Africa and was awarded the DSO during World War One, passing away in 1933.
The new technology he used was the Ramsden theodolite which became
the surveyor’s major instrument of land measurement, until it was rendered
obsolete by the invention of the digital “total station.” He brought two
theodolites to Bermuda for his survey, one capable of making astronomical
observations. This system originated from mapping the Scottish highlands
after the revolt of 1745 and in the 1790s, when threats from France
precipitated a survey of the south coast of England. His survey became the
foundation for land tenure at Bermuda for the next 60 years. Instead of
spying from on high, Savage had to work on the ground, with his theodolite,
measuring chains and machetes, for the island was then much covered with
heavy bush. Surveying works on the method of triangulation, for which a base
line is essential. Savage established a primary one on the causeway road on
Longbird Island, with a secondary one on the breakwater at Dockyard. Once
these lines were accurately measured and their geographical position set by
astronomical observations, the survey could begin. A network of imaginary
triangles, from which all other detailed surveys were undertaken, in effect
covered Bermuda. Levels were recorded on “bench marks” throughout the
island, based on the datum of “Mean Sea Level as accepted by the Admiralty
and recorded on the Dockyard Fire Gauge at Ireland Island”. The Savage map
was published in six sheets in 1901 and also appeared in a folded edition,
of which few copies survive. Markers of dark grey granite defined the parish
boundaries and a number of these little monuments are still to be
- 1898. One
of the ships on station at the Royal Navy Dockyard, Bermuda was HMS Buzzard,
a Nymphe Class composite screw sloop, namely of both sailing (barque rigged)
and steam propulsion. The vessel was launched in 1887 at Sheerness Dockyard
on the River Medway, near the Thames estuary. At
195 feet, with a beam of 30 feet, Buzzard mounted eight four-inch Breech
Loaders and for close work, the ship had four Nordenfeldt and four Gardner
Lieutenant Andrew Savage undertook the first Ordnance Survey of Bermuda.
- 1899. Fort Hamilton, initiated
in the 1870s, was completed by the Royal Engineers of the British Army. It was built to
protect Hamilton Harbour from possible American or other invasion. It
included a moat, dungeons and artillery.
- 1899. The Causeway
was swept away during a severe storm.
- 1899. December. Bermuda
welcomed noted American artist Winslow Homer for the first time from Maine,
on the SS Trinidad which he painted, the first ship built specifically to
service Bermuda's tourism industry. He stayed until February 1900. In
1901, it brought him back for an extensive visit. He captured the ship on
canvas as she sailed the North Channel. On March 31, 1901, he wrote to his
New York dealers to advise them that he was sending them three Bermuda
drawings as at that time they should attract attention due to the close for
the season of Bermuda's hotels (at that time, Bermuda's high season for
tourists was November to March). "Bermuda (1901)" pictured here is
back home, thanks to the Christian Humann Foundation. It donated $30,000 to
the acquisition by Bermuda's Masterworks Foundation which pioneered the
repatriation of Bermuda's artworks by famous artists. Homer painted at least
21 Bermuda watercolors. In 1901, they were exhibited at the Pan
American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Homer was awarded a gold medal.
Also in 1901, he selected a quiet spot in Southampton near the Great Sound
for a splendid scene on a 21 by 14.5 inches canvas. It was
"Inland Waterway". It shows Granaway Deep, with Marshall's and
Darrell's Islands in the background. He also painted Spithead, later the
home of American dramatist Eugene O'Neill, Charles Chaplin and British
playwright Sir Noel Coward. After many years in the USA, the painting
finally returned to Bermuda in 1992, with a price tag of $700,000, paid by
Bermuda's Masterworks Foundation, with some help from friends of Bermuda.
Homer was hugely intrigued by Bermuda's early history and how the first
involuntary settlers off the wrecked Sea Venture in 1609 found wild hogs as
food. He painted them in " Bermuda Settlers -1901" (and on a
Bermuda postage stamp years later). The hogs were dropped in the water by
15th century Spanish and Portuguese sailors who used Bermuda as a
navigational landmark to Mexico and beyond. They knew the hogs would swim to
shore and breed. They were food for shipwrecks on Bermuda's dangerous reefs.
his many Bermuda works are shown below.
Last Updated: May
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