Tobago History (3/6/2015)

Tobago.Past

  • Arawak-Carib-Dancers-History-of-TrinidadPrior to the arrival of Europeans Tobago was most likely inhabited by Cariband/or Taino (Arawak) people (Native Americans).
  • 1498 Columbus sighted the island and called it Bellaforma, for almost 100 years there was no recorded history of Tobago
  • 1517 Start of slave trade to Trinidad by Spain through the Atlantic slave trade. The origins of most Tobagonians go back to the groups of the  Igbo, Kongo and Malinke
  • 1580 British seamen visited the island and reported that it was uninhabited.
  • 1608 James I, King of England claimed Tobago
  • 1614 Spain tried to establish trade with the Island
  • 1627 Captain J Gijez on his return journey to Holland from Brazil visited Tobago. He reported that the island was uninhabited and would be a good place to establish a settlement
  • 170px-Charles_I_(Prince_of_Wales)1628 Charles I, King of England granted Tobago to Phillip, Earl of Montgomery, who later became Earl of Pembroke.
  • 1629 Jan De Moor, Burgomaster of Flushing sent an expedition of Dutchmen, who made a settlement called New Walcheren, (probably Plymouth). Disease and Indians wiped it out.
  • 1632 Jan De Moor sent more settlers to the Island
  • 1636 Dutch settlers attacked by Spaniards from Trinidad. Cornelis, Jan De Moor’s son was captured and the settlers driven out.
  • 1637 English Puritans from Barbados attempted to settle, most of them were killed by Puritans, those who managed to escape sailed away to Providence Island, Bahamas.
  • 1639 The Earl of Warwick who had purchased Pembroke’s rights sent an expedition which was attacked and destroyed by Indians. James, Duke of Courland, (Kurland, Latvia)said to have been the Godson of James I, King of England, who had been granted the island by King Charles I of England sent an expedition to Tobago. The settlers were at peace with the Indians but fever wiped out the settlement
  • tobacco platation1642 James, Duke of Courland sent another expedition. A settlement was made at Courland bay. Later in the same year the Earl of Warwick made another settlement. Tobacco and indigo were planted. Indians again routed the settlers, the few who managed to escape went to Surinam (Dutch Guiana).
  • 1650 Courlanders driven out by Indians, survivors went to Pomeroon (British Guiana)
  • 1654 Third attempt to settle the island made by the Duke of Courland, more than 100 families arrived from Kurland (Courland), Europe. In this year Adrien and Cornelis Lampsins arrived from Holland. They attempted a settlement in another part of the Island. This led to a dispute between the Courlanders and Dutch settlers. The matter was reported to the States General in Europe, who supported the Courlanders against the Dutch. Duke James then became the undisputed master of the island. However he was seized in Europe by the King of Sweden and taken to Riga. Dutch planters who were still in Tobago surrounded the Courlanders who surrendered to them.
  • 1662 James, Duke of Courland released. Dutch settlers now obtained a grant of Tobago from Louis XIV, of France. The French West India Company surrendered their rights and the French created the Lampsins Barons of Tobago.
  • 1664 Charles II of England, regranted Tobago to the Duke of Courland, who at this time did not attempt another settlement.
  • 1666 Four English vessels under the command of Captain Poyntz captured the Dutch Settlement, he took 150 prisoners and left a small garrison which shortly afterwards was evicted by the French from Grenada, who then abandoned the island
  • 1667 The Dutch appointed a Governor  (Peter Constant) to reform the settlement
  • 1672 The English under Sir Tobias Bridges captured the Dutch Governor, took 400 prisoners, destroyed settlement and then abandoned the Island
  • 1676 The Dutch began another settlement with a large number of negroes captured from the French in Cayenne and Marie Galante.
  • 1677 In March the Dutch Admiral, Binkes defeated the French Fleet in Roodklyp Bay (Rockly Bay). Towards the end of the year the French returned, captured the Dutch Governor, destroyed the settlement then abandoned the island
  • 1678 Duke of Courland tried in vain to get settlers for Tobago
  • 1679 By the treaty of Nimeguen Tobago was restored to the Dutch
  • poyntz1681 Duke of Courland again attempted to settle in the Island. He granted a title to some London Merchants headed by Captain John Poyntz. When all arrangements had been made the Privy Council in London help up sailing pending negotiations for a Treaty
  • 1687 In spite of the fact that the British Government had declared that the grant made to the Duke of Courland was null and void; he made further attempts to settle the Island. At about the same time English and French Companies tried to establish themselves.
  • 1698 H.M.S Speedwell with soldiers on board was sent from Barbados to suppress pirates who had established themselves in Tobago. The British Government on hearing that preparations were being made for a settlement under the supervisions of the Duke of Courland, to be held by Sir William Waller, issued orders to stop all vessels leaving England
  • 1699 Courland’s grant again declared null and void by the British Government, at the same time the right of the British Crown to Tobago and St. Lucia was affirmed.
  • 1702 Petitions from Captain Poyntz and other made to the British Crown praying to be allowed to settle Tobago were refused.
  • 1704 Further petitions refused, the Island then became no-man’s-land.
  • 1705 A French Squadron used Tobago as a base for attacking English West Indian islands.
  • 1714 Ayris, called the Paramount Indian Chief sent from Barbados to Tobago, where he was called the Governor. In 1715 he appealed to the English Governor of Barbados for protection against rebellious negroes. He was assured of British protection. British claimed sovereignty against the French.
  • 1721 The Governor of Barbados authorized to make grants of land in Tobago for the cultivation of cacao, indigo, etc., but no sugar for this would be against the interests of Barbados.
  • 1721 H.M.S Winchelsea captured Captain Finn with a party of pirates on the Island, which was now a Pirate’s Nest.
  • 1725 The Government of Barbados reported that the French were still claiming Tobago.
  • 1725 British Government authorized the Governor of Barbados to maintain England’s right but to avoid a clash with the French.
  • King of Poland1731 Ferdinand, Duke of Courland supported by the King of Poland tried to regain Tobago. In the same year he offered to sell Tobago to the Swedes, but the Swedish Ambassador in England when he made enquiries regarding Courland’s rights to the Island was told that Courland had no rights and at the same time wanted the King of Sweden to stay away from Tobago.
  • 1733 Swedes attempted a settlement, they landed 25 families and slaves, they were driven out by the Indians.
  • 1748 Marquis de Caylus, French Governor of Martinique, attempted a settlement, landed Troops and built a fort. The British remonstrated to the French Government who disowned the Marquis’s act. English and French Governments agreed to declare the Island neutral, subjects to both nations left the Island the Fort was destroyed.
  • 1756 Start of the Seven Years’ War  which lasted till 1763.
  • 1762 English captured Tobago, it was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763.Map produced following the Treaty of Paris
  • 1764 T. Alexander Brown was appointed Lt. Governor in November, the only inhabitants were a few Indians and French Turtlers, there was much valuable land available. In December General Robert Melvill was appointed Governor General of Grenada, Tobago, St. Vincent and Dominica, he resided in Grenada.Land Sales Proclamation issued. First record of land was to James Simpson, Lot 1., 500 acres at Courland Bay. At this time Tobago was divided into Parishes.
  • 1766  In April the First Session of the Legislative Council and Assembly was held at Georgetown, Barbados (Studley Park), where the first town was established but never finished.
  • 1769 Seat of the Government removed to Scarborough, which was considered to be more suitable place. A house at Orange Hill was issued as the residence of the Lt. Governor.
  • John Paul Jones1770 Insurrection of slaves at Queen’s Bay. First shipment of sugar from Tobago left fromGednet Clarke’s Estate, in St. Mary’s Parish ( Studley Park). Population 209 white men, 3090 negroes. Land cleared 5,084 acres, granted 24,999 acres. In this year John Paul, who later changed his name to Jones, visited Tobago, where he was brought before the Court of Vice-Admiralty and charged with ill-treating his ship’s carpenter. (John Paul Jones was born in Scotland in 1747, his father was a gardener. He died in poverty in Paris and was buried there).He is regarded as the founder of the U.S Navy. His Mast Head is said to have been the first to have flown the “Stars and Stripes”
  • 1771 Two insurrections of slaves both put down by the Militia.
  • 1774 Another insurrection of slaves
  • 1775 Cultivation of sugar cane abandoned on account of devastation by millions of ants. Cotton was planted in its place. Population about 2,300 whites, 1,050 free people of colour, 10,800 slaves.
  • Execution of Jan Bont (Privateer)1777 Lt. Governor Major William Young, killed in a duel with P. Franklyn. AmericanPrivateers (list) raided Tobago, they came in armed boats and got away with whatever they could get.
  • 1778 An American Squadron tried to capture Tobago but was driven off by the H.M.S Yarmouth. It was at about this time that guns were mounted on estates for their protection, which may account for the number still to be found on the island, the people raised money for them to defend themselves.
  • 1779 Grenada captured by the French. British Governor General taken prisoner.
  • 1780 Population 11,087. Exports cotton 2,619,00 lbs., Indigo 27,000 lbs.
  • 1781 The first clergyman of the Established Church began his work in Tobago. Church Registers kept from this date.
  • 1781 In June  the French captured Tobago. Lt. Governor Ferguson taken prisoner.
  • 1782 Cotton Hill (French Fort) fortified. French Government ordered all proprietors to produce titles to their lands within a month.
  • 1783 Tobago ceded to the French by the Treaty of Versailles (Paris). Philbert de Blanchard appointed Governor by the French.
  • 1784 Arthur Count Dillan, an Irishman appointed Governor by the French.
  • 1785 Planters unable to produce title deeds. Crown lands to be sold only to those of French nationality. King of France demanded annual free gift from the Island. 336 persons who formerly swore allegiance to Britain now swore fealty to France, hoping thus to retain their lands.
  • 1787 Scarborough renamed Port Louis, the Fort on Scarborough Hill called Fort Castries.
  • 1789/90 First Moravian Mission established.
  • 1790 Mutiny of French troops, Scarborough destroyed by fire.
  • 1790 In August a hurricane passed over the Islands causing considerable damage.
  • 1793 On April 15th Tobago captured by the British. The island then became a separate Government with he own Governor, a Legislative Council appointed by the British Crown and a representative House termed the General Assembly.
  • 1794 Militia formed.
  • 1795 Corps of Black Jaegers formed made up of 100 trusted slaves under white officers for internal protection. Proclamation requiring all male inhabitants to take oath of allegiance to the British Crown, almost all the French inhabitants refused, they were then regarded as prisoners of war.
  • 1798 Sugar cane again in cultivation, cotton and indigo cultivation not considered so important. At this time negroes were allowed to trade freely, a great number were thus able to buy their freedom.
  • 1801 Threatened insurrection of slaves averted by the prompt action of Brigadier General H. L. Carmichael, who on hearing of the plot seized 30 ringleaders. One he hanged on the signal staff at Fort King George, the body was lowered and raised 29 times. This put an end to all ideas of insurrection.
  • Dec: 1800 Grave shortage of imported food. Island’s crops failed, causing widespread alarm. People unable to feed themselves or their slaves. No Christmas supplies available.
  • 1802 By the Treaty of Amiens, Tobago was surrendered to the French. General Sabuguet was appointed Governor. It was during his term in office that the Council and General Assembly voted unanimously in favour of Boneparte being elected for Consul for life. It was also decided that the Constitution and laws should not be changed.
  • 1803 British troops landed at Arnos Vale, marched to Mount Grace, from there they were shown the way to the Fort by a slave from the Whim estate, called George Winchester, who was rewarded by being given his freedom and £30 to set himself up in business. The French surrendered without resistance. On June 30th the Articles of Capitulation were signed at Providence House. In July the Proclamation was issued allowing imported provisions and other goods to be brought in to Tobago in American vessels.
  • Nelson1805 Short before his death Nelson is in Caribbean water looking for the French Fleet. He anchored in Courland Bay where he remained overnight. Plans for defence of the Island were drawn up.
  • 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade in all British Dominions. At the time there were 15,000 slaves in Tobago.
  • 1812 An Indian, called Louis with his family of 20 persons were the only remaining settlers on the North Coast.
  • 1814 By the Treaty of Ghent the War between Great Britain and the United States came to an end. Tobago ceded to Great Britain by 1st Treaty of Paris. This was the last time time out of 33 times that Tobago changed hands (which is a record amount in Caribbean history).
  • 1816 Tobago’s Motto Pulchrior evenit adopted (“Pulchrior Evenit” (Latin) “She becomes more beautiful”)
  • 1816 Act passed for the building of St. Andrew’s Protestant Church, Scarborough. The Market Place in Scarborough required for public purposes, all buildings removed.
  • 1818 Society of Weslyans established a Mission.
  • Spotted Deer introduced from the Spanish Main.
  • 1819 St. Andrew’s Church Scarborough consecrated by the Rector, the Rev. W. S. Wilson.
  • 1821 Foundation Stone of Court House and Public Office laid at the market Place. This building was considered to be one of the best examples of Georgian Architecture in the West Indies. Recently alterations have been made which have ruined the character of the building which has lost most of its original characteristics.
  • 1822 Scarborough declared a Free Port. Agriculture in a poor state.
  • 1826 New Wesleyan Chapel opened in Scarborough.
  • 1828 New Government House at Mt. William commended.
  • 1833 Tobago ceased to form a separate Government and became part of the Windward Islands with Governor General at Barbados and a Lt. Governor in Tobago. Agricultural Society formed in this year.
  • Protector of Slaves Office (Trinidad)1834 Emancipation of Slaves. The apprentice system under which slaves were bound to their former masters for 4 to 6 years according as they were praedial or non-praedial came into force. All children under 6 years of age unconditionally free. Slavery persisted in Islands which were not Bristish for a long time. In French and Danish colonies until 1848, Dutch 1863, Puerto Rico – Spanish 1873, Cuba 1886. The transition period passed peacefully in Tobago.
  • 1834 Scotch Presbyterian Church. Provision made for a clergyman of the Church of Scotland. Majority of white population Scottish. Meadals presented by the Agricultural Society to persons voted to have produced the best sugar.
  • 2011-81835 Obeah being practiced in secret (Obeah history)
  • Presbyterian churches being built.
  • 1835/36 Schools erected and opened.
  • 1836 Permission granted to apprentices to hold revels and dancings late into the night.
  • 1837 Court House at the disposal of Presbyterian Church for Sunday service whilst church is being built.
  • 1838 Unconditional freedom granted to all who had been made apprentices after the abolition of slavery. Many left the land and became fishermen. There was discontent and a shortage of labour, labourers were not disposed to take possession of unoccupied land and would not allow their children to cultivate the soil, this caused many estates to go out of cultivation. Education considered necessary and schools were opened.
  • 1839/42 Crops poor.
  • 1840 Branch of W.I Bank opened in Scarborough.
  • 1841 Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. began calling at Tobago.
  • 1843 Light House erected at Bacolet Point. During the period of Apprenticeship few marriages took place, now frequent and an occasion of festivity. The return of the wedding ring to the clergyman (divorce) very rare. Education tending to diminish the practice of Obeah.
  • 1843 In an effort to improve agriculture, Mr. Cruickshank of Prospect Estate introduced the MetayerSystem, this was a profit sharing system.
  • 1845 It was adopted throughout the colony. later was modified and applied to cacao as well as sugar production.
  • 1847 A disastrous hurricane preceded by earthquake and accompanied by a thunderstorm passed over the island. Private property destroyed valued at £150,000. This was the last disaster recorded in Tobago. The British Government granted a loan of £50,000 for sufferers
  • 1850 Exports: 47,730cwt sugar. 111,684 gals rum. 3255 cwt molasses. Cultivation of cotton advocated
  • 1851 Population 14,378. In this year 292 liberated Africans sent free of expenses from St Helena by the British Government to settle in Tobago.
  • 1854 British troops withdrawn from Fort King George, the Islanders left to make their own arrangments for defence and the preservation of law and order. However the British Government promised to keep a vessel of war within call in case it should be required.
  • 1854 Police Force augmented and armed Volunteer Corps established. Plot to destroy Scarborough discovered. It was promoted by immigrant negroes from Barbados.
  • 1855 Imperial (British) Customs Officers replaced by Colonial Officers under the Treasurer. An Executive Privy Council introduced consisting of 1 member of the Legislative Council, 2 elected members. Legislative Assembly appointed by Lt. Governor
  • Encumbered Estate Act1858 Tobago adapted the Encumbered Estates Act of 1854. Commissioners were appointed in London to with applications for the sale of land could be made either by creditor or owner. Expenses reduced from the proceeds of the sale, an equitable distribution of the surplus was made to all creditors when completed. An entirely new grant, hereafter, unassailable was issued to the property. Legal expenses obviated , higher prices for estates than otherwise could have been possible. Estate passed to those with capital to work them or who were prepared to sell in small lots.
  • 1860 Authority of imperial Post Office Department vested in Executive Government of Tobago
  • 1861 Population: 15410. Exports sugar 59052cwt. Rum 109047 gals. Molasses 1207cwt
  • 1862 225 more liberated Africans arrive from St Helena to augment the labour force
  • 1865 Sale and export of cotton to be regulated. This year 23195lbs were exported
  • 1870 Italian Roman Catholic Mission set up at Mason Hall
  • 1871 Franchise extended to £5, to holders of property.
  • 1872 Concurrent Endowment Act passed by which the Church of England ceased to be the established Church of the Colony.Annual grants of money made to Anglican Church, United Brethren (Moravians) and Wesleyans.
  • 1874 Single Chamber Act passed by which legislative Assembly consisted of 6 nominated and 8 elected members. Privy Council reduced to 2 members
  • 1876 Riots in Windward District
  • 1877 Under a new Constitution Act, Tobago was administered as a Crown Colony and the elective principle abolished. last meeting of the Privy Council held in December.
  • 1880 British Government ceases to provide salary for a Lt. Governor. The offices of Administrator and Colonial Secretary combined. Population 18051.  Exports: Sugar 65467 cwt. Rum 26050 gals. Molasses 7780cwt.
  • 1882 Labour very scarce, there were 32 distilleries but only 17 working.
  • 1883 Tobago had no public debt. Agriculture Society held its first show, the opening day was declared a public holiday. At this time two thirds of the Island was covered with forest. Royal Commission (Crossman Commission) arrived from London, they were sent to the West Indies to enquire into conditions in Tobago and the other islands.
  • 1884 News was received that the Firm Messrs. A.M Gillespie & Co., in London, had stopped payment. For many years this firm had carried on business in Tobago as Commission Merchants and Ship Owners. Year by year their connection had grown close and extended, they became estate owners and consignees. At the time of this crisis they virtually had the monopoly of agriculture and shipping interest, owning about four fifths of the sugar estates. It was from them that estates obtained advances to pay labour during the year until sugar had been shipped. This brought about the financial collapse of Tobago. There was no other industry to take the place of sugar. Estates were sold, prices were attractive, 10/- per acre. Peasants took advantage of this, which left little labour for estates.
  • 1885 The Commission that Grenada, St Vincent, St Lucia and Tobago be made into one colony, if acceptable to the majority of the inhabitants. This met with much opposition so the matter was dropped. Later in the year Barbados was made a separate colony and the other islands became the Windward Group with a Governor in Grenada. Each island retained its Legislature presided over by a Resident Administrator. Establishment of a Botanic Station proposed, it was established about 1899.
  • 1885 Sugar crisis in the West Indies. Tobago in a state of depression due to lack of cultivation of the soil, capital, immigrant labour. Modern methods necessary for advancement and development.
  • 1886 Ebenezer Chapel built
  • 1888 By an Order in Council dated October 20th 1888, Tobago was made subordinate to Trinidad as from January 1st 1889, to be administered by a Resident Commissioner, who was ex-officio a member of the Trinidad Legislative Council and appointed by the Governor of Trinidad
  • 1899 From January 1st, Tobago became a ward of Trinidad under Governor Sir Hubert Jerningham
  • 1900 First telephones installed
  • 1921 First motor bus plied route between Scarborough and Roxborough.
  • 1922 Public Library established
  • 1923 Royal Mail Steamships discontinued calls. Coastal Steamer service taken over by Government. Child Welfare League formed
  • 1925 First pipe borne water supply inaugurated. First secondary school – Bishop’s High School started Heirs of Sir WIlliam Ingram give Little Tobago to Government. Government bought Mt St George Estate from Baroness Heller. Government institutions at Fort King George first lit by electricity
  • 1962 Independence from the United Kingdom
  • 1976 Republic

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