Barbados History

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History[edit | edit source]

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America. It is 21 miles in length and up to 14 mi in width, covering an area of 167 sq miles. Barbados is outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.

Inhabited by Kalinago people since the 13th century, and prior to that by other Amerindians, Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appeared in a Spanish map in 1511. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. An English ship, arrived in Barbados in 1625; its men took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.As a wealthy sugar colony, it became an English centre of the African slave trade until that trade was outlawed in 1807, with final emancipation of slaves in Barbados occurring over a period of years from 1833.

On 30 November 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm with the British monarch as hereditary head of state. It has a population of 284,996 people, predominantly of African descent. Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be a part of the Caribbean.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1627 - The first settlement began Holetown consisting of 80 settlers and 10 English labourers.
1620–1640's - The majority of the labour was provided by European indentured servants, mainly English, Irish and Scottish. During the Cromwellian era in the 1650's this included a large number of prisoners-of-war, vagrants and people who were illicitly kidnapped, who were forcibly transported to the island and sold as servants. These last two groups were predominately Irish
1780 - A hurricane killed over 4,000 people on Barbados
1833 - At emancipation, the size of the slave population was approximately 83,000
1854 - A cholera epidemic killed over 20,000 inhabitants

  • Historians have written many histories of Barbados, including:
  • Davis, Nicholas Darnell. Cavaliers and Roundheads in Barbados, 1650-1652. Georgetown, British Guiana: Argosy Press, 1877. FHL Collection 1102990 Item 3; digital version of 1883 reprint at Google Books.
  • Ligon, Richard. A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes. London: Peter Parker, 1673. Digital version at DLOC - free.