Lucia's history is
turbulent....what more can be said?
page is under construction. Be aware that detailed references have
not yet been added.
||Pre 18th Century
|500 BC to 800 AD
||Saint Lucia was colonized for
the very first time around 500 BC by the Ciboneys, an Amerindian people originating
in Venezuela (Saint Lucia On-line). It is estimated that around AD 200 the
next settlers to arrive were the Arawak Indians, who were a peaceful
people, attempting to escape from the Caribs, a warrior
people. The Arawaks called Saint Lucia, "Iouanaloa",
Land of the Iguana or "there where the Iguana is found". The Caribs then called it
"Hiwanarau" and later, "Hewanorra", and
dominated the island by AD 800 (Ellis). There are well documented
artifacts and petrogliphic evidence, that give us some insight into this
period of Saint Lucian history. The book "Saint Lucia
Historical Sites" by Robert Devaux lists sites, monuments,
bridges, buildings, wildlife and much more. However, very little
remains of the culture of these original inhabitants, with the exception
of some knowledge of boat building, weaving and pottery, and language
influence (Saint Lucia On-Line).
|1499 - 1502 - 1504 -
||The actual discovery of the
island of Saint Lucia remains a mystery to date. It was originally
assumed that Saint Lucia was discovered by Christopher Columbus on 13th
December 1502, during his fourth voyage to the West Indies. However
it is now believed not to be the case, and that he in fact sailed around
Martinique. It has been suggested that the discovery of Saint
Lucia was made by Juan de la Cosa, who had sailed with Columbus on his
first (1492) and second (1493 - 1496) voyages. However, Juan de la
Cosa also failed to mention land in the area of Saint Lucia, and instead
is thought to have only sailed past Saint Lucia. However, on his map
of 1500 he shows an island in that vicinity that is named "El
Falcon", which is assumed to be Saint Lucia. It is unknown
which Spaniard gave the island the name "Santa Lucia",
named after the virgin who died in Sicily in AD 304, for her Christian
Carter et al
||Kind Ferdinand rules Spain. In a Spanish document entitled,
"Royal Decree authorizing the taking as slaves of the Caribs of
Trinidad and other islands and those who take them to hold them as
slaves", Saint Lucia is referred to as "Sancta Lucia", located
between Montenino (Martinique) and Saint Vincent.
||A globe in the Vatican dated
1520, refers to the island of "Saint Lucia". In the
early seventeenth century, some French nautical documents give the name
"Sainte Alouzie" and then about 40 years later, "Saint
||Around 1500, Pigeon Island is a pirate
(buccaneer) hideout to a
Norman Captain named Francois le Clerc. He has a wooden leg and is
known by the French as "Jamb de Bois". His other aliases
included Wooden Leg or Peg-Leg le Clerc. His is the earliest
known historic settlement of Pigeon Island. In 1554 he captures four galleons, and his Lieutenant, Jacques Soires, holds Havana ransom for
three weeks until the ransom money is paid.
||Around 1600, a fortified base
was established at Vieux Fort by the Dutch, which led to the current
Around 1625, the
Dutch built a fort in the same vicinity, which provided the name for the
present day town of Vieux Fort.
||The first attempt at European
settlement of Saint Lucia. En route to Guiana, the "Olive
Blossom" or "Oliph Blossome" under the command of Captain Nicholas St.John is blown off course and 67 English settlers land at Vieux Fort,
Saint Lucia. Unfortunately most were killed by the
Caribs within five weeks, although 19 are thought to have escaped from the
island in a Carib boat.
|1638 / 1639
|The British make another attempt
to colonize Saint Lucia. Three hundred men are led by Captain Judlee,
with a commission from Sir Thomas Warner, from the colony
of Saint Kitts. This attempt is more successful as the colony is
in place for about 18 months, but in August 1640 the Caribs launch attacks
on the British colonists, as a result of trouble on neighboring
islands. Eventually the colonists re either killed or
driven from the island by the Caribs.
| M. de Parquet, Lieutenant-General of Martinique, appointed M.
Rousselan as Governor of Saint Lucia. M. Rousselan, who married a
Carib, kept his post until his death in 1654. The French claim was
that Saint Lucia had been included in a grant made by Cardinal Richelieu
to M. d'Esnambus in October 1626. (UN Site).
||The French arrive, following the
purchase of Saint Lucia by two representatives of the French West India
Company. Eight years later disputes over the ownership of Saint
Lucia begin between the French and the English and continue until 1814, during
which time the island changes hands fourteen times.
the death of Rousselan, there were frequent changes in the Governorship of
the island until 1660, when local treaties were negotiated by the French
Governors of St. Christopher and Guadeloupe and the British Governors of
Nevis, Antigua, and Montserrat and between the French and Caribs. These
agreements, however, left Saint Lucia in the hands of the French (UN Site)
|On 6th April, the Caribs sell
Saint Lucia to
Chris Codrington et al (14 others), of Barbados (Jesse). In
1663, Francis Lord Willoughby arrives in Barbados, as Governor, and looks
to Saint Lucia as a place to send the surplus population of Barbados.
|The Peace of Breda placed Saint Lucia in the hands
of the French (UN site). The island is managed
by the French West India company until 1674 (Caribbean Magic)
||In 1672, the
British appoint William, Lord Willoughby, as Governor of Saint Lucia,
Barbados, Saint Vincent and Dominica, but the French still continued to
occupy Saint Lucia.
French West India Company administering the island, on behalf of the French Government, was
dissolved in 1674, Saint Lucia was annexed to the domain of the French
Crown and made a dependency of Martinique.
||In 1713, the
Peace of Utrecht is signed and a large number of French deserters arrive
in Saint Lucia.
||The French take possession of St.Lucia on
24th July, "prise de possession".
||The Duke of Montagu sponsors a colonization
attempt of Saint Lucia, sending a ship commanded by Nathaniel Uring.
They investigate Pigeon Island and find the land barren, with sandy soil
and so move on to the petit carenage.
|Under the Treaty of Choc
the French and English make
Neutral. The French troops and civil servants leave, but the
colonists from the last 25 years stay to work the estates. Serious
attempts are made to cultivate coffee and cocoa. Some British families (mainly Irish) are present
as the British are allowed to continue trading.
French = 400 men + 1600 women and children
British = 2 to 3 dozen (Jesse)
In addition to the French and British there are some
slaves and indentured servants. The land is mainly cultivated with
tobacco and cotton (Shingleton-Smith).
proclamation calls for the withdrawal of all the settlers, but is not
obeyed, as the people had been developing their estates and were not
willing to abandon them.
||Adventurers from Martinique come and settle
in the windward districts. Prior to this it was on the leeway side
of the island that was cultivated.
|A system of land grants is introduced and
there is a boom in the number of colonists, but interest dies away
(Jesse). Around this time Saint Lucia is a dependency of Martinique and
is therefore suppressed to ensure that Martinique remains the key French
possession in the Caribbean (Breen).
||The French develop the first town in
St.Lucia, named Soufriere (Breen). By 1780 there are twelve towns in
|The Treaty of Aix La Chapelle,
in 1748, again declared Saint Lucia neutral, but until 1756, the
island virtually remained a French colony, with de Longueville as
Martinique is captured by Rodney and de Monkton, a British detachment was
sent to Saint Lucia, and de Longueville surrendered. Saint Lucia became
British on February 25, 1762.
|The French take possession of
Saint Lucia on
10th February via "The Treaty of Paris". Fifteen years of peace follow (Jesse). Also
in 1763 several respectable French planters and their families emigrate to
Saint Lucia from Grenada and Saint Vincent (Breen). In 1763
enters the sugar trade much later than many of the other islands,
including Jamaica, Haiti and Barbados. The first sugar estate is
developed in Saint Lucia at Vieux Fort. Until that time Saint
agriculture focused on tobacco and cotton, neither of which brought
||Census indicates 2,018 whites, 633 coloured
and 12,795 blacks = 15,446
||Census indicates 2,199 whites, 960 free
people of colour and 13,782 blacks = 16,941
||Fr Raynal in his document, "Economic
and Population Status of Saint Lucia" indicates 2,300 whites, 1050
mulattoes and 16,000 slaves = 19,350
||Around 1774 President de Tascher (father of
Empress Josephine) holds the post of Intendent or Chief Civil
Administrator in Saint Lucia. Josephine is known as Mademoiselle
Tascher de la Pagerie. A Saint Lucian newspaper of 1831 indicates that
the Tascher family settled in Saint Lucia after the peace of 1763, and lived
on a small estate on Morne Paix-Bouche, where Josephine is born on 23rd
June 1763. The family reside at Morne Paix-Bouche until 1771 when
her father rises to the more prestigious role of "Intendent de
Martinique" and returns to Martinique with the family.
|France declared war on England, as their
part in assisting the American War of Independence. Admiral Samuel
Barrington attacks Saint Lucia on 13th December, starting the Battle of
Cul-de-Sac. After two weeks of
battles, and despite reinforcements from Admiral Count d'Estaing, Baron de Micoud surrenders to the British (Shingleton-Smith).
During this time there is also the battle at Vigie where General Meadows and 1,300
Northumberland Fusiliers defeat many thousand French troops
(Molloy). Saint Lucia is surrendered
to the British, and General Grant takes possession on behalf of the
English Crown (Link). The English establish a naval base at
Gros Islet, and heavily fortify Pigeon Island (Devaux).
||A devastating hurricane hits
Saint Lucia, which
destroys every church on the island except for the one at Dauphin
(Molloy). The hurricane hit on 11th and 12th October and was the
most destructive ever recorded in the West Indies, and crippled the
English fleet at Pigeon Island and Carenage Bay (Devaux)
||The Battle of the Saints is won on 12th
April, where Admiral George Rodney defeats the French Admiral Count de
Grasse. This battle is of the greatest significance in England's
naval supremacy in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in World politics of
the time. The battle is fought off the Isles des Saintes between
Guadeloupe and Dominica. The strategy is for the French fleet at
Fort Royal, Martinique, to join forces with the Spanish Armada in Haiti
and attack the English held Fort Charles, Jamaica, under the control of
Admiral Horatio Nelson. In so doing the English monopoly of the
Caribbean would be broken. It was essential that the French were
defeated before reaching Jamaica. Rodney kept watch from Pigeon
Island and on 8th April received the signal that the French had set sail
with more than 150 ships. Rodney was able to set sail within two
hours with 100 ships and near sunset on 12th April the "Ville de
Paris" struck her colours to Rodney, securing victory for the
|The French control Saint Lucia, following the
Treaty of Versailles. The island is under the administration of
||Around this time, "Castries"
is named after the Minister of the French Navy and the Colonies, Marechal
de Castries. He had been significant in the French retaining
their hold on Saint Lucia two years earlier. Prior to this, from
about 1700 the town was called "Le Carenage", as it
was situated at the far end of a creek to the right of the harbour.
Carenage refers to a place where boats can be careened. The town had
a reputation for being unhealthy (sickness, fever and death), and plans
were made for it to be moved to a more suitable site beneath Morne
Fortune. However the name "Le Carenage" was a
deterrent, and so from about 1770 the citizens were requesting a change of
name and "Castries" was finally chosen, despite the
disapproval of the Marechal.
|1789 to 1815
||The French revolutionary period
||Revolutionary activists enter and dominate
Saint Lucia, and civil unrest begins between slaves, mulattos and white
Robespierre begins his revolutionary
campaigns and the slaves are granted their freedom under the new
Republic, under the condition that they fight for the French against
the British. However, once they realize that slavery will be restored
under the English the slaves band together as "l'armee dans les
bois" in an attempt to secure their freedom, which begins a reign of
terror. The English call them "The Brigands" (Devaux).
In effect they are guerilla freedom fighters. This period becomes
known as the Brigand War or La
Guerre des Bois (Gaspar et al). Leonard Devaux has a document dated 20th
February, with signatures, where the planters of Saint Lucia welcome the
Gaspar et al
||General Ricard is Governor
(Jesse). Having been sent by the National Convention of France
he arrives in Saint Lucia on 3rd February 1793, and the
following day, he promulgated the Decree for the Abolition of Slavery in
the French Antilles. Ricard
was also responsible for giving Republican names to all the island's towns
and villages (UN site). Also between 1793 and 1801 about 45, 000 British soldiers die from a new type of Yellow Fever
(Gaspar et al)
Gaspar et al
|1794 to 1797
||"A Reign of Terror".
Revolutionary tribunals and death by guillotine. A guillotine was
set up in the square in Soufriere.
|On April 4, 1794, British Colours
were hoisted at Morne Fortune. The
surrender of the island sent many French ex-slaves and soldiers to the
woods, from where they launched attacks on the
British garrison, which, was also affected
by illness. The attacks were aided by reinforcements of Republican
troops and by June 1795 the British evacuated.
|French republicans control Saint
following the British Military evacuation due to strong republican and
slave resistance. French Royalist planter families also flee the
island (Shingleton-Smith). The trouble reaches Anse La Raye, which
is pillaged and burned. Only the walls of the 1762 chapel are left
standing, and all records and documents are lost (Molloy). 1795 is
one of the bloodiest in Saint Lucia's history, with the Anglo-French
conflict at its worst. In
January 1795 British General Vaughan sent over the Black Carolina Corps
to try and dislodge the ‘revolted
Negro’s.’ (Gaspar et al).
Gaspar et al
|British control Saint Lucia, following the
defeat of French republicans. The Governor is Sir John Moore from
Castries is destroyed by fire (Breen).
The Inniskilling monument commemorates the capture of
Morne Fortuné from French revolutionary forces by an Irish regiment, the
27th foot, Royal Inniskilling Fusilers, under Brigadier - General John
Moore, on May 24th, 1796. At the end of the war the defenders or Brigands,
mostly ex-slaves, laid down their arms and became prisoners of war.
The Brigands, with the help of the French, were in control of the island
after defeating Brigadier -General Stewart and his troops at Vieux Fort
and Rabot. On April 12, 1796, Lieutenant - General Ralph Abercombie
led his forces to recapture the island. He was successful after many
attempts to defeat the defenders at Morne Fortune (St.Lucia National
The defeat marked the end for the Republicans, who
eventually give up before the end of 1797, when Sir John Moore returns to
England because of illness and is replaced by Colonel James Drummond (UN
|| Brigadier General
George Prevost took over and executed anyone
dealing with the enemy (France)
. This sees an end to the Brigand
wars and slavery is
re-established by the English.
|Gaspar et al
|The French control Saint Lucia, following the
Treaty of Amiens.
|The British take possession of
Saint Lucia (Jesse). This was to be the last battle for Saint Lucia
between the French and the British, as Saint Lucia remained British until
it was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1814.
||In May an act is passed whereby the traffic
and purchase of slaves from Africa is abolished. This is the prelude
to the apprenticeship system and emancipation.
||On 6th April a smaller part of Castries is
again destroyed by fire.
||The Treaty of Paris. Saint Lucia is permanently ceded to Britain, at
the close of the Napoleonic period (Molloy). A slave registry is established in
Saint Lucia (Jesse).
||The "Great Hurricane" hits
||Local enactment of 29th August considers the
French who settled before 1814 as British subjects and are entitled to
hold offices of trust. Those settled after 1814 are aliens, and
cannot be employed in public office, although this is not strictly
||English commercial law
||The office for registration of deeds & mortgages
(hypothéques) is established on 7th July.
|1833 to 1844
||Many estates are dispossessed by judicial
sale, due to debt, between 1st January 1833 and 1st January 1844.
||On 1st August, all slaves were emancipated
but had to undergo a period as "apprentice laborers", which was
expected to be six years. At this time there were
13,291 slaves in Saint Lucia (Jesse and Carter et al). The period of
apprenticeship meant that slaves still have to work three-quarters of the
time for their old masters, and did not go well, hence the period was
reduced to four years (Carter et al). After 1834 there was also an
influx of refugees from Martinique (Breen).
Carter et al
||Emancipation day on 1st August for the
British islands. The French and Danish did not free their slaves
until 1848. Freedom for other slaves was as follows: Dutch in 1863,
Spanish in Puerto Rico in 1873, and Spanish in Cuba in 1886. In
comparison, the slaves in the southern states of America were freed in
1865, following the civil war.
||Yellow fever kills many of the soldiers of
the 33rd regiment, stationed at Pigeon Island
||With the loss of slave labour it was
essential that immigrants were brought to the Caribbean to compensate,
which included the Irish, Scottish, Northern Europeans, Portuguese, East
Indians and Chinese. Various schemes were introduced, whereby
indentured labourers had their passages paid and after five or ten years
were offered a passage home or if they agreed to stay, a sum of money or a
land grant. This system of immigration ended in 1917.
||Carter et al
||A cholera epidemic begins, lasting till end
March 1855. Marriages in Castries increase as a result. e.g.
In Castries, in a 12 month period there are 173 marriages as compared with
the usual 35. There is a widespread "fear of the Lord",
and so irregular unions are regularized by the Church.
||The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny take over
the convent school in Castries, which was established by the "Filles
||On 18th December the first postage stamps
are issued in Saint Lucia
||The coaling industry begins, as
the first steamships calls at Port Castries. Castries was to become
a major coaling port for
||Science article in Harper's new monthly
magazine, outlines the problem of poisonous snakes in Saint Lucia and the
experimental introduction of the mongoose to assist in eradication.
||Harper & Bros, 1871
||Two priests of the Chavagnes or FMI Fathers
arrive. Fr Ronard and Fr Tapon.
||Jesse, Oulines of St.Lucia History
||Victoria Hospital is opened in the same year
as the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, after whom the hospital is named.
||On 6th August the covered market in opened
in Castries, with its familiar clock and water fountain. Also in
1894 the foundation stone for the Castries Roman Catholic Church is
laid. On 5th May 1957, it becomes the Cathedral of the Immaculate
Conception, following the appointment of the Very Reverend Charles Gachet
as the first Bishop of Castries.
||Yellow fever epidemic strikes the English
troops at Morne Fortune and they vacate to Pigeon Island as a
precautionary measure until 1904.
||On 18th October the first kitson light is
put up on Bridge Street heralding the era of street lighting.
||Late this year the West India Regiment
leaves Saint Lucia. Many of the military buildings are decommissioned
and available for sale or abandoned. See photo of the "cow
||On 16th February Saint Lucia is shaken by an
earthquake, which is much stronger in the North. Many buildings are
||The Panama Canal opens
||In December 1918 there is a serious outbreak
of influenza. The churches are closed in an attempt to prevent
||The coal boom ends, and trade
begins to slow. Finally in the 1940's the introduction of oil and
diesel to fuel ships ends the coal trade.
||The banana export trade begins.
||On 14th and 15th May Castries is again
destroyed by fire. This time much of the business sector is
||On 31st March Josset Agnes Huchinson signs a
lease with the government for Pigeon Island. She is forced to relinquish
the lease at various times but always returns, finally retiring to England
||On 19th and 20th June sees the destruction
by fire, of all but a small part of Castries. Over 2,000 people are
||The right to vote is given to
Saint Lucian citizens over the age of 21. Also a new constitution
for the Windward Islands is enacted, where Grenada is the seat of
||In January Brother Canice establishes
St.Mary's College at the disused Officer's Mess at Vigie.
||Saint Lucia joins the West
Indies Federation, but this collapses in 1962
||The beginning of a new
constitution, where the first Ministers of Government are appointed.
The constitution lasts until 1967, when Britain grants Saint Lucia full
||Saint Lucia achieves full
independence from Britain on 22nd February. A member of the British
Commonwealth with a resident Governor-general appointed by the Queen, and
remains a stable parliamentary democracy.