Amidst all the hazy notions about the early history of Saint Lucia,
the one undisputed fact is that the first attempt at a settlement on
the island was made on August 23, 1605, by 67 persons, under the command
of Captain Nicholas St. John, who landed from the Oliph Blossome, on
the ship being driven off course on its way to Guiana.
Soon after the boat's departure from the island, the colonists were
attacked by the Caribs. After some days of heavy fighting, the 19 settlers
who were still alive had to take to the sea in an open boat.
The recognition of December 13 seems to have sprung from an old French
tradition that the island was discovered by certain shipwrecked French
seamen, who, it is believed, landed on December 13, and named it after
the Virgin Martyr of Syracuse. Doubt on this theory has, however, been
cast by Abbe J. Rennard in his "Histoire Religieuse des Antilles
Francaises". He contends that the island was discovered by the
Spaniards, but admits the impossibility of naming a definite date for
GRANT TO CARLISLE
More than 20 years were to elapse before "Saint Lucia" received
a place on any document. This time it was included among the islands
in the grant of territories made to the Earl of Carlisle. The Earl,
however, made no effort to colonize this possession and it was not until
1638 that one Captain Judlee (in some sources referred to as Major Judge
or Jadlee), with a commission from Sir. Thomas Warner arrived in Saint
Lucia with about 300 men. For about 18 months, the settlement prospered
and grew, without any major misunderstandings with the natives.
But the period of peace came to an end, in August 1640, when the Caribs,
because of trouble encountered in another island, attacked Captain Judlee's
settlement. In a bitter fight, motivated by revenge, and with Caribs
from neighboring islands assisting their kith and kin, many hundreds
were killed, and the very few settlers who survived had to flee the
island. These two experiences, quite understandably, caused the British
to steer clear of the island for more than two decades.
FRENCH STAKE CLAIM
In the meantime, however, the French developed an interest in Saint
Lucia, claiming that it had been included in a grant made by Cardinal
Richelieu to M. d'Esnambus in October 1626. Despite this claim, it was
17 years before 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.
Following 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
In 1663, Francis Lord Willoughby arrived in Barbados, as Governor,
and he immediately started to look for somewhere to send that island's
surplus population. He didn't set his eyes far off - he turned to the
neighboring island of Saint Lucia. The intention of Lord Willoughby
and the Barbadians soon came to the knowledge of the French; they immediately
informed the British Government of the title deeds of the Heirs du Parquet
and they put Saint Lucia into a state of defense by erecting fortifications
along Choc Bay.
The French claim was ignored, however, and the following year, more
than 1000 Barbadians, accompanied by 600 Caribs, invaded Saint Lucia.
The invaders met no resistance and, after surrounding the fort and calling
upon the Governor, M. LeSieur Bonnard, to surrender, they took possession
of the island. The Barbadian settlement did not last long, and by February
16, 1666, it was abandoned, following sickness, attacks by the Caribs,
and many other difficulties.
Learning of the abandonment the French immediately returned, but they
were quickly driven out by Francis Lord Willoughby, with forces from
Barbados. The following year, the Peace of Breda placed Saint Lucia
in the hands of the French.
The British soon made another bid for the island. In 1672, they appointed
William, Lord Willoughby, as Governor of Saint Lucia as well as Barbados,
St. Vincent and Dominica; but the French still continued to occupy the
When the 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. This action
did not deter the British in their efforts to get possession of the
island, and in 1686, they made another unsuccessful attempt - their
ship of 50 guns was driven off.
The Saint Lucia colony of Frenchmen remained unmolested by the British
until 1700, when Governor Grey of Barbados, by orderof the King of England,set
claim to Saint Lucia, and informed d'Amblimont, Commander-in-Chief of
the French Antilles, that he had been instructed to expel the French
settlers. Grey was informed that any attempt to take the island would
be repelled; and this announcement put an immediate end to the whole
In 1713, the Peace of Utrecht was signed and a large number of French
deserters arrived in Saint Lucia. The colony became so large that Marechal
Count d'Estrees applied to the Regent of France for a grant of the island;
this was upheld through Letters Patent issued in August 1718. The British
objected to the grant by the Duke of Orleans, but no military opposition
was immediately mounted.
On July 24, the following year, d'Estrees organised a ceremony to mark
his achievement and a Mass was offered in honour of Saint Lucy.
D'Estrees did not long remain in undisputed possession, and on June
20, 1722, the island, along with St. Vincent, was granted by the King
of England to John, Duke of Montague, who, at a cost of 40,000 pounds
sterling, fitted out an expedition, and appointed Mr. Nathaniel Uring
as his Deputy-Governor in the islands.
On September 10, the same year, Uring left Britain with a large flotilla.
He reached Barbados on December 7, and arrived at Saint Lucia nine days
later, to set up a settlement at Petit Carenage. Local French opposition
was strong and very soon a warning came from Martinique that unless
Uring and his settlers made a withdrawal within 15 days, they would
be forced to do so. Uring tried to get help from British warships in
the area, but this was not forthcoming. Faced with heavy landings of
French troops, the Duke of Montague's Deputy-Governor immediately realized
that the safest course was to leave the island.
A formal treaty was drawn up between the representatives of the colony
and the French authorities in Martinique. The articles of the Treaty
of Choc as the document was named, provided that the French should leave
Saint Lucia after the British had done so; and the island should be
placed in a neutral state until the metropolitan governments of France
and Britain had taken a definite decision on its future allegiance.
COLONISTS IN CHARGE
The withdrawal of the French troops did not result in the end of occupancy
by the nationals of France, for the French colonists remained and continued
to work their estates. Very soon, they were joined by other settlers
from Martinique. At the same time, though, there were also a few British
families, mostly Irish, on the island.
In 1735, a proclamation, calling for the withdrawal of all the settlers
was issued. It was not obeyed, for the people had been developing their
estates and were not willing to abandon them.
The next formal attempt to settle Saint Lucia was made in 1744 when
the Governor-General of Martinique, the Marquis de Champigny, took advantage
of the war beween England and France and established a garrison under
the command of M.de Longueville.
The Treaty of Aix La Chapelle, in 1748, again declared Saint Lucia
neutral, but it was stipulated that the claims for the island should
be examined. There was no evacuation, however, and until 1756, the island
virtually remained a French colony, (with de Longueville as Civil Commandant).
In 1756, England and France were once again at war, and more troops
were sent to Saint Lucia by the Governor-General of the French West
It was not until 1762 that the British decided to again occupy the
island, after the capture of Martinique by Rodney and de Monkton. A
detachment was sent to Saint Lucia, and de Longueville soon surrendered,
and Saint Lucia passed into British possession on February 25, 1762.
But on February 10 the following year, the Treaty of Paris put Saint
Lucia back into the hands of the French.
For the next 15 years, there was virtual peace in Saint Lucia. During
the period, estates were developed and the fortifications were strengthened
with the building of massive forts on Morne Fortune. The capital was
also removed from Petit Carenage and built on its present site - but
the time of undisturbed peace had not yet fully come.
Towards the end of 1778 orders were issued from London to Sir Henry
Clinton, who was then stationed in New York. He was instructed to send
reinforcements to the British commanders in the West Indies to be employed
"in the conquest of Saint Lucia."
On December 13, 1778, Admiral Barrigton's reinforced squadron, with
12 transports and more than 5,000 men, entered Grand Cul-de-Sac Bay,
and that same evening, Brigadier General Meadows and Prescot effected
The Chavelier de Micoud, who was then in command of the island with
only a few officers and about 60 men at Morne Fortune, was quickly driven
out, although he had been able to muster two companies of militia among
Withdrawing to Morne Paix Bouche, de Micoud sent vessels to Martinique
to inform Admiral Count d'Estaing of the attack. The French Admiral
promptly responded to the appeal and arrived at the island late in the
evening. However, he decided to wait until next day to start his attack
upon the invaders.
This attack started early but on three occasions it was repulsed. Despite
the superiority of his forces d'Estaing eventually withdrew, after ten
days of fighting. The colony was then surrendered to the British, and
General Grant took possession on behalf of the English Crown. Two years
later, on October 10-11, Saint Lucia was struck by a hurricane, gravely
affecting its agriculture and trade, and causing many estates to be
In May 1781, the French made another attempt to wrest Saint Lucia from
the British. With 25 men-of-war, Admiral Count de Grasse sailed from
Martinique to attack the island. He was seconded by the Marquis de Bouille
who, with a large body of troops, was able to make a landing at Gros
Islet. But their presence was only temporary, and a restricted success,
for they were all soon driven off and had to withdraw to Martinique.
At the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, the future
possession of Saint Lucia was an important topic and it was eventually
agreed that the island should pass into French hands; it was thus delivered
up to the French Governor-General, de Damas, in January 1784.
For the next five years, the island went through remarkable economic
improvement under the Governorship of Baron de Labourie; but the year
of his death, 1789, was also the start of the French Revolution, and
this brought with it new trouble for Saint Lucia.
Two years after the Revolution started, local agitation reached its
climax when two revolutionary agents, Montdenoiz and Linger, hoisted
the Tricolore on Morne Fortune causing the Governor, Colonel de Gimat
to flee the island. As 1792 came to its close, the revolutionaires gained
more inspiration from captain La Crosse who had been entrusted with
the duty of propagating the new political philosophy in the island.
The following year, the National Convention of France sent out General
Ricard as Governor. He arrived in Saint Lucia on 3rd February 1783,
and the following day, he promulgated the Decree for the Abolition of
Salavery in the French Antilles. Ricard was also responsible for giving
Republican names to all the island's towns and villages.
When war broke out between the French Republic and Britain, it was
not long before it spread to the West Indies; and on April 4, 1794,
British Colours were hoisted at Morne Fortune by HRH Prince Edward,
Duke of Kent, Sir Charles Gordon, with a big garrison, was left behind
to govern the island.
The surrender of the island sent many French ex-slaves and soldiers
to the woods. From their encampments they launched attack after attack
upon the British garrison, which, at the same time, was sorely tested
and reduced by illness.
The attacks upon the British became more determined with the arrival
of a large body of Republican troops under the command of Commissary
Goyrand. He soon organised the disorganised forces, and, considerably
reduced by illness, the garrison could offer little resistance. By June
1795, in spite of some strong opposition at Vieux-Fort and Rabot by
Brigadier-General Stewart, the British evacuated.
BEGINNING OF THE
Less than 12 months later, on April 26, 1796, 12000 troops, supported
by a detachment of Rear-Admiral Sir Hugh Christian's squadron, arrived
off the island under the command of Lieutenant- General Sir Ralph Abercrombie.
Men were landed at Longueville Bay, Choc Bay, and Anse La Raye, and
from these points they moved on Morne Fortune which had been heavily
fortified by Goyrand. The resistance which the British troops and Moore
was able to take possession of Morne Fortune and plant the British colours.
This defeat marked the beginning of the end for the Republicans, for
despite continued resistance by those who were in the other parts of
the island, they eventually gave up before the end of 1797. By that
time, Moore, who had been appointed Governor after the victory of the
previous year had been forced to return to Britain because of illness
and he had been replaced by Colonel James Drummond.
By 1802, however, the Treaty of Amiens once again put Saint Lucia into
the hands of the French. But it was not long before Britain and France
were once again at war, and on June 19, 1803, Commodore Hood and Lieutenant-General
Grinfield set out from Barbados to take Saint Lucia.
The squadron reached Choc Bay two days later, and the troops, disembarking
without opposition, immediately set themselves up at La Vigie and Castries.
They called upon the French Commander to lay down arms, and when this
request was not met, the fort was attacked.
Brigadier -General, Jn. Fs Xavier Nogues, the Governor, eventually
surrendered at the end of what was to be the last battle for Saint Lucia
between the French and the British.
The island remained in British hands until it was finally ceded to
Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1814.
Up to 1838, Saint Lucia was administered as a separate territorial
unit, with its Governor being in direct contact with the Colonial Office.
In that year, it was annexed to the Government of the Windward Islands
which then comprised Barbados, Grenada, Saint Vincent and Tobago, with
the seat of Government at Barbados. It remained in the Windward Islands
Group, in spite of many changes in the Group's composition, until the
post of Governor of the Windward Islands was abolished on December 31,
On January 1, 1960, a new Constitution came into force and the island
was once again being administered as a separate unit with an Administrator
advised by an Executive Council comprising a Chief Minister, four other
ministers ( one without portfolio), and the Attorney General. The Legislative
Council then comprised ten elected members, two nominated members and
the Territory's Attorney General, with a Speaker presiding at the sessions.
The next major constitutional development came on March 01, 1967 when
Saint Lucia became an Associated State, with full control over all her
internal affairs, and Britiain having responsibility for her Defense
and Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the island's government.
Under this status, the territory's Representative of the British Monarch
again assumed the title of Governor, but for the first time, in its
long history, the appointment was made after consultation with the citizens'
This "association" continued until February 22, 1979, when
the island became an Independent member of the Commonwealth of former
British Empire territories.