Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Barbados Military History Part 1: England Attacks Barbados

Barbados was claimed by England in 1625. What will come as a surprise to many of you is that though the Island remained under English rule the first attack made on her was by England itself in 1651.

In 1642 the civil war in England had begun  and lasted until 1651. The war was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists. The civil wars set the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament ,and then later the Rump Parliament. The Civil War led to the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of his son, Charles II, and replacement of English monarchy with first, the Commonwealth of England and then with a Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell's personal rule.

During the civil war misfortune was seen by both the Cavaliers and the Roundheads. Thus refugees from both sides began to come to Barbados to escape the strife and rebuild their fortunes. Most of them being royalist or cavaliers as they were called.

It is in this time Barbados began calling itself "Little England" The new settlers were determined to rebuild the fortunes they had lost in England and this brought Barbados increased activity and prosperity. They also brought with them the dissensions and difficulties they hoped to leave behind them in England.

In 1650, Francis, Lord Willoughby of Parnham arrived to claim the island in the name of Charles Stuart the pretender brother of the executed Charles the First. After initial protest, Barbados proclaimed Charles Stuart King of England. This was treason. But not all Barbadians were royalists; those who were not were told that, as roundheads, they should go back to England. The island was thus split, just as England was. At that time Barbados was also trading with the Dutch against the instructions of Cromwell

The Roundheads were being kicked out of their homes. Back in England, they would be political exiles and so Cromwell sent Sir George Ayscue  in 1651 to bring order and to quell the insurrection in Barbados.
News came to Barbados of the impending attack and the Governor placed the Island on a war footing. Forces of both horse and foot were quickly raised and the scene was set for the invasion of Barbados. Ayscuse arrived off Barbados on the 15th of October and seized 26 ships in Carlise bay. However for 6 months Ayscue was unable to land in Barbados as concentrated attacks on Speightstown were repelled by the small forts along the shore. The were however able to enforce a strict embargo on ships entering and leaving Barbados and thus dealing a sever blow to the islands economy.

Sir George Ayscue

Barbados was landed only after one of the governors most Senior commanders  Colonel Modiford made it clear that unless an agreement was made he would turn his regiment over to the roundhead . The Governor then sought a meeting with Sir George Ayscue who was also anxious to have the matter behind him as many of his men were suffering from scurvy a disease associated with the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. The two men met in the Mermaid tavern in Oistins and signed what has become known as the "Charter of Barbados". Signed in 1652, the agreement gave Barbados rights and privileges unheard of in any other Island. In particular it guaranteed that Barbados could not be taxed without the consent of a Barbados General Assembly. It was under these terms Barbados surrendered to Ayscue.

A replica of the Mermaid Tavern at the National Armoury at St Ann's Fort

Provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados http://glorytours.org/

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