Thomas Warner (explorer)

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Sir Thomas Warner (1580 10 March 1649) was a captain in the guards of James I of England who became an explorer in the Caribbean. In 1620 he served at the brief-lived English settlement of Oyapoc in present-day Guyana of South America, which was abandoned the same year. The Dutch controlled most of the territory. Warner is noted for settling on Saint Kitts and establishing it in 1624 as the first English colony in the Caribbean.

Oyapoc was a short-lived English settlement in Guyana, which was established in 1620 under Governor Roger North and abandoned in the same year. Most of the area was dominated by the Dutch with two colonies; they added a third in the mid-eighteenth century. Britain took over the region in 1796, during hostilities with France, which then occupied the Netherlands. After rule was passed back and forth, Britain took final control in 1814.

Guyana Country in South America

Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America. It is the only English speaking country in South America, and is culturally considered part of the Anglophone-Caribbean sphere. In addition it is one of the founding member countries of the Caribbean Community organization, (CARICOM). Guyana is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Brazil to the south and southwest, Venezuela to the west, and Suriname to the east. With an area of 215,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi), Guyana is the third-smallest sovereign state on mainland South America after Uruguay and Suriname.

Saint Kitts island in Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts, also known more formally as Saint Christopher Island, is an island in the West Indies. The west side of the island borders the Caribbean Sea, and the eastern coast faces the Atlantic Ocean. Saint Kitts and the neighbouring island of Nevis constitute one country: the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Saint Kitts and Nevis are separated by a shallow 3-kilometre (2 mi) channel known as "The Narrows".

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Early life and education

Warner was born in Suffolk, England in 1580. He entered the army at an early age, which provided him with his main training.

He later married and started a family with his wife, which included their son Philip. Thomas Warner had an Island Carib mistress on St. Kitts, and their son was called "Indian Warner". Indian Warner was killed in the Dominica Massacre. [1]

Dominica country in the Caribbean

Dominica, officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island country in the West Indies. The capital, Roseau, is located on the western side of the island. It is part of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The island is located near Guadeloupe to the northwest and Martinique to the south-southeast. Its area is 750 km2 (290 sq mi), and the highest point is Morne Diablotins, at 1,447 m (4,747 ft) in elevation. The population was 71,293 at the 2011 census.

Military career

Warner became a captain in James I's guards. In 1620 he accepted assignment to the colonies, and took his family with him to the Oyapoc Colony in 1620 in today's Guyana. He served as a captain under the command of Roger North.

Roger North was an English colonial projector.

Tomas Painton, another captain in the colony, suggested that Warner should try to colonise one of the islands in the Lesser Antilles, which Painton thought had more favourable conditions. In 1623 Warner abandoned his Guiana post and set sail North through the archipelago. Oyapoc was soon abandoned by the English.

Lesser Antilles Archipelago in the Southeast Caribbean

The Lesser Antilles is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America. The islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Together, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles. When combined with the Lucayan Archipelago, all three are known as the West Indies.

St Kitts

Early settlement

After checking each island, Warner decided that Saint Kitts would be the best-suited site for an English colony. He noted its strategic central position ideal for expansion, friendly native population, fertile soil, abundant fresh water, and large salt deposits. He and his family landed on the island and made peace with the local Kalinago people, whose leader was Ouboutou Tegremante . They were part of the indigenous Carib people of the islands.

Tegremante was the Island Carib chief on St Kitts when Thomas Warner arrived by 1623 to establish a colony. He was killed in his sleep during the Kalinago Genocide of 1626.

Island Caribs group of people who live in Venezuela and the Lesser Antilles islands

Island Caribs, also known as the Kalinago or simply Caribs, are an indigenous people of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. They have descended from the Mainland Caribs (Kalina) of South America. The men spoke a carib pidgin language of Karina origins.

Warner left his family on the island and returned to England to gather more men to officially establish a colony. He was supported by Ralph Merrifield, a merchant, who provided the capital, and the brothers John and Samuel Jeaffreson (the latter the 3xgreat-grandfather of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States). The Jeaffresons agreed to bring a second vessel with settlers and supplies. Warner returned to St. Kitts on January 28, 1624, with the Hopewell and established the colony of Saint Christopher, the first English colony in the Caribbean. He established a port town at Old Road, downhill from Tegremante's capital village. Another name for St. Kitts is St.Christopher.

French arrival

In 1625, a French captain, Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc, arrived on the island. He had organized a fleet of colonists hoping to establish an island colony, after hearing about the success of the English on Saint Kitts, but his fleet was destroyed by a run-in with the Spanish Armada. Only his flagship and its passengers survived to reach St. Kitts. Feeling sorry for the French colonists, Warner allowed them to settle on the island. Saint Kitts was thus the site of the first French settlement in the Caribbean. They took the ruins of the town of Dieppe, which they rebuilt. Warner accepted the French to gain more Europeans on the island, as he thought the local Kalinago were becoming less enthusiastic about the newcomers.

Kalinago genocide

Warner's concerns proved accurate. As the European population on Saint Kitts continued to increase, Tegremante grew suspicious of the foreigners. In 1626, after a secret meeting with Kalinago heads from neighbouring Waitikubuli (Dominica) and Oualie, the natives decided to ambush the European settlements on the night of the next full moon. The plan was revealed to the Europeans by an Igneri woman named Barbe [2] She had recently been brought to St. Kitts as a slave-wife after the Kalianago raided an Arawak island. According to the French historian Jean Baptiste Du Tertre, she despised the Kalinago and had fallen in love with Warner.

The English and French joined forces and attacked the Carib at night. The colonists killed between 100 and 120 Caribs in their beds that night, with only the most beautiful Carib women spared to serve as slaves. [3] The French and English set about fortifying the island against the expected invasion of Carib from other islands.

According to Du Tertre, in the ensuing battle, three to four thousand Caribs took up arms against the Europeans. He did not estimate the number of Caribs killed, but said the fallen Amerindians on the beach were piled high into a mound. The English and French suffered at least 100 casualties [3] Others report that at Bloody Point, which then was the site of the island's main Kalinago settlement, over 2,000 Kalinago men were massacred. Many had come from Waitikubuli, planning to attack the Europeans the next day. The Europeans dumped the dead into the river, at the site of the Kalinago place of worship. For weeks, blood flowed down the river, for which it was named Bloody River. The Europeans deported the remaining Kalinago to Waitikubuli.

The early accounts were by Europeans and told from their point of view. Modern scientists and historians estimate that many of their claims were fraudulent or exaggerated in order to justify the killings.

Ethnologists have put the events into a different context. The killings occurred in late January, near the middle of the dry season. The Kalinago called this the season of "Bat man", due to the abundance of the species then. Usually, they made raids on the Taino and other Amerindians at this time to take sacrifices to appease "Bat man," to ensure the dry season ended and the wet season began. (This was called the season of "Frog woman".) Kalinago had gathered from various islands at St. Christopher at the time, because of its location: on the border between the islands controlled by different groups, it was used as a base for Kalinago raids against the Taino. Evidence of atrocity was that the Europeans killed so many and defiled the Kalinago place of worship, a means of frightening the Kalinago of neighbouring islands.[ citation needed ]

After the Kalinago Genocide of 1626, the Europeans partitioned the island, with the French gaining the ends, Capisterre in the North and Basseterre in the south; and the British gaining the centre. Both groups colonised neighbouring islands from their bases. The English settled Nevis (1628), Antigua (1632), and Montserrat (1632). Warner was appointed as Governor of St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbados and Montserrat in 1625.

The French colonised Martinique (1635), the Guadeloupe archipelago (1635), and St. Barths (1648).

In 1643 Warner was appointed as Parliamentary Governor of the Caribee Islands. After his first wife died, he was said to have taken a Carib woman in a 'common-law marriage' and they had a lasting relationship. Warner died on March 10, 1649, in St. Kitts and was buried in a tomb in Middle Island. The Carib woman was reported to have given birth to many other children after Warner's death.

Slave trade

After the Kalinago Genocide of 1626 and the subsequent partitioning of the island, Warner imported many thousands of African slaves for labour. They were forced to develop and work on large sugar and tobacco plantations to raise commodity crops for export. As the years passed, Sir Thomas Warner amassed a wealth that would amount to over £100 million in today's terms. He died on March 10, 1649 in St. Kitts, and he was buried in a tomb in Middle Island.

See also

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References

  1. Hubbard, Vincent (2002). A History of St. Kitts . Macmillan Caribbean. p. 17. ISBN   9780333747605.
  2. Jean Baptiste Du Tertre, Histoire Generale des Antilles..., 2 vols. Paris: Jolly, 1667, I:5-6
  3. 1 2 Du Tertre (1667), I:6
Government offices
New creation Governor of Saint Christopher
1623–1649
Succeeded by
Rowland Rich
New creation Governor of Antigua
1632–1635
Succeeded by
Edward Warner