His­tory of Barbados

IMG 1319.JPGBarbados MuseumresizeBar­ba­dos was orig­i­nally called ‘Los Bar­ba­dos’ by the Por­tuguese who vis­ited in 1537, on their way to Brazil. When the Por­tuguese arrived, they found Amerindi­ans, the island’s first inhab­i­tants, and a land filled with bearded fig trees. This is the rea­son for the name given which means ‘the bearded ones’.

By the arrival of the Eng­lish in 1625, how­ever, the island was unin­hab­ited. At this time, Cap­tain John Pow­ell claimed the land for King James I. His brother along with more set­tlers fol­lowed two years later. They called the town in which they set­tled Jamestown, after their king, this is today known as Hole­town.

The set­tlers planted tobacco and cot­ton, in order for sur­vival. Real­is­ing that tobacco was not prof­itable, they branched into sugar cane. As sugar pro­duc­tion was not some­thing to be done on a small scale, large plan­ta­tions and work­ers were needed.

Inden­tured ser­vants, made up of white civil­ians who wanted to emi­grate and later con­victed crim­i­nals, were brought to Bar­ba­dos. As sugar pro­duc­tion blos­somed, this became insuf­fi­cient, lead­ing to the slave trade. Slaves were shipped from West Africa to work in the fields though many did not sur­vive the journey.

The slave trade con­tin­ued for almost 200yrs. Bussa is cred­ited as lead­ing the rev­o­lu­tion by head­ing Bar­ba­dos’ first upris­ing in the year 1816. This rev­o­lu­tion is known as the Bussa Rebel­lion and Bussa now sits in the his­tory books as one of Bar­ba­dos’ national heroes. Only 18yrs later, in 1834, the slave trade came to an end, with the Eman­ci­pa­tion Act and in 1838 slav­ery was abol­ished completely.

clement payne heroAfter the abo­li­tion of slav­ery, there was the con­cern of poor work­ing con­di­tions. Clement Payne, an activist for the poor and work­ing class in Bar­ba­dos, was deported to his home coun­try of Trinidad. This trig­gered the 1937 riots. After which, democ­racy was cul­ti­vated and the first labour union was launched. Clement Payne is now one of Bar­ba­dos’ national heroes as a pio­neer in the trade move­ment act.

From the arrival of the first Eng­lish­man until the year 1961, when inter­nal auton­omy was granted, Bar­ba­dos remained a British colony. On Novem­ber 30th, 1966, the island was granted full inde­pen­dence. This was made pos­si­ble by ‘The Father of Inde­pen­dence’ Sir Errol Barrow.

The coun­try, how­ever, still holds ties to the crown, as it remains as a com­mon­wealth nation. The island main­tains a Prime Min­is­ter and two par­lia­men­tary housesThe House of Assem­bly and The Sen­ate. Queen Eliz­a­beth II is the head of state but she is rep­re­sented locally by the island’s Gov­er­nor General.

RELATED ARTI­CLES
About Bar­ba­dos
Bridgetown And Its Gar­ri­son — World UNESCO Site
Bar­ba­dos UNESCO Her­itage Build­ings & Loca­tions
National Heroes Gallery
Bar­ba­dos National Heroes
Fun Facts About Bar­ba­dos
Bajan Proverbs

Cur­rent Edi­tion of Caribbean Dreams Magazine

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