|Info:|| Unconquerable Port
This port has a RAH
The British Capital in the Caribbean.
Situated at the western end of the Palisadoes sand spit that protects Kingston Harbour, Port Royal was well-positioned as a harbor. Originally claimed by the Spanish, England acquired it in 1655. By 1659, two hundred houses, shops, and warehouses surrounded Passage Fort. For much of the period between the English conquest of Jamaica and the earthquake of 1692, Port Royal served as the capital of Jamaica; after the 1692 earthquake, Spanish Town overtook this role, later followed by Kingston.
History of JamaicaEdit
Tainos from South America had settled in Jamaica at around 1,000 BC and called the land Xamayca, meaning "a land of springs". Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after first landing there in 1494. Columbus' probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was the "Saint Gloria" of Columbus who first sighted Jamaica at this point. One mile west of St. Ann's Bay is the site of the first settlement on the island Sevilla. The Arawaks were exterminated by the Spanish. Some also committed suicide, presumably to escape slavery. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517 to work plantations. Sevilla was abandoned in 1554 because of numerous pirate raids.
The capital was moved to Spanish Town, now located in the parish of St. Catherine, as early as 1534. It was then called St. Jago de la Vega or Santiago de la Vega. Spanish Town has the oldest Cathedral in the British colonies. By the 1640s many people were attracted to Jamaica, which had a reputation for stunning beauty, not only when referring to the island but also to the natives. In fact, pirates were known to desert their raiding parties and stay on the island. For 100 years between 1555 and 1655 Spanish Jamaica was subject to many pirate attacks, the final attack left the island in the hands of the English. The English were also subject to pirate raids after they began their occupation of the island.
Piracy and Port RoyalEdit
Port Royal, located along the shipping lanes to and from Spain and Panama, provided a safe harbor for pirates. Buccaneers found Port Royal appealing for several reasons. Its proximity to trade routes allowed them easy access to prey. The harbour was large enough to accommodate their ships and provided a place to careen and repair these vessels. It was also ideally situated for launching raids on Spanish settlements. From Port Royal, Henry Morgan attacked Panama, Portobello, and Maracaibo. Roche Brasiliano, John Davis (buccaneer), and Edward Mansveldt (Mansfield) also came to Port Royal. Since the English lacked sufficient troops to prevent either the Spanish or French from seizing the colony, the Jamaican governors eventually turned to the pirates to defend the city.
By the 1660s, the city had gained a reputation as the Sodom of the New World where most residents were pirates, cutthroats, or prostitutes. When Charles Leslie wrote his history of Jamaica, he included a description of the pirates of Port Royal:
Wine and women drained their wealth to such a degree that… some of them became reduced to beggary. They have been known to spend 2 or 3,000 pieces of eight in one night; and one gave a strumpet 500 to see her naked. They used to buy a pipe of wine, place it in the street, and oblige everyone that passed to drink.
Port Royal grew to be one of the two largest towns and the most economically important port in the English colonies. At the height of its popularity, the city had one drinking house for every ten residents. In July 1661 alone, forty new licenses were granted to taverns. During a twenty-year period that ended in 1692, nearly 6,500 people lived in Port Royal. In addition to prostitutes and buccaneers, there were four goldsmiths, forty-four tavern keepers, and a variety of artisans and merchants who lived in 200 buildings crammed into 51 acres (206,000 m²) of real estate. 213 ships visited the seaport in 1688. The city’s wealth was so great that coins were preferred for payment rather than the more common system of bartering goods for services.
Following Henry Morgan’s appointment as lieutenant governor, Port Royal began to change. Pirates were no longer needed to defend the city. The selling of slaves took on greater importance. Upstanding citizens disliked the reputation the city had acquired. In 1687, Jamaica passed anti-piracy laws. Instead of being a safe haven for pirates, Port Royal became noted as their place of execution. Gallows Point welcomed many to their death, including Charles Vane and Calico Jack, who were hanged in 1720. Two years later, forty-one pirates met their death in one month.
City That SankEdit
On June 7, 1692 at 11:43 AM,* a devastating earthquake hit the city causing the sand on which it was built to liquefy and flow out into Kingston Harbour. The water table was generally only two feet down before the impact. The effects of three tidal waves caused by the earthquake further eroded the sand, and soon the main part of the city lay permanently underwater, though intact enough that archaeologists have managed to uncover some well-preserved sites. The earthquake and tsunami killed between 1,000 and 3,000 people combined, over half the city's population. Disease ran rampant in the next several months, claiming an estimated 2,000 additional lives. Many believed the destruction from the earthquake to be an act of God resulting from the city's sinful reputation.
Some attempts were made to rebuild the city, starting with the one third of the city that was not submerged, but these met with mixed success and numerous disasters. An initial attempt at rebuilding was again destroyed in 1703 by fire. Subsequent rebuilding was hampered by several hurricanes in the first half of the 18th century, and soon Kingston eclipsed Port Royal in importance.
*frozen hands on a retrieved watch, the first time in history archaeologists have an exact time for an earthquake (History Channel Ancient Almanac)