- Thomas Warner (explorer)
Sir Thomas Warner (1580-
10 March 1649) was an explorer and a captain. He is famous for settling on Saint Kitts, the first British island in the Caribbean in 1624.
Warner was born in Suffolk, England in 1580. He entered the army at an early age, and became a captain in James I's guards. He travelled to the
OyapocColony in 1620 in todays Guianaand he was a captain under the command of Roger North. Another captain in the colony, Thomas Painton, then suggested that he should instead try to colonise one of the islands in the Lesser Antilles because of their favourable conditions. In 1623 Warner abandoned his Guiana post and set sail North through the archipelago.
After checking each island, Warner decided that Saint Kitts would prove to be the best-suited site for a British colony, because of 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 peoples, whose leader was
Ouboutou Tegremante. Warner then left his family behind 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 & John Jefferson (the great-great-great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of U.S.A), who agreed to bring a second vessel with settlers and suppliers. He landed on St.Kitts on January 28, 1624 on the Hopewell and he established the colony of Saint Christopher, the first British colony in the Caribbean. They established a port town at Old Road, downhill from Tegremante's capital village.
French arrival and Civil war
In 1625, a French captain,
Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc, arrived on the island. He had left France hoping to establish an island colony after hearing about the success of the British on Saint Kitts, but his fleet was destroyed by a run in with the Spanish Armada, leaving him with only his flagship. Warner felt sorry for the French settlers and allowed them to settle on the island as well, thus making Saint Kitts the site of also the first French colony in the Caribbean. They lodged themselves in the ruins of the town of Dieppe, which they rebuilt. Warner also willingly accepted the French in an attempt to out-populate the local Kalinago, to whom he was growing suspicious.
Warner's suspicions proved to be 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, it was decided that in a secret raid they would ambush the European settlements. The secret plan was revealed to the Europeans however, by an Igneri woman named Barbe. Barbe had only recently been brought to St. Kitts as a slave-wife after a raid on an Arawak island. She despised the Kalinago and had fallen in love with Warner, and thus told him of the planned ambush. The Europeans acted by attacking the Kalinago first. At a site now called Bloody Point, which housed the island's main Kalinago settlement, over 2,000 Kalinago men were massacred, many of whom were from Waitikubuli, who had come overnight planning to attack the Europeans the day after. The many dead bodies were dumped in a river, on the site which housed the Kalinago place of worship. For weeks, blood flowed down the river like water, giving it its nickname, Bloody River. The remaining Kalinago Indians were deported to Waitikubuli.
Kalinago Genocide of 1626, the island was partitioned between the British and French, with the French gaining the ends, Capisterre in the North and Basseterre in the south, and the British gaining the centre. Both powers then proceeded the colonise neighbouring islands from their base. The English settled Nevis (1628), Antigua (1632), Montserrat(1632). He was made Governor of St Kitts, Nevis, Barbardos and Montserrat in 1625. The French colonised Martinique(1635), the Guadeloupearchipelago (1635), and St. Barths (1648). In 1643 he was made Parliamentary Governor of the Caribee Islands. There is to be said that he was also married to a Carib woman as a 'common-law marriage' The Carib woman was supposed to have given birth to many children and it was a lasting relationship. He died on March 10, 1649 in St.Kitts and he was buried in a tomb in Middle Island.
Kalinago Genocide of 1626and the subsequent partitioning of the island Sir Thomas then shipped many thousands of Black African slaves. These slaves were then forced to work on the sugar and tobacco plantations. As the years passed Sir Thomas amassed a wealth in today's terms that would amount to over £100 million. Sir Thomas died on March 10, 1649 in St. Kitts and he was buried in a tomb in Middle Island.
History of Saint Kitts and Nevis
* [http://saghs.edu.tt/sample/clubs/Young%20Leaders/St.%20Kitts%20&%20Nevis.html Interesting places on Saint Kitts and Nevis]
* [http://www.ghcaraibe.org/hist/stkitts1.html French St. Christophe, or English St.Kitts?]
* [http://www.ancestryuk.com/HiltonsintheCaribbean.htm Page talking about the initial landings and governors]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dorset/content/articles/2007 for a picture of Sir Thomas Warner]
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