THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 280.
Despatch reporting the Great Fire at San Fernando.
May 5th, i818. Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Source :-Trinidad Duplicate Despatches, Vol. III, I818-18I9.
I am concerned to be obliged to report to Your Lordship
that a fire accidental broke out in the Town of San Fernando
de Naparima on Friday last at one o'clock in the day which
in a short time consumed sixty houses, two hundred hogsheads
of Sugar, a considerable quantity of Rum and several stores
Being the great depot of produce of the Quarter of North
Naparima and of supplies of the Planters, the loss is considerable
and is accurately estimated at Stg. 20,000.
I felt it my duty to repair to the spot the next day, when
I had the satisfaction of finding that the fire is not attributable:
to any malicious design but I believe to the general dry state
of the country which exceeds everything I have yct observed
The number of poor persons who lived by a daily
subsistence and whose little property the fire consumed,
amounts to sixty and to these I directed rations to be issued.
I propose to take advantage of the calamity to improve
the site of the town and not only to extend the regulations for
new buildings to that place, that were judiciously adopted
here after the fire of 18o8, but also to enforce them as I have
lately done in Port-of-Spain.
It will however be necessary to undertake the whole of
the projected wharf as reported by me before, and for those
purposes an advance of Cy 12,ooo in the next six months
will be required. A Church and a place of confinement have
also been pointed out by me on former occasions and they
daily become more necessary.
Might I hope that this calamity will induce His Majesty's
Government to grant us some assistance ? The total stagnation
of trade fiom the affairs of the Main render that assistance
more necessary as our wants are daily becoming more urgent.
It will be likewise necessary to give shelter to the poor, free
people who have lost their houses. Is it hopeless to expect a
sum by way of loan for which the Colony might pay the
interest which might be secured by an order to the Colonial
Treasurer to make the half yearly payment to the Collector
of the Customs ?
Confiding to Your Lordship's disposition to assist an infant
Colony worthy of the protection of the parent state.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's faithful, humble Servant,