THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 325.
The Governor of Barbados to the Lords Commissioners of Trade
Source :-Public Record Office. State Papers Colonial.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
January 7!h, 1758.
Part of His Majesty's squadron going lately to Tobago, I
embraced that opportunity of authorising Captain Tyrell of
H.M.S. Buckingham to publish my commission in that Island
agreeable to His Majesty's Command in my second instruction.
I also desired him to give me an account of any observations
he made relative to the present state of that Island. Copies of
his letters to me on that subject, I enclose for Your Lordships
perusal as they contain the latest and best account I am able
to obtain of that Island.
I wish it was in my power to pay equal obedience to the
other part of the same instruction and publish my commission
in the other three Islands. On this point I have taken the
advice of the Council of the Island and the Commanders of
His Majesty's ships of war, who assure me that it is impossible
to effect it without force ; no British ship going there as they
are possessed, fortified and governed by the French. I make
no doubt but His Majesty's ministers will in due time enter
upon this subject with an attention equal to its great
importance to these Colonies.
With great submission, I beg leave to assure Your
Lordships that it is my firm opinion that if they are left on
the foot of seeming neutrality, the French will by degrees
effectually settle them all ; they have several inhabitants in
each who mix with the natives and trade with, encourage
and countenance them. Your Lordships will know the effects
this must have on the safety of the British Islands in these
parts especially those to leeward.
The situation of Tobago makes it of the utmost importance
to Barbados as it lies to windward and if the enemy get
possession, they may invalde this Island in four and twenty
hours or by interrupting every branch of commerce, more
easily effect its ruin.
I am sensible that these circumstances cannot escape
Your Lordships penetration but as my instructions command
me to be par-Jcularly attentive to this subject, I hope this part
of my letter will not he thought improper or impertinent.
I beg to remain, My Lords, Your Lordships
Most obedient and most humble Servant,
Captain Richard Tyrell to His Excellency Charles Pinfold.
In consequence of the power I received from Your
Excellency, I caused your commission to be read at Tobago
on September 24th, a detachment of marines being drawn up
on the beach for the purpose ; the greatest part of the Officers
belonging to the three ships under my command and one of
the natives were present at the ceremony.
I am, Sir,
Your most humble Servant,
October 9th 1757. RD. TYRELL.
Captain Richard Tyrell to His Excellency Charles PinJold.
Agreable to your order, having made a diligent enquiry
into the present condition of the Island of Tobago ; all I
could gather from the reports of some of the Indians and
French settled there and the observations made by the officers
of the squadron who went occasionally into several of the
bays and creeks of the Island is as follows.
There are about three hundred families of Indians,
two thirds of which are of the flat headed tribe and inhabit
the southern parts of the Island ; the other third are Red
Indians living mostly in the northern parts of the Island.
The two nations are at peace and behave in a friendly manner
to each other and boli seem to live in great union with the
French who are settled on Tobago to the number (if we can
credit them) of not above eight or nine families.
Most of the Ind;ans of each tribe speak French and by
their confession often go to Grenada and Martinico where
they trade for some trifling commodities and meet with a
gracious; reception from the French Governors who give one
of them the title of General with a commission which however
is very little regarded by them at their return to Tobago;
nor does it seem there is any form of government amongst
them, evccy mIm living in entire independence from another
and without any other protection except the simplicity and
honesty of his fellow savages.
I could not find that the French have made any further
settlements nor that any of their ships of war have been here
since the year 1748 when I obliged them to quit the Island.
Two of the French inhabitants came on board me who
say they have bhen on the Island then sixteen years. When
I asked them what reason they had for settling in such a
savage place rather than in the French Colonies, they answered
that they found all the necessaries of life and liberty at Tobago,
both of which they were deprived when in a civilised country.
I made the Indians a few trifling presents with which thec
seemed well pleased.
As to the soil of the Island, the prodigious quantity of
wood with which it is covered and the tallness and luxuriancy
of the trees are an indication of its fertility ; what I observed
of it is a rich mould very proper for sugar plantations or any
other production natural to this climate. We found rivulets
of very good water in every bay our boats went into and the
natives affirm that no hurricanes were ever known in these
Man of War Bay is capable of receiving a great number of
ships of the greatest burthen, has a good anchoring ground
and is very convenient for wooding and watering, several
streams of good water running into it on all sides but it is
Much the same may be said of Great Courland Bay and
I am informed that there is a safe bay on the southern side of
the Island called Rockly Bay deep enough for ships that do
not draw above 18 or 20 feet of water but the entrance is
These are all the particulars that are come within my
I am, Sir, with great respect,
Your most obedient and humble Servant,
H.M.S. Buckingham, RD. TYRELL.
October I9th, 1757.