LAND USE AND POPULATION IN ST. VINCENT, 1763-1960
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE
STUDY OF THE PATTERNS OF ECONOMIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE
IN A SMALL WEST INDIAN ISLAND
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE
COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL
FULFILLhENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
To the Memory of My Father and My Mother
In the course of this study, I have incurred innumerable
debts to persons and institutions who have assisted me in one
way or another. I can never repay Professor David L. Niddrle
for his faithful guidance, sharing of experiences, sage advice,
constructive criticisms, and patience throughout the preparation
of this work. It was, indeed, Professor Niddrie who first aug-
gested to me a study in the former British Caribbean, particular-
ly in St. Vincent. His knowledge of the West Indies opened many
doors for me and smoothed the path for cy initial reconnaissance
of the area and, later, for a more extensive stay in the island.
For this impetus and understanding, I remain forever in his debt.
I wish, in addition, to acknowledge the valuable help and
encouragement I received from the past and present members of the
Department of Geography at the University of Florida.
It is impossible to thank personally the many people in
St. Vincent and elsewhere in the West Indies who aided me during
my three visits to the area. Several individuals and institu-
tions, however, deserve mention for their velcoDed contributions
to my work. Dr. I. A. E. Kirby, Chief Veterinary Office, St.
Vincent, his wife, Monica, and their two children took me into
their family life and introduced me to the non-academic side
of Vincentian society. They made my stay in Kingstown an
unforgettable experience. In addition, "Doc" Kirby helped me to
see and understand the physical environment of St. Vincent to an
extent uncommon even among many native Vincentians. For this, I
am ever grateful.
Among the others who rendered valuable service, advice, and
experience, I wish to thank: Miss Grace Malcolm of the Save the
Children Foundation in Kingstown; Mr. Clifford Williams, formerly
Acting Chief Surveyor of St. Vincent, and his ever-eager staff in
the Department of Lands and Surveys; Mr. O'Neil Barrow, Clerk
of the Legislative Council, St. Vincent; Mr. Ernest Laborde,
Labor Commissioner, St. Vincent; Christian I. Martin, formerly
Economist in the St. Vincent Planning Unit; the personnel of the
Department of Agriculture, the Department of Statistics, the
Central Housing Authority, the Office of the Registrar-General,
and the St. Vincent Banana Grower's Association.
Mr. Joe Brown, who captained the yacht Stella Vega, has
my gratitude for his kindly allowing me twice to accompany him
on trips through the Grenadine dependencies.
For services rendered outside of St. Vincent, I wish to
thank the staff of the Central Statistical Office in Port-of-
Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; the members of the United Nations
Eastern Caribbean Physical Planning Project in St. Ann's Court,
Barbados; and the Chief Librarian of the Population Research
Center at the University of Texas at Austin who provided a copy
of the elusive 1911 census of population for St. Vincent.
I also wish to thank the Director of the Center for Latin
American Studies at the University of Florida for a grant-in-aid
to cover the costs of transportation ard housing for the initial
reconnaissance and later field work in St. Vincent.
My gratitude to the many Vincentians who freely offered
information and hospitality during my many trips through the
countryside will be repaid by my memory of their kindnesses.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Tables xit
List of Figures xiV
Chapter I Introduction 1
The Problem 4
The Working Hypothesis 7
Definitions of Terms and Limita-
tions In the Study 8
A Review of the Literature 9
Studies of St. Vincent 10
Studies of Other British West
Indian Societies 12
General Studies of the West
Indian Economy and Population 13
Summary of the Economic and
Population Literature 16
The Organization of the Study 17
Notes to Chapter I 19
Chapter II The Physical Environment 28
The Physical Landscape 28
The Climate 34
The Natural Vegetation 36
Agricultural Land Capability in
St. Vincent 42
Notes to Chapter II 45
PART I THE EVOLUTION OF THE ECONOMY
OF ST. VINCENT 48
Chapter III The Sugar Industry of St. Vincent,
1763 to 1838 49
TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)
Early Settlements in St. Vincent,
The Advent of the Sugar Industry, 1764
to 1800 52
The Zenith of the Sugar Industry,
1800 to 1828 63
The Waning of the Sugar Industry Before
Slave Emancipation 68
Notes to Chapter III 77
Chapter IV The Sugar Industrydf St. Vincent, 1839
to 1902 83
Post-Emancipation Labor Shortages 83
Free Villages 87
Land Purchase 89
Labor Supply Problems 91
Alien Labor Immigration, 1845 to 1880 95
Portuguese Madeiran Immigration 95
"Liberated" African Immigrants 96
East Indian Immigration 99
The West Indian Encumbered Estates
Act in St. Vincent 104
The Sale of Encumbered Estates in St.
Vincent, 1856 to 1888 106
The Number of Working Estates in St.
Vincent, 1854 to 1902 113
The Demise of the Vincentian Sugar
Economy, 1854 to 1902 115
The Sugar Cane Industry 116
Beet Sugar Competition 120
Natural Disasters 124
Notes to Chapter IV 129
Chapter V Major and Minor Economic Crops in the
Vincentian Economy 141
The Arrowroot Starch Industry 141
Nineteenth-Century Birth of the
Market Gluts in the United Kingdom 146
The Competition of Other Local Crops 147
The Emergence of the United States
The Supply Difficulties and Distress
in the Arrowroot Industry 154
The Cotton Industry 156
The Cotton Trade in the Late 18th
The Cotton Trade in Decline,
1800 to 1850 163
TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)
The Cotton Industry in the Second
Half of the 19th Century 164
The Introduction of Sea Island
Cotton of St. Vincent 167
The Early Years of Development
and the First World War 170
The Cotton Boom and Slump, 1919 to
The Great Depression and the
Second World War, 1929 to 1945 177
The Demise of the Sea Island
Cotton Industry in St. Vincent 180
The Banana Industry 183
The Early Banana History in
St. Vincent 183
The Development of the Modern
Banana Industry of St. Vincent 187
The Minor Agricultural Industries of
St. Vincent 190
The Cocoa Industry 191
The Copra Industry 194
A Review of the Agricultural Economy 197
The Balance of Trade 200
Notes to Chapter V 204
PART II THE POPULATION OF ST. VINCENT 221
Chapter VI Population Change in St. Vincent,
1763 to 1960 222
An Evaluation of Historical
Population Data 222
The Periods of Population Change
in St. Vincent 224
Pre-Censal Estimates: The Era of
Slavery and Apprenticeship 225
The Era of Alien Labor Immigration,
1844 to 1881 232
The Era of Emigration, 1881 to 1931 236
The Era of Rapid Population Growth,
1931 to 1960 241
Population Distribution and Density 252
Population Distribution in St. Vincent 252
Population Density in St. Vincent 254
Percentage Distribution of
Notes to Chapter VI 275
TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)
Chapter VII The Composition of Population in St.
The Age Structure 285
The Age Composition of St. Vincent 286
The Age Structure, by Sex, for
St. Vincent 290
Intra-Island Variations in Age and
Sex Structure 299
Variations in St. Vincent's Burden
of Dependency 314
The Sex Composition 317
The Sex Ratio for St. Vincent 317
Intra-Island Variations in the
Sex Ratio 322
The Sex Ratio by Age Group 325
The Racial Composition 330
The Historical Racial Composition
of St. Vincent 333
Intra-Island Variations in Racial
Racial Variations by Age and Sex 335
The Rural-Urban Composition 337
The Number and Size of Settlementa
in St. Vincent 338-
The Sex Ratio of Principal
The Occupational Status 346
The Composition of the Labor Force 346
Notes to Chapter VII 358
Chapter VIII Summary and Conclusions 369
Problem and Hypothesis 369
Summary of the Export Economy 370
The Sugar Industry 370
The Arrowroot Starch Industry 372
The Sea Island Cotton Industry 373
The Banana Industry 375
Minor Cash Crops 377
Summary of Population Change 379
Pre-Censal Estimates 379
The Era of Alien Labor Immigration,
1844 to 1881 380
The Era of Emigration, 1881 to 1931 380
The Era of Rapid Population Growth,
1931 to 1960 381
The Spatial Distribution and
Density of Population 382
TABLE OF CONTENTS (continued)
Sunmary of the Composition of
The Age Structure 383
The Sex Composition 384
The Racial Composition 384
Rural-Urban Residence 385
Occupational Status 386
Appendix I 391
Appendix II 393
Biographical Sketch 427
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1 Land Capability Class, St. Vincent 44
Table 2 Number of Slaves, by Parish, St.
Vincent, 1819 and 1833 73
Table 3 Number of Slaves, by Parish,
St. Vincent, 1819-1852 85
Table 4 Number of Portuguese Madeiran, Liberated
African, and East Indian Immigrants, by
Year, St. Vincent, 1844-1880 97
Table 5 Estates Sold Through the West Indian
Encumbered Estates Act, St. Vincent,
Table 6 Arrowroot Exports to Principal Markets
by Volume and Per Cent, 1922-1932 150
Table 7 Estimated Percentage Peasant and Estate
Arrowroot Production, by Crop and Season,
St. Vincent, 1940-1945. 153
Table 8 Average Price per Pound of Arrowroot,
Decennially, St. Vincent, 1910-1960 154
Table 9 Area of Banana Cultivation, St. Vincent,
Table 10 Area of Banana Cultivation, St. Vincent,
Table 11 Banana Exports as a Percentage of Total
Exports, St. Vincent, 1950-1960 190
Table 12 Components of Population Change,
St. Vincent, 1735 to 1960 228
Table 13 Child-Woman Ratio, St. Vincent 1911-1960 246
Table 14 Vital Rates, St. Vincent, 1947-1959 249
LIST OF TABLES (continued)
Table 15 Population Density, Selected Caribbean
Countries, 1844-1960 260
Table 16 Population Density, St. Vincent,
Table 17 Area of St. Vincent 263
Table 18 Percentage Distribution of Population,
by Enumeration District, St. Vincent,
Table 19 Total Age Profile, Male and Feale Con-
bined, by 10-year Age Groups, St.
Vincent, 1861-1960 288
Table 20 Dependency Ratio, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1911-1960 316
Table 21 Racial Coaposition, by Major Census
District, St. Vincent, 1787-1960 331
Table 22 Sex Ratio of Principal Towns and
Villages, St. Vincent, 1844-1960 345
Table 23 Sex Ratio of Economically Active
Population, by Major Industrial
Group, St. Vincent, 1861-1960 348
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 Windward Islands 29
Figure 2 Physical Features of St. Vincent 31
Figure 3 Geomorphology of St. Vincent 33
Figure 4 Natural Vegetation of St. Vincent 37
Figure 5 Soils of St. Vincent 40
Figure 6 Plan of St. Vincent, 1764-1807 54
Figure 7 Sugar Production of St. Vincent, 1815-
Figure 8 Volume of Vincentian Cocoa and Coffee
Exports to Great Britain, for Selected
Years, 1765-1833 59
Figure 9 London Price of Sugar, 1760-1937 61
Figure 10 "Carib Country" Estates of St. Vincent 66
Figure 11 Average Number of Slaves, by Parish,
St. Vincent, 1819-1852 84
Figure 12 Distribution of East Indians, by Estate,
St. Vincent, 1861-1880 102
Figure 13 Estates Sold in the Encumbered Estates
Act Court, St. Vincent, 1858-1888 112
Figure 14 Number of Sugar Estates, St. Vincent,
Figure 15 Index Numbers of London Sugar Price and
Volume and Value of Vincentian Sugar
Exports, 1854-1886 119
Figure 16 Beet Sugar Exports from France and
Germany, 1826-1895 121
LIST OF FIGURES (continued)
Figure 17 Value of Sugar and Arrowroot Starch
Exports, St. Vincent, 1850-1920 125
Figure 18 Extent of Ash Deposits front Eruption of
Soufriere Volcano, St. Vincent, 1902 127
Figure 19 Value and Volume of Arrowroot Exports,
St. Vincent, 1830-1960 144
Figure 20 Annual Value of Chief Exports, as Per-
centage of Total Exports, St. Vincent,
Figure 21 Value and Volume of Cotton Exports,
St. Vincent, 1765-1960 158
Figure 22 Percentage Distribution of Cotton Imports
to Great Britain from Yajor Suppliers,
Figure 23 Volume of British West Indian and United
States Cotton Exports to Great Britain,
Figure 24 Average Price of Cotton Imports to Great
Britain, 1811-1884 161
Figure 25 Grenadine Dependencies of St. Vincent 165
Figure 26 Value of Chief Exports, St. Vincent,
Figure 27 Acreage and Yield of Cotton, St. Vincent,
Figure 28 Average Annual Prices for Selected Cotton
Varieties, Liverpool, 1899-1929 173
Figure 29 Value of Chief Exports, St. Vincent,
Figure 30 Total Cotton Acreage and Average Size of
Farm Unit for Estates and Snall Growers,
St. Vincent, 1920/21-1954/55 178
Figure 31 Volume of Sea Island Cotton Lint Exports,
Figure 32 Value and Volume of Banana Exports, St.
Vincent, 1932-1960 185
LIST OF FIGURES (continued)
Figure 33 Volume of Exports of Cocoa Beans and
Copra (Coconuts), St. Vincent, 1893-1960 193
Figure 34 Value of Cocoa and Copra Exports, St.
Vincent, 1858-1960 195
Figure 35 Percentage Distribution of Chief Exports,
St. Vincent, Decennially, 1850-1960 198
Figure 36 Value of Exports, Imports, and Balance
of Trade, St. Vincent, 1850-1960 201
Figure 37 Distribution of Slaves or Laborers, by
Estate, St. Vincent, 1833 and 1839 253
Figure 38 Population Distribution, St. Vincent,
Figure 39 Population Density St. Vincent, 1844-1960 264
Figure 40 Major Population Enumeration Districts,
St. Vincent, 1844-1960 266
Figure 41 Age Profile by 10-Year Age Groups, St.
Vincent, for Selected Census Dates,
Figure 42 Index Numbers of Age-Sex Profiles, St.
Vincent, 1861-1960 (1861 100) 291
Figure 43 Age-Sex Profile, by 5-Year Age Groups,
St. Vincent, 1911-1960 294
Figure 44 Age-Sex Profile, St. Vincent, 1946
and 1960 297
Figure 45 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District
St. Vincent, 1871 300
Figure 46 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1871 301
Figure 47 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1881 302
Figure 48 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1891 303
Figure 49 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1911 304
LIST OF FIGURES (continued)
Figure 50 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1921 305
Figure 51 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1931 306
Figure 52 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1946 307
Figure 53 Age-Sex Profile, by Census District,
St. Vincent, 1960 308
Figure 54 Sex Ratio, by Major Census District, St.
Vincent, for the Censuses 1844-1871 319
Figure 55 Sex Ratio, by Major Census District, St.
Vincent, for the Censuses 1911-1960 320
Figure 56 Age-Sex Profile of East Indian Immigrants,
St. Vincent, 1861-1880 321
Figure 57 Sex Ratio, by Broad Age Groups, St.
Vincent, 1891-1960 326
Figure 58 Sex Ratio, by 5-Year Age Groups, St.
Vincent, for the Census Years 1911-1960 327
Figure 59 Racial Composition, by Census Year, St.
Vincent, 1946-1960 336
Figure 60 Age-Sex Profile for Selected Racial Groups,
St. Vincent, 1946-1960 339
Figure 61 Number of Settlements, by Size, St.
Vincent, 1861-1891 341
Figure 62 Size of Principal Towns and Villages,
St. Vincent, 1844-1960 342
Figure 63 Location of Principal Settlements,
St. Vincent, 1960 343
Figure 64 Percentage Distribution of Labor Force, by
Age, Sex, and Major Industrial Group, St.
Vincent, 1946 352
Figure 65 Percentage Distribution of Labor Force, by
Age, Sex, and Major Industrial Group, St.
Vincent, 1960 353
Figure 66 Major Industrial Groups as a Percentage of
Total Labor Force, St. Vincent, 1861-1960 354
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
LAND USE AND POPULATION IN ST. VINCENT, 1763-1960
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE
STUDY OF THE PATTERNS OF ECONOMIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE
IN A SMALL WEST INDIAN ISLAND
Chairman: Professor David L. Niddrie
Major Department: Geography
The purpose of this study of St. Vincent is to recon-
atruct the historical economic and population geography of a small
West Indian island. It was observed that many of the 20th-century
problems encountered in St. Vincent were linked directly to past
conditions in the former British West Indies. The time spec-
trum for this study extends from 1763 (when Britain acquired the
island) to 1960, the date of the latest published census.
A subsidiary goal of this study is the presentation in a
single source of a considerable amount of historical data
gleaned from numerous and sometimes hitherto untapped references,
many of which may soon pass out of existence from disuse or
The problem of concern in this investigation is the rela-
tionship between fluctuations in the export economy and changes
in the population. An analysis of the economically "dependent"
status of the island and the major population changes over nearly
200 years revealed a pattern suggesting the paramount role of the
export economy in affecting the rate of population growth and
changes in the components of demographic composition.
It was, therefore, hypothesized that the size, distribu-
tion, and characteristics of St. Vincent's population have been
affected by variations in the national export economy. A compre-
hensive analysis of the economy and population between 1763 and
1960 supports this hypothesis.
Part I of this study involves a reconstruction of the
overlapping periods of monocultural cash crop production, be-
ginning with the sugar industry in the late 18th century. It was
primarily during the 19th century, however, that sugar production
was developed and expanded, at first with slave labor, then, after
emancipation in 1838, by the use of indentured alien laborers--
Portuguese Hadeirans, "liberated" African slaves, and East Indian
"coolies." The demise of the inefficient muscovado sugar in-
dustry in St. Vincent followed the entry of subsidized European
beet sugar into the British market after 1880 and was hastened
by the twin natural disasters of a hurricane in 1898 and an
eruption of the Soufriere volcano in 1902.
It was in the 20th century that St. Vincent experienced
monocultural production of Sea Island cotton, arrowroot starch,
and bananas as primary economic activities. Each of these
activities overlapped its predecessor as it rose quickly to a
position of supreme importance before waning in the face of exo-
genous market forces.
Part II traces the demographic changes that reflected
local and international fluctuations in the primary producing
industries. With the abolition of the slave trade in 1808, the
population of St. Vincent grew very slowly, as the effects of
natural increase were reduced by the mass emigrations of Vincen-
tians between 1880 and 1931. Thereafter, St. Vincent's popula-
tion grew rapidly as mortality declined and emigration was
stifled by international restrictions.
By 1960, St. Vincent still showed the results of past
emigrations of males and the more recent high rates of natural
increase--a low sex ratio and a heavy burden of economic depend-
ency, concentrated among children under 15 years of age.
Partly as a consequence of monetary remittances from relatives
working abroad and the changing attitudes of both sexes toward
agricultural employment, the labor force shows a low level of
female participation and a growing proportion of workers enter-
ing the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.
The results of this economic and population analysis
demonstrate the lasting effects of shifting patterns of economic
activity on the rate of population growth and composition. Any
attempt to improve the demographic situation of St. Vincent must
take into account the disruptions attendant upon unpredictable
and sometimes violent fluctuations in the fortunes of cash crop
The days of laissez faire are at an end for most nations of
the world. Instead, a degree of planning, prediction, and action,
based on viable data has become the prime consideration. In the
last quarter of a century, all West Indian governments and
institutions have tried to gain an understanding of their
political, economic, social, and demographic problems before
going ahead with their individual island plans. Preliminary
discussions after the Second World War dealt, for example, with
the concept of a federation of the British West Indian colonies
and produced numerous analytical statements about the difficulties
inherent in such a step. It was not long before both scholars
and politicians realized that inventories of individual problems
would be required for adequate planning.
The colonies in the Caribbean area differed in many ways
each from the other. The larger and more important territories,
such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and British Guiana [now
Guyana], overshadowed the smaller islands of the Lesser Antilles
in t'lc attention paid to domestic problems. Yet there was no way
to mold these countries into a unitary political, economic, and
social framework without taking into account individual charac-
teristics. If the colonies were to become one entity, what effect
would this have, for example, on population movements from the
less developed British Caribbean islands to the more developed
ones? Would black mmiigrants be welcomed into mixed societies
facing their own employment difficulties? LWo would speak for
the needs of the smaller colonies? Would the "rich" grow richer
in the West Indies at the expense of the politically and
These unanswered questions, together with the rapid growth
of national self-awareness and self-consciousness, resulted in
attempts to appraise the contemporary scene, which, however, had
roots in the past; to understand the present, it was, therefore,
also necessary to understand the historical sequence of changes
in the political, economic, social, and demographic variables.
National economies and population growth quickly became
popular topics for investigation. It was only natural that the
larger and more important colonies (those, it was thought, which
would form the foundation for an intra-Caribbean political
federation) were most often studied. Attention was directed to
Jamaica, at the western end of the British Caribbean, to Trinidad
and Tobago, and to British Guiana, well over a thousand miles
apart. Considerably less attention, if any, was devoted to the
smaller islands between the "giants." That the projected West
Indian Federation came into being in 1958 and was dissolved by
1962 is, in part, a disfunction of these disparate units. The
larger islands and continental territories went their own
particular ways leaving a major problem yet to be solved-how
were the "Little Eight" to evolve a form of government, a
rational socio-economic plan, without re-submitting themselves
to neo-colonialism and international beggary?
The present study is an attempt to add to the store of
information available describing the patterns of change in
St. Vincent's economy and the resulting changes in population
variables. Emphasis has been placed on historical trends, of
paramount importance if the present problems are to be under-
stood. The fields of economic and population geography are
thus both served by the historical nature of the investigation.
As Zelinsky states: ". . population geography is, ipso fact,
historical geography"; the same also applies to economic
geography. The population geographer becomes, by virtue of
the type of data sought and utilized, an historical geographer.1
St. Vincent in the Windward Islands of the West Indies
was selected because it was one of the smaller, "forgotten"
islands. Little has been written about this island and what
exists has been either of very early or very late date. The
broad interval from the end of slavery (1838) until the post-
World War II era is devoid of any substantive information con-
cerning the economy, particularly the cash crop export economy,
or the changes in population. The present study fills in the
gap and provides a narrative of the economic fluctuations of
monocultural production for export and the geography of popula-
tion change and composition, for two centuries, from 1763 to
1960. Since few of the studies concerning the former British
colonial empire in the West Indies trace both the economic and
demographic changes, it was felt that an analysis of St. Vincent's
past would contribute to the meager fund of historical informa-
tion available for students of the contemporary scene.
The problem of concern in this study is the relationship
between fluctuations in the export economy of St. Vincent and
changes in the factors of population growth and composition.
Throughout its history, St. Vincent has been a "dependent"
country-dependent in terns of its main source of revenue and
the economic burden which its working-age population has had
to bear. At no time since St. Vincent becae a British
possession, in 1763, has the island been in a commanding or
influential economic position. Most of its history, at least
up to 1891, has been one of sugar cane production and export.
The island was settled and developed as a "sugar island,"
a place where huge profits were to be made by large estate owners.
Population growth and composition in the 18th and 19th centuries
were directly linked to the export economy. Labor requirements
for sugar estates were met by African slave quotas until 1807;
thereafter, the increase in population and the racial, sex, and
age composition varied with the fortunes of the leading export
commodity-sugar. To maintain sufficient workers in the fields
at low cost, after Emancipation, laws were passed permitting
foreign laborers to enter under paid work-contracts which bound
the contractees to work in the sugar industry for specified
Competing sources of sugar for the European market
gradually rendered sugar cane production in St. Vincent less
profitable after the middle of the 19th century. By 1880,
foreign Indentured workers were no longer imported, as the
sugar industry in St. Vincent faced a situation where profit-
ability was restricted to modernized large-scale estates found
in the larger and less traditional British tropical possessions
around the world. High rates of absentee-ownership in
St. Vincent meant that diversification of the economy was slow
in being established. Sugar production continued to decline
after the 1870s, so that by 1891, another cash crop-arrowroot
starch-became the mainstay of the economy.
What followed in the 20th century were attempts to
support the working population by emphasizing several different
cash crops (arrowroot, Sea Island cotton, and bananas) which
competed at various times for both labor and land. The true
"monoculture" of the 18th and 19th centuries was replaced in
the 20th century by the production of different crops, although
the importance of the leading two or three commodities over-
shadowed all of the other economic activities. In a sense, the
20th century has been characterized more by "overlapping"
monocultural activities than by sharply divided epochs.
The effect of frequent shifts in emphasis from one type
of cash crop regime to another affected the size, rate of growth,
and composition of St. Vincent's population. The author was
struck by the coincidence of population changes attendant upon
major shifts in the export economy. The problem was one of
reconciling the broad demographic fluctuations with the
history of economic fluctuations in the island. Were they
independent of each other? Did they occur aimultaneoualy or
did one precede the other?
Before describing and explaining the changes in the
population of the island, it was necessary to reconstruct from
numerous official and unofficial documents, both published and
unpublished, the complete economic historical geography of
St. Vincent. By observing the variations in the population,
as revealed by the periodic censuses, and the fluctuations in
the export economy, the author determined that population
changes were more or less dependent upon the economy. Because
of St. Vincent's relatively insignificant size and production
of cash crops, it seemed unlikely that the population could
dictate what economic activity should be pursued. The massive
force of the international markets, through the demand for
particular products has usually influenced the economic
activities that could be profitably undertaken in St. Vincent.
It has been the inability or unwillingness of Vincentian
growers to change with shifts in demand that seemed to cause
employment difficulties. Responding to the low wages and the
lack of sufficiently satisfying job opportunities in St. Vincent,
large numbers of Vincentian laborers have emigrated-some
permanently, others only seasonally-to destinations in the
circum-Caribbean region, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The Working Hypothesis
The theme of this investigation is the relation between
the nature and operation of the Vincentian economy and the
changing demographic variables. Accordingly, the implied
hypothesis throughout the following chapters is that the size,
distribution, and characteristics of St. Vincent's population
have been affected by the variations in the national export
economy. A quantitative testing of the hypothesis cannot be
predicated, owing to the nature and scope of the historical
data. If there is to be a quantitative testing of the hypoth-
eala then the historical statistics must be valid and reliable.
There is no way to test data gathered as far back as 1763 and,
in fact, population data assembled before 1946 are probably
subject to considerable discount.
The author's intention is to present the broad, general
patterns of economic and demographic fluctuations, and it is
assumed that errors in the data, although they may be substantial,
do not preclude the reconstruction of past events. It matters
less that the statistics found in historical documents are
totally reliable and valid than that they permit the researcher
to observe periods of prosperity and depression in the economy
and intervals of population change which correspond to the
A subsidiary goal of this study is the presentation of
historical data and facts that may soon be lost to posterity.
It is felt that future students of West Indian problems should
not have to undergo the laborious and sometimes disheartening
task of scouring government archives (which are on the point
of extinction because minor government officials are uncon-
cerned with the past) to reconstruct the economic and demo-
graphic history of St. Vincent. The archives are fruitful
store of information and need to be closely examined; the
present study offers a partial restoration of historical events
in St. Vincent's past and leaves other students to present
their efforts at salvaging the history of the island. The
author feels that a contribution to an understanding of the
Vest Indies lies in the presentation of hitherto unavailable
or widely scattered historical data.
Definitions of Terms and Limitations in the Study
In the substantive chapters which follow, the author has
restricted his analysis to the island called St. Vincent,
located in the West Indies. During the time period under
investigation (1763 to 1960), St. Vincent was a crown colony
of Great Britian.2 Wherever the name "St. Vincent" appears, it
refers to the main island and its dependencies in the Grenadine
Islands stretching southward toward Grenada. If there is a
need to differentiate between the component parts of the colony,
the terms "main island" and "Grenadine dependencies" (or
"Grenadine Islands" and "Grenadines") will be used; therefore,
unless otherwise indicated, the name St. Vincent always denotes
the entire colony.
The subject of this study is the export segment of the
island's economy; the statistics used are the foreign trade
statistics which measure the chief source of the colony's revenue.
In a reconstruction of the past, the date of Britain's
acquisition of St. Vincent (1763) is regarded as the one end
of the spectrum and the date of the last completed census as
the other (1960). Although a population census was taken in
1970, it has not been published, and, therefore, the decade
of the 1960s has unfortunately been excluded from the analysis.
The omission precludes a study of the major changes that have
occurred with the rapid growth of the banana industry in the
1960s, although the effects of the first flush of success
from the banana trade, up to 1960, are discussed. Unfortunately,
most of the trade data for the 1960s is still unavailable.
Long delays in publishing statistics in St. Vincent are not
uncommon, as was indicated for the 1960 census. These con-
siderations influenced the author in his decision to limit the
analysis to 1960.
Finally, throughout this study, the term "the West Indies"
appears: unless otherwise qualified, the expression refers to
the former British West Indies (or British Caribbean) and
includes British Guiana [now Guyana] on the South American
A Review of the Literature
A review of the literature pertaining to the historical
economic and population geography of St. Vincent must, of
necessity, be interdisciplinary because non-geographers have
contributed most of the research on the British West Indies.
To understand the evolution of St. Vincent's economic and
population problems, it is vitally necessary to become acquainted
with studies of other individual countries in the British
Caribbean which may serve as models for comparison. A survey
of the literature reveals a dearth of research aimed at St.
Vincent and, hence, includes an accounting of related general
and specific works, with both a contemporary and an historical
Studies of St. Vincent
The literature that refers specifically to St. Vincent's
economic and demographic situation, both in the recent and
distant past, is almost non-existent. The only comprehensive
study of St. Vincent's population is Byrne's narrowly demo-
graphic analysis, which describes trends since 1851, but
emphasizes changing vital rates in the 20th century and their
consequences for the future.4 She makes no attempt to
correlate major economic and demographic phases except in the
most general sense. Needless to say, population geographers
have yet to draw much of their attention to the West Indies;
most students of West Indian population have been demographers.
The economic geography of St. Vincent has been analyzed
in several articles, all confined to the years after 1920;
none go back to the 18th or 19th centuries. The articles are
time series pictures of the past and are static in perspective.5
No attempt has been made to join the major events of the last
two centuries into a continuous pattern. Population in St.
Vincent has been the target solely of scholars of West Indian
demography and sociology, while the economy has been the focus
of a few geographers, although both economic and population studies
of the island are relatively rare.
Among the available historical references concerned with
early social, cultural, and economic life in the British West
Indies, two treat the conditions in St. Vincent at length.
Mrs. Carmichael's books describe daily social and cultural
life in St. Vincent under slavery, while Shepard's book is
valuable for its statistical appendices, which document the
economic history of the island up to 1829.6
Other valuable sources of general historical information
are contained in books and articles that have a vider scope,
and include St. Vincent, among other British colonial posses-
sions in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of these are cited
in the chapters that follow, but important examples include
Niddrie's study of the 18th century settlement of the "Ceded
Islands" (Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Tobago);7
Walters's biography of Valentine Morris (governor of the island
when the French seized It in 1779) which provides insight into
the first two decades of the colony's existence.
Social conditions in St. Vincent are also described in
an article by Michael G. Smith, a social anthropologist, who
leans heavily on Mrs. Carmichael's work. Two books covering
the period between 1837 and 1859 provide sketches of post-
Emancipation social conditions among the ex-slave population.10
A statistical work by the noted West Indian demographer, G. V.
Roberts, provides an invaluable fund of information concerning
the number of immigrants, their race, the year of their arrival,
and their destination in the British West Indies, from 1834 to
1918.11 Earlier, Roberts published a detailed analysis of the
cauaea and size of the "liberated" African immigration to the
British Caribbean following Emancipation, in which important
facts are given concerning St. Vincent's share in this labor
Studies of Other British West Indian Societies
Other countries in the British Caribbean have been more
carefully studied. Jamaica, because of its relatively greater
size and economic stature in British colonial history, together
with the existence of a corpus of scholars in the Institute of
Social and Economic Studies, has been the subject of consid-
erable attention. The most comprehensive population analysis
of any West Indian territory is found in Roberts's book, The
Population of Jamaica, which serves as a model for the compar-
ison of demographic variables of other countries in the
Caribbean.13 Much of Jamaica's past resembles St. Vincent's,
as both suffered from the ill effects of a declining sugar
industry in the 19th century and lost population through
emigration, although St. Vincent experienced a much greater
rate of emigration.14 The attention given to Jamaica's prob-
lems, however, is directed more toward the 20th century,
especially to the post-World War II years, and focuses on the
disruptions to the economy caused by rapid growth, rural-to-
urban migration, and the emigration to the United Kingdom in
the 1950s.15 Consideration has also been given to the purely
demographic aspects of population change.6 Economists, rather
than geographers have dominated the field of economic analysis
in Jamaica and have concerned themselves with the 20th century.17
Trinidad and Tobago, as one of the other major island
countries in the British Caribbean, has had relatively greater
attention given to its racial problems than to its other
demographic and economic characteristics.18 Niddrie has con-
tributed a substantive geographical study of Tobago, which takes
account of the physical environment, the historical and present-
day patterns of land use, and distribution of population, while
Kingsbury's monograph is a straightforward description of the
economic geography of Trinidad and Tobago.19
Those who have studied the economy and the population of
Barbados have, with few exceptions, limited their analysis to
the mid-20th century and have not considered the historical
geographic aspects of fluctuations in the national economy and
changes in population size, growth, and composition.20
Studies of the other former British West Indian colonies
have a greater representation among geographers, who have
examined the historical and cultural aspects of settlement and
cultural landscapes,21 the population in the 20th century,
and the geography of trade and commerce.23 Economists,
sociologists, and demographers have usually considered the
contemporary situation,24 with only a few providing an historical
General Studies of the West Indian Economy and Population
Among the economic and social studies of general
application to all parts of the British Caribbean region,
several are valuable for their descriptions and statistics
relating to the period of slavery. Ragatz's works documenting
the decline of plantation slavery26 and William's interpreta-
tion of the role of slavery in the development of English
industrialization are noteworthy sources.27 Deerr's volumes
provide detailed production and price data covering the world's
sugar industry,28 and Beachey's book supplies an excellent
account of the fortune of the British West Indian sugar
industry in the last half of the 19th century, including a
valuable discussion of the West Indian Encumbered Estates
Act.29 Other references offer interesting insights into the
production of sugar cane in the West Indies and the social
and economic problems which characterized the post-slavery
era, but nearly all their authors are historians.30
The majority of studies that describe economic conditions
focus primarily on the post-World War II years, when the
British colonies were assessing their economic development.
Some were of a general nature,31 although most were concerned
with the contemporary situation of the various primary products
that formed the foundation of so many West Indian countries.
The banana trade has been a major subject for analysis,32 owing
to its relatively recent establishment in the Eastern Caribbean,
and it is followed by studies of the other traditional commodity
exports-for example, sugar, cotton, and citrus.33 Tourism has
become increasingly important in the Caribbean, especially
after the Cuban revolution and the dissolution of the West
Indian Federation. The smaller islands have come to consider
tourism as a source of income mainly because of their inherent
The general studies of West Indian population include
those that analyze the cost of slaves, the importations of
East Indians into the Eastern Caribbean, and the contemporary
race and color problems which evolved from the hierarchical
societies of slavery and post-slavery years.3
Roberta, and other scholars, have continued to provide
a steady stream of articles providing general surveys of the
demographic problems in the West Indies.36 In an attempt to
provide answers to the problems of improving the social con-
ditions among West Indians, Erickson has examined theories
that purport to explain population growth in one of the few
book-length studies of West Indian population.37
Another major center of attention for researchers of
West Indian problems has been migration. Proudfoot's mono-
graph on intra-Caribbean movement is one of the earliest to
deal with this phenomenon. In one of the few geographic
studies of West Indian demographic problems, Lowenthal analyzes
the migration streams from the point of origin to show the
effects on the non-migrating population.3 A more recent
type of emigration found in the late 1960s-that of the move-
ment of young females to Canada as domestic servants-is
examined by Henry.40
The mass movement of West Indians to the United Kingdom
following the Second World War, in response to a labor shortage
in the mother country, and later the collapse of the West
Indian Federation, bringing to an end the much vaunted dream
of intra-Federation labor migration, drew attention to the
"push" and "pull" forces of international migration and the
problems that developed in Britain with the entrance of
Lastly, there are the demographic statistical studies
that are basic to any analysis of West Indian populations in
the 20th century. Kuczynski produced a detailed survey of pop-
ulation data, from 1921 to 1946, that encompasses all of the
former British West Indian colonies and includes a discussion
of each territory'a census administration.42 The Census
Research Programme, established at the University of West
Indies in Jamaica, has provided abridged life tables for the
British West Indies for 1946 and 1951 and complete life tables
for 1960. In addition, the same organization has estimated
the age, sex, and migration balance for the years between
1946 and 1960.43
Summary of the Economic and Population Literature
In general, there have been relatively few geographers
who have studied the former British West Indies, especially
from an historical economic and population viewpoint. The
bulk of the work on the region's problems has been contributed
by economists, demographers, sociologists, and historians,
who have been more concerned with conditions after the Second
World War than with those of the past few centuries, although
the roots of many of today's problems lie in the past. The
tendency has been toward a regional view when a long time
perspective la used. An obvious gap in the literature needed
filling, so that this study is an attempt to describe as fully
as possible the factors that have shaped and guided the fortunes
of the export economy and the subsequent variations in
population size, growth, and composition.
The Organization of the Study
Preceding the main body of the study, there is a brief
survey of the physical setting. The main text is divided into
two parts. In Part I, the economy of St. Vincent is recon-
structed and described according to the principal export
commodities. Chapters III and IV describe the establishment,
growth, and eventual failure of St. Vincent's sugar industry,
from 1763 to 1902. In Chapter V, the major and minor cash-
crop industries that subsequently replaced sugar cane exports
are examined, starting with the 19th-century expansion of the
arrovroot starch industry and ending with the more recent
success of banana production in the 1950s.
Part II is concerned with the changing demographic
situation in St. Vincent. In Chapter VI, there is a discussion
of the changing size and rate of growth of the population,
from 1763 to 1960, with the emphasis on the migration that
has affected the island in the last century and a half. Chapter
VII examines the composition of the Vincentian population,
stressing variations in age, sex, race, rural-urban composition,
and occupational status of the population. Most of this
analysis is confined to the years included in the censal
history of the island, from about the middle of the 19th
century to 1960.
The final chapter is devoted to a recapitulation of
the major economic and population changes in St. Vincent and
the connections that bind them.
NOTES TO CHAPTER I
kilbur Zelinsky, A Prologue to Population Geography
(Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966), p. 27.
In 1969, St. Vincent passed from Crown Colony status to
that of an Associated State in the British Commonwealth. The
Government of St. Vincent is autonomous, with the exception of
foreign affairs and defense.
3See Bibliography at the end of this study for particular
4Joycelin Byrne, "Population Growth in St. Vincent," Social
and Economic Studies, XVIII, No. 2 (June, 1969), pp. 152-188.
5George Wright, "Economic Conditions in St. Vincent, B. W. I.,"
Economic Geography, V. No. 3 (July, 1929), pp. 236-259; and Frederick
Walker, "Economic Progress of St. Vincent, B. W. I. Since 1927,"
Economic Geography, XIII, No. 3 (July, 1937), pp. 217-234. Also Arlin
D. Fenten, Commercial Geography of St. Vincent (Bloomington, Ind.:
Department of Geography, Indiana University, 1961); Robert C.
Kingsbury, Commercial Geography of the Grenadines (Bloomington, Ind.:
Department of Geography, Indiana University, 1960); John E. Adams,
"Conch Fishing Industry of Union Island, Grenadines, West Indies,"
Tropical Science, XII, No. 4 (1970), pp. 279-288.
6Mrs. [A. C.] Carmichael, Domestic Manners and Social
Conditions of the White, Coloured, and Negro Population of the West
Indies (2 vols.; London: Whittaker, Treacher, and Co., 1833);
Charles Shephard, An Historical Account of the Island of St. Vincent
(London: W. Nichol, 1831).
7David L. Niddrie, "Eighteenth-Century Settlement in the
British Caribbean," Transactions and Papers, The Institute of
British Geographers, Publication No. 40 (1966), pp. 67-80; and
ibid., "Land Use and Settlement in the Caribbean: A Contribution
to the Historical and Social Geography of the Lesser Antilles with
Special Reference to the Ceded Islands and in Particular to Tobago,"
(Ph. D. dissertation, Manchester University, 1965).
81vor Walters, The Unfortunate Valentine Morris (Newport,
England: R. H. Johns, Ltd., 1964).
Michxael G. Smith, "Some Aspects of Social Structure in the-
British Caribbean About 1820," Social and Economic Studies, I, No.
4 (August, 1953), pp. 55-79.
10Joseph Sturge and Thomas Harvey, The West Indies in 1837
(London: Hamilton, Adams and Co., 1838); William G. Sevell, Ordeal
of Free Labour in the British West Indies (2d ed.; London: Sampson
Low, Son, & Co., 1862).
1G. W. Roberts and Joycelin Byrne, "Summary Statistics on
Indenture and Associated Migration Affecting the West Indies,
1834-1918," Population Studies, XX, No. 1 (July, 1966), pp. 125-134.
12G. W. Roberts, "Immigration of Africans into the British
Caribbean," Population Studies, VII, No. 3 (March, 1954), pp. 253-262.
13G. W. Roberts, The Population of Jamaica: An Analysis of
Its Structure and Growth (Cambridge, England: The Conservation
Foundation at the University Press, 1957).
14G. E. Cumper, "Labor Demand and Supply in the Jamaican
Sugar Industry, 1830-1950, "Social and Economic Studies, II, No. 4
(March, 1954), pp. 37-86; ibid., "Population Movements in Jamaica,
1830-1950" Social and Economic Studies, V, No. 3 (September, 1956),
pp. 261-280; also H. D. Huggins, "Seasonal Variations and Employment
in Jamaica." Social and Economic Studies, I, No. 2 (June, 1953),
15David Loventhal, "Population and Production in Jamaica,"
Geographical Review, XLVIII, No. 4 (October, 1958), pp. 568-571; G. E.
Cumper, "Preliminary Analysis of Population Growth and Social
Characteristics in Jamaica, 1943-1960," Social and Economic Studies,
XII, No. 4 (December, 1963), pp. 393-431; Jack Harewood, "Overpopulation
and Underemployment in the West Indies," International Labor Review,
LXXXII, No. 2 (August, 1960), pp. 103-137; Colin G. Clarke, "Population
Pressure in Kingston, Jamaica: A Study of Unemployment and Over-
crowding," Transactions and Papers, The Institute of British Geographers,
Publiscation No. 38 (1966), pp. 165-182; G. W. Roberts, "Provisional
Assessment of Growth of the Kingston-St. Andrew Area, 1960-1970,"
Social and Economic Studies, XII, No. 4 (December, 1963), pp. 432-
441; ibid., "Demographic Aspects of Rural Development," Social and
Economic Studies, XVII, No. 3 (September, 1968), pp. 276-282; also
G. W. Roberts and D. 0. Mills, "Study of External Migration Affect-
ing Jamaica, 1953-55," Social and Economic Studies, Supplement to
VII, No. 2 (June, 1958), p. 126; G. Edward Ebanks, "Differential
Internal Migration in Jamaica, 1943-60," Social and Economic Studies
XVII, No. 2 (June, 1968), pp. 197-214; R. N. S. Harris and E. S. Steer,
"Demographic-Resource Push in Rural Migration: A Jamaican Case Study,"
Social and Economic Studies, XVII, No. 4 (December, 1968), pp. 398-
406; Nassua A. Adams, "Internal Migration in Jamaica: An Economic
Analysis," Social and Economic Studies, XVIII, No. 2 (June, 1969)
pp. 137-151; W. F. Maunder, "The New Jamaican Emigration," Social
and Economic Studies, IV, No. 1 (March, 1955), pp. 38-63; Clarence
Senior and Douglas Manley, A Report on Jamaican Migration to Great
Britain (Kingston, Jamaica: Government Printer, 1955); and Gene
Tidrick, "Some Aspects of Jamaican Emigration to the United Kingdom,
1953-1962," Social and Economic Studies, XV, No. 1 (March, 1966),
G. J. Kruijer, "Family Size and Family Planning: A Pilot
Survey Among Jamaican Mothers," West-Indische Gids, XXXVIII, Nos.
3-4 (1959), pp. 144-150; and G. E. Cumper, "The Fertility of Common-
law Unions in Jamaica," Social and Economic Studies, XV, No. 3
(September, 1966), pp. 189-202.
17G. E. Camper, "Estimates of Jamaican Commodity Trade," Social
and Economic Studies. VI, No. 3 (September, 1957), pp. 425-431;
Donald Q. Innis, "The Economic Geography of Jamaica," Revue Canadienne
de Ghographie, XVII, Nos. 1-2 (1963), pp. 26-30; Carleen O'Loughlin,
'Long-Tern Growth of the Economy of Jamaica," Social and Economic
Studies, XII, No. 3 (September, 1963), pp. 246-282; Eric Armstrong,
"Long-Term Growth of the Economy of Jamaica," Social and Economic
Studies, XII, No. 3 (September, 1963), pp. 283-306; Clive Y. Thomas,
"Coffee Production in Jamaica," Social and Economic Studies, XIII,
No. 1 (March, 1964), pp. 188-217; B. S. Young, "Jamaica's Bauxite
and Alumina Industries," Annals of the Association of American
Geographers, LV, No. 3 (September, 1965), pp. 449-464; Vernon C.
Mulchansingh, Trends in the Industrialization of Jamaica (Kingston,
Jamaica: Department of Geography, University of the West Indies
Occasional Paper No. 6, 1970); Nassua A. Adams, "Import Structure
and Economic Growth in Jamaica. 1954-1967," Social and Economic
Studies, XX, No. 3 (September, 1971). pp. 235-266.
18Jack Harevood, "Population Growth of Trinidad and Tobago in
the Twentieth Century," Research Papers, Central Statistical Office
of Trinidad and Tobago, No. 4 (December, 1967), pp. 69-92; M. B.
Naidoo, "The East Indian in Trinidad: A Study of an Immigrant
Community," The Journal of Geography, LIX, No. 4 (April, 1960), pp.
175-181; John P. Augelli and Harry W. Taylor, "Race and Population
Patterns in Trinidad," Annals of the Association of American
Geographers, L, No. 2 (June, 1960), pp. 123-138; Judith Ann Weller,
The East Indian Indenture in Trinidad (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico:
Institute of Caribbean Studies, University of Puerto Rico, 1968);
Colin G. Clarke, "Residential Segregation and Intermarriage in San
Fernando, Trinidad," The Geographical Review, LXI, No. 2 (April, 1971),
pp. 198-218; Jack Reynolds, "Family Planning Dropouts in Trinidad
and Tobago," Social and Economic Studies, XX, No. 2 (June, 1971),
pp. 176-187; J. S. Campbell and H. J. Gooding, "Recent Developments
in the Production of Food Crops in Trinidad," Tropical Agriculture,
IXXIX, No. 4 (October, 1962), pp. 261e270; Frank Rampersad, Growth
and Structural Change in the Economy of Trinidad and Tobago, 1951-
1961 (Mona, Jamaica: Institute of Social and Economic Research,
University of the West Indies, 1964); Clive Y. Thomas, "Projections
of Cocoa Output in Grenada, Trinidad, and Jamaica, 1960-75," Social
and Economic Studies, XIII, No. 1 (March, 1964), pp. 94-117.
19David L. Niddrie, Land Use and Population in Tobago, The
World Land Use Survey, Monograph 3: Tobago (Bude: Geographical
Publications Limited, 1961); and Robert C. Kingsbury, Comercial
Geography of Trinidad and Tobago (Bloomington, Ind.: Department
of Geography, Indiana University, 1960).
20Jerome S. Handler, "Slave Population of Barbados in the
Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries," Caribbean Studies, VIII,
No. 4 (January, 1969), pp. 38-64; David Loventhal, "The Population of
Barbados," Social and Economic Studies, VI, No. 4 (December, 1957),
pp. 445-501; C. W. Roberts, "Emigration from the Island of Barbados,"
Social and Economic Studies, IV, No. 2 (June, 1955), pp. 245-288;
Janet D. Henshall, "The Demographic Factor in the Structure of
Agriculture in Barbados," Transactions and Papers, The Institute of
British Geographers, Publication No. 38 (1966), pp. 183-195; C. T.
M. Commins, et al., "Population Control on Barbados," American Journal
of Public Health, LV, No. 10 (1965), pp. 1600-1608; Joycelin Byrne,
"A Fertility Survey in Barbados," Social and Economic Studies. XV,
No. 4 (December, 1966), pp. 368-378; Ibid., "A Note on the 1970
Population Census in Barbados," Social and Economic Studies, XX,
No. 4 (December, 1971), pp. 431-440; G. Edward Ebanks, "Social
and Demographic Characteristics of Family Planning Clients in
Barbados," Social and Economic Studies, XVIII, No. 4 (December, 1969),
pp. 391-401; Moni Nag, "The Pattern of Mating Behavior, Emigration,
and Contraceptives as Factors Affecting Human Fertility in Barbados,"
Social and Economic Studies, XX, No. 2 (June, 1971), pp. 111-133;
G. E. Cumper, "Employment in Barbados," Social and Economic Studies,
VIII, No. 2 (June, 1959), pp. 105-146; Otis P. Starkey, Cocercial
Geography of Barbados (Bloomington, Ind.: Department of Geography,
Indiana University, 1961); David Watts, "Man's Influence on the
Vegetation of Barbados, 1627 to 1800," Occasional Papers in Geography,
University of Hull, No. 4 (Hull, England: University of Bull, 1966);
ibid., "Origins of Barbadian Cane-Hole Agriculture," British Museum
and Historical Society Journal, XXXIi (1968), pp. 143-151; ibid.,
"Persistence and Change in the Vegetation of Oceanic Islands: An
Example from Barbados, West Indies," The Canadian Geographer, XIV,
No. 2 (Summer, 1970), pp. 91-109.
2David L. Niddrie, "An Attempt at Planned Settlement in St.
Kitts in the Early Eighteenth Century," Caribbean Studies, V, No. 4
(January, 1966), pp. 3-11; and Raymond E. Crist, "Static and
Emerging Cultural Landscapes on the Islands of St. Ritts and Nevis,
B. V. I.," Economic Geography. XV, No. 2 (April, 1949), pp. 134-145.
22David Lowenthal, "Population Contrasts in the Guianas,"
Geographical Review, L, No. 1 (January, 1960), pp. 41-58; Earl B.
Shaw, "Population Adjustments in Our Virgin Islands," Economic
Geography, XI, No. 3 (July, 1935), pp. 267-279; and Barbara Welch,
"Population Density and Emigration in Dominica," Geographical Journal,
CXXXIV, No. 2 (1968), pp. 227-235.
Earl B. Shaw, "St. Croix: A Marginal Sugar-Producing
Island," The Geographical Review, XXIII, No. 3 (July, 1933), pp.
414-422; Robert C. Kingsbury, Commercial Geography of the British
Virgin Islands (Bloomington, Ind.: Department of Geography, Indiana
University, 1960); ibid., Commercial Geography of Grenada
(Bloomington, Ind.: Department of Geography, Indiana University,
1960); Arlin D. Fentem, Commercial Geography of Dominica
(Bloomington, Ind.: Department of Geography, Indiana University,
1960); ibid., Commercial Geography of Antigua (Bloomington, Ind.:
Department of Geography, Indiana University, 1961); Otis P.
Starkey, Commercial Geography of Hontserrat (Bloomington, Ind.:
Department of Geography, Indiana Univeristy, 1960); ibid.,
Commercial Geography of St. Kitts-Nevis [and Anguilla] (Bloomington,
Ind.: Department of Geography, Indiana University, 1961); and
ibid., Commercial Geography of St. Lucia (Bloomington, Ind.:
Department of Geography, Indiana University, 1961).
Jack Harewood, "Population Growth in Grenada in the
Twentieth Century," Social and Economic Studies, XV, No. 2
(June, 1966), pp. 61-84; ibid., "Employment in Grenada in 1960,"
Social and Economic Studies, XV, No. 3 (September, 1966), pp.
203-238; Carleen O'Loughlin, A Survey of Economic Potential, Fiscal
Structure and Capital Requirements of the British Virgin Islands
(Mona, Jamaica: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University
of the West Indies, 1962); ibid., "The Economy of Antigua," Social
and Economic Studies, VIII, No. 3 (September, 1959), pp. 229-264;
ibid., "Problems in the Economic Development of Antigua," Social
and Economic Studies, X, No. 3 (September, 1961), pp. 237-277;
ibid., "The Economy of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla," Social and
Economic Studies, VII, No. 4 (December, 1959), pp. 377-402; Ibid.,
"The Economy of Montserrat," Social and Economic Studies, VIII, No.
2 (June, 1959), pp. 105-146; ibid., "Economic Problems of the
Smaller West Indian Islands," Social and Economic Studies, XI, No.
1 (March, 1962), pp. 44-56; H. W. O'Neale, "The Economy of St.
Lucia," Social and Economic Studies, XIII, No. 4 (December, 1964),
pp. 440-470; A. Kundu, "Rice in the British Caribbean Islands and
British Guiana, 1950-1975," Social and Economic Studies, XIII,
No. 2 (June, 1964), pp. 243-281; and ibid., "The Economy of British
Guiana, 1960-1975," Social and Economic Studies, XII, No. 3
(September, 1963), pp. 307-380
25G. W. Roberts, "A Life Table for a West Indian Slave
Population," Population Studies, V, No. 3 (1951), pp. 238-243;
Ripley P. Bullen, "The First English Settlement on St. Lucia,"
Caribbean Quarterly, XII, No. 2 (June, 1966), pp. 29-35; and
Jay R. Mandle, "Population and Economic Change: The Emergence of
the Rice Industry in Guyana, 1895-1915," The Journal of Economic
History, XXX, No. 4 (December, 1970), pp. 785-801.
Lowell Joseph Ragatz, The Fall of the Planter Class in the
British Caribbean. 1763-1833 (New York: D. Appleton-Century Co.,
1928); ibid., "Absentee Landlordism in the British Caribbean,
1750-1833," Journal of Agricultural History, No. 1 (1931); ibid.,
A Guide for Study of British Caribbean History, 1763-1834
(Washington, D. C.:, 1932).
Eric William, Catalis and Slaver (New York: Capricorn
Books, 1966; original copyright by The University of North Carolina
2 oel Deerr, The History of Sugar (2 vols,; London: Chapman
& Hall, 1950).
R. W. Beachey, The British West Indies Sugar Industry in the
Late 19th Century (Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1957).
Ward Barrett, "Caribbean Sugar-Production Standards in the
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," in Merchants and Scholars,
ed. by John Parker (Minneapolls, Minn.: University of Minnesota
Press, 1965); R. B. Sheridan, "The West India Sugar Crisis and
British Slave Emancipation, 1830-1833," The Journal of Economic
History, XXI, No. 4 (December, 1961), pp. 539-551; Woodville
K. Marshall, "Social and Economic Problems in the Windward Islands,
1838-65," in The Caribbean in Transition, ed. by F. M. Andic and
T. G. Mathews (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico: University of Puerto
Rico for the Institute of Caribbean Studies, 1965), pp. 234-257;
ibid., "Metayage in the Sugar Industry of the British Windward
Islands, 1838-1865," The Jamaican Historical Review, V (May, 1965),
pp. 28-55; ibid., "Peasant Development in the West Indies Since
1838," Social and Economic Studies, XVII, No. 3 (September, 1968),
pp. 252-263; S. B. Saul, "The British West Indies in Depression:
1800-1914," Inter-American Economic Affairs, XII (1958), pp. 3-25;
C. Y. Shephard, "Peasant Agriculture in the Leeward and Windward
Islands," Tropical Agriculture, XXIV, Part I, Nos. 4-6 (1947),
pp. 61-71; and Otis P. Starkey, "Declining Sugar Prices and Land
Utilization in the British Lesser Antilles," Economic Geography,
XVIII (1942), pp. 209-216.
31George L. F. Beckford, "Agriculture and Economic Development."
Caribbean Quarterly, XI, Nos. 1-2 (March-June, 1965), pp. 50-63;
Fuat Andic and Elfas Gutigrrez, "Caribbean Trade Patterns," Caribbean
Studies, VI, No. 2 (July, 1966), pp. 46-55; Lewis Campbell,
"Production Methods in West Indies Agriculture," Caribbean
Quarterly, VIII, No. 2 (June, 1962), pp. 94-104; G. E. Cumper,
ed., The Economy of the West Indies (Kingst6n, Jamaica: Institute
of Social and Economic Research, University of the West Indies,
1960); David L. Niddrie, "The Caribbean Islands Today," The
Journal of the Institute of Bankers, (June, 1963), pp. 1-11; Nora
H. Siffleet, "National Income and National Accounts," Social and
Economic Studies, I, No. 3 (July, 1953), pp. 92-104; and Otis
P. Starkey, Commercial Geography of the Eastern British Caribbean
(Bloomington, Ind.: Department of Geography, Indiana University,
"N. W. Simmonds, "The Growth of the Post-War West Indian
Banana Trades," Tropical Agriculture, XXXVII, No. 2 (April, 1960),
pp. 79-85; D. E. Kay and E. H. G. Smith, "A Review of the Market
and World Trade in Bananas," Tropical Science, II, No. 3 (1960),
pp. 154-165; Derek Townsend, "Green Gold: West Indian Bananas for
British Tables," Canadian Geographical Journal, LXVII, No. 5 (1963),
pp. 172-177; Dennis McFarlane, "The Future of the West Indian Banana
Industry," Social and Economic Studies, XIII, No. 1 (March, 1964),
pp. 38-93; Melba Kershaw, "The Banana Industry in the Windward Islands,"
Tropical Science, VIII, No. 3 (1966), pp. 115-127; and George L.
F. Beckford, "Long-Term Trends in Banana Exports: Further Evidence of
Secular Fluctuations in Tropical Agricultural Trade," Economic
Development and Cultural Change, XV, No. 3 (April, 1967), pp. 323-330.
33Peter Runge, "The West Indian Sugar Industry," Journal of
the Royal Society of Arts, CIX, No. 5-54 (January, 1961), pp.
91-104; George C. Abbott, "The West Indian Sugar Industry, with
Some Long-Term Projections of Supply to 1975," Social and
Economic Studies, XIII, No. 1 (March, 1964), pp. 1-37; ibid.,
"The Collapse of the Sea Island Cotton Industry in the West
Indies," Social and Economic Studies, XIII, No. 1 (March, 1964),
pp. 157-187; and Dennis McFarlane, "The Foundations for Future
Production and Export of West Indian Citrus," Social and Economic
Studies, XIII, No. 1 (March, 1964), pp. 118-156.
34H. J. Pollard, "The West Indian Tourist Industry: Panacea
for Small Island Development?" Swansea Geographer, VIII(August, 1970),
pp. 15-21; H. Zinder and Associates, Inc., The Future of Tourism
in the Eastern Caribbean (Washington, D. C.: 1969).
35Douglas Hall, "Slaves and Slavery in the British West Indies,"
Social and Economic Studies, XI, No. 4 (December, 1962), pp.
305-318; I. M. Cumpaton, "Survey of Indian Migration to British
Tropical Colonies to 1910," Population Studies, X, No. 2 (1956),
pp. 158-165; David Lowenthal, "Race and Color in the West Indies,"
Daedalus (Spring, 1967), pp. 580-626; and ibid., "The Range and
Variation of Caribbean Societies," Annals of the New York Academy
of Sciences, LXXXIII, Art. 5 (January, 1960), pp. 786-795.
G. W. Roberts, "The Caribbean Islands," Annals of the
American Academy of Political and Social Science, CCCXVI (1958),
pp. 127-136; ibid., "Notes on Population and Growth," Social
and Economic Studies, VII, No. 3 (Septeober, 1958), pp. 24-32;
ibid;, "Prospects for Population Growth in the West Indies," Social
and Economic Studies, XI, No. 4 (December, 1962), pp. 333-349;
George C. Abbott, "Eatimates of the Growth of the Population
of the West Indies to 1975," Social and Economic Studies, XII, No.
3 (September, 1963), pp. 236-245; Clarence Senior, "Demography
and Economic Development," Social and Economic Studies, VII, No.
3 (September, 1958), pp. 9-23; Edmund H. Dale, "The Demographic
Problem of the British West Indies," Scottish Geographical
Magazine, LXXIX, No. 1. (April, 1963), pp. 23-31; and Harold L.
Geisert, The Caribbean: Population and Resources (Waahington,
D. C. : The George Washingron University Press, 1960).
37E. Gordon Ericksen, The West Indian Population Problem:
Dimensions for Action (Lawrence, Kans.: University of Kansas
Publications, Social Science Studies, 1962).
38Malcolm J. Proudfoot, Population Movements in the
Caribbean (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad: Kent House ior the Caribbean
Commiaaion, Central Secretariat, 1950).
39David Lowenthal and Lambros Comitas, "Emigration and
Depopulation: Some Neglected Aspects of Population Geography."
Geographical Review, LII (1962), pp. 195-210.
4Frances Henry, "The West Indian Domestic Scheme in Canada,"
Social and Economic Studies, XVII, No. 1 (March, 1968), pp.
Anthony H. Richmond, "Immigration as a Social Process:
The Case of Coloured Colonials in the United Kingdom," Social
and Economic Studies, V, No. 2 (June, 1956), pp. 185-201; R. B.
Davison, West Indian Migrants: Social and Economic Facts of
Migration from the West Indies (London: Oxford University Press,
1962); E. R. Braithwaite, "The 'Colored Immigrant' in Britain,"
Daedalus (Spring, 1967), pp. 496-511; G. C. K. Peach, "Factors
Affecting the Distribution of West Indians in Great Britain,"
Transactions and Papers, The Institute of British Geographers,
Publication No. 38 (1966), pp. 151-163; and ibid., "West Indians
as a Replacement Population in England and Wales," Social and
Economic Studies, XVI. No. 3 (September, 1967), pp. 289-294.
R. R. A. Kuczynski, Demographic Survey of the British
Colonial Empire, Vol. III: The West Indian and American Territories
(London: Oxford University Press for the Royal Institute of
International Affairs, 1953).
4Census Research Programme, Life Tables for West Indian
Populations, 1945-47 and 1950-52, Census Research Programme Publication
No. 14 (Kingston, Jamaica: Census Research Programme, University of
the West Indies, 1966); ibid., Life Table for British Caribbean
Countries 1959-1961, Census Research Programme Publication No. 9
(Port-of-Spain: Central Statistical Office Printing Unit, 1966);
and ibid., Estimates of Intercensal Population by Age and Sex,
and Revised Rates for British Caribbean Countries, 1946-1960,
Census Research Programme Publication No. 8 (Port-of-Spain: Central
Statistical Office Printing Unit, 1964).
THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
The setting for this study is the small West Indian
island of St. Vincent, located in the southern Lesser Antilles
at latitude 136N. and longitude 61'W. (See Figure 1.) Roughly
elliptical in outline, the "main" island's greatest length is
18 miles north to south and 11 miles vest to east at its
widest point. Encompassing an area of 133 square miles
(excluding its Grenadine dependencies), St. Vincent is,
therefore, the third largest island in the former British
Windward Islands.1 This chapter will briefly survey the major
features of the physical environment of St. Vincent.
The Physical Landscape
St. Vincent belongs to a geologically young group of
volcanic islands constituting the southern are of the Lesser
Antilles. This volcanic arc stretches from Saba Island
(17N.) at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles to Grenada
(12*N.) at the southern extreme, skirting the eastern margin
of the Caribbean Sea. (See Figure 1.) The "main" island of
St. Vincent is separated from its Grenadine dependencies to
the south by an ocean trough 3,700 feet deep and from St. Lucia
to the north by an another channel varying between 1,800 and
3,100 feet in depth.3
The again island of St. Vincent is composed of the
exposed surface of a series of submerged volcanoes which have
developed on a tectonic arc and have been built up from about
5,000 feet below sea level. The St. Vincent Grenadines
represent a group of exposed erosional remnants of older
volcanic formations which have developed on a narrow bank
now submerged in 100 to 200 feet of ocean.5 The Grenadines
are low-lying islets with their highest elevations less than
1,000 feet above sea level.6
The structure of the "main" island is composed of a
north-south chain of volcanoes, with the oldest extinct
remnants situated in the southern half of the island. Today,
only the Soufritre mountain, which encompasses the northern
third of the island, remains as an active volcano. It has
erupted four times in recorded history-in 1718, 1812, 1902,
and, most recently, in 1971. Although lava is found in
St. Vincent, it is confined mostly to the older southern half
of the island, as the more recent Soufr lre eruptions appear
to have been of the explosive variety, discharging scoriae, ash,
and boiling mud.8
Numerous peaks are found dotting the "main" island's
central range of mountains, evidencing the volcanic structure
of the island. From north to south, the main peaks are: the
Soufrilere (4,048 feet); Richmond Peak (3,528 feet); Mt. Brisbane
(3,058 feet); Grand Bonhonme (3,193 feet); Petit Bonhomme
(2,481 feet); and Mt. St. Andrew (2,413 feet). (See Figure 2.)
PHYSICAL FEATURES OF ST. VINCENT
To the observer, the Soufriere volcano presents the
classic profile of a young volcano-cone-shaped, with steep
slopes incised by streams forming knife-edged ridges and deep
narrow valleys. There is abundant evidence of the recent
violent activity of the Soufriire. Covering the slopes and
surrounding coasts is a mantle of ash, scoriae, and large
ejecta discharged by the 1902 eruption, which, in some places,
is only lightly hidden by regenerated vegetation.
The "main" island is heavily dissected and is composed
of many steep-sided transverse valleys that broaden as they
approach the coast. In its geologic history, St. Vincent has
experienced both uplift and submergence. Four epochs of
euatatic changes in sea level have been discerned, with a
maximum uplift of 600 feet and a maximum submergence of 700
feet from present sea level. (See Figure 3.) The island's
coast, in effect, has fluctuated 1,300 feet in elevation.
An east-west profile of the "main" island shows a
Leeward (vest) coast much steeper and narrower than the
Windward (east) coast. Along the Leeward side of the island,
the topography is characterized primarily by highly dissected
ridges and valleys extending down to the water's edge, making
land transportation very difficult on the island's present
road system. On the Windward coast, however, the relief is
more gently rolling and land transportation is more easily
facilitated as steeply sloping roads are absent..
The Windward coast receives a continuous erosional
pounding from waves set up by the steady Northeast Trade winds
Prerenr See Lteel
Source J.P Woteon e0 o.. Soil end Lond-U.. Survey No 3: St Vincnl, p.7.
GEOMORPHOLOGY OF ST. VINCENT
and, therefore, the headlands and bays have been smoothed off,
affording poor harbor protection from heavy winds and seas.
By contrast, the Leeward coast is scalloped with numerous
deep embayments sheltered from wind and waves. It was on the
vest and southwest coasts, with their many safe harbors for
sailing ships, as nearly everywhere in the Caribbean, that
the earliest European settlements were established.
St. Vincent's climate is tropical, with neither
oppressively hot days nor uncomfortably cool nights. Despite
its tropical location (13 degrees north of the Equator), the
island's weather is influenced by the surrounding marine
environment which acts to modify daily temperatures. The
average annual temperature is about 80*F., with average
monthly maxima of 85"F. and average minima of 71*F.9 The
highest daily temperatures, near 90*F., are usually reached in
the early afternoons during the "wet" season (or "summer"),
from June to December. Such temperatures, however, are
ameliorated by the Northeast Trade winds, especially on
promontories along the Windward coast. In the upper reaches
of the Leeward valleys, the high temperature and humidity,
coupled with the lack of breezes, result in oppressive
conditions for the traveler.
Variations in rainfall more than in temperature mark the
change in seasons; "summer" and "winter" correspond to the
"wet" and "dry" periods, respectively. The average total "wet"
season rainfall (June through December) is about 67 inches,
while the "dry" season rainfall amounts to 32 inches. The
average total annual precipitation for the "main" island is
approximately 100 inches.10
Precipitation totals vary spatially from an annual
average of 60 inches along a one-half mile coastal zone
around the "main" island to over 150 inches in the mountainous
interior. In the general zone of cultivation, which field-
work showed to be below 1,000 feet in elevation, rainfall
annually averages between 80 and 100 inches.12
Owing to their small size and low elevation, rainfall
is precarious in the St. Vincent Grenadine Islands, and cer-
tain months may record no precipitation. The island
dependencies for which data are available generally measure
about one-half of the rainfall of the "main" island. The
annual average rainfall for the Grenadines with meteorological
stations (Bequia, Canouan, and Union Islands) is about 49
inches. The driest months (February, March, and April)
average slightly more than 1 inch of precipitation each,
while the wettest months (June through November) average about
6 inches each.13 The low rainfall regime of these islets was
an important reason why sugar cane was never extensively
cultivated, making cotton the favored crop because of the
dry harvesting season. The "wet" season on the "main" island
caused damage to the ripening cotton bolls, and therefore
cotton was relegated to the drier Grenadines during most of
the 19th century.
The Natural Vegetation
Very little undisturbed climax vegetation is found in
St. Vincent today.14 What exists today is located at varying
elevations above 1,000 feet, well out of the zone of human
activity. The concentric zonation of rainfall (with the
heaviest amounts falling in the central highlands) also co-
incides with the general zonation of vegetation, the only
exception being the area surrounding the Soufrire volcano.
(See Figure 4) Most of the land area below the 1,000-foot
contour has been affected by cultivation and settlement.
Above that elevation, the natural vegetation is found to be
in various stages of regeneration and approaching climax stage
where it has been previously disturbed by natural forces
(volcanic eruptions and high winds).
The zones of vegetation are affected, in most places, by
climate, but in some locations, soil and exposure to winds
are the dominant forces affecting the type of natural plant
life. Climax forest vegetation is located at elevations above
2,200 feet, along the central ridge, south of the Soufriere,
and is referred to as elfin woodland.15 Low, gnarled, moss-
covered trees predominate near the extinct volcanic peaks in
the center of the "main" island. They range in height from 6
to 33 feet, depending upon the degree of exposure to vinds.
(See Figure 4.)
Below the elfin woodland, at elevations between 1,600
and 2,200 feet, hurricane forest (also called palm brake)
vegetation is found. (See Figure 4.) The trees, typically of
j EVERGREEN SEASONAL FIRST
/ SEII-EVCRGRIEEN SEASOUL FOREST
fl DECIDUOUS SEASONAL FOREST
SSECONDARY FORESTc l",, ",,
I* '"dl., -r.A. /
PALM BRAKE dll),.
Moul : c l.r ,. W ... .sin ll *,.d ..4 U .T..;n I.fv- wt.. p.I
NATURAL VEGETATION OF ST. VINCENT
the palm Prestoea montana variety, form a closed single canopy
40 feet above the ground.16 This type of forest seems to be
a disturbed climax vegetation, resulting from the effects of
strong winds which topple the larger trees before climax is
reached. The location of the hurricane forest in St. Vincent
is on loose, shallow soils on steep slopes, with resultant ease
of tree uprooting.17
In the next lover vegetation zone, between about 1,000
and 1,600 feet in elevation, another area of climax vegetation
is encountered-the lower montane rainforest. (See Figure 4.)
The altitude of this type of rainforest is low enough to avoid
destruction from high winds and high enough to be out of the
range of permanent cultivation, although scattered garden
plots and charcoal-burning pits are sometimes located here.18
Trees form two strata at heights of from 10 to 50 feet and 65
to 100 feet and are associated with a shrub layer and a ground
layer of ferns, mosses, and tree seedlings.19
In the lower montane rainforest, nearly all of the trees
are evergreen. Toward the lower margins, however, semi-ever-
green begin to appear as the weak dry season is experienced at
The wet and dry seasonal changes in St. Vincent become
more influential toward the coastline. Near the coasts,
especially on the Leeward mountain spurs, which are too steep
for cultivation, deciduous trees are found. (See Figure 4.)
All of the vegetation on the Soufriere volcano is secondary
growth, having regenerated from the total destruction of the
1902 eruption, when incandescent avalanches burned and buried
all plant life.20 Regenerated secondary rainforest is found
above 1,200 feet, on the steep slopes above permanent culti-
vation. Trees range in heights front 50 to 90 feet and decrease
in size with increasing elevation. At the 2,000-foot level,
trees are only 10 to 13 feet high and are gnarled by wind on
Above the 2,400-foot contour on the Soufribre volcano,
trees are replaced by stunted ferns and grasses (which are
valued by some Kingstown giftshop owners as tourist items).
From the 3,000-foot elevation to the highest levels of the
volcano, distinct alpine and tundra vegetation grow and are
characterized mainly by lichens.22
According to Rardy, Robinson, and Rodrigues, the soils
of St. Vincent can be classified into four major groups:
a) Yellow Earths; b) Recent Volcanic Ash Soils; c) Shoal Soils;
and d) Alluvial Soils.23 (See Figure 5.) The most extensive
soil type is the zonal Yellow Earths.24 These are found on
the older land in the southern half of the "main" island and
are deeply weathered, highly leached, acidic, lacking in
phosphate, and of medium-low fertility.25
Climate is the primary determinant J. the development of
the Yellow Earths, and the concentric climatic zonation of the
"main" island, to a large extent, describes the location of the
HIS I LSVYL ILLOW SAITAM
LOW LEVIL YIULOW IA1T1N
s1CIEN VOLCANIC ASM
Source J.P. WafOon IIt Q l and Lond-Ue Survy, No.3 l St. Vncnt, p.ll.
SOILS OF ST. VINCENT
Two phases of Yellow Earths exist in St. Vincent. The
first, termed High Level Yellow Earths, is found above the
600-foot contour level and has been formed by the higher rain-
fall at this elevation and a longer exposure to sub-aerial
weathering. When the island was formerly submerged, the land
above the 600-foot contour remained exposed to weathering,
whereas the area below this level was under water. The
effect was to create a "younger" and more friable soil below
the present 600-foot level when the island was subsequently
uplifted. This younger phase of soil is called Low Level
A second major soil group has been classified as Recent
Volcanic Ash and is confined mainly to the slopes of the
Soufriere volcano. (See Figure 5.) The azonal soils (lacking
apparent profile layers) in this group have developed over the
ash deposits of the volcano, especially the ash of the 1902
eruption and are coarse and cindery in texture, well drained,
acidic, and of medium fertility.28 The heavy rainfall and
steep slopes of the Soufribre result in rapid erosion of the
Recent Volcanic Ash Soils.
Another recognized soil group is called the Shoal Soils,
which are identified with the Hydromorphic soils formed over
extinct volcanic cones in the southern and southeastern parts
of the "main" island?9 (See Figure 5.) This soil group is con-
sidered intrazonal, owing to excessive moisture caused by
locally impeded drainage and becomes sticky in the wet season
and cracked in the dry season.
The remaining major soil group includes Alluvial Soils
and is found most commonly along the valley floors of the
southern coastal area. Such soils are absent in the northern
third of the island, near the Soufribre. (See Figure 5.)
They have developed on parent material deposited by streams
flowing out of the interior and on local erosional material
from the adjacent hillsides. Fertility varies according to
the types of parent material from which the alluvial deposits
Several minor soils occur but are uncultivsble owing to
their infertility or remote location. These have been
classified as Aeolian Soils (formed on wind-blown material
mixed with Yellow Earths), Beach Deposits (mostly black
volcanic sand without a developed profile), and Skeletal Soils
(unproductive soils of hard rock fragments on steep slopes).30
Agricultural Land Capability in St. Vincent
The St. Vincent soil survey undertaken in 1957 and 1958
included a land capability classification, in which the soils
in the surveyed area were grouped into seven types of capability
classes for the production of commercial crops, forage plants,
and forest trees.31 An indication of the difficulty of
recommended cultivation in St. Vincent is evidenced by the
small amount of Class I land. Such land can be farmed without
limitations, that is, it is relatively level, with deep fertile
soil, and possesses good physical properties. The degree of
slope in the "main" island was considered as the main factor in
assessing land capability, and this factor alone reduces
St. Vincent's Class I land area to 2,000 acres or slightly
more than 3 per cent of the surveyed area.32 (See Table 1.)
By farming land up to 20* of slope (Classes I, II, and
III land), no more than about one-quarter of the surveyed
land area is available, and this entails using Class III land
which suffers greatly from the twin adversities of erosion
and boulders scattered in the fields. (See Table 1.) In
general, nearly 75 per cent of St. Vincent's area has been
classified as marginal for "optimum" land use.33 Practical
considerations, however, such as agricultural population
density and cornercial cash crop forces, have necessitated
the use of much land that otherwise should have remained
This chapter has described the physical environment of
St. Vincent. Owing to the extremely rugged topography in the
"main" island, a great variety of climatic subtypes, soil groups,
and classes of natural vegetation are found over relatively
short distances. Cultivation is restricted, in part, by soil
fertility and degree of slope of the land and is generally
confined to the area below 1,000 feet in elevation. Despite
the spatial differences in land capability, cultivation has
historically been found at nearly all locations below the
1,000-foot contour. Foreign demand for particular export
products has had more of an influence than the suitability of
the land in determining the specific mix of cash crops produced
by St. Vincent's agricultural laborers.
LAND CAPABILITY CLASS, ST. VINCENT
Land Capability Class Most Suitable Use Acreage
I. Slope limits 0-5'
II. Slope limits mainly
5-20* and some level
land of less favor-
III. Slope limits 5-20*
IV. Slope limits 20-30'
V. No slope limit but
mainly very steeply
sloping land (over
VI. No slope limit; shal-
low soil over hard
VII. No slope limit
Suitable for cultivation
with almost no limitations
Suitable for cultivation
with moderate limitations
Suitable for cultivation
with moderate limitations
Marginal for cultivation
due to erosion risk but
suited to tree crops,
pasture, and forest
Suitable with only slight
limitations for tree crops,
pasture, and forest and
unsuitable for cultivation 20,000
Severe limitations for tree
crops, pasture, and forest
Unsuitable for agriculture;
should be left under natural
Source: J. P. Watson, J. Spector, and T. A. Jones, Soil and
Land-Use Surveys, No. 3: St. Vincent (Part of Spain,
Trinidad: The Regional Research Centre of the British
Caribbean at The Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture,
1958), Table 12, p. 43 and p. 34.
NOTES TO CHAPTER II
1St. Vincent consists of the "main" island (133 square
miles) and a string of islet dependencies, the Grenadine
Islands (17 square miles). The other islands in the former
British Windward Islands are, in order of decreasing size:
Dominica (305 square miles); St. Lucia (238 square miles); and
Grenada, with its Grenadine dependency, Carriacou (133 square
2The northern series of Islands in the Lesser Antilles are
geologically older, low-lying, and formed on submerged inactive
volcanoes, capped with limestone. See: Charles Schuchert,
Historical Geology of the Antillean-Caribbean Region (New York:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1935), p. 746. For a more recent dis-
cussion of Caribbean geology (particularly the Greater Antilles
and the northern Lesser Antilles), see: K. M. Khudoley and
A. A. Heyerhoff, Paleogeography and Geological History of
Greater Antilles (Boulder, Colo.: Geological Society of America,
3Schuchert, Historical Coology, p. 747.
5F. R. C. Reed, The Geology of the British Empire (2nd
ed.; London: Edward Arnold & Co., 1949), p. 253.
7Ibid. Although the last violent eruption was in 1902,
there were gas emissions in 1945 and more recently, in late
1971, there was an extrusion of molten rock in the crater lake,
resulting in the formation of an island over 200 feet high. The
last time an island was found in the Soufribre's crater lake
was prior to the 1812 eruption. In the explosive eruption of
that year, the crater island completely disappeared. For a
description of the 1971 eruption, see: Harold M. Schmeck,
"Volcano Worries West Indian Isle," New York Times, December 20,
1971; and "Caribbean Volcano is Studied," The Times of the
Americas, December 8, 1971.
8Reed, Geology of the British Empire, p. 253.
Government of St. Vincent, Report on the Department of
Agriculture for the Years 1962-1964 (Kingstown: Government
Printing Office, 1968), Appendix II, pp. 78-80.
Ibid., Table I, p. 1.
J1anet D. Momsen, Report on a Banana Acreage Survey of
the Windward Islands (London: Ministry of Overseas Development,
1969), p. 31. The maximum rainfall in the interior central high-
lands is unknown, owing to the absence of meteorological stations.
12J. S. Beard, "The Progress of Plant Succession on the
Soufrlere of St. Vincent," Journal of Ecology, XXXIII, No. 1
(October, 1945), p. 1.
13Report of the Department of Agriculture, 1962-1964,
Appendix II, pp. 78-80.
14Climax vegetation refers to the last stage in the process
of plant succession within a stabilized climatic area. See:
Vernor C. Pinch, et al., Physical Elements of Geography (4th ed.;
New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1957), p. 410.
15Beard, "Plant Succession," p. 5. J. P. Watson et al.,
Soil and Land-Use Surveys, No. 3: St. Vincent (Port-of-Spain,
Trinidad: The Regional Research Centre of the British Caribbean
at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, 1958), p. 8;
and J. S. Beard, "The Classification of Tropical American Vegetation-
Types," Ecoloy, XXXVI, No. 1 (January, 1955), p. 94.
16About 75 per cent of the hurricane rainforest Is made up
of the palm Prestoea montana. See Beard, "Plant Succession,"
18Ibid., pp. 3-4; also Beard, "Tropical American Vegetation-
Types," p. 94.
19Beard, "Plant Succession," pp. 3-4.
20Ibid., p. 6.
21Ibid., p. 7.
In addition, several minor azonal soils were recognized:
Aeolian Soils, Beach Deposita, and Skeletal Soils. See: F.
Bardy, C. E. Robinson, and G. Rodrigues, Agricultural Soils of
St. Vincent, Studies in West Indian Soils, No. 8 (Port-of-Spain,
Trinidad: Government Printer, 1934), pp. 1-4.
24The term zonal refers to soils whose characteriatica are
determined mainly by the climate in which they developed. See:
Harry 0. Buckman and Nyle C. Brady, The Nature and Properties of
Soil (6th ed.; New York: The Macmillan Company, 1966), p. 298.
25Watson, Spector, and Jones, Soil Survey, St. Vincent,
pp. 20 and 22-24.
26Ibid., p. 21.
27Ibid., p. 20.
2Ibid., p. 27.
29Ibid., pp. 20-21 and 27.
30Ibid., p. 21.
31Ibid.. p. 34.
32There were 58,000 acres of land surveyed out of
approximately 85,000 acres in the "main" island.
33The specialists who classified St. Vincent's soils in
1958 distinguished between "optimum" and "practical" land use
classes. "Optinum" land use recommendations were derived to
preserve from further destruction the island's soils. "Practical"
land uses could not be recommended because such considerations
were economic and sociological rather than "of the land." See:
Watson, Spector, and Jones, Soil Survey, St. Vincent, p. 37.
PART I. THE EVOLUTION OF THE ECONOMY
OF ST. VINCENT
THE SUGAR INDUSTRY OF ST. VINCENT, 1763 TO 1838
For nearly two centuries, the economy of St. Vincent has
followed a classic path of monoculture, or dependence upon a
single export crop. Although the island was noted for the variety
of crops it produced during the earliest era of European occupa-
tion, the formal acquisition of St. Vincent by Great Britain saw
a rapid change in the land tenure arrangements and pattern of
cultivation. Sugar early became the mainstay of the colony and
laid an indelible imprint on the socio-economic structure which
persists even to the present day. To understand the economic
geography of St. Vincent is to understand the early history of
sugar cane cultivation. What follows is an historical account
of the settlement of St. Vincent, tracing the succession of
events leading to the rise of the sugar cane industry and the
emancipation of slaves.
Early Settlements in St. Vincent. Pre-1763
The earliest known inhabitants of St. Vincent were the
Amerindian Arawaks and Caribs. By the time of Columbus' dis-
covery of the West Indies, the peaceful Arawaks had been driven
out of the Lesser Antilles by the more aggressive Caribs. The
latter, although more adept at fishing and seamanship than the
agricultural Aravaks, nonetheless engaged in a similar type
of subsistence economy, with cassava as the staple food crop.
Among the aboriginals in St. Vincent at the advent of
early European attempts to settle the island were the so-called
"Red" and "Black" Caribs. The Red Caribs were apparently the
Amerindian people who had moved northwards through the Lesser
Antilles from their cultural hearth in the western part of the
Amazon basin. Some of St. Vincent's Red Caribs had mated with
the survivors of an African slave ship from Guinea, forming
the numerically dominant race of Black Caribs found when
Europeans first began visiting the island.
Before Great Britain obtained control of St. Vincent,
French priests and, later on, a few French planters were known
to have landed along the Leeward (or western) coast, thus
beginning the first recorded European settlements.1 These hardy
individuals came from Martinique and Guadeloupe with the aim of
escaping the conventions of metropolitan rule, a phenomenon
repeated many times during the 16th and 17th centuries.2 A French
military expedition, allied with the Red Caribs, tried to subdue
the Black Caribs of St. Vincent in 1719, and although it failed,
its members were, nonetheless, invited by the victorious Black
Cariba to remain.3 These Frenchmen established their small farms
along the sheltered west coast near the Red Carib settlements. The
Black Caribs, found along the southern and Windward (or Eastern)
coasts, were more familiar with the British than the French, as
they had encountered woodcutters from British Barbados who
periodically came to St. Vincent and St. Lucia to collect timber.
The recorded history of settlements in St. Vincent is
sparse for the period between 1719 and 1748, when the Treaty of
Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, concluding the War of Jenkins' Ear.
Among the provisions of the 1748 treaty was one confirming the
neutral status of Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and its
Grenadine possessions, and Tobago. European nations were to be
withdrawn from these islands, leaving them in the possession of
the Caribs.4 Naturally this provision was difficult to enforce,
and interpreting the population data estimated by the head of
the British commission for the sale of lands in St. Vincent at the
end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, it was largely disregarded
by the French.5
The Seven Years' War (1756 to 1762) formalized the contin-
uous rivalries in the West Indies, especially between France and
Britain. By the Treaty of Paris (1763), the contestants once
again revised ownership of the Lesser Antillean islands. The
older, established British sugar islands exerted their power to
have Guadeloupe and Martinique, captured by the English during
the war, returned to France, in exchange for French Canada.6
That such a transaction should be suggested indicates the
political and economic value placed upon the Caribbean sugar
islands at this historical moment. The English planters had no
wish to see their monopoly of the home sugar market weakened by
the introduction of sugar grown more economically from the
occupied French islands. This could only lead to lower prices for
the produce of the more exhausted soils in the older British
islands. Of the neutral islands of 1748, Britain took possession
of Dominicas St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tobago, now
called the "Ceded Islands," as its share of the war spoils.
The Advent of the Sugar Industry. 1764 to 1800
Immediately after the accession of St. Vincent by the Treaty
of Paris, Britain declared all land in the island to be Crown
property and embarked upon a land survey in early 1764. Cognizant
of the excesses of poor land management in the older British
islands, the terms of sale of property in St. Vincent and the
other Ceded Islands were such as would foster a yeomen class of
farmers. Large estates were to be avoided and speculation checked.7
Land was to be alienated by sale, in fee-simple, to British
subjects only. The French who numbered about 1,300, along with
their 2,700 slaves,8 were permitted to remain on their property
for a maximum of 40 years but had only leasehold rights.9
As a means of discouraging large estates, the maximum
acreage limit of a parcel of land was set at 500 acres. The
conditions of sale were as follows: (1) 20 per cent of the price
in down payment, (2) 10 per cent each year for the next 2 years,
and (3) 20 per cent a year for the subsequent 3 years. Each year
5 per cent of the original size allotment had to be cleared until
a total of 50 per cent of the area was ready for cultivation. As
a means of checking speculation, fines were imposed for delays
in clearing the land according to schedule. In addition, 1 white
man or 2 white women were required for each 100 acres of cleared
land and, likewise, fines were levied for failure to maintain
this man-land ratio. In lieu of services from the owners, an
annual quitrent of 6d per acre was required.10 As an inducement
for poor white settlers to take up farming on the island, 800
acres in each parish were to be allotted to this immigrant class.
Land for poor settlers ranged in size from 10 to 30 acres and
was inalienable for at least the first 7 years.11
Land parcels were surveyed in 1764 by a very able surveyor,
John Byres, and were auctioned in England. One very large parcel
was omitted from the initial auction because of a prior grant. A
hero of the late Seven Years' War, General Robert Monckton who
captured St. Vincent ard Martinique, was given 4,000 acres on the
south Windward coast between what is today Biabou Village on the
north and Stubbs Village on the south, extending inland to the
headwaters of the rivers flowing down the Mesopotamia Valley.
(See Figure 6.) Monckton never settled his land but sold it
instead for 30,000. The auction of land earned for the British
Treasury 162,854 on the sale of 20,538 acres, an average of
7.16s Od per acre.12
As a result of the first sales, no parcels exceeded 500
acres as a single unit, except the specified land grant which
was eventually resold. Some buyers bought more than 1 parcel
: :ST. GE(I 4
-*. STh DAVDR PARI.
PLAN OF ST VINCENT
but the largest single land unit sold by the Crown was 471 acres.
This was purchased by a man named Byres, possibly the chief sur-
veyor of St. Vincent. While most of the parcels were under 200
acres each, there were 19 out of a total of 171 allotments
surveyed for outright sale that were larger than 200 acres in
extent.13 Only 3 of the 114 French leasehold properties were in
parcels larger than 100 acres, the largest surveyed allotment
being 135 acres.14
The alienation of St. Vincent's land was accomplished, as
nearly as possible, according to design. As soon as immigration
began, however, the trend was toward the agglomeration of land
into large estates. The more affluent and more successful sugar
planters began to acquire property from the small farmers. Many
of the early settlers came from the older English islands and
brought with them a knowledge and determination to reestablish
themselves as sugar cane growers on virgin soil.15
The early French settler had planted their lands with a
variety of ccercial and subsistence crops-coffee, cocoa, cotton,
tobacco, indigo, and ground (food) provisions-but had little
interest in large-scale sugar cane monoculture in St. Vincent.16
This tendency may be partly explained by the s-all-size land parcels
which the French were accustomed to cultivating in the island. If
the land were to be cultivated in small farm units, there would
be much less expense for the new settler than if a large sugar
cane enterprise were to be undertaken, necessitating costly
equipment, buildings, and many laborers, in this case, slaves.
One of the beat known historians of the sugar industry,
Boel Deerr, gives some indication of how rapidly St. Vincent's
sugar production roae by citing a mere 35 tons of sugar in 1766
and 1,930 tons in 1770. (See Figure 7.) Throughout the 1770s,
the total production of St. Vincent fluctuated between 3,130 tons
in 1774 and 2,049 tons in 1779. Until 1771, all sugar cane culti-
vation was restricted to the European-held parts of the island.
The Black Carib reserve lands along the south coast and southern
Windward coast were, of course, tempting areas for ambitious
planters who wanted to bring these soils under sugar cane. English
cultivation before the First Carib War (1772 to 1773) had been south
of the Yambou River, which divided Monckton'a Quarter, the land
grant unused at this time. (See Figure 6.) This was according
to the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1763. An 18th century
historian, Coke, noted that British resident planters wanted to
enlarge the area of sugar cane northward beyond the Yambou River,
even obtaining rights to land grants in formerly Carib regions.17
To ensure that the white settlers honored the Carib reserves,
however, survey lines were laid out along the boundaries, which
required a road to be constructed into the reserve itself.18
Predictably, misunderstandings led to fighting between the English
and the Caribs over the survey road, compelling the use of 2 British
regiments from the North American colonies to defeat the Caribs in
a series of campaigns beginning in 1772 and ending with a peace
treaty in February, 1773.
The Treaty of 1773 with the Caribs legalized the land
seizures beyond the Yambou River. A new reserve for the Amerindians
TONS e .oI *s I TON
Isle 1-20 Isle 1130 I.;5 t840 14_ 0 __ _60_ L. t lose 1.70 17_ 1_.0
gIG 1820 t2 0 1 1 830 |3 8 t40 1B 1000 s gio 111g1e g I InO IggO
Ieo Isi 0l0 100 ioel o00 0 Iloo i ta2o I is j
SUGAR PRODUCTION OF ST. VINCENT, 1815-1937
was thereafter established approximately 5 miles further north.
The new boundaries for Carib land (or the "Carib Country") became
the Byera River on the Windward coast and a line running from the
headwaters of the Byera northwest to the upper reaches of the
Wallibou River on the north Leeward coast. Except for the rela-
tively level valley lands along much of the Windward coast, the
greater part of the Carib Country lands encompassed inaccessible
or mountainous land in the interior, unfit for commercial culti-
vation. (See Figure 6.) This action silenced the Caribs by
locating them in the distant reaches of the island, well away
from the settled estates for the most part.
In the late 1770s, the lieutenant-governor of St. Vincent,
Valentine Morris, advocated the free entry of French immigrants
because of their ability to cultivate a variety of crops, especi-
ally coffee, successfully on a single holding. Such action was
an official expression of the intent to encourage small-scale
farming. Unfortunately, the exhaustion of the old French coffee
lands in the Leeward valleys, together with the prohibition of
sales of fresh land to them, forced many discouraged Frenchmen
to leave the island and seek refuge nearby on the islands of
St. Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.19 As the French departed
and more land was turned to sugar cane in response to a rise in
the price of sugar in the London market, the exports of coffee
and cocoa fell. (See Figure 8.)
Between 1776 and 1779, the Government further disposed of
2.156 acres of new land, most grants being less than 100 acres
in aize.20 Disregarding the new Carib boundaries see down in
iriss i' 17" .B i i 11 I. r oe r 1150 11
VOLUME OF VINCENTIAN COCOA AND COFFEE
EXPORTS TO GREAT BRITAIN, FOR
SELECTED YEARS, 1765-1833
1773, the governor also gave a large tract of land on the
northwest coast to a Royal American officer to command the
British garrison guarding St. Vincent against French attack.21
Before the impact of the new sugar lands could be felt in
St. Vincent's export trade, the American Revolution broke out,
causing considerable consternation among British merchant
shippers and affecting the exports of all the British West
Indian island. After declaring war on Britain in 1778, France
seized several British islands, including St. Vincent, in 1779.
From 1779 to 1783, the island was under French governorship
during which time land transactions were still carried out as
though there had been no change of metropolitan control.22
Commercial cash crop production during the 1780s is
obscured by the lack of data, but it can be assumed that the
troubled times adversely affected production for export (not
necessarily for local consumption) as did a destructive hurricane
in 1780. The high price of sugar in London in 1781 was useless
to Vincentian cane growers under French rule, as their sugar
could not reach the English market. Local administrative insti-
tutiona, however, remained intact under the governorship of
France. By 1784, when St. Vincent had returned to British rule,
the raw sugar price in London had dropped by 50 per cent from
the 1781 level, reflecting the entrance of stock-piled British West
Indian sugar into the home market. (See Figure 9.)
SLSn H44 WH4tw1mn5m4,u 4 5
* ,,4--.-.4,-..._ HE
.. :1I_ 70 _. 0
.o^z-^-*^----^^ ^^ -- -- v--- "
.V 0- D Tb. I (E4 tL .*L. i..4 a 1i. m, .,I> &.H,.. 40o-83
LONDON PRICE OF SUGAR, 1760-1937
et ao 1130 int1
The effects of the French Revolution (1789 to 1795)
directly and indirectly assisted the Vincentian sugar economy.
The French in the Lesser Antilles began propagandizing among
the Caribs in the British islands, including St. Vincent, assis-
ting them with arms and officers in their depredations on isolated
sugar estates. Burning of cane fields and mill works began in
St. Vincent in 1789 and culminated in a full-scale war in 1795
between British regular and militia troops and the Caribs. The
Amerindians with their French leaders succeeded in destroying
many of the estate mill works on both the east and west coasts
of St. Vincent before they were finally defeated in 1797.23
There is no doubt that conflict would, in any case, have erupted
eventually over the planters' desire to use the fertile soils
of the Windward coast in the Carib Country reserve established
Turmoil in the British and French West Indies during the
1790s led to record prices for raw sugar in London, especially
as Saint Domingue's (now Haiti) sugar was withdrawn from the
European market. (See Figure 9.) The successful black rebellion
in Saint Domingue ruined that island's sugar industry but stimu-
lated the British sugar industry.24 This served as an indirect
support to St. Vincent's sugar economy-a guarantee of renewed
profits to be made from slave-grown sugar. The direct and major
factor which brought the Vincentian sugar economy to maturity
was the confiscation of all Carib lands, particularly the well-
suited Windward coastal region, along with the physical expulsion
of most of the Black Caribs from the island. The few Indiana
permitted to remain in the colony were relegated to an isolated
reserve of 239 acres in the Home Ronde area north of the
Vallibou River.25 (See Figure 6.) Thus, by the end of the
18th century, St. Vincent had opened up for settlement and
cultivation all available fertile land. Crown lands, generally
those above 1,000 feet in elevation, remained unalienated. The
next phase of St. Vincent's economic history, therefore, began
with the official disposition of the Carib lands in the northern
part of the island.
The Zenith of the Sugar Industry, 1SO0 to 1828
From the end of the Second Carib War in 1797, debate
ensued among the colonists as to the future use of the valuable
Carib Country lands. The traditional viewpoint expressed the
by Governor William Bentinck in 1798 encompassed the sale, not
the free grant, of these lands to small holders as a hedge
against the development of large estates. This was envisioned
as an effective way of populating an empty region rapidly, for
otherwise the great estates would exclude the many small white
settlers whom the Government wished to attract in order to estab-
lish a loyal British community ready to serve in the island's
defense.26 Some voices on the other hand opted for the free
distribution of these lands to the sufferers and veteran (or
their widows) of the late Indian war.
It was only after the arrival of a new governor, Henry
Bentinck,27 in 1802, that disposition of the Carib lands began.
Bentinck conveyed the right to "use"-not "own"-5,262 acres of
the Windward coast Carib Country to war veterans.28 The total
accessible area of the Windward district, later to become most
of Charlotte Parish, was approximately 16,640 acres.29 Large
land allotments were given to prominent planters at "His
Majesty's Pleasure" after an act in 1804 stripped the Indians of
all rights to their former reserves as a consequence of their
hostilities.30 The Crown took possession of, but did not sell,
the land rights. The 5,262 acres disposed of by 1807 caused a
domestic crisis when it was learned that an American Royalist
from Georgia, Colonel Thomas Browne, had been granted 6,000 acres
of Carib Country lands, stretching from the Byera River in the
south to the Cayo River in the north, including the area of 7
large, recently established estates. (See Figure 6.) The
hapless planters, despite the Government's proclamations to the
contrary, had hoped to purchase their land outright after
clearing and cultivating it, but instead were faced with eviction.31
Negotiations between the parties involved and the local Crown
representatives resulted in Browne receiving only 1,600 acres
plus an indemnity of 25,000, part of the Treasury's earnings
from the eventual sale of the occupied lands to their occupiers
at an average price of 22.10s Od per acre.32 The disputed land
included some of the best sugar cane soil in the island and
comprised the estates of Tourama (or Turama), Orange Hill,
Waterloo, Lot No. 14, Rabacca, Langley Park, Mount Bentinck,
and Grand Sable (the estate of Colonel Browne and the largest
single estate on the mainland of St. Vincent.) (See Figure 10.)
Nearly all the land grants in Charlotte Parish were of
considerable size, despite the official preference for small
allotments. By 1819, the average size of the 26 estates in the
former Carib reserves was 499 acres, ranging from Grand Sable's
1,600 acres to Cunmacrabou's 200 acres.33 The area below 1,000
feet in elevation open to cultivation on the island was thus
increased by about 52 per cent, from 31,834 acres to 48,474 acres.
Not all of this land was equal in value, fertility, slope, and
accessibility, but the additions permitted large-scale sugar
manufacturing to begin at a time when the smaller estates
elsewhere on the island were suffering from the economic costs
incurred in the prolonged struggle of the 1790s with the Caribs.
Those who could continue shipping their sugar during the late
1790s found a very favorable market in London; the rest of the
planters had to absorb their current losses in addition to trying
to meet the perennial expenses of trusts and annuities set up in
the early years of the growth of the Vincentian sugar industry.
The sugar economy, at the point of revitalization after
the dispersal of new lands in 1802, vas faced a few years later
with the problem of losing its cheap slave labor. In March,
1807, the English Parliament passed a bill abolishing the slave
"CARIB COUNTRY" ESTATES OF
trade between Africa and the British Vest Indies. This immed-
iately increased the coat of producing slave-grown sugar by
forcing the estate proprietors to look to the welfare of their
chattel slaves, as only the children of these people could serve
to replace or enlarge the existing work force.34 The cost of
caring for the young dependents until working age was reached
and the care of adult health required more working capital.
St. Vincent, nevertheless, sustained its sugar industry
despite the abolition of the slave trade, although not without
complaints about the declining profits of muscovado sugar
in the home market and the rising coats of production attendant
upon the renewed war with France in 1803.36 Sugar production
reached 11.200 tons in 1807, fell to 8.014 in 1809 and was
again up to 11,270 in 1814 after Britain's 2-year war with the
United States.37 These large exports were made possible by the
contributions of the Carib Country estates.38
From 1814 to 1828, sugar exports were relatively stabilized,
fluctuating between 10,834 tons in 1820 and 14.403 tons in 1828,
the peak year of St. Vincent's sugar history. (See Figure 7.)
Although sugar was by far the most extensively cultivated cash
crop, there were at the same time smaller farms or parts of
large estates, mostly in the valleys of the Leeward coast,
devoted to coffee and cocoa production.39
Coffee, the competing beverage drink in Britain with tea,
was usually burdened by high import duties in the home market
and in Germany (the principal continental market) where the market
crashed in 1773, causing an extremely low price for coffee.40
The low coffee price and the defection of many of the French
farmers led to the reduction of coffee exports from St. Vincent
after the American Revolutionary War.
Cocoa, never an extensive coCnercial crop in St. Vincent
because of the island's shallow soil and dryness,41 followed the
coffee industry in its decline. Both coffee and cocoa were more
or less restricted to the sheltered Leevard valleys, the domain
of the early French settlers. The amalgamation of estates through-
out the Island relegated the position of these tree crops to that
of a minor industry after 1800.
Cotton, another minor cash crop in the late 18th and 19th
centuries, was grown in the colony but was confined to the smaller
Grenadine Islands, a string of low-lying, dry islands to the south
of the "main" island St. Vincent. Bequis and Mustique islands raised
sugar and cotton, while Canouan, Union, Mayreau, and Petit St.
Vincent produced only cotton. (Vide Infra Chapter V for a discus-
sion of cash crops raised in St. Vincent.)
The Waning of the Sugar Industry Before Slave Emancipation
The abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain, effective
in 1808, presaged darker days for the proprietors in St. Vincent
and the other British sugar islands as popular forces in Great
Britain turned their efforts to the total eradication of forced
servitude in the colonies. From the time of Adam Smith's
Wealth of Nations, the previously unchallenged lobbying influence
of the West India Committee and its sympathizers began to wane.
Mercantilism as an economic philosophy was gradually being
supplanted by the ideas of "free trade."42 British industrial
capitalism grew as mechanical inventions were developed and
installed in the burgeoning factory system.43
After the turn of the 19th century, many British West Indian
sugar planters began facing a period of increasingly diminished
profits. In fact, as early as 1807, a Government study reported
that the average British West Indian sugar planter was unable to
make a profit on his shipments to the home market.44 Several
reasons accounted for this situation: (a) imprudent management
characterized by mounting indebtedness, absentee ownership, and
the lack of technical innovation; (b) an oversupplied sugar
market in London and consequent low prices; and (c) the demise of
the slave trade and the cost of maintaining an adequate work force
on the estates.
Absentee ownership, a plague on the proper administration
of estates and the efficient governing of the colonies, became
common practice after fortunes were made. Those owners who were
in no position, physically or financially, to take direct control
over their estates, very often abandoned them or were forced into
chancery courts by creditors where receivers were appointed to
administer what profits (if any) were left. Absenteeism resulted
in the delegation of administrative responsibility to resident
attorneys (often called "planting attorneys") or managers, who
feathered their own nests.45 Costs and encumbrances weighed
heavily on the inefficiently producing enterprises so charac-
teristic of most of the small island economies in the British
In the Windward Islands (Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent,
and Grenada), few inventions or technical innovations were
applied on the estates. The cost was often too high and the
topography of the islands too rugged to permit large-scale
agricultural practices-a prerequisite for the economic moderni-
zation of sugar manufacturing. Very few steam engines were
introduced into St. Vincent to crush the canes, although they
were available and were being bought and installed on the more
progressive estates in some British and Spanish colonies of the
Caribbean. Even the use of the horse-drawn plow was a rarity
throughout St. Vincent during the 19th century. The short-handled
hoe employed by field gangs was as advanced as the Vincentian
planters could or would go toward agricultural improvements.
Such conservatism was understandable, however, in a society laden
with the tradition of ancestrally-owned sugar estates.
After the Napoleonic wars, a flood of cheaper and more
refined sugar began arriving in the British home market. By the
Treaty of Amiens in 1802, Spain had ceded Trinidad to Great Britain
and by the Treaty of Paris in 1814, the Dutch had turned over
their South American possessions of Demerara, Essiquibo, and
Berbice to the British. These colonies developed into wealthy and
efficient producers of sugar, adding to the mounting supplies
shipped to the London market. Additionally, the island of
Mauritius in the Indian Ocean became a large producer of sugar
after duty on its produce was equalized with that of the British
West Indies in 1825.47 These suppliers of refined sugar caused
the price of sugar in London to collapse, from a war-induced
peak in 1814 of 97s per hundredweight down to 24s in 1830, a loss
in value of 76 per cent in 16 years.48
Another factor which diminished the profitability of slave-
grown sugar in the British West Indies was the abolition of the
slave trade in 1807. The cessation of the slave trade had increased
the expenses of running a successful estate, while plantations in
Cuba and Brazil could still rely on replenishment of their work
gangs from slave imports. The cost of providing for a slave
child to the age of 14 years, when adult tasks could be expected
of him, was 135 for the British Caribbean as a whole. In the
1780s, a male slave could have been purchased for about 50
sterling; the average value of s Vincentian slave, from 1822 to
1830, was 58.6s 8d sterling.50 Prices were higher for male
field slaves than for female, or house servants, but it reveals
the economic advantage to be gained from importing adult workers,
ready for the fields. Those sugar producing areas which could
replenish their slave gangs with fresh slaves were, naturally,
bound to have this cost factor in their favor.
To placate the demands of the anti-slavery movement in
Britain following the abolition of the slave trade, the home
Government, between 1823 and 1826, forced most of the British
colonies to pass amelioration laws for the benefit of the slaves
remaining on the estates. Religious instruction, legalization of
slave marriages, and the prohibition of cruel and capricious
punishment, among other measures, were enacted into law by
unwilling colonial legislatures as a sop to the anti-slavery
advocates in England.51 The amelioration legislation in St.
Vincent, encompassed as the Slave Act of December 16, 1825,
forbade the use of the slave driver's whip, encouraged slave
marriages, and admitted testimony from slaves in capital cases.5
The ramifications of such laws, however, were obvious to
the planters. Complete emancipation of the slaves was only a
few years sway. The record for St. Vincent shows that the total
number of black slaves steadily declined from 24,920 in 1812 to
18,794 in 1833, the last full year of slavery.53 The attrition
in numbers of slaves was the result of the higher mortality of an
aging, predominantly male population without sufficient reproduc-
tion to compensate for deaths and the periodic manumission of the
elderly and infirm from the slave registers.54 It is evident
from St. Vincent's court records of manumissions that the estate
owners anticipated freedom for the black population and hastened
the transition by releasing their less productive charges.
Returns from 1819 to 1833 show the change in numbers of slaves
in the parishes of St. Vincent and the largest dependency in the
Grenadines, Bequia Island. (See Table 2.) Despite the loss of
labor from 1819 to 1833-10 per cent for the "main" island-sugar
production remained relatively stable until after the peak year of
1828, when it declined 32 per cent in 5 years. (See Figure 7.)
NUMBER OF SLAVES, BY PARISH,
ST VINCENT, 1819 AND 1833
Parish 1819 1833 Per Cent
Charlotte 7,068 6,729 5
St. George 5,616 4,994 11
St. Andrew 1,663 1,538 8
St. Patrick 2,144 1,654 23
St. David 1,828 1,519 17
Bequia Island 1,123 2,360 +110
Total 19,442 18,794 3
The 5 Parishes 18,319 16,434 10
Source: Estates Book, p. 235.
The final blow to St. Vincent and the other sugar colonies
came on August 28, 1833, when an act of the British Parliament
abolishing slavery in the colonial empire was passed into law.
Commencing on August 1, 1834, all forms of forced servitude were
to cease. The import of this act was that it put a seal on the
future of sugar production in the smaller British West Indian
colonies. It was only the wake of wars in Europe and the
Caribbean, from the time of the black revolt in Saint Domingue
in 1791, that had sustained British estate agriculture beyond the
reckoning day. Cane sugar could be produced in many areas of the
world, not only in the Caribbean region, and the continuation of
slavery in the Spanish and Portuguese possessions in the Western
Hemisphere, particularly in Cuba, allowed cheaper sugar to be
shipped to the European markets to undersell British colonial
sugar re-exported from England.55
With hand labor a vital requirement for the estates, St.
Vincent's planters could only look with trepidation on the freeing
of the slaves. In order to soften the blow, a period of
"apprenticeship" was instituted so that slaves could bridge the gap
between bondage and freedom. To help the planters adjust to the
new social and economic order, all adult slaves were, therefore,
bound by force of law to remain on the property and to furnish
labor, as directed by a representative of the estate, for 45
hours a week during a 6-day work week. All work beyond the nor-
mal schedule of hours was to be compensated for by wages. The
apprenticeship of ex-slaves was initially set for a 6-year
duration for praedial hands and 4 years for other, beginning in
1834. Children under 6 years of age were exempt from these
regulations at the outset of apprenticeship. During the transi-
tion period, the workers were to be furnished with lodging,
clothing, a food allowance, and the use of a provisions ground.
At any time before the expiration of the apprenticeship period,
a worker could purchase his freedom if he possessed enough money
to pay for his estimated value to the planter.56
St. Vincent finally ended its apprenticeship after 4 years,
on August 1, 1838. It vse decided that all laborers, praedial or
otherwise, were declared to be free after that date. To compensate
British planters for the loss of their most valued "property," a
proposed loan of 15,000,000 was eventually negotiated into a
grant of 20,000,000 to be given to the slave owners in the
colonies. West Indian planters received 16,639,967 of the total
indemnity in payment for 673,953 slaves; the average payment was
approximately 25 per slave, well below the declared value of
56 per slave for all West Indian slaves.57
St. Vincent had 22,997 slaves at the last registration in
1832, valued by the owners at 1,341,492, or approximately 58
per slave. The compensation to the Vincentian proprietors was
592,509, an average of 26 per slave or only 45 per cent of the
declared worth.58 Another author presents an analysis of St.
Vincent's slave population by classes prior to apprenticeship.
In 1832, 69 per cent were "field slaves" with a compensated
value of 31 per slave; "non-field slaves" accounted for 13 per
cent and were worth 30 each; 13 per cent were "children under
6 years" and were valued at 11; lastly, 5 per cent of the total
were "aged and infirm," valued at 3 each.59
There were 112 estates functioning in St. Vincent and its
Grenadine dependencies in 1833, with an average number of slaves
per estate of 205. This ranged from as many as 693 slaves on
the famous Grand Sable estate in Charlotte Parish to as low as
15 slaves on Madame Laroux's cotton estate on Petit St. Vincent
island at the southern extreme of the Grenadine Islands of St.
This chapter details the rise of the sugar industry in St.
Vincent from the date of Britain's acquisition of the island to
the end of slavery. It records the struggle of the last third
of the 18th century as St. Vincent experienced 2 wars with its
aboriginal population. Only after the successful campaigns
against the Caribs was the colony able to concentrate on the
monocultural production of sugar. Only 3 years after the official
amelioration of the life of Vincentian slaves was accomplished
in 1825, the colony reached its zenith as a sugar producing island
and began waning. Apprenticeship and emancipation are the last
major socio-economic events considered in this chapter.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III
A French missionary, PIre Labat, recorded meeting another
French priest in St. Vincent in 1700. See: R. P. Labat, Voyages
sux Isles de L'Amerique (Antilles), 1693-1705, Collection Laque
Orange Aventures et Voyages (2 vols.; Paris: Edition Ducharte,
1931), p. 168.
Sir Alan Burns, History of the British West Indies (rev. 2d
ed.; London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1965), pp. 350 and 371.
Thomas Coke, A History of the West Indies, Containing the
Natural. Civil, and Ecclesiastical History of Each Island: With
an Account of the Hissions (3 vols.; London: A. Paris, 1810),
II, p. 184.
4Burns, History of the British West Indies, p. 484.
5See Chapter VI for a further discussion of the early
population history of St. Vincent.
Burns, History of the British West Indies, p. 489.
Lowell Joseph Ragatz, The Fall of the Planter Class in the
British Caribbean, 1763-1833 (New York: D. Appleton-Century,
1928), p. 113.
8Ivor Walters, The Unfortunate Valentine Morris (Newport,
Eng.: R. H. Johns, Ltd., 1964), p. 35.
9Ragatz, Fall of the Planter Class, pp. 113-114.
10lbid., p. 113. Note: Throughout this study, except where
noted otherwise, the monetary units used are the English pound (),
shilling (s), and pence (d). When all three denominations are
used, they will be given as follows: 2. 2s 2d, read as 2 pounds,
2 shillings, and 2 pence. At times, only one of the denominations
may be used. There are 12 pence in 1 shilling and 20 shillings in
1 pound. All monetary totals are given as unadjusted values.
Ragatz, Fall of the Planter Class, p. 113.
Walters, Valentine Morris, p. 30
3Charles Shepherd, An Historical Account of the Island of
St. Vincent (London: W. Nichol, 1831), Appendix, Table No. XX,
14Ibid., pp. Ixiv-lxvii. One Frenchman, Heude, had several
scattered parcels which, added together, gave him an estate of
15avid L. Niddrie, "Eighteenth-Century Settlement in the
British Caribbean," Transactions and Papers, The Institute of
British Geogrsphers, Publication No. 40 (1960), p. 78.
Ibid., pp. 78-79.
17Coke, History of the West Indies, p. 186.
8Burns, History of the British West Indies, p. 505.
Walters, Valentine Morris, p. 35.
20Ibid., pp. 57-58. Governor Morris disposed of this new
land in 64 grants to 56 persons. French settlers received a
total of 18 grants. Of these new grants, 37 were under 50 acres
in size. Only Morris's own grants to himself were larger than
100 acres in size. He reserved for himself 3 land parcels of
350, 360, and 500 acres, located in the newly opened Carib lands
north of the Yambou River.
This officer was Lieutenant-Colonel George Etherington,
whose wooded estate was located north of and bounded on the south
by the Wallibou River on the north Leeward coast. (See Figure 6.)
It was while using garrison troops to clear his land that
Etherington allowed a French force to capture St. Vincent in
1779 without firing a shot.
A woman with the rank of "Dame d'honneur" in the French
Palace, Mrs. Martha Swinburne, was granted 20,000 acres of
unoccupied land. The exact location of this land is not known.
See: Shephard, An Historical Account of St. Vincent, pp. 48-49.
The deeds pertaining to the period of French occupation
are located in the vault of the Registrar-General's office in
Kingstown, St. Vincent but are not available for public use owing
to their fragile condition.
Shepard, An Historical Account of St. Vincent, pp. 48-49.
Also see: Ebenezer Duncan, A Brief History of St. Vincent
(4th ed., rev.; Kingstown: Reliance Printery, 1967). Much of
this small monograph has been culled from Shephard's early history.
24Noel Deerr, A History of Sugar (2 vols.; London: Chapman
& Hall, Ltd., 1950), I, p. 240. Production in Saint Domingue
dropped from 78,696 tons in 1791 to 8,937 tons in 1801, never to
recover again until more than a century later.
This was near Lieutenant-Colonel Etherington's estate.
See n. 21.
26Ragatz, Fall of the Planter Class, p. 223.
Henry Bentinck, like many governor, succeeded his father,
28agatz, Fall of the Planter Class, p. 224.
At the time of the formation of the Carib Country estates,
Charlotte Parish included about 16,640 acres of land below 1,000
feet in elevation-the area below the Crown land reserves. This
is based on an approximation of the area between the Galway River
(near Biabou Village on the south Windward coast) and West Point
on the north tip of the island. Today, the area of Charlotte
Parish below 1,000 feet is approximately 19,360 acres according
to the author's planimetric calculations. This encompasses the
additional land between the Galway River and the Yambou River
south of it.
Shepard, An Historical Account of St. Vincent, p. 178.
31Ragatz, Fall of the Planter Class, p. 224.
32Ibid.. p. 225.
33Shephard, An Historical Account of St. Vincent. Appendix,
Table No. VI, pp. vi-x. Another valuable reference to the early
estates is a partially destroyed book with the title page and the
first 159 pages missing. It contains a listing of the estates in
each parish, the number of acres and slaves on each estate, and
the production of each from 1819 to 1824. From 1825 to 1852
(and in some cases, to 1854), additions are written in by hand.
The book is in the private possession of Dr. I. A. E. Kirby,
Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Agriculture, Kingstown,
St. Vincent, West Indies. Hereafter this work is cited as
William Law Mathieson, British Slavery and Its Abolition,
1823-1838 (London: Longmans, Green and Company, Ltd., 1926),
Muscovado (or "dirty") sugar is sugar which retains a
greater or lesser amount of molasses. The inefficiency of 19th
century sugar technology in St. Vincent and the other smaller
British West Indian colonies resulted in hot and continuous
boiling of sugar syrup to evaporate the water and concentrate
the sucrose. Such a technique often led to an "inversion,"
producing glucose (molasses). The cooled sugar crystals had to
drain long enough to remove much of the molasses, but too often
in the rush of making sugar when the canes were ready for har-
vesting, sugar was packed in hogsheads while still warm and not
thoroughly drained. Throughout the ocean voyage to the London
market, molasses would drain out of the casks, causing losses
of 5 to 16 per cent in the individual shipments. This method of
production was the cause of the bad name which much of the sugar
produced in the smaller islands earned. See: R. W. Beachey,
The British West Indies Sugar Industry in the Late 19th Century
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1957), Chapter III, pp. 61-80, passim.
For an account of the method of making augar employed on a
Vincentian sugar estate, see: Mrs. [A. C.] Carmichael, Domestic
Manners and Social Condition of the White, Coloured, and Negro
Population of the West Indies (2 vols.; London: Whittaker,
Treacher, and Co., 1833), I, pp. 106-110.
Ragatz, Fall of the Planter Class, p. 327.
Deerr, History of Sugar, I, p. 200.
J. P. Watson, J. Spector, and T. A. Jones, Soil and Land-
Use Surveys, No. 3: St. Vincent (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad: The
Regional Research Centre of the Imperial College of Tropical
Agriculture, 1958), p. 6.
The coffee and cocoa estates were located primarily in the
upper reaches of the Cumberland and Wallilabou River valleys, in
St. David and St. Patrick Parishes. From the earliest eatate
records available, the Estates Book, it is known that the