Colony of Santiago

Santiago was a Spanish territory of the Spanish West Indies and within the Viceroyalty of New Spain, in the Caribbean region. Its location is the present-day island and nation of Jamaica.

Flag of Santiago
Location of Santiago
CapitalVilla de la Vega
Common languagesSpanish
• Established
• Disestablished
10,991 km2 (4,244 sq mi)
CurrencySpanish dollar
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Cayman Islands
Colony of Jamaica

Pre-Columbian Jamaica

Around 650 AD, Jamaica was colonized by the people of the Ostionoid culture, who likely came from South America.[1] Alligator Pond in Manchester Parish and Little River in St. Ann Parish are among the earliest known sites of this Ostionoid people, who lived near the coast and extensively hunted turtles and fish.[1]

Around 950 AD, the people of the Meillacan culture settled on both the coast and the interior of Jamaica, either absorbing the Ostionoid people or co-inhabiting the island with them.[1]

The Taíno culture developed on Jamaica around 1200 AD.[1] They brought from South America a system of raising yuca known as "conuco."[2] To add nutrients to the soil, the Taíno burned local bushes and trees and heaped the ash into large mounds, into which they then planted yuca cuttings.[2] Most Taíno lived in large circular buildings (bohios), constructed with wooden poles, woven straw, and palm leaves. The Taino spoke an Arawakan language and did not have writing. Some of the words used by them, such as barbacoa ("barbecue"), hamaca ("hammock"), kanoa ("canoe"), tabaco ("tobacco"), yuca, batata ("sweet potato"), and juracán ("hurricane"), have been incorporated into Spanish and English.


Segundo viaje de Colón
Second voyage of Columbus, 1493
Cuarto viaje de Colón
Fourth voyage of Columbus, 1503

Christopher Columbus set sail on his second voyage to the Americas on September 24, 1493.[3] On November 3, 1493, he landed on an island that he named Dominica. On November 22, he landed on Hispaniola and spent some time exploring the interior of the island for gold. He left Hispaniola on April 24, 1494, and arrived at the island of Juana (Cuba) on April 30 and Jamaica on May 5. He explored the south coast of Juana before returning to Hispaniola on August 20. After staying for a time on the western end, present-day Haiti, he finally returned to Spain.[4]

Columbus returned to Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the Americas. He had been sailing around the Caribbean nearly a year when a storm beached his ships in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on June 25, 1503.[5]

For a year Columbus and his men remained stranded on Jamaica. A Spaniard, Diego Mendez, and some natives paddled a canoe to get help from Hispaniola. The island's governor, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, detested Columbus and obstructed all efforts to rescue him and his men. In the meantime, Columbus allegedly mesmerized the natives by correctly predicting a lunar eclipse for February 29, 1504, using the Ephemeris of the German astronomer Regiomontanus.[6] Help finally arrived, from the governor, on June 29, 1504, and Columbus and his men arrived in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Castile, on November 7, 1504.[7]

New Seville

Spanish Caribbean Islands in the American Viceroyalties 1600
European colonies in the Caribbean in 1600

The Spanish Empire began its official governance of Jamaica in 1509. That year, Columbus's son, Diego Columbus, instructed conquistador Juan de Esquivel to formally occupy Jamaica in his name.[8] Esquivel had accompanied Columbus in his second trip to the Americas in 1493 and participated in the invasion of Hispaniola. A decade later, Friar Bartolomé de las Casas wrote Spanish authorities about Esquivel's conduct during the Higüey massacre of 1503.

The first Spanish settlement was founded in 1509 near St Ann's Bay and named Sevilla la Nueva, or New Seville.

St Jago de la Vega

In 1534 the settlers moved to a new, healthier site, which they named Villa de la Vega, and later St Jago de la Vega, which the English renamed Spanish Town when they conquered the island in 1655.[9] This settlement served as the capital of both Spanish and English Jamaica from its foundation in 1534 until 1872, after which the capital was moved to Kingston.

Other settlements established by the Spanish included Esquivel (now Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica), Oristan (Bluefields, Jamaica), Las Chorreras (Ocho Rios), Savanna-la-Mar, and Puerto Anton (Port Antonio).[10]

In 1611, the population of Spanish Jamaica was 1,510, including 696 Spaniards, 107 free people of color, 74 Tainos, 558 black slaves, and 75 "foreigners".[11]

The Spaniards enslaved many of the native people, overworking and harming them to the point that many had perished within fifty years of European arrival.[12] Subsequently, the lack of indigenous opportunity for labour was mended with the arrival of African slaves.[13] Disappointed in the lack of gold on the isle, the Spanish mainly used Jamaica as a military base to supply colonizing efforts in the mainland Americas.[14]

The Spanish colonists did not bring women in the first expeditions and took Taíno women for their common-law wives, resulting in mestizo children.[15] Sexual violence with the Taíno women by the Spanish was also common.[16][17]

Although the Taino referred to the island as "Xaymaca," the Spanish gradually changed the name to "Jamaica."[18] In the so-called Admiral's map of 1507 the island was labeled as "Jamaiqua" and in Peter Martyr's work "Decades" of 1511, he referred to it as both "Jamaica" and "Jamica."[18]

In 1597, English privateer Anthony Shirley landed on Jamaica and plundered the island, marching on St Jago de la Vega with the help of a Taino guide, and he sacked the town.[19][20] Governor Fernando Melgarejo tried to protect the island from pirate raids, and in 1603 he successfully repelled an attack by Christopher Newport.[21]

In 1643, William Jackson (pirate) landed at Caguaya, marched on St Jago de la Vega, and plundered it.[22]

English conquest

In late 1654, English leader Oliver Cromwell launched the Western Design armada against Spain's colonies in the Caribbean. In April 1655, General Robert Venables led the armada in an attack on Spain's fort at Santo Domingo, Hispaniola. However, the Spanish repulsed this poorly-executed attack, known as the Siege of Santo Domingo, and the English troops were soon decimated by disease. [23] [24][25]

Weakened by fever and looking for an easy victory following their defeat at Santo Domingo, the English force then sailed for Jamaica, the only Spanish West Indies island that did not have new defensive works. In May 1655, around 7,000 English soldiers landed near Jamaica's Spanish Town capital. The English invasion force soon overwhelmed the small number of Spanish troops (at the time, Jamaica's entire population only numbered around 2,500).[26]

In the following years, Spain repeatedly attempted to recapture Jamaica, and in response in 1657 the English Governor of Jamaica invited buccaneers to base themselves at Port Royal, to help defend against Spanish attacks. Spain never recaptured Jamaica, losing the Battle of Ocho Rios in 1657 and the Battle of Rio Nuevo in 1658. For England, Jamaica was to be the "dagger pointed at the heart of the Spanish Empire", although in fact it was a possession of little economic value then.[25]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d Atkinson, Lesley-Gail, The Earliest Inhabitants: The Dynamics of the Jamaican Taíno.
  2. ^ a b Rogozinski, Jan, A Brief History of the Caribbean.
  3. ^ "Christopher Columbus – 2nd Voyage".
  4. ^ C.V. Black, A History of Jamaica (London: Collins, 1975), pp. 25–7.
  5. ^ Black, History, pp. 27–8.
  6. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, 1942, pp. 653–54. Samuel Eliot Morison, Christopher Columbus, Mariner, 1955, pp. 184–92.
  7. ^ Black, History, pp. 31–2.
  8. ^ Black, History, p. 33.
  9. ^ Black, History, p. 37.
  10. ^ C.V. Black, A History of Jamaica (London: Collins, 1975), p. 38.
  11. ^ Frank Cundall and Joseph Pietersz, Jamaica Under the Spaniards (Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, 1919), p. 34.
  12. ^ Black, History, pp. 34–5.
  13. ^ "Jamaican History I". Discover Jamaica. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Brief History of Jamaica". Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  15. ^ Guitar, Lynne. "Criollos: The Birth of a Dynamic New Indo-Afro-European People and Culture on Hispaniola". KACIKE: Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  16. ^ Léger 1907, p. 23.
  17. ^ Accilien et al. 2003, p. 12.
  18. ^ a b Cundall, Frank, The Story of the Life of Columbus and the Discovery of Jamaica.
  19. ^ Black, History, p. 43.
  20. ^ Cundall and Pietersz, Jamaica, p. 19.
  21. ^ Black, History, pp. 43–4.
  22. ^ Black, History, p. 45.
  23. ^ Rodger 2005, p. 29.
  24. ^ Rodger 2005, p. 24.
  25. ^ a b Coward 2002, p. 134.
  26. ^ *Parker, Matthew (2011). The Sugar Barons.
Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660)

The Anglo-Spanish War was a conflict between the English Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell and Spain, between 1654 and 1660. It was caused by commercial rivalry. Each side attacked the other's commercial and colonial interests in various ways such as privateering and naval expeditions. In 1655, an English amphibious expedition invaded Spanish territory in the Caribbean. The major land actions took place in the Spanish Netherlands. In 1657, England formed an alliance with France, merging the Anglo–Spanish war with the larger Franco-Spanish War. The war officially ended with two peace treaties which were signed at Madrid in 1667 and 1670.

Battle of Ocho Rios

The Battle of Ocho Rios also known as Battle of Las Chorreras was a military action which took place on the island of Jamaica on 30 October 1657 where a Spanish force under Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi hoping to take back the island was defeated by the English occupying force under the Governor Edward D'Oyley.The English had occupied Jamaica in 1655 but had been reduced significantly by disease in the aftermath. They ran through governors at a rapid rate: General Robert Sedgwick arrived and died in 1655, General William Brayne replaced him and died in 1656, and then General Edward D'Oyley who had already been on the island took over as Governor being acclimatised to the island's harsh tropical conditions.

Two years after the English invasion, Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi the former Spanish governor had been hiding in the hills with the run away slaves (later known as maroons). He requested a force to be sent from Cuba to retake the island back for Spain. He now had reinforcements from Cuba and had them land at Las Chorreros (present day Ocho Rios). By now he had assembled a total of nearly 300 soldiers and around 100 militia or guerrillas. D'Oyley, aware of Spanish ships being seen off the northern coast, decided to set out and attack. He sailed north to meet them and landed his force of around 900 militia near Ocho Rios, where, close to Dunn's River Falls he defeated Isasi and his force in a short battle. Isasi fled back into the hills whilst the rest of the Spanish were captured and were later repatriated back to Cuba under terms.Isasi tried again in 1658 at Rio Nuevo but this time with reinforcements from New Spain and the presence of a fort. In a repeat of what happened at Ocho Rios D'Oyley repeated the same feat by sailing north and defeated him again.

Battle of Rio Nuevo

The Battle of Rio Nuevo took place between 25 and 27 June 1658 on the island of Jamaica between Spanish forces under Cristóbal Arnaldo Isasi and English forces under governor Edward D'Oyley. In the battle lasting over two days the invading Spanish were routed. It is the largest battle to be fought on Jamaica.

Columbian Viceroyalty

The Columbian Viceroyalty, Viceroyalty of India or First Viceroyalty in the Indies is the name that designates the number of titles and rights granted to Christopher Columbus by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 on the lands discovered and undiscovered, before embarking on his first trip that culminated in the discovery of the Americas.

Felipa Colón de Toledo, 3rd duchess of Veragua

Felipa Colón de Toledo y Mosquera, 3rd Duchess of Veragua, 3rd Duchess of la Vega, 2nd Marchioness of Jamaica (c. 1550 – 25 November 1577 in Valladolid, Olmedo, Spain), was the second daughter and heiress of Luis Colón de Toledo, 2nd Duke of Veragua and of la Vega, and his first wife María de Mosquera y Pasamonte. She was a great-granddaughter of famous explorer Christopher Columbus.

She married her first cousin Diego Colón de Toledo, 4th Admiral of the Indies, without issue. Her husband held that office, which she had inherited, in her place.

Francisco de Garay

Francisco de Garay (Sopuerta, Biscay, 1475 - 1523) was a Spanish Basque conquistador. He was a companion to Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World and arrived in Hispaniola in 1493. Here he attracted attention when he encountered a large gold nugget worth four thousand pesos. In 1496, Miguel Diaz and Francisco de Garay found gold nuggets along the Haina River.

Gil González Dávila

Gil González Dávila or Gil González de Ávila (b. ca. 1454 - d. 1524) was a Spanish Conquistador and the first European to arrive in present-day Nicaragua.

González Dávila first appears in historical records in 1508, when he received a royal commission to examine accounts and tax records of estates. He probably traveled soon afterward to Santo Domingo for his assignment, and to establish himself. In 1511, from Valladolid, Spain, he was given the title of Accountant of Hispaniola or contador.

By 1514, the Hispaniola treasury staff put in place by Ferdinand, included Gil, who had replaced Cristóbal de Cuéllar as contador, Miguel de Pasamonte, who had been named treasurer general of the Indies in April 1508, and Juan Martinez de Ampies as factor.His enhanced position enabled him to become a teacher and he soon had an estate with over 200 Indian slaves. In 1518, González delivered a report to King Carlos which was highly critical of the colonial management of Hispaniola. He was at Ávila in Spain when he was approached by Andrés Niño. Niño was an expert pilot and resident of the Spanish Main. He had come to Spain to seek Court support for an exploration of the Pacific Coast. His first attempts had failed, but then he encountered González, a retainer of the bishop of Palencia. The bishop, Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, was president of the Council of the Indies. With his help, González and Niño obtained approval for the venture from King Carlos. An expedition was planned, with González as captain, Niño as pilot, and Andrés de Cereceda as treasurer.

Hernando de Manrique de Rojas

Hernando de Manrique de Rojas was a Spanish colonial governor of the Colony of Santiago (Jamaica) c.1575.

In late 1562 he commanded Spanish forces sent to destroy Charlesfort, a French fort at Port Royal, South Carolina. This fort had been abandoned after its leader Jean Ribault had returned to France to obtain supplies and had been delayed there by the outbreak of another phase of the French Wars of Religion. The Spanish, however, wanted to make it more difficult for the French to return.

Manrique de Rojas also explored the coasts of what is known today as the Eastern United States.

History of Jamaica

The Caribbean island of Jamaica was inhabited by the Arawak tribes prior to the arrival of Columbus in 1494. Early inhabitants of Jamaica named the land "Xaymaca", meaning "Land of wood and water". The Spanish enslaved the Arawaks, who were so ravaged by their conflict with the Europeans and by foreign diseases that nearly the entire native population was extinct by 1600. The Spanish also transported hundreds of West African slaves to the island.

In the year 1655, the English invaded Jamaica, defeating the Spanish colonists. Enslaved Africans seized the moment of political turmoil and fled to the island's interior, forming independent communities (known as the Maroons). Meanwhile, on the coast, the English built the settlement of Port Royal, which became a base of operations for pirates and privateers, including Captain Henry Morgan.

In the 18th century, sugar cane replaced piracy as British Jamaica's main source of income. The sugar industry was labour-intensive and the British brought hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans to Jamaica, so that by 1850 black Jamaicans outnumbered whites by a ratio of twenty to one. Enslaved Jamaicans mounted over a dozen major uprisings during the 18th century, including Tacky's revolt in 1760. There were also periodic skirmishes between the British and the mountain communities, culminating in the First Maroon War of the 1730s and the Second Maroon War of the 1790s.

Invasion of Jamaica

The Invasion of Jamaica was an amphibious expedition conducted by the English in the Caribbean in 1655 that resulted in the capture of the island from Spain. Before that, Spanish Jamaica was a colony of Spain for over a hundred years. Jamaica's capture was the casus belli that resulted in actual war between England and Spain in 1655. For the next period of the island's history, it was known as the Colony of Jamaica.

Jamaicans of Spanish descent

Spanish Jamaicans are Jamaican citizens of Spanish origin or descent.

Juan de Esquivel

Juan de Esquivel (b. Seville, Spain - d. Jamaica, 1523) was a Spanish officer involved with the Colon family's government of the West Indies, particularly Jamaica.

List of governors of dependent territories in the 16th century

Territorial governors in the 15th century – Territorial governors in the 17th century – Colonial and territorial governors by yearThis is a list of territorial governors in the 16th century (1501–1600) AD, such as the administrators of colonies, protectorates, or other dependencies. Where applicable, native rulers are also listed.

A dependent territory is normally a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state yet remains politically outside of the controlling state's integral area. The administrators of uninhabited territories are excluded.

List of governors of dependent territories in the 17th century

Territorial governors in the 16th century – Territorial governors in the 18th century – Colonial and territorial governors by yearThis is a list of territorial governors in the 17th century (1601–1700) AD, such as the administrators of colonies, protectorates, or other dependencies. Where applicable, native rulers are also listed.

A dependent territory is normally a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state yet remains politically outside of the controlling state's integral area. The administrators of uninhabited territories are excluded.

Luis Colón, 1st Duke of Veragua

Luis Colón y Álvarez de Toledo, 1st Duke of Veragua, 1st Duke of la Vega, 1st Marquess of Jamaica (1519/1520/1522 in Santo Domingo – 29 January 1572), was the first son of Diego Colón and María Álvarez de Toledo y Rojas, and grandson of Christopher Columbus.After his father's death, a compromise was reached in the pleitos colombinos in 1536 in which he was named 3rd Admiral of the Indies and renounced all other rights for a perpetual annuity of 10,000 ducats, the island of Jamaica as a fief, the Dukedom of Veragua estate of 25 square leagues in the Province of Veragua on the Isthmus of Panama, and the titles of 1st Duke of Veragua and 1st Marquess of Jamaica and 1st Duke of La Vega.

He married firstly in 1546 to María de Mosquera y Pasamonte, daughter of Juan de Mosquera and his wife Ofrasina de Pasamonte, and had:

María Colón de Toledo y Mosquera, a nun in Valladolid

Felipa Colón de Toledo, 2nd Duchess of VeraguaHe married secondly in Valladolid, on 19 October 1555, to Ana de Castro Osorio, daughter of Beatriz de Castro Osório, 6th Countess of Lemos and Sárria, and her second husband Alvaro Osorio, without issue.

Spanish West Indies

The Spanish West Indies or the Spanish Antilles (also known as "Las Antillas Occidentales" or simply "Las Antillas Españolas" in Spanish) was the former name of the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. In terms of governance of the Spanish Empire, The Indies was the designation for all its overseas territories and was overseen by the Council of the Indies, founded in 1524 and based in Spain. When the crown established the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535, the islands of the Caribbean came under its jurisdiction.

The islands claimed by Spain were Hispaniola, modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic; Cuba, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Guadalupe and the Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Venezuela (Margarita island), Trinidad, and the Bay Islands.

The islands that later became the Spanish West Indies were the focus of the voyages of the Spanish expedition of Christopher Columbus in America. Largely due to the familiarity that Spaniards gained from Columbus's voyages, the islands were also the first lands to be permanently colonized by Spanish in the Americas. The Spanish West Indies were also the most enduring part of Spain's American Empire, only being surrendered in 1898 at the end of the Spanish–American War. For over three centuries, Spain controlled a network of ports in the Caribbean including Havana (Cuba), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Veracruz (Mexico), and Portobelo, Panama, which were connected by galleon routes.

Some smaller islands were seized or ceded to other European powers as a result of war, or diplomatic agreements during the 17th and 18th centuries. Others such as Dominican Republic gained their independence in the 19th century.

Spanish settlement in Jamaica

The Spanish settlement in Jamaica was a settlement that originated from the 16th century, when Jamaica was Spanish, ending essentially in 1670, the date on which Spain delivered the island to the British Crown under the Treaty of Madrid. However, there were never significant Spanish communities on the island, which was why it easily occupied by the British.

Timeline of sovereign states in North America

This timeline lists all sovereign states in North America (including Central America and the Caribbean), both current and defunct, from the year 1500 onwards.

Watts' West Indies and Virginia expedition

Watts' West Indies and Virginia expedition also known as the Action of Cape Tiburon was an English expedition to the Spanish Main during the Anglo–Spanish War. The expedition began on 10 May and ended by 18 July 1590 and was commanded by Abraham Cocke and Christopher Newport. This was financed by the highly renowned London merchant John Watts. The English ships intercepted and dispersed Spanish convoys capturing, sinking and grounding a large number of ships off the Spanish colonies of Hispaniola, Cuba and Jamaica. Despite losing an arm Newport was victorious and captured a good haul of booty. A breakaway expedition from this discovered that the Roanoke colony was completely deserted and which gave the name The Lost Colony.

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