Invasion of Trinidad (1797)

On February 18, 1797, a fleet of 18 warships under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby invaded and took the Island of Trinidad. Within a few days the last Spanish Governor, Don José María Chacón surrendered the island to Abercromby.

Effected as a result of the signing of the treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796 by the governments of Spain and France and by virtue of which both nations became allies, turning Spain automatically into enemy of Great Britain. In retaliation, this latter country sent a fleet to the Caribbean with the intention of invading the islands of Trinidad and Puerto Rico, obtaining the surrender of the first, but being repelled in the second.


Spain, previously an ally of Great Britain, had been defeated in the War of the Pyrenees against France in 1795 and forced to sign the Peace of Basel. An alliance convention between France and Spain was signed the following year in 1796. British forces in the Caribbean in 1796 had already taken French colonies such as Saint Lucia and later Dutch colonies in South America; Demerara and Essequibo. With the Spanish now at war with Great Britain, the general Ralph Abercromby thought it was right to necessarily render Spain's colonies an immediate object of attack. His first target was the Spanish island of Trinidad which being close proximity to Tobago which had been captured early in the war. The island had been Spanish since the third voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1498 and since 1777 was a province of the Captaincy General of Venezuela.


On the 12th of February, an expedition, composed of four sail of the line, two sloops and a bomb-vessel, under the command of Rear-Admiral Henry Harvey, in Prince of Wales, having on board his ship Lieutenant-general Sir Ralph Abercromby, as the commanding officer of the troops to be employed, quit Port-Royal, Martinique. On the 14th the rear-admiral arrived at the port of rendezvous, the island of Carriacou, and was there joined by another sail of the line, the 74-gun third-rate (Invincible), two frigates, three sloops, and several transports, containing the troops destined for the attack.

On the 15th the squadron and transports again set sail, running between the islands of Carriacou and Grenada. On the morning of the next day the whole flotilla arrived off Trinidad and steered for the Gulf of Paria. Just as the British squadron had passed through the Great Bocas channel, a Spanish squadron was discovered at anchor in Chaguaramus Bay, consisting of the following four sail of the line and one frigate: San Vincente (Captain Don Geronimo Mendoza; 84 guns), Gallardo (Captain Don Gabriel Sororido; 74 guns), Arrogante (Captain Don Raphael Benasa; 74 guns), San Damaso (Captain Don Tores Jordan; 74 guns), and Santa Cecilia (Captain Don Manuel Urtesabel; 36 guns), all under the command of Rear-Admiral Don Sebastian Ruiz de Apodaca.

The apparent strength of the battery on Gaspar Grande island, which, mounting 20 cannon and two mortars, commanded and might have disputed, the entrance to the enemy's anchorage, caused Hardy to order the transports, under the protection of Arethusa, Thorn, and Zebra, to anchor a little further up the gulf, at the distance of about five miles from the town of Port-d'Espagne, while Alarm, Favourite, and Victorieuse kept under sail between the transports and Port-d'Espagne, to prevent any vessels escaping from the latter.[Note 1] In the mean time, the rear-admiral, with his four sail of the line, anchored, in order of battle, within random-shot of the Spanish batteries and line-of-battle ships, to be prepared in case the ships, having all their sails set and appearing to be ready for sea, should attempt during the night to escape.

The British began to observe flames bursting out from one of the Spanish ships. In a short time three others were on fire and all four continued to burn with great fury until daylight. The Spanish had set the ships on fire as most the marines and seamen were ashore. The San-Damaso escaped the conflagration and, without any resistance, was brought off by the boats of the British squadron.[6] The Spaniards meanwhile, had abandoned Gaspar Grande and soon after daylight a detachment of the 14th Regiment of Foot occupied the island. In the course of the day the remainder of the troops landed about three miles from Port of Spain, without the slightest opposition, and on the same evening, quietly entered the town itself. This led to the Spanish governor José María Chacón offering to capitulate; on the following day, the island of Trinidad surrendered to the British arms, without an effort at defence and without any casualties. Abercromby made sir Thomas Picton governor of Trinidad as a British crown colony, with a French-speaking population and Spanish laws.


Trinidad Ralph Abercromby
1897 medallion commemorating the centenary of the capture of Trinidad

On 17 April 1797, Sir Abercromby fleet invaded the island of Puerto Rico with a force of 6,000-13,000 men,[7] which included German soldiers and Royal Marines and 60 to 64 ships. Fierce fighting continued for the next days. Both sides suffered heavy losses. On Sunday, April 30 the British ceased their attack and began their retreat from San Juan. The next year the British invasion force shared in the allocation of £40,000 for the proceeds of the ships taken at Trinidad and the property found on the island.[8] The governor Picton held the island with a garrison he considered inadequate against the threats of internal unrest and of reconquest by the Spanish. He ensured order by vigorous action, viewed variously as rough-and-ready justice or as arbitrary brutality. During the peace negotiations many of the British inhabitants petitioned against the return of the island to Spain; this together with Picton's and Abercromby's representations, ensured the retention of Trinidad as a British possession.The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between the France and the United Kingdom. It was signed on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace." The consequent peace lasted only one year (18 May 1803) and was the only period of general peace in Europe between 1793 and 1814. The conquest and formal ceding of Trinidad in 1802 led to an influx of settlers from England or the British colonies of the Eastern Caribbean. The sparse settlement and slow rate of population increase during Spanish rule and even after British rule made Trinidad one of the less populated colonies of the West Indies with the least developed plantation infrastructure.[9]

The King of Spain Charles IV set up a "Council of War" to look into the surrender. By Royal Decree, the ex governor of Trinidad Jose Maria Chacon and Rear Admiral Sebastián Ruiz de Apodaca (who had scuttled his small fleet) were banished for life from the "Royal Domain." Apodaca's case was reconsidered and he was reinstated in 1809, but Chacón died in exile in Portugal.[10]


  1. ^ In 1796, Alarm had violated Trinidad'’s neutrality, so contributing to Spain's declaration of war on the side of Revolutionary France.[5]
  1. ^ a b Joseph, Edward Lanzer (1970). History of Trinidad. Routledge. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-7146-1939-2.
  2. ^ a b Antonio Laborda: La ocupación de la isla de Trinidad por los británicos en 1797 Revista de Historia Naval (in Spanish)
  3. ^ a b Southey, Thomas (1827). Chronological history of the West Indies. 3. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green. p. 137.
  4. ^ Joseph, Edward Lanzer (1970). History of Trinidad. Routledge. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-7146-1939-2.
  5. ^ Trinidad history
  6. ^ "No. 13995". The London Gazette. 27 March 1797. p. 286.
  7. ^ Confirmation of troop count is unattainable, only Spanish and Puerto Rican sources are available regarding troop count.
  8. ^ "No. 15084". The London Gazette. 27 November 1798. p. 1144.
  9. ^ Brereton, Bridget (1981). A History of Modern Trinidad 1783-1962. London: Heinemann Educational Books
  10. ^ Carmichael (1961), pp. 40-42.
Caroni Swamp

The Caroni Swamp is the second largest mangrove wetland in Trinidad and Tobago. It is located on the west coast of Trinidad, south of Port of Spain and northwest of Chaguanas, where the Caroni River meets the Gulf of Paria.

The Caroni Swamp is an estuarine system comprising 5,611 hectares of mangrove forest and herbaceous marsh, interrupted by numerous channels, and brackish and saline lagoons, and with extensive intertidal mudflats on the seaward side. This swamp is an important wetland since it is ecologically diverse, consisting of marshes, mangrove swamp and tidal mudflats in close proximity. The wetland provides a variety of habitats for flora and faunal species and as such, supports a rich biodiversity. It is highly productive system that provides food and protection and is a nursery for marine and freshwater species.

Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago

The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago is the central bank of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago is located in the Eric Williams Financial Complex. The complex consists of the central bank auditorium and two sky-scrapers, locally known as the Twin Towers. The first tower houses the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and the second tower houses the Ministry of Finance. It was only the second Central Bank to be established in the English-speaking Caribbean, the first being the Bank of Jamaica which was established in 1960.


Couva is an urban town (48,858 in 2011 census) in west-central Trinidad, south of Port of Spain and Chaguanas and north of San Fernando and Point Fortin. It is the main urban and commercial centre of Couva–Tabaquite–Talparo, and the Greater Couva area includes the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and the Port of Point Lisas. It is one of the fastest growing towns in the country. Couva's southern boundary is at the village of California & Point Lisas, and to the north Couva stretches to McBean (both on the Trinidad Southern Main Road). To the east of Couva is Preysal. To the west of Couva is the road to Waterloo and Carli Bay, which are located on the Gulf of Paria. Couva is part of the Caroni County. Couva is considered a major power base for the United National Congress (UNC), whose headquarters are located here.

Goat racing

Goat racing is a sport that originated in Buccoo, Tobago, which is part of the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The sport has been continued by some legends in Townsville. Started in 1925 by a Barbadian, Samuel Callendar, goat racing historically occurs on the Tuesday after Easter day, which is known as 'Easter Tuesday' in Trinidad and Tobago and is an unofficial public holiday in Tobago. Today, it is called the Buccoo Goat Race Festival, which is a popular and lively event that draws thousands of spectators, mainly from Trinidad. Also part of the festival is the less popular crab racing. In crab racing, large blue crabs and their jockeys are placed in the centre of a large circle drawn in the sand and coaxed towards the circle's perimeter by their jockeys through a bamboo pole with a string attached to the crab. The first crab to breach the circle is the winner. The Buccoo Goat Race Festival is Tobago's most internationally acclaimed festival.

HMS Invincible (1765)

HMS Invincible was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 9 March 1765 at Deptford. Invincible was built during a period of peace to replace ships worn out in the recently concluded Seven Years' War. The ship went on to serve in the American War of Independence, fighting at the battles of Cape St Vincent in 1780, and under the command of Captain Charles Saxton, the Battles of the Chesapeake in 1781 and St Kitts in 1782.She survived the cull of the Navy during the next period of peace, and was present, under the command of Thomas Pakenham, at the Glorious First of June in 1794, where she was badly damaged and lost fourteen men, and, under the command of William Cayley, the Invasion of Trinidad (1797), which resulted in the transfer of Trinidad from the Spanish.

Index of Trinidad and Tobago-related articles

The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

International rankings of Trinidad and Tobago

These are the international rankings of Trinidad and Tobago.

List of Trinidad and Tobago-related topics

The following is an outline of topics related to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

List of islands of Trinidad and Tobago

This is a list of islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic republic in the southern Caribbean.

List of wars involving Trinidad and Tobago

This is a list of wars and conflicts involving Trinidad and Tobago.

Nariva Swamp

The Nariva Swamp is the largest freshwater wetland in Trinidad and Tobago and has been designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The swamp is located on the east coast of Trinidad, immediately inland from the Manzanilla Bay through Biche and covers over 60 square kilometres (23 mi2). The Nariva Swamp is extremely biodiverse.

It is home to 45 mammal species, 39 reptile species, 33 fish species, 204 bird species, 19 frog species, 213 insect species and 15 mollusc species. All this contained in just 60 square kilometers.

Princes Town

Princes Town is a town within the Princes Town Regional Corporation, located on southern Trinidad island in Trinidad and Tobago. The population of the town is 28,335.

Religion in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is a multi-religious nation. The largest religious groups are the Protestant Christians (including Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodist, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Baptist), Roman Catholic Christians, Hindus, and Muslims. Two Afro-Caribbean syncretic faiths, the Shouter or Spiritual Baptists and the Orisha faith (formerly called Shangos, a less than complimentary term) are among the fastest growing religious groups. The fastest growing groups are a host of American-style Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches usually grouped as "Pentecostal" by most Trinidadians (although this designation is often inaccurate). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known as "Mormons") has also expanded its presence in the country since the late 1970s.According to the 2011 Census, 33.4% of the population was Protestant (including 12.0% Pentecostal, 5.7% Anglican, 4.1% Seventh-day Adventist, 3.0% Presbyterian or Congregational, 1.2% Baptist, and 0.1% Methodist), 21.5% was Roman Catholic, 14.1% was Hindu and 8% were Muslim. A small number of individuals subscribed to traditional Caribbean religions with African roots, such as the Spiritual Baptists (sometimes called Shouter Baptists) (5.7%); and the Orisha (0.1%). The smaller groups were Jehovah's Witnesses (1.5%) and unaffiliated (2.2%). There is also a small Buddhist community on the island.

Roxborough, Trinidad and Tobago

Roxborough is a town in Trinidad and Tobago and the administrative seat of the region Eastern Tobago it's also rank as level(3) Regional service center. Located at the southern shore of the Island of Tobago, it has a population of 2,089 (2011).

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.


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