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Travel Guide 2   >   Bermuda   >   History

   
 

Bermudan History


The first appearance of Bermuda in the historical record is in 1511, when Peter Martyr d'Anghiera mentions the islands in his book, Legatio Babylonica. It is likely that the islands were discovered a few years earlier at the very beginning of the 16th century, but the exact date is unknown. Later in the century, both Spanish and Portuguese ships are believed to have regularly stopped at the islands to replenish their supplies of food and water, and there was even an attempt to establish a breeding stock of hogs on the islands. A Portuguese ship is also believed to have become stuck in the islands' reefs, and the sailors had to build a new hull of Bermudan cedar before leaving the islands - leaving the initials "RP 1543" carved on what subsequently became known as "Spanish Rock".

The first permanent colonization of Bermuda took place in 1609, when the English ship, Sea Venture, was wrecked off the coast of the islands. The islands were claimed for the English crown, and initially associated with Virginia, an association which is till recorded today in many place names in Virginia.

In the next centuries, despite attempts to agriculture (principally tobacco) in Bermuda, the islands. Sailors from Bermuda were active in whaling, privateering, and even the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), as well as the salt trade. After the American Revolution (1775 to 1783), also became the Royal Navy's main base in the western hemisphere, and gained the nickname "Gibraltar of the West".

In the 20th century, Bermudans served with British forces during both World Wars, and their sacrifices are remembered by the Cenotaph memorial in front of the Cabinet Building in Hamilton. The Royal Navy base on the island was closed in the 1950s, except for a small supply base which lasted until 1995. Thus, today, the Royal Naval Dockyard is now simply a tourist attraction - in fact one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bermuda, incorporating shops, restaurants, an arts center, and crafts market, as well as the Bermuda Maritime Museum.

Today, Bermuda is highly prosperous with an economy based on financial services and tourism. The islands' Progresive Labour Party supports independence from UK, but Bermudan voters rejected independence in a referendum on the issue in in 1995, and polls indicate that opinion is largely unchanged since that time. As a result, Bermuda remains a British Overseas Territory, albeit with a very high degree of local autonomy (the UK retains responsibility only for defense, and foreign affairs, as well as ultimately ensuring good governance).

Here are some books about the history of Bermuda:


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Books about Bermudan History


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A Tale of Two Colonies: What Really Happened in Virginia and Bermuda?

By Virginia Bernhard

University of Missouri
Paperback (232 pages)

A Tale of Two Colonies: What Really Happened in Virginia and Bermuda?
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In 1609, two years after its English founding, colonists struggled to stay alive in a tiny fort at Jamestown.John Smith fought to keep order, battling both English and Indians. When he left, desperate colonists ate lizards, rats, and human flesh. Surviving accounts of the “Starving Time” differ, as do modern scholars’ theories.

Meanwhile, the Virginia-bound Sea Venture was shipwrecked on Bermuda, the dreaded, uninhabited “Isle of Devils.” The castaways’ journals describe the hurricane at sea as well as murders and mutinies on land. Their adventures are said to have inspired Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

A year later, in 1610, the Bermuda castaways sailed to Virginia in two small ships they had built. They arrived in Jamestown to find many people in the last stages of starvation; abandoning the colony seemed their only option. Then, in what many people thought was divine providence, three English ships sailed into Chesapeake Bay. Virginia was saved, but the colony’s troubles were far from over.

Despite glowing reports from Virginia Company officials, disease, inadequate food, and fear of Indians plagued the colony. The company poured thousands of pounds sterling and hundreds of new settlers into its venture but failed to make a profit, and many of the newcomers died. Bermuda—with plenty of food, no native population, and a balmy climate—looked much more promising, and in fact, it became England’s second New World colony in 1612.

In this fascinating tale of England’s first two New World colonies, Bernhard links Virginia and Bermuda in a series of unintended consequences resulting from natural disaster, ignorance of native cultures, diplomatic intrigue, and the fateful arrival of the first Africans in both colonies. Written for general as well as academic audiences, A Tale of Two Colonies examines the existing sources on the colonies, sets them in a transatlantic context, and weighs them against circumstantial evidence.

From diplomatic correspondence and maps in the Spanish archives to recent archaeological discoveries at Jamestown, Bernhard creates an intriguing history. To weave together the stories of the two colonies, which are fraught with missing pieces, she leaves nothing unexamined: letters written in code, adventurers’ narratives, lists of Africans in Bermuda, and the minutes of committees in London. Biographical details of mariners, diplomats, spies, Indians, Africans, and English colonists also enrich the narrative. While there are common stories about both colonies, Bernhard shakes myth free from truth and illuminates what is known—as well as what we may never know—about the first English colonies in the New World.

In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American ... and the University of North Carolina Press)

By Michael J. Jarvis

Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Released: 2012-06-01
Paperback (704 pages)

In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American ... and the University of North Carolina Press)
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In an exploration of the oceanic connections of the Atlantic world, Michael J. Jarvis recovers a mariner's view of early America as seen through the eyes of Bermuda's seafarers. The first social history of eighteenth-century Bermuda, this book profiles how one especially intensive maritime community capitalized on its position "in the eye of all trade."

Jarvis takes readers aboard small Bermudian sloops and follows white and enslaved sailors as they shuttled cargoes between ports, raked salt, harvested timber, salvaged shipwrecks, hunted whales, captured prizes, and smuggled contraband in an expansive maritime sphere spanning Great Britain's North American and Caribbean colonies. In doing so, he shows how humble sailors and seafaring slaves operating small family-owned vessels were significant but underappreciated agents of Atlantic integration.

The American Revolution starkly revealed the extent of British America's integration before 1775 as it shattered interregional links that Bermudians had helped to forge. Reliant on North America for food and customers, Bermudians faced disaster at the conflict's start. A bold act of treason enabled islanders to continue trade with their rebellious neighbors and helped them to survive and even prosper in an Atlantic world at war. Ultimately, however, the creation of the United States ended Bermuda's economic independence and doomed the island's maritime economy.

Discovering Somers Isles: A Guide to Bermuda's History 1500-1615

By John M Archer

Maury Books
Paperback (122 pages)

Discovering Somers Isles: A Guide to Bermuda s History 1500-1615
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The fact that Bermuda was discovered at all might seem amazing: the tiny cluster of islands sits almost in the middle of 20,000,000 square miles of the North Atlantic. But sixteenth-century trade routes to the West Indies brought hundreds of ships through the turquoise waters surrounding its desolate shores - and left countless shipwrecks on its uncharted reefs. It is no small wonder that the Bermudas were once known as "Devil's Isles.

On the way to the struggling colony at Jamestown in May of 1609, the flagship of an English convoy was driven onto those reefs by a hurricane.  Battered and sinking, the "Sea Venture" was run aground by Admiral George Somers and miraculously, all 150 passengers survived. Their story, and how Bermuda came to be settled, is a remarkable tale of survival and perseverance.

This guide uses their words, together with maps and images, to allow readers to envision those shores with "seventeenth-century eyes," and discover for themselves what the settlers called "Somers Isles."

Bermuda History, Travel Guide and Tourism: Bermuda people and immigration, tourism information, Government, Culture and Economy

By Evan Adams

Released: 2016-06-16
Kindle Edition (229 pages)

Bermuda History, Travel Guide and Tourism: Bermuda people and immigration, tourism information, Government, Culture and Economy
 
Product Description:
Nearly all the slaves were brought to Bermuda from the West Indies or as slaves on ships captured by Bermuda privateers. Few arrived directly from Africa. The northern European minority descend from the original English colonists and subsequent arrivals from all over Britain including indentured laborers. Some U.S. military personnel and some Scandinavians also settled here. A few Portuguese families arrived first in the 1840s from Madeira. Portuguese immigrants increasingly arrived in subsequent years to work in the growing agricultural industry. More history information on Bermuda……

Mark Twain in Paradise: His Voyages to Bermuda (Mark Twain and His Circle)

By Donald Hoffmann

University of Missouri
Released: 2018-02-28
Paperback (208 pages)

Mark Twain in Paradise: His Voyages to Bermuda (Mark Twain and His Circle)
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For Mark Twain, it was love at first landfall. Samuel Clemens first encountered the Bermuda Islands in 1867 on a return voyage from the Holy Land and found them much to his liking. One of the most isolated spots in the world, Bermuda offered the writer a refuge from his harried and sometimes sad existence on the mainland, and this island paradise called him back another seven times. Clemens found that Bermuda’s beauty, pace, weather, and company were just the medicine he needed, and its seafaring culture with few connections to the outside world appealed to his love of travel by water.

This book is the first comprehensive study of Clemens’s love affair with Bermuda, a vivid depiction of a celebrated author on recurring vacations. Donald Hoffmann has culled and clarified passages from Mark Twain’s travel pieces, letters, and unpublished autobiographical dictation—with cross-references to his fiction and infrequently cited short pieces—to create a little-known view of the author at leisure on his fantasy island.

Mark Twain in Paradise sheds light on both Clemens’s complex character and the topography and history of the islands. Hoffmann has plumbed the voluminous Mark Twain scholarship and Bermudian archives to faithfully re-create turn-of-the-century Bermuda, supplying historical and biographical background to give his narrative texture and depth. He offers insight into Bermuda’s natural environment, traditional stone houses, and romantic past, and he presents dozens of illustrations, both vintage and new, showing that much of what Mark Twain described can still be seen today.

Hoffmann also provides insight into the social circles Clemens moved in—and sometimes collected around himself. When visiting the islands, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of socialist Upton Sinclair and multimillionaire Henry H. Rogers; with Woodrow Wilson and his lover, socialite Mary Peck; as well as with the young girls to whom he enjoyed playing grandfather.

“You go to heaven if you want to,” Mark Twain wrote from Bermuda in 1910 during his long last visit. “I’d druther stay here.” And because much of what Clemens enjoyed in the islands is still available to experience today, visitors to Bermuda can now have America’s favorite author as their guide. Mark Twain in Paradise is an unexpected addition to the vast literature by and about Mark Twain and a work of travel literature unlike any other.

Bermuda: Its History, Geology, Climate, Products, Agriculture, Commerce, and Government (Classic Reprint)

By Theodore L. Godet

Forgotten Books
Paperback (314 pages)

Bermuda: Its History, Geology, Climate, Products, Agriculture, Commerce, and Government (Classic Reprint)
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To his Excellency Colonel Fbeemak Mubrat, Governor and Commander-in-C hief, fc. jrc, of Bermuda, or Somers I slands. Sm, It is with the highest gratification that I avail myself of your kind permission to dedicate this yolume to your Excellency not only as a memento of my personal esteem, but from a conviction that no one can more appreciate any efforts in behalf of this Colony than your Excellency, who has the power of rendering them available. I have had the pleasure of finding myself encouraged in the publication of this work by numerous subscribers; but to your Excellency I am indebted for many additions to the names that adorn the list. I have the honour to subscribe myself with every sentiment of gratitude and respect, Your Excellency i Very obliged and humble servant, T. L. GODET. Hami Uon, Bermuda,
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books is a publisher of historical writings, such as: Philosophy, Classics, Science, Religion, History, Folklore and Mythology.

Forgotten Books' Classic Reprint Series utilizes the latest technology to regenerate facsimiles of historically important writings. Careful attention has been made to accurately preserve the original format of each page whilst digitally enhancing the aged text. Read books online for free at www.forgottenbooks.org

History's Mysteries: Curious Clues, Cold Cases, and Puzzles From the Past (National Geographic Kids)

By Kitson Jazynka

National Geographic Children's Books
Released: 2017-10-17
Paperback (160 pages)

History s Mysteries: Curious Clues, Cold Cases, and Puzzles From the Past (National Geographic Kids)
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Why were the Easter Island heads erected? What really happened to the Maya? Who stole the Irish Crown Jewels? The first book in this exciting new series will cover history's heavy-hitting, head-scratching mysteries, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Bermuda Triangle, the Oak Island Money Pit, Stonehenge, the Sphinx, the disappearance of entire civilizations, the dancing plague, the Voynich manuscript, and so many more. Chock-full of cool photos, fun facts, and spine-tingling mysteries.

The Bermuda Triangle Islamic Perspective: Within the Context of Bermuda Muslim History

By Wayne Lonnie Brown

Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency, LLC
Paperback (66 pages)

The Bermuda Triangle Islamic Perspective: Within the Context of Bermuda Muslim History
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Like my first book published in 1999, The Historical Roots of Proper Islamic Governance in Bermuda, this is a history book. It clarifies some points in my first book, but more importantly, it addresses questions about the Bermuda Triangle that are continuously asked by Muslims the world over, both by many of the Ulama as well as ordinary Muslims, and also asked by non-Muslims. No one prior to me has discovered the answers I relate in this book about the Bermuda Triangle. The so-called mystery is solved by me, a Bermudian Muslim, and all praise is due to God. Why shouldn't God's mercy allow a Bermudian to discover something unique about Bermuda? The Bermuda Triangle Islamic Perspective: Within the Context of Bermuda Muslim History begins to unfold in the year 2000 and takes us up to present day. It is a new perspective of untold proportions. Wayne Lonnie Brown is a financial policy advisor in Bermuda who wishes to dispel misconceptions about his country. He is writing his next book. Publisher's website: http://sbpra.com/WayneLonnieBrown


 
 
 

 
 
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