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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Fight or Make Do?

Fight or Make Do?

The administrator and the entrepreneur on Biteable.

Having read extended first account dispatches and commentary of the period of history of Jamaica 1509 to 1692, I ask of myself what I should make of it and if the times call for me to take any action.
The most hurtful part of the new information, for me, is the acceptance of a 7% agent commission by governors of the island to handle business on behalf of the company that had a licensed monopoly on the trade of enslaved persons. With that structure in place, the society could not possibly have matured from rampant adventurism to civilization. Indeed, the enslaved persons had no choice but to fight it out or adapt and make the system work for them. I am grateful, and humbled, that many chose the more honourable route of fighting. 

For those who did not fight, but chose to use other means to survive and thrive within the context that they found themselves in, they helped to build society that somehow, progressed and has made a positive contribution to the progress of humanity. I hesitate to apply judgement on them

Slideshow 1 on Biteable.


Characters with their birth years and nationalities
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From circa 600AD to 1662 The Tainos living on Jamaica for more than 1,000 years
1470 Juan de Esquivel, Spanish conquistador
1484 Bartolome de las Casas, Spanish haciaenda owner
William Jackson, English, pirate
Cristobal Arnaldo de Ysassi, Spanish Jamaican administrator
Juan Lobolo, African Jamaican maroon chief
1617 Edward D'Oyley, English naval officer and administrator
Richard Guy, English naval officer, planter, politician
1633 Thomas Lynch, English naval officer, administrator, planter
1629 Charles Howard, English military officer and politician and landowner
1635 Henry Morgan, Welsh buccaneer, privateer, planter, politician, administrator
1636 William Beeston, English planter, mercantilist and administrator
1639 John Vaughn, English landowner, peer, administrator
1639 Hender Molesworth, English administrator, planter, mercantilist

In 1509, Juan de Esquivel, a 39 year-old Spanish man living in Hispaniola was assigned administrative responsibility for the island of Santiago. The authorities wanted Esquivel off the island of Hispaniola, as the influential 28-year-old, Bartolome de las Casas, an owner of a hacienda worked by enslaved Taino people, reported him for his abominable cruelty against the Taino community.
Esquivel had arrived as crew on the second voyage of Columbus and had readily engaged in atrocities against the Taino people that was encouraged by his boss Columbus.
Esquivel had successfully established two settlements in Hispaniola, but the reports against him by Bartolome could not be ignored. Esquivel lasted four years as governor of Santiago, before he was again removed from office, but those four years left a long legacy.
He founded the town of New Seville which was a stable and growing settlement for another 150 years; and a harbour on the south coast of the island bears his name. Through poetic justice, the island of Santiago reverted to a modernised version of its original Taino name and became Jamaica.
Esquivel was removed from office in 1513, but remained on Jamaica for the rest of his life.

Spain did little better than ignore the island for another 130 years. It was therefore ripe as a target, and William Jackson - who had a license from his government to pillage Spanish possessions in the Caribbean - scored easily on March 25, 1643.
Jackson anchored in Kingston Harbour and his party of 500 men captured the south coast town of St Jago de la Vega. After the conflict was resolved, more than two score of Jackson's men decided to stay on, as they said Jamaica was a terrestrial paradise.

Eleven years later, in 1655, a poorly organised military force of the revolutionary Commonwealth of England Scotland and Ireland, made a last ditch attempt to redeem their disastrous campaign to capture Hispaniola by going after the weakly defended Jamaica. They followed Jackson's game plan and captured St Jago de la Vega, then a town of 400 houses, some were armed. Boosted by the victory, the island was then quickly militarized by them.
Combatants of that period whose exploits have had a lasting impact on Jamaica were: soldier Thomas Lynch who was in his early 20s; Edward D'Oyley, a naval officer in his 40s; Richard Guy, a military official; the maroon leader John Lobolo and the Spanish administrator Cristobal Arnaldo Ysassi (Isasi).

Soldier Thomas Lynch and buccaneer Henry Morgan were also involved in power struggles that caused them to face down each other over the ensuing 20 years.

Some historians say that Cristobal Arnaldo de Ysassi's family held the rights to the entire island of Jamaica, and he was determined not to lose his birthright. Largely through his personal efforts, over the course of three years he fixed himself the target of bringing the island back under Spanish control.
Important to his plans was the support of the maroon people who lived across three pelincos in the hinterlands of Jamaica. The maroons were Africans who had, through their own efforts, self liberated themselves from bondage, but Ysassi somehow believed that they were still sympathetic to the Spanish cause. Unknown to him, his ally - and a man who he described as key to his plans - Juan Lubolo, had been courted by a British military officer, Richard Guy, and had switched allegiances.
After losing three pitched battles, and being attacked by both maroons and British, Ysassi last saw Jamaica in 1658 as he departed the north coast by canoe for Cuba. This born Jamaican then disappears from the public record. D'Oyley had met Ysassi's forces and defeated him at Ocho Rios 1657 and again at Rio Bueno in 1658.

Of the other combatants of that time, Guy went on to become a moderately wealthy planter using enslaved labour, and was also a member of the House of Assembly. He married, and his grave can be seen in Guanaboa Vale.
Lubolo's influence and leadership saw him being recognised as a Colonel by the authorities. A peace treaty was signed in 1660 between Lubolo and the governor, granting his palenco peace and privileges for ever. In 1664, however, he was ambushed and killed by another maroon group, but his leadership has been immortalised by the naming of the Juan de Bolas Mountains, the Juan de Bolas River and other place names in central Jamaica.

D'Oyley advanced professionally, and made the transition from being a fighting man to administrator. Between between 1657 and 1662, he was officially in charge of Jamaica. His actions defined the development of the society. He:
-Dispossessed the remaining groups of Taino people by transporting them to Central America;
-Invited the pirates in Tortuga to relocate their headquarters to Port Royal as a strategy to prevent other nations from taking Jamaica as a prize;
-Selected and appointed eleven military officers and one civilian to make up the first House of Assembly. At the end of his commission, he left Jamaica.

Thomas Lynch, the solder who was a part of the invading force of 1655, was chief of staff to D'Oyley. At about age 30, Lynch was appointed Deputy Governor from 1663 for one year. He was also Chief Justice and Provost (Chief Sheriff) of the island. In other words, he was the police and the judge.
Lynch appointed a 24 year old Englishman, William Beeston, as his deputy and sent him on official negotiations with the Spanish for the return of British prisoners.

The politics of Britain changed. In 1660, the United Kingdom was formed and crown favourites were given appointments in colonies. Lynch gave way to a politician Edward Morgan who was Deputy Governor in 1664. Lynch did not have a good relationship with Morgan and he was charged with slander. At least one writer wonders if it was because Lynch wanted to marry a black woman. Morgan's daughter later married fellow Welshman, and the most powerful man in the Caribbean, Henry Morgan, and he left Jamaica, for a while.

The first push to exploit the economic agricultural potential of Jamaica, using a system of enslaved labour, came with Thomas Modyford who, at age 42, was appointed Deputy Governor, arriving in 1664 with 700 planters and enslaved persons. This influx propelled the sugar cane plantation economy into exponential growth mode. Modyford was all about the money and granted privateering licenses, giving 1/10 to the crown and notoriously keeping 1/15th for himself. Lynch did not have a good working relationship with this boss and was relieved of his appointments. Not being a planter or merchant but a mere public employee, Lynch returned for a desk job in Britain.

Modyford's granting of a lucrative privateering license to Henry Morgan in January 1671, led to diplomatic grief for his country and the downfall of his career. Unknown to him, England and Spain had signed a peace treaty in June 1670, and Morgan's pillaging of Panama some months later was an affront to that agreement. Modyford lost his job and was imprisoned for a year.

Thomas Lynch was then knighted in 1670, married Vere Herbert, and appointed as the first Lt Governor of Jamaica. On his return, he continued the policy of issuing licenses to privateers for three years, 1671 to 1674. Henry Morgan was in Britain from 1672 to 1674, was never arrested, and his explanations for his actions were accepted.

In 1674, 36-year-old John Vaughn, a friend of the court, was appointed Lt Governor with the mandate to eradicate the business of privateerism. Concurrent with this, Henry Morgan received a knighthood and accompanied Vaughn to Jamaica where they were joined by former Deputy Governor and friend of Morgan, Modyford. The planters and merchants in Jamaica celebrated the return of Morgan, and Vaughn soon realised that that his authority was curtailed by the former outlaw's great influence across the Caribbean.
Administration of the island over the next four years can be described as untidy, at best. Vaughn was corrupt and debauched; Henry Morgan was a drunkard and was secretly collaborating with the French to attack his old enemies - and now allies of his government - the Spanish.
In 1678, Vaughn was recalled and 49-year old military veteran and shrewd politician Charles Howard was sent out as Lt Governor. Howard had been a supporter of the revolution, but with the restoration of the crown, easily reverted to being a royalist. He openly flaunted the ban on privateering and was eased out of the system, departing Jamaica after two years in 1680, leaving Henry Morgan again in the position of Lt Governor (Acting). Morgan personally undertook to increase the number of big guns around Jamaica from 60 to 100. In addition, he declared martial law twice in response to perceived threat of the French.

In 1681, a new constitution was adopted in the UK for the governance of Jamaica. It was said to be "royally responsive" but insisted on the value of a local assembly to pass laws. It also depressed privateerism by strengthening the local militia and making the planters dependent on the crown for security. Both Vaughn and Lynch entreated the crown to appoint another governor, which was done on acceptance of 50,000 pounds raised from the planter class in Jamaica. These "negotiations" resulted in Morgan being removed as Lt Governor and also his commission as Captain General being revoked. Morgan's arch nemesis, Thomas Lynch, was appointed Lt Governor and Captain General, in 1682. A few months later Lynch's wife and son died on an island in the Atlantic on their way to rejoin him in Jamaica.
As governor, Lynch immediately implemented the new order. He also removed Morgan, his brother and other associates from the Jamaica House of Assembly.

Lynch carefully mentored two other men who went on to get the governorship of Jamaica, Hender Molesworth, a merchant 30 years his junior, and administrator William Beeston, who was two years younger than Molesworth. These two men were to become extremely powerful and wealthy. They were each in turn, chief military officials, slaveholding planters, and agents earning 7% from handling transactions on behalf of the Royal African Company, which had a monopoly on the trade in enslaved people.

Lynch married the 17 year old Mary Temple from in 1684 and died a few months later. He was buried the day after he died in St Catherine. His grave can still be seen. His daughter by Vere, Philadelphia, went on to marry a wealthy planter/enslaver in Barbados.

Molesworth became acting Lt Governor in 1685, and the same year had to contend with a yearlong war waged by Africans in Jamaica who had gained freedom by their own efforts. In addition to this, he pursued other policies that included annihilating the fledgling settlement of Scotsmen on Golden Island off the shore of Guyana.

A profligate member of the nobility, Christopher Monck, was appointed governor in 1687, and one of the notorious actions of his tenure was to oversee the heroic funeral arrangements of Henry Morgan in 1688.
Morgan was given full military and state honours, including a 22 gun salute - one more than is given to royalty - and was buried in Port Royal. His grave disappeared four years later with the earthquake of 1692. He died without issue leaving his wife, who was also a relation, Mary Elizabeth age 48.

Monck died in office at age 35 and Molesworth was again acting Lt Governor. Molesworth married Thomas Lynch's widow Mary in 1688/9, and he also died in the post in 1689. Mary then returned to England.

In 1689, Major General Francis Watson was commissioned as Lt Governor of Jamaica, a year later enslaved persons on the Sutton plantation in Clarendon staged a war which resulted in an enlargement of the maroons in central Jamaica. Watson was the last of the Lt Governors with his term ending in 1692.

END