Wednesday, February 22, 2006

History of Montserrat

History of Montserrat. This is a brief history of this small island recently best known for volcanic activity.

Wikipedia notes, "Montserrat is a lush, mountainous island in the Caribbean Sea, located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles. Montserrat was given its name by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after a mountain of the same name located in Spain. Montserrat is often referred to as the Emerald Island of the Caribbean due both to its resemblance to coastal Ireland, and to the Irish descent of most of its early European settlers."

From the site:

The island was discovered by Columbus in 1493, who named it after Monserrado, a mountain in Spain. Despite claiming the island, the Spanish did not colonize it and English and French interest grew. Charles I granted a patent to allow colonization in 1625.

The first european colony was established in 1631 when Irish Catholics were forcibly moved to there and Antigua to prevent them from siding against English protestants on St Kitts. After Oliver Cromwell's defeat of the Irish at the Battle of Drogheda, Irish political prisoners were transferred to Montserrat. A new fort at Kinsale was built. In 1655, Cromwell himself was entertained on Montserrat. Montserrat was hit by hurricanes in 1657 and 1658.

The island was taken by the French in 1664. Restored to the British in 1668, it capitulated to the French in 1782, but was again restored in 1784.

Slavery was abolished on the island in 1834. In 1871, Montserrat became part of the Leeward Islands Colony of Great Britain. When the Leeward Islands Federation was abolished in 1956, Montserrat became a separate colony.

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