British Involvement in the Bahamas, History of Providence Island
Paper should trace Britain’s involvement in the Bahama Islands focusing on colonization, piracy epidemic, and the eventual crackdown of Woodes Rogers. Should address key questions such as: Why did colony fail? Why did piracy flourish? How was Rogers able to end it? Why did Britain have an interest in the region? Talk about the founding of Providence Island, and how/why it degenerated into a "pirates nest."
In the 17th and 18th century, the Bahamas captured the interest of both the Spanish and British Empires. My paper will trace the history of these islands and determine what role they played for these two crowns. I will use Britain’s failed attempt to colonize Providence (at least in the way they had initially envisioned,) as a device to explore several important issues. These issues include: the allure of the Bahamas, the mindset/methods of European colonizers, and the role that piracy and privateering played in the game of empire. One of my goals is to tie in the events that took place in the Bahamas to the overall theme of the British Empire’s transitioning stance on piracy. Focusing on these issues will allow me to figure out why the Bahamas were a sought after imperial frontier for both the Spanish and the British.
I will ask why New Providence transformed from a Puritan colony into a pirate’s haven, and why the British Empire eventually felt the need to eradicate the pirates. Woodes Rogers will play a key role in my paper. I will discuss his background as a privateer and how/why he became Governor of the Bahamas, and demonstrate that his personal story is representative of the overarching theme of the British Empire’s changing attitudes towards piracy. I expect the investigation of the relationship between the British Empire and the Bahamas to yield certain insights that when compared with the Crown’s efforts in other colonies, will reveal patterns that are valuable if one is to understand the nature of Empire.
1) Barbour, Violet, “Privateers and Pirates of the West Indies,” in The American Historical Review, (Oxford University Press, 1911.)
-This article traces the history of pirates in the West Indies and their relationship to several important colonies such as the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Tortuga. Contains vital information about how the Spanish and British Empires reacted to this activity.
2) Kupperman, Karen, “Puritan Colonization from Providence Island through the Western Design,” in The William and Mary Quarterly, (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1988.)
-Discusses the methods and motivations of Puritan colonization of Providence Island. Details the involvement of The Providence Island Company. Talks about the role of religion and will be another helpful insight into the development of the colony.
3) Rowland, Donald, “Spanish Occupation of the Island of Old Providence, or Santa Catalina, 1641-1670,” in The Hispanic American Historical Review, (Duke University Press, 1935.)
-Explores colonial activity in our region of interest from the Spanish Empire’s perspective. Will be useful in balancing out the narrative.
4) Miller W. Hubert, “The Colonization of the Bahamas, 1647-1670,” in The William and Mary Quarterly, (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1945.)
-This source will provide another angle at which to gather information about the history of British involvement in the Bahamas. I will “cross-check” this with other sources until I have a true understanding of the “how, what, and why” of events.
5) Cecil Headlam (editor). “America and West Indies: July 1717, 17-31.” Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 29: 1716-1717 (1930): 344-364. British History Online.
-Primary source that provides the reader with direct correspondences between key figures such as Woodes Rogers and the British Crown. More valuable than any other source because it gives real life accounts of the activities in the colonies.
6) Kupperman, Karen, Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony (Cambridge University Press, 1995.)
-This book will provide great insight into the multiple attempts at colonization of New Providence by the British. It will help me get the chronology of events correct, and will supply me with lots of detail regarding the methods and motivations for colonization. I expect this book to beef up my general understanding of the relationship between the British Empire and the Bahamas.
7) Defoe, Daniel, A Gerneral History of the Pyrates (New York: Dover Publications, 1999.)
-There are a few pages in this book that discuss the island of New Providence. I will use the description of the island to bolster my understanding of why it was an attractive place for pirates.