- Bermuda was first discovered by a Spanish sailor called Juan de Bermúdez, in the year 1505.
- Virginia Company, an English private organization, chartered by James I, established a settlement on the island in the year 1609.
- Sea venture, the vessel of the Virginia Company sailing under Admiral Sir George Somers, was bound to Jamestown, when the entire fleet of nine ships caught in a storm and took refuge in the island of Bermuda.
- Two new ships (Deliverance and Patience) were built out of the wreckage of Sea Venture and the survivors sailed to Jamestown.
- But they found Jamestown to be uninhabitable and the few survivors who were stranded there were fighting for survival.
- When all the survivors prepared to set sail to England, a relief fleet under the command of Governor Lord De La Warre arrived and the evacuation was aborted.
- Admiral Somers returned to Bermuda, in the hope of bringing more supplies from there to Jamestown but he met an untimely death due to surfeit of pork, in the year 1610.
- In 1611, the only known survivors left in the island were Carter, Waters and Chard, sailors of Sea Venture.
- Hearing the story of the survivors from Sea venture, the Virginia Company sent 60 settlers to Bermuda under the command of Sir Richard Moore in the year 1612.
- These settlers built the settlement of St. George.
- In the year 1614, Bermuda was handed over by the Crown to the newly formed Somers Isles Company.
- Bermuda was administratively divided into a single public territory which is today’s St. George, and nine other tribes.
- The main crop was tobacco but it was not very profitable, as the Bermuda tobacco was inferior in quality.
- The settlers turned to other commercial activities such as ship building, but they were not able to practice these trades without the approval of the Somers Isles Company
- The over interference of the company in the affairs of the Bermudians, lead to its closure in the year 1684.
- Till the end of the seventeenth century the dominant population in Bermuda was of white Anglo-Saxon ethnicity.
- Blacks started immigrating into Bermuda in the early part of the nineteenth century, and the ruling British took many steps to reduce their numbers, like increasing the period of indenture for black workers to 99 years.
- The first slaves were brought into Bermuda because of their expertise in pearl diving. But it was proved years later, that there were no pearls in the Bermuda Island.
- Bermuda did not have any economic importance since the only crop grown there was tobacco, but it did remain an important connecting point to Virginia, a prominent English colony.
- After the charter of the Somers Isles Company was revoked, Bermuda officially became a crown colony in 1684 and remains so to this day, despite sporadic efforts by various movements for independence.
Bermuda is a cluster of isles found in the North Atlantic Ocean, whose closest neighbor in the US is North Carolina. As inferred from the above points, the British colonization of Bermuda was more an accident than by design. The fateful storm of July 25, 1609, disrupts the journey of the mighty fleet of nine ships, lead by the Sea venture, with Admiral George Somers at the helm. They were bound to Jamestown in Virginia, an important territory of the British in the North American continent. Till then the Bermuda Island, was avoided by most of the passing ships due to its deadly reefs.
The only crop which could be grown in Bermudian soil is tobacco that too was not of great quality. Many cargoes of tobacco which was sent by the Virginia Company to England were indeed burnt down. When the settlers tried their hands in other maritime trades the Somers Isles Company, forced them into cultivation, as it was under the pressure to send some currency back to England. Some privateers were convinced that there were pearl in the waters around the Bermuda Island, but later these claims were found to be false. Thus, occupation of this tiny island clearly did not have any economic consequence for the British, but it remained an important colony of Britain in North America, mainly due to its strategic location. It was not just a highly travelled sea route, but it also served as a place where, England dumped its political prisoners. In fact during the Anglo-Boer war, England imprisoned almost 5,000 prisoners of war in this island.
Today, the crown of England has direct control over the island and a Governor operates on her behalf, who is appointed on the advice of the Parliament of England. It is the oldest overseas province of the Great Britain and today is one of the most preferred tourist destinations and a tax haven, which attracts lot of foreign investments.
Roiyah Saltus. Colonial Bermuda: hierarchies of difference, articulations of power – Introduction. Web. September 18, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/3440115/Colonial_Bermuda_hierarchies_of_difference_articulations_of_power_-_Introduction
Keith Archibald Forbes. Admiral Sir George Somers colonized Bermuda for Britain. September 13, 2013. Web. September 18, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.bermuda-online.org/sirgeorgesomers.htm