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Saint Helena has a known history of over years since its recorded discovery by the Portuguese in Claiming to be Britain's second oldest colony, after Bermudathis is one of the most remote settlements in the world and was for several centuries of vital strategic importance to ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa. Since the early 19th century, the British occasionally used the island as a place of exilemost notably for Napoleon BonaparteDinuzulu kaCetshwayo and over 5, Boer prisoners.
Given this is the feast day used by the Greek Orthodox Churchit has been argued that the discovery was probably made on 18 August, the feast day used by the Roman Catholic Church. However, a paper published in reviewed the discovery date and dismissed 18 August as too late for da Nova to return to Lisbon by 11 September It is then argued the Portuguese found the island two decades before the start of the Reformation and the establishment of Protestantismand it is therefore not possible that the island was so named because it was found on the Protestant feast day.
An alternative discovery date of 3 May on the Catholic feast-day celebrating the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena in Jerusalemas quoted by Odoardo Duarte Lopes in  and by Sir Thomas Herbert in is suggested as historically more credible than the Protestant date of 21 May. If da Nova knew the True Cross name had already been ased, the most obvious and plausible alternative name for him to give the island was "Santa Helena".
The Portuguese found it uninhabited, with an abundance of trees and fresh water. They imported livestock mainly goatsfruit trees, and vegetables, built a chapel and one or two houses, and left their sick, suffering from scurvy and other ailments, to be taken home, if they recovered, by the next ship, but they formed no permanent settlement.
The island thereby became crucially important for the collection of food and as a rendezvous point for homebound voyages from Asia. St Helena was much less frequently visited by Asia-bound ships, the northern trade winds taking ships towards the South American continent rather than the island. An analysis has been published of the Portuguese ships arriving at St Helena in the period — It is a popular belief that the Portuguese managed to keep the location of this remote island a secret until almost the end of the 16th century.
However, both the location of the island and its name were quoted in a Dutch book inwhich described Handsome male 4 St. Helena female Portuguese expedition led by Francisco de Almeida from the East Indies: "[o]n the twenty-first day of July we saw land, and it was an island lyng six hundred and fifty miles from the Cape, and called Saint Helena, howbeit we could not land there. The first residents all arrived on Portuguese vessels. Lopes returned to Saint Helena, where he died in When the island was discovered, it was covered with unique indigenous vegetation. Claims that on discovery the island "was entirely covered with forests, the trees drooping over the tremendous precipices that overhang the sea"  have been questioned.
Also, the earliest description of the island by Thome Lopez, who sighted the island on 3 Julyspecifically states that coastal trees were absent: ". Nevertheless, St Helena certainly once had a rich and dense inland forest. The loss of endemic vegetation, birds and other fauna, much of it within the first 50 years of discovery, can be attributed to the impact of humans and their introduction of goats, pigs, dogs, cats, rats as well as the introduction of non-endemic birds and vegetation into the island.
Sometime before five people two male slaves from Mozambiqueone from Java and two women escaped from a ship and remained hidden on the island for many years, long enough for their s to rise to twenty. Bermudez, the Patriarch of Abyssinia landed at St Helena in on a voyage to Portugal, remaining on the island for a year. Three Japanese ambassadors on an embassy to the Pope also visited St Helena in Strong circumstantial evidence supports the idea that Sir Francis Drake located the island on the final lap of his circum of the world — Again, it is also clear that the Elizabethan adventurer Edward Fenton at the very least knew the approximate location of the island in It therefore seems unlikely that when Thomas Cavendish arrived in during his first attempt to circumnavigate the worldhe was the first Englishman to land at the island.
He stayed for 12 days and described the valley initially called Chapel Valley where Jamestown is situated as " Handsome male 4 St. Helena female marvellous fair and pleasant valley, wherein divers handsome buildings and houses were set up, and especially one which was a church, which was tiled, and whitened on the outside very fair, and made with a porch, and within the church at the upper end was set an alter This valley is the fairest and largest low plot in all the island, and it is marvellous sweet and pleasant, and planted in every place with fruit trees or with herbs There are on this island thousands of goats, which the Spaniards call cabritos, which are very wild: you shall sometimes see one or two hundred of them together, and sometimes you may behold them going in a flock almost a mile long.
Once St Helena's location was more widely known, English ships of war began to lie in wait in the area to attack Portuguese India carracks on their way home. In developing their Far East trade, the Dutch also began to frequent the island. One of their first visits was in when an expedition of two vessels piloted by John Davis English explorer attacked a large Spanish Caravel, only to be beaten off and forced to retreat to Ascension Island for repairs.
The Italian merchant Francesco Carletti, claimed in his autobiography he was robbed by the Dutch when sailing on a Portuguese ship in The Portuguese and Spanish soon gave up regularly calling at the island, partly because they used ports along the West African coast, but also because of attacks on their shipping, desecration to their chapel and images, destruction of their livestock and destruction of plantations by Dutch and English sailors. Whilst Thomas Best, commander of the tenth British East India Company expedition reported plentiful supplies of lemons inonly 40 lemon trees were observed by the traveller Peter Mundy in The Dutch Republic formally made claim to St Helena inalthough there is no evidence that they ever occupied, colonised or fortified it.
A Dutch territorial stone, undated but certainly later thanis presently kept in the island's archive office. Bythe Dutch had mainly abandoned the island in favour of their colony founded at the Cape of Good Hope. The idea for the English to make claim to the island was first made in a pamphlet by Richard Boothby. Bythe East India Company EIC ordered all homeward-bound vessels to wait for one another at St Helena and in onward the Company petitioned the government to send a man-of-war to convoy the fleet home from there.
Having been granted a charter to govern the island by the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth Oliver Cromwell in the following year the Company decided to fortify and colonise St Helena with planters. It is from this date that St Helena claims to be Britain's second oldest colony after Bermuda. A fort, originally named the Castle of St John, was completed within a month and further houses were built further up the valley.
It soon became obvious that the island could not be made self-sufficient and in earlythe East India Company ordered all homecoming ships to provide one ton of rice on their arrival at the island. This was issued in and gave the Company the sole right to fortify and colonise the island " in such legal and reasonable manner the said Governor and Company should see fit ". Each planter was allocated one of pieces of land, but the Company had great difficulty attracting new immigrants, the population falling to only 66, including 18 slaves, by The long tradition that the early settlers included many who had lost their home in the Great Fire of London has been shown to be a myth.
In Coney was seized by rebellious members of the island's council and shipped back to England.
Coincidentally, the Company had already sent a replacement governor, Anthony Beale — Finding that the cape was not the ideal harbour they originally envisaged, the Dutch East India Company launched an armed invasion of St Helena from the Cape colony over Christmas Governor Beale was forced to abandon the island in a Company ship, sailing to Brazil where he hired a fast ship.
The Company retook the island in May without loss of life and reinforced it with troops. The same year the Company petitioned a new Charter from Charles II of England and this granted the island free title as though it was a part of England " in the same manner as East Greenwich in the County of Kent ". Acknowledging that St Helena was a place where there was no trade, the Company was permitted to send from England any provisions free of Customs and to convey as many settlers as required.
In discontented settlers and troops seized Richard Keigwin —the next acting governor; it was only the lucky arrival of an East India Company fleet under the command of Captain William Basse that freed Keigwin. Bythe part-time recruitment of settlers in a Militia enabled the permanent garrison to be reduced to 50 troops. On leaving the University of OxfordinEdmond Halley visited Saint Helena and set up an observatory with a foot-long 7. The m high hill there is named for him and is called Halley's Mount.
Amongst the most ificant taxes levied on imports was a requirement for all ships Handsome male 4 St. Helena female with Madagascar to deliver one slave. Slaves were also brought from Asia by incoming shipping. Thus, most slaves came from Madagascar and Asia rather than the African mainland. Bythe of slaves had risen to about An uprising by soldiers and planters in during the governorship of John Blackmore — led to the death of three mutineers in an attack on Fort James and the later execution of four others. The formation of the Grand Alliance and outbreak of war against France in meant that for several years ships from Asia avoided the island for fear of being attacked by French men-of-war.
Soldiers at the end of their service thereby had restricted opportunities to obtain a passage back to Britain.
Governor Joshua Johnson — also prevented soldiers smuggling themselves aboard ships by ordering all outgoing ships to leave only during daylight hours. This led to a mutiny in in which a group of mutineer soldiers seized a ship and made their escape, during the course of which Governor Johnson was killed.
Meanwhile, savage punishment was meted out to slaves during this period, some being burnt alive and others starved to death. Rumours of an uprising by slaves in led to the gruesome execution of three slaves and cruel punishment of many others. The clearance of the indigenous forest for the distillation of spirits, tanning and agricultural development began to lead to shortage of wood by the s.
The s of rats and goats had reached plague proportions by the s, leading to the destruction of food crops and young tree shoots. Neither an increase on duty on the locally produced arrack nor a duty on all Handsome male 4 St. Helena female helped reduce the deforestation whilst attempts to reforest the island by governor John Roberts — were not followed up by his immediate successors. The Great Wood, which once extended from Deadwood Plain to Prosperous Bay Plainwas reported in as not having a single tree left standing.
An early mention of the problems of soil erosion was made in when a waterspout broke over Sandy Bay, on the southern coast. Against the background of this erosion, several years of drought and the general dependency of St Helena, in governor Isaac Pyke — made the serious suggestion to the Company that appreciable savings could be made by moving the population to Mauritiusevacuated by the French in However, with the outbreak of war with other European countries, the Company continued to subsidise the island because of its strategic location.
An ordinance was passed in to preserve the woodlands through the reduction in the goat population. Despite the clear connection between deforestation and the increasing of floods in, and the East India Company's Court of Directors gave little support to efforts by governors to eradicate the goat problem. Rats were observed in building nests in trees two feet across, a visitor in commenting that the vast of wild cats preferred to live off young partridges than the rats.Handsome male 4 St. Helena female
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s: ‘Geodetics’ at High Knoll Fort