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Travel Guide 2   >   Bermuda   >   History

   
 

Bermudan History


The first appearance of Bermuda in the historical record is in 1511, when Peter Martyr d'Anghiera mentions the islands in his book, Legatio Babylonica. It is likely that the islands were discovered a few years earlier at the very beginning of the 16th century, but the exact date is unknown. Later in the century, both Spanish and Portuguese ships are believed to have regularly stopped at the islands to replenish their supplies of food and water, and there was even an attempt to establish a breeding stock of hogs on the islands. A Portuguese ship is also believed to have become stuck in the islands' reefs, and the sailors had to build a new hull of Bermudan cedar before leaving the islands - leaving the initials "RP 1543" carved on what subsequently became known as "Spanish Rock".

The first permanent colonization of Bermuda took place in 1609, when the English ship, Sea Venture, was wrecked off the coast of the islands. The islands were claimed for the English crown, and initially associated with Virginia, an association which is till recorded today in many place names in Virginia.

In the next centuries, despite attempts to agriculture (principally tobacco) in Bermuda, the islands. Sailors from Bermuda were active in whaling, privateering, and even the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), as well as the salt trade. After the American Revolution (1775 to 1783), also became the Royal Navy's main base in the western hemisphere, and gained the nickname "Gibraltar of the West".

In the 20th century, Bermudans served with British forces during both World Wars, and their sacrifices are remembered by the Cenotaph memorial in front of the Cabinet Building in Hamilton. The Royal Navy base on the island was closed in the 1950s, except for a small supply base which lasted until 1995. Thus, today, the Royal Naval Dockyard is now simply a tourist attraction - in fact one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bermuda, incorporating shops, restaurants, an arts center, and crafts market, as well as the Bermuda Maritime Museum.

Today, Bermuda is highly prosperous with an economy based on financial services and tourism. The islands' Progresive Labour Party supports independence from UK, but Bermudan voters rejected independence in a referendum on the issue in in 1995, and polls indicate that opinion is largely unchanged since that time. As a result, Bermuda remains a British Overseas Territory, albeit with a very high degree of local autonomy (the UK retains responsibility only for defense, and foreign affairs, as well as ultimately ensuring good governance).

Here are some books about the history of Bermuda:


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Books about Bermudan History


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Bermuda: Its History, Geology, Climate, Products, Agriculture, Commerce, and Government (Classic Reprint)

By Theodore L. Godet

Forgotten Books
Paperback (314 pages)

Bermuda: Its History, Geology, Climate, Products, Agriculture, Commerce, and Government (Classic Reprint)
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To his Excellency Colonel Fbeemak Mubrat, Governor and Commander-in-C hief, fc. jrc, of Bermuda, or Somers I slands. Sm, It is with the highest gratification that I avail myself of your kind permission to dedicate this yolume to your Excellency not only as a memento of my personal esteem, but from a conviction that no one can more appreciate any efforts in behalf of this Colony than your Excellency, who has the power of rendering them available. I have had the pleasure of finding myself encouraged in the publication of this work by numerous subscribers; but to your Excellency I am indebted for many additions to the names that adorn the list. I have the honour to subscribe myself with every sentiment of gratitude and respect, Your Excellency i Very obliged and humble servant, T. L. GODET. Hami Uon, Bermuda,
(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books is a publisher of historical writings, such as: Philosophy, Classics, Science, Religion, History, Folklore and Mythology.

Forgotten Books' Classic Reprint Series utilizes the latest technology to regenerate facsimiles of historically important writings. Careful attention has been made to accurately preserve the original format of each page whilst digitally enhancing the aged text. Read books online for free at www.forgottenbooks.org

Bermuda Settlers of the 17th Century. Genealogical Notes from Bermuda

By Julia E. Mercer

Genealogical Publishing Company
Paperback (282 pages)

Bermuda Settlers of the 17th Century. Genealogical Notes from Bermuda
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These "Genealogical Notes from Bermuda," were published serially in Tyler's Quarterly between 1942 and 1947 and have lain largely unnoticed by the genealogical researcher.The collected "Notes" consist of abstracts of the earliest known records of Bermuda settlers, and their value cannot be exaggerated, for many of the early settlers of Bermuda--or their descendants--removed to the mainland and were among the pioneer settlers of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia. The records given here are arranged by family and appear thereunder in chronological sequence. They consist of a progression of abstracts of wills, administrations, deeds, court orders, indentures, arrival records, and so on, pertaining to every member of the family from the original immigrant up to as near the year 1700 as the records allow. Of paramount interest, however, are the compiler's own notes, which in many cases establish family relationships and carry the family backward to England and forward to the mainland. Altogether about 5,000 of the earliest settlers in the New World are identified--for the first time.

In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American ... and the University of North Carolina Press)

By Michael J. Jarvis

Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Released: 2012-06-01
Paperback (704 pages)

In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American ... and the University of North Carolina Press)
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In an exploration of the oceanic connections of the Atlantic world, Michael J. Jarvis recovers a mariner's view of early America as seen through the eyes of Bermuda's seafarers. The first social history of eighteenth-century Bermuda, this book profiles how one especially intensive maritime community capitalized on its position "in the eye of all trade."

Jarvis takes readers aboard small Bermudian sloops and follows white and enslaved sailors as they shuttled cargoes between ports, raked salt, harvested timber, salvaged shipwrecks, hunted whales, captured prizes, and smuggled contraband in an expansive maritime sphere spanning Great Britain's North American and Caribbean colonies. In doing so, he shows how humble sailors and seafaring slaves operating small family-owned vessels were significant but underappreciated agents of Atlantic integration.

The American Revolution starkly revealed the extent of British America's integration before 1775 as it shattered interregional links that Bermudians had helped to forge. Reliant on North America for food and customers, Bermudians faced disaster at the conflict's start. A bold act of treason enabled islanders to continue trade with their rebellious neighbors and helped them to survive and even prosper in an Atlantic world at war. Ultimately, however, the creation of the United States ended Bermuda's economic independence and doomed the island's maritime economy.

Dispatches from Bermuda: The Civil War Letters of Charles Maxwell Allen, United States Consul at Bermuda, 1861-1888 (Civil War in the North)

The Kent State University Press
Hardcover (251 pages)

Dispatches from Bermuda: The Civil War Letters of Charles Maxwell Allen, United States Consul at Bermuda, 1861-1888 (Civil War in the North)
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Civil War diplomacy and espionage In the summer of 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Charles Maxwell Allen U.S. consul to Bermuda. During the Civil War, Allen’s post became one of vital importance to the United States as this British colony became a center for Confederate blockade-running activities. As the sole representative of Union interests in pro-Confederate Bermuda, Allen found himself involved in the shadowy world of intelligence gathering as he attempted to thwart these blockade-runners. Allen’s dispatches shed new light on two important and often overlooked aspects of the war: the Union blockade of southern seaports and the effort to bring vital war supplies through the blockade to the Confederate states. Author Glen N. Wiche has compiled all of Allen’s Civil War dispatches to the U.S. State Department and provides well-documented commentary to place Allen’s activities in the wider context of the “Atlantic campaign” of the Civil War. Dispatches from Bermuda paints a detailed picture of these activities and offers a rare account of this blockade-running traffic from a northern perspective.

Discovering Somers Isles: A Guide to Bermuda's History 1500-1615

By John M Archer

Maury Books
Paperback (122 pages)

Discovering Somers Isles: A Guide to Bermuda s History 1500-1615
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The fact that Bermuda was discovered at all might seem amazing: the tiny cluster of islands sits almost in the middle of 20,000,000 square miles of the North Atlantic. But sixteenth-century trade routes to the West Indies brought hundreds of ships through the turquoise waters surrounding its desolate shores - and left countless shipwrecks on its uncharted reefs. It is no small wonder that the Bermudas were once known as "Devil's Isles.

On the way to the struggling colony at Jamestown in May of 1609, the flagship of an English convoy was driven onto those reefs by a hurricane.  Battered and sinking, the "Sea Venture" was run aground by Admiral George Somers and miraculously, all 150 passengers survived. Their story, and how Bermuda came to be settled, is a remarkable tale of survival and perseverance.

This guide uses their words, together with maps and images, to allow readers to envision those shores with "seventeenth-century eyes," and discover for themselves what the settlers called "Somers Isles."

Mark Twain in Paradise: His Voyages to Bermuda (Mark Twain and His Circle)

By Donald Hoffmann

University of Missouri
Released: 2018-02-28
Paperback (208 pages)

Mark Twain in Paradise: His Voyages to Bermuda (Mark Twain and His Circle)
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For Mark Twain, it was love at first landfall. Samuel Clemens first encountered the Bermuda Islands in 1867 on a return voyage from the Holy Land and found them much to his liking. One of the most isolated spots in the world, Bermuda offered the writer a refuge from his harried and sometimes sad existence on the mainland, and this island paradise called him back another seven times. Clemens found that Bermuda’s beauty, pace, weather, and company were just the medicine he needed, and its seafaring culture with few connections to the outside world appealed to his love of travel by water.

This book is the first comprehensive study of Clemens’s love affair with Bermuda, a vivid depiction of a celebrated author on recurring vacations. Donald Hoffmann has culled and clarified passages from Mark Twain’s travel pieces, letters, and unpublished autobiographical dictation—with cross-references to his fiction and infrequently cited short pieces—to create a little-known view of the author at leisure on his fantasy island.

Mark Twain in Paradise sheds light on both Clemens’s complex character and the topography and history of the islands. Hoffmann has plumbed the voluminous Mark Twain scholarship and Bermudian archives to faithfully re-create turn-of-the-century Bermuda, supplying historical and biographical background to give his narrative texture and depth. He offers insight into Bermuda’s natural environment, traditional stone houses, and romantic past, and he presents dozens of illustrations, both vintage and new, showing that much of what Mark Twain described can still be seen today.

Hoffmann also provides insight into the social circles Clemens moved in—and sometimes collected around himself. When visiting the islands, he rubbed shoulders with the likes of socialist Upton Sinclair and multimillionaire Henry H. Rogers; with Woodrow Wilson and his lover, socialite Mary Peck; as well as with the young girls to whom he enjoyed playing grandfather.

“You go to heaven if you want to,” Mark Twain wrote from Bermuda in 1910 during his long last visit. “I’d druther stay here.” And because much of what Clemens enjoyed in the islands is still available to experience today, visitors to Bermuda can now have America’s favorite author as their guide. Mark Twain in Paradise is an unexpected addition to the vast literature by and about Mark Twain and a work of travel literature unlike any other.

The Perfect Storm: The True Story of Saving Jamestown and the Founding of Bermuda

By Autumn Sears Fesperman

Atlantic Publishing Group Inc.
Released: 2018-11-20
Hardcover (52 pages)

The Perfect Storm: The True Story of Saving Jamestown and the Founding of Bermuda
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Matthew stared as his uncle fought wildly to steer the Sea Venture between the dangerous reefs that lay hidden beneath the crashing waves. Caught in a massive hurricane, they had spotted land but might sink at any moment. They were about to land on the dreaded Isle de Bermudez. Matthew couldn t decide which was more terrifying: the island of devils or the depths of the ocean threatening to engulf them. But they had no choice; if they ran aground now, they d never make it to Jamestown with the supplies to save the colonists from their fate. The colony was counting on them.

In this colorful and engaging tale of high-seas adventure, discover the history of Bermuda and follow the story of real people in their struggle for survival. Set sail on the Sea Venture and witness the beginning of one country and the rescue of another!

The Defining Story of Bermuda's Great Gunpowder Plot 1775: The American Connection and other selected Highlights including the Attack on Washington (1814)

By Michael G. Marsh

Mike Marsh
Paperback (138 pages)

The Defining Story of Bermuda s Great Gunpowder Plot 1775: The American Connection and other selected Highlights including the Attack on Washington (1814)
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This is a dramatic story of intrigue, manipulation, high risk and great danger.

August 14th, 1775 was a hot, humid, moonlit night. The British Governor of Bermuda was sound asleep in his bed. The Royal Gunpowder Magazine was unguarded. It made a tempting target.

The American Rebels needed gunpowder. The Bermudians needed provisions. A secret deal was done. A covert band of Bermudians carried out the theft, a potentially treasonous crime against the British Crown.

But it worked. It was a masterpiece of deception, planning and execution.

To the British Governor it was "a most heinous and attrocious crime" and his worst nightmare. To General Washington it was a gift from heaven.

U-Boats off Bermuda: Patrol Summaries and Merchant Ship Survivors Landed in Bermuda 1940-1944

By Eric Wiberg

Fonthill Media
Released: 2017-09-06
Hardcover (256 pages)

U-Boats off Bermuda: Patrol Summaries and Merchant Ship Survivors Landed in Bermuda 1940-1944
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  • Fonthill Media
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For the first time, a book exposes an obscure theater of the Second World War in great detail and comprehensively, not just in terms of geography but also from the perspectives of both Allied and Axis participants. U-Boats off Bermuda provides details of specific U-Boat patrols and their commanders, as well as a general overview of the situation in the theater of war around Bermuda. It is a detailed analysis of individual casualties, broken down by a) background of ship, b) background of U-boat, c) attack method (surface and/or submersed), d) details of survivors and their plight at sea and e) their rescue, recuperation and repatriation. Detailed maps and illustrations provide a human face to what were often tragic attacks with fatal consequences. Did you know that half a dozen German submarines came close enough to the Naval Operating Base in Bermuda to see Gibbs Hill? Or that hardy Canadians from a sunken trading schooner rowed and sailed their way to the remote island―on their own? Allied pilots based in Bermuda sank two German U-Boats, rescued dozens in daring water landings, and several crashed.

Midocean

By Douglas Stanford

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (564 pages)

Midocean
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Midocean follows aging American socialite Ellen Carden’s 1975 visit to Bermuda to claim an unexpected legacy, only to be drawn into the past of summers spent on this far outpost of the British Empire away from the bustle of 1930’s New York City and the approaching clouds of war in Europe. Long hidden beneath the surface of these sunny and idyllic islands lay an establishment of high society, immense wealth, power, greed, desire, jealousy, cunning and deceit that had marked her earlier time in Bermuda and now sought to deny her inheritance and erase any trace of her past there. Ellen’s vivid recollection and her growing doubts, fed by an enigmatic poem, that all was not as it earlier had seemed, begin to unravel a complex deception that brings her to a profound and life-changing revelation.


 
 
 

 
 
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