King's College London
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‘The paradise of the world’: conflict and society in the Caribbean

St Lucia

Map of the island of St. LuciaMap of the island of St Lucia, from: Nathaniel Uring. A relation of the late intended settlement of the islands of S. Lucia and St Vincent, in America ... London: printed for J Peele, at Locke's Head in Paternoster-Row, 1725 [FCO Historical Collection F2100 URI]Throughout the seventeenth century the ownership of St Lucia was disputed by England and France and these disputes continued into the early eighteenth century, with both nations sending abortive expeditions to settle the island.

When the Marshal d’Estrèes was granted St Lucia in1719 by the King of France he sent settlers to the island, but the British objected and it was agreed that these latest settlers be withdrawn from the island but that those already on the island could stay until its status was finally decided.

Then, in June 1722, John, Duke of Montagu (1690-1749) was granted St Lucia and St Vincent by George I and was appointed their governor. He equipped a flotilla of ships at a cost of £40,000 to bring settlers to the islands and appointed the adventurer and merchant seaman, Captain Nathaniel Uring, as its commander and as hisdeputy-governor. The flotilla arrived at St Lucia on 16 December and Uring landed his party at Petit Carenage. On 22 December a French ship arrived from Martinique demanding that the British withdraw and shortly afterwards 400 French troops were landed on the island.

Uring began to fortify the expedition’s position but on 6 January the Marquis De Champigny, governor of Martinique, landed a further 1,400 men on the island and marched towards Uring’s camp and demanded that the British quit the island immediately. Uring, denied help by the HMS Hector and HMS Feversham, two British warships in the area, and with his expedition weakened by desertion and disease, agreed to Champigny’s demands and withdrew the expedition to Antigua. Subsequently, Britain and France agreed that St Lucia should remain neutral territory and that their nationals should be removed from the island, but while French forces withdrew, French settlers stayed and the island continued to be disputed by the two nations. It changed hands several times before finally becoming British under the Treaty of Versailles in 1814.

The plate on display shows Uring’s encampment at Petit Carenage, the location of the French settlements on the island and landing place of the French army.

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