St. Kitts

Located in the Leeward Islands, is a unitary island nation in the Caribbean and the smallest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The capital city and government for the federated state is mainly on the larger island of Saint Kitts (formerly named Saint Christopher). The smaller state of Nevis lies southeast of Saint Kitts. Historically the British dependency of Anguilla was also a part of this union, which was then known collectively as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla.

Although Saint Kitts and Nevis are geographically within the Leeward Islands, they are relatively close to a cluster of several other islands. To the north- north west lie the islands of Saint Eustatius, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin. To the north- east lie Antigua and Barbuda, and to the south-east lies Montserrat.

The first Europeans to arrive to the islands, were the Spanish, under Christopher Columbus. He named Saint Kitts "Sant Jago", however, map inaccuracies by further Spanish explorers caused Saint Kitts to get its Spanish equivalent name, "San Cristobal", a name which was actually given to the island of Saba 20 miles North. Nevis was named "Nuestra Senora de las Nieves", or "our lady of the snows", because of its large volcanic peak, which due to heavy cloud cover at its top, made Columbus mistakenly believe that it was capped with snow.

The Spanish claimed the islands as part of their great Empire of the Americas. They never settled the two islands though they actively discouraged other nations from colonising the area.

As part of their search for wealth French, English and Dutch explorers and settlers began to arrive in the Caribbean and challenge Spanish territorial claims.

In 1623 St Christopher became the first British territory in the West Indies when Thomas Warner landed on the island. He returned to England and brought a group of settlers with him in 1624. Thomas Warner was granted a Royal Commission from King Charles I in 1625 for the Islands of St. Christopher, Nevis, Barbados and Montserrat. Nevis was colonised by English settlers from St Christopher in 1628 and Captain Anthony Hilton was appointed first Governor of Nevis by Thomas Warner. Antigua and Montserrat were colonised by 1632. Thomas Warner died in 1648 and his grave can still be seen on St. Christopher.

In 1625 a French privateer by the name of Pierre Belain, Sieur d'Esnambac arrived in St. Christopher. His ship had been damaged in a skirmish with the Spanish and he and his crew had anchored off shore to carryout repairs. The French were made welcome by the English and they remained on the island to clear their own land and grow tobacco. d'Esnambac died in 1636 and was succeeded as Captain-General by Chevalier Lonvilliers de Poincy.

In 1626, with the English and French on the island the Caribs became concerned and plotted to dispose of these interlopers. The English under Thomas Warner became aware that the Caribs were plotting to destroy the Europeans. The English attacked the Caribs at night and massacred many of the them and the few that escaped fled the island. The event is remembered by the place called Bloody Point on the island.

The English and French colonies had been firmly established on St. Christopher. The island was divided into two, the French having control of the north end of the island which was known as Capesterre and the south end known as Basseterre and the colony was called Saint-Christophe. The remaining central portion of the island being under control of the English. To help keep the peace a treaty was signed between the French and English colonists on the 13th May 1627.

In 1629 the Spanish returned to evict the French and English "squatters" on their territory. The French and English settlements were destroyed and the settlers evicted from both islands but the Spanish were in no position to occupy the islands and the two groups soon returned.

Sometime during the 18th century the name of St. Christopher was shortened to St. Kitts which has remained in popular use since. The first crop grown on St. Kitts was tobacco. When Dutch refugees arrived from Brazil in 1648 with their knowledge about a new crop called sugar, the start of a great social upheaval was to begin.

Having a long and lengthy history we invite you to explore the link below to learn more about St. Kitts & Nevis..


Information provided courtesy of: Caribbean Association Midwest America