History of Barbados
"A Timeline of This Caribbean Island's Past"
A Complete Timeline of The History of
Below is a timeline of the history of Barbados from as early as 1620 B.C to 2008.
If you would like to learn more about the island's history while on vacation here you can pay a visit to The Barbados Museum and Historical Society.
The Early History of Barbados From 1620 B.C. To 1800
The Arawaks were the first inhabitants of the island in 1620 B.C.
may or may not know but orginally this island was inhabited by Arawak
Indians, a tribe of Amerindians. This aborignal
tribe came over to the
Caribbean island from neighbouring South America, just south west of
the island. It is believed that the majority were from
The Arawak Indians thrived on growing their own crops including cassava
and cotton. The Arawaks also hunted for their food using man
harpoons and nets to catch fish.
The Caribs Take Over The Island in 1200
Caribs, another tribe of Amerindians, also came from the north coast of
South America, living in the rainforests of Venezuela.
Caribs however were a larger and more powerful tribe than the
They were known to be a war oriented group who practiced
as a war ritual. It is believed that in 1200 The Caribs
Arawaks and over took the island.
Spanish Take Over The Island in 1492
1492 The Spanish discovered Barbados, enslaving The Caribs while
introducing diseases such as Small Pox and Tuberculosis to the island.
It is believed that these diseases killed off The Carib
Spanish however left Barbados and continued on to explore the larger
Caribbean islands to the north.
Explorer Pedro a Campos names the island, Los Barbados in 1536
4 decades later, a Portuguess explorer named Pedro a Campos was on his
way to Brazil when he landed on Barbados. He didn't settle on
island but did name it Los
Barbados or The
This is believed to be named after the Bearded Fig Trees found
throughout the island. These trees have long roots making
like they have beards.
English Arrive in Barbados in 1625
Captain John Powell, an English
Explorer, claimed the island for King James The 1st, in 1625.
2 years later another English Explorer named Captain Henry Powell
brought settlers to the island, landing in what is now known as
Holetown on the west coast of the island.
is divided into six parishes in 1629
In 1629, the island was subdivided in to 6 different regions called
parishes. These parishes were called St. Lucy, St. Peter, St.
St.Michael, St. Thomas and Christ Church.
Blower introduces Sugar Cane to the island in 1637
Blower was a Dutchman who had learned to grow sugar cane in Brazil.
was the reason for a great boom in the economy of Barbados in the mid
1600s propelling Barbados to the wealthiest British colony of the time.
House Of Assembly is formed in 1639
The English settlers formed a
House of Assembly in 1639 and Barbados becomes a British Colony.
and Sugar Plantions of 1640
Barbados experienced a period of mass deforestation in 1640.
done in order to build sugar cane plantations and clear fields for mass
production of the sugar crop. This is when sugar cane
Barbados truely began thanks to Pieter Blower.
As the need for labour became more and more prominent in the
sugar plantation owners, thousands of African slaves were imported from
the west coast of Africa on overcrowded ships.
Island is divided in to 11 parishes in 1645
1645, 5 more parishes were formed dividing the island into a total of
11 parishes. These parishes were St. Lucy, St.
Peter, St. John, St.
Andrew, St. James, St. George, St. Thomas, St. Joseph, St.Michael, St.
Philip and Christ Church, and exist to this date.
Cromwell seizes control of the island in 1649
1649, King Charles was executed and Oliver Cromwell, an English
military and political leader, attempted to take control of Barbados.
However The House of Assemby that was currently ruling the country
rejected him. This lead to Cromwell sending a fleet
military over to the island to seize it. Cromwell was
Charter of Barbados in 1652
In early 1652, with Cromwell now
in power, The Articles
were signed. These articles were signed in a small fishing
the south coast of the island, now known as Oistins. This is
Oistins Fish Fry is held every week.
The Artilces of Capitulation became The Charter of Barbados.
Emigration of over 22,000 Barbadians in 1670
the sugar cane industry continued to boom throughout the mid to late
1600s less and less land was owned by non-white locals.
in thousands of poor black Barbadians leaving the island, many seeking
new lives in nearby islands.
of African slaves in the 1700s & 1800s skyrockets the island's
the early 1800s the importation of slaves from the African coast
reached a total of almost 400,000! Barbados had now become
densely populated island in the Caribbean with white Europeans
continuing to own the majority of land.
San Calixto II of 1780
October 9th of 1780 a disastrous hurricane strike the island killing
over 4,000 locals. This was the deadliest hurricane to hit
The History of Barbados From 1800 To 1900
Barbados Slave Trade is Abolished in 1807
Finally in 1807 the use of African
slaves was abolished, the beginning of an important change
in Barbados slave history.
Slaves Rebel in 1816
though the slave trade had been abolished people were still allowed to keep
african slaves they had previously owned. This lead to the
rebelling on Easter Sunday of 1816 (April 14th), being lead by an
african slave called Bussa.
The rebellion was therefore labelled Bussa's Rebellion.
The rebellion started in the southern regions of the island and was
eventually brought to an end by the military. Bussa died
rebellion and you can see a statue of him while driving along the
highway of the island, a tribute to his impact on Barbados slave
Great Barbados Hurricane of 1831
Barbados was struck by another
devastating hurricane on August 10th of 1831 resulting in the deaths
of 1500 people.
Becomes An Apprentice System in 1834
1834, a 4 year apprenticeship system was developed that allowed those
who were slaves better living conditions. During this time slaves
worked for their owners with out pay and lived in small huts on
plantation properties. This marked a major change for the good in the
lives of the black Barbadian population.
And The Right To Vote in 1838
Once the 4 year apprenticeship had
ended in 1838 slavery was finally abolished and the right to vote was given to only 6000 men under strict property qualifications. Therefore 6000 males who either owned property or earned a certain amount of money were granted the right to vote. This meant that even some whilte male locals also could not vote until universal sufferage was granted in 1950. All women were forbidden to vote until 1944.
Epidemic in 1854
1854 Barbados experienced an outbreak of Cholera, an infestious disease
that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
spread throughout the island by unsanitary water.
Castello Montefiore, a plantation owner and merchant, was one of the
first persons to die from the disease during this outbreak.
result his son erected a drinking fountain called The Montefiore Fountain
at The Montefiore Gardens.
Income Qualification For Voters is decreased in 1884
In 1884 persons with an income of
£50 sterling were given the right to vote.
Windwards Islands Hurricane of 1898
On September 10th, 1898 another
hurricane struck Barbados killing more than 80 people.
The History Of Barbados From 1900 To 2000
Democratic League Of Barbados is formed in 1924
The first all black political
group is created by Charles Duncan O'Neal, and is called the Democratic
League of Barbados.
Depression in 1931
the early 1930s Barbados felt the effects of the worldwide economic
depression. The Sugar Industry began to crash and many Black
became unemployed. Times had become tough and reform
was soon to come.
& Riots During The Depression in 1937
though slavery had been abolished almost a century ago there was still
great tension between the white plantation owners and the
black plantation workers.
a popular advocate for the formation of Barbados Trade Unions, brought
together the black poor working class of Barbados and preached of
standing up to the white plantation owners.
On July 26th
of 1937 Clement Payne was deported from the island as the country's
rulers viewed him as a threat. This lead to an uproar amongst
followers who gathered in the capital of the island, Bridgetown.
Protests escalated into a violent 4 day riot with many downtown
businesses being damaged. Luckily the death count was only
riots resulted in probing and intervention by Britain's Government and
signified the begin of social reform in Barbados.
Clement Payne is now known as one of Barbados' National Heroes.
• The Barbados Labour Party Founded
An organization known as the
Barbados Progressive League was then formed in October of 1983 and was
lead by Sir Grantley
This institution's main goal was to protect the rights of the less
fortunate Barbadian workers, developing trade unions in an attempt to
increase wages for the poor. The league was later renamed to The Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Adams elected to The House Of Assembly in 1940
Under the leadership of Grantley
Adams the Barbados Labour Party won five seats in The House Of Assembly
Barbados Workers Union formed in 1941
4th October, 1941 the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) was formed with
a goal to be a trade union that helps improve the quality of
of Barbadian workers. Grantley Adams took up position as The President
of The BWU.
are given the right to vote in 1944
Women were then given the right to
vote as well as be members of the Barbados House of Parliament in 1944.
Qualification for voters is decreased in 1944
Persons with an income of
£20 sterling were given the right to vote in 1944.
BLP wins office in 1946
November of 1946 The Barbados Labour Party won the election and The
Bushe Experiment allowed members quasi-ministerial portfolios.
was all accomplished under the lead of Grantley Adams.
War II comes to an end and the Sugar Industry begins its decline in 1950
the end of World War II the sugar industry in Barbados began to decline
due to an increase in competition from the international market.
This caused a decrease in the selling price of
sugar. Many sugar
factories would shutdown over the next 5 decades and the Barbados
government began to develop its tourism industry to supplement the
Suffrage is implemented in 1950
adult suffrage was introduced to the island in 1950 thanks to Grantley
Adams' push for Democracy throughout the island.
Persons 21 years or
older were now given the right to vote.
Barrow Becomes A Member Of The BLP in 1951
1951, a Barbados Statesman from the parish of St.Lucy by the name of
Errol Walton Barrow becames a member of the Barbados Labour Party.
would soon leave this party and form his own political party in 1955.
Grantley Adams Becomes The First Premier of Barbados in 1954
Grantley Adams, leader of the BLP, took up position as The First
Premier of Barbados in 1954 under a Ministerial Government.
Grantley Adams Resigns As Preseident of the BWU in 1954
Sir Grantley Adams stepped down
from his position as president of the Barbados Workers Union in 1954.
Barrow Forms The DLP in 1955
new political party called the Democratic Labour Party, led by Errol
Walton Barrow, was formed in 1955. Errol Barrow was
member and leader of the Barbados Labour Party in 1951 but soon became
dissatified forming this more liberal party.
The BLP and DLP have been the top two opposing Barbados
political parties to this date.
Janet of 1955
A Category 3 Hurricane called
Janet struck Barbados on September 22nd of 1955. This
hurricane killed 38 people.
wins the election in 1956
A general election takes places
and The Barbados Labour Party wins the majority of seats keeping this
party in office.
Grantley Adams is knighted in 1957
1957, Sir Grantley Adams was knighted by The Queen of England for his
tremendous impact on the socioeconomic lives of people in the Caribbean.
Adams becomes Prime Minister of The West Indies Federation in 1958
At the beginning of 1958, 24
Caribbean British colonies joined together to form The West Indies Federation.
This Federation was created in an attempt to form one
Caribbean body that would break away from Britian and become an
independent Caribbean unit.
The first elections for The
West Indies Federation took place on March 25th of 1958
with the West Indies
Federal Labour Party winning. This party was led
by a Barbadian politician by the name of Grantley Herbert Adams,
who then became the first Prime Minister of the Federation.
becomes The Premier of Barbados in 1958
Sir Grantley Adams took up the position of Prime Minister of The West
Indies Federation another member of the BLP, Hugh Gordon Cummins, was
chosen by Adams to become Barbados' second Premier.
wins the elections and Errol Barrow becomes The Premier of Barbados in
election was held in 1961 and the Democratic Labour Party, lead by
Errol Walton Barrow, won causing a shift in political office.
Barrow's face can be seen depicted on the $50 dollar Barbados bill.
Voting Age is reduced in 1964
In 1964, the elegability to vote
was reduced to 18 years of age.
Barbados Constitution of 1966
22nd of November in 1966 The Barbados Independence Order was brought
before the Barbados Parliament. 8 days later, on the 30th of
in 1966, the order was accepted and put into operation. The
now commonly referred to as The
becomes independent and has its first Prime Minister in 1966
On November 30, 1966 Barbados
finally became independent from Britain and the designation of Premier of Barbados
was changed to
Prime Minister of Barbados. This made Errol
Barrow Barbados' first ever Prime Minister under a self
government. November 30 of 1966 has gone down as a major
milestone in Barbados political history.
becomes a member of The United Nations in 1967
In 1967, Barbados then joined The
has its First Native Governor General in 1967
Arleigh Winston Scott, a medical practitioner, was appointed the
position of the first Governor General of Barbados by The
England in 1967.
Grantley Adams passes away in 1971
On November 28th of 1971 Sir
Grantley Adams passed away at the age of 73. His son, Tom Adams, then
took over his position.
Barbados Labour Party wins the election in 1976
BLP now lead by the son of Grantley Adams, Tom Adams, won the general
elections in 1976. At this time Tom Adams became The 2nd
Minister of Barbados.
• Sir Winston Scott Passes Away in
In 1967 Sir Winston Scott passed
away and was replaced by Sir Deighton Ward as Governor General of
Number Of Seats is increased in 1980
The number of seats in The House
Of Assembly was increased to 27 from 24 in 1980.
Barbados Labour Party wins the election in 1981
In 1981 the BLP, lead by Tom Adams
son of Grantly Adams, won the general election over the DLP.
Adams Dies and Brenard St. John succeeds in 1985
March of 1985, Prime Minister Tom Adams passed away in his home of a
heart attack. He was further succeeded by Bernard St.John the
leader of the Barbados Labour Party.
Democratic Labour Party wins the election in 1986
was a change of governement in 1986 after the May 28th election when
the DLP won 24 of the 27 seats in the House Of Assembly. This
to the public great dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Bernard
St.John, the succeedor to John Adams.
The leader of the
DLP at that time, Errol Barrow, then became the 4th Prime Minister of
Barbados. This was his second time as Prime Minister.
Barrow dies in 1987
a year after Errol Barrow regained his position as Prime Minister of
Barbados in May of 1986 he passed away at the age of 67. He
succeeded by Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, Deputy Prime Minister at the time
from the Democratic Labour Party and former Minister of Education.
Tourism Industry continues to grow rapidly into 1990
1956 the total number of visitors to the island was approximately
30,000. By the early 1900s this number had increased to
The island's main economic focus had shifted from the production of
sugar to tourism.
• BLP wins the general elections in
The Barbados Labour Party won the
general elections in 1994 regaining office. The party was now
led by Owen Arthur
who became the island's 6th Prime Minister.
President Bill Clinton visits the island in 1997
May 11th of 1997 the U.S President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary
Clinton visited the island to attend a Caribbean Summit. This
included leaders from 14 other Caribbean countries.
wins the general elections in 1999
Barbados Labour Party won the general elections in 1999 and remained in
office with Owen Arthur serving a second term as Prime Minister of
The History Of Barbados From 200 To 2008
wins the general elections in 2003
Barbados Labour Party won the general elections for a third time in
2003 with Owen Arthur serving a third consecutive term as
Minister of Barbados
wins the general elections in 2008
On the 15th of January of 2008 The
Decomcratic Labour Party, after 9 years, defeated the Barbados Labour
Thompson became the island's 7th Prime Minister.
Barbados Weather History
Barbados has a great weather history
of year round sunny and
warm weather with temperatures averaging 26 degrees
celsius or 81 degrees fahrenheit.
However the position of Barbados does place it just south of the path
of tropical Atlantic storms travelling west off the African coast.
This creates a wet season from June to October during which
experience's an increase in rainfall and a small chance of storm and
Regardless, the Barbados weather history has shown that the chance of
Barbados experiencing a direct hurricane hit to be slim to none.
last time we were hit by a hurricane was in 1955! Thats
over 52 years ago!
It is more common during the wet season for the island to experince
tropical storms and depressions. These cause short periods of
rain and overcast skies in the Barbados weather.
A Timeline of The Barbados Hurricane
is a list of the hurricanes that have come near to or hit Barbados in
• Hurricane San
Calixto II of 1780
Hurricane San Calixto still to this date the deadliest hurricane
Barbados has ever experienced killing 4500 people. This
formed in early October of 1780 reaching Barbados on October 9th.
• The Great Barbados
Hurricane of 1831
Reaching a Category 4, this hurricane was the second most deadly
hurricane in Barbados weather history and is remembered by the
devastation caused by its 17 foot storm surge. This hurricane
the island on August 10th of 1831 killing 1500 people.
• The Windwards Islands Hurricane
was one of the most destructive hurricanes in the history of Caribbean
weather causing the most damage to the islands of Barbados and
hurricane developed in early August of 1898 reaching a Category 2
hurricane and hitting Barbados the night of Saturday,
The hurricane killed more than 80
people and left thousands homeless.
Photo: The Hurricane
Track of The Windwards Islands Hurricane
• Hurricane Janet of 1955
Hurricane Janet hit Barbados on September 22nd of 1955 it was a
Category 3 hurricane.
This hurricane had wind speeds up to 120 mph killing 38 people.
Photo: The Hurricane
Track of Hurricane Janet
It has now been 52 years since Barbados has been directly struck by a
But if you are still worried about it raining during your vacation in
Barbados, then just travel here during the months of January to April
when the island receives under
2 inches of rain!
Barbados Flag History
the independence of Barbados in November of 1966, the Government of
Barbados held a nation wide competition allowing people to
submit designs for the Barbados flag. This
competition attracted 1,029
The winning entry was submitted by an art teacher known
as Grantley Prescod.
Prescod's design used the colour blue to represent the Barbados sky and
sea and the colour gold to represent our sand.
He also included a broken trident in the centre of the flag to
represent Barbados' independence and separation from England.
design has since then been used as the current Barbados flag.
For his design Grantley Prescod received a gold medal, an inscribed
scroll and 500 dollars.
lived to 77 when he passed away on November 12th of 2003.