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Report of Capt. Candler, HMS Winchelsea, 8 Jul 1717

Depositions – Report of Candler, HMS Winchelsea, 8 Jul 1717

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July 8.

Admiralty Office.     

639. Mr. Burchett to Mr. Popple. Encloses following from Capt. Candler, now employed in surveying the sea coasts of several places in the West Indies etc. Signed, J. Burchett. Endorsed, Recd. 8th July, Read 16th Aug., 1717. Addressed. 1 p.



639. i. Capt. Candler, H.M.S. Winchelsea, to Mr. Secretary Burchett. 12th May, 1717. Report on the Virgin Islands. Virgin Gorda is for the most part a barren mountain; an open bay to anchor, but a good road; a rocky dry and barren soil produces only Indian corn, yams and potatoes, they have some sugar canes, but very short, never grow to that perfection fit to make sugar, they make only a litle rum of them, which they drink themselves, they have a few catle, but most goates, here are 54 families, and but 53 men fit to bear arms, being about 400 men, women and children and 210 blacks, they make a litle cotton, and indigo and carry it to St. Christophers to sell, and some lignum vitæ and that's all their trade. Beef Island. 4 families live on it. They have nothing but Indian corn, yams and potatoes, and a little cotton there is good anchoring. Tortola is a mountainous Island etc. They have but 38 families, containing 320 men, women and children, 44 men to bear arms, and 203 blacks, tho this is a better Island than Virgin Gorda, yet they have nothing but Indian corn, potatoes and yams and a little cotton, and some sugar canes to make rum, lignum vitæ they have in all those Islands, there are several bays for anchoring, and hurricane harbours for sloops and smal vessels, as there are at Peters Island and St. Johns for ships, there was a settlement formerly at a good Bay called the Old Road, and a smal Fort, but it's all gone to ruin, they have but one gun at Virgin Gorda, but no carriage, nor Fort. One Capt. Hall who was a privatier in the war time is Govr. of this Island appointed by the Genl. of the Leeward Islands, the Govr. is lately dead of Virgin Gorda, they have only a poor ignorant man they made choice of themselves. This being the present condition of those Islands, my humble opinion is, that they are not worth while to the Government, either to setle them, or be at any expence at all about them, for such smal Islands can never maintain a sufficient number of people, to defend them, from the least insult, for they can never be otherwise than a nest for pirates as they are now, for they caresst them, and gave them money, so that several of them serv'd with the pirates, while they were thereabouts. When we came they hid themselves in the Rocks, one Ham a notorious villain living on Beef Island was on board of Bellame the Pirate when he was here, and as soon as they fired a gun at Virgin Gorda, he betook himself to a Bermuda boat he has and his negroes, and lurkt about the creeks and islands, until we were gone, there are no other Islands here inhabited by H.M. subjects, but those three, nor by any other people except St. Thomas, which is pretty well improved, they have a good harbour, and a fort of about 40 guns, belonging to the King of Denmark, but all rogues and pirates and are compounded of all nations, and yet poor they make some sugar but not good. Copy. 2½ pp. [C.O. 152, 12. Nos. 10, 10 i.; and 153, 13. pp. 79–83.]



"America and West Indies: July 1717, 1-15," in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 29, 1716-1717, ed. Cecil Headlam (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1930), 336-344.

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