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C AY M AN PHOTOS.COM

G R A ND

FROM PRIVATEERS TO MASTER FISHERMEN by Marjorie Klein

The wide beaches and cool caves of Grand Cayman echo with the rich history of its early inhabitants: turtles, crocodiles, pirates, sailors, soldiers, settlers and slaves.

Seagoing men have long been drawn to the Caymans.

BEGINNINGS

British army defeated Spain in 1655. The

the perfect hideout. Some pirates never

Christopher Columbus first spotted

Treaty of Madrid brought the Caymans,

made it to land, their ships having been

the islands he called Las Tortugas on

as well as Jamaica, under British rule

lured onto the reefs by the beacon fires

May 10, 1503, when his ship was blown

and made Grand Cayman a destination

of the Caymanians, who strenuously

off course from Panama to Hispaniola on

for settlers.

resisted these invaders.

his final trip to the New World. The three islands, so populated with tortoises that they looked like rock piles, became a

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By 1700, the first royal land grant in

RULE BRITANNIA: THE SETTLERS SETTLE IN

Grand Cayman signaled permanent settlement, followed by others throughout

way-station for sailors to replenish their

The first influx arrived: emigrants from

the island. The first recorded inhabitant

freshwater supply and stock up on turtle

England, Holland, Spain and France, plus

was Isaac Bodden, grandson of the

meat. Perhaps the presence of turtle

refugees from the Spanish Inquisition

original settler, a soldier from Cromwell’s

on the menu resulted in the animal’s

and deserters from Cromwell’s army.

army for whom Bodden Town was

decline; by 1586, crocodiles had become

Privateers, the genteel name for pirates

named. Other districts can be traced

so dominant that Sir Francis Drake, the

such as Sir Henry Morgan who had

back to that period of settlement as well,

first recorded English visitor, renamed

their governments’ permission to plunder

including Hog Stys, once the site of a

the islands caiman (the Carib word for

ships — ostensibly to retrieve wealth

pigpen whose name — thankfully — was

“crocodile”), from which their present

stolen from their country — discouraged

changed to George Town in the early 18th

name Cayman is derived.

these early settlers, many of whom high-

century in honor of King George III.

The Cayman Islands’ population stayed

tailed it back home. Blackbeard, as well

In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht officially

the same — comprising primarily sailors

as other pirates, found the caves, nooks

ended privateering (although freelance

and pirates — until Oliver Cromwell’s

and crannies of Grand Cayman to be

pirates continued to attack ships

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Carnival FUN ASHORE  

Fun Ashore -- POC (ports of call) book, which includes Carnival Cruise Lines marketing, regional articles and port information.

Carnival FUN ASHORE  

Fun Ashore -- POC (ports of call) book, which includes Carnival Cruise Lines marketing, regional articles and port information.