English arrives in the West Indies


English arrives in the West Indies


  • Intro

    The English first settled in St Kitts, Barbados and Nevis in the 1620s, and in 1655 captured Jamaica from the Spanish. West African slaves were transported to the islands in large numbers to work the new sugar plantations. These settlements became England’s most important colonies, generating huge revenue from sugar, molasses and rum production.



    On this page


    The back page of the Barbados Gazette for Saturday 6 November 1731 shows no sign of local Barbados English or Bajan. The newspaper catered for the colonial elite, concerned with preserving cultural links with Britain. This is illustrated by the two advertisements for English dictionaries from London. It took some time before West Indian publications began to reflect a distinctive regional character.


    Shelfmark: Burney 289B.

  • Transcript

    Barbados Gazette

    Extract from original text:




    To be sold at the Printing-Office,

    A New English Dictionary; or a Compleat Collection of the most proper and significant Words, and Terms of Art commonly used in the Language; with a continued short and clear Exposition. The whole digested into Alphabetical Order; and chiefly designed for the Benefit of Young Scholars, Tradesmen, Artificers, Foreigners, and the Female Sex, who would learn to spell truly; being so fitted to every Capacity, that it may be a ready and continual Help to all that want an Instructer. As also Three useful Tables, viz. I. Of Proper Names of Men, especially those that are contained in the Holy Bible, shewing their true Original and Derivation. II. Of Proper Names of Women, with the same Explication. III. Of Nicknames of English Christian Names abbreviated or made short. Price bound 2 s. 6 d. 

    A Military and Sea-Dictionary, explaining all difficult Terms in Martial Discipline, Fortification, and Gunnery, and all Terms of Navigation. To which is added, The New Exercise of Firelocks and Bayonets, with Instructions to perform every Motion. Very useful to all Persons that read the Publick News, or serve in the Army, Militia, or Navy. Price Bound 1 s. 6 d.

    GOODS lately Imported from London, to be sold by Mes. Randal and Richard Macdonnel Merchants, living in Crows-Alley.

    FINE Castor Hats,

    Fine [Callicors?],

    Strip'd Mantua Silks,


    Mulberry Lustrings of different Colours,

    White Sarsnet,

    Black Alamodes,

    Black Lustrings.

    Ribbonds of all Sorts,

    Silver Girdles,

    Women Silk-Stockens,

    Mens ditto.

    White Stomachers,

    French Rolls.

    New Mantua Silk Caps,

    Superfine Ivory Fans,

    Silver and Gold Trimings.

    Brown Thread in half Pounds.

    Pins of all sorts.

    Black Earings & Necklaces.

    French 2 rows, ditto.

    Queen Eliz. superfine playing Cards.


    Genoa Thread Hose.

Explore more timeline content: