…Illustrated with a Mapp of the Island, as also the Principall Trees and Plants there, set forth in their due Proportions and Shapes, drawne out by their severall and respective Scales. Together with the Ingenio that makes the Sugar, with the Plots of the severall Houses, Roomes, and other places. That are used in the whole processe of Sugar-making…
First Edition. London, Printed for Humphrey Moseley, at the Prince’s Armes, 1657, Folio, Contemporary calf, with a large folding engraved map, folding table and 9 engraved plates including 3 folding, a very attractive copy of the scarce first edition.
is important account describes one of the main islands concerned with the early years of piracy and buccaneering.
Richard Ligon’s History of Barbados (1657) is one of the most important accounts of the Caribbean written in the seventeenth-century. Ligon visited the island during the early years of the “sugar revolution” when a boom in sugar growing led to the development of an extensive plantation economy that relied upon slave labour. His account describes the social structure and economy of Barbados during this pivotal period, and reveals his own values about politics, piracy, slavery and wealth.
This work has the earliest printed map exclusively of the island of Barbados. Ligon based his map on information given him by Captain John Swan, the island’s leading surveyor of the time. The map depicts the island’s outline fairly accurately, but makes it about a third longer than its correct length. It identifies 285 plantations by the owner’s name. The majority of the plantations are along the south and west coasts. Four churches are shown and there are fortifications at Carlisle Bay protecting the island’s principal town, Bridgetown. In the middle of the map is the notation, “the tenn Thousande Acres of Lande which Belongeth to the Merchants of London.” This is a reference to the land leased by Lord Carlisle to a group of merchants after Charles I rescinded the original grant of the island to Sir William Courteen. Scattered throughout the interior, most of which was overgrown with primeval forest, are quaint vignettes of the island’s inhabitants and wildlife. There are knights in full armor, indentured servants, and a scene of a plantation owner chasing runaway slaves. The animal life is also illustrated; cattle, sheep, asses, wild hogs and even camels. Besides the hogs, which had been introduced to the islands by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the other animals had been brought to the island by the English settlers, including the camels that were used as beasts of burden on the plantations. According to Ligon, “several planters imported these beasts and found them useful in Barbados, but did not know how to diet them.”