What Happened in January …

1659  The East India Company draw up plans for Captain Dutton to plant and fortify St Helena when establishing a settlement.

1673  Captain Richard Munden sails with his squadron from England, not knowing he will meet Governor Beale’s ship the Humphrey and Elizabeth seven miles from St Helena and play a major part in retaking the island from the Dutch.

1686  Richard Hancock was captured after living and hiding in remote parts of the island for 22 months.  He was one of the leading figures in the October 1684 rebellion when soldiers and planters attempted to take possession of Fort James.

1687  Several different currencies were used for trading.  Weighed and stamped copper bars were also legal tender but their weight made them unpopular.  It was decreed a criminal offence not to accept copper bars for up to half the purchase value.

1689  Many of the events recorded at this time deal with small details of personal life.  One such record tells of John Knipe complaining that Bridget Coales, who had promised to marry him, had now broken her promise and had been seen sitting in the lap of the butcher of the ship Modena.  To add further insult she compared Knipe to ‘an old dog of her father’s.’  For her outspoken views and inconsistent behaviour Bridget Coales was ordered to pay £15 damages.

1690  Matthew Pouncey, one of the planters involved with the 1684 rebellion escaped the death sentence and was permitted to go to Bombay.  He had offered his land to the government, no doubt this helped him avoid the gallows.

1699  Reported that the island was suffering from a long drought.  Further severe water shortages reported in 1724 & 1738.

1701  East India Company orders a tax on firewood and distilled arrack.  Many trees had been destroyed to distil the spirit.  Too much drinking was affecting many people’s health and causing quarrelsome behaviour.

1711  Governor Roberts proposes to divert the water running from Plantation Valley to New Ground – which was a wide but waterless plain.  Sugar cane and yams are to be grown there to double the revenue from harvests.

1712  It is decided to build a lime kiln at Sandy Bay as the best stone can be quarried there.  The planned kiln will be capable of burning 1,000 bushels of wood at one time.

1715  Two men on Horse Pasture climb down to the seashore at Lemon Valley to take a boat out to rescue soldiers from an overturned boat.  Two soldiers were saved, three drowned.

1725  Critically ill Governor Smith recovers his health only because a passing ship has the right medicine for his illness.

1730  Despite wood burning to distil arrack and fuel the limekiln, a petition for the destruction of goats over a ten-year period is expected to re-establish the previous expanses of woodland.

1755  High surf damages fortifications in several places.  High surf or rollers during January also recorded as damaging property and sea defences in 1771 & 1787.

1757  Soldiers employed killing wild cats.

1782  At 1.40 pm on 28th Jan. an earthquake accompanied by a rumbling noise was felt throughout the island for about 4 seconds.  In 1818 another earthquake lasting 30 seconds was recorded.  In 1869 another small tremor was felt.

1810  Saul Solomon, owner of the St Helena Press is directed to print no more objectionable remarks in the Register without permission of the Secretary.  Saul Solomon arrived on St Helena in 1796 at the age of twenty.

1815  The schooner St Helena arrives from England for use by the St Helena Government.  In 1830 pirates captured the St Helena and her crew is massacred.  Pairs of sailors were tied back to back and thrown overboard.

1834  Fifteen slave ships captured by the Royal Navy are held in James Bay.  The Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833.

1856  The first postage stamp is issued – a 6d blue.

1872  The St Helena Mutual Emigration Society is formed to assist people who want to emigrate to find work.

1874  The Colonial & Foreign Fibre Company is formed to cultivate flax on the island.  In February 1881 the company fails.

1884  An attempt to establish the St Helena Whaling Company fails.  Only three subscribers attracted by the idea.

1886  The Aurora catches fire and runs aground near Rupert’s.  The Frank N Thayer caught fire and sunk 700 miles SW of St Helena.  Some survivors manage to reach St Helena in an open boat.

1900  Formation of Broad Bottom Camp for Boer prisoners of war.

What Happened in January …

1904  St Helena jams awarded medal for quality at the Royal Horticultural Society’s exhibition.

1916  A severe shortage of soap on the island.

1938  Tristan da Cunha, Nightingale, Inaccessible and Gough Islands are made dependencies of St Helena.

1939  The Friends of St Helena is formed. The chairman is a former governor and Dr Philip Gosse a founder member.

1955  The Wirebird Magazine is published for the first time.

1959  Solomon’s electricity supply and some of their farm assets are transferred to government ownership.

1960  Atlantic rollers damage the sea front wall.

1965  An internal postal service is organised for the island.

1974  The St Helena Government buys 30,000 shares on Solomon & Company [St Helena] Ltd.

1979  Fishing licences introduced and required by all owners / users of fishing boats.

1982  St Helena Fisheries Corporation buy MFV Westerdam for £45,000 plus £75,000 for renovations.

1984  Paper currency introduced for use only in St Helena.

1985  A Hercules C130 flies over the island surveying Prosperous Plain for a suitable site for an airstrip.

1986  The Right Reverend James Nathaniel Johnson is enthroned as the first island born Bishop of St Helena.


Acknowledgment is due to St Helena Heritage Society’s ‘St Helena 500’ compiled by Robin Gill & Percy Teale