What Happened in April …

1684  The Court of Directors of the East India Company send one of their regular communications to the island’s governor.  In this one they express  hopes that plans for a sugar plantation are now well under way, suggest ways to collect sea salt for the preservation of meat and fish and propose growing rice on the high ground to provide cereal in the islander’s diet.

1693  Governor Johnson was shot and killed by mutineers when their plan went wrong.  They intended to imprison the governor and council and then escape from the island in a ship anchored in James Bay.

1700  Punishment for runaway slaves was ordered as follows: – first offence – to wear an iron collar for one year, second offence – to have the little finger cut off, third offence – to have the next finger cut off, fourth offence – to be castrated or if a women to have her ears cut off.

1707  Henry Francis is given possession of two acres of land on Water Fall Plain.  This land was previously owned by his late father in law.  Water Fall Plain then become known by the name of its owner, and of course still is.

1711  Governor Roberts proposes to divert a stream on to Prosperous Bay Plain so that ‘200 hundred acres of good ground’ could be used for farming.  If this proposal had been acted upon  several more of the island’s endemic species would have been lost.  Roberts also proposed enclosing an acre of ground to rear 150 to 200 pigs.  He stated the planter’s pigs tasted much better than those of the East India Company and his plan should improve the quality of company reared pork.  In the same month the Court of Directors in London replaced Roberts with Governor Boucher.

1713  The damage goats cause to the island’s trees is the subject of correspondence between the Governor and Council and the Court of Directors.  The island government realises the goats cause great damage but cannot see any advantage in reducing the number of goats or restricting their grazing area.  In the same correspondence they request more drinking glasses to be sent out.

1723  Fencing the Great Wood is still a main talking point.  Again it is thought to be a sensible idea.  However the anticipated reaction of islanders who graze cattle in the Great Wood seems to deter any positive decisions being taken.

1807  An epidemic of measles on the island claims 150 lives.

1815  Sir Hudson Lowe arrives on board HMS Phaeton to take over as the island’s governor.

1827  A long standing practice was to fire cannon at any ship attempting to enter James Bay without prior permission.  The need to seek permission was regularly over looked by ship’s captains.  This resulted in a shot being frequently fired from one of the north east batteries at ships heading for the anchorage.  Attempts were now made to remind merchant shipping companies of the risks which accompany approaching St Helena without permission.

1834  St Helena transferred from the East India Company to His Majesty’s Government.  The East India Company agree to administer the island’s affairs for a further year in the name of the Crown.  The Royal Standard was hoisted at Ladder Hill on 23rd April. 

1857  The cornerstone of St John’s church is ceremonially laid by Lady Drummond Hay.

1862  A meeting in Jamestown decides to convey to Queen Victoria the islanders wish that St Helena be renamed Prince Albert Island in honour of the Queen’s recently deceased husband.  Their wish never reaches the Queen as objections from members of the clergy cause it to be withdrawn.

1864  The brewery is destroyed by fire.

1865  Mr Porteous’ house, where Napoleon stayed for his first night on the island, is destroyed by fire.

1878  Two lives are lost and much damage caused by a flood in Jamestown.

1885  The islander’s sent a petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies asking for the military governor to be replaced.  They wish the governorship to be a civil appointment.

1888  The St Helena Savings Bank is robbed of £165.  HW Scullard, the bank robber, was later arrested.

1890  A heavy fall of rocks kills nine people and injures many more.  A fountain is erected in Main Street in September 1891 in their memory.

1893  Fifty islanders emigrate to work in copper mines.  There is further emigration to South Africa later in the year.

1898  Captain Joshua Slocum, the first person to circumnavigate the world single handed, visits St Helena. 

1899  First meeting of the St Helena Golf Club.

1900  The first shipment of Boer prisoners of war arrives in James Bay on the 10th.  They disembark on 13th April.

1901  A new crane is erected on the wharf by Boer prisoners.  Bubonic plague in South Africa causes extra quarantine regulations to be brought in to force in St Helena.

1911  The census shows the population of Jamestown as 1,416.  In 1881 it was recorded as 2,249.  In some country areas populations had increased but overall less people were living on the island.

1922  The National Bank of South Africa closes its St Helena branch.

1928  Bees are re-introduced to the island.

1930  Trees are planted by schoolchildren at Casons.  The saplings are later eaten by goats.

1933  An attempt is made to start a St Helena lobster industry.

1947  King George VI with Queen Elizabeth and Princesses Elizabeth & Margaret visit St Helena on the 29th.

1961  The Bishop of St Helena buys Princes Lodge from HW Solomon.

1972  Cyril Young & Leonard Hayes receive Royal Humane Society certificates for rescuing a girl at the wharf.

1979  St Helena Preservation Action Committee meet with the governor to discuss ways of establishing a heritage trust.

1986  Twenty-eight islander’s leave to work on the Falklands.  This group is the first – with many more to follow.


Acknowledgement is due to ‘St Helena 500’ compiled by Robin Gill & Percy Teale