A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHARLOTTEVILLE, TOBAGO

A HISTORY OF CHARLOTTEVILLE, TOBAGO

by Steve Salfield

Edition of 31st July 2013

Charlotteville, Charlotteville

If you want to have a fill

Of kingfish, jacks or mackerel

Just take a bus come down the hill

To beautiful Charlotteville

(Lio Mitchell 1940)

Charlotteville today is a fishing village of around 2000 people. Its long village beach of soft creamy sand is backed by a few cottages and a few small shops and bars owned by villagers. Fifteen minutes walk along a track is Pirates’ Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Tobago, where there are no permanent buildings and no roads. Some of the village houses have two or three guest rooms and there are several small guesthouses. There are a few, simple restaurants. The fish market is run by a fishermen’s co-operative and is a bustling centre for an hour or two in the afternoons. There is no hotel, no supermarket, no smart restaurant, no upmarket boutique. What is the story behind this? How is it that in the twenty first century such a beautiful place on a caribbean island has remained so unspoiled? What is the history of Charlotteville? An internet search will not give you much information and I have found no books and little literature about this.

Geologically the land which is now Tobago was the northeastern corner of the South American continental shelf. It started to separate from the mainland about a million years ago, much earlier than Trinidad. As it gradually drifted to its present position it carried with it the indigenous flora and fauna which are of South American origin. But much of the present flora is not indigenous but imported. Charlotteville, on the north eastern tip of the island, is surrounded by high mountains on all sides except for the northern coastal side. For this reason and because of the excellent, deep natural harbour of Man’o’War Bay, in early times the main access was by sea. But for generations there has been a track over the mountain to what is now Speyside.

The name Charlotteville sounds French and one might suppose it dates from French colonisation, in the same way as L’Anse Fourmi, Parlatuvier and perhaps Hermitage. However, there is a grave of an early settler, a Dutch woman called Charlotte, behind the Great House and perhaps the village was named after her. (PT personal communication) Another version holds that a plantation owner fell in love with his slave called Charlotte and left the estate to her on his death. However many places in the world were named after the very popular Queen Charlotte of England (1744-1818), wife of King George III: The Queen Charlotte Islands, Fort Charlotte in St Vincent, Charlottesville Virginia, and others. Charlotteville was almost certainly named in her honour.

Charlotteville’s bay has had various names. An early name was Jan de Moor’s Bay after the leader of one of the first settlements here. It has also been known as Manawa Bay, John Moore’s Bay and it’s current name is Man’o’War Bay.

The first humans in Charlotteville

Tobago’s earliest known human inhabitants were the Ciboney, Amerindians who lived in Tobago around 1000 BC. Probably they were in Charlotteville with its natural harbour, good land and plentiful fish, although there is no definite evidence of this because they did not use stone tools or pottery and so they left no artefacts at sites where they lived. They used shells to make tools and containers. The Ciboney were later displaced by peaceful Arawak Indians (Taino) who in turn were displaced by the warlike Caribs. The Arawaks and Caribs cultivated cassava and maize and made pottery, remnants of which have been found in the stream and on the beach near Man’o’War Bay Cottages and which are in the Tobago Museum. A stone axe has also been found here providing evidence of an Amerindian settlement. (E Hernandez). Remnants can also be found at King’s Bay and other places in Tobago. The name, Tobago, originated from the Amerindian word Tavaco, the long pipes in which the Amerinidians smoked vcohiba – tobacco. The name changed over centuries finally becoming Tobago.

Many sources say that in 1498 Christopher Columbus an Italian, sailing as an agent of the Spanish monarchy sighted Tobago but didn’t land. However, David Phillips argues that the evidence is that Columbus never saw Tobago but that the first Europeans to sight it were in a group of ships, one of which was called Magdalena and they named the island Magdalena. The party was led from Cadiz in Spain, by Alonzo de Hojeda in 1502. One of his other ships was “Granada” which gave the name to Grenada.

The Charlotteville area has for centuries attracted European settlers. In 1633, Jan de Moor, Burgomaster of the Town of Flushing in Holland, financed an expedition which settled here. The indigenous Caribs allowed them to settle and the area was known as Jan de Moor Bay. The settlement was soon abandoned after attacks by Spaniards from Trinidad.

Shortly after Jan de Moor’s party left, another group of thirty or forty settlers arrived from Barbados under the leadership of Reverend Nicholas Leverton, an Englishman from Cornwall. There is uncertainty about where they landed but according to David Phillips it was probably Man’o’War Bay, the nearest point to Barbados. They made camp on the beach. Then in order to explore the island, one party led by the ship’s captain went in one direction along the shoreline and another under Reverend Leverton went the other way also along the shoreline. The captain’s party was lost but Reverend Leverton returned to Man’o’War Bay only to be attacked by Carib Indians. Some of the party were killed and others hid in the woods. Reverend Leverton was wounded on the head probably by a Carib’s wooden club. He jumped into the water and swam to the other side of the bay where, exhausted, he was joined by two of his men. They then made their way back to their beach camp but their huts had been burned down and their longboat was lost but they could swim out to their ship. They could not get back to Barbados but made it to Providence Island (Santa Catalina) off Nicaragua where they joined the Earl of Warwick’s settlers. (David Phillips)

More settlers arrived in 1639 and the area was soon being developed for agriculture with sugar exports regularly leaving.

Anonymous map of 1665, showing Jan de Moore Bay, now Man’o’War Bay, probably drawn by Willem Mogge. http://etudescaribeennes.revues.org/1032

For most of the 17th and 18th Centuries Tobago was a haven for pirates and Pirates’ Bay, which is a few minutes walk from Charlotteville, was a favourite harbour for Henry Morgan, Captain Finn and Black Beard as a base for their raids on Spanish shipping. In 1721 there was a battle between the British navy and Captain Finn and his pirates, between Pirates’ Bay and Tyrrell Bay at Speyside and the British captured Captain Finn and his men. (E. Hernandez) Many believe there is still buried treasure at Pirates’ Bay.

Early colonial history

Tobago changed hands 33 times over some 300 years, and Man’o’War Bay was the site of bloody battles between the French, Dutch, Spanish and English, for possession of Tobago. In 1714, Ayris, Paramount Indian (Amerindian) Chief, was sent from Barbados to become Governor of Tobago. In 1715 he appealed to the English Governor of Barbados for protection against rebellious negroes. Britain then claimed sovereignty against the French. In 1721 the Governor of Barbados was authorised by England to make grants of land in Tobago for the cultivation of cocoa, indigo, etc., – but not sugar, as this would have been in competition with Barbados. In 1725, the Governor of Barbados reported that the French were still claiming Tobago. The English recaptured Tobago from the French in 1762 and the Treaty of Paris ceded it to Britain in 1763.

In 1764, General Robert Melville was appointed Governor General of Grenada, Tobago, St. Vincent and Dominica. The Land Sales Proclamation Act was issued by the British Crown and can be seen in the Tobago Museum in Scarborough. This allowed land to be sold in lots of not more than 500 acres.  On 9 May 1769, 500 acres in Charlotteville were sold by auction to Abram Markoe at £2 and 19 shillings an acre, 200 acres were sold to Edward Hawkins and J Johnstone at £3 and 8 shillings an acre and 200 acres to Alexander Stewart at £4 and 16 shillings an acre. In 1774 the 500 acre plot was owned by MacEvoy and the two 200 acre plots had not changed hands. The land was to be cultivated into a sugar estate using free labour with African slaves.

There were still small groups of Amerindians scattered all over the island. These groups were led by ‘King Peter’ ‘King Cardinal’ and ‘King Roufelle’.

In the second half of the 1700′s many people left economically depressed areas of Britain for a new life in North America or the Caribbean Islands. They gave their estates British names like Argyle, Pembroke, Glamorgan, Richmond and Charlotteville after their much loved Queen. During this time the Americans conducted numerous raids on Tobago.

In 1770 Thomas Jefferys, Geographer to the King of England surveryed Man’o’War Bay and made soundings for the anchorage of Men at War ships. Campbleton battery in Charlotteville was erected by the British in 1777 with a battery of two cannons to help protect the island from American privateers who were raiding the British islands during the American War of Independence. It was named after the Hon Peter Cambell the Lieutenant Governor of Tobago. Lookouts would signal using mirrors if ships were spotted coming from the north giving the militia time to get their cannons and artillery ready for battle.

The most notable raid was on 17th January 1779. Just after midday the alarm sounded at Queen’s Bay when their guns were fired to warn of a message from Man’o’War Bay that an American ship had attacked. A party left Queen’s Bay at two o clock by road. They reached Speyside at four o clock and met a party from Man’o’War Bay under the command of Mr Gordon, who reported that some fifty men had landed that morning from an American ship. Three of the invaders were killed but the defenders had to retreat and seek reinforcements. Later that afternoon Lieutenant Colonel Stewart and his party reached Man’o’War Bay and there followed a gun fight. The Americans were beaten off and retreated to their ship, but they had burned all the buildings at Observatory, which is on a hill above Charlotteville.

In 1781 the French attacked the then British Tobago. The French squadron anchored in Man’o’War Bay then sailed to attack Scarborough and Plymouth. The British surrendered. The French regained Tobago in 1783 and in 1793 it was re-captured by the British, who initiated a separate Tobago Government with a Governor, a Legislative Council and a General Assembly of representatives. The island was finally taken over by the British in 1803 and remained under British rule until independence.

Slavery in Charlotteville

In 1771 under France, the population of Tobago was made up of 243 white people, 4716 slaves and an unknown number of Amerindans. In the 1790s under Britain, plantations were set up, and like other British colonies, Tobago became a slave colony. There were two principal estates in the north of Tobago, Charlotteville Estate and Pirates’ Bay Estate. The majority of slaves came from Africa. By 1790 there were 14,170 slaves in Tobago. Sugar became king and nutmeg, indigo, cotton and ginger were also cultivated and the economy prospered. The white population was small. Many of the British planters were absentee owners, very few French people had ever settled, and the Dutch and Courlander (Latvians) settlers had left.

In Tobago as in other Caribbean islands slaves were sometimes treated brutally to try and keep them subjugated. There were slave uprisings between 1769 and the end of slavery. The first uprisings were in Cove Estate, Grafton Hall Estate and the third was at Bloody Bay not far from Charlotteville. The fourth was in Betsy’s Hope Estate. The rebel slaves had to retreat and hid in the forest near Man’o’War Bay. They were attacked by soldiers and some were killed and others captured and then executed. Some had their right forearms cut off and were then burned at the stake. Others were hanged in chains and took up to seven days to die. I have found no reference to slave revolts in Charlotteville Estate.

Ma Rose Point is a headland at Bush Point on the old sugar estate. It was named after an old Ibo slave named Ma Rose because of her kindness to fellow slaves. She often protested when other female slaves were badly treated by the slave masters and she led several slave uprisings on the estate. The story goes that after being cruelly beaten along with other female slaves she attacked and killed the slave driver with her bare hands. The next day she was taken to Bush Point and tied to a mango tree. When the whipping guards approached she broke free, raced to the cliff edge and plunged into the waters below. The legend holds that her spirit still roams the waters below where passing fishermen used to offer her drinks of rum to calm the waters when she is angry and the water is turbulent. (E. Hernandes.)

Slavery did not last long in Tobago. In 1807 when there were some 15,000 slaves in Tobago the slave trade (but not slavery) was abolished in all British dominions. Tobago’s economy suffered and by 1812, an Indian called Louis and his family of about 200, were the only remaining settlers on the north coast of Tobago. In 1824 there were 160 slaves at Charlotteville Estate – 84 male and 76 female. (Craig-James). This was fewer than both Castara and Speyside. The Emancipation of Slaves was introduced in 1834. This was followed by the Apprentice System, under which former slaves were bound to their masters for four to six years.  Eleven thousand five hundred and eighty nine slaves were freed in Tobago and compensation of £233,875 was paid to previous owners.

In 1838 unconditional freedom was granted to all apprentices. Many in Tobago left agriculture and became fishermen and ex slaves often did not allow their children to cultivate the soil. This led to a shortage of agricultural labour on the estates and many went out of cultivation and Tobago’s economy suffered. Attitudes changed, education was  considered necessary and schools were opened.

Freedom – the early years

According to JD Elder the freed slaves in Charlotteville were mostly descendants of slaves brought from the Congo. After slavery many people of different tribal origins came to Charlotteville from the Low Side of Tobago. Many were fleeing droughts, storms and epidemics of cholera and other diseases which were plaguing the low side estates and they were seeking good virgin land. They travelled along the North side road and by sea. Some settled in Castara, L’anse Fourmi, Parlatuvier or Hermitage and others continued to Charlotteville. Their languages and culture were different from the home born Congoes and they were called tranger nagers. In Charlottevillle they found a good harbour, well watered land, the famous banks of red fish, and they caught numerous jacks in their nets each February. The newcomers were often more educated than the Congoes of Charlotteville and brought trades, music, their own religious attitudes and they wanted to acquire land. Songs, dancing and various kinds of music making underpinned the integration of the various groups. (Elder)

Later in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, waves of migrants came to Charlotteville from the Grenadines, St Vincent and Martinique, fleeing hurricanes and earthquakes. They settled on the hills on the outskirts of the village. The original Charlottevillians were English speaking while many of these new “out Bocas” spoke French patois, (they had crossed the bocas or small channels to reach Tobago). Many were Roman Catholics whereas the original Charlotteville people were Protestants. The newcomers were hardworking but landless, while the originals were by then often landowners and fishermen. Integration of these groups was very slow. The Grenadians did not take to banking (bottom fishing) which would have been a great opportunity to integrate. The Roman Catholics still have no church  in Charlotteville after 4 or 5 generations. (Elder).

In the 19th century Kaye Dowling of St George in Tobago wrote about the social conditions of Tobago at the time. (Archibald).  In 1843 to 1848 shortly after the abolition of slavery, most of the ex-slaves were still working on white owned estates. They lived in houses built from white pine or the bark of prickly pine (Grew grew) with a roof of cane trash. They were allocated half an acre of land but were generally allowed to use as much land as they wished for cultivation and to keep animals such as goats and pigs. This was called the Located Labour system. Some men hunted with dogs and a gun for agouti, and other wild animals but they were prejudiced against Hog in Armour (Armadillo) which was believed to cause leprosy. The estates provided medical care. People were becoming better nourished and clothed than during the earlier period of apprenticeship. Marriage and acknowledgement of family obligations were becoming more prevalent. Young children were in school 3 or 4 days a week and were otherwise busy helping with the smaller children, going to market with their parents and helping with agriculture. The practice of Obeah (folk magic and sorcery of West African origin) in public was less prevalent but it was still continuing privately and was the cause of much terror. Transport of produce was by mules and oxen carts and the animals were often brutally treated.

In 1847 a hurricane hit Tobago on October 11th and 12th and Charlotteville was devastated. The Methodist Chapel was totally destroyed.

From 1848 onwards some labourers quit the estates and acquired land either by renting, leasing or acquiring freehold. Having left the estates they no longer were provided with housing or medical care. Small hamlets started to develop. People grew ground provisions like cassava and yams, made charcoal to sell in the market, and hunted and fished. Land was for sale for £20 an acre which was at first beyond the means of most labourers. The available land was often of poor quality and had no water supply. Charlotteville and the Windward Side of the island lost population as little land was available to purchase.

Elder writes that on the level ground in Charlotteville there was Congo Town. After slavery the Congomen and the Browns (descended from Kanga Brown) took up residence on Congo Hill: the high valleys and deep forests above the village, because they did not wish to live in the barracks on the estate. (E Hernandez). I am told that Congo Hill is an area now on Belle Aire Road. The people retained much of their African culture and life style in folk music, dance and magic. Elder describes a very rich culture in Charlotteville of singing, dancing and playing of musical instruments which has sadly declined in recent years. However, the Charlotteville Tamboo Bamboo and Rydm band continues to play and perform and keeps some of that musical heritage alive. Tamboo Bamboo bands originated because slaves were often forbidden to play drums or other musical instruments. Groups would use bamboo poles banged on the ground to produce intricate rhythmic music.

The Estates

In the late 1800’s land was for sale. In 1864, Hermitage Estate had 300 acres for sale but none had yet been sold to labourers. Campbleton  Estate had 500 acres for sale and only 1 acre had been sold. By 1885, Charlotteville Estate had 1833 acres for sale and 215 acres had been sold to labourers.(Craig-James).

In 1865, 27 years after the abolition of slavery, the two principal sugar estates in the north of Tobago were the 1800 acre ‘Charlotteville Estate” and the much smaller 150 acre “Pirates’ Bay Estate”. In 1865 both estates were acquired by Joseph Turpin, the Anglican Bishop of St Vincent. (PT). Joseph remained in St Vincent. Joseph’s son Adolphus (Edmond) became Anglican bishop of Tobago. He bought the estates from his siblings and built a small house on the site of the present Great House. The market for sugar was declining in the 1880’s because of increased sugar production in Europe from sugar beet, so Edmond’s managers began converting the estate to mainly cocoa. By the early 1900’s cocoa was the main crop. The ruins of the sugar mill and the later cocoa factory can be seen near the junction of the Windward Road and the Northside Road as one enters the village.

pastedGraphic.pdf

Remains of the sugar mill at Campbleton beach. (Thanks to Dana Hornig)

In 1884 Charlotteville was not one of the principal settlements of Tobago. Parlatuvier, for example was a much more important village. By 1898 the island was broke and in debt because of the decline of sugar. It became a ward of Trinidad. “Tobago’s humiliation was complete.” (Eric Williams: History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago, p150).

In the early 1900’s movement of people into Charlotteville continued and it was growing again. Seventh Day Adventists came in 1928 from Moriah and now have a large following and impressive church and school. The Charlotteville Methodist church was consecrated in 1929. By the mid 1900’s Charlotteville had developed into an important fishing and agricultural centre. Most of the fishing was by Seine net, the net being taken by boat into the bay around a shoal of fish and then pulled onto the beach. Bananas were an important crop.

Older people in Charlotteville today, have talked to me about working the cocoa. Much of the cocoa was grown by tenant farmers who leased land from the Estate. Men, women and children would tend the land, cut the cocoa with cutlasses and “tote” it home, using donkeys or carrying it on their heads. Many homes had a cocoa tray where the pods would be dried in the sun. Then boys would “dance” the cocoa to remove the dried slime from the outside of the pods. The cocoa was then sold to dealers who would ship it to Trinidad. Others worked for the Estate’s cocoa plantation and the cocoa was dried in the cocoa houses, the ruins of which can still be seen in the village. The cocoa house had a raised tray for drying the cocoa in the sun and a sliding roof which could be moved over the tray to cover the cocoa when it rained. The processed cocoa was then transported by steamship or overland. (Thanks particularly to Ivan Alleyne.)

pastedGraphic_1.pdf

The old Charlotteville Estate cocoa house showing the rails for sliding the roof.

The Coastal Shipping Service operated from about 1901 to 1960 and there was a Boat House on land where the jetty now is from where passengers and produce were ferried to and from the SS Tobago or the SS Trinidad. The ship would also stop at other bays around the island and also went to Port of Spain in Trinidad. Goods shipped were cocoa, copra, dried coconuts, bananas, dried and corned fish, ground provisions and domestic animals. (E Hernandez). In the 1930’s the overland route became a serviceable road and the expensive coastal steamer service became of less importance and ceased in 1960.

Two of Bishop Edmond Turpin’s sons, Charles V Turpin the Crown Surveyor in Trinidad and his brother Cyril A Turpin a game warden in Uganda bought the shares of the Charlotteville and Pirates’ Bay Estates and merged them into one in 1927. Plots of land from 5 to 50 acres had already been sold to some local families such as Murray, Nicholson, Carrington, and others, and the Turpins’ holdings were then around 1400 acres. (PT). Cyril Turpin, the game warden, was an avid naturalist and environmentalist and created a detailed management plan for the estate. Charles who was Crown Surveyor in Trinidad made a detailed survey of the estate. He planned the village on the lines of an English village with roads, a cricket pitch in the middle, and government offices. This formed the basis of the Charlotteville we know today.

Patricia Turpin, kindly gave me access to Cyril Turpin’s exhaustive environmental plan which he sent from Kampala, Uganda, in 1932. His plan aimed to make Charlotteville Estate and Pirates’ Bay Estate into “one of the most beautiful places in the West Indies.” From the economic point of view he planned to establish a cocoa plantation of 1 million trees on 400 acres. He defined which areas would be for growing coconuts, limes, pigeon peas and coffee. To protect the environment he planned a forest reserve where hunting and shooting would be forbidden. He outlined what was known about the spawning habits, feeding habits and life cycles of the indigenous kingfish, tuna, snappers and sharks and considered the tidal patterns and currents, so that local fishermen could work more effectively. Not all of his ideas would have met with approval by today’s environmentalists because he imported many foreign species of plants rather than focussing on the indigenous. He planned what he called an equatorial line passing through the estate, which was to be a double line of tropical trees, mostly ornamental like Jacaranda, Poincietta, Red Flame of the Forest, Bougainvillea and Cassia. He sent seeds of plants from Ceylon, Malay states, Madagascar and Australia as well as Uganda to Mr Malins-Smith the estate manager with strict instructions about which parts of the estate these were to be established in. (Documents of PT)

In the early 1940’s many people from Grenada came to Charlotteville attracted by the labour shortage here during the second world war. The population had grown to 277 households in 1946 with 1360 people.

Crown Point airport opened in 1940 for military purposes. Now most of Charlotteville’s foreign visitors enter the country by this route.

The country being then a British Colony became involved in World War two and there were American bases in both islands. A radar station and lookout post were built by the U.S.Army on Flagstaff Hill near Charlotteville, in 1942.

On 30th September 1963 Hurricane Flora, one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes in history, passed directly over Tobago causing serious damage in Charlotteville and the rest of the island. Winds reached 100 miles per hour. Houses were destroyed and crops of banana, cocoa and sugar were devastated. Most of the trees in the Main Ridge Rainforest Reserve were destroyed. Four hundred acres of cocoa plantation were destroyed in Charlotteville. (PT).

Patricia Turpin (nee Arrindell) moved to Charlotteville in 1971 having married Charles Turpin, son of the first Charles. She managed the estate and under her supervision cocoa production resumed. Tourism in Charlotteville began with the Old Haven Guest House in about 1975. The now derelict building stands at the junction of the housing scheme and new housing scheme, just up the incline from the fish market. Shortly after, Nicholsons had some guest rooms in their family house, what is now called Cholsons’. Several valuable offers to buy land at Pirates’ Bay for hotel developments were turned down by the Turpins who were committed to keeping the area as an environmental haven. Thanks to them, the area is still undeveloped and beautiful. The residential area now known as Scheme and New Scheme was part of the estate farmed by tenant farmers growing cocoa until the 1970s. The land was then acquired by the government and plots were sold to villagers who built the homes now there. Cocoa production became uneconomic and finished in Charlotteville in 1990 and over the last 20 years the estate has returned to forest cover.

Charlotteville in the twenty first century

In 2002 the government commissioned The North East Tobago Management Plan 2002 which recognised the environmental significance of the area:

1. The Future development of NE Tobago will be dependent on the preservation of environmental values related to the biophysical environment of the area.

2. The biophysical attributes present significant constraints on the type of activities that can be sustained without causing damage to the natural environment. As the terrestrial and coastal ecosystems are fragile, development will impact on the marine environment, carrying a high risk of sediment loading to coastal waters.

3. Scenic corridor.  The type of tourism- rural, focussing on the marine environment and limited to sea bathing, diving, snorkelling, fishing, nature tourism. Integrated tourism within the community to maintain the natural and rural character of the area.

A census in 2003 showed Charlotteville had a population of 1259 in 367 households.

In 2005, Petro-Canada began a four-well exploration programme in the waters north of Tobago in what is defined as Block 22. In January 2008, the company announced a huge natural gas discovery of between 0.6 and 1.3 trillion cubic feet off the north coast of Tobago. This is about forty miles north west from Charlotteville.The rights to develop this natural gas field were acquired by Centrica, a large British company whose plan is to export energy to the UK and other countries.  http://www.offshore-technology.com/news/news116961.html

To transport the natural gas they need to convert it into Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The options they are considering to do this are to pipe the gas to existing plant in Trinidad or to construct new plant in Tobago according to Craig McCullum, regional director of Centrica. The existing pipelines to Trinidad are full for the present. McCullum has acknowledged that Tobago is a tourist destination and that industrial development must be done in a sensitive manner.

http://www.the-report.net/features-archive/6/67-qaa-g-craig-mccullum-regional-director-of-centrica-

In 2011 and 2012 Centrica conducted seismic testing in the waters off Charlotteville, to identify sites for future extraction of gas. This involves generating very high energy waves from survey ships towing arrays of hydrophones, to identify where the gas deposits lie. Seismic testing is known to severely damage marine life. Fish, mammals and other creatures are killed and others that survive leave the area.  To reduce the impact of seismic testing Centrica says that the testing starts with lower energy waves so that marine life can move out of the area, and then gradually increasing the energy intensity. Charlotteville’s fishermen have received financial inducements to avoid fishing in areas where testing is going on and some financial compensation for loss of income caused by reduced catches. This is likely to be inadequate compensation if the effects on their livelihood prove to be longterm.

In 2007 sealing of the North Side Road between L’anse Fourmi and Charlotteville was completed. The road had been in existence as a dirt road for many years before. The upgraded road has already been damaged by landslides and depressions and needs extensive repairs.

Charlotteville is surrounded by tropical rainforest and coral reefs which suffer from many threats. In 2008 Klomp and Prinz in a biodiversity survey found a rich diversity of species within the Charlotteville Estate and in the waters of Man’o’War Bay. Near Charlotteville are two other estates, the 287 acre Hermitage Estate, owned by Joseph Fernandes, of the Fernandes Rum making family of Trinidad and Campbleton Estate owned by the Trinidad Oilfield Workers’ Union.

Charlotteville has always been a fishing village but now many people have some government work and others commute to Scarborough for work. In recent years fish catches have declined. The fishermen believe this is due to industrial fishing, oil drilling and exploration, there being more fishermen in the village and climate change. (Jason Flower)

What of the future? The exploitation of the huge underwater natural gas deposits off Charlotteville is already having a significant impact on the way of life in Charlotteville. Vigilance will be needed to ensure that this is managed in a sensitive way.

References.

1. PT personal communication – information given to my by Patricia Turpin

2. The changing society of Tobago, 1838-1938. Susan E. Craig-James

3. Folk song and folk life in Charlotteville. JD Elder, 1971 http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00001309/00001/1j

4. Tobago-Melancholy Isle Vol1-3, Douglas Archibald

5. History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago. Eric Williams, 1962  http://www.archive.org/details/historyofthepeop006593mbp

6. http://www.offshore-technology.com/news/news116961.html

7. http://www.the-report.net/features-archive/6/67-qaa-g-craig-mccullum-regional-director-of-centrica-

8.http://www.reefnewmedia.co.uk/cmt_coralcay/uploads/Masters_thesis_jason_flower.PDF

9. History of Tobago    http://www.mytobago.info/history.php

10. Edward Hernandez, Curator, Tobago Museum

11. David Phillips. La Magdalena, the story of Tobago 1498 to 1898.

12. Carlton Robert Ottley. A history of place – names in Trinidad & Tobago

Thanks to Dana Hornig for helpful discussions, Ivan Alleyne  for his memories of Charlotteville, Pat Turpin for information and access to historical documents, Lyda Murray for stories and information about Charlotteville.

 

Addendum

A very brief summary of Trinidad and Tobago’s politics:

In 1946 universal suffrage was introduced. APT James was elected to the national legislature. He was a very strong advocate for Tobago in the legislature and supported separation of Tobago from the union of Trinidad and Tobago. He was defeated by ANR Robinson in 1961.

Trinidad and Tobago became Independent in 1962 with Eric Williams as prime minister. He remained in office until 1981.

In 1980 the Tobago House of Assembly was created and Tobago gained more control over it’s internal affairs. The present Chief Secretary is Orville London of the PNM.

George Chambers of the People’s National Movement (PNM), was prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago from 1981 to 1986

In 1986 Tobago based NAR (National Alliance for Reconstruction) leader, Castara born Arthur Robinson became prime minister. He is still revered for his heroic resistance against an attempted coup.

Patrick Manning leader of the PNM served as Prime Minister from December 1991 to November 1995 and again from December 2001 until May 2010.

Former PM Basdeo Panday in 2006 was sentenced to 2 years in prison for failing to declare an overseas bank account while in office.

In 2010 the PPP coalition won the election and Kamla Persad-Bissessar became the country’s first female prime minister.

In 2013 the PNM (People’s National Movement) led by Orville London won all 12 seats in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

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60 Responses to A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHARLOTTEVILLE, TOBAGO

  1. Doreen Joseph says:

    The history very informative. I have learned a lot of charlottevile. I am from Charlotteville. I am now living in Canada. I love my Charlotteville. Joseph (D)

    • Jasmin Jack says:

      I am from Charlotteville and I live in S.E London. Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge of Tobago/Charlotteville. Now I can pass it on to my children, grandchildren, other family members and my friends. After all knowledge is for sharing. Thanks once more. Blessings. x

  2. Nice to hear that Doreen

  3. Pat Rush says:

    Thanks for this. I came to Charlotteville for the first time this May to do some sea turtle work and loved it. I heard right after I left that they wanted to start development in town. I know the local folk want some modern conveniences but being from coastal Florida and seeing what development does to natural resources, I sure hate to see that come to Charlotteville. The Turpin family was way ahead of their time developing an environmental plan to protect that area of Tobago. They were very wise. It would be a shame to disregard all they worked to preserve after all these years. I hope they can come to a compromise which will protect the beautiful environment that is Charlotteville and the surrounding area.

  4. akinola says:

    this was very informative, helped me a lot with my research

  5. Nick Bointon says:

    I just love the way good people put this sort of effort into things. In these days of easy asccess to information it is easy to forget that someone has to put in serious effort and dedication to put it there in the first place. You are a star!” thanks

    Nick

  6. Impressive dissertation – you should publish it as a book 🙂

  7. Marcelle says:

    Very informative. I am living in Charlotteville currently and didn’t know realize all this took place. Thank you.

  8. Christine Wilkie says:

    I am a direct descendant of Arch Deacon Edmund Adolphus Turpin. He was my Great Grandfather and I have visited Tobago twice visiting my mothers cousin Charles Turpin and his wife Patricia. My husband and I are hoping to visit St Vincent and the Grenadines this year so would welcome any information or link to where Joseph Turpin was the bishop. All a bit late I know but it would be very interesting to know more. This is a very interesting history of Tobago. Thank you very much.We live in Aberdeenshire Scotland.

    • Thank You Christine and Gladys
      Glad you like the history. I know Patricia well and she kindly gave me access to her historical documents.
      Best wishes
      Steve

    • Michael Crawford says:

      Charles Turpin (Charles Jr) is my mother’s cousin. Charles’s mother is my great aunt, Mavis who was a member of the Seeley family who came from Georgetown, Guyana (BG as was) and was my grandmother’s twin.

      • Good to hear from you Michael. Your parents June and Peter used to visit us in Scotland once a year. They were very good to my mother. Are you still in touch with Pat? I would love to go to Tobago again before I get too old .i have created a Turpins Facebook page which you are welcome to join if you wish. It is a closed group.

  9. Gladys Ferguson says:

    I am Christines sister and my husband and I brought my late mother Constance Margot niece of Charles Turpin senior to Charlotteville in 1979. We had a wonderful holiday and would love to return.I have found this dissertation very exciting and have gained more information for my family tree.Thankyou very much.

  10. 12blackonyx says:

    I am looking to visit from the US in the next few months. My husband and I normally stay in Buccoo but would like to stay more north. How would I find a holiday rental in Charlotteville?

    • magintob says:

      _Pat Turpin operates the Man o War Bay Cottages, and there is also Cholsons Chalets on the Charlotteville waterfront. For divers there is a property called Shark Shaks.

      • 12blackonyx says:

        Just reread your beautiful history again and thank you for the tip of places to stay. We are planning our trip in 2014 August and will look into our stay at one of these locations.

  11. JULIA CHRISTMAS says:

    JULIA (MARIA) CHRISTMAS
    I am presently living in Texas but I grew up in Charlotteville and I still have family there and our home is now warm rental beach front property. It was so beautiful to read the history of sweat Man-O-War Bay and yes I too believe that there is hidden treasures in Pirates Bay. Also we still keep some of the traditions of West Africa such as, dancing and beating drums during a wedding march. Oh one more thing which everyone that speaks of Charlotteville seem to miss ,is that beautiful pink colored beach called “Little Bay” that is now called Lover’s Bay. The Sand is Pink from the corals. It a very romantic beach. Thank you for sharing that history.

    • Judy John says:

      Maria this Judy John how nice to hear such stories of our village and the wonderful history of its origin

      • Thank you Julia and Judy,
        Glad you like the history. I know little Bay. Yes it is lovely.
        Steve

      • Julia(Maria) Christmas says:

        Hi Judy I can’t remember. I am trying to remember you. I left Tobago for England when I was 12yrs old. So lets reconnect. I am presently living in Texas.

    • Sharon Moore says:

      I love Charlotteville. My father (Sennick Moore) was born there in 1932. His mother’s name was Adelaide Christmas and she married Simeon Moore. My father always says that we are related to the Christmas and Alleyne family. With reference to Lover’s Bay, I think they also call it Sand Bay.

    • Julia , the first time we went to Tobago one of my lasting memories was listening to my cousin Charles fascinating account of the times he went hunting for treasure on Pirates bay at dead of night with no success of course!

  12. Amryl Marcelle
    thank you for sharing so much of our history. I grew up in Charlotteville and still reside here. to read so much about its history is a priceless gift to me and my children and their children to come. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Thank you Amryl
    Glad you like the history. Please let people know about it if they are interested.
    I’m Steve, owner of the White House next to Sharon and Walter. I’ll be there from Jan 20th so please say Hi and we can chat.
    Best wishes
    Steve

  14. monica jack says:

    Very informative, Steve! Ed Hernandez is a wealth of knowledge as was jd Elder.

    Monica Jack

    • Thank You Monica
      Sadly I read that Ed Hernandez died a few months ago. I met him only once and he was most helpful with information for this work. I never met JD Elder but went to his funeral in Charlotteville a few years ago.
      Best wishes
      Steve

      • Monica Jack says:

        I just see this now…..about Eddie Hernandez. I used to volunteer at the museum when I lived in Charlotteville. What a wonderful man he was and all he did for Tobago and it’s history and traditions….A great loss…..

  15. Gladys Davidson-James says:

    Thanks for the memories of Charlotteville. I am from that beautiful, tranquil place. I am sitting in Washington, DC feeling a little homesick and decided to browse the net. You did good research. Ivan Alleyne is my uncle. JD Elder was a relative. You took me back to dancing cocoa and pulling seine. Very informative stuff.
    Gladys Davidson-James

  16. Hi Gladys
    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I have interviewed Ivan and have a written and recorded version of his memories. I may put that on this website too later, if he agrees.
    Hope to meet you in Charlotteville one day.
    Best wishes
    Steve

  17. Farley Cleghorn says:

    Thanks for a superb article. It would be great to hear more of the residential development that is currently happening.
    I live in Washington DC but still own a piece of the old Charlotteville Estate on Flagstaff Hill. I was born in Trinidad and have been in the great house when Charles was alive. I had promised to identify all the African taxidermied animals in the house but that never happened. Perhaps one day I will return and settle there.
    Farley Cleghorn

  18. That is very interesting Farley. Charles was my mothers first cousin and I visited the. great House. In 1989. The animals gracing the building were shot by his eldest brother Cyril in Africa. Anything you can find out would be very interesting. Charles widow Pat still lives there. We also visited in 1993 but Charles was held up in the USA so we missed him. I would love to go back.

  19. Farley Cleghorn says:

    Thanks Christine. Perhaps one day soon we will all descend on Pat and reminisce about the old days.

  20. Neil Jeffrey says:

    Thank You so much for your research. I am a 3 time visitor from Alberta, Canada. Found this website from 2 Swedish ladies while having a beer at Jabbas (gabbas) On the table was this entire article that had been translated into Swedish. I came home (Bams guest house) behind the SDA church and looked it up. All my questions about the history of Pirate Bay have been answered. (Just spent 3 hrs. snorkeling there) Keep up the wonderful work

  21. Thank you for a really interesting and informative article . A number of links to other sources are included which will be a great help to readers wanting to increase their knowledge of the development and history of Charlotteville and it’s environs both past . Thankyou.
    A history of Castara next?

    • Hi Christopher
      Thanks for your comment. Charlotteville is my speciality, not Castara.
      All the best
      Steve

      • Dear Steve
        I was visiting Charlotteville from Castara about the 30th of October as I wanted to run into Jabba! Alas he was not there and nor was his shop!! I did see a chap on a mobility scooter with a lady with blond hair as we sat on the wall with a ‘soft’.? Was that you?
        I will have to start my Castara research in ernest now!
        Chris ‘Prof’ Runciman

      • cultureshock says:

        Hi Christopher Yes that would be me – the chap on the scooter. Yes, I am very sad that Jaba’s shop has been destroyed. Say hello next time. Steve

        >

  22. Very very informative born in 1963 lived in that beautiful island for 20yrs before moving to the United States in 2083. Reading about the history of my beautiful Charlottesville brings back lots of memories as a kid . Yes dancing cocoa pulling sane the beach balling soccer in the rain bare foot. I can go on and on. Just want to say thank you for been such information . I will share .

  23. Giselle Alleyne says:

    Very informative information about Charlotteville my home town. I was born there in 1981 I am the granddaughter of the deceased Jacob Jack an Cleotha Jack, I am relative to the Alleyne,Christmas an many many . Although I don’t reside there I would often visit there. Charlotteville is beautiful an would remain the same. Great job on the history I would be passing this very informative information on .

    Thank you for sharing this

  24. susanne jack says:

    Wow this information about my fathers birthplace is so interesting i know Charlotteville is a most immaculate place cause when i visit i don’t want to leave but having all this knowledge now my my my thanks very much i do appreciate it

  25. susanne jack says:

    Wow this information about my fathers birthplace is so interesting i know Charlotteville is a most immaculate place cause when i visit i don’t want to leave but having all this knowledge now my my my thanks very much i do appreciate it Steve

  26. Yvette spicer says:

    Oh Lord this is the kind of history that should have been taught in our schools in days of old. I am very proud and happy that this type of info exist. I will like to keep in touch with whom ever is responsible for unselfishly sharing this wealth of knowledge with the public. Stay bless!

  27. Thank you Yvette.
    I wrote this because I visit Charlotteville twice a year and stay in the home I bought there. I couldn’t find much history so I did some research and put that together.
    Best wishes
    Steve

  28. Pete says:

    Steve,
    Came across your article while doing a little research prior to a small ship cruise that is stopping in Man O War Bay. The history of Charlotteville is very interesting and consistent with many other Caribbean areas of the same time period. Thanks for your effort.
    Pete Moxon

  29. Thanks Pete
    Glad you found it interesting.
    Steve

  30. Hi Steve: My husband and I were born in Trinidad and migrated to US many moons ago. We visit Tobago quite frequently and LOVE LOVE it soooo much. We were there last week on 9-8-16 and stopped in Charlotteville after having lunch at “Gemma’s”. We would love to find a sliver of land for sale to build a retirement cottage, we love it so much. Your story is so informative and catches the spirit of the village and people. Someone at the beach gave us the name “Pat Turpin” to contact regarding purchasing property for our dream retirement spot. Any ideas that does not cost as much as the listings we have browsed? Keep up your great work. Let me know if you have any leads to live our dream in paradise…. Thanks……..Reginald & Esla

  31. Hi Reginald and Esla. Glad you like the History of Charlotteville. I’m sorry but I have no information about land sales other than what is advertised by estate agents. And you could ask Pat Turpin.
    Best wishes
    Steve

  32. Gladys Davidson James says:

    Today is Presidental Inauguration in Washington, DC. I got a day off my job so I called my uncle, Ivan Alleyne in Charlotteville, he will be 93 years old in February. His memory is as sharp as ever. He spoke about you and your research. Thank you again for the history lesson. I live in the USA, but I am a ‘village’ girl in my heart.
    Gladys Davidson James

  33. Hi Gladys
    Good to hear from you. Ivan is a wonderful man. He told me a lot of his memories of his life and I have written them in a small pamphlet which I hope to put on my website soon also.
    Best wishes
    Steve

    • Eric Arrindell says:

      Thank you for the extensive history & is very informative. I have enjoyed reading the replies and wanted to join in 😀 My name is Eric Arrindell, from Trinidad & brother to Patricia Turpin & have visited Charlotteville since my early 20’s that would have been in 1974 . I do remember The Old Haven guesthouse was doing business & sometimes would bunk in there after arrival as my Vaulkswagon panel Van would have been filled with Furniture for Pat. The 12hr overnight Ferry would arrive early in Scarborough and the drive was always a challenge but it was some of the happiest times of my youth.
      Thanks again.

  34. Hi Eric, Thank you for your comment which I have just seen. I know your sister Pat well. I would have loved to have known Charlotteville in the 1970s.
    With best wishes
    Steve

  35. Marcus Hadley says:

    Thank you for this.
    Few will ever know this incredible place, and even fewer have written about it. My father Leonard Hadley was raised in Charlotteville from 1940 to the mid 1960’s. We now live in Florida, moving here from Trinidad after the coup. His sister is Betty Alleyne, who is in Burnley England. Back then, he was the only “red boy” growing up there. The stories he tells me about Charlotteville in that time period are unreal, it was literally like living in a David Moore painting! Thanks for taking the time to research and write the actual history of the type of place that is unfortunately becoming increasingly rare in today’s fast paced world.
    Marcus Hadley

  36. Hi Marcus
    Thank you for your comment and interest.
    Yes, places like Charlotteville are rare, and of course, Charlotteville is changing too – sadly from my point of view.
    Best wishes
    Steve

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