The loyalists were given this name as a result of still wanting to be ruled by Britain. They were often very badly treated by the American rebels. These colonists had not been frequently allowed to buy goods, they were ridiculed (made fun of), sometimes beaten up and all of their land was being slowly confiscated.
The flood of the arrival of the Loyalists in New Providence was between 1784-85. The island was too small, which didn’t allow a lot of growth in plantations. The out islands were then the perfect place when discovered. The Loyalists in New Providence then didn’t have any jobs and caused trouble. When American ships appeared in the harbour with supplies for Nassau, the Loyalists continuously attacked the crewmembers. As a result, rioting became a common problem for the government.
The East Floridian Loyalists, which were in St. Augustine was returned to Spain from the British, were forced to move in 1784. Sir Guy Charleton, British Commander-in-Chief suggested the Bahamas form the good report he had from John Wilson to explore the islands. The commander had persuaded the British Government to give the islands to the loyalists. This led to the royal instructions that had to be followed.
“To every head of a family, forty acres and to every white or black man, woman or child in a family, twenty acres, at an annual rent of 2’s, per hundred acres. But in the case of the Loyalists refugees from the continent such lands are to be delivered free of charge.”
That’s when the flood of Loyalists came to the Bahamas all began.
Loyalists had rapidly increased in the Bahamas. There were about 1033 whites and almost twice as many Negroes. The out islands were loved by the colonists, food was scarce. They needed to do something that would earn them money for food. During their stay cotton plantations grew and over one hundred and twenty of these thrived from the never used soil. About 2100 acres of cotton were planted and receiving 394 tons for export. This amount had only successfully increased. The economy had suddenly boomed and the cotton growing was a prosperous and wealthy industry.
In 1788 a decline had set in to the successful Bahamian industry. Cotton exports had dropped to 112 tons. There were 3 main reasons for this slump. Small hairy chenille bugs would attack the cotton balls, small red bugs reached into the boll to stain the fibers red and no one could get rid of them. Also cold winds, droughts and “unfriendly seasons” completed or added to the damage of the exhausted soil. The Loyalists realized by 1800, their plantation systems were coming to an end. Many of them returned to their main lands because of this, but some remained. The majority of their slaves also remained and took up fishing as well as farming.
The coming of the Loyalists made a huge impact on the Bahamas of lasting importance. Islands of the Bahamas were infused with flesh blood and energy. The population grew form 4000 in 1783 to 11300 in 1789. The nature of the population had changed dramatically because of the Negroes outnumbering the whites three to one. The cause of this was the whites had more than 1 slave per family. Not only that had the transfigured also the religion being Anglicans and built St. Mathew’s also Christ Church Cathedral, which both still stand today. Education was given a new boost and many schools were started. Nassau’s first newspaper was produced called ‘Gazette’. The out islands gained settlers for the first time and being recognized. House of Assembly had elected members from the out islands. New streets, a jail was made and a police force was started. All of these changes formed the basis of today. The Loyalists, which remained in the Bahamas and successful, their descendants still play important role in life. Names such as: Dean, Forbes, Rolle, Johnson, Adderly, Curry, Fox Kelly, Ferguson, Bowe, Russell and Culmer can be traced back to these refugees from America.
The American War of Independence was what caused the Loyalists to come to the Bahamas. By the 1770’s many Americans resented British inference in their internal affairs as well as the Loyalists. As a result the thirteen American Colonies wanted to break away from British unbearable rules and set up the United States of America. In order to achieve this goal they had to win the war. Because the loyalists were loyal to Britain they supported them in the war in 1775. They were smart and realized the American navy was too small, badly equipped compared to Britain’s navy. It was definitely large and fully prepared. Unfortunately, Britain’s navy had lost the war in 1783 against the victory of America with foreign help and their plans had backfired on them. The Treaty of Versailles was drawn up and gave America her freedom. Sadly that’s when the Loyalists were in search of a new home because they were forced to move and be living somewhere else by the following year.