THE ARTICLE by Claude Mills "I WAS THERE" telling of an, on the spot, experience during the Port Royal earthquake makes interesting reading for that earthquake has fascinated historians throughout the centuries. The article, I think, must have been written with tongue in cheek and I will give Claude Mills his due for trying to catch us out. For I was there too.
I here quote Claude from the article "I looked up and in the left Quadrant of the Sky saw a foaming wall of water at least sixty feet high.. it carried three schooners in its wake, and there was an almost musical crash as water slammed into the heart of the city. One of the schooners smashed a huge stone monument to Lord Horatio Nelson. I peered through the smoke, my eyes were watering, protesting slits against the acrid fumes."
At this point I have to sympathise with Claude Mills for the smoke did get in his eyes and impair his vision for he was mistaken when he thought he saw a stone monument to Lord Horatio Nelson that fateful day. Lord Horatio Nelson was born in 1758, 66 years after the erthquake he died at battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805.
I would like to point this historical anomaly out to Claude although I suspect he did it purposely in order to invite comments, as asked for, in the preamble to the series of historical articles in The Gleaner. If Claude did experience the earthquake, for he was there, he would now be 309 years old and still going strong!
I am also sure that when his eyes did recover from the acid burn he noticed that the stone monument was not to the memory of Horatio Nelson but rather to Major Richard Guy who came to Jamaica from Barbados with Cromwell's army to capture Jamaica from the Spaniards in 1660 and died in 1683 nine years before the earthquake.
Major Richard Guy was in charge of the Guanabo Vale Regiment the front line against the Spanish Resistance. Major Richard Guy negotiated secretly with Juan De Bolas, the head of the Spanish guerrilla army to come over and fight for the British. The Spaniards had enticed Juan de Bolas and his band of Spanish slaves to fight and expel the British invasion force. The Spanish under Yassi promised the freedom in return. Major Richard Guy seized the initiative and promised the Spanish slaves freedom, immediately, if they defected and fought on the side of the British.
Juan De Bolas came over to the British immediately and drove out the Spaniards. Richard Guy was awarded two land grants totalling over 800 acres, and the citizens of Port Royal erected a large stone monument to Richard Guy. That is the one that Claude saw being overturned. He died in 1683 and is buried in the Anglican Church in Guanabo Vale. His tomb stone lies under the centre aisle carpet in the church which originally was a Roman Catholic Church under the Spaniards.
Since The Gleaner is recapping the last 500 years of our history it is important to note the pivotal part Major Richard Guy played in the capture of Jamaica for us to inherit today.
I am, etc.,
P.O. Box 144
taking you for a stroll down memory lane for the next six months. Along
this journey,we will relive several events which significantly impacted
on the social, political and economic development of Jamaica. As we travel
share your experience with us...
A Jamaica Gleaner Feature
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