5 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Cuba is an island country in the Caribbean.

After first landing on an island then called Guanahani on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on Cuba's northeastern coast near what is now Baracoa on October 27 or 28. He claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias. In 1511, the first Spanish settlement was founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar at Baracoa; other towns soon followed including the future capital of San Cristobal de la Habana which was founded in 1515.

The native Taínos were working under the encomienda system, which resembled a feudal system in Medieval Europe. Within a century the indigenous people were virtually wiped out due to multiple factors, including Eurasian infectious diseases aggravated in large part by a lack of natural resistance as well as privation stemming from repressive colonial subjugation. In 1529, a measles outbreak in Cuba killed two-thirds of the natives who had previously survived smallpox.

Cuba remained a Spanish possession for almost 400 years (1511–1898), with an economy based on plantation agriculture, mining, and the export of sugar, coffee, and tobacco to Europe and later to North America. The work was done primarily by African slaves brought to the island. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In 1662 Jamaica was under threat of attack by the Spanish of Cuba. On 12 September 12 the Council proposed 'that men be enlisted for a design by sea with the Centurion and other vessels.' This 'design' was a buccaneering expedition to destroy St. Jago de Cuba (Santiago del Cuba), the nearest to Jamaican shores. https://books.google.com/books?id…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

February 1655: "Under Admiral William Penn [the fleet] was one of the strongest ever to sail from England, with some 3,000 marines under the command of General Robert Venables, further reinforced in Barbados, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis.

"Although Cromwell had previously been interested in the possible acquisition of Hispaniola, the expedition's commanders were given the freedom to determine their own priorities in the circumstances they faced on arrival.

"Several options were considered, including a landing on the coast of Guatemala or on Cuba. Admiral William Penn chose to land on Cuba and take the Spanish sugar and tobacco industry from the Island.

"The Invasion was initially successful, and the Redcoats managed to invade deep into Cuban territory, though the marines began to falter slightly but they continued their invasion and within a month Cuba was taken.

"Though soon the Spanish launched a counter strike which ultimately failed and Cuba was occupied by the Commonwealth."

A follow up from John Evelyn's Diary – he and Mary Browne Evelyn live at Saye's Court, Deptford.


10 February, 1657.
I went to visit the governor of Havannah, a brave, sober, valiant Spanish gentleman, taken by Captain Young, of Deptford, when, after 20 years being in the Indies, and amassing great wealth, his lady and whole family, except two sons, were burned, destroyed, and taken within sight of Spain, his eldest son, daughter, and wife, perishing with immense treasure.

One son, of about 17 years old, with his brother of one year old, were the only ones saved.

The young gentleman, about 17, was a well-complexioned youth, not olive-colored; he spoke Latin handsomely, was extremely well-bred, and born in the Caraccas, 1,000 miles south of the equinoctial, near the mountains of Potosi; he had never been in Europe before.

The Governor was an ancient gentleman of great courage, of the order of St. Jago, sorely wounded in his arm, and his ribs broken; he lost for his own share 100,000/. sterling, which he seemed to bear with exceeding indifference, and nothing dejected.

After some discourse, I went with them to Arundel House, where they dined. They were now going back into Spain, having obtained their liberty from Cromwell. An example of human vicissitude!


The Treaty at the end of the Anglo-Spanish war (1654 - 1660) left Cuba in English hands.
Penn must have had some hair-raising stories to tell ... was Pepys able to listen, or did he get impatient with the warrior, who was far from glib?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Sir William ..."


"I've got to send gunpowder to Cuba. I think you said you've been there? Where is it?"

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.