Where the remote Bermudas rideThe Colony of Bermuda (or Somers Isles) is a Commonwealth colony in the Caribbean administered by the Somers Isles Company.
In the ocean’s bosom unespied,
From a small boat that row’d along
The listening winds received this song
(Song of the Emigrants in Bermuda by Andrew Marvell)
Bermuda had actually tended toward the Royalist side in the English Civil War, because the shareholders of the Somers Isles Company were primarily nobles, but was largely spared the effects. The aftermath of the Parliamentary forces' victory. In 1649, the English Civil War raged and King Charles I was beheaded in Whitehall, London. In Bermuda, related tensions resulted in civil war on the island; it was ended by militias and the rule of the Commonwealth secured.
Bermuda's republican element, which (as in England) was largely identical to the Puritan, anti-episcopalian demographic, was forced into exile, becoming the Eleutheran Adventurers who began England's settlement of the Bahamas in the 1640s.
In the 1650s, following Cromwell's military campaigns in Ireland and Scotland, Irish prisoners of war and civilians, and smaller numbers of Scottish prisoners, were also sent to Bermuda.
The Company appoints governors. In 1620, however, a colonial parliament was created, the House of Assembly. Suffrage was restricted to male land owners, and there was no upper house. An appointed council, composed primarily from the leading merchant families of the Colony, came to fill a role similar to both an upper house, and a cabinet, and often proved the true repository of power in Bermuda.
- John Trimingham (1649-1650)
- Josiah Forster (1650-1658)
- William Sayle (1658-...)
Agriculture and trade
Initially, the colony grew tobacco as its only crop. The Company repeatedly advised more variety, not only because of the risks involved in a single-crop economy, but also because the Bermuda-grown tobacco was of particularly low quality (the Company was frequently forced to burn the supply that arrived back in England). It would take Bermuda some time to move away from this, especially as tobacco was the main form of currency.
Agriculture was not a profitable business for Bermudians in any case. The land area under cultivation was so small (especially by comparison to the plots granted settlers in Virginia), that fields could not be allowed to lie fallow, and farmers attempted to produce three crops each year. Islanders quickly turned to shipbuilding and maritime trades, but the Company, which gained its profits only from the land under cultivation, forbade the construction of any vessels without its license.