Cayman History

Cayman History
Cayman History TIMELINE 
Cultural - scroll down to TIMELINE

1503 

Cayman Islands sighted by Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus sighted Little Cayman and Cayman Brac on May 10, 1503 on his fourth and final voyage to the New World. He named the islands Las Tortugas (The Turtles), because so many turtles were seen. Cayman Islands Quincentennial Stamp issue, release date July 24, 2003

 

1773


On the 27th April George Gauld, in his newly acquired survey sloop Florida, left Port Royal Jamaica accompanied by HMS Northampton.  He had just finished his masterful surveys of the harbour of Kingston and Port Royal for Vice-Admiral Sir George Rodney, Commander in chief in Jamaica.  On May 4th the two ships anchored in a small cove named Hogstie Bay, at the west end of Grand Cayman.  Leaving the Northampton and Florida at anchor, Gauld and his survey team took to their smaller boats to start this survey of the island immediately.
1773 Gauld map of Grand Cayman on 5 cent stamp in 1989, showing surveyor’s tools.
In 1773 George Gauld spent 10 days on and around Grand Cayman, making his hydrographic survey

Step-well, George Town, one of the oldest surviving man-made structures on Grand Cayman.
George Gauld, Scottish surveyor and cartographer for the British Admiralty,
made the earliest recorded documentation of the well in 1773.


Cayman Islands National Museum 

 

Cayman Cultural pictures 

 

Cayman Islands Chief Magistrates, Commissioners, Adminstrators and Governors from 1734

House-shaped Gravestones in the Cayman Islands

by P. Ann van B. Stafford

Cayman House-shaped Gravestones - pictures 

 

1888 

 Cayman Plants - William Fawcett

“Botanical investigation began late in the Cayman Islands, and has involved comparatively few people.  The earliest known collections were made in May, 1888, by William Fawcett, then the Director of Public Gardens and Plantations in Jamaica, and later co-author of the Flora of Jamaica. His visit, of but a few days’ duration, resulted in the publication of a short report dealing with the natural and agricultural resources of the islands, and also reporting on such subjects as the disease of coconut palms (presumably what is now called Lethal Yellowing) then ravaging Grand Cayman.  Added to this report was a list of 112 plants that he had collected, including both indigenous and introduced species. The specimens on which this list was placed were deposited in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England. Among Fawcett’s discoveries was the endemic orchid Dendrophylax fawcettii, described by Rolfe in the Gardener’s Chronicle of Nov. 10, 1888.

1891

January - John T. Rothrock and Albert S. Hitchcock visited Grand Cayman for 3 days. Rothrock’s specimens were deposited in the Herbarium at the Field Museum, Chicago and Hitchock’s at the Field Museum and Missouri Botanical Garden. 

List of Plants collected in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Grand Cayman

Aegiphila caymanensis and A. elata 

 

1896

Charles B. Taylor 
Charles B. Taylor of Rae Town, Kingston, Jamaica was the curator of the Dept. of Zoology, ‘Jamaica Institute of Kingston’ in about 1891.  He collected on Grand Cayman, March 14 to April 21, 1896.
Novitates Zoologicae 1906 XXVI GC Is. 25 iii

 

1899 

February:  Charles F. Millspaugh collected plants in the Cayman Islands while a guest of Chicago meat-packing millionaire Allison V. Armour on a West Indian cruise aboard the yacht Utowana. The chief set of Millspaugh's specimens is in the herbarium of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
Plantae Utowanae   Plants collected in Bermuda, Porto Rico, St. Thomas, Culebras, Santo Domingo, Jamaica, Cuba, The Caymans, Cozumel, Yucatan and the Alacran shoals. Dec. 1898-Mar. 1899. The Antillean cruise of the yacht Utowana. Mr. Allison V. Armour, owner and master.
Published in Chicago in 1900. 

Field Museum, Chicago, May 18, 2010

1907

George Stephenson Shirt Hirst was born in Sindh, India, in 1872 and died 1912, age 40. He was Commissioner of the Cayman Islands from 1907-1912. He wrote a book Notes on the History of the Cayman Islands published in 1910

In the Days of Hirst by John Redman, 1995
published in the Weekender section of the Caymanian Compass, June 30, 1995. 
George S. S. Hirst, after whom Hirst Road was named, was both Commissioner and Medical Officer. His Visitors Book was handed over to the Cayman Islands National Archive in April, 1995.

1911

Thomas Mylius Savage ENGLISH (1868-1946)
He was a scholar at Charterhouse School   from 1881 to 1883.
Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, England, opened its Herbarium in 1874.
Charterhouse School Herbarium (GOD) 
 
T. M. Savage English, naturalist, was tutor to Hirst’s daughter Helen. He lived in Grand Cayman from 1911 to 1914, 1 year in the SW area, 2 years in the North Side area. He owned property in the Rum Point /Cayman Kai area. It was sold it to Dr. Overton and Dr. Roy McTaggart for thirty pieces of silver (£30).  
English Sound, a shallow lagoon off North Sound, was named after T. M. Savage English, who lived in Grand Cayman from 1911-1914. It is not marked on any maps. He lived in this vicinity - Cayman Kai/Rum Point area, for 2 years. The location of his dock can still be seen in the centre of the picture, 100 years later.  The Grand Cayman endemic Pygmy Blue Butterfly - Brephidium exilis thompsoni was discovered at the edge of English Sound by Gerald Thompson and C. Bernard Lewis on June 23, 1938, during the Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands.
Aerial photo: Lois Blumenthal, June 2008


Kew Bulletin No.10, 1913, Some Notes on a West Indian Coral Island
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew publication

LVIII Some Notes from a West Indian Coral Island by T. M. Savage English pp.367-372

PLANTS

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir David Prain, Kew; from Georgetown, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 26 Apr 1911; three page letter comprising two images; folio 301
Letter to Sir David Prain, Kew, April 26, 1911 

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir Arthur William Hill; from Georgetown, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 21 July 1911; two page letter comprising two images; folio 302
Letter to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew, July 21, 1911 

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir David Prain, Kew; from Ardkeen, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 11 May 1912; two page letter comprising two images; folio 304
Letter to Sir David Prain, Kew, May 11, 1912

Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir Arthur William Hill; from Ardkeen, Grand Cayman, B.W.I.[British West Indies]; 12 Jan 1914.  three page letter comprising two images; folio 312. 
He intends to leave the island, and says their doctor has already left.
Letter to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew, Jan. 12, 1914


Letter from T.M. Savage English to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew; from Hill Farm Bungalow, Botley, Hants [Hampshire]; 26 Oct 1914; two page letter comprising two images; folio 318. 
Letter to Sir Arthur William Hill, Kew, Oct.26, 1914 

BIRDS

12 species of birds, including:
West Indian Whistling Duck

Least Tern 
1916 The IBIS A Quarterly Journal of Ornithology, Vol. IV, Tenth Series, published by the British Ornithologists' Union.
The IBIS, Vol.IV, 1916 

MOTHS

Fig Sphinx moth - Pachylia ficus



 Red Wasp moth - Empyreuma affinis (= E. pugione)



Eunomia caymanensis  Hampson 1911 
George Town, Grand Cayman.
The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, No.43, July 1911 
Sir George F. Hampson (1860-1936)  -   Eunomia caymanensis new species, No.417 a, page 395.
He also went to  Charterhouse School (1871-1875).

E. caymanensis has been recorded in the Cayman Islands and Cuba only
Moth Photographers Group - Lepidoptera of Cuba
1076.00 Eunomia cayamensis    Hampson 1911

All the above three moths (at the British Museum) were collected by T. M. Savage English in Grand Cayman.


 Cayman Clearwing Wasp moth - Eunomia caymanensis
 Photo: Lyndhurst Bodden, George Town, Grand Cayman, Jan. 1, 2015.


Savage English had a square cistern and a circular cistern, referred to in the Oxford University Expedition Report on the Botanical Collections from the Cayman Islands by Wilfred Kings, 1938. Under the heading FRESH WATER SPONGES, Kings refers to ‘Savage English’s Cistern (the circular one) North Side. This cistern has not been used since about 1917 when the house was destroyed’.

1917 September - there was a Category 4 hurricane.

1920 July 13   George Richardson Proctor born in Boston, Massachusetts

1924  

Charles A. Matley, British geologist, based in Jamaica, spent 2 days on Little Cayman, 4 days on Cayman Brac and 5 days on Grand Cayman. He collected a few Cayman Brac plants, which were deposited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. 
Ref. Islands from the Sea, Geologic Stories of Cayman by Murray A. Roed, 2006.



Geology of the Cayman Islands, Dr. Brian Jones 
     


1930's T. M. Savage English ('old man English') lived in Montserrat.He was a Belonger and died there c. 1946.

 

1934

Sir Allen Wolsey CARDINALL, Commissioner of the Cayman Islands from Feb.14, 1934 to 1940.

1934 A History of the Cayman Islands by Neville Williams, Deputy Keeper of Public Records, Great Britain, 1970, p.76-77.
 1940 Commissioner CARDINALL, 1934 to 1940; World War II, 1939.
A History of the Cayman Islands by Neville Williams, Deputy Keeper of Public Records, Great Britain, 1970, p.78-79

 



Commissioner Allen Wolsey Cardinall (1934-1941) centre with dignitaries in front of the Town Hall, George Town (left to right: Collector Aston Rutty, Bertie Panton, Inspector Roddy Watler, Rev. Douce, Rev. George Hicks, Dr. George N. Overton, Edgar Lyons and unidentified man) ca 1936.
 

Founded Upon the Seas -A history of the Cayman Islands and Their People
p 289

 

1938 

The 1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands (April 17 to August 27) was the first natural history survey of all three islands, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, and reports were written about the flora, fauna, geology and wetlands. The founding study of Cayman’s butterflies was done then by entomologists C. Bernard Lewis and Gerald H. Thompson, both Oxford students, (Carpenter and Lewis 1943) and gave a good indication of the number of species on each island at that time.


The expedition was in acceptance of a long-standing invitation by Cayman Islands Commissioner Allen Wolsey Cardinall (1934-1941) to make a biological survey of the islands. Lewis was a Rhodes scholar from the United States, who later became Director of the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston. The identification & documentation of specimens were delayed by of the outbreak of World War II in 1939. These were published in 1943 by Carpenter and Lewis. (G.D. Hale Carpenter, Hope Department of Entomology, University Museum, Oxford and C.B. Lewis, Museum of the Institute of Jamaica).


The party comprised:-
W. Gemell Alexander - Leader and Organiser
C. Bernard Lewis (Wadham College) - Biologist (Rhodes Scholar from the United States) (lewisi)
Gerald Thompson (St. Edmund Hall)  - Biologist (thompsoni)
W. N. Paton (Magdalen College) - Marine Biologist
Wilfred Kings  Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby  -  Botanist (kingsii)

 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands 1938 – homemade equipment

Off to work - Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands 1938




W. Gemell Alexander - 1938 Oxford Expedition Leader and Organiser,had his 20th. birthday in Kingston, Jamaica, on his way to Cayman.
Caymanian Compass, March 15, 2004.

 
The endemic Blue Iguana - Cyclura lewisi, Grand Cayman's largest native land animal, is named after Bernard Lewis.
Blue Iguana - Cyclura lewisi, Endangered Grand Cayman endemic,
named after biologist C. Bernard Lewis, Rhodes Scholar, who took a male and female 
to the British Museum of Natural History,
collected during the 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands.
Photo: Ann Stafford, on the Woodland Trail, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, 
Grand Cayman, Apr. 22,  2012.

The endemic Pygmy Blue Butterfly - Brephidium exilis thompsoni Carpenter & Lewis 1943 is named after Gerald Thompson. He discovered it on June 23, 1938 in English Sound (named after T.M. Savage English), a lagoon off North Sound.

Cayman Pygmy Blue butterfly - Brephidium exilis thompsoni, Grand Cayman endemic subspecies named after Gerald Thompson, 1938 Oxford University biology student.
Photo: R. R. Askew, Jan. 19, 2008



ANNALS OF THE CARNEGIE MUSEUM  Vol.XXIX p.392-394 
Carpenter & Lewis 1943:
This tiny butterfly is indeed limited in its distribution for it was not found outside of an area of about fifty square yards, on the edge of a secluded lagoon, known as English Sound, lying to the east of and off of the Great Sound. The vegetation of this area is low, but not unusual, and is typical of such situations which are numerous on the island. No early stages were found.

English Sound is a very shallow lagoon off North Sound, Grand Cayman, where Grand Cayman's Pygmy Blue butterfly - Brephidium exilis thompsonii was discovered by Bernard Lewis and Gerald Thompson in 1938. English Sound is not named on maps, but was the locality of property of naturalist T. M. Savage English, who resided in Grand Cayman from 1912 to 1914.

Naturalist T.M. Savage English lived in Grand Cayman between 1912 and 1914.
He owned property in the Cayman Kai area. This shallow lagoon, English Sound, is named after him, but it is not named on maps. The location of his dock can be seen in the centre of this photo.
Photo: Kayaker James Macfee June 18, 2008

Urban Myles, 97 years old.
He was the cook on the 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition to the Cayman Islands.
They camped on the little schooner ‘Meritwell’ in North Sound for one week
and used a motor boat and canoe for their biological observations and collections.
Photo: Ann Stafford, Mar. 3, 2007.


Encylia kingsii Orchid, named after Wilfred Kings, biologist on the 1938 Oxford Expedition.

Encyclia kingsii  Cayman Islands Orchid stamps issue 2005.

1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands - Wilfred Kings flora specimens  

List of specimens by collector Wings, W.    Tropicos.org, Missouri Botanical Garden

1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands - pictures 

1938 Oxford University Expedition - Gerald Thompson's account

 

 Insect Fauna of Little Cayman - R.R. Askew 1975


Little Cayman is seldom mentioned in entomological literature. The 1938 Oxford University Biological Expedition spent thirteen days on the island and reports on the resulting collection deal with Odonata (Fraser, 1943), water-bugs (Hungerford, 1940),  Nemoptera (Banks, 1941), cicadas (Davis, 1939), Carabidae (Darlington, 1947), Cerambycidae (Fisher, 1941, 1948), butterflies (Carpenter and Lewis, 1943) and Sphingidae (Jordan, 1940). During the 1975 expedition, insects of all orders were studied, over a period of about five weeks, and many additions will eventually be made to the island's species list. At present, however, identification of the insects collected has, with the exception of the butterflies which have been considered separately, proceeded in the majority of cases as far as the family level. Application of the family names for the most part follows Borror and DeLong (1966). In this paper the general characteristics of the insect fauna are described.
Butterflies of the Cayman Islands 
by R.R. Askew and P.A. van B. Stafford
2008


This book includes records from the 
1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands and
1975 joint Royal Society - Cayman Islands Government Expedition to Little Cayman

1948


April 19, George R. Proctor - botanist  visited Grand Cayman for the first time. He wrote the Flora of the Cayman Islands, published in 1984 and 2nd. Edition, published in 2012.
The National Tree of the Cayman Islands - the endemic Silver Thatch palm - Coccothrinax proctorii, is named after him 


The Cayman Islands Natural History and Biogeography
 
Cayman Islands Natural History and Biogeography book


In the course of the last century a considerable amount of scientific work has been carried out in the Cayman Islands. The results of this (outlined in Chapter 1) are widely distributed in unpublished reports, university theses, various scientific publications and books, many of these sources being difficult to find and some now unobtainable.


The purpose of this book, therefore, is to bring all this scattered information together and to present a coherent account of the biogeography and ecology of the Islands, as an easily available reference source and as a foundation on which future work can be based. 
Flora of the Cayman Islands by George R. Proctor , 2012
The book is available from the National Trust for the Cayman Islands and local bookstores for CI$30.

Flora of the Cayman Islands 2012

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