Slider

matchlock musket in use
matchlock musket in use

 

Having struggled with the maintenance of the French Colony at Saint Christophe and with little support of the Compagnie de Saint Christophe, D’Esmnambu was on the point of abandoning the project. In 1630 only 360 colonists lived at Saint Christophe and the Company had not tried to recruit more. His people, having made the decision to leave,  chose not to plant food and produced a crop of tobacco that they could sell on returning to France.  The arrival of a Dutch vessel willing to buy the crop at a good price and sell them much need supplies changed their mind.  The colonists decided that the trade with Holland was more profitable and more reliable that with France.  After an effort to exclude the Dutch failed the Company gave up the venture as unprofitable.  However some men in France saw that, if the English and the Dutch could make a profit, then they too could do so.  With the blessing of Cardinal Richelieu they formed the Compagnie des Iles d'Amerique and as soon as they received the royal assent, colonists were enlisted and supplies prepared for transport to Saint Christophe.  This time the Company also approached the Provincial of the Capuchins of Normandy to send clergy to minister to the colonists and to convert the Kalinago.


Re-energised, D’Esnambuc decided to challenge English encroachment on French land.  There were six thousand of them to his few hundred and therefore had taken liberties with the land allotted.   A banyan tree, also known as a Fig tree -  on the shore of Pointe de Sable was the start of the boundary separating the English quarter of Old Road and  French Capisterre.  A line was drawn from its western end to the summit of Mt Misery separating the two quarters.  The seeds of banyans are small, and often fall on the branches and stems of other trees.  When they germinate they grow roots down toward the ground and envelop part of the host tree almost creating a small thicket.  Over time the tree near the shore had expanded its girth significantly.  But as it increased in size, the English continued to use its western end as their boundary increasing their area over the years and building houses in it. 


D’Esnambuc, sent a message to Thomas  Warner demanding the restoration of the land.  He also sent word to the colonists in both French quarters to prepare themselves for conflict.  They in turn armed their enslaved workers and promised them freedom if they stood with them.  Monks carrying a huge cross exhorted all to fight the heretics.  French men with their enslaved troops appeared on the edge of the rain forest threatening the English villages. 


Warner sent a clergyman and some officers to negotiate with D’Esnambuc but the French man insisted that Warner himself should come to the fig tree.  The meeting was arranged and on Warner’s arrival, D’Esnambuc drove his sword into the ground and exclaimed “Par le corbleu, j’en veux avoir par la” (I will have to there) pointing to Mt Misery.  Warner, after some slight hesitation, gave way, and a formal agreement again signed. 

This was the first time that the colonists on St. Kitts used enslaved Africans against their foes.  It would not be the last.    The village of Figtree gets its name from this incident 

National Archives
Government Headquarters
Church Street
Basseterre
St. Kitts, West Indies

Tel: 869-467-1422 | 869-467-1208
Website: www.nationalarchives.gov.kn
Follow Us on Instagram

Our Events