Port Royal Jamaica was a city located on southeastern end of the the island west of the Palisadoes sand spit that protected Kingston harbor.
Notorious for its wealth and loose morals, it was a place where just about everyone went to spend and enjoy their riches in the 17th century.
it harbored pirates, cut-throats, prostitutes, and criminals and was once referred to as the Sodom of the New world.
It had one drinking house for every ten or its 6,500 residents.
There were goldsmiths, tavern keepers, artisans, and merchants…all living in 200 buildings crammed on 51 acres of sandy real estate.
Prior to this, it was a peaceful place…a place where the Taino (Arawak) indians carried out their fishing excursions.
When the spanish took over, they used it as a port of defense against outside invasion.
It was not until the British took over in 1655, that development really started.
In 1657, Edward DOley, who was governor at the time, invited a group of privateers to come and live on the island and help defend it against Spanish threat.
These privateers were earlier robbed and thrown off the island of Hispaniola by the Spanish…so this was the perfect opportunity for revenge!
Not only did they defend the city well, but they also launched a several offensives on nearby Spanish towns, territories, and ships that would eventually wear the Spanish down.
Spanish Under attack
After absorbing attack after attack, the Spanish were no longer able to supply its colonies with its regular delivery of manufactured goods.
Demoralized and exhausted, they slowly lost interest in coming to the area.
Merchants took advantage of this need by sponsoring trades with the Spanish to get supplies to the colonies while making deals with the privateers to attack and rob the coastal Spanish colonies.
The kind of “forced trade,” brought in a large amounts of wealth and almost became a way of life in Port Royal.
When Henry Morgan became lieutenant governor that things changed. Spain was no longer a threat and privateers (pirates) were no longer needed.
In 1687, Jamaica passed an Ant-piracy law signally that pirates no longer welcome to the city of Port Royal Jamaica.
Many pirates were executed and other driven from the island. In 1722, forty one pirates met their death in one month.
On June 7, 1692, a devastating earthquake hit the city.
Buildings on the northern end of the city fell into the sea while others were swept up by a tidal wave that followed.
After The Earthquake
Between 1,000 and 3,000 people were killed.
The local government did not have the means to handle the dead which lead to an outbreak of disease.
Another 2000 people died in just a few months (80% of the population so far).
survivors re-located to Spanish town, which later became the second capital of the island.
Many view it as God’s punishment upon a city that had live in “wantoness” and sin!
Several attempts to rebuild the city was thwarted by fire, flood and hurricanes and was eventually abandoned.