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Port Royal

As a major port and important locale in game terms, Port Royal is worthy of its own page.  Some of the information on this page is repeated from the page on Jamaica proper, but much, especially the edited map, is new.

In December 1654, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sent an invasion force under the commands of Admiral Penn and General Venables to capture Hispaniola. The Spanish were forewarned of the attack and soundly defeated the English forces attempting to capture the city of Santo Domingo. Failing miserably and fearing to return to England empty handed, Penn and Venables sailed south to Jamaica, and in May 1655, captured the poorly defended island with relatively little resistance. In short, Jamaica became a consolation prize to appease Cromwell.
 
Port Royal


Construction of Passage Fort, also known as Fort Cromwell, began in a matter of weeks following the conquest. Situated at the tip of the sand spit separating Kingston Harbor from the Caribbean, the fort could control all access to the harbor through the narrow entrance. A small community, known as The Point or Point Cagway, consisting of mariners, merchants, craftsmen, and prostitutes, built up around the fort. After the restoration of Charles II and the monarchy in England in 1660, The Point was renamed Port Royal, and the fort, was renamed Fort Charles.

Although Port Royal was designed to serve as a defensive fortification, guarding the entrance to the harbor, it has assumed much greater importance. As a result of its location within a well-protected harbor, its flat topography, and deep water close to shore, large ships can easily be serviced, loaded, and unloaded. Ships' captains, merchants, and craftsmen have established themselves in Port Royal to take advantage of of the trading and outfitting opportunities. As Jamaica's economy grew and changed between 1655 and 1692, Port Royal grew faster than any town founded by the English in the New World, and it has become the most economically important English port in the Americas.

Between 1660 and 1671, officially sanctioned privateering was a common practice, and nearly half of the 4000 inhabitants were involved in this trade in 1689. This greatly enriched the port, but was officially supposed to end in 1670 according the terms of the Treaty of Madrid. Privateering and/or piracy, however, continued in one form or another into the 1700's. It is the Spanish money flowing into the coffers of Port Royal, through trade and plunder, that makes the port so economically visible.

Although, since 1670, the importance of Port Royal and Jamaica to England is increasingly due to trade in slaves, sugar, and raw materials. It has became the mercantile center of the Caribbean, with vast amounts of goods flowing in and out of its harbor as part of an expansive trade network, which includes trading and/or looting of coastal Spanish towns throughout Spanish America. It is a wealthy city of merchants, artisans, ships' captains, slaves, and, of course, notorious pirates, who have given it its 'wickedest city in the world' reputation.

Only Boston, Massachusetts, rivals Port Royal in size and importance. In 1690, Boston had a population of approximately 6000, while population estimates for Port Royal in 1692 range from 6500 to 10,000. Many of the city's 2000 buildings, densely packed into 51 acres, are made of brick (a sign of wealth), and some are four stories tall. In 1688, 213 ships visited Port Royal, while 226 ships made port in all of New England. Unlike the other English colonies, Jamaica is wealthy enough that it uses coins for currency instead of commodity exchange.

Port Royal is the most successful entry point to the English New World. Port Royal has a tolerant, laissez-faire attitude that allows for a diversity of religious expression and lifestyles. There are merchants, who are Quakers, Catholics, Puritans, Presbyterians, Jews, and, of course, Anglicans, all practicing their religion openly alongside the free-wheeling sailors and pirates who frequent the port.

Until 1692, Port Royal was Jamaica's only legal port of entry, and its merchants controlled the economic affairs of the island. Shortly before noon on 7 June 1692, 33 acres (66 percent) of the "storehouse and treasury of the West Indies" sank into Kingston Harbor in a disastrous earthquake. Two thousand people were killed in an instant. An additional threee thousand died of injuries and disease in the following days. Salvage and outright looting began almost immediately and continued off and on for years.

Following the earthquake, Port Royal underwent a dramatic revival that has largely restored it to its glory.


Port Royal, Jamaica
The map of Kingston Harbor is in French Marine Leagues.  One LMF is  5556.7m or 18,230 feet.  The harbor is, approximately, 10.5 miles x 2.5 miles.  It is about 4.5 miles from Port Royal across the harbor to Kingston.

The Town of Port Royal, Jamaica
The original map.  This is in French and shows that part of the town on the extreme end of the point.  If you look at the larger map above you will see that much of Port Royal extends back off the right side of the Town map.  This unseen area is largely residential.

Edited version of the Town of Port Royal Jamaica
Key features are noted in English

Kingston Harbor
This map provides an excellant view of the size and shape of the town. Note Fort Charles at location E for reference.  It also lists several geographical features and Cays.

Port Royal and the Ocean side of the point
This map is from 1715.  Note the Cays on the ocean side of the point.



It is widely maintained that there is one tavern for every ten people living in Port Royal.  This is not entirely accurate.  As the list below shows there are nineteen officially established inns or Public Houses.  Assuming a population of 6,500 (on the low side) that equates to one tavern for every three hundred and forty two people.  However, there are scores of unofficial tap rooms, taverns and rum pots.  Many a private home has a room where food and strong drink are served at a handful of tables to select clientele.  Just how many of these private establishments exist is unknown.  They tend to come and go in business depending on the availability of food and drink and the general economic climate.  A conservative estimate would count at least forty such watering holes.  Further, many 'sporting houses' or houses of 'ill repute' serve food and drink to their customers adding another fifteen or twenty drinking establishments to the total.  That still makes the ratio about 1 to 80, a far cry from 1 to 10, but a respectable number all the same.


 Inns and Taverns of Port Royal Jamaica and the year they were established

The Black Dogg, 1692
The Blue Anchor, 1679
The Catt and Fiddle, 1676
The Cheshire Cheese, 1684
The Feathers, 1681
The Green Dragon, 1674
The Jamaican Arms, 1677
The King's Arm, (no. 1) 1677
The King's Arm, (no. 2) 1677
The Salutacon, 1680
The Shipp, 1674
The Sign of Bacchus, 1673
The Sign of the Mermaid, 1685
The Sign of the George, 1682
The Sugar Loaf, 1667
The Three Crowns, 1673
The Three Mariners, 1677
The Three Tunns, 1665
The Windmill, 1684


Port Royal