Northern shore of New Providence Island, depicting the location of the forts and Hog Island
Geography and History
The island of Eleuthera to the east of New Providence was the first of the Bahaman islands to be settled by Europeans , in 1648. Adventurers from the English North American colonies traveled there seeking religious freedom and agricultural opportunities.
The island of New Providence was first settled around 1656. Its principal town, Nassau (named in honor William III of England, William III of Orange-Nassau) was originally known as Charles Town (named for Charles the II). The soils of New Providence were not as well suited to farming as Eleuthera, but it featured the best deep water harbor in the Bahamas.
Britain officially claimed the Bahamas as an English colony in 1670, but was never very successful in exercising control over the holdings. With little government regulation, it became an ideal stop in the active trade (both legitimate and otherwise) in goods, sugar and slaves.
During Queen Anne’s War or the Spanish War of Succession Letters of Marque issued by the English Crown encouraged the spread of privateering as a legal profession. With the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, and cessation of hostilities, privateers suddenly found themselves out of business…
What to do?
The transition from privateer to pirate was an easy leap to make. With a well protected harbor, and a weak to non-existent government, Nassau was the perfect haven, and the profession thrived! Read more about the historical pirates of the Flying Gang.
As strange as it might sound, life in Nassau really was very much like the Disneyland adventure ride “The Pirates of the Caribbean” (and not unlike the streets of the Northern California Pirate Festival)!