Trinidad and Tobago History

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Trinidad and Tobago

Columbus discovered Trinidad and Tobago on his third voyage in 1498. Trinidad was inhabited by the Arawak Indians, who were killed by early European settlers. It was colonized by the Spanish in 1592. It continued under Spanish rule until 1797, when it was captured by the British. Trinidad was formally ceded to the United Kingdom in 1802.

Tobago was ruled intermittently by the Dutch, French and English in its early colonial history before it was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1814.

Trinidad and Tobago were merged in 1888 to form a single colony. Full independence was gained in 1962.[1]


  • Trinidad  Spain 1509, French settlers 1777, Great Britain 1797, Trinidad and Tobago joint colony 1889, independent 1962.[2] [3]
  • Tobago  changed hands 33 times—more than any other Caribbean island, including: Spain 1532-1534, Spain 1569-1570, Spanish permanent settlement 1592, English raid 1595, Netherlands settlement 1628-1637, failed Courland colonies in 1637, 1639, and 1642, failed English colonies 1639, 1642, and 1647, successful Courland and Netherlands colonies in 1654, French colony in 1658, Courlanders surrendered to the Dutch in 1659, English-Jamaican pirates captured Tobago 1666 but surrendered to France later that year. The Netherlands reclaimed their forts in 1667 but were wiped out by the English who captured Tobago in 1672. The Netherlands regained control by treaty in 1674, then France captured Tobago in 1677, but it was restored to the Netherlands in 1679. Tobago became a no-mans-land in 1705, but was claimed by Great Britain in 1715. Sweden sent settlers in 1733 but they were repelled by natives. France and Great Britain declared Tobago neutral in 1748, Great Britain captured Tobago in 1762, so France left control of the tiny European population to Great Britain in 1763, France re-invaded 1781, surrendered to Great Britain 1797, Tobago was ceded from France to Great Britain 1814, joined with Trinidad as one colony 1889, Trinidad and Tobago were granted independence 1962.[3] [4] [5] [6]

Local Histories

  • Williams, Eric. History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago. Port-of-Spain: PNM Publishing Co., 1962.

External Links


  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: West Indies,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1999.
  2. Trinidad in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 8 October 2015).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Christina K. Schaefer, Genealogical Encyclopedia of the Colonial Americas: a Complete Digest of the Records of All the Countries of the Western Hemisphere (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing, 1998), 128. WorldCat 39622039; FHL Ref Book 929.11812 D26s.
  4. History of Trinidad and Tobago in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 8 October 2015).
  5. Tobago in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 8 October 2015).
  6. History: 1700-1799 in MyTobago: the definitive visitor's guide to Tobago (accessed 8 October 2015).