Built on sugar, slaves, and piracy, Jamaica's Port Royal was the jewel in England's quest for empire until a devastating earthquake sank the city beneath the sea
A haven for pirates and the center of the New World's frenzied trade in slaves and sugar, Port Royal, Jamaica, was a notorious cutthroat settlement where enormous fortunes were gained for the fledgling English empire. But on June 7, 1692, it all came to a catastrophic end. Drawing on research carried out in Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States, Apocalypse 1692: Empire, Slavery, and the Great Port Royal Earthquake by Ben Hughes opens in a post-Glorious Revolution London where two Jamaica-bound voyages are due to depart. A seventy-strong fleet will escort the Earl of Inchiquin, the newly appointed governor, to his residence at Port Royal, while the Hannah, a slaver belonging to the Royal African Company, will sail south to pick up human cargo in West Africa before setting out across the Atlantic on the infamous Middle Passage. Utilizing little-known first-hand accounts and other primary sources, Apocalypse 1692 intertwines several related themes: the slave rebellion that led to the establishment of the first permanent free black communities in the New World; the raids launched between English Jamaica and Spanish Santo Domingo; and the bloody repulse of a full-blown French invasion of the island in an attempt to drive the English from the Caribbean. The book also features the most comprehensive account yet written of the massive earthquake and tsunami which struck Jamaica in 1692, resulting in the deaths of thousands, and sank a third of the city beneath the sea. From the misery of everyday life in the sugar plantations, to the ostentation and double-dealings of the plantocracy; from the adventures of former-pirates-turned-treasure-hunters to the debauchery of Port Royal, Apocalypse 1692 exposes the lives of the individuals who made late seventeenth-century Jamaica the most financially successful, brutal, and scandalously corrupt of all of England's nascent American colonies.