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The Eleutherian Adventurers

Long before the first English colonists arrived, Eleuthera was inhabited by native Lucayans. However, around the mid-16th century, Spaniards came this way, capturing the peaceable people and shipping them out to the Caribbean as slaves.

Pirates plied the waters off Eleuthera and its adjacent islands, but after the removal of the Lucayans there were no inhabitants here for a century, until Capt. William Sayle led the Eleutherian Adventurers here from Bermuda to start a new life. The founding party consisted of about 70 people. They had a rough time of it. Dangerous reefs on the north coast of the island caused their ship and cargo to be lost. Trapped, they had to live off the land as best they could, initially inhabiting a cave. Many of them nearly starved, but they nevertheless drew up their own constitution, promising justice for all. Help came from Virginia colonists who sent food to the little band of adventurers.

Life on Eleuthera proved too much for many of the founding party, however. Many, including Captain Sayle, later returned to Bermuda. But reinforcements were on the way, both from Bermuda and from England, some bringing slaves with them. A permanent settlement had been founded. Freed slaves also came to this island and established settlements. The next wave of settlers were Loyalists fleeing the new United States to continue living under the British Crown. These settled principally in two offshore cays, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells.

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