The man who was buried twice

Photo taken at Port Royal, Jamaica.

Tombstone of the man who was buried twice

In fact, this tombstone marks his third burial place, because after his death, he was buried in a nondescript area, then around 1953, at the time of a visit of Queen Elizabeth II, his remains were moved to a more conspicuous resting place in the graveyard of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Port Royal.

Lewis Galdy’s survival of the 1692 earthquake was rightly celebrated; many other victims fell into fissures and were then crushed to pulp when the second tremor closed the holes. The initial report printed in England pointedly mentions dogs eating the heads sticking out of the ground and has a lively illustration to accompany the text, which shows that tabloid-style journalism is nothing new.

The 1692 earthquake marked the end of Port Royal’s claim to being the “wickedest city on earth”, a reputation based on the drunken and depraved behaviour of its buccaneer citizens. The buccaneer king was Henry Morgan, who sealed his own reputation by sacking Panama City in flagrant contravention of a recent peace treaty between England and Spain. His cronies razed the city to the ground and stole everything of value. Apparently only one gold plate was left, and that because the owners painted it black. The haul of booty from this single raid came to 750,000 pieces of eight.

The authorities frowned upon Morgan’s breach of the treaty with Spain and ordered him to return to England to answer charges. Morgan had a force of luck rare to any man, however, and by the time he had crossed the Atlantic, England was once again at war with Spain and he was welcomed as a hero, knighted, and returned to Jamaica as Governor of the island!

His new mission on returning to the island was to rid the Caribbean of the pirates he had sailed with previously, a task to which he applied himself with his customary zeal, leaving the bodies of his former comrades to rot in cages by the harbour. The huge earthquake of 1692 destroyed much of Port Royal and with it went the pirates.

Nevertheless, as one Port Royalist remarked this morning,

The pirates are still here … only now they wear suits and ties!

Tombstone detail, Port Royal, Jamaica

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