Take a look back at this month in history.

  • On February 11, 1835 an American slave ship, the Enterprise was travelling between Alexandria, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina, when it was caught in bad weather and forced to land in Bermuda in hurricane force winds. The ship was carrying 78 enslaved men, women and children, including two of Bermudian Edward DeShield’s ancestors, Mary and Mahalia Warfield, his paternal great grandmother and great aunt. As recorded by DeShields in 1998, Bermudian Pilot Swan went out to help. “After they hung the anchor in the harbour, Pilot Swan says, ‘Captain, I’ve brought you in, but I cannot tell you who will bring you out.’
    ‘What do you mean? Sail on, sail on.’
    ‘Captain, you are now in free waters.’”

    Slavery in Bermuda and the Caribbean has been abolished just 6 months previously on 1 August 1834. After Bermuda customs officers had called a gunboat and Royal Navy forces to detain the Enterprise, a Bermudian former slave, Richard Tucker, served a writ to the captain, forcing him to deliver the slaves to the Supreme Court where they could choose to stay free or leave as slaves, The court met from 9 pm to midnight on February 18. 72 of the enslaved chose freedom.
  • On February 11, 1990, South African anti-apartheid activist, politician and writer Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years of imprisonment. He was held captive at Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. He would become South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999.
  • On February 1, 1990, Olympian Clarence Saunders won a gold medal for his record 2.36 metres high jump at the Commonwealth Games held in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • On February 2, 1908, a petition advocating the banning of motor cars in Bermuda, was printed in the Royal Gazette. Signatures included those of Samuel L Clemens, more famously known as Mark Twain, of New York City and Woodrow Wilson, Princeton, of New Jersey.
  • February 16, 2004 was a landmark year for Bermuda’s second oldest bank, the Bank of Bermuda. Shareholders voted to approve the sale of the bank to HSBC.
  • When the USS airship, Los Angeles, visited Bermuda in February 1925, it was unable to land because of bad weather. However, it dropped a bag of airmail onto the island. Returning shortly afterwards, it carried Bermuda’s first airmail sent to the US.
  • The heading FRESH LEECHES appeared in a Gazette advertisement on February the 8th, 1842. It said: A Few Dozen of the above can be had, CHEAP, at the Medical Hall, if applied for immediately. Leeches were prescribed by doctors for bloodletting, said to cure and prevent disease.
  • James E. Forbes was Bermuda’s first black warden of the King’s pilots. Often he would salvage vessels shipwrecked in Bermuda. In February 1829 he brought in the derelict ship the Evergreen for which he was awarded £9 18s 6d.
  • Midshipman Richard Sutherland Dale was severely injured in February 1815 on board the US warship, the President, while fighting the British. A British squadron captured the ship and took it into St George’s Harbour. Midshipman Dale was cared for but later died. He is buried at St. Peter’s Church. A tribute to his memory is held every year.