Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 8 May 1782

The victory of Sir George Rodney over the combined French and Spanish fleet at the Saintes on 12 April 1782 ensured that Jamaica would not face an invasion. Taylor remained fearful of the number of enemy troops who remained in the region and worried about the diminution of the white population of Jamaica. Nevertheless, with Rodney’s victory, the fall of Lord North’s government, and a parliamentary vote to cease military initiatives in North America, the immediate anxieties of war appeared to be passing, and Taylor turned his mind to the sort of peace that might be achieved.

[…] You will long before this have heard of the signal victory that Sir George Rodney has gained over the French fleet which was in its way to join the Spanish & French people of colour at Hispaniola to invade us, 6 line of battle ships with the admiral taken, 1 burnt & 1 sunk, & we yesterday had an acct. of the Corronne an 84 gun ship having foundered from the damage she received in the action, a 32 gun & 1 18 gun frigate taken, is great & glorious news; the consequences are martial law is taken of, Sir Samuel Hood is cruising off Hispanioloa & Sir George is getting his ships ready for sea as fast as possible. The French & Spaniards have a great number of troops at Hispaniola which cannot act untill sir George leaves these seas, & how long he will continue in them is uncertain; we really want a great many more soldiers for the defence of this island than we have for our militia is daily decreasing by death; a great many of the young people went on the fatal expedition to St. Johns [Saint Juan on the Mosquito Shore] & the war prevents others from coming here by going into the army. […] pray my dear friend have you any real grounds that the Americans wish for peace & would give up the French alliance & become our allies (for subjects there is no chance of), in that case it will be very right to carry on no further warlike or offensive preparations, but if they will not give up the French alliance & continue an offensive war against us what is then our situation. You must best know the grounds on which the House proceeded, there are good men on both sides & I sincerely hope a lasting & happy peace with America may be the result & which must be the true interest of both nations, for we cannot fight all the world together […] I am happy to hear you are well, I hope to God we & our families shall live & die under the British government & enjoy the happiness of peace & tranquility [sic] again. […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1782/18, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Kingston, 8 May 1782)

Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, 19 March 1782

An invasion scare in Jamaica was at its height during the early part of 1782. The new Lieutenant-Governor, Archibald Campbell, made detailed plans for a defence of the island against attack by French and Spanish troops. These were time consuming and expensive. White men were obliged to serve in the militia, and Taylor, as a militia officer, was kept busy helping to coordinate their activities. Enslaved people were also commandeered by the military to work on the preparations. A fire in February 1782 destroyed much of the town of Kingston, adding to a litany of setbacks and anxieties for white colonists like Taylor, who, despite his faith in the vision and abilities of the Lieutenant-Governor, now feared that a successful invasion was likely.

[…] The Spanish troops from Cadiz are arrived at Hisponiola, I do not know if those from the Havanna are yet arrived, tho the General Don Galvez is in an 80 gun ship, Solano was to follow him with 8 more. Martial law was put on two weeks ago, drafts of negroes from all the estates are made to work on the fortifications & nothing but military matters are going on, so that we may make the best defence we can, but all will not do, if we do not get a large supply of troops, the force to come against us is said to consist of 40000 troops which the French & Spanish forces would have consisted of had the Brest fleet arrived without accident. Untill last Friday we had no provisions to exist the navy or the troops when 16 sail of vessells arrived who sailed some time ago from Cork & were detained 11 weeks at the Windward Islands untill Sir George Rodney arrived, & four running vessels with flour, bread, &ca. Thank God, I am very well now; I would have wrote you a longer letter but have not time being the oldest officer in this part & works erecting at Portmorant, with dispatches, expresses & demands for every thing, my house is constantly full of people & my time & attention is entirely taken up, so that I am not able to attend to any private matters, indeed I have sent my books up into the heart of the country, for in case of an attack Kingston may be burnt, indeed the richest part of it suffered that calamity a few weeks ago, indeed we have nothing but disasters attending us & we are really surrounded with enemies & nothing but the providential hand of God can save us. […]

(Vanneck-Arc/3A/1782/11, Simon Taylor to Chaloner Arcedeckne, Lyssons, 19 March 1782)