History of the Turks and Caicos Islands

A timeline of significant historical events in the Turks and Caicos Islands. First collated and published by Ad Vantage Ltd. in 1994. Updated by “Where When How - Turks & Caicos Islands” staff.

A photograph of the Cheshire Hall Plantation ruins on Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands, British West IndiesThe Cheshire Hall Plantation Ruins on Providenciales

  1. 750 - 1300 AD

    Taino Indians visit the Islands seasonally. The Tainos are said to be the earliest inhabitants of the Islands and were eventually replaced by the Lucayans. Evidence of Lucayan ceremonial and trading center activities on Middle Caicos and Grand Turk. A Taino canoe paddle (dated 995 to 1235) found in North Creek, Grand Turk in 1996. Only two have been found in The Bahama chain.

  2. 1300 - 1500

    Lucayan settlements are on all of the Islands. Pottery shards, evidence of bead making and round holed conch are discovered on Grand Turk in 1989, in the remants of a Lucayan village.

  3. 1492

    Christopher Columbus lands at Guanahani Beach, Grand Turk. He finds a settlement of Lucayan Indians. He anchors off the west end of Provo at Malcolm Roads and briefly explores.

  4. 1512

    Ponce de Leon, (of “Fountain of Youth” fame) passes by the Caicos Islands on his way to Bimini.

  5. ca. 1520

    All of the Lucayan “island people” are gone.

  6. 1641

    The Ship, “Nuestra Senora” sunk north of Puerto Plata. An estimated 1,000 shipwrecks surround the Turks and Caicos Islands. Only two shipwrecks are recorded, the Molasses Reef Shipwreck and the Endymion.

  7. 1670's

    Bermuda freely enjoyed raking salt from the Turks Islands.

  8. 1687

    Treasure of gemstones, gold and silver in excess of $600,000 is recovered from the Silver Shoals by Sir William Phipps.

  9. 1706

    Turks Islands captured by the French and Spanish.

  10. 1710

    Turks Islands recaptured by Bermuda.

  11. 1718

    Anne Bonny and Mary Read capture Spanish treasure ship and settle on Parrot Cay.

  12. 1720's

    Francoise L’Olonnois occasionally used French Cay as his pirate base for raiding passing ships.

  13. 1725

    Grand Turk is seasonally occupied by 1,000 men raking salt, fishing for turtle and wreck diving. In 1767, Andrew Symmer, who was appointed as the first King’s Agent on Grand Turk, set up a code of regulations around salt raking.

  14. 1776

    Bermudian sloops ignore Royal Navy blockade and ship salt to Washington’s army.

  15. 1783

    French seize Grand Turk. Horatio Nelson tries unsuccessfully to capture Grand Turk. Islands are restored to Britain by the Treaty of Versailles.

  16. 1789

    Loyalist refugees begin to arrive in the Caicos Islands.

  17. 1790

    Land on Providenciales, Middle Caicos, North Caicos and Parrot Cay granted to British Loyalists.

  18. 1792

    Grand Turk becomes Port of Entry and Customs are set up here instead of Nassau.

  19. 1797

    Haitian revolution.

  20. 1799

    Britain decides in favor of Bahama rule for the TCI. Most residents are Bermudian and resist rule from the Bahamas.

  21. 1812

    Settlers set up cannons at Fort George Cay in anticipation of attack by pirate and American ships. War in America led to suspension of trade and famine in the Islands.

  22. 1813

    Hurricane forced Loyalists to other British Islands and Canada, a few took their slaves to Grand Turk.

  23. 1821

    Hundreds of slaves from the TCI flee to freedom in Haiti.

  24. 1834

    All British Colony slaves are granted freedom.

  25. 1841

    The illegal slaveship “Trouvadore” wrecks off East Caicos with 20 crew and 193 Africans bound for Cuba onboard. The shipwreck is identified in 2008.

  26. 1845

    First newspaper published, “Turks Island Gazette & Commercial Reporter.”

  27. 1846 - 1883

    Turks Island Whaling Company is formed and harpoons first whale off East Ambergris Cay.

  28. 1848 - 1873

    Queen Victoria grants a royal charter. The TCI becomes independent colony.

  29. 1850

    English Captain Delaney recovers $130,000 in pirate treasure at Sand Cay.

  30. 1852

    Grand Turk Lighthouse constructed.

  31. 1857

    “Waterloo” built in 1815, was acquired for the Governor’s residence.

  32. 1866

    “The Great Bahama Hurricane” devastates TCI and entire Bahama chain.

  33. 1874

    TCI annexed to Jamaica who provided medical and technical assistance and substantial grants following hurricanes.

  34. 1898

    First telegraph cable, Bermuda to Grand Turk to Jamaica. First fire engine.

  35. 1911

    Theodore DeBooy of the Heye Museum of American Indians visited and collected archeological specimens.

  36. 1941

    “Bahama Passage” starring Madeleine Carrol and Sterling Hayden filmed at Salt Cay.

  37. World War 2

    US Coast Guard installs submarine tracking base on South Caicos.

  38. 1948

    First commercial flight to TCI.

  39. 1950

    US missile tracking station established on Grand Turk. Closed down 1981.

  40. 1960

    Hurricane Donna devastates all agriculture.

  41. 1962

    Jamaica became independent but TCI wished to remain a British Crown Colony. Astronaut John Glenn first touched land on Grand Turk after his first space flight.

  42. 1966

    In exchange for 4,000 acres, Provident Ltd. begins to develop Providenciales. They construct an airstrip, build link roads between the three settlements and build a 10 room hotel, the Third Turtle. The first car arrives on Providenciales.

  43. 1968

    International Airport opens on Providenciales.

  44. 1973

    Meridian Club on Pine Cay is established.

  45. 1978

    Burt Webber discovers millions in treasure on the Silver Shoals.

  46. 1980

    Treasure hunting company located remains of 16th century wreck on Molasses Reef.

  47. 1981

    Barclays opens bank on Provo.

  48. 1982

    Scotiabank opens on Grand Turk, opens on Provo in 1988.

  49. 1984

    Club Med Turkoise opens. The Conch Farm begins commercial farming of conch, closes in 2008.

  50. 1985

    Cable television introduced to Providenciales.

  51. 1990

    Bi-Weekly newspaper “The Free Press” begins publication.

  52. 1991

    Rocky, Missie and Silver, captive Bottlenose Dolphins, are released off West Caicos.

  53. 1992

    Coralie site, oldest archeological site in The Bahama archipelago, is discovered on Grand Turk. Provo Golf Club opens.

  54. 1994

    First Turks and Caicos Monthly tourist destination guide book “Where When How - Turks and Caicos Islands” begins publication.

    Read our very first October 1994 issue of Where When How - Turks & Caicos Islands magazine online!
  55. 2006

    Grand Turk Cruise Centre opens on Grand Turk welcoming Carnival Cruise Lines, Radisson Seven Seas, Crystal, Silverseas and Oceania Cruises.

  56. 2008

    Two hurricanes in one week, Ike and Hanna, damage the Turks & Caicos Islands.

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