Bermuda Parishes
The Historical Background

 
Bermuda has been divided into nine parishes that are almost of equal areas. Here is a brief historical background of how such parishes were formed and how administration was carried out: 
 
In 1612, The Virginia Company of England sent a party of 60 settlers under the command of Sir Richard Moore, the island's first governor. They joined the three men Carter, Chard and Waters who were left behind in the island earlier by George Somers to maintain the claim of the island. This is when the official settlement first began in Bermuda. 
 
 
 
The three men by then had taken up residence at Smith's Island. Once the new group of settlers reached the island, they founded and commenced building St. George's Town. Bermuda struggled throughout the following seven decades to develop a viable economy. The Virginia Company, finding the colony unprofitable, handed its administration to the King James-I in 1614. 
 
The following year, in 1615, the King appointed a new company called the Somers Isles Company, to run the colony. Later in 1620, a representative government was introduced in Bermuda, when its House of Assembly held its first session, and Bermuda became a self-governing colony. With that Bermuda became the oldest British Colony with a House of Assembly since 1620. 
 
Bermuda was then divided into nine equal administrative areas. These comprised of nine 'parishes' or counties. These Bermuda parishes were areas of land that were partitioned and handed over to the investors of Somers Isles Company who took administrative charge of the parishes. Initially these parishes were called "tribes". 
 
Here are the Bermuda parishes, check out the links for detailed information: 
 
1. Sandys Parish - Where the Royal Naval Dockyard is located 
2. Southampton Parish - Home to several great south shore beaches 
3. Warwick Parish - More fabulous south shore beaches 
4. Paget Parish - Centrally located and has great hotels and beaches 
5. Devonshire Parish - More fabulous south 
6. Hamilton Parish- Mostly residential with wonderful landscapes 
7. Pembroke Parish -Where Hamilton City is located 
8. Smith's Parish- Farm lands and residential areas 
9. St. George's Parish - Where St. George's Town is located 
 
See a map of Bermuda parishes and their locations here: Bermuda Parish Map. This map also offers links to detailed maps of the individual parishes. 
 
Initially, the colony grew tobacco as its only crop. The Bermuda-grown tobacco was of low quality. The Company was frequently forced to burn the supply that arrived back in England. It had taken Bermuda some time to move away from this, especially as tobacco was the main form of business. 
 
 
 
Agriculture was not a profitable business for Bermudians in any case. The land area under cultivation was so small that Islanders quickly turned to shipbuilding, and maritime trades.  
 
But the Somers Isles Company, which gained its profits only from the land cultivation, prevented the construction of any vessels without a license. Its continuous interference in Bermudians livelihood finally led to its dissolution in 1684. 
 
For over 200 years, St George's Town was the capital of Bermuda. In 1815, the capital was moved to Hamilton City in Pembroke parish. 
 
In 1968, Bermudians ratified the constitution. Under the new constitution, Governor is the head of state. The Governor controls the defense, internal security, external affairs and the police. The cabinet with 12 members and headed by the Premier, advises the Governor in other matters. House of Assembly has 40 members who are all elected - two from each constituency. 
 
Bermuda's oldest political party Progressive Labor Party was formed in 1963. A year later, United Bermuda Party was formed. However in the 1970s, the political and racial tensions started to grow. In 1973, Bermuda's Governor Richard Sharples was assassinated. 
 
Due to increased rioting in the late 1970s, Human Rights Act of 1981 was introduced, which prohibits racial discrimination. 
 
Read Bermuda Historical Events to know about all the chronological events that took place in Bermuda's History which made major impact to the island and its people. 
 
 
 
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