chapter  3
22 Pages

Ligon: Atlantic Crossroads, Imaginary Prospects in the History

In early August 1647, a royalist refugee fl eeing the intestine broils of the English Civil War made an intermediate stop in the Cape Verde Islands.1 Displaced by what he described as a “barbarous riot” in which he lost all his worldly possessions, Richard Ligon, the refugee, was destined ultimately for Barbados where he would seek to repair his broken fortunes as a plantation manager in the service of another royalist, Colonel Thomas Modiford. Ten years later, Ligon would document these events within the larger framework of his True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados,2 the earliest account of the colonial settlement and plantation of England’s then most profi table sugar colony. While nearly one third of the total volume is devoted to the production of valuable source material on the new colony, the normative expectations of the key terms in that title are deferred to accommodate the exigencies of private history. This impetus for deferral is extended further to produce the Cape Verdes interlude as a narratively and structurally signifi cant pretext to the titular public history.3