Port Royal, Sodom of New World

Port Royal

“On Jamaica’s sandy southeast coast, the city of Port Royal grew to surpass Boston as England’s most prosperous New World settlement. Many of the Caribbean’s thousands of pirates and smugglers operated from there, with half of the 200 ships a year passing through the harbor transporting slaves, liquor, and other contraband trade to Spanish America. Drinking, gaming houses, slave trading, brothels, taverns and grog shops, attracted ‘pirates, cutthroats, whores and some of the vilest persons in the whole of the world.’ Port Royal was called ‘the richest and wickedest city in the world’ or ‘the Sodom of the New World.’ Suddenly, June 7, 1692, an earthquake and tsunami sank Port Royal under the sea, followed by violent aftershocks. Over 2,000 drowned. Graves were opened and bodies washed about. The sea inundated the town’s wharf, ‘with all those goodly brick houses upon it … and two entire streets beyond that.’ Enormous waves tossed ships from the harbor into buildings, and in many places the ground opened up and ‘swallow’d up multitudes of people together.’ Members of the Jamaica Council declared, ‘We are become … an instance of God Almighty’s severe judgment, therefore every future seventh of June … be kept and observed by all the inhabitants of this Island, as an anniversary day of fasting and humiliation,’ in hopes that acknowledging ‘manifold sins and wickednesses committed against his Divine Majesty,’ may ‘appease God’s imminent wrath and prevent heavier judgements.’ A Quaker resident, John Pike, wrote June 19, 1692: ‘Ah brother! If thou didst see those great persons that are now dead upon the water thou couldst never forget it. Great men who were so swallowed up with pride, that a man could not be admitted to speak with them, and women whose top-knots seemed to reach the clouds, now lie stinking upon the water, and are made meat for fish and fowls of the air.’”

“Lawless Pirates, Earthquake Judgment and Revival,” American Minute with Bill Federer