- Geert Riddering on Riddering's Beach
- Doctor Bodie on Riddering's Beach
- GiGi LeBlond on Riddering's Beach
- A Poor Workman
- The Bonefire
- The Ferryman
- The Post
- The Sawbones
- The Caves
- The Concord Mutiny
- The Gardener
- The North Woods
- The South Beach
- The West Beach
- Walking Wounded, Walking Dead
- Dirty Deeds
- Grim Raiders
- The Scuttling Swarm
Bermuda was discovered by Europeans in the early 1500s, probably in 1503, according to some sources. It was certainly known by 1511, when Peter Martyr d'Anghiera published his Legatio Babylonica, which mentioned Bermuda, and the island was also included on Spanish charts of this year. The discovery is attributed to a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermúdez. Both Spanish and Portuguese ships used the islands as a replenishment spot for fresh meat and water, but legends of spirits and devils, now thought to have stemmed only from the callings of raucous birds (most likely the Bermuda Petrel, or Cahow), and of perpetual, storm-wracked conditions (most early visitors arrived under such conditions), kept them from attempting any permanent settlement on the Isle of Devils.
Bermúdez and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo ventured to Bermuda in 1514 or 1515 with the intention to drop off a breeding stock of hogs on the island as a future stock of fresh meat for passing ships. However, the inclement weather prevented them from landing.
Some years later, a Portuguese ship on the way home from San Domingo wedged itself between two rocks on the reef. The crew tried to salvage as much as they could and spent the next four months building a new hull from Bermuda cedar to return to their initial departure point. One of these stranded sailors is most likely the person who carved the initials "R" and "P", "1543" into Spanish Rock. The initials probably stood for "Rex Portugaline" and later were incorrectly attributed to the Spanish, leading to the misnaming of this rocky outcrop of Bermuda.
For the next century, the island is believed to have been visited frequently but not permanently settled. The first two British colonies in Virginia had failed, and a more determined effort was initiated by King James I of England (and VI of Scotland), who granted a Royal Charter to The Virginia Company. In 1609, a flotilla of ships left England under the Company's Admiral, Sir George Somers, to relieve the colony of Jamestown, settled two years before. Somers had previous experience sailing with both Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. The flotilla was broken up by a storm, and the flagship, the Sea Venture, was wrecked off Bermuda (as depicted on the territory's Coat of Arms), leaving the survivors in possession of a new territory. (William Shakespeare's play The Tempest is thought to have been inspired by William Strachey's account of this shipwreck.) The island was claimed for the English Crown, and the charter of the Virginia Company was extended to include it. In 1615, the colony was passed to a new company, the Somers Isles Company (The Somers Isles remains an official name for the colony), formed by the same shareholders. The close ties with Virginia were commemorated even after Bermuda's separation by reference to the archipelago in many Virginian place names, such as Bermuda City, and Bermuda Hundred. The first British coins in America were struck here.
John Smith wrote one of the first Histories of Bermuda (in concert with Virginia and New England). Most of the survivors of the Sea Venture had carried on to Jamestown in 1610 aboard two Bermuda-built ships. Among these was John Rolfe, who left a wife and child buried in Bermuda, but in Jamestown would marry Pocahontas, a daughter of Powhatan. Rolfe was also single-handedly responsible for beginning Virginia's tobacco industry (the economic basis of the colony had been intended to be lumber). Intentional settlement of Bermuda began with the arrival of the Plough, in 1612.
With its limited land area, Bermuda has had difficulty since then with its population growth. In the first two centuries of settlement, it relied on steady emigration to keep the population manageable. Before the American Revolution, more than ten thousand Bermudians emigrated, primarily to the American South, where Great Britain was displacing Spain as the dominant European imperial power. A steady trickle of outward migration continued as, by the end of the 18th century, with seafaring being the only real industry, at least a third of the island's manpower was at sea at any one time. This limited land area and resources led to the creation of what may have been the earliest conservation laws of the New World, when in 1616 and 1620 Acts were passed banning the hunting of certain birds and young tortoises.
In 1649, the English Civil War raged and King Charles I was beheaded in Whitehall, London. The execution resulted in the outbreak of a Bermudian Civil War; it was ended by embodied militias. This created a strong sense of devotion to the crown for the majority of colonists and it forced those who would not swear allegiance, such as Puritans and Independents, into exile in the Bahamas.
In the 17th century, the Somers Isles Company suppressed shipbuilding as it needed Bermudians to farm if it were to generate income from the land. Agricultural production met with only limited success, however. The Bermuda cedar boxes used to ship tobacco to England were reportedly worth more than their contents. The colony of Virginia far surpassed Bermuda in both quality and quantity of tobacco produced. After the dissolution of the Somers Isle Company, Bermudians rapidly abandoned agriculture for shipbuilding, replanting farmland with the native juniper (Juniperus bermudiana, also called Bermuda cedar) trees that grew thickly over the whole island. Establishing effective control over the Turks Islands, Bermudians deforested their landscape to begin the salt trade that would become the world's largest, and remained the cornerstone of Bermuda's economy for the next century. Bermudian sailors would turn their hands to far more trades than supplying salt, however. Whaling, privateering, and the merchant trade were all pursued vigorously. Vessels would sail the normal shipping routes, but had to engage an enemy vessel no matter the size or strength, and as a result many ships were destroyed. The Bermuda sloop became highly regarded for its speed and manoeuvrability. In fact it was the Bermuda sloop HMS Pickle, one of the fastest vessels in the Royal Navy, that brought the news of the victory at Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Nelson back to England.
Somerset Island is one of the main islands of the chain that makes up Bermuda. It lies in the far west of the territory, and covers 2.84 square kilometres. It comprises about half of the parish of Sandys, and is the largest of a chain of islands which extend along the northwestern coast of the Great Sound. The village of Somerset lies in the northern part of the island, which is connected to Boaz Island in the northeast and the Bermudian mainland in the south by bridges (the latter of these being the historic Somerset Bridge).
The coast of Somerset island includes several bays, notably Mangrove Bay in the northeast and the natural harbour, Ely's Harbour, in the southwest. Other features of the island include Daniel's Head, the island's westernmost point, and the historic Fort Scaur.
During the Bermudan Civil War (1649) the Royals defeated the Roundheads but only after much of the colony was destroyed in the process. Despite their victory the Puritans and Independents moved en masse to the Bahamas leading to a collapse of the colonial government. Bermudan sailors, hardy venturers and seasoned privateers, turned from licensed privateering to piracy for survival. This brought a crackdown by the English Navy which further drove the away the few remaining colonists.
In 1673 Vice-Admiral Cornelis Evertsen the Youngest, in command of the 44 gun Swaenenburgh and a small fleet disobeyed orders from his masters at the WIC and took the Somers Isles and recaptured New Netherlands from the British instead of taking Cayenne and St. Helena. With the Treaty of Westminister (1674) many islands and colonies swapped hands yet again. The British regained New Netherlands renaming it New York but lost Somers Isles, Tobago, Saba, St. Eustatius (Oranjestad) and Tortola. Somerset remains in Dutch hands but they have invested little into it and it remains mostly abandoned and in ruins.