Trinidad - British colony






Quick reference

General issues: British colony 1851-1913

Country name on general issues: Trinidad

Special issues: Private issues/Lady McLeod 1847

Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1851-1913

Population: 255 000 in 1901

Political history Trinidad

Postal history Trinidad

Please click on the image to enlarge

Trinidad is located in the Caribbean as the southernmost island of the Lesser Antilles, just off the South American coast – for the exact location, please refer to the map of the Caribbean. Prior to colonization, Trinidad was inhabited by the Amerindian Arawak and Carib peoples. The first European to explore Trinidad was Christopher Columbus on his third voyage to the Americas in 1498. Columbus claimed Trinidad for Spain, but the Spanish did not permanently settle the island until 1592. They did, however, in the 16th century, visit the island on slave raids and deported most of the indigenous population as slaves. Spanish settlement, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, would remain limited. The British invaded Trinidad in 1797 and in 1802 Trinidad was formally ceded to Britain. In 1889, Trinidad was united with Tobago to form the colony of Trinidad & Tobago. Tobago constituted a distinct political entity, but was fully integrated as an administrative district in 1899. The colony of Trinidad & Tobago gained independence within the British Commonwealth in 1962 and was proclaimed a republic in 1976.

Economically, the Spanish did little to develop the island until 1783, when immigrants from other nations than Spain were allowed to settle on Trinidad. The influx of mainly French immigrants led to the first development of plantations – cotton and sugar cane being the main crops. To man the plantations, slaves were brought to Trinidad. Although brought to Trinidad in relatively limited numbers, the slaves would come to outnumber the people of European descent. The British continued to develop Trinidad as a plantations colony. After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834, indentured laborers were brought to Trinidad from East India who would  come to constitute the largest part of the population. Cocoa was introduced as the second most important crop in the second part of 19th century. In modern day Trinidad & Tobago agriculture is of secondary importance – the mainstay of the economy is, nowadays, the production of oil and natural gas.

Postal history Trinidad

Postal history Trinidad

1901 – ‘Britannia’ type design

The first stamps issued in Trinidad were issued in 1847 by a steamship company run by a captain David Bryce. The issue is known as the Lady McLeod issue after the name of the steamer that provided postal services between Port of Spain and the port of San Fernando. The first general issue for Trinidad appeared in 1851 and is of the ‘Britannia’ type – a design also used briefly in Barbados and Mauritius. In Trinidad, the Britannia type would – in different designs – be the signature type used almost exclusively until 1922. Stamps of different types were issued only in 1869 and in 1883-1884 – showing the portrait of Queen Victoria  – and in 1898  – a commemorative stamp issued at the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago had separate postal administrations until 1913, but the stamps of Trinidad came to be used in Tobago from 1896. After the full integration of the postal administrations in 1913 the stamps of Trinidad & Tobago were used.

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