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Its 16th-Century inscription joined by scores of more recent ones, Spanish Rock (seen on the opposite page), perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic near Spittal Pond, bears witness to a visitor to Bermuda almost certainly Spanish or Portu- guese whose identity has been lost to time. The date '1543' and uncertain initials are all the record we have of his visit, but the 'bones' of scores of shipwrecks lying among the reef-studded shallow waters surrounding Bermuda are ample proof that many more 16th-Century Iberians came to know Bermuda the hard way. It was a better (or luckier?) seaman, however, the Spaniard Juan Bermudez, whom history records as the island's discoverer. He sighted, but apparently did not land on, Bermuda in the early 1500s (perhaps in 1503, and almost certainly by 1509), and to him fell the honor of the island's name. Not without some dispute, however: the English, wanting to honor Sir George Somers, the man who had been vital to the very survival of Bermuda's first English residents, gave the name Somers' Island to the colony. Though the Spaniard has won out in popular parlance, certain of Bermuda's formal official documents to this day carry both names.
Those scattered, and mostly unfortunate, Iberian contacts during the 1500s were the first human contacts with Bermuda which history records. Because the conquistadores, were primarily in search of precious metals and gems, of which Bermuda was bereft, the island and its extensive reefs were seen primarily as a navigational hazard on the route home from the New World undoubtedly a major factor in causing the Spanish to dub the island 'La Isla de Demonios' (The Island of Devils, or Devil Island). Small wonder, then, that they gave Bermuda a wide berth, and that Bermuda remained uninhabited throughout the 16th Centu- ry. Excerpt from Chapter One: Beginnings
Table of ContentsBeginnings
The Onion Patch
And a Few Onions