Friday, October 07, 2011

Spanish Raids, 1741-1748

With England and Spain at war (the War of Jenkins' Ear, 1739-1748 & King George's War, 1744-1748) Spanish privateers appeared off the coast of North Carolina, and terrorized inhabitants of Ocracoke a number of times. Sailing vessels were captured, and cargo confiscated. A Spanish tent city was established on Ocracoke Island in June of 1741. In addition to controlling ship channels, the Spaniards burned several island homes and killed a large number of cattle.  Shortly afterwards the tents were set on fire and the intruders were driven off the island. Depredations were sporadic for several years.

In the summer of 1747 the Spaniards returned to Ocracoke and "killed all their Cattle and Hogs, and done a great deal of mischief."

By 1748 the Colonial Assembly made plans to build a large fort on Ocracoke, but it never came to fruition. With the signing of a peace treaty between Great Britain and Spain, relations between the two countries (and their colonies in the New World) gradually improved.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of slavery on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:59 AM

    This must have been extremely frightening for the Ocracoke residents to have such raids. I can't imagine the fear.

    You write the cattle and hogs were killed...any records which tell of Ocracoke residents murdered during such dangerous times?

    Gives this NC mainlander chills!

  2. Anonymous8:38 AM

    From D.C. -- It seems the island was never untouched by any war in history. Wasn't this at a time when the residents were all pilots and their families?

  3. I don't believe any residents were killed during the Spanish invasions.

    Most of the island men were pilots during that period.

  4. Kevin8:23 PM

    Philip, any idea where the Spanish camp was located? Perhaps it was close to the harbor?

    I read another account of the 1741 attack that said they captured 5 frigates and 7 sloops (that seems like an awful lot!), burned a warehouse full of tar, pitch, etc..sent 8 captured ships to St. Augustine with stolen supplies, of which two survived the journey, one carrying 1300 tons of rice.

    1300 tons of rice!

    On Ocracoke!

  5. Phillip, where do you get your information?

  6. Anonymous7:55 AM

    Thanks, Philip, for answering my question (Anon 7:59). I'm relieved to know no Ocracoke island residents were murdered during that dangerous period in O.I. history!

  7. Kevin, I am guessing that the Spanish encampment was located near Springer's Point. Pilot Town, the original settlement on Ocracoke, was at Springer's (originally called Williams' Point). Both the early pilots and the Spanish raiders would have wanted to be near deep water channels that were used by the many sailing vessels that used Ocracoke Inlet. In 1741 Ocracoke Inlet was the main entrance into Pamlico Sound for ships heading for mainland ports in North Carolina.

  8. Jason, I have a rather large library of local interest books...and close ties with older residents who share Ocracoke oral history.

    Look for a blog post sometime in the next week or so about this subject.