Cayman – Cornwall Connection

If your surname is Bodden, Bawden or Bowden …..

For more details, visit:

Historic Cayman

Cayman flag

1655 Oliver Cromwell‘s grand Western Design, English joint army-navy force, sent Admiral Sir William Penn and General Robert Venables to capture the island of Hispaniola.  They failed to take the city of Santo Domingo so they sailed on and captured Jamaica in May.

1656 – Jamaica – The Settlers from Nevis by S.A.G. Taylor p.15.

1656   Cromwell issued a proclamation in other colonies, inviting settlers for the new colony of JAMAICA. William BOWDEN, an early settler from Nevis (in the Eastern Caribbean), arrived in December with Major Luke Stokes, Governor of Nevis, in the Morant Bay area, St. Thomas, eastern Jamaica.

1657   Within three months, by March 1657, two-thirds of the 1600 settlers had died of fevers in the low-lying coastal area.Jamaica Bowden - map

Bowden A-Z Jamaican Heritage

A – Z of Jamaican Heritage by Olive Senior (1985), p.26.

1656 Jamaica – Settlers from Nevis

1656 Jamaica, Settlers from Nevis

Bawden – Bowden – Bodden may have got to Nevis from Barbados.


In the period 1640–60, the West Indies attracted over two-thirds of the total number of English emigrants to the Americas. By 1650 there were 44,000 settlers in the West Indies, as compared to 12,000 on the Chesapeake and 23,000 in New England.

Most English arrivals were indentured. After five years of labour, they were given “freedom dues” of about ₤10, usually in goods. (Before the mid-1630s, they also received 5 to 10 acres of land, but after that time the island filled and there was no more free land.)

Around the time of Cromwell a number of rebels and criminals were also transported there. Timothy Meads of Warwickshire was one of the rebels sent to Barbados at that time, before he received compensation for servitude of 1000 acres of land in North Carolina in 1666. Parish registers from the 1650s show, for the white population, four times as many deaths as marriages. The death rate was very high.

Caribbean basin map

Early 18th. Century   Isaac Bawden / Bowden / Bodden was probably one of several itinerant turtlers from Jamaica. He settled at East End, Grand Cayman, in the area called Old Isaacs on the George Gauld 1773 map.

1735 Nov.9  Isaac Bawden, mariner, married widow Sarah Lamar, both of Camanas, entry in Port Royal Church Parish Register. The ceremony was performed by Thomas Alves, Rector of Port Royal. (Hirst p.28)

1735 Nov.9

Benjamin Lock Bawden, born Dec. 17, 1730 and

William Price Bawden, born Nov. 11, 1732,

sons of Isaac Bawden and Sarah Lamar: their baptism was recorded as a separate entry in the same register.Bawden baptisms 1735 - Seas p.46The second son may have been the William Bodden Sr. who was to be a Caymanian Chief Magistrate until 1789 and the father of Governor Bodden, his namesake who served as Chief Magistrate until 1823.

(see Founded upon The Seas – A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People p.45-46)

1765 William EDEN from Devizes, Wiltshire, England (b.1737- d.1801), arrived in Grand Cayman from Jamaica.

1773 Gauld map on 1989 Cayman stamp

1773 Gauld map on 1989 Cayman stamp

Grand Cayman map.jpg

East End was marked as Old Isaacs on the 1773 Gauld map after

Isaac Bawden / Bowden / Bodden

East End wrecks Feb15-02

Wrecks on the reef at East End, Grand Cayman, Feb. 15, 2002. The channel through the reef can be seen.

BT sign, Cayman's first capital Jul.27-12

Bodden Town was Cayman’s first capital.

1773  George Gauld, a Royal Navy surveyor, renamed South Side  Bodden Town, because there were so many people named Bodden living there. The population of Grand Cayman was about 450 people, half of whom lived in Bodden Town.

1802 Edward Corbet census – the population had doubled to 933.

Guard House sign Jul.27-12.JPG

Guard house BT May6-12

Guard House, Bodden Town  (May 6, 2012)

William Bodden (Governor Bodden  I   1776-1789)

William Bodden (Governor Bodden  II   1789-1823)

(see Founded upon The Seas – A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People p.45-46)

Bodden Wm, death 1789 - Seas p.461789 April 23. At the Grand Camaynas, aged 67, Wm. Bodden, esq. chief magistrate of that island, the first known death notice of a settler, published in The Gentleman’s Magazine, London, 1789.

(Note: aged 67: it looks a though 6 has been written over a 5. If he was born Nov.11, 1732 (see above), and died on April 23, he would have been 56 when he died and it was the 7 that should have been overwritten as a 6.)

Mission House sign Jul.27-12

Mission House at Gun Square, Bodden Town.

There was no road between Bodden Town (the former capital) and East End until 1935.

East End Road

East End road

Cayman Islands search for relatives of their Cornish forefathers

The Telegraph, April 6, 2017

Cayman Islanders hunt for descendants of their first settler who left Cornwall for the Caribbean paradise 450 years ago

Daily Mail, April 6, 2017

Read more:

Bodden ancestors sort in UK

Cayman Reporter April 11, 2017

William EDEN from Devizes, Wiltshire, England

(b.1737- d.1801), arrived in Grand Cayman from Jamaica in 1765.

He married Dorothy Bodden in Savannah-la-Mar, Jamaica. They had 3 children.

1766 William Eden II, their first child, was born.

1773 Dorothy died.

William Eden’s second wife was Elizabeth “Bessy” Clark.

1780 Pedro St. James, a stone house, was built by William Eden at Great Pedro Point, Grand Cayman.

Pedro_St._James Hirst 1910

Pedro St. James

Photo c. 1910 George S.S. Hirst




















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