Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Department Name when Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Bradford J. Wood

Department Affiliation



This research investigates how colonists adapted to their new tropical environment after a destructive earthquake occurred in Jamaica on June 7, 1692. This earthquake killed approximately two thousand people and destroyed half of the bustling harbor town of Port Royal. The earthquake dramatically changed the landscape of England's most successful Caribbean town and affected the colonists.

Historian Richard Dunn contended that colonists did not adapt to their tropical environment for at least a century after first inhabiting the Caribbean. This study argues against Dunn's theory in that the earthquake served as a catalyst in accelerating the colonists' rate of adaptation to their environment. This adaptation is evident because colonists changed the inherited ideas brought with them from England regarding building styles and town design, and the earthquake accelerated Jamaica's transition to a planter-dominated society.

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