French Settlers

In an attempt to strengthen their control in Trinidad, the Spanish King issued the Cedula of Population of 1783, which incentivized citizens of any ally nation to settle in Trinidad, as long as they were Roman Catholic. 

The Cedula attracted mainly French settlers: planters with their slaves, and ‘Free Coloureds’ and ‘Mulattos’ from the neighbouring islands of Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica began migrating to Trinidad. The French Revolution further accelerated this exodus and these new immigrants established the local communities of Blanchisseuse, Champs Fleurs, Cascade, Carenage and Laventille.

This mass migration resulted in Trinidad and Tobago having the unique feature of a large French-speaking ‘Free Coloured’ slave-owning class.  By the later 1790s, Trinidad’s white upper class consisted mainly of French Creoles.  The French influence began to dominate the island and French patois, a blend of French and Twi or Yourba words, became the island’s primary language. The French also left the population with a large enthusiasm for the Catholic tradition of Carnival.


For More Reading:

Wikipedia: France - Trinidad and Tobago Relations

Sahadeo Basdeo and Graeme Mount (2001). The Foreign Relations of Trinidad and Tobago (1962-2000)LexiconISBN 976-631-023-8. "The French presence in Trinidad and Tobago dates back two centuries. It is not surprising that French influence ..."

World trade and arbitration materials v. 11, nos. 1-3 (Werner Pub. Co., 1999), 24.

Vincent Huyghes-Belrose, "The Colonization Of Tobago By France : Bibliographical And Archival Material In France, Martinique And Guadeloupe," Montray Kréyol (30 March 2008).

 "A Brief History of Trinidad & Tobago," Tradewinds.

Trinidad and TobagoEncyclopædia Britannica. "Tobago, also sighted by Columbus in 1498, did not have any permanent European settlement until the 15th century. Its development as a sugar colony began when it was ceded to Britain in 1763 and continued throughout the period from 1763 to 1814, during which time Tobago changed hands between Britain and France several times."

Bridget Brereton, Introduction to the History of Trinidad and Tobago (Heinemann, 1996), 27.

Shannon Dudley, Music from behind the bridge: steelband spirit and politics in Trinidad and Tobago (Oxford University Press US, 2008), 209.

Sean Sheehan, Trinidad & Tobago (Marshall Cavendish, 2001), 82.

Embassy of France in Port of Spain

Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government of France on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments