Soufrière Saint Vincent

Saint Vincent’s La Soufrière is the northernmost volcano on the island.  At 4,049 ft, it is the highest peak on Saint Vincent. This volcano erupted in 1718, 1812, 1902, 1971, and 1979. The eruption of May 7, 1902, killed 1,680 people, almost all Caribs. Fatalities were avoided in April 1979; because of advance warnings.

Hiroona's Horatio Nelson Huggins

The following is the text from an e-mail from Michael Huggins:

I was delighted to find the St Vincent Quizz on your web site and find my great great grandfather's, Horatio Nelson Huggins',  epic poem, Hiroona, as one of the questions.   I wondered whether these notes would be of interest:

I lived with  in Trinidad during my teens with my great great Aunt, Lottie Huggins, one of H.N. Huggins' daughters.  I  leaned much about  her father (and my  great-great grandfather) both from herself and many older people who remembered him.  The memory people  held  was of a great man, well read,   with a  fierce sense of social justice born from his strong Christian beliefs.

HNH  was particularly close to his daughter, Lottie, and often talked to her about what he was writing  about  in Hiroona - possibly the first recorded incident of total ethnic cleansing in the British Empire. 

  He was a descendant of a young Royalist officer who fled England after the battle of Naseby around 1645,     HNH was 6th generation of the Huggins family to be born and live in the West Indies.       He was a very busy hard-working cleric  who travelled long distances on horseback.

He was the grandson of James Huggins (1753 – 1837) , one time Provost Marshall of Nevis,    who had moved to St Vincent from   Nevis probably in the late 1770s, but was certainly there during the Carib war.  “Lottie”  Huggins always maintained that her father based the character “Norman” very much on his grandfather, James.   His father was  Daniel Huggins  (1790 –1853) of St Vincent , not, as Paula Burnett states in her excellent  Penguin Book  of Caribbean Verse,  the son the earlier  Horatio Nelson Huggins   ( (1787 –1867),  who was a godson of the then Capt. Horatio Nelson and both uncle of and godfather to the second H.N. Huggins, the author of Hiroona.

HNH’s  mother, Lucy Crichton,  was the daughter of   Crichton, a young Scottish planter and accomplished artist who had settled in St Vincent.  He   fought in the Carib War, and was nearly killed in a brilliant Carib ambush, from which very few people survived.    Paula Burnett’s misquotes part of the script – In the poem it was Crayton not Norman whom Ranée  loved.   

Aunt Lottie  explained to me  that her father had based the  character  “Crayton” very much on the young Crichton.     She  used to  have a port-folio of Crichton’s paintings of St Vincent in the 1770s, but these were borrowed from her, probably  in the late thirties,  by a businessman friend called Claude Connell,  but sadly, he never returned them to her.. 

Paula Burnett ( ) is also  incorrect about the reason   why Hiroona was not published until 1930 (not 1937!)   The long delay in publication   was nothing to do with his prophetic warning of the ultimate collapse of the British Empire.   Trinidad  had been a Spanish colony before taken over by the  English, and its society  contained  descendants of many European countries, many who were came  from political refugees, and well  could take Hiroona on the chin,  as they did from some of his earlier published work; for  Paula Burnett is slightly  incorrect on another matter;  HNH did have  other published works, such as the protest poem “The “Grand Usine” which was published  in the Port of Spain Gazette on the Queen Birthday in,  I recall, 1883.   The publication of the poem caused a furore that achieved its objective in   shaming  the owners of this large sugar factory to deal with  the  immense pollution problem they were calling . 

The reason  why it took over 30  years to publish Hiroona is very simple and easily understood.   HNH’s sudden and unexpected death  left a heart-broken widow and two of his younger daughters away at Oxford.  With her eldest step-brother serving as a Judge and with a family of his own, Lottie took the responsibility of managing the  immediate  family affairs, which she seemed to do remarkably well.   However, she taught herself to type, and in what little spare time she had, and over a period of very many years, she painstakingly deciphered her father’s difficult hand-writing and typed out from what was in reality an  unedited script.   

HNH  stepped down from his right to the family estates in St Vincent in favour of his younger brother William so that he could continue his calling as a cleric.    He was not at all like the comfortable parsons one reads about in Victorian novels.   Hiroona was written over a period of many years, and HNH died suddenly before he had an opportunity to even edit the work.  There had already been an attempt on his life when a man attached him with a cutlass in St Paul's Church, San Fernando, Trinidad, where he was Rector,  with the words “the masons have sent me to kill you”,  but HNH was a strong, wiry man and  overpowered his assailant  before he could do harm.  But sometime later, returning tired from visiting distant parishioners on horseback, he died of food poisoning or poisoned food – no one is sure.  


HNH married twice.  His first wife was his first  cousin, Adelaide Lacroix,   daughter of the French  Count Lacroix,  whose grand-father had  fled the French Revolution.  (I am descended from that marriage)  However Adelaide died   when her  three children were still very young.   HNH later married Charlotte Courtney Wemyss, a grand-daughter of the then Earl of Wemyss.  They had 6 children,  four of which survived childhood.   The eldest, Charlotte Emily Eva (1868 – 1968) was  of course  “Lottie” Huggins.    Her second sister, the beautiful “May” (Mary Edith 1872 –97), died of a fever she caught through a sudden tropical storm that caught her   returning from a ball in an open carriage.   Ethel Mabel (1875-1923) married the Rev’d Alec Harry Grey, youngest brother of  Viscount Grey of Falloden, who,  as Sir Edward Grey, had been the British Secretary of State for War in 1914. Finally the artistic “Vinn” , Evelyn Courtney Wemyss 1877-1943,  never married  - though, having seem some of her papers and autograph  books ,  certainly not for the want of suitors. (HNH was also the uncle of Sir George Huggins, the founder of  the Geo. F Huggins Company, Trinidad) I am attaching a photograph of the author of Hiroona for your interest. Again, I very much appreciated your most interesting web site. My work keeps me in Britain and the far east of Russia,  but I would love to return to St Vincent, Nevis and Trinidad one day. Michael Huggins (born 1938)

The above is recorded from memory, so there may be some mistakes, and I am not sure if I have some of the verses in the correct order. It was published in the Port of Spain Gazette, Queens Birthday 1883. The Usine was a large sugar refinery at St Madeline, in the Naparima district near San Fernando. For many years the factory owners had allowed a very unpleasant smell to issue unchecked, despite many complaints from the nearby town and villages.

Aunt Lottie kept the original press cutting (I am fairly sure it was dated 1883 - but I remember the Queens Birthday mention in the paper. I was always struck by its modest title "Poem" or "A Poem". She told me that an angry Slate (General Manager of the Usine) appeared at her father's door the following morning, threatening a libel action; but HNH laughing response was "Sir, you cannot deny it!" The Usine capitulated and the smell was soon dealt with.

Michael Huggins

A Poem

by Horatio Nelson Huggins

The Grand Usine

St Madeline,

Our Naparima's boast -

As one soon knows

Who has a nose

And ventures down the coast -

Whatever else its owners think,

Is famous for its mighty stink!

Its praises ring

As right good thing

To aid our country's weal;

And weight of gains

From golden canes

The Company's pockets feel;

But, whilst those laughing guineas chink

We breath a most prodigious stink!

'Tis everywhere,

It fouls the air

For miles and miles around.

Good templars - nay,

Ye tipplers say-

Can fouler stench be found,

The refuge of the rum you drink,

That this atrocious, deadly stink?

"A great mistake,

"Good sir, you make,

"The scent is sweet and pure,

"Like bitters good

"Digests your food;

"Most wholesome, 'tis, I'm sure,"

says Slate, but says it with a wink,

He can't get o'er that awful stink.


"My dear good sir,

Is nicer word to write!"

Perhaps it is,

But verities

Can't always be polite.

No good it is for truth to blink,

It is an unmitigated stink!

It's hard to tell

If such a smell,

Old Charon's self would own,

Even for him,

Hell's porter grim,

Too highly flavoured grown,

With a lake like his, as black as ink,

And stench that's worse than Stygian stink!

But science sure

To seek a cure,

Must deftly find a way.

Invoke its aid

And see it paid,

As Companies can pay.

Your interest, sirs, will ours will link,

Top rid us of this awful stink.

I do suggest

It would be best

Some thousands now to spend.


And utilise,

And make the foe your friend,

Or else the whole concern may sink,

Be-ruined by this mighty stink!

H.N.Huggins 1883


When SilverTorch requested permission to publish the above vebatim, Michael Huggins responded as follows:

Dear Torchbearer, Yes, of course, but my apologies if what  I have written it is  rather disjointed.   This may have a interesting development as I have lost contact with so many  of my old West Indian friends and family - especially the new generation - Huggins - Hobson - Hadley - La Croix - La Borde (the  baby that Ranée rescues from Nanette  in "Hiroona" was also  based on fact - it  happened to a baby belonging to the La Borde family),  With best wishes Michael Huggins

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Ylang Ylang

Pronounced "ee-lang ee-lang", ylang ylang means "flower of flowers". Reminiscent of Jasmine, the aroma of this flower has been described as fresh, floral, spicy, sweet, rich, hypnotic, seductive and euphoric.  The tall and willowy tree on which these flowers grow is called the perfume tree. A tropical tree, it grows well in the Caribbean. St. Vincent is certainly happy with the ylang ylang trees in its botanical gardens. Filipinos used the flowers to make a pomade or salve which they massaged into their bodies. A pure essential oil produced by the steam distillation of the fresh flowers. Like jasmine, the ylang ylang flowers must be picked in the early morning hours when they are the most fragrant. In Indonesia, it was traditional to cover the marriage beds of newlyweds with petals of this fragrant flower.

The St. Vincent Parrot

The beautiful St. Vincent Parrot is the national bird of the island nation. This multicolored Amazon parrot which lives in St. Vincent's rainforest area is endangered. About 18 inches long, it tends to emerge in the late afternon.

Milton Cato

The first Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was Milton Cato (1915-1997). He served as Prime Minister from 1969 to 1972 and again from 1974 to 1984.

James Mitchell

James Fitz-Allen "Son" Mitchell (now Sir James) was the nation's second Prime Minister after independence and the longest serving Prime Minister (1984-2000).

He became the first head of government in 1972, before independence. Full independence was to come in 1979, but at that time St Vincent was an associate state with Britain. As an independent member, he used his seat to break the tie in the 13-seat Parliament when the St. Vincent Labour Party headed by Milton Cato and the People's Political Party headed by Ebenezer Joshua had six seats each. He teamed up with Joshua after insisting on the post of head of government. In 1975, Mitchell formed the New Democratic Party which came to power in 1984.


Arrowroot, the root of a food plant, was first used by the Arawak Amerindians, who lived in the Guiana region of South America and the Caribbean Islands. Arawaks valued arrowroot highly and called the plant aru-aru, literally "meal of meals." The English name arrowroot, first recorded in 1696, derives from the fact that the Arawaks also used arrowroot tubers to draw poison from wounds made by poisoned arrows. Arawak Amerindians still live in Guyana. St. Vincent is a large supplier of arrowroot flour, used in cooking as a flavorless thickening agent in soups, sauces, stews and glazes.

Saint Vincent Jottings