Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Colonial Officials > Thomas Modyford

Thomas Modyford


Colonel, Sir Thomas Modyford (c. 1620 – 2 September 1679) was a Barbados plantation owner and eventual Governor of Jamaica. He presided over Port Royal when it was a known pirate haven and even helped launch the career of the notorious Henry Morgan.

Thomas Modyford was born into an aristocratic family with connections to the Duke of Albemarle. He emigrated from England to Barbados with the rest of his family in 1647 during the beginning of the English Civil War. Barbados was already a developed colony at this point, with England first laying claim in 1624.

Barbados - John Speed (1676)

Barbados - John Speed (1676)

Modyford and his family put a £1,000 payment on a plantation with a commitment to pay off £6,000 in the coming three years. Being a wealthy land owner, Modyford soon got involved in local politics and quickly rose through the ranks to become Speaker of the House of Assembly. He was also involved with the local slave trade on the island through a company called the Royal Adventurers.

On February, 15th, 1664 he was appointed Governor of Jamaica by commission and he arrived on the island on June 4th. He arrived with seven hundred plantation owners along with their slaves in order to create a plantation driven economy on the island. To help with his administrative duties he appointed his brothers Col. Sir James Modyford and Col. Thomas Modyford to help oversee the island. He even maintained contacts with the Royal Adventurers Company and used them to import slaves onto the island until 1669.

Jamaica - John Speed (1676)

Jamaica - John Speed (1676)

In addition to help get the island started, Sir James was given a license to ship convicts from England to the island to be indentured servants. Around 2,800 of these laborers arrived on the island in order to assist with its construction.

Henry Morgan & Privateering

By the 1670s his title according to the commission he gave to Henry Morgan was:

Governor of His Majesty's Island of Jamaica Commander-in-Chief of all His Majesties Forces within the said Island and in the Islands adjacent Vice-Admiral to His Royal Highness the Duke of York in the American Seas"

Decline of Political Career

Eventually he was removed as Governor in 1670 due to his corrupt practices regarding the governance of Port Royal and the pirates and imprisoned in London Tower for two years. Morgan was also brought to England on charges however, he was able to prove he had no knowledge of the treaty in question and therefore was let go. In the end Modyford was not charged with any crimes and he was allowed to return to his plantations in Jamaica.

He lived out the rest of his days in relative luxury on the island, spending another nine years before dying at his estate.


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