The date of European discovery of Anguilla is uncertain: some sources claim that Columbus sighted the island in 1493, while others state that the island was first discovered by the French in 1564 or 1565. The name Anguilla derives from the word for “eel” in any of various Romance languages (modern Spanish: anguila; French: anguille; Italian: anguilla; Portuguese: enguia).
Anguilla was first colonised by English settlers from Saint Kitts, beginning in 1650. The French temporarily took over the island in 1666 but under the Treaty of Breda it was returned to English control. During the early colonial period, Anguilla was administered by the British through Antigua, but in 1824 it was placed under the administrative control of nearby Saint Kitts.
In 1967, Britain granted Saint Kitts and Nevis full internal autonomy, and Anguilla was also incorporated into the new unified dependency, named Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, against the wishes of many Anguillians. This led to two rebellions in 1967 and 1969 (Anguillian Revolution) and a brief period as a self-declared independent republic. On 19 March 1969 however, two British frigates (the H.M.S. Minerva and the H.M.S. Rothesay) had sailed from Antigua the night before, reaching the Anguillan shoreline before dawn. On board was the Second Battalion, Parachute Regiment, who had been flown to Antigua expressly for this mission. The 135 Red Devil paratroopers had the perimeter of the island secured by 8 am, less than three hours after landing. British authority was fully restored in July, 1971. In 1980 Anguilla was finally allowed to secede from Saint Kitts and Nevis and become a separate British colony (now termed a British overseas territory).
The colony of Anguilla did not have its own arms until 1957, but used a badge showing a local islander with a boat on a beach.
Badge of Anguilla until 1957
In 1957 Anguilla became part of the Crown Colony of St-Cristopher-Nevis-Anguilla and did not have its own arms or badge (see St. Kitts and Nevis).
Arms of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla
After a referendum, Anguilla was proclaimed an independent republic on 11 July 1967. Until then, the only flag flown in Anguilla was the Union Jack of Great Britain. The 1967 revolution prompted the introduction of another flag, featuring two mermaids with a shell between them. This flag was sent by a group of Anguillians living in San Francisco and was hoisted when the Statehood flag was torn down.
Anguilla Flag, 1967
An achievement and a seal were adopted in October of the same year These were applied on a series of coins issued 1969-1970.
Achievement of Anguilla, October 1967
Seal of Anguilla, 1967
In 1969 the republic was proclaimed again but British forces occupied the island on 19 March 1969.
In 1981 Anguilla became a separate crown colony and the new national arms were granted on May 30, 1980. The arms are:
Arms: Argent, three dolphins in a circle Tenné and a base Azure.
The coat of arms consists of three dolphins leaping over the sea. The three dolphins are coloured orange and represent endurance, unity, and strength, and they leap in a circle for continuity. The badge has a white background, for peace and tranquility, with a turquoise-blue base representing the surrounding sea and also faith, youth and hope.
Æ See illustration in the head of this essay.
The flag of the governor consists of the Union Jack charged with a badge of the arms encircled by a garland of laurel.
The crest of the HMS Minerva showes an owl and the crest of the HMS Rothesay a castle with three towers, the dexter tower crested wit a crescent and the sinister tower with a five pointed star Or.
The Second Batallion Parachute Regiment has a crowned winged parachute for cap badge.
© Hubert de Vries 2012-04-02