The story of Portuguese Bermudians
Portuguese immigrants to Bermuda began arriving in the 1840's and 50's. Between 1815 and 1850, economic change swept over the Islands as the era of shipbuilding and seafaring came to a close. Slavery was abolished in the 1830's. In 1847 the legislature voted 400 pounds in bounties for those shipping companies that could recruit Portuguese immigrants. Residents of the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira were recruited as cheap labor for farming. B W Watlington Esq sent his vessel the Golden Rule to Madeira, arriving in Bermuda November 1849 with 58 immigrants... 7 children, 16 women, and the remainder men. It was hoped that they would "induce the cultivation of the vine".
The remainder of the 19th Century saw a steady though small drift of Portuguese immigrants to Bermuda to work in the agricultural trades. Laws developed to prevent contract immigrants from being lured from one employer to another. By the 1870's an export trade in onions became a success, largely due to the abilities of these new residents. By 1900 the population of Portuguese immigrants numbered 1017. In 1922 the Immigrant Labor Board arranged for agricultural labourers from the Azores. Over 400 persons immigrated during the ensuing 2 years. In the 1930's the need for labourers was shifted to the development of American tourism at Tuckers Town and additional people were recruited from the Portuguese islands.