Battle of Nevis, 19 or 20 May 1667

The battle of Nevis (19 or 20 May 1667) was a confused clash between the British and an Allied Franco-Dutch fleet in the West Indies that may have prevented an Allied invasion of Nevis.

Early in 1667 the French captured Antigua, St. Christopher and Montserrat and were threatening to invade Nevis. In March Captain John Berry, in a hired 56-gun man-of-war (the Coronation) arrived at Barbados. The Governor decided to make an attempt to save Nevis. He bought up a number of armed merchantmen, and was able to create a squadron of ten men-of-war and one fireship under Berry's command.

Each side involved in the battle recorded a different version of events. Even the date is uncertain, with 4 May, 19 May and 20 May all possible.

According to British sources the French (Joseph de la Barre) and Dutch (Abraham Crijnssen) gathered a force of twenty men-at-war, six smaller craft and six large transports. Berry, with his eleven ships, attacked the Allies just as they were about to attack Nevis, and after a long fight forced them to abandon their attack and retire to St. Christopher. The British lost one ship during the battle.

Dutch and French sources give the Allies eighteen ships, none with more than thirty guns, and the British seventeen ships. Both agree that the battle ended with an Allied victory.

All three traditions agree on the aftermath of the battle. The British remained at Nevis, the Dutch sailed off to raid Virginia and the French returned to Martinique. This would suggest that the British were most successful in the fighting, but probably not by much of a margin. The clash was probably between the eleven ships claimed by the British and the eighteen claimed by the Dutch and French.

Whatever the actual course of the battle the Allies soon suffered a much more serious defeat. British reinforcements, under Rear-Admiral Sir John Harman, reached the West Indies in June and inflicted a heavy defeat on de la Barre at Martinique on 25 June.

Subject Index: Anglo-Dutch Wars

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 August 2009), Battle of Nevis, 19 or 20 May 1667 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_nevis_1667.html

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