Sint Maarten


For a brief historical outline of the Netherlands Antilles click here.


History of St.Maarten/St.Martin.

Sint Maarten (Dutch spelling) or Saint Martin (French, Spanish, Italian, English spelling) was named for St.Martin of Tours on whose feast day, November 11, 1493, Columbus first saw these white sand shores.

The Arawaks were subjugated by the warlike Carib Indians from South America a short time before the arrival of the Spanish who followed in Columbus' wake. The English work cannibal, we not in passing, is derived from an Arawak word which referred to the Caribs.

The Arawaks were a relatively cultured people who introduced agriculture, fashioned pottery and whose social organization was headed by hereditary chieftans who derived their power from personal deities called zemis.

The Caribs, on the contrary, concentrated on warfare. They killed and ate the Arawak men, then married the Arawak women. How the Arawak women felt about that is not recorded, but it is interesting to note that the surviving language was Arawak.


As the Spanish conquered each island, they rounded up its Indians and put them to work. By 1550, a few Arawaks remained on Cuba and Trinidad. The Caribs' territory was not completely conquered until the mid-seventeenth century when most of them perished in the struggle between the French, English, Dutch, Danes and Spanish for control of the West Indies. The Dutch first began to ply the island's ponds for salt in the 1620's.

Despite the Dutch presence on the island, the Spaniards recaptured St.Martin in 1633 and one year later built a fort at Pointe Blanche to assert their claim. The Spaniards introduced the first slaves to the area in the sixteenth century but the main influx of slaves took place in the eighteenth century with the development of sugar plantations by the French. Slavery was abolished in the first half of the nineteenth century, whereupon the British imported Chinese and East Indians to take the place of slaves. Thus, these islands are peopled by a mixture of Amer-Indian, African, Asian and European peoples. West Indian cultures are, consequently, exceedingly rich and varied, can scarcely be matched in other parts of the world.


In the mid-sixteenth century pirates, privateers and smugglers were attracted by the increasing volume of shipping, especially since cargo included Mexican or Peruvian silver. Spanish defenses, although extensive, could not prevent all raiding in so large an area. Sir John Hawkins, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Henry Morgan and William Dampier were among the English buccaneers; at the same period the Dutch "Sea Beggers" (Geuzen) and French Huguenot privateers were active. Privateering, theoretically abolished in 1856 by the Declaration of Paris, was eliminated only in the twentieth century as the Seventh Hague Convention by the states' assumption of full responsibility for all armed merchant ships.

The Dutch have been on (and off) St.Martin since the 1620s, and it was here that Peter Stuyvesant lost his leg, earning the nickname Peg Leg, while unsuccessfully attacKing the then controlling Portuguese forces. The scene of the battle was Little Bay hill and legend has it that Stuyvesant landed his ships in the bay beyond, Cay Bay, then led his men up Cay Bay Hill in a surprise attack on the Portuguese at Fort Amsterdam. Despite Stuyvesant's subsequent necessity for a wooden leg, he went to America where he governed Nieuw Amsterdam before the British took it and renamed it New York.


Indians, pirates, slaves, affluence and poverty, war ... St.Maarten/St.Martin has seen them all. Her peoples have endured, have come up smiling, not inanely smiling but courteously smiling, smiling with dignity, smiling with pride. Two governments guide 37 square miles in peace.

On 23 June 2000 the population of Sint Maarten (33.119) announced to prefer the Status Aparte like Aruba. Sint Maarten as well as Curaçao are new countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on 15 December 2008.


The Dutch Dominicans and Dominican Sisters


On 11 November 1493, feast of Saint Martin, Cristóbal Colon discovered the Island, which he named  'Saint Martin', (Dutch Sint Maarten). From 1841 the Dutch priest Arnoldus R. ten Brink (1841-1853) took the pastoral care of the island. He built from 16.07.1844 till 1847 a wooden church. His successor Stephanus J. Nieuwenhuis (26.12.1825-28.07.1888) arrived in 1844. When the Dutch Dominicans took over the pastoral care, he asked the Dominican Sisters of Voorschoten to organize the education of the children. But sister Dominica Wamsteeker, O.P. had not enough sisters.


After his death Stephanus Nieuwenhuis offered a great legacy to the Dominicans to built schools on the island.

On Saturday morning 03.05.1890 six Dominican sisters of Voorschoten arrived on Sint Maarten in Philipsburg and started in their house the St Joseph school for 132 children and 62 pre-schoolers in a nursery class.


Towards 1908 B.A. Gijlswijk, O.P. (19.11.1870-22.12.1944) and the Dominican sister Regina Egelie started the Rose of Lima Hospital.


The Dominican sister Edelberta de Barbanson (06.10.1915) started 'The White-Yellow-Cross' on 09.04.1965, and the 'district nursing' on 15.03.1968. From Sint Maarten the Dominican Sisters of Voorschoten started their work on Sint Eustatius (1899-1990), Curaçao (1892-1953), Saba (1905-1977), and Aruba (1909-1979).





Netherlands Antilles 1990,

Mi 685, Sc 628: Dominican Districts-Sister. (10c)

Mi 686, Sc 629: Rose of Lima Hospital
and St. Martin's Home. (55c)
Mi 687, Sc 630: St. Joseph School.
(60c) . FDC



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