The True Story of Louis Galdy
The Survivor of Port Royal
In the late 1600s, Port Royal in Jamaica was known as the 'Wickedest City in the World'.
It was built on a sandbar in one of the best natural harbours, and was, unapologetically, the home of the greatest pirates in the Caribbean.
There were more bars and brothels per square foot than anywhere else in the Caribbean, but there were also churches of every kind, as well as a synagogue. For Port Royal was tolerant of just about everything.
Louis Galdy and his brother Laurent had left France because of their religion as Louis XIV decided to force the Huguenots to convert to Catholicism.
First, the King sent missionaries and would pay a reward to converts. When that didn't work he tried punishments.
Finally, he decided to declare Protestantism illegal by the Edict of Fontainebleau.
Although emigration was prohibited, Huguenots left France. Some went to England, others to Switzerland, Holland, Northern Europe, as well as what is now South Africa.
A few thousand settled in the British overseas colonies, New York and South Carolina, which had close links with the Caribbean.
This is how Louis and his brother ended up in Port Royal, Jamaica.
They attempted honest work, but there was not much of that, and they joined the Pirates.
Louis wasn't very good at it. So was arrested, and placed in jail.. He was in jail, in Port Royal on the 7th of June 1692 when came the Great Earthquake.
The Earthquake effected the entire island of Jamaica, but Port Royal suffered the greatest damage. This is because it was built on sand and during the Earthquake the sand, liquefied. Many of the buildings sank vertically, others slid into the sea. .
The Earthquake was followed by a tsunami, and in an instant 1600 people were gone.
The building in which the jail was situated, survived the first shock. It went straight down during the second.
Louis Galday sang into the sea, believing he was dead, when miraculously, he was uplifted and thrown into the sea by the third shock.
Before he could catch his bearings, he was propelled by the tsunami towards Kingston, where he was rescued.
The city of Port Royal was in absolute ruin. Many claimed it was divine judgment on what had been considered the wickedest city in the world.
Louis Galdy became famous for his survival and devoted the next forty seven years of his life to Good Works. He was instrumental in having the St. Peter’s Church rebuilt.
He is buried there, his Huguenot ties reflected in the church’s marble relief by sculptor Louis François Roubiliac.
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