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'.
Well known as the 'headquarters' of the Pirates, it had an excellent harbour and was quite defensible.
The community was built on a sandbar in this almost perfect natural harbour. It was this fact which made it so attractive to 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. There was also a synagogue. For Port Royal was tolerant of just about everything.
It was an open non discriminatory city where one could get just about everything and do just about everything.
The reputation it held was not hyperbole.
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.
The King had tried to have a painless kind of conversion.
First, the King had sent missionaries. Secondly, he would pay a reward to converts. Not only would the spiritual enticement be tried, but there was a financial benefit.
Neither of these actions was successful.
The King then moved to punishments.
He declared Protestantism illegal by the Edict of Fontainebleau.
At this time in history emigration was prohibited, many Huguenots left France. Some went to England, others to Switzerland. Many went to Holland, to Northern Europe, and a portion actually went to what is now South Africa.
A few thousand of these Huguenots crossed the Atlantic and settled in the various British overseas colonies as well as New York, [which had been 'New Amsterdam' until taken by the British and to the colony in South Carolina.
Although it seems odd at this moment in time, South Carolina was virtually considered part of the Caribbean as many of those who left Brasil and went to Barbados migrated to South Carolina and became Sugar Cane growers. South Carolina had extremely close links with the Caribbean and the citizens behaved as if they were part of the West Indies.
It was through this migration that Louis Galdy and his brother ended up in Port Royal, Jamaica.
On first arrival, the Galdy brothers attempted honest work. There was not much of that in Port Royal. Subsequently, as many others, they joined the Pirates.
Louis was not particularly good at Piracy and was arrested. He was placed in the jail on Port Royal..
He was in a jail cell, in Port Royal, on the 7th day of June 1692 when came the Great Earthquake.
Jamaica is in an Earthquake zone. There have been many Earthquakes over the centuries, many small tremors.
This was not a small tremor.
This Earthquake effected the entire island of Jamaica. Port Royal suffered the greatest damage. This is due to the fact it was built on sand. There was no rock beneath it.
During the Earthquake the sand, liquefied. It simply dispersed and most of the buildings sank vertically. They simply went down as if on an elevator. Other buildings simply slid into the sea as if on wheels.
This sinking of the buildings during the Earthquake was followed by a tsunami. In just moments One Thousand Six hundred people were simply 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.
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 now in absolute ruin. Those who saw it were certain that this was divine judgment on what had been considered the wickedest city in the world.
Louis Galdy became famous for his survival. He, and everyone else believed that this was Divine Intervention.
For the next forty seven years of his life Louis Galdy devoted himself to Good Works. He was instrumental in having the St. Peter’s Church rebuilt in Port Royal.
He is buried there, his Huguenot ties reflected in the church’s marble relief by sculptor Louis François Roubiliac.
Many people considered that what happened in Port Royal was a miracle. It was the deliberate destruction of a modern Sodom and Gomorrah. Like Lot, Louis Galdy was spared.
How it happened, how he survived the Earthquake how he was lifted and not drowned by the tsunami has no parallel.
This is a true story, although it is difficult to believe.