Mayreau - History & Culture
Measuring less than 2 square miles and with a population of around 250 residents, Mayreau is a small enterprising community ensconced in the sparkling turquoise water of the Grenadines.
Monsieur De L’isle, a Frenchman, first laid claim to Mayreau sometime during the 1720’s. The Frenchman kept possession of Mayreau even after St Vincent and the Grenadines was ceded to Great Britain by the treaty of Paris in 1763. By about 1776 Mayreau had a population of 6 European tenants and 66 slaves. Cotton was the island’s major export and revenue source. Following the Napoleonic wars of 1800-1815 some members of the Saint Hilaire family arrived from France and claimed all the land. The last descendant of this family was Miss Jane Rose. She administered the island under a sort of feudal system. The inhabitants, who were mostly descendants of the St Hilaire slaves, were allowed to build homes free of charge and to cultivate as many acres as they desired. The harvest was then divided equally between Miss Jane Rose and the tenants. When she died in 1915 Mayreau was inherited by the Eustace family. They sold 22 acres to a developer and the village was acquired by the government.
Life in Mayreau is centred around the sea whether it is the fishermen in the harbour or vendors hawking their goods and services on popular Salt Whistle Bay or a cooperative of women mining sea moss. Look out for the Mayreau Regatta normally held late April to early May. The Mayreau Regatta includes fishing, sailing, beach parties and cook ups, May Pole dancing and kite flying.