Edward Hernandez: Tobago’s Legacy

Today’s blog post was written by Dr. Jesma McFarlane. Dr. McFarlane is a genealogical researcher. She was formally a zoologist who completed her post graduate work at Howard University, Washington D.C.,U.S.A. Her scientific background is an integral part of the foundation for her many years of genealogical research.

Edward Hernandez, who passed away on Monday 26th August 2013, has contributed significantly to Tobago’s heritage. Google his name and you will learn among his many contributions that he was a heritage expert, artist, designer and musicologist. The Tobago museum located on Fort King George, Scarborough, owes its life to this Tobago icon, the first Curator of this facility.  When the museum was first established by Mr. Hernandez, it was  housed at the Mt. Irvine Bay Hotel, there, one could have appreciated Tobago’s history documented and on display in a public space. The museum subsequently found a home among the legacy and remnants of an old colonial fort. He has been a source of information for many aspects of Tobago and is remembered by many who have benefited from his knowledge.

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To honour his memory researchers who consulted with him on the presence of the Couronians at Courland Bay, Plymouth, Tobago during Duke Jacob Kettler’s occupation in the seventeenth century, dedicated their research paper to Mr. Hernandez. The Journal of Baltic Studies published a research paper in 2013 entitled, “From The Port of Ventspils to Great Courland Bay: The Couronian Colony on Tobago in Past and Present” written by Imbi Soonan, Jesma McFarlane, Vladis Traudkains and Stefan Donecker. The paper was dedicated to the memory of Edward Hernandez for his kind hospitality during their visit to Tobago which they described as unforgettable as well as for his assistance with research.

The paper referred to the English royal patent acquired by Duke Jacob between 1645 and 1647, granting him possession of Tobago. A patent, he invoked decades later when he sent an expedition to colonise Tobago.  They landed at Great Courland Bay, now Plymouth, around 1654. He named the island Neu-Kurland (New Courland) and erected Fort Jacobus (Fort James) at Plymouth.


The Tobago House of Assembly celebrates the Couronian presence in Tobago during the annual Tobago Heritage Festival, albeit not every year.  There is a monument erected to the memory of the Courlanders at Fort James, Plymouth.



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Great Courland Monument


In memory of the bold, enterprising and industrious Courlanders from faraway Latvia on the Baltic shores who had lived in this area named after them from 1639 to 1693.

                                                                   Dated 25/6/78

                                                           Sculpted by Jans Mintiks

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