February 16, 1797: A British fleet, under Sir Ralph Abercromby, consisting of seven navy ships "of the line" with eleven smaller vessels and two transports, carrying 6,700 men and 900 guns, enters the Gulf of Paria. Spain has stationed in Port of Spain, under Governor Don Jose Maria Chacon, four ships and 800 men. Hopelessly outnumbered, Chacon's admiral Apodoca burns his ships to prevent their capture. Abercromby lands in Port of Spain and sends to Chacon the following courtly and helpful missive:
"Say to the Governor that I see with sorrow that his troops are without hope of being able to carry out his wishes, that the undeniably superior force under my command has rendered me master of the town, and it is surrounded on all sides by sea and land without the slightest chance of assistance. there is no possibility of resistance with such unequal forces, and before causing a considerable amount of bloodshed without any hope of ultimate success, I beg him to name a place of conference. I offer him an honourable capitulation, such as is due to good and faithful soldiers, who otherwise will be sacrificed in vain".
Chacon surrenders, at Valsayn House near st. Joseph on Feb. 18, 1797.

At the time of the Spanish surrender, the total acres under cultivation was: 37,970, and the population of Trinidad consisted of:
Free Coloured.................4,406
Caribs and Arawaks... ....1,082
Total........................ ....17,643
Immediately before the capture of Trinidad, there had been an influx of French loyalists of all classes, displaced from British military actions in islands further north.

By 1700, (when the total population of the island must have been tiny indeed), the population of the native Arawaks had declined below an economically useful number. Most of the black slaves were then brought to Trinidad after May 1, 1702 by the Royal Company of Guinea (a private French company), under contract to european rulers: His Most Christian Majesty, and His Most Catholic Majesty, respectively.