John Cruden, an angry, disgruntled Loyalist driven out Florida in 1784, called a meeting of British Merchants, in Nassau, in 1785. This coffee shop meeting was the beginning of 182 years of Bahamian history.

The year 1785 for the Bahamas, saw the beginning of significant political change. The emergence of a new political ruthlessness began, which the quiet British colony of islands had never quite experienced before. Loyalist Rule was emerging. This lasted about 49 years. By 1834, after the Abolition of Slavery, the Loyalist Rule transmogrified into the Merchant Class Rule.

The Merchant Class Rule lasted some 133 years.

Merchant Class Rule finally gave way in 1967 to Majority Rule.


Nothing is lost in translation in a coffee shop. There is something about that bitter black sticky liquid, from a hotly brewed container of coffee beans that just says interesting, if not serious, considerations are about to be had.

The warren of rooms, the solid chairs and tables, the constant stream of people and of course the appetising offerings makes the coffee shop the perfect place to hammer out anything from picking paint to world dominance.

In 1785, John CRUDEN and Peter DEAN, Loyalists, placed a message in the Bahama Gazette. Little did they know, or may be they did, realise that these first meetings, in a coffee house in Nassau, were going to change the Bahamas in ways they could scarcely imagine.

After the ousting of Governor John Maxwell, the Loyalists began meeting, in the coffeehouses, to plot and plan their next strategic moves.

The British Merchants, and other British Subjects in this town, interested in the Commerce of the Bahamas are requested to meet at the Coffee House, on Monday next, at 12 o’clock, on Business of Importance.



March 13, 1785

Bahama Gazette March 1785


John Cruden called the Bahamas “barren rocks where poverty and wretchedness state is in the face.”

John Cruden appeared to be a man who could not accept the Treaty of Paris of 1783. The provisions of the treaty, among many things, gave control of then Spanish conquered Bahamas, back to the British. If the Bahamas had stayed under Spanish Rule, slavery would not have ended in 1834; but in 1860 when other Spanish slave colonies ended the trade.

The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War.

(News Press, Sunday, 16 March 1975)


Cruden in early 1784 was in Great Britain, and sailed in the spring back to East Florida. He had plans to destabilise the Spanish control of East Florida; these were thwarted by Governor Patrick Tonyn, who gave his backing to Vicente Manuel de Céspedes, the Spanish governor.

Still Cruden wrote, assiduously, to Carlos III of Spain, seeking support for the Loyalist exiles, now that the American war was over.

Céspedes gave Cruden support in 1785 to sail for Nova Scotia, still looking for backing for the exiles.

Then Cruden moved on to Nassau on New Providence in the Bahamas, where he was in May 1786; his uncle went to Exuma. He made his way to Nova Scotia, to see Colonel Thomas Dundas who dealt with Loyalist claims for compensation, being in Halifax on 30 October 1786.

Cruden then returned to the Bahamas. In poor physical and mental health, he died there on 18 September 1787, aged 33.

JOHN CRUDEN – Wikipedia