When Richard Ligon returned to England in 1650 after three years in Barbados, he was imprisoned for debt almost immediately. While imprisoned, he spent his time composing A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados: illustrated with a mapp of the island, as also the principall trees and plants there, set forth in their due proportions and shapes, drawne out by their severall and respective scales: together with the ingenio that makes the sugar, with the plots of the severall houses, roomes, and other places, that are used in the whole processe of sugar-making, which chronicled his time in Barbados with particular attention to the sugar cane and other flora across the island. The text was first published in London by Humphrey Moseley in 1657 and reprinted in 1673, a decade after Ligon's death. The text was immensely popular in its time as one of the first accounts of the island of Barbados, which was the site of British curiosity for its growing sugar export. Ligon's True History continues to be a key critical text for scholars studying Caribbean-British colonialism. Ligon's text can be found here in our archive.

The images featured here include young and old palm trees, the highly sought after Queen Anne Pine (now known as the pineapple), and the plantain tree. Interestingly, while Ligon's text provides extensive details on the cultivation of sugar cane, including a diagram of its processing, there are no images of the plant itself in his text.

Images from Richard Ligon's 1657 text A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados are courtesy of The John Carter Brown Library.