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Adventurers, Emissaries and Settlers: Ireland and Latin America
27-30 June 2007, National University of Ireland, Galway

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Jaime O’Daly y Blake: 
An enlightened Hispanicised Irish planter-administrator in late Bourbon Puerto Rico, 1776-1829

Jorge L. Chinea (Wayne State University)

Born in Galway , Ireland in the latter part of the 1730’s, James (Jaime) O’Daly belonged to an ancient Catholic gentry lineage.  Undoubtedly linked to the "Wild Geese," or the legions of high-ranking military officers who fled for Catholic Europe following the land-grabbing Cromwellian invasion of Ireland in the late 1690’s, he immigrated to Cádiz , Spain in the early 1760's, and subsequently to the Dutch Caribbean.  In 1772, he helped refit a Spanish flota (galleon fleet) that had capsized near the British-controlled island colony of Anguilla .  To compensate O’Daly, the Spanish Crown authorized him to export a fixed quantity of agricultural products from Puerto Rico . Once on the island, O’Daly applied for a permit to stay permanently citing, among other reasons, his eagerness to promote commercial agriculture on his own or by lending a hand at his brother, Tomás (Thomas) O’Daly’s recently-established sugar plantation.  Although the Crown granted Jaime a two-year temporary residential permit in 1775, he remained in Puerto Rico until his death sometime in the mid 1820’s. 

As one of the island’s leading entrepreneurs in both tobacco and sugar production, Jaime O’Daly y Blake came to embody the commercial-agrarian revitalization of the Hispanic Caribbean during the late Bourbon reforms.  By 1784, he was in possession of a flourishing sugar plantation (known as Hacienda San Patricio), a large hato (cattle ranch) comprised of 10 caballerías (over 2,000 acres) in the town of Loíza , and a spacious house in San Juan valued at 11,000 pesos. This paper discusses the activities and influence of this son of Ireland who chose to start life anew in Spain and Puerto Rico , in the latter of which he played a leading role as planter, merchant, and royal administrator during the last third of the eighteenth century.  

Online published: 24 April 2007
Edited: 07 May 2009

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