The Reverend Nicholas John Geoffrey Sykes BSc, MTS, DipEd, DipSM admits to having done nothing much in his life that someone else at one time or another has not done. If there is a claim to the remarkable in any way, it might be in the wide range of endeavour which his life has encompassed. If he has not fulfilled the ideal of being a true polymath, in which expertise in, say, theology, is entirely equal with that in architecture or mathematics, he can nevertheless claim to possess worthwhile experience in fields which our modern age regards, in its lack of wisdom, as unrelated. Father Sykes' ideal modus operandi is to be a builder of bridges between those banks of thought whose underlying connection has become obscured or, indeed, inundated. This is what he perceives is meant by being a "peacemaker" in the teaching of Christ.

Building bridges, however, is not a task for the faint-hearted, as any engineer will know. A collapse in the middle or a failure of the foundation on either bank are disasters to be shunned, and such can only be avoided by painstaking care and the highest standards of workmanship. A generalist whose endeavours span what our century regards as many fields must be engaged in a multiplicity of bridge-building programmes all the time with extreme care.

This book represents a bridge between the past and the present, and so far as the author himself is concerned, between his experiences of research and teaching and some surprisingly unexplored fields of local history.


Whatever the reader's experience of the Cayman Islands and their history might be, this book should surprise him, as indeed it has surprised the author in its development. One of the surprises for the author is that there is indeed sufficient documentary evidence to find the answers to nearly all the questions he was asking, and to recount the story with considerable confidence. Some readers will find the resulting story to be so surprising that their credibility will be strained. There will be those, for instance, who having seen the Cayman Islands described as "formerly a dependency of Jamaica" may come to read the book supposing that there is no "dependency question" to be posed in the first place.

The question of the relationship of the Cayman Islands to Jamaica for much of their history as British islands arose for the author from his work with the Church during the last two decades. It was profoundly gratifying to see the very same question being posed and indeed urgently worried about by successive governors in their extensive correspondence with successive colonial secretaries in London over one hundred and fifty years ago: to see questions which had been thought about so recently jumping out of the handwriting of documents preserved from those earlier times was astonishing (and as anyone who has studied the Earl of Sligo's writings will testify, what handwriting it is! - "Lord Sligo's spiders" as Brian Kieran aptly described them). It will be seen that understanding on the dependency question provides a key for unlocking the doors to several corridors of the Islands' story.

The author hopes that his work will be enjoyed, studied, debated, and re-visited many times over.