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Summers Island Overseas Territory
Summers Island
Motto: With God, we walk
Royal anthemGod Save the Queen
Capital Phillipstown
Largest city Barnes-Hern
Official languages English
Ethnic groups (2014)

Summers Islandic 120 British 8

Canadian 1
Demonym Summers Islandic
Leaders
• Monarch
Queen Elizabeth II
• Traditional Mayor
Andrew Phillips
• Mayor
Mark Phillips
Area
• Total
58 km2 (22 sq mi)
Population
• 2014 estimate
129
• 2011 census
134
• Density
2.22/km2 (5.7/sq mi)
Currency Pound Sterling (GBP)
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)
• Summer (DST)
BST (UTC+1)
Drives on the left
Summers Island is a small island and British Overseas Territory about 300 kilometres East of the Southern tip of Greenland. It was uninhabited by humans until the early 11th century CE, when a viking ship landed on the Western side of the island. It was abandoned by the 12th century. In early 1735 it was spotted by John Summers (after which the island is named), aboard the HMS Lynton. The boat crashed into the South East of the island, where they disembarked.

Summers Island has a population of 129, descending from the crew of the HMS Lynton. The island has been decreasing in population since 1961, where it peaked at 312. Many of the island's inhabitants have emigrated to the UK, due to lack of employment on the island. The remaining people survive through fishing and some tourism.

The mayor is Mark Phillips, who was elected in 2010, and the traditional mayor has been Andrew Phillips since 1993.

Name

The island was first sighted by viking explorers between 1000 and 1040 CE. It may have been called langrviðr, mentioned in an Icelandic saga from c. 1080.

It was named Summers Island in 1735 after being spotted by John Summers, aboard the HMS Lynton. From 1740 to around 1800, in Barnes-Hern the island was often referred to as "Barnes Island" or "Barnes-Hern Island", after William Barnes and John Hern.

The island is usually just referred to as "Summers" by the inhabitants.

History

Evidence on the North West of the island, near Barnes-Hern, suggests the island was briefly inhabited by Icelandic people, from c. 1020 to c. 1080. 

HMS Lynton

The HMS Lynton had left Barnstaple, Devon, in 1734 for a Greenland exploration mission. The ship carried 21 men and 5 women. It crashed on course in Summers Island, near Phillipstown. A small settlement was set up near the crash. Lawrence Phillips, the captain of the ship, decided that some of the group would set out on rowing boards stored on HMS Lynton, in search of help. In June 1735, he sent 14 men and 1 women to try and get to Iceland. They were never heard of again.

Settlers

After much of the crew left in 1735, there were eleven people on the island, the ancestors of all of the islands modern-day natives.

They were:

  • Lawrence Phillips (1696-1759), Captain of HMS Lynton (1734-5), Mayor of Phillipstown (1737-1759)
  • William Barnes (1694-1760), Mayor of Barnes-Hern (1737-1740)
  • John Hern (1709-1781)
  • Matthew Yates (1702-1740), killed by Lawrence Phillips
  • Scott Hayes (1704-1751)
  • Spencer Watson (1718-1780)
  • John Kennedy (1680-1737)
  • Mary Layman (1711-1772), wife of Lawrence Phillips (1736-1740), wife of Scott Hayes (1741-1751)
  • Elizabeth Richmond (1705-1751), wife of Matthew Yates (1738-1740, wife of William Barnes (1743-1751)
  • Maria Smith (1711-1741), wife of Spencer Watson (1736-1741)
  • Frances Taylor (1710-1764), wife of John Hern (1735-1764)

Demographics

Population

Summers Island has a population of 129. The 2011 census recorded a population of 134 - 56 males and 78 females.  The entire population (aside from 2 recent UK immigrants) has a patrilinial descent to Lawrence Phillips, Scott Hayes, Spencer Watson, John Hern, William Barnes or Matthew Yates.

The population has declined almost every year since it's peak in 1961. The majority of native Summers Islanders now live abroad. The population of the island hasn't been as low as the current number since the 1890s.

Year Pop. Year Pop. Year Pop. Year Pop. Year Pop. Year Pop.
Early 1735 26 1760 24 1830 >70 1871 76 1921 206 1971 280
June 1735 11 1770 29 1840 78 1881 86 1931 225 1975 244
1737 12 1780 40 1846 54 1891 104 1941 270 1981 232
1740 15 1800 52 1851 61 1901 161 1951 291 1983 236
1746 19 1810 55 1861 65 1911 173 1961 312 1991 227
Year Pop. Year Pop. Year Pop. Year Pop. Year Pop.
1992 216 1998 163 2003 162 2008 153 2013 123
1992 217 1999 160 2004 162 2009 146 2014 129
1995 210 2000 153 2005 154 2010 140
1996 203 2001 151 2006 153 2011 134
1997 172 2001 160 2007 157 2012 130

Religion The majority of the population are Church of England Christians. In the 2011 census, 64 (57%) identified as Christian, 36 (32%) identified as atheist, while the remainder (11%) were unsure/refused to answer. The island has two churches, one in Phillipstown and one in Barnes-Hern. However, only about 20 of the population regularly attend services.

Education

Education is free and compulsory between five and 16. The island only contains one school, in the church in Barnes-Hern. 22 of the population are 16 and under.

Towns

There are two towns on the island, Barnes-Hern and Phillipstown. Due to the lack of the school in Phillipstown, all of the families with children have been forced to move to Barnes-Hern, resulting in a low population in Phillipstown. 96 people live in Barnes-Hern, and 33 live in Phillipstown. However, for historic reasons Phillipstown is considered the 'capital'.

Culture

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