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When the value of tobacco declined during the 1630s, a period of attempted agricultural diversification slowly gave way to the cultivation of sugar cane. Kolkata Metro Map The process took time, as capital was scarce and waited on the development of both local government institutions and local land ownership (rather than tenancy), both of which encouraged investment in plantations and increasingly in African slaves. The joint occupation was problematic, however; disruptive warfare meant enormous losses in goods and laborers for planters.

The English lost the island to the French in 1666, 1689, and 1706, before securing sole control under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The peace brought new investment, and half of the French land went to Scottish planters and investors. In 1687, Dr. Hans Sloane wrote that the English in St. Kitts were healthier than those on other islands, owing to the cooler temperature, although four yellow fever epidemics between 1648 and 1793 took their toll.

In 1678, the white population was 1,897; it had risen to only to 2,377 by 1745 and dropped to 1,900 in 1774. In contrast, the black population rose from 1,436 in 1678 to 19,174 in 1745 and 23,462 in 1774, with most of the gain coming after the 1720s. Unlike the male-dominated early days, by 1678, there were nearly equal numbers of men and women in both the black and white populations. The growth and stability of St. Kitts was reflected in sugar exports, which increased from less than 1,000 tons in the 1600s, to 4,437 tons in 1725 and to 8,789 tons by 1748.

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