THE HOUSE OF TAGA IN 1818
Around eight years before this incident
Sketch by Arago
Ever since the Spaniards depopulated Tinian in the early 1700s, the island never had a stable human community living there until the late 1800s.
For those hundred years or so, the Spaniards on Guam used Tinian for agriculture, especially cattle raising. The meat from those cows was sold and helped finance various things, including the government's care of Guam's lepers and other patients.
In order to raise that cattle, Chamorro men from Guam were employed, usually for a couple of years, to live on Tinian and take care of the government herd. Since wives and children couldn't normally live on Tinian at the time, these male workers did their time in Tinian and returned to Guam, replaced by a new set of workers. At times, no one was physically in Tinian now and then.
It was on one such occasion in 1826 that a British whaling ship, the George the Fourth, commanded by a Captain Buckley, stopped by Tinian and found no one there.
Buckley took advantage of whatever he found in Tinian for the benefit of his ship and crew but, being English and knowing that Tinian was a Spanish possession, Buckley decided to destroy whatever he could on Tinian before he left, and put the Spaniards at a disadvantage.
He burned down the homes used by the cattle workers. He even cut down breadfruit and coconut trees, and did various acts of devastation. One only wonders what he might have done to the cattle, besides letting them loose, after butchering some, I suppose, for the ship's needs.
The reason why we know of Buckley's razing of Tinian is because two of his crew deserted and remained behind on Tinian when the ship left. When the Spanish Governor on Guam, José Ganga Herrero (ancestor of Guam's Herrero family), sent a few soldiers to inspect Tinian some time later, they found the two deserters and learned the facts from them.
Vermont Journal, January 27, 1827