The first Europeans to arrive on the island were probably the Portuguese in about the year 1500. In 1605 Sir Olave Leigh landed on the island and claimed it for King James. The first group of English settlers, about 30, arrived on the island in about 1624. More English settlers continued to arrive and by 1650 some 20,000 people had settled on the island.
The British Post Office established a Packet Agency on the island of Barbados, in Bridgetown, during the reign of Charles II in 1663,the Agency at first relied on casual ships to carry the mail. Then in 1702 Edmund Dummer started a monthly services from Falmouth, changing to Plymouth in 1705. The return trip took three to four months. The service ended in 1711 when Dummer was made bankrupt. In the previous nine years Dummer had lost two packets at sea and had seven captured by the Spanish. In 1711 his remaining seven packets were seized by creditors and the service lapsed. The Packet Agency again had to use casual ships to carry the mail until 1745 when a service, based on Dummer's original plans, was reintroduced by the Post Office.
In 1851 Postage rates were set at one penny per half ounce. Newspapers published in Barbados were post-free; other printed matter was charged a halfpenny. Barbados was the first British Colony to have a halfpenny rate; even preceding the Great Britain 1870 issue.
In order to save on die costs, the stamp order for Barbados was combined with that of Mauritius and Trinidad. Each colony had the same ‘Britannia’ design with different wording. The design is based on a watercolour by Henry Corbould and it is believed to have been engraved by Frederick Heath. Henry Corbould provided the sketch from which the Penny Black was engraved. The first despatch of ½d green and 1d blue stamps was sent on 30 December 1851 on board the RMS Amazon; the vessel was lost at sea and failed to reach the island. Further supplies were sent in January and February 1852 including a 2d greyish slate. The local Post Office was opened on 15 April 1852 and these stamps went on sale the same day. The stamps did not show the denomination.
Currently showing stamps issued from 1952 to date during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II