Discovered by the Columbus in 1493, the English nearly had an accidental claim on the island in 1632 when a ship was wrecked there. The survivors had to wait some time for relief. The Dutch formally claimed it in 1640 and hoped to make it economically viable in the era of sugar plantation. Unfortunately, it was too small, rocky and exposed to be much good for plantations. Although that didn't stop it being raided and traded over the next two centuries. It actually changed hands twelve times.
The English were in constant competition with the Dutch and frequently launched raids on the islands. They occupied the islands as a result of the numerous Anglo Dutch wars of the seventeenth Century notably in 1665 and again from 1672 to 1679. They occupied them again during the Revolutionary war in 1781.
The longest period of occupation was during the Napoleonic wars. The Dutch had been unable to resist Napoleon's influence and so the Royal Navy was at liberty to pick up virtually all Dutch colonies throughout the world. The British occupied the island from 1801 to 1803 and then again from 1810 until 1816.