In 1763 few Europeans doubted the enormous importance of their Caribbean possessions, a fact indicated by the ready willingness of the French to cede Canada in order to regain British-occupied Martinique. The British were no different, and in the West Indies they were in the process of establishing a New World aristocracy whose riches were based upon African slavery and the production of tropical crops. The British prized their Caribbean territories, especially since the sugar revolution that had begun during the mid-seventeenth century first in Barbados where the crop had become dominant by 1660 and then in Jamaica. British planters continued their success in the Leeward Island settlements of Antigua, St. Christopher, Nevis, and Montserrat, where entrepreneurs converted their lands to sugar cane by the early 1700s. West Indian planters became influential within the British Empire, and exercised profound social, political, and economic importance in the metropolis. By the eighteenth century they were the richest colonists within the empire; they were landed aristocrats who could have vied in wealth and prestige with their counterparts in Britain.