A few notes on the history of Jamaica may help:
The earliest inhabitants of Jamaica were probably the Arawaks, a sea-going people who arrived in Jamaica after the last ice age when the sea level was much lower than today. They probably did not live in the Cockpit Country. Columbus arrived in 1494 and claimed Jamaica for the Spanish Crown. The Spanish were to hold Jamaica for 160 years, during which time disease and ill-treatment wiped out the Arawaks.
On 10 May 1655, a British fleet with about 8,000 men sailed into Kingston harbour and easily defeated the 1,500 Spaniards, who freed their slaves, took their valuables and retreated via the north coast to Cuba. These freed slaves were to become the "Maroons" and were trained by the Spaniard Ysasi before he left as an effective fighting force led by Juan Lubolo . This was in fact Ysasi's undoing because he returned in 1658 only to lose the battle and spend two years hiding in the hills. The final blow fell when Juan Lubolo and his party went over to the English side.
In Jamaica, various slave revolts had taken place over the years, but the most serious started with "Tacky's Rebellion" in 1760 and spread from the Port Maria area to many parts of the Island. Tacky was killed by one of the Maroons, who had come to the assistance of the British as required by their Treaty signed after the First Maroon War in 1738. The Second Maroon War started in July 1795 and finished tragically with what seems to be a double cross of the Maroons by the British, who transported the Maroons (who had surrendered) to Nova Scotia. These wars are mentioned to set the scene for the forthcoming struggles and the eventual emancipation of the slaves in Jamaica. During this period, Britain seems to have been at war with pretty well everybody! From 1739 to 1763 and again in 1780-3 and then the Napoleonic Wars which ended in 1815 the British were almost continually at war with either the Spanish or the French or both. Note how the War of American Independence had just finished and the French Revolution was in full swing at this period and that Jamaica's neighbour, Haiti, was in the middle of its long war to obtain Independence. So the unease of the British colonists in Jamaica can well be imagined.
The heyday of the sugar plantation was the last half of the
eighteenth century, and it is during this period that most of the
Great Houses in Trelawny were built.
High tariff barriers in Britain lasted for a hundred years until
1846 and protected Jamaica and other British colonies from
competition so that "rich as a West Indian planter" became a
The nineteenth century saw their demise as emancipation took place ("full free" on Aug 1 1838) followed by the loss of tariff protection. Many Estates were abandoned.
The 18th century was also an active period for religious "Dissenters" or "Reformers" or "Non-Conformists"-depending whose side you were on- and the first missionaries were the Moravians, in 1754, followed by Wesleyan Methodists and later by the Baptists. They taught Christianity to the slave and later took part in the emancipation struggle. The first step in the emancipation process was the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 after a long fight to win the support of the British people.We value your feedback and comments: