The name "Windsor" was popular in Jamaica (there are at least seven Windsors) and probably originates with Lord Windsor, who was Governor for a short period in 1661. For the record, Black (The Story of Jamaica) says, "D'Oyley's successor, the handsome, young Lord Windsor, was equally unsuited to the position (of Governor) (although for other reasons) and gave it up after little more than ten weeks....... Windsor made general grants of land to the settlers, by which certain people benefitted far more than others......Windsor, on the plea of 'being verie sick and uneesie' waited only long enough to secure his share of the plunder before sailing for England." I wonder why so many people named their estate after him!!!
The 5,500 acre Windsor estate in Trelawny was purchased by John Tharp of Potosi and Good Hope fame in the late 17th century (see valuation of 1792). It became his cattle estate. He may have purchased it from a Joseph Hardy who was a previous owner. The Great House was built in about 1795 for the Cattle Overseer and the property was used for raisng cattle:- hence the name "Windsor Pen". There are also ruins at the South end of the Great House grounds which predate the House and appear to be some kind of storage facility. Because of the strategic position of Windsor at the north end of the Troy-Windsor trail, it seems likely that these were related to the British military. The trail would have been important in relationship to the Maroons who had two Wars with the British in the 18th century. The son of a previous owner of the House, Mr C.W. "Bill" Donald-Hill states that the ruins were a military hospital and this corresponds to some information I have received on nearby Coxheath. An anecdote has come to me concerning the fears of uprisings at the period. Windsor Estate was fined in 1832 and required to pay an extra tax on forty two slaves for not having a proper stand of firearms. Apparently the law required that every plantation have one white person in residence for every twenty five slaves on the estate and that there must be on hand one firearm for each white person. Windsor had around 200 slaves (see detailed account for the period 1814-18) and they were housed in barracks (see map)
After John Tharpe's death a succession of managers looked after
the estates until Tharpe's nephew William came out in 1828. He
stayed about 10 years, but after his departure and, of course,
Emancipation, the estates were neglected were leased for what seems
a very small sum on 2 Aug., 1853. to Phineas Abraham of Falmouth,
Trelawney, and Frederick Levy Castle of same for10 years at
£600 p.a. (this was for the estates of Good Hope (once Good
Hope and Covey), Wales, Potosi, Landsquinet, Pantre Pant, Top Hill,
Merrywood, Whittaker's Mount, Windsor, Tharp's Wharf near Falmouth,
and houses in Falmouth and Martha Brae). See
Tharp Papers The estates were finally broken up and sold in
1867 (see 1862 report)
which we note was just after the American Civil War which would
have had a disastrous effect on the Jamaican economy. We don't yet
know who owned Windsor for the next twenty five years but William
James Donald-Hill purchased Windsor
in 1892 or 93. At some time before 1904 he sold the estate to Dr Dewar and returned to Scotland. He must have
not liked the cold, because he subsequently (prior to 1920)
repurchased Windsor and moved back. Cattle and lumber seem to have been the mainstay during this period, though experiments were carried out with sheep and various crops (see Bill Donald Hill's notes).
The Estate was sold to Ms (now Dame) Miriam Rothschild and her husband, Colonel Lane, in 1947 or 48 and was subsequently sold to Kaiser Bauxite in about 1959.
Miriam did, however, retain Windsor Cave which she later (~1995) gave to the present owners, WWF(UK).
Kaiser subdivided the estate and used it for resettlement of farmers displaced by mining activities in the parish of St Anns. Kaiser gave the Great House to The Boy Scouts Association of Jamaica, from whom the present owner (Michael Schwartz) purchased it in 1986.
Michael Schwartz and Susan Koenig operate Windsor Great House as a home and as a Research Centre for scientists interested in the unique attributes of the Cockpit Country. One of the best ways of getting a real feel for the Cockpit Country is to come to Windsor in the evening for a "Meet the Biologists" dinner at the Great House: you'll be treated to drinks and dinner (normally four courses) served on the Verandah together with a short talk by whichever researcher(s) happen to be in residence at the time. These talks are normally preceded by a field trip so that you work up an appetite! Come early (around 1630, as the day cools) and bring long pants and adequate shoes for walking.
Dinners are normally planned for Wednesdays, but the schedule is flexible, so it is essential to call 24hrs in advance:
or (876) 997 3832.
Because of its location in the heart of the Cockpit Country, the Windsor Great House has been used by researchers since at least 1920. , Harold E. Anthony'(mammologist at American Museum of Natural History, NY says in his 1919-20 field notes, "Windsor is at the end of the road, the best jumping off place for the CockPit Country and the best sort of a collecting station. The hills are of the Cock Pit variety and close right in on the Windsor Pen" (see aerial photo) "The one drawback is the miscell. pests. The ticks are terrible and the mosquitos only a little less bad. The latter however are day biters and the nights are serene" We echo his words: come for evening dinner, if you want a pleasant experience of the Cockpit Country:- there is a reason why the hills are not inhabited...! During the 1950's the property was owned by (Dame) Miriam Rothschild, who conducted seminal research on mammalian ectoparasites in Windsor Cave and published her "Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos" in 1952 while living here.
When not occupied by researchers, the Great House has a couple of rooms which can be rented: this is especially practical for Birders who need to be in the field at dawn, or who are looking for our special nightbirds: the Potoo and the Jamaican Owl.
Alternative accomodation can also be arranged at Wolfgang's place("Windsor Green House":- location 2 on map) or with "Dango" who manages Patrick's place location 5) and can usually be found at his shop (loc.7).