The Jamaican Maroons were the first people to force the English to sign a treaty with their subjects, on March 1, 1738.
The lands conceded in this treaty formed a base for the Maroon’s independent survival. One of these communities was named Nannytown after the female Ghanaian leader. Maroon country was so feared by the English that it became known as the
“Land of Look-Behind.”
FOUNDATION OF KINGSTON TO THE BATTLE OF THE SAINTS
When the earthquake destroyed Port Royal, Jamaica was already becoming known as a great sugar-producing country. Many sugar estates were being cultivated, and sugar was being sent away to be sold in England. Cocoa was also grown, and sarsaparilla. Horses, cattle and pigs were plentiful.
There were three classes of people in the island. The first class were the white men, who owned property, or who had professions and trades. They were well-off and spent their money freely. They were not careful in their habits, and so they died at an early age, as a rule.
The second class also consisted of white men; but these were almost slaves. It was the custom in those days to send to the American colonies people who in Great Britain had been convicted of some crime. These were “deported” for five, seven or ten years, and were bought for those years by planters who wanted men to work. They were treated as slaves; but, if they lived long enough, they regained their freedom after they had served their time. Free men in England could also sell themselves for a number of years to planters in Jamaica, and during those years they were little better than slaves.
The third and largest class of persons in Jamaica were the slaves brought over from Africa. They had to work very hard; they were given poor food; and very few of them could ever hope to be free. But, as time went on, they were treated less harshly. In 1696, four years after the destruction Port Royal, there were 47,365 people in Jamaica.
Rallying to the cause of the slaves were the Maroons who were descendants of ex-slaves who had fled to the hills following the British take-over of the island in 1655. One of their outstanding leaders at the beginning of the 18th century was Nanny, a Chieftainess of Nanny Town in the Blue Mountains. “Grand Nanny”, as she was fondly called, was known by both the Maroons and the British settlers as an outstanding military leader who became, in her lifetime and after, a symbol of unity and strength for her people during times of crisis.
In 1693 the year after the destruction of Port Royal, the city of Kingston was laid out. The ground on which it now stands was then covered with trees and grass-pieces, and was a large private property. It was marked off into streets and lanes, and buildings began to be erected. Kingston soon became an important town.
In 1694 England and France being at war, a French fleet under Admiral Du Casse attacked Jamaica. During a whole month this fleet landed men on the north and east sides of Jamaica and plundered the plantations there. On July 19, 1,500 Frenchmen landed at Carlisle Bay in Clarendon. Here they were opposed by two hundred colonists and some slaves. Later on, several hundred colonists arrived on the scene, and after a few days fighting, the French were driven back to their ships. They had destroyed fifty sugar estates and fifty plantations, and they captured and took away over 1,300 slaves.
In 1702 Admiral Benbow sailed from Port Royal in search of the French fleet under Du Casse. He caught sight of it near the coast of Colombia, and attacked it at once. For five days the fight continued, the English ships pressing the Frenchmen hard. On the fifth day BenbowÆs leg was broken by a shot. He wanted to go on fighting, but two of his captains, named Kirby and Wood, persuaded the English ships to withdraw. The English ships returned to Port Royal where the two captains were tried for their conduct and shot. Benbow died a few months after. He was buried in the Kingston Parish Church, where his bones still lie.
In 1704 Colonel Handasyd became Governor. He retired in 1711. All during his government there was trouble in Jamaica Maroons were very active and made attacks on the estates and their owners. The members of the House of Assembly quarrelled with the Governor. Agriculture did not prosper, and there was general distress.
In 1711 Lord Archibald Hamilton became Governor. In that same year a great storm swept over the parish of Westmoreland and destroyed a vast amount of property and took many lives. The next two Governors, Peter Heywood and Sir Nicholas Lawes, were planters and appointed from Jamaica. Heywood served from 1716 to 1718.
In 1718 Sir Nicholas Lawes became Governor. He introduced coffee into Jamaica three years later. Dung his time pirates worried the planters on the coast lands very much. Sir Nicholas Lawes did a good deal to suppress them.
In 1722 the Duke of Portland arrived as Governor. During his administration the parishes of Portland and Hanover were formed. The first, Portland, was named for him. In this same year, but before the DukeÆs arrival, a terrible hurricane swept over Jamaica, and caused great destruction of life and property.
In 1728 Major General Hunter arrived as Governor. During his time the Maroons were very troublesome. Two regiments of soldiers had to be brought from Gibraltar to protect the Jamaican planters and their estates against them. They were commanded by a Maroon named Cudjoe, and as they knew the country perfectly, they always managed to escape when pursued. Bloodhounds were imported to hunt them down; but it was not until 1734, that any victory was won over them. In that year a body of soldiers attacked a Maroon village called Nanny Town and destroyed it. A good many Maroons were killed. Many Maroons threw themselves down the precipice which their town overlooked rather than become prisoners.
But the Maroons were not crushed. They rallied again, and when another expedition of 200 sailors and 400 militia men was sent against their new town, they surrounded these forces and attacked them. The Maroons were hidden among the rocks and trees, and thus could not be seen. Twenty men were killed and many wounded on the English side before the troops managed to escape.
In 1738 Edward Trelawny became Governor. He governed the island for nearly fourteen years, and was one of the ablest Jamaican administrators. On his arrival, he tried to bang the Maroon war to an end. A determined effort was still being made to subdue these people. Mosquito Indians from Nicaragua were employed to hunt them down, along with the Jamaican militia. But a colonist, Guthrie by name, conceived the plan of main the Maroons the friends of the Government. His idea was acted on by Governor Trelawny and a treaty of peace and friendship was drawn up between the Maroons and the Government. The Maroons were given land in different parts of the country, free of taxes. They were allowed to govern themselves. They were to be tried and punished by their own chiefs, but no chief could pass the sentence of death on any of them. They were to capture all runaway slaves and take them back to their owners. They were also to assist in suppressing any rebellion among the slaves.
In 1741 war having broken out again between England and Spain, Jamaican troops took part in Admiral VernonÆs disastrous attempt to capture Cartagena. Governor Trelawany personally led a regiment to the Isthmus of Panama the next year, but soon returned, unsuccessful.
In 1744 October, 20, Jamaica suffered from storm and earth-quake. Port Royal and Kingston were severely affected and Savanna-la-mar was destroyed. Twelve persons were drowned.
In 1746 an insurrection of the slaves broke out. This led to the passing of laws inflicting terrible punishment on those joining rebellions against their owners.
In 1751 Governor Trelawny left the island. His relations with the House of Assembly had been cordial and he was liked and respected by the people.
In 1752 Admiral Knowles became Governor. During his administration (in 1754) Kingston was temporarily made the capital of the island. Four sessions of the House of Assembly met in this city
In 1760 a formidable insurrection of the slaves took place in St. Mary under a leader called Tacky. They seized the town of Port Maria, armed themselves, murdered all the white people that fell into their hands, and were preparing for further outrages when they were met by the troops sent against them. They fought desperately, but in the end they were defeated. Four hundred were killed in battle and six hundered were deported to British Honduras. The ringleaders were put to death.
In 1762 William Henry Lyttleton became Governor. In that same year an expedition against Cuba left Jamaica. Troops had been raised locally, composed of coloured freemen and slaves who were promised emancipation. Havana was captured, but was afterwards restored to Spain when peace was made between that country and England.
In 1764 the population of Jamaica was estimated at 166,454. Of these, 140,454 were slaves. In the following year, the House of Assembly wanted to limit the number of slaves to be imported in the future, but the Governor would not agree.
In 1766 Mr. R. H. Elletson was appointed Lieutenant-Governor. In that same year a hurricane swept over the west end of the island.
In 1767 Sir William Trelawny became Governor. At first he quarreled with the House of Assembly, but afterwards and till his death, there was peace between the House and the Governor. When Sir William Trelawny died, in 1772, the House of Assembly voted a thousand guineas for his funeral. It was in his honour that the parish of Trelawny was formed and named. Lieutenant Colonel John Dalling acted as Governor after Trelawny’s death.
In 1774 Sir Basil Keith arrived as Governor. In that year the House of Assembly again passed Bills to restrict the importation of slaves into Jamaica. But the British Government would not allow these Bills to become law. There were now 209,617 persons in the island. Of these, 192,787 were slaves. Sir Basil Keith died in 1777.
In 1778 war was declared between England and France during the Revolution of the thirteen colonies in North America against England. A French fleet sailed for the West Indies, and most of the small British West Indian islands were taken. Jamaica was thrown into a state of excitement. Martial Law was proclaimed. Colonel Dalling was again acting as Governor and he vigorously prepared for the defense of the colony. Fortificatons were strengthened and the Militia was improved by drill and discipline. Horatio Nelson, who was then on West Indian service, was made Governor of Fort Charles in Port Royal in 1779. The French fleet, however, did not attack Jamaica.
In 1780 an expedition against the Spanish colony of Nicaragua left Jamaica. Nelson went with it. San Juan was taken. Nelson returned to Jamaica, and for some time lay seriously ill at Port Royal.
A terrible hurricane devastated the parish of Westmore-land: 40,000 pounds were sent from England for the relief of the sufferers. The misery caused by this calamity was very great. The town of Savanna-la-Mar was again completely destroyed.
In 1781 General Archibald Campbell became Lieutenant-Governor.
A humane law was passed by the House of Assembly. Up to that time it had been legal and customary to mutilate slaves convicted of grave offences by cutting off ears or hands. The law now passed rendered such mutilation illegal and punished it. There was another severe hurricane during 1781.
In 1782 Rodney won his celebrated victory over the French Admiral, the Count de Grasse who had intended to invade and capture Jamaica. The colonists were in a state of fear and trepidation until the news of Rodney’s victory was received. The great battle was fought off Dominica on April 12. The French AdmiralÆs plan was to avoid meeting Rodney until he could join his allies, the Spaniards, whose fleet lay off Haiti. Rodney was determined to prevent this junction. He followed the French as fast as he could, and in spite of the wind being against him at first came up with them at the islets called the Saintes near Dominica. A bloody naval engagement followed. The French were completely beaten. Some 3,000 out of the 6,000 men intended for the invasion of Jamaica were killed or wounded. Rodney brought the captured ships to Port Royal, and the grateful colonists voted 3,000 lbs for the erection of a marble statue in his honour. The statue now stands in Spanish Town Square. The British Government made Rodney a peer. His victory saved Jamaica from a French invasion.
to be continued……