Important people in Jamaican affairs circa 1752 to 1831

(chronologically arranged)

Excerpted from:  Cundall, Frank, Biographical Annals of Jamaica – A brief history of the colony arranged as a guide to the Jamaica Portrait Gallery with chronological outlines of Jamaica history, Educational Supply Company, Kingston, 1901, pages 16 – 27.

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Excerpts transcribed by David Bromfield ( ).  May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the transcriber. 

Admiral Sir Charles Knowles during his governorship from 1752 to 1756 had many quarrels with a section of the Assembly owing to his premature endeavour to change the seat of the government from Spanish Town to Kingston. The law which he forced through the house was disallowed by the King.

His successor, Henry Moore, who administered the affairs of the island from 1756 to 1762 (with a short interval in 1759), did much to pacify the angry feelings raised by Knowles, and was rewarded with a baronetcy. He commenced the building of the present King’s house in Spanish Town. Moore was, from 1765 till his death in 1769, governor of New York. His successor, William Henry Lyttelton (afterwards Baron Lyttelton), who was here from 1762 to 1766, relinquished the governorship of South Carolina to come to Jamaica.

Ballard Beckford, who died in 1764 was a man of extravagant habits, but his only daughter is said to have been a considerable heiress. His Jamaica properties were in St. Mary.

Of Teresia Constantia Phillips, who resided in Jamaica from 1754 till her death in 1765, it may be sufficient to say that hers is one of "The lives of twelve bad women." She was mistress of the revels, and as such controlled not only theatricals but all public entertainments given by the governor. She was married three times in Jamaica.

During the years 1754-9, Nicolas Josephus Jacquin, the celebrated botanist, visited the West Indies. Of the 435 species collected by him mostly new or previously imperfectly described, 35 belong to Jamaica – coming from the plain of Liguanea and the neighbourhood of Spanish Town.

Dr. Anthony Robinson (who died in 1768) did much good work as a botanist. His original drawings are in the library of the Institute. His notes were made use of by Lunan in his "Hortus Jamaicensis," and by Gosse in his "Naturalist’s Sojourn."

Philip Pinnock, speaker of the house of assembly from 1774 to 1778, and custos of St. Andrew, was an example of the wealthy Jamaica planters who went to London from time to time and cut a dash on the proceeds of their cane-fields. He died almost a pauper.

Edward Long, private secretary to his brother-in-law Sir Henry Moore, lieutenant-governor of the island, judge of the vice-admiralty . . . . known for his history of the Jamaica published in London in 1774. This work exhibits a large amount of research, but was prepared in haste and is ill-arranged. The author afterwards condemned it, and spent much time in correcting it for a second edition; his amended copy being now in the BritishMuseum. The name of Long still lives in Longville in Clarendon, granted to the first settler of the name, Samuel Long, the historian’s great-grandfather, who, coming as a lieutenant in Doyley’s regiment, rose to be speaker of the house of assembly, and chief justice.

Bryan Edwards, the historian of the West Indies, published his work in 1793, nineteen years later than Long’s. It was written at Bryan Castle in Trelawny. He resided in Jamaica from his youth (with an interval from 1782 to 1787) till 1792 when he settled permanently in England as a West India merchant. His history ran through five editions, and was translated into French, German, Spanish and Dutch. His planter instincts made him support the slave trade, with certain restrictions.

John Wolcot, better known as the satirist "Peter Pindar," a physician, accompanied his friend and distant connection Sir William Trelawny when the latter came as governor in 1768. Wolcot returned to England in 1769 and was ordained deacon and priest within two days; and, on coming again to Jamaica, Trelawny made him rector of Vere in 1770, chiefly lived in the governor’s house, and performed by deputy the duties made by him almost nominal. In the same year he was made physician-general to the horse and foot in the island. On the death of Trelawny in 1773, he returned to England and reverted to his practice in medicine.

Sir Peter Parker, who had previously had experience in the West . . . he will always be remembered as the friend and patron of Nelson whom he regarded as a son, givin ghim his first independent command: he was the chief mourner at Nelson’s funeral. Parker was provincial grand master of freemasons in the colony. When he left Jamaica in June 1782, Parker took with him de Grasse and the principal French officers who had surrendered to Rodney on the 12th of April.

Nelson came to the West Indies first in 1777, reaching Jamaica in July. In December 1778 he was appointed to command the Badger, and was engaged on the Mosquito Coast. In 1779 he attained the rank of post-captain and was soon afterwards entrusted with the command of Fort Charles at Port Royal. In 1780 he convoyed the troops on the ill-fated Nicaragua expedition, on which he nearly lost his life through fever. He was nursed back to health by the admiral and Lady Parker at their pen (the present poor-house of Kingston). The portrait of him given in the gallery is a copy of one painted sooon after he reached England in 1780 invalided from Jamaica. In 1783 he revisited the island, and attempted to retake Turk’s Island from the French.

Nelson’s life-long friend and companion, who rests beside him in St. Paul’s, Collingwood, came to the West Indies about the same time, and succeeded his friend on several steps in their careers. In 1777 he was tried by court-martial at Port Royal, and though he was acquitted of disobedience, he was recommended to be more cheerful in future. Like Nelson, he was a favourite with Parker. He shared with Nelson the perils of and sufferings of the Nicaragua expedition. In 1781 his ship, the Pelican was wrecked on the Morant Keys in a hurricane. He returned to England towards the close of 1786.

Another friend of Nelson was Simon Taylor who sat in eleven assemblies extending over fifty yers. He is said to have exercised greater influence in Jamaica, and for a longer period, than any other individual, not even excepting the Prices or Beckfords. Immensely wealthy, he had all the planter’s prejudices, especially against dissenters. He left behind him the greatest fortune which, perhaps any West Indian had ever acquired. As showing the value of sugar estates in Jamaica about the middle of the eighteenth century, it may be mentioned that Taylor gave 100,000 pounds (sterling) for Holland, in St. Thomas in the East.

Simon Taylor’s brother, Sir John Taylor, the first baronet, died at Kingston in 1786 while on a visit to his Jamaica estates. He lies buried by the side of his brother at Lyssons, in St. Thomas. His wife, Lady Taylor, was the daughter and heiress of Philip Haughton, of Orange Grove in Hanover. The Taylors’ brother-in-law Robert Graham (afterwards Cunninghame-Graham) was receiver-general of the island form 1753 to 1764. He was afterwards rector of Glasgow univesity . . . . ..

Dr. William Wright resided in Jamaica, with intervals, from 1764 till 1785, and during that time he was personally consulted by every scientific visitor who made the natural history of British West Indies the subject of his study. He sent many examples to the museums at Edinburgh and Kew and to Sir Joseph Banks, and he assisted Swartz in his West India writings. He was surgeon general and physician-general of Jamaica

Dr. Thomas Dancer is best known for his "Medical Assistant, or Jamaica Practice of Physic" which appeared in 1801. He lived in Jamaica from 1773 till his death in 1811-12. In 1779 he went as chief of the hospital staff on the Nicaragua expedition. He was physician to the bath at Bath, and also island botanist.

Dr. Robert Jackson, distinguished both as an administrative reformer in the army medical service and as a writer on fevers, gained his experience for his "Treatise on the fevers of Jamaica" (1791) while acting as assistant to Dr. King at Savanna-la-Mar from 1774 to 1780.

In 1784 Olof Swartz, the celebrated Swedish naturalist, visited Jamaica, where, during his stay of six months, he was offered and declined the post of island botanist. After a visit to Cuba and Haiti he returned here and stayed till 1786. His investigations were thorough, and he particularly devoted himself to the mountainous parts of the island of Jamaica. He discovered many new species which had escaped the notice of Sloane, Brown, Jacquin and other botanists. He published several other works on the flora of the West Indies.

The portrait of Colonel Edward Marcus Depard records the sad end to which a brave and skilful soldier was brought by disappointed ambition. Coming to Jamaica in 1772, he quickly showed his engineering skill. He was engineer to the Nicaragua expeditiion: he also superintended the defences of Jamaica, when it was threatened by de Grasse. He was in turn commandant at Rattan, of the Mosquito Coast (then under the suzereinty of Jamaica) and of Yucatan (granted by Spain to England for logwood cutting under the treaty of 1783). Charged with cruelty, he was recalled. He was found guilty of plotting against the government, and was hanged for high treason in 1803.

General Sir Archibald Campbell, of Inverneil was appointed governor of Jamaica in December 1782 at time of great importance. The British forces in America were faring ill: the French had joined the insurgents and threatened the British West India Islands, of which they captured Tobago, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat. But Campbell laid his plans so well, was so successful in raising black troops, ans was so untiring in his vigilance that the French did not dare attack Jamaica without re-inforcements. At the same time Campbell did what he could to assist the British troops in America, by sending them information, re-inforcements and supplies; and he, by lending some of his troops to serve as marines, materially aided Rodney in his great victory over de Grasse. This victory on the 12th April 1782, will ever be one of the brightest epochs in Jamaica’s history: for, though the engagement took place off Dominica, the future of Jamaica was no less at stake than that of the smaller British West India colonies.

Rodney had previously – 1771 to 1774 – been commander-in-chief at Jamaica, when he did much for the improvement of the naval yard at Port Royal, especially the arrangements for watering the fleet. On leaving in 1774 he was much disgusted because he was not made governor of the island. In the town-hall, Kingston, is a painting by Robert Edge Pine, representing him on board his ship Formidable at the moment of his victory over de Grasse. His monument in Spanish Town by Bacon cost in all 8,200 pounds. The statue was brought to Kingston in 1872 but was restored to Spanish Town in 1889.

Sir Alured Clarke was lieutenant-governor during an unfortunate period in the island’s history – from 1784 to 1790. He was at first hampered by a succession of severe storms in 1784, 1785, 1786, in the first of which every vessel in Kingston harbour was either sunk or damaged, and the barracks at Up-Park camp were blown down. During this period Jamaica, in company with other West India islands, protested against the restriction of trade with America imposed on them by the mother country, and in 1784 an impending famine caused Clarke to allow free importation from the United States for a time.

In 1786 Hector Macneill, a Scottish writer of verse, came out to Jamaica, which he revisited in 1796 when the climate restored him to health. He was interested in the slave-trade and there is an interesting tradition that he was at one time a slave-driver. The following verse of an elegy, written in Jamaica in 1788 on the sudden death of a young fellow countryman, may serve as an example of his style and of local customs: -

"Ah! What avails the tear and sigh

That close, loved Boy! Thy funeral gloom!

The doleful dirge, and frantic cry

Of Afric’s mourners round thy tomb."

Prince William Henry (afterwards William IV) while in the navy served on the Barfleur under Hood and visited Jamaica in 1783. He again came to the island in 1788, when he received a diamond star and address; and a medal was struck in his honour by the Royal Military Club of which he was patron. He gave a set of colours to the St. Thomas-in-the-Vale regiment of militia, and authorized the corps to be designated "Prince William’s Own." In 1801 the house of assembly voted 3000 guineas for a service of plate "as a testimony of the high respect and esteem indelibly impressed on the minds of the loyal inhabitants of Jamaica for his royal highness," and possibly in anticipation of assistance from his royal highness in their resistance to the anti-slave-trade movement. At this time the commander-in-chief at Jamaica was Alan Gardner (afterwards Lord Gardner) who was here from 1786 to 1790; having been on the station as captain in 1766 and again from 1768 to 1771. In 1769 he married Susanna Hyde, daughter and heiress of Francis Gale of Liguanea, and widow of Sabine Turner.

Thomas Howard, third earl of Effingham was governor of Jamaica from March 1790 till his death on November 21st 1791. His wife, the Countess of Effingham, had died on the 15th of October previously. They were both buried in the church (now the cathedral) at Spanish Town. The funerals and the monument by Bacon cost the island 8,700 pounds. The earl’s epitaph, written by Bryan Edwards, says that his administration was " the boast and security of a grateful people."

The visits of Thomas Coke, the methodist bishop (a title disapproved by Wesley), to the island, in 1790 and again in 1795 and 1805, are kept in memory by the name of Coke Chapel in Kingston. The seed which he sowed has resulted in the Wesleyan body being one of the most important of the religious denominations in the colony today.

Sir Samuel Hood was here in command of H.M.S. Juno in 1790-91. While lying in St. Ann’s Bay he succeeded, during a violent storm, and at great personal risk, in rescuing three men from a wreck at sea. On the boat’s crew being unwilling to make the attempt, Hood himself jumped in saying "I never in my life gave a sailor an order that I was not ready to execute myself." The house of assembly, generous and quick to reward heroism and valued services, voted him one hundred guineas for a sword of honour.

In 1791, an event of some considerable economic importance to the island occurred in the arrival of William Bligh with fruit trees, especially the breadfruit, from the south seas. For this he received a vote of one thousand guineas from the house of assembly and the gold medal of the Society of Arts of London.

Major-General Robert Rollo Gillespie, on whom the posthumous honour of a knight-commandership of the Bath was indadvertently bestowed, entered the army in 1783, and was in 1792 promoted to a lieutenancy in the newly raised 20th Jamaica light dragoons. When in the following year the French planters in San Domingo applied to Jamaica for aid, he volunteered for service with the infantry, and in the campaign there distinguished himself by his bravery – returning home at the all of Port-au-Prince. On being appointed in 1795 major of brigade to General Wilford he accompanied him to San Domingo, and soon afterwards – though small in stature – killed six men single-handed. Returning to Jamaica, he assumed command of his regiment, and in 1799 was recommended by the lieutenant-governor and house of assembly for the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was so gazetted. He was offered, by Lord Hugh Seymour, the naval commander-in-chief, the military command at Curacoa; but Balcarres, the then lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, said he could not spare him. At the peace of Amiens in 1802, when the 20th light dragoons were transferred to the English establishment, Gillespie returned home in command, and the assembly voted 100 guineas for a sword of honour for him. He subsequently had a brilliant career in the east, which ended by his being shot while leading his men to the attack of Kalunga in the Himalayas. In 1812 he had received, for his services in connection with the expedition to Palimbang, the thanks of the commander-in-chief in India, Sir George Nugent, under whose governorship he had spent his last months in Jamaica.

The period during which Alexander Lindsay, sixth earl of Balcarres, controlled the destinies of the island, as lieutenant-governor – 1795 to 1801 – will be memorable for the suppression of the maroon rebellion in Trelawny. The immediate cause of the outbreak was the flogging, at the workhouse at Montego Bay by a runaway negro (whom the maroons had captured), of two maroons who had been convicted of stealing pigs. Leonard Parkinson was one of their principal leaders. The house of assembly voted Balcarres seven hundred guineas for a sword, for his prompt actions which led to the suppression of the rebellion; but general Walpole, who commanded the troops, considered (and rightly considered, so far as one can judge) that Balcarres and the house had broken faith with the maroons over the execution of the terms of peace by sending them off the island, and he, on that account, refused a sword of honour offered to him by the house. It was during this governorship that Jamaica voluntarily contributed about 100,000 pounds to help the mother country in her war against revolutionary France in 1798.

At this period, 1796 to 1800, Sir Hyde Parker was commander-in-chief at Jamaica, when the cruising ships, as stationed by him, were exceptionally fortunate, and brought in a great many prizes, merchantmen, privateers, and ships of war, "by which both himself and his country were materially benefited."

Lord Hugh Seymour was commander-in-chief from 1800 to 1801. In August 1800 Surinam was captured from the Dutch. His command was otherwise uneventful. In 1799 occurred the curious case of the brig Nancy which, captured by H.M.S. Sparrow, was condemned as a lawful prize in Kingston on the evidence of papers found in the maw of a shark caught off Haiti by Lieutenant Fitton. (The papers and Fitton’s affidavit are in the Institute of Jamaica: the shark’s head is in the United Services Institute in London.)

Balcarres’s successor, Sir George Nugent was lieutenant-governor from 1801 to 1806. In 1805, under fear of French invasion, the public records were removed from Spanish Town to the church of St. Thomas-in-the-Vale at Linstea: but in the following year fear was allayed by Duckworth who brought in the prizes captured off San Domingo. Nugent’s life was a succession of reviews, audiences, balls, courts of chancery, tours of inspection and quarrels with the assembly, chiefly in connection with the question of the restriction of trade with the United States, and the support of the military forces of the island. His wife, Lady Nugent, kept a journal in which she, little thinking that it would ever be published, recorded events of a domestic nature in a very frank manner. Their memory lives in Nugent Street, Spanish Town.

William James, author of the well-known "Naval History of Great Britain," was from 1801 to 1812 enrolled among the attorneys of the supreme court of island, and practiced as a proctor in the vice-admiralty court: but the tradition which says that he wrote his naval history in Kingston is untrue. He left Jamaica in 1812 and did not commence his history till 1819. It is not known whether he was a native of Jamaica or England. His wife was West Indian, possibly Jamaican.

In 1803 the commander-in-chief at Jamaica was Sir John Thomas Duckworth (who had been flag captain to admiral Rowley here in 1780-81), in which capacity he directed the operations which led to the surrender of general Rochambeau and the French Army in San Domingo. In February 1806 he achieved over the French fleet off San Domingo "one of the completest victories on record"; three of the enemy’s ships being captured and brought into Port Royal, the other two driven ashore and burnt. For this he received a pension of 1,000 pounds per annum. The corporation of London gave him the freedom of the city and a sword of honour. The Jamaica house of assembly voted 3,000 pounds for the purchase of a service of plate, in addition to 1,000 pounds which had already been voted to him for a sword of honour.


The Loosening of the Bonds 1806 – 1833

When Sir Eyre Coote came out in 1807 as Lieutenant-governor, he brought the news that the imperial parliament had passed a law withdrawing the restriction of trade between Jamaica and the other West India islands, and the United States, and also that the African Slave Trade was abolished – which rendered the Jamaica planters dependent for their future supply of labour on the natural increase of the creole negroes; and foreshadowed the total abolition of slavery. From now till the time of abolition the condition of the slave population was gradually improved, partly through humane motives in the island but in great measure through pressure brought to bear by philanthropists in England: and the bonds were gradually loosened, so that the position of the slaves, when emancipation came, was very different from that of their parents at the commencement of the century.

Ill health and the effect of the climate on a weakened constitution, compelled Coote to retire. In November 1807 the house of assembly delivered an address to him on his "expected departure from the island," and on the 13th of April 1808 he was superceded in the command of the troops by general Villettes, having on the arrival of the Duke of Manchester on the 26th March ceased to act as governor. At his request the assembly passed a bill manumitting at his expense a negro boy, a domestic about the king’s house, and the property of the public, whom he took to England as a reward for his fidelity.

Lieutenant-General William Anne Villettes was appointed in November 1807 lieutenant-governor and commander of the forces in Jamaica. He died, however, while on a tour of inspection on the 13th of July 1808. He is buried at Half-way Tree, where there is a monument to his memory by Westmacott: a memorial being in Westminster Abbey. He never had occasion to administer the government as during his tenure of office as commander-in-chief (13th April to 13th July 1808) the duke of Manchester was governor. The mutiny of some recruits of the 2nd West India regiment which took place at Fort Augusta on the 27th of May 1808 led, owing to a dispute with the assembly on the subject, to his successor, general Carmichael, having to appear at the bar of the house in charge of the sergeant-at-arms – so jealous was the house of its priveleges.

William, the fifth duke of Manchester presided over the destinies of Jamaica longer than any other governor. With intervals, when he went home on leave, he occupied king’s house from 1808 to 1827. These nineteen years were times of great distress and anxiety . . . . . . . (requiring tact on certain topics – DMB) – especially those having reference to the amelioration of the free people of colour, and the preparation for the final emancipation of the slaves – such as the registration of slaves, the abolition of Sunday markets and the exemption of women from flogging – as urged by Canning on the part of the home government.

In 1815 Port Royal was almost destroyed by fire, while hurricanes and floods damaged many plantations. In 1820 the duke was thrown from his carriage and his skull was fractured: he never fully recovered from the accident. He is said to have been, when young, one of the finest and handsomest men of his time.

Admiral James Richard Dacres, who was commander-in-chief at Jamaica from 1805 to 1808, detained in Jamaica for its protection four of the six ships (of Cochrane’s squadron which had come out in chase of Missiessy) which Nelson had hoped would reach him at Barbados, when he came out in pursuit of the French fleet under Villeneuve, immediately before Trafalgar.

Most residents in and many visitors to the West Indies have read "Tom Cringle’s Log" and "The Cruise of the Midge," the former of which contains unequalled studies of Jamaica life and character of the early years of the nineteenth century. Michael Scott, their author, came to Jamaica in 1806 to manage several estates: in 1810 he entered business in Kingston the nature of which compelled him to travel frequently both by sea and road, and the experience of tropical scenery and nautical life thus gained formed the basis of the "Log," originally written at Raymond Hall in the Blue Mountains. After a visit to Glasgow in 1817 he left the island finally in 1822 and settled at Glasgow, commencing the publication of the "Log" seven years later in the pages of Blackwood’s Magazine.

Matthew Gregory Lewis, better known from the title of his most famous work as Monk Lewis, owned Cornwall and other estates in Jamaica, which he visited in 1816 and 1818. He died at sea ten days out from Black River, in the arms of his valet Tita, who was afterwards present at Byron’s death. Lewis had the welfare of his negro slaves much at heart, as is evident from a perusal of his "Journal of a West India proprietor." On both sides, his ancestors had interests in the island: and it is curious to note that he succeeded William Beckford, another Jamaican proprietor, in the representation of Hindon in the house of commons.

Lewis’s principal acts were the abolition of the lash on his properties, the acceptance of negro evidence, an endeavour to supplement manual labour by mechanical implements, the erection of better hospitals, and the granting of extra holidays; and he generally did his best – not without success – to spoil his slaves. So strongly was he impressed with the evil arising from absent landlordism that in a codicil to his will . . . . . . . whoever he or she might be, should pass three clear calendar months in Jamaica every third year. This was not asking much: but if every Jamaica proprietor had acted in that spirit, Jamaica would be far better off today than she is.

The Rev. Francis Humberstone, who was here for less than a year in 1818-19, dying at the early age of twenty-eight, achieved fame as a preacher. He was chaplain to the corporation of Kingston.

Sir Henry Thomas de la Beche, the well-known geologist, visited his paternal estate of of Halse Hall in Clarendon in 1824, and soon afterwards published his "Notes on the present condition of the negroes in Jamaica" – an interesting account of his estate and the manner in which its working was carried on.

Sir Home Riggs Popham, who was commander-in-chief on the Jamaica station from 1817 to 1820, had done his life’s work in India, at the Cape and in the capture of Buenos Ayres, and elsewhere, before he came to the island.

William Bullock, who at the time of his death in 1832, was in possession of no less than five public offices (of which the chief were Island Secretary and Governor’s Secretary) with a recorded income of 4,000 pounds per annum from only three of them – held for many years an important position in the island. As attorney for a number of absentee proprietors, he had much influence. His memory still lingers in Bullock’s Lodge at Port Henderson.

In 1823, Thomas Fowell Buxton, at the request of Wilbeforce, became his successor in the House of Commons as leader of the anti-slavery agitation. In his work he had the active co-operation of Zachary Macaulay, the philanthropist (better known as the father of Lord Macaulay) who, coming as a lad of sixteen to Jamaica in 1784 to be a bookkeeper on an estate, of which he became manager, had there gathered experiences which coloured his life. Deeply impressed by the miseries of the slaves, he gave up his position in disgust and returned to England in 1792 and embarked on his career, as abolitionist and philanthropist, Sierra Leone and in England, learning meanwhile the horrors of the Middle Passage. At this time in the West Indies endeavours amongst ecclesiastical bodies for the emancipation and uplifting of the slaves, which had been going on for years, began to follow more closely lines laid dwon by organization and co-operation. In 1823 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed by Buxton, Macaulay and others.

In 1824 the see of Jamaica was constituted, and its first bishop was Dr. Christopher Lipscomb. He arrived in the following year, and soon afterwards the ecclesiastical laws were consolidated and amended. In 1828 the diocese was divided into three rural deaneries. Lipscomb ordained 66 priests and 73 deacons, and he consecrated 31 churches or chapels in the island. During his tenure of office the clergy of the established church took a warmer interest than had been their wont in the labouring population. Lipscomb died in 1843 and is buried at Halfway Tree.

Major-general Sir John Keane (afterwards Lord Keane), who commanded the troops here from 1823 to 1830, was lieutenant-governor of Jamaica from 1827 to 1829. During this period the imperial government directed that the religious liberty of the people was not to be restricted by legislation. He concluded a brilliant career in the East by the capture Ghuznee.

Keane’s successor, for the second earl of Belmore was governor from 1829 to 1832. Accompanied by the countess of Belmore he arrived on the 20th February 1829, at a time when the island was in conflict with the home government on the subject of the treatment of slaves and religious toleration. Canning’s resolutions for the amelioration of the slave population formed the basis of the instructions which Belmore received. At this time, one member of the house of assembly suggested that a despatch on the subject from England should be burnt by the common hangman, and another proposed that it should be ignored on the assumption that the colonial militia could resist the forces of England: while some went so far as to threaten to transfer their allegiance to the United States.

After protacted negotiations, a bill acceptable to the home authorities was passed in February 1831.

A rebellion broke out, under Samuel Sharp, in the western part of the island – a rebellion, as it was then described, "of a more extensive nature, of a more daring character, and more destructive of life and property than any rebellion which has taken place in this island since it belonged to the British Crown," originating in a misbelief that emancipation had been granted by the British Govenment, but was being being witheld by the planters. On one night in December 1831, sixteen incendiary fires took place in St. James, and many lives were lost in quelling the outbreak of the slaves. Martial-law had to be declared throughout the island, and general Sir Willoughby Cotton, the commander of the forces, felt compelled to take the field in person. Property to the value of 666, 977 pounds was destroyed.

On February 3rd the governor issued a proclamation offering pardon to all innocent of certain offences, who would come in within ten days. As a result many surrendered and amongst others, "Colonel" Gardiner, the military leader, who asked lieutenant McNeal to meet him unarmed (as depicted in the sketch) not far from Savanna-la-Mar; and he and "Captain" Dove then surrendered because, they stated, they found that their followers were a parcel of cowards. After conviction of participation in arson, barbarism and murder, Gardiner was executed, and Dove was sent to the hulks England. The home authorities made a loan of 200,000 pounds to the proprietors to assist them in replenishing the plantations. At an early meeting the house decided, in consequence of the rebellion, not to take into consideration that session any measure relating to the amelioration of the slaves.

Last Updated on 06/27/1999
By David Bromfield


Last Updated on May 10, 2012 by  David Bromfield