QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
MARCH 1972 VOL.6-NO. 1
Jamaica Journal is published Quarterly
by the Institute of Jamaica, 12-16 East
rStreet, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.
Frank Hill, Chairman
Rex Nettleford, Vice Chairman
Neville Dawes, Deputy Director
Roy Reynolds, Editor
Design and Production
Lithographed in Jamaica
Stephensons Litho Press Limited
Jamaica 50c U.K. & Europe 37V2p
U.S. & Canada $1.00
West Indies $1.50 (B.W.I.)
I year $2.00
3 years 55.00
5 years $9.00
U.S. & Canada
1 year $3.50 plus $1.00 postage
3 years- $10.00 plus $3.00 postage
5 years- $16.00plus $5.00 postage
(United States Currency)
I year 55.00 plus $2.00 postage
3 years $14.00 plus $6.00 postage
5 years $18.00 plus $10.00 postage
U.K. & Europe
1 year .40p plus SOp postage
3 years 4.00p plus 1.50p postage
5 years- 6.50p plus 2.50p postage
Africa, Asia, Australia
US or UK subscription rates plus
double their respective postage rates.
Letter to the Editor. . . . . . . . .. . .. 2
HISTORY .................... 3
History from the Earth
Archaeological Excavations at Old Kings House. R. Duncan Mathewson 3
The Jig Saw Men A Review Article . . . .John Hearne 12
The West India Reference Library of the Institute of Jamaica Glory Robertson 15
St. Vincent, 1827 (Colour) . . . . . ... .B. Calliqua 17
The Origin of the Second Maroon War 1795-1796
(A Planter's Conspiracy) Extract from A.D. Dridzo's "Jamaican Maroons" 21
SCIENCE . . . . . . . . . .. 26
Four Guests of Jamaican Ants . . . . .... .Tom Farr 26
Plant Collectors in Jamaica Before 1900 with a Biography of Sir Hans Sloane . 29
Ferns . . . . . . . . .George R. Proctor 36
ART LITERATURE MUSIC .... .. ..... 40
Art & Craft Exhibition Jamaica School of Art . . . . . 40
Poem Painting 3, Mountain Azalea, Inscape (Colour) . . . ... 41
Historic Jamaica Revisited .. .. . . ... .Dr. David Buisseret 45
The All Jamaica Library. . . . . . ... Mervyn Morris 47
Four Poems Caribbean Lovesong, Poem, Origin, To An African Girl
Neville Dawes 50
Life's Nectar (Poem) . . . . . . ... A.S. Johnson 52
Two Poems England Seen, Sister and The Devil . .. Lorna Goodison 53
Photographs .. . . . . . .... .Evelyn Borrow 11 & 35
. . . . . .. . .LloydRobinson 28 & 46
....... . . Alfred Dwyer 49
FROM THE INSTITUTE .. ...
The Institute of Jamaica . . . . .
The Alley Anglican Church in Clarendon.
Photo by Derek Jones,
Institute of Jamaica Staff Photographer.
Institute of Jamaica Musgrave Medalists. 1971
Design: Heather Sutherland.
etter to the editor
I have read in the most recent issues of your Journal Dr. George Beckford's review
article on the book "A Jamaican Plantation" by Michael Craton and James Walvin, and
Mr. G.F. Clarke's letter of October 28, 1971 in reply to Dr. Beckford's review.
I do not intend to enter here into discussion of the book because I am reviewing it
elsewhere; but I must, in one specific and related matter, put the record straight. I quote
from Mr. Clarke's Letter:
"Incidentally, the author of the article [i.e. Dr. Beckford] is astonished that no one
from the University of the West Indies was thought fit to write this book. It would
have been very easy to have phoned the head of the History Department of the
University of the West Indies to ascertain the true position."
I have been head of the Department of History here for the past seven years and I
have never discussed with Mr. Clarke, either in conversation or in correspondence, the
history of Worthy Park Estate or the choice of an author to write it.
Some years ago Mr. Tom Concannon, of the National Trust Commission, remarked
that Mr. Clarke had asked him to write a history of Worthy Park. Mr. Concannon said
that he had declined, for the very good reason that he is not an historian, and that he had
mentioned my name to Mr. Clarke. I told Mr. Concannon that I was not without interest,
but that I could not then undertake the work because I was working on another book. I
also told him that it might be possible to find a suitable postgraduate student of the U. W.I.
who would do the research and writing under my direction. But this was all in casual
conversation with Mr. Concannon.
My next information came, eventually, from Mr. Craton, who was visiting Jamaica
doing historical research for his Ph.D. at a Canadian University. He told me that he was
going to write the history of Worthy Park. Still later, he told me that he had invited Mr.
Walvin, from the University of York, in England, to assist him.
That is all that I could have told Dr. Beckford or anyone else. Mr. Clarke has never
spoken to me or written to me about the qualifications of Concannon, Hall, Craton,
Walvin, or anyone else. His implication that the Department of History, or I as its head,
was in any way involved in the selection of Mr. Craton and Mr. Walvin rests either on a
weak memory or on a powerful imagination.
I should be grateful if this letter were published in your next issue.
Professor of History and
Head of the Department of History.
7th February, 1972.
The identification of archaeology with
exotic cultures of long ago has tended to
make the subject meaningful to most laymen
only in terms of the study of pre-historic and
ancient remains, such as Mayan temples or
Egyptian pyramids. However, this limited
view of archaeology is very misleading, since
an ever increasing interest in the application
of archaeology to the study of the coloniza-
tion of the New World has already clearly
revealed the wide range of information which
the archaeologist can add to the history of
European contact with the New World and
its subsequent settlement. Within the last five
years or so, the deepening interest in the
settlement of the New World on the part of
Archaeologists has led to the development of
Historical Archaeology, or what some people
prefer to call Historical Site Archaeology.
The application of this type of archaeological
study is of real relevance to Jamaica, and most
people already know something about the
interesting work being carried out by archae-
ologists at Port Royal.1
Since July, 1971, however, a new archae-
ological programme has been organized under
the auspices of the Institute of Jamaica for
the investigation of the Old King's House site
in Spanish Town. Its primary aim is to
examine systematically the stratigraphic de-
posits on the site prior to any reconstruction
of the building. More specifically, the main
OLD KING'S HOUSE
by R. Duncan Mathewson
objectives of this archaeological programme
can be summarized briefly as follows:
1.) Examination of the evidence for
Spanish occupation of the site from c. 1534
to 1655, with particular emphasis on recover-
ing information on the early settlement of
Spanish Town and on aspects of cultural
contact between the Spaniards and pre-
existing Arawak indigenous communities of
the Southern Saint Catherine Plain,
2.) Evaluation of the evidence of English
occupation and building on the site prior to
1761 when construction of Old King's House
as it is known today was begun, with an
emphasis on the recovery and close dating of
as many everyday household items from the
eighteenth century as possible,
3.) Collection of information on the main
structural features and building phases of the
main period of English occupation from
1762-1872, with particular attention to the
recovery of late Georgian and Early Victorian
household effects from dated stratigraphic
4.) Exploration for underground tunnels
and subterranean rooms, and
5.) Preparation of the excavated finds for
a permanent display, which might be expand-
ed into an historical/archaeological museum
in Spanish Town.
Old King's House has a very long and
involved history, but perhaps most people
simply know it as the old governor's Spanish
Town residence which now stands in ruins on
the Old City Square of the former capital. In
fact, this building is not only of special inter-
est in Jamaica, but also throughout the
Western Hemisphere, as it is one of the few
residential sites in the New World stretching
back in time through almost four hundred
years of continuous occupation.
Long before the Spanish arrived in Jamaica,
Arawak villages were scattered along the
coastal areas of what we refer to now as the
Saint Catherine Plain. One of the biggest and
perhaps most widely known Arawak village
sites in the entire Caribbean is the one cen-
tred at White Marl, only some six miles east
This is the earliest known
plan of old King's House,
drawn in 1871, just one
year before the official
Governor's Residence was
moved to Kingston. The
pencil notations were pro-
bably added early in this
century when some modern
renovations were carried
out by the Public Works
of Spanish Town on the Kingston road.
Other Arawak sites are known to be located
in the near vicinity of Spanish Town, and
several occur on Port Henderson Hill and at
Salt Pond. It is uncertain just how many
more village sites there are in the Spanish
Town area, but it would not be surprising
to find that this particular area was one of
the more heavily settled coastal regions of
Jamaica during Arawak times. Although the
Arawaks may not have actually settled the
immediate area of what was later to be known
as Spanish Town, the occurrence of Arawak
pottery and a considerable amount of sea
shells in the lowest levels at Old King's House
clearly attests to the nearby presence of
Arawak communities during the early Spanish
settlement of the town. Just what type of
contact existed between these indigenous
communities of the Southern Saint Catherine
plain and the early Spanish settlers remains
to be examined in any detail.
Spanish Period (c. 1534-1655)
Although the initial settlement of Jamaica
by the Spanish in 1509 centred on the North
Coast at Sevilla Nueva, by 1534 the Spaniards
had officially moved their Capital to the south
coast, locating it at Spanish Town which was
then known as Villa de la Vega. From the
mid-sixteenth century, this town continued
to grow, very soon becoming the major focal
point of the Spanish colony. Though there
were several other Spanish settlements along
the South Coast, such as Caguaya (Passage
Fort), Esquivel (Old Harbour) (?) and Oristan
(Bluefields), for the most part they were
very small and of tar less prominence than
Spanish Town. In 1611 the Abbot of
Jamaica stated in a letter to the King of
Spain, Phillip III, that Spanish Townwas the
only settled town in the whole Island. And
some years later, in 1628, a missionary wrote
that the town ". .. has a marvelously attract-
ive site, containing) 500 residents, and is
very well built and laid out." At this time it
was reported that Spanish Town appears to
have had "a collegiate church, two convents
and two shrines serving as parish churches. "2
The layout of the City Square in Spanish
Town and its accompanying grid street plan
is clearly Spanish in origin and was already
established before the later English settle-
ment. Like all Spanish American towns, the
streets were laid out in a quadrangular pattern
around the Plaza Mayor, which was custom-
arily fronted by the principal church, the
cabildo (or "town hall"), and the prison.3
There is very good reason to believe that
during Spanish times the Abbey fronted onto
the South side of the City Square (or Plaza
Mayor)4, with the "Hall of the Audiencia"
and perhaps the cabildo on the west side
somewhere on the site of Old King's House.5
The North side of the Plaza probably held
several buildings, including a tavern and
perhaps a prison, while the east side may
have contained private houses of prominent
Besides the Plaza Mayor, there was most
probably also aPlazaMinor which the English
later called the church Parade. This smaller
and less important plaza was aligned on both
Red and White Church Streets, as well as on
Monk Street immediately to the east of the
plaza. These three parallel streets are clearly
associated with the sixteenth century monas-
tic buildings of both the Franciscan and
Dominican Orders. The Franciscan Monas-
tery appears to have been situated at the
southern end of Monk Street, more or less
where the present cathedral now stands.7 It
seems as if the English adapted this monastery
as their main church, which may have
originally fronted the east side of the Spanish
Plaza Minor. Henceforth, the church lent its
name to the "parade" in English times. The
probable site of the Dominican Monastery
has been located at the northern end of Monk
Street, on the grounds of the present Rio
Cobre Approved School.8 Furthermore,
there is some evidence to suggest that there
may well have been a hospital somewhere
along Monk Street in Spanish times, perhaps
in the general area of the present Saint
Catherine Infirmary. Just behind the Infirm-
ary there is an area commonly known as
"Mulberry Gardens". It appears as such on
the English map of 1786, although it probably
dates further back from the Spanish period
when the growing of mulberry trees was
promoted for the development of silk culti-
vation. By the mid sixteenth century the silk
industry had become established throughout
much of Spanish America.9 It therefore
seems likely that there were mulberry tree
plantations along the right bank of the Rio
Cobre, which survived into early English times
and gave their name to the area.
English Period (1655-1872)
With the fall of Spanish Town in 1655,
it seems as if part of the town was destroyed
by the invading English. However, the "Hall
of the Audiencia" survived this period of
destruction and was most probably immedi-
ately occupied by the English.1U Shortly
after the destruction of Port Royal in 1692,
the site became the official Governor's
residence and for the first time was formally
referred to as "King's House". It is not at all
certain just how many buildings were on this
site during the early years of the English
occupation. However, the former "Hall of
the Audiencia" was probably only one of
several buildings there. Throughout this
early period substantial repairs and rebuilding
of the original Spanish structure must have
been undertaken. Through documentary
sources we know that by 1700 the then
Governor, Sir William Beeston, more than
doubled King's House and enclosed all the
land belonging to it with a brick wall. He
also added outbuildings and offices. In 1739,
the Governor's house on the site was described
as a large two storey stone house with a court
and adjoining apartments for servants. 11
Construction of the Georgian building
which is what is known today as Old King's
House was begun in 1761, during what has
been called the "Golden Age" of sugar in
Jamaica. Accounts from the time describe
how the existing buildings were taken down,
and the ground levelled off to make room for
the new building.12 Even for those prosper-
ous times, Old King's House was thought to
be on a grand scale, and was enthusiastically
described by Long in 1774 as "the noblest
and best edifice, either in North America, or
any of the British Colonies in the West Indies '
Within a relatively short time after,the House
of Assembly was completed directly across
the City Square from Old King's House, while
somewhat later,in about 1790,the Rodney
Memorial with the Old Armoury and Record
Office were added on the North side of the
Square. Finally,the Court House was erected
on the South side of the Square in 1820,
making one of the finest and most gracious
groups of Georgian public buildings of its type
found anywhere in the Western Hemis-
phere.13 Old King's House was the Govern-
or's residence from the time of the construct-
ion of its east wing in 1761/2, until 1872
when the capital was finally moved to
Kingston and the building was abandoned.
After a time, the building fell into general
disrepair, and in 1925 it was burnt to the
ground, leaving intact only the eastern facade
and the stables which now house the Folk
The site of Old King's House covers a city
block, an area of approximately 250 feet by
175 feet, and is situated on the western side
of what we now refer to as the Old City
Square. The Governor's residence begun in
1761 had two parallel main wings connected
by a narrow central wing, resulting in a
building plan in the form of an "H". The
eastern wing faced directly out onto the
Square and part of its ground floor contained
the Great Hall (first called the Egyptian Hall
in 1801 by Lady Nugent) and the Council
Chambers. As the reconstruction work which
is presently in the planning stages is to begin
first in this part of the building, excavations
were begun in this area of the East Wing,
although cuttings have now been made in
other areas as well.
At the moment, very little can be said
about the Spanish occupation of the site.
Apart from several initial stratigraphic tests,
the excavations have not yet gone deep
enough to reveal much about the Spanish
levels. However, a fair quantity of Spanish
artifacts have already been recovered from a
general seventeenth century context. Spanish
curved roof tiles occur in great numbers, as
they were continually re-used by the English
on the site until the importation of "Carolina"
shingles from the English colonies in America
replaced them in the early eighteenth century.
Spanish bricks also occur, but due to their
friable nature these were not re-used to any
great extent by the English. Both early and
middle varieties of olive jars were also
recovered.14 These should not be confused
with the Iberian Storage Jars ("Spanish Jars")
which are much larger, later in date, and
known to be still used for water storage in
the rural areas of Jamaica.
Majolica pottery15 was introduced into
the New World by the Spaniards and was soon
dispersed throughout the settlements of
Spanish America. The polychrome Majolica
wares were almost always associated with the
wealthy and ruling groups, and in the New
World they are most frequently found in
abundance at ecclesiastical sites and those
which are associated with the governing and
influential sectors of the community. So far,
Majolica pottery has only been recovered in
Jamaica in any appreciable amount from the
early sixteenth century occupation deposits
Above, Plan of Spanish Town. A
drawing of Spanish Town taken
from the earliest known plan dating
to about 1786. Note the schematic
representation of old King's House
which suggests that both the main
axis of the West Wing and the
Central Wing were notyet built. The
slight asymmetrical alignment to the
main axis of the East Wing suggests
that the Central fWing may well
have been built on top of founda-
tions of an earlier structure. The
dotted lines connecting Old King's
House with the House of Assembly
across the Square may represent an
Left An assortment of European
ceramics recovered at old King's
House. Spanish painted earthenware
and Majolica (1-4); Olive jar (5);
French faience (6); Dutch Delft
(7); German Westerwald ware (8);
Chinese hand-painted "famille rose"
porcelain (9); and Chinese blue on
white underglaze porcelain (10).
of the Sevilla Nueva settlement, which only
lasted for about twenty-five years at the most.
Although the excavations at this site have
produced Majolica in fair quantity,16 the
damp, acid sub-soil conditions are such that
in many cases the glazes have been leached
off. Consequently, many of the sherds have
lost their finish and at the moment are not
identifiable readily, except perhaps by fabric
type in some cases. Up to now, Majolica
pottery is known to have been recovered at
only three other sites; White Marl, Windsor
Hole, and the Spanish Town Archives.17
Only this last site is of special interest and
need concern us here. During the laying of a
sewer pipe in 1953 across the courtyard of
the Spanish Town Archive Building, a con-
siderable amount of pottery was recovered,
among which were numerous Majolica sherds
representing at least four different wares.18
These sherds are very well preserved and, as
they come from the area facing onto the
Northern side of the Plaza Mayor, they pro-
vide a clear indication of the excellent range
of the Majolica assemblage which should be
recovered at Old King's House. Once the
habitation deposits and refuse dumps from
the Spanish occupation lasting as it did for
120 years can be located and carefully
examined, they could provide one of the
most comprehensive assemblages of Spanish
Majolica in the Caribbean.
So far, most of the work on the site has
been with deposits which generally date to
the earlier part of the English occupation. A
brick floor in the East Wing beneath the floor
level of the 1761 structure has been tenta-
tively dated to c. 1690/1700. It seems as if
this brick floor is part of an exterior-covered
verandah which may have extended along the
length of a rectangular building some fifty
or sixty feet long. At the present time, there
is no evidence for the existence of a second
story. The nature of the brick clearly indi-
cates that this structure was built by the
English, and it seems likely that the floor and
associated structure must be in some way
part of the renovation begun by Lt. Gov.
Beeston soon after he took office in 1693.
A test cutting in the garden area to th
north of the central wing has revealed about
five feet of stratified deposits. The first level
Above left Wine bottle seal dating to about
1660, belonging to the Second Earl of
on top of natural subsoil produced scattered
Spanish brick bats, olive jars sherds, and very
fragmentary delfware, as well as what may be
an imitation French faience faceted bowl of
the early to mid seventeenth century. Just
on top of this was a refuse midden clearly
English in origin which contained early wine
and case bottles, generally dating to about
1660/70 period. A glass bottle seal coming
from refuse deposit has been identified as a
close parallel to the seal which is attributed
to Henry Hyde, Lord Cornbury and second
Earl of Clarendon (1638-1709).19 We
know from Sir Thomas Modyford's survey of
1670, that by that time Lord Clarendon held
3,000 acres in Clarendon Parish and was one
of the largest landowners of his day. Al-
though we know little about his connection
Above centre Wine bottle seal depicting
'Adam and Eve, dating to about 1725.
with Jamaica, it is possible that he may have
been in the island sometime after 1660.
Shortly after, the original land patents were
granted in 1664, and the Parish was named
after his father, the first Earl.
Perhaps the most interesting typological
sequence obtained from this initial garden
test was the clay tobacco pipe series in which
almost one thousand pipe fragments were
recovered. Though this number is by no
means exceptionally large (and by some
standards quite small), the assemblage is of
extreme interest as it represents for the
moment the longest stratified sequence Jn
Jamaica. For the first time, these stratified
pipes provide an excellent opportunity to
study particular pipe forms within a closely
dated Jamaican context, stretching from the
Above right -
Wine bottle seal dating to
Below Trainee-volunteers at work marking the tobacco pipes from the garden test.
arrival of the English in 1655 to the mid 18th
Apart from the white clay tobacco pipes,
this stratigraphic sequence also contained
over two hundred red clay pipes of the type
that most authorities now feel must have
been made somewhere in the Caribbean area,
and perhaps in Jamaica. Although identical
pipes have been brought up in some quantity
from the Harbour at Port Royal by Robert
Marx and his fellow divers, this is the first
time that anywhere near this number have
been excavated from a sealed stratigraphic
context. Marx has noted the presence of red
clay tobacco pipes in small numbers on
several other islands, namely St. Martin's,
Trinidad, the Bahamas, Old Providence Island,
and at Porto Bello, Panama.20 The Jamaican
distribution of red pipes initially worked out
by Michael Pawson, appears to be generally
confined to Port Royal, Spanish Town and
Black River.21 Recent information has also
indicated the recovery of some red pipes
from Carlisle Bay,22 and at the moment it
seems as if this type of locally made tobacco
pipe is primarily found in Jamaica on the
south coast. The only occurence of red pipes
on the north coast presently known to the
writer are the few recovered by C.S. Cotter
in his excavations at Sevilla Nueva. As we
know that the Spanish officially deserted this
site in 1534, long before the tobacco pipe
could have been introduced into Jamaica,
these few pipes must represent a later drop,
perhaps dating to about 1680/1690 when
the English first seriously began to settle this
At the moment, it is still difficult to know
what to think of the marks which invariably
are impressed on the red pipe stems in the
form of simple geometric designs, most
usually in groups of three. Over forty
different marks of this type have been
identified at Port Royal. The only known
historical reference to red tobacco pipes in
Jamaica comes in the Taylor Manuscript
written in about 1688; in it a woman is
described smoking a red pipe at Port Royal.
Certainly, the excavated evidence from the
garden test at Old King's House points to a
far greater popularity of the red pipe within
a 1660-70 context, in which red pipes make
up about 40% of the total pipe assemblage,
against an early 18th century context in which
they only make up some 22% of the total
pipe count. Now at Old King's House in-
formation is being recovered on the strati-
graphic distribution of the more frequently
occurring maker's marks, and it is hoped that
similar stratigraphic evidence will begin to
throw some new light on the red tobacco
pipes and its wider historical significance in
Recent cuttings have been opened in the
area of the back service rooms and kitchen,
which comprise the ground floor of the West
Wing. Apart from uncovering earlier brick
foundations beneath the tile pavement of the
kitchen, several brick rooms have just been
unearthed which may tentatively be attri-
buted to the back apartments and offices
known to have been built by Beeston some-
time around 1700, and referred to earlier.
The largest room so far uncovered contained
almost five feet of dump and rubble deposits
which were clearly put in to fill in and even
0- ft-- M -1
;_1z, ;W 4 m i Id I I tv
1; -,ll~~ ~El~ -i~C
This walled-in passage-way is only one of several similar structural features needing very care-
ful. examination. Although the brick stair-way is clearly English in origin, the limestone
foundation walls may date to the Spanish period.
out the surface prior to later construct-
ion. As the finds in these dump deposits are
particularly rich and can be generally dated
to span the last quarter of the 18th century,
it strongly suggests that at least this part of
the West Wing of Old King's House could not
have been built much before 1810, and must
therefore be considered a later addition to
the 1761-62 construction of the East Wing.
Work has only just begun on this dump
deposit, so very little really can be said about
it at the present time. The finds from the
initial sounding, however, are particularly
interesting as we have already recovered over
thirty complete wine bottles, as well as large
fragments and nearly complete pieces of other
types of artifacts, including several types of
decanters, Chinese porcelains, wine glasses,
pearlware, and gilded delftware. Perhaps of
special interest is a very large assortment of
Wedgwood Queen's Ware, many pieces with
marks, probably coming from a complete
service in use at Old King's House. Among
the more exceptional pieces was a Wedg-
wood fruit basket of exceptional quality,
Left A corner of a back apartment built by Beeston, sometime around 1700.
Note the refuse dump on the left. Most of the ceramics and bottles came from
levels 6 and 7; level 8 is natural, undisturbed clay.
Above Some of the bottles and ceramics from the dump deposit in "Beeston's"
back apartment. Although there are many different shapes of bottles here, all of
them have been hand-blown. As they do not bear any mould marks they must
date prior to the patenting of the moulding process, registered in England in 1822.
Below By carefully piecing together numerous sherds, many of the ceramic
vessels can be restored for display purposes. Here work is progressing on a fine
English bowl of blue and white gilded delftware.
tureens, and platters of various sizes. The
only other find which bears noting here are
fragments of a painted wall plaster which is
decorated by a white and black geometric
stencil design, consisting of a trellis motif
and a lineal dot design.
The construction sequence for the Govern-
or's residence is without a doubt far more
complex than originally anticipated. As we
have already seen, the archaeological evidence
indicates that the residence was not in any
way built as a complete unit at one time.
Bricked up joist holes and windows, together
with different types of brick work and cut
limestone courses mixed in with brick all
attest to various building phases, which must
yet be worked out.
The pottery and other artifacts from Old
King's House derive from a sealed stratigraphic
context. Hence, they have not suffered from
any undue disturbance since they were first
incorporated into their respective layers. In
other words, unlike the case of Port Royal
where a whole series of earthquakes, hurri-
canes and fires have tended to mix the finds
from different periods and stratigraphic de-
posits, the artifacts from the Old King's
House sequence still maintain their order of
deposition. Thus, the earlier occupation and
associated finds are confined to the lowest
parts of the stratigraphic sequence, while
artifacts from the latest occupation are
found in the highest deposits. This makes it
possible to relate the depositional sequence
to absolute historic dates known to be
associated with the site with a good degree of
confidence. Once the sequence is 'tied-into'
the time scale defined by the main historic
dates such as of 1534, 1655, and 1761/2, the
associated assemblages of artifacts, parti-
cularly the pottery, can be very closely
dated.23 From the study of inventories, bills
of lading, and early newspaper advertisements
it is also hoped eventually to be able to define
the possible colonial time-lag as it affects the
popularity of major European wares within
the Jamaican context.
In this way, invaluable typological/chron-
ological sequences can be developed from
Old King's House which should go a long way
towards dating other Spanish and English
sites in Jamaica, as well as in other parts of
Pottery seriation is a method by which all
the sherds from individual layers are closely
analysized into types, or wares, in order to
ascertain quantitatively the ceramic popular-
ity of prominent wares at any given point in
the depositional sequence. Once the occur-
ring frequency of several major wares is
determined and related to what is known
about their production in Europe, this in-
formation can be checked against the known
historical dates likely to be associated with
any particular feature or structure. Thus it
will be possible to date structures and
occupation debris simply on the basis of
associated ceramics, rather than on any one
single artifact. Once the Old King's House
pottery sequences have been fully worked
out, it should be possible to date occupation
phases of residential sites and buildings with
reasonable accuracy, simply from associated
assemblages of imported European ceramics
and glass wares, without having to rely upon
dating from single isolated finds such as coins.
If the assemblages are of sufficient size both
in type and frequency, it should be possible
in some cases to date sites confidently to
within a decade or so.. This independent
means of archaeologically dating sites and
buildings even as late as the mid 19th
Century is important, particularly when so
many of the most interesting buildings are
often not mentioned or are only sketchingly
referred to in the historical records and
documents of their day.
Archaeological excavations at Old King's
House enchance its historical interest and
value because they provide a wealth of new
information about the site which is not
otherwise obtainable from documentary
sources. In general terms, the potential
value of this excavation programme can be
seen in two major ways. Firstly, it provides
an excellent opportunity to recover arti-
factual material from independently dated
stratified deposits which stretch over almost
four hundred years of continuous occupation,
right back to Arawak times. Apart from the
Spanish period, the recovery of ceramics,
tools and other household items from the
middle and late English periods would be
particularly rewarding because artifacts from
this time are not nearly as well represented
at Port Royal as is the late seventeenth and
early eighteenth century material. Therefore,
it would seem that these later English artifacts
from Old King's House may in part supple-
ment the Port Royal material from the early
Secondly, the excavations should help to
An assortment of Wedgwood "Queen's Ware" (1-7); Pearlware Plate (8); English China (9);
and Chinese Porcelain (10).
answer some of the wider historical questions
pertaining to the formative period of Jam-
aican history, and particularly the Spanish
settlement of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. Probably no other area in Jamaica
can potentially produce as much information
on the Spanish period as can the Plaza Mayor
of Spanish Town, since it was the seat of
government and the social, economic and
religious centre of Jamaica from 1534 to
1655. Many questions need to be answered
about the Spanish settlement. What contact
did the Spaniards have with the indigenous
Arawak neighboring communities such as
White Marl? What proportion of the popu-
lation used handicraft learnt in Africa.24
What were the living conditions under which
the black slaves of Jamaica existed in those
days?25 What were the main characteristics
of the Spanish buildings on the site of Old
King's House, and how were they later adapt-
ed by the English settlers? What was the
local and export trade network like during
Spanish times and to what extent did the
local industries and economic pattern change
with the coming of the English? Hopefully,
the archaeological evidence uncovered at Old
King's House will begin to provide many new
clues to help us to answer some of these
As the excavations have only just begun
no definitive conclusions can be drawn about
this site at the present time. However, it
seems quite certain that the Old King's House
A Chronological Chart showing the general ranges of some imported ceramics within a Jamaican context.
site will produce a considerable amount of
new information on the Spanish occupation
in Jamaica, and in particular on the "Hall of
Audiencia" and other structural features
which pre-date the arrival of the English in
1655. Already, the work at Old King's House
has produced a significant quantity of pot-
tery and other everyday household items
from the eighteenth and nineteenth century
English occupation; it has also provided new
architectural information and dating for the
construction of the main Governor's residence
begun in 1761.
It is still largely unknown to what extent
the English adapted the earlier Spanish
buildings on the site. It appears however, that
the East Wing of the main 1761 residence
was planned to follow the general outline of
earlier English adaptations of the original
Spanish structures. Apart from a very sim-
plified schematic drawing found on the 1786
map of Spanish Town, the only extant plan
of the building dates from 1871, and thus
cannot be much help in working out the early
building phases. Just how this jumble of
structures can eventually be interpreted re-
mains unclear at the moment. However, one
certainly can say that, as the total picture
begins to emerge, the structural complexity
of intermittent building on the site through-
out its history becomes more and more
Since the commencement of the archaeo-
logical programme, an examination of perti-
nent documentary source material has begun
in the archival records in Spanish Town, and
in the West India Reference Library of the
Institute of Jamaica. A considerable amount
of relevant historical documentation has been
located already, and soon will be collated
and synthesized in conjunction with the
archaeological work. A major part of this
on-going archival research will be devoted to
the compilation of the historical and archi-
tectural documentation relating to Old King's
House and to its successive structural phases.
In particular, an effort is being made to
search systematically overseas for new docu-
mentation dealing with the sixteenth and
seventeenth century Spanish period of occu-
pation. This will be done to place the site of
Old King's House in its proper perspective
with the changing city around it from its
foundation and early development during
Spanish times, through the transition to
early English times, and on through to the
early nineteenth century when the old capital
reached its peak of development.
1. See "The Port Royal Project", by Philip Mayes
and staff, Jamaica Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, 1970.
This work is now being directed by Mr. Tony
Priddy, to whom the writer is indebted for up-to-
date information on the progressing work.
2. Quoted from Black, Clinton V., Spanish Town:
The Old Capital, Jamaica, 1960, pp. 12-13.
3. Haring, C.H., The Spanish Empire in America,
4. See Cundall, F., Historic Jamaica, London,
1915, pp. 89-90.
5. Long refers to pulling down of the Old Spanish
"Hall of Audience" in 1761 to make way for the
construction of the East Wing of Old King's House.
This English reference to earlier Spanish buildings
on the site needs to be dealt with at far greater
length than is possible here. Quite clearly, however,
the archaeological evidence seems to suggest that
there were several buildings on the site during
Spanish times, one of which most certainly was
Long's "Hall of Audience".
6. See Buisseret, D., "A Frenchman Looks at
Jamaica in 1706", Jamaica Journal, vol. 2, no. 3,
1968. Although this account is from early English
times, there are good grounds to believe that at this
time the Square still maintained its Spanish charac-
7. See footnote 4.
8. The writer and Father Osborne inspected this
site, locating a line of undressed limestone blocks
in back of the School which may be part of the
foundations for the Monastery. Indistinct walling
in front of the School may be remnants of an early
boundary wall which fronted the site.
9. See Haring, C.H., The Spanish Empire in
America, 1963, p. 237.
10 See Footnote 5.
11 Leslie, C., A New and Exact Account of Jamaica,
Edinburgh, 1739, p. 30.
12 See Footnote 5.
13 See the special UNESCO report "Conservation
and Development of Sites and Monuments" in
Jamaica, referred to in Concannon, T.A.L., "Our
Architectural Heritage", Jamaica Journal, vol. 4,
no. 2, 1970, p. 25.
14 For the most part, olive jars were never much
over eighteen inches high, and oftentimes had a
green glaze over a dull pink to tan fabric. The
distinctive collared neck is most characteristic of
the 17th and early 18th centuries.
15 'Majolica'is the Spanish variant of a type of soft,
porous earthenware whose surface is uniformly
covered by an opague tin enamel, usually white. It
is most commonly decorated in blue, but poly-
chrome designs also occur. This ware may some-
times be finished with a clear lead glaze. This type
of earthenware is known as 'faience' when of
French manufacture, 'Delft' when of Dutch manu-
facture, and 'delftware' when of English manu-
16 See Cotter, C.S., "Sevilla Nueva", Jamaica
Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, 1970, pp. 15-22. The writer
wishes to express his gratitude to Mr. Cotter for
introducing him to the Sevilla site and its associated
17 See Goggin, J., Spanish Majolica in the New
World, Yale University, 1968, pp. 36-39.
18 This pottery was recovered by Mr. Clinton V.
Black, who is now looking after the collection.
19 The writer would like to take this opportunity
to thank Ivor Noel Hume, Director of Archaeology
at Williamsburg, Virginia, for identifying this seal
and for contributing to a continuing dialogue on
many aspects of the work at Old King's House.
20 Marx, R., Clay Smoking Pipes ... of Port Royal,
ms., Jamaica National Trust Commission, May 1,
1966-September 30, 1967, p. 12.
21 See Pawson, M., in Cornmann, "A Unique Clay
Pipe", Jamaica Historical Society, vol. IV, no. 8,
1966, p. 163. The writer has not yet been able to
consult Pawson's ms. on Jamaican red clay pipes
22 Personal communication from Ray Fremmer.
23 An 'assemblage' is a group of artifacts (pottery,
bone, coins, etc.) which are related in the sense that
they were incorporated together in the earth, and
are therefore generally contemporary in date. In
order to ascertain the full historical and cultural
significance of any individual artifact in the assem-
blage, it must be examined along with accompanying
finds within their surrounding deposit. Artifacts
stripped of this evidence, without an adequate
record of where and in what type of deposit they
were found, yield very little information of value,
no matter what the intrinsic commercial value of
these artifacts may be.
24 This is far too broad a topic to discuss here, but
one aspect of it which is particularly interesting is
whether or not it is possible analytically to define
and isolate ceramic traditions from West Africa
(Ghana) on the one hand, and those of Arawak
origin, on the other hand, and to separate both
these ceramic traditions from the technical and
functional ceramic innovations introduced by the
Spanish and early English settlers. This might be
possible through a very close break-down of com-
ponent traits of closely dated 'Yabba' wares. The
general designation of 'Yabba' usually refers to
heavy, sometimes glazed, earthenware vessels known
to have been made at one time or another here in
Jamaica. Although this term is much too general
for an analytical description of the different wares,
it is interesting to note that the word 'yabba' is
most probably of Twi derivation. (See F.G.
Cassidy, Jamaica Talk, London, 1961, p. 85). These
locally made earthenwares are perhaps more cultur-
ally sensitive indicators for Jamaica than are the
European factory-manufactured ceramics. A small
start has already been made towards a closer study
of the 'yabbas' with the recovery of considerable
earthenware sherds from Old King's House as well
as from a rescue excavation of a Spanish kiln on the
banks of the Rio Cobre. See Mathewson, R.D.,
"The Old King's House Archaeological Project",
Jamaica Historical Society Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 2,
25 The study of Jamaican ecology in early historical
times is potentially a very broad and fascinating
topic for archaeological research. The analysis of
animal and fish bones, (or what has become known
as zooarchaeology) can not only tell us much about
the Jamaica fauna, but to a lesser extent also the
types of game and other foodstuffs which people
preferred in the 16th and 17th centuries. By
careful screening of ashy-midden deposits, and the
utilization of a process known as floatation, tiny
bone fragments can be recovered, which would
have been lost otherwise. In addition, nuts, berries,
seeds and other organic remains of the existing flora
can likewise be recovered by this process, telling us
much about the local and imported agricultural
crops grown in these early times, and the prevailing
natural vegetation. Abandoned wells are particularly
good in preserving vegetable material for ecological
studies, and it is hoped that one of the old wells
thought to have been filled in around 1767, will
soon be uncovered on the site.
In any research project of this type there are
always so many different people who contribute to
its success. Although work has only really just
begun, it is appropriate at this stage to offer thanks
to Messrs. C. Bernard Lewis and Neville Dawes for
their on-going support and interest in the project;
Mr. David Muir for his valuable assistance in many
different ways; Miss E. Magnus and Miss C.
Forrester, who are providing continuing help from
the Folk Museum; Miss C. Latty, for her assistance
both on the site and in the Archives; MIrs. M.
Mathewson for her assistance with ceramic analysis;
and all other members of the excavation team, and
of the Institute, who are helping Messrs. D. Baker,
D. Johnson and J. Hutchinson, Sixth Form students
from St. Jago High School, very ably helped as
trainee volunteers during the summer.
Under Cover by Evelyn Borrow
A Review Article
by John Hearne
The historian of the early English-speaking Caribbean needs
to be something of a masochist. So much of what he sets him-
self to narrate or interpret does not seem, properly, to belong
to history at all, but rather to a branch of natural science: to
the detailed description of an extremely simple organism that
repeats its few, crude movements, predictably -and mono-
tonously, in a limited area.
To the natural scientist such a task is, of course, a joy and a
justification. That is what he has been trained for; our concept
of the whole chain of life may be changed by some discovery
he makes about the digestive process of the amoeba. But to
the historian, the business of giving credible dimension to the
first two centuries of our society must be a source of conflict,
even anguish. He is trained to see the particulars as part of a
grander or, at any rate, more comprehensive design. And no
accumulation of facts, however new and numerous, no
observation of these facts, however academically reputable, can
ever compensate for the sense of that wider relevance by which
the historian's task is inspired.
--- - i iI-' ,,,'
Creole holiday dancers, by Belisario.
Edward Brathwaite's The Development of Creole Society in
Jamaica, 1770-1820* is a diligent, bold attempt to find such a
relevance. That he fails to altogether convince us is a reflection
not on the quality of research that has gone into a fine book,
nor on the depth of his involvement with our past, but is
simply another proof of the obdurate dullness of the material
from which he has tried to assemble a lively form. The measure
of his achievement lies in how nearly we are convinced; in
the fact that at the end we feel grudging, almost guilty, in our
reservations about his argument.
In brief, Brathwaite makes an ardent claim for plantation
Jamaica as a valid and substantial historic body. He does this
by a careful division of his text into the institutions, connec-
tions, classes, colours, castes and functions of the society during
the last fifty years of Jamaica's real value to the metropolitan
world. And this series of linked monographs gives us the hint
as to what is the weakness of the claim. It is not an historic
body that is being presented for our acceptance or acquittal,
but a collection of individuals gathered for what must be the
grossest, least lovely uses of joint energies in recorded history:
that is, the exploitation of an entire people for the enhancement
of another without a single institution, idea or even acknow-
ledgement of the debt being returned to the exploited by the
Nothing like plantation Jamaica and for Jamaica we may,
with certain important exceptions, read the West Indies had
ever occurred in the history of the world.
For reasons best known to themselves, our historians-
including Brathwaite never come to terms with the fact that
they are analysing a monstrous growth that had never appeared
in human relationships before, and that can never appear again.
A society that is ninety per cent slave and ten per cent free
is a phenomenon outside the usual methods of inquiry. And
all our historians, faced with this observation, have tended to
dodge round it. Which is why most history of what happened
in Jamaica up to Emancipation is either documentary support
of what everybody knows already, or is largely irrelevant
comparison (with, say, the American South or Brazil), or is an
effort to square a unique experience with the general history
Brathwaite's study falls into this last grouping. As a poet.
he is making a legitimate plea for the recognition of the
individual character that had begun to manifest itself during the
generation he examines; as an historian, he has to spread his
evidence pretty thin. Jamaican history up to 1838 is, let us face
it, repetitious and uninteresting or at least of interest only
to specialists who want to outdo each other in picking the
clean bones of the numbers of hogsheads of sugar shipped per
annum, of how many estates were managed by attorneys for
absentee proprietors or run by proprietors on the spot,' of
figures relating the proportions between bond and free over
any given period.
There is a wealth of sociological and psychological material
still to be excavated from the time under review, but we are
then talking of different disciplines. The pure historian has
little more to say that any industrious civil servant with a
computer couldn't dig up for him.
Brathwaite has written what is probably one of the last
general studies of the time that need command the attention of
the general reader. Where his successors go from here in finding
any new dimension to add to his portrait of a society, I do not
know. His very method of approach to the subject reveals what
a mean, coarse historical texture he is dealing with.
In brief, he divides the whole into quarters: the institutions,
the North American connection and the severance from it, the
people and the manners, the changes in (or decay of?) the
society at the end of its original purpose. Each of these sectors
is then examined in, again, meticulously divided detail.
As a method, it has the merit of clarity, a sort of Laboratory
tabulation of parts. But in using it, he has to deny himself
what one feels would have been his instinctive approach: I
mean: the poet's gestalt grasp; his emphasis on texture and
The theme by which he attempts to establish the unity of
the parts is the development of a creole presence in the period
under discussion. A 'Jamaicanising' of separate and foreign
traditions, that is, into something we can only call Creole: a
culture neither wholly European nor wholly African, but an
amalgam being formed by people perhaps not yet conscious of
what is happening to them as the place and circumstances pro-
foundly affect the original models.
It is a suggestion that has been made before, but it is often
difficult to prove in just what particulars this unique,
creolizing process shows itself. So often, what is presented as
a highly significant step in the development of a new culture
seems less than that and more a change in habits; or the
persistence under new conditions of a few traditions brought
over from the 'homelands'.
Let me say at once that I sympathise with and to a large
extent believe in Brathwaite's contention of a Creole 'way of
life' singular enough, sufficiently indigenous to be called a
culture. But it is an elusive quarry and I wonder if Brathwaite's
system of tracking can really bring it under the net. We catch
glimpses, run it to earth, but we are not so sure at the end that
a final capture has been made.
For example, his estimate of the Jamaican Assembly seems
far too favourable. It was, to be sure, a collection of turbulent,
busy men,jealous of their interests and not devoid of legislative
ideas to protect those interests. But it was, essentially, a board
of directors responsible for the maximum efficiency of a
commercial enterprise that had to justify constantly the
reasons for its survival in a callous and competitive world.
Between 1770 and 1820 it had two opportunities for making
creative decision that might have given it historical validity.
One was the chance to join the American Revolution with
which it sympathised and to confirm, politically, its social
connection with the .destiny of the Thirteen Colonies that had
been growing during the 18th Century. The other was the
possibility of establishing intensive white small settlement given
over to diversified agriculture in the largely untouched
Whether either venture would have succeeded whether
either venture, had it succeeded, would not have meant painful
involvement for Jamaica need not concern us here. The
point is that in the two circumstances where the Assembly was
presented with real historical challenge, it failed to act boldly
or imaginatively. It remained, to the end, a nest of timid,
fundamentally second-rate executives whose principal concern
was to extract the highest return from the various branches of
what was really one concern, and to satisfy the true owners
back at the head office.
Its members despite their pretensions to independence of
thought and action were rootless and uneasy exiles, never
quite sure enough of themselves to take possession of their
newfoundland, always a little too anxious about their true
status. We remember, here, the remark by old Simon Taylor -
one of the toughest, shrewdest, most successful of them to
Lady Nugent: that his life's ambition was to make his nephew
"the richest commoner in Europe."
It is an observation like that, also, which has to be set against
Brathwaite's analysis of plantation Jamaica as a society moved
by a 'frontier' or 'pioneer' spirit. Such an ambition as burned
in Taylor's breast was hardly the same thing that fired the shot
heard round the world from Lexington, that forced the
Declaration of Independence, or that impelled the pitiless,
obstinate westward drift, generation by generation, across the
wilderness to the Pacific shore.
Nor can the militia, say, as another example of plantation
Jamaica's integrity as a culture provide much more than the
memory of a charade. As a force, they belong more to the
tradition of estate 'rangers' than to that of the Minutemen.
Gaudily, even gorgeously uniformed, ludicrously over-
officered, they were useful enough all 8000 of them in
maintaining the law and order during slave mutinies. When
systematic battle joined, as in the Maroon War of 1795, we
read that "Before the war was half over, what with desertions,
accidents . sickness, real or fictitious, retirements from the
service under various pretences . the hulk of the militia
companies (remain) with barely half their proper complement
of officers and men nay some with less than a third, a few
left even without a commissioned officer!"
Now this may show a sturdy commonsense and a fine in-
stinct of self-preservation on the part of men who knew they
had General Walpole and 2000 regular soldiers to contain 200
infuriated Maroons for them. But it is stretching things a little
to take this as evidence of a frontier or pioneer spirit.
One does not intend to set up easy targets for firing on at
point blank range. It would be doing an injustice to the society
under review, as it would be doing less than honour to
Brathwaite's generous, spirited argument, to deny the achieve-
ments of the period. There were serious attempts made on the
creation of the public services: communications, health,
education, a lively Press, even imported theatre. There is an
earnestness of endeavour to assert themselves as something
identifiably Jamaican among the whites and the free people of
colour that emerges very clearly as Brathwaite sifts the evidence
and arranges it for inspection. But it is earnest: clumsy,
limited of scope, sometimes a little touching because we know
that here we are dealing with an area of material investment
where the bases are too fragile and too slender to support the
wider aspirations. After the 1820s, the house of cards will begin
to tumble, leaving memories, inaccurate nostalgias, a sense of
bewilderment. The surviving Great Houses of which
Brathwaite makes detailed architectural examination are
perhaps the most comprehensive symbols of the time. They
are graceful, practical and the manner in which they have stood
up to our climate and the assaults of hurricane or earthquake
speaks for the quality that went into their design and their
construction. But too much has been made of them
aesthetically, I feel. They are, for the most part, relatively
modest gentlemen's houses modified from English originals for
comfortable living in the tropics. The title 'Great' is, for most
of them, a harmless but aesthetically indefensible flight of
And yet this is not the whole story. If we have touched
only in passing on the mass of the population the submerged
nine-tenths the slaves, it is in part because Brathwaite's
structure reflects the extent of their overt participation in the
vulnerable society which would have been of no use or meaning
without them. In the 308 pages of narrative text, the slaves
have a little over fifty that deal with them explicitly. This is
inevitable. They could not document themselves and
historians must found their discipline on documents; they
could not, or rather did not, make a sustained violent challenge
to the institutions that ordered their lives; they were not, in a
word, contracted in any sense to this peculiar New World polity,
and the essence of historical inquiry lies in the uncovering of
contractual obligation even that between a Plantaganet baron
and his humblest serf; even that between the most gluttonous
nineteenth century industrialist and his starved child labourer.
The latter two at least owe each other the recognition that each
is a free born Englishman: if the freedom means only that the
starving child has the right towithholdhis labour; the former
two,noble and serf have reciprocal obligations of protection
and service under God that may be brutal in practice but which
are mutually understood. There is conscious connection; and
a going, vigorous culture depends on this consciousness of
Between the masters and the slaves there is no contract; the
connections are established on an haphazard and individual
basis. The attempt is made, on the masters' part, to note the
slaves down and write them off as stock. But there are simply
too many of them. Their human influence keeps breaking in;
the rigorous codes of relationship laid down by the Assembly
of masters are not so much broken as crumbled away by wave
after wave of life.
It is among the slaves, perhaps, that one finds some
demonstration of the 'frontier' values which Brathwaite
assumes for his Creole Jamaica. They did have to pioneer
against a cultural frontier that was either indifferent or hostile
to what they brought into it. They had to adapt and learn to
live off and with the territory. A territory that was empha-
tically European, even if adulterated, in bias, in power and in
This cultural, European frontier transformed the African
slave as radically, perhaps, as the geographical frontier trans-
formed the European settler in America. He altered the
frontier represented by his masters but, as I suggested above,
this is a process more accessible now to the poet, the socio-
logist, and perhaps the psychologist than to the historian.
For that to which Brathwaite is trying to give exact
definition between 1770 and 1820 is not, by the methods he
employs, fully proved for us as an assembled culture. We are
left with the impression of men and women heaped indis-
criminately and intimately, like jigsaw pieces in a box.
There is a pattern in there waiting to be fitted together: but
that will have to wait on our decline as an agricultural treasure
chest and crucial piece in naval strategy; that will have to wait
on Emancipation, the remarkable capture of mass by the
nonconformist churches and the growth of the peasant
communities; that will have to wait on 1865 and the voluntary
acceptance of Crown Colony tuition.
There are Creole influences and attributes at work before all
this during the time Brathwaite surveys but he is dealing
with the elements in a developing style rather than a distinct
When these elements really fuse to become a culture, is still
open to question. Perhaps not yet. For significantly, in his
conclusion, Brathwaite still had to make finer distinctions for
the present than he does in his survey of the past; seeing in us
four separate 'orientations': European, Euro-creole, Afro-
creole and West Indian.
Such an open-ended conclusion may appear to contradict
the confident finality of his title. And to some extent it does.
But we can be grateful to him for leaving us with a question
to try to answer. Just as we are grateful for the authority with
which he has imposed his own order on the untidy heap of
oddly cut pieces that was the Jamaica of two hundred years
Golden Grove Estate Complex in St. Thomas
by Glory Robertson
Contrary to the opinion of some people, the West India
Reference Library affectionately known as WIRL does
not consist only of old books. The latest publications on the
West Indies are got to the shelves as quickly as possible. In
fact, ever since 1964 members of staff have published an annual
list of recent books about Jamaica or by Jamaicans acquired by
WIRL during the year. Called at first "Jamaican accessions",
its name has been changed to the "Jamaican National biblio-
graphy", and it now includes listings from the UWI Library,
Mona, and the Jamaica Library Service. A cumulation of the
annual lists for 1964-1970 is being prepared. Perhaps the
impression of age comes from displays and exhibitions where
the treasures that are lovingly brought forth tend to be anti-
quarian like the "Isolario" of Benedetto Bordone published
in Venice in 1547, the oldest book in the Library, with quaint
woodcut maps of the newly discovered islands of the West
As the "Jamaican national bibliography" indicates, Jamaica
gets first priority in WIRL, followed by the other islands of the
Commonwealth Caribbean, Guyana and British Honduras, then
the non-Commonwealth islands and finally the mainland areas
around the Caribbean Sea very much in last place.
In addition to books, both old and new, WIRL receives
hundreds of periodicals published all over the English-speaking
Caribbean and a few titles in foreign languages. Some are
popular magazines like "Jamaica beat" or "Sam's fashions",
some literary like "Bim" and "Savacou"; some emanate from
University departments like the "Caribbean historical review"
from UWI and "Caribbean studies" from the University of
Puerto Rico; some are bulletins and newsletters of societies
and associations and annual reports of government departments
or other bodies. Jamaican government departmental reports
go back to 1869 in various forms but strenuous efforts by
Library staff to collect this type of material from the Eastern
Caribbean began only in the 1950's. Most of the mimeographed
Collage of jackets of recent books on the West Indies
newsletters, bulletins, etc., are also Jamaican. Not that the
staff wouldn't be interested in obtaining more of these from
other places, but this kind of thing can be very hard to track
down. A few titles published outside the Caiibbean area are
also received, like "Race", "Journal of Negro history" and
"Journal of Commonwealth literature".
For a research student, a very important part of the West
India Reference Library is the newspaper collection. The
earliest newspaper is a photocopy of a single issue of the
"Weekly Jamaica Courant" for 1718. Up to 1779 WIRL has
only a few scattered newspaper issues, but from 1779 to 1837
there is a run of the "Royal Gazette" published in Kingston.
The period 1850-1890 is well covered, some papers being the
"Falmouth Post", "St. Jago de la Vega Gazette", "Cornwall
Chronicle", "Morning Journal", "Jamaica Guardian", "Colonial
Standard" and the "Gleaner" (under several variations of
name). This material is immensely valuable for the study of
nineteenth century Jamaica.
All these early papers are Jamaican, but since the late 1950's
newspapers have been collected from other Commonwealth
There are now over 900 prints and water colours. These
have been catalogued under the names of artists and engravers
and also by subject, so that illustrations of any available topic
can easily be found. Of course, what is available depends on
what the artists chose to depict and the dates when they were
in the West Indies. In the second half of the eighteenth century
it became very popular for British artists to travel abroad in
order to put together a collection of "views" for publication -
a practice that was eventually killed by the development of
photography. Hence, most of the prints are clustered at various
dates from the mid-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century. For
Jamaica, early examples are the Spilsbury series by an unknown
artist published 1766 to 1770 and the views by George
Robertson all published in 1778. Clustered around 1800 are
several satirical cartoons by two artists who signed themselves
A.J. (probably Abraham James, an army officer) and J.F. (so
far unidentified). Between 1821 and the 1840's there are quite
a number, with the works of Hakewill, Whitty, Belisario,
Duperly & Kidd. For the other islands some very attractive
prints are Bridgens' views of Trinidad, Johnson's of St. Vincent
and Antigua and Cazabon's of Trinidad and Guyana.
Available illustrations of the Jamaican scene do not end with
this type of artist for there are also several thousand photo-
graphs from the 1890's onwards. The other islands are very
badly represented in the photo collection and even for Jamaica
although the sheer number of photos is quite impressive,
coverage tends to be patchy as the Library depends solely on
gifts for the older ones. Contemporary photos are selected
each month from those published in the "Gleaner". Others are
presented from time to time by the JIS and the Tourist Board.
A recent gift was a collection of 75 copies of photos dating
from 1903 to 1923 from the family albums of Mr. Alfred
Bingham of Connecticut, grandson of Alfred Mitchell owner of
the famous "Folly" at Port Antonio. When Mr. Bingham visited
Jamaica last year he was amused by some of the stories about
his grandfather's house, and particularly by the tale that it
began to collapse at the very moment when his grandmother
first entered it as a young bride. The truth is that Mrs. Mitchell
was already a grandmother when the "Folly" was built and
Mr. Bingham's photos show that his grandparents lived there
for several years, celebrating such family occasions as his
grandfather's 77th birthday and their 47th wedding anniversary
Gifts of photos from any interested readers would be very
much appreciated. Some of the subjects which are of particular
interest are modern buildings of all types, agricultural machin-
ery actually in use in the fields, street scenes of towns and
villages all over Jamaica, theatre and dance productions and
pictures illustrating the activities of organizations such as the
Scouts, Boys Brigade, YMCA, schools, service clubs, etc. the
sort of thing that will be needed when these organizations are
celebrating their centenaries.
Of course, gifts of all types of material are always welcome,
but the photo collection is specially mentioned as it is an area
Earliest known printed map Q U
specifically of Jamaica. This
was by Italian cartographer
Benedetto Bordone from the
1547 edition of"Isolario".
King's Wharf and South Cay, Trinidad, by Cazabon.
King's Wharf and South Cay, Trinidad, by Cazabon.
B. Calliqua St. Vincent, 1827
A Map of the New World from
Sebastian Munster's 1547 edition
which many generous donors do not consider.
The collection of roughly 3000 printed maps includes maps
by all the well-known cartographers of the 17th and 19th
centuries who worked on the Caribbean area and also 20th
A collection of about 20,000 18th and 19th century
surveyors' plans of Jamaican estates is now being indexed
under names of all owners. So far work has been done on the
parishes of St. Catherine, St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth.
Incidentally, that 20,000 figure is a real "guestimate" no
one will really know how many of these plans exist till the
index has been completed.
Another project is the index to West Indian news in the
"Gleaner". This began rather haphazardly in the late 1950's
when news items which were thought to be specially interesting
were indexed if someone had the time to jot them down on a
card. Today the "Gleaner" is systematically read from first to
last page for all the West Indian news. Although somehow it
never seems possible to keep it up to date, this index is a very
useful way of tracking down information over the last ten years.
Do you want to know the date of the "Flora" rains? When did
Jamaica join OAS? What did the critics say about that awful
play by Whatiznanie? Public reaction to ECM, legal fusion,
power cuts or potholes? It's all in the "Gleaner" index.
In addition to indexing, the most important items are
clipped to form ready reference files which are easier to consult
than the bulky bound volumes of the newspapers.
For an earlier period, there is a more ambitious project
which is still in its infancy. This is to abstract, not simply
index, all Jamaican newspapers, the Hansards and other source
materials for the years 1937-62, a period which saw so much
development in so many aspects of Jamaican life. The subject
headings being used in this scheme are extremely detailed and
the information is to be computerized. This project may at
last be getting over the teething troubles which plagued its early
days. As of now, 4099 abstracts from the Hansards of 1937-
41 have actually been computerized but further tests of the
working of the computer programme have to be made before
the information can be available for use in answering inquiries.
"It would be so easy to mend these torn pages with cellotape,
why don't you do it?", readers sometimes ask. Unfortunately,
mending old and brittle paper with anything as rigid as cello-
tape simply makes it tear again, along the edge of the tape. The
lack of a document repair department is one of the pressing
problems of WIRL. Another is the need for a microfilming
programme. As far back as 1962 a number of newspaper
volumes in bad condition were withdrawn from use "to pre-
serve them for microfilming". They have not yet been
microfilmed and would-be readers are sometimes understand-
ably irritated. "What is the use of having the stuff", they say,
"if people can't consult it?" It is a case of jam today, no jam
tomorrow. If those newspapers were being handled, some of
their pages would soon cease to exist and in fact this has
happened already in some cases. So the newspapers have to be
hoarded if the permanent record on microfilm is ever to be
made. And here a very common misconception must be
corrected. A lot of people seem to think that once a microfilm
exists, the original volume can be used until it is totally destroy-
ed. But in spite of its claims to archival permanency, microfilm
has not yet been with us long enough for any one to be sure
how long it really lasts, and accidents can happen to it. So
someone, somewhere, should have an original in reserve, and
where better to reserve Jamaican newspapers than in the
national library of Jamaica.
The funds available to WIRL are very small. All books are
expensive these days and the prices of out-of-print books have
skyrocketed in the last ten years. This survey would not be
complete without a tribute to the work of Frank Cundall, a
former Secretary of the Institute of Jamaica, who began
collecting West Indiana at a time when very few people were
interested. Cundall was not a West Indian and his point of
view was not that of today's West Indians. But if Jamaica
were now trying to buy the material that Cundall acquired for
the West India Reference Library between 1894 and his death
in 1937, at present prices it would be far beyond our means.
As a West Indian collection this Library is incomparable, in
monetary value, in prestige value and in its value for research.
Jamaica can be glad to have it.
Collage of some West Indian newspapers in the Reference
..... r. . ^ ,***" . .
Wyep (aily 8lfan
MIoa-iswi wespstv j -; ..'
R SEEKING OFFICE __
IA I T -
IE ISLANDNSN S
1 Knowvedge i3 p RIiZL
wo1,tiol l THE VOICE OF ST. LUCIA
1~ Si~;,;XtX I' i~iihh Fi~b eS
Researchers at work in the West India
SECOND MAROON WAR
A PLANTER'S CONSPIRACY?
EXTRACT FROM A. D. DRIDZO'S
In dealing with the third and last phase
of the history of the Maroons,** it is
necessary first of all to review the sources.
First we have the administrative and per-
sonal correspondence of the colonizers,
then the records of the proceedings and
some other material from the archives of
the Jamaican House of Assembly; all
having a bearing on the work of Dallas.
After that there are the records and letters
of Governor Balcarres published by one
of his descendants nearly a hundred years
later.1 Finally we have records of the
British Parliament especially speeches
by interested parties in the matter which
were held in the Commons during the
years 1795 and 17962; the latter have
the greatest significance since one of the
active participants in the debate was Bryan
Edwards. Just at this time Parliament was
concerned with emancipation at the behest
of the main protagonist of that movement,
Wilberforce, whose words re-echoed in the
work of Edwards dealing with the Maroons.
All these works are used to whitewash the
deeds of the colonial masters and to hide
the truth about the events of 1795-1796;
still, a critical analysis of these sources
permits one to find convincing arguments
in favour of our previously advanced
hypothesis,*** namely that the rising of
the Maroons in 1795 was provoked by an
influential group of Jamaican planters.++
The Maroon war was brought about in
order to influence the internal policies of
Great Britain, to deflect that policy and
thus to advance the interests of the
Jamaican planters. Especially, disagree-
ment was focused on the various responses
to the question of Haiti. We know that
from the end of 1791 emigrating planters
from Haiti did not hesitate to address
themselves to England for help, offering in
return their Island, after the suppression
of the revolt, to the British Crown. The
English, however, were in no hurry. A
change in the policy became noticable
Leonard Parkinson, Maroon leader, 1795.
*Abraham Dividovitch DRIDZO, "Jamaican
Maroons", Publishing House "Nauka", Moscow
1971; translated by Alex Gradussov.
**Dridzo divides the history of the Maroons
into three stages: the first from the foundation
of the Maroon settlement to the treaty with the
British in 1739 which he calls the first war
period; the second from 1739 to 1796 which
he calls the peace period; and the third from
1795 to 1796, which he calls the war period.
Since after the Second Maroon war (1795/96)
the Maroons were partly deported to Canada
and Sierra Leone, Dridzo feels that the essential
'Maroon' nature of the people ends with that
***Advanced in the earlier part of the book.
++The actual physical event that lead through
various stages to open armed conflict was caused,
as Dridzo states, by the arrest of two Maroons
for pig stealing July 16th., 1795 in Montego
Bay and their public whipping contrary to the
1. A.W. Lindsay. Lives of the Lindsays v 11
London 1849 p. 32-146.
2. "The Parliamentary History of England from
the earliest Period to the year 1803" London
1818 v.XXXII, XXXIII.
'-*.P' 3. See for instance B. Edwards. A History, civil
and commercial, of the West Indies, v.I London
1801-1802 p. 551.
towards the end of 1792 (after the
abolition of the monarchy in France) and
was accelerated from the beginning of
1793 (after the official declaration of war
with that country).5 On September 3rd
1793 the ex-Haitian planter de Charmille
signed in the name of the emigrants an
agreement with the Jamaican Governor,
Williamson; and on the 19th the first
British expeditionary force landed in Haiti.
Soon a significant part of French
territory was occupied by the English.
At first glance, such a change could
only have pleased the English plantocracy.
And in fact it pleased the government of
Pitt. It was greeted enthusiastically by
London businessmen who bought from
the emigrant Haitians, plantation after
plantation for next to nothing.6 The
Jamaican planters, however, reacted very
To explain this state of affairs the
following facts and figures might help.
Land was already exhausted in Jamaica.
The yield of sugar cane was gradually
falling. In Haiti where cane cultivation
was introduced later, the soil was giving
continuously improving returns. The
productivity of labour was higher too; one
Haitian slave produced as much sugar as
four Jamaican slaves. In 1788 Haiti
exported twice as much sugar as Jamaica,
and in 1789 one-third more than the
combined total of all British sugar colonies
in the West Indies. Haitian sugar was not
only rivalling Jamaican sugar quantitatively
but qualitatively. Haitian sugar was better
and, on top of that, 20% cheaper.7 It is
not astonishing therefore that the Jamai-
can planters from long ago opposed
categorically the acquisition by Britain
of new 'sugar' colonies. It was in their
interest not to have the French colonies
under British administration, but rather, to
destroy the French sugar economy. Al-
ready in 1748 a Jamaican Governor wrote
to London that Haitian sugar cane fields
ought to be levelled in the course of the
military action lest the planters under his
administration be ruined by the cheap and
high quality Haitian product. When in
1763 Great Britain was confronted with a
dilemma whether to acquire from France
the flourishing sugar island of Guadaloupe
or to take the poor, almost valueless piece
of real estate, Canada, London chose the
second possibility and that was due to a
large extent to the energetic campaign
undertaken by the Jamaican planters.
4. R.Ch. Dallas. The History of the Maroons,
from their origin to the Establishment of their
Chief Tribe at Sierra Leone; including the
Expedition to Cuba for the Procuring the
Spanish Chasseurs and the State of the Island
of Jamaica for the last ten years with a succinct
History of the Island previous to that period,
in two volumes, London 1803 p. 19.
5. "The Great French Bourgeois Revolution"
M.-L. 1941 p.237-8.
6. For details see: C.L. Lokke 'London Mer-
chant Interest in the St. Domingue Plantations
of the Emigres', 1793-1798. "American Histor-
ical Review. v.XLIIIN 4 1938, p. 795-802.
7. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Rus-
sian Ed.) Moscow, 1950 p. 127, 133-134.
8. Ibid. p. 127
As the well known West Indian historian
Dr. Eric Williams (now Prime Minister of
Trinidad and Tobago) has rightly remarked
about the Jamaican merchants, "Every-
thing led to one thing: it was necessary
to frighten the whole empire, and thus to
compel her to pay a bounty to the planters
and to buy from them sugar at a mono-
poly price .. ."9 Even though the quoted
words do not refer to our period, we can,
as we shall see, use them unhesitatingly
for our purposes.
Even between Edwards and Dallas
there is no disagreement on this point.
The author of the "History of the West
Indies" was from the very beginning an
opponent of intervention. We know
from published sources that he engaged in
a controversy with de Charmille about this
topic. The same point of view was ex-
pressed by Dallas. He calls the Haitian
campaign without hesitation, "an unfor-
tunate expedition", and sees the main
disadvantage of the campaign in "the
'a, from "History of the Maroons" Vol. 2 -
depletion of the island [Jamaica] of
troops which were meant to defend her."
More than half of the soldiers stationed
in Jamaica were transferred to the neigh-
bouring island, he explains.10 Whatever
the argument, the results of the occupation
of Haiti were unfortunate from the British
point of view; and this feeling became
particularly evident towards the beginning
of 1795 when "the situation became high-
ly critical."11 And not for nothing: in
the New Year half (49.8%) of the military
forces in Haiti were put out of action.1l
In other words London not only started
a venture as a result of which the Jamaican
planters would be ruined, she also used
troops from Jamaica which were vital to
the planters for their self-defence against
the slaves who could stage a revolt any
time (considering that they represented
10. R. Dallas. Op. Cit, v.I, p. 19.
11. "The Cambridge History of the British
Empire", v.II, London 1940, p. 50.
250,000 and the whites were no more
than 30,000).13 On top of all that it
became obvious that it was impossible to
overcome the Haitian rebels despite all
these troops which resulted in the neces-
sity of reinforcements in Haiti, and further
withdrawals of troops from Jamaica.
All together, when assessing the situa-
tion, it does appear that the events on the
neighboring island were not matters of
indifference to the Jamaican planters.
The landowners of Jamaica disliked and
feared a slave rebellion. "Her inhabitants",
(the author obviously had in view only
the dominating white population) Dallas
observed correctly, "could not silently
contemplate the horrible events taking
place on the island visible almost to the
naked eye and not tremble for their
personal safety. They followed, terrified,
the spread of.the doctrine which aimed at
overthrowing all established governments
and set an end to all colonies in the West
Indies".14 The planters no doubt sym-
pathized with their "class brothers" in
in Haiti; for many of whom they provided
a refuge on their own soil.
Paripassu with the destruction of Haiti,
that French possession became no longer
competitive; Jamaican sugar reaped this
fortunate harvest thus giving the Jamaican
planters no worries on the economic score.
Consequently the planters worried only
about the need for the localization of the
Haitian events; they did not want the
revolutionary wave to touch Jamaica. To
restore "order" on Haiti was not in the
interest of the Jamaican planters, neither
was the acquisition of that island by
England. The best course was not to
intervene at all in the internal affairs of
Haiti and at the same time to organize a
strong and buoyant economy in Jamaica.
And in the Haitian venture, as it was
understood by the influential planter
groupings, the British government was
acting far too energetically. Whitehall
even decided to deplete the military
establishment of Jamaica to enlarge the
expeditionary forces on Haiti. The plant-
ers agreed to prove to the Westminster
government the folly of such a policy,
frightening them with the possibility of a
slave uprising. As it happened, however,
at that time the position was comparative-
ly peaceful, and one could not foresee a
serious rebellion among the Negroes. In
addition a significant rebellion, measured
by the yard-stick of other rebellions,
would have been too dangerous to the
colonial masters. An insignificant uprising
on one or the other plantation would not
have frightened the policy makers in
London. Therefore, as we see it, to effect
their ends the planters who had agreed on
the need for frightening Whitehall, pro-
voked by various means an uprising of the
In the first place the uprising was
meant to attract the attention of the
13. R. Dallas Op.cit., v.1, p.19.
14. Ibid., p.20. It is understood that when
speaking about the "inhabitants", the author
had only the dominant class of the island in
metropolitan government. Traditionally
the Maroons continued to be considered
rebellious, and their rising would not
disturb Whitehall unduly.
Secondly, to the majority of inhabi-
tants, even in the vicinity of Maroon
centres, the uprising would not (so argued
the plotters) represent an acute danger.
Thirdly, the possibility of slaves uniting
with the Maroons was unlikely; conse-
quently such an uprising could not spread.
Fourthly, it would be possible, after
the suppression of the revolt, to eliminate
the Maroon settlements which in the
opinion of the plotters were centres of
fomentation of discontent. As the
starting point of the provocation, Tre-
lawny Town* was selected; and the best
time to bring about the required result
was thought to be the summer of 1795.
With the departure of the previous Gover-
nor, Williamson, to Haiti and with the
arrival of his successor Lord Balcarres
(April 1795), the situation seemed more
than favourable. It was Balcarres' first
experience of the West Indies, he knew
little of the local situation, and of the
Maroons he had the most vague picture.
It was possible to push him along to take
the most risky steps which the plotters, as
we shall see, used expeditiously. What
proof have we for the preparations for
First of all the General Superintendent
of Maroons, James, whom I have mention-
ed already, was relieved of his post. The
very act of dismissal was disguised by a
very dubious excuse: it was made to
appear that James was relieved from his
post on the request of the Maroons,
whereas the Maroons had simply com-
plained about the Superintendent's long
absences from the Maroons' settlement.
His absence was, in the words of Dallas,
necessitated by business on his estate some
25 miles distant from Trelawny Town, but
also, according to the same author, by
Major James' participation in various
entertainments which he enjoyed. The
Maroons we have to stress this were
not even thinking about another Super-
intendent; on the contrary, they wanted
James never to leave their settlement.
The result was totally unforeseen.
James was relieved of his post. It is
strange that at the same time his son,
too, was relieved of his post as super-
intendent of Trelawny Town; and against
him there had been no complaint whatso-
What is strange in all this?
First of all,the reaction to the complaint
of the Maroons. As a rule (as we have seen
earlier on in the book),** the answer to
all the Maroon's demands had been nega-
tive. Here, however, quite unexpectedly,
more was done than they had requested.
Secondly, if one was to follow the letter
of the law, James should have been
submitted to a court-martial for dereliction
of duty. Nothing of the sort happened in
this case. He continued living on his
estate, and the matter was never raised
Thirdly, the officer appointed to suc-
ceed him as General Superintendent was
in no way qualified to occupy this posi-
tion. He feared the Maroons; they
despised him. If James was able by his
intervention to stop any quarrel or any
disturbance, his successor, Captain Cross-
kill, when seeing a fight between two
Maroons, ran to his quarters and barricad-
ed himself in his house. His authority
among the Maroons was nil; the Maroons
continued to regard. James as their head
and kept constantly in touch with him.
The removal of James from his post was
widely commented upon throughout Jam-
aica. Public opinion amounted to this:
James ought to be returned to his post,
the sooner the better.15 Somehow it
seemed that no one dissented from this
opinion. Everyone understood that Cross-
kill was a bad superintendent. But no
action was taken on these recommenda-
tions. The impression is created that some
powerful agency did not desire the re-
instatement of James.
This, it appears to us, can be explained
in the following manner. The Major
seemed 'persona non grata' to a powerful
clique could it not be that this clique
was the same that wanted to provoke an
uprising of the Maroons? Perhaps it was
decided from the very beginning that he,
who had been connected with the Maroons
all his life, would constitute a hindrance
*Today called Maroon Town. 15. R. Dallas. Op.cit., p. 137-141, 326.
to their plans? Or it might be possible
that it was suggested to him to participate
and he had declined?
The second possibility seems to us the
more likely one. More correctly we con-
jecture that any approach to him was not
openly made, but, if one may use the
phrase, by innuendo. Possibly James him-
self was in the end not only unsure about
the purpose of the approach but about the
genuineness of the approach. The agent
of the plotters would, however, have
understood that the Major was untrust-
worthy in this matter and that he could
not be brought into any agreement. In
fact James' reaction to any participation
in a plot could only have been negative.
An uprising of the Maroons would have
wiped out his thirty years of effort in
Trelawny Town. The abandonment of
Maroon settlements would, on top of all
that, have meant the loss of his and his
son's posts; it would have reduced to
nothing the influence that the James'
family had had among the Maroons; it
would have made of him, the highly
regarded officer who was known through-
out the island, a wretched castaway.
The conspirators did not forgive James
for refusing to co-operate with their plan.
After the beginning of the hostilities, the
Major began actively pursuing plans for
peace; this was even less forgiven. James
was not even confirmed as the commander
of a voluntary force that had indicated
their desire to be under his command, and
he assumed the post without preliminary
permission. The Governor announced
publicly, that there was a serious com-
plaint outstanding against James and that
he was about to face a court of law. One
of the dispatches of Balcarres to London
was specially devoted to this complaint.
He was dismissed and placed in the reserve
'for reasons of health'. While his case was
under review he died in 1796.16
Such was the fate of a man who -
wittingly or unwittingly stood in the
path of the plotters.
Thanks to the fact that the story of
James is known to us in great detail, we
can give the date of the first great advance
of the organizers of the anti-Maroons
provocation. It is the end of 1792, more
exactly December 20th. On December
20th 1792 Captain Crosskill was appoint-
ed to succeed James.17
It should be understood that the agree-
ment among the plotters came about
earlier than that. We have no direct proof
of that, but it would be very interesting
to correlate this event with the visit of
Edwards to Haiti very "soon after the
ominous happenings of 1791".18
The plotters needed information about
the state of affairs of the neighboring
island. Edwards' complicity in the plot is
vouched for by many circumstances.
During the years 1787 1792 he lived in
Jamaica; his attitude towards the Maroons
16. Ibid., p. 206-210.
17. Op.cit., p. 344.
18. "Dictionary of National Biography", v.XVIl.
London, 1889, p. 112.
Cudjoe making peace with Guthrie
is well known,* we all know his attitude
towards the intervention; the final chap-
ter of his book was built on the premises
that the Maroons had long ago been
planning an uprising and were only waiting
for the departure of the troops to Haiti;1
finally he defended zealously the war
against the Maroons while a member of
the House of Commons in 1796 and last
but not least he owned extensive estates
in Jamaica and therefore it was no matter
of indifference to him what happened in
Jamaica and in the neighboring island.
The plot passed, during its creation,
various phases or stages. The first stage
(by necessity after the happening of the
events in Haiti) had as its aim the security
of the planters, protecting them from the
evil influence of the revolutionary events.
It follows then that it was necessary to
enlarge the garrison on the island and to
exclude from the body politic the hostile
Maroon element. The culminating events
were those of December 1792. The second
stage began in the autumn of 1793 when
the intervention in Haiti had become an
established fact and the inclusion of that
island into the British Empire had to be
fought by the planters as it represented a
deadly threat to the Jamaican sugar mono-
poly and thus activated the conspirators.
The beginning of the third stage came
about in 1795 when circumstances were
favourable for the commencement of the
provocation of the Maroons.
*Hostile as stated earlier and based on his
19. B. Edwards. Op.cit., v.1, p. 548-549
It is worth stressing that during the
three phases, the Maroon problem occu-
pied not only an important but a key
position. Based on these premisses the
conspirators hoped to create the conditions
which would bring to expeditious fruition
all their plans. Besides, the wiping out of
the Maroon element in the island weakened
in the view of the planters the constant
threat of a slave revolt.
To ascertain the composition of the
plotters is a complex business. Dallas notes
that between the planters of Northern
Jamaica (the particular neighbours of the
Maroons) and those of the Southern part
there existed differences of opinion con-
cerning the Maroons and that the Northern
planters did not approve of various mea-
sures of the government.20 This can be
first of all explained by purely material
considerations. No doubt any military
action would have to take place on land
owned by the Northern planters. An
armed uprising of the Maroons had to
have an influence on the slaves, parti-
cularly those in the North, especially
those adjoining to Trelawny Town. To
this group of Northern planters belonged,
opportunely, Major James.21
It was different in the South. The
Maroons were far away from the estates.
This group could agree to military mea-
sures against the Maroons much more
readily, since the South would not be
touched by a war.
20. R. Dallas. Op.cit., v.1, p. 183.
21. He certainly did not desire an uprising of the
Maroons, lest he be "ruined" by that event.
writes Dallas ibidd., p. 141).
It seems that the conspirators were
recruited mainly from the Southern
planters, and, perhaps, from the centre of
The successful functioning of the plot-
ters can be explained by the fact that
their leaders were men who had great in-
fluence and even power in the context
of the island as a whole. Without this
influence and without this power their
efforts would have come to nothing.
Here we must remember the fairly
highly placed official of the time who was
at the same time a wealthy planter -
William Dawes Quarrel. He was a highly
influential person, who at the time was a
member of the Assembly, and subsequent-
ly became a member of the Privy Council
of Jamaica. He took a very active part in
the events of 1795 1796. Specifically,
Quarrel was sent to Cuba to get the blood-
hounds to track down the Maroons.
Specifically. it was he who was in charge
of the deportation of the Maroons to
Canada and who was for nearly two years
among them as a special envoy.
From the pen of Quarrel have come
some diary notes which so far have not
come to light. He gave Dallas permission
to use them. Dallas praises him warmly
for this help in his book and no less warm-
ly for his modesty. Why did Quarrel draw
all this praise? Apparently Dallas had
offered to edit the diary in order to
publish it but received a negative reply.
At the same time Quarrel witnessed
Dallas' writing of the book about the
Maroons, and gave him vital source mater-
ial as well as offering kind advice (Dallas
was living with him "under one roof"
while the majority of the book was being
written); finally he read through the
manuscript and again modesty inex-
plicable! demanded to have deleted
those parts where he, Quarrel,was in his
opinion praised too much (some of these
passages Dallas restored, however, later).
As a sign of gratitude the grateful author
dedicated the book to Quarrel.22 On
first sight there is not much to be gained
from these facts. But why did Quarrel
spend so much effort on Dallas that he
even housed Dallas during most of the
writing of the book? Why did he supply
him so generously with material? Why,
finally, did he undertake the correction of
the manuscript, deleting those parts which
did not please him?
Interest in the topic alone? Did not
Dallas offer to edit the diary for publica-
tion under the name of the original author?
Was it the fear of incurring expenses?
Wasn't Quarrel well-to-do? Besides
wouldn't the book have brought in returns,
offsetting the expenses incurred by Dallas
in editing the manuscript?
It remains a fact that despite his abiding
interest in the history of the Maroons and
equal interest in the appearance of a book
about this topic, Quarrel, for some odd
reason, did not desire to have such a book
appear under his name. He gave the
eventual author his diary, his advice, even
22. R. Dallas. Op.cit., p. III (1st pagination),
V, VIII (2nd pagination.)
Maroons and members of the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment in Jamaica in
shelter, acted as editor, spent a lot of time
and effort, but was adamant about not
letting a book under his own name get in-
to print. He (or those who were his
backers) needed a book which would free
the plotters from all suspicion but which
originated from the pen of a person who
at least could claim to be impartial. The
work of Edwards was, for this purpose,
useless. First of all it appeared as an
introduction to an official selection of
documents; besides, the position of the
author was limited by his known anti-
Did Quarrel enlightefi Dallas about his
plans and explain the true position of the
years 1795 1796?
It does not seem so (and to underline
this we have to think about the earlier
mentioned eulogy of Quarrel). First of all
the author might have declined to fulfil
the role for which he was cast. Secondly
it was dangerous. The plotters were
guarding their secret jealously and they
had no need of another witness to their
deeds. The question arises: did not the
plotters attach too much importance to
the preservation of their secret which they
had kept for nearly ten years after the
We don't think so, and for the follow-
ing reasons. During the time while the
book was in preparation, the situation on
the island was exacerbated. The labour
demands upon the slaves were increased,
and this in turn resulted in rebellion after
rebellion. Books, like the "History of the
Maroons", had to fulfil the role of justi-
fying the role of the dominant class,
excusing all cruelty, especially so since all
the 'heroes' of the years 1795 1796 were
still alive. As before they were in power.
Many of them occupied high positions.
Quarrel for instance was elevated from
being simply an Assemblyman to the
position of Privy Councillor. Dallas' book
was meant to whitewash the plantocracy
(and the plotters) and to show their
political wisdom. It was not important
that some criticism was included which
at times became quite severe. So much
more valuable was the part of the book on
which Quarrel had spent so much effort:
the period 1795-1796 which was described
as an unfortunate coincidence of circum-
stances out of which the leading lights of
Jamaica knew how to extricate themselves
by the only possible means; and thereby
had saved the island from being turned
into another Haiti.
by Tom Farr
The fact that ants may have close associa-
tions with other insects seems to be generally
known. Probably the most familiar example
of such an association in Jamaica is that
between ants and scale insects but in many
other parts of the world it is the ant-aphid
(plant louse) partnership that is better known.
Both aphids and scale insects produce sugary
secretions which the ants relish and the ants
in turn protect them from their insect
enemies. The mutual advantage of this type
of association is thus fairly obvious but there
are others which are rather puzzling, espe-
cially where the associating insect lives part
or all of its life within an ants' nest. These
insects (and sometimes mites and pill bugs)
are usually called "ant guests" or myrmeco-
philes, a compound word of Greek origin
meaning "ant loving".
Observations on ant guests are convenient-
ly carried out by using artificial nests or
formicaria. An artificial nest was used by Jan
Swammerdam back in the 17th century but
it was not until early in the 19th century that
the serious study of ant biology began. As a
corollary to these studies considerable know-
ledge of ant guests has been obtained but we
still don't know just what some of the guests
are up to even though their presence in ants'
nests was discovered many years ago. One of
the reasons for these lacunae in our know-
ledge is that some of the guests don't adapt
well to artificial nests; in point of fact, they
seem more specialized for living in ants' nests
than the ants themselves. We know that
certain of the guests are welcomed by the
ants because they produce secretions the ants
imbibe and some are useful scavengers whose
activities aid in keeping the nest clean.
Others are a nuisance, some stealing food and
some as external parasites. Still others are an
absolute menace in that they eat the eggs,
larvae or pupae of their hosts.
The world list of myrmecophile species
has grown until it must now be over 2,000
including Springtails (Collembola), silver
fish (Thysanura), cockroaches, crickets,
beetles (at least a thousand kinds according
to a tabulation made over 50 years ago), flies,
mites and pill bugs (Crustacea: Isopoda).
Except for the Arctic and Antarctic,
mountain peaks and very small islands, ants
are found wherever there is land and over
much of this vast range their myrmecophiles
have gone with them. It should come as
no surprise, then, that a number of them are
also found in Jamaica.
The ant which we call the Mad Ant
(Iridomyrmex inquus) is common in the
Corporate area, even in downtown Kingston.
This is a medium-sized, brownish, ordinary-
looking ant, most easily recognizable by its
erratic, "this-way-and-that-way" movements
as it forages for food, always seemingly in a
hurry but never quite making up its mind
where it wants to go. Like other ants the Mad
Ant sometimes changes its nesting site,
usually because of an unfavourable change of
conditions, especially humidity, within the
nest. Generally, it is just after heavy rains,
and sometimes during, that one is likely to
witness such a moving-day parade. The main
column moves in a fairly well organized
march from the old to the new nesting site
with most of the workers carrying eggs,
larvae or pupae. Mingling with them are
winged individuals, males and females, the
potential founders of new colonies seldom
seen except when mating swarms leave the
nest. But in that throng, you may also see
individuals that just don't look like ants -
they are smaller than their co-marchers and
sometimes they hop. A hand lens (most of
us would need a hand lens) would reveal that
they look like tiny crickets and indeed they
are crickets belonging to a group (genus)
appropriately named Myrmecophila. They
are only about a sixteenth-of-an-inch in
length, greyish in colour, lack wings and the
femora, "thighs", of the hind legs are greatly,
almost grotesquely, enlarged or swollen. This
type of cricket is reported to be fairly
common in ants' nests in many different
parts of the world and the several species
looksuperficially, pretty much alike except
that some are considerably larger than others.
The Jamaican species is no rarity. I have
seen it at least six times with ants on the
move and we have reports from others who
have seen it. Whether or not it dwells only
with the Mad Ant here, we do not know and,
as a matter of fact, we don't know exactly
what species it is. There is also the possibility
that there is more than one species of
Myrmecophila on the island.
Although there are conflicting reports as
to just what these crickets do in ants nests, it
seems quite certain that they feed on exu-
dates from the bodies of their hosts. Ants
have the habit of licking each other and this
grooming seems to give pleasure both to the
groomer and the "groomee" or it wouldn't
be practised. Myrmecophila crickets have
been observed cleaning ants and the ants
submit to their ministrations as calmly as
when being groomed by other ants. Some-
times though, an ant will suddenly turn and
snap at its groom who hops nimbly out of
the way. The cause of this sudden display of
bad temper on the part of the ant probably
Myrmecophila sp., female.
comes from the over-enthusiastic cleaning
activities of the cricket who occasionally nips
his partner. No doubt the robust hind legs
of the cricket serve him well in such emer-
gencies. At least one observer claims that the
crickets also nibble at dead ants and ant
larvae or dead insects brought in by the
workers. There are also reports that the
crickets sometimes turn thieves and steal
droplets of food being passed from one ant
to another or to their larvae.
Occasionally a cricket is killed by one of
the host ants but the individual's chance of
survival as well as that of the species is no
doubt much greater within the ants' nest
than outside it. This relationship must have
been going on for aeons of time, the number
of species of Myrmecophila and their wide
distribution are indicative of this, and whether
the ants like it or not, the crickets seem to
find it a wholly satisfactory arrangement.
There is at least one other myrmecophile
associated with the Mad Ant here. It is a
beetle and I've seen it only once moving
along with the ants and their crickets during
a nest-changing project on the grounds of
the Institute of Jamaica. It, too, is tiny, only
about a sixteenth-of-an-inch in length, oval
in outline, light brown in colour,belonging to
a family which has been given the rather
lengthy common name Minute Brown Fungus
Beetles (Lathridiidae). It's a small family as
insect families go with only about 500
species most of which feed on organic debris
infested with fungus. Certain species occur
in warehouses and granaries but they are not
considered primary pests of stored products
since they feed only on substances already
mouldy. Those known to live in ant and
termites nests are assumed to be scavengers,
perhaps rendering their hosts a service by
keeping moulds in check. Our species has
been tentatively identified as Colucera
maderae. It was discovered over a hundred
years ago and, as the second part of the
scientific name suggests, on the island of
Madeira. It has subsequently been reported
from Hispaniola and Brazil but undoubtedly
it occurs in other countries as well and even
Madeira may not have been its original home.
Another beetle occurring here that asso-
ciates with ants belongs to a huge family,
about 24,000 species throughout the world,
known as the Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelidae).
Most of its species do feed on leaves although
a few bore in roots so it came as a complete
surprise to me to learn that some are
myrmecophiles. Several years ago I collected
a small (about an eighth-of-an-inch long),
greyish beetle, roughly cylindrical in shape,
which I took to be some kind of twig or bark
borer. When I examined it under a micro-
scope, however, I found that it was a Leaf
Beetle and that it was actually dark brown
with most of the body, including the legs
covered with short, white hairs. A few years
passed before I found additional specimens
on leaflets of Cashaw growing along Washing-
ton Boulevard in Kingston. The beetles didn't
seem to be feeding on the leaflets so I split
open several twigs expecting to find beetle
larvae tunneling in them because I was still
under the impression that the beetles were
borers. There was no evidence of tunneling
and eventually I sent specimens to a specialist
on Leaf Beetles who informed me that they
were a species of Coscinoptera, a genus of
myrmecophiles. This generic name is rather
a curious appellation, another Greek com-
pound, and meaning "with-skin-like-a-sieve-
wings", probably referring to the numerous
pits on the wing covers or elytra. Of course,
this is not a characteristic unique to this
group of beetles. To this date the specific
identity of the Jamaican Coscinoptera is
unknown because of the difficulty in dis-
tinguishing the 30 or 40 species of the genus.
It may be a new species, that is, one for
which no official description has been pub-
lished, or it may have come into the island -
and has been described from elsewhere.
Coscinoptera is chiefly a genus of the
American Tropics and in the West Indies, to
my knowledge, it has been previously known
only from St. Vincent. It is quite likely,
though, that it will eventually be found on
some of the other islands.
As yet, we have not found specimens of
the larvae of the Jamaican species and con-
sequently we don't know what ant, or ants,
it is associated with. However, the larvae of
certain others are known. They live in tiny,
pear-shaped or cylindrical cases with an
aperture at one end and move about with
only the fore part of the body protruding
from the case rather like a hermit crab with
its sea shell. The case is made of earth and
although ants have been observed to gnaw
through the wall, it seems that they seldom
attempt to. Also, the larva can protect itself
by withdrawing its body into the case until
its head plugs the aperture and the head is
apparently hard enough to resist penetration
by an ant's mandibles. It is quite probable
that they are scavengers but there is a report
that they occasionally feed on ant eggs. The
larvae of a species in the United States have
been reared in a laboratory away from the
host ant which suggests that they may not be
entirely dependent on ants during this phase
of their life.
Certain flies, that is Two-Winged Flies
(Diptera), live in ants' nests during their larval
life and there is at least one such species in
Other flies can hover, but there is an entire
family that has acquired the name Hover
Flies (Syrphidae) for its species can hover as
expertly as humming birds and, like the latter,
many are brightly, even brilliantly hued.
Adult Hover Flies feed on nectar but the
larvae of the various species of this large
family obtain food in a variety of ways.
Some are predators on other insects, espe-
cially aphids, but others are vegetarians, one
or two of which have become rather well
known as pests of flower bulbs in Europe
and North America. There are species that
feed on decaying organic matter and some live
in the foulest pools or ponds of water the
rat-tailed maggots being examples of these.
There are also some that have become
myrmecophiles. The genus Microdon is a
fairly large one, widely distributed and its
larvae or maggots live in termites' nests as
well as those of ants. These larvae are most
peculiar; oval shaped and flattened, they
rather resemble certain molluscs for which
they have actually been mistaken. No one
seems to know for certain what Microdon
larvae do in ants' nests but it has been sup-
posed that they are scavengers and the ants
don't seem to resent their presence.
In Jamaica, we know of one species of
Microdon (M.violens) but there could very
well be one or two more. It is a brilliant,
metallic green or blue-green fly, about a
quarter-of-an-inch long which could easily be
mistaken for a small wasp. This fly likes to
perch on the ends of twigs or at the tops of
plants in the undergrowth of moist woodlands
where it may be fairly common. Specimens
in the Institute collections all came from
higher elevations such as Catherine's Peak,
Hardwar Gap, Corn Puss Gap and the John
Crow Mountains. We don't know what ant
this fly associates with and there is the
possibility that it spends its larval life in a
Only four species of myrmecophiles have
been discussed in this brief article but there
are undoubtedly more in Jamaica. The beetle
family Pselaphidae, for example, which is
sometimes referred to as the Ant Loving
Beetles because so many of its species are
myrmecophiles, is represented here by at
least 25 species. Some of them must be
myrmecophiles. The Rove Beetle family
(Staphylinidae) of which there are probably
over 200 species in Jamaica, also has many
species that are "ant lovers" but I'm not
aware that any have been discovered here. It
is certain European and North American
members of this family that have an incredible
relationship with their host ants. The beetles
produce a secretion which collects about
tufts of hair along the abdomen and the ants
have become so fond of eating this secretion
that it practically amounts to addiction.
They feed and care for the beetles and their
larvae to such an extent that they neglect
their own brood and with serious conse-
quences. The undernourished ant larvae don't
develop properly; they are degenerates,
neither queens nor workers and seem to be
of no use to the colony. To make matters
worse, the beetle larvae eat the ant larvae as
well as the eggs. Only the great reproductive
power of the queen and the involuntary
control of the numbers of the beetles by the
worker ants who,accidentally kill many of
the beetles in the pupal stage,prevent the
complete disruption or extinction of the
Amber is fossil resin produced by trees
that lived millions of years ago. It is known
from at least two geological periods and
several geographical areas; in the West Indies
there is a sizeable deposit in the Dominican
Republic. The most famous, though, is Baltic
Amber which was so well known and highly
prized by the ancients that long before
Roman times there was a system of roads,
trails and fordings leading from the coasts
of Jutland and East Prussia, south through
Germany to Carnuntum, which was near
Vienna, called the Amber Route. Baltic
Amber is estimated to be 35 to 50 million
years old. When it was in a semi-liquid state,
gradually flowing down tree trunks or dripping
from branches, it trapped and entombed
insects, spiders, mites and other small crea-
tures as well as plant parts. Among the in-
sects which it captured and preserved in near
perfect condition were ants. These amber
ants (and not only those in Baltic Amber)
look very much like their present day counter-
parts and we know too that they had their
myrmecophiles in those far off times because
certain myrmecophile beetles have been
found trapped with them. Thirty-five million
years, even on the geologists' time scale, is a
considerable span of time and though the
species involved are not the same as exist
today, the great antiquity of this type of
animal relationship can hardly be doubted.
Portrait of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753).
PLANT COLLECTORS in JAMAICA
with a biography
Botany is perhaps the least sensational of sciences. The
importance of the vegetable kingdom is basic rather than
immediate, and only rarely, as in the case of penicillin, does
plant science enjoy the bold type of headlines.
Animals are directly or indirectly dependent on plants for
their existence and man is no exception. From the beginning
of human history a rudimentary knowledge of plants as food,
covering, medicines and other necessities of life, must have
been imperative. The art of healing, especially, demanded
acquaintance with a wide range of plants, and a close link
between botany and medicine was the mainspring of early
Before going into the account of the efforts made to ex-
plore the flora of Jamaica before 1900, it will be worth-while
to look first at the island's topography and the salient features
of the flora, in the light of our present knowledge.
Jamaica occupies about 4411 square miles, of which only
about 650 are flat, is 148 miles long and 22-51 miles wide, with
most of the country above 1000 feet. Its geology is very
complex; limestone covers about 2/3 of the surface but the
Blue Mountains contain shale areas very liable to erosion when
the protective woodland is destroyed, and many other types of
substrata occur. The temperature ranges between 80-86 F. at
the coast, 40-450F. on the mountain tops. The two largest
areas over 3,000 feet in elevation, in eastern and western
Jamaica, are both zones of heavy rainfall. In the Blue Moun-
1. Brooks, E. St. John. Sir Hans Sloane the great collector and his
circle. London. 1954.
of Sir Hans Sloane
by S.C. Sinha
tains, where peaks over 6,000 feet stand within 15 miles of
both the north and south coasts, differences in rainfall between
places on the north and south slopes of the mountains are very
great. Both the wettest and driest places in Jamaica are located
in this area. Within a distance of only 30 airline miles between
Fellowship to the north and Kingston to the south of the
mountains, there is a difference in average rainfall of over 130
inches. (Taylor, 1956)2 Thus within a day one can descend
from montane mist forest,luxuriantly green, cool and dripping,
with the ground cushioned in moss, every trunk covered by it,
down through cultivated areas to tough xerophytic (dry)
coastal thorn and cactus scrub defiantly growing out of scorch-
ing hot and blinding-white arid limestone. Jamaica in this
manner provides homes for plants of greatly differing require-
ments. (Steam, 1959).
The number of flowering plants in Jamaica is estimated to
be about 2800 species, this is roughly twice the number of
species found in the British Isles, (which are about 25 times
bigger), and about the same as. inhabit Ceylon, (which is five
times bigger than Jamaica.) There are about 550 species of
ferns in the island, whereas Ceylon and the British Isles have
250 and 66 species respectively.
Not only is the Jamaican flora rich, but there are more than
20% endemic species, or in other words these species are
restricted to this island alone. (Whereas in Trinidad, Lesser
Antilles and Puerto Rico, the percentages of endemic species
2. Taylor, James A. Rainfall of Jamaica. Illinois Academy of Science
Transactions. 49: 104-108. 1956.
3. Steam, W.T. A botanist's random impressions of Jamaica. Proc.
Linn. Soc. London 170 (2): 134-147. 1959.
Comparison of the number of species of flowering plants and
ferns in Jamaica, Ceylon, and the British Isles.
are, 7%; 12% and 13% respectively.) It has often been stated
that Jamaica represented a centre of high endemism. (Asprey
& Robinson, 1953)4
Sir Hans Sloane's contribution to the botany of Jamaica is
very important as it was his collection of Jamaican plants, which
received scientific names by Linnaeus in 1753 at the starting
point of formal botanical nomenclature. Further, this collection
from Jamaica along with his other collections from England and
European countries gave birth to the British Museum in 1759,
which among numerous activities is now one of the foremost
institutes for the study of floras, and houses over six million
plants from all over the world.
Sir Hans Sloane, born on 16th April 1660, was a descendant
of a family originally of Scotland, but settled in the north of
Ireland. His father, Alexander Sloane of Killileagh or Whites
Castle in the county of Down, was receiver-general to the Lord
Claneboy of the taxes for that county. He went to London at
the age of nineteen to study medicine. Besides studying
medicine, he took keen interest in Botany at the Physic Garden,
Chelsea. Further, it is here that he came in contact with the
two famous scientists, John Ray and Robert Boyle. After four
years in London, Sloane went to Paris in 1863, where he
studied Botany under M. Tournefort, and the medicinal virtues
of plants under M. Duforty. Later in the same year he went to
Montpellier, where he was awarded the degree of M.D. At
Montpellier, Sloane accompanied M. Magnol on botanical ex-
cursions, and had the opportunity of being instructed by
Magnol on methods of plant classifications. In 1684 he
returned to London to practice medicine. Sloane presented
Dr. Sydenham, a very eminent physician, with an introduc-
tory letter describing his formal training etc. Sydenham's
remarks to Sloane are:
"This is all fine, but it won't do. Anatomy! Botany!
omarico Puerto R co Lesser Anrtlles Trnidod
Comparison of the percentages of endemic species in some of
the floras of the Caribbean region.
Nonsense! Sir I know an old woman in Covent Garden who
understands botany better. As for anatomy, my butler can
dissect a joint full and well. No, young man; all this is stuff
You must go to the bedside; it is there alone you can learn
disease." Sydenham, however, helped Sloane to a medical
practice, and whole-heartedly promoted his interests.
The Duke of Albemarle, having been appointed governor of
Jamaica, asked his physician, Dr. Peter Barwick,to look out for
a medical man to attend him and his family while there.
Barwick, in turn, asked Sloane if he knew of any doctor willing
to go, and Sloane, having begged time for consideration, offered
his own services.
Sloane's journey to Jamaica began on September 12th,
1687, the Duke of Albemarle's party embarking at Portsmouth
on board the frigate Assistance,(44 guns). Two large merchant
ships accompanied them, as well as the Duke's private yacht,
with his servants and provisions. They reached Madeira on
October 21st, Barbados on November 25th, and then by St.
Eustatius, Saba, Santa Cruz, Mona and Hispaniola (Haiti) to
Jamaica, entering Port Royal harbour on December 19th.
In his dealing with the Duke of Albemarle, Sloane showed
the business-like qualities which he exhibited throughout his
career. He made excellent terms for himself 300 down for
the necessary equipment and preparations for the voyage, and
a salary of 600 a year, a large sum for a young medical man
in those days. He showed his foresight, as Birch tells us, by
investing his savings in peruvian bark (quinine), so acquiring a
valuable stock of a medicine, which he did much to popularize,
not by writing about it in the Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society, but by prescribing it for a variety of complaints
other than the ague for which it was a specific.
The house in Killyleagh County Down in which
Hans Sloane is believed to have been born in 1660.
4. Asprey, G.F. and Robbins,
Monograph. 23: 359-412. 1953.
R.G. The vegetation of Jamaica. Ecol.
Sloane had arrived in Jamaica in December, 1687. Early in
the following autumn the governor, the Duke of Albemarle, in
whose suite Sloane had been enrolled as physician, died. The
young nobleman was then in his 35th year.
The Duchess of Albemarle returned to England as soon as
she received instructions from the court, and Sloane, his
botanizing finished, went with her. They left on March 16th,
1689 and reached England on May 29th.
The widowed duchess remarried Ralph Montagu, Earl and
later Duke of Montagu. Sloane was living at her house for the
next six years. He seems to have acted as her domestic
physician; and no doubt this position helped him to establish
the great connection which afterwards centred round his house
in Bloomsbury Square.
Sloane, a rich and successful physician, was able to collect
items of varied interests. However, it is evident from the
following list of his collections, that his main interest centred
around Biology and Medicine.
Earth and salts
Bitumens, sulphurs, ambers, ambergrise
Metals and Minerals
Talcs, micae &c.
Crystals and spars, or flueres cyrstallini
Flints, stones and other remarkable fossils
that are anomalous
Precious stones, agates, jaspers and fine
Corals, or such as are akin to them, as
sponges and other submarine plants
Vegetables and vegetable substances, as
roots, woods, fruits, seeds, gums, resins
and inspissated juices.
Besides two hundred large volumes of dried
samples of plants, amongst which are
such specimens as were collected by myself
in Europe, the Madeira Islands and America;
as also these gathered by Dr. Merret, Dr.
Plukenet, Mr. Petiver and other curious
persons all over the known world.
Testacea of shells and their parts, both
natural, found at sea and land, and
Echini or sea urchins, and parts of them
both natural and fossil, found at sea
Crustacea, or crabs, lobsters &c.
Fishes and their parts
Asteriae, trochi, entrochi &c.
Birds and their parts
Quadrupeds and their parts
Vipers, serpents &c.
Humana, namely stones of the kidneys
and bladder, anatomical preparations
and the like
Miscellaneous things, not comprehended
with the foregoing, both natural and
Things relating to the customs of ancient
times or antiquities, urns, instruments
Pictures, many relating to natural history
Large vessels, ladles, and other things made
of agate, jasper, cornelian, crystals,
besides many came and seals, excisa
Medals, ancient, as Samaritan, Phoenician,
Greek, Consular, Roman &c. and modern;
and coins in all metals 2
Books in miniature or colours, with fine
drawings of plants, insects, birds, fishes, These three
quadrupeds, and all sorts of natural and heads with
artificial curiosities 136 his printed
Books of prints &c. 580 books esti-
Volumes of manuscripts, the greatest part mated at
of them relating to physic and natural 50000
history, travel &c. 2666
Dr. F. Rose of Jamaica, who was both a planter and a
medical man, made his will in 1693 and died soon afterwards,
leaving enormous wealth for his wife and three daughters.
Sloane married his rich widow in 1695.
In 1696 appeared Sloane's first book, his Catalogue of the
Plants of Jamaica (Catalogus Plantarum quae in Insula Jamaica...)
This he dedicated to the Royal Society and to the College of
Physicians. It was the first fruits of the Jamaica voyage, to be
followed many years later by the two great folios on the Island,
its history and natural history. It was indeed as the title
indicates a forerunner of these volumes, being virtually a
systematic index to the plants described in them.
The first volume of the Natural History of Jamaica was
issued by the author in 1707, twenty years after the journey.
It falls into three parts: an introduction, giving an account of
the situation, temperature, plants and animals, discovery,
history, people, diseases, customs and food of the island; a
narrative of the voyage; and a detailed description of the
The second volume of the Natural History of Jamaica
appeared in 1725, thirty-eight years after the journey. It
includes sections on the trees, insects, molluscs, crustacea, fish,
birds, quadrupeds, stones, earths and minerals.
Sloane was honoured by various awards at home and in
1709 elected a foreign member of the Royal Academy of
Sciences of Paris.
1712 member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Berlin.
1719 President of the Royal college of Physicians
1727 President of the Royal Society
1735 elected to the Academies of Petersburg and Madrid
1752 honorary member of the Royal Academy of Sciences
Sloane died on January 11th, 1753 in his 93rd year, and was
buried on January 18th, in the vault in Chelsea, outside the
church in the south-east corner where his wife had been buried
thirty years before.
Sloane left the Chelsea Manor and lands equally between his
two daughters. He left a legacy to his assistant, James Empson,
made him one of his executors, and entrusted to him the care
of his museum, as long as it remained unsold, with a salary of
100 a year.
In June 1753 an Act of Parliament was passed, entitled:
'An Act for the purchase of the museum or collection of
Sir Hans Sloane, Bart., and of the Harleian collection of
Manuscripts, and for procuring one general repository for the
better reception and more convenient use of the said collec-
tion, and of the Cottonian Library in addition thereto.'
By this Act the sum of 100,000 was ordered to be raised
by lottery, and a number of 'Trustees for the British Museum'
appointed, consisting of great officers of State, representatives
of the families of Sloane, Cotton, Harley, Townley, Elgin and
Knight, a nominee of the king, and fifteen elected members.
For housing these collections Montagu House was acquired
from the representatives of the Montagu family for 10,000.
This palace had been built in 1680 by Ralph Montagu, 1st Duke
of Montagu, who as Earl of Montagu, had married in 1690 the
widow of the Duke of Albemarle, with whom Sloane had sailed
to Jamaica. The future home of the British Museum was within
a stone's throw of Sloane's old house in Bloomsbury Square.
Montagu House had long stood empty, and the necessary
repairs proved very expensive. These and the fitting of the
The north front of the Manor
House, Chelsea, newly built by
Henry Vill, c. 1536 for Princess
Elizabeth, who spent much of
her childhood there. The pro-
perty had had several illustrous
tenants when in 1712, Sir Hans
Sloane bought it from William
Cheyne, second and last Viscount
Newhaven. The site is now
occupied by Nos. 19-26 Cheyne
One of the tickets for the Dublin
Hospital's lottery for the pur-
chase of Sloane's collection.
6L'rmncco (2 nc
By untsy f th, 14 "11came Hziloritl .,4dit
building with bookshelves and cabinets and the removal of the
collections from Chelsea and elsewhere amounted to a sum of
over 26,000. The Slonean collection cost 20,000, the
Harleian collection 10,000, and Montagu House, 10,000.
There remained from the 95,000 raised by the lottery, nearly
29,000 which was laid out in the purchase of 30,000
Government stock for the maintenance of the Museum.
The Museum was opened to the public on January 15th,
1759, six years after Sloane's death.
The following conspectus5 lists chronologically the botanical
travellers and residents in Jamaica who, by collections or
records, contributed to a knowledge of the flora down to the
Name (dates of birth
H. Barham (1650-
H. Sloane (1660-
P. Browne (1720-
Irish medical man and botanist; came to
Jamaica in 1687 as personal physician to
the Governor, the Duke of Albemarle;
although resident in St. Jago de la Vega,
now Spanish Town, and evidently restrict-
ed by his professional duties, Sloane
managed nevertheless to travel in the
parishes of St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St.
Ann; on his return to England became a
very successful and wealthy doctor;
knighted in 1716; made president of the
Royal Society in 1727.
Irish medical man; studied at Leyden;
voyaged about 1745 to Barbados, Mont-
serrat, Antigua, and St. Kitts settling in
Jamaica in 1746, where he journeyed and
collected extensively; returned to England
Hortus Americanus. Kingston.
Catalogus Plantarum quae in
Insula Jamaica. London. 1696.
A Voyage to the Islands
Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S.
Christophers and Jamaica,
with the Natural History of
of those Islands. Vols. 1 & 2.
London 1707 & 1725.
Civil and Natural History of
Jamaica. London. 1756.
5. Steam, W.T. Grisebach's Flora of the British West Indian Islands:
A biographical and bibliographical introduction. Jour. Arnold
Arboretum .46: 243-285. 1965.
Urban, I. Symbolae Antillanae seu fundamental florae Indiae Occidentalis.
Vol. 3. Berlin. 1902-1903.
Name (dates of birth
N. J. Jacquin (1727-
W. Wright (1735-
Th. Dancer (1750-
F. Mason (1741-
C. Swartz (1760-
J. von Rohr (1737-
J. Wiles (17. .-1805)
E.N. BonCroft (1772-
G. Don (1798-1856)
J. Macfadyen (1800-
Th. Higson (1773-
H. Distan (?-1840)
No herbarium specimens
Selectarum Stirpium Ameri-
canarum Historia. Vienna.
Scottish medical man
Swedish botanist; studied natural history
and medicine at Upsala; went in August
1783 to N. America, then to the West
Indies, leaving Boston on 26th Nov. 1783,
landing at Montego Bay, Jamaica on 5th
Jan. 1784; stayed for some time on the
Hampden estate, Trelawny, travelled be-
tween Jan. and Aug. 1784 in Hanover, St.
Elizabeth, and Westmoreland, visited
Savanna-la-Mar, later Kingston and from
here, in 1785, ascended Blue Mountain
Peak (east peak) and stayed with Matthew
Wallen of Cold Spring, St. Andrew in the
Blue Mountains, and visited Catherine
peak, as well as the Liguanea plain, Ferry,
and Spanish Town, Morant Bay, Bath, and
English gardener; sailed with Captain
Bligh on his second voyage (1791-93) to
introduce the bread fruit (Artocarpus
communis) into the West Indies from the
English medical man; General Inspector
of the Army Hospital at Kingston.
No herbarium specimens.
Observationes botanicae. Erlan-
Icones Plantarum incognitar-
um quas in India Occidentali
detexit et delineavit. Erlangen.
Flora Indiae Occidentalis.
Hortus Jamaicensis. St. Jago
de la Vega. Jamaica. 1814.
Scottish gardener and botanist.
Scottish medical man; went to Jamaica,
in 1825, as island Botanist but owing to
lack of money resigned from this post and
took up medical practice, devoting his
spare time to Botany and the preparation
of his Flora of Jamaica (Vol. 1, 1837);
unfortunately his death from cholera pre-
vented the publication of volume 2, of
which 216 pages were printed.
English merchant; was curator of Bath
Botanic Garden, Jamaica, 1828-1832.
Medical man, lived at Savanna-La-Mar
The Flora of Jamaica. Vol. 1.
Name (date of birth
G. McNab (1815-
Th. Hartweg (1812-
W. Purdie (1817-
P.H. Gosse (1810-
A.S. Oersted (1816-
N. Wilson (1809-
A.H.R. Grisebach (1814-
Scottish medical man; emigrated in 1838
to Jamaica and practiced in St. Ann and
German gardener and plant collector;
collected in Jamaica during May 1843.
Scottish gardener; trained at Edinburgh;
sent out to Jamaica in 1843 by W.J.
Hooker to collect seeds, plants & speci-
Danish Botanist, spent six weeks botan-
izing with McNab and Macfadyan and
ascending the Blue Mountain Peak.
Scottish gardener; emigrated to Jamaica
and became Island Botanist and Superin-
tendent of Botanic garden at Bath;
founded Castleton Garden.
Professor of Botany at Gottingen; while
Sir. W.J. Hooker was trying to get a com-
plete series of colonial floras, he entrusted
Grisebach to write the Flora of the British
West Indian Islands. Although he did not
visit these islands, he had access to the
specimens at Gottingen, Kew, The Hook-
erian Herbarium, The Banksian Collections
at British Museum and the Academy of
Stockholm. Even today this work, the
final part of which was published in 1864,
is the only flora dealing with all families
of Jamaican vascular plants.
Flora of the British West
Indian Islands. London. 1864.
R.C. Alexander Prior
W.T. March (1795-
G.S. Jenman (1845-
D. Morris (Sir) (1844-
Lawyer in Jamaica; lived at Spanish'
Town where he had a fine garden.
Superintendent of Castleton Gardens from
1873-1879, published the synoptical list
"The Ferns and Fern Allies of Jamaica"
in different numbers of the Bull. of the
Botany Dept. of Jamaica from 1890-1898.
Worked as, Asst. Director, Royal Botanic
Garden Ceylon (1877-1879); Director,
Public Gardens & Plantations; Jamaica
(1879-1886); founder of the Jamaican
Herbarium. Interested especially in
Name (dates of birth
W. Fawcett (1851-
H. von Eggers
W. Harris (1860-
C.F. Millspaugh (1854-
Irish; Univ. of London graduate (B.Sc.);
with experience at the British Museum,
came to Jamaica in 1886 to serve as the
Director of Botanical Gardens and Plan-
tations; founder and editor of the Bull. of
the Botany Department of Jamaica (1887-
1908); returned to England in 1908.
Flora of Jamaica. Vols. 1, 3,
4,5 & 7. London. 1910, 1914,
1920, 1926 & 1936.
A provisional list of the indi-
genous and naturalized flower-
ing plants of Jamaica. Kingston.
No herbarium specimens.
Irish; trainedat Kew; worked in Jamaica,
as superintendent of Botanical Department
(1881-1908), as superintendent Botanical
Gardens (1908-1917), Government Bota-
nist (1917-1920), and died as Assistant
Director of the Department of Agriculture;
a very successful plant collector.
1 i '. l
The Window by Evelyn Borrow
,. 14 .
( SI L
by George R. Proctor
The American philosopher Henry David Thoreau is reported
to have said that "Nature made ferns for pure leaves". Although
I cannot attempt to speak so authoritatively of Nature's
intentions, if any, there is clearly a unique attractiveness about
ferns that has long refreshed human eyes, and has appealed
alike to poets, tired city-dwellers, horticulturists, and scientists.
To all, ferns are the very emblem of the shady forest's cool
solitude. In their grace and symmetry, their perfection of
minute detail, and in their infinite variety, fern-leaves are un-
surpassed. In the context of a world rapidly becoming mange-
ridden with pollution and environmental degradation, ferns
become almost a symbol of purity, in truth the "pure leaves"
of Thoreau's Nature.
A botanist finds in ferns a large and wonderfully diverse
group of more than 10,000 species, nearly world-wide in over-
all distribution, whose long and ancient lineage extends far
earlier than flowering plants. Developing probably from some
simple algal form, ferns had their origins far back in geologic
time; they must have been among the earliest of the larger
land-plants. At one time, they dominated the earth's vegetation,
but with the evolution of the more adaptable flowering plants,
ferns have gradually lost the competitive struggle, now success-
fully flourishing only in especially favourable habitats. Jamaica,
with more than 500 indigenous species of true ferns, offers a
particularly rich sanctuary to these plants. However, the
accelerating destruction of our moisture-conserving forests
surely threatens ferns with untimely extinction, just as surely
as the quality of human life itself is threatened.
The majority of ferns have leaves of somewhat feathery
shape and texture. Indeed, the Latin term pinna, customarily
applied to the primary divisions of the fern-leaf, literally means
"feather". Likewise, the word "fern-like" has come to be used
commonly to denote any plant whose leaves have a feathery
quality. Also, a good many plants that are not ferns are
mistakenly called so because of their fern-like foliage. For
example, the so-called "Asparagus-fern" of florists is really an
Asparagus (a flowering plant akin to the vegetable of the same
name), and not a fern at all. So, one might ask, when is a fern
a fern and not a feathery imposter?
On the other hand, it is only fair to point out that many
true ferns do not in the least resemble feathers, and in fact fern
leaves exhibit a most astonishing diversity of form. Here in
Jamaica we can find examples of nearly all the possible
variations in fern leaf-shape and texture, from the most delicate
of lacy forms to coarse, strap-shaped species known appro-
priately as "cow-tongue", and from those growing as tufted
rosettes to the most elongate of vines, with or without prickles.
Among the more bizarre types are Marsilea, the semi-aquatic
"water clover", which indeed looks like a 4-leafed clover;
Vittaria, the "shoe-string fern", whose narrow, flexible leaves I
have actually seen substituting for a boy's shoe-laces; and tiny
species of Trichomanes ("Filmy-fern") that have the shape and
size of a fingernail, but fortunately for them not the same
colour. Vast differences in size occur, from the same tiny
Trichomanes to huge tree-ferns with trunks 30 feet tall or more.
All degrees of hairiness, from completely hairless species to
those of an almost woolly texture, can be found, and the hairs
themselves range from short and straight to long and contorted,
or even forked or multi-branched. Likewise, there are many
species more or less covered by intricate scales. Finally, one
might mention the so-called "gold" and "silver" ferns, named
thus for their coatings of waxy powder, unfortunately for
botanists not recognized as legal tender.
Having said all this, one might ask again, when is a fern
really a fern? If you will pardon me for giving a somewhat
technical answer to a technical question, ferns and their so-
called allies are vascular plants that disseminate their kind by
means of spores, and that never bear flowers, fruits, or seeds.
Some of these and related terms will be explained in the
Ferns resemble flowering plants in the specialized differen-
tiation of their internal tissues. In this respect, they both
possess special hard-walled cells for conducting fluids, known
as "vascular" cells (from the Latin vasculum, meaning "a little
tube"). These cells are usually aggregated in fibrous strands
or else more massively to form "wood". In any case, we say
that both ferns and flowering plants are similar in being
"vascular". On the other hand, the important difference
between them lies in their methods of reproduction, for ferns
never produce flowers or seeds.
Nowadays, nearly everyone presumably knows that ferns do
not bear flowers, but there was a time when this fact was not
generally recognized. In the absence of scientific facts, many
quaint folk tales and legends grew up to "explain" the situation.
It seems to be a quality of the human mind to abhor un-
explained observations. This quality in its worst expression
leads to superstition, and at its best to scientific advancement.
Unfortunately, while it is easy to laugh at old-time legends,
especially if those who believed them are long since deceased,
to laugh at one's contemporaries' "precious beliefs" can get
one into trouble. The persistence of mental cobwebs is another
attribute of the human mind!
Let us laugh, then, at one or two fern legends. In medieval
England it was believed that ferns flowered, but only secretly
and at night, on one night a year. The fern flower was alleged
to be of a beautiful blue colour, opened and faded quickly, and
was rapidly replaced by a golden seed which ripened exactly at
midnight. It was thought that ferns must have seeds, for
ordinary flowering plants could be seen to produce seeds that
sprouted and grew seedlings; likewise, young apparently
"seedling" ferns could readily be observed. Since the fern
seeds were never seen, they must (it was thought) be invisible.
If fern seeds were invisible, it seemed logical to suppose that
possession of one would make the owner invisible. As in-
visibility was believed to be both possible and a most valuable
attribute, many and devious were the plans suggested for
securing fern seeds. In one plan, twelve pewter plates were to
be stacked together, to be held under a fern plant at midnight
on St. John's Eve (June 24). The seed would supposedly fall
into the top plate and miraculously pass through each plate in
turn, coming to rest in the lowest plate. Then, if one were
sufficiently careful, the precious seed could be captured. To
the modern botanist, the real miracle of this process was that
many people really believed it!
Perhaps, after all, Shakespeare said the last word on this
subject, where in "King Henry IV" Act 2, we read:
"Gadskill: 'We steal as in a castle, cocksure; we have the
receipt of fern-seed, we walk invisible.'
"Chamberlain: 'Nay, I think rather you are more beholden
to the night than to fern-seed, for your walking invisible.' "
The scientific particulars of fern reproduction were even-
tually worked out by the German botanist Hofmeister about
the middle of the nineteenth century, but even today new
details are being discovered, and only quite recently has some
of the evolutionary significance of this process been explained.
Scientific advance is sometimes so slow that perhaps we should
not too condescendingly ridicule the strange fancies of another
To understand how ferns reproduce, it is first necessary to
know something about their structure, for they exist in two
separate and distinct forms, the nonsexual and the sexual, which
typically alternate with one another from generation to gener-
The more or less conspicuous plant that we call a "fern"
represents the non-sexual phase, technically called the sporo-
phyte because it bears numerous dust-like, 1-celled reproductive
bodies called spores. These are borne in tiny capsules
(sporangia) usually aggregated in clumps or lines on the backs
or margins of otherwise ordinary (or sometimes modified)
green leaves. At maturity, the spores are scattered by the sud-
den bursting of the sporangia; in function they in effect take
the place of seeds.* A single fern leaf may produce hundreds,
thousands or even millions of spores, but usually very few of
these ever get the opportunity to germinate. Being exceedingly
light, many are blown about in the atmosphere for long
distances, and occur even as high as the stratosphere. Although
some are relatively long-lived, many kinds remain alive only a
few days, and must germinate quickly or perish. Different
species of ferns bear spores that distinctly differ in microscopic
details, and these differences are frequently used in fern
classification to substantiate or refute relationships.
If a fern spore falls upon a moist bank or other suitable
place, it absorbs moisture, swells, and after a few days bursts
Spores are 1-celled bodies produced by a non-sexual process; seeds
are multicellular bodies consisting in part of an embryo which results
from a sexual process. Thus spores and seeds are utterly different in
origin and structure, but both serve to propagate and disperse their
its coat, growing by cell-division to produce at maturity a thin
green scale, typically about the size of a small fingernail or
smaller and often of heart-shaped outline. This represents the
sexual phase of a fern's life-cycle. Technically, it is called a
gametophyte because when mature it produces male and female
sexual cells called gametes. Union of a mobile sperm with a
passive egg, which cannot take place without the presence of
water, starts the growth of a new sporophyte fern plant. So
there you are reproduction with no flowers and no seeds!
Turning now to the uses of ferns, it must be admitted that
these plants are generally more decorative than utilitarian.
Probably the most important economic value derived from
ferns is in the form of mineral coal, for it is known that ferns
and fern-like plants played an important part in the formation
of Carboniferous coal-beds. Modern (as contrasted with
extinct) ferns are, of course, extensively grown for the sake of
their lacy or otherwise interesting foliage. The leaves of wild
ferns have also been harvested literally by the millions in some
countries to be used by the florist trade. Likewise, the tough,
fibrous root-masses of tree-ferns, considered indispensable as a
substratum for orchid-cultivation, cause these stately plants to
be chopped down by. the hundreds wherever they are
accessible and near a profitable market. As a result, for
example, some of our rarer Jamaican tree-ferns, found nowhere
else in the world, are probably on the verge of extinction.
The use of ferns as food has been documented in many
articles and books, but these plants are far less used for this
purpose today than among the primitive peoples of the past.
Yet even now there is a small cannery in the state of Maine,
U.S.A., which packs the young uncoiling leaves ("fiddleheads")
of the Ostrich fern in tins for gourmet use. I can recommend
these from personal experience they compare favourably with
Marsilea polycarpa (Water clover).
Much enlarged drawing of life cycle of a fern: 1, 2, and 3, a
sporangium in act of discharging its spores; 4 and 5 Germinating
Gametophyte: 6 Mature Gametophyte (enlarged 15 times); 7
Male Gamete (enlarged 900 times); 8 Gametophyte with young
sporophyte attached; 9 Young fern growing from a bulblett",
an example of vegetative reproduction; 10 A small species of
fern, sporophyte stage, (half natural size).
Asparagus. In many tropical regions, especially of the Pacific,
the succulent starchy pith of certain tree-ferns is baked and
eaten, but chiefly as an emergency food in times of famine.
Otherwise, the same material is often fed to hogs. At least
some species of edible ferns, common in the past, are ex-
ceedingly rare today, perhaps from over-use, and we may
possibly agree with one author who said, "It does not behoove
a fern to be edible."
In the past, considerable medicinal use was made of ferns,
but most of these substances are no longer esteemed. One of
the few still somewhat in vogue is an ether extract of the
rhizome of Dryopteris filix-mas, a widespread species found
in north-temperate regions. This extract is used chiefly in
veterinary medicine to expel parasitic worms.
The large leaves of certain tree-ferns have often been used
in thatching, and tree-fern trunks are used in some countries to
make pilings for small wharves, as they are said to be impervious
to the marine worms that can so quickly destroy many kinds
of wood when immersed in sea-water. The tough, wiry fibres
of fern stems are used in Indonesia to weave hats and other
useful objects, while here in Jamaica the long, flexible stems of
Bracken (Pteridium) are often woven into mats for the drying
Mention should also be made of the soft, woolly material
called "pulu" in Polynesia, obtained from the growing apex of
certain tree-ferns. This was traditionally used in dressing
wounds and in embalming the dead, or more recently as a
rather inferior stuffing for pillows and mattresses. A closely
related species, Cibotium barometz of tropical Asia, was
apparently the basis of the strange ancient legend of the
Vegetable Lamb of Tartary. In the words of a medieval
"In the land of Tartary toward high Inde and Bacharye in
the country of the Grand Can [=Khan] there growethe a
manner of plant that is strange and wonderful indeed. This,
which they call Borametz, meaning the lamb, grows from the
earth in the likeness of a real lamb having head, eyes, feet
and is attached at the navel to a root or stem. Its covering
is an exceedingly soft wool. In height it is half a cubit and
according to those who tell of this wondrous thing its taste
is agreeable and its blood is sweet. It lives as long as there is
herbage within reach of the stem to which it is tethered and
from which it derives its life."
This curious fable reveals something of primitive man's
views about unexplained natural objects, and also shows how
difficult it can be to extract the grain of truth from highly
embroidered fancy. The story of the Vegetable Lamb was
widely circulated and accepted during the Middle Ages, first
appearing in print in one of the Talmudic books in 436 A.D.
By the 17th century, a certain scepticism became evident in the
scientific community. The man who finally exposed the truth
was none other than Sir Hans Sloane, who obtained a specimen
from southern China and exhibited it in London, revealing it
to be the curiously lamb-like apex of a tree-fern stem, the
"legs" being the bases of leaf-stalks. Today, "Vegetable Lambs"
are manufactured in Taiwan for sale to tourists!
In view of the preceding, it is interesting that the first real
student, collector, and careful observer of Jamaican ferns was
this same Hans Sloane, who travelled to Jamaica in 1687 as
physician to the newly-appointed Governor, the Duke of
Albermarle. Unfortuantely, the latter died soon after arriving
in the island, but Sloane, who had long cherished a desire to
learn more about the West Indies, remained for about fifteen
months before returning to England. He spent this time
collecting, observing, and taking ample notes. His Jamaican
collections, and the books later based on them, formed the
basis of his eminence in natural science, (just as his invention of
milk-chocolate helped to develop his considerable fortune!)
His numerous dried specimens of Jamaican plants still remain
in good condition as one of the basic treasures of the Bri-
tish Museum (Natural History) in London, and approximately
100 of these are ferns. Here is an introductory part of what he
wrote about the ferns of Jamaica in 1707: "The Tribe of
Ferns in Jamaica are very numerous, and strange [=diverse] in
their manner of growth. Many of these are Scandent, more
than one white on the Back; some have Truncs like other
Herbs or Trees, and some perfect Stalks." He goes on to
explain his method of classifying them based primarily on how
the leaves are divided.
Fern classification has undergone, or shall I say endured,
many refinements since Sloane's simple (and unsatisfactory)
treatment. Today, the best we can say is that, with vastly
more information, no two experts agree on how ferns should
be classified. It is only fair to point out, however, that the
problems are complex, and eventually no doubt will be
resolved by compromise between conflicting interpretations
of the facts. Perhaps the international symposium on this
subject, to be held in London during April of this year, will at
least get the experts talking to one another! Sloane would
have loved to be there.
During the nearly three centuries since Sloane collected his
first Jamaican fern, many others have found Nature's "pure
leaves" irresistible. A list compiled from Jamaican specimens
preserved in the Institute of Jamaica collection and in a dozen
major museums abroad, contains a total of 182 names of fern-
collectors, the majority of them short-term visitors to our
island. Indeed, when one thinks of the number of plants (3,601
in my own case) that this small army has uprooted, pressed,
dried, and offered upon the altar of botanical science, one can
only rejoice that most of them left as quickly as they did, and
also that ferns are so prolific! In any case, it is the destruction
of the environment, and not the transient ravages of collectors
that is more likely to exterminate Nature's various inter-
dependent treasures, and leave us bereft of so much that too
many people take for granted. The lesson to be gained from
this is that in the broad sense what is good for ferns is good for
people. Long live ferns!
JAMAICA SCHOOL OFART
"NO. 2", by Winston Patrick
"NO. 01 '" by Els Patrick Meyns.
Inscape Hope Brooks-Parchment
Poem Painting 3 Hope Brooks-Parchment
Mountain Azalea Karl Craig
"TIE AND DIE", textile by Karl (Jerry) Cra
"CAT AND HIS PREY",
- ceramic by Cecil Baugh.
Le : ..
"CACTUS", ceramic by Cecil Baugh.
"CHARCOAL DRA WING NO. 1 ", by Milton Harley.
80 11 1- .
by Dr. David Buisseret
Last year, the Johnson Reprint Corpora-
tion reprinted Frank Cundall's Historic
Jamaica, which was published in 1915 (copies
of this reprint are available from the Institute
of Jamaica, price $12). A good deal of work
has been done in Jamaican history since that
time, and there have been many material
changes, so that some of Cundall's remarks
are out of date, and others have proved to be
erroneous. I therefore thought that readers
of the Journal might welcome an analysis of
Historic Jamaica, attempting to indicate the
points at which corrections and additions
might be made; these could then be kept
with the book and so serve to bring it up to
The simplest way of analysing the work
seems to be to go through it page by page,
listing the points at which alterations should
be made. Frank Cundall had in fact begun
this work himself, and the Institute has
preserved a copy of Historic Jamaica in which
he has made manuscript notes for this pur-
pose. By the courtesy of the Institute I have
been able to use this copy, and have enclosed
the corrections between square brackets when
they were those envisaged by Cundall. I have
not, however, included his many corrections
to the lists of office-holders, as these usually
involve rather minor points.
page 10 (and 67)
the term 'Healthshire Hills' has properly
been abandoned since Cundall's day in
favour of the original (and more expressive)
in addition to the lists of monumental
inscriptions quoted here, there now exists
Philip Wright's excellent Monumental In-
scriptions of Jamaica (London 1966)
on Castleton and Cinchona and other
gardens there is now available Alan Eyre's
The botanic Gardens of Jamaica (London
it is curious that when he is listing English
attacks during the Spanish occupation,
Cundall fails to mention the unsuccessful
assault by Christopher Newport in 1603
(on which see, for instance, Clinton V.
Black, History of Jamaica, London/
Glasgow 1958, p. 43-44). In general, he
does not err on the side of charity towards
the Spaniards, as we shall see.
On this page too is a passage asserting that
'Cagua' was the Spanish name for the
present Port Royal; in fact, as S.A.G.
Taylor has shown 'Caguaya' (sic) was the
Spanish name for Kingston Harbour, and
was incorrectly applied by the English to
Port Royal (see The Western Design,
Kingston 1965, p. 131).
page 48 (and 135)
Cundall wrote this passage on the monu-
ments of Saint Peter's church at Port
Royal before Lewis Galdy's tomb had
been brought over from Green Bay, and
consequently does not mention it.
page 48 (and 150, 166 and 193)
J.G. Young showed in his article 'Who
planned Kingston' (The Jamaican Histor-
ical Review, vol. 1 no. 2, 1946, p. 144-
153) that Colonel Christian Lilly did not
'lay out the town of Kingston in 1694'.
In fact, Cundall himself had already
modified his earlier assertion (see his The
Governors of Jamaica in the seventeenth
century, London 1936, p. 138).
to the accounts of the earthquake of 1692
listed here should now be added those
printed in The Jamaican Historical Review,
vol. VIII (1971) p. 19-31 and 60-62.
in general, Cundall's account of Port
Royal is very dated, for he wrote before
the recent archaeological work which has,
for instance, revealed the sites of both
Fort Rupert and Christchurch (?). The
results of much of this work have been
conveniently summarized in the Jamaica
Journal; see particularly Robert Marx,
'Excavating Port Royal', vol. II no. 2
(1970) p. 12-18 and, by the staff of the
project, 'The Port Royal project', vol. IV
no. 2(1970) p. 2-12.
concerning the figure-heads formerly at
Port Royal, [the Aboukir figure-head
perished of dry-rot in 1920 and in 1921
the Admiral took the other three to
Cundall's description of Port Royal in
1915 has itself passed into history, and
particularly his remarks about Port
Henderson's importance as a banana port,
and about the beneficial effects for Port
Royal to be expected from the completion
of the Panama Canal.
to say that 'Jamaica was captured by a
wretched army without the loss of a man'
is no longer acceptable; the work of
S.A.G. Taylor, and in particular his book
The Western Design (Kingston 1965) has
shown that the Spaniards waged a long and
courageous guerilla war against the invading
English, who mastered the island com-
pletely only in 1660.
since 1915, the site of Passage Fort has
become even more obscure; it now
appears to lie under an area to the east of
Independence City which is particularly
prone to silting, and will no doubt soon
be deeply buried.
this description of King's House at Spanish
Town antedates the fire of 1925, in which
almost all but the facade facing the square
was destroyed. It is to be hoped that a
fresh chapter in the history of King's
House will be written when the archae-
ological investigations at present being
conducted by Duncan Mathewson have
been completed; Spanish Town is in
general full of potential for this kind of
mention of Esquivel reminds us of the
felicitous naming of Port Esquivel, con-
structed long after the writing of Historic
Cundall has some interesting lines on the
Ferry Inn, which in his day had not been
restored to use as a 'tavern'.
since Cundall's time Fort Augusta has
become a prison; there are views of this
structure in Historic Jamaica from the Air
(Bridgetown 1969) pages 18-19, which has
aerial photographs by Jack Tyndale-Biscoe
and a text by the present writer. In his
own copy, Cundall added to the section
on Fort Augusta: [in 1813 the Loyalist,
prison ship, was stationed off Fort
Augusta; the American prisoners mutinied
and one was shot and two wounded before
they were subdued].
(Bull House in North Street was burnt
down in August 1917].
several statues in the Parade have been
removed, and more appropriate ones sub-
stituted for them.
[in 1741 when Vernon's ill-fated expedi-
tion returned from Carthagena, the hospi-
tal at Greenwich was found to be so
unhealthy that it was soon afterwards
transferred to Port Royal].
the naval watering-place established near
Rock Fort by Admiral Vernon in 1739-
42 has now almost disappeared; see 'A
note on Rock Spring' by the present writer
in the Bulletin of the Jamaican Historical
Society, vol. V no. 5 (1970) p. 78.
Fort Nugent has completely disappeared
under the Harbour View estate, and of
these early fortifications only the martello
the 'Constant Spring Hotel' has for some
decades now housed Immaculate Concep-
tion High School.
[Hunts Bay is named after Joseph Hunt,
churchwarden of Port Royal, to whom
was granted in 1675 by a patent of Charles
II 300 acres of land in Saint Andrew near
Passage Fort ...].
there has been a good deal of work since
1915 on the 'Morant Bay rebellion'. See
for instance Sir Sydney Olivier, The Myth
of Governor Eyre (London 1933) and
Bernard Semmel, Jamaican blood and
Victorian conscience (Boston 1963).
the 'Mount Bay fort' must surely be the
Morant Bay fort, described by the present
writer in Jamaica Journal, vol. IV no. 4
(1970) p. 8-9.
[the lighthouse at Morant Point was
erected in 1842 under the superintendence
of Sir George Grove, who later became
famous as a writer and teacher of music].
Worthy Park has been the object of a
recent intensive study by Michael Craton
and James Walvin: A Jamaica Plantation
(London/New York 1970).
pages 267 and 272-3
C.S. Cotter appears to have proved that
Don Christopher's Cove in Saint Ann was
named not after Christopher Columbus,
but after the last Spanish governor, Don
Christopher Yssassi. See his 'Don Christo-
pher's cove' in The Jamaican Historical
Review, vol. II no. 3 (1953) p. 3943. This
article also argues that Columbus spent
the period between June 1503 and June
1504 somewhere within Saint Ann's Bay;
an attempt to find this site (see Robert
Marx, 'Discovery of two ships of Colum-
bus', Jamaica Journal, vol. IIno. 4 (1968)
p. 13-17) does not appear to have been
this whole section on Sevilla Nueva needs
revision following the remarkable discovery
of Geraint Casserly in 1937 and the sub-
sequent work of C.S. Cotter. The latter
has published some of his finding in 'The
discovery of the Spanish carvings at
Seville', The Jamaican Historical Review,
vol. I no. 3 (1948) p. 227-233 and 'Sevilla
Nueva', Jamaica Journal, vol. IV no. 2
(1970) p. 15-22.
S.A.G. Taylor has shown in The Western
Design (Page 190) that Yssassi did not
leave Jamaica by way of Runaway Bay,
though 'perhaps other Spaniards still in
the island may have done so'.
[Metcalfeville was the scene of the attempt
to establish a silk industry in the colony in
1840-41, which proved abortive].
a good deal has been written about the
enigmatic figure of Anna Palmer, particu-
larly since the publication in 1929 of H.G.
Delisser's romance The White Witch of
Rose Hall. The fullest attempt to unravel
the strands of this fantasy is Glory
Robertson's 'The Rose Hall legend' in
Jamaica Journal, vol. II no. 4 (1968)
p. 6-12; see also an interesting passage
by Phillip Wright and Paul White in their
Exploring Jamaica (Kingston 1969) p.
the passage on Rose Hall has been out-
dated by its recent restoration.
at Miranda Hill [there is no evidence of
at Longville .[were,when Long wrote,
indications of the places where the Span-
iards washed for gold, but they have now
To these passages, noted on a fairly casual
reading, could no doubt be added many
others; a rich haul of fresh information and
needed corrections could certainly be made
from the pages of both of the Gleaner and of
the Jamaican Historical Society's Bulletin.
There have been many physical changes in
Jamaica since Cundall wrote Historic Jamaica
and, as we have seen, even more advances in
historical research. On the whole, the
Arawaks have been least well served, and
much of what Cundall wrote about them
still stands. Our knowledge of the Spanish
period, however, has greatly increased, and
so has our information about the early
decades of Afro-English settlement, not to
speak of the nineteenth and twentieth cen-
Historic Jamaica was a pioneer work,
compiled moreover quite early in Cundall's
career as an historian, and this attempt to
correct its inaccuracies is not in any way to
be taken as an attempt to belittle its import-
ance. Its author's general achievement has
been well set out by H.P. Jacobs (Jamaica
Journal, vol. II no. 1, p. 24-28), who con-
cludes that in his later years (he died in 1937)
Cundall was becoming rather disillusioned by
the neglect of the rich material which he had
accumulated at the Institute of Jamaica:
'interest in the past seemed to fade in pro-
portion to the accumulation of material
about it'. This trend has happily been
reversed in the last two decades, and we may
be sure that the enormously increased use of
his great library would have been a great
consolation to Cundall, even though it result-
ed in the correction of much of his own early
Youth by Lloyd Robinson
by Mervyn Morris
"Tom Redcam" Thomas Henry McDermot (1870-
1933) was no great artist;1 but he was a remarkable
Jamaican.2 Such a commitment is rare. White (or near-
white)3, MacDermot published seventy years ago attitudes
which would seem exceptional from such a person even now.
Describing "The Present Condition of Jamaica and Jamaicans"
for The Canadian Magazine of October 1899, he wrote:
To anyone making a serious attempt to understand the
present condition and future prospects of Jamaica, the
condition of the blacks is of supreme importance. The
15,000 whites, and the Hinterland of brown men, are
interesting mainly, in fact solely, because of their relation
to their 600,000 black fellows. In every sense, we white
men and our brown cousins are, all the earnest minded
among us, servants of the blacks. It is as our actions and
opinions relate to them that they will stand applauded
or condemned by the future historian.
MacDermot was, beyond any doubt, among "the earnest
minded". This was the man poet and fiction-writer as well
as journalist who a few years later inaugurated The All
Jamaica Library. The Publisher's Foreword to Becka's Buckra
Baby (1904) declared the intention of the series:
In "The All Jamaica Library" we are presenting, to a
Jamaican public at a price so small as to make each
publication generally purchasable, a literary embodiment
of Jamaican subjects. Poetry, Fiction, History and
Essays, will be included, all dealing directly with Jamaica
and Jamaicans, and written by Jamaicans.
In encouraging Jamaicans not only to write for a Jamaican
readership but also to write material "dealing directly with
Jamaica and Jamaicans" MacDermot was pushing cultural
nationalism further than many of us would think sensible even
Certainly not everyone who encouraged Jamaican writing
in the early years of the century could share all MacDermot's
nationalistic attitudes. Take Walter Jekyll, for example, another
cultural benefactor of the time. Compiler of Jamaica Song and
Story (1907), Jekyll made an important contribution to
Jamaican self-awareness and self-respect. In My Green Hills of
Jamaica, Claude McKay's unpublished autobiography of the
years before he left us, Jekyll emerges as a kind, upper-class
Englishman who befriended Claude McKay and to whom McKay
was quite properly grateful. (So clearly is Jekyll the model
for the benign Squire Gensir in Banana Bottom that McKay
tells us in an author's note to the novel that "all the characters
... are imaginary, excepting perhaps Squire Gensir.") It was
Jekyll who encouraged McKay to write poems in dialect:
1. "Tom Redcam is a great poet." J.E. Clare McFarlane, A Literature
in the Making, p. 7 (twice).
2. For a helpful biographical essay, see Adolphe Roberts, Six Great
3. In My Green Hills of Jamaica (autobiography, largely unpublished)
Claude McKay refers to MacDermot as octoroonn".
4. The Institute of Jamaica has a photocopy of the original type-
script from the Schomburg Collection.
". .. 'this,' said he, holding up my donkey poem, 'This is the
real thing. The Jamaica dialect has never been put into literary
form except in my Annancy stories. Now is your chance as a
native boy to put the Jamaica dialect into literary language.' "
Taught by Jekyll to see the beauty of his own Jamaican dialect,
McKay was able to discard for a time, at least his own
prejudice in favour of "English, straight English". Yet; at the
same time, Jekyll encouraged McKay to look for his recognition
away from this society. When publishers in Kingston asked to
be allowed to set some of McKay's poems to music, Jekyll
advised him to publish the songs in London "which would
mean much more prestige" for McKay. While it is sadly pro-
bable that the Jamaican public then as now did indeed
take the writer more seriously because of publication in
London, Jekyll's well-meant advice reinforced an unhealthy
tendency which MacDermot, on the other hand, was inclined
When McKay's Songs of Jamaica appeared and sold well,
the expatriate Jekyll assumed that it was time for McKay to
leave Jamaica. ("Now Mr. Jekyll wanted to know what I
intended to do. He felt I could not just remain on the island
as a poet or peasant proprietor. He felt that I ought to do
something with myself.") When McKay told him he wished to
go to America, Jekyll was horrified with the choice. In
contrast, MacDermot and his wife were disturbed that McKay
had chosen to leave Jamaica at all. ("Tom Redcam said to me:
'Cluade, we hate to see you go because you will be changed,
terribly changed by America.' His wife agreed with him.")
Consistent with this sort of reaction is MacDermot's
"Unusual Preface" to his novel One Brown Girl And (1909).
As in the publication of Becka's Buckra Baby, he again showed
concern that the book be inexpensive enough to be widely
bought in Jamaica. (His 90,000-100 000 words were, in the
cheapest form, available for a shilling.5) He argues that "to fit
a story for publication abroad, as experience teaches one, there
must be sacrificed much in local colour, detail and dialect that
seems to the unhampered judgement needed to render the
picture as conceived by the writer a faithful one." As though
local and foreign audiences are mutually exclusive, he writes:
"In the face of much kind advice to the contrary, appreciated
though not followed, the writer has deliberately chosen to
publish this story here, and to seek a Jamaican audience rather
than an audience abroad." For MacDermot "the chief ambi-
tion . in matters literary is to produce among his fellow
Jamaicans, that which Jamaicans will care to read, and may find
some small reason for taking pride in as the work of a Son of
How much pride can we take in the works of the All
5. But the conservative deLisser showed similar concern. His Jane
(Jamaica, 1913) was serialized in The Daily Gleaner, and every other
deLisser novel later published in England appeared first in a Jamaican
annual, Planter's Punch. From its inauguration in 1920 right up to
deLisser's death in 1944, Planter's Punch sold usually for 1/-. (It was
1/6 in 1921.)
Section of "History of Jamaican Literature", by the Author.
Of the five numbers (four volumes) which appeared, No.
III is the weakest. Weighted with epigraphs and allusions to
Goethe, Dante, Arnold, Thackeray, Virgil, Tolstoy (to name a
few), W.A. Campbell's Marguerite: A Story of the Earthquake
(1907) is nevertheless a work of minimal significance.
(" 'Margy,' he said, 'what have you been doing with yourself,
dear; you must not get sick like this now. Why, you were to
have gone out with me tomorrow night, don't you remember?'
She smiled a wan smile in reply but was too weak even to raise
her hand.")6 The book is bad, but it is not un-Jamaican.
MacDermot evidently did not seek to prescribe limitations on
"the literary embodiment of Jamaican subjects". He did not
insist that all Jamaicans write about The Folk, or that they all
of them confront social injustice. Marguerite was written by a
Jamaican, its people are most of them Jamaican, and the book
is set in Jamaica, with occasional (if unremarkable) dialect, the
routine mention of place-names and reference to the Kingston
earthquake of 1907.
Yet No. II, Maroon Medicine (1905)7 probably gained
something in Jamaican significance by its interest in much that
is vital and distinctively Jamaican in the international melange
of our culture. In four short stories E.A. Dodd attempted "to
portray the lighter and more pleasant side of the labouring
class in the hills." As the tone of that phrase suggests, Dodd
was clearly not a peasant himself. Unlike Claude McKay, he
seems to write about the peasants as an alien, though not
unfriendly, observer. Occasionally he slides into patronage,
particularly when he generalizes about people. ("The black
race loves a joke like this.")9 But on the whole Dodd achieves
his modest aim, of entertaining us with humorous fictions based
on life. The dialect in these stories is persuasive and the
standard of English is less mannered than appears in either
MacDermot's fiction or in the book by W.A. Campbell. Setting
a scene, Dodd is less awkwardly self-conscious than deLisser
often is; he writes well enough sometimes to make us think
towards John Hearne. In this passage, for example, the move-
ment from the larger scene into closer focus is smoothly
accomplished, the modulation from standard English into
dialect is nicely managed.
It was about 3 o 'clock in the afternoon the hour when
the sun seems brightest and hottest in the tropics. Along
the heavy grey sand of the beach were ranged a number
of black canoes, some high up from the sea, these had
come from early morning others which had just been
beached still on the wet shore. On the horizon, the sails
of a few late fishing boats could just be seen appearing
on their way back from their fish pots. They would
reach White Bay, as the bend in the shore was called, in
about an hour's time. The gunnels of the boats which
had last come in, were thickly lined with women and
girls, buying fish from the fishermen, and making a loud
clamour over the business. The atmosphere about was
heavy with the strong raw smell of fish, in all states,
live fish, dead fish, fish boiling, fish roasting, and fish
being cleaned. The sea was dazzling with a thousand
lights, glittering on the moving wave tops, especially in
the west and more directly under the sun; out in the
South-east and far away under the low lying and purple
hills, it was a rich blue, and nearer, but in the same
direction, a tender green. From the bay and following
the shore was a long line of cocoanut palms bending
over towards the water and looking top-heavy, with their
heavy masses of boughs. Separated from these and so
near the canoes which were selling fish, that the rush of
the foam almost reached the roots, were a couple of
palms affording at their curved bases seats which were
generally occupied. Under the shade of one of these
palms a middle sized man with a long bony face and
small eyes and large "weh-fe-do" hat, was bargaining
with a woman for two small mullet. The woman had
bought a string of fish of which the mullet formed a
6. Marguerite, p. 10.
7. "E. Snod" (pseudonym of E.A. Dodd).
8. Maroon Medicine, p. 88.
part, for sixpence, a few hours ago, and was now trying
to get the man to pay "quatty "or penny-half-penny for
about the eighth part.
"Oh, but Miser Watson, you can see dem wut quatty!
dem wut more if it come to dat, but sake ah you, you
can tek dem fe quatty!"
Mr. Watson slowly stroked his whiskers and wrinkled
up his eyes to shut out the glare which was on the sea.
(Maroon Medicine, pp. 17-19)
Three of the four stories celebrate Anancy achievements,
triumphs of peasant cunning (which Dodd calls "cuteness").
In the least successful Mr. Watson concocts something which
he cons his fellows into purchasing as a cure-all "Maroon
Medicine". In "Packy Rum" Mr. Watson outsmarts the police
who rightly suspect him of selling rum without a licence. In
"The Red Cock" a fighting rooster is "borrowed" by Mr.
Watson for some lucrative bouts in a distant village. The
Anancy attitude is sometimes made explicit. About cock
fighting Mr. Matney warned,
"But me no hear dat dem doan allow it by law. Dat dem
can punish you."
"Dem doan allow it fe true! "agreed Mr. Watson, "But
if dem doan know, how can dey punish you?" (p. 56)
It is unfair of Kenneth Ramchand to bracket Dodd with
the inept Campbell.9 The best of the stories, "The Courting
of the Dudes", is well worth reading today. And it foreshadows
aspects of McKay's Banana Bottom which written a quarter
of a century later is, like Maroon Medicine, set in rural
Jamaica early in the century. A slightly pompous teacher, Mr.
Green (a relative of Herald Day) and the dandy (who could
claim kinship with Hopping Dick) are "rivals for the hand of
fair (meaning comely) Miss Annabel Gibson". Competing
love-letters get written. Finally at the Picnic the contest comes
to a climax in the pig race. Dodd seems well aware of the
unstressed comic symbolism. "Thomas kept well after the pig,
but did not try after its tail, knowing that it would be too
greasy at first. After about five minutes of intense enjoyment
to the crowd, the thing happened which finally decided Miss
Ann in her choice of husband and gave Thomas a pig and a
If some of the stories in Maroon Medicine seem in the
end to lack point, the sketches they present convince as rooted
in the real life of a Jamaican peasant community. In the
diverting "The Courting of the Dudes" we have the high point
of the worthily conceived, but unfortunately short-lived, All
MacDermot's own contributions were the first, Becka's
Buckra Baby (1904) and the last two, a double-issue IV-V,
One Brown Girl And (1909), a very full-length novel.
Becka's Buckra Baby, the long short-story which introduced
the virtuous Miss Noel, is better art than MacDermot's shapeless
novel. It is perhaps a little too shapely, its behaviour and
events too obviously manipulated in the interests of form.
White Miss Noel, whose father has died to save her life,
devotes herself to good words in the city. "The white girl
with her finely moulded features, in her dress of simple white
relieved by pink, appeared in the midst of the unlovely
common-place of that Kingston slum like an Angel of the Ideal.
It was Noel." (p. 34) As a Christmas present Noel was born
on Christmas Day and her name means Christmas in French -
Miss Noel gives little black Rebecca a white doll. So little
Becka has a backra (white) baby just like her neighbour Aunt
Rosabella (whose backra child, however, is real). When, before
Christmas, Becka sneaks out with her doll, a young lout
9. "Redcam's work was not of a high order, but the comic sketches
of Maroon Medicine (1905, No. II), and the literacy romanticism of
Marguerite (1907, No. III) were even less likely to inspire a national
literature." The West Indian Novel and its Background, p. 54.
"Inspire a national literature" is a lot to ask. But Maroon Medicine,
pointing forward to McKay and to Hearne, is more clearly in the main-
stream of Jamaican literature than MacDermot's novel is.
snatches it from her and ultimately throws it in the street
across the tram line. Heedless of danger, Becka rushes for her
backra baby. Just then, all too conveniently, Miss Noel herself
is nearby with a male friend. Impelled to rush to save the
child (whom she does not even recognize), Miss Noel is re-
strained by a friend. Miss Noel is far from grateful to the
friend. She "quivered to the last fibre of her being at the
thought that the sacrifice her willing heart, in that moment of
high realization, had leapt to make, had been crudely and
roughly pushed back from the very foot of the Altar." (pp. 65-
White Miss Noel and black Rebecca are both of them
Jamaican. But although aware of the social gap between the
two, MacDermot does not probe the racial and cultural signifi-
cance of little black Rebecca loving her white doll and indeed
killing herself in pursuit of it. It is too early in our literature
for that. The story stays within the limits of MacDermot's
moral and social concern: suffering is to be alleviated; the
privileged have a duty to help the poor.
For MacDermot's ambitious novel, One Brown Girl And -
the canvas is larger. The range of Jamaican life rendered
includes the world of commerce, a country village, a picnic
mountain-climb, a Salvation Army meeting, a middle-class
bachelor-party, the suffering of poor people under bad social
conditions and social injustice; and more besides. "Studying
human nature in its local variations", the novel wobbles all
over the place, but in the end its main concern seems to be the
moral rescue of the mulatto Ada, intent on achieving her sexual
Unlike Becka's Buckra Baby (which is, of course, short),
parts of the novel are dull. There are passages of earnest over-
writing much worse than anything in the shorter work. Not
untypical of MacDermot in purple is a passage such as this:
The sky was an open ocean of blue and the clouds that
did appear floated, light, beautiful, snow-white, far away,
sprays and fragments of foam drifting from mystic lines
of breakers fleecing themselves in unseen regions, where
ivory-limbed gods bathe under cascades of radiance, and
fairies throng the plains of light.
(One Brown Girl And -, p. 58)
MacDermot is better at writing dialogue, even if it is often
a little wooden. We hear the conflict between Henrietta and
Ada, and between Liberta and Mrs. Cariton; we hear prayers
and comments at the Salvation Army meeting.
Typically, when Liberta is to seek advice from a servant,
the authorial voice presses too hard: "She recalled certain
veins of native sagacity not at all to be despised which she had
quarried from that same head on former occasions, with
distinct profit to her plottings." But when the advice (on how
to suborn a post office messenger) is spoken, the social
attitudes, and the dialect rhythms and imagery, are (as in a few
passages in Becka) very well caught.
"Put ten shilling in you pocket and meet de messenger.
You say 'Morning' him say 'Morning'. You say 'Times
maugre.' Him say 'I just finish fe count hij rib.' You say
'I know where ten shilling is ripe fe pick.' Him say; 'Only
show me.' Den you introduce de business. Den you say
'you dry?' and him will say 'Worse dan when drought is
down at St. Elizabeth Savanna.' 'Have a drink,'is what
you to say. 'Gots a messidge fe telegraph Office fe
delibber fust,' is fe him side a de story. Den you must
say? 'Drink will dry up by the time you come back.'
'Well,' says he, 'don't keep me too long. De man send
me widdis telegram and tell me must quick go and come,
got a two-inch long patience and a two-foot long temper;
also him got more cuss cuss words ina' him head dan
when you see bees dem dah swarm.
"Den you introduce you business. Him will talk 'bout
Backra law, and how it punish man fool wid telegram.
You is to say 'Cho man, Big Massa gib Backra brains to
mek law and gib Black man brains to find out to bruck it
and poor Backra nebber know.' 'True,' him will say, 'a
no lie.' Den you got him."
(One Brown Girl And -, pp. 109-110).
It is more by a few passages as sure as this than by his moral
earnestness or the proclaimed Jamaican-ness of his ambitions
that MacDermot's novel justifies any attention now.
It is not the unskilled novelist (or the mediocre poet) who
earns our respect, but the friend to developing writers, the
editor (Jamaica Times, 1904-1923) who "urged the young who
came under his influence to be as native as they felt it in them
to be, both in manner and matter."10 The cultural nationalism
of The All Jamaica Library was forty years before Focus, fifty
before the Pioneer Press.
10. Adolphe Roberts, Six Great Jamaicans, p. 96.
by Neville Dawes
how in this incalculable tearing of wills
you dare offer me, fecklessly, flower
and decayed rosebud and thorn?
fout of the tense thrills, stillborn disintegration of your fused climaxes)
that you sit there coolly shaded
inviolate in soft shadow and shredded words?
too tired for anger
i give you (i think) the sea, moonrise,
moonlight already slaughtered by poetry.
i grasp the terror of this unlikely bouyancy
that carries you beyond
defined response into a determined stance
of yes-no in your muscle-bound romance -
the tissue of the lying vision
of the working-class street you secretly embrace.
but (out of boredom) i take you seriously:
the moon still rises and the sea (for you)
sloughs off its hurricane glance,
white horses, grey swell, waters.
Illustrations by B. Nicholson
minuet and calypso:
minuet of the moon, calypso of you:
i force myself again to watch you dance;
distorted by the rum you are black,
it is the applause you expect that makes you white.
by Neville Dawes
To cup within the tulip of a word
The compound fracture that my life has been,
To stagger in the garden of my love, trampling on flowers and plucking weeds,
To make ineptitude, necessity -
This is the old way of passion.
I should begin a more likely fashion:
X-ray or microscope or you
Should find a lump of cancer for a heart
I use a tulip I have never seen
As a convenient disguise for my misdeeds Illustrations by Audrey E. Wong
by Audrey E. Wong
Woman of laughing hips
moistened immolate lips
wording my darkness
flickers her orange tongue;
ebony thighs flung
in my nativity
dance-feet and tribal drum
tell out my ancestry
coping her mystery:
woman of fertile hips
inscape and instress
bronzed arms have clung to me
TO AN AFRICAN GIRL
by Neville Dawes
Tall, shy as a gazelle,
She glides through centuries no one can recall,
but there is pollen gold in her eyes
and, in her gesture, she is mannered as a goddess.
First ofprincesses, needing no artifice,
she brings, in proud shyness, the gift
to be taken with understanding.
The drums call;
she answers promptly
and dances, always in the pattern of her hands
remembering you, her love;
or weeps, easily, fully, recalling the pulse in her blood
the timeless river some ancient chief propelled,
the lost victories
drudga at midnight.
To say this, is easy:
it is not easy
to enter the depths of her repose.
by A.S. Johnson
We dare not
Ask the fates for more
Than they do give
To sons of pain
We dare not
Hope that we will drink
After life's withering drought
Life gives not plenty
Of what is sweet and pure
Life gives not easy
The touchstone of man's dreams.
And countless millions live
Have never known the beauty
Have never felt conjointly with another
The sweetness of a morning breeze.
The fates rarely give
The power to feel
Rarely permit two such hearts to meet
The fates often deny,
Prefer to cut than nurture promise.
by Lorna Goodison
Catherine commonwealth hairdressers lie
somewhere off Earls court under the grayest sky
the air blows smoke, hair frying
and the girls all missing home
the sea and the sun
adjusting to England by living in Brixton.
Icylyn chief presser hair lying low
shiny and black like the back of a seal
in summertime goes afro.
Icylyn's accents embrace all of Great Britain
and she does not like England.
"I tell them white people that England is
nowhere, at least I can't starve at home
if is even a breadfruit tree I can stone "
Catherine commonwealth hairdresser
has two more shops all doing fine
turning out hairdoes Ebony 1959.
There is this one girl the pale
evidence of miscegination
face like a dummy in a window
"she come out white, everything
except her hair, it bad!
She cream it every month,
and everytime she come here
she ask me where is the loo
It don't move from the backyard
as far as I know".
The air is gray in London
the landscape unfamiliar,
through the window of intransit eyes
watercolour flowers quietly
colour the view
and its summer.
On BBC 1 a BBC man
is criticizing a raggay song T(if. 6g
"Skinhead Music" S )OT W
Catherine Commonwealth hairdressers lie
in this small corner of Earls Court
under the queens own sky.
And England holds all the promise
keeping it to herself,
When the islands conquered for God
and the queen
sent people to colour the English scene
But they stick together singing a
and Icylyn till the
Illustrations by Heather Sutherland
by Lorna Goodison
I was going down the road
and the two O'clock sun
only beating down on the
roses on Brother Williams wreath
till them curl up like them want to
and is only me and God
Going down the road.
the dust was powdering
mi clean white shoes
when I look down
and see mi shadow double.
I know him was the devil.
him never have to tell mi
because mi blood start to run
and heavy down mi step
and the ground leave
and mi heart like it want
and I wash wid cold sweat.
The devil himself
a tall man in full black
with a hat that cover him
face like a umbrella.
then him take brother Williams
wreath from me
and him hold mi round mi waist
and fire catch in mi body
and I shame and hide mi face
and then him talk for the first
and it was there
Sister Mary died
when the devil
hold on to
the wreath and Said
today is Mine Sister Mary
let the dead
Bury the dead.
The Institute of Jamaica and the West India Reference
Library in particular took a significant step forward with the
opening of a semi-permanent gallery display, covering the major
periods and events in the history of the island. The gallery
exhibition on the ground floor of the Reference Library, will
not only serve to provide the public with easier access to some
of the most interesting materials in the possession of the
Institute of Jamaica, but to relieve pressure on staff members
who previously had to deal with all individual requests to see
many of the items now exhibited.
The events and efforts which culminated in the establish-
ment of the present exhibition may be considered to have
commenced in the early 1940's, when an history gallery was
opened in the basement of the then new museum building, at
the intersection of East and Tower Streets in Kingston. Here,
a cosmopolitan collection of historical objects was displayed.
Relics of the Arawak period; Spanish carvings; objects from
West Africa, donated by Jamaicans and British Colonial Civil
Servants who served in Africa before coming to Jamaica; items
from the slavery and plantation period; medals and a few
maps and prints mementos from World War I all vied for
space in the cramped confines of the old basement.
Housed under these inadequate and adverse conditions of
light and climate, deterioration of many objects was inevitable.
By the time the new exhibition centre became a reality there-
fore, a major task of restoration had become necessary.
The erection of the new museum building in 1940 not only
provided space for the already-mentioned history gallery, but
a lecture hall as well. Soon the entire upper floor of the
building was filled with bookcases and collections until the
strength of the building caused concern. By 1955 the History
Gallery was closed to provide safe storage of the book collec-
tions. There they remained until the completion of the new
building in 1965.
Over the intervening years since the establishment of the
first historical museum in the basement, the Institute of
Jamaica, faithful to its assignment to preserve as much as
possible of all aspects of the history of the country, had been
tremendously expanding its collections and services. But this
accelerated process was not early paralleled by an expansion in
space. In 1940, the West India Reference Library occupied
one wing of an old existing library building, now the general
library and administration centre. It was an area hopelessly
inadequate to accommodate the acquisitions which were to
come in over the following decades. The walls of the former
lecture hall, which occupied the centre of the upper floor were
covered with collections of valuable prints, portraits and other
items which offered themselves to this type of display and
storage. Items, including valuable book and map collections
were relegated to an old converted stable building at the rear
of the premises on George's Lane.
Another aspect of the growth of the Institute since the
1940's, has been recorded in the area of staffing. In 1939, when
the present Director joined the staff as Curator, he became the
13th employee. Today there are some two hundred on staff
and with the addition of new skills and expertise in Librarian-
ship, science, and research, the processing of materials has
The present building which houses the West India Reference
Library and the gallery display was commenced in 1961 and
completed in 1965. But though the upper floors of the three
storeyed structure were quickly occupied, the ground floor for
years presented problems which precluded the establishment
of the historical museum. Thus, though the West India
Reference Library was world-famous, and possessed the most
comprehensive collection of items connected with Jamaican
history anywhere, it still could not realize its full potentials in
And thus it was that although the plans for the present
exhibition centre were conceived some twelve years ago, it was
only towards the end of April of this year that it became a
reality. Now it is possible for students of historical research, as
well as members of the general public, the view in one place,
under ideal environmental conditions, a comprehensive collec-
tion of items from the country's past.
The mounting of the exhibition has been a major under-
taking, involving extensive research, preservation and restor-
ation of artifacts and a detailed system of labelling, which will
assist the viewer tremendously in understanding the importance
of the items on display. The exhibition is a cross-section of
the material available by no means all of the historical
collections now in possession of the Institute.
Under a programme of expansion a series of museums
relating to specific periods and events, are to be established at
various locations in the rural areas. Already an Arawak Museum
has been established at White Marl in St. Catherine; A Folk
Museum in Spanish Town; and there are plans for a series of
other de-centralized museums throughout the country. These
should assist greatly in the realization of the new concepts of
service being planned by the Institute of Jamaica.
The following pages will give a limited pictorial example of
some of the area covered in the new semi-permanent exhibition
centre of the Institute of Jamaica:
Views ofsections of the semi-permanentgallery exhibition on the ground
floor of the West India Reference Library of the Institute of Jamaica on
East Street, Kingston.
"THE SHARK PAPERS". Early in June 1799 the Brig 'Nancy'cleared
from Baltimore for Curacao. Britain was at war with France, Spain
and the Netherlands and the Royal Navy was active in preventing
neutrals from trading with these enemy countries and their colonies.
Curacao in those days was a clearing house for cargoes intended for
prohibited destinations. August 28, 1 799, the Nancy was captured by
H.M.S. Sparrow and sent to Port Royal. A suit was brought in the
Court of Vice-Admirality at Kingston on September 9, 1799, claiming
that the brig belonged to enemies of Britain and asking that she be
treated asa prize of war. The brig's captain contended that she belonged,
together with the cargo to the citizens of the United States.
While the case was in progress Acting Lieutenant Michael Fitton pro-
duced certain documents pictured above that had been found
inside a shark caught off the coast of Haiti. The papers helped to bring
a dramatic turn in the case, which culminated in the condemnation of
the Nancy on November 25, 1799.
Below is the jaw of the shark which was set up on the shores of
Kingston immediately after the end of the case, with the inscription
"Lieut. Fitton recommends these jaws for a collar for neutrals to swear
through ". For many years the jaws were on display at the Royal United
Services Institute Museum in London. They were purchased at auction
and brought back to Jamaica in 1964.
K '. \lictoria b iitbe rtQjof(4Q~ _(1 &
e -- -
A collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century official seals.
On top, left to right, are, an illustration of the Great Seal of King
Charles I, brought to Jamaica by the first Royalist Governor Lord
Windsor, who arrived in 1662; letter patent of 1864 with Great Seal of
Queen Victoria attached; map showing the location, and seals of the
Bay Islands, off the coast of Central America British colonies from
1852 to 1859.
Bottom, left to right are, the Broad Seal of Jamaica, during the reign of
George III (1761-1820); impressions of the Seal ofJamaica during the
reign of Queen Victoria, and photographs of an impression of the
Broad Seal of Jamaica during the reign of George II (1727-1760).
Photos by Derek Jones.
The Port Royal Bell, which has been the subject of much speculation
and legend It is widely thought to have come from the steeple of St.
Paul's Church at the time of the 1692 earthquake. A Spanish church
bell of bronze composition, it was dredged up some 300 yards offshore
in the mid 19th century.
Slave branding iron and punishment instruments. At top can be seen
two of the branding iron used to place identification marks on slaves to
indicate ownership, during the first part of the 19th century.
Bottom, left to right are, a pair of ankle irons, a punishment "necklace",
stock fetters and punishment bit.
17th century tortoise shell work from Port Royal. A number of combs
and comb cases, made from tortoise shells, inscribed from Port Royal
and bearing pre 1692-earthquake dates. The case with the earliest date
This picture shows a collection of photographs of various sections of 1671, bears the coat of arms of Henry Morgan.
Kingston as they existed before the 1907 earthquake. Included are There is a possibility that the craftsman who did the work was brought
views of King Street, Princess Street, Harbour Street, Port Royal Street, to Jamaica by Henry Morgan from an expedition to Panama or some
Duke Street, West Parade, Cross Roads and Rockfort. other part of the Spanish Main.
Scenes of destruction following the January 14, 1907 earthquake in
Kingston. Many of the old landmarks were reduced to rubble and
14& 7t --..
I ^- *-^^i
- Jjt ,
*,- SD ~