QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JL
laica Journal is published Quarterly
the Institute of Jamaica, 12-16 East
set, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies.
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QUARTERLY OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
The Kite And The Petchary, A Review .................. Beth Theobalds
Africa On Our Minds ............... . ................ CarolDunlap
Three Poems from "Uncle Time" ......................... Dennis Scott
Festival Short Stories
Love Orange ........................ ............. Olive Senior
A Bargain .................................... Dorothy Bingham
Ascot ................... .......................... Olive Senior
Carvings from Tanzanian Exhibition .............. .................
Jamaican Bushes and Human Chromosomes .... Dr. MarigoldJ. Thorburn
Jamaica's Energy Resources ................ ......... .. E. Robinson
Natural History Column ............................. .........
"Warrior" Higgins, A Jamaican Street Preacher ............. W.F. Elkins
The Last Africans, A Review Article ....................... H.P. Jacobs
Missions and Politics in Malawi, 1900-1930;
Two Portraits of a Missionary ................. Dr. Kenneth Mufuka
Dr. John Quier .................................... Michael Craton
Bountied European Immigration into Jamaica
with special reference to the German Settlement at
Seaford Town up to 1850-PA RT 1 .................... Douglas Hall
Institute of Jamaica Publications ..... ............................
"One Foundation" by Brother Everald Brown
1st Award Winner, Self-Taught Artist's Exhibition
Inside Back Cover
SCarvings from Tanzanian Exhibition
Back Cover J
drica, Asia & Australia
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(I I 10
A Reviewby Beth Theobalds
The story of 'The Kite and the Petchary' is of a West
Indian boy who builds himself a magnificent rainbow
coloured kite of tissue paper and bamboo sticks. On its
initial flight it is attacked by fierce local bird, the
Petchary, who sees it as a threat to his supremacy of the
skies. The boy, from the ground, must utilize all his
talents, his experience, and his initiative to outwit the
fast-moving, determined and potentially dangerous
The symbolism of the kite is easily recognized. For who,
in childhood, has not flown high with hope, a fragile
dream that must be nursed, cared and shielded if it is to
It isof this book that John Hearne has said, "The prose
is lean, supple and honest without fat or conceit or
self-indulgent decoration ... the sort of prose which
children speak. The illustrations are bold, economical,
mint-fresh in colour ... the way children and angels see the
The presentation is exceptionally high in standard and
wherever it has appeared on the world market the
reception has been very favourable, a fact which is of vital
significance to the first entirely local publication of this
type. However the retail cost of the book slightly above
the equivalent type of book from abroad has been
severely criticised,and this should not in any way be
allowed to reflect on the author or illustrator whose
courage and conviction enabled them to attempt the
establishment of the local publishing firm of "Twin
Guinep" primarily for the presentation of children's
books; even when this meant travelling up and down the
country to personally obtain the guaranteed sales
necessary for the book's commercial release. Their
endeavour and enterprise deserve only admiration,
particularly when one considers that the subsidiary
agencies for established international publishers here, are
aware that a book such as this sells to only fifteen (15)
percent of the local population. The remaining eighty-five
percent (85 %) either cannot afford to purchase it and/or
are illiterate. Therefore the high cost of children's
publications with the attendant expensive but necessary
illustrations often make them unsympathetic to the
identity crisis of the young West Indian child.
So the importance of The Kite and the Petchary goes far
further than the book itself, when forty-nine percent of our
present population are under fourteen (14) years of age
and this percentage rises annually.
To quote Mrs. Joyce Robinson of the National Literacy
Board "Last year over 164,800 books were purchased for
the Schools Library Service and the Jamaica Library
Service Junior Department. In addition, the sales in book
shops were the highest ever recorded. The Junior books
borrowed were one and a half million (1 /2 mill.) by 261,000
children. This represented over sixty percent (60%) of all
books circulated by the Public Library Service, and in
schools another 934,000 children were utilizing the books
But of all these books only thirty to forty (30 to 40) are
fiction written for children, either by Jamaicans or about
Jamaica; and less than ten (10) of these were published in
The above figures make it obvious that the reading
habits of our children are changing rapidly. Yet we
provide them with the shameful percentage of thirty to
forty titles out of one and a half million books. If there
were ten available copies 6f each of these, and they were
on loan each week of the year it would still be likely
attempting to fill an ocean with a thimble.
In April of 1972 at the Book Production Seminar
organised by the Trinidad and Tobago National
Commission for U.N.E.S.C.O. a report entitled From
Immitation to Innovation noted that there was an
"almost total absence of simple literature and illustrative
material which represents the life situation and the
pictorial representation of people with whom non-white
children can identify."
While the committee dealing with children's literature
made the following observations, "First, no progress can
be made in developing a wide reading public in the West
Indies unless children can, from their very earliest contact
with books, see in them some reflection of their own
experience; second, for those children who do become
readers the imbalance between foreign and local books
contributes to their alienation for their own society;
thirdly, many talented illustrators are deprived of an
outlet for their talents and training by the lack of local
publication of children books."
It is now recognized and accepted that children,
reaching gingerly into an unknown world of books, must
see themselves and their background, homes and
customs, in order to attain any sense of identity (of
national pride). Thus the child who from his earliest years
sees nothing but foreign children in strange and attractive
backgrounds, has his ability to look at himself and his
country with any degree of contentment, warped. He
looks outward, attracted by "The greener grass in the
other pastures" and nothing that happens to him in later
life can entirely erase the original imprinting on the child's
- : -~ .-r'r -
Then, too, there is the language problem in relation to
S For many years it has been widely acknowledged that
the teaching of our children to speak correctly structured
English and in so doing condemning, actually and by
inference, the creole or patois that each speaks within
Their usual life pattern, is an educational concept both
wrong and dangerous to the child.
Yet it is equally wrong to accept creole or patois to the
emphasis social inequalities in the worst way. The
language that is used in business, international affairs,
Science, technology and countless other media is that of
So development must ideally evolve along two very
different and non-conflicting paths: the first, to encourage
S-children not to be ashamed of patois and to appreciate its
richness while accepting its limitations; the second, to
Seal easily with the basics of standard English in a desire
: ^ to be adequately equipped for a cultural socio-economic
environment that equates educational assets and abilities
C with speech patterns. With this aim clearly in view,
It has been said many times that investment in our
children is the soundest possible in the future of our
country. Already the University of the West Indies
Regional Pre-School Child Development Project with the
The funding assistance of U.N.I.C.E.F. is looking into the
possibilities of heavily subsidized local material from all
the islands of the Caribbean and using the authors and
Z. illustrators from each area. The project, still in its pilot
S stages, is perhaps a sound beginning to the solution of a
problem that is already one of national urgency. But it
must be emphasised that this is our problem and therefore
the government must prepare itself to stand the main
. . .burden.
For when the government spends thousands of dollars
on completing the education of a child,. at the expense of
the state, and that child is determined to utilize that
education abroad, it must be faced, that freedom of the
individual apart, the government's investment has
become a huge loss. In other countries this is termed the
To lift our young people to greater academic skills and
cultural awareness has too often simply been shifted into
the arms of the already overworked teacher. But everyone
who has observed a deprived child in the surroundings of a
middle-class house for the first time, must be aware of
how much deeper the problem goes, and the incredible
distance that child has to cover. No educational system
can be equal unless the availability of cultural settings
I and the terms of academic reference are equal.
S There is beauty even in the simplest and the most
humble of surroundings, and an artist can train the eye of
... a young child to look for this, where now they look and yet
: cannot see.
It is not shoddy second class books that are needed, but
books that the child can accept as equal to those produced
anywhere in the world. Books that hold within his image
S- and his story. Thousands of stories, thousands of images
Sbut all that he can relate to, all of things he can
a understand and has experienced even though at a
This then is the true worth of The Kite and the Petchary
by Dennis and Jackie Ranston: that is has begun what
must surely be continued. It has set high standards that
all who follow must seek not only to equal but eventually
to surpass, until national pride and cultural identity
become a natural part of every child's mental development
Some of the representations from full colour illustrations and a successful investment in the future of Jamaica.
in the Kite and the Petchary.
The first full colour children's books by Jamaicans, were Karl & Christine Craig's Emmanuel & His Parrot & Emmanuel Goes to Market.
4 These were not locally produced but published by Oxford University Press irr 1970 & 1972..
by Carol Dunlap
by Carol Dunlap
Few of us realise the extent to which our understanding
of the world is shaped by the photographic image. Take,
for example, the neighboring island of Hispaniola: Haiti,
for me at least, wears the features of the Duvaliers, while
the Dominican Republic evokes the picture memory of
U.S. marines in the streets of Santo Domingo. The
Cayman Islands, on the other hand, are a blank space on
my mental map of the world not so much because they
never suffered a dictator or an American intervention as
because I've simply never seen a memorable photo of the
Now, imagine Africa what do you see? Besides Big
Daddy Amin and Haile Selassie, all that remain are a lot
of dusty old documentary images of "primitive"
tribesmen, safari scenary, and exotic animals. Or if you've
been exposed to "moving" pictures, you may remember
the technicolour treasures of King Solomon's mines, the
visual outrages of "Africa Addio", or, more probably, the
countless under-clothed extras of the safari movie genre.
Put them all together, and you have a rather poor fund of
images for a Jamaican concerned about his African
The Institute of Jamaica's showing of African films was
one attempt to overcome this deficiency. Another valuable
remedy is the exciting collection of photographs by
Mirella Ricciardi, Vanishing Africa. Mrs. Ricciardi spent
two years travelling among the vanishing tribes of East
Africa, and she has amassed some impressive evidence.
She attended a Maasai initiation ceremony which used to
take place only once every seven years but which may
have been the last of its kind to be performed in Kenya.
She sailed in a small "dhow" to the Bajun Islands in the
Indian Ocean, and followed the nomadic Boran and
Rendille tribesmen into the remote reaches of the Somali
Although Mrs. Ricciardi was born and raised in Kenya,
one senses that this book was as much a voyage of
discovery for her as it is for us. She writes, for instance,
that she was surprised by the anxiety expressed by
parents of a sick child "these people who as a rule
regard life and death as almost without importance." Yet
again and again her camera captures "primitive"
tribesmen in moments of love, laughter, melancholy,
dignity. What Mrs. Ricciardi has accomplished, in effect,
is to bridge the cultural gap that made Africans so
inaccessible and "foreign" to her and to us as well.
Mrs. Ricciardi's voyage of discovery was also first-class
adventure. Most of the tribes she photographed were
* a r L ~ "'~~entP A~U~S>t
surprised and amused to encounter a Swahili-speaking
white woman, but not all suffered the experience gladly.
She was threatened by Maasai warriors and later arrested
for taking pictures of naked men without their consent, a
very serious offense in Kenya; and in the Bajun Islands
she was detained again, this time on suspicion of having
confiscated several valuable elephant tusks she discovered
on the shallow sea floor. She suffered automobile
breakdowns too numerous to recount, and on one of the
rare occasions she took quarters in a house she faced down
a housebreaker in her own bedroom.
Although the photographs of the Maasai initiation
ceremony may be the most spectacular of the collection,
my favourites are those which capture vanishing Africa in
its everyday moods: women nursing their children,
sweethearts sharing a laugh. Mrs. Ricciardi also has a
keen eye for the physical beauty of both men and women,
their stature and their ornamentation. The Boran women
in their stacks of necklaces look like so many Queens of
Sheba, she writes; and she found the Maasai warriors so
beautiful that she was prompted to ask if homosexuality
exists among them (a western concept that was greeted
with disgust). Then there are the Boran "children of
God", who grow their hair into a mass of tangled strands
like the Jamaican Rastafari. (Except for these children,
who are considered to have special healing powers, East
Africans wear their hair tightly braided or else shave their
The style of Mrs. Ricciardi's photography is well suited
to her subject matter. The colour plates are almost
monochromatic, and the black and white prints are
starkly contrasted and beautifully grainy. Accident may
have entered into this as well as design. Working on the
shores of Lake Rudolph, Mrs. Ricciardi put some some
film into the bodice of her bathing suit to keep it from
getting sandy; she went swimming and forgot about the
film, but decided to have it developed anyway. The result:
two striking portraits of young girls, their arms akimbo,
posing in play. Heat, I am told, causes reticulation or
breakdown of the grain structure of film, and the lake
water, which has a high soda content, may have
facilitated the process. But whatever the technical
explanation, these heavily grained shots impart the
quality of desert sands, intense heat, light refracted
Vanishing Africa comes at the end of what may well be
the great age of photography. We have been so saturated
by good photography that we become immune to its
virtues. Advertising agencies, you may have noticed, are
relying more heavily these days on illustration, having
overexposed and exhausted the photograph. Mirella
Ricciardi's chronicle of a vanishing era is therefore doubly
valuable, in that it restores some of the special magic of a
It is rumoured that one of Jamaica's leading
photographers is preparing a similar photo essay on
"vanishing Jamaica", the "real" Jamaica of country and
village, uncorrupted by urban, impersonal values. The
task has already been attempted in the Eastern Caribbean
by an Antiguan and his American wife, authors of the
recently published Antigua Black: Portrait of an Island
"Even a tiny cosmos of 108 square miles," Gregson
Davis writes in the introduction, "has its hidden valleys,
unfamiliar faces, forgotten backyards, surprising di-
mensions." The photographs by Margo Davis, however,
reveal little that is surprising and much that is familiar to
the Jamaican: sea views and cane fields peopled by West
/anishing .-"Va_ fishingg Afr tJ
"Antigua Black" "Antigua Black"
A a If
Indians with work-worn faces and gnarled hands, proud in
their poverty, prolific only in their children.
I write "West Indians" advisedly. The people of
Antigua, Gregson Davis points out, like much of the
island's flora and fauna, are alien, transplants from
another world. African survivals in Antigua are
catalogued: the verb "nyam", the exploits of Anansi, a
game called "wari". Yet, visually at least, Antiguans
appear to have filtered into the texture of this "alien"
island environment; and, unlike Mirella Ricciardi's
Africans, they are immediately familiar and accessible to
us as West Indians, country people who might be
encountered anywhere along the backroads of Jamaica or
Barbados or even Belize.
Antigua Black is thus a little self-conscious in its sense
of discovery. Most of the portraits, similarly, belong to
the "straight-on" school of photography which requires
the subject to stare the camera dead in the eyes a
method which produced interesting results among the
street-smart inhabitants of Harlem but seems in-
appropriate to the country people of Antigua. Having set
out to capture spontaneity and down-home simplicity, the
authors have achieved self-consciousness.
Other photographs in this collection scenics, shots of
children playing and adults working are quite "pure"
and uncontrived, but at the same time they may be among
the least interesting to the West Indian viewer. (This
handsomely and expensively produced book, complete
with maps and engravings, was undoubtedly intended for
the American market, which, I suspect, will be even less
interested). The difficulty is to achieve a fresh vision in
the midst of familiarity, to find "surprising dimensions"
as Gregson Davis wrote, in those "forgotten backyards",
which will otherwise remain forgotten. In this Vanishing
Africa succeeds precisely where Antigua Black fails. If the
viewer is to surmount the barriers of history and
geography and familiarity, Mirella Ricciardi's experience
in Africa indicates, the photographer must himself (or
herself, as the case may be) personally confront and
overcome these same barriers.
UNCLE TIMEBy Dennis Scott
Look him. As quiet as a July river-
bed, asleep, an' trim' down like a tree.
Jesus! I never know the Lord could
squeeze so dry. When I was four
foot small I used to say
Grampa, how come you t'in so?
an' him tell me, is so I stay
me chile, is so I stay
laughing, an' fine
emptying on me -
laughing? It running from him
like a flood, that old molasses
man. Lord, how I never see?
I never know a man could sweet so, cool
as rain; same way him laugh,
I cry now. Wash him. Lay him out.
I know the earth going burn
all him limb dem
as smooth as bone,
clean as a tree under the river
skin, an' gather us
beside that distant Shore
bright as a river stone.
the sweating gutter of my bone
Zion seems far
also. I have my version -
the blood's drum is
Keeps me alive. Like you.
And there are kinds of poverty we share,
when the self eats up love
and the heart smokes
like the fires behind your fences, when my wit
ratchets, roaming the hungry streets
of this small flesh, my city
: in the dread time of my living
while whatever may be human chains me
away from the surfeit of light, Mabrak
and the safe land of my longing,
Small fish throttle
home at low tide; above, the gull is falling
intently. Falls a long time. Cataracts
down the eye. The claw scars
white into the retina. The feet
are stiff, its head hurls out, the hectic air chills, freezes,
the eye spills.
But at the moment of its arrival, when
the slashed eye is widest
the fish swing under, slung deep by the tide,
the clashed air closes safely behind them.
Nothing. The bird shrugs up
out of the sea. Then over
the tide my hand across
the wheeling air across
time and salt and the dunes of sorrow, look I stretch, I am
wrench its wings into stillness
I blunt that mouth
the hard feet break like straw.
Slowly the eye heals. Weary of watching murder, it dissolves,
Uncle Time received The International Poetry Forum Award for 1973, Uncle Time was subsequently awarded the Commonwealth Poetry Prize
and was published (an aspect of the award) by the University of for 1974 offered for the best first book of poems published in the
Pittsburgh Press, with the help of a grant from the Alcoa Foundation. twelve months previously by a Commonwealth citizen.
By Olive Senior
Somewhere between the repetition of Sunday School
lessons and the broken doll which the lady sent me one
Christmas, I lost what it was to be happy. But I didn't
know it then even though in dreams I would lie with my
face broken like the doll's in the pink tissue of a shoebox
coffin. For I was at the age where no one asked me for
commitment and I had a phrase which I used like a
talisman. When strangers came or lightning flashed, I
would lie in the dust under my grandfather's vast bed and
hug the dog, whispering, "Our worlds wait outside", and
Once I set out to find the worlds outside the horizon
was wide and the rim of the far mountains beckoned. But I
was happy when they found me in time for bed and a warm
supper for the skies, I discovered, were the same shade of
China blue as the one intact eye of the doll. "Experiences
can wait", I whispered to the dog, "Death too".
I knew all about death then because in dreams I had
been there. I also knew a great deal about love. Love, I
thought, was like an orange, a fixed and sharply defined
amount. Each person had just so much love to distribute
as he may. If one had many people to love them the
segments for each person would be fewer and eventually
love, like patience, would be exhausted. That is why I
preferred to live with my grandparents then since they
had fewer people to love than my parents and so my
portion of their love-orange would be larger.
My own love-orange I jealously guarded. Whenever I
thought of love I could feel it in my hand, large and round
and brightly coloured, intact and spotless. I had moments
of indecision when I wanted to distribute the orange but
each time I would grow afraid of the audacity of such
commitment. Sometimes, in a moment of passion I would
extend the orange to my grandmother or the dog but
would quickly withdraw my hand each time. For without
looking I would feel in its place the doll crawling into my
hand and nestling there and I would run into the garden
and be sick. I would see its face as it lay in the pink tissue
of a shoebox tied with ribbons beside the Christmas
stocking hanging on the bedpost and I would clutch my
orange tighter, thinking I had better -save it for the day
when occasions like this would arise again and I would
need the entire love-orange to overcome the feelings which
arose each time I thought of the doll.
I could not let my grandmother know about my being
sick because she never understood about the doll. For
years I had dreamed of exchanging homemade dolls with
button eyes and ink faces for a plaster doll with blue eyes
and limbs that moved. All that December I haunted my
grandmother's clothes closet until beneath the dresses
smelling faintly of camphor I discovered the box and
without looking I knew that it came from Miss
Evangeline's toy shop and it would therefore be a marvel.
But the doll, beside the Christmas stocking, had half a
face and a finger missing. "It can be mended", my
grandmother said, "I can make it as good as new. 'Why
throw away a good thing' Miss Evangeline said".
But I could no longer hear I could no longer see for the
one China blue eye and missing finger that floated in my
vision. And after that I never opened a box again and I
never waited up for Christmas. And although I buried the
box beneath the allamanda tree the doll rose up again and
again, in my throat, like a sickness to be got rid of from
the body, and I felt as if I too were half a person who could
lay down in the shoebox and sleep forever. But on
awakening from these moments, I would find safely
clutched in my hand the love-orange, conjured up from
some deep part of myself and I would hug the dog
saying, "Our worlds wait outside".
That summer I saw more clearly the worlds that waited.
It was filled with many deaths that seemed to tie all the
strands of my life together and bore some oblique
relationship to both the orange and the doll.
The first to die was a friend of my grandparents who
lived nearby. I sometimes played with her grandchildren
at her house when I was allowed to, but each time she had
appeared only as a phantom, come on the scene so
silently, her feet shod in cotton stockings rolled down to
her ankles, thrust into a pair of her son's broken-down
slippers. Her face was flaky, wisps of hair escaping
constantly from the scraps of someone's worn-out skirt
tied on her head. In all the years I had known her I had
never heard her say anything but whisper softly, her
whole presence was a whisper, she seemed to appear from
the cracks of the house, the ceiling, anywhere, she made
so little noise in her coming, this tiny, delicate, slightly
absurd old woman who lived for us only in the secret and
mysterious prison of the aged.
When she died, it meant nothing to me, I could think
then only of my death which I saw nightly in dreams but I
could not conceive of her in the flesh, to miss her, or to
The funeral that afternoon was at five o'clock. My
grandmother dressed me all in white and I trailed down
the road behind her, my corseted, whaleboned grand-
mother lumbering from side to side in her black romaine
"funeral dress" now shiny in the sunlight, bobbing over
her head a huge black umbrella. My grandfather, also in
shiny black shoes and suit stepped ahead of her. Bringing
up the rear, I skipped lightly on the gravel, clutching in
my hand a new, shiny, bright and bouncy red rubber ball.
For me, the funeral, any occasion to get out of the house,
the confines of our yard was like a holiday, like breaking
suddenly from a dark tunnel into the sunlight where
gardens of butterflies waited.
They had dug a grave in the red clay by the side of the
road. The house and yard were filled with people. I
followed my grandparents and the dead woman's children
into the room where they had laid her out, unsmiling, her
nostrils stuffed with cotton. I stood in the shadow where
no one noticed me, the room filled with the scent of
something I had never felt before, like a smell rising from
the earth itself which no sunlight, no butterflies, no
sweetness could combat. "Miss Mirie, Miss Mirie", I
whispered to the dead old woman, for suddenly I knew
that if I gave her the orange to take into the unknown with
her it would be safe, a secret between the two of us. I
gripped the red ball tightly in my hands and it became
transformed into the rough texture of an orange, I tasted
it on my tongue, smelled the fragrance. As my
grandmother knelt to pray I crept forward and gently
placed between Miss Mirie's closed hands and her body
the love-orange, smiled because somehow we knew each
other and nothing now would be able to touch either of us.
But as I crept away my grandmother lifted her head from
her hands, gasped as she saw the ball. She retrieved it
swiftly while the others still prayed and hid it in the
volumes of her skirt. But when in anger she sent me home,
on the way the love-orange appeared comforting in my
hands, and I went into the empty house and crept under
my grandfather's bed and thought of worlds outside.
The next time I saw with greater clarity the vastness of
this world outside. I was asked to visit some new people
who lived about a mile away and read to their son. He was
very old, I thought then, and he sat in the sunshine all
day, his head covered with a calico skull cap. He couldn't
see very clearly and my grandmother said he had a brain
tumor and would perhaps die. Nevertheless, I would read
to him even as I worried about all the knowledge that
would be lost if he did not live. For every morning he
would take down from the shelf a huge Atlas and together
we would travel the cities of the world to which he had
been. I was very happy then and the names of these cities
secretly rolled off my tongue all day. I wanted very much
to give him the orange but held back, for I was not yet
sure if he was a whole person, if he would not recover and
need me less and so the whole orange would be wasted. So
I did not tell him about it. And then he went away with his
parents to England, for an operation my grandmother
said, and soon he was back only as ashes held on a plane
by his mother. When I went to the church this time there
NATO)NA Abstract And Still Life
EXHIBITIO by Warren Robinson
was no coffin like Miss Mirie's, only his mother holding
this tiny box which was so like the shoebox of the doll that
I was sure there was some connection which I could not
grasp but, I thought, if they bury this box then the
broken doll cannot rise again.
But the doll rose up one more time because this time it
was my grandmother who lay dying. My mother had
taken me away when she fell too ill and brought me back
to my grandmother's home, even darker and more silent
now this one last time. I went into the room where she lay
and she held out a weak hand to me, she couldn't speak so
she followed me with her eyes and I couldn't bear it.
"Grandma", I said, searching for something more to say,
something that would save her, "Grandma, you can have
my whole orange" and I placed it in the bed beside her.
But she kept on dying and I knew then that the orange
had no potency, that love could not create miracles.
"Orange ...?" my grandmother spoke for the last time,
trying to make connections her tired brain couldn't see,
"orange...?" and my mother took me out of the room and
my grandmother died. "At least", my mother said, "at
least you could have told her that you loved her, she
waited for it."
"But ..." I started to say and bit my tongue, for
nobody, not then or ever would understand about the
orange. And in leaving my grandmother's house, the dark
tunnel of my childhoold, I slammed the car door hard on
my fingers and as my hands closed over the bones, felt
.- by Dorothy Bingham
It's not as if I had not experienced the feeling before. I
have felt it several times during my life. Here it comes
again ... starting at the bottom of my abdomen, it moves
up, up and out until my unsuspecting belly becomes a
confused twisting mass of pain. Then it travels up to my
throat, and there it stays ... choking, strangling me.
Still feeling groggy, I open my eyes wondering what
could be causing the discomfort. A sudden weakness
attacks my knees, the pain in my belly becomes more
demanding ... opening the door, I rush out of the room
and head for the latrine outside. Sitting there, my eyes fall
on the torn page of a newspaper. Realisation, like a bolt of
lightning hits me ... today is the day my sister's
examination results would be published!
Convinced of her success, all twinges of anxiety, all
pain, weakness, all choking leave me. The usual dismal
feelings which used to assail me in this broken-down,
ramshackle insult to human dignity ... this latrine,
infested with germ-carrying mosquitoes, flies, cock-
roaches, and reeking of human urine and faecal matter,
From there I hear a vehicle stopping at the gate. I run
out hastily, thinking that it must be the van bringing the
newspaper. As I run, heart pounding, I begin to have
doubts. Suppose she doesn't pass? I reach the van to find
that it is only the milkman! Observing my desperate hurry
and shallow breathing, he asks jokingly, "Ah whe' de fire
de, dahter? Milk can't put it out, yuh know ... too
Smiling weakly, I take the milk, and walking around
the house, I go into the kitchen. Mama is fixing breakfast,
and leaning on the door, I watch her. "Come, chile, come.
Come help me mek de dumplin's. A big woman like yuh,
walking around like a living statue ... bone idle!" she says
gruffly. Smiling I reach for the flour pan. I am not put off
by her rough tone, I know she isn't as mad about my not
helping as she is about my watching her when, with all her
defences down, she is just a tired, kind-hearted old soul!
"A living statue!" ... this, of all my mother's phrases
we, my father, sisters, brothers and I find most amusing;
and when it's raining and we all sit inside, or my sisters
and I might be under the tree outside, helping with the
washing, or we might all be cleaning the house on a
Saturday night, that is the phrase we tease her most
"Mama," I say to her, becoming suddenly serious as
my fingers close around the satin-like flour, "yuh know
that is today the exam results coming out, Paulette's
"Any fool would know dat by now, das all de young
lady been talking about all week."
"But strange, yuh notice dat not a soul hear a word
from her since morning? She mus be fretting." The
kitchen is beginning to get hot and Mama gets up and
opens the window as she replies. "Paulette muss get
Religion me love. She get up bright an' early dis morning
- look pon de drum, it almost' full ah water."
I look and see that the drum is really almost full, the
water is almost touching the last rim. Poor child. Now
that I'm thinking about it I realise that she has been
unusually helpful all week. I look out and see her coming
and marvelling at the innocence of her reasoning, I smile
wryly. I watch her struggling to balance the kerosene tin
on her head, the water keeps splashing out, she must have
filled it right to the very top Paulette, who has never
yet been known to carry that tin even as much as half-full.
With all the feelings, all the sincerity I'm capable of, I
look forward to the day when secure in the knowledge of
my relatives' happiness, I will live without watching them
in their distress and silently weeping for them. For this
day, I will bargain with God. For now I watch my sister.
Her dress clings to her, outlining the gentle swell of her
breasts where the water has soaked through. I know her
thoughts. Within her body which has just beginning to
show the first signs of womanliness, was a heart which
was still childlike in the simplicity of its faith. How can
she not pass her examination after being so helpful and
good? A Free Place has to be-worked for, and this she
knows, so having worked at school to please her
Examiners, she now sets out to please God. If God is
Just, and she knows Him to be such, then He will reward
her good work.
I move away from the window and resume my
kneading. As I shape the dumplings, rolling the dough
around in my hands, I wonder ... Is it like this with God?
Perpetually He kneels by that legendary riverbank,
shaping the earth into human forms. Does He make some
rich, some poor? With the. dough in my hand I am
all-powerful, I have the power to make some of the
dumplings big, some small. They, having being made by
me are powerless. They cannot change what they are. Is it
like this with Him? If it is, then we as poor people should
no longer hope for better. He, our Just God, has made us
into what we are, and being from the dirt, some like us are
dirt poor and should hope for no relief.
But where on earth is that van? I put the last dumpling
into the frying pan and turning to Mama said, "Mama,
yuh think Paulette going to pass?" Then before she gets a
chance to answer I hurry on, "Ah just' can't understand'
dese newspaper people, ah mean ..." Following my
mother's gaze; I stop speaking and looking out the
window, I see my sister. One hand steadies the kerosene
tin on her head, and in the other is the newspaper. Her
steps are dragging, spiritless. I know those steps. They
remind me of the days when for months after leaving
school I walked home from the Post Office with letters
which began "We regret to inform you..."
I run to her as she empties the water into the drum. As I
hug her she says in a dazed voice, "Teacher daughter
pass, yuh know, Rose pass Mama, she pass."
Granny makes one of her rare appearances, and from
the door she observes the scene in silence. Mama stands at
the kitchen door, cooking fork in one hand. My smaller
sisters and brothers stand around, they do not yet know
what has happened but they see enough to make them
"O.K. Paulette", I say trying to cheer up her, "doan
bodder to feel any way 'bout it, after all yuh can try again
"But yuh doan understand, she begins earnestly, "dis
was de las' chance ah had, next year me too old to tek it
over." It is then that she begins to cry, a sad, drawn out
Mama goes back into the kitchen, her eyes suspiciously
shining, the young ones trailing after her. Granny,
shuffling back into her room, puts into words what we are
all thinking "Jackass sey de worl' no level an' ah true."
How could Rose, who has never done a single homework
without Paulette's help pass that examination, while
Paulette fails? Don't they have any sense in Kingston?
Rose's mother can send her to the most expensive school
in Jamaica, my God, don't they have any sense at all?
Paulette cries on and in my heart I cry for her. I cannot
allow the little ones to see me cry ... I am the eldest. My
father! How am I going to tell him this? Leaving Paulette
I go to look for him. He is where he usually is, and seeing
him, I do what I usually do.
I watch him. There is no joy in watching a man whose
spirit has been completely broken, but there is a strange
fascination. What I feel for my father is pity. It is an
emotion which I find ugly and distasteful, still, I pity him.
If only I could bargain with God. But where are you God?
The Jews have cried to you when often they have been
victims of genocidal maniacs. The Christians have cried to
you during years of persecution. Man has been calling to
you throughout history. The Jews, Christians, Man are
still suffering. Where are you God, where?
Still I watch him. He leans on his shovel and flicks the
sweat from his face. He stands still staring into space,
then absentmindedly he scratches his crotch. He seems so
The gate creaks and my father looks around. From here
I can see the expectant look on his face. I know he thinks
it is me, but it isn't, it's only the dog, a sorry looking
bitch. I feel sorry for it, and that's why I hate it. Ribs
sticking out of an almost hairless body, ears flopping, tail
between it's legs, I know it wants to run and bark like
dogs belonging to rich people but where is it going to get
the energy from? Only its eyes look alive. Deep down
within their depths there is a faint glimmer of hope which
gives them a beauty not found in human eyes. It's other
emotions are all human though. I have seen it nosing
around the high fences which enclose the houses of the rich
people, and I have seen it longingly look at the proud
alsatians and haughty siamese cats playing together. I
have seen the envy in its eyes. A dog has human qualities.
Papa looks at the dog and I see the beginning of a smile
on his face. He is probably like me, remembering the day
he brought the first dog home. That one had been a
chubby, playful puppy, small enough to hold in a
two-pound paper bag. I smile, there are still some good
things left in life ... memories.
I look at my father, he is no longer smiling. He is now
probably recalling the fate of that first dog. I remember
my sister screaming as she opened the gate on her way to
church. We had all run to her. I'd stared sickly at the dog,
it's head split cleanly in two. Mama, Papa, all of them had
cried. I had not cried, all day long I had gone about my
business thinking ... "what a clean job, whack! right
down the middle. Not a swerve to the right, not a swerve
to the left, whack! right down the middle." This mad
verse had gone through my mind over and over until I had
thought that I was going mad. There must be some good
things left in life ... memories?
But God, since you know all things I am asking you -
should a man blame a thieving dog for being hungry?
Does the fault lie in the dog or in it's master? After all,
You in Your wisdom did not see it fit to bestow on it the
gift of speech. A dog cannot say to a man, "I'll watch for
you, if you will give me food."
My brother could have worked, had there been work.
He could have bartered also, had he had something with
which to barter. But he had been shot through his head by
the Police, and all day long on that day also another
senseless verse had gone careening through my head ...
"What a clean job, BANG! right through his forehead. Not
a swerve to the right, not a swerve to the left, BANG!
right through the middle."
When I saw the shame in my father's eyes, the grief in
my mother and the fright in those of the little ones, I had
called out to you then, and I am still calling, but now I
want to make a bargain.
My sisters and brothers have become quiet children,
well behaved. Long gone are the days when they ran and
shouted like normal children do. Mama does not have to
go looking for them, shouting for one she might need to
run an errand. She knows where they are, they are all
sitting. All day long they sit, just sit ... like old people.
I must tell my father that Paulette has failed her
examination, but first you, God. God they are young.
They cannot understand the meaning of strikes, the
blisters on their feet, the near empty plates in the
evenings when the urge to eat remains long after the last
bite has disappeared. Most of all they cannot understand
why their once laughing parents have become quiet and
withdrawn. It is their understanding that I want to
I am the only one who understands. Mama thinks
they're, growing up, and my father thinks they're
studying. Studying to do what? Studying to join picket
lines? Studying to be laid off? Or probably they are
studying so that they will be able to read those endless
letters which begin ... "We regret to inform you..." and
blah, blah, blah., blah... "keep your application on file."
Eh God, what do you think?
I am the only one who understands. I see the vacant
look on gaunt faces, eyes staring unseeingly into books
which are not being read. I hear the slowness in their
Abstract And Still Life
by Warren Robinson
steps, the guilty look on their faces when for some trifling
reason, not being able to help themselves the laugh. In the
subconscious of their minds there is a sign which reads,
"ANYONE CAUGHT LAUGHING WILL BE FINED.
THESE ARE HARD DAYS." They do not know this but
I am the only one who knows, that is why I must
bargain with God. Let it always be like that. Let them be
normal people, happy. Let them never know the hardships
of life. Right now, let my father not feel any pain when I
tell him what I have to. I will shoulder all the pain, anger,
frustration, despair in store for them, you just let them be
happy, please. And God, if you find it difficult to do, just
imagine to yourself that it's way back in history when you
sent your angels to destroy all the first-born of the House
of Israel. I am the eldest.
o R SHORT STORY
a so by Olive Senior
"That Ascot goin go far", Mama say, "Mark my
"Yes. Him goin so far him goin ennup clear a prison,"
Papa say. Every time you mention Ascot name to Papa
these days the big vein in Papa forehead tighten up and
you know he trying hard to control himself.
"Oh gawd when all is said an done the bwoy do well
Jackie. Doan go on so", Mama say.
"De bwoy is a livin criminal. Do well me foot. Look how
him treat him family like they have leprosy. Deny dem. Is
so you wan you pickney behave. Cho woman. Yu was
always a fool", and with that Papa jam him hat on him
head and take off down the road.
See here! I don't think Papa ever recover from the day
that Ascot come back. This Ascot is a tall red bwoy that
born round here. Mama and all the rest of the women did
like Ascot who is Miss Clemmy outside son for Ascot
come out with fair skin and straight nose and though him
hair not so good it not so bad neither. And nobody know
who Ascot father is but is not Dagoman who Miss
Clemmie living with all these years for you only have to
look at Dagoman to see that.
Anyhow this Ascot tall no langilalla and him not so bad
looking though him have a mouth so big that when him
smile him lip curl but all the women just melt when Ascot
smile and say how him bound to go far.
But all that the men remember bout Ascot is that Ascot
is a real ginnal and also that Ascot have the biggest foot
that anybody round here ever see. Especially Papa.
One time Papa used to miss all kind of thing from the
buttery. Now when Papa not looking all we children would
tief in there and take like two finger ripe banana or some
small thing but nothing serious. Papa would find out and
accuse we and we would lie but none of we could lie so
good because Mama use to beat the lying out of we and
Papa would know the culprit right away so nobody would
take it serious. Papa used to say he wouldn't grudge his
own children nothing, but is the principle of the thing and
he don't like to have his authority undermine and that sort
Well, anyway, one time a whole heap of big thing start
disappear from the buttery a brand new cutlass, some
yam head, a crocus bag and finally, a big bunch of banana
that Papa was ripening for the church Harvest Festival.
Well sah, all we children used to run in the buttery and
look at the bunch of banana till we eye water but none of
us would bold enough so touch it for is the most beautiful
thing that we ever see in our whole life.
So the Saturday morning before the Harvest Festival
one bangarang no bus at the house! Papa go into the
buttery and find the whole bunch of banana no gone way
clean. Jesus. You should hear the noise he make. Then
him calm down and he just stand there a look at the
ground for a long time and is sad we think Papa sad for is
the best bunch of banana that ever grow. But finally him
say "All right. Is Ascot do it. See him guilt there plain as
day. Is Ascot one have foot that size". And is true for we
all look at the footprint on the ground and we know is
Ascot do it.
Papa say to we "Doan say a word" and him send off to call
Ascot while him close the buttery door and tell all of we to
go sit on the verandah like nothing happen. So Ascot
come grinning as usual like him expecting food and Papa
say, "Come Ascot me bwoy Harvest Festival pospone and
we gwine nyam banana caan done tidday".
As Papa say the word "banana" Ascot not grinning so
wide again and he say as if him deaf "Wha Mass Jackie?"
and we all start giggle for him voice come out squeaky like
muss-muss and Papa say, "Yes bwoy feas tidday". Then
we all walk round to the buttery and Papa throw the door
wide open and the first thing that everybody see is the
hook where the banana was hanging up empty as night.
"Oh gawd where me Harvest Festival banana gaan-o",
Papa shout out. "Ascot look ya me banana no gaan."
"Wha Mass Jackie," Ascot say but you could see that
him hanging back. "Nutten could go so afta nobody
bol'nuf come in ya an walk weh wid yu banana."
Papa just stand there for awhile as if him studying the
situation and then him say, "Ascot me bwoy, yu an me
gwine have to play poleece an search fe clues."
Meantime Papa there looking at the ground and then he
make as if him just see the footprint and he say, "Ascot
look here me bwoy" and by now Ascot look like
shame-me-lady macca that just done step on. Papa say,
"But wait Ascot. Puddon yu foot ya."
And Ascot bawl out "Laaad Mass Jackie is nuh me do it
Illustration by Dennis Ranston
^ "' F_
Papa say, "No? Den puddon yu foot ya yu tiefing
brute," and make to grab after Ascot. But Ascot jump
back so braps and fly off like streaking lightning. And
from that day on, Papa swear that him wash him hand of
Ascot stay far from the house for a good while and
anytime he see Papa him take off to bush for Papa walking
bout and threatening to shoot him for him banana though
you know after a time that Papa enjoying himself so much
telling everybody how him frighten Ascot that you can see
that him don't mind bout the banana so much after all. But
Ascot really have no shame at all and little by little him
start hang round the kitchen again when Papa not there
and Mama would feed him till finally him round the house
almost as often as before.
Anyway my big brother Kenny did come up from May
Pen one Sunday and Ascot come up to him when Papa
back turn and ask if he couldn't give him job as gardner.
And as Kenny don't know bout the banana and he must
be the only person Papa forget to tell Kenny say
alright. And although Papa warn Kenny that him taking
up trouble Mama say that at heart Ascot is really a decent
honest boy and that all he need is opportunity so when
Kenny ready to leave Ascot arrive with him bundle and
seat himself off in Kenny car please no puss! "No matter
how hard yu wuk an how much money yu make yu will
nevva find shoes for dem doan mek them in fe yu size,"
was Papa's last word to Ascot.
Well sah, as Papa predict Ascot don't stay long with
Kenny. Little after Ascot gone there we get letter from
Kenny say he sending Ascot home for Ascot don't want do
nothing round the house and all he do all day is jump
behind the wheel of motor car the minute people back
turn, and make noise like say he driving. The letter arrive
one day and the next day we get another letter say Ascot
take his belonging and a few other things that didn't
belong to him so maybe he on the way home and good
riddance. Anyway, Ascot never turn up at all and Miss
Clemmie getting ready to go out of her mind that he in
trouble till she get message say Ascot in Kingston
learning to drive. And then one day bout a year after who
arrive but Ascot. He wearing a shirt and tie and pants
that too short but is alright because it allow you to see
Ascot shoes better. Ascot, no get shoes! See here, he
wearing the biggest pair of puss boot that ever make. It
big so till everybody from miles around run to look at
Ascot foot in shoes like is the eight wonder of the world.
Ascot tell we him driving in Kingston though most people
don't believe him. But mark you, from Ascot small he used
to tell me how him life ambition was to dress up in white
clothes and drive a big white car.
So Ascot stay round for a while doing not a thing and he
not smiley-smiley so much and in fact Ascot get very
quiet. Then one day him no announce that him get paper
to go States as farm worker and the next day him leave us
again dress up in him big brown puss boots.
Well it look like Ascot dead for true this time for nobody
hear from him till government send a man down to Miss
Clemmie to find out if she hear from him for he skip the
farm work in Florida and just disappear right after he
reach. Poor Miss Clemmie frighten so till and crying the
whole time now for Ascot for the man say that they going
to prison Ascot if they find him for he does do a criminal
thing. But still not a word from Ascot and everybody give
him up for dead or prison except Papa who say that the
cat which is the incarnation of the devil have nine life and
that is Ascot. About three years pass and Miss Clemmie
no get letter from the United States. She beg me read it to
her and it say:
Dear Ma wel I am her in New York is big plase and
they have plenty car. I am going to get one yr loving
And he enclose one dollar and no return address. About
two year pass and then Miss Clemmie get another letter
from the U.S.A which she beg me read. Is from Ascot and
Dear mother. wel here I am in Connecticut.
Connecticut is big plais. I driving car two year now
but is not white yr. loving son Ascot.
And he send two dollar. Then about a year later she get
another letter that say:
Dear Mother Chicago is big plais I driving white car
for a wite man but he don make me where wite is
black uniform so I mite leave yr loving son Ascot.
And he send three dollar. "Hey hey", say Papa to Miss
Clemmie, "By de time yu get fifty letter yu nu rich." But
Miss Clemmie don't laugh for she say she sure Ascot
leading bad life. And that was the last time she get letter
After that so much time pass that all of we almost
forget Ascot. One time Papa did get a little banana bonus
so I go to town and come back with some nice meat and
Papa go and dig him good yam and the day after that we
cook a backra dinner. Papa just sitting on the verandah
making the smell kill him and telling me and Mama to
hurry up. Next thing we know a big white car no draw up
at the gate and turn into the yard. "Eheh is who dat,"
Papa say and we all run to the verandah. All we can see is
the front door open and two foot stick outside.
"Jesus have mercy is Ascot", say Mama "Is Ascot one
have foot big so."
"Ascot me teeth. Whe Ascot fe get big car from" Papa
But lo and behold. No Ascot! Ascot dress in white from
head to toe and though him plenty fatter him teeth kin
same way. And a woman get out of the car with him and
you can see she foreign from the clothes she wearing and
the colour of her hair though I swear afterward is wig.
Eh-eh, Ascot him no rush up to my mother and start
hug and kiss her, "Aunt Essie, Aunt Essie," he crying.
"Aunt Essie", Papa say, "Since when she anything but
Miss Essie" but Ascot rushing to him a-cry "Uncle
Jackie" and next thing we know he hugging Papa who
turn purple he so vex. "Cousin Lily" that's me he
talking to and he there hugging me to before I know
what happening. Papa stand there with him mouth open
like him seeing rolling calf but Ascot so busy a chat don't
"An this," he say, "is my wife Anthea" and the lady
say hello in the American accent.
"Ascot then is really you," Mama saying and shE
look like she almost crying.
"Yes Aunt Essie is real wonderful to see you" Ascot say
and him American accent so thick you could cut it witl
"Cousin Lily"' he say, taking my hand, "Can I speak t(
you for a minute," and he haul me off into the parlour
"Cousin Lily, you are my friend for a long time now
Right?" So I say "right". "Okay, so just pretend that yol
is my cousin and this is my house, right". Eh-eh, I don
no what Ascot playing but this whole thing sweet me so
say OK and call Mama and tell her. Of course she don
understand what really going on so I keep my finger cross
By the time I get back to the verandah Ascot is their
like a man that make out of nothing but energy, is not th
Ascot that leave here at all. He just walking and talking
and moving his hand up and down the whole time. Thel
he say to the wife, "Come let me show you around m'
birthhouse" and next thing he leading her through the
whole house as if is him own it. Mama just stand there
with her mouth wide open and Papa mouth set while the
vein in him forehead beating hard. Then Ascot take the
wife into the yard and he there waving him hand and
telling her "And this is my property and this is my
coconut tree you ever see coconut tree with coconut
before and this is where I does bathe when I small and
this is our water tank that I did help build."
See ya poppyshow! Well that was bad enough but next
thing he gone to Papa cocoa tree and he there saying "And
this is a cocoa tree from which you does get chocolate bet
you never see that before" and he grab up Papa cutlass
and chop off one of the cocoa pod and start cut it up to
show her the seed.
Papa start to get up but Mama say "Jackie" and he just
sink back down into the chair as if he defeated. Then
Ascot and him wife come back on the verandah and sit
down and Ascot cock up him foot on the railing. He start
chatting away but Papa not opening his mouth and so
Mama and me there carrying on conversation. Ascot say
him driving him own big white car and he work in a garage
but he like one of the boss man now and he so happy that
he had to bring his wife back to show her the birthplace
where he spent his happy childhood. He also say they
staying in hotel in Kingston and they going back that
night and is rent they rent the car they driving. That was
one thing but next thing I go ask the wife what she do and
she announce that she really is a teacher but right now she
just finishing up her Master Degree. Master Degree? -
Ascot marry woman with Master Degree and he don't even
finish third standard in school. See here Lord. We all
So Ascot there chatting and chatting and we all getting
hungrier and hungrier and the food smelling better and
better and it don't look as if they out to leave so finally
Mama say in her best speaky-spoky voice "Would you like
a bite to eat" and I know is show off she showing off on
Ascot wife who have Master Degree that she have good
food in the house.
"Yes thank you Aunt Essie is long time since I taste
you cooking" Ascot say and cross him leg. Papa give
Mama such a look that thank God none of them did see.
Mama never see either she so please that she entertaining
somebody with Master Degree for the highest qualified
person she ever meet is Extension Officer and that don't
count because is only agriculture him did learn. So we put
out all the food that we did cook and Mama take out her
best crockery and send down to Miss Melda to borrow the
glasses that she did just get from her daughter-in-law in
the States and everybody sit down to eat everybody
except Papa who say he not hungry and he don't want
anything to eat and we know better than to argue with
him when he vex like that.
Well sah. Ascot put down a piece of eating there that I
couldn't describe to you and when he done the table clean
as a whistle. As soon as they eat done Mama say "Well
Ascot I suppose you want to spend some time with
Clemmie," and Ascot say "Clemmie Oh yes" as if he
just remember her and he jump up and say "Soon be
back" and drive off to see Miss Clemmie. I tell you that
was the biggest piece of extraness I ever see because Miss
Clemmie live in the next bend in the road and if we want to
call her all we do is lean out the kitchen window and shout.
But Ascot drive gone and he stay away a long long time
and I believe is to confuse him wife that Miss Clemmie live
a long way away.
About half an hour afterward Ascot arrive with the car
full with Miss Clemmie and Dagoman and all the children
dress in their best clothes. Ascot say to him wife, "And
this is Clemmie and Dagoman" and Dagoman lift his hat
and bow and I swear that Miss Clemmie drop a curtsey.
"Oh and do you live nearby," say the wife to Miss
"Yes maam, jus roun de corner".
"And are all these you children."
"Yes'm Hascot is the heldes but is not de same faader."
The wife give Ascot a look to kill and is plain she never
realise that is Ascot mother.
"But I did almost grow with Aunt Essie" Ascot say
quick but you could see him turning red.
"Clemmie," my mother call her inside, "Look her
Clemmie," she tell her, "Is you daughter-in-law that what
you calling her maam for. Dont keep on saying yes maam
no maam to everything she say. You hear me."
"Yes maam," say Miss Clemmie and while I inside
clearing the table all I can hear is Miss Clemmie saying
"yes maam, no maam" to everything her daughter-in-law
Miss Clemmie keep on looking at Ascot as if he is
stranger and Dagoman sit on the bench outside as if he too
fraid to come near the lady. The children start play round
the car and make as if to open the door and Ascot snap at
them so till my mother had to say "Hi Ascot is your own
little brothers you treating so."
"Half-brother" Ascot say.
From then on things just got from bad to worse. Ascot
look like he vex cant done at Clemmie and the wife and the
stepfather look like they vex cant done with Ascot. So
finally Ascot say, "Come let me take you all home for I
have to get back to Kingston tonight." But by this time
Dagoman face set and he say he prefer to walk and Miss
Clemmie and the children get into the car alone and even
though Miss Clemmie look like she going to cry you can
still see that she feeling proud to have her son driving her
in car. But as they drive off all we can hear is Ascot a
shout at the children to take their dirty foot off the car
By the time Ascot get back he grinning all over again
like old time but you could see that everybody feeling kind
of shame and just waiting for him to go. So he finally
jump up and start kiss us goodbye only when he put out
his hand to Papa Papa wouldn't take it though he shake
hands with the wife and talk nice to her for he say
afterward that she was a nice mannersable woman and is a
shame that she mix up with a criminal like Ascot. So at
long last Ascot and his wife drive off the way they did
come with plenty horn blowing and hand waving.
Mama was the only one that wave back though and long
after the car out of sight she there waving and smiling.
"That Ascot", she say, "fancy that. A wife with Master
Degree. I did know he was goin get far you know."
"Well he can stay far de nex time," Papa shout out and
walk out of the house.
Next day it all over the district how Miss Clemmie have
daughter-in-law with Master Degree and how Ascot
proper, and hire big car and staying at hotel in Kingston.
But is only me one Miss Clemmie did tell how there was
not a bite to eat in the house that day and Ascot never
even leave her a farthing. This vex me cant done especially
how he did gormandise up all Papa food. So right then and
there I start tell her what kind of good-fe-nutten Ascot is.
And is only afterward that I realise that Miss Clemmie not
listening to a word I saying.
"Dat Hascot. I did always know he wudda reach far yu
know" she say almost to herself and her eyes shining like
Dr. Marigold J. Thorburn M.D. Senior Lecturer,
Department of Social and Preventive Medicine
University of the West Indies
Many Jamaican plants are consumed as herbal remedies
and"bush medicines'.' In many cases we have no idea of
their potential, either as poisons or as remedies. A plant
may actually be effective in treating an entirely different
disease from the ones for which it is used in "bush
practice". An example of this is "ram goat rose" or
periwinkle which is used to treat high blood pressure. In
fact, extracts of this plant are used to make Vincristine, a
potent drug in the treatment of leukaemia this drug
can also cause chromosomal damage.
We first started looking at human chromosomes in
Jamaica in 1963. This was a new field cytogeneties -
and it is due to the foresight of the previous Professor of
Pathology, Gerrit Bras, that the work about to be
described was first initiated. Between 1964-1967 we
studied children and adults with various types of
congenital defects and disorders of growth and
development. This yielded very interesting information
and demonstrated that in Jamaica we had our share of
disorders due to chromosomal abnormalities, such as
mongolism and others, like everywhere else in the world.
In 1967, T.V.N. Persaud, in the Department of
Anatomy at the University of the West Indies, produced
congenital defects of the limbs and head in rat foetuses by
feeding the pregnant mothers with extracts of ackee and
cannabis resin. This and other work in the field of
teratology has made a significant contribution to our
knowledge of foetal development. Defects in the foetus
can be caused by several mechanisms, some of which
relate to slowing or complete cessation of growth which
may be caused by many different agents acting at
different times in embryonic life on different tissues.
Chromosomal damage is one way in which growth and
division of cells may be affected. We therefore decided to
look at the effects of these plant extracts on chromosomes.
Each cell in the body carries a set of chromosomes; in
the human there are 23 pairs of which one pair are the sex
chromosomes and 22 pairs are autosomes. The
chromosomes carry the genes, which are made up of
deoxyribonucleic acid DNA and are responsible for
conveying inherited characters and information about
function from one generation to the next.
Human cytogenetics is a relatively young field since
techniques for accurate examination were only developed
in the 1950s and 1960s. The techniques commonly used
involve growing cells in tissue culture, and examining
them during division, as the chromosomes are visible only
during division. The tissue used are blood (the
lymphocyte elements), skin, fascia and foetal cells.
The cells are cultured in a nutrient media for 48 or 72
hours in the case of lymphocytes, and 2-3 weeks with
other tissues. The drug colchicine is then added to arrest
the division. The cells are fixed and made into a smear for
microscopic examination. Fig. 1 shows chromosomes
from human and rat cells, in the natural state and
arranged in a standardised format, the karyotype.
Since the chromosomes are responsible for the genetic
make-up of the individual, damage to, loss of, or increasE
in, numbers of chromosomes or genes may have serious,
deleterious effects on the growth and development of the
foetus. *Many agents can cause genetic damage, including
X-rays, certain drugs, chemicals and viruses. They an
known as mutagens. There are two basic ways of studying
the effects of these agents; one is by exposing cells or tissue
to the agent in the laboratory i.e. in tissue culture (ir
vitro), the other is by exposing the animal or human itself
directly to the agent (in vivo). It is not often that the
opportunity arises to do human studies for ethical reasons
but where a drug is widely consumed, it may be possible.
Over the last tive years we have studied extracts of
three well known Jamaican plants, all of which are widely
consumed. These are the ackee, "ganja" and "whiteback"
or "consumption bush". In the next section I will describe
why and how we studied these plants and the findings. All
the experimental work described here was performed by
two U.W.I. graduates, Dr. Patricia DeLeon, Ph.D, and
Mrs. Sybil Bryant, M.Sc.
Ackee [Blighia sapida]
Unripe ackee has been known to cause vomiting
sickness in Jamaica for some time and Hassall et al at
U.W.I. showed that the effects were due to aminoacids
called hypoglycins which cause a lowering of the blood
sugar. Persaud used pure hypoglycins A in his
experiments and produced limb defects in rat and rabbit
foetuses. We have tested hypoglycin A in vitro only.
Blood was taken from human subjects and rats. Varying
concentrations of hypoglycin A were added to cultures of
blood tissues. The chromosomes were examined to see
whether there was any damage. The typical findings are
shown in Fig. II where damage is seen in the form of
breakage of chromosomes and peculiar formations.
Thirteen to fifteen percent of cells examined showed
*This may happen in two ways: there may be a direct effect of the agent
on the foetal chromosomes when the pregnant mother is exposed, or the
agent may damage the germ cell chromosomes in either male or female
parent. Damaged chromosomes or genes may then be bestowed on the
XII 11r n'
"-7 .' <
al lX XK n ^ nn'
A h h A SK 4 AA XA41
FIGURE 1 Human cells, the Karyotype
FIGURE Ib Rat cell and Karyotype (male)
;'?i fl I\ HJ (1^ Aft
A6 ; sX 'A
!!Jt X<1 XK
More extensive work on hypoglycin is indicated as it
would be important to find out whether this damage also
occurs in persons with vomiting sickness. It should be
emphasized that it is only the unripe ackee which contains
this toxic substance and fortunately the condition is much
rarer now than some years ago.
Ganja [Cannabis Sativa]
"There is of course widespread interest in "ganja" or
FIGURE 2 Abnormal metacentric seen in rat leucocyte after in vitro
exposure to hypoglycin A. There are only 41 chromosomes present.
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) all over the world at this
time. Ganja smoking has been widely prevalent in the
lower socio-economic groups in Jamaica for more than 100
years. Persaud and Ellington have shown that cannabis
resin, the extract of the plant containing several cannabis
compounds, can produce growth stunting in rat and mice
foetuses. Limb defects have also been described in
children whose parents had used cannabis and LSD
during pregnancy. LSD has also been shown to cause
We have done some experimental work on rats and in
vitro studies on human cells but our opportunity came in
1970 to study directly the effects in man when an extensive
cannabis study was mounted by the Research Institute for
the Study of Man. The in vitro studies were performed on
rat and human blood cultures and rat tissue cultures.
These were exposed to various concentrations of cannabis
In vivo studies were done on pregnant,rats by injecting
the rats with cannabis resin on the first to the sixth days
of pregnancy. Blood from maternal rats was examined and
also cultures were made from the offspring which were
removed at around the twelfth day of pregnancy.
Finally 33 male Jamaicans were studied, 18 of whom
had smoked a minimum of 3 "spliffs" of ganja per day for
10 or more years. The remainder were non-smokers. Blood
was taken from these persons in hospital where ganja
smoking was not allowed (we were seeing the effect of
chronic not acute usage) and cultured.*
The findings were essentially negative except that the
cells in tissue culture exposed to the cannabis resin in
vitro did not divide as quickly as those without and high
doses prevented division altogether.
This effectswas not seen in the living animals or man.
*The rationale for studying males here is that if there are chromosomal
abnormalities in the blood, damage may also occur in germ cells
(testes). This may then give rise to abnormal offspring. 19
aA (00 ao i Inft
The implications of these findings is that while cannabis
resin does not appear to cause chromosomal damage, it
may in high doses cause a slowing of growth and division
of cells. Thus, if it happened during a period of very rapid
growth, such as in the early weeks of the development of
the foetus, it might cause slowing of growth and
subsequent defects or stunting. This might cohceivably
explain the defects reported in humans in other parts of
the world. It should be remembered that these studies
were performed with cannabis resin and not with pure
a 9 transtetrahydro-cannabinol (z, 9 THC) which is
the most active substance present in the resin.
"Consumption Bush" or "Whiteback" [Crotalaria Fulva]
Veno-occlusive disease of the liver (VOD) was thought
to be unique to Jamaica for some years. It has been
extensively studied in the Department of Pathology at
U.W.I. In 1963, Professor Bras and Dr. Elizabeth
McLean showed conclusively that it was due to the
consumption of a bush tea, made from the plant Crotalaria
fulva [berteriana] commonly known as "whiteback" or
"consumption bush" Fig. III. As the latter name
suggests, it was used in the treatment of coughs, especially
% '0 4
41 a 4as
" y 4 -
^3 .. '
% I IfOO~
FIGURE 4 Ouadriradial chromosome from V.O.D. patient
(bright yellow flower)
- PHOTO- G.R. PROCTOR,
INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA.
Some of the genus Senecio though not at all related to the
former, also have a similar effect. Fortunately public
education on the dangers of these "bushes" has resulted in
a significant decrease in cases of VOD over the years. It is
a serious liver disease, sometimes fatal and sometimes
causing permanent liver damage. The active principle is
fulvine and this belongs to a group of alkaloids known as
pyrrolizidines, well known for their toxic effects both on
the liver and on genetic material in other animals.
Diseases similar to VOD are seen in cattle and horses in
South Africa and Australia respectively and are caused by
eating plants related to Crotalaria fulva.
The mode of action of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids would
suggest that fulvine might damage chromosomes. It was
an unexpected new outbreak of cases of acute VOD in 9
children in 1968 that gave us the opportunity to test this
hypothesis. This was followed up by experimental work in
rats. Again in vitro and in vivo studies were done.
All the in vitro studies were negative. The effects on the
children's chromosomes were striking but fortunately,
short lasting. Six of the nine children examined showed
severe breakages and rearrangements of chromosomes in
from 13 to 60% of their lymphocytic cells. Examples are
FIGURE 5 A cell with multiple chromosome abnormalities
a. Acentric fragment d. Chromatid Exchange
b. Centric fragment e. One chromosome with 2 breaks
c. Dicentric chromosome f. Gap in an acrocentric chromosome
shown in Fig. IV. However when studied over a period of
time, these abnormalities disappeared. In another group
of 7 children we have studied 11/2 14 years after their
attack of acute VOD, there were no detectable permanent
effects. Similarly in the rat fulvine caused severe
chromosomal damage (Fig. V). Several interesting
observations have been made. Firstly, chromosomal
damage occurs at lower doses of fulvine than that
necessary to cause VOD. Secondly, damage only occurs in
vivo. It seems that it is probably not fulvine itself but a
breakdown product made in the liver which affects the
chromosomes. This would account for the fact that the
main tissue damage in the liver is in the lining of the
central veins which take off the products of metabolic
processes in the liver. As in the human, the chromosome
damage appears to be short lived and it is probable thai
the cells carrying damaged chromosomes are unable to
divide and the abnormal cells are therefore eliminated.
Finally, young animals appear to be much more
susceptible to damage than the adult rats studied.
However our techniques for genetic examination are very
crude. When one considers that each chromosome carries
from 50 100,000 genes, it can be appreciated that we are
only looking at gross damage. Sub-micrbscopic re-
arrangements or loss of genetic material might still be
occurring. If this occurred in germ cells, further
generations of offspring might be affected. Where this
occurs in somatic cells, such as in the lymphocytes
themselves, or in other tissue" such as the liver or lung, a
viable abnormal cell might be produced which has the
potential of dividing and forming a clone. This clone, if it
has any metabolic advantages over the normal cells, or if
for some reason extra demands are made on the normal
tissue, such as in an acute severe infection, might undergo
more rapid growth and be the nidus of a cancer.
We do not have any concrete epidemiological evidence
yet to suggest that consumption of this "bush" is a
factory in producing either congenital defects or diseases
or cancers but the evidence that we do have marks the use
of "consumption bush" as a dangerous practice especially
This preliminary work performed on three Jamaican
plants suggests that we have at least two potential
mutagens consumption bush and possibly UNRIPE
ackee still being used in our diet. As yet we do not know
what part they may play in production of congenital
defects and diseases in our community.
I am particularly grateful to the following people for
their part in this work. Dr. Patricia DeLeon, Mrs. Sybil
Bryant, Professors Gerrit Bras and S.E.H. Brooks, Drs.
Joan Summerell and T.V.N. Persaud. The research was
supported by the Ministry of Overseas Development, the
Standing Advisory Committee for Medical Research in
the Caribbean and the Research Institute for the Study of
BRAS, G. JELLIFFE, D.B. & STUART K.L. (1954) Veno-occlusive
disease of the liver with non-portal type of cirrhosis, occurring in
Jamaica. AMA Archives of Path. 257, 161.
BRAS G. & McLEAN E. (1963). Toxic factors in V.O.D. Ann. N.Y.
Acad. Sci. 111, 392.
CLARKE, A.M. (1959) Mutagenic activity of the alkaloid heliotrine in
Drosophila. Nature (Lond) 183, 731.
GARDINER, M.R. Royce, R. and BOKOR, A. (1965). A newly
recognized cause of Kinberley Horse disease. J. Path. Bact. 89, 43.
HASSALL, C.H., REYLE H.K. and FENG, P. (1954) Hypoglycin A,
B. Biologically active polypeptides from Blighia sapida. Nature (Lond.)
JELLIFFE D.B. and STUART, K.L. (1954) Acute toxic hypo-
glycaemia in the vomiting sickness of Jamaica. Brit. Med. J. +, 75.
MARTIN, P.A., THORBURN, M.J. HUTCHINSON, S.E., BRAS G.
and MILLER, C.G. (1972) Preliminary findings of Chromosomal
Abstract And Still Life
by Owen Minott
studies on Rats and Humans with veno-occlusive disease. Br. J. Exp.
Path, 53, 374.
MARTIN, P.A., THORBURN M.J., and BRYANT, S.E. (1974) In
vivo and in vitro studies of the cytogenetic effects of Cannabis Sativa in
rats and men. Teratology. 9, 81.
McFARLANE, A.L. and BRANDAY, W.J. (1945) Original
description of a particular type of infantile cirrhosis. Lancet 1, 838.
PERSAUD, T.V.N. and ELLINGTON, A.C. (1967) Ganja (Cannabis
Sativa) in early pregnancy. Lancet 2, 1306.
PERSAUD, T.V.N. (1968) Feratogenic effects of hypoglycin A Nature
(Lond.) 217, 471.
STUART K.L. and BRAS G. (1955) Clinical observation on V.O.D. of
the liver in Jamaican adults. Brit. Med. J. ii, 348.
THORBURN, M.J., WYNTER, H.M., and BELL R. (1969)
Congenital Malformations in Jamaica. Trop. Geogr. Med. 21, 147.
U I.I I
The recent world energy crisis has focused the
attention of many countries on the possibilities of
developing and utilising their own energy resources to the
maximum extent, and reducing to the minimum their
dependence on imported energy producing materials.
Jamaica, in particular, is a country which has no such
materials at the present day. All our electrical power and
all the power required to move our vehicles is produced
from imports, if one discounts the monkey carts and the
charcoal burners' products. Nevertheless, in the following
pages I will attempt to review Jamaica's position as a
possible future producer of energy, in relation to the kinds
of materials being used to produce energy in the world
Before proceeding further with a review of Jamaica's
resources of these materials, it would be useful to consider
what is meant by the geological term resources, as it will
probably convey different meanings to different groups of
people, depending partly on their respective interests.
In this account I follow the definitions adopted by the
U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Mines in
making a distinction between a resource and a reserve. By
the term resource is meant a concentration of naturally
occurring solid, liquid or gaseous materials, in or on the
earth's crust, in such a form that their economic
extraction is currently or potentially feasible. A reserve,
on the other hand, is the proportion of an identifiable
resource which can be produced at a profit at the time of
The following account is concerned with mineable,
non-renewable energy resources. These are considered
under the following headings:
i) Petroleum (oil and natural gas)
iii) Nuclear fuels uranium and thorium
iv) Geothermal energy
As a geologist, I will not consider solar energy, hydro-
energy, or tidal energy sources, although the development
of these does involve some geological input. They are
sources which can be considered by any country which has
access to sea or sun, whereas my attention will be devoted
to resources whose distribution is primarily dependent on
the geological features of the area being considered, in this
case, Jamaica. First I will examine the geological
environments associated with the four types of energy
resource. I will discuss Jamaica's potential in relation to
B. The Geology of Energy Resources
Figure 1 is the now well-known graph showing the cycle
of world demand for and supply, of petroleum, prepared by
the American geologist M. King Hubbert (1971). It
strongly suggests that world reserves of petroleum are
b r SOURCES
e West Indies
limited and that shortages in the supply of petroleum will
start to occur very soon, if they are not occurring already.
Hubbert has suggested that the production peak for the
United States has already been reached and that a natural
decline should set in until, by between 2040 and 2090, all
the oil in the United States will have been used up (Berg et
FIGURE 1 Production cycles of petroleum for the
world (continuous lines) and for the U.S.A, (broken
lines). In each case the upper and lower lines
represent, respectively, upper and lower estimates,
(after Hubbert, 1971, and Bert et al. 1974).
Petroleum compounds form as a result of the
breakdown of organic debris, probably marine plankton
and organic material washed into an aqueous environment
from rivers. The breakdown probably occurs under
reducing conditions in the stagnant bottom waters of
partly enclosed basins. High sedimentation rates serve to
bury the material quickly.
Where is this sort of environment likely to be
encountered? Modern ones, where oil may now be
forming, are in the Black Sea and, nearer to home, in the
Cariaco Trench, off the north coast of Venezuela.
Most of the world's oil supplies have been located along
the flanks of the major fold mountain belts. They also
occur in some of the major river deltas such as those of the
Mississippi and Orinoco. In the Caribbean area therefore
major oil fields are found along the Gulf Coast of the
United States, in the Mississippi delta and the northern
margin of South America, including Trinidad, in the
Orinoco delta. Smaller fields are found on the Mexican
Gulf Coast and minor occurrences have been recorded in
Nicaragua, Cuba, Hispaniola and Barbados.
The geological conditions in the northern Caribbean are,
comparatively speaking, unfavourable for oil. Volcanic
activity played a dominant role in the early development
of the region, up to 60 million years ago, and thick
sequences of sedimentary rocks are of secondary
importance. In the succeeding Tertiary Era sedimentary
rocks did indeed play a dominant role in forming the
present geological configuration of the region. In
particular extensive deposits of limestones were formed,
under conditions resembling those of the Bahama Banks
or Pedro Banks at the present day. But these rocks are of
relatively small total volume and were not formed in the
kind of environment favouring the breakdown of organic
material to form petroleum. Actually, limestones often
form important oil reservoirs, because of their porous
nature, but they need to be covered by impermeable rocks,
such as mudstones and clays, to prevent the escape of any
oil which may have accumulated. Unfortunately, in the
northern Caribbean, most of the limestones, being among
the last rocks to form, lie on top of all the others, not
underneath. Thus, when we first look at Jamaica, the
prospects of finding oil are not very bright. I will return to
an evaluation of these prospects later.
The extension of the coal mining industry in Britain in
the 18th century provided the energy base for the
Industrial Revolution. Although coal has been in
production for a much longer period than oil, the world's
reserves of this material are very large. The time scale of
figure 2 should be compared with that for petroleum (fig.
1). The world's stocks of coal, although not inexhaustible,
will last for some time yet.
Unlike oil, coal is formed from the accumulation of
rotting vegetation in swampy areas. At the present day
2200 2400 A.D.
FIGURE 2 Production cycle of coal for the world
(after Hubbert, 1971).
such areas include mangrove and cypress swamps in the
tropics and peat bogs in temperate regions.
The process of carbonisation and compaction of peat to
form coal is a slow one. The coal that most people think of
when they talk about it is bituminous coal. This has
resulted from the very widespread accumulation of
vegetation in swamps which developed in the Carbon-
iferous Period, 300 million years ago. Bituminous coal is
of relatively high rank, about 80% carbon and 20%
organic residue and hydrogen.
Coals which have been subjected to less compaction and
which have formed since the Carboniferous are of lower
rank and fall into the sub-bituminous coal, lignite and
brown coal groups. Lignites and brown coal contain
60-70% carbon with correspondingly higher percentages
of organic residue, particularly volatiles. Due to their
lower carbon content they have heating values of
3,000-4,000 calories per gm, compared with around 8,000
cals per gm for bituminous coal.
The rocks in the Caribbean islands have all been formed
within the last 180 million years. Therefore, if coals are
present one would expect them to belong to the brown coal
and lignite group, unless they had been subjected to
exceptionally strong earth movements after formation.
iii) Nuclear Fuels
There are two naturally occurring radioactive elements
which can be used to produce thermal energy via a nuclear
reactor. They are uranium and thorium.
Uranium occurs, disseminated in igneous rocks, to the
extent of about 4 gm per ton. It forms numerous
compounds and its isotope, uranium 235, is the fuel used
to charge existing commercial reactors. Uranium 235
forms less than 1% of the naturally occurring element, but
uranium 238, the common uranium isotope, can be used in
breeder reactors to produce plutonium, an artificial
element which can be used as a nuclear fuel.
Thorium is more common, up to 11 gm per ton in
igneous rocks. It forms relatively few compounds and is
not usable as a fuel directly. However it can also be used,
as a liner in breeder reactors, when it becomes partly
transformed into a highly radioactive isotope of uranium,
a 'bred' fuel which can be used as a direct source of energy.
Uranium is fairly easy to locate as it tends to
concentrate as pitchblende (a complex of uranium oxides)
or as a uranate, so that the radiation resulting from the
radioactive decay of uranium is intense enough to be
detected by fairly simple, portable Geiger counters. There
are three basic modes of occurrence. Firstly, vein
deposits, such as pitchblende, occur in much the same
way as lead and zinc ores. For instance, the rich Blind
River deposit in Canada is a result of mineralisation
within igneous rock intruded into Precambrian meta-
morphic rocks. Secondly, it occurs as stratiform deposits
within a variety of sedimentary rocks. Those of the
Colorado Plateau are found in Mesozoic (140 million years
old) sandstones and conglomerates. Other uraniferous
sedimentary deposits, in which preferential enrichment in
uranium ores occurs, include phosphates, black shales and
carbonaceous deposits, such as lignite. The uranium
minerals migrate into the sediments via percolating
groundwaters. Thirdly, uranium minerals sometimes
occur as placer deposits, mineral grains naturally
concentrated in river beds or beaches.
Thorium is not concentrated much by geological
processes, so it is more difficult to locate economic
deposits. Some vein deposits are found and it is also
sometimes concentrated with other dense minerals (rare
earths, chromium and titanium) in beach or gravel
players. Up to 50 p.p.m. (parts per million) of thorium
may be found in certain types of highly siliceous and
alkali-bearing granites. Although thorium occurs natural-
ly in low concentrations it is comparatively easy to extract
The kinds of uranium concentrations which can be
processed at present range down to as low as 250 p.p.m.
(South Africa, as a by-product from gold mining;
Czechoslovakia, mainly by leaching mine tailings and
extracting from mine waters; Sweden from the Alum
shales), but more generally economically recoverable
concentrations range upwards from 2,000 p.p.m.
iv) Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy is exploited by tapping the heat
stored up in favourable areas of the earth's crust. Such
heat reserves probably all result from the cooling down of
intruded magma (molten rock) in volcanically active
areas. Although a body of cooling igneous rock may
provide a heat store, the geological conditions for
extracting this heat also have to be favourable. The
conditions needed are a zone of highly permeable rocks
overlying the heat source, full of freely circulating water
to carry the heat, and an impermeable cap rock on top of
everything, to prevent loss of the water with its store of
S -* . '
FIGURE 3 Diagrammatic. representation of some
el g e *
permeable, water saturated rocks (. Heated water
.hot sp s. D i
** ** *
*: .* .* *
** **. *
.*..: : :.* *. *** *.. . r?? .
.. .* .
* * *.* .*
FIGURE 3 Diagrammatic representation of some
geological conditions needed for the commercial
exploitation of geothermal energy. The cooling
magma (A) heats up the surrounding rocks (B)
which in turn conduct the heat into a zone of
permeable, water saturated rocks (C). Heated water
in this zone is prevented from escaping by the
impermeable cap rocks (D) but limited loss may
occur along faults (F) to appear at the surface as
hot springs (E). Drilling into zone C allows con-
trolled escape of heat energy in the form of steam
heat. The heat supply is tapped by drilling into the
permeable zone and using the resulting steam to drive
turbines (fig. 3).
Thus the primary geological pointers for possible
geothermal resources are signs of recent volcanic activity,
expressed as volcanoes, or surface manifestations of
circulating hot water at depth, such as geysers, hot
springs and bubbling pools. This kind of situation occurs
at the Wairakei steam field in NewZealand. Hot igneous
rock at depth is overlain by a permeable layer of pumice
breccia, saturated with hot water. This in turn is sealed in
by a series of recent lake deposits of clay. At Larderello,
the world's first commercial steam field, in Italy, obvious
expressions of volcanic activity are lacking although
recently extinct volcanoes occur about 30km away. Here
the source of heat is believed to be a deep igneous
intrusion which is overlain by a sequence of Jurassic
sedimentary rocks, including beds of anhydrite. This
permeable horizon is sealed off by a cap of overthrust
schistose clays, but escape of hot water along fractures is
expressed at the surface as hot spring and steam activity.
C. Possible Energy Resources in Jamaica
Figure 4 is an Energy Resources map of Jamaica. On it
are plotted some of the data needed to evaluate the
An energy resources map of Jamaica, indicating
some areas which may be favourable for the
investigation of possible petroleum, lignite and
geothermal energy reserves. The stippled areas are
outcrops of older (60-100 million years) mainly
volcanic rocks. Shaded areas surrounded by broken
lines indicate some of the structures which could
favour the accumulation of petroleum. The large
circles are the sites of exploratory boreholes for
petroleum. The small circles indicate the positions of
known thermal springs. The large shaded areas
suggest the region probably underlain by lignite-
bearing rocks whilst the thick broken lines show
surface exposures of lignitic clays. FIGURE 4
possible occurrences of petroleum, coal (as lignite) and
Although the essential feature of an oil field is the
presence of a source rock for the oil, it is equally important
to have suitable geological structures to trap the oil and
prevent its escape by seepage. Such structures do exist in
Jamaica. The oval shaded areas on the map represent
some of the anticlines or up-domed regions of sedimentary
rock in Jamaica, which constitute favourable traps.
Exploration of these features has been the main concern of
the various oil companies which have explored the island
over the past 20 years.
The large circles are places where drilling for oil has
taken place. These six holes, on five of the structures,
were all dry holes. Does this mean oil is not present in the
island? Not necessarily. Some of the undrilled structures
may be connected to source rocks and thus may have
accumulated oil or gas. For instance at Windsor, in the St.
Ann's Great River Valley, there is a gaseous discharge
which can be interpreted as a gas seep from a possible
reservoir. Some horizons in the Eocene (45 million year
old) Yellow Limestone beds of Jamaica have low
concentrations of light hydrocarbons and so may
constitute possible source rocks for oil. The Palacocene
limestones in Portland are also slightly petroliferous.
Nevertheless the expectation of finding oil in Jamaica is
not very high for reasons mentioned earlier in this article.
There have been widespread discoveries in recent years
of offshore deposits of oil in many parts of the world.
What are the offshore prospects for Jamaica? Probably
the only areas which need to be considered are the shallow
shelf along the south coast of the island, reaching a
maximum width of 18 miles, and the Pedro Banks,
covering an area about half the size of Jamaica itself. The
south coastal shelf has been partly explored by the
Occidental Petroleum Company, as a result of which the
exploration borehole on Portland Ridge was drilled. Other
favourable structures probably exist in the region but in
general the geological structure is much the same as on
Jamaica itself. Signal and Occidental also drilled a hole
on the Pedro Banks, to a depth of 6,491 feet. They
stopped because they encountered coarse-grained igneous
rocks (granodiorite). The sedimentary sequence which was
drilled through before reaching the granodiorite was very
similar to that of the central part of Jamaica, suggesting
that the Pedro Banks are a sort of submerged, somewhat
smaller version of Jamaica itself and with similar
possibilities for oil. But our geological knowledge of the
Pedro Banks is very incomplete and the nature and
distribution of potential oil traps still remain to be fully
The existence of low grade coal deposits of Jamaica has
been known for over 150 years. Some of these deposits
have been, and still are exploited on a very limited, local
scale as a source of fuel for cooking purposes. The coal we
have in Jamaica is of the variety known as brown coal or
lignite. Compared with the bituminous coals, which are
the ones mostly used in industry, the heating capacity of
lignite is relatively low. Calculations based on some
analyses of the best Jamaican lignites suggest that
approximately three to four tons are needed to provide the
same amount of energy as one ton of bituminous coal. As
much as five tons may be needed to produce the same
amount of heat as one ton of fuel oil. On the resource map
the extent of possible buried lignite-bearing sediments in
central Jamaica is indicated.
Most of Jamaica's lignitic deposits were formed about
45 million years ago. Studies of fossil pollen from these
deposits, being carried out at Kent State University,
Ohio, suggest that they represent the vegetable remains
of ancient mangrove swamps. A few, such as one near
Mooretown in Portland, are as old as 70 million years and
are of a slightly higher quality than the younger deposits.
All these seams may be compared with the brown coals of
a similar age found in Central Europe, which have been
exploited for power and as a source of chemical and liquid
The first problem to be encountered relates to the
quality and chemical characteristics of Jamaica lignite.
How variable is the quality of the deposits? The Jamaican
lignite samples so far analysed have rather high ash
contents so that some kind of beneficiation process will be
needed to raise the bulk heating values. In fact over half of
the reported occurrences of so-called lignite are really
nothing more than carbonaceous clays. On the other hand
it is possible that the material could be used directly, not
as a source of fuel but as a source of chemicals, including
perhaps, synthetic petroleum products. It is also possible
that higher grade deposits lie concealed beneath the
limestones of Central Jamaica.
This leads to the second major problem to be overcome
before any commercial exploitation of Jamaica's lignites
can be considered. It is connected with their accessibility.
In Central Europe and the Soviet Union most of the brown
coal deposits lie near the surface of the ground and they
are exploited using conventional open-cast mining
operations, similar to those used here in the bauxite
industry. The thicknesses of some of the exploited
deposits exceed 60 feet. In Jamaica, although some 40
separate occurrences of lignite and lignitic clay has been
reported, they have thicknesses of only 2 to 5 feet. In fact
they are but the surface expressions of seams of lignite
and lignitic clay which extend deeply into the ground so
that they may be covered by hundreds, if not thousands of
feet of overburden. For instance in both the Cockpit and
Content petroleum exploration holes several lignitic
horizons were encountered. In the case of Content these
occur as deep as 5,000 feet below ground level.
Thus the geological setting of Jamaican lignitic rocks,
although not their quality, is similar to that of the older
bituminous coals of Europe and North America and, in
order to exploit them fully, underground mining methods
would have to be adopted. Such methods are technically
feasible. Bituminous coal seams as thin as two and half
feet in thickness are mined at depths of more than a
thousand feet in Britain and the Soviet Union. However,
one must remember that, on an energy rating, several
times as much lignite would have to be mined to produce
the same heat as a given quantity of bituminous coal.
Therefore it is doubtful if underground mining could be
seriously considered at present.
Nevertheless we do need to know t'he answers to some
fundamental questions if we are to consider Jamaica's
deposits in terms of an energy resource. In particular, how
much lignitic clay and lignite is there? Present knowledge
allows us to say only that the total quantity probably lies
somewhere in the range of thirty million to three thousand
million tons, mostly buried at depths in excess of two
hundred feet. These may seem large figures, but two
things should be remembered. Firstly, in order to produce
a continuous electrical power output equivalent, say, to
that averaged by the Jamaica Public Service Company for
1973, about two million tons of the best known grade of
Jamaican lignite per year would be required. Secondly,
most of the lignite represented by these figures would
have to be mined using underground methods. The
problems likely to be encountered in developing an
underground mining programme are such as to lead
naturally to a second question. How much of the lignite
could be recovered using open-cast mining methods?
Preliminary investigations indicate that there are
probably in excess of a million tons in central Jamaica but
deposits at the surface are widely scattered, mainly very
low grade and often in areas which are densely populated.
iii) Nuclear Fuels
Quite extensive examination of the island for uranium
ores in the 1950's by experts from the Geological Survey
of Great Britain proved unrewarding and it is true that
Jamaica's geological setting, in an area of relatively
young crustal rocks, is against the likelihood of finding
commercial uranium deposits. However there are two
reports of above average radiation values in the island.
One of these is the radioactivity of the Milk River mineral
spring. This is thought to be a result from the
radioactivity decay of dissolved radon gas in the spring
waters. As radon has a short half-life, this in turn must
originate in a subsurface zone, through which the spring
water percolates, which contains radioactive minerals, not
necessarily in high concentrations.
The other radiation anomaly of interest is that reported
from one of the lignite beds (possibly the only one
examined for radiation). I have already indicated that
uranium compounds are often deposited preferentially by
percolating ground waters in carbonaceous deposits. The
radiation counts on the lignite from Wait-a-Bit indicate
19-85 p.p.m. of uranium oxide equivalent (Hughes, 1973).
This is still well below the concentration required for
exploitation to be considered, but it is interesting to
consider what this means in terms of the potential energy
available, using some figures of Hubbert (1971). At an
average concentration of, say, 20 p.p.m., the radioactive
material in each ton of lignite (about 20 gm of uranium)
has the energy equivalent of 50 tons of bituminous coal, or
about 150 tons of lignite.
iv) Geothermal Energy
On figure 4 are located all the known hot springs. These
springs, together with volcanic pillow lavas at Black Hill
in Portland, of Miocene age (10 million years old, perhaps
younger), constitute possible indicators of a geothermal
province in Jamaica.
The possibility of developing geothermal resources in
Jamaica should not be dismissed because there are no
active volcanoes in the island. In fact a series of volcanoes
which have become extinct within the last 5 million years
doeE occur in the neighboring island of Hispaniola. The
nearest of these centres is some 400 km from the hot
spring region of eastern Jamaica. However, in 1972 we
discovered convincing evidence for a relatively recently-
formed volcanic pile on the seafloor only 25 km east of the
hot spring region. In comparison the Larderello steamfield
of Italy is about 370 km from Vesuvius, the nearest active
volcano, and some 30 km from the nearest surface
exposure of inactive, but recently formed volcanic rocks.
Eleven thermal springs have been recorded in Jamaica
(Hughes, 1973), but our own investigations, from the
University's Geology Department, indicate that four of
these no longer exist. Four springs are grouped together
at the eastern end of the Blue Mountains, including those
with the highest recorded temperatures. Three more are
scattered but two of them, Milk River and Salt River, lie
on the same structural trend, the Round Hill Fault, along
the south coast of the island.
Temperature and chemical data are woefully in-
complete. The temperatures of Milk River and Salt River
springs, at 330 and 310C respectively, lie at about the
minimum usually associated with geothermal prospects
and probably are not connected with any geothermal
anomaly within economic reach. However, the highest
recorded temperatures for the Guava River spring (55C)
and Bath Spring (530C), both within the eastern group
certainly lie within the limits of consideration as possible
indicators of a geothermal energy supply. In Italian fields
now being developed the surface emission temperatures of
some thermal springs do not exceed 55 C.
Geochemical information is needed in order to ascertain
likely subsurface circulation patterns of the hydrothermal
systems. In particular it is of interest to determine
whether any of the water may be of magmatic origin
(originating from the liquid fraction of a cooling magma)
or of meteoric (surface) origin. The chemical analyses of
the Bath springs (Hughes, 1973) and those at Guava
River (Isaacs, 1974) suggest that the waters are largely, if
not entirely, of non-magmatic origin. This does not mean
that there is no geothermal energy potential. It merely
indicates that circulating groundwater is being heated up
in some way. A group from the U.W.I. Geology
Department visited the Guava River spring in September
1973 to make the first chemical analyses of its water.
While the results indicated a non-magmatic origin, further
sampling by Isaacs, after the Gilda rains in October gave
the same chemical data, indicating a relatively
deep-seated circulation system, not affected by fluctua-
ting meteoric conditions.
Flow rates for the two measured Blue Mountain springs
are low, that of Bath averages 1.97 litres/sec. and the
Guava River springs are about the same. There appears to
be little fluctuation in flow rates.
In June 1968 in co-operation with the U.W.I. Physics
Department the Geological Survey Department drilled an
exploratory borehole at Bath to investigate the
geothermal characteristics of the site in more detail. The
temperature reached at the total depth of 300 feet was
420C, less than that at the spring itself.
Three possibilities seem to exist to account for the Blue
Mountain hot spring activity:
i) There is a deep seated area of hot rock, cooling
after emplacement of intrusive magma.
ii) The heat for the springs is generated in some other
way, either by exothermic chemical reactions in
mineralised zones (the whole area shows extensive
development of sulphides), or from friction of
movement on fault planes (several major faults,
possibly still active, cross the Blue Mountains).
iii) Relatively recent (in the last 3 million years) rapid
uplift of the whole Blue Mountain region has
caused a local rise in the crustal temperature
gradient which has not yet had time to adjust
itself to the average conditions.
Of these possibilities the second is the one most likely to
be the cause of the hot spring activity.
The geological conditions in the southeastern Blue
Mountains do not favour the presence of highly permeable
zones at depth, saturated with hot water, and there are no
obvious cap rocks preventing dissipation of geothermal
energy. Thus the prospects of a geothermal energy source
in Jamaica are small, using present day heat extraction
techniques. Nevertheless, with the future development of
very deep drilling for heat energy the southeastern part of
the Blue Mountains might be reconsidered as a potential
The prospects of Jamaica developing a substantial
energy resource through the exploitation of its own
reserves of geological fuels seem very small for the
immediate future, but the precise evaluation of such
resources should be a prime objective of our resource
scientists. The possibility that commercially exploitable
quantities of petroleum and lignite are present cannot yet
be ruled out.
Berg, R.R., Calhourn, J.C., Jr. and Whiting, R.L., 1974,
Prognosis for expanded U.S. production of crude oil.
Science, vol. 184, no. 4134, pp. 331-336.
Hubbert, M. King, 1971, The energy resources of the
earth. Scientific American, vol. 225, no. 3, pp. 60-70.
Hughes, I.G., 1973, The mineral resources of Jamaica.
Bull. 8 Geol. Survey Dept.
Isaacs, M., 1974, The Guava River thermal springs
revisited. Geonotes, Jour. Geol. Soc. of Jamaica, vol. 14.
Animals and Nature
"SINGLE RED" Colour Print
by Owen Minott
Both Specimens of Tropidophis maculatus, or Thunder
Snake were found at Stony Hill by 11 year old Nigel
A rare albino, lacks the markings evident on the
normal snake. This species, native to Jamaica, is a
non poisonous and gentle snake which allows itself
to be handled. There are no poisonous snakes in
Although the Thunder Snake belongs to the Boa
Constrictor family it seldom exceeds 18" in length.
Its diet appears to consist of small frogs, lizards and
insects. This albino, which has died since the photo-
graph was taken is preserved in the Zoological
collections at the Institute of Jamaica.
This specimen of Lycorea ceres or Paw Paw Butterfly was
reared from the chrysalis by 8 year old Anthony Garel.
The caterpillar had been feeding on leaves of a Paw Paw
Tree [Carica papaya].
It is a member of the Monarch butterfly family. This was
the first record of a Paw-Paw Butterfly for Jamaica,
although it has long been known in the other islands of the
Greater Antilles. This particular specimen is somewhat
battered due to being confined in a glass jar for some
hours after emergence. It is mounted in the collection at
the Institute of Jamaica.
T.H. Farr, Institute of Jamaica
In England the burly black man had called himself
"King Higgins" and the "Black Champion". He joined
several societies, among them the "London Millennium",
the "Loyal Millennium Missionary Lodge", and the
"Evangelical Mission Ethiopia". To the poor people of
Kingston, Jamaica, he became known as "Mass Charlie".
He also earned the name "Warrior" Higgins.
Rev. Captain Charles C. Higgins, B.A.E. (British and
American Evangelist), recently returned to Jamaica,
stood on a box delivering a lecture to a crowd of about six
hundred persons in the Victoria Gardens of downtown
Kingston this night in May, 1897. People clapped and
shouted "hear," "hear," as the preacher held forth, his
waistcoat soaked with sweat, a fan in his hand. "Whoever
knows that I am not converted please do not come near
me...", he said, "if you will not take in what I am telling
you I expect to beat it into you."'
When Higgins denounced the Roman Catholic Church
and Protestant ministers, a person in the audience
objected in a menacing way. The preacher collared the
person and demanded without success that a constable
arrest him. Becoming excited, the crowd pressed inward.
A constable's whistle sounded. Someone yelled to
Higgins: "I and you are from St. Ann, and if a man touch
you it will be bloodshed."
Ordered by a Sergeant-Major of the constabulary to
adjourn the meeting, Higgins irately refused, saying "I
defy the man to remove me." He threw down his
waistcoat, grabbed a stick and twirled it in the air. "Take
him off the box," the Sergeant-Major commanded. Three
policemen wrestled the preacher into submission and
escorted him to the Sutton Street gaol. In the lockup he
sang a favourite hymn of non-conformist preachers,
"There is a fountain filled with blood."
The next night Higgins led a procession, complete with
banner and band, to the Victoria Gardens. Waving a long
sword in his hand, he warned the crowd back. He wore a
cocked hat and a uniform like a naval officer's, with
epaulettes on the coat and wide gold seams on the
trousers. The band played "Onward Christian Soldiers".
Halting the column under a tree, Higgins mounted a
box, still brandishing the sword. He announced that
services would be held in a chapel on Highholborn Street,
and he gave an account of his arrest the night before. The
group then formed up and marched off.
The procession went along Sutton Street past the gaol.
There followers let out cheers as the band struck up "Hold
the fort for I am coming". The Sergeant-Major who had
arrested Higgins stood on the steps of the jail. Coming
abreast of the man, Higgins turned and gave him a salute
with the sword.
Some months later Higgins concluded a street meeting
one night and started home. At the Jubilee Market
suddenly a gang of men and boys surrounded him,
threatening him with sticks, shouting insults. Attempting
to push through, he received some blows.
The evangelist drew a revolver and fired a shot in the
air. Two constables dressed in plain clothes then tried to
arrest him. But his followers arrived, and they pulled the
constables away. He ran to safety in a nearby house. A
general fight ensued, involving several hundred persons.
Higgins charged that the police, in league with the
roughs, had laid in wait and started the affray.
In late 1897 Higgins claimed that since his arrival in
Kingston he had given away over six hundred pounds to
poor black people. (Most of the funds came from the
*General Secretary, the Paraclesian Society, Stanford, California
Evangelical Mission Ethiopia). He announced plans to
return to England for more money and for a white lady,
whom he would marry, he said, to spite the white folks.
They would all want to go to the blacksmiths and buy
razors with which to cut their throats, he said, because
ILLUSTRATION by DAPHNE ABRAHAMS
seeing a black man like himself with a white wife would be
such a shock.
Since the black people of the island showed obeisance to
the whites, bowing and calling them "massa" and
"misses", he said, he would demand the same deference -
as he and his spouse would be "Lord and Lady Higgins".
During the South African War Higgins told people that
the Commander in Chief of the British Army had
summoned him to the Transvaal to lead the Basutos
against the Boers. Week after week he repeated the story.
One night, the preacher, riding on horseback, took
about a hundred of his followers armed with sticks to the
grounds of a circus performing in Kingston. Until the
police came they prevented anyone from entering the show
Addressing the circus people, Higgins called himself
"Captain General Buller", and declared he intended to
"enter Ladysmith, but the Boers were there." The tent
represented Ladysmith and the circus troupe the Boers, a
witness explained in Court2.
In 1899 Higgins started the Royal Millennium Baptist
Missionary Society. Most people called it the "Millennium
band." The preacher advertised the new group:
The Royal Millennium Baptist Missionary Society
No. 1 Spanish Town Road, Kingston A Grand
Baptism by the Rev. C.C. Higgins, B.A.E., a
champion of champions, will take place at the August
Town River, on Sunday, April 9th, 1899, when he will
baptise by immersion one hundred and fifty
Candidates. (Mass Charlie is carrying Kingston on
his back). Alleluia3
Higgins also began an institution popularly known as
the "Millennium Hospital". Here, an upstairs flat with a
shop below, he treated patients with a special tonic made
The tonic, he claimed, had effected over a thousand
cures during his nine years experience treating with it in
England and America. He gave bottles of it away free, but
the recipients had to pay for the directions.
He attended only to people suffering from sicknesses
such as cramps, pains, rheumatism, nervousness and loss
of appetite. Serious illnesses he referred to medical men.
The hospital, Higgins told a news man, had connections
with the Loyal Millennium Missionary Lodge of Surrey,
England. Members of the Lodge sought "to preach the
Gospel of Baptism, to be the means of rescuing and aiding
all people who may be sick and needing financial
assistance, and generally to be of some good to the poor
who are unable to help themselves."4
Sometimes Higgins and Alexander Bedward, the head
of the Jamaica Native Baptist Free Church, held joint
baptismal services at the Hope River in August Town.
But a temporary break between the two popular leaders
occurred on one occasion before scheduled services when
Higgins in a letter to Bedward challenged the prohpet's
right to call himself a "Bishop."
The evangelist also charged that Bedward's chief
minister, Rev. C.C. Carr, was too old and incompetent to
properly perform his duties. In reply Bedward allegedly
insulted Higgins. The dispute, however, did not last long:
joint services did take place the next year.
Higgins' oratory gave rise to public complaints in late
1901. One night he reportedly stated that when other
people said "God Save the King", he said the opposite.
Another time he declared the richer the ministers and
judges, the more they became fools.
In early 1902 he called the Anglican Bishop of Jamaica
a "damn lazy idle dog". This prompted a newspaper to
send a reporter to one of Higgins' street gatherings to
verify the complaints.
"There is a charge against Jesus Christ which I want to
call your attention to," said Higgins in the sermon
recorded by the reporter. The Pope and the Bishop
charged Christ with telling lies, Higgins declared; but the
Pope and the Bishop were "damn confounded liars." They
led the people down to hell and God cried out 'who shall I
send to stop these things'. 'And no one went until at last,
black Charlie Higgins went.'
People could not learn religion at school, he said. A
minister of religion, a man of great learning, had recently
committed a vile act. If he had been black there would
have been loud unending denunciation, but because of his
white face, things were all hushed up, said Higgins. The
people did not need to go to Cambridge College to learn
the mysteries and ways of God. The heart of a man would
win people to God.
The evangelist admonished his audience to have their
souls connected to Jesus through proper baptism,
involving total immersion in a running stream. Neither
the Pope nor the Bishop, neither the Governor nor the
King, could do it, he said. Only Jesus could connect the
soul. Therefore, the people should obey Christ instead of
man. "White men murdered the son of God," he asserted,
"and God damned them for their wickedness."
Higgins and Bedward, he said, were 'taking all the
black people and filling up the King's Kingdom". People
baptized by them were baptized by the people of God.
"I can drop a thunderbolt in this city of Kingston,"
Higgins warned. "I can make the Roman Catholic and all
the Church of England go to the river and baptise ... if
they don't baptise there God will send his damnation and
destroy this city."5
A month or so after the publication of Higgins' sermon
- which stimulated attacks upon him in the press -
some thugs assaulted and severely beat him. A painful
illness followed and he died on July 16th, 1902.
The preacher's funeral caused much excitement among
the poor people of Kingston. The burial procession passed
through the streets led by a drumbeater. Two City Council
carts followed, filled with men. Then came a single mule,
reportedly looking sad and tired, pulling a wagon packed
with over thirty persons, all in a festive spirit.
Next, in military formation marched a group of people,
mainly women, singing hymns. The chief members of the
Millennium band wore sashes of green, red, and blue. A
few men dressed in black, wearing old evening dress coats,
accompanied the hearse. Finally came another large group
of the preacher's followers, laughing and joking.
As the cortege proceeded through the city it gathered
volume, people flocking to see the hearse pass and to join
the march. At the cemetery police allowed the hearse and
a few hundred people to enter the gates, but beat back the
rest of the crowd, numbering in the thousands.
By the grave site, in the midst of a great crush and a
loud hubbub a Baptist minister performed the funeral
service. Afterwards, a band of women lingered on, some of
them weeping. Finally, they dispersed, talking about the
goodness of "Mass Charlie", bemoaning that they would
never again "sit under" him.
A little more than a week later Higgins' friends
gathered for a "ninth night" celebration in the premises
where he died. Outside the house about a dozen candy
sellers along with several "snowball" and ice cream
vendors did a thriving business. Inside, surrounded by a
large crowd, one of Higgins' chief followers conducted the
proceedings. In his hand he held the sword which Higgins
had always carried.
After a few months, "Teacher" Nixon, who had been an
assistant of Higgins, announced in the Victoria Gardens
that he would re-organize the Millennium band. "I am not
here," he said, "to tell you whether Higgins conducted
this mission in the manner it ought to have been
conducted, or whether he spent properly the large sums of
money which he received from time to time from the
Society in England, but I have taken over the leadership
and have sent on a report to the main body."6
In 1905 the Police Report Annual classified "Higgin-
ism" along with Revivalism, Obeahism, and Bedwardism
as bothersome problems. That year the Government
prosecuted a disciple of Higgins, W.F. Dougal, for
creating a nuisance through religious meetings held in a
house on Beeston Street. Nearby residents testified that
the meetings were marked by drum beating, hand
clapping, feet stomping, vulgar dancing and loud
shouting. On a big sign at the gate of the house were the
names "Captain W.F. Dougal" and "Warrior Higgins".
1. Kingston Daily Gleaner, May 18, 1897.
2. Kingston Daily Telegraph, January 16, 1900.
3. Kingston Daily Gleaner, April 5, 1899.
4. Ibid., May 12, 1899.
5. Ibid., January 22, 1902.
6. Ibid., September 30, 1902.
Sports and Action
by Owen Minott
A REVIEW ARTICLE
by H.P. Jacobs
The abolition of the slave trade did not mean that no
more people of African origin came to Jamaica. In the first
place, there was the intercolonial slave trade we know
that in 1816 seven families from the Bahamas, 42 persons
in all, were offered for sale in Kingston. The British
Government subsequently stopped the trade; but it is
possible that some Africans rescued by the British
cruisers from slavers were brought here before emancipa-
tion. Such people would be free; but I have come upon no
record of any.
During the apprenticeship period (1834-8) and in 1839, a
number of persons of African descent certainly came in.
Mr. K.O. Laurence says that 'Jamaica received about 700
Negroes from North America and the Bahamas',
apparently by 1837.1 Prof. G.W. Roberts shows 772
Africans as coming to Jamaica in 1837, 446 in 1838, and
170 in 1839, and explains that these figures 'represent
liberated Africans landed in Jamaica from captured
slavers before the official sanction of African immigration
into the West Indies.'2
In the subsequent quarter of a century, however, some
10,000 free labourers of African origin came to Jamaica,
though in some years few or none arrived. After 1865,
Prof. Roberts shows only 11 in 1866-7. No doubt there
were individuals who settled here, from the U.S.A. and
from the East Caribbean: I am told that the late Reggie
Matcham's father was a St. Lucian in the West India
Regt., and that his wife was a Sierra Leonese. There were
presumably some cases of West India Regt. soldiers of
African birth who were posted in Jamaica and decided to
Evidently, then, the period of 1840-65 has special
significance. And a book has now been published on the
subject of this immigration of free African labourers at
that time. This is Jamaica and Voluntary Laborers from
Africa 1840-1865, by Mary Elizabeth Thomas, Ph.D., of
the History Dept. of the University of Florida. Printed
in the U.S.A., it is available in Jamaica (price $12) at the
Institute of Jamaica, under the imprint of which it
appears. It is based on British and Jamaican documents
dealing with free immigrants and with the official
encouragement and organisation of African immigration.
It was of course official countenance and organisation
which made it possible for the immigration to be as large
as it was. Miss Thomas says (p. 199) that 7,500 workers
came from Africa in 1840-65 under various schemes, the
principle of which was that the African wanted to come,
could not pay for his passage, and accordingly agreed to
be indentured in return for a free passage (sometimes with
the rider that he could claim a free passage back to Africa
1. Immigration into the West Indies in the 19th Century, p. 10.
2. The Population of Jamaica, pp. 334, 337.
when the period of his indenture expired). Thus it would
seem that 2,500 came in other ways. Some, as Miss
Thomas shows, were landed here from slave ships
intercepted by the Navy in the Caribbean. Again, there
were emancipados sent over from Havana by the Court of
Mixed Commission, which dealt with slave ships brought
to Cuba.3 It is also possible that some people did pay their
own passages, or borrowed without security from skippers
they knew, though Miss Thomas does not mention any
instance. Thus, in the MS written by W.H. Hinson in
1930, he says that his mother left Nassau for Kingston
near the close of 1843, shortly before he was born, that her
reason for emigrating was that her husband had died and
she could not bear constantly seeing his grave, and that
before her second marriage she was a fish vendor in Lower
St. Andrew. Now Mrs. Hinson and the other Bahamian
immigrants evidently came here under some officially
approved scheme, for they were given temporary quarters
at Admiral Pen. Yet it does not appear that Mrs. Hinson
was expected to work for anybody. It is of course possible
that Hinson merely records the earliest occupation of his
mother which he personally remembered; but his narrative
implies that she became a fish-vendor soon after his
However, the great majority of the immigrants were
Africans liberated by the cruisers and taken either to
Sierra Leone or to St. Helena. These settlements were
overcrowded, and both to the liberated slaves and to the
British Government the idea of moving population to the
West Indies seemed worth considering.
But why were the liberated slaves not returned to their
The answer is that many of these slaves were from the
interior, so that there was not much point in sending them
back to their point of embarkation as slaves, since that
would be the slaving port which had brought them from
the interior and sold them to the European slave traders,
while since very few slaves were kidnapped by the
Europeans, a slave belonging to a coastal population had
already lost his liberty once in his own area and might do
so again. Besides, it would be felt wrong to return an
African to his tribal paganism when he could be kept
under the influence of Christian civilisation. It would
obviously be irresponsible to send a child without parents
to its own country, and since there was some attempt at
education and training in crafts at Sierra Leone, a boy
who had grown up there and learned a trade would be very
unwilling to return to his tribe. Mr. Laurence in fact notes
that 'in the early 1840s a few artisans arrived from Sierra
Leone as free immigrants'" apparently in the West Indies
generally. It may be noted that Hinson states that his
mother's second husband, Henry Clarke was from Sierra
Leone, and had some time in the 'forties become a
headman at Constant Spring, which suggests he had some
Miss Thomas stresses, however, that African immi-
grants were by no means the first choice of the Jamaican
planters. Quite apart from their efforts to obtain white
labour, they thought of inducing persons of African
descent in the United States to come to Jamaica. When
Alexander Barclay was appointed Commissioner in 1840
to carry out the first Government-sponsored project to
obtain Negro free labour, his first journey was to
Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, but was
completely unsuccessful (pp. 19-22). He then proceeded to
London, to interest the British Government in the idea of
relieving population pressure in Sierra Leone.
There was naturally some diffidence in the U.K.,
3. For captured slavers, see pp. 147, 173 (744 people in all). For
emancipados, see particularly p. 99.
4. Op. cit., p. 16.
amongst politicians and civil servants alike, at starting
something that might look like a revival of the slave trade.
But on the whole this hesitation was salutary and led to
careful regulation of the business.
So the colonial government bought and chartered
vessels over the years, and reimbursed itself out of the
payments made by planters and others who took on
indentured workers. (Women, it should be explained, were
sometimes taken on as domestics.) The full amount was
not recovered, but there was an attempt towards the end
to recover from planters as a whole by special export
But it cannot be said that the immigration met the need
of the planter for additional labour. His trouble was that if
there was land available in the vicinity of an estate, the
former slaves would settle there, and frequently found
that their own cultivation claimed their time just when it
was most needed by the planter. The indentured labourer
was therefore valuable while he was indentured. Miss
Thomas believes (p. 200) that few of them remained on the
estates. And in the case of a crisis such as was created in
some areas by cholera, the importation of Africans was a
tardy and uncertain remedy (p. 151).
It cannot be said, on the evidence in this book, that the
planters were particularly foolish in their treatment of the
immigrants, and the only story I have heard of intolerant
behaviour to one of them, by a bookkeeper, was a
generation later.5 They paid relatively high wages,because
they really needed the labour, without pointless
grumbling. Clearly, the attempt at recruitment were
disappointing. Miss Thomas shows that terrifying stories
were told to intending emigrants in Sierra Leone, where
employers were sometimes concerned at the loss of
labour.6 But the root trouble was that the source of supply
tended to dry up. The greater the efficiency of the British
Navy, the fewer would be the slavers that would dare to
put to sea. And by the close of the period slavery had
come to an end in the United States, and in another
twenty years it would be ending in Cuba. Thus neither
mismanagement nor wrong attitudes can be said to have
prevented the project of African immigration from
succeeding: it could have at best a limited and short-lived
It is astonishing to reflect that during these years of
maximum immigration from Africa, the number of East
Indians entering the country was about equal to the
number of Africans. The inexhaustible population of India
with its low standard of living and its vulnerability to
droughts was a logical source of agricultural immigrants
in tropical areas of capitalist agriculture.
It is of course possible to learn a good deal from this
book about other things than the immigration schemes.
The characters of some figures on the Jamaican scene
become clearer and more real notably in the case of
Barclay and the parts they play are clearer. In some
cases we became aware for the first time of the importance
of certain planters in their particular parishes.
It is natural to ask what Miss Thomas has to tell about
the tribal origins of the immigrants, which might throw
light on cultural survivals, such as those which Miss Olive
Lewin has found.
There is very little, almost nothing, on this. And yet it
5. Related by an eyewitness, the innocent cause of the fracas. The
African said he was rescued from a slave-ship after a fight: he died
about 1920, and could hardly have been a slave in Jamaica.
Curiously, he seems to have been Akan-speaking.
6. As early as 1848, Sierra Leone was trying to attract 'mechanics'
from Jamaica (Douglas Hall, Free Jamaica, pp. 218-19), to which
its artisans had apparently been going a few years before.
is perhaps to the student of survivals that the book will
have the greatest value.
That is because of the precision with which certain basic
facts are stated. For example, Miss Thomas says where
each ship disembarked its Africans, how many there were,
and the names of the persons who received most. In the
case of Sav-la-Mar, she more than once mentions the Hon.
Thomas McNeel. As I had never come across this
gentleman before, I checked. There seems to be some
difficulty about the spelling of his name, but there is no
doubt that he was Custos and owned seven properties
with a total of more than 9,000 acres, including Petersville
(still owned in the 1920's by a McNeil, though halved in
size) and Masemure. It looks as if this large landowner
with his many Africans must explain the village of
Abeokuta, where Olive Lewin has traced Yoruba words
and collected the people's music.
Naggoo is the term applied to what appear to be
descendants of African free labourers in Hanover and
Westmoreland. There is no doubt that it means Yoruba,
for the Dahomey people called their Yoruba neighbours
(the Egbas) by the name of Nago.
Miss Taylor says nothing about Yoruba. But in the case
of Hanover she speaks of Congolese being landed at Lucea
Miss Thomas says (p. 158) that figures in 1850 showed
that Westmoreland was second only to St. Thomas-in-
the-East in number of Africans. As early as 1842, there
were 500 in St. Thomas (p. 49). So if Abeokuta has
survived in Westmoreland, we should expect a similar
cultural survival in St. Thomas. And, of course, as a
matter of fact the cumina ritual of St. Thomas is about the
best-known surviving ritual. Apparently the evidence all
suggests that this settlement is 'Congo' and not Yoruba.
However, the one racial clue which I can find for St.
Thomas in this book (which deserves a better index than it
has) is the very remarkable statement (p. 50) that Krumen
supplied almost all the labour employed in the
construction of the lighthouse at Morant Point. All these
early Kru immigrants were later specially mentioned as
entitled to a return passage to Africa, and we know that
Krumen did have a strong homing instinct. But one is
forced to wonder whether they did leave. For some forty
years ago, before cumina was heard of, I was told at the
east end of the island that there were 'pocomania'
ceremonies near by. Did a settlement of Krumen introduce
or contribute to this ritual near the Point?
Let us take another example of the stimulating effect of
simple facts in this book. Reference is made (p. 161) to 247
liberated Africans being landed at Rio Bueno. They came
from Sierra Leone in 1851, but there is no specification of
tribal origins. Now the best informant I ever had on
folklore and working class tradition was a woman born at
Rio Bueno about 1880, and she said that Timmany was a
country in Africa. It was natural to take this obvious
reference to the Timme of Sierra Leone as a scrap of
information going back ultimately to some soldier in the
West India Regiment who had served in the Timme
campaign of the 'nineties. But Miss Thomas tells us that
efforts were in fact made to recruit tribal Africans of
Sierra Leone, and one is accordingly forced to consider the
possibility that the 1851 immigrants included some
Now let us look at Manchester, on which the book has
no information. There are some very curious and
contradictory facts about this parish. There is a Congo
Town in the north, which suggests some settlement of
liberated Africans, and John Candler says in his journal
(May 18, 18501) that there were liberated Africans at
Whitney in Clarendon, not far from Porus. When I lived in
South Manchester (1930), a man near Cross Keys, whom I
asked about some word, said, 'That word come from
Congo'. But Swell, in 1860, actually reports a labour
surplus in Manchester.8 Taken in conjunction with the
absence of reference to this parish by Miss Thomas, one
might assume that in fact Manchester did not receive any
liberated Africans. It was a parish of cattle and coffee
where under slavery the population probably had a
natural increase. What is more, Mr. Clinton Black has
discovered letters containing two references to a place
called Congo Lodge, apparently near Newport, and not
far, therefore, from the spot where I heard mention made
of 'Congo' as a name for Africa, or for part of Africa. But
these Congo Lodge references are much earlier than the
abolition of slavery, though later than the abolition of the
slave trade. So the name might recall a settlement of
slaves rescued by a cruiser and brought to Jamaica almost
as soon as the slave trade was abolished. However, the
name is not used to designate a settlement of Africans,
but applied to the residence of a property-owner, so that
one is in this case tempted to suppose that slaves from the
Congo were brought to the area in the 18th century, that
the name Congo was applied to part of a property, and
that this was included in the sale of some portion of the
pen to someone who found a name such as Congo Village
established, and therefore called his house Congo Lodge.
There is a further complication. I was also told in 1930
of a place in South Manchester where the police never
ventured: this, so far as I can recall was near Victoria
Town. I was given no details about the place. Later,
however, I found that stories about such mysterious
settlements (two from Westmoreland, and one, I think,
from Trelawny) appeared to refer to descendants of
African immigrants. But was the Victoria Town story
really a reference to free labourers, whether under the
immigration or through rescue in Caribbean waters, or to
slaves who were somehow isolated? Is there or is there not
a connection between the story (which I never verified)
and the Congo Lodge people?
It will be seen that the relationship of Manchester to the
immigration is singularly obscure. But the complexity
would hardly be noticed but for Miss Thomas' silence on
the subject. Of course, by following up the references in
footnotes it would be possible to find evidence for the
presence of immigrants in Manchester, which again
illustrates the value of the book to the student of folklore
and African survivals. But the mere discovery of the
doubt as to whether certain types of place-name and
certain types of racial designation are to be linked with
liberated Africans alone, and not perhaps with slaves in
some cases, is of importance.
Where we find names such as Congo Town, we at once
assume that liberated Africans lived there. In the case of
Naggoo, I was told of a Naggo Town [Naggo, not Naggoo]
in Westmoreland: no doubt Abeokuta was meant, and
probably we can assume that the name was not used by
the inhabitants, but by their neighbours.9 But from the
case of Congo Lodge, we may be led to suspect that some
groups of slaves were isolated.
This in turns leads to questioning the word Muckoo,
appearing as a place-name, in several parts of Jamaica,10
7. See Jamaican Hist., Review, III. 2. 19.
8. Ordeal of Free Labour, p. 224.
9. Informant was emphatic that the word was Naggo, and it is
curious that this form corresponds more closely than Naggoo to
the form in Bryan Edwards which the slave-traders took direct
from the Dahomey people.
10. It occurs in five parishes, while there is a Moca Point in a sixth
in Surinam, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and even in Mauritius.
The word is also used in insulting contexts ('You're a
Muckoo', 'Yo' come from Muckoo'), but it was
remembered as a tribal designation by old people at least
till the late 'thirties. The word certainly seems to be a
recollection of the slave-traders' name for Ibibio, whom
the other slaves probably shunned because of their
reputation as cannibals.
But it was not in the interest of the slave-owner to allow
newcomers to be segregated. So what are we to conclude?
That the name Mocho (undoubtedly old) was not
connected with the tribal name? And why should a tribal
name have become a property name in so many places? It
is hardly practicable to apply the explanation offered for
Congo Lodge to half a dozen place-names.
Is it possible that some slaves formed isolated
settlements without permission? M. Debien has familiar-
ised us with this process in Haiti, the petit marronage -
slaves running away like Maroons, but not committing
acts of aggression. And we know that the petit marronage
did exist in Jamaica in the early 19th century. Of course
we learn only of those settlements which were stamped
out, not of any which may have survived, either by
keeping well under cover or by coming to terms with some
unusually genial property owner.
As we have seen, the chief survivals of African culture
are in the two parishes which had the largest number of
voluntary workers. In addition, it appears that a
considerable number entered St. Mary. In that parish,
there were Naggoos at Albion Mountain: an Inspector of
Schools mentioned them to me in 1938, and Capt. Rutty,
of Manor House Hotel, was able to give some information
about Naggoos in St. Mary, whom he described as
hard-working and enormous eaters. My recollection is
that in 1939 a tradition of the Albion Mountain people was
published, in which it was stated that they were rescued
from a slave-ship. Thus in three parishes it would seem
that the persistence of the African culture was definitely
related to the introduction of free labourers, and
everything points to Manchester as a doubtful case.
But why should free immigrants, after 1834, have been
segregated? Did they of their own accord withdraw from
the society in order to preserve their identity? Or did their
employers encourage segregation, since their interests
were now presumably the opposite of their interests in
slavery time, as the segregation of the newcomers would
prevent them from absorbing too rapidly the work habits
and the aspirations of the freedmen? Or did the freedmen
reject the newcomers?
On this there is an important passage in the book (pp.
197-8). It appears that Colonial Office documents from the
time of Eyre, in Public Records Office, London, throw
some light on the position in St. Thomas-in-the-East. It
seems that some of the African immigrants -
'were not too well pleased with the location of their
living quarters, close to the residence of the manager.
They preferred separate dwellings where they could
have a garden and keep a pig and a few chickens. For
that reason, and for the purpose of encouraging the
Africans to remain after their indenture had ended, a
few employers were moving toward a system of
detached dwellings in a sort of colony. Socially, some
of the immigrants went into the Negro villages where
they fraternized with both creoles and older Africans,
although they seemed to prefer the latter.
Apparently,however, they remained with the estate,
for there are no references to desertion by these
immigrants. As references to schools and attendance
at Sunday services are noticeably lacking, it may be
concluded they were no longer of concern.'
Here, surely, in a key parish for cultural enquiry, we
have valuable clues. The Africans did not wish to live too
close to their employer, so they were given a village of
their own. They preferred fellow-Africans to Creoles. We
thus have a picture of them seeking to maintain their old
ways. At the same time, their preference for fellow-
Africans may have been partly due to the fact that the
Creoles laughed at them, at their bad English, and
perhaps at their 'country marks' if they had scarifications.
Forty years ago stories circulated, probably in the Port
Royal Mountains, about 'Bungo men'. Thus, a
conversation is recorded between two Bungo men who
met. One of them says:
'A grass pass me no buy me puppa loss soul. Kiss me
come, me buy me puppa loss soul.'
The interpretation is: 'Last August I did not buy my
parasol. This coming Christmas I shall buy my parasol.'
The reference to August shows that the conversation is
supposed to be later than 1834: it is not newly-arrived
slaves who are supposed to be talking. No doubt the
Creoles in slavery time made fun of the efforts of newly
arrived Africans to speak English, but their jokes did not
seem to have come down to us.
Another curious point emerges, that little care was
apparently taken of the religious instruction of the
immigrants and of their education. Since St. Thomas was
a parish where the slave-owners had countenanced and
even encouraged both Anglican and dissenting clergymen
in their efforts in these directions, one is bound to suspect
some degree of resistance on the part of the immigrants.
From all this it is clear that there are various possible
lines of enquiry, not simply in St. Thomas, quite apart
from the references given by Miss Thomas. Thus, it would
be informative if jokes about the immigrants' English,
and perhaps other peculiarities, could be found and,
conversely, whether African words not used in dialect as a
rule are found in circulation (which would suggest good
relations)." Again, there may be information in church
records, even if it is the negative evidence of no mention of
baptisms.12 Enquiries such as those of Miss Lewin might
establish whether music and dance from the African
settlements affected the neighboring population, and if
so whether the influence was associated with inter-
Recollections of Free Immigrants
In the 'thirties, there were still recollections of
individual Africans, who came here as free immigrants,
amongst the classes which employed them. One case has
been mentioned in the text that of a man who died
This man was described by Mrs. Clarine Stephenson.
She said he spoke with a thick, guttural voice, and that he
used v for w. She knew him when she was a little girl in
11. Thus bussoo or buzzoo, applied to a small river shellfish, is
essentially a Portland word and presumably derived from
Portuguese buzio, through some African language. There is re-
markably little evidence of immigrant influence in Portland, and
the word may have been introduced by Maroons; but such a
curious fact should be followed up.
2. Miss Thomas mentions (p. 185) the distaste of the Baptists and
the London Missionary Society for the immigration, in 1868, and
quotes from memorials from St. James, Hanover, and Trelawny
which speak of the 'religious superstitions and wickedness' of the
3. All vowels short, 'j' pronounced as 's' in 'treasure.
Vere. She liked talking with him. He used to come to
sweep the yard, and one day he had stopped working to
talk to her. A young bookkeeper, Mr. Maine, came up and
asked him, without looking at her, why he was not getting
on with his work. She interposed: 'I started talking to
him, and he's only wasted a few minutes.' Mr. Maine took
no notice: he abused the African, who drew himself up and
answered him. Mr. Maine said: 'I wish slavery was here
again, so that I could lay this whip about your shoulders.'
The African said: 'For that I will lay the Coromantee
curse upon you, and the hand with which you wished to
lay the whip about my shoulders, shall destroy you.'
Some years later, Mr. Maine killed himself. The
argument with the African was probably around 1895 -
Informant could never learn the curse.
As mentioned in the text, this African was on board a
slave-ship captured in a fight.
Another story was also from a feminine source. About
40 years ago, the present writer lived for a time on Laws
St., Kingston, in the home of a Mrs. Sinclair, who must
then have been over eighty. She said that when she was a
young married woman, she had an African girl as a
servant. One day an African man came to the gate in the
lane (i.e., the back entrance) and called out 'Ajalegbe!
The girl went to the gate, and was some time in
conversation with the man. When she came back into the
house, Mrs. Sinclair said to her, 'Ajalegbe! Ajalegbe!' The
girl said, 'A me country name, mum.'
The girl knew and used the word ageddi, applied to a
kind of sour duckanoom and certainly known in the
Freetown area of Sierra Leone. A
"THE GREEN LEAF" Colour Print
by Owen Minott
By Dr. Kenneth Mufuka*
of a Missionary
It is now an accepted view' that Christian Missions
served as the religious wing of European imperialism.
This view is too well documented to be disputed.
However, the African portrait of a missionary actually
goes further than that of a mere collaborator with
imperialism. For him, the missionary is a pious genius,
who devised apparently innocent devices for the benefit of
the imperial powers. The best portrait of the missionary in
such a role is best depicted in Reverend N. Sithole's
allegory. In the allegory, one African tells another: "You
see, the missionary came here and said, let us pray, and at
the end of his prayer, we found the Bible in our hands, but
lo! our lands had gone."2
The historian Denoon says that African chiefs in South
Africa regarded the missionaries, with great justification,
as dangerously pro-settler and pro-imperialist. Where
they are not accused of being pro-imperialist, they are said
to have done nobody any good. Professor J. Galbraith's
research on South Africa shows that governments were
willing to support missionaries with occasional vigorous
pronouncements unsupported by tangible force. As one
observer put it, they were supported with words, not
In the first section of this paper, an attempt will be
made to present the portrait of a missionary in colonial
times who used the Bible to conquer wild tribes of Zulu
lineage, not only for Christ but for Queen Victoria. This
part of our episode is well documented in missionary and
imperial records. My own research into the records of the
Scottish missionaries in Malawi, has led me to believe that
perhaps there are strong grounds for a second portrait,
which, to some extent, will contradict the first one. The
examples I have used here are entirely those related to
Malawi and the Scottish Missions. But first we must see
what the first portrait is like, particularly that which has
anything to do with the founding fathers, one of whom
was Dr. Robert Laws. Reverend Dr. Robert Laws was
founder of the Free Church Mission at Livingstonia in
1875. From the beginning the Scottish Mission had
ambitions above that of an ordinary evangelistic body.
The aim was to make the new mission a haven of peace, a
great commercial and religious enterprise, a national
monument to Scotland. Reverend James Stewart,
proposing the founding of such an institution told the Free
Church General Assembly in Edinburgh in 1874 that:
He would now humbly suggest as a true memorial to Livingstone
...an institution ... to teach the gospel and arts of civilised life to
natives of the country ... in Central Africa (which would) grow into
a great centre of commerce, civilisation and Christianity.
Livingstone, in whose memory the mission was founded
was more than a preacher and when he came to Malawi in
1860-1 he was actually empowered to act as Vice-Consul
for the British Government. His major contribution to
missionary philosophy lay in his tripartite theory of
salvation. Christianity should be combined with good
government and commerce. This theoretical foundation
later served King Leopold of the Belgians as a pretext for
the acquisition of the Congo. Though Livingstone did not
rule out good government through native institutions, it
was assumed that any good government must be
European and therefore colonial in nature, at least in the
initial stages. Very closely associated with this theory was
Livingstone's pet hate, Arab slavery, which also was used
with significant effect as an excuse for European
civilization. Wars which had nothing to do with slavery
Dr and Mrs Robert Laws (1892) pioneers of Livingstonia
*Lecturer in African History,University of the West Indies
were given the name "slave-wars", with the obvious aim
of justifying the subsequent colonization. Professor
Roland Oliver says that the missionary "insistence upon
the slave trade provided (European Governments) with a
convenient set of terms in which to discuss their own more
particular imperial designs".'
More. specifically, the Scottish missionaries served the
imperial cause by creating sufficient trust between the
white men and the indigenous populations. For instance,
Livingstone succeeded in implanting the good name of the
English among the Makololo that that tribe was
afterwards known as 'sons of the English'. As such they
were always in the forefront of any colonization movement
as collaborators. This of course served the cause of
English imperialism very well. In such cases the imperial
power did not need to spend large sums of money on wars
of conquests. Lord Salisbury grasped the true essence of
missionary endeavour. He said with specific reference to
the present-day Malawi:
It is not our duty to (subdue it by force) do it. We should be risking
tremendous sacrifices for very doubtful gain. We must leave the
dispersal of this terrible army of wickedness to the gradual
advancement of civilization and Christianity.
The missions' greatest success was in undermining the
tribal fabric of the warlike Ngoni tribe of Mbelwa to such
an extent that it was annexed to the British empire
without as much as raising a spear. This is the more
surprising in view of the fact that the Ngoni were an
offshoot of the Zulus, the only people in Southern Africa
who had turned warfare into a science and a livelihood.
A Ngoni War-Dance ,.
of the Present Day
Ngoni Chief (right,
and his Headman,
of the Present Day
Governor Johnston attributed this success to Laws, who
was responsible for this peaceful penetration into
Ngoniland. According to Johnston "by the judicious ...
payment of a small tribute to the Angoni chief and
friendly remonstrances the missionaries to a large extent,
stayed, the advance of the Ngoni .... In return for this the
Atonga have particularly identified themselves with the
white man's interests ... constituting the bulk of the
porters and irregular police at all European stations."6
Johnston was writing about the pre-imperial days. As
early as 1884 Laws had come to the conclusion that in
view of the scramble for Africa an independent native
state could hardly be expected. He therefore, hoped
Nyasaland would become a British Protectorate.7 We are,
therefore,reasonably certain that Laws used the influence
the mission had with that ultimate view in mind. Since the
British Government under Lord Salisbury was wary of
tackling war-like tribesmen he attempted to persuade the
Ngoni to accept 'protection' from the Lakes Company, a
Scottish trading company with humanitarian leanings.
The Company's negotiator was Mr. Stuart. The Ngoni
had been given the impression by Laws that they
belonged to the same tribe (i.e. a kind of humanitarian
group). After Stuart had publicly invited some African
women for a sex orgy right in front of the Rev. W.A.
Elmslie's verandah, for which misbehaviour they were
fined, the Ngoni chief Mbelwa refused to sign the treaty
on the ground that Stuart's behaviour was so different
from Laws that they must belong to a different tribe.8 It is
surprising that Laws did not tell the Ngoni that the Lakes
Company were a commercial and political group quite
apart from the missions. The Ngoni affair is a good
example of political maneuvering which took advantage of
the African faith in the missions. In 1888 several Scottish
churches with missionary interests in Malawi came
together in a joint petition to Lord Salisbury in which four
volumes,signed by 10,000ministers and elders of the church
in Scotland demanded a redemption of the pledges of Lord
Palmerston and Lord Clarendon given through Living-
stone thirty years before to the chiefs in Nyasaland.9 The
churches acted entirely on their own responsibility. The
most exhaustive research fails to show that the African
chiefs and people were consulted as to whether they
preferred 'protection' to tribal sovereignty. The missions
must have felt some divine mandate compelling them to
act on behalf of their clients without prior consultation.
The final test was drawing to a close in 1894. Johnston
destroyed the resistance of the tribes one by one, the last
one being the biggest, that of Mlozi. On his way back from
hanging Mlozi,' he would have dealt with the war-like
Ngoni there and then. He had written in the official report
that the Ngoni were a race whose military might the
British could not allow to remain unchallenged for too
Laws pleaded for more time because the felt the mission
of which he was head had set foot 'a preparation for
British rule ... in Nyasaland which would make it the
easiest transfer of power in British Central Africa.'0 This
preparation was largely based on the growing strength of
the school party, which consisted of young men taught by
Rev. Elmslie. It is this group which on past occasions had
been the most militant against all foreign intrusion. In
that year they received a message from another Ngoni
chief Mpezeni seeking for a united military effort against
British imperialists. Elmslie saw the consumation of his
Christian labours. Ngoni Prime Minister Ngonomo was in
favour of a united front but the tribal council called on a
Sunday witnessed a salutary demonstration. According to
Elmslie the school party 'then demonstrated to the old
men that their voice was no longer a power in the tribe. All
the young rose up and left in a body to attend (church)
The missionaries were even able to place a 'school man'
Mbelekelwa on the Ngoni chieftancy. The formal
annexation of Ngoniland was a great occasion and a
triumph for missionary imperialism.
But recent scholarship has unearthed evidence of a
controversial nature which suggests that there were
others who did not fall into this group, yet lived in the
same era under discussion, and that these may be
portrayed as precursors to African nationalists. It is for
instance surprising to hear that the doctrine 'Africa for
Africans' was first coined by Scottish missionaries and
not by an African nationalist.
Though it may be too early to draw a portrait of the
missionaries in Malawi as freedom fighters, we are quite
certain from the evidence at hand that with respect to
matters of education and labour, they persistently took a
position very much alike that taken by Black nationalists
half a century later.
For instance, it was assumed in official circles at the
turn of the nineteenth century that African labour was
there for the benefit of the white man, and that the vhite
man was free to tap it whenever he needed it. Thus
Commissioner Johnston wrote in an official report for 1895
that "all that needs to be done is for the administration to
introduce the native labourer to the European capitalist.
A gentle insistence that the native should contribute his
fair share to the revenue of the country by paying his tax
is all that is necessary on our part to ensure his taking a
share in life's labour."'2
Another colonial administrator, H.L. Duff, perhaps
expressing the accepted colonial view, had argued that the
African male is by nature a drone and that most of the work
in the village is done by women and children. If he failed
to turn up voluntarily at the white man's plantation
some compulsion would be quite in order."3
Worse still, Johnston thought that Africans were more
or less an incapable human species which would be unable
to manage any jobs requiring a certain level of skill. He
therefore proposed to fill in the need for skilled labour, not
by training the local indigenous people, but by importing
Indian workmen from the sub-continent. This brought a
vigorous attack from Dr. David C. Scott of the Blantyre
mission.. He argued in the mission journal that:
There seems to us little need of imported labour. We need not yet
fall at the feet of John Chinaman and Chunder Sen. A few grains of
respect for the race we have here, mixed with our daily inculcations
and taken with every meal, would soon give us a proper coloniastic
tone, and add wonderfully to our peace of mind."
That the Scottish missionaries disagreed with the colonial
dogma that Africans were incapable of learning new skills,
there can be no doubt. What is surprising is the violence
with which they put forward their views, a violence which
was to many nationalists in prison later on. In 1895 Scott
once more attacked the colonial position, on labour and
People (i.e. white people) will not believe how much the African is
capable of until they have tried. Our aim is always to teach
responsibility and the proper time has come to lay it on those who
are to bear it. In many ways the time has come now. We cannot too
soon teach him (the African) to realise that he has a part to play in
the education and life of Christ Church and Kingdom. The more he
realises this the greater his progress will be.
The sense of urgency and impatience is typical of the
nationalist leaders. Even the argument that the only way
of learning the art of responsibility is by practical
experience in the present was also a typical nationalist
argument. The exuberant confidence in the future and in
the ability of the African race is expressed by another
Scottish clergyman J.H. Oldham:
...Missions contend that there is no human society so imperfect
that it is incapable of improvement and that African society in
particular in its present state must undergo radical changes in
many directions if it is to maintain itself and advance under new
conditions. Their (the missionaries) claim is that teaching will
contribute to that advance."
The Scottish missionaries did not flinch even from racial
pronouncement. They argued that if the colonial
government intended to develop the nation's resources by
foreign skills and capital, the only people who would not
benefit from such a scheme were the indigenous Africans.
To counteract this laissez-faire policy they put forward a
racial doctrine which appeared treasonable at the time.
Thus the Blantyre missionary journal argued that,
Africa for the Africans has been our policy from the first,
and we believe that God has given this country into our
hands that we may train its people how to develop its
marvellous resources for themselves." 7 That the Scottish
missionaries, like the nationalists after them were not
popular with the colonial administrators is well
documented. A colonial administrator in North Eastern
Rhodesia reported a Scottish missionary to the territory's
Dewar is exactly the type of missionary who considers it his duty to
poke his nose ... outside his province. He attempted it before (with)
the British Central Africa Administrator.'8
Commissioner Johnston was in no doubt as to who the
troublemakers in Nyasaland were. He wrote to the
Foreign Office in 1893 that "the plain fact is that all this
trouble arises from the presence in this country of two
men, the Reverend D.C. Scott and the Reverend
Alexander Hertherwick."'9 His successor Sharpe con-
firmed the view that missionaries were agitators.
I am sorry to say that this mission has entirely returned to its old
practices, (that of championing native causes)... the missionaries
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This steamed into Lake Nyasa in its ship the Ilala in October 1875.
Edward Young, who had searched for Livingstone in 1867 and knew
the country, was in command, until he was able to hand over the enter-
prise to Dr Robert Laws. The station of Livingstonia was founded at
Henry Henderson, of the Church of Scotland Mission, accompanied
the Livingstonia party. His task was to search for a site for the missionaries
of that church. Partly for this purpose the Ilala was soon sent out to
circumnavigate the Lake. The northern end was then reached for the
first time by Europeans. But Henderson found no suitable place, and his
attention was turned by Laws to the Shirt Highlands. In 1876 he
established the Mission at the chosen site, Blantyre, named after
Blantyre had a troubled history. Henderson, who felt that he was not
qualified to organise the new venture, asked for help from Livingstonia.
First Stewart of Lovedale, who was helping to found Livingstonia, and
then Laws, took turns at Blantyre and set it on its feet. The Rev. J. Duff
Macdonald was then sent out from Scotland. The turbulence of the
district drove the Blantyre missionaries to assume civil authority over
the people there. Cruel punishments were inflicted; and it must be said,
at the least, that not all of the mission staff were men who could be
entrusted with such responsibility. In 1881 the scandalous rumours that
reached Scotland caused an enquiry to be made. Some men were removed
from the staff; Duff Macdonald, though not implicated himself, re-
signed; and two new missionaries, Hetherwick and Scott, were sent out
to take charge.
By this time it had become clear that the site of Livingstonia was
unhealthy, and in the same year 1881 Laws moved his headquarters
to Bandawe on the western shore of the Lake. His final move further
north, to the present Livingstonia, was made in 1894 and 1895.
Consul H. H. Johnston (1889) afterwards
Sir Harry Johnston, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., hrst
Commissioner and Consul-General of Nyasaland
Sir Alfred Sharpe, K.C.M.G.,
second Commissioner and
Consul-General and first Governor of Nyasaland
are taking a course that makes them appear in the eyes of the
natives of this Protectorate as an opposition Party to H.M.
One significant factor common to both missionaries and
African Nationalists is a feeling on their part that they
alone had the last word where Africans were concerned,
partly because they claimed to have first-hand knowledge
and experience of Africans and secondly that they had no
self-interest to colour their views. Very often, it was not
what was said, but the spirit of arrogance which make
these speeches stand out. As a whole they never approved
of black labour at home or abroad which was not visibly
beneficial to Africans themselves. Irrespective of what
topic they were dealing with, they believed that they alone
had finally grasped the truth of any one situation. In this
spirit the Catholic Bishop Guilleme wrote an article in
which he argued that the European society has never been
able to grasp the true meaning of African labour
emigration adding that he himself wrote from many years
of service among Africans. "Very few Europeans seem to
acknowledge the degree of wretchedness when a wife,
abandoned by her husband, is left in the village; they
believe, or claim to believe, that family solidarity ... is
comparable to Christian charity."21
One of the channels through which Scottish mission-
aries have been associated with African freedom
movements is that of their education. As early as 1895,
Robert Laws made two far-reaching decisions. He decided
that if Africans were to be competitive in a European-led
society, an English education would provide the best
foundation for that competition. Secondly, he made the
English language the medium of communication at
Livingstonia. James Henderson, a Scottish educator
compared the education provided at Livingstonia with
that of a Scottish government school back home.22 Laws
went further and produced a judicious admixture between
English classical education and Scottish industrial
experience. This English education apparently exposed
the students to English revolutionary literature. Almost
without an exception, the early nationalists were
evangelists who attempted to break away from European
supervision. One of Laws' own students Kenan Kanwana
distributed pamphlets which condemned the alliance
between missions and colonial governments. One such
pamphlet, printed by the American Witnesses made a
direct attack on empires and all that they stood for. It
claimed that "To claim that these imperfect Kingdoms,
with their imperfect laws and often selfish and vicious
rulers, are the kingdom of our Lord and his annointed is a
gross libel upon the true Kingdom of Christ ..."23 That
there was such an alliance is undeniable. The same
missionary journal which reported the treasonable
accusation above boasted that "...but for the solid work
done by the missions, the government would have a large
thing (rebellion) to deal with. We are able to show that the
methods we follow, apart altogether from the spiritual
necessity of following these, have been, by producing a
sound church and class, on this occasion, the saving of the
country...."24 The purpose of this paper is not to defend
the missions unreservedly. We wish to point out that of all
the European self-interests at work at Malawi, the most
dynamic factor was the missionary factor. We have
already pointed out that though the colonial settlers
might have believed that Africans were unable to rise
above the level of hewers of wood and drawers of water,
the missionaries on the other hand believed that no
position was beyond the reach of an African, if given time
to train for it. If their educational policy turned out only
subordinate workers and servile subjects of the Queen, the
explanation lies more in a colonial situation rather than at
the door of the missionary factor as such. If political
mistakes were made, it is not because the Scottish
Q- I -
The Doctor's plan of Karonga Church
This is a specimen of his skill as an architect
The Manse on the edge of the Plateau
Another view, showing the lake and the weird evening effect
The Industrial Block at the Institution
Livingstonia G.P.O., b
The Main Avenue, with the Euro
on the edge of
Rev. A and Mrs. Caseb;
missions were unaware of them. The Scottish missions
were thoroughly aware of their duty to develop an African
consciousness, if only because they were the only ones in a
position to undertake such an exercise. Professor R.
.Mcdonald says that an attempt was made very early at
ift : the beginning of the century to remedy this position by
teaching civics at the Jeanes Centre to teachers and
community leaders in training. In these lessons, the art of
government, from the local tribal authority to the
Legislative Council was explained. After observing this
trend, Professor Macdonald posed the question: 'What
"-: "f could be more natural at the conclusion of such a course of
S: .i lectures than a growing thoughtfulness among its hearers
.' regarding African participation in Government at all
i""L levels?' Macdonald concludes that in their attempt to
,: rouse black consciousness they specifically included
. .... lectures on famous black men, one of whom was Dr.
Aggrey of Africa.25 These lectures were intended to show
that black men had the ability and potential to rise to
great heights in all walks of life.
Presumably, if Africans had had a choice in the matter,
they might have chosen other heroes, but they were
neither in a financially viable position to do so, nor were
uiltby the Schoolboys they in a politically favoured position. This leaves only
one group in a position of responsibility. J.H. Oldham
remarked to the effect that "all the mistakes in native
education have been made by missionaries. The reason is
that they were the only people who could make them since
they were the only people engaged in education".26 In
conclusion it seems appropriate to mention that the
Scottish missions were aware that the Government was
using the Christian religion as an opiate of the people. The
importance attached to religious teaching and instructions
by the Colonial Committee (1922) virtually made African
education a missionary preserve apparently for their own
reasons. Oldham wrote that the Committee's pious
"utterances may be regarded with certain suspicion and
distrust both by honest nationalists on the ground that it
is ethically questionable to impose religion as an opiate of
the people is immoral, and ... also by acute and farsighted
pean Cottages beyond-these are Christians on the principle Timete Danaos aut dona
the Plateau ferentes. It cannot in the long run be to the advantage of
christianity to be treated as an economical substitute for a
police force. ('Beware of the Greeks especially when they
come with gifts' ... Virgil, Book II.)27 Robert Laws who
had earlier supported the colonial administration was
disillusioned by its educational policy. The growing
Emphasis on religious and manual training in African
I schools was meant to discourage political consciousness.
I b "To discard or even to lessen the literary training", he
told an interdenominational conference in 1927, "would be
to block the way for the advancement of native leaders,
and means the reduction of natives to a class of helots,
without outlook or inspiration."28
Unlike other missionaries in Africa and elsewhere, the
Scottish missionaries in Malawi played the prophetic role;
that is, they spoke out. Much to the dislike of the colonial
settlers and the Administration, they often spoke out with
such arrogance and dedication that their message was
unmistakable. Very often too, they were not afraid of the
logical conclusions of their work. A Missionary prepares
others to replace him. It is the fear of Africans catching up
with white people which precipitated racial discrimination
in colonial Africa. When their own mission-trained boys
"declared that because of the increase of knowledge a still
more general and widespread dissatisfaction (with
empires) will finally express itself in a world-wide
revolution..." and precipitate a new state which would "be
Managed by the natives themselves (with) freedom from
, Apr. 30, 1924.... foreign rule,29 some farsighted Scots missionaries
The Right Reverend Charles Frederick MacKenzie, first Bishop
of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa
Above left, Carpenter apprentices
who walked thousands of miles to the
Institution at Livingstonia
to educate themselves.
Above right, The first boy trained as a
telegraphist. He replaced a European
Left, Yoram Mpande
accepted it as inevitable though regrettable. The
sympathetic Blantyre Mission paper (1909) said that the
desire to drive the British until they reached the banks of
the Thames "was a natural desire of nations to have
separate existence untramelled by foreign supervision."30
One problem of major significance has still to be dealt
with. It is true that on the whole, the majority of
missionaries were in sympathy with the colonial
administrations. There are occasions when they disagreed
with the policies of various administrations with reference
to native policy. Whenever this happened most
missionaries often took the view that the worst European
government was better than the best tribal government.
Nevertheless, the gradual appreciation of African
traditional society modified their views somewhat. The
question still has to be asked. If only a minority of
missionaries took a prophetic attitude, while the majority
remained silent, what then was their significance? It is on
the basis of this argument that some scholars have put
forward the proposal that the radical element in the
mission church was of no consequence.
This view is somewhat erroneous. Studies in political
science show that in any society the dynamic portion is
rarely more than ten percent of the total population.
Further, studies have shown that there is a time-lag
between the emergence of an idea and its acceptance.
During this time-lag, 'the voice crying in the wilderness' is
crucial. The spirit of resistance is kept alive. Methods and
strategies are modified only by experience while the
essential parts are maintained. The imperialists were
aware of this role and were extremely sensitive to the fact
that missionary opposition might serve as an example to
Africans. Africans, on their part, did not miss the lesson.
Professor George Shepperson, after observing the
procedures and strategies of the African nationalists, was
impressed by the factors which could be traced to their
In general, as the Nyasaland disturbances of 1953 indicated, all
forms of African political organization in the Protectorate tend to
express themselves in Christian forms; Bible quotations, prayer at
meetings, and a general pulpiteering structure of activities to
secure effective action.31
The missionary position was ambivalent throughout.
They did not set out to train nationalist leaders as we
know them today; yet being the sole educators of the
Africans they became aware of the inevitability of such a
result. The providential nature of such a contribution to
the African cause does not make the contribution itself
1. Sithole, N. African Nationalism, (Oxford 1968), p. 86.
2. Galbraith, J. Reluctant Empire, (California 1961).
See also D. Denoon, Southern Africa Since 1800 (Longman 1972),
3. Glasgow Herald, 10/6/1874, article entitled "Livingstonia".
4. Oliver, R., The Missionary Factor in Fast Africa, (London,
1952), p. 119.
5.Jones, G. Britain and Nyasaland, (London 1964), p. 40.
6. Official Report for 1894 in British Sessional Papers, F.O. LVII
7. Laws, R. Reminiscence of Livingstonia, (London, 1934),
8. Dr. Elmslie's letter to Dr. Scott. 20/8/1895. Library of Scotland
9. This Palmerston's pledge was fictional. Free Church Record
1/8/1888. The memorial is in the National Library Edinburgh
MS 7905. The original is undated but R. Oliver says it was timed to
reach Lord Salisbury by the Easter of 1889.
10. Livingstone, W.P. Laws of Livingstonia, (Hodder & Stoughton,
1921), p. 283.
11. Elmslie, W.A. Among the Wild Ngoni. (0. Anderson & Ferrier),
1899, pp. 294-5.
12. Foreign Office, Trade and General Conditions Report 189.5-6 cited
in M. Read Migrant Labour in Africa. International Labour
Review, June 1942.
13. Duff, H.C. Nyasaland, (London 1806), p. 358.
14. Life and Work in British Central Africa, 1/4/1891.
15. Life and Work in British Central Africa, June 1895.
16. Oldham, J.H. "The Educational Work of Missionary Societies",
AFRICA, Vol..7 (1934), p. 53.
17. Life and Work, December 1894.
18. Bell to Administrator 31/8/1896 cited in Meebelo, H.S.
Reaction to Colonialism, (1971), p. 92.
19. Johnston to J.V. Lister 4/6/1893 in Stokes, E. Zambesian Past,
(Manchester 1965), p. 346.
20. A Sharpe to Lord Kimberley 31/10/1894, FB/67 in Stokes, E.
(ed.) op cit., p. 332.
21. Bishop Guilleme. AFRICA, January 1932, Vol. V, "Plain Notes
on the Emigration of Central African Natives to Industrial
Centres". Translated for me from French by Miss Mary Dado of
Queen's Library, Ontario, Canada.
22. Laws Confidential Memorandum (1892) and Henderson's Half-
Yearly Report 1895, pp. 17-18 in Shepperson Collection cited in
Macdonald, J.R. "A History of Education in Nyasaland",
(1969 Edinburgh Ph.D. Thesis).
23. Livingstonia News, 1/10/1909.
24. Livingstonia News, 1/2/1910.
25. Mcdonald, R.J. "The History of African Education in
Nyasaland", (Edinburgh Ph.D. Thesis, 1969), p. 349.
26. Oldham, J.H. op. cit., p. 47.
28. Address by Dr. Robert Laws in Report of the Nyasaland
Educational Conference 1927, pp. 23-24.
29. Livingstonia News, 1/8/1909.
30. Life and Work in Nyasaland, May 1914.
31. Shepperson, G. "The Significance of Chilembwe", in McEwan,
P.J.M. (ed.), Twentieth Century Africa, (Oxford 1970), p. 371.
Pictorial... "FLY OVER" by Owen Minott
by Michael Craton of University of Waterloo, Ontario.
By far the longest-lived and most famous of the white
inhabitants of Lluidas Vale was John Quier of Shady Grove,
who served as doctor for Worthy Park and other estates from
1767 to 1822. Remarkably in such an unlettered society he
was also something of an author, though a study of his contri-
butions to Letters and Essays on the Smallpox, l written in his
early years in Jamaica, suggests that he had no genius and
If John Quier had any distinction it grew with age. In a
period when most whites became absentees as soon as they
could, and practically none spent a lifetime in a single parish,
Worthy Park's doctor preferred a life of usefulness, ease and
honour in back-country Jamaica to the competitive hurly-
burly of his homeland. In course of time he became a respected
medical and social authority, a patriarch. Yet, though by
choice, temperament and abilities he seems to have clung to
his received eighteenth century aesthetic, social and medical
ideas, his life is chiefly interesting in the ways he was, in fact,
gradually conditioned and shaped by his environment. It is
not an exaggeration to say that John Quier's life indicates ways
in which it was the tropical world and the black majority,
rather than white men and European ideas, which were the
dominant forces in slave society a conclusion that would
have shocked the likes of Edward Long.
John Quier was born of modest yeoman stock at Chard in
the county of Somerset, in 1739. Educated first at the local
grammar school, he managed to find his way to the medical
schools of London and Leyden, where he graduated M.D. in
the year of the Treaty of Paris.2 At a time when there was still
disagreement whether medicine was an art or a science, John
Quier was fortunate in his medical training. Medicine had large-
ly shaken free of the ancient dogma of the four 'humours' and
their related elements, but there was still a great emphasis upon
'bodily fluids and the efficacy of 'cleansing the blood.' It was
also the age of quasi-scientific quacks such as Franz Anton
Mesmer, and James Graham of Edinburgh, who had at least one
emulator in Jamaica in the perosn of N.E. Van Eckhout M.D.
self-styled Professor of Galvano-Voltaic Electricity.3 At Ley-
den, however, Quier must have come under the pervasive
influence of the great clinician Hermann Boerhaave (1668-
1738), particularly in believing that the patient was the centre
of any treatment, and that pragmatic observation was superior
to any 'scientific' argument. He also seems to have been in-
fluenced by the English empiricist Thomas Sydenham (1624-
89) in preferring simple specifics and remedies such as general
cleanliness, fresh air for T.B., and a cooling regime far fevers,
to automatic and excessive bloodletting. At the same time,
though, he at least began his career by sharing Sydenham's
heavy reliance on the dangerous 'mercurials' and opiates, and
the curious beliefs in the efficacy of purging the bowels and
inducing 'salivation' for almost any type of ailment.4
After graduating John Quier served some years in the Army,
doubtless a useful training for ministering to regiments of
slaves, with medicines issued in insufficient quantity from a
central commissary. At this time he became acquainted with
Dr. Donald Monro, a member of the famous medical clan of
Edinburgh and later physician of St. George's Hospital, Lon-
don, with whom he was to correspond on Jamaican slave
diseases. Both doctors left the Army for lack of employment
in a time of peace, Quier, the man without family influence in
the profession, choosing to try his fortune in Jamaica. In so
doing he was one of a very long line of expatriate British doc-
tors of moderate abilities or less (a remarkable number of them
This article is one of 35 biographies of individual members of
Worthy Park's 'slave society' comprising 32 slaves and three
44 whites; which js part of a forthcoming book, Discovering the
Scottish); though in remaining 56 years in the West Indies he
was probably unique.
Almost immediately after arriving in Jamaica in 1767 John
Quier settled in Lluidas Vale, buying the 250-acre holding
called Shady Grove and' building a modest house. He never
became much of a planter, his hilly estate being chiefly used
for growing provisions, with just a little sugarcane and coffee
for processing in nearby factories. Although attached to
Worthy Park for the purpose of the Deficiency Laws he minis-
tered also to the slaves on up to a dozen plantations in St.
John and neighboring parishes. With as many as 4,000 slaves
under his care at a per capital fee that rose from 5/- to 6/8d.
per year (the estates providing medicines) not to mention
the whites who he charged 1 a visit he came to make a very
Lluidas suited Quier in other ways. He found its climate
and elevation much healthier for newcomers than other parts
of Jamaica, though less so for those who had spent any time
in the lowlands. It was also scenically very attractive. Within
a year of arriving, John Quier provided what is the best early
description of the valley in a letter to Donald Monro, blending
in quintessentially eighteenth century fashion genuine enthus-
iasm, scientific observation and rich romanticism.5
John Quier's six letters to Donald Monro, written between
1768 and 1774, also permit an assessment of his work as a
slave doctor. In some respects his medicine was so hidebound
and ignorant that the unfortunate patients might well have
stood a better chance with no treatment at all. For the eye
disease than called 'the dry opthalmies', for example, he speci-
fied a copious bleeding, antiphlogisticc' purges, a 'cooling regi-
men' with plenty of nitre, and blisters behind the ears and on
the side of the neck, as well as the 'emollient poultices' which
alone might have brought any relief. Yet at the same time,
Quier provided a general recipe for health in a tropical climate
which might serve as a model in most respects even today:
choose a dry, healthy location; practise temperence, drinking
a little wine but selecting a diet more vegetable than animal,
including fresh fruit; rise early, take a moderate amount of
exercise and avoid the night-time damp; bathe frequently and
change clothes according to time of day and season; maintain
a cheerful disposition. From his longevity it seems likely that
Dr. Quier followed his own general regime closely and fortun-
ately avoided the most drastic of his own treatments.
John Quier was faced at Worthy Park and the other estates
under his care with the familiar and daunting array of tropical
diseases, which he treated with probably no more than average
success. He discovered no startling new remedies either in the
European pharmacopeia or through his growing acquaintance
with 'bush medicine,' and does not seem to have used with
much discrimination even the mercurial compounds and quin-
ine which alone of his medicines, in cases of venereal disease,
yaws and malaria, possessed genuine curative properties.6 Yet
John Quier has been credited with preventative and diagnostic
achievements at least in combatting the twin scourges of small-
pox and measles. A contemporary colleague said of the former
disease that Quier' carried the practice of Inoculation to a
much greater degree, than ... by any of the boldest empirics
of Europe', and a modern commentator has claimed that he
perfected a diagnosis for measles in advance of his European
contemporaries./ Both verdicts are probably exaggerated.
Quier's importance as a pioneer even in these limited fields was
based simply on his comparatively open mind, his willingness
to experiment, the unrivalled scope of his practice, and the
publication of his observations.
Invisible Man; A study of Slave Plantations and the Lives of
Individuals in the Slave Society, written in conjunction with
Eig -centry bildi i Overser's Yard, Wort Park, believed to av ben slave hospital.
Eighteenth-century building in Overseer's Yard, Worthy Park, believed to have been the slave hospital.
Indeed, from his letters Quier seems to have been almost
obsessed by smallpox and measles, serious outbreaks of which
occurred in Lluidas Vale during his first few years there. Al-
though distinguishing clearly between the two diseases, he
attributed quite distinct afflictions such as dysentery, 'dry
bellyache'8 and even tetanus as 'secondary manifestations' of
them.. In these respects he was clearly no further advanced
than the Persian Rhazes (860-932) who, while being the earl-
iest authority correctly to identify smallpox and measles, was
apparently not aware of any other endemic infectious diseases.9
It was such confusion, coupled with almost complete ignorance
of etiology and an irrelevant pharmacopeia, which led both to
the similarity of treatment for different diseases and their
almost total inadequacy: never curative, at best palliative or
innocuous, at worst positively baneful.
At least John Quier differed from the majority of his fellow
slave-doctors in learning somewhat from his failures. At first
he believed that excessive heat made the blood 'putrescent'
and he tended to let blood by venesection at the onset of any
fever. He also administered savage purgatives such as the
mercuric calomel, nitre or jalap, in almost all cases of serious
illness. When in some measles cases these led not to a 'salutary
salivation' and gentle evacuation but violent, bloody vomiting
and diarrhoea, he bled the patients more, applying blisters to
the thighs. If the internal spasms and pains became too severe
he administered literally almost as a last resort heroic
doses (up to four grains a day) of opium. Although he never
admitted that it was the medicine not the disease which was
killing the patients, Quier soon realized that excessive purging
and bleeding weakened them, and gradually relented. Ironical-
ly, strong 'medicine' became reserved for those unfortunates
whom the well-intentioned doctor regarded as strong enough
to stand them. In the cases of the very old or young, the under-
nourished and 'naturally' debilitated, nature was 'allowed to
take its course', and some patients clearly gained a fortuitous
reprieve. In the eighteenth century it was medicine as much as
death itself which acted as a great leveller.
As to inoculation for smallpox (introduced into England
from Turkey by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1717) John
Quier was certainly no innovator. He himself acknowledged
that he used the method developed by Thomas, Baron Dims-
dale, consultant to Catherine the Great infecting those who
had not yet had the disease through a scratch on the arm, with
matter drawn from smallpox pustules. Although effective in
most individual cases inducing only a mild form of the dis-
ease it did not avert or check the general spread of smallpox,
and it could lead to serious cases and death. There is no
evidence that John Quier or any slave-doctor in Jamaica adopt-
ed the much more satisfactory system of vaccination by cow-
pox matter introduced by Edward Jenner, even when it gained
widespread acceptance in England after 1800.
John Quier's method was to wait until a smallpox outbreak
threatened, and then to inoculate large numbers of slaves to-
gether. In 1768 he treated over 700 slaves, receiving a flat fee
of 6/8d. a head. At first, as with his treatments, Quier's meth-
ods were almost indiscriminate. Yet experience and empirical
observation taught him that it was pointless to 'inoculate'
those who already had the disease, and dangerous to infect the
young, the old, the weakly, those far gone in pregnancy, and
anyone with 'putrid blood'. By exercising greater discrimina-
tion Quier at first diminished his income, but as his reputation
for success grew the call upon his services increased.10
Success indeed came with moderation and common sense.
A wise and humane doctor, such as John Quier clearly became,
was one who realized that since his medication could rarely
cure and no doctor could or ought to persuade planters
to improve slave conditions in general, he should concentrate
on ameliorating symptoms and, by providing care, cleanliness,
fresh air and decent food, encourage any natural tendency to-
wards a cure, as well as the will to survive. Harsh medicine was
simply for the peace of mind of those who paid and those
patients strong enough to take it, who believed in it. Thus,
while he continued to pay lip service to the crude and irrele-
vant mysteries of his craft such as bleeding, blistering and
purging, John Quier more often came to prescribe strengthen-
ing diets, emollients, cooling lotions, and analgesics such as
the opiate laudanum. For women in childbirth he recommend-
ed that they should be allowed to 'lie in' at least two weeks.
Observing also that the Negroes who worked in the stillhouse
were the fattest on the estates he recommended that invalids
be drafted tiere to fatten up. There is even one scrap of evi-
dence that John Quier came to place as much credence in
'African' medicine as in his own received pharmacy. Noticing
that his black doctoresss' assistant was in the habit of bathing
the swollen feet of yaws sufferers in urine he did not tell her to
desist, and honesty compelled him to admit that the patients
came to no further harm.
As he grew older and wiser, John Quier's fame and fortune
grew, though never to extravagant heights. Inevitably he be-
came important outside his profession, being elected progress-
ively Vestryman, Churchwarden and Member of the Assembly
for St. John's (1799-1803) as well as appointed J.P. and
Surgeon-Major in the militia.11 On several occasions his opin-
ion was sought by the Assembly on such matters as Negro
childbirth and 'polygamy'. Long and close acquaintance with
slaves had made him as expert on them as any whites, and it
does seem gradually to have brought him more respect for
Negro qualities than one has come to expect from the planter
class. For example, in 1771, only four years after his arrival in
Jamaica, he had written that he had tried to prevent inoculating
female blacks at the time of their menstruation, but found
this difficult to ascertain 'as the stupidity of the negroes is so
great'. Yet in 1788, when testifying on the tendency to poly-
gamy, John Quier wrote without censure of the senior Negroes,
that they were 'universally known to claim a right of disposing
of themselves . according to their own will and pleasure,
without any control from their master.'12
What doubtless gave John Quier his special insight into the
Negro character was that he himself had notoriously 'gone
native.' Like so many Worthy Park whites he habitually cohab-
ited with slave, women, and he never married. As he became an
old man, his house at Shady Grove became an easy-going
menage of several generations of his lovers and children, just
like the traditional casa grande of the Portuguese colonies. 13
John Quier died on September 19, 1822 at Shady Grove,
the parish register unusually adding a comment to the fact of
his burial, that he had lived 56 of his 83 years in Lluidas Vale,
and the sentiment that his death was 'much and deservedly
regretted'.l4 Jamaican wills are often useful in providing in-
sights into the private lives of white men, but that of John
Quier, originally written in June 1818 but added to in March
1819, is exceptionally revealing. It also sheds light on the sub-
sequent fate of Shady Grove, which was to become the nucleus
of the present village of Lluidas Vale. 15
CO the Nfe of the
vi C O N T E N T Obervaion On the ho
P. 3. An account of the weather from P. 65. bark; 66 fes at Patients
July 1767, to the end of the year 1768 ; 4. Peruvian bar cu r ii coutfes before ino-
An account of the natural Small-Pox during had been ton on pregnant women
jees mofi fit for it; 20. The diet allowed to who had been noa cu et, tiproper for In
flaves; 21.-The preparative medicines and on the point of a lnet improp danger Inus
regimen ufed; 26. The infition of variolous culation, being apt t which appear at
matter; 30. The appearances of the wound, mistakes; 77- Exanthemata, f s o
the symptoms observed, and the remedies the tm of the eruptioncommonly after the
ufed till the eruption; 40. The treatment af- allPox; e ntafter the
ter the eruption 49. Account of fome mor- mild Small Cafes of two eruptions;
bid'affeCions which occurred 'uabfequent to erupt on ma e ofthe over 86.
Inoculation. Cafes of infamato he re ovi t y
Small-Pox, and after they were over; 86
n i.al-pox, and ad the Small-
i. Peop-le inoculated who harr inoculation
II. PFox n a eight manner from lat
Second letter from Mr. Quicr on rome years before; 88. peopi natural
lhefame jbjeE. P- 54 who had had the Small-Pox the inoculatedural
way; 8& Appearanceshad theSmal.-Pox,
P. 54. Obfervations on the Inoculation of arms of th who taha c 9
pregnant women; 57. On the ufe of cold and of those who h inoculated arms of
water in the inoculated Small-Pox ; and the matter taken from tne in al-o before,
bad effe s of treating the natural Small-Pox
in the fame manner as the inoculated; 59: On
the natural Small-Pox.
Third letter from Mr. Quier on
thefamefubjeE. p. 63
John Quier's English connections must have faded almost
away after more than half a century in Jamaica without a
single return. Only one English beneficiary was named in his
will. Samuel Brown, a clothier of Chard, his 'maternal relation',
was left a small parcel of land in Somerset and 200 held in
'three per cent funds of Great Britain'. The doctor bequeathed
his medical books to a colleague, James Thompson M.D., but
the remainder of his property was dispersed among the mem-
bers of his extended family and household, particularly to his
two surviving mistresses, three 'reputed' children and three
The patriarch's 'old and faithful servant' Jenny or Jane was
manumitted, with the understanding that 'she should continue
to occupy the house and provision grounds at Shady Grove'.
His 'friend and housekeeper' Susannah Price was intended to
be one of his chief beneficiaries, along with her daughter
Catherine Quier, but since Susannah died in 1819 a codicil
bequeathed her share to Catherine Ann Smith, daughter of
Catherine Quier by Thomas Smith of Blue Mountain estate.16
The doctor's oldest surviving child and only son, Joseph
Quier, the son of a Worthy Park slave called Dolly, had been
manumitted as long before as 1778.17 Now he was bequeath-
ed simply 20 Currency and a smallholding of 13 acres, 34
perches, at 'Battalos, formerly part of Pusey', purchased from
Mrs. Mary Delaney. This land was to revert to John Quier
Davis, one of John Quier's 'reputed grandsons', who, like his
brother Peter Quier Davis, was left six of his grandfather's
slaves. Since her father considered that she was already
'rich . and fully portioned', John Quier's youngest surviving
child Ann, daughter of a free mulatto called Catherine McKen-
zie,18 was simply confirmed in possessions which he had al-
ready provided for her: three personal slaves, and a house in
Spanish Town purchased from the Hon. Charles Grant, owner
of Tydixon, for 835 Currency.
In three minor bequests, John Quier left 25 Currency and
(by the codicil) a female slave, to Marianne Ellis, 'a young
privileged woman of colour who has long lived under my pro-
tection as an adopted daughter', 10 Currency to John Quier
Hammel a 'free lad of colour', and 5 a year to Patience Christ-
ian, 'my female negro slave'.
The most valuable of John Quier's possessions, the small
estate of Shady Grove, was left in joint tenancy to Catherine
C O N T E N T S.
An account of Inoculation for the
Small-Pox in the island ofAntigua, in
the years 1755 and 1756, by the late
Dr. Thomas Frafer, physician in that
island. p. o05
Fourth letter from Mr. Quier, on
the Meafles in Jamaica. I 13
P. 113. The symptoms and appearances
of the Meafles in Jamaica differ much from
what is observed in Europe; 114. Divided
into two flages, the febrile and dyfentric;
1a3. Curative indications, and cure of the
febrile Rage; 131. Cure of the dyfentric
lage ; 145. The morbid affelions confequent
of the Meafles.
Fifth letter from Mr. Quier, on the
Bilious cholic; called the Dry Belly-
people who had haa ino tion,
either in the natural ay, or y noculathesion,
capable of exciting the Smalle be in capable
though the perfons themol time ; oi2. hle
of having them a fond time; 102ome
Wffeas of the Small-Pox in pregnant
on the foetus in utero.
Extract from letters on the small pox [British Museum]
Above, Inventory of Medicine from JOHN QUIER
Worthy Park slave books in the (17tS le1 )
Jamaica Archives. I I
Right, family tree of Dr. John
Son of Dolly
Dr of Jenny?
(fl. 1805 )
JOHN QUIER DAVIS
(1796- 1 22 4 )
Dr. of Susannah Price
(C. 1798-1822 "
Dr. of Catherine McKenzie
VIS CATHERINE ANN SMITH
Quier and Catherine Ann Smith, along with the majority of
the doctor's 65 slaves. 19 When Catherine Quier died her share
was to go to her sons, John Quier Davis and Peter Quier Davis,
who, with their half-sister Catherine, were instructed 'to have
and to hold' the land 'to themselves and their heirs in fee
simple for ever not as joint tenants but as tenants in common,
share and share alike'.20 In fact, both land and slaves were
fairly rapidly dispersed after 1822. Catherine Quier (who,
incidentally, seems to have been illiterate) married one,William
Turner, another 'free person of colour', in 1824, and trans-
ferred all her 44 slaves to him. When he died in 1826, his
executor sold them.21 Similarly, Catherine Ann Smith's 24
slaves seem to have been swallowed up in the holding of her
'guardian' Thomas Smith of Blue Mountain (one of John
Quier's executors), who owned 62 in 1826, but 72 in 1832.22
By 1827, no Quiers were listed as slaveowners in the Regis-
ter of Slave Returns, and Shady Grove had ceased to be listed
as an estate in the Jamaica Almanack. The process of subdivi-
sion, sale and transfer was complex and obscure, but between
1827 and about 1850 Dr. Quier's estate was split up by John
and Peter Davis, Catherine Smith, and their heirs, into lots
which ranged from ten acres down to tiny houselots, giving
the present village of Lluidas Vale its fascinating heterogeneity.
John Quier's house and fields have disappeared, as has the
memory of the doctor himself, though the name Shady Grove
lingers as a popular alternative to the village's official name.
1. By J. Quier, J. Hume and others, London, Murray, 1778.
2. For this and other details of Quier's career, Heinz Goerke, 'The
life and Scientific Works of Dr. John Quier, Practitioner of Physic
and Surgery, Jamaica, 1738-1822', West Indian Medical Journal,
V, xviii, 22-7.
3. Royal Gazette, February 6, 1813. Van Eckhout was also a herbalist
with a claimed remedy for T.B.; Brathwaite, Creole Society, 145.
4. For this and other details of eighteenth century medicine, Douglas
Guthrie, A History of Medicine, London, Nelson, revised edition,
5. Quier et al, Letters, xxvii;Craton and Walvin, A Jamaican Plantation,
6. Even here there must be some doubt. Has anyone ever ascertained
whether the 'syphilitic' symptoms of locomotor ataxia and progress-
ive loss of the senses (now known to be symptoms of mercury
poisoning) occurred spontaneously in sufferers from syphilis not
treated with mercurials?
7. Thomas Dancer, The Medical Assistant: or Jamaica practice of
physic . ., Kingston, 1801, 153; Heinz Goerke, 'John Quier', 25.
8. Guthrie, History of Medicine, 89.
9. For example, the fragmentary Thetford slave-books, disclose that
between March and April, 1800, Dr. Quier inoculated 36 at Thet-
ford, and between March 20 and 31, 1802, another 18, all infants.
10.Jamaica Almanacks, 1781-1822.
11. Quier et al, Letters, 13; Journal of the Assembly of Jamaica, Nov-
ember 12, 1788, VIII, 434; Brathwaite, Creole Society, 185.
12. See particularly, Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves, New
York, Knopf, Borzoi ed., 1956 (1946), 255-357.
13.St. John's Parish Register, 1759-1825; Burials, 1822.
14.I.R.O., Wills, 103/7.
15.Thi is presumed from the fact that Thomas Smith was later listed
as Catherine Ann Smith's guardian; Jamaica Almanacks, 1824-6;
Register of Slave Returns, 1826.
16.A mulatto boy named Joseph, son of the Negro slave Dolly, was
manumitted by John Price of Penzance through his Attorney
Malcolm Laing, on the payment of 65 by John Quier in 1778;
Jamaica Archives, Manumissions, 12/218.
17.Ann's age and mother's name are determined by the entry for her
baptism on May 2, 1784, as a quadroon aged eight months; St.
John's Parish Register, 1759-1825; Baptisms.
18. The number of Dr. Quier's slaves recorded in the Jamaica Almanacks
actually fluctuated from 63 to 73. The Givings-In for the March
quarter of 1823 given in the Almanack for 1824 listed the following,
as well as 73 for 'Quier, John (deceased)': Quier, Ann (estate,
executor, J.P. Nash), 20; Quier, Catherine A., 44; Smith, Catherine
A., Davis, John Q., 7; Davis, Peter Q., 10. The Register of Slave
Returns, 1824 (generally more accurate than Givings-In), gave the
following totals, respectively: 22,43,24,7, and none.
19.John Quier Davis and Peter Quier Davis could well have been sons
of Nathaniel William Davis, white bookkeeper employed at Worthy
Park in the late 1780s and early 1790s.
20.'William Turner and Catherine Quier, both of colour, of this parish';
St. John's Parish Register, 1759-1825; Marriages.
21. Register of Slave Returns, 1826, 1832. Neither Thomas nor Cather-
ine Ann Smith was listed as a slaveowner in the 1829 registration.
=iT1T~i~ liT~ I 117.7ThY1Ir
Seaford Town up to 1850
By Douglas Hall
At the time of the abolition of slavery the Legislatures
of all the British Caribbean colonies turned their attention
to the possible effects of emancipation on the estate
labour-force. In Demerara, Berbice, Essequibo, and
Trinidad, recently acquired by the British and newly
developed by them as sugar-plantation colonies the
ending of the British Slave Trade in 1807 had left
estate-owners short of slaves. After the emancipation in
1834, the planters turned immediately to immigration
policies designed to bring in estate-labour.
In Barbados and the Leeward Islands where the slave
populations were of far greater density there was little real
anxiety. The Antiguan Legislature decided not to
introduce a period of Apprenticeship because planters had
calculated that the estates could be operated more
productively and more cheaply by free labour than they
had been by slaves. The Legislatures of St. Kitts, Nevis,
Montserrat, and Barbados introduced the Apprentice-
ship, and soon after began to wonder if they might not
Panorama of Seaford Town from the mountain
Panorama of Seaford Town from the mountain
better have followed the Antiguan example. In all these
islands the planters were far less concerned to bring in
immigrants than to prevent their own labouring
populations from migrating to Trinidad and Demerara
where scarce labour was being paid relatively high wages.
In the British Windward Islands interest in immigra-
tion was keener than it was in the Leewards, but less so
than in Trinidad and Demerara. Planters in Grenada and
St. Lucia, especially, sought immigrants to offset
emigrations to the south, and some estates, newly
re-habilitated after the revolutionary insurgencies of the
late 18th century, were short of labour.
In Jamaica, where the best sugar-lands lie in coastal
plain and delta areas and in interior alluvial valleys,
estate-owners were disturbed by the thought that on
emancipation the ex-slaves would.desert the sugar areas
and establish themselves, legally or by squatting, as small
cultivators in the mountainous interior. The view was,
unlike that held in Trinidad and Demerara, that the labour
Douglas Hall, Professor of History, U.W.I. Jamaican graduate of
Toronto and London Universities, author of "Free Jamaica" "Five of
the Leewards", "Ideas and Illustrations' in Economic History", "A
Short History of the West India Committee" and several articles in
academic journals. Also part-author of "The Making of the West
Indies". Teaches at the Mona Campus of the U.W.I.
PHOTOS BY Fr. FRANCIS OSBORNE
re 11. lw1
force for the sugar estates might be sufficient if the
negroes on emancipation remained in the lowlands. The
problem was that even during the Apprenticeship Period,
1834-1838, it seemed clear that many of the negroes would
do no such thing. The alternatives therefore were either to
import immigrant estate-labourers to fill the vacancies left
by blacks moving up into the interior, or to import
immigrants to occupy the interior hills and so deny the
ex-slaves opportunity to acquire land or to find labour
beyond the sugar estates.
With little hesitation the Jamaican Legislature firmly
decided on the latter course, and consequently the
immediate post-emancipation immigration into that
island differed significantly from that into other British
colonies in the Caribbean. Other colonies sought
labourers, preferably African or East Indian, for the sugar
estates. The Jamaican legislature sought whites,
Europeans, to settle in the mountains. In this, they were
probably in some degree influenced by the history of the
Maroons who, as free blacks inhabiting parts of the
interior, had in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and then
again in the 1790's, launched attacks on the planters and
their property. But there were other, more obvious
The formulation of the policy and its intent are clearly
documented. In 1833, after the Emancipation Act had
been passed, "A Jamaican Man" addressed a letter to the
Editor of the Liverpool Standard in England. He wrote at
length and with a remarkable disregard for logic, but the
purpose of his writing was clear:
"...I would, by my plan, endeavour to supersede the necessity of
any black labourers in the mountains, and by having 50 to 60,000
whites there, bring down, say 100,000 blacks to the low lands. This
would benefit the planters without injury to the negroes: to the
former it would give a greater quantity of labourers, consequently
a greater competition in the market, ... to the latter it would make
the necessity of working greater, consequently, less fear of their
relapsing into barbarism."'
From Jamaica, individual planters wrote to friends in
England soliciting immigrants:
"Wishing now, as well as yourself, to forward the welfare of, and
secure the property in, the island, I am willing to take twenty free
labourers, males and females, with their children, but excluding
old people, under the following conditions:- For the first year I
could pay to each able person 81. Jamaica currency, maintaining
them for nine months in the following articles, viz twelve yards of
duck, six yards of pennistone, a coarse hat, one pair of shoe, one
iron pot sufficient for two people, and one frying pan, giving them
for food a weekly allowance of 50 lbs. of yam, or coco, or 70 full
grown plantains, 6 lbs. salted fish, and coffee, and half a pound of
sugar, and one quart of rum. To enable them to maintain them-
selves after the first nine months, I agree to assign them on their
arrival two acres of virgin land for each labourer for cultivation. It
requires no mark that I would provide for them good commodious
habitations, and on finding them faithful and industrious, improve
their wages. Infant children I would maintain until their parents
were able to do it themselves, and those that could be in any way
useful to the property I would give clothing. Medicines and medical
attendance I could keep for those emigrants in the first year only,
leaving it to them to procure these things afterwards."2
In Jamaica, settlements of Europeans were established on
some of the larger properties, and in certain instances land
was specially acquired for them. In August, 1836, John
Salmon wrote from St. Elizabeth:
"I purchased a property (of Woodland) and in December last
imported upwards of 70 English. I have since lived among them the
experiment has perhaps made me more acquainted with the
difficulties and necessities of such an undertaking. Of the benefit to
be hoped for, in security and prosperity, I must have been impress-
ed before engaging'in the attempt which single handed was a
And when by 1840 the success of the European
immigration schemes was clearly in doubt,Lord Metcalfe,
the Governor, was disappointed:
"My own desire would be to see the elevated parts of the island
peopled by our own Countrymen, English, Scotch and Irish,
leaving the lowlands to the Negroes, who seem to prefer them, and
where Europeans cannot I conceive be located as Labourers
consistently with the preservation of their Health ... But they must
come contented to be Labourers until they can raise themselves
higher by their own exertions.'
But although the policy was clearly established and had
wide support, there was, from the beginnings of it, some
opposition The Falmouth Post, and Jamaica General
Advertiser of Wednesday 4th November 1835 carried a
long editorial on the subject. It included an interesting
summary of motivations as the Editor saw them:
"Of all the absurdities, we have heard uttered in a little time, on
one simple subject, we think we have never heard so many as on
this Immigration question, by our now assembled Legislators. The
man of benevolence assents because he sees that the measure
provides a home for the destitute; The negro-hater approves,
because he perceives that it will strengthen the number of persons
with the same complexion as himself, and give him more confidence
in his little acts of spite and petulence. The avaricious hunx
consents to it, because one of the conditions of furnishing the poor
outcast a home and rations is that the labourer shall work in his
field when required for the miserable pittance of half a dollar a
week, on pain of being deprived of his Cottage and little garden, or
to go with better wages to get better fare where he can. There are
some half a dozen who see the thing with a singleness of eye and of
heart ... We desire to see the European yeoman among us the
tenant of his small and happy home but purely for his own Sake
...not to console by his presence any morbid antipathies to the
In March of the following year (1836) Mr. Mitchell, the
Mayor of Kingston gave to the Governor, Lord Sligo, his
opinion that the white immigration policy could not
succeed, and that what was needed was the importation of
Africans for field, trades, and domestic labour. The
preponderance of blacks, he added, should not be feared
because of the presence of the armed forces and the
influence of the missionaries.5
And almost exactly four years later the Governor, Lord
Metcalfe, informed the Secretary of State for the colonies
"The majority of those interested in Immigration advocate the
introduction of Free Africans as being the people best suited to
labor on the lowlands, where the most wealthy estates, those of
Sugar Cane, are generally situated. Asiatics also are looked to but
it being known that great objections exist at home to any attempt
to obtain either African or Asiatic Emigrants, it is supposed that
the Maltese will be the best substitutes. '
The first spate of European immigration had already
ended, and by 1843 a new majority view had come to
prevail. The number of liberated slaves and other Africans
brought into Jamaica up to 1850 rose from 1,388
(1834-1839) to 2,533 (1840-1844) and to a peak of 3,936
(1845-1849). The number of East Indians brought in
numbered 261 for the period 1843-1845, and 4,289 for the
period 1846-1847. After 1847 nearly all immigration
schemes collapsed following the British Sugar Duties Act
of 1846 and large scale immigration was not resumed until
the 1860's when it was mainly of East Indians.7
Against those figures the details of bountied
immigration during the period 1834-1843 indicate the
relative importance of the European inflow in the
immediate post-emancipation years.
The bountied European immigration took three forms:
individual landed proprietors made their particular
arrangements to procure immigrants; an agent specially
appointed by the Jamaican Legislature was sent to
Europe in order to recruit immigrants for planters who
wished to receive them; and thirdly, the agent was to
recruit settlers for three County Townships which were to
be established at the island government's expense.
RETURN OF BOUNTIED IMMIGRANTS INTO JAMAICA: 1 AUG. 1834 15 APRIL 1843
Gt. Brit. Germany USA
S. Leone Isle of
235 408 135 847
St Helena TOTAL
Source: C.O. 137/273 Elgin to Stanley, 15 April 1843 with Enclosures.
N.B. These figures do not all tally exactly with the specific returns for each year.
The first significant batch of Europeans, whose arrival
was not noted by the Governor in his return for 1834-1843,
were 64 Germans brought in by "... Mr. Solomon Myers,
a German Jew possessing a small Coffee Plantation in St.
George's..." They had been recruited in Bremen by his
brother who lived there.'They came in the ship Anna
which, taking 106 days out of Bremen, arrived at
Kingston whence, on Saturday 24th May, 1834 they
departed for Mr. Myers' plantation,9 Pleasant Mount high
in the interior behind Buff Bay.10
The group included 25 able-bodied men, 18 women and
21 children of whom 3 had been born en voyage. Among
them were weavers, spinners, knitters, tailors, copper-
smiths, ploughmen, and axemen, sufficient, according to
The Royal Gazette of the date, ..."for the purpose of
settling an interior town such as Mr. Myers proposed..."
The newspaper applauded Mr. Myers' enterprise,
encouraged others to follow suit, and expressed confidence
... the patriotism of Mr. Myers (would be) brought under the
notice of the Legislature at the ensuing Session, when he will
receive that reward to which his exertions certainly entitle him."
The Assembly did indeed take notice. They voted Mr.
Myers a sum of 500 and a bounty of 15 a head on each
immigrant, man, woman and child." Mr. Myers
immediately embarked on another similar, but far larger,
Meanwhile, his attempt to settle the immigrants on or
near Mount Pleasant failed. There is, nearby, a district
known as Bremen Valley where a few apparently
remained, but others left his employment and moved
elsewhere. According to the Governor, some went to
Clarendon and there joined the Police.12
In late December, 1834, Mr. Myers' second batch of
immigrants from Germany arrived. There were, this time,
506 people. They too had embarked at Bremen. The ship
Olberes, Captain Exter, brought them in 37 days into Port
Royal two days after Christmas.13 There they were
transferred to coastal vessels which took them to various
destinations where planters received them. Mr. Hamilton
Brown took 150 at St. Ann's Bay. Mr. James Hylton took
45 to the Dry Harbour Mountains in St. Ann. Mr. Samuel
Anderson took 20 at Montego Bay. Dr. Spaulding and
another proprietor took 120 possibly into the
Manchester and Clarendon mountains. Mr. Robert Watt
of Black River took 150, of whom 102 were sent to his
estate at Lacovia in St. Elizabeth. Mr. Myers kept about
20 for himself.
This time the Assembly voted Mr. Myers the sum of
3,500 sterling to meet his costs of shipping which he
claimed amounted to about 3,700 sterling.14 In
accordance with a Resolution of the Assembly, passed ten
days before the immigrants' arrival, he could also claim a
bounty of 9 currency a head for every person imported
into the island for agricultural employment.15
But here too, as on the previous occasion, it is not clear
that the immigrants either established themselves in
townships or offered large assistance to the agricultural or
other property of those who imported them. In November
1835 Mr. Robert Watt published an account of the
disposal of the 102 Germans he had sent to Lacovia. The
number had since been increased by the births of two
Employed by the Hon. Duncan Robertson .............. ....... 19
Employed by Hugh Hutcheson, Esq ............................. 13
Employed by William Turner, Esq ............................... 5
Employed by Robert Machette, Esq ........................ 4
Employed by John Maitland, Esq..... ...................... 3
Em played by Dr. Spence ......................... ..... 8
Employed by J.E. Burton, Esq ............ ........... . 5
Employed by Thomas Tait, Esq. ...... ........... 6
Deserted ............... . ................ .... 2
Kept by Mr. Watt himself .......... ...... ... . 39
Of the 39 kept by Mr. Watt, the account was as follows:
Died children who arrived sickly .............
Died from a severe burn ........... .. ...
Died in childbed ............ ........
Died refusing medical aid .. . .
Died from fever .
Deserters in hospital in Kingston ... ...
Now Employed by the Hon.John Salmon ...... ....
Now Employed by Mr. Hilton ....................
Still employed by Mr. Robert Watt ...... ...
The Falmouth Post in publishing these figures
commented on the useless waste of public money applied
so unsuccessfully to the "cost of substituting a European
for an African peasantry within the tropics..."
Nonetheless, the expectation prevailed. In December,
1835 the Hon. John Salmon brought in his 70 English
settlers, previously mentioned, and established them in
northern St. Elizabeth, probably (he did not name the
place) in Mulgrave and the neighboring district of
Barracks. Later, in 1837, the Hon. Thomas McNeil,
Custos of Westmoreland, brought a number of Scottish
immigrants into Savanna-La-Mar and his interior estates.
They had suffered from typhoid fever on the passage out,
but in 1840 the survivors were said to be thriving. In
January 1841 there was a still larger importation of 300
Scots and Irish into Savanna-La-Mar; but by December of
the same year only 60 remained in field-work. The others
were in trades or in domestic'6 service, probably in the
Apart from these and other importations sponsored by
individual employers whose costs were wholly or partly
met by special votes of the Assembly, the legislature itself
in 1834 appointed an agent, Mr. William Lemonius, to
proceed to Europe to recruit German and English
immigrants for employers who would take them and for
the establishment, as a colonial government project, of
three European County Townships in the interior of the
William Lemonius was from Prussia. In 1806 he had
joined the Prussian Army and had in 1809, by means
which are not altogether clear, come under British pay in
the Army Medical Service. In July, 1811, he was
commissioned Lieutenant in the York Light Infantry
Volunteers then stationed in the Windward Islands; but
from Antigua Lemonius went not to the Windwards but to --
Jamaica, where he served as Acting Quartermaster and
Adjutant. In 1817 he returned to England as medical
officer on a troopship, and in 1819, having left the army,
he returned to Jamaica. In January 1824 he was appointed
to the magistracy, and in 1831-1832 he served in a
"position of high rank" during the Slave Rebellion in the
western parishes. Following the rebellion he was
appointed to the impressive-sounding office of Captain of
the Permanent Police Corps for the County of Cornwall;
but the force did not exist and was never raised. Then, late
in 1834, came his commission to go and find immigrants.
He found them in Germany.'7
On 15th January, 1836, The Kingston Chronicle and
City Advertister published an extract from a German local
newspaper (in Prymont) of 5th November, 1835;
"A fortnight ago a caravan of 800 persons, men and
women, youths and girls set out for Jamaica. Most of them were
from Westphalia, only 28 being from the principality of Waldeck.
The conditions to which they have agreed are hard, they must
A modern day resident of Seafordtown.
S MEMORY OF
HARLES F. WEDEMIRE
ORn St6 APRIL 1862
UGrave of Charles Wedemire.
.A second generation German
son of Henry and Caroline Wedemire
labour as servants for five years for a few acres of land, at the
expiration of which they enter upon the possession of their little
property. The future prospects are, therefore, not very brilliant."
Those 800 persons apparently made up the total number
of immigrants recruited by Lemonius. They arrived in
Jamaica in two lots. The first, 532 in number, arrived at
Rio Bueno on the 10th December 1835. They, like the
previous December's shipload for Mr. Myers, had come
from Bremen on the ship Alberes commanded by Captain
Exter. Eighty-five of them were landed at Rio Bueno and
went to estates in the neighbourhood. Four hundred and
forty-seven were taken on to Montego Bay. Of these, 198
were distributed among estate-owners in the western end
of the island, and the remaining 249 were to form the
Cornwall County Township of Seaford. Unfortunately,
only 16 or 17 of the cottages which should have been ready
for their occupation were complete, and after a temporary
stay at Reading Wharf near Montego Bay, the hapless
immigrants were despatched into the bush to build their
housing for themselves.18 In 1836 they were re-inforced by
a few newcomers from the second lot brought in by Mr.
Lemonius. These numbered about 250 of whom the
majority seem to have gone to private estates.
Seaford Town, near Lamb's River in the parish of
Westmoreland, was one of the three County Townships
which the island legislature proposed to establish. The
others were Middlesex in the County of Middlesex and the
parish of St. Ann, close to the border of St. Mary near
Guy's Hill; and Altamont lying in the County of Surrey
inwards from Hope Bay on the coast of Portland.19
Other townships planned, and in some cases
established, by private estate-owners with financial
assistance from the public revenue were at Barrettville
and New England in St. Ann, Ashontully on the border of
Manchester and Clarendon, and Mulgrave in northern St.
These large schemes were widely supported by
prominent members of the West India Interest in Britain,
but there were points on which they failed to find
agreement with the British government, or with the
proprietors resident in Jamaica.
In May, 1836, the Marquis of Chandos, the Earl of
Harewood, the Viscount of St. Vincent, Lord Seaford, the
Hon. William Lascelles, Sir Alexander Grant, Bart., and
James Swabey, Rowland Mitchell, William Miller,
Esquires, all of Jamaica, and others including William
Burge, Esq. KC., the corresponding agent in England of
the Jamaican Assembly, joined together to submit to the
Secretary of State for the Colonies a prospectus for The
Jamaica Company which was to raise a capital sum of
1,000,000 in 20,000 shares of 5 each for the purpose of
settling the interior of Jamaica.
The prospectus contained five main proposals:
immigrants would be recruited, provisioned, and sent at
the Company's expense to Jamaica where they would
become the Company's tenants of small allotments (about
3-4 acres each) and cottages; the Company would
co-operate with the Jamaican legislature in its scheme for
the building of immigrant townships; the Company would
also establish its own plantations in the interior to be
worked by European immigrants and such local labour as
might be available; the Company profits would accrue
from rents and from earnings by the sales of produce, and
as the Company would be able to act as their own
consignees of produce they would thus realize for
themselves "...the entire profit of the commissions and
other charges incidental to consignment." The Company
proposed to purchase two large tracts of about 3,000 acres
each and to recruit an estimated 1,000 immigrant
labourers to work them as plantations; and another tract
of 2,500 acres to be sub-divided and leased by the
Company to about 750 European tenants. The plantations
would produce crops such as Coffee, Cocoa, Tobacco, and
The Secretary of State for the Colonies did not
understand why such a Company was necessary. He
pointed out that in accordance with general policy,
established with the advice of the Colonial Land and
Emigration Board, Crown lands in Jamaica, as elsewhere,
"...should be sold by public auction at an upset price sufficiently
high to prevent the purchase of them except by persons really
proposing to bring them into cultivation."
While the British government, therefore, would have no
objection to the purchase of such lands by the Company
"on the principles already stated" it was not clear to him
why the formation of the Company was necessary. Any of
the individuals associated with it might purchase in their
From Jamaica, Mr. John Salmon expressed his
opposition to the establishment of European townships,
even though he strongly favoured European immigration
and had himself established a settlement.
"Having always been opposed to them I would say nothing un-
kindly there is an old and very true saying 'Everybody's
business is nobodie's Seaford Town is I hear a failure. If the
Country had lent money to Individuals I prophesied success but
that it was said could not be done. The land for Middlesex town-
ship cost 5 per acre."
He did, however, strongly support the formation of the
Company. He offered to sell them 2,000 acres of his own
land and to serve as their manager in Jamaica.23 These
grandiose proposals came to nothing in the face of
lukewarm reception at the Colonial Office and growing
scepticism in Jamaica about the practicability of the
European immigration scheme.
In 1836, in Jamaica, the legislature sought to put its
regulations governing immigration into order. The
Immigration Act of that year contained the following
1. Anyone possessing lands in Jamaica, and making provision for the
reception of immigrants might lawfully "import from any part of
Europe any Artificer, Handicraftsman, Mechanic, Gardener,
Servant in Husbandry, or other Labourer into this Island."
2. On completion of 6 months residence by the immigrant the
importer would receive 12 for each person of 12 years or older and
8 for each under that age.
3. Shipping, food, and all other needs of the immigrants were to be
provided by the importer free of charge to the immigrants.
4. Immigrants of 12 years of age or more might be brought in under
indenture, and such indentures might be, with the consent of the
immigrant, assigned over to another employer.
5. All immigrants would be exempt from service in the period of their
indenture except in time of war.
6. All immigrants would be exempt from taxation during the period
of their indenture.
7. If immigrants were required to cultivate their own food they
should labour for their masters only five days in each week, giving
10 hours a day between 1 April and 30 September and 9 hours a
day between 1 October and 31 March.
8. Masters would provide free medicines and medical attendance,
and provisions and/or wages in accordance with the following
Weekly provisions per adult, over 16 years of age:
2 lbs Beef or Pork
2 lbs Salt or Pickled Fish
6 lbs Flour or Moal OR 15 lbs Yams, Cocoa, Plantains, or other
10 lbs Rice
10 lbs Cornmeal
1 lb Sugar
2 ozs. Coffee
If such provisions were given, the money wage should be 5/-
If not, the money should be 1/8 a day.
For those aged 12 to 16 years the master should provide either
two-thirds the rations and 3/9 a week, or 1/- a day.
For those aged 7 to 12 years the master should provide either
half the rations and 2/-6 a week, or 71/2d a day.
Those of 7 years and under should receive one-third the rations
and no money wage.
9. Master-servant disputes were to be settled by 2 Justices of the
Peace of the parish. The Justices might punish either party,
enforce fulfilment of contract by either party, or enforce a transfer
of the servant for the balance of his contract to any other qualified
10. After THREE years the immigrant could become a naturalised
citizen, free of charge.
11. Immigrants were not to travel around the country without the
written authority of their masters.
These provisions clearly limited the very generous
awards which had been made to earlier importers such as
Mr. Myers, and attempted to ensure that the immigrants
would in fact be settled for a period of time before a
bounty was paid. Clearly, too, they encouraged the
importation of indentured servants in an effort to prevent
the early departure of expensive immigrants from
Jamaica. As early as February, 1836, the Governor, Lord
Sligo, had informed the Secretary of State for the Colonies
"The German Immigrants are going to America as fast as they can
get away from here, and all I have seen express a determination to
do so, the moment they can get free.2'
Noticeably, also, the Immigration Act placed the
immigrants beyond the jurisdiction of the Stipendiary
Magistrates who had been appointed to resolve differences
between the ex-slaves, now Apprentices under the terms
of the Act of Emancipation, and their owners.
The Colonial Office was not entirely satisfied with all
the provisions of the Act. In particular, the terms of
indenture and the length of contract were seen to be too
restrictive on the freedom of the immigrant. The next
important Immigration Act, passed in 1840,26 took
account of these criticisms, and at the same time tried to
offer compensation to employers by increasing the
financial assistance given to them. In the early palmy
days the Assembly had voted large, if not total,
re-imbursement of shipping costs to importers. This had
later been reduced to a refund of half the passage money.
The Act of 1840, as the following provisions show,
restored the full payment while shortening the period of
Sacred Heart Church
Its main terms were as follows:
1. The length of contract was limited to one year.
2. Any contract could be terminated at 3 months' notice by either
3. Additional provision was made for the establishment of immigrant
townships and for the granting of land to immigrants.
4. Importers of immigrants were relieved of paying half of the passage
money and the whole cost of passages would now be borne by the
5. A maximum of 50,000 a year was authorised to be spent for the
next 3 years.
Again there were no objections from the Colonial Office.
The Colonial Land and Emigration Board advised the
Secretary of State for the Colonies that land grants to
immigrants would be "injurious", and to people with
capital they would be unnecessary since they could afford
and should be required to pay a fair price.2" Both in
Britain and in Jamaica there was clear confusion arising
out of the conflicting purposes of European immigration.
If it was to provide labourers, then the Wakefieldian
views of the Land and Emigration Board were relevant -
free land or cheap land would enable labourers to become
land-owners "too soon". If, on the other hand, the
intention was to settle a European peasantry, as the
provision of Townships seemed to indicate, it would
clearly be necessary to give the immigrants easy and
immediate access to land of their own.
By 1841 the European Immigration policy was, in
Jamaica, seen to be a failure. The disappointment was
reflected in another Act of 184228 by which, among other
1. The authority to appoint recruiting agents in Europe was repealed.
2. The payment of bounty was withheld until the immigrant had been
"successfully located" for 12 months.
3. Penalities were imposed on those who employed immigrants "in
4. The government's expenditure on immigration was limited to
20,000 a year.
As the Governor, Lord Metcalfe, remarked in his covering
"This Act is the result of disappointment with respect to European
In 1841, it is true, there had been a large importation of
bountied immigrants. The figures given by Lord Metcalfe
(which do not exactly tally with those later presented by
Lord Elgin, his successor) are set out in Table 2. The
really noteworthy feature is the large numbers of
non-Europeans brought in.
BOUNTIED IMMIGRANTS ARRIVED IN 1841
Countries and Numbers
From England ....
From Scotland .. ..
From Ireland .... .
From America (USA)
From Sierra Leone ..
From other colonies .
Agricultural labourers. .
Shepherds . ..
Domestics .. .
Building workers ..
Preparers or sellers of food ...
Preparers or sellers of clothing
Tradesmen of other sorts .
Not described .......
..... .. 1,140
.. . 119
Source: C.O. 137/262 Metcalfe to Stanley, 22 March 1842
The Act of 1842 was intended to end the importation of
Europeans at the public expense, to provide some
assistance to private individuals who made successful
importations and satisfactorily settled their immigrants,
and to allow provision for the completion of four interior
The original intention had been to fill the interior of the
island with Europeans, both as settlers in Townships and
as labourers on mountain estates. The early attempts to
establish Townships had not succeeded. The Immigration
Act of 1836 was consequently directed to the regulation of
imported labourers as indentured servants. This had
raised questions from the Colonial Office about the length
and terms of indenture which, in essence, defeated the
main purpose of the immigration which was to have
Europeans resident in the mountains. Moreover, unless
bound by regulation to do so, the Europeans had generally
not remained where they were wanted. The subsequent
Acts of 1840 and 1842 marked an increasing disappoint-
ment, and were designed, in last resort, to emphasise and
make provision for settlers rather than more transient
In April, 1843, the final important returns were made to
the Colonial Office.30 They set out the sums of money
voted and the actual expenditures made on a scheme
which had not produced what had been hoped of it. There
were several explanations of the failure. The Europeans, it
was said, had come expecting too much all at once. In
this, no doubt, some had been misled by the enticements
of recruiting agents. Once arrived, they seemed, it was
said, to envy the negro freeholders who were their
neighbours, and to labour less industriously than they
should. In this, they failed to see that example of industry
which the advocates of European immigration had pressed
as necessary to the welfare of the blacks, who, they
claimed would otherwise indulge their indolence and
"relapse into barbarism." They deserted the highlands in
favour of the towns, of which the most important were all
on the coast. In so doing they clearly undermined the
main purpose of the scheme. Finally, in their favour, or
excuse, it was pointed out that often they arrived to find
that no housing was ready for their occupation.31 It is
probably also true that some came intending to use
Jamaica as a stepping-stone to the United States of
There still remain in Jamaica place names born during
the immigration of 1834-1843. The County Townships -
Altamont in Surrey, Middlesex in Middlesex, and Seaford
Town in Cornwall still are on the maps. Other place-names
carry clearer messages about the homeland of the
immigrants Bremen Valley, New Brunswick, Stettin
and Hessen Castle. And going through the interior hillside
villages the traveller today can still find, as at Ulster
Spring and Mulgrave, the small communities of lighter-
skinned, and sometimes blonde and blue-eyed peasants.
Most noticeably is this the case in Seaford Town, which,
for all its setbacks, remains today a 'German town' in the
hills of Westmoreland.
[To be continued]
1. The Royal Gazette, published by A.W. Aikman, Harbour St.
Kingston Jamaica. Vol. LVI, No. 2. From Saturday 4th
January Saturday 11th January, 1834. pp. 5-6.
3. C.O. 137/217. Public offices, 1836. Wm. Burge to Glenelg,
enclosing letters from Mr. Salmon.
4. C.O. 137/248. Metcalfe to Russell, March, 1840.
5. C.O. 137/210. Mr. Mitchell, Mayor of Kingston to Sligo, 11th
6. C.O. 137/248 Metcalfe to Russell, 30th March, 1840.
7. Douglas Hall, "Free Jamaica" (Caribbean Universities Press,
1969). See Appendix 3 for summary statistics of immigration in
8. C.O. 137/197 Sligo to Aberdeen, 22 February, 1836.
9. The Royal Gazette, Vol. LVI, No. 21. Saturday 17th May -
Saturday 24th May, 1834. p. 19 (Postscript).
10. The Jamaica Almanacks for 1833 and 1840 show Pleasant Mount
as the property of John Myers. there is no other property listed in
St. George's Parish as belonging to Myers. Pleasant Mount, in
1833, contained 43 slaves and 6 stock. In 1840, the acreage was
given as 600.
11. C.O. 137/197. Sligo to Aberdeen, 22 February, 1835.
12. C.O. 137/209. Sligo to Glenelg, 12 February, 1836.
13. The Royal Gazette Vol. LVI, No. 52. Saturday 20th December -
Saturday 27th December, 1834. p. 22 (Postscript).
14. For the above and following details see, The Falmouth Post
and Jamaica General Advertizer, Vol. 1 No. 9, Wednesday 4th
November, 1835, p. 7; and Francis J. Osborne, S.J. (unpublished
manuscript) "History of the Catholic Church in Jamaica, West
Indies. 1494-1970", Chapter 14. I wish here to express my
particular gratitude to Fr. Osborne who generously told me where
to look for many things and provided some specific references.
15. See Appendix I.
16. C.O. 137/248. Metcalfe to Russell, 30th March, 1840; and C.O.
137/257 Metcalfe to Stanley, 3rd December, 1841.
17. The Jamaica Archives. Lemonius Mss. File 4/35. Lemonius
gives the date of his commission as 1835, but the money for the
scheme was voted in December 1834. See Appendix I.
18. The Kingston Chronicle and City Advertiser, 15th December,
1835: and C.O. 137/214. Report of Stipendiary Magistrate
Finlayson to Sligo, 29th December, 1835.
19. For reference to these see: C.O. 137/214 Finlayson to Sligo 29th
December, 1835; C.O. 137/216 McGeachy to Sligo, 24th May,
1836; C.O. 137/217 Salmon to Burge, 26th August, 1836; C.O.
137/248 Metcalf to Russell, 30th March, 1840.
20. C.O. 137/274 Elgin to Stanley, 1 May, 1843, with enclosures.
21. C.O. 137/217. Public offices, 1836. See Elliot to Genelg, llth
May, 1836, with Glenelg's comment. The volume also contains
the Prospectus of the Jamaica Company.
23. C.O. 137/217. Salmon to Burge, 26th August, 1836.
24. C.O. 137/216.
25. C.O. 137/209 Sligo to Glenelg, 12th February, 1836.
26. C.O. 137/250.
27. C.O. 137/259 Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners to
28. C.O. 137/261.
29. C.O. 137/261 Metcalfe to Stanley, 9th February, 1842.
30. These are set out in Appendix I and Appendix II.
31. C.O. 137/274 Elgin to Stanley, 1 May, 1843, with enclosures.
Institute of Jamaica Publications
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INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA
Eating Maize Alex
She Clement Matei
Mulumba (Tooth Ache)
The Lovers Etesi Mulungu
The Wrestlers Aluise Samaki
The Bust- Arnesto
The Laughing Man
(Devil Milk Feeder)
Simbungaui (Woman Singer)
Mawingu (Clouds) 2 Clement Matei
PUBLISHED BY THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA, DECEMBER 1974