Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00045
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: November-January 1984-1985
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00045
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

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Full Text

I -1






Ii /I. i I

Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

Grappling Hook

The conservation of this coral-encrusted,
late 17th century iron grappling hook, is
one example of the important work
carried out by the conservation lab of
the Archaeological Division of the
Jamaica National Trust Commission,
in preserving the treasures of our past.
Established in 1968, the division is now
responsible for the archaeology of all
periods of the island's history.
This grappling hook was excavated from
the underwater city of Port Royal in
1966 by the team of marine archae-
ologists led by Robert Marx and is on
display at the Port Royal Archaeological
Museum. Grappling hooks were used by
pirates in the 17th century to seize and
secure the ships on which they preyed.
Port Royal Archaeological Museum

Jamaica Journal
is published on behalf of
the Institute of Jamaica
12 16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica
by Institute of Jamaica Publications Ltd.

All correspondence should be addressed to
IOJ Publications Ltd.
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone (809) 92-94785/6

Olive Senior

Assistant Editor
Maxine Patricia McDonnough
Design and Production
Camille Parchment
Support Services
Faith Myers
Eton Anderson
Patsy Smith

Back issues: Most back issues are available.
List sent on request. Entire series available
on microfilm from University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, U.S.A.

Subscriptions: J$40 for four issues (in
Jamaica only); U.S.$15, U.K.10.
Retail single copy price: J$12 (in Jamaica
only); overseas U.S.$5 or U.K.3 post paid
surface mail.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in Jamaica
Journal are abstracted and indexed in
Historical Abstracts and America: History
and Life.

Vol.17 No 4 Copyright 1984 by Institute
of Jamaica Publications Limited. Cover or
contents may not be reproduced in whole
or in part without prior written permission.

ISSN: 00214124

COVER: The shrimp-filled Y.S. river is only
one of the delightful tributaries of the Black
River, Jamaica's historic inland waterway
Nhich is featured in this issue.

Vol. 17 No. 4

November 1984 January 1985


by Barbara Gloudon

Anon. Translated by Mary Catherine Levy

by L. Alan Eyre


by Barry Wade

by Karl Aiken


by Rhonda Cobham



Review by Gloria Escoffery
Reviews by Rupert Lewis,
Gloria Escoffery, Velma Pollard




W ho was Herbert GeorgedeLisser?
Most young Jamaicans faced
with this question would prob-
ably shrug, or suggest tentatively that he
was an important white newspaper man,
or that he once wrote a novel called The
White Witch of Rosehall. Older heads
would probably remember a bit more:
that he published a magazine called
Planters' Punch which always came out
around Christmas time; that he had a
column in the Gleaner called "Random
Jottings" in which he poked fun at
everyone and everything. Others will
scowl 'a bigoted old rich reactionary
who did his best to run down black
people!' All will probably be partly
right, but none of these definitions even
begins to sum up the man who, for good
or ill, was probably the single most in-
fluential public figure in Jamaican affairs
between the two world wars.
What de Lisser was not at least not

at the beginning of his life was rich or
white, although he may have been con-
sidered both by the time of his death.
As his name indicates, his family was
connected to the Portuguese-Jewish
community which had controlled busi-
ness and finance in Jamaica since the

days of the Spaniards, but there was
some African blood, at least on his
father's side. The latter was editor of a
struggling newspaper in Trelawny which
ran into difficulties and was forced to
close after championing the wrong
side in the debate over the import-
ation of indentured East Indian labour-
ers. The family moved to Kingston,
where de Lisser's father worked for a
while as the editor of the Gleaner, at
that time a fairly modest local publi-
cation. Herbert George attended King-
ston Collegiate School until he was 14
years old, when his father died, leaving
the family without adequate means of
support. In later life de Lisser seldom
spoke about these difficult years, dur-
ing which he was forced to leave school
and work at an ironmonger's and in vari-
ous lowly clerical positions, but in his
novels he refers again and again to the
fate of people he describes as 'poor but

The Literary Side of

H.G. de Lisser (1878-1944)

By Rhonda Cobham

The author is interested in hearing from anyone who can contribute information and/or material on de Lisser for a full-length
biography which she is preparing. This might include personal information, anecdotes, photographs, manuscripts, early editions
of his works or of Planters' Punch, etc. Please send communications to Dr. Cobham c/oJAMA ICA JOURNAL for forwarding.

respectable' brown Jamaicans who,
given the necessary financial resources
and social contacts, could 'pass for
white' but who, in the words of the
hero of de Lisser's novel Triumphant
Squalitone (1916), were forced to live
in 'an atmosphere of compulsory fast-
ing' in order to maintain the barest out-
ward trappings of respectability.
De Lisser's first break came when he
obtained a clerical job at the Institute of
Jamaica. The Institute's library was one
of the best in the English-speaking Carib-
bean and de Lisser spent much of his
time there reading. He taught himself
French and Spanish and acquired an im-
pressive knowledge of Caribbean and
Latin American history. Even at this
early stage he dreamt of making his
name as a writer. A friend recalls that
when W.P. Livingstone's documentary
Black Jamaica appeared at the turn of
the century, de Lisser vowed that he
too would one day publish a book about
Jamaica. Armed with new knowledge,
de Lisser moved into journalism; first as
a proofreader at the Gleaner, then as a
correspondent at the Jamaica Times.
Finally in 1903 he was made assistant
editor of the Gleaner and a year later
he was appointed editor in chief, a post
he was to retain until his death in

The turn of the century was a tur-
bulent time in Jamaican politics. The
tide of conservative public sentiment in
the years following the 1865 Morant
Bay 'rebellion' had begun to recede and
educated Jamaicans were becoming
restive with the extremely restrictive
crown colony system of government
through which Jamaica was administer-
The Spanish-American war had just
come to an end and it was felt locally
that some form of annexation to or con-
federation with Canada or the U.S.A.,
such as had been recently effected bet-
ween Cuba and America, would be more
in Jamaica's interest than colonial juris-
diction from Britain. In addition the
black population in Jamaica had been
moving rapidly in the years since
Emancipation to obtain better jobs and
educational opportunities and a greater
say in government. Liberal English
administrators like Sydney Olivier, who
was governor and colonial secretary in
Jamaica between 1903 and 1914, spoke
out in favour of reforms giving Jamaicans
a greater say in their own affairs, while
conservative spokesmen, like the English
historian J.A. Froude in his book The

English in the West Indies (1898), main-
tained that black and white Jamaicans
were culturally and politically debased
because of their proximity to so-called
'primitive' African social institutions,
and were therefore incapable of self-
Both men had considerable influence
on de Lisser's development and atti-
tudes. Olivier's interest in things Jam-
aican and his encouragement of local
enterprise gave de Lisser the backing he
needed to try his hand at local fiction
and to develop his influence as a news-
paper editor. But, though de Lisser re-
velled in controversial journalistic stances
and never hesitated to take on the
colonial administration when it suited
him, his basic political attitudes relied
heavily on the particularly racist form
of conservatism championed by Froude.
In Twentieth Century Jamaica (1912),
for instance, one of de Lisser's three
full-length documentaries, he speaks out
in favour of possible U.S. annexation of
Jamaica, an idea that would have been
considered heretical by the more senti-
mental local upholders of imperial
Some form of control over their own
affairs the people of Jamaica will insist
upon having, and any continued ad-
vance towards practically unlimited
power and authority on the part of the
Government will alienate the sympathy
of the intelligent and educated classes
from the Government, which, we must
remember, largely represents the British
connection . . While no violent de-
monstrations are to be thought of even,
there will certainly be much less con-
tentment with the Government than
there is today, and it will be asked
whether Jamaica would not be better
off politically, as well as economically
and industrially, if connected with the
United States [pp. 165-66]
However, like Froude, he makes a
point of limiting the right to political
power to those classes which were cul-
turally oriented to Europe. There could
be no place for mass democracy in this
scheme of things, and certainly no place
for the black man, whom he describes
in an earlier newspaper article as:
Good humoured and impulsive, an ad-
mirable imitator when well taught but
with no inventive faculty whatever. His
political and social organisation is of
the most primitive type, his cities are
collections of huts which cannot with-
stand a season's rains. He has no liter-
ature, and no art. His music is of the
rudest. He is sometimes brave to reck-
lessness and sometimes a deplorable
["Marriage", the Jamaica Times 25
August 1900 p. 81.

Given such views it may seem incon-
gruous that de Lisser chose as the theme
for his first novel the story of a black
servant girl's successful fight to better
her material conditions in society. And
perhaps the novel would not have been
written had it not been for the en-
couragement of Sydney Olivier, who
felt that Jamaican society had been
neglected by local authors. Once begun,
however, de Lisser soon discovered that
everyday Jamaican life offered rich
material for comedy as well as action.
The story first appeared in serial form
in the Gleaner under the title Jane, A
Story of Jamaica in 1912, but its run-
away success with readers persuaded
de Lisser to interrupt serialization and
bring out the complete novel in book
form early in 1913. A year later, a slight-
ly modified version called Jane's Career
was published by Methuen, London, for
the overseas market.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of
de Lisser's first novel was his success at
manipulating creole speech. Several
Jamaicans, notably Claude McKay and
Tom Redcam, were publishing poems in
patois at around the same time, and
Redcam had also used patois in his
novelettes, Becka's Buckra Baby (1904)
and One Brown Girl and. . (1909).
But in Jane's Career de Lisser was able
to present creole speech not merely for
the sake of providing local colour, but
as a tool for defining character and in-
dicating levels of emotion. At one point
in the novel, for example, he reproduces
a 'tracing match' between Jane's em-
ployer, Mrs Mason, and one of the
other servants, Sarah. Mrs Mason's offi-
ciousness and sham respectability are
suggested by the way in which her over-
correct standard English disintegrates
into patois as she becomes angry and
flustered. Conversely, Sarah's creole
rhetoric becomes more and more
pronounced as she gains the upper
hand in the quarrel:
'You are a forward, worthless woman,'
shrieked Mrs Mason at her. 'You are not
only corrupt yourself, but you trying
to corrupt that little girl. You are a liar
if you tell me you didn't 'ave company
here las' night!'
Sarah felt that the term of her service
with Mrs Mason was speedily drawing
to an abrupt termination, and at once
made up hermind to giveword forward,
and so leave, at the least, with all the
honours of war.
'Who you calling' liard?'she insolently
asked. 'Yu better call you' two brown
niece liard, or your mamparla nephew.
You is a liard yourself if y'u say y'u
did see me last night. What sort of hie

De Lisser numbered among his friends several highly influential men including Sir Sydney Olivier (left) governor of Jamaica between 1907-14 and
Lord Burnham, a powerful British newspaper magnate.

you must be 'ave to see through board
and brick! Y'u tell me about me cor-
rupt? Y'u is corrupt yourself! In fact,
y'u better mind you' two niece, and
you' "Mister' Cecil," who can't meck
even you' schoolgal stay in your em-
ployments in peace! I never work wid
such a disgrunted female like you yet!
Y'u call yourself a lady, but I don't
know what kind o' lady you can be
when you always counting how much
piece of yam come into de table, an'
always following' up you' sarvant. De
trute is dat people like you shouldn't
'ave sarvant at all! I know I am black,
an' I know that God meck two colour
black an' white, but it must be de devil
meck brown people, for dem is neider
black nor white! In fact y'u better pay
me at once an' let me go. I not stayin'
here any longer. Pay me me wages, an'
mek me leave you' yard'.
'Pay you?' yelled Mrs Mason at the top
of her voice. 'Pay you? I will kick you
out, that's what I will do, you impu-
dent dog! If y'u don't leave me yard at
once, I will send for a policeman.'
'Who you gwine to send for policeman
for?' demanded Sarah, also at the top
of her voice, and with arms akimbo.
'Me? Y'u must be drunk! Look on de
mallata [mulatto] ooman how she
stand! Y'u t'ink I am a schoolgal, no?
Y'u t'ink you can teck an exvantage of
me? If it wasn't for one t'ing, I would
hold you in here, an' gie y'u such a

beaten dat you wouldn't walk for a
week. Y'u better pay me, for I tell y'u
I am gotten very ignorant. Don't aggra-
vate me, Miss Mason, don't aggravate
me, or I will get meself in trouble Pay
me my money, ra'am, an' meck me
go'. [pp. 55 -56].
Verbal battles of this nature have be-
come the stock in trade of Jamaican
comic theatre and radio drama, but for
readers before world war I they must
have seemed all the more hilarious for
being a relative novelty. De Lisser's
second novel, Susan Proudleigh (1915),
which recounts the adventures of a Jam-
aican girl who migrates to Panama, was
such a popular success that it was adap-
ted for the stage and presented by a local
theatre group. The comic figure of
Susan's father, Mr. Proudleigh, a wily
and loquacious survivor, became a well-
known public institution, and de Lisser
re-introduced him several times in sub-
sequent comic novels.
De Lisser's first novel is also interest-
ing for the inside view it gives us of the
way in which servant girls were treated
in Jamaica. This is a favourite theme of
de Lisser's to which he returned in later
stories and magazine articles. As a
young working man he had rented

rooms in the households of women like
Mrs Mason, and he probably took the
part of these overworked 'schoolgirls'
as much on account of their attractive-
ness and initial independence of spirit
as because of the justice of their cause.
Although he illustrates graphically the
kind of sexual harassment servants were
subjected to, as well as the unfair de-
mands that their mistresses often made
on them, de Lisser does not sentimental-
ize their situation or present them mere-
ly as victims. In the final battle of words
with Mrs Mason, Sarah definitely em-
erges victorious, while Jane, when she
runs away, makes sure she leaves Mrs
Mason at a disadvantage and her im-
portunate suitor Cecil, a nephew of
Mrs Mason, out of pocket.
On the other hand, in both Jane's
Career and Susan Proudleigh de Lisser
is often satirical at the expense of his
black male characters, using the prag-
matism and resourcefulness of his at-
tractive heroines to highlight what he
sees as the laziness and misplaced ag-
gression of black Jamaican men in their
attempts to organize politically and
industrially. Jane's lover, Vincent
Broglie, who works with a newspaper

firm in Kingston, is forced to break a
strike,organized by the fledgling printers'
union, in order to offer Jane a secure
home. But in later years he comes to see
his action as a triumph of good sense
and to defer to Jane's superior intuition
in such matters. In Susan Proudleigh,
the prize of Susan's favours is only be-
stowed on those admirers who are pre-
pared to work uncomplainingly, and to
stay away from 'hot-headed agitators'
trying to organize workers into indus-
trial action against racism and poor liv-
ing and working conditions in the Canal
Zone. However the political tone of
both these early novels remains casual,
as de Lisser is still far too interested in
exploring his material as a creative
writer to concentrate exclusively on
After the publication of Susan Proud-
leigh, however, the tone of de Lisser's
writing began to change. This change
was probably a reflection of the general
spirit of conservatism in Jamaican society
at the time, brought about by the out-
break of world war I and the upsurge
of imperialist sentiment it induced. In
de Lisser's case, the change in tone may
also have been due to personal ambition

and his assessment of the opportunities
available to him in Jamaican society. It
is marked in his creative writing by a
hardening of the conservative bias and
an incipient increase in cynicism with
respect to people and politics, atti-
tudes which first find expression in
the novel Triumphant Squalitone (1916).
The novel's plot hinges upon an imagin-
ary wartime proclamation making Jam-
aica a republic in order to prevent it
from falling into German hands in the
event of a British defeat and the en-
suing scramble for the presidency. At
the last minute, both presidential can-
didates decide to reaffirm their alle-
giance to the Empire and are knight-
ed for this act of patriotism. By anti-
cipating the swing back to imperial
loyalty, John Squalitone, the novel's
protagonist, is able to enhance his social
standing and secure a pensionable posi-
tion in the civil service. The narrator of
the story is a retired English gentleman,
Mr. Crooks, who lodges in the Squali-
tone household. By channelling Squali-
tone's arguments in defence of his
opportunism toward Crooks, and descri-
bing the process by which Crook's initial
moral scruples about his landlord's

political chicanery are replaced by rue-
ful admiration for his political acumen,
de Lisser is able to argue a case for his
own political attitudes while allowing
his English narrator to give his argu-
ments the seal of approval. Although de
Lisser clearly distances himself from
some of the more disreputable of his
comic hero's methods, he manages to
leave the impression that, given Squali-
tone's background and circumstances,
his manipulation of patronage and pub-
lic opinion is a far more pragmatic and
honest course of action than any at-
tempt to set himself up as a martyr for
altruistic causes or unpopular forms of
By 1904, at the age of 25, de Lisser
had already reached the top of his pro-
fession, and for someone of his colour
and background, there would have been
few further options for advancement.
The Legislative Council, a logical haven
for prominent journalists, he had as-
sessed often enough in his writing as a
powerless, even ridiculous body. His
work with Sydney Olivier, however, as
one of the leaders of the Kingston re-
development committee after the 1907
earthquake, had underlined for him the



Susan Proudleigh and Jane, both de Lisser heroines, portray the resourcefulness, pragmatism and independence of spirit of the poor, black young
woman forced to fend for herself in early 20th century Jamaica.

VOL I NO 7 1927



INLAND SWIMMING POOL 150 feat long. 65 feet wide.
Up-to-DIl wt th War Ch .. Hlgh and low Divlng SItge., ae.
eiC. Individual Dreansng Room., Fraeh Watar Showers and
Sanilary Convenienc.e.

PROTECTED SEA BATH 185 feet lon, I00 feet wide.
Enrcloed by torpedo nlllimn whlh rendr. t e1 liy Shsrk.
proof Filted wilh prng board. and IO -floot Seilner Woter
Toboggn Slide.

Planters' Punch, published annually between
1920-44, is another of de Lisser's lasting con-
tributions to Jamaican letters. The prestigious
magazine traditionally opened with a full
page portrait of the wife or daughter of a local
orvisiting celebrity such as Lady Stubbs, CB .E.
(above) featured in the 1927 issue.

DANCING: Splendid Dancing Hall overlooking the Pool with a weeping
view of the Harbour. Open on all lide., thi Dance Hall Is considered
the Coolest in Jamaica. The very latest Dance Muiic I supplied.

extent to which, as a journalist, he
could manipulate and direct public
opinion, even to the point of forcing
the colonial office to take note of
his demands. During the war de Lisser
was able to broaden his sphere of influ-
ence through a series of judicious man-
oeuvres: the West India Volunteer Regi-
ment was largelydrummed up in response
to rallying cries from the Gleaner and
other newspapers, as was the vote of
several thousand pounds from the Jam-
aica budget to the war effort. Later,
through personal lobbying, de Lisser
was able to convince the colonial
office to return this sum as a direct
subsidy to the local sugar industry, thus
circumventing the local Assembly in its
allocation of funds. Thereafter he was
established as the Sugar Manufacturers
Association's permanent roving repre-
sentative. After the war de Lisser quick-

ly dissociated himself from the war
veterans' attempts to claim the benefits
they had been promised. The Garveyite
Leslie Gabay's description of his dis-
illusionment with de Lisser's response
to the veterans' struggle gives an idea
of the esteem in which the prominent
journalist was generally held at the time:

I approached Mr. de Lisser ... know-
ing fully how convincingly and keen-
ly he advocated the enlisting of these
men for overseas service. He abruptly
told me that he had his other affairs
to consider, and had no time to worry
about ex-soldiers. Imagine the shock I
had. Without another word I retired,
but greatly disappointed with a man
who had been my journalistic idol.
["Twenty Years After", Public Opinion
25 March 1939].
And certainly, by 1919 de Lisser had
any number of affairs to consider which
required his full attention. The Jamaica

Imperial Association was foundedaround
this time and de Lisser became its sec-
retary as well as the editor of its business
and cultural magazine, Planters' Punch.
In spite of or perhaps because of -
his virulent attacks on the reformist
policies of the new post-war Governor
Probyn, he was awarded the CMG in
the King's New Year's Honours list,
1919, for his contribution to Jamaican
literature and letters. A new novel,
Revenge, appeared in the same year,
based on the events leading up to the
Morant Bay 'rebellion' of 1865. With
the award of the Institute of Jamaica's
Musgrave silver medal for literary ex-
cellence, de Lisser's position as cultural
and political doyen in Jamaica was placed
beyond contention.
Socially, de Lisser had also made
important advances. During his lob-
bying trips to England he had contract-

.. .. r.. *..... .... .1 .. *.. O-.U1O1 f-s- ts- ..... CL..


ed a friendship with the newspaper mag-
nate Lord Burnham. According to Ansell
Hart, in a Jamaica Journal article on
"Colour Prejudice in Jamaica" [IV, 4
Dec. 1970], it was this friendship that
sealed de Lisser's social prestige and
gained him access to the most exclusive
white social circles in Jamaica. The final
social advance came a few years later
when de Lisser, having correctly asses-
sed the economic ascendance of the
United Fruit Company over local sugar
interests, began to support the former
when the interest of the two agricultural
monopolies did not coincide. Around
the same time the Gleaner editor be-
came a permanent resident at Jamaica's
most exclusive hotel, the Myrtle Bank,
then owned by United Fruit. Rumour
had it that his residence there gratis was
the price the company paid for his sup-
port of its policies but de Lisser, who
enjoyed the small storms and scandals
surrounding his reputation, did nothing
to end the speculation. Writing tongue-
in-cheek in one of his magazine novels
he lets a policeman explain the illegal
Chinese gambling game, peaka peow, in
this way:
It is a Chinese game of chance, ex-
plained the inspector; "a gambling
game much denounced by those who
secretly take part in it; that is, by al-
most everybody. I have heard that a
man in this city generally known as
H.G.D. carries on in private a branch
of the peaka peow business and makes
a large part of his very suspicious in-
come by that. If only I catch him.
["The Jamaica Bandits" in Planters'
Punch, 11,4 1929-30 p.51].
And perhaps it was this unerring in-
stinct for the absurd, in himself and in
his society, which allowed de Lisser to
dominate the public imagination for so
long and to manipulate public opinion
so successfully. For years his satirical
column "Random Jottings", which ap-
peared daily in the Gleaner, formed the
staple topic of conversation at Jamaican
breakfasts, and several younger journal-
ists tried unsuccessfully to imitate
his urbane, satirical style. When de Lisser
wished to obliterate a particular organi-
zation or issue, he would ignore it
editorially but poke fun at it in his
column. Garvey's United Negro Im-
provement Association was treated in
this manner, and at first de Lisser tried
to deflect attention from the social and
political upheavals of 1938 in the same
Although personal ambition no doubt
played a role in de Lisser's choice of
political alliances, there is plenty of

evidence in his journalism and creative
writing to suggest that he considered it
the duty of serious journalism to curb
political excess within the society and
to ensure that changes which were inevi-
table were carried through without
undermining the status quo. Comment-
ing on the new mood of militancy with-
in the lower classes after world war I in
a newspaper editorial, he observes:
We could not expect Jamaica to re-
main . the same with the world
in flux and change. What happens in
Austria . Russia . Italy .. or ...
England is known . within a few
hours or days and a growing majority
of our people can read. Ideas are like
. influenza they will enter the re-
motest corner of . earth and . .
cannot be effectively quarantined. Our
duty will be to . render dangerous
ideas as innocuous as they can . be
rendered . this . itself will be...
difficult. (The Gleaner 31 December
1919 p.8].
In his novel Revenge de Lisser places
special emphasis on the role of late 19th
century newspapers in fuelling the dis-
sension which brought about the riots
of 1865. The journalists Robson, Mace
and Bolt in the novel correspond to the
journalists connected with the radical
Watchman newspaper which had given
publicity to George William Gordon's
views before the Morant Bay 'rebellion'.
However, de Lisser may also have drawn
on contemporaneous models in creating
these characters, as there were a number
of small newspapers in post-world war I
Jamaica which, like the Watchman,
combined a strong religious bias with

anti-establishment views. The satirical
treatment of radical journalists in Re-
venge can therefore be seen as a two-
pronged attack, aimed equally at past
and present political realities.
In his essay on de Lisser in Six Great
Jamaicans (1952), de Lisser's friend and
political opponent Walter Adolphe
Roberts relates how de Lisser once told
him that he would see the introduction
of internal self-government only over
his dead body and then, with char-
acteristic self-irony he had burst out
laughing at the absurdity of his own
words. It is perhaps even more ironic
that Jamaica gained its first consti-
tution guaranteeing a limited amount of
participation in government in the year
that de Lisser died, and that the swing
away from the ideas represented by de
Lisser had the unfortunate effect of
obliterating the memory of this great
man and of his real contribution to Jam-
aican letters. As chairman of the Insti-
tute of Jamaica for successive terms

between 1922 and 1937 he was largely
responsible for ensuring that the librarian
Frank Cundall's attempts to build up
the West India Reference Library re-
ceived moral and financial support.
De Lisser was also a wizard at fund-
raising and it was largely due to his ef-
forts that the science wing of the Insti-
tute was built and financed. His undeni-
ably autocratic methods of running the
Institute, however he tended for in-
stance to treat the Institute library as
his personal property and allow only
friends or favoured allies free access to
the rare documents there finally led
to his downfall. He retired from the exe-
cutive board of the Institute in 1938 in
a wave of recrimination and bitterness,
after his nominee for the post of chair-
man was challenged from the floor by
Norman Manley and other young Insti-
tute members.
De Lisser's other lasting contribution
to Jamaican letters was made through
his magazine Planters' Punch (1920-
44). The annual was the official organ
of the Jamaica Imperial Association, but
apart from regular features on prominent
businessmen who belonged to the asso-
ciation it was a purely de Lisser affair.
The magazine aimed at a readership
within Jamaica's leisured classes and in
colonial circles in London and it paid
special attention to cultivating a female
clientele within these groups. Each issue
opened with a full page portrait of the
wife or daughter of some local or visit-
ing celebrity, and it is clear that to be
featured in the pages of Planters'Punch
was considered a mark of social prestige.
But Planters' Punch was much more
than a ladies' magazine. De Lisser used
his access to rare documents in the West
India collection of the Institute to create
lively and informative articles about all
aspects of Jamaican life and culture.
Many of the articles had a historical
perspective, and readers were invited to
contrast the bad old days of slavery
with the relative sophistication and gen-
tility of 20th century Jamaica. There
were articles on famous buildings, docu-
mentaries on small local groups like the
Chinese business community, as well as
intriguing vignettes on such subjects as
Jamaican dancing girls through the ages
and the development of local theatre.

Apart from the fund of information
about Jamaican society it contained,
Planters' Punch was also used by de
Lisser to popularize his own creative
writing. A full-length novel appeared in
each issue of the annual, and sometimes

the more popular stories were republish-
ed as books in their own right. Historical
romances like The White Witch of Rose-
hall (1929), Morgan's Daughter (1931),
and Psyche (1943) all were published in
Planters' Punch before being re-issued
by the British publishing firm Ernest
Benn. In each of the historical romances,
a real historical event is used as the
backdrop for a love story or tale of ad-
venture and invariably there is also a
thinly disguised polemical level to the
story such as has already been noted
in de Lisser's treatment of journalists in
Revenge. In The White Witch of Rosehall,
de Lisser's best known historical ro-
mance, the plot centres on a love tri-
angle involving a visiting Englishman, a
slave girl and the legendary Annie Pal-
mer, the white mistress of Rosehall
estate, who was famed for her cruelty to
her slaves and was said to have disposed
of three husbands through witchcraft.
De Lisser paints a blood-curdling pic-
ture of the depravity of planter society,
although it is not quite clear whether
he considers this depravity the result
of the planters' close contact with Afri-
can culture or with the system of
slavery. Perhaps, in the tradition of other
colonial writers who have described the
'fatal lure' of the tropics, he means to

JANY. YTm 19:11
1ased on Mr. H. G. DeLiscsr' Popular Novel.
(Itelat Performance)

Ac' s IN THE TitL uOLE.
(SOUVENIIl 1'U)(lhAl.AN l. 0In
------ - - - -,.,

The comedy and action which abounded in
de Lisser's novels made them very easily adapt-
ed for the stage. E.M. Cupidon was one of the
local producers who dramatized de Lisser's
works. Shown on this page are scenes from his
productions of Jane and Susan Proudleigh.

include both aspects in his general con-
demnation. One of the white characters,
an English clergyman cum alcoholic
comments on his own degeneration
I suppose I drifted along till it was too
late. I had nothing to return to, you
see; I feared that if I went back to Eng-
land there would no longer be a place
there. that I could make for myself.
Once here, I was in a sort of prison.
Turn me out into the free world again,
and I should be at my wits' end. It was
all cowardice and weakness, of course;
and something worse. The life here, for
a man like me, was infinitely easier
than it could be in England. My duties
were light, my pay was sufficient to
keep me, and I could do what I pleased
to a great extent without being called
to account for it. I liked the life, at
first; I didn't realise what it was lead-
ing me to. I liked the drink; I didn't
grasp that it was making me a drunk-
ard. When I did, I was down. [pp.

Apart from Annie Palmer, the white
witch, all the heroines of de Lisser's
historical romances are coloured wo-
men involved in love affairs with white
men. Morgan's Daughter (1931) is the
story of pirate-governor Morgan's bas-
tard mulatto daughter, whose love for
an English renegade leads her into com-
plicity in his crimes. The Cup and the

Lip (1932) explores the relationship
between a female East Indian indentured
labourer and a white overseer in the late
19th century. Anancanoa (1937) takes
its name from an Arawak princess, in
love with one of Christopher Columbus'
officers who is shipwrecked on Jamaica's
north coast in the 16th century. In
Haunted (1940), a visiting English beau
is bewitched by the mother of a mulatto
girl so as to lure him into marriage. The
offspring of this liaison, which predict-
ably ends in tragedy, becomes a pivotal
figure in the 1938 riots, which form
the backdrop to the novel's sequel, The
Return (1944). Indeed few of de Lisser's
mixed liaisons end happily. The initia-
tive in starting the affair is inevitably
taken by the coloured woman and
often, as in Haunted, the girl or her re-
latives resort to witchcraft to attract or
bind the desired lover.
De Lisser's preoccupation with the
theme of miscegenation may have been
due to his own indeterminate racial
status as well as social realities. There
could have been few creole white fami-
lies in Jamaica in which, somewhere
along the line, intermarriage with per-
sons of mixed blood had not taken
place. What de Lisser seems to be ex-
ploring in his novels is the fear of ex-
posure that must have been a source
of constant worry for 'respectable'
Jamaicans not far removed from the
point of mixing on the one hand, and
the trauma of self-hatred experienced
by those Jamaicans who, for financial
or physical reasons, were just below the
colour bar. In The Sins of the Children
(1928) a novel whose setting is almost
contemporaneous with its date of publi-
cation and which incidentally reflects
changing social mores in that the mixed
couple are allowed, after migrating to
Latin America, to marry we are given
this description of the heroine, a well
educated young lady with good finan-
cial prospects, as she examines her re-
She looked long and earnestly at her
face in the mirror: she saw that it was
pretty; saw her large black eyes gleam-
ing with excitement and something else
besides; and her smooth, healthy skin,
her carefully combed, carefully ar-
ranged hair, the arch of her nose and
the self-willed, small mouth of which
she was so proud. Yes, she knew that
she had her full share of attractive-
ness, need envy no girl of her com-
plexion and classes. "But I am so dark,"
she murmured, "so dark ... too dark,"
and the burning eyes became misty.
[The Sins of the Children, in Planters'
Punch 11, 2 1928 p.391.

Clearly de Lisser understood only
too well the racial tensions within his
society. Had he been less committed to
maintaining the status of a specific class,
he could have made through his novels an
important contribution to his society's
self-awareness in this respect. As it is,
his polemical parameters excluded the
examination of such deep-seated social
taboos, and we are left with a fascinating,
accurate, but superficial view of a sub-
ject which today is still laden with un-
resolved tensions.

Not all of de Lisser's magazine novels
had historical settings. Under the Sun
(1936), The Jamaica Bandits (1930) and
The Rivals (1921) all deal with modern
Jamaica, and The Jamaica Nobility
(1926) and Myrtle and Money (1942)
have black Jamaicans as their protagon-
ists. This last mentioned novel was con-
ceived as a sequel to Jane's Career and,
like the earlier work, deserves to be
ranked among the best pieces of fiction
produced by de Lisser. The book was
written in the aftermath of the 1938
riots and after the outbreak of the
second world war, at a time when it
must have been clear, even to de Lisser,
that a new educated black and coloured
elite was poised to take over the politi-
cal leadership of the island. In Myrtle and
Money de Lisser explores the conscious-
ness of this new class, a class in which it
was no longer necessary to strive after
whiteness, as its members were often
better educated and better off financially
than the white middle class. Myrtle,
Jane's youngest daughter, has been born
into a life of comparative luxury and
takes for granted the education, ser-
vants and social freedom that her parents
have spent a lifetime struggling to ac-
quire. She accepts valuable presents
from socially superior admirers without
feeling obliged to dole out sexual fav-
ours in return, as her mother had been
forced to do during her time as a ser-
vant in Mrs Mason's household. While
Jane is now ashamed of the fact that
her ostentatious white wedding oc-
curred after the birth of her first child,
Myrtle and her friends hardly turn a hair
on hearing that one of their number is
pregnant, and calmly arrange for her to
have an abortion in Cuba. The strain of
living a permanent lie about her past has
reduced the once pragmatic and self-
assured Jane to a timid, insecure middle-
aged lady, tyrannized by a pompous and
complacent husband, and held in mild
contempt by her three children. And
yet, as de Lisser points out, it is Jane's

soul-destroying suppression of her past
which allows Myrtle to operate with
such comparatively liberal moral atti-
tudes and social ease.

Jane's only friend is Miss Mason, the
niece of her former employer, who, in
spite of her mulatto respectability, has
been ruined socially because of a long-
forgotten fling with a visiting Cuban,
after which she had given birth to a still-
born child. Jane knows Miss Mason's
secret and protects her through her
friendship. In return, Miss Mason con-
tributes to the myth that Jane had lived
as an equal in the Mason household
when she first came to Kingston. The
subtle ironies of contrast between
mother and daughter, friend and former
employer, and the criticism that the
novel levels at the burgeoning material-
ism of the new middle class make this,
in my view, one of the finest works of
fiction de Lisser ever produced.

Who was de Lisser? What did he real-
ly think? And how did he manage to be
so many different things to different
people without losing his ironic in-
sight into himself and his society? In my
opinion the problem of placingde Lisser,
politically, ideologically and as a creative
writer, can only be resolved if we con-
sider the contradictions within his per-
sonality and interests as a reflection of
the contradictions within Jamaican
society. De Lisser was certainly not the
first, nor will he be the last Jamaican
to celebrate his society in his creative
work or to take an interest in its his-
tory, while at the same time enter-
taining views on race and class which
would seem to exclude the majority of
the island's population from full parti-
cipation socially and culturally in their
country's destiny. In de Lisser's case,
the paradox is particularly tragic, as
he himself was of mixed race, and in a
more rigidly stratified social situation,
he would never have been able to attain
the social and political power which
he enjoyed. The price he paid for this
acceptance, however, was the sup-
pression of those aspects of himself
which could conceivably connect him
with black Jamaica.

Though his novels reveal his admir-
ation for any individual with the wit or
resourcefulness to survive and make
good in spite of social handicaps, as he
himself had done, he was never able to
reconcile such personal success with the
idea that all races were equally capable
of achievement.

The Black River
Waterway, Wetlands and a Way of Life
By Barry Wade


E very Jamaican school child is taught that the Black River is the island's largest. Few people
know much more about this dominating, proud and historic inland waterway. For the people of St.
Elizabeth the river influences their daily lives. For others outside of the island's fourth largest parish,
the river is nothing more than a fact of Jamaica's geography and the source name for the parish's
capital. Black River river and town is largely unknown to most of us.


From the Cockpit Country through two wetlands to the sea, the Black River (below
and map) dominates the parish of St. Elizabeth. The river, like the town which bears
its name, has a rich and unusual history.

The Lacovia gorge, now spanned by the highway bridge (below, right), was the site of
a number of fierce battles between the Spaniards and the British during their 17th
century struggles for possession of the island. This was one of only two points along
the Black River at which the attacking forces could cross on foot.

Origins and Course

The Black River originates in the
parish of Trelawny amidst the southern-
most extension of the Cockpit Country.
It disappears for several miles under-
ground at Oxford near Balaclava, and
rises near Siloah as a large and beautiful
blue hole. From here it meanders through
the villages of Siloah, Appleton and
Maggotty where the Jamaica Public
Service Company has a hydroelectric
station at what was once the Maggotty
Falls, reputed to have been one of the
most spectacular in Jamaica. Between
Maggotty and Newton the river flows
through a narrow gorge before emerging
into the wide open Upper Black River
Morass plain. Here it receives several tri-
butaries such as the Elim and Grass
Rivers before making its way once more
through a narrow gorge at Lacovia and


entering what is the largest wetland area
in Jamaica, the Lower Black River
Morass. Here the Black River asserts its
authority as a large, powerful and all
pervading water course. Besides traver-
sing the whole morass and influencing
thereby all aspects of its hydrology,
ecology and social systems, it is also
fed by a number of important tribu-
taries, in particular the Y.S., Middle
Quarters and Broad Rivers.
The last named is an elegant river
of large dimensions but of completely
different character to the Black River
itself. It emerges in the eastern section
of the morass as a number of deep, clear
blue holes, magnificent for swimming
and snorkelling. This river is slow and
tranquil, meandering on its way like no
other river in Jamaica and giving the im-
pression of having all the time in the
world to arrive at its destination. After
completing its lazy six-mile course, the
Broad River joins the Black River
approximately one mile from the town

The Y.S. Falls (left) near the source of the river, is one of spectacular beauty. How-
ever, few Jamaicans have seen it. The unusual name of the river and estate on which
it is located is believed to be derived from the Gaelic word meaning winding. On
early maps it is written 'Wyess'.

The Black River, now invariably brown with heavy silt (below, left), enriches the
lower morass with chemical fertilizers leached out from agricultural lands along its
upper reaches. As a result the vegetation along its banks is profuse and the river is
frequently choked with water hyacinth.

of Black River at a place called Broad
Water. The enlarged Black River flows
through the town before completing its
44-mile-journey from source and dis-
charging into the Caribbean. -, .'. -
Rio Caobana (Mahogany River) was ". .-'
the original name given to the Black '.
River by the Spaniards. The word 'cao- -
bana' is derived from the Spanish caoba ,.
(mahogany) but it is not clear why the
Spaniards should choose this name. Inez i
Sibley believes that it was due to the .
many mahogany trees found growing .._ ..-.
along the river. It is not certain when
the name change to the Black River
occurred and why. Certainly it must
have been after the British conquest of
Jamaica and was probably influenced
by the colour of the water. One view
is that this was due to chips of logwood
which fell from the boats trafficking on
the river and which reportedly stained
the water black. Another is that it was
because of small particles of mud which
floated in it. A more recent explanation
is that the colour is .due to peat sub-
stances which dissolve in the water as
it flows over the very highly organic
soils. Whatever the reason, the Black
River nowadays seldom shows this dark- t j
colour except above the Lacovia gorge. -.i 11
Below this, it is most often coloured
rusty brown by the heavy load of silt
it carries. ,



No other is quite like the Broad River (below), Clear, cool and calm, it meanders
lazily from its blue hole sources, across the eastern basin of the lower morass, and
into the Black River about a mile from the sea.

AC 'I ..E 4 ~ I
t.ri' ~ -p.- -. -
Uc -
I.. j.t. a i. K n- -a,,

#7 .a- -. -p..i
S'.% *r ~ C


.~ Ty"":A'
~^* ~~**^ IIM H ^^ H ^
'1 **yi~lB~t^^^B^^^

* ",.'f "


aWL :

*r~ m,.Qb..,


YL-~--L-- L ---- ---- ----I ---- ---

aff~rYI.,I~~L: ~
_., --. ..-r
I s
Y~ t~' L-

The Black River has not escaped the scourge of industrial pollution. Here (left);
wastes from the now defunct Revere alumina plant enter the river just above the
town ofMaggotty.

Flood control dykes in the Upper Black River Morass flank the river from the town
of Newton to near the Lacovia gorge (below). This reclamation project undertaken
by the Black River Upper Morass Development Company (BRUMDEC) is the most
ambitious of its kind in Jamaica.


The Black River falls naturally into
three distinct geographical sections: the
upper reaches from its source to the
village of Newton; the Upper Black
River Morass from Newton to Lacovia;
and the Lower Black River Morass
from Lacovia to the town of Black
River. In the upper reaches, the river
flows through agricultural land, mostly
in cane, where it is ravaged by uncontrol-
led run-off of fertilizers, pesticides and
industrial waste. Years ago when the
Revere alumina plant was in operation
at Maggotty, the river became severely
polluted by oil, caustic soda and sew-
age wastes. Even today, the river may
not have fully recovered from these
heavy loads of waste, and it must still
contend with other forms of pollution
from the sugar and rum industries at
The Upper Morass

The Upper Black River Morass in
times past functioned as a settling
basin for the Black River after it passed
through the Newton gorge. More than
50 years ago, drainage works were be-
gun to control flooding and convert the
morass into cultivable land. These early
schemes were only partially successful
although they did result in a substantial
alteration of the morass ecology into
grassland and waste forest.
These attempts at drainage and flood
control were undertaken primarily to
facilitate the growing of cane in both
the upper morass and the lower morass
within Holland estate. With partial
drainage, however, rice cultivation was
initiated, primarily by the indentured
Indian population working on the sugar
estates. Even today some of their des-
cendants plant a few acres of rice each
year behind the earthen levees of the
Black River near to Holland. These cul-
tivations include vegetables and some
ground crops and must be carefully

timed each year so as not to be flood-
ed by high water when the river 'comes
down'. Very much the same practice
can be seen along the Cabaritta River in
There has never been much doubt
that the Black River basin, particularly
the upper morass, has the potential to
produce enough rice to satisfy local de-
mand and for export. However, this was
impossible without major drainage and
flood control works. In 1967 a com-
prehensive study was undertaken by a
team of Dutch experts to determine the
feasibility of draining both morasses for
cultivation. The report was favourable
for the upper morass but doubtful for
the lower. This was followed in 1974
by a detailed engineering study for the
upper morass, leading soon after to the
initiation of the most ambitious drain-
age and flood control works yet under-
taken in Jamaica under the direction of
the Black River Upper Morass Develop-
ment Company (BRUMDEC), a sub-
sidiary of the National Investment Bank
of Jamaica Ltd. (NIBJ).
Since the completion of the engineer-
ing works, 5,000 acres of usable agri-
cultural land have been reclaimed and
rice cultivations have been put in in

increasing acreage each year with good
results. There are now 1,000 acres in
rice and further development both in
terms of quantity and quality of rice is
taking place. Over 1,000 acres have been
reserved for aquaculture with approxi-
mately 60 acres already in use. Thus
within a comparatively short time, the
upper morass has been transformed into
a highly productive agricultural area
and within five years we should see all
its cultivable land under production.
The agricultural activity in the upper
morass and upper reaches has severely
affected the lower morass. For example,
since the river has been dyked, it is un-
able to shed its heavy silt load over the
upper morass before passing through the
Lacovia gorge and entering the lower
morass. The lower morass is now in-
fluenced by this silt as well as by high
levels of chemical fertilizers and pollu-
tants which are washed into the river
from above Lacovia.

The Lower Morass

The Lower Black River Morass,
despite the damaging effects of man, is
regarded by knowledgable persons as an
outstanding wetland of great beauty and
potential. Certainly it is the largest and

The author stands among the tall trees and tangled undergrowth of the Holland
marsh forest. Few would think that such an environment exists as part of the coastal

most diverse swampland in Jamaica and
one of the largest in the entire Carib-
bean. Many visitors who have been into
the swamp by boat or on foot have
described it as being even more interest-
ing and beautiful than the famous Ever-
glades National Park in Florida which,
also, is made up of swampland. This
may seem surprising to those who prob-
ably think of a swamp as nothing more
than wasteland. To others, however,
who have actually seen the wonders of

a swamp close-up, nothing could be fur-
ther from the truth.
The lower morass is made up of
many different types of vegetation and
habitats, all of which are influenced by
the amount of the surrounding water
and nature of the soil. The most spec-
tacular of these are found along the
banks of the Black River itself. For
example, near Holland and French-
man's there are remnant stands of dense
marsh forest made up of several species
of forest trees, some of which are found
nowhere else in Jamaica. Rising above
the marshland, the forest dominates the
scene with its high canopy, dense under-
growth and rich bird life. To enter a
marsh forest from the surrounding
swamp is to move rapidly from an open
plain into a fascinating jungle-like world,
overpowering with giant trees, but soft-

ened by subtly beautiful vines and herbs,
many of which have been adapted for
use as house plants. Against this back-
drop a symphony of bird song is always
to be heard. Much has been made in
Florida of such forests as tourist attrac-
tions. Along the banks of the Black River,
our marsh forests impatiently wait for
us to discover, enjoy and protect them.
If we delay too long they could become
the victims of needless destruction.
Lower down the Black River where
the influence of the sea is felt, the marsh
forest gives way to mangrove forest.
These unique plants reach high into the
sky with their numerous branches and
sometimes create a rather eerie and awe-
some picture as their branches in turn
send down long slender roots to make
contact again with the river and to ob-
tain purchase with the soil below. Behind

Rooftop Gournwn7tR as)
surant. Open nightly-


.tu VE Y_1
B M n s
Exciting =Luncheon Menu's
featuring I'LITHEh CARVRY,',

Even more beautiful than the famous Holland Bamboo Avenue is the mangrove
cathedral of the Broad River (below). This is truly an outstanding beauty spot in the

Common alongside the banks of the Black River and in the wetter parts of the open
marsh is this dainty but conspicuous flower of the herb Sagittaria (right) which
blooms year round.

Who would want to hurry along a river of such tranquility? The Middle Quarters
River with its translucent water, floating lily pads, underwater vegetation and varied
waterfowl, has all the ingredients to calm a troubled soul (bottom).

the aerial roots, anchored on drier land,
are the tangled prop roots among which
birds feed and numerous crabs scamper.
Along some parts of the river, especially
the Broad River, the mangrove forest
lines both banks, creating an archway
of great beauty and serenity. Few visitors
have passed through the mangrove
cathedral of the Broad River without
being completely enchanted with it.
Interspersed between the marsh and
mangrove forests of the river banks are
a variety of riverine plants. Wild cane,
bulrush, wild ginger, quaco bush and
potato slip are but a few. Many of these
produce small but very delicate flowers
in profusion, and at least some are al-
ways in bloom.
Floating in the Black River are pro-
lific growths of the very beautiful but
nuisance species, the water hyacinth.
Thousands of dollars are spent each
year by the Black River Drainage and
Irrigation Board to cut this plant away

so as to keep the river open to traffic.
However, when the water hyacinth is in
bloom and its rafts of foliage carpet the
river, nothing can equal it for sheer

Characteristic of the cleaner and
gentler waters of the Middle Quarters
and Broad Rivers is the water lily,
sometimes blooming en masse but most
often in smaller numbers. Waterfowl,

Photograph (c. 1940s) dates from an era when sports fishermen were attracted to the
Black River area by big ones like this Tarpon.

The vastness of the open marsh (below) can be overpowering. The Lower Black
River Morass consists of more than 8,000 acres of such marshland.


most noticeably the tan and yellow
coloured Jacana, feed from or walk
over the dainty lily pads. Below the very
translucent water, colourful algae and
flowering plants can be seen, including
the fascinating insect-eating bladder-
The river banks, especially those of
the Black River, are lined by a diversity
of plants but these give way within a
short distance to the open marshes
which are mostly covered by sawgrass
and sedges. The expanse of the marsh-
land can be overpowering and the visitor
may quickly lose his perspective among
the tall and sometimes uncomfortable
vegetation. But he should not let that
deter him. Look closely one or two feet
above the soil and a world of ground
orchids and spider lilies opens up. Even
after numerous excursions into the
marshes, I never fail to make a new dis-
covery each time.

Beneath the open marsh is the highly
organic peat soil, so valued for its horti-
cultural and fuel uses in other parts of
the world. In some places the peat
which has been formed from rotting
swamp vegetation over approximately
10,000 years is more than 30 feet thick.
In parts of the open marsh the peat is
thin or absent and limestone outcrops
appear at the surface. These usually

have thatch palms growing over them
and provide an interesting contrast to
the flatter landscape.

The lower morass is rich in wild-
life, particularly birds and fish. The
greatest variety of waterfowl is to be
found along or near the banks of the
Black and Middle Quarters Rivers, but
other species abound in the marsh
forests. Bird-watchers from all over
the world spend many relaxing hours
at early dawn observing the resident and
migrant birds in the lower morass. In a
recent brief survey, nearly 100 species
were seen, at least four of which are
very rare in Jamaica and should be

Fish are also common, especially in
the lower sections of the Black and
Broad Rivers where both freshwater
and marine fish feed actively and their
young find shelter. In times past, the
Black River attracted sport fishermen
and many are the tales of the snook,
snapper and mullet landed from its
waters. Today, the activity has declined
and so also has the number of fish, but
there is no reason why both cannot be

The Black River has long been
known for its shrimp which are caught
and sold at Middle Quarters. Even with

pollution and overfishing, the shrimp
are still there, but their numbers and
sizes are disturbingly reduced.
The 1892 Handbook of Jamaica
tells us that the Black River abounded
with alligators and many are the folk
tales of alligators and alligator-hunting
in the lower morass. Actually, what
exists there is not the alligator but the
American crocodile of which the morass
contains one of the few remaining
natural populations of appreciable size
in the world. Although the number is
not known exactly, it is believed to be
in the region of 200, but dwindling.
Hunting, wanton killing, entrapment in
fishermen's nets, and destruction of
breeding sites are believed to be the
main reasons for the reduction of the
population. Yet there can be no good
reason for this, for despite the folklore,
the local crocodile has only seldom run
afoul of man. In truth, it is a highly
territorial and predictable animal. Even
nowadays, basking crocodiles may
commonly be seen along the banks
of the Black River near to the town
and may be approached to within
reasonable distances for viewing before
disappearing underwater. The potential
of these animals as a tourist attraction
is enormous but they too need to be
Like the crocodile, manatees were
once abundant in the Black River.
However, being highly favoured for
their meat, they have been mercilessly
hunted and, today, the remaining mana-
tees are wise enough to stay out of the
river. No more than about 150 animals
survive in Jamaican waters. Occasion-
ally a few may be seen in the Black
River harbour.
Another animal that is taken out of
the morass for food is the fresh water
turtle. Their numbers are also few. Re-
cent introductions to the Black River
are two species of edible frogs [see
Jamaica Journal, December 1973].
Soon after introduction, their numbers
increased dramatically but now appear

Along the banks of the Black River less than a quarter mile above the town,
crocodiles like this 8-footer (below) can be seen on most days. Much maligned and
abused, the local crocodile struggles for survival against great odds. In order to
aid in the struggle, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica has moved to establish
a crocodile reserve at one of its few remaining intact habitats at the nearby Font
Hill swamp.

Perched safely on a limestone outcrop in the middle of the lower morass and set
amidst luxuriant'vegetation that is more typical of hardland, this thatch house (right)
at Frenchman's provides shelter and comfort for a family which depends entirely
on the swamp for its livelihood.
^- -s^ w^^ op

Life in the Swamps


.p -

to have been stabilised. To the people
of the swamps, these frogs are both
feared and despised and in the short
time since their introduction, have
given rise to more than their fair share
of 'duppy' stories.

Way of life

Cataboo, Slipe, Frenchman's and
Virtually in the centre of the lower
morass and almost completely sur-
rounded by it is a large outcrop of
limestone hardland. Situated here are
a number of villages, namely Cataboo,
Slipe, Frenchman's and Punch's (or
Punches), whose residents depend al-
most entirely on the swamp for their
livelihood. Although regarded as part
of the wetland complex, the vegetation
is quite different from that of the open
swamp and, except in the lowest lying
sections, is typical of any dry lime-
stone area in Jamaica. In many respects
this central limestone area is an island in
a sea of open marshes.
Information on the history of these
lli.agj- is scant and one is left almost
entirely to speculate on how they came
into being. Edward Long said of the
Black River: 'The rivers and lagoons are
well stocked with fish. In the woods are
deer, swine and wild fowl'. It is quite
likely that these villages were early fish-
ing and hunting venues since they are

a . --,- -* -.,

located at strategic points for access
both to the swamp (for fish) and the
woods (for deer, swine and wildfowl).
Today, most of the fishing and shrimp-
ing that is done in the Black River origin-
ates from these villages, although now
there is virtually no hunting.
It is almost certain that the attempts
to settle refugee loyalists from North
and South Carolina after the American
War of Independence, included settle-
ments in or near these four villages. (See
"Settlements and Settlers"). In the ac-
count of the investigation into the sale
of land for their settlement, the question
is asked of a Mr. George Murray, Esquire:
'Are you of the opinion that there is a
quantity of dry land interspersed among
the waters sufficient to make 183 com-
fortable settlements there?' [Journals
of the Assembly of Jamaica 1784, Vol.
VIII]. It seems the questioner could
only have been referring to the dry land
on which the villages are now located.
The names Cataboo, Slipe, French-
man's and Punch's are curious but I
have not been able to find any record
of their origins. 'Frenchman's' and
'Punch's' probably refer to some form
of property or settlement and might be
related to the loyalists. 'Slipe' is a name
found elsewhere in Jamaica, but 'Cata-
boo' is unique. Research into these
place names should yield interesting
information. As interesting, no doubt,
as the people who live there.

One gets the impression that in Jam-
aica, there are still very many people
who feel that wetlands are of no use un-
less they are drained and 'reclaimed'.
With regard to the reclamation of wet-
lands, I am unable to determine the
rationale for this terminology since the
wetlands were never a part of any other
system. Reclamation suggests reposses-
sion of which the wetlands are certainly
not in need. That is, not unless one is
thinking of repossession by their original
users and dependents. Such people are
the true swamp dwellers, the residents
of areas such as Cataboo, Slipe, French-
man's and Punch's and, to a lesser
extent, Middle Quarters, Burnt Savan-
nah, Parottee and Black River. To these
people, shrimping, fishing, basket weav-
ing and canoe making have been part of
their way of life for as long as they can
remember. In these activities they re-
tain some practices which are clearly
African in origin: others go back as far
as the Arawaks. Shrimping is perhaps
the best example.
Shrimping in the Lower Black River
Morass is an important industry. Artisan-
al in nature, it employs about 200
shrimpmen and about an equal number
of other persons in boatmaking, pot and
basket weaving, and vending. Each
shrimpman owns about 100 pots or
more which he sets dailyundervegetation
along the banks of the main rivers and
streams, and in the open marshes when
the river floods and the water level is
high. The catch fluctuates throughout
the year but a good day's catch is nor-
mally 10 Ibs or more. Most of the
shrimpmen use dug-out canoes, very
similar to the ones the Arawaks might
have used, but some, like those from
Burnt Savannah, enter the swamp on

A resident ofSlipe, this oldtimer (right) has spent all his life within the morass. Here,
returning to his home with a supply ofmaterial for making shrimp pots, his expression
reflects pleasure and contentment at his unique lifestyle.

A shrimpman (below, left) works his pots early in the morning along the banks of the
Black River. A similar scene could be seen in the Niger Valley of West Africa where
pots of identical construction are used.

Shrimp pots and straw baskets are essential for the shrimp industry. Skill and ex-
perience are reflected in the hands of this basketmaker at Frenchman's (below right).

foot. A trip up the Black River or any
of its tributaries at early morning reveals
the shrimpmen busily working their
pots. These highly industrious men
never fail to share a greeting and even a
few shrimp with visitors. However, what
is most interesting about them is their
boat and pot handling skills which, to
informed visitors, are almost identical
to those seen along the great Niger River
of West Africa. Indeed, the shrimp
pots the local shrimpmen use origin-
ated in this part of Africa and have
hardly undergone any change at all over
the 300 years or more since their
introduction into Jamaica.
The pots are made from wild cane
which once abounded along the banks
of the rivers. Today, with continued
heavy cutting and demand, much of the
material has to be obtained from as far
away as Lucea, Hanover. Men and
women participate in pot making
and one person can easily make 20 or
more pots in a day.
Basket weaving is another activity
ancillary to shrimping. The baskets
which are used for collecting, transport-
ing and selling the catch are made from
the thatch palm which grows on the
limestone outcrops. Cutting and curing
the thatch is a family activity while
weaving is usually done by the experien-
ced and frequently older members. Like
pot making, basket weaving is done
entirely by the swamp dwellers.

Shrimp that is caught in a morning is
sold at the riverside to vendors who
transport it out of the swamp to as far
away as Kingston. However, the most
famous outlet for the Black River
shrimp is Middle Quarters where they
are sold parched and pepper-hot along
the roadside. The trade is by the pound
or half-pound but no one dares question
the nature of the measure or accuracy
of the weight without incurring some
notable female displeasure. Negotiations
over price are usually settled by the
vendor with the aid of an alluring
sample, for she knows that once the
buyer has tasted of her 'swimps' his
resistance will have been destroyed.
Between licking his fingers and fighting
back the tears occasioned by the pepper,
the driver now has the problem of
how to concentrate on his driving and
how to stop going back to the bag of
'swimps' for just one more! In all my
experience and travels, I have had no
shrimps as tasty as these. Overseas
visitors to whom I have introduced
them say the same.

The Black River shrimp industry
has been valued at about J$3 million
a year. In past times its relative value
might have been more but pollution and
overfishing seem to have taken their
toll. Still, the dependence on this indus-
try by the several thousand people who
live in and adjacent to the swamps con-
tinues to be great. Experiments being

carried out by ecologists at the Petroleum
Corporation of Jamaica indicate that
the industry could, by fairly simple
means, be considerably improved. How-
ever, management of the shrimpery
and the cooperation of the shrimpmen
would be essential for its success.
Fishing is an activity which is done
in conjunction with shrimping, but is
not nearly as lucrative. Nevertheless, it
adds to the earnings and brings food to
the tables of the fishermen.
In the Upper Black River Morass, an
aquaculture enterprise has recently been
developed as a joint venture between
the Government of Jamaica and the
local private sector. This operation pro-
duces both shrimp and fish and has an
obvious export potential. The Black
River system, possessing an abundance
of water, flat land and good clay, seems
ideal for further development along
these lines.
Past Practices
From earliest times, the Black
River has influenced the history and
way of life of virtually all who have
lived or worked near its shores. It has
witnessed many changes of peoples
and fortunes. Some of the original
life styles persist and the river's in-
fluence is no less great today. Never-
theless, life along the river nowadays is,
for the most part, quite different from
what it was only 50 or so years ago.
Continued on p. 22

Settlements and Settlers

Early settlement
The Arawaks were the first settlers of the Black River
valley. Of 15 confirmed Arawak occupation sites and 21
pictograph and burial cave sites identified in the parish of
St. Elizabeth in 1983 [Lee 1983], three are located in the
valley. Archaeological excavations have also revealed several
middens (Arawak dumps) in the area which include the town
of Black River on the coast and as far inland as Ipswich near
the source of the Y.S. River.
Nearly 150 years of Spanish occupation (1509-1655)
resulted in the extinction of the Arawaks of the Black River
basin along with those of the rest of the island. With the
rapid decrease in the Arawak labour force, the Spaniards
substituted Negro slaves imported from Africa. As the slave
trade accelerated under the subsequent occupation by the
English, Black River became one of the alternative ports for
Kingston for the unloading of slave ships. The human cargoes
who survived the dread Middle Passage were sold on the
premises of the 'town wharf', the site which later housed the
town's first hospital.
Under the Spaniards, the slaves in this area were chiefly
employed in hunting cattle and hogs which had been brought
by the Spanish settlers and now ran wild in the savannas ad-
joining the Black River basin. The hides and lard as well as
timber and other provisions were shipped to Spain.
These plains were well suited for cattle breeding so the
area was allotted to the more influential families for this
purpose. Here they established large ranches or 'hatos'. Those
in this basin seem to have been more prosperous than else-
where. For instance, Yssasi who was to be the last Spanish
governor and was leader of the resistance against the English,
underscored the importance of the Black River hatos in a
report dated 29 August 1657 when he noted that he . .
marched to dislodge the enemy from the most important
places in the island where they had houses because they are
the most abundant in cattle and of which the enemy made
use namely the Hato de Pereda (Pedro Plains) and that
of Caoban (Black River) . '
The English took possession of these ranches soon after
their initial capture of the island in 1655 in what H.P. Jacobs
describes as the first real battle of the conquest. A major
part of the fighting took place at a ford near Lacovia where
the British soldiers attempted to cross the river to reach the
ranches on the opposite side. They were met 'with withering
fire from the defenders .. and were forced to withdraw . '
The second attempt was successful only after reinforcements
of 600 men arrived.

The enslaved Blacks fled to the mountains when the
English invaded, forming the nucleus of what would later be
the Maroons. From their strongholds in the hills they help-

ed the Spaniards in their guerrilla war. After the Spanish de-
feat, the Maroons continued to fight to defend their own
status as free men until this was recognized by peace treaties
in 1739.
Formidable Maroon strongholds were located in the hills
of northern St. Elizabeth. The departure of the Spaniards left
the Black River basin virtually uninhabited with only small
numbers of the mixed offspring of the Spanish colonists and
Negro slaves remaining. These were described by the historian
Edward Long as being 'Mulattoes, Quaterons and other Casts;
a poor but peacable and industrious race who have long settled
here and live by fishing and breeding poultry'.
In the middle of the 18th century, the English started to
move into the basin in significant numbers. The unpopularity
of the region up to then may be accounted for by the general
unhealthy atmosphere engendered by the nearby swamps but
settlement was also retarded by the constant threat of
Maroon attacks.
Once the Maroon wars ended, the government made some
effort to encourage the development of the area by con-
structing roads and starting reclamation of the morass, but
without much success.
One notable effort to attract settlers involved North
Americans who had found themselves on the losing side in
the American War of Independence. In the early 1780s the
government attempted to lure Loyalists from the Carolinas
to the Black River morass, promising them good land for
agriculture. Several hundred Loyalists and their slaves arrived,
but on seeing the land, demanded their money back, claim-
ing that to make the land habitable would be too expensive.
The Journals of Assembly for 1784 report the resulting court
case during which it was observed that the land was fit to be
inhabited only by 'fish, frogs, Dutchmen and amphibious
animals'. One of the main complainants among the Americans
was a Mr. Frogg.
The development of the region continued to be slow until
about the middle of the 19th century. Sugar might have been
king in the rest of the island and there were large sugar
estates here, but the prosperity of the Black River area was
created not so much by sugar as by the cultivation and
export of dyewoods, principally logwood and fustic which
had a short-lived boom. Along with the export of pimento,
mahogany and coffee, the dyewood trade made Black River
a busy and prosperous port and generated economic pros-
perity to the surrounding valley. For a brief golden
age, the towns of Black River and Lacovia were centres of
wealth and progress in Jamaica.
Black River and the Logwood boom
Gravesend, probably so named because of the singular-

ly unhealthy air which permeated it, was the original name of
the town which lies at the mouth of the river. It is not cer-
tain exactly when the name was changed to Black River, but
it was being referred to as such by 1785. Journals of the
Assembly for that year note a decision to pay 'into the hands
of James Murray, John Vanhelen, Humphrey Colquhoun,
Thomas Dunkley, Charles Rowe ... esquires, or any three of
them, the sum of 500 1. towards building a bridge over Black-
River, in the parish of St. Elizabeth at the town of Gravesend,
otherwise called Black River'. Despite the name change the
funereal air persisted for a long time. 'No other place in
Jamaica is so equatorial, and in former times none so un-
healthy. Yellow fever and Malaria were seldom absent', is
how W. Adolphe Roberts described it in the 1950s.
The logwood tree produces a rich dark-blue and black dye
which is used for dyeing all types of material but which is
especially suited for colouring natural fibres such as wool and
silk. There was great demand in the European market up to
the middle of the 19th century.
The Bay of Campeche in Mexico was the original supplier
of logwood on the international market, the trade being
operated by Miskito Indians and reformed buccaneers. Log-
wood was introduced into Jamaica from Central America
in 1715 by Henry Barham of St. Elizabeth and was well
established by the mid-18th century. By the 1850s several
St. Elizabeth families had made large fortunes from the log-
wood industry and the port of Black River was extremely
An interesting feature of the town of Black River is the large
quantity of logwood piled up on the wharves awaiting ship-
ment; at certain seasons of the year as many as a dozen or four-
teen large vessels may be seen lying in the harbour, most of
them loading logwood [Handbook of Jamaica 1892] .

The author examines one of the relict scales at the once busy port
of Black River. Few towns in Jamaica have known such prosperity.

All that is left of the old logwood factory at Lacovia.

The logwood industry required a large labour force. The trees
had to be cut down, logged and chipped, then loaded on to
carts for transport to the town. On arrival at the logwood
depot, the dyewood was weighed in drop scales of 56 pounds
each and the tonnage calculated before it was loaded on to
ships. Because a bar at the mouth of the river prevented big
ships from coming directly into port, a fleet of rowboats
took the cargo to the ships anchored offshore.
By the 1850s synthetic dyes were being introduced and it
was but a matter of time before they entirely superceded
natural dyes, though logwood is one of the few such dyes for
which there is still some demand. The debilitating effects of
world wars on trade hastened the end of the logwood
industry and undercut the base for Black River's prosperity.


At times rivalling Black River for supremacy as the chief
town of the area was Lacovia, now a small township on the
river seven miles from the coast. The origin of the word
Lacovia is uncertain; la caoba, the Spanish word for mahogany
is most likely. Lacovia residents interestingly enough, still
refer to their home by the old name of 'Coby'.
Up to the early 20th century Lacovia was a prosperous
town, enjoying several industries and making an important
contribution to the development of the Black River basin as
a whole. In fact, in the late 18th century, it rivalled Black
River as the parish's principal town and was actually desig-
nated the capital in 1772. As Black River was also under the
title of capital, a dispute ensued which lasted for over half-a-
century. The Journals of the Assembly record a petition
made by the inhabitants of Lacovia for the courts to be held in
Lacovia instead of Gravesend (Black River) and a b!l agree-
ing to this was actually passed. The latter was, however, re-
pealed in 1778 as it was stated that 'there is already a public
edifice sufficiently commodious for a court house without
putting the parish to any expense in erecting one'.
Like Black River, most of the town's wealth was derived
from the logwood industry and this activity led to the
development of villages in the surrounding area named Log-
wood and Ashwood.
In 1932 a major fire in the area destroyed large numbers
of logwood trees and many buildings. The already declining
industry never recovered from this blow.
Another important industry in Lacovia was based on
bamboo fibre. The Bedford Manufacturing Company was
established in 1879 to manufacture the fibre and was ac-
quired by a Mr. John S. Owden in 1884. He changed the
name to Lacovia Manufacturing Company. The fibre produced
was used principally as a lubricant for car wheels but experi-
ments found it suitable as a substitute for cotton waste used
in lubricating the engines of steamships. It was also suitable
for making clothes, especially when interwoven with wool.
It has been suggested that Bamboo Avenue, one of the
outstanding beauty spots in St. Elizabeth and in Jamaica was
planted out at a time when bamboo groves were being
encouraged to supply material to the manufacturing com-
pany. Bamboo Avenue lives on as the only surviving relic of
yet another promising enterprise begun and ended in

(Continued from page 19)

Life in the entire basin of the Black and Black River was the bustling, opu-

River was at its finest in the late 1800s
and early 1900s. Logwood was the
chief export from the town of Black
River and business thrived in all the
towns and villages along the entire river
course. Lacovia and Elim owed their
prosperity to logwood. Sugar was pro-
duced on several estates including the
Appleton, Y.S., and Holland. Middle
Quarters had prosperous cattle farms,
Maggotty was an active trading centre,

lent port and capital. For all of this
activity the river was the lifeline, serving
for the transport of both goods and
Of the once valuable products, only
sugar and rum remain in any quantity
and the sugar industry itself is threatened.
Cut-stone pillars are all that remain of
the old sugar factory at Y.S. estate and
the Holland factory now stands in ruins
following its closure in 1982.

Established around the end of the
18th century by the father of William
Gladstone (1808-98) four times Prime
Minister of England, Holland grew in
size over the years and in the 1960s,
when its future was first threatened as
part of a general decline in the sugar
industry, supported 5,000 in season and
2,000 out of crop workers. The closure
added to the severe unemployment
crisis in the area.
The Appleton factory is still active
at Siloah, producing the famous rum
products of that name, along with
molasses and sugar. However, there is
no longer any transport of sugar and
rum along the river and no export
from the town of Black River.
With the decline in activity, the
familiar lighters which carried pro-
duce up and down the river and lent an
air of bustle and excitement, are gone.
But families in their very characteristic
river canoes still use the waterways for
their own transportation and for market-
ing in the town of Black River. These
canoes, along with those of the shrimp-
men, make for fairly active traffic along
the river. Increasingly too, the river is
carrying visitor traffic as outsiders come
to study the swamps or simply to enjoy
Future Prospects
Since the early 1970s, proposals have
been made for declaring and managing
the Lower Black River Morass as a
national park. In 1979, as a result of
the discovery of peat in potentially
commercial quantities in the morass,
extensive investigations were begun by
the Natural Resources Conservation
Department (NRCD) to determine the
existing ecological conditions and to set
guidelines for conservation of the wet-
In 1981, PCJ ecologists and con-
sultants carried these studies a stage fur-
ther by investigating how the resources
of the morass might be developed while
managing it as a national park of great
heritage value. Leader of the PCJ's
consultants was Prof. Sven Bjork of

The PCJ's amphibious vehicle, the Tortoise, with a team of wetland specialists, is
seen (below) working among a meadow of spider lilies in the Lower Morass near to
A gradually increasing number of visitors to the Black River is discovering recreation-
al attractions of unique and outstanding qualities. Here, a boatload sightsees along
the Middle Quarters River (bottom).
PCJ scientists and a Swedish consultant (right) examine a core of peat taken from
below the open marsh of the Lower Morass. So exciting and potentially valuable has
been the discovery of peat in Jamaica that international peat experts have decided
to convene the first ever tropical peat resources symposium here in early 1985.

1'i ,'U I ,

effort, especially since the further
introduction of fertilizers and pesti-
cides into the wetland ecosystem,
along with river diversion and drain-
age, could possibly do irreparable
-a damage to its ecology. But it is too
early yet to reach a firm opinion and we
must wait to see what the recommend-
ations will be.

Sweden, one of the world's leading
experts in wetland restoration and
management, while this writer was in
charge of the PCJ team and the over-
all coordinator of the project. The
study was facilitated by the acquisition
of an amphibious vehicle, the Tortoise,
manufactured in Denmark and developed
specifically for working in wetlands.
This vehicle allowed the researchers to
travel to all parts of the swamp and to
work out of a stable and safe platform.
Over a period of two years, about 30
scientists and technicians attacked the
swamps with vigour, thereby accumula-
ting a wealth of data on the morass such
as exists for few other tropical wet-
lands. So far the results of these studies
have been reported in about 15technical
publications. More importantly, they
have indicated how the morass may
be managed for best long-term use of
its resources.
A key ingredient of the morass utili-
sation plan is its designation as a nation-
al park and use as a tourist attraction.
Definite possibilities for visitor activities
include hiking and boating trails, sight-
seeing in a unique environment such as
the marsh forest, bird-watching from
towers, sport fishing and camping.
Development of the Lower Black River
Morass as a visitor attraction would
bring employment to many of the swamp
dwellers as boatmen, guides and wardens
and would help to preserve and strength-
en their links with the swamp. The
development of attractions here com-
bined with existing nearby attractions
such as the Y.S. Falls, Bamboo Walk,
and the Appleton Rum Distillery, would
help to make south central Jamaica an
important tourist area. Recently, some

1r Y

members of the Jamaica Tourist Board
were treated to a day in the swamps
with a view to developing their potential
as visitor attractions. The event was an
eye-opener for all.
The possible use of the Black River
peat for fuel and horticulture has been
extensively investigated by the PCJ.
Trials in Jamaica and overseas have
demonstrated that the peat is of good
quality and occurs in sufficient quantity
to form the basis of viable industries.

Great care has been taken to establish
the criteria by which such industries
might be developed without damaging
the wetland. In fact the basic approach
taken by the PCJ is that peat mining, if
undertaken, should not harm the wet-
land ecosystem, but help to improve it.
The thinking is that the removal of
some of the peat (less than 40 per cent)
should increase the amount of open
water in the swamp, help in the settle-
ment of silt brought down through the
upper morass, and increase the habitats
for shrimp and fish. It would also increase
diversity in the swamp. Similar swamp
rehabilitation has been successful else-
where in the world, but more work is
required in the Black River morass be-
fore any such plan can be implemented.
If peat is to be mined for fuel in the
lower morass, this would not be likely
to occur before another 10 years. In the
meantime, further feasibility deter-
minations must be carried out.
At present the Ministry of Agri-
culture is taking another look at the
possibility of transforming a large
part of the lower morass into rice
land. Some amount of scepticism,
shared by this writer, surrounds the

As time passes, the Black River basin
will undoubtedly continue to change.
An improved shrimpery, aquaculture,
large-scale rice cultivations, drainage
for agriculture, irrigation works, peat
mining and tourism, could bring new
life to the area. All the changes might
not be welcomed, especially if they
serve to disrupt a life pattern that has,
for so long, been intimately linked to
the river and swamps. The people of the
Black River, especially those of the
swamps, have shown that they have
been able to maintain a distinctive life
style despite past changes. Will they be
as successful in the future?

1. Wetlands is an all encompassing term
which includes marshes, swamps and
bogs. The term morass most often refers
to a tropical wetland.
2. The threatened species are the West
Indian Tree Duck, Limpkin, Spotted
Rail, Black Crake.


The author is greatly indebted to Marjorie
Knight who assisted in researching material
for this article. Photo credits are due to Peter
Reeson, my colleague at the Petroleum Cor-
poration of Jamaica, and Sven Bjork, wetland
specialist and consultant to the PCJ. This
article has been inspired by the many happy
hours I have spent in the Black River swamps
with my co-workers at the PCJ.

JACOBS, H.P., "The Parish of St. Elizabeth",
West India Review, 3 October 1953.
Journals of the Assembly of Jamaica, Vol. 8
LEE, J.W., "Status of Arawak Site Survey",
Archaeology-Jamaica, 1983.
LONG, Edward, The History of Jamaica,
Vol. 1 -3, London, 1774.
National Library of Jamaica Clippings Files.
ROBERTS, W.A., Jamaica: the portrait of an
island, New York: Coward McCann
Inc. 1955.
TAYLOR, SA.G., The Western Design,
Kingston: Institute of Jamaica and
Jamaica Historical Society, 1956.

Hon. Lady Gladys Bustamante, J.

InLerviewed by

Barbara Gloudon

is the widow of the National Hero and former
Prime Minister of Jamaica Sir Alexander
Bustamante (1884-1974) the centenary of
whose birth is being celebrated this year.
Lady Bustamante herself was closely identified
with the struggles for self-government and the
development of the labour movement in the
1930s in which Sir Alexander played a lead-
ing role. The national honour of the Order of
Jamaica was conferred on her as a mark of
recognition and respect for the outstanding
part she has played in her country's develop-
ment. Lady Bustamante talks about her early
childhood and the years of struggle, and her
life with Sir Alexander in a rare interview for

B.G.: Lady Bustamante, you've al-
ways loved children. I re-
member one time coming to
see you and Chief here at
Bellencita and you were hem-
ming a skirt for a young girl
who was working with you at
the time.
Lady Bustamante: Oh yes, I remember
that very well. I like to sew and
I like to do things for people
so ....
What sort of childhood did you have?
Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Ashton district, in the hills
of Westmoreland. As a baby, I was left
with my grandmother and my aunt,
while my parents went elsewhere to
make a living. My grandmother was
Mary Blackwood and my aunt was Rachel
Blackwood. They brought me up with
other children who lived with them.
Ashton was a very small district. Miles
from anywhere. There was one school
for big and small in those days and I was
sent there. It was usual in those times
for children to begin school at the age
of seven. But I must have shown some
early ability so I was taken in before I
was seven. My grandmother and aunt
had got some 'baby books' for me to
learn from, so by the time I was sent to
school, I could read and write. I re-
member that I didn't start in first book
as they called it then. I began in second
primer. My teacher was a Mr. Blake.
Did you like school? What sort of sub-
jects did you study?

Oh, I enjoyed reading, writing, arith-
metic and scripture lessons. Also sew-
ing. Scripture lessons were made especial-

ly interesting for us. After a while, I
used to teach other children Bible
stories and all that.

How long did you stay at Ashton school?

I stayed at Ashton until I took what
was called the Jamaica Local examin-
ation. I passed. This was in subjects like
English, arithmetic, history, scripture -
of course science subjects . that
kind of thing. Having passed the exam,
it was time to leave the school.
What sort of memories did you take
with you?

I remember there was a certain tree in
the school yard, a guava tree or some-
thing like that. I used to go up into the
tree and pretend to ride it like a horse.
The tree wasn't near the school building
so the teachers didn't see. If you asked
them they would have told you that I
was a very serious child, who liked to
study and didn't play too much. But I
did play, especially in that tree.
Tell us more about Ashton.

Oh yes . the church played a great
part in the community. There was a
branch of the Moravian church there.
It was affiliated to the church at Beau-
fort, about 10 miles away. The activi-
ties at church formed the centre of our
lives in Ashton. I took music lessons and
the great thing was to be able to play
for service. In those days, you learned
to play not the piano, but the organ.
Not electronic, of course. You know the
ones that you pumped and pedalled?
Well, that was the thing in those days.
By the time I was 11, I could play hymns
and so I used to play at church. By then
I suppose I was beginning to behave in
such a grown up way, people started to
call me Miss G. Not Gladys. Miss G.

Was it the influence of your grandmother
and your aunt why you matured so fast?
There were older children about also. I
had three cousins and various other re-
latives but I guess the influence of my
grandmother was really very impor-
tant. She used to impress on me that it
was important to grow up fearing God
and being kind to other people. To this
day, what she said has remained with
me. She brought me up strict, yet not
cruel, you know, and maybe that was
why I had such a grown-up, responsible
attitude from the time I was small.

Let's get back to where you passed the
Jamaica Local exam. What happened
after that?

I went to work as a pupil teacher in the
school. You know how much pay I got?
Sixteen shillings per month. Not per
week, you know. Per month.

But what could you do with that, even
granted that things were not the way
they are now?
Oh, I could do a lot. For one, I lived at
home so my expenses were small. I
remember that, with my first salary, I
went out and bought a bit of cloth. I
can see it just as if it were today, just as
if it were before me. It was white voile
with red stripes. I could sew, you see,
and I made this lovely dress and I wore
it to church. I used to sing in the choir
as well as play the organ. I was really in
style that morning when I wore that first
dress bought out of my own wages ...

You seemed to have had a wonderful
time then.

Life was no bed of roses though. My
family were small farmers. We had to
work very, very hard to get what we
could out of the land. We never went
hungry but it was not easy. However,
we were very religious and lived very
close to one another. We all offered help
to each other when there was need, and
that was what made life seem so worth-
while. Of course, people do not see it
quite that way these days, which is such
a pity . . Respect everybody ... and
in particular, to respect people older
than oneself. Let me tell you a little
about my grandfather. I didn't mention
him before but he was a great influence
too. He wore those old time high boots,
you know, and a straw hat. He was
strong. He was very proud of the fact
that he didn't need eye glasses to read
up to late in his life. Sad to say though,
he went blind before his death. He had

Lady Bustamante as a young woman, about the time she met Sir Alexander.

strong, white teeth and he used to
boast that when he ate a piece of cane,
he didn't need any knife to peel or cut
it even when he was quite old. He
died at about 90 and was buried at Ash-
ton, in the family plot.

Have you ever been back to Ashton?

Yes, some years ago. By then, of course,
things had changed. There was a proper
road and electricity and all that. How-
ever, when I lived there we had none of
those things. No roads, just a goat track
up to the school. Later on when I was
working with Sir Alexander Busta
as he was then he was able to see that
the road and so on at Ashton were fix-
ed. Our old family home has gone
now . there are many changes, for
progress, I suppose.

Let's return to your leaving school. You
say you were working as a pupil teacher.

Yes. I did that for about two years. I
wanted to enter teacher's college but in
the meantime, I had to get some skills
to make me earn a little more. By then,
I was around 17 or 18. Then some aunts
of ours who lived in the States came
out and decided it was time I was taken
out of the bush. That's how they put
it . out of the bush. So I was taken
to Kingston and boarded out.

Where in Kingston did you live?

Oh, various places. I remember, for in-
stance, living at 4/ Price Street. We
were strictly brought up there, as if we
were members of the family and we had
to work at our lessons.

Where did you attend school?

Tutorial College. At that time, it was lo-
cated at 121% Duke Street.

Tell me a bit about Tutorial. That's such
a famous name in Jamaican education.

Oh yes. Tutorial was run by Mr. R.J.
Blake and Mrs. Blake. Many people who
later became well known went there,
like W.A. Powell, who later went on to
start Excelsior and make it such a great
institution. It was at Tutorial that I met
Edith Nelson, with whom I later worked
in the BITU. The school had an academic
section where the regular subjects were
taught, and the commercial section
where we did Pitman's shorthand, type-
writing, book-keeping and such sub-

What sort of fees did you pay?

A couple pounds per month. Can't
remember exactly how much now.

Can you recall some of your other
colleagues from those times?

There was Vie Petnaud .. she died the
other day; Rose Lloyd, she was the
sister of Jimmy Lloyd who became such
a credit to Jamaica as a diplomat and
administrator; Alvin (A.S.) Henry . .
and so on. They were first class. I did
shorthand up to 150 words per minute
but took the exam at 120. I also took
the typewriting exam. When I passed, I
attained the level of what was described
as 'amanuensis' . I was very proud. I
still have that Tutorial certificate to this

After that, what did you do?
I went back to Ashton for a while and
looked around. But of course there was
nothing for me to do there. I mean,
there wasn't even a store where one
could become a clerk or anything like
that. So, I had to look elsewhere. It was
clear that I would now have to leave
Ashton for good, at least, to make my
living. And that was when we heard
from one of my aunts in the States. She
had bought a place in Kingston and told
me that I should come back to town
and stay here. So I went back to King-
ston and began to look around, waiting
you know, to see what would happen.

And something happened, I suppose.

Yes. Somebody told me about a Mr.
Lindsay who had a place which he cal-
led Arlington House. It was a hotel and
restaurant on East Queen Street and he
was looking for someone to work be-
cause his secretary was on sick leave. So
I went there, and I was employed on a
temporary basis. An interesting thing
happened then. I was supposed to be
doing typing and all that in the office,
but I was asked to take turns in the
cashier's cage. In those days, a lot of
important people took their meals at
Arlington House. A good meal in those
days was about four shillings. Some
people stayed in the lodgings there.
Many of them were members of the
Legislative Council who came up from
the country and stayed over to attend
the sessions. So Arlington House was a
place of some influence. It was a success-
ful business and as cashier I was kept
very busy.

Did Busta visit Arlington House?
Yes. He used to come there to meet and

talk with the members of 'Legco' as
the Legislative Council was popularly
known. He had a business of his own
down Duke Street but because he was
interested in so many things about
people, about the community and all
that, it was important for him to know
these great men in the Legislative Coun-
cil. So he used to come to Arlington
House very regularly.

And it was there you met him?

Not really. He first spoke to me one
Sunday morning when I was going to
church with a friend. We were going to
attend service at the Moravian Church
of the Redeemer, at the corner of North
Street and Duke Street. He was standing
on the corner, I thought he was strange-
looking, to tell the truth, with his bushy
hair and his hands in his pockets ....
He said . I can remember it even
now . he said, 'Little girls, where are
you going?' And we said 'To church,
sir'. And he said, 'Run along and be
careful how you cross the street'.

And then?
And then after that, he continued to
visit Arlington House, to get his dinner
and to match wits with the 'Legco'
Who were some of the important figures
in those times who came to Arlington

People like E.V. Allen, Veitch, Little...
oh a lot of names. They came from the
rural areas with concerns about the needs
of people. Remember now that was be-
fore 1938 and things were not good.
The people were crying out for things
like water, roads, employment. Busta
was not yet in public life, but he was
becoming known because of his letters
to the Gleaner. He wrote on all kinds of
subjects [See Jamaica Journal 8:1

So after he spoke to you near the church,
what next?

I left Arlington House and I went back
to looking for a job. It was then I heard
that Mr. Bustamante wanted a secretary.
So I wrote a letter of application and
was called for an interview. When he
saw me he said 'Oh, it's you. I know
your face well'. Then he told me that
the job he was offering was to do secre-
tarial work and to keep the books of his
business. His office was at 1A Duke
Street, at the corner of Duke Street
and Water Lane. He used to lend out

money and so many people would come
to see him. But even while he carried
on his business, he was becoming more
concerned about conditions in the
country, so he wrote more and more
letters to the Press.

What did he write about?

He could raise the Devil about any-
thing! Because of his experience from
his travels abroad, he had a wide know-
ledge about many things. For instance,
he started a campaign against the siting
of the tuberculosis hospital at a lo-
cation which he said was too windy and
therefore would not be good for the
patients. He kicked up such a ruckus
that the hospital was built on another,
more suitable site. You can understand
that by then he was being branded as a
troublemaker. Working for him was
hard, because he just never let up. He
would begin early in the morning and
continue till late, late at night. But I
found the work challenging. I learned
to work long hard hours which came
in very useful later.

What years were these, Lady B?

Oh, we're now talking of around 1936-
37. Things were bad in Jamaica, you
have to understand, and sometimes it
seemed that Bustamante was the only
person who was talking out about what
was happening. Then people started
writing to him and coming to see. him
and he began to travel around the
countryside. He had a great big old
car in those days and we used to get
in it and drive out into the country. He
drove like a crazy person, you know.

And things kept getting harder?

Oh yes and Mr. Bustamante kept get-
ting more and more involved in what
was going on.

How did this change your style of life?

Well, I had less and less time for myself,
not even for my sewing and my music,
which meant such a lot to me. A friend
used to come into the office to help me
but I had to do most of the work. By
then, Mr. Bustamante was holding more
and more meetings for he was deter-
mined then that something had to be
done. So we worked long hard hours.

What about church?

Oh yes, I found time for church but I
was working harder and harder.

Did you resent it or anything?

No. The cause was very interesting. We
were trying to help poor people in need.

The things which your grandmother
told you were now coming to mind, you

About respect and discipline and all
that? Yes, it stood me in good stead.

Did you have any sense of being part of

No, I was just going along doing a job. I
never realized that history was being
made. Otherwise, I would have much
more information about those times. I
would have kept a diary and recorded
every incident.

Over those years of struggle, during
which you stood beside Sir Alexander,
are there any incidents which stand out
more vividly than others?

Oh yes. There was an incident in St. Mary
where Busta was asked to leave a coun-
try club. The St. Mary Tennis Club. It
was really incredible.

What happened?

There was a dance at the club. About
1 o'clock in the morning, we went there
to get a drink. We were coming from a
meeting in Oracabessa. A civil servant
who used to work at the railway was
with us and another young lady.

What caused the problem?

A man a black man came over to
our table and said, 'You are Bustamante.
You are the man who is organising the
niggers here. You can't drink in this
club.' Well, Busta saw red. And he got
up and said 'Yes? Man, this is my coun-
try. I am going to eat where I want. I
am going to sleep where I want. Go
wherever I want to go. You cannot
stop me. Nothing can stop me.' And
Busta told him further 'For your bene-
fit, I am having my drink. I am going to
order another one.' All this while, the
people were dancing in a corner of the

Did any of them get involved? Did they
know what was happening?

One of the dancers saw the commotion
and came down to the bar where we
were. And when he was told what had
happened, he said 'But if he orders his
drink, he should be allowed to have his
drink, providing he pays for it'. You
know who that man was? I never cal-
led his name before but he was Colin

McGregor later Sir Colin McGregor
[Chief Justice of Jamaica].

Oh yes. That's a well known name.

He was resident magistrate for St. Mary
in those days.

I find that story incredible, for the man
who was being insulting was a black
man and he made that remark about
'niggers'. Were you angry Lady B?

I was so mad. I said 'What is this'.
Well, Busta raised Cain and we came
out of the place. By then, I suppose
the workers in the club had told the
people outside what had happened.
We went back to town. By next morn-
ing, they sent a telegram to Busta ask-
ing him to come and have a meeting in
St. Mary. They had heard that Busta
had been insulted. The meeting was ar-
ranged for the Port Maria courthouse
and one very, very huge crowd was
there waiting when Bustamante ar-
rived. He spoke to them and told them
exactly what happened. Then he said
something very important. He said 'I
am appealing with you not to interfere
with Mr not to touch him, say no-
thing to him, leave him to me and I
will deal with him, providing you stand
behind me'. And in a week or so, Busta
served claims on the proprietors around,
including the property of the man who
had insulted us, for the workers were
being treated very badly.
Did the man apologise later to Sir

Would you believe they went on to be-
come friends? The man apologised and
in time, he also joined the Labour Party
(the JLP) when it was formed. When
Busta had meetings in the town, the
gentleman and his wife were first on the
platform and Busta supported him when
he ran for public office.

Busta was a very big man in terms of
forgiving others.

Oh yes. Very forgiving. Whatever you
did to him, when he calmed down, he
would say 'All right, never mind. The
past has been forgotten. In the interest
of the country'.

Were there other incidents in those
important years 1938-39 which made
a great impression on you?

Yes. There was one in Port Antonio.
Busta was travelling from place to
place, you know. At that time, the

A lifetime partnership: Sir Alexander and Lady Bustamante.

United Fruit Company ruled Port
Antonio. Banana was at its height. Well,
we went to have a meeting. People came
from surrounding districts and gathered
before the courthouse. When we arrived,
they had a platform but no electricity.
Because it was Bustamante, they (people
who had the power) wouldn't give any
electric light for the meeting, so the
people had to use lamps. But that was
not the real problem. About three or
four men came and hit down the lamps,

smashed up the table and everything
and threw them into the sea.

Were you frightened?

I was a little nervous, you know. Then
during the commotion, a woman point-
ed out a white man who was in charge
of the police and asked, 'Mr. Busta,
why yu nuh ask him to keep the people
quiet?' Busta went up to the man, who
was the inspector in charge of the pol-
ice and said 'Can't you do something

to keep the people quiet?' But he said
'Oh no, I am not a policeman. I am just
an onlooker.'

He was really the inspector?

Oh yes. Definitely. Leopold Lynch who
was there said, Well, he is the police in
charge anyway, Chief.' So we went to
the post office and Busta sent a tele-
gram to the governor.

Who was the governor then?

Governor Richards. And Busta made
him know that the police inspector
in charge said he was not a policeman
and he Busta made it known that
he felt he was being set up, for it could
be said that he had to defend himself
for lack of police protection. Anybody
could shoot anybody and say it was
Busta, because people knew he carried
a gun.

Was that all that happened in Port
Antonio that night?

No. There was more. A young lady who
was in our group was not feeling well
and Busta went into a bar to get a drink
for her. But when he went there, some
people said, 'Come out, come out, we
nuh want yuh. Yu making too much
trouble round here'. But Chief said
'Wait a minute, gentlemen, I am taking
a drink to somebody in the car who is
sick. Allow me to take the drink and I
will be back and give you the oppor-
tunity to do what you think you can do
with me.' So he took the drink, then
went back in.

What did the people in the bar do?

He offered to buy them a drink but
they said 'We nuh want no drink from
yuh'. And then Busta got mad and he
told them off. He told them, 'Look at
you. You are hungry, you are naked.
If your bodies were being sold for a
penny, I wouldn't pay a farthing.' And
he left and returned to Kingston. Of
course, we found out that it was just
a few troublemakers and their hench-
men who tried to smash up everything.
Well, our people organised one big meet-
ing at Prospect. It was one huge meeting.
Busta spoke for about three to five
hours and explained everything to
them. And that was when the song
went up 'We will follow Bustamante
till we die'.
You mean, that was where it began?

That was where it really became Busta-
mante's song.

It must have been very moving.

Oh dear . yes. The people sang
'All the bloodshed we will follow . .
to the cane fields we will follow . to
the banana fields we will follow. .' It
was very, very moving.

Were there many times like that, really
very beautiful moments, when even in
the middle of tension people showed
acts of love towards you and the Chief?

Oh yes. Many, many such acts of kind-
ness and love. When people were hostile,
unkind, many times we had other people
come to tell us 'Never mind, dear missis,
never mind yu hear, mi massa. Some
people are wicked. They want to keep
us down, but we will be with you,
whatever happen, because you are a
good man who is trying to help us'. Oh
yes, the people gave us encouragement
all along.

In all of that, was there ever time off
for a little rest? Did you ever find time
for even a few days off?

No . no time off. We might have a
late morning now and again but ...

But you just kept going?

Just kept going.

What are some of your most vivid
memories of the events of 1938?

Well, I remember when the water-
front workers struck. That was about
the 21st of May. We used to go down
to the waterfront before any riots or
anything like that, and talk to the
people, especially the wharfingers. It
used to burn Chief to know that the
men had to be working from 6 in the
mornings and they would work and
work and work until night. When-
ever the work was finished, that was
when they got off.
And the pay?

The pay was very small. Maybe six-
pence an hour or less than that. Any-
way, the wharf workers decided to
strike. On May 21st, ships came into the
harbour but none went out. The workers
came to Busta that fateful Monday
morning and asked if he would come
and help them. Of course he said yes
and then he turned around and said to
me 'Miss Longbridge, will you come
with me?' And of course I said yes. I
said 'Yes sir. It is a righteous cause and
if you are willing to help these poor
people I will give you whatever sup-
port I can.' And he said, 'Let's go' and
we locked up the office and went.

What was it like, out in the streets?

The people were angry. Garbage tins
were turned over in the road. There
were delegations of workers and we
marched with them down King Street,
around the Parade and so on. Street
cleaners had struck too and joined the
waterfront workers. It was quite some-
thing. At one stage, Busta was con-

fronted and he had to draw his gun. It
was very tense. Anyway, the crowd
finally went up to Queen Victoria's
statue in the Parade.

Is this where the famous incident with
Busta and the police happened, where
he bared his chest?

Yes. Bustamante climbed up on the
statue. St. William Grant was with him.
Others were there too. Bustamante ad-
dressed the crowd. There were thou-
sands and thousands of people. Just as
he was about closing his address to
them, he heard the feet of policemen
coming down, walking down from Sut-
ton Street. They used to do a lot of
walking in those days, you know. There
were no vehicles running up and down.
The police walked down Sutton Street.
Inspector Orrett was in charge. When
they got to where the meeting was, we
heard Orrett tell the police 'Aim!'

Aim at the crowd? How did you feel?

My dear, you can imagine . I was
down in the crowd, you see. I didn't
climb on that statue. I was down
there, right by the (parish) church. I
was nervous!

And Busta? What about him?

Oh, I expected them to shoot him any
day, because he was so brave. He ran
from nothing. And so even when the
guns were aimed at the crowd, he did
not run. He jumped down, tore open
his shirt and said to the police, 'You
cowards. You cowards. Shoot me, but
leave those unfortunate, hungry people
alone'. And the police dropped their

Were you still afraid that it might have
happened. That he might have been shot?

Yes, I was still afraid. Then afterwards I
saw the crowd leaving. Busta told them
that they must disperse and give the
police no trouble. And they dispersed.

So every day became one exciting chal-
lenge after another?

Oh yes. Everywhere you went, there was
unrest. Road blocks everywhere. When
Busta went around, however, the people
cleared the way and told him 'Ah who
dat? A you, sir? You can gwan, sir'.
And they let him pass. Well, there was
trouble everywhere. Everybody wanted
an increase in pay. Then Busta heard
that the Fire Brigade people were going
to go on strike. Things were really bad.

The police had to call out the English
soldiers from Camp to help. Well, Busta
went to the firemen and told them that
it would be a serious thing if they struck.
He promised that he would see the
mayor for them. It was while he was
talking with them that Inspector Orrett
and four of his policemen came up again
and this time they said 'We have got you
where we want you now. Come'. Busta
just said 'Okay'. St. William Grant was
there and they held him too. They took
Busta over to the police station. It was
just a stone's throw away and convenient
for the police. They would not have
dared to arrest him anywhere else.

What happened there?
When Busta got to the station, he took
out his gun and handed ittoone Corporal
Thompson and said 'Here you are. Your
inspector didn't even have enough sense
to disarm me. I could have used it on
him. Anyway, here it is.'

And you were in the crowd all the time?

Yes. Right there. In the station, they
were taking things from Busta's pocket
and this big wad of money came out.
He always travelled with money you
know, to give people all around, hungry
people in the streets. One of the English
soliders, when he saw the money, was
heard to say 'Goddam. That bloke has
a whole bank on him'. It is amusing,
when I think of it now, but at the time
it wasn't funny. They locked up Busta.

How did you feel?
I was so cross. I said to myself 'Imagine,
they lock up the man. I hope they won't
kill him there.' Anyway, I got Ross
Livingstone and J.A.G. Smith . big
lawyers of that time, you know . to
come and deal with the matter. They
both volunteered their services and ap-
plied for bail. No bail.

What then?

Busta refused to eat. They locked him
up Tuesday morning and he wouldn't
eat anything. They said they were going
to feed him by force. Then they moved
him to the general penitentiary in the
'Black Maria'. That big old black thing.
Ughl It was ugly! They put him in the
'Black Maria' and drove him to the peni-
tentiary. That was Wednesday night.
They took him by night because they
wouldn't dare do it in the day. At the
penitentiary, they gave him a room
which an Englishman had occupied. He
had committed some fraud or other and

was sent to prison for nine months. But,
he spent the time in a special room, being
an Englishman, you know.
Isn't that something. Special treatment
in prison!
They tried to give Busta some special
treatment, too. He was told, 'Mr. Busta-
mante, you can get your meals from
Myrtle Bank, if you want'. He said, 'No,
no, no. I am in prison and I am going to
eat prison food. Apart from that, it is
free.' Boy, Busta would make a joke of
even serious things. His lawyers tried to
get bail but couldn't. By this time the
waterfront was filled with boats, with
ships, with cargo. Nothing was being un-
loaded . all coming in and none going
out. Certain people were trying to get
them to return to work. Mr. N.W.Manley
himself tried. He went down and had
meetings with the workers and told
them that he would get a certain amount
for them. But the workers said 'No, we
are not going back to work until Busta-
mante and Grant are released. They
haven't done anything'. They said even
if they were offered 10 an hour, they
would not return to work. They were
resolute, man.
Meanwhile, what of Busta? How was
He was brought before the court twice
and not given any bail.
Were you allowed to see him?
Once. . at the penitentiary.
Was it very painful for you.
I believe Bustamante's lawyers were
able to obtain his release, upon the sign-
ing of an affidavit that he would make
no trouble when he came out.Who sign-
ed the affidavit?
Miss Beryl Murray, N.W. Manley and
Mr. Ross Livingstone. And on the morn-
ing of May 28th, Busta was released.

Had he suffered from the experience?
Lost weight or anything?
Not an ounce. I never see a man so
strong, from I was born. Tough and
He never worried about anything?
No. He would think for a while how to
make certain moves and what to do.
When he was decided, he would say 'Go
right ahead'.
Did he watch his diet, anything like that,
to keep fit for the battle?
He kept fit but he did not worry about
food. He never ate much but he liked

good things. He liked his whisky, but
he drank sparingly. He never smoked.
He loved a good steak and Irish potatoes
and vegetables . lots of vegetables
and fruit juices.
Did he have time for hobbies, any form
of relaxation?
There wasn't any time in those days for
anything like that but in later years,
after he acquired Retreat property (in
St. Thomas) he had a couple of horses
and he used to ride.
Lady Bustamante, let us turn now to
1940 and the day when Bustamante
was taken into custody and detained
under the emergency defence regulations.
I wasn't at the office when they came
for him. I was at home and the police
telephoned me and said he was being
detained at Up Park Camp. So I got
some little personal things for him along
with some clothes and went to Camp.
I was helped by one S.W. Higgins to
get a pass. I was allowed to see Mr.
Bustamante, once a week. They kept
him in detention for over a year . .
one year and five months to be exact.
So what did you do? Were you involved
in any efforts to keep the battle alive?
Yes. We went around and talked to
people, asked them not to make dis-
order because they would not do Mr.
Bustamante's cause any good. It was
not easy to keep them cool. At one
time Mr. Bustamante had to write
a letter and send it around to quiet
What was it like on those weekly

He said he couldn't understand what it
was all about. Once he wasn't feeling
well, one of the few times when he
showed any weakness and he asked that
we get a doctor from the outside. Now,
there was a doctor in camp, a Capt.
Ward. He had a little dog which he used
to take around on a leash. When he
heard that Mr. Bustamante wanted a
doctor from outside, he asked why, and
Busta said. 'You are treating me? It's
either bromide, bismuth or belladonna,
that's all you prescribe. Well, let me tell
you, I don't need bromide. There is no
madness in my family. I don't need
bismuth. I have no bad stomach. And as
for belladonna . .' (Lady B. paused for
'recall, then laughed) I don't quite
remember what he said about bella-
donna, but I remember the rest of the
story. He told the camp doctor, 'you
see that little dog you walk around on a

leash? Well, if he had a toothache you
would give him either bromide, bismuth
or belladonna'. And Busta walked off
and left the doctor. Well, they finally
got permission, from the governor I
believe, for a doctor from the outside to
go and see the Chief. The doctor said it
wasn't anything serious but he should
be allowed to drink his carrot juice like
he was accustomed to, and he should be
allowed to take a little whisky when he
wanted . I was eventually called and
told that he was being released and I
should bring his car. That was the 8th of
February, 1942. It was a Sunday. When
they told me to come and get him, I
didn't tell anybody. I kept it to myself.
I went up there and took him down,
straight to Duke Street where the old
union office was. When the people saw
him they were so excited. In a short
time a crowd gathered. The thing was
that he had been released under restric-
tions, which said he couldn't be in an
assembly of more than 12 persons.
When it was pointed out to him, he just
said 'Let them come and take me back
again'. Not everyone was happy to see
the Chief's return. In his absence there
had developed some feuding and rivalry
within the BITU. Some were even tel-
ling the people that Bustamante was a
rascal and had stolen union money.
They claimed that he had had two
women in his office to protect him -
me and Edith Nelson and all kinds of
ugly things. Well, he got fighting mad. I
got even more mad .. . We brought in
auditors and we didn't make fun with
them. Auditors were brought in by the
authorities too, for they were investi-
gating the accusations. They checked
and checked and they found not one
thing wrong. Maybe a matter of four
shillings and sixpence either over, or
short or something. We went through
all kinds of rigmarole with statements
for approval for the registrar at Spanish
Town and all kinds of things but when
it was over, not one speck of wrong-
doing was proved. And Busta was so
mad ....
I suppose in the building of any organi-
zation you will find that type of thing.
Didn't you go into active politics your-
self? You decided to stand for elect-
ions .?
I didn't decide! It's like this. In 1951,
there was this fellow, F.L.B. Evans, who
resigned his seat in the House of Repre-
sentatives because he couldn't get
water for his constituents or something.
So Chief wanted somebody to run in

the by-elections and others in the party
persuaded Chief to put me up. And I
did not want to go. Anyway, he per-
suaded me and I went. Actually, others
fought the election for me. I lost . .
and I was happy. That was not my
style of making a contribution to my
country. I will support anyone who
works for the people and who, I am
satisfied, is sincere. But I'm not going
Are you affiliated to any organizations,
social clubs, that kind of thing?
I am a life member of the Woman's
Club and you know my interest in the
Children's Hospital. I'm a friend also
to other -groups but I'm not really a
joining kind of person.
Let us move on to the time when Mr.
Bustamante became chief minister and
began to travel overseas in his new
capacity. Tell us about that time.
The struggle had cooled down. The
Labour Party had been formed (in '44)
and was settling in. Busta was chief
minister, so he decided to visit Britain.
I went along. We travelled in a little
banana boat from Port Antonio. There
were 11 passengers.
How long did the journey take?
Two weeks. I was a little seasick at first,
but Chief, you know him, not a thing
happened to him. Didn't even sneeze.
When we got to Liverpool, it was all
excitement with reporters and photog-
raphers rushing around on the boat and
asking him all kinds of questions. He
answered all of them. Somebody from
the colonial office had been sent to
meet us. The excitement was great be-
cause Chief took his Buick with him.
I have seen pictures of it in newspapers
of that time. Why did he take the car
with him?
Well, it was right after the war you
know and things were still difficult.
The cars in Britain at that time were
very small baby cars. Chief wanted to
be comfortable. He always liked a com-
fortable car.

But Lady B, Chief being a well known
strategist, is it that he took the big
Buick to show them (the British) that
he was to be reckoned with. That he
was no pyah-pyah, as we would say?
Could be yes . .because colonials were
looked down upon of course.

So maybe it was strategy to put them in
their place?

You're right. Well, my dear, the Buick
was landed and the automobile asso-
ciation got it all cleaned up for us and
then we all went by train down to
London. When we got there, we got a
driver and the excitement began.
What happened?
Everywhere he went, people thought
he was an American. We went up to
Windsor Castle and the people flock-
ed around. Pictures in the newspapers.
At one time, a crowd gathered and
began to ask for his autograph. We were
mobbed. A couple of policemen came
down and told him 'Please come with
us, Mr. Bustamante.' The crowd got
excited. They thought he was being
arrested. But the officials told us that
they were taking him away because the
autograph seekers would wear him out.
So we left and we visited the Tower of
London. The Crown Jewels were all
roped off, but we were permitted to
go under the ropes and view things
closer. It was all very interesting ...
seeing Queen Victoria's bed and all
those things, from old time days. We
were in England for over a month and
a highpoint of the visit was the time
Bustamante was received at Buckingham
Palace by King George the Sixth. He
said that when he went in to meet the
King, the King said, 'Mr. Bustamante, I
see that you have had a varied career'.
Busta said he replied, 'Yes, Your Majesty,
and I expect to have a more varied career,
because I expect to be the governor of
my country one day'.
He was joking of course?
Oh yes. To be the governor was the big
thing and it seemed just the thing to say
to the King, you see?

Lady Bustamante, what is life like now
that Sir Alexander is gone?
Sometimes I can't believe that he's not
here. Especially at times like Christmas.
We used to drive around giving out
presents to old friends. He loved that
. And I guess, most of all I miss his
laughter. He always laughed. Occasion-
ally, it gets a little lonely, but he left us
such a lot of good memories . I am


Through European Eyes:

Jamaica 200 Years Ago

"Christmas Presents from Jamaica in the West Indies for a child in
Europe", translated from a booklet in French, "Etrennes de la Jam-
aique dans les Indes occidentales pour un enfant en Europe" in the
collection of the National Library of Jamaica. Originally translated
from German into French by P.T.; Gottingen, Published by Dan.
Fred. Kubler, 1783.

English translation by Mary Catherine Levy
with the assistance of
Marguerite Curtin

National Library of Jamaica illustrations


T he letters which are published here may be of some
entertainment for little boys and girls. They could
be regarded as the third volume of Joujou and of
Jouet, and these three may be read together as one.1

My dear little cousin! Tomorrow is Christmas Day in the
West Indies, just as it is in Germany. Without doubt you are
now sitting in front of a fireplace, taking care not to go out
the door because it is snowing, the wind is blowing and it is
dreadfully cold. You will be even more careful not to venture
outside of the city limits where everything is frozen and no
green is in evidence; you see the earth covered in snow and
ice, the trees are leafless and appear dried up. But I dear
little one I am no where near a fireplace; because no such
thing exists in Jamaica. And yet I am not cold; just the op-
posite, I am perspiring, I am as hot as you would be on the
most scorching day at home: I can hardly stand wearing

clothes and when I walk in the street later than 9 o'clock in
the morning, the heat is suffocating.

For here in Jamaica, as elsewhere in all the West Indies,
it is a completely different world. There is nothing like
winter here; instead there is only one season: summer lasts all
Everything is very green, trees bear fruit all year round,
new vegetables grow constantly in the garden, and every day
one can pick different fruit from the trees.

But what fruits? What plants? Almost nothing that grows
at home, except beans and carrots; nothing like apples and
pears, no plums or grapes: but other fruit more delicate and
more rare: limes, oranges, pineapples, sugar, coffee, cocoa,
etc. I am sending for you, my good little cousin, a small
present of things that grow in this country at Christmas
time. You will find in the little box I'm sending with this
letter: 1) a lime, which this very morning I picked with my
own hand from the tree, 2) a small packet of coffee that I
got day before yesterday at Bloxberg, in this island, 3) a
packet full of sugar which just last week was only sap in a
reed on the cane fields of Halberstadt, 4) a few cocoa beans.
No doubt by the time you receive it the lime will be mouldy
as the box may well take a whole year to get to you. We are
very far from each other you and I; to get from Kingston to
G(ottingen) might well be 2000 leagues....

Apart from these delicacies you will find other things in
the little box which may please you more: a packet of let-
ters for you, my dear little child. I know that you are study-
ing hard, that you listen carefully when it is time for geog-
raphy. You know a lot about Europe already but you know
nothing yet about America, that is what I'm going to tell
you about. Since I am now travelling in this part of the world
I will not omit anything strange that I may see or hear, and
will describe everything in detail.
Here in Jamaica the unfortunate children learn nothing at
all. The people here are very rich, but they don't spend any
of this wealth on their children. Oh, if one could only bottle
up good sense as one can bottle up rum! Until the age of eight,
young people remain among the domestics and the Negroes;
which means they are as badly disciplined and as ignorant as
the domestics and Negroes themselves. Only then does the
young man go to school, but the teacher dares not punish
him because his stupid parents don't want him to suffer;
the little idiot thus only learns to read. When he has finally
learnt to read a little, he learns to dance, to act the lord and
master, to pay visits, and to go gallivanting all day long.
Yesterday as I was trying to finish my last letter to you,
William, the eldest son of my host, came running into my
room chattering away endlessly: about the diamond ring that
his aunt in London sent him as a Christmas gift, and about
the ball that will take place day after tomorrow at Howard's


k1 (

____~Ayc 12u1.. N-

4' 4
V ~

ti .cl* 4.i~ *'"
\ itt

Ii~I~L~Lt ~,,

The bustle and activity of early 19th
century Kingston is vividly captured by
Duperly in this view of King Street
c. 1840.

Far left: This estate map of Bloxburgh
(Bloxberg), was prepared in 1820,40
years after our anonymous German
author's visit. Notation on the map sug-
gests that considerable acreage had been
acquired since the visit.






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Institute of Jamaica Publications L.imited

Tavern.2 Finally, tired of his continual babble, I said to him:
'Young Sir let me alone, I have very important things to do, I
am writing my little cousin in Lower Saxony,3 he's only ten,
but already, he is more advanced than you are at age
fourteen'. 'Lower Saxony, Lower Saxony?' Mr. William
asked, 'Where is Lower Saxony, isn't that in North America?'
Kingston, 24 December 1778.

Letter I. From Port Royal, 2 December 1778
Four weeks ago we left New York, and during this time
we've seen only the sky, the sea, our ship, and a few other
boats we spied on the way. On our vessel were 153 souls -
most were sailors and soldiers; there were only 4 women
and 4 children. Towards the end of our journey all that there
remained to eat was peas, pork and ship's bread; this bread
was so tough that one could hardly chew it. Should we wish
a change and look for an inn, well, as you know, there are
none to be found on the high seas and so we could not pur-
chase food that may be a little fresher.
The closer we got to the West Indies the more the heat in-
creased even though it was the month of November. Clothes
seemed unbearable, the sailors lounged on the upper deck
as within the cabins the heat was unbearable.
Finally, day before yesterday, we saw off to port the large
island of Hispaniola or St. Domingo, half of it belongs to the
Spanish and half to the French; and on the starboard side we
saw the island of Cuba which belongs completely to the
Spanish. Thus we rejoiced, assuming that we would soon
catch sight of the island of Jamaica, and that is just what
happened last night. The ratings came running and made a
great noise in announcing the good news to us, for this they
earned themselves a small reward.
Before sunrise this morning we emerged from our steam-
house to go on deck, and behold, there was Jamaica in front
of us! How joyful we were!

Yet we could see only the tops of mountains and appal-
lingly large rocks on which there were bushes similar to our
junipers, but a sailor told us they were pepper bushes as we
are now in a different world. Here there are no trees, no
bushes, no plants similar to those which grow in Europe;
there are instead all sorts of unusual kinds.
As we drew closer we were able to see our first sugar plan-
tation, and wherever our eyes rested the whole countryside
was green. What do you think of that, my little friend in
the month of December everything is beautifully green while
at home everything is white or brown!

At 11 o'clock the pilot came to bring our ship in to the
harbour so that we would not run on to the rocks. We came
closer and closer and we saw the harbour of Port Royal. Near
there, on the left, we saw on a hill-top a small fortress called
the Fort of the Apostles, where there are a dozen cannon;
and higher up a large fortress called Mosquito Fort4 where
there are 70 cannon. What a noise they will make when the
Count d'Estaing comes!5 See if you can find these places on
the geography map.

At one o'clock we were in the harbour at Port Royal and
dropped anchor. All at once a skiff filled with women and
girls black as coal came alongside to offer us all sorts of
refreshments. They were dressed in the finest white material.
Each black woolly head was covered only by a light hat of

silk as white as the sunlight, and each dark throat was bare.
Their eyes were beautiful and black and their teeth were pure
From them we bought limes, oranges, pineapples, cucum-
bers, carrots, beans and other fresh vegetables. O my dear
nephew, how delicious they were. Imagine fresh vegetables
in the month of December! Limes picked only this morning,
and especially for us poor, starved people who for 6 weeks
had eaten only peas, salted meat, and bread as hard as rock!
The first thing that we took was some punch. Surely one
has never tasted a punch like this anywhere in Europe; as all
the ingredients used to make it were fresh: fresh limes, fresh-
ly-made sugar, fresh rum; yet we added to it fresh pineapple
and orange juice.
We will not remain here long; we will leave this evening
by the light of the moon for the capital city Kingston; it is
there that you will learn of wonderful things.

Letter II. From Kingston, 3 December 1778

At midnight last night, we arrived at this charming place.
We heard the chimes of midnight and we were thrilled; as it is
a long time since we heard bells tell the time.

In the morning we reached land in a small boat. As soon
as we disembarked, a man who was on the shore came to wel-
come us in a most polished manner in the German language;
he invited us to return home with him. A German in Jamaica?
Yes my dear child, there are Germans all over the world.
Whether it be the Cape, or Tobolsk, Madras or Rio de Janeiro,
Paris, Stockholm or Colombo; you will find our countrymen
- disreputable persons, vagabonds, good-for-nothings who
didn't wish to obey their parents and so abandoned them,
but sometimes good and honest people too.
The German whom we met on shore was from Holstein, a
joiner by profession. He and his brother came to this country
17 years ago. Skilled in his art, hardworking and thrifty, a
moderate drinker of rum (as are many Englishmen and Ger-
mans here) he grew very rich, so rich in fact that now he
owns seven large houses in this city as well as a workshop
with more than 30 workmen.
This rich and polished countryman conducted us first to
his workshop. There we saw 19 black slaves who worked
naked making the most beautiful tables and turned work
from the lumber of mahogany and cedar.
Among the wood in the workshop was mahogany which
is very rare in Germany and England but grows here in large
forests. The shavings that result from planing give off a strong,
oily odour, an odour that makes it pleasant to linger in the

We asked for the lady of the house so that we may be able
to pay our respects to her also, as we do in our country; but
she didn't appear. Later we learnt that the joiner and his
brother each had a Negress for wife, whom they had bought
at the slave market. The white women of Europe are not
worth much here; instead of working, they become over fond
of luxury and spend about 1,200 ecus of their husbands'
money per year. Therefore, those who do not wish to spend
so much on a white woman prefer to buy a black one from
Africa. Aren't they as much members of the human race as
are European women; and of what importance is the colour
of one's skin?

Letter III. From Kingston the same day

Around midday I went to a hotel named Howard's Tavern
for dinner.
It is a magnificent building of some few floors, all built of
mahogany wood. Each storey is surrounded by a wide veran-
dah on which six persons can walk abreast. The doors, the
staircases, the floors are all of mahogany and the interior
panelling is of ebony wood. In the apartments on the 2nd
floor, there are instead of windows green-painted jalou-
sies which allow the sea air to enter and this keeps it cool.
The rooms are decorated with paintings and especially with
many fragments of the Old Testament. No fireplace or chim-
ney is seen as there is no need for these in Jamaica where
every day is very hot. I found many other Germans at this
inn and we sat down to eat at 2 o'clock. What dishes were
served there! In December nothing but vegetables freshly
picked from the garden! Fresh lettuce! Delicious beans!
There were carrots also but these were dried up and had a
stale taste. The beef was not to my liking, it was too lean.
Sometimes good beef is brought from North America but
not at present because we are in the midst of a war.6
The last dish was turtle. For dessert we were served
coco(nuts) and pineapples, these ripen all through the year.
Dessert was followed by a large bowl of punch served on top
of a chafing dish, and a handful of rolled tobacco which is lit
at the end and smoked without a pipe. Finally the bill arrived;
it came to a half-guinea per person. We were very well served
at table, behind each chair there was a black slave.

Letter IV. Kingston the same day
After dinner I went to the cafe where I found a large
group of all sorts of people, from Europe, Africa and America.
Thirty Negroes, most dressed in clothes as white as snow,
served the gathering. I had a serving of tea which cost me a
florin or 2 English shillings, many other refreshing drinks
were available also. A desk in one corner of the room was
covered with gazettes from Europe and North America, and
everyone hurried to go there in order to discover what was
new in the rest of the world. I saw many very wealthy
Kingston merchants among the gentlemen at this cafe. They
live for the most part outside of the town on their plantations
or in their country houses, and early in the cool morning
they come in carriages to their shops in Kingston. At 9 o'clock,
having accomplished their business, they go to the cafe
where they remain all day, returning home at 10 o'clock at
night in the cool of the evening. Night falls around 6 o'clock
and I said to myself: How will these people get the candles
lighted? As the doors are open the wind will extinguish the
flame; and if they are closed, the candle will melt from the
heat and no one will be able to stay in the room. As I
thought about this, I saw a little Negro come in carrying a
very tall bell-shaped jar of very fine, pure white glass, and
having lit the candle he put this cover over it. There you are,
that is how it is done in America.

Letter V. From Bloxberg in Jamaica,
4 December 1778

Among the gentlemen that I came to know yesterday at
the coffee house was another of our countrymen of Halber-
stadt, a tailor by profession, and now a wealthy and impor-
tant personage. He has a large sugar plantation that he named

Halberstadt after his birth-place; his sister who is here with
him in this country also, has a large mountain coffee estate
which she called Mount Bloxberg.
I went today to this Jamaican Bloxberg. When I had paid
my respects to madame, I saw for the first time coffee grow-
ing in abundance.
This forest of coffee was on a high mountain. The trees
which bear the coffee are small, about like the wild cherry
at home, and the coffee is as red as the fruit of that tree.
Within each berry there are two bean seeds. When they are
properly ripe, the fruit takes on a deep brown colour and
falls by itself (like acorns or ripe pears), or a cloth is spread
under the tree while it is shaken. Finally the beans are spread
on a cloth so that the outer skin may open. They are then
sent to a mill to rid them of all refuse. Following this they
are transported to the market in Kingston to be sold, not by
the pound, but the bushel as oats is sold at home.
The little coffee trees are as thick with branches as are our
bushes, and these branches start from the base of the stem.
They bear all year and as soon as one branch has produced its
fruit it reflowers once again.
In among these trees are also lime trees and other trees.
The limes and oranges are so little esteemed that one can
pick for oneself as much as one could wish, taking only into
account a small tip for the Negro.
Other than that I saw around here cinnamon trees, cot-
ton trees, cocoa trees and many tamarind trees also.

Letter VI. From Halberstadt in Jamaica,
5 December 1778

This morning I went to see the Halberstadt sugar plantation
of our compatriot M. Halberstadt.7 There was in the moun-
tain a large level area covered with sugar cane and at the foot
of this mountain is found the lovely house of the tailor.
As I arrived, a quantity of sugar cane was being hauled by
mule, the cane had just been cut in the mountains and it was
being taken to the mill, which was very near to the house, to
be crushed. At the mill were 8 Negroes who were feeding the
canes in between the rollers which were being turned by
The canes are twice crushed by this method and then they
too are dried on straw; in this way all the juice is pressed
out. The juice runs into a canal built under the rollers; it is
carried by this canal to the sugar factory.

In the factory the juice is reduced by heating in large caui-
drons to a fine consistency similar to sand or ground crumbs,
at this stage it is called caffonnade. This afternoon our coffee
was sweetened with some caffonade which only this morning
had been cane in the field.
All parts of the cane can be utilised as we do with flax at
home. The leaves serve as forage for animals, the pressed cane
burns in the factory, that which cannot be used for refined
sugar is made into rum, or a brandy which certainly has a
better taste than that of Nordhouse! This alcohol is drunk in
all of America and in England; and it is exported to about
half the world. But unfortunately for those who become over
fond of it, they will not live beyond the age of 30 years!

When the young canes have been planted, one must wait


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Title page of Etrennes de la Jamaique.

two years before cutting. But after that they grow continual-
ly for 10 to 14 years and can be cut at least twice per year.

Letter VII. From Kingston, 6 December 1778
Kingston is a magnificent town, well populated and full
of superb houses. It is situated about 4 miles from Spanish
Town.8 The roads are unpaved; as no one can stand on the
stones on account of the heat that they give off.
Most of the inhabitants are merchants and sailors. They
are all extremely rich. Also life is so excessively expensive
here that a person cannot live on less than 6 ecus per day.9
There are many here who live like the people of Sodom
and Gomorrah of biblical times; they drink, eat, play and
dance, become pale as death and die like flies.
Those who have money can have whatever their heart
desires. One finds people in all occupations; but they do not
work at such reasonable rates as at home. Should one wish
to have the size of a pair of breeches measured, the tailor
arrives in a sulky 10 wearing a silk outfit; but remember,
this is added to the customer's account.







trad. de I'Allemand par P. T.


The wife of a merchant or a professional man is turned
out magnificently. All the birds of the western isles give of
their raiment for love of these ladies. They are covered in
pearls. Thus it is that a lady who formerly was not worth
3 denier, is worth 300 crowns as soon as she puts on her fine-
ry. When they go out, that is, when they go out in a carriage,
it has a hood of green silk for shade almost as grand
as a berlin11 and this can be lowered behind just like the
leather in a sedan-chair.
The young ladies, (for they are all mature, there are no
girls or innocents in Jamaica) these young ladies rarely
know how to read; but they all know how to dance. They
grow tall like poplar trees; and a young girl of 12 years of age
already has the air of a mature woman. Also, by 30, they are
not unlike an old grand-dame. They are not often seen in the
daytime, for they are fearful that the atmosphere and the
heat may further spoil their beautiful pale complexions.
The men are equally well turned out. They wear plain
white hats made of the finest felt that can be found and they
never go into the streets without a parasol. Their suits are of
a light material and are unlined. Their jackets and trousers
are of white silk or taffeta, or of calico. No one wears coats
or hats that are trimmed; but what they most use for adorn-
ment is white linen.
Due to the heat they change at least two or three times a
day. At 9 o'clock when you start to work, they have already
completed most of their business; thus they change for the
second time and proceed to dine at 2 o'clock; for those who
receive visits towards evening a third, and very different,
set of clothes is put on.
The continuous noise of the carriages in the street is
worse than in Hanover and Paris. The ladies usually drive out
in a two-horse closed carriage.12 If the ladies go out in pairs
they are accompanied by 2 Moors or Negroes dressed in
snow-white who stand at the back with parasol in hand over
the heads of the ladies so that at no time may the sun burn
their necks bright red.
The Negroes cut a very amusing figure. This coal-black
man is dressed all in pure white, he has white trousers and
fine shoes but no stockings; and thus one would swear that
this strange figure is wearing stockings of black silk. The
third Negro who is at the front of the carriage is dressed in
a like manner. The front section of the carriage is elevated;
it is much higher than the seat. In this way the coachman can
see far ahead down the road over the horses' heads. Both
carriage and harness are superb, usually made in London. The
horses move along briskly, but their condition is not good,
and this is because in Jamaica, no oats, barley, rye, or wheat
grow, and the poor beasts have to be fed on grass. The men
usually drive around in a gig13 pulled easily by one horse
(precisely like the folk of N. America). There is a Negro
on the rear who holds a parasol over his master's head, often
another Negro goes on foot or on horse in front of the
This magnificent and grand city has existed for only 60
years, for previously all these rich sugar merchants lived at
Port Royal. But there have been many earthquakes and
hurricanes of such force that entire streets vanished into the
sea, houses collapsed entirely, and the number of persons
who perished was over 2,000; the majority of the inhabitants
having escaped by sea, they built the city of Kingston of
today. All that remains at Port Royal today are a couple of
hundred houses.



Letter VIII. From Kingston, 7 December 1778

Early this morning a Negro went through the streets ring-
ing a bell and holding a hand-bill which he read out in a loud
voice announcing merchandise for sale. I asked what was this
merchandise? The reply that was given was people.
Last week a ship arrived here laden with 550 Negroes.
Imagine, my little one, 550 large and fat Negroes, all packed
into one vessel in this searing heat: what an aroma must have
permeated the ship!
These 550 black men were bought by the French on the
coast of Guinea with the intention of transporting them to
Martinique, but an English privateer encountered them on

The luxurious lifestyle
enjoyed by the Jamaican
planter society of the 18th
century, so vividly
described by the author of
these letters, is amusingly
depicted in these
caricatures, 'West India
Fashionables' (William
Holland 1807) left, and
'West India Custom' (R.F.
Hawkins 1810) above.
Note the gigs one horse
two wheeled carriages
- which appear in two of
the illustrations.

the way and captured the cargo as these two nations are at
war. The poor Negroes gained nothing by the exchange; in-
stead of being enslaved in Martinique, they are destined to
be made slaves in Jamaica. It was about these people that the
announcement was made in the streets by the Negro this
morning a sale, as of oysters or codfish, inviting all those
who wished to buy to come to the sale of Negroes and
choose the ones which may please them.
After I got dressed I went to this market and I saw a quan-
tity of black persons of all ages and both sexes completely
nude. Each had a card hanging around his neck bearing a
'My God', I said to myself, 'men are sold here in the same

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way that we sell geese and pigs at home!'
There were many buyers who looked over and touched
the Negroes to see if there was any fault. The going price for
a strong young man in the full flower of youth was 600 ris-
dales;4 and for others 450, 300 to 200 risdales. Old men
and old women were worth no more than small children.
I found there the majordomo of the lady at Bloxberg and
I saw him buy for 580 risdales a well built man of thirty to
work on the coffee plantation of his mistress. On top of that
he was given free a young black boy of your size and age.
This child is now in madame's service and must go every
morning at 4 o'clock up into the hills to pick up the ripe
coffee beans which have fallen from the trees and his
nourishment consists of plantains alone.
His sister, a girl of 12, was bought for 150 risdales by a
sugar-maker who lives beyond Spanish Town. Thus are these
poor children separated, and it is most likely that they will
never see one another again as long as they live.
By 9 o'clock all had been sold and each person was busy
with taking home his goods. The little black girl, after kis-
sing her little brother one more time, started to cry; the older
Negroes after embracing each other, said goodbye by utter-
ing cries not dissimilar to a sort of howl. When they were
dispersing a dull noise suddenly rose up from amongst them.
At first I thought it was sighing, but then I realized that they
were singing a type of canticle in their language of Guinea -
here is what it said:

Far from my native land
Will I languish and sigh,
Without comfort, in toil and ignominy.
You, white men and true, you who make us tremble -
What have we done, oh men without mercy?
But I make supplication to Heaven! That He who sees
all may give me His aid;l am sure that He will proffer
it to me, a poor black man.

Letter IX. Kingston, 13 December 1778
I went today to the Anglican Church. I went there from
9 o'clock but divine worship didn't begin until 10. I used this
time to walk about in the cemetery so that I could examine
the inscriptions on the monuments.
The cemetery is surrounded by a brick wall. The grave-
stones are almost all made of either alabaster or of marble
and very elegantly worked with the inscriptions in gold
During the hour I spent I read more than 50, but can you
imagine my amazement to have found, among all these, only
one person who lived to the age of 52 years! I found none
older: on the contrary most people had died between 20 and
36 years. Here lies a lawyer of 26 years, there a merchant of
29, here another of 24. There lies a whole family of whom
the father died at 35 years of age, the mother at 39, the
eldest son only lived to 17, the younger to 11, one of the
daughters was 13, another 9 and all these people died with-
in the space of 5 years.
O wicked sugar-island! How evil and unhealthy you are!
How I long to go far away from you! It is here that one can
say: 'the days of our life run to 30 years, and if there are
stronger, to 40'. It is the effect of the heat which governs

all, the long rainy season, the rum, the debauchery it is not
the same in N. America. There I read, at Amboy in Jersey,15
the following epitaph on a tomb: 'Here lies the wife of
Ensign Robins, she lived to the age of 83, and during her life
was always vigorous till her demise'.
I had not read all the epitaphs when 10 o'clock rang and
right away a sign by way of a small bell was given for the
start of divine worship. The English are given to much use of
bells both in N. America and in the West Indies.
All of a sudden I saw a quantity of carriages and gigs
arrive; I think I was the only one who came to church on
The church is a very simple yet lovely building. During
the service all doors and windows were open to allow the air
to pass through.
All seats are on floor level, only the pulpit and the organ
are raised.
The pulpit is in the middle of the edifice, made from
lovely mahogany wood and decorated with ebony. The
stairs to the pulpit, the pastor's seat, the altar, all other seats
in the church in fact everything is of ebony and cedar
wood; the pillars which support the canopy of the altar are
also of ebony. The Ten Commandments of God and the sym-
bol of the Apostles are written in gold on the glowing dark
brown colour of the mahogany. On either side of the altar
there are two huge cushions of red satin, on which the pastor
kneels when he reads the public prayer and the articles of
faith. When most of the worshippers are in the church the
organ begins to play a wonderful tune, then the congregation
rises and the pastor reads the public prayer and some verses.
Following this the organ plays again and then the pastor, hav-
ing taken his place in front of the altar, reads the articles of
faith which all the brethren recite with him in a loud voice.
Next comes the Litany to which the congregation responds
loudly: Amen. It is charming to see the devotion of these
English people, not excluding the coarsest sailors who came
in during the service.

After all these acts of devotion the cantor indicated the
hymn that we would sing and the pastor, leaving the altar,
went to a stall where he changed his vestments.

The hymn finished, another preacher went up into the
pulpit. We sang a few more verses of a hymn and then the
sermon began. The first pastor returned to sit in the priests'
bench, but he was dressed in very different vestments: he
wore a black jerkin,16 white short jacket, trousers and stock-
ings also of white.

The sermon, made on these words from the Bible: 'What
must I do to be saved?', lasted no more than a quarter of an
hour. The blessing was given from the pulpit, the organ start-
ed to play and the congregation dispersed.

In all the crowd I saw no one, neither man nor woman,
with a fresh and healthy complexion. Everyone had a pale
and yellow colour and their whole deportment was as if
they were half-dead. Poor inhabitants of Jamaica! You earn
so much money for your sugar, your coffee and your maho-
gany; but I envy you not a jot. A healthy body and good
deportment are worth more than bags of money. I would pre-
fer to live on potatoes in Lower Saxony than to eat pine-
apples in Kingston.

Letter X. From Kingston, 23 December 1779.17
My dear little cousin, I am already very tired of Jamaica.
I have no further appetite for sweets, for chocolate, for pine-
apples; what I would dearly wish for is to have a piece of
brown bread from Germany or North America;18 isn't there
anyone who would make me a present of some for Christ-
mas, day after tomorrow? But not even the wealthiest man in
Jamaica possesses any of this bread.
When I arrived here, what happened to me was what hap-
pens to young German apprentices who, fooled by the touts
who live in Holland under the name of soul-sellers, allow
themselves to be taken off to the Molucca Islands.19 When,
on approaching these islands, still many leagues out at sea,
they get the aroma of nutmeg and cloves, the young men
believe they are in paradise. Hardly are they there a week
than they are longing for a piece of ham and pumpernickel,
and a drink of good, strong, fresh beer.
Everything disgusts me. I feel pity for my black brothers
and my heart is torn apart to see them treated daily like dogs
by the white, or rather weather-beaten, monkeys. By day
the heat is stifling and in the evening one dare not go out, as
there blows an unhealthy wind which can kill suddenly. Last
week we had a storm here that made me fear that Kingston
would suffer a fate similar to that of Port Royal, and this
kind of storm occurs frequently.
Every time I think of the cemeteries I wish for the quick
repair of our ship. But no, it is not in a country where sugar,
coffee and mahogany grow that I wish to live. Long live
Germany and all those countries where wheat, rye and oak
trees grow!

1. This little book was apparently first written in German. Some
hours of preliminary search in the British Library, London, in
July 1984 failed to turn up any references to this book, to the
other two volumes referred to in the foreword, or to the
author and/or translator. The fact that the original may have
been a manuscript may account for some of the errors apart
from those that appear to be spelling or printing errors. (See
notes 8, 20).

2. Howard's Tavern, formerly located on or near Water Lane. The
description of the verandah in Letter III can be visualized by
observing Hibbert House (old Headquarters House) on Duke
3. Gottingen is a city in the state of Niedersachsen or Lower
Saxony, it is in eastern West Germany on the Leine River. In
1734 the Georgia Augusta University was established there by
George II of England who was also elector George Augustus of
4. Fort of the Apostles = Apostle's Battery, fortification at Port
Henderson [Black 1965 p.116]. Mosquito Fort = Fort Augusta.
(Nelson) . in a letter to a friend describes some of the
feverish preparations made to resist the French attack. Five
thousand men were encamped between Ferry and Kingston,
a thousand at Fort Augusta and three thousand at the Apostle's
Battery [Black 1965] .

5. Count d'Estaing was vice-admiral of the French fleet that
supported the American colonials against Great Britain. When
the main seat of warfare shifted to the West Indies, 'he arrived
at St. Domingue in the summer of 1779 with a powerful fleet
including transports (which) led to the belief that Jamaica
was now to be invaded'.
6. The reference is to the American War of Independence which
escalated when the French were 'so encouraged by British re-

verses that within a few months they declared war on Britain'
[Black 1965 p. 117].
7. Owner of the Halberstadt property at this time was Jakob
Kellerman who appears to have owned both Halberstadt and
Bloxberg. He died in 1796 or 1797. His will was proved in
1797. (Private Communication National Library of Jamaica).
8. The error in the distance between Spanish Town and Kingston
may be due to problems with the manuscript as the numeral
and not the word may have been used. The omission of the nu-
meral 1 would explain the distance given if 14 were written.
9. ecu = one crown (five shillings).
10. Carriage names are retained as far as possible as they were used
in the IOJ's publication of Lady Nugent's Journal. A definition
is also given. Sulky: a light two wheeled one horse vehicle for
a single person.
11. Berlin four wheeled covered carriage with hooded seat

12. Coupe closed two horse, four wheeled carriage generally for
two persons.

13. Gig a light two wheeled, one horse carriage, the passenger
was sometimes accompanied by a groom. Used by Sir George
Nugent. (See Lady Nugent's Journal p.82). Known in the U.S.
as a 'one-horse-shay'.

14. Probably a reference to the Dutch currency rijksdaalder or rix-
daler; also Swedish currency as riksdaler. This may have been
an attempt to relate the value of a slave to currency that the
reader would understand. Around this time a Spanish dollar
was worth six shillings and six pence and 500 Spanish dollars
was equal to 162.10. One risksdaler would have approxi-
mately the same value as one Spanish dollar. (Private Com-
munication from Raymond Brandon).

15. It is interesting that the author visited 'Amboy in Jersey' per-
haps just before coming to Jamaica in 1778. The introduction
to Lady Nugent's Journal says that 'Maria Nugent was born in
1771, probably at Perth Amboy in New Jersey . 'She would
have been seven years old at the time of the author's visit.

16. Jerkin a man's close fitting jacket, sometimes sleeveless.

17. This date would seem to be a misprint, nothing in the text in-
dicates that the author stayed here for another year. This letter
echoes the lassitude expressed in the previous one dated 13
December 1778.
18. This seems to indicate that there was a sizeable German popu-
lation in North America.
19. Also known as the Spice Islands, they belong to Indonesia; lo-
cated south of the Philippine Islands.
20. The word used is 'saquins', given the other misprints, this is
most likely 'sagouins'. The first definition is 'small South
American monkey', but it has been extended to mean 'a dirty
man or child'. The author may have intended one or both


BLACK, Clinton, History of Jamaica, Collins, 1965.
BUISSERET, David and TYNDALE-BISCOE, Jack, Historic Jamaica
From the Air, Caribbean Universities Press, 1969.
Dictionnaire, alphabetique et analogique de la langue Francaise.
Paris, 1969.
Dictionnaire de I'ancienne langue Francaise et de tous ses dialectes du
1Xe etu xve siccle par. 7 Godefrory. Paris, 1938.
Larousse Encyclopedea. Paris, 1966.

NUGENT, Lady Maria. Journal of her residence in Jamaica from 1801
to 1805. (ed.), Philip Wright, Kingston: Institute of Jamaica,


February April 1985





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Their Biology and Conservation

in Jamaica

By Karl Aiken

he lobster that we commonly eat is properly termed
the Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus (Figure
1) and is not actually a true lobster. The true lobsters
belong to the families Nephropidae and Homaridae and
possess claws. Our common lobsters are more accurately
termed marine crayfish and belong to the family Palinuridae.
They are among six types of lobsters which may be caught
in Jamaican waters; these are listed in Table 1. Only two of
these lobsters (Figures 1,2) are of commercial value while the
remainder are rather rare. The very unusual lobsters of the
family Scyllaridae are called the Slipper or Spanish lobsters.
One species in this family occurs not only in the tropical
western Atlantic but also in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The lobsters of this family are quite different from the
typical lobsters in that the Scyllaridae have a distinctly flat-
tened body and two conspicuous flat flaps in front of the
eyes instead of the long whiplike antennae or 'feelers'. (See
Figure 3). They are said to be particularly good eating.
The early life history of the common spiny lobster,
Panulirus argus, is long and complicated. Like other members
of the family Palinuridae, it has a tiny, bizarrely-shaped larval
stage called a phyllosoma, measuring from 2 to 20 mm.
(Figure 5). This phyllosoma is an example of a highly special-
ized pelagic (surface-dwelling) long-lived oceanic larva. The
body is extremely flattened, leaf-like, transparent and with
highly setose (bristle-covered) appendages. The name 'phyllo-
soma' is very appropriate for this larva as it is derived from
the Greek 'phyllos' (a leaf) and 'soma' (body). This phyllo-
soma larval life can extend through at least 12 'stages' and
might last from 6-12 months. This is perhaps the main reason
why lobsters are not grown in captivity from eggs. During
this time these phyllosomes are adrift near the surface of

the open ocean at the mercy of wind and current. The larvae
are preyed on by other surface-dwelling animals, such as
fishes, and roughly 99 per cent of those spawned will die.
It is postulated that due to the long larval life of the lob-
sters, they may be transported for very long distances by
ocean currents, allowing extremely wide dispersal. It has been
suggested that larvae spawned in the Caribbean could, for
example, settle in Bermuda or Florida. Further research
however, [Menzies and Kerrigan 1978] suggests that this is
not as likely as first thought.
There is a further planktonic (surface-drifting) stage called
a puerulus which, simply put, is a miniature adult with very
little pigmentation. It is into this stage that the last phyllo-
soma stage metamorphoses or changes. This transformation
has been described as one of the most profound in nature
considering especially the form of the phyllosoma larva and
how it differs from that of the adult that we know. It finally
settles onto the seafloor after having fully developed its pig-
mentation and begins to seek shelter in shallow water. At this
early juvenile stage the lobsters occupy the diverse habitats
characterized by shallow bays and reef areas, for example
among sponges, in turtle grass (Thalassia) beds, between man-
grove roots and even among the spines of the common black
sea urchin (Diadema) [Eldred, Futch and Ingle, 1972]. These
shallow areas with mangroves and seagrass serve as nursery
areas for pre-adult populations of spiny lobsters as well as
other organisms. This relationship serves to remind us that
mangrove and shallow water marine areas are biologically
valuable and must be conserved.
As the lobsters grow larger they move from their shallow
protected juvenile habitats into deeper waters. This generally
takes place when they are about to attain sexual maturity

Figure: The bizarre late Phyllosoma larval stage of the common
spiny lobster Panulirus argus. The transformation of this larval
stage into the mature adult is one of the most remarkable in nature
(illustration from Baisre 1964).

at about 70-80mm carapace length/C. L. (The carapace is the
front part of the exoskeleton from which the 'tail' or abdom-
inal flap can be separated). Adult spiny lobsters prefer coral/
rocky outcrops, sponge and soft coral associated with reefs.
They are particularly associated with partly restricted open-
ings which have been termed 'dens'.
Lobsters will eat quite a wide variety of organisms ranging
from hard-shelled molluscs, starfish, urchins, small crustacea
to algae. Their massive crushing mandibles enable them to
feed on all these without difficulty and they feed actively at
In turn, lobsters provide food for such predators as sharks,
rays, snappers, groupers, octopus, dolphins and loggerhead

Male and female lobsters may be readily distinguished by
the following characteristics: a) the tips of the fifth pair of
walking legs have single points in males but three points or
'spurs' in females; b) the male has the large swollen openings
of the sperm ducts at the base of the last (fifth) pair of legs;
c) the female has small openings of egg ducts at the base of
the third pair of legs. Generally, the males attain a consider-
ably larger maximum size than females.
During copulation males deposit a sperm mass on the
underside of the carapace of the female in the form of a tar-
like adherence called a spermatheca. This mass may not be
used by the females immediately and it may be carried for up
to one month! The average number of eggs produced per
gram of body weight is about 800 eggs/g; thus a 1 kg female
may produce up to 800,000 eggs. Spawning activity takes
place throughout the year but with maxima of spawning dur-
ing the first six months of the year with a sharp fall after-
wards. Locally, all females with eggs ('berried' females) are
protected from fishing. (See Figure 4).
Jamaica produces an average of about 400 metric tons of
lobster per year which is locally valued in 1983 prices at
about U.S.$2 million [Aiken 1983]. There has been a tradi-
tional export of lobsters, whole and tails, to the highly priced
United States market from at least the early 1950s; in 1955,
for instance, some nine tons were exported. In 1973 some
300 tons of lobster were imported from Jamaica by the
U.S.A. This indicates that a substantial portion of the island's
catch may be exported.
The importance of the lobster fishery is underscored fur-
ther when we consider that lobsters comprised in 1981 just
over 3 per cent by weight but about 5 per cent by value of
the entire annual inshore Jamaican fishery production
[Sahney 1982].

From the point of view of conservation, lobsters possess a
most useful feature: unlike fishes, they are not adversely
affected by the abrupt pressure changes which are sustained
when traps are hauled to the surface. These crustaceans can
therefore be managed by minimum size regulations which
usually involve returning undersized individuals to the sea,
whereas fish cannot be returned. This is because their gas-
filled swim bladders often burst, fatally injuring the fish and
making their return to the water pointless.

TABLE 1: Lobster Species Taken by Fish Traps in Jamaican Waters

Family Scientific Name Common Name Occurrence
Palinuridae Panulirus argus (Latreille) Spiny lobster Common

Panulirus guttatus (Latreille)

Justitia longimanus

Palinurellus gundlachi
(Von Martens)

Scyllaridae Scyllarides aequinoctialis

Spotted spiny
Long-armed spiny
Copper lobster

Spanish lobster

Parribacus antarcticus (Lund) Slipper lobster

deeper water

Very rare,
moderate to deep



Figure 1: The common spiny lobster Panulirus argus. This Figure 2: The spotted or guinea chick lobster Panulirus
species is the basis of approximately 99 per cent of our guttatus. This is the second most commercially valuable
lobster fishery, species in our waters.

Figure 3: The Slipper or Spanish lobster Scyllarides Figure 4: An egg-carrying female spiny lobster. These are
Aequinoctialis. This species is relatively scarce and is very protected from fishing until after the eggs are released.
unusual in shape.

Up to 1976, Jamaica was the only country in both the
English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Caribbean not to have
lobster conservation legislation. Fortunately this is no longer
Conservation efforts began when the author's analysis of
catches [Aiken 1977] showed that in 1974 and 1975, fully
76 per cent of the commercial lobster catch consisted of im-
mature females, suggesting that they were greatly in need of
protection. (By comparison, Florida's spiny lobster population
is still considered to be in considerable need of conservation,
although only 17-21 per cent of their harvest comprised im-
mature females).

The information collected over a number of years suggested
that the minimum size for lobsters would best be first set at
70 mm (or 2% inches) CL. This size could then be increased
very slowly over a number of years. This would protect some
50 per cent of the immature females, a figure that was con-
sidered adequate as a start.
The Fishing Industry Act of 1975 introduced by the Fish-
eries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, became effective
in November 1976 and as recommended under section 25 (h),
prescribed a minimum size for spiny lobsters of 70 mm CL.
No lobsters below that size may be landed or offered for sale.
This size is considered to be an adjustable initial minimum
size. Female spiny lobsters with eggs are also protected under
the Act. Both provisions carry a maximum penalty of
J$1,000, six months imprisonment or both, for convicted of-
These provisions presently fulfil the functions of pro-
tecting some immature females, and enabling spawning
females to remain in the sea long enough to release their
eggs, after which they may be taken.

The Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture is
the main enforcing agency, through fishery instructors,
officers and inspectors. A major problem of enforcement is
that lobsters are landed on all of the 160 recognized fishing
beaches around the island, making effective policing very
difficult. Nevertheless, the regulations are beginning to show
effect. Studies of lobster landings show that there were con-
siderable reductions in numbers of lobsters measuring less
than the minimum size. There has also been a slight increase
in the average size of all lobsters landed. Additionally, lob-
sters with eggs have not been appearing in landings as fre-
quently as before the introduction of legislation.

The need remains for continuing education of both fisher-
men and the public regarding conservation of our lobster
fisheries. The best way in which the public can help is by
refusing to buy lobsters below the regulation size, or any
lobsters with eggs.


AIKEN, K.A., Jamaica Spiny Lobster Investigations. FAO Fish Rep./
FAO Inf. Pesca, (200), 1977.
SFurther Investigation of the Spiny Lobster Fishery of Jamaica;
National Reports and Selected Papers Presented at the Third
Working Party on Assessment of Marine Fishery Resources,
Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC),
Kingston, Jamaica, May, 1982. FAO Fisheries Report No. 278
Supplement: 177-191,1983.



r f/ 2 3 4 INCHES IN



(1) No lobster with eggs whatsoever may be landed or offered for
(2) No spiny lobster measuring less than 214 inches (about length of
Index Finger) along top of the shell may be landed or offered for


Figure 6: Lobster conservation poster.

BAISRE, J.A., Sobre los estadios larvales de la langosta comun Panu-
lirus argus. Contrib. 19, C.I.P., Inst. Nac. Pesc. Havana, Cuba,
ELDRED, B., FUTCH, C.R., and INGLE, R.M., Studies of Juvenile
Spiny Lobsters, Panulirus argus in Biscayne Bay, Florida.
Fla. Dept. Nat. Res., Mar. Res. Lab; Spec. Sci. Rept. No. 35,
MENZIES, R.A. and KERRIGAN, J.M., Implications of Spiny Lob-
ster Recruitment Patterns of the Caribbean A Biochemical
Genetic Approach, Proc. Gulf. Car. Fish. Inst. 31st. Ann.
Session, Nov., 1978.
SAHNEY, A.K., Sample Survey of the Fishing Industry in Jamaica -
1981; Presented at W.E.C.A.F. Conference, May, 1982, Kings-
ton; Data Collection and Statistics Branch, Data Bank and
Evaluation Division, Min. of Agriculture, Kingston: 1982.


2A Suthermere Road,
Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone: 92-94785/6

If you have moved
please let us know

New and Forthcomingll

No. 1 Jamaica 21 Anthology Series

Jamaican Folk Tales and
Oral Histories
by Laura Tanna
Songs Rhymes Riddles Proverbs
Historical Narratives iLying Stories
Parson Stories Duppy Stories *Anansi Stories
Trickster Narratives

Covers the range of
Jamaica's Oral Art Forms
Over 50 narratives
Written down exactly as told.

Introduction: How the Stories were Collected;
How the Stories were Written Down
Chapter I: Background to Jamaican Folk Tales
Chapter II: Storytelling as a Performing Art
Chapter III: Jamaican Oral Art Forms
Chapter IV: Jamaican Trickster Narratives
Chapter V: Other Old Time Stories
The historical, cultural and linguistic background which
gave rise to the oral narrative tradition in Jamaica is
explained and put into the context of the present situation.
Although the emphasis is on the stories, an effort is made to
examine storytelling as a dramatic art form so as to convey
to the reader some of the dynamic vitality of performance
whicb keeps the tradition of folk tales alive and enduring.

For free brochures on this and other publications on
Jamaican culture please write to us:

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica.
Telephone: 92-94785/6

Rhonda Cobham Sander is a graduate of
the Department of English, University of
the West Indies. She gained her Ph.D. in
English from the University of St.
Andrews in Scotland and now works in
the School of English and Comparative
Literature at the University of Bayreuth,
West Germany.

Barry Wade is Director -of Environ-
ment and Special Projects at the Petro-
leum Corporation of Jamaica. A special-
ist in marine ecology, his particular
interest is in coastal zone resource
management. He is the current vice-
president of the Jamaica Society of
Scientists and Technologists and holder
of the society's Outstanding Achieve-
ment Award. He has also received the
Order of Distinction and the Institute of
Jamaica's silver Musgrave and Centenary
medals in recognition of his work in the
field of environmental management.

Barbara Gloudon is a well known jour-
nalist and communications consultant.
Her lifelong interest in theatre has in-
cluded playwriting (she has authored six
pantomimes) and long association with
cultural institutions such as the Little
Theatre Movement and the Jamaica
School of Drama of which she is a for-
mer chairman.

Mary Catherine Levy, a linguist, special-
ises in the French Language. She has
lectured at the Department of French,
University of the West Indies and at
the Alliance Francaise.

Karl Aiken is a lecturer in the Depart-
ment of Zoology, University of the West
Indies. He specialises in marine sciences
with special reference to fisheries on
which he has published several papers.
He is vice-president of the Natural
History Society of Jamaica.

Alan Eyre is Reader in physical geog-
raphy at the University of the West
Indies, Mona. As a cartographer with
the Survey Department in the 1950s
he worked in the tradition of Robert-
son on Jamaica's first large-scale cadas-
tral survey. Dr. Eyre is a member of the
Geographical Society of Jamaica and
one of the founders of the Department
of Geography at the University of the
West Indies.


By Gloria Escoffery

leaders of a column such as this
one, which concentrates on the
expressive function of art in
our community, may be somewhat un-
informed about the ramifications of art
training as it exists nowadays at our
very progressive Jamaica School of Art.
What is the administrative structure of
this institution and how does this re-
late to the larger entity of the Cultural
Training Centre? How is the school fi-
nanced and how does it manage to stay
afloat in these days of economic squeeze?
Are students instructed along lines that
will enable them to earn a living out
there in the harsh world where, after all,
let us be quite frank about it, only a
very small proportion of the population
is concerned with what goes on in the
art galleries?
This article, which departs from the
usual free-wheeling critical approach,
will attempt to answer some of these
questions. The needs of the Jamaica
School of Art, and the growing involve-
ment of individuals and business houses,
were recently highlighted at. an art
auction in June 1984 which raised over
$35,000; obviously there are people
who care, but there is room for more.
This sum was raised as a result of an ap-
peal to artists in our community from
the director, Hope Brooks, and the chair-
man of the 'Friends of the Jamaica
School of Art'. What are the 'Friends'
up to? Is this assistance really needed?
With all the fund-raising of one sort
or another that goes on in Jamaica
today, prospective supporters really
need to know whether their donations
will be well spent.
First, a historical perspective on the
Jamaica School of Art. The story began
in 1941 thanks to the initiative of Edna
Manley in starting bi- or tri-weekly art

classes for a small group of adults at
the Junior Centre of the Institute of
Jamaica. These classes soon outgrew the
space, and plans were made to establish
the Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts
at 1 Central Avenue, Kingston Gardens,
in a fine old house which was bequeath-
ed to the government for cultural pur-
poses by a public-spirited ex-mayor of
Kingston, the late Altamont DaCosta.
The operational costs were at first large-
ly borne by the British Council, which
in that era exerted a very positive pres-
ence in all cultural undertakings, in-
cluding the establishment of Jamaica's
public libraries. By 1951 the school had
outgrown the DaCosta Centre and addi-
tional premises were acquired at 11
North Street. In 1956 the school be-
came a full-time institution and quali-
fications for admission, originally no
more than a portfolio of promising
work, became more demanding.
Nineteen sixty-one was the year
in which the formalization of the curri-
culum really began. A full-time school,
a division of the Institute of Jamaica,
was established, offering a four year dip-
loma course in drawing, painting, sculp-
ture, ceramics and graphic design. The
years since then have seen a steady ex-
pansion in the curriculum and today the
school has seven departments having
added departments of jewellery, textiles/
weaving and art education. In 1972 the
Ministry of Education gave recognition
to the school as a tertiary institution
and classified the school's diploma as
specialist two and the certificate as
specialist one. In 1976 the Jamaica
School of Art, an autonomous body,
moved into its present campus to be-
come part of the Cultural Training
Centre, established to provide training
in the visual and performing arts. This
was an imaginative move, all of a piece
with the design of the buildings which
won the prestigious Governor General's
Award for Architecture for the best
building in 20 years. No such compre-
hensive campus for the visual and per-
forming arts exists elsewhere in the

The Cultural Training Centre's uni-
queness and high standards have led to
an interesting development. In 1983
the Cultural Training Centre was desig-
nated an Inter-American Centre, by
the Organization of American States, to
train students from the Eastern Carib-
bean in art and art education. There are
only two other such centres, CIDA (for
craft development) in Ecuador, and
INDEF (for folk musicology) in Vene-
The training of teachers is a most im-
portant function of the Jamaica School
of Art. This emphasis began in the mid-
seventies, when it seems that the curri-
culum planners awakened to the fact
that many a hopeful Picasso in the mak-
ing would ultimately earn his living in
the classroom and needed to be trained
specifically for this career. Consequently
an art education component in most,
if not all courses, became a required
part of the curriculum. In 1977 the
school, in conjunction with the Ministry
of Education, instituted a teachers' in-
service training programme to upgrade
teachers in the field of art education as
well as to expand its community pro-
gramme. Typical of ongoing cooper-
ation with the Ministry of Education is
the annual summer programme for in-
service training, for which the school
provides facilities. Other educational
outreach programmes are organized as
needed, for instance a course specially
designed for the carvers of St. Ann, and
a seminar in crocheting for women,
sponsored by Things Jamaican.
The practical emphasis in curriculum
design at the Jamaica School of Art
indicates that it continues to be respon-
sive to community demands. The field
of applied arts is wide open for sugges-
tions (and assistance) from the private
Let us now look briefly at the ad-
ministrative structure within which the
school operates:
As part of the Cultural Training Cen-
tre, the Jamaica School of Art is a


department of the Institute of Jamaica,
which falls under the Ministry of Cul-
ture in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Institute is headed by an executive
director, who is also secretary of the
council of the Institute of Jamaica. This
council, whose members are appointed
by the Prime Minister as Minister of
Culture, is the main decision-making
body of the Institute. Each of the four
CTC schools has a board of manage-
ment and the chairmen of these boards
are among the members of the council.
The Jamaica School of Art has its own
board of management comprised of 12
members, who are appointed by the
Minister of Culture and who are res-
ponsible for overseeing the budget,
ratifying policy as laid down by the
director, for disciplinary matters, and ap-
pointments. Then, of course, there are
a variety of sub-committees, including a
board of studies comprising both aca-
demic staff and students representing
all departments of the school.
It is when we get down to the nitty
gritty of financing that (as in all public
institutions in Jamaica today) the holes
begin to be apparent. Typically, the
public has stepped in and offered assis-

In view of the inadequate financing
of the school, the Association of Friends
of the Jamaica School of Art was launch-
ed in July 1981 with Karl Craig, then
director of the school, as its first chair-
man. Their first undertaking was fund-
raising for the expansion of the jewel-
lery department to house equipment
purchased through UNESCO some five
years previously. The project was esti-
mated to cost, at that time, $100,000.
The Prime Minister was approached
and promised to support the 'Friends'
on a two to one basis. His contribution
of $66,000 was put into the school's
budget for 1983 -84 and, with the fur-
ther $35,000 raised from the auction
of works of art donated by artists in
June along with other private donations,
the one-third target was more than
realized. At present the building is pro-

dressing rapidly and it should be com-
pleted in time for the beginning of the
1984-85 academic year.
The present chairman of the'Friends',
Dr Lloyd Hunter, principal of the In-
surance College of Jamaica, regards this
success as merely a beginning; he has
much larger operations in mind. The
first step was to have the 'Friends' in-
corporated as a non-profit limited lia-
bility company. The next is to launch
overseas chapters and tocommence large
scale fund-raising involving the recog-
nized foundations which concern them-
selves with worthy cultural projects in
the American region. He talks of a new
target of $20,000 for certain specific
purposes. No new hand in the field of
fund-raising, he realises that this is a
time-consuming occupation; it is good
to know that the director of the school
will be to some extent relieved of the
burden of this undertaking.
I would not like readers to conclude
that our local widows' mites are no
longer appreciated in the drive to realize
the visions and the urgent day to day
needs of the school. There are many
problems, and I shall enumerate only a
few of them.
First there is the question of art
materials; Dr Hunter has dreams of
obtaining supplies in sufficient pro-
fusion to warrant the existence of an
art shop run by voluntary assistance of
the 'Friends'. Then there is the need for a
gallery to display the permanent art
collection of the school and also to
mount current student works for sale
to the public. There are from time to
time emergencies for which the bud-
get does not provide; a leaking roof
here, a plumbing problem there.
It is also necessary for the school to
move with the times and expand the
facilities in order to meet the require-
ments of design for a developing manu-
facturing sector, using indigenous mate-
rials. Courts Jamaica Limited and the
Advertising Agencies Association have
approached the school about setting
up a furniture design department and a

design school respectively, but where
can these be located? It is not merely
a question of finding space on the com-
pound for two extra studios. There are
at present 50 to 60 full-time and 20 to
30 part-time students graduating each
year. All these students at the outset
spend two years in the basic design
department. If the specialist departments
are expanded and new courses intro-
duced, where can the numbers flooding
into the basic design department be
There is yet another administrative
issue which occupies the attention of
the authorities at the Jamaica School
of Art. This is the trend towards higher
academic performance and recognition.
The time has passed when schools of art
merely issue diplomas; these certainly
do not carry the status of university
degrees. Consequently the board of the
school is pressing for action which will
lead to accreditation at the university
level. At present there are two levels at
which students are admitted. The quali-
fication for admission to the diploma
course is a minimum of five passes at
grade 'C' Level, including English
or its equivalent at GCE or CXC while
the technical certificate course quali-
fication requires only three such passes,
including English. (Being realistic in my
experience of the dispensation of talent
in Jamaica among a wide range of young-
sters who have never even heard of CXC
or GCE, I wonder where they fit in -
but that is another story.) The fact is
that the trend is towards accreditation;
according to the director, every gradu-
ate should be 'competent to adminis-
ter an art course'. Well, administration
is one thing, and artistic talent another;
if the two can be combined, hurrah and
glory to the God who made inspired
bureaucrats. Without doubt we need
well trained museum personnel; it is
good to see that the academic is no
longer discouraged from taking up such
a 'menial' occupation as art, as in the
days of my youth. I am thinking now of
art school graduates like Stanley Barnes
who has followed up his training at the

Jamaica School of Art with further
training abroad which has enabled him
to work as a restorer of art works at
our National Gallery; and of artist Pet
Archer, who entered the JSA with a
UWI degree, and having completed her
diploma course there, is now back in the
UWI milieu at the postgraduate level. Of
course there are many art teachers out
in the field who have benefitted from
their training at the JSA.

There is one question which vexes
my mind, however. How is it that our
art school has so far produced no art
critic? Is it that in our semi-literate
society such a career remains among the
despised and rejected in spite of the talk
about the importance of literacy and
the written word? I for one would glad-
ly give up this column to a bright young
person with an intense interest in art, a
flair for writing and a more academic
background than I possess. And there
are other critics, I believe the public
will agree, who should by now be kind-
ly led to pasture and put out to grass.
It is a good thing that in the entrance re-
quirements, emphasis is placed on lang-
uage competence. I am, personally,
all for the idea that, computers not-
withstanding, disciplined thinking, and
therefore efficiency in most fields is
directly related to the ability to juggle
with those abstract symbols we call
As you see, dear reader who may not
be the least bit interested in who is
painting or sculpting what and what
effect all this 'self expression' may be
having on the morale of our society,
there are many currents beneath the
surface which contribute to the deve-
lopment of a living institution like our
art school. You may choose to remain
aloof, or you may prefer to be in a small
way one of the shapers in the process
(which makes our developing nation
such a vital and interesting place to have
one's being). How? By thinking about
the fundamental issues and by calling
for decisions which, ultimately are the
product of deep, intuitive, popular as-

pirations and will. By putting in your
pennyworth of opinion, encouragement,
criticism, and, of course, practical

GLORIA ESCOFFERY, O.D. is artist, poet,
journalist and head of the English Department
at Browns Town Community College.

By Rupert Lewis
Tony Martin, Literary Garveyism: Gar-
vey, Black Arts and the Harlem Renais-
sance, Massachusetts: The Majority Press,
Tony Martin, Marcus Garvey, Hero: A First
Biography. Massachusetts: The Majority Press,
1983, pp.179.
Tony Martin, The Pan-African Connection:
From Slavery to Garvey and Beyond, Massa-
chusetts: Schenkman Publishing Co., 1983,
Tony Martin (ed.), The Poetic Works of Mar-
cus Garvey, Massachusetts: The Majority
Press, 1983, pp.120.
Robert Hill (ed.), The Marcus Garvey and
Universal Negro Improvement Association
Papers, Volume 1, 1826 August 1919,
579 pps; Volume 2, 27 August 1919 31
August 1920 pp.710. Los Angeles/London:
University of California Press, 1983.
No other Jamaican is likely in the
20th century to achieve the
worldwide political significance
for African peoples as Marcus Garvey.
The growing body of books on Garvey
published mainly in the United States
probe more deeply into the reasons for
The volumes under review by two
young West Indian scholars, Robert
Hill, assistant professor of history at
the University of California, Los Angeles,
and Tony Martin, professor and chair-
man of the Black Studies Department at
Wellesley College, Massachusetts, make
an important contribution to Garvey
The two volumes edited by Robert
Hill contain more than 600 documents

gathered from archives in Britain, the
U.S.A. and Jamaica and form part of a
projected ten volume series.
Hill's volumes present the raw mate-
rial of scholarship: official documents
of the UNIA, Garvey's articles, speeches
and letters, U.S. and British state corres-
pondence and intelligence reports as
well as many newspaper articles.
Martin's work shows that he is fami-
liar with this material. His new con-
tribution to Garvey scholarship is the
book, Literary Garveyism which deals
with Garvey's role in the Harlem Renais-
sance with particular reference to the
cultural sections of the Negro World
newspaper. In this respect Martin's
book contradicts Robert Hill's one-
sided evaluation of Garvey's response
to the Harlem Renaissance.
It is true that Garvey had criticized
Claude McKay, Eric Walrond and others
for showing 'up the worst traits of our
people'. But to say, as Hill does, that
Garvey 'pronounced his anathema upon
the entire body of literature produced
during the Harlem Renaissance of the
middle and late 1920s' (Vol. 1, p.liv)
is just not true. Martin shows that a
wide range of writers were encouraged
by the Negro World including McKay
and Walrond, the latter being a contri-
butor to Garvey publications during the
1920s and late 1930s. In addition, the
Negro World's 'Poetry for the People'
section showed the talents of two
writers, Ethel Dunlap and Lucian Wat-
kins. The latter died young and was
highly rated by critics within the Har-
lem Renaissance. The Garvey press was
also a stimulus to book reviews, literary
essays, the photography of the famous
James Van Der Zee, the sculpture of
Augusta Savage. In journalism, the
Negro World was a bold new voice
which had an international impact.
Martin also discusses the UNIA's
contribution to music, drama and elo-
cution. The unity of the book is main-
tained by Martin's advocacy of Garvey's
black aesthetic and his discussion of the
different positions adopted by the

writers and critics associated with the
Harlem Renaissance.
Martin's collection The Poetical
Works of Marcus Garvey is more of poli-
tical than literary significance. It shows
the issues on Garvey's mind especially
whife he was in prison in the U.S.A. A
good number of the poems were also
written against the background of the
Italian invasion of Ethiopia while he
was in London in the 1930s. Although
Garvey was no poet, his prose and
speeches could often rise to poetic
levels as seen in his 1925 essay "First
Message to the Negroes of the World
from Atlanta Prison". In fact, Garvey's
speeches and articles show his mastery
of the English language.
Martin's other book, entitled Marcus
Garvey, Hero A First Biography is
directed at the young reader. Most of
the essays in The Pan-African Connec-
tion; From Slavery to Garvey and Be-
yond deal with Garvey's impact on the
Caribbean, the United States and South
Africa and were published in the 1970s
in various journals. Also included in this
volume are essays on C.L.R. James,
George Padmore and Frantz Fanon.
A documentary section which in-
cludes four items is insubstantial and
could have been left out of what other-
wise is a useful collection of essays.
While it remains necessary to con-
tend with the garbage that has been
written or that exists in the oral tra-
dition about Garvey, there is a ten-
dency in Martin's work to present him
in a one-dimensional manner. Garvey
was a complex and contradictory his-
torical figure as any cursory reference
to the documents show. His evolution
led him to militant nationalist positions
but at times he did articulate positions
that were conservative. Colonial ideas
were reflected in his thinking, parti-
cularly in the early Jamaican years.
Moreover the ideal he had in his mind
for a free Africa was a black version of
Western European bourgeois civilization
with its imperial traditions.
We can only appreciate the strengths

Portrait of Marcus Garvey done by James Van Der Zee, the famous Harlem photographer.

and weaknesses of Garvey by looking
at the social character of the movement
he led and fully grasping its possibilities,
given the conditions of colonialism and,
as far as the U.S. is concerned, the
vicious system of racism. The signifi-
cance of Garvey is that he carried the
anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles to
a qualitatively higher level, ideological-
ly and organizationally, in the immediate
post-world war I years. He did for peoples
of African descent what Gandhi did for
millions of Indians. This view is borne
out by the material presented by Robert
Many writers have been vague on
Garvey's ancestry and early life. In Vol-
ume I of The Marcus Garvey and Uni-
versal Negro Improvement Association
Papers, Hill provides documentary evi-
dence of Garvey's ancestry from 1826
when his forebears were slaves on the
Roaring River Estate in the parish of
St. Ann. Eight Garveys are listed among
188 slaves and 119 stock. Marcus Gar-
vey himself was born on 17 August
1887 to Malchus (sic) Mosiah Garvey, a
mason, and Sarah Jane Richards, a
labourer, and his parents' marriage cer-
tificate of 15 December 1889 shows

that, like the majority of Jamaicans,
Garvey Jnr. was the product of a
common-law union. He left school at an
early age to become a printer.
Ambitious and determined to battle
with the odds to make something of his
life not simply for himself but also for
his people, he read a great deal, argued,
published papers, participated in elo-
cution contests and travelled in Central
America and Europe. It is out of this ex-
perience that he began to develop poli-
tical ideas.
Garvey's political efforts came up in-
evitably against the powerful system of
imperialism with its endemic racism. In
the decade of Garvey's birth slavery still
existed in Brazil and Cuba and had been
abolished only a few decades before in
the West Indies and the United States.
So there were many people around who
had been slaves and many of them had
participated in some form of resistance
against that system. Garvey said 'no' to
the slave heritage and colonialism and
travelled the difficult road of struggle
towards self-determination for his people.
Pamphlets, correspondence and insti-
tutional reports during Garvey's early

political work in the National Club
and in trade union activity in King-
ston indicate that he stood for pro-
gressive socio-political change.
Although influenced by the con-
servative Afro-American educator
Booker T. Washington, Garvey was in-
spired as well by the radical Dr. Robert
Love.1 So that both conservative and
radical elements co-existed in Garvey's
ideas and political activities. The bal-
ance between them reflected the poli-
tical realities of the time and Garvey's
own assessments of the possibilities
under those conditions.
Hill's collection offers valuable let-
ters from Garvey to his friends. For ex-
ample, there is one he wrote on 14
January 1914 from Glasgow, Scotland
to T.A. McCormack about his travels in
Europe; and another to Alfred Burrowes
in which he speaks of his work as a
printer in Jamaica, his publication of
newspapers in Costa Rica and Panama,
as well as his relationship with an English
woman which he broke off because he
felt it incompatible with his outlook.
Letters like these as well as Garvey's
early pamphlets and articles, some of
which have appeared in other collec-
tions, give a clearer picture of his out-
look prior to his departure for the
Garvey's arrival in the United States
in 1916 marked a turning point in his
life. He arrived at a time when world
war I was underway. That war was signi-
ficant for Black people because two
million Africans or peoples of African
descent from the U.S., Africa and the
West Indies 'served as part of the arm-
ed forces of the U.S.A., France, Britain
and Germany'. (Vol. 1, p.292 n.1.)
Many died or were wounded for the
sake of democracy in Europe but were
denied civil and political rights when
they returned home. In the U.S., racist
violence angered Blacks; 76 Blacks were
lynched in 1919 alone. (Vol. 1, p.212
n.9.) In addition, there was a drift of
Black rural people to the cities and of
course migration from the Caribbean.
Garvey's address on the East St. Louis

Riots in 1917 during which 38 Blacks
and 9 Whites were killed carried a mili-
tant tone because the situation in which
he found himself required a new ap-
Added to all this is the Russian Re-
volution of 1917 which Garvey hailed.
Garvey was a black nationalist who ar-
gued that what Lenin and Trotsky had
done for Russia, Blacks needed to do
for Africa. For him, the Russian Revo-
lution meant the destruction of the pri-
vileged aristocracy (Vol. 1, p.354). In an
editorial letter published in the Negro
World in 1919 Garvey wrote, 'Bolshe-
vism, it would appear, is a thing of the
white man's making, and whatever it
means is apparent, it is going to spread
until it finds a haven in the breasts of
all oppressed peoples, and then there
shall be a universal rule of the masses'.
(Vol. 1, p.391) And in his August 1920
speech to the historic First Convention
Garvey boasted: 'We have caused more
of the chancelleries in Europe to be
speculating now about the future than
any other movement outside of the Bol-
shevic of Russia (cheers). When they
turn their eyes from Lenine and Trotzky,
they turn them to the U.N.I.A. It is the
only thing that comes near to Lenine and
Trotzky the Soviets.' (Vol. 2, p.617)
This was not an entirely idle statement
for the Garvey movement had a large
following in the early twenties, stronger
than the young parties in the U.S., Brit-
ain and France combined.
Garvey naturally attracted the interest
of the allied intelligence agencies of the
U.S., Britain, France and other colonial
powers. Agents were put to work. They
penetrated the UNIA and reported on
his every move. One was even respon-
sible for receiving mail within the UNIA.
J. Edgar Hoover, later director of the
FBI, cut his teeth on Garvey. Hoover
claimed that in Garvey's newspaper,
the Negro World, 'Soviet Russian Rule
is upheld' and charged that the paper
advocated Bolshevism. (Vol. 2, p.72)
From 1918 Garvey was under system-
atic surveillance and in 1919 the U.S.
Assistant Attorney General devised a

work-plan to cage the tiger. This in-
cluded impeding the circulation of the
newspaper in the U.S. while Britain did
so in the colonies; establishing that he
was a dishonest person; and slandering
him on a number of counts. (Vol. 1, p.
Even today an objective assessment
of Garvey is hampered by the residue
of this hostile propaganda. And in fact,
the two volumes extensively reproduce
intelligence documents, so much so that
this material tends to overshadow Gar-
vey's writings and speeches. One re-
viewer has therefore been led to cor-
rectly observe: 'Mr Hill, unfortunately,
never subjects these reports to the test
of reliability, or discusses at any length
what they tell us about the modus oper-
andi of the intelligence agencies. This is
symptomatic of a larger problem ....
Mr Hill . fails to place the material as
a whole in a larger interpretive frame-
work'. [See Eric Foner's review of Hill's
Marcus Garvey Papers in New York
Times Book Review 5 February 1984.]
On the other hand, Hill brings to
light many important individuals such as
Henrietta Vinton Davis, William Ferris,
W.A. Domingo, John Bruce, Robert
Love, Rev. McGuire, Amy Ashwood
Garvey and Amy Jacques Garvey among
a host of others. We get a picture of the
social trends within the Garvey move-
ment, the conflicts between socialists and
nationalists, and portraits of the career-
ists, thieves, honest working people, cul-
tural figures and preachers, ordained
and self-ordained, who comprised the
movement's leadership.
The documents also show the rise
and demise of the Black Star Line
and the sabotage and mismanagement
which accompanied this short-lived ven-
ture. What becomes clear however is
that on economic grounds the venture
was viable, but for political reasons it
had to fail.
Volume 2 ends with the first UNIA
convention of 1920. The opening was
attended by some 25,000 to great fan-
fare. Hill reprints extensively from the

convention Bulletin. So after a heavy
diet of intelligence agents' reports we
now hear the voices of black delegates
from the U.S., Canada, Liberia, Nigeria,
Guatemala, Belize, Panama, Haiti and
Cuba speaking of their conditions. And
of course there is Garvey's voice. But a
highpoint of this remarkable discussion
is the incisive analysis of the British
West Indian colonial situation made
by Rev. McGuire. His report on Anti-
gua shows a profound grasp of the poli-
tical economy of colonialism. McGuire
attacked crown colony rule directly and
exposed the tax system against the
peasantry, low wage ceilings, absentee
landlordism, and the contract labour
law which prevented workers from mov-
ing from one estate to another to sell
their labour.
Out of this convention came the his-
toric "Declaration of Rights of the
Negro Peoples of the World" which is a
collective expression of the struggles
of Black people for self-determination
in the 1920s and is the most impor-
tant UNIA document.

A problem in understanding the sig-
nificance of the Garvey movement is
that we are several generations removed
from the colonial experience in the bru-
tal form in which it presented itself to
our parents and grandparents. So formi-
dable was it that many people felt that
the colonial system would outlast this
century. As one example, the right-wing
British Daily Telegraph, in an article on
the UNIA convention wrote, 'we hardly
think that the youngest of the Madison
Square Garden orators will live to see
[colonialism] completed'. (Vol. 2., p.
These volumes edited by Hill attest
to the importance of preserving and
developing our national archives. The
National Library of Jamaica, Jamaica
Archives and Island Records Office are
key national assets. While much of Gar-
vey's papers in the U.S., Jamaica and
London have been lost, the compil-
ation of the surviving papers remains
an important assignment.

At the same time too great an em-
phasis on written sources can bias the
material against Garvey when one con-
siders that many of his supporters did
not put pen to paper about their politi-
cal activities and even if they did these
letters were destroyed or are very hard
to come by. On the other hand, many
of his opponents did commit their
views to paper so much so that
without oral testimony the history of
the UNIA is distorted. One wonders,
therefore, if the words of some Garvey-
ites whom Hill has interviewed will find
their way into future volumes. Oral
material has provided Hill with invalu-
able information for his extensive and
detailed footnotes.
The general introduction to the pro-
jected ten volumes is disappointing.
While Hill presents considerable in-
formation on direct and indirect influ-
ences on Garvey from the movement
for Irish independence to freemasonry
- Garvey's creativity and innovative-
ness are under-estimated and the his-
torical framework is inadequately dis-
cussed. His Jamaican peasant roots are
portrayed in an idealized manner. Gar-
vey is placed in the context of a tradi-
tion of independent peasant holders.
But while there is some truth in this, the
other side of the coin is that this peas-
antry was not all that independent.
For instance, Hill refers to Garvey's
uncle who had 25 acres of land in canes
and ground provisions. But he stops the
quotation short of the point when Gar-
vey himself emphasizes in a 1929 speech
that his uncle was run off the land by a
big landowner from whom he rented.
Moreover, Garvey's own father was an
inmate in the St. Ann's Bay almshouse
shortly before he died. These are con-
ditions that the 'independent peasantry'
and artisanry had to endure and Garvey-
ism was in the first place a direct response
to such hardships.
Notwithstanding these criticisms, the
two volumes reflect a high standard of
scholarship. The indexes are very well
done and allow the researcher to find re-
ferences with ease. Certainly the series

forms the basis for a better-informed
and more scientific scholarship on the
Garvey movement and its role in the
anti-colonial struggle and the movement
for civil rights in the U.S.A.
The spirit of the Garvey movement
in 1920 is best reflected in a personal
letter from the journalist John E. Bruce
to Garvey written on the latter's 33rd.
birthday. Bruce wrote:
I am at one with the organization in
all that it is attempting, has attempted
and will attempt under your leader-
ship to do towards the consolidation of
the Negro race and for the ultimate re-
demption of Africa from the plunderers
and buccaneers of an alien race who
would barter their God for his image in
gold.' (Vol. 2, p.601)
1. See R. Lewis, A Political Study of Garvey-
ism in Jamaica and London: 1914-1940,
M.Sc. thesis, UWI, 1971; also "Robert
Love: A Democrat in Colonial Jamaica",
Jamaica Journal, August 1977.
RUPERT LEWIS is a lecturer in the Depart-
ment of Government, University of the West
Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

Gloria Escoffery
Jonathan Routh, Jamaica Holiday The
Secret Life of Queen Victoria, A Harmony
Hall Production; 1984.
Jamaican Houses: a vanishing legacy, text by
Geoffrey de Sola Pinto, drawings by Anghelen
Arrington Phillips, A Harmony Hall Pro-
duction, 1982 (reprinted 1983).

ocal book publishing hasnot, in
view of the equipment and ex-
pertise available here, progres-
sed as fast or as far as one would have
wished. It is therefore heartening to see
that the present economic crisis has fin-
ally generated a scheme to put basic
books in the hands of children in our
primary schools. One sees, on a different
level, some really fine books Insight
Guide to Jamaica (APA Productions
HK Ltd. and Kingston Publishers) and
wonders why on earth they could not
have been entirely produced in Jamaica;
but this is a complicated matter which
cannot be discussed here.

On the art scene Pomegranate Press
made a start with what I suppose will
be a series designed to bring the work as
well as the personality of household
name Jamaican artists in to the house-
holds of the nation. (See review of the
Carl Abrahams volume in Jamaica
Journal 17: 1). Also there are rumours
of other forthcoming books on the arts
which, so far, have not appeared. There
is certainly an urgent need for serious
documentation, and perhaps the Nation-
al Gallery could canvass support for
publishing ventures from what is a real-
ly very generous and supportive private

Meanwhile there is another field
which is apparently less risky though
the level of readership in Jamaica makes
all books on culture somewhat of a
gamble. This is the reprinting of quality
books with a specific Jamaican flavour
which were originally published abroad.
The proprietors of Harmony Hall, who
in 1982 took the initiative in promoting
the first edition of Jamaican Houses: a
vanishing legacy, evidently have a know-
ing finger on the pulse of the Jamaican
reader, for late 1983 saw the appear-
ance of a second, and, I am told, cor-
rected edition. Moreover they have in
1984 bravely launched a second, entire-
ly hard cover, edition of Jonathan
Routh's delightful fantasy Jamaica
Holiday the Secret Life of Queen
Victoria. The artist, who evidently was
directed to the subterranean satisfactions
available in our paradise in the process
of his research, now lives in Jamaica.
The appearance of the 1984 edition,
which, like the book mentioned above,
was printed by Stephensons Litho
Press Ltd., was celebrated with a well
attended show of the artist's new works
at Harmony Hall.

Both these books make their appeal
to the more sophisticated reader, and
yet should be placed in every school and
public library. Here, for once, quality of
production is not hampered by those
overwhelming financial constraints we
all know so well. It is a pleasure to

handle a well bound hard cover book in
which the paper is good and each page
allows ample space for the eye to roam
about in areas which are free of print.
Looking at the price in Jamaican
dollars ($60) pencilled in my copy it
may of course have gone up since I
could hardly believe my eyes. A mere
$60 for this beautiful book with all of
36 pages of full colour reproduction of
paintings, plus many other illustrations.
Besides, the text is such fun. It will not
remain unread on the coffee table or be
merely flipped through now and then.
Opening at random I am transported
from Missis Queen's adventures to my
own musings on the realities of today,

Landed at Montego in time for tea
(toast with Solomon Grundy at Miss
Delisser's Tea Rooms) and drove
straight by carriage to Rattehall.
Count Diacre well pleased to see us
back & most happy with the Tick
Powders & bars of Washing-soap I
had brought him (for there was, when
we left, a great dearth of those com-
modities upon the island).

Clearly Jonathan Routh knows his
Jamaica of the 1970s and, alas, '80s.
Colonialism is dead, but not so the
pioneering spirit of a certain type of
tourist. He has caught the period
flavour of the Queen's secret diary to
a T. Those who lack the literary back-
ground to appreciate the skill behind
the pastiche may at least reap the spon-
taneous chuckle evoked by the shadow
image of present day Jamaica, an extra
bonus which distant British readers un-
familiar with our island paradise will
have missed when the book first ap-
peared in England in 1979. Neither of
these worlds has dated; they represent
the oil and water which only a sense of
humour which feeds on the oddness of
human perception of the same realities
can possibly manage to mix.
Our architectural heritage is rapidly
vanishing and needs to be captured not
only in photographs but also with the
unique, loving imagination of the artist
who has licence to emphasize and sup-
press. The meticulous line drawings of




j .-.-

Cotton Tree House, Union Street, Montego Bay (from Jamaican Houses).

Anghelen Arrington Phillips please me
less because they are an accurate record
of proportion or of decorative detail
(which they are) but for the quality of
pattern which they exhibit. Again at
random I opened the book at the page
which shows the court house, Port
Antonio. What struck me instantly was
the lovely contrast between the severity
of the building (every brick and roof
shingle carefully accounted for) and
the frivolity of nature represented here
by the wind ruffled leaves of the senti-
nel palm which, indeed, proclaims a
'character' not permitted to the dis-
creetly conventional mango tree beneath
it. And, come to think of it, those
wayward shingles and bricks also have a
life of their own which redeems them
from monotony. Always nature must
be accommodated. Where the material
is more inflexible, as in the ironwork,
man has stepped in to mould and, by
reducing the natural to the design motif,
to gratify his taste for ornament.
It is this omnipresence of nature that
gives the constraint of architecture its
full meaning. My favourite drawings are
those which so well make this point as,
for instance, in the treatment of trees in
Oakton, Bone Cottage and Belmont,
of the slight disarray of bricks in the
foreground of Cotton tree house, of the
boarded up windows in the honest por-
trayal of Belmont Great House. Sad evi-
dence of nature's depredations and
human neglect, yes, but, ironically, the
sort of detail that brings these delight-
ful drawings so vividly to life!

By Velma Pollard

The Children's Writers Circle, The Big River
and Other Stories, Kingston: Caribbean
Greeting Corp., 1983.
ny addition to the body of litera-
ture for children, particularly
the under twelves, available in
our bookshops is indeed very welcome.
The volume under review, emanating
from the Children's Writers Circle is no
exception. We congratulate Mrs. Pat

Illustration from "The Big River."
Persaud1 and her colleagues.
This is a slim volume (48 pages), the
first in a proposed series. We look for-
ward with great eagerness to receiving
the next.
There are four stories. The first is
Diane Browne's "Once Upon a Star-
light" a Christmas story of great
delight and of great depth. It is a local
version of the three wishes but the en-
vironment and the sentiments are so
real, the struggling Jamaican family so
true to life that it is only after you have
enjoyed and re-considered that you 'dis-
cover' that there was another story long
ago about another fairy and three other
wishes. Only then do you start to won-
der whether this story could ever be
true, whether any little girl could be so
Next is "The Big River," the story
which gives the book its title and the
cover illustration. This is a tale with an
obvious moral and without the flight of
fancy of the first. While this story is
well written I think the very realism
that gives it life finally militates against
it. The story turns on the change of
relationship between brother and sister
when she rescues him from drowning

in 'The Big River but the reality
here is unreal the river is too big for
this kind of rescue. The picture on the
cover with the water up to the boy's
neck doesn't help.
In the other two stories "No
Cheers for Betty" and "The Sweetie,"
the principals are slightly older. Like
"The Big River", these deal with reality.
For being an incurable tease, Betty
runs foul of the administration and is
suspended from the cheerleading team.
This is a very likely story but the emo-
tional weight it carries is a little heavy
for the actual plot.
"The Sweetie" tells of eleven-year-
old Andrew who sacrifices his icy-mint
to get his brother out of a situation in
which he would have had to lose face or
perhaps even fight Frank, the boy from
the village, when the agreement about
the price of a ride on Frank's bike was
suddenly changed.
This is the only one of the stories
with some input of Jamaican patois
which is indeed the language Frank
might use. In the story, however, it does
have the effect of slowing down the
pace of the dialogue at least that's what
happened when I tried the stories on
my youthful audience. Perhaps the jux-
taposition of English and patois, the
need to reorganise the sounds each time,
throws the reader; perhaps we merely
need more practice.
The volume is entirely worthwhile -
too short perhaps perhaps just enough
to whet our appetites. Comparisons are
odious but I did feel vindicated when
my little audience thought "Once Upoo
a Starlight" the best story I did enjoy
that most!


1. Mrs. Persaud has indeed been one of the
pioneers of our time in this area. See for
example her poetry and prayers for child-
ren as well as her Christmas play pro-
duced on JBC last year.

VELMA POLLARD is a lecturer in the School
of Education, University of the West Indies,
Mona, Jamaica.

James Robertson:

Jamaica's Mapmaker


By L. Alan Eyre

n the year 1778, a time of which
the 19th century annalist George
Bridges could say that 'Jamaica
had attained perhaps the highest pinnacle
of herpolitical existence' [Bridges 1828],
there landed in the island a young sur-
veyor named James Robertson. He was
a Scot, born according to his own pub-
lished assertion in the Shetland Islands,
[Robertson 1822] about 1756, al-
though neither Brian Smith, archivist of
Shetland, nor Hance Smith, 'an expert
on the historical geography of Shetland',
has independently verified this claim.1
Nothing else is known about Robert-
son before his arrival in Jamaica.
Robertson's new home was experi-
encing the only real boom in its four
hundred year post-Arawak history, and
there is no doubt that it was a heady
period, fuelled by profits from the West
India plantations'. Derrick Knight com-
ments that for two or three decades 'the
West Indies . gave work to thousands
of men and women throughout the
United Kingdom'. [Knight 1978].
Jamaica was the most attractive colonial
lure for this period, but, as one self-
styled 'West India potentate' complain-
ed, 'the climate is so inconvenient for
an English constitution that no man will
choose to live there without the hopes
of . saving more money than he can
do by any business he can expect in
England' [Beckford, Correspondence].
Although we have no idea why Robert-
son left Shetland, and Scotland, details
of his later career suggest that possession
of very acute intelligence and native
ability combined with frustrated op-
portunities and ambitions for their ex-
ercise, is as likely a reason as any for his
setting sail for fever-ridden Jamaica. As
we shall see, he was fully cognizant of
his abilities and modesty was not his
strong point.

We can identify a number of factors
which influenced James Robertson's
decision to migrate to Jamaica. In 1778
there were 200,000 slaves and 16,000
whites in the island, three-quarters of
the whites being Scots or of Scots an-
cestry.2 Bryan Edwards, contemporary
historian and planter, commented that,
while there was a high element of risk,
'extravagant hopes and expectations'
were invariably entertained by such
migrants [Edwards 1793]. The anti-
quarian Ray Fremmer indicates that
'surveyors were in a good position,
from their work, to know of lands
that were selling cheaply, and this
would explain how he (Robertson)
began to acquire land'.3 John Stewart,
fellow Scot and another writer of that
period, has this to say of the prospects
Robertson looked forward to in his pro-
fession: 'a surveyor is a lucrative employ-
ment in Jamaica, being handsomely paid
for his labours, and having always abun-
dant employment' [Stewart 1808].
Robertson himself explains the reason
for this:
Disputes at law about boundaries of
lands are there [in Jamaica] decided
by ejectments in the Supreme Court
of Judicature, by the evidence and dia-
grams of King's surveyors of land. This
is different from the practice in England.
In Jamaica, to every grant of land a
diagram thereof is annexed to the
patent. This diagram is delineated from
an actual survey of the land to be
granted, having a meridional line, ac-
cording to the magnetical needle, by
which the survey was made, laid down
in it. No notice is taken of the true
meridian. The boundary lines of the
land granted are marked on earth by
cutting notches on the trees between
which the line is run through the
woods. These trees being mostly hard
timber, the notches will be discernible
for 30 years, or more. By repeated sur-
veys these lines are kept up. [Robert-
son 1806].

Most planters, in a remorseless endeavour
to maximize their profits, squabbled
and litigated endlessly over land and
boundaries a habit passed on to pres-
ent day Jamaicans.

James Robertson might have had
relatives in Jamaica at the time of his
arrival. In a recent answer to a query
from the present author, Fremmer

One thing I have found in a quarter
century researching is that most of the
families in the 18th century passed
their estates down to cousins of the
same name if they were not married
or had no children. That is why I sus-
pect that George Robertson Hamilton,
owner in 1778 of George's Valley just
beside me here [in Trelawny parish]
and Success plantation in St. James
may possibly be related to your man.4

Habitually designating himself 'a King's
Surveyor of Land' (always with capitals),
it was no doubt with satisfaction that
he saw himself listed regularly along
with his colleagues in the annual Jamaica
Almanack.5 For the social climber, this
tiny black-covered volume was the first
rung that might one day lead to a crest,
a stately home and social acceptance in
the mother country.

It seems certain that Robertson
brought his principal instruments for
the surveyor's profession with him to
Jamaica, though he might have done
some 'horse-trading' among the colony's
30 to 40 commissioned land surveyors
for minor pieces. The accuracy of
Robertson's work strongly suggests that
he came with one of the magnificent
new theodolites which became available
in 1776 following the invention the pre-
vious year of the circle-dividing engine.
This innovation revolutionized the art,
making truly accurate angular measure-
ment possible for the first time. In fact,
it can be said to have inaugurated modern
surveying. Few Jamaican surveyors
would have been able to re-equip them-
selves, and undoubtedly Robertson had
an advantage which he proceeded to
utilize to the full. 'My business being
extensive', he wrote later, 'I was fre-
quently applied to in disputes at law
about boundary lines, and I had abun-
dance of opportunities . [Robert-
son 1806].

However, if social advancement was
rapid and an early fortune not too diffi-
cult to envisage, the work itself was
tough and very demanding. Quoting
Stewart again:

I.jii i


Fig. 1 The wealth of detail in and around the Great Morass of the Black River indicates surveyor James Robertson's extraordinary skill in the field.

The Jamaican surveyor has an infinite
deal of painful laborious work to go
through. When traversing the deepest
woods, he is compelled at times to
lead the life of a Maroon for weeks
together . .. A surveyor may speedily
realize a handsome fortune. But he has
to clamber over rocks and precipices
at the hazard, of his life; he is exposed
to the incler iencies of the weather,
and is liable to sickness from the
damps of th, woods and the vicissitudes

of heat, cold, wet and dry; he eats his
solitary and unsavoury meal on the
barren inhospitable rock; and at
night he reposes on the damp earth,
annoyed by mosquitoes and the
danger of receiving cold [Stewart

The present writer, doing the same
work as Robertson, at the same age, for
the same colonial government, but

180 years later, says a hearty Amen to

It is at this point, then, that we must
begin to admire this brash young Shet-
lander, hacking through Jamaican macca-
bush and cane-brake to fame and for-
tune. He chose for his place of residence
the north coast parish of Trelawny
which at that time was the most pros-

perous section of Jamaica, with over
90 sugar estates within a 20-mile arc
around the capital, Martha Brae (then
invariably spelt Martha Brea). Some of
these estates were owned by Scots, and
many more had Scots overseers, man-
agers, engineers and sugar technicians.
There were several Scots surveyors liv-
ing in Trelawny, including Francis
Robertson (presumably a relative),
Philip Morris, Matthew Foss and Alex-
ander Stephenson, and business with
their planter compatriots was always
brisk. The National Library in Kingston
has a largely uncatalogued collection
(actually one of the finest, albeit most
neglected, in the tropical world) of sur-
veys, maps and estate plans, many dating
from the late 18th century, the 'golden
age' of sugar and coffee, and diligent
search will unearth some fine speci-
mens of Robertson's skills in running
a compass traverse and in cartog-
raphy. Some are minor works of art,
as well as revealing mapping techniques
of the very highest order.
The first reported incident in which
Robertson appears as a participant is
not very savoury. He became embroiled
in a bitter dispute with a fellow survey-
or, Alexander Stephenson. This lasted
on and off for a decade at least, went
several times to court, and cost both
parties quite astronomical legal fees.
Inflaming the quarrel was the fact that
both men stood to benefit by the deci-
sion to move the parish capital from
Martha Brae, which had silted up so
badly that it was useless as a port. The
170 acre site of the new town of Fal-
mouth was designated, and thereafter
for some years the subdivision and plat-
ting of this prosperous capital provided
lucrative employment for surveyors as
well as opportunities for a little'Anancy-
There was one emporium in Falmouth
operated by a Scot called Lyon, and
called 'The Lyon Piazza', which was
much frequented by his thirsty fellow-
countrymen since it served a good 'Hie'-
land dram' in a country where otherwise
rum (and a rough one at that) was king.
On one visit to this bar James Robert-
son publicly and loudly alleged that
Alexander Stephenson's Gunter's chain
was one link too short and consequent-
ly a fellow-Scot, John Campbell of
Scotfield, had been defrauded. Whether
true or false in fact, Robertson was
thereafter hounded relentlessly by the
offended Stephenson with a charge of
malicious libel and slander. First the
case went to the local court in Fal-

mouth, then to assizes in Savanna-la-
Mar, where Stephenson demanded the
then colossal sum of 10,000 pounds
(roughly equivalent to a judge's life-
time earnings) but was awarded 1500.
Robertson appealed to the King in
Council, and the long, tortuous legal
proceedings of the Privy Council in
London can, if patience is adequate,
be perused in the National Library of
Jamaica. Even if reputation was settled
either way, by the time this sordid af-
fair was at an end, both men had di-
vested themselves of much of their hard-
won, though perhaps sometimes dubious
earnings into the pockets of Jamaican
and English lawyers.
But we are anticipating. While this
relatively petty squabble was fester-
ing, James Robertson was caught up in
much more exciting events, which were
in fact very nearly to cost him his life.
In 1795 the second Maroon War broke
out [Eyre 1980]. In the 18th century
almost every able-bodied white man in
Jamaica was expected to be in the
Jamaica Militia, a reasonably well organ-
ised part-time territorial army assigned
to internal security in cooperation with
the regular British armed forces. The
outbreak of hostilities in July found
Robertson mustered along with nearly
400 other militiamen; he was given a
commission by the British commander-
in-chief and made commanding officer
of Fort Dalling a most responsible
position in view of the seriousness of
the crisis. The British Army regiments
were under the direct command of the
Earl of Balcarres, the Governor of Jam-
aica, a tough-minded Scot and a ruth-
less army professional. The command
of the militia was in the bumbling hands
of a Colonel Gallimore, a white Jamaican
buffoon possessed of bluster rather than
military experience. Balcarres establish-
ed his headquarters at Vaughansfield,
St. James.
It was not long before James Robert-
son's experience was called upon direct-
ly. He knew the Cockpit Country rug-
ged and sparsely inhabited locale of the
war inside out, and he also employed
a Maroon chairman called Thomas.
Both were ordered to act as scouts and
guides to the British Army. On 12
August Balcarres ordered Colonel Sand-
ford of the 62nd regiment to 'move in'
on the principal Maroon settlement,
New Furry's Town. The Maroons were
ill-equipped to withstand a direct
attack, and promptly evacuated the
town, setting it on fire as they left.
Sandford found it deserted and smould-

ering. Cheated of an early victory, Sand-
ford decided, entirely on his own initia-
tive, to press forward immediately with
an attack on the nearby settlement of
Trelawny Old Town (now Flagstaff in
St. James). This involved negotiating
in no more than double file, and in
places single file, a steep, thickly wood-
ed track with rocks on one side and a
precipitous slope on the other.
We suspect that Robertson, with
his intimate geographical knowledge,
viewed this as sheer folly, but if he said
anything he was overruled. In the event,
this premature assault was a total dis-
aster. The chairman Thomas probably
guided the column, while Robertson,
who was obviously a key man in the
operation, rode side by side with the
colonel himself at the head of his troops.
Let the Maroon historian Carey Robin-
son describe the sequel:
The Maroons watched him [Sandford]
coming up the hillside with his mount-
ed dragoons, militia and volunteers.
They concealed themselves among the
rocks and trees in the defile and wait-
ed . until the soldiers were almost
two thirds of the way through. Then
they struck.
The Maroon sharpshooters on the left
fired a volley which swept the column
from one end to the other. Immediate-
ly the mounted men whipped their
horses to a gallop.
Colonel Sandford riding out in front
came within sight of a place where the
trail divided into two paths, both lead-
ing to the Old Town. At this moment
another volley swept the column.
Sandford was hit and fell dead out of
his saddle (Robinson 1974 p.92].

James Robertson, seeing the com-
manding officer's horse beside him now
riderless, apparently panicked and whip-
ped his own horse into an even more
furious gallop. With evident relish,
Robinson sketches the scene:
Gallimore was also struck trom his
horse by a bullet. Men fell all along the
line. Quarter-master McBride was shot
from his saddle, six privates of the
20th Light Dragoons and eight men of
the 18th Light Dragoons were killed as
they rode. Behind them thirteen militia-
men and eight volunteers were tumbled
from the backs of their racing mounts.
When the soldiers saw Sandford fall
they were seized with panic. No officer
came forward to take control and there
was complete chaos. It seemed that the
one thought in the head of every man
was to escape as quickly as possible
.... At nightfall the disorganized mob,
tired and demoralized, arrived at Bal-
carres's Vaughansfield headquarters
[Robinson 1974 p.931.

In the aftermath of this debacle, the

if--------- O-r-ysrO___ 1'

1(____ o Pro

______ _-_ .-- N (i' aT h in i l

__ _____ r . i 0l. r(So

(it U allar.r-
----- /<

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Fig. 2
Montego Bay 180 years ago shows many recognizable features. The breakwaters of the 'Close-Harbour' with its narrow entrance are part of an
abortive 18th century port development. Little trace remains today. Carthagine is now Sam Sharpe Teachers' College.


Fig. 3
James Robertson's survey maps of Jamaica accurately locate landmarks of historical importance. The site of Old Nanny Town is precisely indicated,
although it had been deserted for half a century when Robertson visited it. Presumably he used the old Maroon trails shown these have long since
vanished, though one was temporarily re-opened in 1974 by an Institute of Jamaica expedition. The memory of 'Three-Finger' Jack Mansong was
obviously still fresh, although he had been dead some years, and the 'Mine' shown near Arntully has long been abandoned. The town of Bath, with
Botanic Garden, Hospital, Hot Spring, and Mineral Spa, was at the height of its popularity and fame about 1800.

governor and Jamaican colonial govern-
ment decided to encircle the Maroons
entirely by a military road. The existing
road network on the north, west and
south was fairly adequate for this pur-
pose and only needed upgrading. But
total containment required the con-
struction of a new road through the rug-
ged mountains east of the Maroon
strongholds in the Cockpits. James
Robertson was commissioned to sur-
vey and lay out the line of road, and
design the structures required. He under-
took what was then a very formidable
task with great enthusiasm. The road
was never constructed as planned, al-
though what might be called a track
was indeed laid out. In 1984, a senior
officer of the Forest Department show-
ed the author the traces, in wild and
rugged terrain, of a cut line and track
leading from Troy to the Mouth River
sink near Spring Garden, then winding
through the karst limestone wilderness
of towers and cockpits for six miles to
Roslin Mountain, debouching on to the
plain near Sherwood Content. After
two centuries this relict feature is still
known as Robertson's Run, though
neither officer nor nearby residents had
any idea why until informed by the
author. The officer stated that it is the
Forest Department's intention to re-
open most of this track to local traffic.

It is evident that James Robertson's
expertise as surveyor, map-maker and
military engineer was essential to the
British war effort. No one knew Maroon
country as he did. His Map of the In-
terior Part of Jamaica called the Cock-
pits [Robertson 1803] is a masterpiece
of the time. Anyone who knows the
tangled, almost trackless, landscape of

the Cockpit Country, and recalling the
painstaking ground methods of sur-
vey then used, can only marvel that this
beautifully engraved map has an error
in angle and distance of less than two
per cent averaged over the entire map, a
quite incredible feat for the time and

By the time the war was over and
Jamaica more or less pacified, James
Robertson had achieved some fame.
Shortly afterwards he commenced his
magnum opus, a detailed survey of the
entire country, commissioned by the
Jamaica House of Assembly. At a scale
of one inch to one mile (1:63, 360),
which later became the standard British
military map scale (e.g. the classic British
Ordnance Survey maps), James Robert-
son's survey maps of Jamaica constitute
one of the very first detailed topo-
graphical surveys of an entire country
in the world, and that of a quality and
accuracy unsurpassed until long past
the middle of the 19th century. That
this feat was achieved in a forested
tropical country, with rugged mountain
ranges and extensive swamps, entirely
by ground survey methods is nothing
short of astonishing. He claims to have
been the first to measure accurately the
true meridian and magnetic declination
in Jamaica, pointing out that the latter
had not varied in 200 years; 'The true
meridian has never been noticed ... nor
the latitude and longitude observed, by
any surveyor or engineer in Jamaica but
myself' [Robertson 1806]. He also be-
trays some antiquarian tendencies,
noting that he had collected many of
the 'original papers, field notes, and dia-
grams' of the very first surveys of Jam-
aica more than a century before his time

[Robertson 1806]. It would be interest-
ing to know where all this material is
This 1804 map series provides a uni-
que benchmark from which to examine
the geography and history of Jamaica.
After the manner of the time, there are
(to us) quaint notes here and there:
'Head, where an immense Body of Water
rises up from the Foot of a semi-circular
perpendicular Rock' (Dornoch Head);
'Col. Fitch killed 12th Sep 1795'; 'River
gushes out of the Cleft of a Rock with a
loud noise'; 'Three Finger Jack's huts'
(on the Queensbury Ridge of Blue
Mountain Peak). Hydrological changes
since Robertson's day are particularly
apparent: several Roaring Rivers, for
instance, no longer roar, nor even flow
any more except in flood, and many of
the lakes, lagoons, ponds and stretches
of morass no longer exist, having either
dried up naturally, become silted or
been artificially drained.
Robertson undoubtedly fell in love
with the hills and valleys of Trelawny.
After the betrayal and pacification of
the Maroons by the British, he 'acquired'
a piece of land overlooking one of the
Maroons' most famous bases Quao
Pond and built a very modest 'great
house' there. Few traces of it remain
today, and in fact the site has been in
almost inaccessible wilderness most of
the time since. It is doubtful if it ever
was a permanent residence for Robert-
son or anyone else.
By the time his 1804 survey was en-
graved and ready for the press, Robert-
son had made his name in Jamaica and
was ready to climb the next rung of the
social ladder. With both the obscurity
of his native Shetland and a busy 20





----..--- Jack lfiilh

14 1aleX

/)a /)

.4~~(T I'~

years or so in colonial Jamaica behind
him, his sights were now set on St.
James's, London, no less. For when
we meet James Robertson next, he is
nicely established at a very aristocratic
address Bury Street, just off Pall
Mall. Moreover, he is hobnobbing with
Britain's top scientists. He is a good
friend of Sir Joseph Banks. Then we
find him accepted into the prestigious
circle of The Royal Society, being elect-
ed Fellow on 13 December 1810. By
this time he was about 54 years old, and
certainly past hacking his way through
the Trelawny bush. He was enjoying the
fruits of his masterpiece, for it was the
'in thing' for every West India proprietor
(to use the current phrase) to possess
a copy of his up-to-date and artistic
maps, if only to show off, since Robert-
son identified most plantations by the
name of the owner rather than the dis-

And masterpiece that survey certain-
ly was. Three tests by the present author

of the quite incredible accuracy of
Robertson's map sheets will suffice to
establish the point. In one large area of
central Jamaica, six physical features
unchanged since 1800 were selected.
These are Quao Pond, deep in almost
impenetrable forested karst limestone
mountains; the sinks of the One Eye,
Hector's, Mouth and Quashie Rivers,
all extremely difficult of access and
each surrounded and separated by rug-
ged mountains and precipitous ravines;
and finally the head (source) of the
Hector's River at 3000 feet altitude.
The difference in area within the six
points, and in any distance between
any of them, on Robertson's map com-
pared with the most modern photo-
grammetric survey does not exceed 1.8
per cent, and it is not certain that most
of this is not in fact due to paper shrink-
age or expansion in one or both map
copies. In many built up areas, corres-
pondence is exact. How James Robert-
son achieved this level of accuracy 180
years ago with compass and transit,

Gunter's chain and a set of half-illiterate
rodmen is difficult to imagine. He cer-
tainly recognized his own achievement,
since he states that up to that time, his
Jamaica map sheets comprised 'the only
military Maps, properly so called, yet
published; which will be self-evident on
the bare comparison of them with any
other' [Robertson 1822] and he
doesn't just mean maps of Jamaica!

The second evidence of the remark-
able thoroughness of execution of the
1804 survey is seen in Fig. 1. This re-
gion of meandering rivers and soggy
morass is a mapmaker's nightmare. Yet
the cartography is clear, unhesitating
and amazingly accurate. It could be
used today with little difficulty. To pro-
duce such a result must have entailed
not only sloshing through mosquito-
infested malarial swamps, but poking up
every creek in a boat, as well as some
extremely tricky triangulation work.
The third and most searching test is
that of his cadastral computations.

. 7--Y : / -

Lt" S ." ".- .- : "--/. .
/9 .v ...'.. /' V -

Sy .- ..-.. _

"~a~Z~ T -"' ^ : ^ '> ^ .-

1' /I' -< ^^^


i. P ~Pu. ^/s^ ;
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Fig. 4 Recommendation for James Robertson to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, London. Three of the five referees are fellow-Scots.

- :

Robertson calculated the acreage of
each property, and of each principal
crop. Finally he made an estimate for
the total area of Jamaica 2,724,262
acres. It was about 3 per cent too small,
but at least it compares favourably with
the tax rolls of the Land Valuation
Department in the 1970s which were
more than 6 per cent less than the actual
James Robertson had found a place
in the West India social circle, and had
'made it' in London academia. But his
contribution to surveying and cartog-
raphy was not yet finished. In 1806,
a very substantial fortune made, he re-
turned, as many other Shetlanders have
done before and since, a wealthy
wanderer to his native islands. He seemed
to have decided that it was time to
dazzle his relatives and friends with his
now almost legendary skills. Let him tell
it in his own way:
In the years 1806 and 7, the Author
performed a Trigonometrical Survey
of all the Islands of Shetland . by
which he discovered that the Charts
of them were extremely erroneous.
Some years afterwards he ascertained
the relative Situations of Shetland, the
Fair Isle, and Orkney; not correctly
placed in any Chart. He surveyed the
Orkney Islands and found great errors
in McKenzie's Charts of them. He fix-
ed the positions of the Stack Rock
and Seal Skerry, before only guessed
at. He measured the Breadth of Pent-
land Firth, till then unknown . .and
thus completed a Trigonometrical
Survey from the North Esk River to
the northmost Rock of Shetland with-
out any assistant [Robertson 1822] .
In 1822, when he was about 66 years
old, he published a map incorporating
the data from these years of lone Scot-
tish mapping living all the while, it
seems, on the proceeds of his Jamaican
fortune and possibly plantations still
owned there. This map 'was delineated
from actual surveys on trigonometrical,
perspective and optical principles, being
the second of this kind yet published,
my map of Jamaica having been the first',
as the title modestly puts it. It had occu-
pied him for 12 years his pace had
slowed considerably since his Jamaica
days as he says:
In accomplishing this very arduous
undertaking he has been unremittingly
engaged since September 1810. He has
not been aided nor assisted by any per-
son, in ascertaining the latitude, the
longitude, or the variation of the com-
pass: nor in his trigonometrical survey
of this country: nor in his various other
scientific operations: nor in his in-
numerable logarithmic calculations:
nor in the construction and delineation

of this map: the engraving of which
was entirely directed by himself: and
the whole was executed at his own
expense: circumstances such as never
occurred before in the production of
any other map besides that of Jamaica,
etc., etc. [Subscript to Robertson
Some characteristics of this rather
heavily engraved map seem to have
touched a poetic sensitivity in our other-
wise down-to-earth professional: 'This
Map exhibits a perfect portrait or pic-
ture of the Face of the country in all its
variety . scenery grand, sublime,
picturesque, diversified, interesting and
beautiful, that fills the mind with senti-
ments and ideas awfully majestick, en-
chantingly delightful, magically compli-
cated, wonderfully combined, far
beyond the power of language adequate-
ly to express!' [Title to Robertson
1822]. Nevertheless, despite the flowery
blurb, this map is not in the same class
as his Jamaican masterpiece.
But even as an F.R.S., and a rather
boastful eccentric in his sixties, Jamaica
had not left his mind (how could it?).
Perhaps indeed it had turned it a trifle!
For at the foot of his map of Highland
Scotland, quite a landmark in its own
right, can be seen in delightful copper-
plate calligraphy (remember, it was en-
graved in reverse) an utterly quaint note
of nonsensical irrelevance:
A circumstance respecting the map of
Jamaica . may be deemed not un-
worthy of notice. Shortly after its pub-
lication, a person observed to its author
with astonishment that it resembled a
Turtle or Tortoise: and the author for
the first time, viewing it as the Picture
of an animal, was equally astonished.
The mouth, teeth, nose, eye, head and
neck: and the shoulder and back with
scales, and the breast without any,
have the appearance of a Turtle: as
have also .the fins and tail, but not
quite so natural as the other parts. It is,
perhaps, the only instance yet known
of any portion of the Earth having
resembled an animal. Art attempted, in
vain, to cut Mount Athos into the like-
ness of a man: but Nature hath form-
ed this large and beautiful Island into
that of a Tortoise, in the most wonder-
ful manner: and Science drew its pic-
ture which made the discovery [Sub-
cript to Robertson 1822] .
Whether James Robertson, A.M.,
F.R.S., ever left behind any progeny in
Jamaica we do not know, because there
were so many James Robertsons around
at that time that it is quite impossible at
this distance of time to unravel them all
in the Jamaica Records Office, Spanish
Town. But there is one James Robertson
who died in Scotland who willed that all
the issue of his body begotten in Jamaica

be raised equally and without prejudice,
with 'the girls to be placed where they
may receive virtuous instructions and as
far as is humanly possible to be kept
from living in a state of fornication'.
Although it is probably a member of a
line of Lowland Robertsons who spread
prolifically through 19th century Jam-
aica, it would be nice to think that this
is our man Jamaica's mapmaker super-

1. Smith, B., Shetland Archives, Lerwick.
Personal Communication.
2. On the basis of a sample of surnames and
property deeds from the late 18th
3. Fremmer, R., Green Park, Jamaica. Per-
sonal Communication.
4. Fremmer, R., Personal Communication.
5. The names James Robertson and Francis
Robertson are listed together, both as
commissioned land surveyors, and as
attorneys certified to plead in the Jamaica
Supreme Court. The author knows no-
thing about Robertson's training or com-
petence as an attorney.


BECKFORD, W., Correspondence, Collection
in Bodleian Library Oxford.
BRIDGES, G.W., The Annals of Jamaica,
London: 1828.
EDWARDS, B., The History, Civil and Com-
mercial, of the West Indies, London:
EYRE, L.A., "The Maroon Wars in Jamaica -
A Geographical Appraisal", Jamaica
Historical Review, v. 12, 1980.

KNIGHT, D., Gentlemen of Fortune, London:

ROBERTSON, J., A Note of Connexion to
his Map of Aberdeenshire, Banff, Kin-
cardineshire and parts of Perthshire.
1822. National Library of Scotland
collection, Edinburgh.

Letter to Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks,
K.B.P.R.S. 1806. Archives of the Royal
Society, London.
Observations on the Permanency of the
Variation of the Compass at Jamaica,
Transactions of the Royal Society,
London, June 1806.
A Map of the Interior Part of Jamaica
called the Cockpits, London: 1803.
Will, in Jamaica Records Office, fol.
112-113. Spanish Town, Jamaica.
ROBINSON, C., The Fighting Maroons of
Jamaica, Kingston: 1974.
STEWART, J., An Account of Jamaica,
London: 1808.



^' '*J 4^& ^^^ ^^^ ^ki R./^\ s _^X

The Kingston
I n the plan of the 'new towne to be called Kingston'
which the surveyor John Goffe drew up shortly after
the earthquake of 1692, space was allotted for a parish
church on the south eastern side of the town square. The
earliest grave on the site bears the date 1699 and it is most
likely that a wooden building was first erected until a more
permanent brick structure could be built. In 1701 the deed
conveying the land to the churchwardens was discharged and
in that same year, a rector was appointed for the parish.
With the rapid growth of Kingston in the first part of the
18th century, the parish church acquired 'no fewer than six
side-aisles' with a seating capacity for 1,300 people. On the
whole, the people of Kingston were better churchgoers than
the gentry of Spanish Town. As early as 1738, it is said
that 14 or 20 coaches and chariots might be seen every Sun-
day outside the parish church. In 1745 a bell, cast in 1715,
was installed in a newly built bell tower. Each night at
9 o'clock it tolled the curfew. There was also a large clock -
hence the origin of the expression, 'born under the clock',
meaning those Kingstonians born in the heart of town.
Most famous of the graves within the church is that of
Admiral Benbow (1702) in the chancel, but behind a veil of
anonymity lie the gravestones of many of the townspeople of
Kingston. A decision of the Kingston Vestry taken at a meet-
ing on 8 January 1744 refers to the popular practice of bury-
ing people within the church 'if in digging a grave the pews
were removed, the people concerned would be obliged to put
them up again at their Own Expense'.
But not all of Kingston's citizens desired to be interred in

Parih Church J.B.Kidd [1838-40]

the precinct of the parish church. Thomas Hibbert, Snr., for
example, wished to be buried in his garden at his townhouse
on Stanton Street (now 'Headquarters House', upper Duke
Street.) In his last will and testament (1780) it was his ex-
press wish that his body should not be added to 'the noxious
Map that is daily Corrupting in the Centre of the Town'. He
states emphatically that he 'abhors and detests the prevail-
ing superstitious Custom of Interring dead bodies in Churches
and churchyard'.
We learn from Frank Cundall that there were 'probably in
Jamaica nine churches of older foundation' than the Kingston
Parish Church but he reminds us that 'with the exception of
the cathedral at Spanish Town more celebrated personages
have been buried within the walls of Kingston Parish Church
than in those of any other church in the island'. The earth-
quake of 1907 destroyed the Kingston Parish Church but in
spite of this disaster, many memorial tablets have survived.
Besides those in memory of English naval men of the 18th
century, there are those of well-to-do Kingston merchants
like Joseph Fitch, a contemporary of Thomas Hibbert, Snr.
Public funds paid for the monument of the benefactor
John Wolmer; this was the work of the sculptor John Bacon.
Some like James Knight (1746), described the parish
church as 'a handsome building'; Edward Long effusively re-
ferred to it as a 'Large elegant building', while others with a
more discriminating taste, like the architect James Hakewill
(1820), referred to it as a convenient structure, but with-
out any pretensions to architectural beauty'. The present
structure was built after the 1907 earthquake; its consecration

took place on 17 January 1911. But regardless of opinions as
to its architectural style, or as to the structural changes
which have taken place over the centuries, one fact is certain,
the parish church has always been integral to the life of the
city of Kingston. As early as 1816, the writer Monk Lewis
described the church 'full to overflow with black people'.
Some would stay all Sunday for fear of being excluded from
evening service; here the christenings, marriages and burials
were performed.
By 1826, the congregation had increased still more, the
church being thronged every Sunday morning, mainly by
free people of colour and free blacks.
Many a civic procession has converged upon the parish
church. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, freemasons
made their way from their lodge halls in grand procession to
the church on the Saint's Day of St Thomas. A memorial to
Stephen (Etienne) Morin and Henry Andrew Franken, and a
stained glass window at the north eastern end of the church
attest to the Kingston community's longstanding connections
with freemasonry.
The Kingston Parish Church has been the focal point of
many state funerals. In this century, they include the funerals
of a colonial governor, and two National Heroes. One of the
largest and most memorable funerals ever witnessed in King-
ston was that of the much loved patriot Edward Jordan. On
9 February 1869 an immense procession formed in front of
Wolmer's School on Church Street.

The entire Body being uncovered all the way, they proceeded
into the Parade; and on reaching Coke Chapel it halted, and
the Organ gave out the Dead March in Saul, and a hymn was
sung; after which procession resumed, and turned westward
in front of the Theatre, down King Street, on to the Parish
Church; where the body was met by the Archdeacon of Surrey
and the Incumbent of St Michael's, the Organ playing a solemn
'voluntary'. The church was densely crowded. The 90th Psalm

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A Duperly [1844
was chaunted by a very efficient choir. The Rector of Kingston
read the lesson from St Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, after
which a hymn was sung specially for the occasion. The Dead
March was played on removing the body to the grave in the
churchyard ...
From its elevation on the south eastern side of the city
centre, the Kingston Parish Church has looked north on to
an ever changing scene: a dusty town centre, the place of
public hangings and executions, where heads of rebellious
slaves were often on display; a parade ground with pageantry
and colour; a green Victorian garden where the fashionable
strolled; a meeting-place for the unemployed and their labour
leaders in the 1930s; a redevelopment project of the Urban
Development Corporation in the 1980s.
The history of the Kingston Parish Church is the history
of Kingston in a nutshell. It reflects moments of joy and sor-
row in its people's lives: a Founder's Day service for students
of an old Kingston school . wedding bells for a beauty
queen and a minister of government . a tragic Christmas
morning when a boat capsized in the harbour and 26 people
lost their lives . . It celebrates, too, the creativity of the
artist: in the Lady Chapel is The Pieta by Susan Alexander
and The Madonna and Child by Osmond Watson, while in the
nave is the carving of The Angel by Edna Manley. Gifts such
as the statue of St Thomas from the Syrian community, and
the statue of Our Lady from the Chinese community are
reminders of the affection which the people of Kingston
feel for their parish church.
At no time in its history has this city church, the Parish
Church of St Thomas, the Apostle and Martyr, been remote
from the Kingston community. It opens its door to worship-
pers from all walks of life. Indeed, the observation made by a
visitor to Jamaica in 1905 remains true, 'the Parish Church
at Kingston is dear to the inhabitants of the town'.
Marguerite Curtin


Glimpses of Jamaica's Natural History

0 WA

Mountain Pride
(Spathelia sorbifolia)
One of Jamaica's most spectacular flowering trees, Mountain Pride is rarely seen up close because it
normally grows on limestone cliffs and rock ledges which are usually inaccessible. When it does
bloom May to November, its spectacular crown of lilac to magenta flowers can be seen from
considerable distances. No wonder it is the subject of one of the few Arawak legends that still survives
- that of Mountain Pride, an Arawak girl who threw herself over the nearest cliff at her wedding
feast after the groom was poisoned by the village priest who wanted her for himself. Mountain Pride
in her wedding finery of palm-leaf skirt and crown of magenta feathers still makes tantalisingly brief
appearances on our hillsides.

The tree flowers once when it is between 8-10 years old; the seeds mature six months later, then it
dies. But during its brief flowering its plume of flowers might grow up to 5 feet high and 8 feet

Mountain Pride is palm-like in appearance though it is a member of the citrus family. It grows
20- 50 feet high and its slender branch-less trunk (perhaps only 3 feet in diameter) is topped by fern-
like leaves. Mountain Pride is a Jamaican endemic (i.e., originated here).

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