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Jamaica journal

 Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 History and life
 The arts
 Notes on contributors
 Back Cover
Digital Library of the Caribbean National Library of Jamaica Institute of Jamaica
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00041

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 1983
Frequency: semiannual


Subjects / Keywords: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica


Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
General Note: Brodber, Erna. "Oral Sources and the Creation of a Social History in the Caribbean" included in the "Panama Silver, Asian Gold" course to be taught at three institutions starting in Fall 2013.

Record Information

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
System ID: UF00090030:00041

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00041

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 1983
Frequency: semiannual


Subjects / Keywords: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica


Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
General Note: Brodber, Erna. "Oral Sources and the Creation of a Social History in the Caribbean" included in the "Panama Silver, Asian Gold" course to be taught at three institutions starting in Fall 2013.

Record Information

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
System ID: UF00090030:00041

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
    History and life
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    The arts
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32-33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    Notes on contributors
        Page 64
    Back Cover
        Page 65
        Page 66
Full Text






_ ":'!~7E'~';t;:.j.~..
.:~u! '? 1R.;i'',i. .

Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

The Limestone Water Filter
Jamaica Peoples Museum
Spanish Town

This water filter, used from the early
18th century onwards, consists of three
(1) The Filter. This is a hollowed out,
conical shaped piece of limestone. The
water is poured into it and slowly
filters through, extracting dirt and adding
minerals, especially lime.

(2) The earthen water jar underneath.
This collects the water and keeps it cool.
(3) The stand or case. The one shown
here is a fine example of the housing,
being in a lattice work pattern. Less
elaborate types also existed.

-Museums Division, Institute of Jamaico

Jamaica Journal is published by
the Institute of Jamaica
12-16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica

Publications Committee
Professor Edward Baugh Chairman
Rev. Philip Hart
Professor Gerald Lalor
Leila Thomas
Stephney Ferguson
Dr. Alfred Sangster
Olive Senior

Managing Editor
Olive Senior

Design and Production
Camille Parchment
Assistant Editor
Brenda Campbell

Assistant Editor (Circulation)
Faith Myers

Mechanicals Artist
Clive Phillips

Patsy Smith

INDEX: Articles appearing in Jamaica Journal
are abstracted and indexed in Historical
Abstracts and America: History and Life.
A cumulative author-article index is in
Back Issues: Most back issues are available.
List sent on request. Entire series available on
microfilm from the National Library of
Jamaica, 12 16 East Street, Kingston, or
University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan
48106, U.S,A.

For subscription information, see pp. 19 20.
Vol. 16 No. 4 Copyright c 1983 by the
Institute of Jamaica. Cover or contents may
not be reproduced in whole or in part without
prior written permission.
Retail single copy price: J$8 (in Jamaica only);
Overseas: U.S.$8 (or equivalent in other
currencies) post-paid (surface mail).

COVER: Roman Catholic Church at Seville,
St. Ann, built near the site of Peter Martyr's
16th century church at Sevilla la Nueva, the
Spanish city which G.A. Aarons writes about
in this issue, beginning on p.37.
Photograph by Ana Larrea Pagoaga
(Courtesy of the Spanish Archaeological
Mission to Jamaica)



Vol. 16 No. 4

ISSN: 0021-4124


by Erna Brodber

1876 1948
by Carol Mae Morrissey

by G.A. Aarons


by Barry Jupp


by Judith Hamilton

by Wycliffe Bennett

by John A. Aarons



47 Books Reviewed by Carl Campbell, Carolyn Cooper and
Norval Edwards

51 ART

Jamaican Art Overseas: SITES Exhibition
by Gloria Escoffery


The emotions, feelings, thoughts of the 'underclass' such as these three men (c.1903) are not recorded in books. But their history lives
on in the memories of their grandchildren. It is through them that the oral historian 'enters the minds and hearts of the ancestors'.

T is a fact firmly established by the plural society debates
of the 1960s (See e.g. Smith 1965, Rubin 1960] that
Caribbean societies are composed of a number of social
segments each with its own culture and standard of
behaviour; that in each of these societies there is, however,
at least one activity that all the sectors commonly prize and
that it is consensus on the value of this activity that keeps
the superficially fractured societies integrated. Scholarship
is one such commonly valued and unifying force. It ranks
high on all standards in all sectors in all Caribbean socie-
ties, ushering individuals from the underclass of poor
African and Asian ex-slaves and indentured labourers into-
a Euro-centred middle class in a relatively short time.'
But this scholarship with its transforming potential has
traditionally been based on book-learning.2 By association,
the printed word assumes high value in all sectors of Carib-
bean societies and knowledge consequently becomes
defined as 'that which is found in books'. The underclass
with its scarce economic resources and literary skills does
not use the printing press.3 A dilemma ensues for the up-
wardly mobile: the history he has studied and must know in
order to maintain his social position, does not mirror his
past. This fact has disturbed the Caribbean literati into ask-
ing that their history be written and indeed that a new kind
of history social history-take its place in the academies
alongside political and military history. Their awareness of

their dilemma and their subsequent 'quarrel with history'4
described sub voce the methods, techniques and content of
the new history, and is a good starting point from which to
look at the need for the creation of a social history of the
region which sees the oral accounts of the people's past as
a significant part of its data.

The Quarrel with History

It was V. S. Naipaul's anguished awareness of his history-
less-ness that first came into print. In 1962, his Middle
Passage appeared. His statement, 'History is built around
achievement and creation; and nothing was created in the
West Indies', [pp. 28-29] reverberated throughout the
Caribbean intellectual world. It was the creative writers
who most openly responded to it. We find Walcott [1965]

There's nothing here
this early;
cold sand
cold churning ocean, the Atlantic,
no visible history,

except this stand

of twisted, coppery sea-almond trees
their shining postures surely
bent as metal, and one

foam-haired, salt-grizzled fisherman,
his mongrel growling, whirling on the stick
he pitches him; its spinning rays
'no visible history'
until their lengthened shapes amaze the sun.5

About this time, too, Orlando Patterson's Absence of
Ruins [1967] left the printing press. His hero, aptly sur-
named Blackman, roams the land of his birth, the Carib-
bean, in search of his identity and sadly concludes that he
has no ruins to help him in this task no old castles to tell
him of his past. In 1967, Edward Brathwaite's contribution
appeared. The sadness of Rights of Passage is that of the
intellectuals represented by Naipaul, Walcott and Patterson
who have been forced into a sense of history-less-ness by
the peculiar character of cultural pluralism in the Carib-
bean. The depression which this awareness brings comes
out clearly in the passage below:

for we who have achieved nothing
who have not built
who have forgotten all
and dare to remember
so let me sing
let me remember
let me suffer
to remind me now
of my lost children. [p. 13]

But behind the overt depression in the poems of both
Walcott and Brathwaite is the sense that the Caribbean
man's history does exist and is retrievable. Walcott, as
Baugh points out [1980] is in the poem quoted above
beginning to see that history is not only that which is cele-
brated by ruins of castles and forts but is also the chronicle
of the past of the common man and his deeds the
fisherman with his mongrel walking on the beach. In his
comment on this poem, Walcott describes the process by
which he came to this new understanding.

In [this] poem, trying to describe the absence of history, tradition,
ruins, I saw the figures of ancient almond trees in a grove past
Rampanalgas on the north coast [Trinidad], as a group of dead,
uprooted ancestors. [Baugh 1980]

For him the Caribbean man does have a history: it is the
story of his ancestors' interaction with the Caribbean land-

Brathwaite's poem tells us in more detail what of our
ancestors' lives we should study and how to study it. Under-
neath the negatives in the poem quoted above are positive
commands to the new historian. The guides read: the
Caribbean man works, dreams, dances, sings, remembers,

suffers. The guide to the historian continues: you who feel
the pain of history-less-ness, look at the work patterns, the
dances, the dreams, the songs and the memories of your
forefathers; analyse these and you will be writing your his-
tory. The poets quoted above Walcott and Brathwaite -
beneath their lament have sketched the outline of a social
history of the Caribbean.

Creative Writing and Social History

Just as the creative writers were in the vanguard of the
'quarrel with history' and in prescribing the foundations of
Caribbean social history, so, too, were they in the forefront
in bringing past events and their ancestors' response to
them to public attention.6 In this regard, V. S. Reid's New
Day, first published in 1949, is most significant. As if in
response to the complaints of John Campbell, the fictive
old man in his book: 'They do not know what we have
seen, for no place has been found in their English history
books for the fire that burnt us in Sixty Five' [See Wynter
1971 p. 101] Reid brings the Morant Bay 'rebellion' of
1865 and the behaviour of the people of St. Thomas,
Jamaica, into public consciousness.
Reid makes his narrator say:

Is the year it 1865, and pastors o' the Baptist faith stir again to help
the poor. A Petition has gone by packet to the Queen, pravina that
starvation should no' take us. We wait in hope on Missis Queen.
But when the packet returns, and the Queen's Advice is taken to
every village church and nailed to every constabulary station, and
on market-day we gathered around and read it with lips o' stiffness
-aie, bro'l
Then we know the Church of England has won the fight, the Bap-
tist letter has no' been credited. Hear the QUEEN'S ADVICE: THE

Wait, plead good pastors from their pulpits, Her Majesty has been
wrongly advised
Wait, says Mr. Gordon at his Underhill meetings, we will take the
case to Whitehall ourselves.
Wait? Paul Bogle asks at Stony Gut, Is war it; or peace, they want?

It is the year 1865, June and July and August gone, and no rain
comes with October. Brown on our yam-vines, the earth a-crack
with dryness, there is no osnaburg to make clothing for our backs,
four hundred thousand a-moan.
God 01 there are tears all over the land and only the rich
laugh deep [p. 11].
The novelist moving from some authenticated facts the
drought, the Queen's letter and the identity of the major
characters and institutions in the Morant Bay rebellion, -
uses his imagination to produce an account of the feelings
of the people and how their sentiments eventuated into
Brathwaite, in the more subtle medium of poetry,
describes the arrival of the Europeans into the New World
and the clash of hopes and of life-styles which the defence-
less natives feel will accrue from this meeting:

Columbus from his after-
deck watched stars, absorbed in water
melt in liquid amber drifting

through my summer air.
Now with morning, shadows lifting,
beaches stretched before him cold and clear.

Birds circled flapping flag and mizzen
mast: birds harshly hawking, without fear.
Discovery he sailed for was so near.

Columbus from his after-
deck watched heights he hoped for,
rocks he dreamed, rise solid from my simple water.

Parrots screamed. Soon he would touch
our land, his charted mind's desire. [1967 p. 52].

The poet, moving from the generally accepted facts that
Columbus was the figure who brought practical news of the
New World and its conditions to the old, that this old world
had deliberate (charted) interests in finding new lands,
that Columbus found the islands already inhabited but by
people of a different mind set from his, looks at the meet-
ing of the two cultures from the point of view of the indi-
genous Arawaks. As with V. S. Reid's recreation of the
Morant Bay rebellion, this account goes beyond events to
describe feelings.

H. Orlando Patterson with more matter-of-factness and
distance than Reid or Brathwaite, in his Die the Long Day
describes the life of the slave upon a plantation. Where
feelings are painted with any empathy, they are those of
the slaves and not the masters. Patterson in this novel, like
Reid and Brathwaite, wished to underline the social-
psychological response of his ancestors to their social and
geographic environment. All three know how to find and
use hard data. All three know the significance of historical
evidence: Reid is a journalist, Brathwaite a historian and
Patterson a sociologist. All three went beyond historical
facts in the works discussed above and created characters.
Obviously, they all fourid archival data inadequate for
describing the responses of their forefathers.

None of the writers has claimed that the works described
above are history. V. S. Reid explicitly denies any such
claim. He says:

I have not by any means attempted a history of the period 1865-
1944. The entire Campbell family of my narrative is fictional. What
I have attempted is to transfer some of the beauty, kindliness and
humour of my people, weaving characters into a wider framework
of these eighty years and creating a tale that will offer as true an
impression as fiction can of the way by which Jamaica and its
people came to today. [Reid 1949 pp. 7-8].

'The way by which Jamaica and its people [with their
'beauty, kindliness and humour' ] came to today' has not as
yet been written. The picture is the same in most of the
other Caribbean islands. What is required for the writing of
a history which describes the internal and external beha-
viour of our African and Asian forebears? Let us look at why
the works of Reid, Brathwaite and Patterson which give so
much insight into the underclass of the past, cannot be
admitted as history, to see what tools the new historian

History vs. Fiction

History, like the judge in the law court, requires evidence.
It requires that any event postulated to have occurred, can
be demonstrated to other persons to have indeed occurred.
Reid cannot show that the 'Queen's Advice' was read with
'lips of stiffness'. Brathwaite cannot demonstrate to others
that there was an Arawak peeping through the leaves and
that he saw Columbus, his after-deck and his 'charted
mind' sailing in 'my simple water'. Nor can Patterson point
out in the records the girl who was forced to have sexual
intercourse with a syphylitic master. It is very likely that
these events took place, but for the 'story' to be history, it
must not only be plausible but the events of which it con-
sists must have been reported by several persons. Feelings
with which Reid and Brathwaite, and to a lesser extent,
Patterson, are concerned are at best difficult to record with-
out the paraphernalia of psychiatry. Even if it could be
ascertained that a Davie Campbell, a brown man angry at
the inequalities in Jamaican society, did exist in 1865, it is
hardly likely that his emotional response to the events
mentioned in New Day would be recorded anywhere. The
same is true for Patterson's slaves on the treadmill and
much more so for Brathwaite's Arawak watching Colum-
bus. Reid, Brathwaite and Patterson can produce no accept-
able evidence that their characters did do and feel as they
do in the stories.
What conclusively separates these works from history is
the relationship of their writers' 'I' to his data. While the
historian, having collected his data, leaves them to move
logically to a conclusion, the creative writer can impose his
own sense of justice, his own feelings upon the data and
guide them to a conclusion which accords with his
prejudice. Thus, Brathwaite can write:

Where to?
They do not know.
Canada, the Panama
Canal, the Miss-
issippi painfields ... [1967p. 51].

By writing 'painfields' instead of 'canefields', the writer
moves from being a detached chronicler of the new black
diaspora to becoming an interested party annoyed with an
event in the post. He interposes himself into the relation-
ship between the subjects of the event and the geography
of the event to record his own emotive response to this rela-
tionship. The reader and the data are therefore directed to
a conclusion which does not arise from a prior established
set of facts but by the writer's personal prejudice. The con-
clusion to which we are pushed, is that the new black
diaspora is an unfortunate thing.
Reid, the person, enters in the history even more expli-
citly. He is personally pleased that a new constitution has
been granted to Jamaica (1944).7 This pleasure rather than
a logical connection between historical events, is what
leads him to make 1944 the denouement of the 1865
debacle. The presence of the writers' 'I' in these works bars
them from being called history. But it is this imposition of
the writers' sentiment upon history and their consequent
creation of characters and situations which brings a psycho-
logical dimension to the authenticated events and makes

FIRST GENERATION FREEDMAN: Adam Pinnock, born at Orange Valley, St. Ann about 1820 and therefore about 13 years old when the
Abolition Act was passed. Photographed in 1912. Tapping the memories of grandfathers like Pinnock helps to make visible formerly 'invisible'

On MONDAY tes I S& qf MAF "8gO2

Rnn1. Bockin M.in
PA. iii &a. &e.

the literary works discussed so insightful. The question
arises: can historical writing portray the emotional reality of
the African and Asian past in the Caribbean or must this
crucial aspect of the ancestral experience be confined to
fiction? Naipaul [1962 pp. 28-9] asks the question more

How can the history of this West Indian futility be written? What
tone shall the historian adopt? Shall he be as academic as Sir Alan
Burns, protesting from time to time at some brutality, and setting
West Indian brutality in the context of European brutality? Shall he,
like Salvador Madriaga, weigh one set of brutalities against
another, and conclude that one has not been described in all its
foulness and that this is unfair to Spain? Shall he, like the West
Indian historians, who can only now begin to face their history, be
icily detached and tell the story of the slave trade as if it were just
another aspect of mercantilism?
The new historian has to decide whether he will settle for
'icily detached' accounts or find a way to incorporate emo-
tions into his analysis.

Towards a Social History of the Caribbean

Ogot has pointed out that most new societies have had
the problem of history-less-ness and have solved it by bold-
ly accepting what of the existing information accords with
their desire for glory [1967 esp. pp. 17-18]. This path,
reminiscent of Plato's 'great lie' is only possible in a unified
confident society. This the Caribbean societies are not: they
are in the process of creolization [See Brathwaite 1971]..
In addition, the development of history as a science makes
it difficult for even the most confident to utter the 'great lie'.
With knowledge of Caribbean peoples deposited in
archives outside of their control and with communications
so free, the 'great lie' would not survive. The Caribbean
scholar has no option but to write his history according to
the canons of historical scholarship. This has already begun.
The Caribbean man's consciousness that to study military
history and political history tends to leave his ancestors un-
recorded and him, as a person, history-less, is leading to
the development of social history.
Elsa Goveia, the first professor of West Indian history (at
the University of the West Indies), charted the way. She

.... in history, time supplies the continuum but not the principle of
change. To discover that principle, it is .... necessary ... to seek,
beyond the narrative of events, a wider understanding of the
thoughts, habits, and institutions of a whole society. In the society
itself, in its purpose and in its adaptive processes, will be found the
genesis of its history.'
The historian, according to Goveia, must involve himself in
understanding 'the thoughts, habits and institutions' of the.
people in the society. This position is reflected in Brath-
waite's poem previously cited 'for we who have nothing
work . .' and partially answers Naipaul's impassioned
methodological query. But we are still left with the opera-
tional question where, if not in the imagination of the
creative writers, will we find the admissible data on the be-
haviour of people who left no memoirs?
Woodville Marshall, concerned with this question, makes
a comment in which he seems to be saying that even with
the boundaries of West Indian history thus drawn, the his-

torian interested in the underclass will either have to con-
tinue to see it as history-less 'just another aspect of mer-
cantilism' [See Naipaul above] or be satisfied with fiction.
He writes: .... while the historian can indicate with cer-
tainty what planters thought and did, they are still forced to
guess what the slaves thought and did'. [1975 p. 280].
The use of new techniques such as archaeological recon-
struction of the kind that Barry Higman did [1974], is, of
course, possible; but this only settles what the slaves did.
What they 'thought' and felt remains a problem. Their
songs are helpful, as Brathwaite the poet suggested and as
Brathwaite the historian, shows [1971]. The clear record
of social-psychological action which Marshall wishes for,
does not, of course, come in songs. To get at this
systematized behaviour, we suggest that the historian does
as Marshall has been forced to do9 on at least one occasion
- that is, enter the minds and hearts of the ancestors
through the children and grandchildren and so extend the
boundaries of the search for sources to include oral

The Oral Account as Evidence -
A Case Study

One of the consequences of scholarship's function as the
matrix which joins the sectors of Caribbean societies to-
gether, is the disvaluing of any other source of knowledge
but book learning. Thus, contrary to what happened in
other non-literate societies, a vigorous oral tradition in
which the group's history was handed down, did not
develop here. There were personalities, however, who
were very particular that certain events and their involve-
ment with them be passed on to posterity. We are suggest-
ing that the Caribbean historian makes himself into a griot
and set about to collect these accounts.
Joseph Williams, a former slave of Mr. Tharpe of Hamp-
ton estate, St. James, Jamaica, was one of those concerned
with passing on knowledge.'0 He transmitted through his
granddaughter, Beatrice Williams, information on slavery
and on the black/white master/slave confrontation in the
1830s in St. James, and his response to these events.
Joseph speaks through his granddaughter:

So your grand-father tell you?
Yes. Grandfather tell we dat. An beat dem. Lef di batti a top you
know. And when dem put di belly eena di hole now nuttin
caana do di pickney. An dem beat im. Lawd, Missis, sometime,
Granpa tell we some tings... Slavery time ... Him say after
dat, when all di letter wah deh write from Jamaica going to
England, dem ketch a Kingston, dem hide every bit. Dem
would' sen none ... mek Queen Victoria know what was going
on. An after dot, Parson Knibb, say well, him wi take a chance.
I tink Parson Knibb was a white man. You know kind a
converted man, and him pity di people dem. Him see no school,
No nuttin jus a work fi backra so. Him jus pity them. Say
him will go to him.., to England... im will go. But him nuh
ben mek dem know. No mek them know what him going for.
And... when him go to England. .., wen him cum back him

NOTE: In the transcriptions-
(a) three dots (... ) denote a break in the speaker's delivery
(b) where words in text are in bold it means they were very
expressively spoken.

tell dem when Queen Victoria. .. when him enter through
the guard, and Queen Victoria send out her golden Sceptre and
him tip it. And him get in and him bow down, to him, and him
pray you know. You must bet that speech what him study
fi go talk it before the Queenl And when him tell Queen
Victoria what happening in Jamaica wid or people dem, Queen
Victoria get into a bad temper and im write immediately, mus'
let abolish slavery Granpa say, wen dem hear, Massa dem,
dat a di head one over dem, seh:
"Heh, first a August jackass a go"- dem no seh 'August'
you know -
"Fus a 'Aagas' jackass a go get freedom". Dem siddung an
dem seh:
"Lawd, jackass an all de go get freedom and we under
No ben know seh a dem dem call dl jackass.
"Jackass a get freedom. You mean fi tell we seh jackass
gwine get freedom an we under bondage still?" Till wen it come
over now sey a dem, dem bull' up dem booth; den dem
march, and flam.

March and what?


What flam mean?

When dem flam, dem wheel dem frock tail so; wheel, an wen
dem wheel, dem meet up into one anoder an dem wheel again,
dem wheel, dem go down, dem wheel an flam together. Fi
dem song go seh: [she sings]

Firs a August morning now dem a sing roun di booth -
Firs a Augus morning, march roun di booth
Den you see how we get we freedom now
Jubilee de come
Den you see how we get we freedom now
Jubilee deh come...

an dem march and dem sing and dem march and dem sing
dem get freedom now. Awright (laugh) den dem march so
dem rememba weh bakra wenda do dem.

What you say?

Dem remember weh the white people do dem now... Dem a
go spite dem. Den dem go an dem lickl Dem en have one place,
right up deh so, pon a high hill... you can stay deh and see
di hill. Dem call it, dem call it, dem call it em .. em ... no
light-house. Di white people dem a play dem ... a hear seh dem
have a billiard table dehl An wen di house ... wen dem a bun
down di house ... see the hill right up so .. .; wen dem bun
down, and knock ... black people knock fire pan dem house.
Mi hear seh wen Missa Toarpe come, him seh him doan mind
di house wo burn, like the billiard table ... dem burn it down

It was Mr. Taarpe house dem burn down?

White people .. yes, no Missa Taarpe bull' itl Wid all dem oder
white men. Dem go up dere play billiard table ... go up deh go
play dem billiard.

Oh, a place where the white men used to play?

Yes, all the white men go ... Now dis Massa got fi him
Great House, name Great House Hill, yes, dots di place ... Yes,
an dem mek di Great House now; and all white people you
know... high nob white people dem. .. dem play... play dem
billiard.. play billiard table ... on Missa Toarpe come and
him seh doan mind di house burn like the billiard table ... far
it was class .., dem go up, aoh... Kensington ... an dem lick
fire pan bqckra house again (laugh) ... Is big fire a night you
know! Dem bun house you know Dem bun backra house you
know... but dem no got no sense ... but even seh dem en
wise, when dem mek up fire now... an wen dem no watch
fi backra . ef dem en have good sense dem would no dot?
Dem no have no wisdom . because di man weh deh afar,

him con see ina di light... When bockra see dem, im fire gun
afto dem bowl Shoot afta deml Dem run bwoyl And afta wen
dem ketch up some of the slave dem now ...

But Mr. Taarpe?

Yes, because im always work wid im slave dem ... an im kinda
have sympathy fi dem ... An mi Grampa tell mi seh, efdem
ketch black people ... Dem haffi live a ... tek long thatch and
... and mek house... eena bush ... fi live deh ... An him seh
... when dem deh a bush,.. when you come out now... -
you know you have you pickney dem .. you haffi go look
something gie dem an when you come out... Him come
out, dem ketch him an anoder man. Him seh when dem ketch
di black people dem ... him shoot dem ... But Mr. Taarpe never
know it... Him seh dem ketch him one day deh come from
road him an anoder man a galang .. and dem tek di two a dem
... an dem tie dem up fi shoot dem ... on him seh dem shoot
him! Grampa never born fi dead by gun him seh dem
shot di first one so 'Bam'l Him seh wen im se di firs' one dead
and dem dah load di gun again ... im seh weh im tan up filt
full im trousers and him no get no shot yet... There was Missa
Taorpe . drive up same time and seh . "What? I won't have
that. Nol Loose him down, loose him. Shoot none of my old
slaves!" Grandpa say dem loose him an im live a hundred years
... so him tell we all the story dem.

So tell me how you grandfather tell you that him live
after that?

Mi grandfather?

Yes, what he used to do now, I mean he couldn't get
the herring now? [She had mentioned before that this
was the staple diet].

Them can't get them again. Dem nuh ha fi buy them. Dem nuh
haf fi send things come now. And dem hof fi work and plant
dem groun', and all dose tings tell them come yah come mek
dem house, and dem raise dem fowl, and dem goat. Them say
my granmoder dots me moder moder was dl first woman
own a cow, In St. James. My granmoder was the first
woman own a cowl ... and dem lick fire pon di house dem
too you nuh.

What they make it with? They put thatch roof on It?

Yes. Dem bun i down. An im seh ... Mi granmoder dem work
you know Dem sell tings, dem self you know. Sell ... dem
have nuff money.

But who they would sell to?

Other else people. Dot time you know dem get free. Other else
people all dose people wah live a town place you know,
and dem a country dem plant, and dem carry i down and them
sell. Mi say dem knock fire pon some of the block people them
house too. And bun i, and all some a dem money melt some of
them have nuff silver melt. You see it. Them meet it. Di black
people meet it. If mi even come and see dem a do a white man
anything, me nah talk, no man, I don't business wid it. Me have
anything wid di white mania I could' business wid it. The ole
generation pay for It... Lawd... them meet I. Dem
meet II

This source carries the sentiments which the creative
writer, by transporting himself into the event and producing
a fictionalized tale, tried to give us, and carries as well the
'thoughts' and acts of slaves after which Marshall hankers.
The major strength of this account lies, however, in.that it
has helped to establish a historical fact. The Hampton
estate, the setting of Williams's story and the Kensington
estate mentioned in this account, are also mentioned in the
official records as estates burnt by Afro-Jamaicans in the

Kensington, Five Miles from Maroon Town burnt, and all the places
around with the undermentioned estates:
Newman-Hall, Flamstead, Potosi, Spring Mount, Hampton ....
[ Brathwaite 1982 p. 12].

By describing the actual burning of these estates, the oral
account substantiates and supplements the official report.
Brathwaite, the authority on this disturbance, in his recon-
struction of the events of the 1830s comments, thus, on the
archival sources: 'What the printed sources don't give us at
this time is a snapshot of the elation of the slaves ..'
[ 1982 p. 17]. To give us some insight into the feelings of
the slave, he has had to search other records with limited
success. This account handed from Joseph Williams to his
granddaughter offers this detail and as such completes the
documentation of the event.

History deals in evidence that can be corroborated. The
emotions expressed in the account above ought, therefore,
to be validated before being accepted. Verification exists in
other oral reports. The feeling tones in the account of
slavery and emancipation given by another grandfather,
Arthur Heath's, support that transmitted by Joseph Williams.
The setting is much the same the Hampton-Retirement
estates in St. James.

Mr. H., you father you see, your father, right, your father or
anybody older than your father did ever tell you anything
about slavery? You ever hear about slavery?

(Female): Him say ef you ever hear bout slavery?

Yes, dem tell me about slavery, tell me about Parson Knibb and
Parson Burgess.

Parson Knibb and Parson Burgess?

Yes. A him go to h'England ask fi freedom fi Jamaica. A so
freedom come yah. Mi fader did tell me about dot.

Your father did tell you?

A-ha. Because fi him fader-fader was a slave.

So what him tell you about your fader-fader?

Him say, when dem go work dem, you know dot time is cutting
cone on all di estate around and im say when dem refrain
from work, dem basse (boss) dem, dem feed dem pan herrin,
you see, and wear crocus clothes.

Crocus? Crocus bag like what I know?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Crocus. Gie dem, ... Im tell we about dat and
when dem Parson say 'well'... come from .., sorry fi di people
dem, dem go to England an ask di Queen di King or di Queen
- fi gie dem di freedom in Jamaica. So a so Jamaica get
freedom ....... So a so Jamaica cum over to us. But we was
in slave man. Good long time. All dem estate whey got you,
ben work you. You see a sign -

All those estates round here so?

Yes. Estate a Hampton now, estate a Retirement. Sometime
some a dem run way, some a de people dem run way go siddung
a side, dem ketch dem an settle dem, car' dem back to dem
Master. Di baddest now dem gu bury di whip and chain up in
Market Square.

Where is Market Square now?

(Male): Dem call it Charles Square now -

Oh, who bury the whip and chain?

Where dem call di place now? And dem bury di whip and chain.

They bury the whip and chain? Who d/d bury It? Knibb?

No, ole people. Dem weh tell me, say a dat time dem get
freedom, an dem tek all dose buckle and chain and go bury them.

Oh, them carry It themselves go bury It out a Montego

Yes, yes.

(Male): Them haf a song you know. A heard dat song. You ever
hear di song?

No. Mek I hear It.

(Male): A doan know,... oh doon cut Moss Arthur, . but a
'eard dis song. When dem get freedom, a ben what? August?
Mussa August an dem sing;

Slave before, me ben slave before
Mi ben slave before
Mi no slave anymore
Bury me foot chain (August come you nuh)
Bury me foot chain
Bury me foot chain
Down ya up in Market Square
Slave before, slave before
Mi no slave anymore.

An dem march.

(Male): Ist a August.

Bury whip and chain
(drumming dot you nuh)
Bury whip and chain
Bury whip and chain
Down a open Market Square.

Drum and fife dent Daughter you would know....



An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the
Britie Colonies; for promoting the Industry of
the manumitted Slaves; and for compensating
the Persons hitherto entitled to the Services of
such Slaves. [28th August 1833.]
HEREAS dives Persn are holden in Slavey within
dient that all such esrsoas should be manumitted and
aet free, and that reasonable Copenation should be made to the
Peons hitherto entitled to the Sevices of uch Sl ve for the Lou
which they will incur by being deprived of their Right to such
Services: And whereas it is alto expedient that Provision should be
made for promoting the Industry and curin5 the good Conduct of
the Persons s tobe manunitted for limited Peiod after uch
their hlanumuion : And heroes it si the a the Lw now
the new State uad Relations of Society therein which will follow
n ch eUer Mnumidion u aforenid of tie mid Slave* ; and
in order to afford the neceuary Tune for such Adaptation of
the uid Law, a hot Interval should elapae before uch .Manums-
(ion Ibhuld take effect: Be it theefoe elected by the Ring'. motc
celleIt Majesty, by aend with the Advice and Consent of the
Lerd Spiritual and Temporal, ad Common. in this recent Parlia-
ment uembled, and hy the Authortiy of the .ne, 1 lit fiom and n 1
after the Frm Dayeof Aetu On. thousand eight hundred and thirty. I, Au*ui.
10 Y Jour tI .snll

It is of importance to historical scholarship as to any other
branch of intellectual inquiry that research generate hypo-
theses for further research. The Joseph Williams account
does this: it asks us to question the number of disturbances
which took place in western Jamaica in the 1830s. There is
no doubt that conflagrations of the type mentioned in this
account did occur in the 1830s and did take place at Hamp-
ton. Both the orthodox account and the oral accounts agree
on that. But the Williams account suggests another possibil-
ity. Williams was '80-odd' at the time of her interview in
1975.12 She was, therefore, born in 1890. Her grandfather
was less than 100 years old when he told her his story.'3 He
was, therefore, born after 1790 and would have been in his
forties at most at the time of the disturbance. The fact that
Mr. Tharpe who is the Hampton estate 'massa' in the ortho-'
dox account as well as in the oral account says with refer-
ence to Joseph Williams, a man in his forties, 'Shoot none
of my old slaves' suggests that the disturbance referred to
in the oral account could have taken place after Joseph
Williams was freed, that is, after 1831-1832. Could there
have been another black-white disturbance shortly after
Brathwaite's study of the 1831-1832 disturbance indi-
cates that the rebel slaves were a unit that was well organ-
ized and widely spread, cemented together over years
[Brathwaite 1982 p. 26]. It indicates, too, that the
response of the white upper class to this uprising was very
harsh. The Williams' account '.... and dem remember
who Backra wenda do dem ...' as a prelude to the destruc-
tion of the property by fire, could be the ex-slave's act of
reprisal for the wholesale hangings, official and unofficial,
which followed the 1831-1832' uprising. The issue of
whether there was a pre-emancipation and a post-emanci-
pation outbreak in western Jamaica and in particular on
the Hampton estate, cannot be settled here. It has to be
recorded, however, that the oral account raises this
The Brathwaite study mentions the destruction of negro
villages [1982 p.26]. The oral account mentions this as
well, and whether this destruction took place in 1831-32 or
immediately after the emancipation proclamation, it is
further evidence of this destruction. But the Williams
account goes further: it gives us a graphic picture of the
siege under which the first freemen and particularly those
of the St. James area, began their new lives. The account

Dem haffi live a [bush], tek long thatch and mek house eena
bush fi live deh. An him seh, when dem deh a bush, when you
come out now you know you have you pickney dem, you haffi
go look something fi dem and when you come out [you were
liable to get shot].

The further question has to be asked in view of the para-
meters of social history that Goveia outlines: given the
freeman's sense of siege and the hostility of the upper
class, what kind of institutions could develop in the society?
And the related question: what effect did all of this have
upon the physical and economic development of St.
James? The oral account has a question for those historians
with an archaeological bent: are there artifacts of slavery
buried in Charles Square?
That the oral account forces us to ask these questions as
well as offers corroboration to existing reports, establishes

that it has a place in historical scholarship, particularly in
the plural societies of the Caribbean. We are suggesting
that oral sources can satisfy the needs filled by fiction
without doing violence to the norms for historical writing.
Grandfathers such as those of Beatrice Williams and Arthur
Heath can replace the old man John Campbell of Reid's
novel without the loss of feeling in the historical narrative
that Naipaul feared. The scholar socialized in the plural
society of the Caribbean need no longer 'quarrel with
history'. When he looks at the old fisherman, the dog, and
the sea, he will still not find 'visible history' but he will find
a 'history'. 'Their lengthening shapes' which 'amaze the
sun' will be the 'understanding of the thoughts, habits, and
institutions' of the social and geographic entity of which the
fisherman, the dog and the sea are a part.4 This under-
standing will be illuminated by oral sources. (In) visible
history will now become social history.


1. A. J. Williams [1974] makes the point that literacy was highly re-
garded in the West African societies from which some Africans were
brought to the Caribbean as slaves. In the Caribbean, he argues, the
Africans came quickly to see 'literacy as a key to the secrets of the
whiteman's superiority'. All agreed then that it was a source of

2. For a discussion of the importance of traditions as a source of knowl-
edge and therefore of scholarship see McCall [1969, Ch.3] .

3. It is of course conceivable that illiterates who are wealthy, will pay
to have their histories written. The Caribbean underclass were poor
and illiterate and did not have this option.

4. This term was coined by Edward Baugh. See his article [1980]

5. Walcott [19651 quoted in Baugh [1980].

6. One of these writers is Ralph De Boissiere whose novel Crown Jewel
which discusses the 1937 disturbance in Trinidad, appeared in 1952.

7. This position is articulated by Kenneth Ramchand [1971, pp. 110-
8. Quoted on the dedicatory page of Brathwaite [1971 ].

9. His recent work on Black Rock, Barbados uses this technique.

10. See 'The Oral Historian', page 5, parish of St. James cassette refer-
ence 60StjMa in Brodber [1980].

11. 'A Conveniently Dead man' pp. 14-15, parish of St. James, cassette
reference 63StjMa in Brodber [1980 .

12. 'The Oral Historian' in Brodber [1980].

13. See text. The informant says 'Granpa ... live a hundred years'.
Obviously he told her his tale before he reached age 100.

14. The notion that Walcott's image in his poem 'lengthening
shadows' which 'amaze the sun' refers to a new kind of history, is
culled from Baugh![1980] .


BAUGH, Edward, "The West Indian writer and his quarrel with history",
Tapla, Vol. 7, Nos. 8 and 9.

BRATHWAITE, Edward, Rights of Passage, Oxford University Press,

The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-
1820, Oxford University Press, 1971.

"The Rebellion in the Great River Valley of St. James", unpub-
lished seminar paper, Department of History, University of the
West Indies, February 1982.

BRODBER, Erna, "Life in Jamaica in the Early Twentieth Century a
Presentation of Ninety Oral Accounts", unpublished manuscript,
Mona: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of the
West Indies, 1980.

De BOISSIERE, Ralph, Crown Jewel, Melbourne: Australasian Book
Society, 1952.

HIGMAN, Barry, "A Report on Excavations at Montpelier and Roehamp-
ton, Jamaica Journal, Vol. 8, Nos. 2 and 3, 1974.

MARSHALL, Woodville, "A Review of Historical Writing on the Com-
monwealth Caribbean since about 1940", Social and Economic
Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3, 1975.

McCALL, Daniel F., Africa in Time-Perspective. A Discussion of
Historical Reconstruction from Unwritten Sources. Oxford
University Press, 1969.

NAIPAUL, V. S., The Middle Passage, London: Andre Deutsch, 1962.

OOOT, B. A., History of the Southern Luo, Eastern African Publishing
House, 1967.

PATTERSON, Orlando, Absence of Ruins, London: Hutchinson, 1967.
Die the Long Day, New York: Morrow, 1972.

RAMCHAND, Kenneth, "History and the Novel: a literary critic's
approach", Savacou, Vol. 5, June 1971.

REID, V. S., New Day, New York: Alfred Knopf (1949), London: Heine-
mann, 1973.

SMITH, M. G., The Plural Society in the British West Indies (first
published 1965), Sangster's Bookstores in association with the
University of California Press, 1974.
"Social and Cultural Pluralism in the Caribbean", Annals of the
New York Academy of Sciences, 83, January 1960.

WALCOTT, Derek, "The Almond Trees", The Castaway, London:
Jonathan Cape, 1965.

WILLIAMS, A. J., "Role of the Prophet in Jamaican Millenial Cults",
B. Litt. thesis, Oxford University, 1974.

WYNTER, Sylvia, "Novel and History, Plot and Plantation", Savacou,
June, 1971.


cTa f AIL

to your ne
S S .661~

Social History Research
Status in Jamaica Today


The government sponsored Memory Bank Project is an attempt to sup-
plement existing data on Jamaica's cultural heritage by tapping the
memories of senior citizens an important source of the island's history
and culture. The aim is for identification, contact and dialogue (by
trained personnel) with senior citizens. Several interviews have already
been recorded on tape and a training programme for interviewers is in
The Project is organized on a parish basis, with each parish committee
having a coordinator who sits on the steering committee which is
chaired by the Director of Arts and Culture in the Office of the Prime
Minister, Miss Olive Lewin.
Storage, indexing and preservation of materials are to be undertaken
by the Notional Library of Jamaica.

To commemorate 21 years of Jamaica's existence as an independent
nation, the government is encouraging the writing of the histories of
several Jamaican villages. The first stage (to be completed by National
Heroes Day 1983) will consist of an island-wide competition among rural
students who will prepare projects based largely on interviews with
elderly villagers. Tape recorders, model questionnaires and suggestions
about oral history techniques will be provided. Students are being en-
couraged to submit the collected data along with the projects for storage
in the Memory Bank.
It is hoped that the Village History Project will form the basis for more
extended writing of the histories of Jamaican villages.

The Social History Project of the University of the West Indies was
established in 1979 to encourage, support and direct the study of West In-
dian social history in the period since the abolition of slavery (1838).
Social history is concerned with the study of past societies, cultures,
peoples, and their links with the present. Examples of areas currently un-
der research are: the history of occupations, the history of life-cycles,
festivals and celebrations and domestic architecture.
0 The central aim of the Social History Project is to compile a computer-
based index to the social history content of the major periodical and
newspaper literature published since 1838. These indexes will initially
cover Jamaican materials, with an emphasis on the period 1838 1938,
as well as the more recent scholarly journals. The indexes are designed
to provide ready reference to very specific areas of social history, and
will also be organized by geographical location and period. Indexing of
data on particular individuals is also being undertaken, and this will
provide the basis for a Dictionary of Jamaican/West Indian Biography.
Generally, the project plans to act as a clearing-house for information
on source materials, promote the collection and preservation of social
documents and artefacts; collaborate closely with other resear-
chers/institutions in the field; communicate findings to the public.
Initially, attention will be focused on Jamaica but it is hoped that
through comparative work, a Caribbean-wide perspective can be


The Folklore Project, an interdisciplinary committee of the University of
the West Indies, Mona, headed by Professor Mervyn Alleyne, was formed
in October 1982 for the encouragement of Folklore Studies as a
legitimate area of research.
The project is largely concerned with the documentation of our 'verbal
art' the expressive behaviour of the folk: how Caribbean people
view their world; their religious-based folk beliefs of the natural and
spiritual world and the unique expression of wisdom. Although specific
work has been undertaken on Jamaican Proverbs, the main thrust is
towards compiling a bibliography of Caribbean Folklore.
The Folklore Project points up the need to collaborate with other in-
stitutions/individuals who have already been researching in this field
and plans ore afoot to consolidate the Caribbean Studies option (for final
year students) under the rubric of, as well as offering graduate program-
mes in, Folklore Studies.

'01' Time Tram'

and the Tramway Era 1876-1948

By Carol Mae Morrissey

This picture, taken at West Parade (Jubilee
Market square) in 1905 also shows the pre-
decessors to the mule drawn and electric
tramcars the horse buses.

FOR over 70 years, Kingston com-
muters were transported around
the city by tramcars. The 'ol' time
tram' is today but a memory among
older folks. Our only tangible re-

minders of the electric tramway era are
the traction poles which are still used
for street lighting purposes and the odd
sections of the tramway tracks which
can sometimes be seen emerging

below the surface of city streets which
were built over them after the trams
were phased out in 1948.
But the tramways represent more
thbn nostalgia. The introduction of the

electric tramway especially (in 1899),
not only provided quick, easy and
cheap mass transportation for a grow-
ing capital city, it also had tremendous
social effect. For it facilitated the geo-
graphical expansion of the city, and
was a factor in encouraging internal
migration of rural Jamaicans. It has
been noted that, 'The electric tramway
service was the first step in the long
process that finally made large areas
of lower St. Andrew suburbs of King-
ston, and consequently attracted a
great migration from rural Jamaica'.
[Roberts 1955]. Such areas as Con-
stant Spring Road, Hope Road, Sey-
mour Avenue and Windward Road, for
example, were not developed for resi-
dential purposes until transportation by
electric tramcars to these locations had
been made available. Clarke [19751
in his book on Kingston points out that:

Between 1891 and 1921, slightly more
than half the increase in the city's in-
habitants was contributed by the settle-
ments on the Liguanea Plain. The devel-
opment of this loose network of settle-
ments was made possible by the tramway
system which was opened in 1876. In the
1880s track extensions were made to May
Pen Cemetery on the Spanish Town Road
and to Constant Spring in the north. By
1884 over one million passengers were
carried each year.

Kingston's tramways also encapsu-
lated in 70 years the major develop-
ments in mass transportation from
horse traction to electricity and, finally,
motorized buses. But as Kingstonians
are discovering today, the buses were
not the definitive answer to the prob-
lem of moving city commuters. Much
of the debate surrounding the exis-
tence and final phasing out of the
tramway in favour of motor buses rings
familiar as Kingston once again stands
at the threshold of a new phase in pub-
lic transportation 'the mini-bus era'.
The tramway was but a stage in the
development of an urban transporta-
tion system. The introduction of such a
system in Jamaica followed closely on
the heels of such developments over-
seas. Indeed, all the arguments
advanced for or against each new
stage were remarkably universal. So
was the enthusiasm which greeted
each new stage enthusiasm on the
part of both commuters and entrepre-
neurs which all too quickly evaporated
as the system proved inefficient, ex-
pensive and generally unequal to the

task of coping with exploding urban

Jamaica's First Tramway

In February 1862 Sir Charles Dar-
ling's government had passed the
tramway act to regulate the construc-
tion of tramways in the country. The
first tramway (operated by animal
traction) had opened in the United
Kingdom only two years previously
and the first on the Continent (in
France) in 1855.
Edward John Eyre who was acting as
governor in the absence from the
island of Sir Charles Darling was
enthusiastic about the new mode of
transportation. In his speech to the
Assembly in 1862, he declared that the
construction of a tramway would have
the effect of providing

... additional means of improving the
postal arrangements ... [and thereby]
bringing the colony into easy, regular and
cheap communication with some of the
most fertile and flourishing of the country
districts heretofore almost wholly shut off
from such intercourse [Jamaica Cor-
respondence IV, 1864].

... Some of the tram drivers were
daredevils. They careened down the
rails, rocking from side to side, the
motorman with a handkerchief tied
over his face, against the clouds of
At Half-Way-Tree there was a Tram
Waiting Room complete with a live
monkey, where Constant Spring trams
met Hope Road trams. The rear seats
were usually filled with huge baskets
of vegetables in the morning and
empty baskets in the afternoon.
The running boards were often
crowded with passengers, not all of
whom paid, and every boy dreamed of
how fast he could hop on and off, and
envy the athletes who hopped off
backwards at full speed.
'Lowering the Bar' was a ritual at
Half-Way-Tree on the way to Kingston
where the double track commenced,
and was a reminder not to put your head
out or stand on the running board on
that side. But some daredevils did. The
trams would roar past each other,
rocking like mad, a few inches separating
-D.S. Brown, "Tram Drivers were
Daredevils", Dolly Gleaner,
6 November 1967.

However, the person behind the
tramway scheme was Edmund Leahy,
the island engineer, along with a part-
ner, David Smith. In February 1863
they were granted permission to

construct a 40-mile tramway along the
main highway from Spanish Town to
Porus with the government paying a
sum equal to three-fourths of the esti-
mated cost of the project. But Leahy, as
the island engineer, would have been
the very person to check the estimates
and generally protect the interests of
the public. Questions immediately
arose about the propriety of his
As in most cities in Europe where this
new phenomenon in transportation
was adopted, the laying of the tram-
way was in any event accompanied by
much argument and controversy. Many
questions were asked, including the
propriety of giving the company a
complete monopoly of traffic on 40
miles of the most important public road
in the island.
Opposition to the tramway com-
pany's continued construction became
so critical in the latter part of 1863 that
governor Eyre decided that it was
necessary to take action, and Leahy
was suspended from office. The
Assembly named a committee to in-
vestigate the matter and it noted that
the portion of the tramway that had so
far been laid (between Spanish Town
and Old Harbour) was already interfer-
ing with the ordinary traffic on the
road, and was, moreover, inconveni-
ent and injurious to the public. It was
felt that the anticipated traffic to be
conveyed on the tramway (that is, pas-
sengers and goods) would be too
heavy for a tramroad a railway to
Old Harbour being more justifiable.
More important, the committee con-
cluded that the tramway construction
had been undertaken 'without due
consideration'. It recommended that
the portion already laid should be
removed and the main road recon-
structed 'with as little delay as pos-
As a result, the government author-
ized that the whole tramway was to be
torn up by January 1865, or, failing
that, be covered up with stones [See
Jamaica Correspondence 1864, Price 1806,
Sires 1953].
Another attempt at tramway con-
struction in Jamaica was not to be
made until the mid 1870 s, by which
time the capital had been moved to

The Tramway comes to

On 13 November 1876, the first

tramway to be completed in Jamaica
was opened for public use in Kingston.
The cars ran on street rails and each
was pulled by two strong mules. The
inception of this enterprise was due to
the efforts of Mr. Tracy Robinson, an
American engineer and a Mr. Samuel
Burke, who formed the Jamaica Street
Car Company for the purpose [Hand-
book 1877].
The company's office was located on
Lower King Street, while the stables for
the mules were in an area of East
Street known as 'Wagonnette Lands'
(now Lockett Avenue) [Graham
1972]. The mules for the tram service
were bred by Mr. Louis Verley (the
largest shareholder in the tramcar
company) at his Cumberland Pen
estate ['J.B' 1943].
The routes operated by the Jamaica
Street Car Company are shown in the
The fare from the company's office
to Constant Spring was sixpence by
ticket or ninepence in cash; while on
the other routes, it was twopence by
ticket, or threepence in cash. Tickets

were sold at the company's office or in
several shops along the tramway
routes, in order to encourage the use
of the ticket system, which facilitated
the easier collection of fares in the
Passenger traffic on the tramcar lines
increased at a steady rate from
383,320 passengers during the first full
year of operation (1877) to 1,310,162
passengers in 1896, with a notable
increase in 1891, the year of the Great
Exhibition, to 1,850,289 passengers.
The Street Car Company operators in
Jamaica, like their counterparts abroad
were soon compelled to seek a more
efficient form of motive power than
mules. The number of animals needed
for the operation proved too expensive
to feed, stable and care for. Eleven
horses were normally required for
each car in service, one spare left in
the stables, five pairs used for work on
shifts [Buckley 1975]. Moreover, the
populace had begun to object to the
slowness of this form of transportation:

... the mules under constant whip

lash straining to hasten up a grade ...
were so slow that children wanting to get
to school on time, found that walking
there was quicker [Sibley 1966].
The high cost of operations naturally
limited profits, in some cases to such
an extent that it was universally con-
cluded by some operators that 'the
horse tramway business was not one in
which anyone was likely to make their
fortune' (Buckley 1975].
The directors of the Street Car Com-
pany in Jamaica had come to the same
In 1892 a W. B. Chapman visited the
island and saw the opportunity to
establish a tramway service using elec-
tricity, which had now become the
new form of traction internationally.
Along with E. A. H. Haggart he
acquired the property of the Jamaica
Street Car Company Limited for
15,000 on 4 December 1897, after a
licence had been obtained under the
Tramway Law of 1895. The West India
Electric Company Limited (Canada)
was thus inaugurated and its office set
up at 151 Orange Street, Kingston
[Handbook 1898].

The new company continued to
operate the mule drawn tramway
service, pending the construction of an
electric system. To facilitate the imple-
mentation of such a system, the com-
pany in 1907 purchased the property
of the Jamaica Electric Light and Power
Company which had been serving
Kingston. As a result of this purchase,
the West India Electric Company was
obliged to provide Spanish Town, King-
ston and a limited area of St. Andrew
which was adjacent to the tramway
lines, with light and power.
The overhead trolley system had
been universally adopted for its simpli-
city and cheapness of construction, as
well as the ease of repair and adjust-
ment. The system operated in the fol-
lowing way:

The cars were supplied with current from
a bare copper wire suspended overhead,
the power being collected by a long pole
fixed to the roof of each car and carrying
a small metal trolley wheel or skid
arranged to press against the live wire
and run smoothly along under its surface
[Cormack and Kaye 19761.

To generate electricity, the company
further acquired the property and
rights for the development of a hydro-
electric power station on the Rio Cobre
(near Bog Walk). From this station,
power was transmitted into the distri-
buting system in Kingston. Overhead
trolley lines were built and the electric
tramcar system came into operation on
31 March 1899.
The lines operated by the West India
Electric Company all began at the foot
of King Street. There were two lines
which made circular trips around the
city the East Street and Avenue Belt
lines. There were also lines to Constant
Spring via Orange Street and Half-
Way-Tree Road; to Papine, via Hope
Road; and one to Rockfort Gardens via
Windward Road.

The electric tramcar soon came to be
regarded as the normal means of
transportation between Kingston and
lower St. Andrew. Nonetheless, it re-
mained a novelty to some. According
to Casserly [1952], at the turn of the
century, 'Some of the country folk, still
mystified by their unseen means of
locomotion, called them 'backra
obeah'. Henderson [19061 also
commented on the reaction of the
country folk to the new mode of trans-

The country people, who come once a
week to sell their produce in the great
Saturday foregathering of agricultural
Jamaica, still show wonder and fear at the
approach of a tram. They still jump in the
hedges as the tram flies along ....

To most people, however, the swift-
ness and efficiency of the electric
transportation system was a thorough
delight. Mr. Frank Bullen, a visitor to
the island in 1905 recorded his impres-

..Boarding the tromcar at the hotel gate
[Constant Spring Hotel] ,we sped swiftly
down to what is called the 'Half-Way-
Tree', where we changed cars and were
carried to the Hope Botanical Gar-
This is ... a very fine service of electric
cars, which run on the trolley and
overhead wire principle, and the track, as
well as the standards supporting the wires,
was kept in English fashion .... The
speed at which the cars travel, however, is
almost as great as it is in the United States,
that is to say, about double what is
allowed in England.

TRAMCAR ROUTES were distinguished by num-
bers, letters, or colours and these were
reinforced by the use of coloured lights. Even
illiterates could identify each car as it
approached, by familiarising themselves with
the colours. The following is a list of colours of

the various lines:
Constant Spring
Hope Gardens
East Street
South Camp Road
Rockfort Gardens
Cross Roads
(peak hour)
(peak hour)
'Private Car'


dark blue

yellow maroon

However, the operation of the elec-
tric tramway system under the West
India Electric Company became an un-
popular undertaking, marred by public
demonstrations and disorders in 1912
and 1919. In February 1912, the com-
pany reduced the number of fares
from seven to six for a shilling, on the
grounds that increased costs of opera-
tion necessitated such a move. This,
combined with the long feeling of dis-
satisfaction with the service provided
by the company, culminated in a week
of public demonstrations, using 'pas-
sive resistance' tactics in the first
instance (that is, blocking tramcar
routes thereby preventing them from
running on time or at all) followed by
large scale acts of vandalism.

The Tramway Lines

Operated by the Jamaica

Street Car Company






The consequent disruption in tramcar
services, as well as acts of violence
directed against the company's em-
ployees, encouraged tramway motor-
men and conductors to use the oppor-
tunity to demand wage increases, as
well as job security in the form of five-
year contracts. When this was not
forthcoming, the conductors and
motormen went on strike [Jamaica
Times 2 March 1912, and Daily Gleaner 1
March 19121.

On 24 December 1919, tramcar con-
ductors and motormen again went out
on strike after another demand for
wage increases had been refused. The
matter eventually was settled when
the company agreed to a nominal in-
crease, pending the decision of the
conciliation board to which the matter
had been referred. Work was resumed
on 2 January [Daily Gleaner 27 and 31 Dec-
ember 1919; 2 January 1920].

In May 1923 a new company
entered the picture. It was announced

The Governor in Privy Council has agreed
to transfer the unexpired portion of the
licence of the West India Electric Company
to Messrs. Greenshields and Company of
Montreal .... It is learned that arrange-
ments [have been] made to register
[the] company in Jamaica, with Cana-
dian capital, to take over the affairs of the
tramway as a going concern. [Daily
Gleaner 26 May 1923].

THE FARE within each district was twopence,
while for a full journey to a terminal point, it
was fourpence. The conductor was equipped
with a machine to punch the vouchers, opposite
one's destination, in return for the ticket. Adults
received a white voucher, children a blue one,
and employees (who were normally entitled to
free transport on the tramways) received a red

The Jamaica Public Service Company
Limited which was consequently
formed, took over the licence of the
West India Electric Company on 25
May 1923. The JPSCo thereby assumed
full responsibility for the running of the
transportation system, as well as for
supplying electricity to Spanish Town,
Kingston and lower St. Andrew.
This new company was seen as a
welcome prospect for the provision of
a more efficient service. But as 'Way-
farer', a writer in a newspaper of 1929

.. Kingston today is a very different
place to what it was thirty years ago when

the licence was first granted to the then
electric company. During the interval, traf-
fic in the city and suburbs has increased
one hundred fold, and where thirty years
ago inducements had to be offered to the
public to travel and move about, the prob-
lem today is how to cope with the ques-
tion of the transportation of the pub-
lic ....

According to Sibley [1966],, the
growth of the city's population so
increased the burden on the transpor-
tation system that

.. one saw tramcars passing along the
streets with people hanging on like flies to
every conceivable ledge, and inside the
tram was so packed that the ticket collec-
tor could not get between the benches to
collect the fare ...

The inadequate system of transporta-
tion was not peculiar to the tramways
in Kingston. Joyce [1980] notes that
during the 1920s and 1930s, new
suburbs were developing on the out-
skirts of cities in England, which neces-
sitated either the logical extension of
tramway lines to serve such areas, or
the introduction of new transport
services. But high maintenance costs
and operating expenses made the
expansion of the tramway undertaking
on a whole, uneconomical.
The tramway, moreover, began to
feel the first threat of motor competi-
tion in the immediate post world war I

Competition and Demise

In Kingston, a small number of motor

bus operators came on the scene
operating either in areas not served by
the tramcars, or supplementing the
tramway on routes which had a parti-
cularly dense traffic. The Transport
Commission of 1933, noted favourably

motor omnibuses [did] ... much to de-
velop suburban areas, providing a popu-
lar means of transport for a large section
of the public, where tramways could not
be expected to operate economically.

Competition from the relatively more
reliable and comfortable omnibus was
to become in Kingston, as in most
countries, a formidable force by the
end of the 1920s and early 1930s. In
some instances, tramway operations
were being abandoned in favour of
these buses. Areas which continued to
maintain tramway operations, were
forced to improve their passenger
service by making changes to the tram-
car itself. This could be done either by
modernizing the existing cars, or by
building newly designed cars. For in-
stance, Hong Kong in its bid to improve
passenger services, had adopted the
double-decker tramcar design in 1912.
Only a few other countries, however,
found it either possible or economical
to carry through large scale
modernization of their'tramways. The
town of Barrow-in-Furness in England,
for example, abandoned its tramways
in 1932 when it discovered that the
estimated cost of renewal would have
been 127,000 as opposed to only
31,700 for a fleet of new buses.

-. -. ., ;; --* ,- 'fr,.1
Open-sided cross-bench tramcar, showing seating arrangement and vertical (grab) rails. The cars were designed so they could be driven from either
end and the wooden seats could be made to face the other direction by turning the backs over.

Buckley [19751 rightly concludes that

In terms of simple economics, the choice
between trams and buses is heavily
weighted in favour of the latter, which
cost less to buy, and, without the infra-
structure needed by trams, less to run.

A similar sentiment was also ex-
pressed by a visitor to Jamaica in the
early 1920s. According to Sir James
Fowler [1924]

The overhead electric tramway is useful,
but out of date, and like all tramways,
economically unsound as a mode of trac-
tion. It is to be hoped that the approaching
termination of the period of the contract
with the company which runs it, will see it
replaced by a service of motor omnibuses.

Public reaction to the choice
between tramcars and omnibuses was

naturally in favour of the latter, be-
cause it was felt that the tramway did
not provide the punctuality or reli-
ability to which the public was entitled.
In an attempt to alleviate this situation,
the JPSCo acquired a small number of
motor buses which were to be used to
service certain routes in the Old Hope
Road and Seymour Lands areas. For
some time it had been clear to the
company that buses posed a serious
economic threat. The loss of revenue
as a result of this competition is clearly
shown in Table 1.

Five years before competition.

Year Total passenger car revenue
1923 67,855
1924 72,728


Five years after competition

Year Total passenger car revenue
1933 47,137
1934 43,362
1935 41,822
1936 38,254
1937 38,333

Source: Fearnley 1938

'Wayfarer' [1929], tried to impress
upon the public at large, and the
government in particular, that the
tramway company could not be
expected to give an efficient service
unless it was granted a licence in
which it was reasonably protected

from competition along its routes. The
tramway licence had granted the com-
pany a virtual monopoly over all pas-
senger transport by tramway, thereby
protecting it from competition only in
this respect. As a result, it was not pro-
tected against competition from other
means of transport. The company
called attention to the adverse effects
on their operations by this 'unregu-
lated and unfair' competition which
had no obligations, while the company
by the terms of its contract operated
according to scheduled timetables and
fixed routes and fares.

THE MARKET TRAM. In the early days, extra
' market cars' were run on Fridays and Satur-
days to transport vendors and their goods to and
from market. The cars were designed with the
seat backs facing towards the roadway the
space in the middle was reserved for the bas-
kets. This attempt to make transportation for the
ordinary travellers more comfortable on market
days was not successful. The market vendors
insisted on travelling in the regular passenger
cars. The 'market cars' were abandoned.

The 1933 transport commission set
up to consider this plight noted that the
omnibuses possessed numerous ad-
vantages over the tramcars. Requiring
no steel tracks on which to run, the
buses entailed little depreciation in
street amenities, while capital invest-
ment was relatively low. In addition,
the buses were comparatively quiet,
and their operations could either be
enlarged or curtailed in a short period.
Moreover, buses were fortunate in
being able to load on the kerb-side,
thereby leaving the centre of the
streets free for other road users. Trams
had the disadvantage of operating on
an inflexible route pattern and causing
congestion on the roads as a result of
their awkward loading and unloading
facilities. (Critics of the tramway had
noted that some persons had been
'frightened, damaged, or even killed
from attempting to get from or to the
tram from the kerb').
Although trams compared to buses
were capable of conveying a greater
number of passengers (45 as opposed
to 30); provided a higher frequency
service; strong loading facilities, and
operated at a cheaper rate per pas-
senger mile; the commission nonethe-
less favoured the extinction of the
tramcar as a meansof transportation. It
recommended that a complete mono-
poly of city transportation be allocated
to the buses:

We are of opinion on the whole that a
change from tramways to motor omni-

buses would not be a retrograde step for a
city such as Kingston to take. On the con-
trary, it would be in keeping with the gen-
eral trend of affairs in the march of pro-
gress brought about by the internal com-
bustion engine .... We think a well
coordinated system of motor buses under
experienced management, with unified
control ... will afford the most suitable
type of service for the city, although it
might not, in its initial stages, prove as
cheap as tramways ... [Moreover] ...
there should be no jostling of any kind
[as] ... cannot be in the interest of
the public for such rivalry to continue.

By Louise Bennett

Put fun an joke one side Miss Jane,
Me miss de "palam-pam!"
De bus drive sweet an steady, but
Me miss me ole-time Tram.

Papine look kine o' sad teday,
Him know sey something wrong,
Noh "Ricky-tick," noh "Ruckoo-took",
No tram now "Balang-bang!"

But doah we feel it soh, allting
Happen fe de bes'
Me meck me conscience rule me, for
Tram-car well need a res'.

For sometime wen Tram pack, it bleed
Me heart fe hear it squeak.
Sometime rain angle set up, an
Po' Tram-car start fe leak.

Sometime him get eena tempo
An growl an rowl an prance.
Till we inside look like is
Boogie-woogie we dah-dance.

De short journey wi help Tram
Fe ketch up back him strength'
An wen him come back vigorous,
We all wi ketch we lengt'.

Soh me wi walk mile-an-a-half
Fe hear de "palam-pam!"
De bus drive sweet, but massa, it
Noh sweet me like de Tram!

In another attempt to understand
more clearly and find solutions to the
transportation problem, another com-
mission of enquiry was set up in 1938,
under the auspices of Mr. A. R. Fearn-
ley. The report of this commission
emphasized the hopeless financial
position into which the tramway
service had drifted, and the heavy
capital expenditure involved in con-
structing, maintaining and extending
such a system a system, moreover,
which could not successfully meet
even a portion of the transportation
requirements of the area. This commis-
sion also advised that transportation by
tramways should not be continued. As
a result, the JPSCo advised the govern-
ment that it would not apply for a
renewal of its licence to operate the
public transportation services.

TRAMCARS RAN between 5.00 a.m. to 11.00
p.m., running a little later on holidays. The
service was at 12-minute intervals during peak
hours, and 24-minute periods otherwise. The
trams never went over 30 m.p.h. The tramcars
were usually on time, unless there was a power
failure a rare occurrence in those days ex-
cept, for example, during a drought or at times
of heavy rainfall when the Bog Walk plant
could not operate. At such times the Gold Street
plant, used principally for street lighting pur-
pose, took over electricity generation for the

The Last Tram

By the late 1920s the idea that the
tramway system had become an anti-
quated mode of traction was in full
circulation on a worldwide scale. In
Kingston, the Fearnley Report of 1938
had totally condemned the system to
obsolescence, and the tramway lines
were scheduled for removal between
1939 and 1940. World war II inter-
vened, however, postponing the
implementation of this decision. A
direct consequence of the war was the
marked curtailment of private motor
travel due to gasoline rationing, which
naturally had the effect of increasing
the tramway traffic and postponing its
According to Miller [1948]., up to
the time of World War II
Kingstonians, following the example of
visitors, had got accustomed to poking fun
at the tramcar, but the war experience
changed that outlook. The way that the
tramcars stood up during the war years
when automobile transportation failed,
endeared the old dilapidated vehicles to
citizens in a way that it is not difficult to

This additional use of the tramcars
during the war had, however, an _
effect of a different nature upon the
JPSCo. To the company, gasoline ,'
rationing and the consequent increase
in tramway traffic became a supple-
mentary burden on both the tramcars
themselves, and the company. It there-
fore came as no surprise when at the
end of the war the company notified
the government of its decision to dis-
continue its transport operations, in 4
order to concentrate more directly "
instead, on the development of its
electricity service. The government and .
the company came to an agreement .
that the JPSCo would continue to serve
the Corporate Area on one route only,
to facilitate the easier transition from a 0
mixed transportation system to one
provided exclusively by buses. It was
therefore decided that only the Rock- ,
fort tram service would remain after 10 '.
May 1948 when the arrangement with
the JPSCo ended. After that all other
urban and suburban transportation
was to be handled by Jamaica Utilities Tramcar (c900) showing trolley rod which connected the tramcar to overhead wires.

---------- -1 ----



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Limited which had been given a full
franchise for Greater Kingston trans-
port [Daily Gleaner, 14 May 1948].
After 49 years of electric tramway
service, at two minutes to midnight on
10 May 1948, the last Constant Spring
tramcar pulled into the car shed of the
JPSCo. According to a report in the
Daily Gleaner of 11 May, 'Scores of
joy riders made jubilee ushering out
the trams ... many swarmed the
spindling rails, swinging perilously as
the cars ... swayed ... impudently
from the transport scene' .
A more detailed report of the last
ride was given by another writer in
Public Opinion:

Kingston's tramway transport system often
used to be described by visitors as 'a joke
at transportation in an up-to-date com-
munity', or as a 'disgrace', depending on
how the individual reacted to a ride on a
tramcar; but there was neither hilarity nor
shame in the minds of thousands of citi-
zens who turned out on the streets on
Monday afternoon and Monday night last
to say farewell to the trams.
Instead the predominant feeling was that

final leave was being taken of tried and
proven friends....
From early in the afternoon, the unusually
overloaded trams could be seen virtually
groaning under heavier-than-usual loads.
Home-going clerks and business people,
artisans and professionals all abandoned
whatever the form of transportation they
used to take at this time of day, and
boarded the trams. Even motorcar owners
joined in.
As this traffic eased with the coming of
night, the housewives and the students,
the children and just drifters came out to
take up the slack. Right down to the time,
at two minutes before midnight, when the
last tram on the Constant Spring route
clanged its way into the shed at Orange
Street to the accompaniment of farewell
songs and cheers, there was hardly ever
a normally loaded journey.
On and off the trams the theme of conver-
sation was about them; and the words
were words of praise. Pessimists had a
field-day warning the government that
the travelling public would yet rue the day
when the tramcars were allowed to go off
[Miller 1948].

The departure of the tramcars world-
wide, as in Kingston, was much regret-
ted by the populace at large. Keating

[1970] notes similar public reaction
to the 'last tram' in Australia, in Octo-
ber 1940, after 55 years of service:

In the earlier stages of closure, there was
little sign of public mourning at the pass-
ing of the trams. As the routes in the older.
inner suburbs closed down (however],
residents become more inclined to nostal-
gic farewells.

Even after the takeover of city trans-
portation on 12 May 1948 by the buses
of Jamaica Utilities Limited, nostalgia
for the tramcars remained. The
Jamaica Times of 14 August 1948, re-
ported that a demonstration by city
housewives and others, was staged in
protest against the poor service being
provided by Jamaica Utilities Limited,
demanding an immediate return of the
tramcars. Sibley [1966] also makes
reference to this event: 'Housewives
and market women of Kingston
paraded with banners on which they
pleaded for the return of the old tram-
cars which had served them so faith-
fully. ..'
But the era of the tramcar was over.



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It had failed to fulfil the demands of a
growing city, and the motor bus took its

Tramcars in our Future?

Is the tramway really dead? Many
believe for either practical or senti-
mental reasons that the tramway
era will return.
J. Buckley, a historian of tramways,
maintains that tramcars provide a
greater passenger capacity per hour,
per direction, than buses, and with
most of the nuclear or solar power
resources being directed towards the
generation of electricity, this may well
place the tramcar in an even stronger
position for its re-introduction in the
near future [1975]. In fact, in
England, an edition of the Yorkshire
Post of 1977, revealed that the West
Yorkshire County Council has re-
quested that land which might be used
for tramway tracks, be reserved for
future use (Joyce 1980].
The re-introduction of the tramcar in
Kingston has been suggested for a dif-
ferent reason for its preservation as
an historic attraction, a relic of 'true
Jamaica'. An article, published in the
Daily Gleaner of 7 August 1948, noted
that the tramcar had come to be re-
garded as establishing a marked dis-
tinction between the capital city and
the rural countryside, and as such
deserved to be preserved as a unique
Kingston attraction. A later writer ex-
pressed this in the form of a proposal:

At first, the idea of turning back the clock
... in an area of Kingston, which is under-
going modernization, might seem rather
idiotic. However I have seen large cities
go to great extremes to preserve and per-
petuate their identity by refusing to have
certain areas modernized....My feelings
about King Street is... [that] the hub of
retail merchandizing... is rapidly losing
its reputation. . [and] that [the] preser-
vation of a little true Jamaicana in the
middle of the... new development of
Kingston would be... a breath of fresh
air... The reestablishment of about four
old tram cars (two in each line), timed to
carry passengers north and south simul-
taneously at appropriate time intervals,
would recreate a delightful and leisurely
atmosphere for locals and visitors alike. ..
[Cargill 1971].


The author is grateful to Mr. Hal Jones, a former
chief draftsman in the drawing office of the
Tramway Department, JPSCo; Mr. E.H. Williams,
a former electrical engineer with the company;
and Mr. and Mrs. H. Fairweather, who were all

willing to be interviewed, and who supplied
detailed additional information on the opera-
tions of the tramway system.


BROWN, D. S., "Tram drivers were daredevils",
The Dally Gleaner, 6 November 1967.

BUCKLEY, J., A history of Tramways -
From Horse to Rapid Transit, Lon-
don: David and Charles, 1975.

BULLEN, F. T., "Kingston Jamaica", extract
from Cornhill Magazine, 1905.

CARGILL, J C., Letter in the Dally Gleaner,
December 1971.

CASSERLY, F. L., "The changing years trans-
port fifty years ago", The West Indian
Review, Vol. 2, No. 41,15 March 1952.

CLARKE, Colin G., Kingston, Jamaica.
Urban Development and Social
Change 1692 1962, Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press, 1975.

CORMACK. I. L. and KAYE, D., Trams and
Trolleybuses an Illustrated His-
tory, Buckinghamshire: Spurbooks
Limited, 1976.

FEARNLEY, A.R., Report on the provision of
a passenger transport service in
the Corporate Area of Kingston
and St. Andrew, 30 December 1938.

FOWLER, Sir James, An Impression of
Jamaica and the Panama Canal
Zone, London: Eyre and Spottiswoode,

GRAHAM, T., Kingston 100, 1872-1972,
Tom Graham Publications, 1972.

GUIDE TO JAMAICA, Kingston: The Gleaner
Company Limited, 1924.

Jamaica, 1877, 1883, 1894, 1898, 1899,

HENDERSON, J., Jamaica, London: Adam
and Charles Black, 1906.

port presented to the House of Assembly
of Jamaica by a committee appointed to
consider and report to the House on
certain points connected with the pro-
posed Tramway between Spanish Town
and Porus. 29 July 1864.

1864, IV. Extract of Lieutenant-Governor
Eyre's speech in the Assembly on
November 4, 1862. 29 July 1864.
history of its origins and development"
(draft). Prepared by the Public Relations
Department of the Jamaica Public
Service Company, 1980:

"J.B.", Jamaica Pie Tales of past and
present, Kingston: The Gleaner
Company Limited, 1943.

JOYCE, J. (ed.) Trams of the past, Surrey:
lan Allan Limited, 1979.

Town Transport in Camera. Surrey:
lan Allan Limited, 1980.

KEATING, J. D., Mind the curve A his-
tory of the cable tram, Victoria, Aus-
tralia: Melbourne University Press, 1970.

MILLER, P., "The trams were a part of Jamai-
can history", Public Opinion, 15 May

PRICE, G., Jamaica and the Colonial Office:
Who caused the crisis? London:
Sampson Law, Son and Marston, 1866.

ROBERTS, W. A. (ed.) The Capitals of Jam-
aica by Seven Authors, Kingston: The
Gleaner Company Limited, 1955.

SIBLEY, I., "Transport in Old Jamaica", The
Daily Gleaner, 7 May 1966.

SIRES, R. V., "Governmental crises in Jam-
aica, 1860-1866': Jamaican Historical
Review, Vol. 2, No. 3, December, 1953.

by His Excellency, Sir Alexander Rans-
ford Slater, Report dated May 25, 1933.
Kingston: Jamaica Government Printing

'WAYFARER', "The Tramway License", The
Daily Gleaner, 6 February 1929.


Jamaica's national cultural institution was
founded in 1879. Its main functions are to
foster and encourage the development of cul-
ture, science and history in the national in-
terest. It operates as a statutory body under
the institute of Jamaica Act, 1978 and falls
under the portfolio of the Prime Minister.
The Institute's central decision-making body
is the Council which is appointed by the Mini-
ster. The Council consists of individuals in-
volved in various aspects of Jamaica's cultural
life appointed in their own right, and rep-
resentatives of major cultural organizations
and institutions.
The Institute of Jamaica consists of a central
administration with a number of divisions
operating with varying degrees of autonomy.

Chairman: Mr. John Hearne

Executive Director: Rev. Philip Hart

Deputy Director: Mr. Gerald Groves


Biographies Essays Natural History Criticism
Poetry Fiction Prints History Postcards

A free brochure with a complete listing of our
publications is available. Please write to us:

Institute of Jamaica Publications
12-16 East Street, Kingston, Jamaica
Or Call: 92-20620
Trade Enquires Welcome *Mail Orders Filled.

JAM AICA Still available
a UM IAL NNo. 44 which includes
The Jamaican Heritage in
IS TIMELESS Dance by Cheryl Ryman
Complete documentation of
all traditional dances of Jam-
Our back issues are in demand aica, with map showing dis-
because they represent a pre- tribution around the island.
mier research source for ma- Over 30 dances are described.
trial (articles and illus- Illustrated.
trations) on Jamaica's history,
culture, artistic and literary No. 45
activities. Charles Hyatt on the Jamaican
We have in stock a small back- language.
list of past issues and would be
pleased to send you a list of Each J$5 or U.S.$7.50 post-
numbers available and cost. paid.

Collector's Item
Speci Doble Iss
spee, No.4


to mark Jamaica's 20th anniver-
sary of Independence still avail-
Retrospective of 20 years of Art,
Dance, Theatre, Literature, Music,
Politics, and much more.
The perfect gift for Jamaicans
Contains full colour illustrations of
National Symbols; National An-
them with music; nostalgic photo-
graphs of Independence Year; full
colour reproductions of Jamaican

J$10 Overseas orders:
($11.50 U.S.$10
if mailed overseas) postpaid.

Seagrssesof Jmaic

eagrasses are marine flowering
plants found growing in shallow
coastal waters around Jamaica.
They are known to be of major signifi-
cance to inshore ecosystems. Most
bathers, however, consider seagrasses
as a nuisance, impeding swimming
and harbouring sea urchins. But they
do perform useful functions, helping,
for example, to stabilize beach sedi-
ments and providing habitats for many
commercially valuable fish.
The impression given whilst wading
or snorkelling over seagrass is one of
lush and productive growth. The pro-
ductivity of the leaves alone of turtle
grass, Thalassia testudinum may reach
7g dry weight per square metre per
day [Half Moon Bay, Hellshire; Jupp,
unpublished data] which approaches
that of intensively cultivated crops such

as maize. It is somewhat surprising that
only a few animals graze directly on
living seagrass leaves, notably certain
turtles and sea urchins, the manatee
and some fish (primarily parrot fish
and surgeon fish). However, the large
amount of leaf litter (decaying leaves)
produced after initial decomposition,
does provide an important food source
for a range of detritus feeders and -
via food chains for their predators.
While the leaves provide food, the
dense network of rhizomes and roots
and the baffling action of the leaves
help to make the water clear, deposit
and bind sediments and slow the ero-
sion of beaches. The famed white
beaches of tourist resorts such as
Negril owe much to the seagrass beds
further offshore.

The importance of seagrass beds as
protective habitats for many animals
should be stressed. Many different
species of worms, scallops, shrimp,
gastropod molluscs and fish inhabit
seagrass beds. Some of these, such as
shrimp, are commercially important;
the destruction of seagrass beds by
dredging has reduced the catch of

There are three common seagrass
species in Jamaica, namely turtle grass
Thalassia testudinum; manatee grass,
Syringodium filiforme; and shoal grass,
Halodule wrightii.'The rare but beauti-
fully delicate Halophila decipiens is
also found, but will not be discussed
here. All seagrasses grow predomi-
nantly by the vegetative spread of rhi-

zomes buried in sandy or muddy sedi-
ments with intermittent production of
leafy shoots above the sediment. Al- i/ old leaves with
though they are flowering plants, the e; encrust ing
production of flowers is a rare and I: organisms
isolated event in Jamaica so that
flowers may be seen only in restricted
localities. As a group, seagrasses are
thought to have evolved from fresh- I'i
water or brackish aquatic plants evolv-
ing tolerance to seawater over time.
Eva [1980] has suggested, contrary \
to a previously held hypothesis that
seagrasses did not reach the Carib-
bean until the miocene era in the ter- I new leaf
tiary period, that seagrasses were young shoot
established in the Caribbean in late
cretaceous times over 100 million sediment level
years ago. His suggestion comes from "- -.--.;'"- .. .
analysis of probable foraminiferal epi- growing point
fauna but it would be of interest to short s
examine sediments around Jamaica
for fossil remains of plants themselves.
A short description follows with (
accompanying illustrations of each of c
the three common seagrass species. / j

Thalassia testudinum (turtle grass)

S / Turtle grass forms stout rhizomes
at depths from 3-10 cm below the sedi-

/ cal growing point to extend the bed
laterally and then produce at intervals
leaf flowers along the rhizome vertically growing
'short shoots' topped by 3-5 leaves. A
new leaf may be produced as fre-
quently as every 10 days whilst leaves
may be attached to a shoot for as long
as 60 days. The leaves float because
Ssedin le they contain airspaces in the cells to
-, ... --........ ..... --- -- -- .' --- -- --- --- -:-..n l aid diffusion of gases around the plant.
growing point J Manatee grass branches at the
nodes to produce usually 3 roots and a
shortr shoot' 'short shoot' bearing 2-4 leaves which
rhizome are circular in section and may reach
rhzome30cm in length. Floating leaves collect
Icm A -' s ,J. in large mats or rafts particularly along
the south-west coast of the island.
These aggregations form an important
food supply for the half-beak fish,
Syringodium f iliforme (manatee grass) Hemiramphus species.

Finally, shoal grass forms narrow
rhizomes running horizontally with
vertical shoots of 2-4 leaves produced
at intervals along them.
The ecological distribution of these
three seagrasses reflects their differing
tolerances to factors such as wave
action and light intensity. Shoal grass is
regarded as a 'pioneer species' in a
successional sense and grows in shal-
low water; indeed at sites near the
mouth of the Pear Tree Bottom River,
St. Ann, it is sometimes exposed at low
tide. It acts as a primary colonizer help-
ing to create stable substrates. Mana-
tee grass can be found mixed with
shoal grass and occasionally with turtle
grass and can be found as deep as
20cm in clear water. It forms dense
beds in sheltered lagoons and offshore.
sites along the south-western coasts,
for example at Alligator Pond, Man-
chester. Turtle grass forms the domi-
nant or 'climax' community and
develops dense meadows from low
tide mark to 15m with the densest beds
in depths of 0.5m to 5.0m.
The impact of man on the fragile
marine environment is increasingly
being felt, whether from urban de-
velopment, industrial effluents or tour-
ism. Seagrasses are photosynthetic
plants and as such require enough
light to grow; any reduction in the in-
tensity of light underwater caused by
increased particles, for example from
algae blooms, dredging, or bauxite
loading, is damaging and may dras-
tically reduce growth or kill off sea-
grasses. The standing crop of Thalassia
shoots near Rockfort in the polluted
Kingston harbour is only 393g dry
weight per square metre compared
with that of 728g dry weight per
square metre at Portland Bight [Jupp,
unpublished data]; a difference
which can easily be attributed to the
poor water quality in the upper basin
of the Kingston harbour. In addition to
the shading effect of suspended par-
ticles, there may be direct chronically
toxic effects of industrial effluents in-
volving toxicants such as heavy metal
and oil.

Given the aforementioned signifi-
cance of seagrasses to beaches and in-
shore fisheries, it is of importance to
reduce and, where possible, prevent
damaging effects on them. In the
event of catastrophic destruction of
large areas of seagrasses by, for
'example, a hurricane or a major oil
spill, it would be of interest to artifi-

cially restore these damaged seagrass
beds. Destroyed Thalassia beds may
only revegetate by natural means
(seed or rhizome growth) in periods of
between 15-20 years, but techniques
of transplanting units of rhizome
material and seedlings speed up the
recovery process to between 3-5 years
in some cases [Thorhaug 1980].
A project currently underway in
Jamaica which is funded by the US-
AID and based at the Natural Re-
sources Conservation Department, is
testing out a variety of transplanting
methods using the three common sea-
grasses on a variety of impacted sites
around the island so that the appro-
priate government agency will have
the expertise and technology to carry
out a restoration programme on a
large scale if necessary.
'Seagrass, man? You can smoke it?'
is the frequent query when I wade in
with buckets of samples; people are
surprised that anyone could be inter-
ested in such 'nuisance' plants. Sea-
grasses have been utilized in various
parts of the world for fertilizer, mulch,
animal fodder and the seed of one
seagrass is even used as a kind of
grain by Seri Indians in Mexico. Apart
from any possible practical utilization

of these plants, as nature lovers and
ecologists, we should all be concerned
about their conservation.


1. The taxonomy of Halodule needs examina-
tion. The material I have examined seems to
correspond to Halodule wrightii but Adams
[1972] records only Holodule beaudettei for
Jamaica. In addition to vegetative charac-
ters, as used in the key of Den Hartog
[1970], flowering specimens should be


ADAMS, C.D., Flowering Plants of Jamaica,
Mona, Jamaica: University of the West
Indies, 1972.

DEN HARTOG, C., The Seagrasses of the
World, Amsterdam: North-Holland Pub-
lishing Co., 1970.

EVA, A. N., "Pre-Miocene seagrass communi-
ties in the Caribbean", Palaeontology,
23:231-236 (1980).

THORHAUG, A., "Environmental management
of a highly impacted, urbanized tropical
estuary: rehabilitation and restoration",
Helgolander Meeresunters, 33:614-

growing point


Halodule wrightii (shoal grass)

By Judith Hamilton

poem teach *

teach tank yu
sah fi learn mi
how it go

dem seh mi a go tun
poet fa mi write
so much poem all
de time

write it pan
slate, chalk it
pan tree an even in

de air
mi finga
dem, an sometimes people

laugh, seh mi tun
fool from dancin
wid word
in mi ead

but yu know
sah, seh mi jus
ave fi
tun de words roun an roun
an get pan mi toe-tip
an pin dem against

de sky an see
ef dem can stan up
when i move
weh, an sometimes teach, when a look

inna de gutta watas
sah, de morass
colour dem so pretty, so much diffrant
shade a
green an

when a gu dung a ribba
an a kotch against
a tree an stare

pon de stones
dem talk to mi sah an dem tell
me how long dem a suckle
de ribba bed an how far
dem a come

an a understand an a love
dem sah, fa a suh mi
poems come

*Silver Medal winner, Festival 1983


the poem hangs

the poet sleeps

tomorrow's lyrics limber-up
in dreams

tapestry snapshot

i have lost
the thread of your fine
vision: brown eyes gone

misty offer glimpses
of goblins gathering

storms in tea

shards of grey
dreams needling the empty
eye. And a silent

spider sits
at the corner of a wallflower

fronds of slivered
shadow over the faded
leaves, testing

the fabric of dreams

saw a bird in flight today. dark wings
splayed against a dying
sun drew a curious
nostalgia: me on the eleventh
floor of a glass
cage him in seventh
heaven, soaring

and oh! the envy

till sanity
interposed a grasping
hand and caught
the imagl fast.

at the edge of eye: a tiny
vulture, dying

coastline ritual

black rock. jagged.

angles slash the ventricle

of night. blue spurts
horizontal, falls

into the dark
sea: the indigo chalice

receives the libation: night's final
offertory to light.


sunlight on swift
legs straddling the blue
flowers of the hedge


the sure pass
to the next fragrant
obstacle and then

the next and the

hurtling toward the
glory bush



".. the book is undoubtedly informative and demon-
strates the result of a great deal of research ....
.... .a book into which the casual
reader may dip and find something of
considerable interest."
" .... To those who love to learn of Jamaica's history
this book will be a tremendous mental treat."
- Sir Florizel Glasspole, Governor General of Jamaica

U.S.' $8.45 ---` 'n I JmS 12.00', -
Post paid overseas Jamaicaonly
All books available at


12-16 East Street, Kingston
Telephone: 92-20620

A Novel by Neville Dawes

"INTERIM is a well written
book, well worth reading...
... one must credit the author with providing us with
an exciting story and coming out on top with his fine
style of writing." Archie Lindo, The STAR.
"Few books can delight as INTERIM in its exhilar-
ating description of country life and its searching of
the rural tapestry of Jamaica in all its rich wit and
wisdom; spun for us by a highly skilled raconteur ...
Yet the book is not all fun and games, the city-is
waiting and so is Politics.
INTERIM is a well-written and intricately structured
work... it unemphatically explores three attitudes
to the universe: 'Christian, Existentialist and Marxist'.
To me it seems one of the finest of Jamaican novels."
Mervyn Morris

"Dawes has created a masterpiece in INTERIM ...
the theme of a Jamaican people struggling for an
existence and identity ... ." Joy Scott, DAIL Y NEWS

J$ 10.00
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"Invaluable as THE JAMAICANS is
Sfor the Jamaican, it is equally so,
Sand as instructive for the non-
Jamaican West Indian reader.
**.. .The outstanding merit of the
S, Jamaicans, lies in its arti-
culation of the Jamaican
-WZ : feeling .... The author of
'' *- LEOPARD has done his
country and his countrymen
distinguished service." -The BAJAN,
January 1979
Little is known outside of the Caribbean of
the part played by the Jamaican guerilla Juan de
Bolas in the adventure which established the English
in Jamaica. THE JAMAICANS is the great novel
which provides a magnificent tale of these times.

in Jamaica only

Post paid overseas

Taboei Road Repir, 19I6. Oil on Hmdboard. 30 x 4"W'. National Gallery.

The National Gallery
of Jamaica

In 1750 Louis XV,
King of France, opened
the incomparable Royal
Collection of Art dis-
played in the Palais de
Luxembourg to the
general public. This
paved the way for the
establishment of the world's first true
Museum of Art when in 1793, during
the French Revolution, the National
Convention converted the Royal Palace
of the Louvre into a museum using the
Royal Collection and other confiscated
treasures. These formed the basis for
what continues to this day to be one of
the finest art galleries in the world.
The next 50 years saw in rapid suc-
cession most major European capitals
establishing public galleries of art to
satisfy the rapidly developing cultural
interests of the middle classes. Soon
almost every major city throughout
the world would follow suit.
As early as 1934, Edna Manley in an
article in the Daily Gleaner called for
the establishment of an art gallery in
. the second point is the really la-
mentable absence of an art gallery this
I feel is holding back the whole cultural
development of this side of Jamaican
life. The historian may find a wealth of
interest in the Institute galleries, but to
the art student or to the beauty lover it
is an arid desert. Those in charge plead a
lack of funds but surely, that there should
be an absence of funds whilst so many
sports funds flourish, argues a lack of
taste that is undefendable.
Mrs. Manley herself was the most
important artist practising in Jamaica
at that time and her work was shortly
to become pivotal in the development
of a true art movement in the closing
years of the 1930s.

Origins of the National Collection
In 1937 Edna Manley decided that
she would first have her work exhibited
in Kingston before it was transferred to
London for her one-man exhibition.
One work displayed would become the
first acquisition of a National Collection.
The work was Negro Aroused, carved in
wood in 1935. The response to this, as
to the entire show, was overwhelming
for it was clear that the works embodied
a new vision and quality and a unique
'Jamaicanness' which had never been ex-
pressed in such a way before. David
Boxer who became the first Director/
Curator of the National Gallery later
wrote of these early works:
With their powerful insistent rhythms

which frame the essential leitmotif of
the head turned back, straining upward
towards a vision, or downward in sup-
pressed anger . . (they) have truly be-
come the icons of that period when the
black Jamaican was indeed aroused,
ready for a new social order, demanding
his place in the sun.
Of Negro Aroused itself, the poet-
anthropologist M.G. Smith wrote that it
'caught the inner spirit of our people
and flung their rapidly rising resent-
ment of the stagnant colonial order into
a vivid appropriate sculptural form'. The
work was acquired by the Institute of
Jamaica specifically to 'form the nucleus
of a permanent gallery'.
This beginning of a general ferment
in art activity was given focus when in
the early 1940s art classes were started
at the Junior Centre of the Institute.
The leading influences behind these
classes were Edna Manley, Vera Alabaster
and Vera Cummings. Under their tute-
lage and together with the informal
meetings which took place at the Man-
ley home, Jamaican artists, writers, and
poets and other 'thinkers' of the day all
helped to forge a Jamaican dynamic.
Artists and art lovers whose names
we remember today, and who developed
around this 'core' of creative activity
were Roger Mais, Albert Huie, Ralph
Campbell, Henry Daley, David Pottinger,
Delchan and Norman Rae.
The Institute also attracted dedi-
cated persons committed to the ad-
vancement of the art movement. From
the very beginning, Robert Verity super-
vised art activities at the Junior Centre
and later at the Institute. He eventually
became the Institute's deputy director.
Together with Edna Manley, Philip
Sherlock and Bernard Lewis, Robert
Verity and his colleagues acquired more

paintings and sculpture for the National
In selecting works for this collection,
the Institute officials were at the time
guided by a panel of judges who chose
works from group exhibitions. But
they also from time to time purchased
works brought to their attention by
independent advisers.
Another Jamaican of importance to
the development of a National Collection
was Theodore Sealy, then editor of the
Daily Gleaner. It was Sealy who helped
to establish the Denham Art Competition
for schools, long before the All-island
National Exhibition began.
The Institute art classes continued at
the Junior Centre and by the 1950s
were sufficiently formalized that a four-

year diploma programme was establish-
ed. The need was increasingly felt for
a permanent home which the Jamaica
School of Art eventually found as part
of the Cultural Training Centre estab-
lished in 1976.
As the National Collection grew, it
became obvious that it too needed a
permanent home.

Birth of the National Gallery

In 1972 a small advisory committee
under the chairmanship of Maurice
Facey was set up by the government
of Jamaica to work toward the estab-
lishment of a National Gallery. Devon
House with its 11 acres of grounds was
identified as a suitable site and secured
for the new institution.
The advisory committee which also
included Sam Hart, Vayden McMorris,
Edna Manley, Ralph Thompson and
Bernard Lewis became the first board of
directors of the National Gallery and
shortly after, artists Osmond Watson
and Karl Craig, who was also director
of the Jamaica School of Art, were
asked to join the board.
On 14 November 1974 the National
Gallery of Jamaica was established with
all the works of art which had been ac-
quired over a period of 34 years by the
Institute of Jamaica. The Gallery be-
came a public corporation belonging to
all Jamaicans with vested shares within
the Institute of Jamaica, itself a statu-
tory corporation.
In the first year of its operation, the
National Gallery was supervised first by
Mrs. Liz Milner and then by Mrs. Vera
Hyatt, who had worked for 15 years in
the art department of the British Council
in London. In late 1975 David Boxer, a

Osmond Watson, Jonny Cool, 1967
Canvas. 33% x 28". National Gallery.

trained Jamaican art historian and artist
who had recently completed doctoral
studies in the United States, returned to
Jamaica to assume duties as the National
Gallery's Director/Curator.
Mrs. Hyatt became deputy director
and in these initial challenging years,
dedicated much of her time to the day
to day running of the institution. She
was also instrumental in beginning an
education service for the gallery, as she
loved to discuss art with students and
children who often came to Devon
In its new location and with a new
found status, the National Gallery set
out to carry out its aims and objectives,
as established by the government.
Basically, these objectives were the
same as the objectives of most similar
institutions around the world: to col-
lect, to preserve, to document, to study,
to exhibit and to stimulate an interest in
art. But which art? Which art would we
collect and exhibit?
Inherent in the Gallery's early deci-
sions was the first organizers' and the
government's belief that although little
known outside of our shores, Jamaican
art was a unique and valuable addition
to the world's culture. It thus became
incumbent upon the National Gallery,
an institution whose very existence em-
bodied that belief and faith, to bring
Jamaican art to the attention, not only
of Jamaicans, but also of the world
The articles of association of the
National Gallery refer to Jamaican art
as essentially art that grew out of the
ferment of political activity in the late
thirties, and in this sense the National
Gallery was instituted as a very special-
ized museum. This limitation, however,
was quickly questioned by the first
appointed Director of the National
Gallery, David Boxer, when he joined
the staff one year after the Gallery's
inauguration. He very quickly demon-
strated his view of the 'Jamaican' art
that should be collected and displayed,
in the landmark exhibition "Five
Centuries: Art in Jamaica Since the
Discovery" Indeed he had wished to go
back further in history to, before the
so-called discovery, the carvings of the
first Jamaicans, the Arawaks, but none
of these extremely rare and valuable
works could be secured for the exhi-
The exhibition was an eye-opener
for many, and with the subsequent
acquisition of early works of Edna

Manley and other artists trom me laZUs,
and of 19th century landscapes by
Kidd, the time limitation on the col-
lection imposed by the first organizers
was exploded. While maintaining the in-
tegrity of the Jamaican Collection, the
geographical limitations of the col-
lection as a whole was also attacked by
the Director/Curator who set about re-
organizing the handful of non-Jamaican
works into nuclei around which mean-
ingful international collections could be
built up. The results of this thrust will
shortly be seen when the international
rooms at the National Gallery open in
January 1984. The International Col-
lection is being augmented entirely by
gifts and extended loans, as the Gallery's
acquisition budget, as a matter of policy,
is spent entirely on the Jamaican Col-
The Collection

In 1976 shortly after he had assumed
the curatorship of the Gallery, Dr.
Boxer commented on the Jamaican
Collection as it stood then:
The nearly 200 Jamaican paintings and
30 pieces of sculpture handed over to
the National Gallery by the Institute
of Jamaica, can hardly be called defin-
itive. To be sure the Collection has
its fair share of masterpieces but there
are some serious gaps, and t is now in-
cumbent on the curatorial staff of the
National Gallery to methodically era-
dicate those weaknesses.
Dr. Boxer listed what he considered
the major gaps in the Collection, citing
the particular examples that he would
like to see included. Through the staff's
perseverance, and often painstaking re-

search and detective work, a great many
of the very works which he mentioned
then, are now at the Gallery.
Indeed, the entire list of acquisitions
under Dr. Boxer's curatorship is very
impressive. Asked to list what he con-
siders the most important acquisitions
during his stewardship, the Curator
named: two oil paintings by Joseph
Bartholomew Kidd, landscapes depict-
ing Weston Favel Estate and Retire-
ment; John Dunkley's Banana Plantation
and Cuban Scenery; Henry Daley's
1944 Cotton Tree; Edna Manley's
Beadseller of 1922, Moon of 1943,
Journey of 1974, and Ancestor of
1978; Barrington Watson's 1958 Mother
and Child, and his recent Conversation;
Parboosingh's Confrontation, Fishermen
and the late mural-sized Flight Into
Egypt; Ralph Campbell's Sea of Galilee;
Michael Lester's Gladioli and two fine
early landscapes done when he first
arrived in Jamaica; Huie's 1943 Noon
Time, 1944 Landscape and 1955 Crop
Time; Namba Roy's Accompong Ma-
donna and Spirit of the Stallion; Os-
mond Watson's Revival Kingdom, Rain-
bow Triptych and Spirit of the Ara-
waks; Garland's Fairy and In the Beau-
tiful Caribbean; Milton Harley's Mayan
1; Gloria Escoffery's Gateway; Winston
Patrick's Guango Form; Hope Brooks's
Four Pomegranates; Kapo's Orange
Paradise and Silent Night; Christopher
Gonzalez's Man Arisen; George Rodney's
Penkeeper's Reverie; Everald Brown's
Bush Have Ears. and Golden Hand Staff;
Carl Abrahams's Woman, I must be a-
bout my Father's business and its superb
pendant About his Father's Business

(Boy in the Temple); and the recent
acquisition of Milton George's Diary, a
series of 14 consecutive pastels, the
artist's visual record of personal con-
The acquisition of the entire Larry
Wirth Collection of Kapo sculpture and
painting in 1982 was regarded as a
major coup in the art world, as there
were many interested collectors abroad,
and there was considerable temptation
for the owners to split up the collect-
ion. The Wirth Collection is a unique
specialized collection devoted to one
of our major artists; in the Curator's
words, the combined National Collection
of Kapo's work will provide an unpre-
cedented opportunity for us to study
in depth the life work of this undoubted
Master, and will provide a lasting and
fitting monument to one of Jamaica's
great men'.
The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon.
Edward Seaga who in his capacity as
Minister of Culture played an import-
ant role in the acquisition himself
described the Wirth Collection thus:
The significance of this collection can-
not be overstated. It spans twenty-
six of the most significant years of the
artist's creative life from 1949 to
1975, and we can observe the develop-
ment of Kapo's work and the evolu-
tion of his style, his transition from
one medium to another and his equal
mastery of both.

The Larry Wirth Collection contains
17 paintings including Kubalee, Be Still
and There She Go Satan, all master-
pieces and 48 sculptures including vir-
tually every masterpiece in the medium..

The Prints and Drawings Collection
has been greatly extended with major
acquisitions of works by Manley, Daley,
Rodney, Hyde, Garland, Handel Evans,
Vernon Tong, Hector Whistler, Roger
Mais, Tina Matkovic, Barrington Wat-
son, David Boxer, Winston Patrick
among others.
Even though the main Photography
Collection of the Institute of Jamaica
resides in the National Library, the
Gallery has begun to collect photo-
graphs in a modest way and intends to
exhibit a selection of these in the near
future. Among the photographers repre-
sented are Roger Mais, Dennis Gick,
Archie Lindo, Maria LaYacona, Robin
Farquharson, Cecil Ward, Andreas Ober-
li, Rose Murray, Terry Higgins, Warren
Robinson, Owen Minott and Deryck
The small International Collection

which the Gallery inherited from the
Institute of Jamaica has taken on a new
lease on life. The small collection of
works by The London Group, which
was put together by Edna Manley in
1937, mainly by donations from the
artists, has been reassembled, and our
view of twentieth century British art
has been augmented by a number of
recent gifts and loans notably a 1948
Graham Sutherland, and a group of
three works by the contemporary
Superhumanists. Poynter, Deans and
Francis. From the United States, the
Gallery has also received as a gift an
important group of 23 paintings, water-
colours and drawings of the important
Washington School abstractionist Rich-
ard Dempsey. The works span Dempsey's
career from the 30s to the 70s.
Our Caribbean Collection has been
strengthened by recent gifts from Vene-

Carl Abrahams, Thirteen Israelites. 1975. Ac,

zuela, namely the impressive modernist
depiction of the Liberator Simon Boli-
var, by Edgar Sanchez and a monu-
mental chrome electronic piece La
Gaviota by Pedro Vargas, as well as
major works by Frank Bowling, Aubrey
Williams, Erwin de Vries, Sobrino, Jo-
aquin Reyes, and a major loan from
Leroy Clarke.
It is anticipated that four galleries
devoted to our International Collect-
ion will open by the beginning of 1984.
Also scheduled for opening shortly is
our Pre-Twentieth Century Collection
which with the addition of the two
Kidd oils mentioned above, and several
loans from the National Library, will
offer a good survey of the history of
the visual arts in Jamaica from the

Mallica Reynolds (Kapo), Be Still, 1970. Oil on Hardboard. 30 x 48". National Gallery (The Larry Wirth Collection)

rylic on hardboard, 30 x 41". National Gallery.

17th to the late 19th centuries.

Since its inception the Gallery has
maintained a lively and ambitious ex-
hibition schedule, despite its small cura-
torial staff. Retrospectives of Carl Abra-
hams, John Dunkley, Karl Parboosingh,
Albert Huie (Huie in Jamaican Collect-
ions), Edna Manley's work of the Seven-
ties and Cecil Baugh, have examined in
depth the work of major pioneering
artists. A Retrospective of the late
Eugene Hyde is currently being re-
searched by Rosalie Smith McCrea for
presentation in early 1984. Historical
shows like "Five Centuries: Art in
Jamaica Since the Discovery", and
"The Formative Years: Art in Jamaica

Christopher Gonzalez, Man Arisen, 1966.
Mahogany. Height 54". National Gallery.

Barrington Watson,
Conversation, 1981.
Oil on Canvas.
48 x 36". National
Gallery (Gift of
Workers Savings &
Loan Bank).


Although the National Gallery receives a small allocation in the Government
subvention for acquisitions, most works are acquired by donation. Some donations
come directly from the artist as in the case of recent gifts from Edna Manley, William
Joseph, Heather Sutherland-Wade, Eric Cadien and Richard Dempsey, but most in fact
are works identified by the curators as being suitable for the collection, for which
donors are then actively sought.
Major corporations like Pan-Jamaican, Jamaica Citizens Bank, Royal Bank, Workers
Savings and Loan Bank, Grace Kennedy Ltd., I.C.D. Group of Companies, have
all donated important works of art, while the Royal Bank Foundation recently
acquired for the Gallery an important group of 14 paintings which the Gallery had
been attempting to purchase.
Persons who have works which they feel may be of interest to the National Gallery,
or corporations who would like to assist in this aspect of the growth of one of our
country's major cultural institutions, are asked to contact a member of the curatorial
staff who will explain the Gallery's acquisition policy more fully.

Shows that examine stylistic ap-
proaches have also been mounted. These
include the landmark exhibition "The
Intuitive Eye"; "A Way of Seeing",
mounted at the U.W.I; and a new
series, "Aspects".
In 1979, the Gallery initiated the
Collectors series which brought into
the Gallery for exposure important
private and institutional collections
not usually accessible to the general
public. The series has had the added

1922-1940", and our major current
installation at the gallery "Jamaican Art
1922-1982", have assisted greatly in
outlining an historical perspective for
the discussion of our art.
Thematic exhibitions have been es-
pecially popular with the public. These
have included "The Passion of Christ",
"The Self and Each Other", "Theme
and Variations", "Art and the Dance",
and "Male and Female Created He

impact of stimulating the growth of
many serious collections of Jamaican
art. In this series private collections have
included Dorit Hutson's, Deryck Rob-
erts's, Norman Rae's, while corporate
collections from the Royal Bank and
Myers Fletcher and Gordon have been
In 1977 the gallery assumed the res-
ponsibility of mounting the Annual
National Exhibition. Each year the
exhibition has grown in stature and in
outlook. What was originally a painting
exhibition is now open to all visual
media except photography and cine-
matography. In 1982 we abandoned
the juried system, largely because of the
reactivation of the Jamaica Festival
exhibition which became a virtual
duplicate of the National, and largely
too because we wanted the National
Exhibition to more accurately present
the best of each year'sart. An essentially
curated exhibition is evolving, one select-
ed primarily by the curatorial staff of
the Gallery with assistance from outside
advisors who bring to our attention
worthwhile developments around the
island and who assist in the selection of
works submitted. The National exhi-
bition consequently is now presented
towards the end of each year, and will
show new work that the organizers feel
to be worthwhile, but will also in
clude major works exhibited in one-
person exhibitions, the graduation exhi-
bition of the Jamaica School of Art, and
the Festival and other major exhibitions.
We feel that this method will more
accurately reflect the important trends
during the current year. With the suc-
cess and positive support being given to
the Festival annual, thought is being
given to the conversion of the Annual
National to a Biennial, and possibly
its extension to a Caribbean Biennial.
Another major category is our series
of Travelling Exhibitions which we
prepare at the request of foreign insti-
tutions for exhibition abroad. Included
in this series were "30 Jamaican Painters"
for Mexico City, 1975, "Ten Jamaican
Sculptors" for London, 1975, "Eleven
Jamaican Painters" for Caracas, 1977,
"20 Jamaican Artists: 1974-1981" for
Ottawa in 1981. But the largest and
most ambitious of all is the current tour-
ing exhibition: "Jamaican Art 1922 -
1982". Prepared in collaboration with
the Smithsonian Institution, this exhi-
bition over the next two years will be
shown in 11 museums and galleries in
the United States. Cities in which the
exhibition will be seen include Washing-

/ m ."i
Pat Bishop, If you want to be a liberated
woman grow a third lek 1974. Oil on Canvs.
40 x 40". National Olery
ton, Pfiladelphia, Boston and Hartford.
The most important showing of this
spectacular show which opened to very
good reviews in Washington, will be the
12-week showing at the famed Wads-
worth Atheneum, one of America's
finest and most respected museums.
The exhibition is slated to close in
New York in the summer of 1985.
Our final category of exhibitions, are
those exhibitions originating outside of
Jamaica which the Gallery presents as
part of its continuing effort to stimu-
late and broaden the artistic horizons
of our artists and the public at large.
These foreign exhibitions, averaging one
each year, have included "Contempo-
rary French Tapestries", "Israeli Gra-
phics", "Aspects of Brazilian Art",
"Venezuelan Graphics", "The Major
Graphics of Edvard Munch", "Contem-
porary Arts & Crafts of China", "Jim
Dine", and "Alice Baber".

Catalogue Publications
The Gallery publishes catalogues of
each exhibition. Many catalogues such
as "Five Centuries", "Edna Manley -
The Seventies", "The Larry Wirth
Collection", "The Intuitive Eye", "Jam-
aican Art 1922 1982" have become
major educational tools. The catalogue
prepared for the Smithsonian Travel-
ling Exhibition with a major essay on
the history of Jamaican art, and superb
photographs of all 76 works, makes it
to date, the most important publi-
cation on our country's art.

Other Activities
Research and Archival Functions
Continuous research is carried out at
the National Gallery and a small but
growing collection of archival material

on Jamaica's art history is being deve-
loped in the Educational and Curatorial
Usually, research is undertaken in
conjunction with particular exhibitions.
Such was the case with the Dunkley
Retrospective, mounted in 1977. An
elusive and rare painter, John Dunkley
(1891 1947) did not leave behind a
vast quantity of paintings. Moreover,
many questions were left unanswered
concerning the whereabouts of his
works and an accurate chronology of his
life. In designing and researching tht
exhibition, several paintings were found
and one of the documents which came
to light, placed Dunkley in Panama up
until 1930. It had always been thought
that he returned to Jamaica in 1926.
The Hyde Retrospective too, will
pose similar and other research prob-
lems for its curator. Scheduled for early
1984, this retrospective will attempt to
bring together a large body of Hyde's
oeuvre, tracing the artist's work from
his earliest artistic efforts to those ex-
ecuted before his death. The difficulty
lies in piecing together the puzzle and
chronology of his artistic life. Unlike
Dunkley, Hyde left behind a wealth of
paintings and works on paper, but three-
quarters of these are undated.
The Hyde archives at the Gallery at
present consist of two main scrapbooks
and a selection of slide material. How-
ever, with the development of the
Retrospective show, more information
will evolve through interviews which
are being conducted with people who
knew the artist closely and also through
public and private collections which are
being more thoroughly explored.
Other archival material at the Gallery
includes Gleaner clippings of art reviews
dating from the inception of the Gallery
in 1974. Photographic records of pre-
vious exhibitions and biographical data
on all major Jamaican artists are also
maintained. Students from secondary
and tertiary institutions are able to visit
the National Gallery and use this mater-
ial for research.

In addition toourcatalogues, National
Gallery staff have published elsewhere.
Articles on Jamaican art written by
David Boxer have been published in
Americas (June-July 1980), The Jour-
nal of African Civilization (3:2 1981),
and Zeta (1980), a Venezuelan publi-
cation. More recently, Jamaica Jour-
nal's special issue for the 20th anni-

versary of Independence (No. 46) car-
ried two articles written by David
Boxer and Rosalie Smith McCrea in
its "Development of Jamaican Art:
Five Perspectives".
Planned future publications which
have arisen out of extended research
and new archival material coming to
the surface are the catalogue raisonne
of Edna Manley's oeuvre, as well as a
monograph on the Intuitives. Much of
the information for these two future
publications had their source in two
previous exhibitions: "Edna Manley:
The Seventies" and "The Intuitive Eye".
The pre-twentieth century period has
certainly not been overlooked in terms
of research and publications. One ex-
ample of the work being undertaken is
the curator's efforts to ascertain the
authorship of the mysterious "Spill-
bury Prints". The coloured engravings
- a set of 6 Jamaican harbour 'views'
were published in 1770 from the print-
ing house of a Mrs. Spillbury in London.
The artist has hitherto been unknown,
but the works exhibit a curious deli-
cacy of colour and line and an overall
'naif' and original style, observed in few
of the leading topographical artists of
the day. Dr. Boxer and Rosalie Smith
McCrea in a joint effort are to publish
shortly an article on the authorship of
these splendid prints.
Education and Extension
An Education Service has been in
operation for at least four years at the
National Gallery. However, it was not
until June 1981, that the post of Assist-
ant Curator/Education was filled by a
Jamaican art historian studying abroad
in Canada Rosalie Smith McCrea.
Tours of its permanent collection
and special exhibitions are offered to
school children and adults who have
made informal and formal requests. The
programme is geared towards children
from the primary, all-age, secondary
and tertiary levels. Tours are also
directed to students and teachers in the
teacher training colleges.
In 1981, the Education Department
worked with three teacher training col-
leges in Kingston: Mico, St. Joseph's
and Shortwood liaising with them and
offering slides and mini-lectures on
Jamaican art. Teacher trainees at cer-
tain levels were given introductory tours
of the collection and 'follow-up'
presentations as well.
Slide presentations which are avail-

able upon request have proven to be of
benefit to outside institutions. In addi-
tion to the teacher training colleges, the
Gallery has offered presentations to
Bellevue occupants, insurance company
staff (for potential art collections) and
preparatory and high schools. A small
travelling exhibition programme to
schools at all levels in the rural parishes
is about to be revived.
It should be noted that over 12,000
adults and children utilized the Gallery's
services between January and August
of 1983.

Extension Programmes

Extension programmes in the nature
of films and musical evenings have on
occasion been presented to the public
as supplementary aspects in conjunc-
tion with exhibitions. In early July
1982, as an added feature to the "Jim
Dine Recent Graphics" exhibition, the
gallery presented a series of three films
in collaboration with the United States
Information Service.
The French Embassy collaborated
with the National Gallery when the lat-
ter hosted an evening of "Film d'Ani-
mation" in the early summer of 1982.
Viewers were treated to seven widely
different short films which used the
main techniques and styles of animation
by well known European directors.
Two musical evenings were arranged
early this year when the Gallery was
fortunate enough to present the
distinguished Cellist Richard Markson
playing Bach's "Unaccompanied Suites
for Cello". Other Gallery activities
have included lectures by visiting
scholars and poetry readings.


The Gallery in the past established
a Fellowship programme, whereby local
artists were financially assisted and
were free to continue creating art for a
year. Ralph Campbell was the first
artist to benefit from this arrangement.
Later, the Gallery awarded a joint fellow-
ship to Milton George and Everald
Brown; this programme has been tem-
porarily suspended due to lack of funds.


The National Gallery has begun to
participate in professional exchange
programmes, and in 1983 was chosen as
one of six foreign institutions to parti-

cipate in the International Partnerships
Among Museums Programme. The pro-
gramme was designed to accommodate
professional staff exchanges between
American and foreign institutions. Mrs.
Harriett Kennedy, Registrar and Cura-
tor from the Museum of the National
Centre for Afro-American Artists in
Boston, Massachussets spent six weeks
at the National Gallery and was in-
volved with monitoring and upgrading
registration procedures and other re-
lated administrative details. Four weeks
after the end of her residency at the
Gallery, Mrs. Rosalie Smith McCrea,
Assistant Curator/Education began her
cycle of the partnership in Boston.

New Location

After eight years at the Devon
House location, in October 1982 the
National Gallery was transferred to its
spacious new home in the Kingston
Mall. The National Gallery is not only
an impressive addition to the Urban
Development Corporation's complex on
the Kingston Waterfront, it is the lead-
ing visual art cultural institution in
Jamaica and, indeed, in the entire
English-speaking Caribbean.

Prepared by the Education Department, National Gallery of Jamaica and produced by Instituteof Jamaica Publications,Jamaica Journal, November 1983.

Igusw WiMHir mr., i*iesuinn, U. RwI. beIIuIWWUs. wIr.*. .
Co'lection Allan Mllt.. tn eatdMed lod n to,tlhe, NlatilGalhMfry. "'

10.0kE u.,'HIs I, i iis.aicu.a 19 9 Oil on.C n*,. x it Wi,.

;'' '. -i aioh'liQ ierydi es 's ptuWre and'i Plintlqg.-Ptrmanent
- p .'pro*ijeitY2600Q quar -fee.t 'works in tha.Ntlonrl Gallery's
S:.1 Oispae. 5tihreidte 18 gailers.ddiavided Coliection 1" gallery
: th the fdnE| o wg dreas: .
: the oA small collection of 20th century
International printau painting and
:.lt)iPre-Ttn*talthCenturyCollctoln sculpture 1 gallery devoted to pre-
Art in Jamaica andr the West 1950 work, 3 galleries to post 1950
i' dtrt. the tish Colbonil trends, with a special concentration
o g ... of art of the Caribbean -area.

t.*m in Atit f2249 1he A e-dcial -xhibitionfldlS y' for
r, mar t'tclleoti n!|cludging' c: going e4ibitirn is. l arge-galery
S Meaintream and irttiftive traditions which can .,b.subdivided into smaller,
10galleries, more intimate spaces.
The: Larry Wirth Collection of Kapo Mezzanine area which offers the
i l .

Thie Collection
The ptrimarygoal of our National
Oillery should be the presentation of
the d.finitlvh collection of Jamailan
art, One should beabtle to trade with
.ease: through'the finest examples, and
through important historical works.
the intricacies of our artistic develop-
ment, It is necessary that those of us
responsible for collecting and presenting
the collection have a broad and balanced
viewpoint, one where all the tendencies,

from traditional and 'academic' to so-
called 'primitive' and 'abstract', can be
accommodated. These classifications,
incidentally, are but literary .
conveniences for there are as many
variations in style as there are
individuals creating art in this island -
an infinite variety of approaches and
attitudes and all which are aesthetically
valid are relevant to a National
Collection. Nationaal Galery of
Jamaica Bulletin, May 1 1976, p.4.

newer large impressive and dramatic.
mural size panintiand sculpture :
ranging from.the over life size.
Manumwn to aMllary to the alectatiWc
piece La Gaviote donated to the
National Gallery by the Venezuelan*
AdmineonE: Entrance by contributioSn in any
amount within a minimum .of $1.00.
'School children free .,:
Hoursf Mhday' to Saturdlbye 10.00 a.m. -.
S. .
sals : Open gaty'" r. _- gts.e ,
Reproduction and Posters

National Gallery of Jamaica
12 Ocean Blvd., Block 3, Kingston Mall.
Telephone: 21563 28544 2840

David Boxer Director/Curator
Gavarlwy McGowan Acting Deputy Director
Rosalie Smith McCrea Assistant Curator/
Patrine Archer Straw Education Docent
Stanley Barnes Education Docant/Restorer
Dorothy McGregor Accountant
Atherton Ffolkes Property Manager

Sevilla la Nueva:

Microcosm of Spain in Jamaica

Part I: The Historical Background

Sevilla la Nueva or New Seville
(located near present day St.
Ann's Bay) is the oldest Spanish
settlement in Jamaica and one of the
very earliest in the New World. Its con-
nection with Columbus and the Colum-
bus family is as multivariate as it is im-
portant and longlived. Columbus
when he first entered its bay in May
1494, described its great beauty and
euphorically named it Santa Gloria. It
is here that he sojourned for one year
and a few days at the end of his fourth
and alto viaje his longest stay any-
where in the Caribbean leaving
behind the last two caravels he was to
sail in the New World. It was to Sevilla
la Nueva that his son, Diego, upon tak-
ing up his appointment as governor of
the New World and acting on his
father's wishes, sen\ the first Spanish
lieutenant governor to establish a

by G. A. Aarons

Sevilla la Nueva is located in the
island of Jamaica, territory which
Columbus fought for in his prolonged
litigation with the Spanish Crown, a
fight which was continued after his
death by his son, Diego, his grandson
Luis and his daughter-in-law Anna de
Toledo. On 8 September 1536 as a
result of an agreement with the Crown,
Dona de Toledo on behalf of Luis
Colon, her son, was granted all proper-
ties and offices on the island of
Jamaica. Luis Colon was named Almi-
rante (Admiral) Marquis de Jamaica,
and Duque de Veragua in final settle-
ment with the Spanish Crown. The
Veragua title (after Veragua in
Panama) and the Jamaican remained

the only titles the Columbus family
retained. To this day the Columbus heir
is called El Marquis de Jamaica.
In a New World context, the great
antiquity of Sevilla la Nueva makes it
of premier importance. In a Jamaican
context, Sevilla la Nueva represents
the roots from whence came the
Jamaican culture, with the initial
New interest is now being focused on Sevilla
la Nueva which is slated for development as a
major historic centre in time for the quincen-
tennial celebrations in 1992 of Columbus'
first voyage to the New World. This two-part
article by the government archaeologist is in-
tended to bring together for the general
reader, basic information on the history of
Sevilla la Nueva and the Spanish connection
with Jamaica, and to place into perspective
the archaeological and other research now
underway. The concluding part will appear
in the next issue of JAMAICA JOURNAL.
Footnotes and complete references will ap-
pear at the end of part II.

blending of the cultures of the indi-
genous Arawaks, and those of Spain
and Africa. An understanding of its
brief history is therefore fundamental
to the reconstruction of the Jamaican
past. Additional international interest
in the site is lent by the presence there
of two caravels which were not ship-
wrecked but beached, a ship type of
immense importance in the history of
naval architecture. The caravel is the
most famous ship type of history as it
was the vehicle by which the New and
Old Worlds and the Far East were
brought into contact. If remains of
these ships are found, the analysis will
add much to our understanding of the
development of 16th century ship-
building and subsequent develop-
ments in ocean-going vessels.
Despite all this weight of history be-
hind Sevilla la Nueva, its story remains
only half told, because of the dearth of
documents and physical remains,
despite the researches of the last 75
years in both Worlds, recently acceler-
ated due to the proximity of the Quin-
centennial in 1992 of Columbus' dis-
covery of the New World.
It seems timely to remind ourselves
of the story of Sevilla la Nueva, as best
as it can be reconstructed from re-
search which has been done in the
archives and in evidence available
from archaeological explorations at
the site. This article will outline the his-
tory of the earliest Spanish contacts
and the first settlements at Sevilla la
Nueva; the subsequent fate of the
town, and the efforts which have been
made to locate and excavate both the
town and the beached caravels of
Columbus. The knowledge gained of
Jamaica's first inhabitants the Ara-
waks will also be explored.
Sevilla la Nueva belongs to the
whole world, but most especially to
us here in Jamaica, and it will
require nothing less than a national
effort to locate it in its rightful place
among all the historic sites in the
New World by 1992.

The Arrival of Columbus
Columbus' first and most famous
voyage (1492-3) did not include a visit
to Jamaica, but towards its end on 6
January 1493 he recorded in his diary
the existence of an island he called
'Yamaye' which was 10 days canoe
journey from Tierra Firme [Padron
1952 p. 3] Buoyed by the success of


his first voyage, by 25 September 1493
the Admiral was able to depart Cadiz
once more with a huge fleet of 17
ships including the famous Nina of the
first voyage and over 1,400 souls [See
Morison 1979] After discovering
most of the islands in the eastern
Caribbean and Puerto Rico, he re-
turned to Navidad (in today's Haiti),
the first European Caribbean
settlement which he had established
on his first voyage, to discover its
demise at the hands of the local
Arawaks angered at the cruelties
perpetrated by the colonists.
Having founded Isabella to the east,
in the Dominican Republic, pacified
Hispaniola and dispatched most of the
fleet home with commodities for Ferdi-
nand and Isabella, the Catholic sove-
reigns, the Admiral departed Isabella
on 24 April 1494 to make further dis-
coveries. After sailing along the coast
of Cuba, he once more crossed the
Mona Passage and on 5 May 1494 the
fleet anchored at a place he described
as Santa Gloria, to be equated with
today's St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, to be
greeted by a hostile group of about 70
Arawaks. After a short fight, Columbus
winded his way westward in search of
a safe anchorage where he could
careen, caulk and water his vessels.
Some four leagues (14 land miles)
uway at (Rio) Puerto Bueno' he was

able to achieve his objective after a
further fight with the resident Arawaks.
Setting sail on 9 May he made one
further stop at the Golfo de Buen
Tiempo (Montego Bay) where he dis-
suaded a cacique (chief) and his
retinue from accompanying him to
Spain. From there he retraced his steps
to Cuba, where he followed the coast-
line to within 50 miles of the western-
most promontory. After beating his
way back to the east, he again crossed
the Mona passage and on 21 July once
again attained the Golfo de Buen
Tiempo. From there the Admiral com-
menced a difficult journey along
Jamaica's east coast and on 18 August
reached the Bahia de las Vacas (Port-
land Bight) where he was met by a
fleet of canoes, headed by one 90'
long containing a cacique, his family,
retainers, heralds and honour guard.
He continued his eastward traverse
and on 19 August cleared Morant Point
(Cabo de Farol) for Hispaniola. After
spending a parlous 18 months in His-
paniola in colonization, pacification
and some frustration, the Admiral,
leaving Bartholomew his younger
brother in charge, left for Spain on 10
March 1496 and after a slow journey
attained Cadiz, Spain on 11 June.
Columbus' third voyage did not in-
clude Jamaica and it was not until the
end of his fourth and final voyage that
he was once again to see Santa Gloria.
Departing Spain on 3 April 1502,
Columbus visited Santo Domingo,
Yucatdn and a long stretch of the
Caribbean coast of Central America.
By May 1503, he found himself at the
south-western tip of modern Haiti with
only two ships, the Capitana and the
Santiago de Palos (also called the
Bermuda after Juan Bermudez, her
owner). Both ships were overcrowded
and leaking, and with rations at a pre-
mium, Columbus decided to sail due
north in the hope of attaining His-
paniola. On 11 May the two battered
caravels passed Little Cayman and the
next day the situation was worsened
by an overnight storm at the Queen's
Garden, Cuba, wherein the Bermuda
parted her cable and fouled the
Capitona, but both were fortuitously
held by the Capitana's remaining
anchor; six days later the weather sub-
sided and the two caravels continued
to beat eastwards along the Cuban
They put out to sea, hoping for a
favourable wind to take them across

*- -~

- --

----- -
/ ..- -----

the Windward Passage to Hispaniola,
100 miles from Cape Tiburon, but the
leaking of the Bermuda increased
alarmingly and the Admiral decided to
make for Jamaica. Finding no water at
Dry Harbour on 23 June and almost
foundering, Columbus on 25 June
entered Santa Gloria and ran his ships
aground side by side and shored them
up to maintain an even keel, with high
tides rising almost up to the decks,
where he had thatched huts built for
some 115 men. West of this spot was
a deep channel, leading to a lagoon
sheltered from the north winds. South
of the lagoon was a sandy bank
behind which was an eminence con-
venient for a lookout.

Columbus' Year in Jamaica
Recalling previous encounters with
the indigenous Indians, Columbus at
first banned all shore leave. To procure
food, Diego Mendez the boatswain
and three men were sent on shore.
From Aguacadiba, the first village,
where he made a barter arrangement,
Mendez went to another some three
leagues away and then made a third
arrangement with the cacique Huareo
living at Mellila (near present day

Annotto Bay) 13 leagues from the
ships (45 land miles).
At this stop, Mendez sent one of his
three companions back to the Admiral
for barter to pay for his purchases and
asked Huareo for two Indians to
accompany him to the eastern end of
the island. At the eastern end he made
the acquaintance of Ameyro, a
cacique, and purchased from him a
large dugout canoe in exchange for a
brass helmet, a frock and a shirt. Men-
dez then put to sea in the canoe with
six paddlers provided by Ameyro and
returned to the ships with provisions.
Mendez's agreement with the Indians
was that the latter would trade one
cassava cake for two glass beads, two
hutias coneyss) for a lace point, and
large quantities of fish or maize for a
hawk's bell.
Mendez was also selected for the
task of arranging rescue from Santo
Domingo. He fitted a false keel onto
his canoe for added stability, adding
wash boards, a mast and sails. For the
trip he recruited six Arawak paddlers
and another Spaniard. His first attempt
found him captured by Arawaks near
Northeast Point (Aramaquique 34
leagues or 117 land miles from

Miami); he escaped and returned to
Santa Gloria. On the second attempt,
Bartholomew Fieschi, captain of the
Bermuda, piloted a second canoe and
an armed escort of 70 men accompa-
nied them until they departed Jamai-
can waters. Both Fieschi and Mendez
had crews of six Spaniards and ten
Water was exhausted by the end of
the second day, one Indian died and
the others were too weak to paddle,
but on the third night, Navasa island
was sighted. Landing, water was found
and the starving were fed. Two days
later they made Cape Tiburon, Haiti.
With six new Indian paddlers, Mendez
and Fieschi with some 130 leagues to
go, followed the coast to Azua (24
leagues from Santo Domingo) and
then marched 50 leagues to Xaragua
to see Nicolas de Ovando, governor,
about aid for Columbus. This was
August 1503. Ovando put Mendez off
for several months, and it was not until
March 1504 that they were permitted
to go to Santo Domingo and charter a
vessel from Commendador de Lares.
Mendez loaded it with provisions,
bread, wine, salt, logs, sheep and fowl
and dispatched it for the Admiral. He

himself chartered two other vessels
and sailed to Spain as Columbus'
advance party to the sovereigns, carry-
ing the famous Jamaican letter
penned by Columbus on 7 July 1503.
Meanwhile at Santa Gloria, six
months had elapsed, the cold northers
were blowing and the brothers Porras
fomented a mutiny with the assistance
of Juan Sanchez, chief pilot, Ledesma,
the pilot, and Barba the gunner; forty-
eight of the 102 men joined them. The
mutineers burst into Columbus' cabin
where he lay sick with arthritis, and
berated him, captured 10 dugout
canoes and some stores, and on 2
January 1504, paddled eastwards
attacking the Arawaks they encoun-
tered en route. Some 15 miles from
northeast point, an easterly forced
them back: to save themselves, they
threw most of the stores and Indians
overboard. Two more attempts to cross
the Mona passage failed, so the Porras
faction began a forced march back to
Santa Gloria, burning, looting and rap-
ing as they went.
The situation at Santa Gloria had
deteriorated further:'trade items were
depleted and the local Arawaks could
not keep pace with the Spaniards'

demand for food; according to Ferdi-
nand Columbus, the Admiral's son, the
latter ate the food of 20 of the former.
Gentle persuasion having failed,
Columbus resorted to the use of a lunar
eclipse on 24 February 1504 to ensure
the continued loyalty of the Arawaks.
On the day before the appointed hour
he summoned the local hierarchy to
his cabin and warned them that total
darkness would ensue, unless they
bowed to his demands. All went
according to plan and the problem was
solved. Shortly after, an incipient
mutiny amongst the remainder of the
Spanish crew was forestalled.
On 31 March 1503, eight months
having elapsed with nothing forthcom-
ing from Santo Domingo, a small
caravel sailed into St. Ann's Bay and
anchored near the Spanish camp to spy
for Ovando. Its Captain, Diego de Esco-
bar, had been ordered to take no one
to Hispaniola, but brought a message
from Mendez that he was in the pro-
cess of chartering a ship, a mocking
missive from Ovando, two casks of
wine and a side of salt pork.
Columbus attempted a rapproche-
ment with the Porras brothers by offer-
ing them a free pardon and a safe


passage to Spain, but this was rejected
and their response was to attack Santa
Gloria from the base at Maima. On 19
May 1504 this battle of knives and
swords gunpowder being long
exhausted was fought, observed by
the local Arawaks in battle dress. San-
chez and Barba were killed, Ledesma
seriously wounded, Francisco Porras
.captured and bound and the loyal
forces lost but one man. The Admiral
pardoned all the rebels including the
Porras brothers whom, however, he
kept in protective custody.
Diego Mendez in the meantime
had returned to Santo Domingo from
Spain and set about his rescue
mission in earnest.
Finally, on 29 June 1504 Diego de
Salcedo's chartered vessel arrived and
Columbus and his little band of less
than 100 survivors, including the two
Porras brothers as prisoners, left the
shores of Jamaica. After a 6/2 week
journey (due to the poor condition of
the caravel) Columbus finally made
Santo Domingo, and on 7 November
1504 he landed in Spain again. After
two extremely frustrating years in
which he tried to secure the inherit-
ance of his son and heir, Diego Colon,
the great Admiral finally passed away
a dispirited man, on 20 May 1506, and
was laid to rest in the convent of Santa
Maria de las Cuevas at Seville.
The Settlement of
Sevilla la Nueva2
Diego Colon succeeded to his father's
titles on 20 May 1506, was appointed
governor of the Indies in October 1508,
and in August 1509 arrived in triumph
in Santo Domingo. By November 1509
he had sent out to Jamaica a" family
appointee, Juan de Esquivel, a native
of Seville, Spain, who had dis-
tinguished himself in the conquest of
Hispaniola. Esquivel, who is said to
have been with the Admiral on his
second voyage when he visited Santa
Gloria, landed at St. Ann's Bay and
established the city of Sevilla la
Nueva, near where Columbus' cara-
vels had been beached. He brought
some 60-80 colonists and livestock.
Temporary shelters of local wood with
thatched roofs at first housed the
colonists, but these were soon replaced
by more substantial tiled roofed cut-
stone and brick buildings, probably all
fashioned from local materials. The
population was to be augmented from
time to time by the arrival of more

The Labour Force
From the start, the colonists were
confronted with the problem of
securing an adequate labour force.
As early as July 1511, Esquivel was
being reminded by the King of his mis-
sion to find gold and convert the
Indians. Esquivel assigned Arawaks to
the settlers by force of arms as they
were now being regarded as serfs of
the Spanish crown, to be dealt with as
the crown wished in groups of 150,
200 and more. This was the
encomienda system whereby groups
of Arawaks and their land were
assigned to specific Spaniards for the
purpose of labour; the Spaniards were
supposed to see to their conversion
and apparel. This system and its suc-
cessor the repartimento, were much
abused by the Spaniards and the Ara-
waks suffered enormously at their
hands. By 1512 disease had already
began to take a terrible toll; the
original 1494 population of some 60-
100,000 was becoming substantially
In 1513, the Esquivel family was per-
mitted by the Spanish Crown to import
three African slaves and this marked
the arrival of the first Africans in
From the middle of the fifteenth cen-
tury, the Spanish Crown and its
bureaucracy had been involved in the
slave trade, and this increased con-
siderably after the reconquest of
Granada in 1492 and the final consoli-
dation of power in Spain in the lands
of Castile and Aragon, the principali-
ties respectively of Queen Isabella and
King Ferdinand. At first it was intended
to send only pure Castilians to the New

World, but the rapid decimation of the
Arawaks throughout the Caribbean
forced the Spanish Crown to introduce
the triangular slave trade: Africa-
Europe-the Caribbean and the
dreaded middle passage, between the
New and Old Worlds. The Spanish
Crown and bureaucracy continued to
play the major role in the trade, but
already by the second quarter of the
16th century, the valuable privilege
was being sold to middlemen. In 1523
permission was granted to Lorrenzo de
Garrabad, a close personal friend of
the King's secretary, for eight years to
import 4,000 slaves to all the Carib-
bean colonies, of which 500 were
assigned to Jamaica. The Jamaican
colonists protested this, and were
themselves later that year also given
permission to import to the island 500
slaves per year. The Africans were
generally brought to Jamaica from
Spain, after they had been taken from
the slave factories controlled by the
Portuguese in west central Africa. As
the Arawak population decreased, so
did the necessity for labour increase,
and it was found that the African
withstood better the awful conditions
prevailing on the estates in the Carib-
bean. Also, the complication of the
laws governing the care, conversion
and protection of the Arawaks did not
apply to the Africans. The Africans be-
came inextricably a part of the life of
Sevilla la Nueva, as the Arawak
presence declined.

Growth of Sevilla la Nueva
Early in the second decade of the
16th century, civil elements were
added to the growing city of Sevilla la
Nueva as was ordained for all Spanish

cities established in New and Old
Worlds. Esquivel as governor had to
establish or have established the seats
of civil and ecclesiastical authority and
public defence. As lieutenant governor
he also had to have an official resi-
dence. By 1512 Esquivel had erected a
substantial structure which could be
described as a fortified house or for-
tress and governed with the assistance
of two alcaldes and a council. As early
as 1511, some kind of monastery had
been established by the Franciscans
under French recollect Friar Juan de la
Duele to instruct caciques' sons and
tend to the faithful.
Esquivel was removed from office
early in 1513 and died between then
and 1515, probably in Jamaica.
By this time the island had been
organized with the capital at Sevilla la
Nueva and a subsidiary town in the
south-west, called Oristan, which func-
tioned as a trading centre for provi-
sions for the mainland colonies. Other
settlements were concentrated be-
tween Sevilla la Nueva and Mellila
(near present day Annotto Bay) and in
modern day St. Catherine and St. An-
drew, but these consisted mainly of
ranches (haciendas) scattered over a
large area with limited population.
Government and civil authority were
focused on the capital, Sevilla la
In November 1514, Pedro de
Mazuelo, royal factor and later
treasurer, arrived. He immediately
named two visitadores to conduct a
census of the island, took over the
King's haciendas of Mellila and
Pimiento,4 which the governor was
supposed to develop on behalf of and

in partnership with the Crown, re-
assigned the Indians after allocating
500 to himself, took possession of the
best house at Sevilla la Nueva and
took command of the fort.
Mazuelo derived his authority from
the fact that he had been commis-
sioned by the King to audit the island's
accounts and to ensure a constant sup-
ply of maize, meat, dry provisions and
hammocks to the mainland colonies in
modern day Panama and Nicaragua.
Mazuelo was never completely dis-
lodged from this position of eminence
over the next 20 years and more,
despite the presence in 1514-1523 of
Francisco de Garay, lieutenant
In June 1519 de Garay was appoint-
ed alcalde and keeper of the fort in
order to consolidate and strengthen his
authority. Garay had the fort con-
structed at Sevilla la Nueva out of brick
and mortar by Indian labour. It was
said to be higher than one storey.
Soon after 1515, Garay introduced
sugar cane into the island from His-
paniola and his sugar mill at Sevilla la
Nueva produced 125 tons of sugar
annually. By his death in 1523, he had
almost completed the construction of a
second mill.
By 6 September 1519 there were 500
colonists on the island and Garay's
policies of increasing colonization and
therefore production were showing
results. Garay by this time had moved
Sevilla la Nueva from the swampy
lowland to a nearby site. He had also
moved the town of Oristan from its
original location of Parrotte Point in
present day St. Elizabeth, to its second
site near present day Bluefields, where
by 1522 a church had been erected.
In September 1526, the King-
Emperor wrote the lieutenant-
governor that on 2 May 1524 he had
made a grant of 100,000 maravedis
for the construction of a hospital, but,
as he had been advised that this was
not necessary, he had authorized that
it be spent on the work of the church at
Sevilla la Nueva, whose construction
had already begun. He had, however,
been advised by Peter Martyr of
Angleria, Abbot of Jamaica (1523-6)
that Mazuelo, the treasurer, had made
illicit use of the Indians who by
arrangement with a cacique were
used by Mazuelo in the construction
of his sugar mill. The Indians actually
commenced work on the church at

the end of 1525 at daily wages, half
paid by Martyr and half by the
King-Emperor himself. This practice
should henceforth cease. However,
the church seems to have remained
incompleted, for in 1535 a new
investigator, Lic. Gil Gonzales de
Avila was, among other things,
requested by the King-Emperor to
investigate why the church of Peter
Martyr was not finished and to see to
its completion. The state of the fort
was also to be investigated.

The Capital is moved
In July 1534 the King-Emperor wrote
Avila that Mazuelo had advised him
that when the general distribution was
made in Jamaica, 80 citizens were
established at Sevilla la Nueva, but
none had prospered or remained
healthy and only 20 of 50 had
remained as diseases and pestilences
caused by the proximity of the town to
the ports, the swamps and the creeks
and the poisoned sea air and land
breeze from the mountains, had all
taken their toll. In 20 years, less than
10 young Christians had been raised
as, although many infants were born,
few lived more than five or six months
after birth. For many leagues around
the town there was no food and only
by working almost to death could the
inhabitants survive on cassava.
Mazuelo had therefore moved the

town to the south side of the island
where the inhabitants, about 150 at
this time, wished to go and where
there was a good supply of maize and
beef. In the location there was already
a small productive settlement known
as Villa de la Vega with good water in
a healthy environment, lacking in hills
but with good ports for navigation to
the mainland. No ship came to the
north coast but to the south where the
inhabitants had begun to settle.
Mazuelo had also built a sugar mill
and requested that a licence be issued
so that the new town might be built
close to a second sugar. mill he had
begun where 30 or 40 settlers could
quickly add to the general productivity.
The King-Emperor commanded the
Jamaican officials to meet the citizens
of Sevilla la Nueva to discuss the
removal to the south coast and to
allocate to the inhabitants land for
their homes and cultivations. This
effectively marked the establishment
of Villa de la Vega (present day Span-
ish Town) and abandonment of Sevilla
la Nueva.

The Fate of Sevilla la Nueva
Sevilla la Nueva quickly receded
from memory after its abandonment in
1534. An unsubstantiated French
source claims that it was attacked by
French corsairs in 1554 and its inhabit-
ants hung [Pietersz and Cundall
1917]. Maroon oral history also
claims that Sevilla la Nueva was
destroyed by the Maroons themselves
and subsequently demolished by a
massive earthquake [Ebanks, person-
al communications].
Subsequent to the successful capture
of Jamaica by Penn and Venables in
1655, the land on which Sevilla la
Nueva stood was granted to Captain
Hemmings, probably towards the end
of the 17th century [Cotter 19481 A
map of the area of the 1690s shows
twin, two-storied structures connected
by corridors labelled 'New Seville
Greathouse' and to the south-west an
area labelled 'Negro House Piece'.
Near to the sea, at the end of the
north-south estate road are shown two
warehouse buildings and some finger
wharves are shown at what later be-
came the town of St. Ann's Bay. A
main road sited near the present road
is also shown. At this time, and over
the next hundred years, the main agri-
cultural staple was sugar cane.
A number of 18th century maps exist

of New Seville, dating to the 1720s,
the earliest one being Spanish. These
show the increase in number of ware-
houses and wharves at New Seville
and at St. Ann's Bay, where a town had
begun to develop by 1722. The old fort
(later used as a jail) on the extreme
north-eastern end of the estate is first
shown on the 1792 map, though not on
the 1722, but by other evidence is
'known to have existed by c.1750.4 On
this map also are shown the great-
house with its present configuration as
well as the 'Priory' at Priory where a
small settlement is also shown. Above
the original rear door of the present
greathouse is a stone showing the date
1745; it is believed that the original
greathouse was destroyed by the 1744
By 1792, the growing importance of
the port of St. Ann's Bay is shown by
the number of warehouses and finger
piers drawn on this map, and the in-
creased number of town houses and
industrial buildings associated with the
sugar works such as the boiling house
and factory building on the New
Seville estate. The overseer's house
and book-keeper's house are also
shown standing where they remain
By the end of the 18th century, coco-
nuts, grown extensively at New Seville
and later on, lime and pimento, as
well as coffee and cocoa in the foot-
hills, were cultivated. Still later,
banana replaced sugar cane, and
livestock operations are demonstra-
ted by the presence of the c.1745
coach house and 19th century
paddocks and stable. Related to the
pimento and coconut operations are .
pimento barbecues and a copra kiln
of the 19th century.
The 19th century decline in the sugar
industry and the abolition of slavery in
1834, dealt double blows to the trade
of the port of St. Ann's Bay and the
New Seville estate; by this time the
ports of Falmouth and Montego Bay
had far exceeded the former in impor-
tance. The 'Negro House Piece' con-
tinued to be occupied until early in the
present century and the small commu-
nities that had begun to develop
around the estate prior to 1834 were
further augmented.5
Until the early 20th century, the
Hemmings family retained control of
the New Seville estate but in the first
decade sold it to Messrs. Webb and
Harris who after a few years sold it to

Henry Hoskins and his three sisters.
Reduced in size by this time, a portion
was sold off in the 1940s for the con-
struction of a Catholic church near the
ruins of the old church of Peter Martyr
[Osborne 1973] By this time the
old jail ceased to be used as a prison
and was now finding service as a
slaughter-house. Following the death
of all the Hoskins family save the
youngest sister, by the 1930s the estate
was placed in the hands of the Admin-
istrator of Lands and operated as a
trust.6 Mr. Geraint Casserley was for a
long time the estate's overseer and
lived with his wife Doris and sister-in-
law Beryl Steele on the estate.7
In 1969, the northern part of the
estate was acquired by the Govern-
ment of Jamaica, held in trust by the
Jamaica National Trust Commission for
the development of a National Historic
Park, while most of the other 400 acres
were retained by the Ministry of Agri-
culture. By this time, the agricultural
exploitation of the estate had ceased
except for the activities of peasant
farmers and, later, those on the land
lease system.
Although the remains of the Spanish

cities of Sevilla la Nueva quickly be-
came overgrown and began to be
partially dismantled for reuse in con-
struction in the 17th and 18th centuries,
there remained a memory of what had
been. Prior to the 20th century, three
reports of what was extant of the old
Spanish city are preserved for us:
those of Sir Hans Sloane [1698]; the
Duke of Portland (1723); and Edward
Long [1774].
Sloane, the famous physician and
naturalist, while riding through the
New Seville estate in 1688, observed
on Captain Hemmings plantation the
unfinished church of Peter Martyr, a
pavement two miles away, wells, a
fortified castle, port ruins, a quarry a
mile away, carvings associated with
the church, houses and foundations
several miles in extent, the
governor's house wherein was found
two coats of arms, and nearby a
tower with several battlements as
well as other structures. He also
describes in detail, giving its Latin
inscription and an English translation,
the church's dedication stone.
Thirty-five years later the Duke of
Portland described an abbey built by
Peter Martyr and a church, some of

whose ruins were preserved and
whose dedication stone he also
In 1774 Long the historian
described the castle and the
collegiate church of Peter Martyr as
well as many fine carved stones. The
castle and the church, he said, were
separated by about half-mile, but he
lamented the daily dismantlement of
these structures to erect buildings on
the estate. The castle ruins he said
were levelled and now sunk beneath
the earth's surface.
The Hemmings family continued
the exploitation of the estates and
memory of the Spanish city faded
further into obscurity until by the
1930 s only the title of the estate and
the 'Castle field' thereon retained
any link with the past, to the extent
that before the end of this decade,
the ruins of the church were blown
up to provide stones for the present
Catholic church built nearby. Long's
prophecy was substantiated further
when in October 1957 Lieutenant
Commander Jack Tyndale-Biscoe,
noted Jamaican amateur arch-
aeologist, found embedded in the
walls of the St. Ann's Bay
slaughter-house (first erected as a
fort and then used as a jail) the
middle portion of the dedication
stone of Peter Martyr's Church.
(Tyndale-Biscoe 1960).

The Search Begins

The 1930s saw the commencement
of the interest in the Hispanic
heritage of the area on the part of
Captain Charles Cotter, manager of
several estates in the parish and
amateur prehistoric archaeologist.
Captain Cotter commenced a search
for the cities of Sevilla la Nueva that
was to exercise his mind and
energies for the next 40 years, until
his death in 1977 in his 92nd year. A
similar search was conducted by the
American antiquary William
Goodwin between 1935-8 [Goodwin
19461. It was left, however, to Geraint
Casserley, overseer of the Seville
estate, to make the first significant
In September 1937 while following
a trench in the 'Castle field', his horse
stumbled and caught its hoof in a
hole within a piece of masonry, some
2' below the surface. This turned out
to be the bricked-in top of a well, 22'
deep and 5'square surmounted by a
circular manhole. Together with

Cotter, Casserley discovered that this
well was part of a much larger
structure and within the well were
found a number of carvings,
fragments thereof, a collection of
Spanish and Arawak artifacts and a
copper 8 maravedi piece minted in
the time of King Ferdinand's reign,
1504-1516. Cotter and Casserley
convinced the trustees of the estate to
invest a small sum on an excavation
around the well and soon the
surrounding structure was able to be
identified as the 'castle' of the
chronicles. Scattered on it were
several carved stones in high relief,
placed face downwards, several of
which were identified with those
described by Sloane and Long. Two
more 8 maravedi pieces of the
Ferdinand I era were also found
nearby [Cotter 1948]. The carved
stones were studied by the noted
authority Diego Iniguez Angulo in the
1940s and were found by him to be
Italianate examples of the Spanish
Renaissance grotesque of the third
decade of the 16th century, though
with some local conventions. He was
also able to make attributions of the
devices on coats-of-arms and the
carved stones to a number of
distinguished Spanish houses
[Angulo 1947]. Much interest was
aroused by these discoveries and in
October 1937 Captain Joseph
Blackwell and Mrs. Blanche
Blackwell, later assisted by William
Goodwin, conducted an excavation
in the field called 'Tamarind' to the
west of the 'Castle field' and found.a
second well, part of a seemingly
elaborate structure with poly-chrome
In the meanwhile, Cotter con-

tinued a general survey of the estate
and located many evidences of the
Spanish presence as well as a large
Arawak site not far from the present
greathouse. At first reluctant because
of his inexperience, Cotter was
finally encouraged by a number of
noted Hispanic-period archaeologists
including Dr. John Goggin of the
University of Florida, to excavate
some of these ruins. On the 25 of
September 1953 he commenced what
would become a 17 year
archaeological project [Cotter
Captain Cotter devoted his
weekends, public holidays and
vacations to the excavations he
conducted at Sevilla la Nueva,
financed largely from his own
pocket. In the process, he established
the Spanish presence there beyond
any shadow of a doubt.' He
systematically excavated the 'castle'
site which he felt was the governor's
fortified house, the adjacent
rectangular brick structure which he
took to be a gun emplacement, the
'sugar mill' site which he located on
the west side of the main north-south
estate road, and a structure
north-east of the 'castle' site which
he took to be a small fortification. By
mid-1970 this amounted to over 261
24-hour days and, by his own
estimates, he had sifted through
1,000 tons of soil.
Fortunately, his field diary and
other supporting documents are
preserved and one of his main
helpers in later years, Mr. Percy
White, is still with us, so it has been
possible to trace the progress of these
excavations and research the
collections realized therefrom. In


spite of a lack of formal training in
archaeology, Cotter adhered to the
principles of the discipline in his
methodology and record-keeping
and published a number of articles in
local and foreign journals on his
work. His death in 1977 forestalled
the completion of his book on his
work, for which he received both
national honours and a posthumous
Silver Musgrave Medal from the
Institute of Jamaica.
The 'castle' site proved to be a
structure 58' x 52', 2' below the
present surface level, built upon an
area cleared by burning during the
period of the 1509-1519 city. Cotter
was able to reconstruct a series of
climatic events, including two great
floods, after the abandonment of the
city in 1534. The external walls he
found were 4' thick, built upon 8'
wide foundations. An 18' deep
external cellar was also located, the
appointment of the various rooms
traced, and he postulated that the
structure had had at least two storeys.
The presence of the Arawaks was
attested to by numerous sherds of
pottery intermixed with the Spanish
The adjacent 'gun emplacement'

was felt by Cotter to have been a
tower 24' high upon which a few
small artillery pieces had been
placed. The 'sugar mill' he believed
to have been operated by a revolving
beam drawn by human or animal
agencies and to be related to the
1519-1534 city. He also surmised that
he had located a Spanish road
leading to a wharf building on the
shore, as well as brick traces of some
25 small dwellings which he thought
comprised the 1509-1519 town. This
was at an elevation of some 15'
above sea level, representing a
hillock surrounded on three sides by
a mangrove swamp extending to the
seashore. The fourth, southern, side
sloped towards the hills and it was
here he believed that the town had
been laid out, the square of which he
thought lay some 300-400 yards south
of the 'castle' site.
By mid 1970, his overall collection
numbered over 6,000 pieces and this
included a number of rare and
significant items, among which were
glass beads, unusual pottery vessels,
glass, coins, etc. The scarcity of metal
artifacts was attributed by Cotter to
be the result of the general dearth of
metal in the New World at that

period, and that of roof tiles to the
reuse by Captain Hemmings and his
successors in 17th century con-
Cotter believed that the two
previous wooden thatched roof
churches said to have been
consumed by fire, were in -this
square, and that the church of Peter
Martyr was then built 400 yards to the
south, on the grounds of the present
Catholic church.
Attention has been focused on the
church of Peter Martyr by a member
of the Jamaica Archaeological
Society, Fr. Francis Osborne, a Jesuit
priest and noted Spanish' historian.
The church was commenced in late
1523, incompleted by the abandon-
ment of Sevilla la Nueva in 1534,
dynamited in the 1940s, and
demolished for the construction of a
new Catholic church and shortly
thereafter covered by the modern
At the end of September 1973, Fr.
Osborne commenced excavation in
the cemetery in order to study
archaeologically the remains of the
church of Peter Martyr. Having
photographed the site, he surveyed
the church and found that the






sanctuary's main entrance lay on an
east-west axis with the former to the
east and the main entrance to the
west, as normally pertained. Fr.
Osborne also found that the church
measured some 84' x 68' or very
nearly the 30 x 20 paces (90' x 60')
estimated by Sir Hans Sloane in
1688. The pillar foundations were
visible on either side of the entrance.
Fr. Osborne excavated two trenches
along the north and south walls at the
west end of the church and found the
depth of the foundation to be 1'6".
He also found indications of the two
rows of pillars Sloane had seen in
1688. Fr. Osborne postulated that
had the church been completed it
would have resembled that of the
cathedral of Santiago de Cuba dated
1522; also from the evidence
unearthed by Fr. Osborne, it would
appear that the church was never
completed, but it was also shown that
the church's eastern segment was
semicircular as the historical
documents suggested [Osborne
1974]. However, further detail on the
church's construction will have to
await further excavation.

Search for the Caravels

Paralleling the search from the
1930s for the city of Sevilla la Nueva
has been the search for the two
caravels of Columbus, beached and
abandoned in 1503-4. Columbus is
known to have lived with his faithful
followers on the vessels for the year
he spent in Jamaica and, as far as is
known, upon his departure in 1504
left their remains where he had
beached them. Extant records of
early Spanish Jamaica make no
further mention of these caravels. It is
interesting to note, however, that the
caravel Vizcaina, left in Puerto Bello
by Columbus in April 1503, was seen
by Diego de Nicuesa when he visited
the area in 1509 [Morison 1979]. Yet
when Juan de Esquivel, the first
lieutenant governor, arrived at Santa
Gloria in 1509 to found the city of
Sevilla la Nueva, no mention
whatsoever was made of the
Capitana and the Bermuda (or
Santiago de Palos)."
The American antiquary William
Goodwin occupied himself between
1935-8 in searching Don
Christopher's Cove at Drax Hall for
the caravels [Goodwin 1946],
apparently in ignorance of the fact
that this cove was named after Don

Cristobal Ysassi, the last Spanish
Governor of Jamaica and had
nothing to do with either the great
Admiral or the caravels.
A more serious attempt was made
between 1939 and 1940 by Admiral
Samuel Eliot Morison, the foremost
English historian of Columbus who
led the Harvard Columbus expedition
to the Caribbean to retrace the routes
of Columbus' four voyages. He
arrived on the north coast of Jamaica
in January 1940 and after
consultation with Captain Cotter and
a careful examination of the extant
documents, the geography and
topography of the area and the winds
and currents, identified 'Puerto
Bueno' with the modern Rio Bueno,
'Dry Harbour' (Puerto Seco) with
Discovery Bay, and 'Santa Gloria'
with St. Ann's Bay. The final
resting-place of the two caravels was
identified with an area just to the
west of the English warehouse and
wharf ruins, on the edge of the
deepwater 'Seville Blue', as this site
coincided with the geographical
description given by Columbus, with
the two adjacent dried-up river beds,
the land and seascape offered from
this point, and the fact that this site
filled the defensive criteria as stated
by Columbus. [Smith ms.] Despite the
'discovery' of the two caravels
elsewhere by other researchers in the
1960s, this remains the most likely of
two possible locations of the final
resting place.
Over 25 years elapsed before a
further search for the Columbus
caravels was made. The American
Robert F. Marx, probably the best
known of all shipwreck salvagers,
while in Jamaica between 1965-8 to
conduct recoveries in the Port Royal
underwater city, became fascinated
by the lost caravels [Smith ms. and
JNTC files 1965-8]. In March 1966 he
conducted a fruitless magnetometer
survey in the New Seville area of St.
Ann's Bay. Undeterred, he laid out a
grid system and using 10' rods as
probes, he searched the seabed and
eventually found, some 300' NNE of
the Engfish wharf, a wooden beam
with treenails (wooden pins), a
common technique used in carpentry
for both land and sea construction.
Nearby, he found obsidian objects,
Spanish pottery and ballast stones.
Despite a multitude of contrary and
conflicting evidence, Marx was
convinced that he had found the

Marx returned in late January
1968, with Dr. Harold Edgerton of the
Massachusetts Institute of Tech-
nology, developer of sub-bottom and
side-scan sonar for underwater
remote testing. Dr. Edgerton put these
two devices to work and rapidly
located two large anomalies, one of
which included Marx's 1966 site,
within 100' of each other; and in
10-12' of water. No further anomalies
(caused by the sound waves
indicating an obstruction) were
found. Marx required no further
convincing. After taking advice from
a number of authorities including Dr.
George Bass, then curator of the
University Museums at Pennsylvania
University, Marx resolved to use a
coring device to collect further data.
In late March 1968, over seven days
he took some 54 cores from within
the two targets. Artifacts were
located within some 13' of water, and
at depths of between 8-12' under the
seabed. The collection included pig
and chicken bones, charcoal
fragments, a flint, an iron nail, a
black bean, greenglass fragments -
possibly from an hour glass,
ceramics, oak and pine wood
fragments, ballast, clay pipes, glass
bottle sherds. Marx sent these
samples to a variety of laboratories
here and abroad but the resulting
analyses provided a variety of
conflicting evidence and none which
he felt pointed definitely and
incontrovertibly to the two Columbus
caravels; despite this, Marx remained
convinced that he had found the
caravels and remains so to this day.
Recently, the discovery of several
other shipwrecks in the area gone
over by Edgerton have called the
sonar data into question, as
Edgerton's sonar picked up only large
anomalies thought to be shipwrecks,
which have turned out not at all to
be, and he failed to detect several
others which have since been
Finally, as a postscript, Frederic
Dumas, the noted French shipwreck
salvager, worked the areas located
by Marx in the first three months of
1969 and despite the presence of
Marx himself in February, by late
March declared that he had found no
evidence to support Marx's claim.
[Smith ms. and JNTC files 1965-8].

NEXT ISSUE: Work at Sevilla La Nueva
1981 1992.



A -



W Adolphe Roberts

-A Personal Recollection

By Wycliffe Bennett

On Thursday 13 September 1962, five weeks after
Jamaica had become an independent nation, the
news arrived that Walter Adolphe Roberts had died
in London. He was 76. Patriot, man of letters and poet,
Roberts had been one of the pioneers of Jamaica's Inde-
pendence movement. I doubt very much that any other
single event could have made him happier during the
period leading up to his death.
Roberts had a brilliant mind, a generous spirit and eter-
nal youthfulness. His company was always sought after by
young and old alike. He was a highly prized member of
several literary, cultural, artistic organizations. In his
"Villanelle of Immortal Youth" he sings:
We have declared allegiance to the Spring
And raised her temple in this urban mart
December shall not find us sorrowing.
Following the publication in 1949 of his novel of Cuba in
the 1890s entitled The Single Star, the government of that
country made him a Caballero of the Order of Cespedes.
He was serving as chairman of the board of governors of
the Institute of Jamaica just before Independence, when
for public services the British Government appointed him
an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 1977, post-
humously and for his contribution to the national move-
ment, the Government of Jamaica made him a Com-
mander of the Order of Distinction.
I remember distinctly when I first had the honour of meet-
ing him. It was at the Myrtle Bank Hotel during the summer
of 1946. Within half an hour, no fewer than six other
people had dropped in to see him. I recall that among them
were the now late Noel Nethersole, lawyer and politician;
the poet Vivian Virtue; W. G. Ogilvie, the novelist; and T.
Newton Willoughby, the lawyer. I myself had called, as
secretary of the Poetry League of Jamaica, to ask if as our
vice-president who had been away in America for so many
years, he would be our guest at a luncheon which we
wanted to organize in his honour.
My meeting with W. Adolphe Roberts on that first occa-
sion ended up several hours afterwards at the Tallyho Bar

on Harbour Street, to which Noel Nethersole or 'Crab' as he
was affectionately called, had invited the company. Two
days afterwards I received a telephone call from 'Crab'
Nethersole extending an invitation to me on behalf of
Norman Manley to attend a banquet that very week at the
Myrtle Bank Hotel to honour Roberts. The president of the
Poetry League of Jamaica, J. E. Clare McFarlane and the
second vice-president, Sir Noel Livingstone, were off the
island, and as the secretary I was to represent the League
on that occasion. Glowing tributes were paid to Roberts
that evening by a number of distinguished persons, among
them the Reverend Canon Walter Brown; Hugh Paget,
British Council Representative; Philip Sherlock and Norman
Manley. Philip Sherlock spoke of Roberts as an historian,
patriot, a creative writer and man of vision. Sherlock
likened the position of the creative artist in society to that of
a flag set on a high tower: he said that a flag so placed was
the first thing that gave any clear indication of where the
wind was blowing.
Of Roberts, N. W. Manley said: 'To him I owe my first
lessons in self-government for Jamaica.'
From our first meeting in 1946 to the time of his death in
1962, Adolphe Roberts honoured me with his friendship.
Whenever he was in Jamaica, I would go regularly on Sun-
day mornings to his home to explore history and poetry,
particularly Caribbean history and poetry.
We assembled what I believe was the first collection of
the poetry of the English-, French-, Spanish- and Dutch-
speaking Caribbean, and were joined in this exercise by
another friend, the now late Professor Gabriel Coulthard of
the University of the West Indies. Unfortunately, that collec-
tion was never published. It would have been a very large
volume in the original languages with English translation

and because the cost would have proven prohibitive, all
the publishers at that time shied away from the undertak-
ing. The Poetry League of Jamaica mounted an exhibition
in June 1951, at the Institute of Jamaica, to display the
material we had collected. Sir Hugh Foot, then Governor of
Jamaica, declared the Exhibition open and presided over

A study of Roberts done in New York, 1922.

the first public lecture. Muna Lee de Munoz Marin of the
U.S. Department of State, a Puerto Rican and herself a poet
and friend of Adolphe Roberts had arranged for Dr. Jacob
Canter, cultural attache in the U.S. Embassy in Havana to
attend. Canter gave an erudite address on the great Nicara-
guan poet, Ruben Dario; and on that occasion also a speak-
ing choir from Wolmer's Boys School provided a brilliant
rendering of Nicolas Guillen's poem, "Mayombe", a chant
for killing a snake. The Exhibition had other lectures: Pro-
fessor John Parry spoke on the social history of the Carib-
bean; Dr. Gabriel Coulthard on the poetry of the Spanish-
speaking Caribbean; Roberts on the poetry in French and I
on the poetry in English.
Roberts numbered many distinguished personalities
among his friends. He used to speak to me of William
Butler Yeats and his father, whom he knew quite well, and
of James Joyce and Stephen Vincent Benet. He was a close
friend of Edna St. Vincent Millay for the greater part of her
life. It was Roberts's publication of some of her poems in 19
consecutive issues of Ainslee's, a literary magazine he
edited in New York between 1918 and 1921, that attracted
early attention to this remarkable poet.
If we accept Alexandre Beljame's definition that a man
of letters is a man who lives by his pen and by that means
alone achieves distinction, we must acknowledge that
along with Herbert George deLisser and Claude McKay,
Roberts is among Jamaica's first men of letters. I recall that
when he was invited by S. G. Fletcher of the Gleaner Com-
pany to write the biographical sketches, Six Great
Jamaicans for the Pioneer Press in 1952, Roberts told
Fletcher that he had never acquired the habit of putting
paper into his typewriter for anyone unless he had a con-
tract. Roberts's publications include novels, verse, bio-
graphies, travel books and histories. He also wrote several
short stories and essays, and did a number of translations
into English poetry from the French- and Spanish-speaking
poets of the region.
His pamphlet Self-Government for Jamaica, published in
1936 during the years when he was very active as founder-

president of the Jamaica Progressive League in New York,
is one of the seminal documents of Jamaican nationalism:
I set the ideal of nationalism before all Jamaicans. There is a
definite sustaining and guiding strength in national sentiment, in a
national consciousness, and this can be created only along the
parallel lines of political action and artistic fruitfulness. Neither
political action nor artistic fruitfulness have as yet come to flower in
Jamaica, but I am confident that the moment in history has been
reached when they are due to appear.
In 1940 Roberts published his The Caribbean the story
of our sea of destiny. The book was widely acclaimed.
Hanson W. Baldwin said in the New York Times:

It is the first complete history of a sea around whose shores man
has perpetrated some of his most frightful cruelties to his fellow-
men; a sea upon whose roaring waters some of the most magnifi-
cent epics of the past have been staged; a sea of gold and blood
and fortune and torment and striving, foci of the trade routes of the
Western World, cradle of what has now developed into the civiliza-
tion of the west.
I recall some years afterwards the short story writer R. L.
C. Aarons saying to me that he told Roberts that he thought
the book was a call to revolution, and that Roberts did not
In Toussaint L'Ouverture, Simon Bolivar and Jos4 Julian
Martfand others, the Caribbean had produced its full quota
of models, but Roberts was not, at this stage, suggesting
armed conflict. He did feel, however, that there had to be a
dramatic change in the colonial's state of mind a change
that would have made colonialism a thing of the past.
Many scholars regard The Caribbean ... our sea of
destiny as Roberts's most important work. This is perhaps
because he was, for a long time, one of the few historians
with a Caribbean point of view.
He had more information to offer on a wide range of
subjects than most other people. His encyclopaedic knowl-
edge would have made a lesser man a pedant. But he was
forthright without being dogmatic. He had definite ideas
about most things, and would give his opinion uncom-
promisingly, if you asked him. But in spite of all this, you

could not but appreciate the innate humility which was part
of his personal charm; his anxiety always to get the other
man's opinion; and his readiness always to withdraw a
remark, if in the face of reasonable argument to the con-
trary, he found his own point of view untenable.
Born in Kingston in 1886, the son of an Anglican clergy-
man and a lady of French extraction, Roberts would readily
strike most Jamaicans as a foreigner. He was just under six
feet tall, and of slightly more than average build. Of pink
complexion, he had a strong Norman nose and large blue
eyes. A bald centre patch relieved his greying sandy hair,
and he wore a goatee. He dressed impeccably in white,
wore a jippi-jappa hat and carried a walking stick. I often
pictured him, sword to his side, a bright red sash around his
waist and a broad turned-up rim hat stepping off one of Sir
Henry Morgan's ships. And when he spoke of Sir Henry
Morgan and the Buccaneers, or told a story from Caribbean
history, it was as though he was recounting a tale in which
he himself had played a part. His poem "Morgan" had this
Gorgeous Sir Henryl Egad, it is the some man!
Governor of Jamaica in a broidered coat,
Swearing loud and hearty to show he's not a tame
And pouring kill-devil down his thirsty throat.
His prose style has an unusual quality. If you did not know
the facts you would conclude that he learnt the language
as a foreigner, as Conrad did, and in Roberts's case as a
Frenchman. Of course, his vocabulary was always more
than equal to the task at hand, and indeed the greater part
of his prose work is felicitous; but at moments you feel that
the results are not so much striking as strange, that some-
how he is at odds with the genius of the English language.
What his prose loses by reason of this personal and some-
times un-English quality, his poetry gains. A striking illustra-
tion of this is the way in which he has been able to concen-
trate the thrust and atmosphere of the whole of Part 1 of his
novel Royal Street, a tale of old New Orleans, into his
sonnet, "Vieux Carre":
This city is the child of France and Spain,
That once lived nobly, ardent as the heat
In which it came to birth. Alas, how fleet
The years of love and arms! There now remain,
Bleached by the sun and mouldered by the rain,
Impassive fronts that guard some rare retreat,
Some dim, arched salon, or some patio sweet
Where dreams persist and the past lives again.
The braided iron of the balconies
Is like locked hands fastidiously set
To bar the world. But the proud mysteries
Showed me a glamour I could not forget:
Your face, camellia-white upon the stair,
Framed in the midnight thicket of your hair.
If what I have said just now about Roberts's prose style
seems somewhat of a stricture, let me assure the reader
that Roberts himself would have been the first to agree.
His inspiration is French, due probably to the early influ-
ence of his mother. He read and absorbed English poetry,
and ranked Keats after Shakespeare as the greatest poet in

the English language with Swinburne not very far behind.
On Swinburne he was an authority, and collected every
book he could find on this poet. He indited one of his
Villanelles to Swinburne:

I, a frail voice, have brought a villanelle.
Bear it to him, Faustine, among the throng,
We bring our best in greeting and farewell.
Tell him Dolores, Fragoletta tell
That we make songs for the dead Prince of Song.
He tuned our pipes before dark death befell:
We bring our best in greeting and farewell.

Yet he was probably as widely read in French poetry as
he was in English poetry, and his own work owes more to
French than to English influence. He is the most un-English
of West Indian poets. It was he who introduced the French
villanelle form into the Caribbean, where in the hands of
Vivian Virtue, J. E. Clare McFarlane, Constance Hollar and
himself it has received its most noteworthy treatment in the
English tongue.
Typically, the villanelle is a poem composed of an
indefinite number of tercets or three-line stanzas and ends
with a quatrain or four-line stanza. Only two rhymes are
allowed, the pattern being:
aba aba aba ... abaa
The first and third lines of the first tercet recur alternately as
the third lines of the succeeding tercets, and together as the
third and fourth lines of the quatrain.
Perhaps the most famous of French villanelles is the one
by Jean Passerat (1534-1602) a poignant piece entitled
"J'ai perdu ma tourterelle" (I have lost my turtledove), and
it was his delight with thispoem that led Roberts to intro-
duce this French form into the Caribbean.
Roberts's villanelles contain some of his most memorable
lines. They conjure up a special world a world of beauty,
grandeur, legend, magic and romance. Geographically,
historically and politically, Roberts regards the Caribbean
as the Mediterranean of the West. We get a glimpse of this
vision in his "Vilanelle of Jamaica":
Forever the white sea-horses charge the strand
Squadron on squadron, a nereid-ridden band
Familiar beauty of Greece in the Tropic scene.
He sees the region as an autonomous extension of Europe,
but as an extension nonetheless. He says in the same
I am seduced by the indolence close at hand
By duskier bodies of girls and a softer mien
Forever the white sea-horses charge the strand.
What pathos do we find in the "Villanelle of Dismay":
I that love love am doomed forever to slay
My dream upon its ripe awakening
Be sorrowful with me in dismay.
And with what art he weaves his spell in the "Villanelle of
the White Peacocks":
But, see -a sickle moon is in the sky
Its beams may hold them amorous till dawn,

Their secret is not hid from such as I.
In these lines he brings the exotic and the legendary within
our reach and transmutes the familiar into things of
A golden pheasant dollies with a fawn
On Brooklyn Heights; most strangely, they were
From far-off groves of red October trees.
Love's pagan glamour is not wholly gone.
Written during his prime, his "Villanelle of the Sad Poet"
has always struck me as containing intimations of the
poet's own old age:
He who has held so many springs in fief
Is lonely under this November sky.
Autumn has crept upon him like a thief.
He mourns the flower falling, and the leaf,
And all old pomps that march away to die:
He who has held so many springs in fief.
He grieves the clover withered, and the sheaf,
The rusted vineyards and the streams run dry.
Autumn has crept upon him like a thief.
He had forgotten spring could be so brief
And dusk so sad when early snows drift by:
He who has held so many springs in fief.
He is a valiant and defeated chief,
Whose band went southward as the swallows fly.
Autumn has crept upon him like a thief.
Poets and maids, remember in his grief
Your brother Pan, whose world is all awry.
He who has held so many springs in fief,
Autumn has crept upon him like a thief.
In his poetry, Roberts is a patrician. He sets down his
ideals in verse, but teacher-historian that he is, he is no
escapist from the facts of the past or from the realities of the
present. His colleague, J. E. Clare McFarlane wrote: 'He
possesses a sense of history and so retains a mental and
spiritual poise which is proof against the alarums and
eccentricities of the moment.' In his vision of life there is a
brooding, if sometimes militant presence of the past. This is
the essential force behind his sonnets "The Maroon Girl"
and "On a Monument to Martf".

The Maroon Girl
I see her on a lonely forest track,
Her level brows made salient by the sheen
Of flesh the hue of cinnamon. The clean
Blood of the hunted, vanished Arawak
Flows in her veins with blood of white and black.
Maternal, noble-breasted is her mien;
She is a peasant, yet she is a queen.
She is Jamaica poised against attack.
Her woods are hung with orchids; the still flame
Of red hibiscus lights her path, and starred
With orange and coffee blossoms is her yard.
Fabulous, pitted mountains close the frame,
She stands on ground for which her fathers died;
Figure of savage beauty, figure of pride.

On a Monument to Mart(
Cuba, disheveled, naked to the waist,
Springs up erect from the dark earth and screams
Her joy in liberty. The metal gleams
Where her chains broke. Magnificent her haste
To charge into the battle and to taste
Revenge on the oppressor. Thus she seems.
But she were powerless without the dreams
Of him who stands above, unsmiling, chaste.
Yes, over Cuba on her jubilant way
Broods the Apostle, Jose Julian Martl.
He shaped her course of glory, and the day
The guns first spoke he died to make her free.
That night a meteor flamed in splendid loss
Between the North Star and the Southern Cross.
Walter Adolphe Roberts occupies a distinguished and
unique position in Caribbean letters. In comparison with
the rest of his work, his output of verse is slender. Few other
West Indian writers, however, have written as many
memorable poems. One has only to think of such pieces as
his much anthologised "Peacocks" and "The Cat". A bril-
liant marriage of form and content characterizes these
poems. He is the parnassian par excellence, and it is in this
respect that he has made perhaps his finest contribution to
the poetry of the English-speaking Caribbean.
Parnassianism had already invaded the French- and
Spanish-speaking Caribbean before Roberts began writing,
but Roberts went back to source, to the French poets Theo-
phile Gautier, Lectonte de Lisle and Jose-Maria de Heredia.
The Parnassians reacted against Romanticism, which had
been self-revealing and lyrically expansive. Romanticism
permitted technical liberties, such as Victor Hugo had intro-
duced, had become somewhat flabby and indisciplined,
and by the time the movement settled down in the English-
speaking Caribbean it did so in the somewhat diluted and
attenuated form of Victorianism. As summarized in the
Oxford Companion to French Literature, Parnassian poetry
was objective, impersonal and restrained. It confined itself
to descriptions of nature, remarkable for their static,
pictorial quality often introducing an exotic element; or to
the evocations of an historic (mostly Graeco-Roman) or
pre-historic past.
One critic describes parnassian as the dialect of the great
poet when he lacks the divine, authentic inspiration. Cer-
tainly in Roberts's passion for order, harmony, organization
and clarity of idea, the Caribbean lands united by English
speech have seldom produced his peer.
At the time of his death in 1962 I wrote:
Already, the world-wide movement of symbolism, which has
defied the artist, and cut him off for so long from his society, is giv-
ing way to a new type of expression, in an effort to re-establish
contact with the common man.
Now that West Indian poets have been abandoning the cult of the
ineffable, and the urge to communicate is again becoming the
over-riding obsession, they might find in Walter Adolphe Roberts
an uncomprising exemplar:
Let not the enemies of Beauty take
Unction of soul that he can rise no more
Pan is not dead but sleeping in the broke
Ah, flute to him beloved, he will wake.

Adolphe Roberts, from a painting
by Gertrude Whitting, New York, 1944.

n 1977 the Government of Jamaica honoured Walter
Adolphe Roberts for his contribution to the political
development of his country by awarding him post-
humously one of the nation's highest honours, Commander
of the Order of Distinction. This was a long overdue recog-
nition of the man who in the 1930s led the call for self-
government for Jamaica and founded an association, the
Jamaica Progressive League, to work towards this goal. He
lived to see Jamaica achieve not only internal self-govern-
ment in 1957, but political independence from Britain in
His contribution to the country's development was not
confined to the political arena as he was also a poet, novel-
ist, journalist and historian [See Bennett's article, this
issue]. He can perhaps be best described as a man
of letters with a passionate interest in the history of the
Caribbean. His political views were shaped by his study of
the region's history, and from his admiration of the
activities of men such as Simon Bolivar and Jos6 Marti who
inspired and led their people to freedom. History came
alive for him, and in the 1950s he travelled extensively
throughout Jamaica lecturing on the country's history in an
attempt to foster interest and pride in the nation's past.
Roberts was 50 years old in 1936 when he founded the
Jamaica Progressive League in New York. His whole-
hearted advocacy of self-government for Jamaica in the
1930s was remarkable in that he had not had much contact
with Jamaica, apart from some brief visits, since leaving as
a young man in 1904. He also does not appear to have
identified himself with the Jamaican or West Indian com-
munity in New York prior to the 1930s. On his own admis-
sion he took very little interest in the activities of Marcus
Garvey which reached its highpoint in New York in the
1920s. A prolific writer, there was nothing in his published
works prior to the 1930s to suggest his later career as an
ardent Jamaican nationalist.

Born in Kingston 15 October 1886, he said he was 'mainly
of Celtic descent with a mixture of a little English and a little
French blood'. His early years were spent near Mandeville

and he was educated at home chiefly by his father, an
Anglican clergyman who later resigned from the church.
The elder Roberts's support of the Cubans during their war
of independence in the 1890s and his abortive attempt to
enlist secretly with the forces under Maxima Gomez un-
doubtedly influenced his son who became a life long
admirer of the Cuban people. Indeed, he later used the
war as a backdrop for the action in the work The Single
Star, his only novel to be set in the Caribbean.
Between 1902 and 1904 Roberts worked as a reporter
with two newspapers, the Daily Gleaner and the shortlived
Leader. He later said that his work in covering debates in
the Legislative Council made him aware of the evils of the
Crown Colony system of government and the lack of power
the representatives of the Jamaican people had in the
governance of their affairs. 'The farcical nature of the pro-
ceedings,' he said in 1937, 'converted me to self-govern-
ment for the island, and in this cause I have been interested
ever since'.
Leaving Jamaica in 1904, he worked as a journalist and
freelance writer in a number of places in the United States
before going to France in 1913. World War I found him on
the Paris staff of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and overnight he
became a war correspondent, one of the youngest in
France. He covered the war chiefly as it affected the French
civilian population until 1917, when he returned to the
U.S.A., having been transferred to the Brooklyn staff of the
newspaper. However, he soon left to become editor of a
literary magazine, Ainslee's. When that folded in 1921 he
worked with a number of other magazines including one of
his own, the American Parade which he edited and pub-
lished between 1925-26. His literary work flourished during
that period as he published a number of poems, short
stories, novels chiefly detective ones, book reviews,
travel articles, etc.
By 1930 he realized that he had reached a crossroads in
his life. Although he enjoyed his status as a busy and suc-
cessful freelance journalist, he thought that he was not
accomplishing much of permanent value. He felt that '...
some sort of destiny was involved with my work as a West

W Adolphe Roberts

-And The Movement For

By John A. Aarons

Indian Author and it was time that I should do something
about it'. He left New York for Paris, intending to make it
his home. There he decided to write a non-fiction work
dealing with an aspect of West Indian history of signifi-
cance to the development of the region, and in particular to
Jamaica which he still regarded as 'home'.
He chose to write about, or as he expressed it, 'to
resurrect, the life of' Henry Morgan, the 17th century pirate
and buccaneer who was later knighted and appointed
lieutenant governor of Jamaica. He felt that accounts of
Morgan's activities were not adequately covered in existing
works as they did not take fully into account the great
impact he had had in shaping the history of Jamaica and
that of the region. Leaving Paris, he visited Morgan's old
haunts in the West Indies, gathering material for the bio-
graphy. This study had a profound effect on Roberts as it
stimulated his interest in political ideas and provided a
basis for some of his later political actions. It also made him
decide to concentrate his future writings on historical
He attached to the biography which was published in
1933 a short appendix entitled "Self-Government in
Jamaica" in which he outlined the system of Crown Colony
government operating at the present time in Jamaica. He
noted the lack of control the elected members in the 1933
Legislative Council had over their affairs. This he compared
with the rights and privileges their predecessors had
enjoyed under the old representative system of govern-
ment existing from Morgan's era to 1865 when it was
surrendered. He went on to say that Jamaicans '. . have
allowed their land to be ruled as a Crown Colony far
beyond the moment in history when the right to complete
local self-government should have been re-asserted'.
To remedy this situation, Roberts advocated immediate
self-government for Jamaica. In Easter 1936 during a holi-
day visit to Puerto Rico, he made his first public address on
political conditions in the British West Indies. Returning to
New York, he sought support for his views from members
of that city's West Indian community. He propounded his
ideas in an address before a meeting of the Jamaican

Benevolent Association, an old association concerned
chiefly with welfare work. He received a warm response
and in meetings and discussions which followed, it was
decided to form an association to press for self-government
for Jamaica.
Thus on 1 September 1936 the Jamaica Progressive
League with Roberts as president and W. A. Domingo as
vice-president was born. The preamble to its declaration
written by Roberts boldly asserted that as it believed that
.. .any people that has seen its generations come and go on the
same soil for centuries is, in fact, a nation, the Jamaica Progressive
League pledges itself to work for the attainment of self-govern-
ment for Jamaica so that the country may take its rightful place as a
member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Along with political reform for Jamaica, the League advo-
cated universal adult suffrage, the rights of trade unions to
function legally, economic and social reconstruction, and a
cultural awakening to make the people aware of their
It was an ambitious programme but Roberts was
undaunted. The views he expressed in his appendix to
Henry Morgan's biography and in his numerous public
addresses and lectures were published in November 1936
by the League as a pamphlet entitled Self-Government for
Jamaica. In it he advocated the establishment of a political
party in Jamaica pledged to work for self-government and
the waging by Jamaicans of a campaign of cultural
development so that they could become more conscious of
their history and culture.
The situation in Jamaica
In late 1937 Roberts visited Jamaica for five weeks to
promote the work of the League and to assess for himself
the situation in the country. He launched a branch of the
Progressive League in Kingston on 15 December, telling the
members that they should regard this organization as the
nucleus of a political party to press for self-government in
Jamaica. It should operate independently, he said, and not
merely as a branch of the New York League, because the
nationalist movement could not be permanently directed
from abroad. He addressed meetings in various parts of the

The young Roberts in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico December 1907.

country attacking the form of government under which he
said 'the opinions of elected persons were heard but need
not be heeded'.
Of special importance in view of the later course of
events was his meeting with Norman Manley, then the
leading barrister in the country and chairman of Jamaica
Welfare Limited, an agency he had been instrumental in
setting up to promote social development projects. Roberts's
impression of the meeting was that while Manley would
personally support the idea of self-government, he was not
prepared at that time to lead a party or movement in
support of it. (Manley himself was later to say on several
occasions that it was to this meeting that he owed his first
serious and deliberate consideration on the subject of self-
government for Jamaica. He admitted that he was not
ready for the concept at the time when Roberts broached
More encouraging to Roberts was the reaction of the
young group of intellectuals who had formed around the
new weekly paper Public Opinion, founded by O. T. Fair-
clough in February 1937. Members of the group included
H. P. Jacobs, Ken and Frank Hill and Richard Hart and they
embraced the idea of self-government and pledged to do
what they could to assist the movement. Along with the
Local branch of the Jamaica Progressive League, the group
organized on 21 December a mass meeting at the Ward

Theatre in Kingston at which Roberts gave the main
address. He began dramatically by proclaiming that's stand
before you this evening to advocate complete self-govern-
ment for Jamaica'. He stated the historical basis for his
demands and pledged the unrelenting fight by the League
to achieve this objective.
Within six months of Roberts's departure in December
1937, the situation in Jamaica changed drastically as
labour disturbances spread throughout the country. Econo-
mic conditions were at the root of the unrest which had
started earlier in the Eastern Caribbean. Out of it was born
the modern labour movement which was headed by
Manley's flamboyant cousin, Alexander Bustamante.
Manley who commanded immense prestige in the country
offered his services to the striking workers and later toured
the island appealing for a return to law and order. He
became aware of the need for a political party to articulate
the needs and aspirations of the Jamaican people and to
achieve in time control over their own affairs. He agreed to
an appeal made by a number of persons headed by O. T.
Fairclough to form and lead such a party, and thus the
People's National Party with him as president was
launched in September 1938.
From a distance, Roberts watched developments closely.
With his approval, the Kingston branch of the Jamaica Pro-
gressive League affiliated itself with the PNP, but refused to

be absorbed into it. As soon as he could, he came to
Jamaica, arriving on the first day of 1939. He remained
until August and he was later to say that these eight months
were 'the outstanding period of my connection with
Jamaica's struggle for a new regime'. He and the League
worked closely with the PNP in organizing meetings all
over the island and building up a party apparatus. Roberts
was content to let the PNP take the lead in building the
political movement, although he knew that their immedi-
ate aim was not self-government. Manley felt that while
this was important and would be achieved in time, the
priority at the moment was to organize the people so when
self-government was achieved they would be ready for it.

With the political aspect of the nationalist movement
being led by the PNP, Roberts turned the attention of the
League to the cultural aspect of their programme or what
he called 'Jamaicanizing Jamaica'. This programme would
make Jamaicans aware of their history, the lives of their
outstanding men such as Edward Jordan and George Wil-
liam Gordon, developments taking place in the fields of the
arts and letters and the value and use of various local pro-
ducts. In short, the role of the League was to make Jamai-
cans aware of themselves and to build up a nationalist
spirit so that a nation could be created.
During this period in Jamaica, Roberts had begun to write
what many people considered his most important historical
work, The Caribbean: the story of our sea of destiny. His
major reason for doing this work was to place the history of
Jamaica in what he saw as its proper perspective as a unit
of the region and the Americas and to provide a back-
ground for the emerging nationalist movement. There was
need too, he felt, for a general history of the region, written
from a Caribbean viewpoint with the Caribbean as the
centre of activity and not viewed as an appendage to Euro-
pean history.
He started his research in the West India Reference
Library of the Institute of Jamaica, which he described as
having one of the finest collections on the region. As he
needed additional information he decided to go to Wash-
ington D.C. to undertake this research. He left Jamaica in
August 1939, hoping to return within three months. How-
ever, in September World War II broke out and he did not
think it was advisable for him to return. This was on account
of the strict wartime security regulations in force, which
might have prevented him, a well-known alien political
activist, from landing (in 1921 he had become a natural-
ized American citizen).
In New Orleans where he made his temporary home, he
kept in touch chiefly by correspondence with events in
Jamaica. All mail was subject to censorship so both he and
his correspondents had to be careful of what was said. Poli-
tical activity had been drastically reduced as a result of the
war and Roberts could do nothing to help. His major con-
cern in 1940 was for the future of Jamaica if Britain suf-
fered defeat in the war, as appeared increasingly likely to
him. He feared that if that happened, the British posses-
sions would be taken over by other Western nations under
a system of trusteeship as happened to the German colo-
nies at the end of World War I.
He therefore seized the opportunity presented that year

A sketch of Roberts (1917) done by his friend J.B. Yeats, father of
the celebrated poet, William Butler Yeats.

by a Conference in Havana of the foreign ministers of the
American republics, for the Jamaica Progressive League to
present a memorandum on the subject. The conference
was the second one called by President Roosevelt to discuss
common strategies for preventing German penetration into
the Western Hemisphere. In making its representation, the
League assumed the right of speaking on behalf of the
Jamaican people, which it felt was justified, as conditions
in Jamaica prevented organizations there from speaking
The memorandum, which Roberts wrote himself, stressed
the rights of a people to self determination, which it said
had been recognized by many American statesman includ-
ing President Grant in a message to Congress. The League
stated its opposition to any plan which would transfer
Jamaica from one sovereignty to another or to place it
under a system of trusteeship. It asserted that 'the status of
an independent nation is the only status that could auto-
matically follow the demise of British imperial authority'.
As it turned out, the matter became academic, as Britain
survived the war.
In 1945 Roberts became a cause celebre in Jamaica
when his application for a British visa to travel to Jamaica
was denied. The war was still on, but appeared to be in its
final phases and Roberts had not anticipated any problems


in obtaining his visa. 'We regret to inform you', he was told,
'that the Government of Jamaica is unable to accede to
your request at the present time'.
He arrived in Jamaica the following year with no trouble,
the war having ended. Nevertheless he was warned not to
make any political speeches, advice which he did not take
seriously as he made several speeches which could hardly
have been termed non-political. The government left him
alone, no doubt realizing that to have deported him would
have resulted in a great deal of publicity for him. The PNP
and its affiliated organizations gave him a warm welcome
and the highpoint of his visit was a dinner in his honour
held at the Myrtle Bank Hotel. Tribute was paid to him by a
number of prominent personalities, including Manley, who
praised him for his vision and leadership and repeated
what he had said before: that it was from him he had
received his first lessons in self-government.
In 1949 Roberts decided to take up permanent residence
in Jamaica. Although he continued to support the PNP, he
did not take an active part in politics. In 1940, the party had
declared itself socialist and Roberts disagreed with this,
feeling that it diverted attention from the subject of self-
government which he saw as the main issue. The form of
government could be decided after that goal was achieved
he said, but'. .. we were not building a nation for the sake
of social welfare'. For a time he thought of forming his own
party, but he realized that it was not practicable. Neverthe-
less, in 1955 he welcomed the victory of the PNP in the
general election and Manley's appointment as chief
There was one matter on which Roberts found himself
resolutely opposed to the PNP, and that was the issue
of federation. From the 1940s the PNP had supported the
idea of a federation of the territories of the British Carib-
bean and in 1958 a federal structure was established. In
speeches, broadcasts and articles, Roberts spoke out
strongly against the federation. He felt that it was not in
Jamaica's interest to be a member, for a number of rea-
sons. These included her size compared with the other terri-
tories, her distance from them, the financial burdens which
the smaller territories would impose on her, and above all
in the loss of her identity as a nation. This was not, he said,
the objective of the Jamaica Progressive League when it
started the self-government movement in 1936.

In 1961, Manley announced a referendum to be held in
September of that year to decide on Jamaica's continued
participation in the West Indies Federation. Roberts, now 75
years old, threw himself with his accustomed vigour into
the anti-federation campaign. When the votes were
counted, Jamaicans by a majority of over 30,000 had voted
to secede from the federation. 'Jamaica is saved', a
triumphant Roberts titled an article on the referendum he
wrote for Pepperpot magazine. This was to be his last
political battle as within a year he was dead.
Roberts may have won this battle, but he was not certain
how successful he had been with his major objective of
arousing a nationalist feeling among Jamaicans. He later
admitted that he had been over-confident in his belief that
there would be a wide and eager response to the call for
self-government. His basic assumption, he said in 1936,

was that nationalist feeling existed, but was dormant. This
feeling, he later realized, was not dormant but potential
and had to be created rather than aroused. He consoled
himself with the thought that even Simon Bolivar had
approached his revolution with similar over-confidence.
He realized, too, that developments had not worked out
the way he had envisaged. For one, he had thought that
Britain would have resisted the demands for constitutional
reform in the 1940s, and this resistance would have stiff-
ened the resolve of the people, thus building up a national-
ist movement. 'Freedom', he said, 'is a supreme end and it
is more valued if it comes as a victory instead of a gift'. The
constitutional reforms of the 1940s and 1950s he saw as
gifts from Britain with little sacrifice being made by the
people. This was apart from the events of 1938, which in
any case, were motivated by economic rather than political
factors. He also felt that the programme of the PNP, with its
emphasis op social reform rather than on self-government,
dampened a nationalist feeling.
In the last 13 years of his life when he made Jamaica
his home, he concentrated on, apart from the issue of
federation, themes of Caribbean history, literature and cul-
ture. He recounted vividly the events of the past, particu-
larly those dealing with the fight for liberty. This was not
meant as an academic exercise, but was intended to make


Roberts receiving the Gold Musgrave Medal of the Institute of
Jamaica (1955) from Mr. Harold Lake, chairman of the board
of governors.

Jamaicans aware of their heritage and to help mould a
national consciousness. The full development of this spirit
was to him the end result of the self-government move-
ment for, as he said, 'There is a sustaining and guiding
strength in national consciousness. Until it appears, a
people is not adult.'

This article is based on Roberts's papers and works, particularly his
unpublished autobiography, These Many Years, in the collection of the
National Library of Jamaica. All quotations are from Roberts's writings.

Sir Henry Morgan: buccaneer and governor, New York: H. Hamilton,
1933. Translated into French. West Indian edition published by
Pioneer Press, Kingston, 1952.
Semmes of the Alabama, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1938.
Six Great Jamaicans: biographical sketches, Kingston: Pioneer Press,
The Caribbean the story of our sea of destiny, Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Merrill Co., 1938. Reprinted Negro Universities Press, 1969.
The French in the West Indies: Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1942.
Translated into French.
The U.S. Navy Fights, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1942.
Lake Pontchartrain, New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1946.
Lands of the Inner Sea: the West Indies and Bermuda, New York:
Coward-McCann, 1948.
Havana: the portrait of a city, New York: Coward-McCann, 1953.
Jamaica: the portrait of an island, New York: Coward-McCann, 1955.
Self-Government for Jamaica, New York: Jamaica Progressive League,
The Haunting Hand, New York: Macaulay Company, 1926.
The Mind Reader, New York: Macaulay Company, 1929.
The Moralist, New York: Mohawk Press, 1931.
The Top Floor Killer, London: Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1935.
The Pomegranate, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1941.
Royal Street: A novel of old New Orleans, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill
Co., 1944.
Brave Mardi Gros: A New Orleans novel of the'60's. Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Merrill Co., 1946.
Creole Dust: A New Orleans novel of the '80's, Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Merrill Co., 1948.
The Single Star: A novel of Cuba in the '90's, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill
Co., 1949. West Indian edition published by Pioneer Press, Kingston,
Pan and Peacocks, Boston: Four Seas Company, 1928.
Pierrot Wounded and other poems, New York: Britton Publishing Co.,
Medallions, Kingston: The Arowak Society, 1950.



Erna Brodber, a socio-historian, while a research fellow at
the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of
the West Indies, undertook what is regarded as pioneering
work in social history research in Jamaica the collection
and analysis of 90 oral accounts. Miss Brodber has published
studies on Abandonment of Children in Jamaica and Yards
in the City of Kingston and a novel, Jane and Louisa Will
Soon Come Home (see review article, JAMAICA JOURNAL
Carol Mae Morrissey is a graduate student in history at the
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
Barry Jupp, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the Department of Botany,
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. His research
publications are on the growth, productivity and ecology of
freshwater and marine plants. Investigations here in Jamaica
since 1980 include a survey of streams in the Blue Mountains,
the phytoplankton ecology of Mona Reservoir, biomass and
grazing studies on seaweeds and ecological studies of sea-
grasses including pollution effects and restoration methods.

G.A. (Tony) Aarons is the Government Archaeologist, attach-
ed to the National Heritage Trust Commission. His previous
publication in JAMAICA JOURNAL was "Archaeological
Sites in the Hellshire Area" (16/1).

Judith Hamilton has won national Festival Awards for her
poetry since 1976. She works as a freelance writer of policy
and procedure manuals.

Wycliffe Bennett has been associated with many facets of
the arts in Jamaica and was most recently General Manager
of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. He is currently
writing a book on Jamaican theatre.
John A. Aarons is a librarian and archivist and Deputy
Director of the National Library of Jamaica. He formerly
worked with the Jamaica Archives *and with the West
India Reference Library of the Institute of Jamaica.


We gratefully acknowledge the contribution made to
JAMAICA JOURNAL by the other Divisions of the Institute.

We are particularly indebted to:
The Director and staff of the National Library of Jamaica
The Institute's Photographic Department and Mr. Keith
Morrison, Institute Photographer.
The Director and staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica


Historic Structures

The story of the old Parish of St Thomas in the Vale,
now part of the Parish of St Catherine, is one of perpetual
struggle on the part of the inhabitants of the parish to
master the waters of a powerful and relentless river. In
spate, 'that noble river the Cobre' as Edward Long called it,
with its violent floods, was often uncontrollable.
In 1791 we read of the Parish Vestry agreeing to pay for
'the necessary temporary repairs done to the Bridge to
make it passable for the present'. In the following month,
November, an entire Monday was devoted to a meeting at
Rodney Hall Tavern at which the people of the parish drew
up a petition to the House of Assembly requesting that
'part of the monies arising from the Ferry Toll might be
appropriated to the Repairs of the said Bridge and Road'.
It was vital that this route should be kept open; along it
the produce of the estates of the parish was transported
to the wharves on the south coast. Way Wardens were
appointed to ensure that this life-line and the subsidiary
roads of the area were always in good repair. It should be
remembered, too, that this route was the link between the
island's north and south coasts from early Spanish times,
a mule trail had followed the course of the river through
the percipitous gorge.
The 16 plantations in the surrounding Bog Walk area
were obliged to send one slave in every 50 to work on the
River-Road, sometimes called Sixteen Mile Walk Road.

Gravel, marl, lime, sand and stone had to be dug, and often
slaves lost their lives, crushed to death by falling boulders as
they performed hazardous tasks in the dangerous gorge.
The road and the bridge were maintained at very large
public expense, and we gather from Edward Long that a
standing body of workmen had to be employed year round
to keep both in order. Contracts for timber and for masons
to work on the bridge were authorized at Vestry Meetings,
and records show detailed accounts of labour costs: '21
masons for one day for building in the Beams and building
sundry other places in the Bridge @ 5/- per day each'.
Materials, too, were detailed in full clamps, bolts, large
spike nails, forelocks and keys etc.
Today, the bridge of three spans is supported by two
piers and two abutments. In the 1930s it did have metal
hand-rails and, later, wooden ones, but as these were
devoured by the river at different times semi-circle spheres
are now the only protection on the bridge itself. Lady
Nugent in her Journal records that in her day this 'most
beautiful but tremendous' bridge 'was composed of logs
and earth without railings or defence of any sort'.
Although two centuries have passed since the visiting
artist George Robertson drew a picture of the bridge in the
Gorge, the atmosphere which he captured then, of lush
vegetation and swirling waters, is not unfamiliar to present-
day users of the bridge. We sense, too, the excitement of
Maria Nugent when she describes 'the roar of the river
beneath and envisages the 'perilous journey' back through
this awful and romantic gorge after nightfall. In 1754 a
writer mentioned that the Rio Cobre was 'unfordable
except at two or three places which were made passable
by Art'. Indeed, the construction of both the bridge and
the river road in the Bog Walk Gorge must be regarded as
a remarkable feat in the 'art' of engineering.
Jamaica National Trust Commission


-*-. l.

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