Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library







Published by the Jamaica Committee, 65 Fleet Street, 1866


Compiled from a multiplicity of documents



The Daily News of the 14th of December published, under the title of "The Story of the Jamaica Rebellion," a careful precis of the facts known up to that date. From this we take the subjoined matter:-

We now proceed to condense, from Governor Eyre's own despatch, the account of his proceedings. He tells us that on the morning of Wednesday, 11th October, at 8 a.m., he received at Spanish Town a letter from the Baron von Ketelholdt, custos of St. Thomas-in-the-east, written the previous evening from Morant Bay, to inform him that serious disturbances were apprehended, and to request that troops might be sent. On receiving this letter, Governor Eyre, on the 11th, sent from Spanish Town, where he then was, an express to Kingston, requesting that 100 troops might be sent by the Wolverene to Morant Bay. They embarked and sailed the same evening. So little apprehension of serious disaffection, however, was entertained, that Governor Eyre tells us that after giving these orders he returned to his "temporary residence in the mountains, to be present at a dinner party which which was to meet there next day." But on the afternoon of that day, Thursday, October 12, despatches reached him announcing "a rising." He then returned to Kingston, despatched a hundred by sea, and a company of the 6th Regiment by land, to march along the line of the Blue Mountain valley. At the same time martial law was proclaimed over the whole county of Surrey, excepting Kingston. On the morning of Friday, the 13th of October, Governor Eyre himself proceeded to Morant Bay with fifty more troops, and attended by two members of the Assembly, a member of the Council, and the Attorney-General, "all in their capacity as officers of militia and volunteers." . Arrived at Morant Bay he found that a detachment of 120 men had already proceeded, under Captain Luke, towards Bath. The Governor went on the same evening, at nine o'clock, to Port Morant, where he in person first saw active service in the field and on court-martial. "We ascertained also that some of the rebels were in the immediate vicinity of our camp, and a party of twenty-five men were sent out at two in the morning, to try and surprise some in their huts. Two men and some women were thus captured. One of the men was a principal in the disturbances, of the name of Fleming. He was tried by court-martial, and at once hung. The second, quite a young man, was flogged. The women were released."

Returning that morning, Saturday, 14th Oct., to Morant Bay, the Governor found the Wolverene returned, with a reinforcement of another company of the 6th Regiment.

He then says:- "The prisoners on board the Wolverene were landed, and five of them tried by court-martial, four of whom were hung on the stone archway of the burnt Court-house, near to which all the massacres had taken place on the 11th. One prisoner was flogged. The Attorney General of the colony, in his capacity as a captain in the militia, sat as a member of the court."

The Colonial Standard of Oct. 21st gives us, however, some further information respecting this second court-martial. The sentence on the men was subject to the Governor's confirmation; the sentence on the woman, Sarah Frances, was accompanied with "a recommendation to his Excellency the Governor that her sentence be commuted to imprisonment for life. His Excellency declined to adopt the recommendation of the court-martial in reference to the female culprit; thereupon the three male insurgents and one female were, after receiving spiritual consolation, speedily ushered into eternity."

On Sunday, the 15th, the Governor proceeded in the Wolverene to Port Antonio, which was "threatened by the rebels, who were burning buildings and destroying property about twelve miles to the eastward." Governor Eyre says:-

"No time was lost in disembarking the troops and by noon a strong detachment, consisting of 100 from the 2nd battalion 6th and 1st West India Regiments (many on horseback) were on their way under Captain Hole, 6th Regiment, to meet the rebels reported to be at Long Bay (twelve or fourteen miles to the eastward). I personally inspected the Maroons, a fine body of about 150 men, who in the most loyal spirit had come down on the day preceding our arrival, illarmed as they were, determined to protect Port Antonio. They were unbounded in their devotion and loyalty and were beyond measure delighted to see again their former captain, the Hon. A. G. Fyfe, whom I had brought with me in the Wolverene, and under whose orders they at once placed themselves. It was now clear that by the rapidity of our movements we had got ahead of the rebellion, which, breaking out at Morant Bay, had proceeded rapidly along the south-east, east, and northern corner of the island. By occupying Port Antonio in time, we not only saved that district from destruction, but we met and stopped the further progress of the rebellion twelve mile east of it. We had indeed accomplished some most important results in a singularly brief space of time. A military post was established at Morant Bay, and another at Port Antonio, whilst the centre of a line connecting the two was occupied by the friendly Maroons. The greater portion of the rebels were therefore hemmed in within the country east of this line. The spread of the rebellion westward was stopped, and if no independent outbreak occurs in any other part of the island, we shall have the disturbed districts under control, and can at leisure deal with and punish the insurgents. At the same time, all the helpless and unprotected ladies, children, and other refugees have been got in and saved. All our most important work being thus done, and the troops comfortably established in their barracks, we had for the first time a night of quiet and rest on the night of Sunday, the 15th October. At daybreak on Monday, the 16th October, a court-martial sat to try prisoners, and 27 were found guilty and hung."

Having thus completed his military arrangements, "got ahead of the rebellion," brought "the disturbed districts under control," "hemmed in the greater portion of the rebels," had a good night's rest on Sunday, and seen 27 prisoners hung next morning, Governor Eyre returned to Kingston, from which he had received urgent entreaties that martial law might be extended to it. He reached it on the morning of Tuesday, the 17th. He found that 200 more troops had been sent for from Nassau, volunteers and pensioners had been called out, and the parties sent through the district strengthened. In these circumstances he considered it unnecessary to proclaim martial law in Kingston, and made the following speech-reported in the Jamaica papers--in explanation:-

His excellency addressed the meeting, and said he was happy to say that through the exertions of the troops and the Maroons, the further progress of the rebels had been stopped. The Maroons had marched from Port Antonio, over the hills, to meet the troops, and the rebels had been entirely intercepted. He was of the opinion that there was no organization, for several of the rebels had been taken around and about Plantain Garden River, not far from their homes. He thought there might have been very few who had come from Morant Bay to join in the outbreak there, and what was done really appeared to have been done by people in the districts. He hoped that soon entire peace would prevail.

Further confirmation of the fact that the authorities considered all resistance at an end is incidentally furnished in a report of a meeting called at Mandeville, 50 miles on the other side of Kingston, by the custos, on 18th October. At the meeting, the Morning Journal of 26th October tells us "a despatch was brought in to the inspector of police, dated the day previous, which was read aloud to the meeting, and was in substance, 'That the rebellion was crushed out, the ringleader, George W. Gordon, being in irons, to be tried by a court-martial on board the Wolverene.'"

In one passage of his despatch to Mr. Cardwell (Nov. 18, 1865), Governor Eyre emphatically calls the "rebellion" "most wicked and wide-spread;" but another passage from the same despatch, which we have quoted, and marked in italics in the above quotation, is quite inconsistent with this statement. It shows that instead of being widespread, it made no progress westward-the direction in which the greater part of the island lies.

A rebellion implies forcible resistance to lawful authorities. Such resistance did occur in the riots at Morant Court House; but the evidence of the military officers proves conclusively that the troops did not meet with any resistance at all in any other case. A rebellion certainly implies not only forcible resistance to lawful authority, but a resistance that is concerted, and to some extant at least, organized..... Governor Eyre assures us that this was not the case in Jamaica. We have put in italics a part of the speech which he made at Kingston on the 17th October, to this effect. He then said "he was of opinion that there was no organization."

Governor Eyre's despatch to Mr. Cardwell (Nov. 18, 1865), paragraph 75, likewise shows the want of evidence of his other statements as to the extent of the rebellion. It was as follows: "It is difficult to arrive at any correct estimate of the number of people engaged in the rebellion. The districts where it broke out and into which it spread are very fertile and populous." Neither the Governor nor the military officers afford us any clue to the grounds on which they designate masses of persons "Rebels" who are not stated to have been guilty of any resistance to authority.

The Governor says, (despatch cited, par.76), "that different persons here reported seeing hundreds and thousands of rebels at a time;" and "Colonel Hobbs," says the same paragraph, reports that there were still thousands of rebels around him." Not only is no evidence adduced to show that these thousands were "rebels," but the Governor continues his statement be explaining, that "no stand has ever been made against the troops, and though we are not only in complete military occupation of, but have traversed with troops, all the disturbed districts, not a single casualty has befallen any of our soldiers."

In paragraph 78 of the same despatch the notion of organization or concert amongst the so-called rebels is distinctly negatived. "It is a remarkable fact, that, so far as we can ascertain, the rebels at Morant Bay sis not proceed in any considerable numbers to the adjacent districts; but the people of a certain district rose and committed the deeds of violence and destruction that were doe within it.


*(Free use has been made in this section of the resume in the Daily News, 14 Dec. 1865)

On the 18th October, Captain Luke was sent from Morant Bay with 120 men towards Bath, about six miles to the N.E. His first despatch, dated 16th October, gives the following account:- Passing the Plantain Garden River estate, Captain Ross, who was in charge of the escort, ordered his men to fire on a number of the rebels who were on the hill threatening our party, and several were killed. Hearing there were several gentlemen lying on the Golden Grove estate I sent a mounted party of men to bring them on; but an alarm being raised of the large body of men on the estate, I ordered off Captain Ross, with 60 rank and file, who found a number of rebels with cutlasses, who, on seeing the troops attempted to escape. Upwards of 40 prisoners were made, and several of the rebels were shot. The soldiers of the West India regiment were mounted on horses they secured, which caused great celerity and facility in capturing the rebels. They rode like devils, and were the best BashiBazouks in the West Indies.

Brigadier Nelson (despatch Oct. 17th) thus describes the proceedings of Captain Hole:-

Captain Hole, commanding detachments of 6th Royal and 1st West India Regiments, had arrived at Manchioneal, having carried all before them. The whole of his proceedings were temperate, decided, and judicious. All rebels captured, having been tried, he instantly executed. In several houses he found plunder secreted, and razed them to the ground, and proclaimed that where he discovered spoil he would adopt a similar course. I cannot conclude without briefly saying that Captain Hole has in every way carried out my orders, and has proved himself not only an excellent officer, but, what is still more valuable, an officer of sound sense and judgment.

Brigadier Nelson's opinion, that it was "temperate and judicious" to have rebels who appear to have been captured without resistance tried and "instantly executed," must be noticed in this place.

Colonel Hobbs, 6th Regiment, was meanwhile pushing westwards under the chain of the Blue Mountains to meet the other detachments at Stony Gut. The following are the principal parts of the despatches of this officer. The first despatch is dated Monklands, 16th October:-

I have the honour to report we have been most successful in our advance, and I think in a great measure crushed the rebellion in this quarter. The troops under my command have behaved not only with gallantry but with that order which becomes British soldiers. Private Thomas Murton of the 6th Royal Regiment, captured the rebel chief William Carr, who entered this house in search of Mr. Patterson, with the intention of taking his life. He was tried this day by court martial; after due deliberation found guilty, and shot. This has produced a wonderful effect throughout the district. Since the execution, numbers of rebels have come in, having thrown away their arms, and seeking protection. The men I cannot possibly undertake to guard. They are embarrassing the troops, and I believe they are all worthy of death, but I shrink from the responsibility of executing them without first hearing your wishes respecting them. I hope tomorrow, if all be well, to make a forced march towards Stony Gut, in this parish, where the rebels driven due westward by Brigadier-General Nelson have assembled in great force, and where they have a large supply of gunpowder, arms, etc. As they are all mounted on mules and horses, it is evident we shall have some difficulty in following them up. I do not think the insurrectionist spirit extends into St. David's, where all seems loyal at present.

Postscript.-Since the execution of the leader, William Carr, the rebels are coming here in great numbers, confessing their guilt and seeking protection. I have handed them all over to the magistrates, who say they cannot get special constables to guard them, and I have no men to perform the duty. From the other outposts all continued satisfactory, the troops pushing on towards the rebels All is quiet to the west.

The rebels "assembled in great force, with a large supply of gunpowder and arms," did not attempt the slightest resistance, as we learn from the next despatch of Colonel Hobbs:-

Chiego-root Market, Blue Mountain Valley,

Nine miles in advance of Monklands, October 19 (midnight)

Sir,-I have the honour to bring to the knowledge of your excellency that I marched at halfpast 11 p.m. last night for the rebel stronghold Stony Gut. To my regret I found that not only had the rebels too cowardly treated us, but the honour of being the first troops there fell to the lot of the sailors, artillery, etc., under Lieutenant Oxley. The march from Monklands occupied nine hours, under torrents of rain, and I found it most dangerous work crossing over the numerous rivers, which took the men above their waists. There was not a single non-commissioned officer or soldier who was not literally wet through, and every article of their clothing, saddlery, etc., utterly destroyed. Added to this, the entire darkness of the night made it a march never to be forgotten in the 6th Regiment. About daylight this morning, in passing through this village of cross roads, where the rebels destroyed everything, I found a number of special constables, who had captured a number of prisoners from the rebel camp. Finding their guilt clear, and being unable either to take or leave them, I had them all shot. The constables then hung them up on trees, eleven in number. Their countenances were all diabolical, and they never flinched the very slightest. From this we at once went to Stony Gut. . This gut, or narrow defile, is three miles long, and the men were up to their knees in sticky mud, at the bottom of which mud our horses' shoes and ammunition boots firmly embedded. After partaking of some biscuits and rum in Bogle's chapel, sending off his lamps as a trophy to his excellency the governor, and utterly destroying the rebellious settlement, I have returned with my jaded and foot-sore troops to this spot, where we bivouacked for the night in another ecclesiastical building, called the "Chigoe-Foot Methodist Chapel." We have plenty to eat, and the few remaining white and coloured people treated us most kindly. Their houses have all been wrecked, and pistols pointed at them . . .I must not forget to tell you that I have got Paul Bogle's valet for my guide--a little fellow of extraordinary intelligence. A light rope tied to the stirrup and a revolver now and then to his head cause us to understand each other; and he knows every single rebel in the island by name and face, and has been selecting the captains, colonels, and secretaries out of an immense gang of prisoners just come in here, whom I shall have to shoot tomorrow morning. . .If you can send me some sailors and marines do so, as there is a plenty to do yet.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant


Col. 6th Royals, Com. Central Division

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