Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
NOTE: In 1755 the capital of Jamaica was removed from St. Jago de la Vega (Spanish Town) to Kingston for nearly 3 years. It finally reverted to Kingston in 1872.
See below for a short history of how the situation unfolded.
DEPOSITIONS OBJECTING TO THE REMOVAL OF THE CAPITAL IN 1755
Jamaica Ss: THOMAS McQUISTIN, of the town of St. Jago de la Vega (commonly called Spanish Town) in the parish of St. Catherine, and island aforesaid, practitioner in physick and surgery deposeth and saith that this Deponent is a native of the aforesaid town, and as he hath been informed is descended from one of those who were the conquerors and first settlers of the island, by the English. That this Deponent is possessed of a considerable property, partly by inheritance and partly of his own acquiring in the said town and parish. That his property, in the said town, consists of a house which he now lives in, of a yearly rent of £50 per annum, according to the usual rates of houses in the said town, in the year 1752, for the purchase of which, he has been offered £500; and that he refused to accept of the same, as too low a price and that he does apprehend, and believe, that, if he now wanted to dispose of this said house he would not get above half that sum for it, nor let it out, for above half of the rent, before specified, for that, he is well informed, that within six weeks past, many houses, in the said town, are greatly fallen, in their rents, as, for instance, a house for which the present tenant used to pay £65 per annum is now rented to the same tenant for £40 per annum and so in proportion for other houses, and that many houses in the aforesaid town, are now untenanted. That the said Deponent hath followed the business and employment of a Practitioner of Physick and Surgery in the said town, for 11 years last past by which he hath acquired, one year with the other, to the amount of about £700 per annum and that he hath a comparable sum of money, now due and owing to him on account of the said Practice, to the amount of about £400 which he apprehends, and believes, will be rendered very precarious, in the whole, and, in a great part will be entirely lost, by the removal of the Seat of Government and of the Courts and Records, from the said town, and further, that he hath several sums of money due to him, on other accounts by the inhabitants of the said town and adjacent country, which he also fears, will likewise become insecure by such alterations. This Deponent also deposeth and saith that he hath a real Property in and is in possession of two Mountain Polinks in the said parish of St. Catherine, the chief produce of which, is Timber and Lime and that the said Polinks occupied by about 25 Negroes yielded him, one year with the other, until the year 1753 £400 per annum, by using and disposing of the said timber and lime, in the said town of St. Jago de la Vega. This Deponent further deposeth and saith that he hath had very little vend or use for the said timber and lime in the said town, since the removal of the said Courts and Records; nor doth he expect to have any demand, for either of them, if this Bill for the said removal is confirmed: and this Deponent also deposeth and saith that the said lands producing timber and lime will thereby become of little or no value to him, and that they will not bear the expense of conveying them to the Kingston Market which (as this Deponent believes to be) will render these Polinks entirely useless, the land being unfit for any other purposes by reason of being very rocky barren and subject to great droughts-- This Deponent further deposeth and saith that he is engaged in making a New Settlement of a Sugar Work in the parish of St. Mary which he was encouraged to undertake from the expectation of the profits, he expected to make from his profession and the sales of timber and lime as aforementioned: but that he fears from the falling short of his Profits, in the said articles he shall be greatly embarrassed in carrying on the Settlement of the said Sugar Work-- and lastly the said Thomas McQuistin deposeth and saith, that his family (including himself his sister-in-law and her daughter who, in some measure live with and depend upon him, together with three white people in his employ) consists of 10 white Persons, and further this Deponent saith not.
Sworn before me at St. Jago de la Vega this 7th day of June 1755. J. Prevost
Jamaica Ss: PAUL ANDROUIN, of the Parish of St. Catherine, Gentleman.
He hath a house in St. Jago de la Vega, and no other property. He hath a large family and no means of supporting them but by letting out lodging to Gentlemen who attend the Grant Court and other Courts, and the Publick Offices. If the Courts and Offices were removed his family would be reduced to misery with no means of subsistence.
Sworn to on February 8, 1754 before John Venn.
WILLIAM EWERS, of the Parish of St. Catherine, Planter.
He hath a house in St. Jago de la Vega, in which he lets out lodgings. He also hath a Mountain Plantation with 6 miles of the town, from which it would be too expensive to transport produce to market in Kingston. He is now in his 52nd year, and he and his ancestors had lived in the home for over 90 years and could not move.
Sworn to on June 7, 1755 before J. Prevost.
HENRY FLETCHER of the town of St. Jago de la Vega (commonly called Spanish Town) in the parish of St. Catherine.
This Deponent is a native of the aforesaid town, and as is descended from one of those who were the conquerors and first settlers of the island, by the English. That this Deponent is possessed of a considerable property, by inheritance in the said town and parish. That his property, in the said town, consists of 3 houses, on which he now lives in, and two which rented for £55 per annum, and the values would decrease because of the removal of the capital. He also owns a Provisonal Property which is dependent on the market in Spanish Town. Finally, being blind for several years, and having a large family consisting of a wife and 5 daughters and a grandchild, they are dependent on him for subsistence. Signed by X on June 7, 1755 before J. Prevost.
STEPHEN RICHARD REDWOOD of the Parish of St. Catherine, Planter.
Possessed of many lands and premises in St. Catherine and St. John:
One messuage or tenement in St. Catherine yearly value £90 per year in which he now resides.
Two other houses rented at £50 a year each.
Two lots of land in the town of St. Jago de la Vega on which 4 good houses might be built.
Divers other land and premises in the 2 parishes consisting of Provision and Penn lands.
If the Courts and Public Offices are moved to Kingston they will be of no value to him.
Signed: Ste. Ri: Redwood May 31, 1755 before John Pallmer.
MARY RENNALLS of the Parish of St. Catherine, widow.
She is descended from one of the first English settlers in the island, and her ancestors have been at great expense in buying lands and building houses in St. Jago de la Vega for the support of themselves and their families. She has brought up her children there, and now has 25 children and grandchildren dependent on her for support. She took in lodgers in her house, rented out other houses and a storehouse in the town, but with the passing of the act her income has been cut in half.
Signed May 20, 1755 before Thomas Murphy.
ROBERT TAYLOR of the Parish of St. Catherine, barber and perruque maker.
Owner of the best shop, next door to the Court House. Also owner of Penn and a house a mile away from town, and a Mountain Plantation about 4 miles from town. If the move of the capital is permanent he will be forced to move to another country to make a living. Signed on June 7, 1755 before J. Prevost.
JOHN VENN, Rector of the Parish Church of St. Catherine for the last 7 years.
A lengthy statement concerning the situation in the town.
Signed May 31, 1755 before John Pallmer.
SAMUEL WORTH of the town of St. Jago de la Vega in the parish of St. Catherine, practitioner in physick and surgery.
The gross amount of his business in 1753 was £1987, in 1754 it was £1500, and in the first 3 months of 1755 only £145, which is inadequate.
Governor Knowles commanded the next assembly to meet him in Kingston.
Three assemblies met, and were dissolved in three months, for not consenting to an act for the removal of the seat of government and the courts of justice from Spanish-Town to Kingston, but a fourth, less scrupulous, passed the act in May. The king was addressed by the assembly to confirm the law, and was petitioned by the whole island to annul it.
Governor Knowles retired, and the government devolved on Henry Moore, esq., (afterwards baronet) lieut.-governor.
The royal disallowance of the act of removal proclaimed on the 3rd October, and lieutenant-governor Moore empowered to hold the courts when and where he considered most convenient. Thirty waggons, loaded with the public records, and escorted by a large body of military, were met at the Ferry by a detachment from the garrison of St. Jago, and restored to their ancient depository.
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