Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
The publication of Almanacs for Jamaica began in 1751. Almanacs are available at the National Library for 1751, 1776, 1779, and from 1781 through 1880 they appear to have been published annually (although copies have not survived for every year). The Almanac was prepared during the prior year, (for example the Almanac for 1811 was prepared in late 1810) so that the information would be available to the readers on January 1st, much like our modern calendars. The Almanacs contained blank pages which were intended to be used as a diary during the year.
At various times during its 100 year history the Almanac, besides containing names of persons, provided the following information: phases of the moon, eclipses, the times of sunrise and sunset, saints' days, holidays, the Jewish calendar and holidays, Anglican Lessons for each Sunday, the sovereigns of Europe, a chronology of Jamaica, the values of various coins used in the island, postage and shipping rates, rates for wharfage, stamp fees, poundage rates for stray animals, import duties, tables of exports and imports, schedules for the departures and arrivals of steamships and mail packets, the calendar for Circuit Courts, the hours of operation of post offices and banks.
The lists that are most important to the Jamaican researcher and genealogist are:
The Almanacs for 1811-1812, 1816-1818, 1820-1829, 1831-1833, 1838, 1840 and 1845 included a list of property owners etc. All of those lists are on this site. The lists were by Parish and contained the name of the property owner or other person in possession of the property, and the name of the property, where available. They were prepared from the "Givings-in to the Vestry" (the equivalent of a modern property tax return} for the year preceding the date of the Almanac.
From 1811 through 1833 the Almanac showed the number of slaves on each property, and the number of taxable stock, if any. The 1838 list shows the number of apprentices (see Glossary) instead of slaves and stock. In 1840 and 1845 it shows the number of acres or feet in the property.
The island was divided into three counties: Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey, each containing parishes. The Almanacs were sorted accordingly.
A. "Proprietors &c.*, Properties &c., Slaves**/Stock" (1811 to 1833)
B. "Proprietors &c., Properties &c., Apprentices**" (1838)
C. "Proprietors &c., Properties &c., Acres [or Feet]**" (1840 to 1845)
* "&c." (etc.) is always implied, even when not included in the heading. Properties were sometimes under the control of persons who were not the owners. Such a person may have been an executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, receiver, attorney, or some other form of agent.
**This indicates to you what the numbers at the end mean, whether slaves or apprentices, or the acreage of the property.
Proprietors etc.: Last name, First and Middle Names, Title, Modifier (Senior, Junior, Baronet, Knight, deceased, estate of, heirs of etc. The last three terms all indicate that the person named had died.)
......Capacity in which property is held, if applicable (although this is not always indicated in the Almanacs): Trustee, Receiver, Guardian, Executor, Executrix, Attorney [See Glossary].
A comparison of the Almanacs for all the years will be very useful to you. You will be able to determine the approximate year of death of the proprietor, based on when the terms "deceased", "estate of", or "heirs of" first appeared next to the proprietor's name. There may be more information in one Almanac than in others, for example, the full given name instead of initials of the proprietor, the middle name of the proprietor, the name of a particular property, or an indication whether the property was a pen or an estate.
Properties etc.: If the property name was given on the tax return it should appear here.
A. 1811-1833: Names only appear on the list if there were slaves on the property. If there is only one number it applies to slaves. If there are two numbers, separated by /, the second number refers to the number of taxable livestock on the property.
In the 1822 Almanac the method of recording stock for some parishes changed. This resulted in major increases in stock numbers for that year.
The 1829 Almanac included the following statement "It is necessary to apprize the purchasers of this Almanac that the foregoing Lists have been copied from the Rolls in the Receiver-General's Office, with the exception of those for St. Mary and Trelawny, which contain the numbers of Stock, for which Parish Tax is paid. The remainder embrace only those for which a Tax is paid to the Public, working Stock being excepted."
B. 1838: The number of apprentices on the property. [See Glossary]
C. 1840 to 1845: Land in the country was measured in Acres. Land in major towns appears on the list by Feet. In some parishes the list combines the two. In that case I have indicated ' for feet after the number.
An asterisk (or other indicated symbol) indicating "assessed"
When a property owner failed to report holdings the Collector would "assess" the numbers. I have noted that in some parishes this assessment appears to be double the number reported on the previous report, and proprietors were not always identified as being assessed (usually with an *). In others, the number previously reported seems to have been increased, with the new number ending in 0 or 5.
Condition of the Almanacs.
If a section is illegible, I indicate the condition in [ ] square brackets. Sometimes I will put what the number or word appears to be, if it is difficult to read, but will follow this with a ? or [?]. Many of the Almanacs had deteriorated years before they were microfilmed. Some are almost 200 years old and the paper has browned, and the ink has faded. Edges are torn or have disintegrated. Spots or holes have developed on the pages. These Almanacs were retrieved from various places--from libraries, or from individuals. Some are in a better condition than others.
Parts of names that are missing from some of the original Almanacs have been replaced by ______, or by suggested names enclosed in [ ], based on the names in other Almanacs. If you do a Search and some names are missing in the middle of a series of the Almanacs on the site, please check the Almanac itself, as the name may be there with a missing letter, and will therefore not show up in the Search results.
Although the 1808 Almanac is a Civil and Military List, I will mention here that it was printed with the ancient typeset that wrote the letter "s" like an "f." I converted these to an "s," but in names that were not familiar to me I will give alternate spellings with "s" or with "f" and let the reader decide.
I have transcribed the information as it appears in the Almanac, but I have eliminated most of the abbreviations that appear in the Almanacs, to make it easier for the reader. The original Almanacs shortened many words to save on space.
These lists showed people in government positions, magistrates, and other offices (which included organists, street inspectors, etc). Some listed clergy, missionaries, teachers, police inspectors, doctors, lawyers, bank managers, consuls, societies, lodges, and companies.
These listed officers not only in British Regiments and Royal Navy stationed in the island, and the West-India Regiment, but also officers and staff of the local Militia.
The 1860 Almanac contains the Voters List for that year. In 1831 Jews had been given the right to vote so they are included here.
This is the first Almanac ever published for Jamaica. It was compiled by William Daniell, and it is available at the National Library of Jamaica.
1751 Civil List
This is the second oldest Almanac that is available at the National Library of Jamaica.
This is the third oldest Almanac that is available at the National Library of Jamaica.
British Military and Navy, Jamaica Militia
Form of Assignment of Bond, diary entry
Surrey magistrates and local officers
Cornwall magistrates and local officers
Militia of Foot - Surrey. Military Commissions and Forts
Militia of Foot - Cornwall. Commissioners for Troops under Martial Law
N. B. Those marked thus *** are taken from the Poll Tax returns of 1809, not being able to procure them for the present year.
"RETURN OF PROPRIETORS, PROPERTIES, ETC. GIVEN IN TO THE VESTRIES FOR THE MARCH QUARTER 1815".
1839 Grand Caymanas [Cayman]
Note in the 1940 Almanac: "The List for the Parish of Portland could not be obtained either from the Receiver General's Office or the Clerk of the Vestry when this Sheet was put to Press."
1840 St. James Militia (in Samples folder)
An excerpt. A paper setting forth the steps taken by the government to encourage immigration.
This Almanac contained the most extensive list of names of people and properties.
HISTORY OF JAMAICA, 1492-1844
An excerpt. A list of properties which had been abandoned by the owners since 1832.
Three excerpts: Voter Qualifications. Jewish leaders. Commentary on the Post Office in 1758.
Excerpt. The state of Jamaica in 1664.
Excerpt. Leaders of the Jewish synagogues.
Military - British Regiments and West India Regiments. Jamaica Militia
1860vl02 St. Catherine
1860vl03 Port Royal and St. Andrew
1860vl04St. Thomas in the Vale
1860vl05Manchester and St. Ann
1860vl06 St. David
1860vl08 Clarendon and St. John
1860vl09 St. Elizabeth and Hanover
1860vl10 St. George and Portland
1860vl11 St. James
1860vl12 St. Mary and Metcalfe
1860vl14 St. Thomas in the East
1860vl15 St. Dorothy and Vere
The format of the 1861 Almanac differs from previous issues. Individuals are sorted by occupation or by public office. The occupations listed below are indicative of those on that page, but for a complete list please use the links to each page.
1865 Almanac Military, Militia, and Volunteers of Jamaica.
1870 Military List
1880 Almanac - Acres of land in cultivation in Jamaica in 1878 by Parish.
Please note - the rest of the 1880 Almanac is in poor condition and is difficult to read. It will not be transcribed for this site.
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