Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library


by Daniel L. Ogilvie

CONTINUED from History of Trelawny

For some time all efforts were concentrated in the making and establishing of roads of which the Parish seriously lacked. The prevailing system, however, was for roads to be constructed by the Sugar Estates which by Law were obliged to have qualified road builders attached to them. While the scope of the Board's operations was very flexible pioneering work restricted speed in developments, politics was not then an obsession. Work of improving the amenities of the Parish occupied the minds of the "free citizens." The network of roads constructed over all the parish after its separation is illuminating. All efforts were attuned to this end. The lands were being opened slowly but surely, more canes were being planted and to accommodate the increase and advancement of this primary industry toads and good ones were vital. It should, however, be borne in mind that the costs were negligible to the Sugar Estates. Roads were constructed after the crop was taken off. Work had to be found for the slaves as whether they worked or not, they had to be fed, clothed and sheltered. The cattle used for this purpose were in relatively the same category. There was no unnecessary speed as a consequence the work was substantially performed. As we travel around these old estates the evidence is only too obvious. Up to a certain era in our history we can find no evidence of the Justices and Vestry giving any attention to sanitation or Water supply although they enjoyed a generous measure of freedom or "Home Rule." The time, we assume, was premature. The condition or status of civilization had not reached the standard of today.

But on the other hand we find some amount of vigilance in public amenities being exercised when Martha Brae was abandoned as the Chief town and Falmouth took its place. [see Map of Trelawny] The Parish was of course sparsely populated. The nearest we are in a position to give of the population is from a census taken in the year 1861 which showed 885 White, 4,893 Brown, 21,286 black persons or a total of 27,064.

No one could then conjecture or visualize that the day would come when Municipalities would not only give attention to Water Supplies, but to light and pavement of the streets, control the erection of buildings, and give particular attention to sanitation and other public amenities. There were then 240 planters, 496 carpenters, and 202 masons.

In that year the town of Falmouth had 303 white, 1,378 brown, and 1,446 black, or 3,127 persons.

On the 29th February, 1772, the Vestry ordered that the River course from Martha Brae [see photos] bridge to the river's mouth be kept clear for navigation of boats. Of course the river then followed its natural course along the Hague Estate. The Falmouth Water Supply was foreign in prospect and unpredictable. The "Rock" was the sea port for the capital of the Parish [see map of Trelawny]. This village had at least five stone piers for the convenience of some of the estates which owned them. Hyde Hall still owns one of the wharves. It must surprise us to know that there were at one time 10 spirit License shops at the Rock. It was a very prosperous village. There were dozens of two storied residences and a high standard of prosperity as the corollary. This place is situated on the seaboard of the Main Road not two miles from Falmouth. It possesses but two short streets. The depth of the water at the piers has considerably reduced in consequence of silt forever accumulating from the river.

Water for domestic purposes had to be brought by small boats or canoes from the Martha Brae River. The water in this bay is more or less brackish and which may contribute to the phosphorescent appearance at nights. The bay which is three quarters of a circle is always calm, being sheltered by the surrounding lands and foliage. [See map] It offers yachting facilities for small crafts providing due regard is paid to the mud banks around.

In February, 1794, we find the Vestry ordering that the "work house negroes" be employed to make a Race Course at Cave Island [see Map] and that Mr. John Gaynor be requested to superintend the work. In this connection a Law was actually passed by the House of Assembly authorising this work. The track made was a complete circle eight furlongs in circumference. Horse racing was a major and classical pastime for the planters and prosperous inhabitants, of which classes there were no scarcity. Sugar was king and money in abundance. Three days continuous racing was of frequent occurrence. Turfites from the adjoining parishes, particular from St. Ann were keen participants in this sport of kings. We have a vivid recollection of the last grand races held for two consecutive days when two of the leading turfites who were Stewards and Judges were flagrantly and unnecessarily insulted by a butcher by the name of David Black who had a horse entered in the Race. These gentlemen too no further interest in the Cave Island Track although they had imported horses for racing purpose. Interest waned, and for years after only sporadic races have been run. Organized Races had come to an end.

What has amazed many people in the Parish, is how did the Parish claim to this track been annulled. Surely if public funds were expended, the municipality must have had some legal claim to the land. We have no evidence of it being a Lease or its sale to any one. Of course it is now too late for any Caveat to be effective as the whole of Cave Island Pen is now registered under the Registration of Titles Law. All this land, which is a part of Falmouth was originally owned by Mr. Edward B. M. Barrett. Ir has since had many owners.

Tradition declares that the first Jamaica Derby was run on this Race Track. The title or appellation of Derby had not long been founded. To be exact it was in the year 1780 by the 12th Earl of Derby for 3 year old colts. Mr. Sam Burke who is an authority on the Turf, disputes this claim of Falmouth. We are not in a position to oppose his knowledge in the absence of any definite record.

In June 1774, it was agreed that a house for the Company of "Rangers" now at Martha Brae be purchased for use as a Barracks for reception of the said Company and that Daniel Cargill be paid £200 for it. This was a house at the Cross roads which has decayed by the passing of years and natural calamities. In that year it was ordered that the Church Wardens who were the Treasurers, pay unto Robert Scarlett, Surveyor, the sum of £75, being one half of his charge for running a dividing line between St. James and Trelawny by order of His Excellency the Governor. As we have already mentioned this line was voided by Mr. Surveyor Robertson, who removed the seaboard line from Long Bay to Wiltshire, thereby reducing the area of this Parish to the advantage of St. James.

In 1774 Dr. Thomas Bradshaw was paid £40 for a negro man Slave by name of Adam, his property, who was executed for the murder according to Law of a white man. Such was the custom of the country... That convicted slaves were paid for. Further observations will be made later in connection with "slavery" in this parish.

The problem of improving the Martha Brae harbour, as the now Falmouth harbour was called, began to engage the attention of the municipality from the year 1791. This Board controlled the harbour as well as shipping. Captain Laird, master of H. M. S. "Centurion" was requested to make a Survey and plan of it.

In July, 1791, a letter was read from Admiral Afflic to His Honour the Custos and Magistrates and Vestry transmitting a survey of the Martha Brae harbour prepared by Captain John Laird and also a letter from William Dixon in the Royal Register of Artillery, proposing and promising to carry into execution a plan for blasting the rock laying in the ship's channel and thereby rendering the entrance of vessels free from danger and difficulty. It was ordered that a special meeting of the Vestry be summoned to deal with the matter. In August, 1791, with Mr., William Tate in the chair, it was resolved that a petition be presented to the House of Assembly to enable the Parish to carry into execution the plans proposed by Lt. William Dixon of the Royal Register Artillery and John Laird, Master of the H. M. S. "Centurion" for blasting the rock leading into the Martha Brae harbour. The House of Assembly declined to approve the expenditure. It was assumed that the representative of St. James had again exerted influence to thwart the aspirations of the new Parish.

This formidable rock remained where it was a potential source of danger to shipping, especially when larger ships began operating for over 130 years.

When in the year 1903 it was blasted away by Captain Layman, an American, at a cost of £12,000. In 1940 the Harbour was dredged and the Channel improved by a Canadian Dredging Company. The Channel is now straight and the harbour deepened to accommodate ocean going ships.

In June, 1795, it was resolved by the Justices and Vestry that Mr. Henry Shirley, proprietor of Hyde Hall Estate be given a Certificate of Relief for an additional White person, Alexander McDonald, omitted to be given in for the last quarter. This had reference to the control of Slaves. The absence of sufficient number of white persons on any property enacted a penalty called the "Deficiency Tax".

Mr. Henry Shirley was a brother of the Honourable Leicester Colville Shirley who succeeded him in 1857. The Honourable Henry Moulton Shirley died at Spanish Town on the 2nd December, 1856, and this is what a Tablet to his memory on the walls of the Falmouth Church reads: In memory of Henry Moulton Shirley, Custos and member of Assembly for Trelawny. Born in England 11th November, 1835. Died at Spanish Town 2nd December, 1856. To the memory of one whose short public career marked his rising ability, independence of action and integrity of purpose too briefly expressed in his devotion to the best interest of the Island with whom affability of intercourse and sincerity of attachment won further grace from the varies resources of an accomplished mind and whose early death denied to every hope the best promises of youth. The friendship of his associates has raised this votive Tablet.

In November, 1856, on the Motion of Mr. A. Lindo, the following resolution was passed by the Justices and Vestry: Resolved that before entering on the business to transact which it has been specially convened, this Board records how deeply it deplores the loss it has sustained since the last meeting in the untimely death of the Honourable Henry Moulton Shirley who, as Custos of the Parish, lately presided over its deliberations with an impartiality, courtesy and ability which secures the respect and esteem of every member of it, that this Board also records its grateful testimony to the value of the services so unostentatiously rendered to the public by Mr. Shirley, otherwise in the earnest desire by which he was over-actuated to promote the welfare of this country.

To avoid any challenge as to what Lady Nugent wrote in her Journal derogatory of a "Mr. Henry Shirley", wherein she said he was of a profligate character and advised his slaves to marry only one wife who retorted: "Mi Massa you tells me to marry one wife which is no good. You no tink me see you Backra no content with one, two, three and hour wifes no more poor Nigga". Lady Nugent was in Jamaica before Mr. Shirley was born. Her husband, Lt. General George Nugent was here in the year 1801 to 1805. Mr. Shirley as already stated was born in the year 1825. Therefore there is no association except in the name.

In July 1799, Martial Law was declared. A letter was read to the Vestry from Alexander Earl of Balcarres stating that for information of the House of Commons the Duke of Portland desired to know the present state of the country and the attitude of the Slaves to the property owners. The following reply was dispatched: That from the most strict enquiry into the present state of the new settlements in the interior of the Parish it is with much pain that they have to report that from the unfortunate circumstance this Parish having been, since the Maroon war, so much infested by a body of the Armed Runaways on the frontiers, who have carried fire and devastation wherever they have appeared and have murdered several of the inhabitants, there has been a total check of the settlements and improvements of the back lands and that it appears to us that a great many of the old settlements have been deserted and inhabitants driven into the lowlands (amongst the many instances which might be adduced in proof of this affirmation the following are mentioned as a few, Edward Fleming, Thomas Johnson and eight others), most of these had well established settlements and were in a progressive state of improvement and there are also others whose settlements were but commencing and who have been discouraged from carrying them on and who have been obliged to abandon them. Edward Knowles, John B. Irving, John James, to this last might be added the back provision grounds of a great many of the estates which have been thrown up entirely or very much neglected. It has also to report that such has been the situation of this Parish from the frequent attempt of the Runaways to disturb the frontier, settlements and estates, that they have been under the necessity from the urgency of circumstances to go to a very considerable expense, not les than £400 in fitting and keeping out parties for their protection and security but which they are happy to say has been attended with the utmost benefit to this Parish as well as to the Island at large, by the apprehending and destroying a number of the said Runaways.

This Vestry has further to report that as these Runaways are not yet entirely suppressed but are still making their appearance and destroying the back settlements, the Parish is still under the necessity of continuing to fit out parties at very great expense. On the whole it appears to your Board that the discouragement at present to the settlements of the backlands, has been owing to the Runaways who are the remains of those who had been with the Maroons and that there are a great many who would return to their settlements as well as others who would be ready to commence settlements, were they to obtain the protection which had been promise them by placing bodies of Troops in the interior of the country. Conditions appear to have improved by the year 1801, as we find that the "Black Shots" were discharged as a body.

In May, 1796, Mr. William Blake Tharpe of "Good Hope", had to resign his seat as a Vestryman as he was found to be a ‘minor', and not a "freeholder", thereby disqualified.

In 1807, the Tax on slaves was 4/6 per head. Stock 2/6 and Road Tax on Slaves 3/9 per head. These were what the properties had to pay.

In the year 1802, the price for Sugar in London had fallen from approximately £3 to 36/6 per cwt. This became a period of great depression to this Parish in common with those whose economy were primarily the manufacture of Sugar. The Planters combined and represented to their Agents in London the appalling condition of the industry and that the matter be represented through them to His Majesty the King and to let him know that Jamaica was one of the most important Colony of the Crown. That if conditions continue as they were, ruin and disaster would be the consequence. The result was that by the year 1803, the price of Sugar in London was increased to 52/6 per cwt. The freight of Sugar to London was then 7 pence pr cwt., Rum 9 pence per gallon, Coffee 10 pence per cwt., Cotton 2 pence per bag and £4,4/- per ton for Logwood.

In 1811 Mr. Thomas K. Vernon, Collector of Revenue defaulted to the extent of £300.6.7. The Vestry was censured for allowing Mr. Vernon to have continued in office without security. The yield from Taxes for 1811 was £11,272, and the expenditure £10,700. Included in the expenditure was £1,500 to be paid Mr. Barrett as an instalment due on land acquired in the Town of Falmouth.

Slaves numbered 27,550 in the year 1811.

In October, 1811, it was Resolved that the sum of £1,500 of the Surplus raised by a Tax on Slaves and stock on the 15th April last is applicable to the first instalment for building the Soldiers' Barracks in the Town of Falmouth agreeable to Law. The above item is inserted to show the magnitude of the Parish's administration.

Under the Apprentices' system, in Nov. 1809 an Indenture is recorded between George Bowman, an Englishman of the one Part and Edward Moulton Barrett and John Graham Clarke Esquires of the Other Part. The said George Bowman binds himself Apprentice to the said Edward Moulton Barrett and John G. Clarke for the term of 3 years. Salary 1st year, £70, 2nd year £70; 3rd year £80.

This is a sample of many others under that heading. Some of these apprentices were immigrants and others sent to the Colony for the good of England by "deportation". They redeemed themselves and became assets to the Island, as in Australia and New Zealand.

In 1814, the number of Spirit Licenses was limited to 15 for the Parish. What changes have taken place in the course of one and a half centuries. Today we are sure there are over 50. The spirit shops served by a small proportion of the population. The slaves had all the Rum they needed on the Estates. The proprietors were allowed to retain for home use a certain quantity. These shops served Falmouth principally where sailors and soldiers were.

The strictures on the manufacture of Rum was then not so exacting as it is today. Rum was then sold for 6d, 9d and 1/- per pint. What changes compared to the prevailing prices.

In July, 1839, it was informed by the Collecting Constable that the Vestry was without funds to meet the exigencies of the Parish for the remained of the year and it was resolved that an application be made to the Colonial Bank. The Church Wardens succeeded in raising a Loan of £2,000 for 90 days. In January, 1840, an additional Loan was raised from that Bank of £3,000.

In 1831, it was agreed to pay John Cannon the sum of £100, being the reward offered by the Justices and Vestry for the discovery of the Murderers of Henry Edwards, the late Overseer of Linton Park Estate. Cannon was a Slave, and it was also suggested that his manumission be sought of Chester Estate --his Owner-- and that £30 per annum be pain on account of the said John Cannon until his manumission could be obtained. Agreed.

With the rush and eagerness to expedite and consolidate the development of the Parish and to make Falmouth a great centre the Vestry was often without funds. In January, 1823, in consequence of the unsatisfactory state of its finances, it was Resolved that the salaries of the Parish staff be reduced. Those receiving £50 and under £100 by 5 per cent, and those over £100 by 10.

In 1823, the Duke of Manchester called on the Custos to be furnished with a census of the Parish, giving the number of places of worship, of Slaves Attending and to say if the number was greater than the Churches could comfortably accommodate. He also desired the number of Schools and the children attending. Number of educated children; the uneducated under 14 years of age; of the Clergymen; Schoolmasters and Catechists. That he would like to know what was required for the education of the whole population of Slaves and Freemen.

The Vestry agreed to reimburse the Custos whatever expense he may incur should he so desire, in obtaining and supplying the information. Mr. Thomas Bell was paid £30 for his services.

1825, the Spirit Licenses were limited to 30 for the Parish. It was ordered that the medical practice be divided into 1, Parish Schools, Poor House and Workhouse and gaol; 2, Marine Hospital. Drs. Cowan, Willis and Neilson were paid £78 each per annum.

In October 1825, on the removal of the 33rd Regiment from the Parish, the Reverend William Fraser, Messrs. R. M. Scott, William Dyer and Ed. Knowles were appointed a Committee to prepare an address to be sent to the Lt.-Colonel Moffatt and Officers on the occasion of that distinguished Corps departing from this Parish. The following was approved: Sir, To the distinguished character of the 33rd Regiment and any complimentary mood of our can make but trifling addition. We cannot, however, in justice to our feelings omit the offer of it, and you will allow us to say that the conduct of the Corps while stationed among us was such as impressed the highest sense of their worth and that we sincerely regretted their departure. For yourself and Officers we beg leave to express the highest esteem and our kindest wishes. Resolved that the address be signed by James Galloway, Esquire, the Senior Magistrate and forwarded to out worthy Custos the Honourable James Stewart to be by him presented in the most acceptable manner. The following was the reply: Spanish Town, 21st October, 1825, My dear Sir, For the address of the Magistrates and Vestry of Trelawny which you have done me the honour to present I beg in the name of the Corps to return my sincere and heartfelt thanks. The approbation of so reputable a body is highly flattering to the 33rd Regiment and extremely grateful to my feelings as its Commanding Officer, and you must allow me for myself and my Officers to present you our united best wishes for the welfare and happiness of the inhabitants of Trelawny. Permit me also to add that the value I attach to the honour done me is much enhanced by the acceptable manner in which you have this day conferred it. Believe me to be my Dear Sir, Yours sincerely S. Moffatt. The Regiment consisted of 50 Officers and men. The Troops were at one time stationed at Southfield, above 4 miles from Martha Brae. They were removed to Falmouth in the year 1811, when the Barracks were constructed. The House of Assembly had voted a contribution of £5,000 and the Parish £3,000. This building is a monument to the skill of the old masons. The walls were all in Lime mortar when cement was unknown. It has withstood the test of time and seasonal natural disturbances.

Mrs. Ann Doman, proprietress of Spring Vale was paid the sum of £300 for the loss of 30 puncheons of Rum, destroyed during Martial Law in 1799. Until about 12 years ago the Justices and Vestry and its successors were responsible for all Acts and damages by Riots.

In 1832 three Road Inspectors for the first time were appointed at a salary of £140 each for the 3 Divisions of the Parish. Their services were, however, dispensed with in 1840, for want of funds. In October, 1832, it was decided to employ Mr. Richard Wilson, a Commissioned Land Surveyor to make a Map of the Parish of Trelawny complete with reforms for the sum of £600. This map was supplied in July, 1834.

CONTINUED at Trelawny part 3

Used by kind permission of Donovan Ogilvie and the late Pearl Ogilvie

© 2013. Jamaican Family Search hereby grants you a limited license to copy and use the materials provided on this site solely for your personal, non-commercial use. No other use of the site or materials is authorized. You agree that any copy of the materials (or any portion of the materials) that you make shall retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein. Posting of materials on other Web Sites is strictly prohibited.


Search for



Plan of this website

Help - Frequently Asked Questions

Jamaica Almanacs Slave-owners, Civil & Military officers, Magistrates etc.

Items in the Samples Directory

Items in the Members Directory

Transcriptions from Registers and Wills (Church of England, Dissenters, Civil Registration)

Jamaican Roman Catholic Church Registers - transcriptions

Jamaican Methodist Baptisms - transcriptions

Jewish births marriages deaths - transcriptions

Slaves and slavery in Jamaica

Photographs, maps, prints, etc.