Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library


by Daniel L. Ogilvie

Continued from History of Trelawny 4

We have considerably digressed from the physical layout of the township with an obsession of present day adversity, however sweet the uses may be.

Falmouth is possessed of thirty streets measuring five miles in length, very few being less than 30 feet in width. see photograph Market Street. Their location were all systematically arranged to afford adequate ventilation to every holding. To us now, the following resolution passed by the Justices and Vestry on the 9th June, 1794, appears arbitrary and ridiculous: "Resolved that all sailors found in Grog shops or loitering about the streets of Falmouth, Martha Brae to the Rock after the hour of 6 in the evening be taken up by the Constable and put into confinement until morning when they shall be arraigned before a Magistrate to be dealt with as directed by the Law and that persons in whose house he may be found shall forfeit their licence." In the year 1803, it was ordered that a stone Cage be built for disorderly seamen. This stone building, a formidable structure, was located on that section of land on which the Fish stalls in the Falmouth Market now stands. It was in later years used as a Station for the Fire Engines until in the year 1894 demolished to make room for the Market.

Before the year 1799, there were many substantial buildings in the Square (now Water Square) but they were bought by the Falmouth Water Company and a half sold to the Justices and Vestry. See Falmouth Water Square. Attention was now focused in making Falmouth a Free port of entry and petition to this end was in the making. Whenever a ship arrived in Falmouth harbour it had to be entered at Montego Bay and on leaving port the same process had to be undertaken. Just at this time, that is in June 1795, a devastating fire occurred in Montego Bay. The Justices and Vestry resolved that subscriptions be taken up in the Parish to alleviate the sufferers. A courier was sent on horseback to enquire of the Custos of St. James in what way the Parish of Trelawny could assist. The reply was for food and clothing for the indigents. A contribution of over £500 was raised and forwarded to the Custos to aid the stricken people. On the 28th July, 1796, the following was recorded in the Minutes: The Justices and Vestry now assembled, having heard read two severe letters, one respecting the Remonstrance of the Parish of St. James against the making of the Port of Falmouth a port of Entry and Clearance, the other respecting the Stamp Law, think it proper not to make any enquiry into the matters until there can be a full meeting of the inhabitants of the parish but that in the meantime the Committee is appointed to report on the said remonstrance. Let the Clerk therefore publicly desire that there may be on the 15th day of August next, a full meeting of the inhabitants of this parish in order that the sentiments of the public on the two questions may be known and received. On the 15th August, there were present Messrs. James Irving, Rev. Adrian Reid and John Whittaker, Justices James Brady, Edward Knowles, Handside Edgar Patrick Smith, Robert Franklin Hodges, James Scarlett, Jr., Urquhart Gillespie and John Gaynor, Esq., Vestrymen. Mr. Stewart from the Committee to report on the Montego Bay Remonstrance, stated that the Committee in compliance of the order of the last day in that respect had met but that in perusing the Remonstrance the Committee could not reconcile to themselves to answer that Remonstrance without being previously satisfied that it was actually a Remonstrance of first claiming from the Parish of St. James an avowal or disavowal thereof and thereupon Moved and it was ordered that the Clerk of the Vestry do transmit to the Magistrate and Vestry of the Parish of St. James a copy of the Remonstrance of the inhabitants of Montego Bay and parish of St. James in Jamaica against Falmouth being made a Port of Entry and Clearance and a Free port and that he be directed to make the most respectful application to them to be informed if they had ever delegated authority to any individuals to state the several allegations contained in the Remonstrance.

On the 14th November, 1796, the Report of the Montego Bay Remonstrance was read, whereupon after an alteration in the 14th Clause made at the instance of Dr. James Lawson, the Report was unanimously approved and the Justices and Vestry directed their Clerk to transmit fair copies both of the Remonstrance and of the Report and of the Representatives of this Parish with a letter recommending their immediate sending them to Great Britain with such information and recommendation as they may think necessary towards strengthening the claims of this Parish to be made a Free Port of Entrance and Clearance and directed the Clerk also to make a fair copy thereof to be kept in office. Falmouth became a Free Port of Entry and Clearance in the year 1805. There was no hurry in those days and perhaps a counter petition may have had the effect of delaying the event.

On the 14th March, 1791, attention was given for the first time towards the building of a National Church. This edifice was completed in 1796. The details will be found under the appropriate head.

In January 1794, Mr. Angus Campbell was paid the princely sum of £20 for his trouble in ascertaining the number of houses at Falmouth, Martha Brae and the Rock and the names of the occupiers. And also for going around with a petition advocating the removal of the Court House from Martha Brae to Falmouth. The desire was achieved and a new Court House was acquired in Falmouth, which on revision of previous notes on this subject, we discover was located at the corner of Duke and Market Streets, now known as 'the Tavern.' A summary of the construction of the present building in the year 1815, is given elsewhere.

In October 1781, it was resolved that the Hospital at "the Point" be converted into a Workhouse and that John Jarrett and John Tharp, Neil Campbell, Thomas Steele and Charles Shaw, Esqs., or any three of them be Commissioners to inspect into the state and situation of the said Hospital and order such repairs as are necessary. That James Brown, Esq., be President and Mr. Frances Jennings be Treasurer thereof.

In June, 1795, every householder was required to keep buckets and water sufficient to put out fires. Persons not having sufficient buckets and slaves for this purpose were to be taxed for Fire purposes and the tax to go towards the purchase of a Fire Engine. At this time there were a multiple of Wells on private lands. Everyone who was financially able possessed this necessity. Most of the Wells were not deeper than 10 feet. Despite the nearness to the sea, water obtained from this source was reasonably palatable. The alternative source for procuring other than drinking water was at Martha Brae which is over one mile from Falmouth. In October, 1796, it was ordered that Wells for the purposes of the Fire Engines be suitably located. The First Fire Engine was imported in 1802, and in January, 1803, it was recorded that a Bill of Exchange for £333.15/- be purchased being the cost of a Fire Engine and 150 Buckets imported in the "Andrew Hammond" as per Invoice dated 15th November, 1802 and that the said bill be delivered to Messrs. Stewart Galloway & Co. For erecting 12 water pumps in the Town Messrs Gon & Kewan were paid £295.6.8.

The Falmouth Water Company was inaugurated in the year 1799, and this Company for the time being solved the water supply problem. Its operations will be found in detail elsewhere.

In 1801, the Taxes were 5/6 per head on Slaves and 2/- on stock. On the site of the present Court House was the old Fort. The ammunition and all that it contained were transferred in 1802, to the "Fort Balcarres" [see photographs], now called the Barracks School. Further details concerning the Court House will be found later.

In July, 1798, Mr. James Dunn was paid £400 with Interest from July, 1798, and that another £400 be paid him with interest on the 11th July, 1800, being amount of purchase money for his house and land at the Grass piece for the purposes of a Gaol. This land and premises became the Falmouth District Prison and Gallows. In May, 1799, it was ordered that the Church Wardens provide a common seal for the Corporation. This seal as we know it was made about 2 inches square and of brass. The St. George's Cross engraved with pine apples. Along the outer border it ha "Trelawny Municipal Boards". Unhappily this perished in the fire of August, 1926. The present one is a non descript of rubber.

In this same year the Justices and Vestry brought to attention the enormous price of beef and moved that a petition be sent to His Lordship praying the grant of a Permit pro tempores to allow Spanish Vessels of certain description bringing Cattle to Falmouth. Falmouth was without a Market place of any sort. People squatted anywhere along the streets to sell their foodstuff, especially was it so at where we now call the Market Square. Tables with crude canopies adorned the sides of the main streets. The site appointed by the plan of the Town is the present tether ground. The allocation was apparently unpopular, being not near enough to the stores which were in the square. Yet we find that in 1800 Messrs. Burnham & Robertson were paid £106 for erecting a shed for a Negro market at the place above referred to. The Beef stalls, however, were constructed on the site in 1821. Fish was also sold in the building. Regulations were passed in effect that all fish for sale in Falmouth must be carried there and if not disposed of by One O'clock may be carried elsewhere. The Clerk of the Market was required to see that the Market was kept clean and fish weighed correctly. The "Albert George Market" constructed in the Square was built in the year 1896, at a cost of £4,000. The Loan entailed in the construction was liquidated in 1933 rendering it a source of revenue for the parish. Messrs. Purdon & Cox were the contractors. It was opened by Sir Henry A. Blake, then Governor of Jamaica and who became famous for the Great Jamaica Exhibition and Exposition which he inaugurated in 1891. The site of the Market is that portion of land acquired from the Falmouth Water Company as well as other holdings of private individuals. Substantial buildings were on this site before it was acquired by the Company. Some years ago while excavation work was in operations old foundations were unearthed in close proximity with the Reservoir. This relic, the reservoir, we hope will one day be converted into a "fountain" as its present usefulness is outmoded. See photograph of the reservoir and Water Square. In the year 1954 by order of the Commissioner, Mr. E. E. A. Campbell, it has been demolished after 150 years of service. See photograph of fountain and market.

For neglecting to produce an Invoice for goods landed in Falmouth or give the necessary security for payment of duty, Messrs. John McIntosh and Alexander Longmans, Merchants of Montego Bay were fined £4,000. Falmouth was not then a Free Port and the local Authorities declared it smuggling.

In October, 1802, it was agreed to purchase the Marl Pit situate to the West of the Town and known as the Quarry, now the new hospital site, from the Executors of the late Mr. Barrett for £300. There was then a fairly high mound at this spot, but for years it had been dug and removed for building and repairing the streets of Falmouth, until depressions had been made so deep as to be below sea level. This process of robbing Peter to pay Paul progressed until about the year 1895, when the prisoners had to haul stones from Greenside to the Prison yard to be broken for the streets of Falmouth.

In October, 1802, the sum of £700 was paid to the Directors of the Falmouth Water Company for one-half of their land in Falmouth. The other portion being retained by the Company for construction of the Reservoir. It was further understood that all the buildings on the said land were be taken down immediately. At the same meeting a Committee was appointed to purchase a piece of land whereon to erect a workhouse, and to negotiate with tradesmen for removing the Officers' house and building a new Workhouse. The Falmouth Water Co. was actually paid £749.18.6 1/2 for their half of the Water Square. A dinner costing £20 was given to the Jury in the taking over of this land.

Walter Birmingham was paid in 1803 the sum of £2,848.7.5 1/2d for building the new Workhouse which was later to become the Falmouth District Prison. Messrs. Lamont and Summers were paid £600 being half the purchase money for land for the Workhouse being Lot 225. The Marl Pit, as we have said before was also purchased from the estate of M. E. R. M. Barrett through his Executors for the sum of £350.

It will be observed that all the lands previously occupied by the Prison Department Central Government, belonged to Local Government. The change over occurred about the year 1866, with the advent of Sir John Peter Grant and evolved from the New Constitution which he had brought with him from the Mother Country. Central Government then assumed the control of most of the public service previously controlled by local government, e.g., Police, Medical, Schools, Marine, Collecting of Taxes, etc.

The Barracks, now the Falmouth Government School was also owned by local Government, but it appears that grants were sometimes made to the Vestry by Central Government to provide certain official amenities. In October, 1803, William Danny completed the building of the Magazine at a cost of £1,500. It was made 15 feet square with walls to 5 feet in thickness with a crown of the arch 2 feet in thickness.

In 1805, an additional piece of land in Water Square was purchased for £500 from Fred Lamont being the estate of the late Michael Welsh. The great purpose for acquiring this additional land was to remove building which disfigured the appearance of the "square". In 1804, John Duncan's tender for building a bridge over the ricer between the Rock and Falmouth for the sum of £426.10.6. If was to have been of the best Bastard Bullet Tree and to be done according to Plan in a workman like manner within nine months. Several bridges have since been built including one or iron. This, however, succeeded the "barge" which previously did the transporting of human and other freight.

In January, 1805, the old Court House at Martha Brae was sold.

In 1805, the Vestry being desirous of rewarding a brown man by the name of William Reid for his services in heading a party of "Blackshots" who apprehended a number of notorious "runaways" last month (December) have decided to ask George Reid, Esq., proprietor of "Friendship" Estate (where this is now being written) the owner, to know on what terms he will manumit the said William Reid and also to inform the Vestry by what means his manumission can be obtained. Mr. George Reid was paid £40, and the slave obtained his freedom. Two Doubloons of £10.13.4d was paid Charles White, a brown man as a reward for the part he played in the "blackshots" party.

In January, 1805, it was brought to attention of the Vestry that in consequence of orders received by Colonel Galloway from the Commander in Chief to call out the Trelawny Regiment and to keep them on permanent duty until further orders and there being as yet no official notification of Martial Law having been proclaimed: Resolved that the Vestry will make good to the Company any expenses he may incur by furnishing rations to the Troops or any other expense he may incur should the public of Jamaica refuse to pay the same. This was the result of a false alarm promulgated, it was said, by enemy ships, presumably of Spanish origin, or perhaps American as the following may dovetail:

Resolved that in consequence of a determination of an intercourse with America, that the Vestry do petition the Governor to consider the position of the Parish as all the stock at the wharves amounted to 308 lbs. of Beef and Pork, 16 tierces of Rice, 28 bushels American corn, 32 barrels Flour, --thirty of which belong to the Troops-- 94 barrels American pickled fish, 4 hogsheads and 9 tierces Saltfish. The Governor subsequently replied that the needs of Trelawny would be taken care of by stocks in other parts of the Island.

October, 1805, Resolved that Messrs. Broughan and Cruickshank be given the contract to build the Marine Hospital for £4,600, to be completed before the 1st May, 1806, and that the payment be made as follows: £2,300 on 1st August, 1806, and £2,300 on 1st August 1807. Further details will be found under the appropriate heading.

In 1806, the erection of a Bridge over the Southfield Gully cost £500. The Regiment was at one time located at Southfield. The Bridge was washed away a few years after its construction. Since then it has been found advisable to construct a concrete apron to allow the storm water to have greater freedom.

For constructing the stone bridge dividing the Parishes of St. Ann and Trelawny in the year 1789, the Vestry paid Mr. Colin Campbell the sum of £480, being half the cost of its construction. The Parish of St. Ann paid the other half. This Bridge is still in a healthy state of preservation. Cement was unknown, Lime mortar only was used. Infused with civic pride, we find that in the year 1803, it was Resolved that the Governor be petitioned to hold the Cornwall Assizes in the Falmouth Barracks. The Assizes were arranged for Counties and cases from Trelawny were disposed of in Montego Bay. It was an attempt to deprive the older sister from the honour attached to this side of the Government. Or it may have been that the Court House at Montego Bay having been destroyed by fire, the temporary building was unsuitable for so august an institution. When Falmouth was without a Court House in 1926, the then Chief Justice, Sir Barrett Lenard, thought it infra dig to sit his Court in the Falmouth Barracks and had recourse to that in Montego Bay.

At about this time attention was being given to the erection of a Court House in the Town, befitting a town of such commercial importance. We find Mr. John Robey being paid the princely sum of £16, for drawing plans of the intended new Court House. Details of this building are recorded elsewhere.

In the year 1806, it was ordered that the Battery at Bush Cay be renovated. This installation was intended to keep off Spanish Pirates from the shores. Time and again reference has been made to their depredations. In 1807, Taxes were for each slave 4/6, Stock 2/6, Road Tax per Slave 3/9. The Barracks for the reception of the Troops was built in 1807, at a cost of £3,000. In January, 1808, the Executors of the estate of Mr. Edward Moulton Bolton Barrett was paid £810 for Five Acres one rood and twenty-four perches of land known as the "Grass Piece". It is now the "Victoria Park" and the Cricket field. The Vestry had acquired also that block of land on which the Presbyterian Church now stands and which was sold to that Church for £300. The other block to the Westward was also owned by the Vestry and sold in Lots including Mrs. Armstrong's holding. In October 1835, the heirs of Mr. E. M. B. Barrett, in ignorance of the sale of these lands to the Vestry, launched an action at law to eject the Vestry libelling it as squatters, whereupon at a quarterly meeting it was Resolved the Parish Solicitor be directed to defend the action of ejectment sent out by the Honourable Samuel B. M. Barrett against individuals possessed of the lots of land in the Town of Falmouth sold them by the Parish and also land in possession of the Parish and it was Resolved that the following gentlemen be appointed a Committee to advise and direct Mr. Whiteside the Parish Solicitor, to pursue the best means for defending Mr. Barrett's actions of ejectments against the Parish and that the Clerk of the Vestry do draw an order on the Collecting Constable for the sum of £25 to pay cash fees and expenses attending the same. In 1886, the Report of the Parish Solicitor relative to the land in the Town of Falmouth claimed by Mr. Samuel B. M. Barrett, was read stating that it was ascertained beyond a doubt that the land alluded to did belong to the Parish and for which a sum of £3,000 had been paid to the late Mr. E. M. B. Barrett in the year 1811, and that Mr. S. Barrett had agreed to pay all the expenses to which the Parish had been put to in the action.

In March, 1808, it was resolved that Mr. Bailey be paid Two Thousand Pounds on his executing a sufficient title for his present dwelling house including two negro slaves on land purchased by him from Thomas Jennison. This appears to have been land contiguous to the park lands.

In 1807 the sum of £104.3.4. was paid John Roberts for providing a breakfast for the troops of the Trelawny Militia "some breakfast."

In this same year in the month of June a great fire took place in the Town and which destroyed a number of buildings. It was of such proportions that the Officers and men of the H. M. S. "Favourite" which was in port at the time had to come and render services. The following is recorded "That the thanks of the Magistrates and Vestry of the Parish of Trelawny be given to Captain Clements and his Officers and ships company for their great exertions at the fire which took place in Falmouth on the 24 instant and that his Honour the Custos be requested to transmit this Resolution in the most acceptable manner. That its thanks be also conveyed to Captain Rouen and his Officers for their exertions in this disaster, as well as to other Masters and Officers of other merchant ships in port who rendered valid services.

That upon application of Captain Clements of the H. M. S. Favourite and the other masters of the merchant ships to the Commissioner that as many of the sick seamen that can be conveniently admitted into the Marine Hospital will be received."

At a special meeting on the 20th June a letter was read from Lieutenant Maple of the "Favourite" stating that in consequence of the late severe sickness that had visited the ship they were in want of several medicines as well as articles of nourishment and comforts necessary for the sick on board. The Assistant Surgeon having laid before the Vestry of such articles it was ordered that the Church Wardens be directed to provide the same and that the Vestry would be responsible for the cost thereof.

It was unfortunate that on its voyage to Port Royal in consequence of the sickness of the crew of the Favourite the Captain was compelled to press in the service some sailors on coastal droghers which culminated in a law suit, but was ultimately settled when the circumstances surrounding the incident was explained in justification.

A subscription list was circulated and in the Town of Falmouth over £3,000 was collected to assist the sufferers from the fire. Sums varying from £10 to £200 were distributed. In July it was resolved that the petition to His Grace the Duke of Manchester setting out the apprehension by the inhabitants of this Parish and Island should the second West India Regiment be allowed to remain in the Island and that His Grace be asked to adopt such measures so as to relieve the well grounded anxiety of the inhabitants.

Of course, it can be appreciated that slavery was still in operation and Planters feared complicity and insurrection. The regiment was ordered back to Africa where it remained for many years.

On Public Holidays soldiers had to be in town to assist the regular Policemen. In June 1809 consideration began to be given to the erection of the new Court House to fit in the importance of the Parish. Details in this connection will be found under the appropriate head. The plan for the construction of road from Coxheat Pen towards "One Eye Estate" in the Parish of St. Elizabeth was submitted but owing to its stupendous cost of construction the matter was deferred.

The sum of £150 was paid the Executor of James Lyons for land 220 by 40 feet at Rio Bueno for the purposes of a burying ground and a cage.

On 16th January, 1811, it was resolved that it would be a desirable object to purchase the land in the "Grasspiece", the property of the heir of Edward B. M. Barrett deceased, provided the same could be got at a reasonable price and the terms of payment be made by annual instalments.

Resolved that the Church Warden be authorised to agree with Mr. Scarlett the Executor, for the purchase of the said land for the sum of £2,000 currency. That the honourable House of Assembly having granted £5,000 towards the erection of a barracks for His Majesty's regular troop to be trained in the Town of Falmouth, which sum may be inadequate to the completion of same and that the law authorising the Justice and Vestry to raise the sum of Three Thousand Pounds by a tax on the inhabitants of the Parish in aid thereof: Resolved therefore that Messrs. Knoles, Black and Brown be a committee to prepare a plan of the same and to ascertain the probable expense and to make their report as soon as convenient.

This was really the land that the Executors of Mr. Edward Barrett launched action at Law to recover in the year 1835 previously alluded to and which culminated in the Vestry's ownership being established. Instead of £2,000, the sum of £3,000 was paid.

The Military having left the Parish and the New Constitution coming in force in about the year 1867, the Police occupied the Barracks, and the Officers' quarters by the Inspector of Police. On the abandonment of the Falmouth District Prison in 1897, the Prison buildings became the Police Station.

In about the year 1902, the Denominational Schools, i.e. Church of England, Wesleyan and Baptist were amalgamated and the Government school inaugurated in the Barracks and old Fort Balcarres. The new Hospital was built on the "Quarry lands" in 1954. The Pond lands contiguous were filled in the same year at the instance of Mr. E. E. A. Campbell, Barrister at Law and Commissioner for the Parish.

And with the above observations and genuine facts I leave and bequeath to posterity and fellow parishioners, who I trust will overlook my many short-comings. Records of events chronologically has caused repetitions which please excuse.

Continued at Trelawny part 6

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

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