Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library


by Daniel L. Ogilvie

Continued from Trelawny 6


We have but very few notes of this Church. We have, however heard, but without any guarantee as to a fact, that it started in the third storey of a building, the first being a Tavern, the second the Court House. It was therefore facetiously remarked that one would commit himself on the first floor, tried and fined on the second by the Magistrates and obtain absolution on the third floor. Howbeit we find that on the 17th July, 1820, it was resolved that the upper part of a house at Rio Bueno belonging to James Philip Utten [see portrait] be appropriated for Divine worship and that a rent of £50 be paid and that a Bible and Prayer Book be ordered for the Rio Bueno Chapel.

In 1822, Mr. Samuel Thompson was appointed Organist at £5 per annum.

In the year 1832, it appears that the erection of a new Church was completed as on the 28th June of that year it was resolved that His Lordship the Bishop be asked to consecrate the Chapel at Rio Bueno [see photographs].

How the Organ left the edifice we have no record but in October, 1832, it was ordered that the Clerk do write to Mr. Utten demanding the return of the Rio Bueno Church Organ.

The maintenance of these Churches depended largely on the guarantee of proprietors of Estates and large properties, and that being the case in the year above mentioned it was Resolved that the Parish Solicitor be directed to send out an action against the estate of the late Charles Lewis to recover his subscription to the Rio Bueno Church. Mr. Lewis was proprietor of Mount Pleasant and owned 106 slaves and 60 head of stock.

In 1837, £50 was granted for the alterations to the Rio Bueno School and £15 for providing Books for Rio Bueno and Stewart Town Schools. The former had 71 boys and 98 girls, total 169.

On the 13th January, 1838, a letter was read from His Lordship the Bishop asking the Justices and Vestry to appoint another Curate for Rio Bueno and stating that if this were done he would pay half the stipend whereupon it was Resolved that the Justices and Vestry pledged themselves to provide one half the stipend, say £250, of a Curate for Rio Bueno, the Bishop paying the other half.

In April, 1843, a grant of £200 was made to repair the Church, and further that £20 sterling be placed at the disposal of the Reverend Henry Brown for the National School at Rio Bueno.

The Reverend E. A. M. Stewart was at one time Rector of Rio Bueno and in 1865, was appointed acting Rector of the Parish Church at Falmouth when the Reverend John McGrath went on leave and died.

The Reverend J. S. Rowe, B.A., B.D., is the present Rector at Rio Bueno.

The Church is small but impressive in architecture. The population of Rio Bueno having dwindled with the throwing up of the Sugar Estates in that area the attendance at Divine worship has been severely curtailed. In the old days Rio Bueno was a rival to Falmouth in the shipping industry.


Few persons are aware that an Episcopal Church of some historical consequence was located at Good Hope. The property on which the remains of the building stands is in possession of Messrs. J. F. Thompson & Sons. Good Hope is about 5 miles from the Town of Falmouth on the road to the Grand Interior. This building is constructed of exquisite cut stones and must have been a beautiful Chapel in the days when it was a place of Divine worship. The present structure measures 90 by 60 feet and from its height it is apparent that it possessed Galleries.

There is a very wide stone step leading to the upper floor and to an entrance. Above the entrance and in the key of the arch is engraved the year of its construction, viz., 1836. This year fits in with the records of the Justices and Vestry which we will copy herein.

This Chapel was erected by Mr. John Tharpe and at his expense with the exception of its enlargement of wood which have all gone in decay with the ages. Mr. Tharpe was at that period the owner of Good Hope, where he resided, Covey, Lansquinet, Merrywood, Pantrepant, Potosi, Top Hill, Wales and Windsor Estates. On all these properties he had European Overseers, Book-keepers and skilled Artisans. Besides these employees he owned 2,600 slaves which was more than that possessed by any other single proprietor in Jamaica. Having such a Colony to himself it was no wonder that he thought it essential to afford his community the facilities of a place of worship. But from what we gain by tradition it was not an urge of good policy only, as Mr. Tharpe had a reputation of being a good and kindly man. He was beloved by his employees as well as his slaves. When Emancipation of the Slaves had arrived, in 1838, they were all faithful and loyal to him. Neither Riot nor fire was experiences on any of his possessions. At Good Hope there was a Hospital as well as a Physician to take care of employees and slaves. The residence of the Physician is still called Doctor's House, situate on a summit.

We are led to believe that this Church was consecrated by Bishop Christopher Lipscomb in March, 1845, when he for the first time visited the Falmouth Parish Church and the Parish.

On the 16th January, 1837, it was Resolved by the Justices and Vestry that Mr. Octavius Lawson be appointed Clerk to the Chapel at Good Hope at a salary of £70 per annum, and that the Church Wardens be empowered to import Bibles and Prayer Books and a Service of Communion Plates, the same as at St. Mark's Chapel at Rio Bueno, for the Good Hope Church, also a Font for the Church at Falmouth.

In 1838, on the application of the Reverend W. Lawson, Curate of the Good Hope Church for some boards to enlarge the Chapel, it was Resolved by the Justices and Vestry that the Church Wardens be empowered to procure one thousand feet White Pine boards for the purpose. It was also decided that a Beadle be appointed.

In April, 1844, the sum of £50 was granted Messrs. Edwards and Morrish to paint the Good Hope Church. This work was being performed in anticipation of the visit of His Lordship the Bishop to consecrate the Chapel in 1845.

On the 25th April, 1838, Mr. William Jenkins was appointed Clerk to the Church in place of Mr. Octavius Lawson, resigned.

On the 8th July, 1863, a letter was read from the Archdeacon to the effect that a Minister had been supplied to the Good Hope Church and asking the Vestry to appoint a Clerk, Sexton and Beadle. The Churches became disestablished at the end of 1866, by which public funds was no longer authorized to be expended for the upkeep and maintenance of any church.

After the failure of the Tharpes to carry on, in consequence of the lack of careful business methods and the decline in value of sugar owing to the "bounty-fed" sugar from the Continent, and finally Emancipation of Slavery, the properties were disposed of an one Mr. Coy acquired Good Hope and some of the other Estates. This gentleman is traditionally reputed to have been an atheist insomuch that he had the Church abandoned and utilized the wooden section as well as the pews in the making of heads for "Sugar-hogsheads."

Around the year 1905, the Church Bell of St. Peter's was sold by Mr. Alexander Oppenheim, the then owner, to the Falmouth Parish Church for the sum of £5, and the Prayer Book given. The Prayer Book is a very large one and is inscribed in gold letters "St. Peter's Church". There are quite a few tombstones around the Church yard and we are indebted to Mr. Robbie Kerr for supplying us with the epitaphs still decipherable on some of them:

"To the Memory of Mary Ann Girwood who died 2nd March, 1839, aged 19. He brought down my strength in my journey and shortened by days." Psalm 102, 23rd verse.

Blooming youth ofttimes healthful and at ease

Anticipates a day it never sees

And many a void like this one aloud

Exclaims prepare thee for an early shroud

An inexplicable yet unique inscription is the following:

"In Memory of John Harwood, Who was killed when acting against. . ." It was never completed. We do not know if the author of the above incomplete inscription was the undermentioned, if so we are not surprised:

"In Memory of A. B. Esq., who died half drunk."

"Beneath this stone lie the remains of William Thompson, who died 25th April, 1851. Aged 44 years."

"Sacred to the memory of Thomas Reid, who died 19th Oct., 1844, aged 92. The days of our age are three score years and ten and though men be so strong that they come to four score years yet is their strength then but as labour and sorrows so soon passeth it away and so are gone." Psalm 90th, 10 verse.

"Sacred to the Memory of Sarah Jane, the beloved wife of Arthur Mackereth, who died at Good Hope Estate, Feb. 12th, 1862. Aged 32 years. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

We understand that Mrs. Mackereth was a daughter of Mr. Coy, who was by the way a celibate.

"In Memory of Alexander McKenzie Hoskins, beloved son of James Alexander and Margaret Fanny Hoskins, who departed this life on 10th July, 1865. Aged 18 years and 11 days. Blessed are the dead which dies in the Lord."

We wonder if in the distant future the necessity will arise for the restoration of this Chapel to meet needs of an ever growing population and the spread of the Gospel of Christianity. It may be only wishful thinking, but we know if the day does arrive and the present owners are in the land of the living they would not hesitate in passing over this sacred spot with its building intact for the purpose of which it was originally dedicated.

We may observe that the present owners of Good Hope have enclosed the old building and compound for sentimental reasons.


The Church at Albert Town was the last to be built by the State in this Parish as and from after the year 1866, the disestablishment of the Church of England as a State Church began as well as its disendowment. The land on which this Church is built is a part of Freeman's Hall Estate. We give herein in sequence how the matter pertaining thereto progressed.

In April, 1847, Mr. Castello gave Notice at a meeting of the Justices and Vestry that at its next Quarterly meeting he would move for the sum of One Hundred Pounds towards the erection of a Church in the vicinity of Freeman's Hall also for the exchange of 100 acres of land with Mr. Sutton, the proprietor of Freeman's Hall.

In July, 1847, on the motion of Mr. Castello a Grant of £100 was made towards the erection of a Church at Albert Town, and it was ordered that a Vestry order be granted for this amount payable on the 1st October next . . . That a Committee be appointed to enquire into and report to the next special Vestry regarding the exchange of 100 acres of land with Mr. Sutton, the proprietor of Freeman's Hall. The following Committee was appointed: Rector McGrath, Messrs. Nathan, Kitchen, Kidd, King and Scott.

In October '47, the following was read: Your Committee appointed to inspect and report on the relative value of two runs of land adjoining Freeman's Hall state, the one belonging to the Parish containing 100 acres and the other offered by the proprietor of Freeman's Hall in exchange for the Parish land as a more suitable and central site for the erection of a Church, Parsonage, etc., beg to report that they have this day visited the proposed site in company with gentlemen connected with the district and they approved of the run of land offered by Mr. Sutton through his Attorney, Mr. Mitchell, as a proper palace for the erection of a Church in that populous community which was daily increasing in importance and at present destitute of any accommodation for religious instructions. . . but inasmuch as the Parish lands are very desirable as an addition to Freeman's Hall, your Committee considers that Mr. Sutton should give 120 acres of the land he proposes to exchange for the 100 acres of Parish land and Mr. Mitchell having intimated to your Committee that he is willing to do so, your Committee earnestly recommend that the proposed Church should be immediately commenced in order that Divine worship may be performed in the District at the earliest possible period. (Sgd.) John McGrath, Rector, Charles McKenzie, Paul King, John R. Kitchen, and A. Scott. Dated at Ulster Spring the 25th August, 1847.

In our records there is a hiatus as nothing further was found until in October, 1855. . . The Report from the Committee appointed to enquire into Mr. Fisher's offer to purchase 120 acres of land from the Parish was read and received and it was Resolved that Mr. Fisher be informed that the Vestry had no present intention of disposing of this land.

In April, 1858, it was decided to rent 60 acres of the Albert Town Church lands in the Black Grounds in lots from 1 to 5 acres at £2 per annum and that the proceeds be applied in aid of the funds subscribed for erecting a Chapel, School house and Curate's residence on the said land.

Six years elapsed before further reference was made to the progress of this Church.

In July, 1864, the following was read: To J. R. Kitchen, Esq., Clerk of the Vestry, Sir, As Chairman of the Freeman's Hall Committee and in accordance with the Resolution of the Vestry I have now to Report that the Committee have had several meetings, have visited the Freeman's Hall Church lands and considering it advisable have selected a spot on which to erect a Church; they have also had 10 acres cleared and are making arrangements to rent out a portion of the lands. The Committee are indebted to the Rev. A. Bassett Key, for the plan of a Church which he has prepared and intend to avail themselves of his offer to superintend its erection, had not the Archdeacon declined to carry out the arrangement which had been made and rendered this impracticable. Under these circumstances the Committee have decided upon laying the Foundation of the Church and erecting a School room which will also serve as a temporary place of Divine worship--and they are using and will continue to use their best endeavours to carry out the intention of the grantors of the land to supply the Spiritual wants of a large and important District of the Parish. (Sgd.) D. A. Littlejohn, Chairman, David Rieussett Littlejohn.

In October of that year, 1864, the Rev. Littlejohn also reported: I have to report for information of the Vestry that during the last quarter the Freeman's Hall Church Committee have had a temporary School room erected the dimension being 35 feet by 15 feet. They have accepted the Tender of Mr. John Hames to build the foundation of a Church 60 feet by 30 feet and that of Mr. E. R. Chambers to erect a wooden building thereon, to board, shingle, make the glaze windows, hang the doors (given by Mr. Malcolm) and floor the same for the sum of £250, and that they will continue their best efforts to have the same completed as early as possible.

In April, '65, the Committee reported that the mason work on the foundation of the Church had been progressing.

July 1868, Mr. J. P. Gager was authorized to collect rents fur for the Church lands at Durham, Albert Town, at 10 per cent.

Later in the year the following disclosure was recorded:

The Bank Book showed: Subscription for building the Church......£281.12. 2.

Rents collected and lodged............................................................... 68. 7. 6.

Interest to 1/5/67.............................................................................. 16.25. 6.

Total £366/15/ 2

From this amount £318. 0. 6. had been drawn in connection with building of the Church leaving at credit in the bank £48.14. 8. The Contract for building was £250, but £318 had been drawn according to the statement and which required some explanation, but your Committee according to the statement of Mr. Gager £111.9.7. had been received by him for rents and paid to James Wilson (who absconded) the late Savings Bank Secretary and others as per memo annexed. The balance of £9. 4. 9. in hands of Mr. Gager, the Collector, has been paid over to the Committee. There are 40 to 50 tenants now on the lands and considerable arrears are due. Recommend that Mr. Gager continue to act as Collector at 10 per cent, with authority to pay monies into the hands of the Freeman's Hall Church Committee. (Sgd.) J. Wauchope Fisher, Septimus Barnett.

The James Wilson above referred to was the son of a Tailor residing in Falmouth. He was a second Beau Brummell. He absconded after defrauding the Bank and brought sorrow and grief to many poor persons in the Parish, as well as his parents.

In May, 1869, Mr. Fisher informed the Vestry that the people on the Church lands had refused to pay the rents and had become squatters. It was agreed that the Colonial Secretary be written to on the subject. By October it was reported that all squatters had quitted the Church lands.

The time for relinquishing State control of the Churches had now arrived. It was noted that the transfer Deed of land between Sutton et al and the Church Wardens of Trelawny was recorded in September 1863.

In October 1871, it was ordered that the Clerk write to the Colonial Secretary that the Board recommends that His Excellency would be pleased to hand over to the governing Body of the Church of England the Albert Town Church lands containing 120 acres for the benefit of the Station and that the Board concurs with His Excellency's suggestion as to framing a Law to effect the sale of these lands generally. . .the proceeds to be appropriated in each Parish to some useful and permanent parochial object.

In November '71, a letter from the Colonial Secretary was read to the effect that Government was not prepared or willing to allow the Board to hand over to the Church of England any more than a limited portion of the land in question.

We understand that these lands, save 21 acres were sold by Government and the proceeds used as a nucleus in founding an Endowment, the Interest from which is today of great assistance in financing the affairs of the Church.

From time to time this Church has been receiving structural improvements and we doubt if apart from the design that much of the original materials used in 1865, may still be found in the Church. The only Tablet in the Church is that in the memory of the Rev. Houston Stewart Lynch, Rector from 1916 to 1934, when he died at Albert Town.

The Church is in possession of a beautiful Pipe Organ. The membership is very encouraging. In 1936, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Dunn, Archbishop of the West Indies, confirmed 103 members, an extraordinary event for a country Church, but such is its growing missionary work. The following have been Rectors: J. A. Sommerville, G. G. Hedman, S. Negus, J. N. Swaby, H. S. Lynch and now S. D. Sanguinetti.

Albert Town has an elevation of 2,150 feet. Its population in the Town proper is 800. It is one of the healthiest spot in the Parish and may be the Island, but requires advertisement to broadcast its potentialities. From Woodlands it has become a thriving Township. It was named after Prince Albert the Consort of Queen Victoria, who were married in tthe year 1840.


This Church is situate in the Township of Clark's Town. This Township was a part of Swanswick Sugar Estate, owned by Mr. G. H. Clarke and from whom it derived its name. In truth and in fact the whole of that area was owned by the Clarke's family. Hyde was owned by Edward Clarke, Swanswick by G. H. Clarke, Long Pond, Hampshire and Mahogany hall by Sir S. H. Clarke. All these properties adjoin each other and our assumption that the Clarkes were all related leaves no reason to doubt.

The land for the establishment of a Church was given by the owner of Swanswick. A Mission station was built. The congregation swelled and the station became too small to accommodate its members. On the 23rd April, 1838, a petition numerously signed was presented to the Justices and Vestry praying for a Grant towards the erection of a new Chapel at Swanswick, whereupon Mr. George Marrett gave notice that at the next Quarterly meeting he would move for a grant of £500 for the erection of the Swanswick Church. The Motion was at the next meeting unanimously passed. On the 29th October, 1838, the house of Assembly also granted £500 towards the erection of the Church. It appears that the edifice was completed in that year, 1838, as we find that on January 1839, it was Resolved by the Vestry that when the Church was consecrated, the Clerk to the Church would be paid £50 per annum. We venture to suggest that it was consecrated by the Right Reverend Christopher Lipscomb, Lord Bishop of Jamaica in the year 1839. His Lordship landed in Jamaica on the 11th February, 1825.

On the 20th July, 1840, it was Resolved by the Vestry that the Rev. Mr. Williams be paid £150 per annum as Curate of the Swanswick Church.

In October, 1840, it was resolved that the balance due on the building of the Chapel at Swanswick, amounting to £1,400 be paid off. One-half this year and the other half next year. In April of the same year it was decided to pay £516. 3. 4 for fencing in the Swanswick Church, by Two Certificates in favour of Mr. Marrett, bearing date as this day and payable on the 28th September next with interest.

In October, 1842, the sum of £50 was granted to repair the fence and in April, 1843, a further sum of £70 was granted for the same purpose. This Church, built entirely of stone of the very best quality, has accommodation for 600 persons. The architecture is the old fashioned type, a miniature of the Falmouth Parish Church. The chancel, though small, is very artistic with stained glasses depicting the saints. On entering this Church one experiences an atmosphere charged with religious fervour for devotion. It has its own Rector who resides at White Hall on which the Rectory is built.

On the walls of St. Michael's will be found Tablets in memory of some of the illustrious departed. The first was George Marrett who died at Ashton Pen on 25th May, 1851. Aged 63. His sister, Sarah Marrett at Forrest Estate, October 1856, age 68. Charles Clarke at Falmouth in June, 1858, age 34; Paul King in 1859. Age 55. William Dalrymple, M.R.C.S., London, 1860, age 57; John Wilson, 1878, age 39, and the late uptodate is the Hon. Leicester Colville Shirley of Hyde Hall and Etingdon, Custos, on the 21st October, 1914. Age 78.

With changing conditions and the lapse of time, these Christian men are not without equally earnest successors. What is remarkable and a fact that we fail to observe, is the shortness of the existence of these Empire builders. Could it be assigned to over work at a period when speed was of no consequence or the rigour of a vile climate with appalling sanitary and health conditions? Nonetheless these men within their short and active existence laid a good foundation and of which we the inheritors should not fail them. We can but adorn their memory by erecting and leaving behind a superstructure of which prosperity will be equally proud.


The building of the Hampden Presbyterian Church was begun in 1824 and dedicated in the year 1828. The Reverend George Blythe was the first Pastor, but the first Sermon was preached by the Reverend J. Watson, then stationed at Lucea.

In connection with the building of this Church, Mr. Archibald Sterling [Stirling], then owner of Hampden Estate and Mr. William Stothert of Dundee Estate, engaged themselves to pay half the expense of the mission. These two gentlemen were not sparing in their financial contributions to the Church and would allow no slave to do so. The slave members of the Church were most faithful to their masters. No property on which they worked were ever destroyed in the serious riot which took place in the Parish in the year 1831.

The Reverend George Blythe was at one time put under arrest and on trial for preaching after sunset, but it was in fact for his proposing to marry two slaves who wanted to do so. On his promising to obey the law of the land he was allowed to go free.

Continued at Trelawny part 8

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

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