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The following is taken from the 1842 Jamaica Almanac


The following Messages and accompanying Reports, were sent down to the House by his Excellency the Governor, on Wednesday, the 10th November.

Mr. Speaker,

I am directed by the Governor to lay before this Honorable House, for information, the accompanying Report, which has been received from the Agent General of Immigration.

To his excellency the right honorable Sir Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, baronet, knight grand cross of the most honorable order of the bath, a member of her majesty's most honorable privy council, captain-general and governor-in-chief of this her majesty's island of Jamaica, and other the territories thereon depending in America, chancellor and vice-admiral of the same.

May it please your Excellency,

I have thought it my duty to lay before you a report on immigration, and as far as lay in my power, to put your excellency in possession of all that has been done, and that is in progress in a matter so deeply affecting the vital interests of this colony. I have to crave the indulgence of your excellency for the length of my report, and for having entered so much into detail; but in doing so, I feel that it would probably be more satisfactory, in as far as much often depends on very trivial matters in successfully carrying out the detail of a great measure like the present.


Since the beginning of November, 1840, to the 30th September, 1841, 1417 immigrants have been imported into this island, under the provisions, of the immigration act. A considerable number have also been brought into the island (probably two hundred) by private individuals, and who have applied for the amount of passage money, under the 29th clause of the act; but the said clause not having been full complied with, their applications have not been acceded to, although I have no doubt I may soon be placed in a situation to enable me to comply with these applications.

A few coloured Americans have, at various periods, arrived here from Baltimore, and have done well, and gave a favorable impression of that class of immigrants, which causes me to regret that so few of them have removed here. One vessel from Philadelphia, with fifty-seven people, arrived in Kingston about the end of last year; a small number of these were coloured people, but most of them were a mixed lot of Germans, Scotch, English, and Irish, some of them have done well, but on the whole, they were a bad selection.

The William Pirrie, from Stranraer, in Scotland [See Immigration 1], Robert Kerr, from Limerick, Hopewell, Etheldred [See Immigration 2], and New Phoenix, from London [See Immigration 3], have brought out chiefly Irish with some English; The Rob Roy, from Aberdeen, in Scotland [See Immigration 2], brought out all Scotch: the ship Hector, and brig Commissioner Barclay, from Sierra Leone, brought Africans and Maroons [See Immigration 2]. The expense that has been incurred, if laid on the people imported to this date, will make the charge for each individual appear heavy; but it must be borne in mind, that in carrying out a great scheme like the present, the outlay at the commencement will be more considerable than at any future period. The expense attending a commissioner, whose services were absolutely necessary in the first instance, in appointing agents in America, Great Britain, and Ireland, and in carrying out the grand object of putting in train a system of African emigration, will no longer be necessary. A considerable sum of money that appears to the debit of immigration funds, is only an apparent (not a real) expenditure, as applied in calculating the expense of those immigrants hitherto imported, as a considerable sum of money is still unapplied in the Colonial Bank, London. The sum of five hundred pounds remitted to the Messrs. J. W. Dunscomb & Co. of Montreal, for the purpose of furthering the removal of the coloured people from Upper Canada (now Ontario) has not yet been expended. Monies laid out on the Commissioner Barclay, but covered by insurance - advances on account of the brig Herald, and other sums . . . will shew, in the best manner, the actual sum chargeable against the immigrants imported to the date of this report.

The expense hitherto has been considerably increased, owing to the more than usual charges at the depot at the Admiral's Pen, arising out of the unlooked-for detention and sickness of a number of the people sent out in the ship Etheldred, and sending back to Britain twenty-seven of them, who became discontented and unwilling to remain in the country; and I must here express my opinion, that returning these people to the place from whence they came, was a just and wise measure, and one of real economy to the country. The expense of retaining them at the depot would have soon amounted to a large sum, with little chance of anyone employing a set of discontented people. . . .

That these people were not deceived, I am certain, as the best proofs have been forwarded by the West India Immigration Society, to shew that whenever there has been deception, it has been on the part of the immigrants, as they have not unfrequently described themselves, and obtained certificates, as agricultural labourers, when, on their arrival here, it was found they knew nothing of agricultural labour. These, however, are circumstances that must ever be unavoidable in an extensive scheme of immigration.

It is, however, my duty to state to your Excellency my firm conviction, that had the Etheldred, instead of going into Kingston, gone into, and landed her people at one of the outports, that all of them would have been immediately engaged, and much of the mortality, and almost all of the painful circumstances that subsequently arose, in connection with these people, would have been avoided. It cannot be questioned that their detention at the depot, with consequent sickness, originated entirely from the people having been tampered with, false hopes held out to them, and, instead, of their being led to look up to the officers appointed by the government for protection, they were instigated to view them as oppressors, desirous of deceiving, or aiding others in so doing, and that their hopes must rest altogether on individuals totally unconnected with the carrying out of the wise and humane provisions of the immigration act. On these causes must lie much of the onus of the mortality that has occurred at the depot at the Admiral's Pen; and on them alone the expense incurred in sending back the discontented and ill-disposed.

That European immigration has not failed, I have only to refer to the various documents attached to this report . . . and to express my conviction, that, to a certain extent, it ought to be encouraged, and will be successful.

There are two modes in which I am satisfied it will succeed, and I would strongly urge its being persevered in, on the system I am about to detail. I regret that the numerous delays and difficulties in obtaining titles for the lands purchased as sites for the immigration villages, has so far kept me back as to prevent my laying before your Excellency the result of an experiment on which my strongest hopes rest of carrying out and establishing a successful system of European immigration. It will now be my duty to state what has been done in regard to these villages.

Your Excellency having approved of the following sites, viz. Barrett Ville, a part of Rose Hill pen, near the Moneague, on the Ocho Rios road, St. Ann's; New England, part of the Metcalfe Ville, lands belonging to the Jamaica Silk Company, and nearly opposite Thickets, the property of the honorable William Parke, St. Ann's; Ashentully, part of Spalding's Grove land, and in the centre of a number of large coffee plantations in the Carpenter's Mountain district, Manchester; and, lastly, a village on part of Mulgrave lands, the property of the honorable John Salmon, St. Elizabeth. On the first, Barrett Ville, I am about getting the cottages carried up to the place; and as they are all framed, I trust in a short time to get them erected, - the gardens fenced and planted in such provisions as may be best calculated for the immigrants on their arrival, and will use every effort to get the people out early in the spring. On the second village, New England, I have made considerable progress, having the land, which is heavy woodland, and soil very rich, fall and cleared off, and am now preparing a lime kiln, the completion of which will enable me to get rapidly on with the cottages. Several families are expected shortly from the New England States, in America, and who will occupy such houses as may be ready. The Jamaica silk Company, an undertaking highly promising, and well worthy the best support of the country, together with a number of large pens in the vicinity, will ensure constant employment for the villagers, and render my hopes of success very high.

The third village, "Ashentully," from the last report of the sub-agent, Mr. Wheatle, is progressing steadily, and some of the cottages will shortly be erected, and the success that has, in several instances, attended the locating of European immigrants in Manchester, holds out reason for expecting success here.

The fourth village at Mulgrave, in St. Elizabeth, is also going on, and the honorable John Salmon having taking a deep interest in it, has given much of his attention to furthering its progress: there can be little doubt of success here, as about forty English immigrants having been located for several years on this property, and through the kindness and liberality of Mr. Salmon and his family, these people, although at first having many adverse circumstances to struggle against, have settled comfortably, are contented, and very healthy. I visited Mulgrave in February last, and saw most of the people. Who stated to me that they were able to work in the cane field throughout the day, like the country, and were happy, but most anxious to have more of their countrymen located near them. And were much pleased when I informed them that I would ask your Excellency to permit the establishing a village near them. It is my intention to procure the immigrants for this village from the same country as those already located came from, and they will go to the village under the most advantageous circumstances. My strong hopes of carrying out the village system on a still larger scale, arises from the circumstances of being able to select a healthy location, and so situated, as at all times to afford a constant supply of labour for the industrious, and, above all, the favorable first impression that is likely to be given to a labouring family on first landing in a strange country, to find themselves, after leaving the ship, stepping into a neat clean cottage, with a well-stocked garden attached, and having a week or a fortnight to rest and look about them, and get fairly settled down ere they resume their labour. With such advantages, and the advice of a judicious sub-agent in directing them in the first instance as to the best mode of job work, and various other matters connected with their interests, I feel assured a well-disposed labourer will find his condition much improved, and that the island will eventually benefit in the highest degree by such a population. . . .

When European immigrants are sent to this island with the intention of having them located on the property of individuals, I have to remark that the failure will be almost certain, unless it is conducted on a plan somewhat similar to the locating them in villages on land purchased by the public. To carry out successfully the locating of Europeans as labourers on private property, it must be restricted to properties in the interior well-watered, and known to be healthy. Cottages floored and placed judiciously, not too distant from the fields, and with a garden attached, and stocked with provisions, should be ready before the immigrants arrive. I am strongly opposed to granting what is commonly called provision grounds, very often at some distance from the cottages, and offered as a sort of bonus in unlimited quantity to the immigrants. If the labour of the people is required for five days in the week, but little advantage can be taken of the offered land, as Saturday will be required for marketing and taking care of the gardens. One acre of good land attached to the house is better to the labourer, than five at a distance, and with manure and proper cultivation, would last for a very long time; and, as well there is no inducement to withhold any portion of his labour from the property on which he is located.

No work should be required from the people for one or two weeks after their arrival, that time being necessary to enable them to settle down comfortable after a long voyage, and to allow them to satisfy their natural curiosity in looking about them, and although some may view these matters as trifles, they are of great consequence in such a matter, as shewing a degree of consideration for the people, as will go far in gaining their good will. Whenever it can be done, the milk of a cow should be allowed for a family or for two families, and each family should have a pig and a few fowls to commence with. Nothing could add more to the comfort of a poor family, than having the command of milk, and the proprietor need not fear for his cow, as in nine cases out of ten, she would be kept in the best condition. With such treatment, medical attendance, good advice, and care, on the part of the manager, and more particularly on coffee and pen properties, the European immigrants will, eventually repay the expenditure on the part of the proprietor. The benefits to be derived from the European to be imported into this island, although, I trust great, will be nothing in comparison to those that will be gained from the hardy race of natives that will spring up in the course of time; possessing the skill of their fathers, with a capability of bearing fatigue, without injury, in any part of the country.

I am borne out in this opinion, in looking to the population of Barbados and Puerto Rico. In the former I believe, about one-third of the whole population is white, and many of them working in the field; in the latter, there are a great many white labourers, who work in the field with the blacks and with equal vigor and impunity. It will be absolutely necessary, with the increase of white labourers to procure education for their children, and this has been so far provided for by the act, in the case of villages.Unless such preparations as I have described, are made for European labourers on their first arrival, the attempt to locate them must fail; as experience has satisfied me, that when they are carried to properties, where cottages and gardens are not ready for them, they can subsist on the current wages given to established and old settled labourers; when the labourer has to look to a store on the property for every article he wants, there is a strong inducement to run into debt, if the proprietor is liberal, and while he can procure everything at a store he will scarcely be anxious about establishing his garden grounds, and much time is generally wasted at the store, waiting for the articles wanted.

I believe it impossible for the white labourer, on first coming out to this country, to subsist on 1s. 6d. per day, without the advantages I have alluded to, but if he enters into a good cottage, finds provisions in the grounds ready for use, and the necessity, together with the mode of keeping up the same, is pointed out to him, together with his pig and poultry, then, with the current rate of wages, he will live, and by the time he has been twelve months in the country, and has become acquainted with the different kinds of labour, so as to engage in contracts, in carrying out which he can employ the labour of his family, he will not only find himself above want, but with prudence be able to save money.

. . . It is with some surprise that I find no application has hitherto been made for Germans. I have confidence in their answering where properly located, and that, in numbers together, they would be satisfied with a lower rate of wages than immigrants from Great Britain or Ireland, and are more easily fed. I wish to give them a trial in one of the villages to be erected next year, should I have your Excellency's approval.

I have the pleasure in reporting to your Excellency that where Europeans have been located in the interior and higher districts, that the deaths have been few, in no case so numerous, that I am aware of, as would give a reason against its being continued. The principal number of deaths that have come under my knowledge have been among those who remained in the low lands, and chiefly about the town; and even here, as far as I can ascertain, the deaths, although numerous, have not borne any proportion to the numbers that have died among her majesty's troops.

Your Excellency will be glad to learn that there is a prospect of a considerable influx of labourers from Upper Canada, consisting of coloured people, who have settled in that province, but disliking the climate, are desirous of removing to one more congenial. I have reason to believe they would prove an useful class of labourers, and be likely to assist in improving our cultivation of some of the minor productions, more particularly that of cotton and tobacco. . . I have not yet had any direct communication from Mr. Peter Gallego, who has also been appointed an agent for furthering the introduction of the coloured people from Upper Canada, but I have reason to believe that he is desirous that Jamaica should be selected, by his coloured brethren, as the place to which they will remove; and it is more than probable, that the approach of winter will expedite the movement of those who have determined on settling here.

Mr. Grattan, who has been appointed an agent under the Immigration Act, for Boston, in the United States, in a late communication states, that most probably in September he will be able to dispatch a vessel with a considerable number of immigrants, consisting, however, chiefly of Irish, most of whom are steady characters, and belong to temperate societies. I believe although high wages are to be obtained for a certain period of the year in the United States, yet, that during several months, employment is not be had, and that those who have been improvident are put to great straits during the winter months; this forms the principal cause in inducing persons to quit that country for this, where they are informed constant employment is to be had.

I have been most careful, in my correspondence with all the agents in America and elsewhere, to point out, not only the real state of things as to wages, but also the disadvantage to immigrants, on account of the high rate of almost all the necessaries of life, and therefore feel assured that no misconception can arise as to their prospects here, provided the agent does his duty, and I have no reason to doubt that all the agents have taken pains on this point.

It has been reported to me by several of the African headmen, who returned here after the loss of the [brig] Commissioner Barclay, that there were a good many liberated Africans on the Great Heneague island, as also at Nassau. I have, in consequence, been engaged in making arrangements to have them brought here as soon as possible, as they were desirous of removing to this island.

It now remains for me to lay before your Excellency, what has been done, and is doing, regarding that most important branch of immigrations, viz. - that from Sierra Leone: it will, however, be unnecessary for me to say much on this subject, as to the foundation that has been laid for success by Commissioner Barclay, who has shewn, by the measure he adopted personally at Sierra Leone, how competent he was for the performance of those duties for which he was selected, as I have no doubt he will place before your Excellency such a report as will be highly satisfactory. . . . The unfortunate loss of the brig Commissioner Barclay, on her return to Sierra Leone with the necessary instructions from Mr. Barclay and myself, must tend to delay for a time the anticipated success. The delay of the return of the headmen, owing to the loss of the brig, is particularly unfortunate, and I have no doubt will cause considerable anxiety; but I trust they will shortly reach Sierra Leone in the brig Herald . . . Every care has been taken in fitting up and supplying the brig Herald in such manner as will ensure the comfort of those who may be induced to return in her. . . . The arrangements made by Commissioner Barclay with Messrs. Beckford and Ranken, of London, were, that four vessels would leave that port for Sierra Leone; one on the 15th August, 30th September, 15th November, and 30th December; so that, if these plans are carried out, we may look for a numerous list of efficient labourers at no very distant period. I have directed that the first of these vessels shall go into Savanna-la-Mar, the second into Annotto Bay; the third in Lucea, and the fourth into Kingston. The brig Herald, on her return, will go into Port Morant. . . Previous to my learning the arrangements made by Mr. Barclay in Sierra Leone, I had entered into arrangement with the West India Immigration Society of London, to forward without delay five hundred Africans to Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, as parties there had made proposals for locating that number, that I could not otherwise consider than as most eligible. I have had communications from the Society lately, and am glad to state, that there is every prospect of their being able speedily to execute the order I had sent them. Two very fine vessels have some time since sailed from Liverpool, chartered by the West India Immigration Society, and fitted up similar to transports for white immigrants for the purpose of conveying them to Savanna-la-Mar.

The Society does not appear to entertain any doubts as to getting the people. These vessels may be expected before the end of the year. . . It is sometimes a matter of extreme inconvenience, and almost of impossibility for proprietors to procure a sufficient number of mechanics to enable them to erect cottages for the reception of immigrants; and I am of opinion that a portion of the immigration funds could not be better applied than in forming in the different parishes, central villages for the location of Africans on their first arrival, these villages embracing education for the children in a manner similar to that provided in the case of European immigrant villages.

. . . If this system is extended to erecting villages for the reception of Africans, and, in fact, for the reception of immigrants from all countries, much expense would be saved in hiring and keeping up depots, and the immigrants, when newly imported, would be at once conveyed to comfortable cottages, with gardens attached, instead of being, as they are, in many instances, crowded into out-buildings, and old stores, until these cottages can be erected.

There is one evil connected with immigration that has been a fertile source of complaint, and which, at present, I have no means of curbing. I allude to the frequent occurrence of immigrants, who, after leaving the depot under an engagement, soon after quit their employer, generally in debt, and very frequently wander about the country, and ultimately reach Kingston, when generally, being destitute, they apply to the authorities for assistance, and I find, in many instances, although not sick, that they are sent to the public hospital where they remain as long as they can, having liberty to go about during the day, and are fed at an immense expense to the public. Such a system I conceive to be nothing more nor less than a premium offered for vagrancy, and I feel assured the records of the hospital will show a fearful expenditure in this way. I know not who is to blame, but that a stop must be put to such a system is quite certain.

. . . I should propose that the authorities in Kingston be requested, when application is made to them for assistance by any of the straggling European immigrants, that they send them out to the depot, where employment would be afforded them and the current wages allowed for their work, deducting therefrom the amount due for their rations, which would be daily served out to them; if sick they would be attended to, and fed at an expense, certainly not greater than at the public hospital; those who refused to work, would of necessity, be treated as vagrants.

One advantage attending a scheme of this kind would be, that any party wishing a labourer of good character, could apply to the depot, and in the event of any industrious labourer being there, he could then enter into permanent employment. Such a place would also afford an asylum for widows of immigrants with families, where employment could always be procured for them, near so large a town as Kingston.

It is not easy, in a report of this kind, to enter into a detailed plan of the mode in which I should carry out a "farm of industry" such as I should recommend to be opened at the Admiral's pen.

But that such a thing would be advantageous, I think is evident, and probably the suggestion may be favoured with the attention of your Excellency.

I have the honor to be, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,

John Ewart, agent-general of immigrants

St. Thomas in the Vale, 30th September 1841

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