Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library

early 19th century Jamaica – Church of Scotland – and – Presbyterian Missionaries



Note – in my sources – ‘Jamaica Royal Gazette’ = The Royal Gazette, Kingston, Jamaica – in the British Library Newspaper Library, and/or in the London National Archives. 



Church of Scotland – the Established Church in Scotland –


From the Everyman Encyclopaedia, 1931-1932 edition –


Presbyterianism – a form of church government, in which the leading part is taken by presbyters or elders. 



The Church of Scotland – was founded by John Knox and Andrew Melville on the teachings of Calvin and formed into a Presbyterian Hierarchy of Courts in contradistinction to the Episcopal Hierarchy of men.  On December 20, 1560, the first Assembly of the Church of Scotland was held and the Confession of Faith, drawn up by John Knox, was ratified.  In 1592 the Act, guaranteeing the liberties of the Church of Scotland and sanctioning its Presbyterian government was passed.   When James (VI) of Scotland became King (James I) of England, and during the reign of Charles II, presbytery was discountenanced by law in favour of episcopacy, and not until 1690, in the reign of William III, was the Act of 1592 restored – the Charter of the Church of Scotland – restored to its full position.  The government of the Church of Scotland is by Kirk-sessions, Presbyteries, Synods, and the General Assembly, the supreme court.  The kirk-sessions consist of the parish minister and ruling elders elected by the congregation.  The presbyteries are elected by the General Assembly, and consist of all parish ministers in a specified district.  The Provincial Synods, of which there are twelve, are comprised of three or more presbyteries.  The presbyteries elect the ministers who sit in the General Assembly.  ……………………………….



Although Scotland and England shared a monarch from the time that James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne, as James I of England, in 1603, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England were not fully united until the 1707 Act of Union. 


1707 Act of Union – in 1707 twin Acts of Union were passed in the Scottish parliament at Edinburgh, and in the English parliament at Westminster – to create a new Kingdom of Great Britain, to dissolve both parliaments, and to replace them with a new Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain at Westminster. 


One of the provisions of the 1707 Act of Union was the guarantee that the Church of Scotland would remain the Established Church in Scotland. 


Presbyterians Secessionist –


From – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Secession_Church –


The First Secession rose out of an Act of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly of 1732, which was passed despite the disapproval of the large majority of individual presbyteries.  A previous Act of (1730) had taken away even the right of complaint, and so the protests of the dissentients were refused.  In the following October, Ebenezer Erskine, minister at Stirling, preached a sermon referring to the act as unscriptural and unconstitutional.  Members of his synod objected, and he was censured.  On appeal, the censure was affirmed by the Assembly in May 1733, but Erskine refused to recant.  He was joined in his protest by William Wilson (1690-1741), Alexander Moncrieff (1695-1761) and James Fisher (1697-1775) (ministers at Perth, Abernethy and Kinclaven respectively). They were regarded by the Assembly as being in contempt.  When they still refused to recant, in November the protesting ministers were suspended. They replied by protesting that they still adhered to the principles of the Church, whilst at the same time seceding.

In December 1733 they constituted themselves into a new presbytery.  In 1734 they published their first testimony, with a statement of the grounds of their secession, which made prominent reference to the doctrinal laxity of previous General Assemblies.  In 1736 they proceeded to exercise judicial powers as a church court, published a judicial testimony, and began to organize churches in various parts of the country.  Having been joined by four other ministers, including the well-known Ralph Erskine, they appointed Wilson Professor of Divinity.  For these acts proceedings were again instituted against them in the General Assembly, and they were in 1740 all deposed and ordered to be ejected from their churches. Meanwhile, the membership of their 'Associate Presbytery' steadily increased, until in 1745 there were forty-five congregations, and it was reconstituted into an 'Associate Synod'.

Soon controversy arose over the religious clause of the oath taken by town burgesses in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Perth.  The burgesses were required to swear: “I profess and allow with my heart the true religion presently professed within this realm and authorized by the laws thereof”.  In April 1747, the seceders divided over whether they should swear the oath or not. Two bodies were formed, each claiming to be the true ‘Associate Synod’.  Those who condemned the swearing of the oath came to be popularly known as ‘Anti-Burghers’, while the other party were designated ‘Burghers’.

In the late eighteenth century, a second controversy erupted in both groups over the provisions of the Westminster Confession of Faith concerning the role of the civil magistrate in church affairs. Both Synods disavowed 'compulsory and persecuting principles' in religion.  But a minority in each protested.  In 1799 the Burghers split into the 'New Lichts' (who supported this revision of the confession) and the 'Auld Lichts' (who opposed it).  The 'Anti-Burghers' similarly divided in 1806.

The United Associate Synod of the Secession Church was founded in 1820 by a union of the various churches which had seceded.

In 1847, it in turn united with the Relief Church to form the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  




By 1774, Edward Long, in his ‘History of Jamaica’ estimated that very nearly one third of the white inhabitants of Jamaica were either natives of Scotland or descendants of Scotsmen.


T V Divine in ‘Scotland’s Empire’, published in 2003, wrote – ‘in the 1730s the distinctive pattern of Scottish migration to the West Indies had already emerged’. 


From – ‘Scotland’s Empire 1600-1815’, by T V Devine – first published 2003 – Chapter 10 – The Caribbean World –


In the 1730s the distinctive pattern of Scottish migration to the West Indies had already emerged and salient differences with the North American experience were apparent.  Immigrants to the mainland colonies came from virtually every level of Scottish society, from the younger sons of the gentry to poor servants and unemployed labourers.  Most Scots who sailed to the mainland tended, especially from the 1760s and 1770s, to be family and kindred units.  Movement to the West Indies shared some of these features, notably in the significance of indentured servants.  But in the main, Scots in the Caribbean were planters, merchants, colonial officials, attorneys, doctors, overseers and tradesmen, most of whom had no intention of spending the rest of their days in the tropics.  The prevalence of slavery on the islands helps to account for this difference.  Black slave labour carried out the unskilled and semi-skilled tasks which were often performed by white labour in several of the mainland colonies.  There was also an enduring sexual imbalance in the West Indies.  Most migrants were young men in their teens and early twenties.  …………………..  Even more mature emigrants seem to have left their families at home rather than expose them to the risk of the malignant diseases of the West Indies.  For the white population, at least, the Caribbean in the eighteenth century was very much a man’s world. 

This pattern of steady Scottish movement into the West Indies before c.1750 fits the general picture of British imperial expansion.  In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the empire had been unambiguously English in its colonial populations, governance, language, law and traditions.  It seemed that ‘anglicisation swept all before it’.24 By the 1750s, however, a remarkable change had taken place.  Especially at the elite level, the political and imperial bastions of empire were being overrun in numerical terms by settlers from the Celtic nations and immigrants of non-British origin.  The officer corps of the army, the merchant communities, the governing elites and the professional cadres of the colonial hierarchies were all transformed and Scots, even more than the Irish or Welsh, were in the vanguard of the revolution.

Tentative estimates put Scottish emigration to the West Indies from the 1750s to 1800 at somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000. 25  ……………………………………………………....

It was a similar story in Jamaica.  Edward Long, the historian of the colony, waxed eloquent in 1774 on the impact of the Scots:


Jamaica, indeed, is greatly indebted to North Britain, as very nearly one third of the inhabitants are either natives of that country, or descendants from those who were.  Many have come from the same quarter every year, less in quest of fame, than of fortunes . . .  To say the truth, they are so clever and prudent in general, as, by an obliging behaviour, good sense, and zealous services to gain esteem, and make their way through every obstacle. 27



Contemporaries were well aware of these Caledonian incursions and sought explanations.  Edward Long thought the Scots had ‘sounder constitutions’ than the English and hence adapted more easily to the tropical climate.  More convincingly, he praised the artisans, particularly the stonemasons and millwrights who were ‘remarkably expert and, in general, are sober, frugal and civil’. 29   He also commented on the educational attainments of the Scots which meant they were better equipped to obtain posts as clerks and book-keepers, and then progress to become attorneys who actually managed the estates of absentee planters.

But there was also a bigger picture to be considered.  Scots from gentry backgrounds still sought opportunity at the imperial periphery because of the continuing difficulty of breaking into the network of patronage and professional employment in London and the limited career opportunities in their native country.  Desperation as much as the search for opportunities explains why so many were willing to hazard their lives in the lethal environment of the West Indies.  But in the decades after c.1760 the British Caribbean did offer rich pickings because of the upward curve in European demand for sugar, and as a result of the spectacular conquests of foreign islands during the Seven Years and Napoleonic Wars.  External events also impinged on the Scottish Caribbean diaspora.  From the 1770s, the West Indies became the most dynamic sector of the Scottish overseas commerce.  After 1783 the Caribbean took over from the American tobacco trade as the leading sector.  Already in 1775 Glasgow’s exports to the West Indies were valued at twice as much as those to the mainland colonies.  By 1790 the sugar islands had become the Clyde’s premier overseas centre of trade.  It was not simply a question of intelligent diversification after the tobacco business was undermined by the American War of Independence.  The Caribbean now became a strategic factor in the whole process of Scottish industrialization.  In the early years, raw sea-island cotton from the Caribbean plantations helped to power the mills of the western Lowlands.  Equally, the boom in the export trade was partly dictated by demand for ‘slave cloth’, rough linen clothing produced in massive volume by the spinners and weavers of the eastern counties. 

Scotland was also in an excellent position to respond to the Caribbean need for professional skills.  Nowhere was this more evident than in the field of medicine.  Not surprisingly, the islands had great need for doctors.   Mortality rates were particularly high during the difficult period of ‘seasoning’.  The medical needs of the vast slave populations were originally less important, though this changed in the later decades of the century.  A rapid rise in slave prices and the threat of an increasingly vocal anti-slavery agitation transformed attitudes.  Partly as a matter of self-interest and as a counter to the anti-slavery critics, island Assemblies passed new laws for the health care of slaves.  In 1788 the Assembly of Jamaica, for instance, enacted the Code Noire which required a doctor or a surgeon to submit annual reports on the extent and causes of slave mortality on each plantation.  When similar legislation was passed elsewhere it became necessary for planters to employ more doctors.   ………………………………………… Scotland, above all other countries in the UK, was best able to serve this market.  It was not simply a question of the renown of the great eighteenth-century medical schools of Edinburgh and Glasgow.  The sheer volume of doctors produced by this small country was likely to yield a substantial surplus for export.  Between 1752 and 1800, over 85 per cent of medical graduates in Britain were trained in the Scottish Universities. 30

The Scots, therefore, made an overwhelming impact on Caribbean medicine.  ……………… As one scholar has put it: ‘To Scots in all but the highest ranks, learning took the place of inherited money, property and status.  It became a catalyst for the acquisition of a fortune. 32

Money making from other ventures was therefore central to the doctors’ aim of rising in the world. ………………………………………………………………………………………………

Scottish hegemony in the Caribbean was underpinned by complex networks of patronage, ethnic connection and family loyalty.  Nowhere was this more obvious than in the virtual Caledonian monopoly of the major political offices in the Caribbean.  …………………………..

The limited prospects in the homeland for minor Scottish peers and gentry made them more eager than their counterparts in England to seek posts at the other side of the world.  But contemporaries had another explanation.  Their imperial prominence was seen as a further confirmation of the insidious growth of the power of the Scots at the very heart of government.  The first manifestation of these sentiments came during the term of office in the early 1760s of John, Earl of Bute, the first Scottish-born Prime Minister after the union.  His brief tenure coincided with a significant increase in the number of Scots who rose to positions of political influence.  …………………………………………………………………………………………


The distribution of Scottish political patronage was only one side of the coin.  The second was probably even more pervasive.  Family and personal networks formed the complex interconnecting webs of association between Scots which could go a long way to explain their success in the Caribbean.  The networks had several functions.  They facilitated access to jobs, contacts and credit for new arrivals from Scotland.  They helped to reduce some of the immense risks intrinsic to transoceanic commerce by entrusting key tasks in business or plantation management to trusted associates and family members.  They were also a vital social mechanism cementing the ethnic links between Scottish sojourners and the homeland to which they sought to return one day.  The network offered in addition a system of mutual support in a distant and hostile land.  Scottish planters, for instance, would have attorneys, book-keepers, doctors, executors and trustees either from their kindred group or local area back in Scotland.  As in other parts of the empire, the tight territorial relationship between small, well-defined areas in the colony and specific neighbourhoods in the Old Country is very striking.  ………………..……..

But kinship relationships were paramount and the enduring glue of these networks.  The first essential step on a Caribbean career was an introduction through letters or recommendations into the ‘interest’ or circle of patronage and connections of an established member of the kindred group.  …………………………………………………………………………………………….



The first Presbyterian missionaries arrived in Jamaica in 1800, but their mission was short lived – and it was not until 1824 that the Scottish Missionary Society sent another missionary to Jamaica. 


The Scottish Missionary Society was supported by the Church of Scotland and by the Secessionist Presbyterian Churches, but it appears, (other than Church of Scotland minister, Rev Joseph Bethune, who arrived in Jamaica in 1800 with two catechists), that the missionaries sent to Jamaica by the Scottish Missionary Society were all Secessionist Presbyterians.

Rev Hope Masterton Waddell, sent to Jamaica by the Scottish Missionary Society in 1829, in his book first published in 1863, wrote – ‘out of Scotland all Presbyterians are regarded as belonging to the “Kirk” or Established Church of that country’.


From – http://books.google.com – ‘Twenty-Nine Years in the West Indies and Central Africa: a Review of the Missionary Work and Adventure, 1829-1858’, by Rev Hope Masterton Waddell, published 1863 –


-          It is a curious fact, that out of Scotland all Presbyterians are regarded as belonging to the “Kirk” or Established Church of that country, owing to their all adhering to the old standards of doctrine, and forms of worship and church government.


-          Owing, perhaps, to the number of Scotchmen in the colony (Jamaica) and the fact that our Missionary Society was in part connected with the Church of Scotland, they exempted us from the term “Sectarian” – (or, as Rev Waddell went on to write, at least until the Christmas 1831 Jamaica Slave Rebellion.)



The earliest mention I have of a Presbyterian place of worship in Jamaica – a Church of Scotland chapel in Kingston – is from a report in an Edinburgh newspaper, the Edinburgh Star of 9 September 1814, published five months later in the Jamaica Royal Gazette.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 4 February 1815 – Sup, page 10 –


The Edinburgh Star of the 9th September last contains the following paragraph on the subject of the erection of a Presbyterian chapel in this city:

 “It has long been an object of desire to the inhabitants of the city of Kingston in Jamaica, to have a Presbyterian place of worship erected there; and an attempt to that effect made upwards of twenty years ago failed.  Within these few months, the same object has been brought forward, and with a degree of spirit which promises success.  All classes and denominations have contributed to it; and notwithstanding the contradictory paragraphs, which have lately appeared in the papers of this country on the subject, there appears little reason to doubt the completion of the design.  Our readers will find in this publication the whole proceedings on the subject transmitted to us by the Committee, whereby it will be seen, that 8000 L currency have already been subscribed, and upwards of 6000 L paid.  Our later communications inform us, that a house has been purchased for the Minister, and ground for erecting the place of worship.  The funds, however, are not deemed adequate for the whole of their plan; and it is the wish of the Committee, in submitting their proceedings to their fellow-countrymen, that they may be induced to come forward, and give some assistance to so laudable an undertaking.”



Note – the Church of Scotland church in Kingston was variously referred to as the Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Chapel, or Kirk. 


In November 1814, a meeting of the subscribers to the Presbyterian Chapel took place at the Court-House in Kingston.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 12 November 1814 – PS, page 17 –


On Monday a meeting of the subscribers to the Presbyterian Chapel took place at the Court-House in this city.  Robert Henry, Esq in the Chair, when a petition to the Hon House of Assembly, praying pecuniary aid thereto, was read, which was agreed to, and immediately signed by those present.  The drift of a bill for forming a permanent Presbyterian Establishment (to be submitted to the Committee of the Hon House of Assembly, appointed to bring in a bill agreeably to the prayer of a petition already presented for that purpose), was read to the meeting, and several alterations and additions suggested therein.  The following Gentlemen were then nominated as being fit persons for Trustees to the institution, which was suggested should be entitled “ The Presbyterian Institution of Kingston:”

The Hon John Shand, the Hon Charles Grant, Alex Grant, Andrew Bogle, Robert Henry, John Dick, David Finlayson, Francis Graham, Samuel Walker, Wm Crosbie, James Simpson, Wm Middleton, Ewing Ritchie, Robert B Muirhead, John Miller, Gilbert Vance, Joseph Green, Robert Smith, Robert McClelland, Maxwell Hyslop, Wm Hoseason, Colin McLarty, George Condie, David Brown, and Andrew Lunan, Esqrs.


19 November 1814 – page 5 –

Jamaica.  House of Assembly.

Thursday, Nov 3, 1814.


A petition of sundry persons of the Presbyterian persuasion presented, setting forth,

That a great number of the inhabitants of Kingston, and of the island in general, have been brought up in the Presbyterian form of worship, and have long regretted that no Establishment has taken place in this colony, to afford them the opportunity of offering their Prayer and Thanksgivings to the Almighty agreeably to the rites in which they have been educated:

That, deeply impressed with the necessity for such an Establishment, the petitioners have contributed to raise a sum for the creation of a Place of Worship in the City of Kingston for such as are of the Presbyterian persuasion, and to endow a Minister for the same:

That such Establishment may become permanent, and be duly protected, the petitioners are anxious to obtain the countenance of the Legislature, for carrying into effect an object which they confidently trust will prove of general benefit:

That it is the intention, as soon as the funds will permit, to connect with the Establishment a Seminary for the education of youth, under the guidance of the Minister:

That the petitioners are advised it is requisite to have an Act of the Legislature for the appointment of Trustees for the management of the temporal concerns of the Establishment, and to empower them to purchase and hold real property, and to receive the donations and bequests which such as are disposed may be willing to grant.

And praying the interposition of the House.

The above petition referred to Committee.


Friday, Nov 4.


Report made on the petition of sundry persons of the Presbyterian persuasion and agreed to, and bill ordered agreeably to the prayer thereof.



In the Report from a Committee of the House of Assembly, presented by John Shand to the House of Assembly on 20 December 1815, he recalled that in 1814 – ‘a bill passed through the House of Assembly to give a legal establishment to the Church of Scotland’ – but the bill was rejected by the Council of Jamaica.  


From the British Library – ‘Further Proceedings in the Honourable House of Assembly of Jamaica relative to a Bill (Wilberforce’s Registry Bill) introduced into the House of Commons, for effectually preventing the unlawful importation of Slaves, and holding Free Persons in Slavery, in the British Colonies.  To which are annexed, Examinations, taken upon oath before a Committee of the House, for the purpose of disproving the allegations of the said Bill’, published London 1816’ – 20 December 1815 – extract from the Report by John Shand from the Committee –


In the year 1779 an act passed the legislature of this island, imposing it as a duty on the rector of every parish, to set apart a portion of time on each Sunday for instructing such slaves as were willing to become Christians.  Considerable numbers have profited from these instructions.  In most cases the masters encourage, none oppose, the wishes of the slaves to attend.

In the year 1814 a bill passed through the House of Assembly to give a legal establishment to the Church of Scotland in this island.

It was thought that the simplicity of the form of worship was well adapted to the condition of the slaves; that the moderate remuneration, with which the pastors are satisfied, could be easily raised; and that an increased number of places of worship would remove the complaint of the churches on the present establishment not affording sufficient accommodation.

Although the Acts of Union seem to give the inhabitants who profess the Presbyterian religion a claim to an establishment in the colonies, this bill was rejected by the honourable council.

It shews, however, that the representatives of the people have always been desirous to encourage the introduction of pastors, whose education gave security for the nature of their doctrines which they were to inculcate. 

They continue of that disposition, although equally satisfied, as in former times, that to communicate the lights of Christianity through Methodism would have consequences the most fatal to the temporal comforts of the slaves, and the safety of the community. 



Rev George Wilson Bridges, in the ‘Annals of Jamaica’, published in 1828, also referred to the rejection, by the Council of Jamaica, of the 1814 bill to give a legal establishment to the Church of Scotland in Jamaica


From ‘The Annals of Jamaica’, by Rev George Wilson Bridges, A.M., Member of the Universities of Oxford and Utrecht, and Rector of the Parish of St Ann, Jamaica – in two volumes – Volume 2 –1828 –


A.D. 1814 –

……………………………………..  On the subject of religion, an important measure was also proposed, though it did not take immediate effect.  A great proportion of the European inhabitants had been educated in the forms of the Presbyterian worship, and they had long regretted the want of an establishment to which their numbers certainly entitled them, and where they might offer up their prayers agreeably to their own peculiar rites.  They therefore petitioned the Assembly to countenance their church by a law which might enable them to receive donations and bequests, and to purchase and hold real property.  A bill, consisting a corporation for the management of the affairs of the Presbyterian establishment, was therefore passed by the House; but it was rejected by the council, who have always fixed their eyes on the visible landmarks of orthodoxy, and who considered this as an encroachment on the supremacy of the national religion.




Note – the Church of England was the Established Church in Jamaica. 


In 1815, the ‘Kirk’ was voted – ‘three thousand five hundred pounds’ – by the House of Assembly. 


From ‘The Annals of Jamaica’, by Rev George Wilson Bridges, A.M., Member of the Universities of Oxford and Utrecht, and Rector of the Parish of St Ann, Jamaica – in two volumes – Volume 2 –1828 –


A. D. 1815 –

………………………….. The interest of the Kirk at length obtained that consideration which the great proportion of the Presbyterians in the colony justly entitled it to; and the Senate, instead of hazarding the fate of another bill, adopted the more substantial mode of establishing it by a vote of three thousand five hundred pounds:  expressing, at the same time, its determination to resist the further importunities of a church which could only hold a secondary rank in Jamaica.   .……………………………………………………………………………………………………..



By September 1815, the Building of the Presbyterian Chapel in Kingston was – ‘in great forwardness’. 


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 2 September 1815 – PS, page 19 – 


The Subscribers to the Presbyterian Institution in this City, who have not paid the Sums subscribed by them, are requested to pay the same, as soon as possible, to Robt McClelland, Esq Treasurer of the Institution, the Building being now in great forwardness, and all the funds required.



In 1816 the Kingston Chronicle suggested applying to ‘the Imperial Parliament’ in London for assistance in completing the Presbyterian Chapel in Kingston.


 From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 17 August 1816 – PS, page 17 –


We are happy to find that Lord Holland, in recommending religious instruction to the slaves, prefers the established religion of the country, as in the diffusion of which we are sure the Colonial Assembly, as well as the inhabitants generally, will most cordially and zealously unite to the utmost of their means and power.  His Lordship may not be aware perhaps of the large sums that were subscribed in this island lately towards the establishment, upon a large scale, of a Presbyterian Chapel, the building of which is in a very great state of forwardness; but the funds being exhausted, and the great commercial distress which this island experiences, in common with all other parts of the world at the present juncture, precludes the possibility of raising a sufficient sum, by private subscription, to complete so laudable and praiseworthy an undertaking, and which we are confident would go far towards that religious improvement and civilization among that class of people which all so anxiously desire.  We, therefore, think this would be a very proper opportunity to apply to the Imperial Parliament, by humble petition, for aid and assistance in this emergency, to enable us to complete and carry into effect the objects of the above religious institution, and we hope and trust for the good offices of Lord Holland, imputing neglect to the Church of England, in respect to religious instruction among the negroes. – Kingston Chronicle.



In 1816, Presbyterians petitioned the House of Assembly for a further 5,000 L to complete their Chapel in Kingston, but the petition was rejected.


During the debate on the Presbyterian petition in the Jamaica House of Assembly on 16 December 1816, there was nationalistic animosity between some English and some Scottish members.  Mr Barrett, an English member, referring to a comment made by Mr Lunan, a Scottish member, said that – ‘The Hon Gentleman had said that by the act of Union (1707 Act of Union) the religion of the Presbyterians was established by Law – In Scotland, it was, but in England and in her Colonies, they were as much dissenters as any other sect – This country, Sir, is Jamaica, not Scotland – It is an English, not a Scotch Colony.’


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 21 December 1816 – Sup, page 9 –11 –


Proceedings in the Honourable House of Assembly.

Monday, Dec 16, 1816.


Presbyterian Kirk.

House in Committee on the State of the Island. – The Presbyterian petition being again read,

Mr Kinkead rose and observed, that as the object and views of the Institution were fully explained in the petition, he should not trouble the House with any observations of his own, but content himself by moving that a clause be inserted in the Poll-Tax law for the payment to Trustees of the sum of 3500 L towards completing the Presbyterian Chapel in Kingston.

Mr Barrett expressed his surprise at the resolution now offered to the Committee; he wondered how the Hon Mover had succeeded so far as to get it into the Committee on the State of the Island.  The petition for this grant should have been rejected on the first reading. – He would read the vote of the last assembly, in the year 1814, which granted to the sect of Presbyterians 5000 L for the purpose of completing their Chapel.  He could not but remark on the confidence and bad faith of that sect, who ventured a second time before the House, for another sum to complete a building they had before declared 5000 L would complete.  But he more strongly objected to the aid demanded on a broad and general principle.  He had seen the building in its unfinished state, and had rather it remained so than foster the pride of its founders, by giving away to them the money of his constituents.  The ambition of the sect was to be seen in the magnitude of its Kirk; the same feeling, that induced it to leave so far behind the Episcopalian Church in splendour and endowments, would equally urge them forwards, till it rivalled and finally exceeded its neighbour in the number of its votaries.  We were in fact encouraging a rival, that would prove an active enemy to our Church, as by law established, and might at no distant period threaten its utter dissolution.  In all the countries that he had seen, heard, or read of, where an established religion was acknowledged it became the policy of the Governments to protect and maintain it, in surpassing magnificence and dignity; however they might tolerate dissenters [and that Presbyterians were dissenters could not be denied], they never permitted them to attach a splendour to their doctrine which could throw a shade over the favoured religion, nor did the sectarians ever insult the Established Church by assuming such splendour.  Here, however, they had raised an edifice in the immediate neighbourhood of the Episcopal Church, which looked more like a Temple of Jupiter than the tolerated meeting-house of modest dissenting Christians.  It is promised us, by the advocates of the grant, that the Kirk will banish irreligion and immorality quite out of Kingston and almost from the island – the Methodists, the Anabaptists, the Moravians, and all other sectarians, are to be completely subdued, and their followers to be made good Presbyterians.  He was not prepared to admit that even if the establishment of the Kirk had this effect, any advantage would accrue from it. – He would not acknowledge that of all the sectarians, Presbyterians deserved particular encouragement.  In his eye, and in the eye of the law, all … of the …. Episcopacy were dissenters, and as such had no claim for public support.  The Church of Kingston was unquestionably far too small for the population of that city, but was that a reason for the measure proposed? It was indeed a good reason for building another Church, and a good excuse for dissenters raising Chapels for their own form of worship, with their own funds, an excuse also to thoughtless persons for forsaking the religion of their parents and their country, but it was indeed idle and wicked to maintain that one evil should be corrected by a greater, and that the funds, which might be legitimately applied to enlarge the means and the influence of the English Church, should instead thereof, be devoted to a rival worship, to the shame and degradation of our own.  Could the Hon Mover of the resolution before the Committee state any gift of the Imperial Parliament to the immense and powerful body of dissenters in England, that would bear him out in his present application?  That body was satisfied to support the religion by law established; if persons thought proper to dissent from the religion of the State, they did it at their own charges; they were tolerated, but not nursed into importance at the public expense.  But it is said that the late Assembly granted a large sum to the Presbyterian Chapel; he thought it reflected no honour on that House, and the precedent was rather a danger to be avoided, than an example to be followed.  Mr B could not look with any degree of satisfaction on the establishment of this sect in the very heart of the community; their form of worship had been founded in blood, and the overthrow of the fine arts.  Under the denomination of Covenanters, they had massacred thousands of btheir countrymen; they had demolished cathedrals and palaces, and vented their bigoted rage on senseless pictures and statues.  The sacred name of religion was blasphemed – under that name they perpetrated numberless crimes  - and although their cruelties had long passed over, their intolerance had not yet given place to a more Christian feeling.  In many parts of Scotland the arm of the law was necessary to protect the exercise of other forms of worship; the sour Presbyterian looked with jealousy and hatred on all sects but his own.  He trusted the Committee would not consent to so unconstitutional an application of the public money.

Mr Stewart [of Trelawny] supported the object of the motion in a speech of very considerable length and ability, in which he maintained that the measure was perfectly constitutional, to prove which, he instanced the establishment by Government of a Roman Catholic College at Maynooth, in Ireland, for the instruction and education of the Roman Catholic youth – a religion which was much further removed from the Episcopalian than the Presbyterian.  If Gentlemen wished to see an account of the origin of the above establishment, they would see it in Cobbett’s Parliamentary Register.  He drew a comparison between the Scotch Clergy and those of the higher orders of the Episcopalian, much to the credit of the former, who were men of exemplary moral character and conduct, discharging the important duties of their avocations with zeal, ability, and a persevering diligence rarely to be met with, contented with a very moderate stipend, barely sufficient to procure the common necessaries of life; while the latter were wallowing in wealth and every luxury, totally unconcerned about the spiritual affairs of the people.  He then took a view of the moral, religious, and peaceable demeanour of the Scotch, in which they surpassed every other country in the world; and they were people too, who were generally superior to others in education, intellect, and general knowledge.  He also adverted to the conduct and respectability of those in this island, who formed so great a proportion of the population, and more particularly in Kingston.  He animadverted on the observations of the Non Member for St James, remarking that the circumstances which took place in Scotland under John Knox, at so remote a period of our history, were quite inapplicable to the present times. – And the character of John Knox, as a reformer, was in the highest estimation; he attributed the superior intelligence and improvement of the Scotch in a great measure to his early efforts; and had no doubt the sister kingdom, Ireland, would not have so long remained in the deplorable state of ignorance, had she been blessed with such a character at the same period, whose principal effort was to instruct the minds of the lower classes of society.  The Hon Gentleman continued, there was no danger, as had been insinuated, to be apprehended from the Presbyterians having a proper place of worship established in this island for the exercise of their religion; but, on the contrary, the very reverse was to be expected – he saw much good that would result from their laudable example in the diffusion of religious knowledge and moral instruction, not only to Kingston, but to every part of the island.  He sincerely hoped that the money would be granted, but wished an addition made to the resolution, that it should not be paid till the building was completed, and therefore offered a resolution to that effect by way of an amendment.

Mr Lunan observed that he should not trouble the Committee with any comparison between the religions of England and Scotland, or question whether the Episcopacy or the Presbyterian should have the preference; but of the efficacy of the latter, he could easily judge by the superior morals and superior information of the lower class of people in Scotland.  The number of Presbyterians in this island was very great, more especially in Kingston, where the majority of the white population were of the persuasion. – They, surely, were as much entitled as the people of England to worship their God in their own way, and agreeable to rites they had been accustomed to.  It was to be regretted they had so long been deprived of the means of doing so.  It ought to be remembered, that this large and most respectable body of people had, for a long series of years, largely contributed, not only to the building and support of the Kingston Church, but of every Church throughout the island; they had done so cheerfully:  And was it now too much for them to look for some small return from the public in assisting the present laudable endeavour?  They had themselves expended on the object a very large sum, and the House, in its wisdom and liberality, had granted them 5000 L in the session of 1814, but which was found to be inadequate to the completion of the building, and he therefore hoped the present application would meet with success.  If it did not, the money already laid out would be thrown away, and the fabric fall into ruin.  But it would not, as had been stated, be a monument of Presbyterian ambition and folly, but a lasting memento of their earnest desire to establish a place of worship, and a proof that, after exerting their utmost means, this House had allowed so noble a design to be lost from an ill-timed parsimony.  He hoped such a reproach would never be deserved, and that the money applied for would be freely granted, for the purpose of finishing a work that would be not only a great benefit, but an ornament and credit to the island.

Mr Barrett had a very few observations to make in answer to the Honourable Members for Trelawny and St Catherine.  It had been stated by the former that large grants were annually given by Parliament to a Roman Catholic College in Ireland.  He knew that such grants were given but he should have proved the liberality of Parliament to the dissenters of Great Britain before he could admit the justness of the reasoning.  There were particular causes for supporting a Roman Catholic College at Maynooth which did not apply to other sects before the foundation of that College; the Priesthood of Ireland were educated in France, Spain, and other Catholic countries, where they imbibed principles hostile to the British Government. – Nor could it possibly be other wise, for persons of their persuasion had not admission into the public Seminaries of education.  The Catholics, therefore who constituted four-fifths of the Irish population, had a right to a separate establishment, and it was but justice and sound policy to grant it them.  The Protestant sectarians did not labour under the same disabilities, and therefore had no such indulgence.  The Hon Gentleman from Trelawny had said that the Kingston Church was so confined, as to have caused “unpleasant bickerings” between the white and coloured population, who had struggled for room.  Here the mask had fallen, the design was now apparent.  That immense building was then not intended only to accommodate those who were already Presbyterians, but its vacant pews were to be the lures to new converts; these dissenters held their views open to receive the vast numbers, who were yet ignorant of revealed religion, or had not adopted the worship of any particular denomination of Christians.  Shall we encourage this ambitious Kirk with large gifts of public money, at a time when we are pledged to extend the blessings of Christianity to our ignorant slaves, and when we may hope that conversion will be rapid and general?  Or shall we, by a constitutional liberality to our own Church, enable it to receive in its bosom the new converts to our faith?  It is unjust to give the Kirk of Scotland the advantage at so critical period.  Mr B thought there was no ground for the apprehension entertained by the Hon Gentleman from St Catherine’s, that if the grant was not assented to, the building would remain unfinished, to the disgrace of the country’s liberality.  If there was any ground for apprehending that it would remain a monument of folly, which name he agreed with an Hon Friend would be most appropriate, it would only be disgraceful to the body of men, who had so warmly urged the necessity of the building.  We had been told of the vast numbers of Presbyterians in Kingston; we had been told that they were so devoted to their doctrines that they had collected 11,000 L among themselves.  These people were declared to be numerous, and they were known to be rich.  He, Mr B could place but little confidence in their sincerity, if they left their labours unfinished for the trifling consideration of  3500 L.

Mr Minto said. – Mr Chairman, it was my intention to have given a silent vote in favour of the resolution, but I feel myself obliged to rise in consequence of the amendment proposed by the Hon Gentleman from Trelawny:  His resolution goes to the establishment of two co-equal Churches, which appears to me unconstitutional and contrary to all true policy.  But I am for the original motion, because I am a friend to toleration.  It is not merely that I was brought up in the Church of England that I prefer its doctrines, but it is upon a full and mature consideration that I prefer it to the Scottish Church or any other under the Christian dispensation.  It unites with the essential truths of religion that grace and dignity, which is absolutely necessary to maintain a degree of respect and veneration in the human mind.  The nakedness of the Scottish Church is against its general utility.  If I had been in the House when the resolution was first proposed, I should certainly have opposed so large a building, and would have recommended a Meeting House for the Presbyterians of moderate size, and sufficient number of Chapels of Ease of the Established Church, for the accommodation of so great population as that of Kingston.  As it is, the building is so large that if this House do not contribute it will never be finished, and be a monument of folly to the country – rather than that I must agree to the money, if any Member will move a smaller sum, I will vote for the smaller sum.  As for any danger entertained to the Church from so large and over grown establishment, I fear them not.  Sir, it is the native purity and inherent excellence of the English Church that still defies all such danger; I would rather court the competition, that in the comparison, it may evince its greater worthiness.  I again remind the House of the consequences that would attend the carrying of the amendment, that it would go to the raising up of two co-equal established Churches.  I might indeed agree to the amendment, were it to propose that the building should be bought in, to be placed under the established Church, which would be a very desirable object, and it would then be in the power of the Presbyterians to build a Meeting-House of a more moderate and consistent size.

Mr Pownall could not consent to give a silent vote on this occasion, for he did think the measure before the House was as unconstitutional and unreasonable as any that was ever entertained within its walls.  He was not prejudiced against, nor an enemy to, the Presbyterians, or to any sect, and he thought that free toleration should be allowed, so that every one might worship the Almighty according to his own faith.  But when he saw the present application, and recurred to the conduct of the Presbyterians in Kingston, he was almost ready to think the time of the Knoxites was returned – when the solemn league and covenant was entered into for undermining and overturning Episcopacy at the time of the reformation.  What surer way was there in Kingston for doing this than by limiting the size of the Church, so that it would not contain one-fourth of those desirous of going to it, and enabling the Presbyterians to build a place of worship that would accommodate four times as many persons.  The Presbyterian Church now building was not merely for persons of that persuasion, but it must be obvious their object was to convert all the people of free condition and slaves to their own faith, and thereby keep down the established religion.  Let Gentlemen look at the size of the Church for the established religion in Kingston, and say, when they considered that parish to contain 50,000 inhabitants probably, when they saw it would not accommodates so many as the Methodist Chapel, when it would not contain more than double the number that could assemble in the Roman Catholic Chapel, nor more than the Jewish Synagogues, if it was not a disgrace to Kingston and the island at large.  If the Presbyterians were so numerous as to be three-fourths of all those who came from Europe as now stated, and so wealthy as it was known they were in Kingston, they could well afford to finish the building at their expense, especially when he considered the unconstitutional aid which they had already received from this House.  If their claim was founded on the proportion of taxes that sect paid, the Roman Catholics, the Methodists, the Anabaptists, and Jews, had similar ground for such assistance.  The Presbyterian religion was by law established in Scotland, but not in Jamaica, where it was merely tolerated.  He would now beg the Committee to recur to the conduct of the people of Kingston some years ago, when they would find out the origin of the Presbyterian Church now building to be founded in an aversion to the established Church: - Several years ago the clamour was so great in Kingston, from the insufficient size of the Church, that the Corporate Body made an application to the House for an Act to enable them to build a Chapel of Ease which met with the readiest attention; and he could never forget what took place in the Committee when the blank for the Curate’s salary was to be filled up:  The subject happened to be so little interesting, that Gentlemen had, as was too often the case, fallen into groups talking on other subjects, when a Gentleman, attentive to what was doing at the table, startled at the proposal of 300 L per annum.  He justly remarked if the Curate was to subsist like other people, and keep house, have a horse and chaise, which he could not do without, it was farcical to think of such a sum; even some other assistance was wanted, which, although talked about, the bill did not provide for; and with a feeling that did honour to the House, the blank was filled up at about 1000 L which, considering that he was not to have any fees, was little enough, but the Gentlemen of Kingston thought differently, and allowed the bill to drop between the House and the Council.  In Kingston the Assembly was blamed for this failure, and the people were amused, first with a talk of another application, then of having the city and parish divided into two livings and a Church built, and lastly of enlarging the present Church; but while all this was passing in the air, the Presbyterians were coalescing to build their Church, and coming to this House for assistance.  Now, he would ask, was the House prepared to meet similar applications to the present from Spanish-Town, Savanna-la-Mar, Montego-Bay, and other places? – Had not the Presbyterians at those places an equal claim to the persons of that persuasion in Kingston? 

Mr Lunan again rose and stated, that he should not have troubled the Committee a second time, but on account of expressions used by more than one Gentleman in calling the Presbyterians sectaries or dissenters.  They are no more sectaries or dissenters, Sir, than those are who belong to the English Church.  Had these Gentlemen read the articles of the Union they would have seen that the religion of Scotland was as much recognized by the Constitution as that of England, and they could not be compared to Roman Catholics, Methodists, and Jews, as they had been.  They were entitled to sit in Parliament, and to hold the highest office in the State; they had often held these offices with honour to themselves, and with advantage to the nation.  It was insinuated they were not Protestants; if he understood the meaning of the word as a protest against the Church of Rome, they are better Protestants than in England, where a number of Romish ceremonies had been retained, of which the Presbyterians had entirely divested themselves.  He was astonished that Gentlemen would make use of such terms as they had towards so highly respectable a body.  In alluding to the amendment offered by Mr Stewart, he hoped the money would be granted without any condition; shackled as it would be by such an amendment, no tradesmen would be induced to work, when the time of payment was so vague and uncertain, and the building could not proceed unless the grant was made without any restriction.

Mr Barrett rose in explanation – He was sorry that the Hon Gentleman from St Catherine thought him so ignorant as to have said that Presbyterians were not Protestants. – He could not have drawn such a distinction.  The Hon Gentleman had said that by the act of Union the religion of the Presbyterians was established by Law – In Scotland, it was, but in England and in her Colonies, they were as much dissenters as any other sect – This country, Sir, is Jamaica, not Scotland – It is an English, not a Scotch Colony.

Mr Finlayson spoke in favour of the motion; and Mr Scarlett against it, the latter observing that there had been a house purchased for the Presbyterian Clergyman, which might be considered an unnecessary extravagance, while the Rector of Kingston had none provided for him, but had an allowance in lieu thereof.

Mr Stewart (of Trelawny) could not see the drift of the Hon Gentleman’s reasoning, for surely he argued against himself – for he said the Rector had no house, but had an annual grant to provide himself with one, which amounted to the same thing.  He should support the motion of the Hon Member for Kingston, if he would add the words to the 35000 L “and no more.”

Mr Pownall, in answer to an Hon Member, would say that there was a wide difference between enabling the Presbyterians to purchase a house for their Minister worth 2000 L out of the public treasury, and the parish of Kingston giving their Rector 250 L to 300 L per annum for the hire of a house.  As to the support which the Imperial Parliament had provided for the College of Maynooth, it must be recollected as a boon, at the time of the Irish Union, to appease and conciliate when Catholicism was the religion of Ireland at the conquest.  He must repeat that he was not an enemy to the Presbyterians; he wished that every one should be allowed to worship God after the dictates of his own heart, but he considered it the duty of this House to protect and support the Established Church in preference to any dissenting religion.

Mr Scarlett objected to the vote, as the House had never given any grants towards other religious establishments, and considered it unconstitutional.  The Roman Catholic Chapel had been built at an expence of 7000 L by subscription, and they did not come to this house for assistance.

Mr Stewart (of St Andrew’s) said that the house and land were bought together – they were not to be disposed of separately.

Some further discussion took place, after which the House divided, when the motion, with the amendment of “and no more” was carried. 



In 1816, Matthew Gregory Lewis, an Englishman and an absentee Jamaica proprietor, visited Jamaica, and wrote in his Journal on 22 February 1816, that he was happy to allow teachers of any Christian sect to teach his slaves, except Methodists and – “Miss Peg, who faints at the sound of an organ” = Presbyterians. 


-          From – http://books.google.com – ‘The History of John Bull’, by John Arbuthnot, first published in the early 18th century –“What think you of my sister Peg,” says he, “that faints at the sound of an organ, and yet will dance and frisk at the noise of a bagpipe?” 



From  ‘Journal of a West India Proprietor kept during a Residence in the Island of Jamaica’ by the Late Matthew Gregory Lewis’ 1834 –-


1816 – 22 February – ………………….. I am myself ready to give free ingress and egress upon my several estates to the teachers of any Christian sect whatever, the Methodists always excepted, and “Miss Peg, who faints at the sound of an organ.”  ……………………………...



In February 1817 – ‘a motion was made in Common Council (? Common Council of the Corporation of Kingston) that One Thousand Pounds should be granted out of the Magistrate’s Fund, for the purpose of assisting to complete the Presbyterian Church’.  But after being put to the vote, the motion was defeated.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 15 February 1817 – PS, page 17 –


Kingston, February 15, 1817.

On Monday a motion was made in Common Council, that One Thousand Pounds should be granted out of the Magistrates’ Fund, for the purpose of assisting to complete the Presbyterian Church in this City.  Some discussion arose on the subject, when the grant was opposed principally on the grounds that the Magistrates had on a former occasion been very liberal, that the present sum was too large, and if due exertion were made from the present respectable appearance of the Subscription List, there would be no necessity for further assistance.  It was then put to the vote, when six members appeared for the motion, and eight against it, and it was consequently negatived.



In February 1817, (a day after the ‘Common Council’ refused to grant £1000 for the completion of the Presbyterian Church), at a meeting of the subscribers to the Presbyterian Church in Kingston, lowest tenders for completing the building were accepted with a view to the Church being completed in seven months.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 15 February 1817 – PS, page 17 –


The adjourned meeting of the Subscribers to the Presbyterian Place of Worship in this City took place at the Court-House on Tuesday forenoon, and the different tenders, for supplying the various materials to complete the building, having been opened, the lowest were accepted; and it was agreed that the contracts with the tradesmen should be entered into for the Church to be entirely finished in seven months.  It was therefore, resolved, that the subscriptions, recently entered into, should be forthwith called in.  It was likewise deemed expedient that the General Committee should, without delay, take measures for the selection and appointment of a Minister, and they are accordingly to adopt the necessary and proper steps for that purpose. 


15 February 1817 – PS, page 22


February 12, 1817.

At a Meeting of the Subscribers to the Presbyterian Institution, held at the Court-House, in the City of Kingston, on Tuesday the 11th day of February, 1817: -

Resolved, That it appears to this Meeting that from the Subscriptions since the last Meeting of the Subscribers, the Interest which will accrue to the Grant from the House of Assembly, the Rent which will be due for the Dwelling-House, and the Charges in the Tenders being less than the Estimate, that a sufficient Sum will be obtained to carry the object of the Subscribers into full effect, and therefore that the Sums subscribed should now be called in. 

Resolved, That the above Resolution, together with the List of Subscribers, be published in both the Daily Papers for two days and once in the Royal Gazette and also all subsequent Subscribers as they come in.

                                                                True Extracts from the Minutes.  A G Dallas, Sec.



In June 1817, the Presbyterian Institution of Kingston agreed to send to Scotland for the appointment of a Minister for the Presbyterian Church in Kingston.  Rev James Brown was appointed in 1818, but later in 1818, he ‘declined going to Jamaica’.  Rev John Brown was then appointed, and he arrived in Jamaica in January 1819.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 21 June 1817 – PS, page 17 –


A Meeting of the Committee of the Presbyterian Institution of this city was held at the Court-House on Tuesday, when they came to the resolution of transmitting directions to Scotland, by the present Packet, for the appointment of a Minister, who is to receive a stipend of One Thousand Pounds per annum, exclusive of the Manse.


31 January 1818 – PS, page 17 –


Presbytery of Edinburgh. – On Wednesday the 29th November there was a meeting of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, when after discussing local affairs, there were laid before them a letter and several papers from a number of Gentlemen residing in this City relative to the Presbyterian Church, which had been built in this place at the expense of 21,000 L.  They wished the Presbytery to procure a person, properly qualified to be a Minister of the Church, to whom they are to give a salary of 1000 L currency, besides a manse.  A Committee was appointed to take this matter into consideration and report; so that we may soon hear of the appointment of a Minister to the above place of worship.


25 April 1818 – PS, page 17 –


We copy from the Edinburgh Star, of the 27th February last, the following account of the appointment, by the Presbytery of Edinburgh of a Clergyman for the Presbyterian Church lately built in this city.

“On Wednesday the Presbytery of Edinburgh met here. At a meeting of the Presbytery, on the 26th of November last, a letter was laid before them, from a number of Gentlemen belonging to Kingston, Jamaica, who had built a Church there at a great expense, wishing the Reverend Presbytery to procure a proper person to be Minister of this Church, to whom they are to give one thousand pounds currency of salary, besides a Manse.  The Presbytery appointed a Committee to take the business into consideration, and to report.  Dr Davidson, from the Committee reported, that they had heard several young Gentlemen as candidates for the office, and had unanimously agreed to recommend the Rev Mr James Brown, a Licentiate of the Presbytery, to be Minister of this Church.  The Presbytery agreed to the report, and nominated and appointed Mr Brown accordingly.  The same Committee was reappointed to prosecute Mr Brown’s settlement, and to enable him to depart for Jamaica as soon as possible.”

Private letters add that Mr Brown would leave Edinburgh in August next, and that it was in contemplation to join with him a Precentor and a Schoolmaster.


19 September 1818 – PS, page 18 –


On Wednesday (31 July 1818) the Presbytery of Edinburgh met here (Edinburgh).  We formerly mentioned, that a number of Gentlemen in Kingston, Jamaica, had built a church there at great expense, and wished the Presbytery to procure a proper person to be their Minister.  At a meeting of Presbytery on the 25th of February last, on a report from a Special Committee, they unanimously appointed the Rev Mr James Brown, a licentiate of the Presbytery, to be Minister of that church.  Since that time, however, Mr Brown, having got a living in this country, declined going to Jamaica.  After going through the usual forms, the Rev Mr John Brown, preacher of the gospel, was ordained Minister of that church by an unanimous election of the Presbytery. – Edinburgh Star, July 31.


9 January 1819 – PS, page 19 –


Passengers Arrived.

In the Aguilar: - The Rev John Brown, Minister of the Presbyterian Church in this city, the Rev John McIntyre, Dr Thomas Inkson, Messrs John Strange and William Arrowsmith, Mrs Brown, Miss Parke, and two Misses Arrowsmith.



In the middle of January 1819, the ‘Corporate Body’ – ? Corporation of Kingston – voted 1000 L for the completion of the Presbyterian Church.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette,  16 January 1819 – PS, page 18 –


On Monday the Corporate Body voted 1000 L from the private chest, towards the completion of the Presbyterian Church of this city.



Between the end of January and the end of March 1819, decisions were made about the renting of Pews in the Presbyterian Church, including – ‘the range of Pews under the South Gallery shall be appropriated to White People, and those under the North to those of Colour’ – and on Sunday, 4 April 1819, the Church was – ‘opened for performance of Divine Worship’. 


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 23 January 1819 – PS, page 24 –


January 23, 1819.

A Full Meeting of the Subscribers to the Presbyterian Institution is requested at the Kirk, on Monday next, at 11 o’clock, to take into consideration the Renting of the Pews, &c.                                                                  

                                                                                                                            R Smith, Treasurer.

27 March 1819 – Add PS, page 30 –

March 27, 1819.

The Committee of the Presbyterian Church have decided, that the range of Pews under the South Gallery shall be appropriated to White People, and those under the North to those of Colour.

A Plan of the whole may be seen and Pews taken at the Store of Messrs Smith and Kinnear. 

We have now the satisfaction to state, that this elegant Building will be opened for Divine Service on Sunday the 4th April, when all persons, inclined to favour our Institution, may have an opportunity of contributing towards defraying the heavy and unforeseen expences thereof.


10 April 1819 – PS, page 18 –


On Sunday ….. the Presbyterian Church …… opened for performance of Divine Worship ……Sermon by Rev Mr Brown  ……. congregation …many of the most respectable inhabitants.



By 1 April 1820, less than a year after the Presbyterian Church was opened, Rev John Brown, the Minister of the Presbyterian Church in Kingston, had died – and by 21 October 1820, ‘Rev Mr Peebles’ continued to be –  ‘so much indisposed as to prevent his performing Service at the Presbyterian Church’. 

From the Jamaica Royal Gazette – 1 April 1820 – PS, (pages not numbered) –


We cannot forbear again to reverting to the severe loss, which our community has sustained by the lamented death of the Rev John Browne.  To much general and professional learning Mr Browne added a knowledge of mankind, and a fund of sound practical sense, which admirably fitted him for the difficulties of his situation as the first and only Clergyman of the Scottish Church in this island.  With great natural suavity of manners he possessed no inconsiderable share of that acquired tact, to be learnt only in the school of the world, which enabled him, in the intercourse of social life, to avoid the opposite extremes of a too rigid austerity on the one hand, and of a pliancy of manners, unsuited to his professional character, on the other, and to promote the cheerfulness and animation, which give to society its highest charm. ……..  He evinced a warm attachment to the Church to which he belonged, but this preference had no tincture of bigotry, and he extended the utmost candour and liberality to persons of a different communion.  With the Clergy of the Established Church he cultivated the most friendly intercourse, and we have pleasure in knowing that this disposition was uniformly met by the same liberal spirit on their part.  In the pulpit he was distinguished by logical precision and sound sense…………..…..


21 October 1820 – PS, page 18 –


We regret to state, that the Rev Mr Peebles continues so much indisposed as to prevent his performing Service at the Presbyterian Church.



I have no further mention of Rev Peebles.  Rev James Wordie, a Church of Scotland clergyman, was minister of the Presbyterian Church in Kingston from 1823 to 1842.  


James Hakewill, who was in Jamaica from 1821 to 1822, in his book published in 1825, described the ‘Scotch Church’ as – ‘the handsomest building in Kingston’.  


From ‘A Picturesque Tour in the Island of Jamaica, from Drawings made in the years 1820 and 1821’ by James Hakewill,  published 1825 – 


……… But the handsomest building in Kingston is the Scotch Church in Duke Street, which was erected about the year 1814 by a public subscription, from a plan of James Delancy, Esq.  It is of an octagon figure, extending eighty-six feet nine inches in the clear, from east to west, and sixty-two feet seven inches from north to south, having four entrances, east, west, north and south, with a portico over each entrance. It is calculated to hold 1,000 persons.  …………………



In June 1822 the Presbyterian Institution was again looking for subscriptions.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 15 June 1822 – PS, page 18 –


Presbyterian Institute.

Subscriptions …… permanent salary ………… Clergyman ………… officiate in Presbyterian church in Kingston, and for such other purposes ……………………………

Committee – Hon. David Finlayson, Hon. Wm. Shand, James Simpson, Kenneth Macpherson, Robert Ross, Alexander McInnes, G. W. Hamilton, Robert Hamilton, and John Lunan, Esqrs – to communicate with such Gentlemen, in the different parishes …. desirous ….. opening and promoting subscriptions.



In October 1822, the Jamaica Royal Gazette published subscription lists, from various parishes, in aid of the Presbyterian Institution of Kingston, including a list of subscriptions in St Thomas in the Vale. 

From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 5 October 1822 – PS, page 18 –


Subscriptions in the parish of St Thomas in the Vale

in aid of the Presbyterian Institution.



£     s    d  


£     s    d 

James Robins, Esq.

  5    6   8

George Simson, Esq.

  3    0   0

A Friend

  5    6   8

J B Mitchell, Esq.

  5    6   0

John Anderson, Esq.

  5    6   8

John Morton, Esq.

  2    0   0

Colin McKenzie, Esq.

  2  13   4

Sam. Conokie, Esq.

  2    0   0

William Moore, Esq.

  5    6   8

Dun. McKenzie, Esq.

  2    0   0

John Campbell, Esq.

  5    6   8

Geo. Wm. Hamilton, Esq.

16    0   0

Robert Smith, Esq.

  2    0   0

J. D. Bryant, Esq.

  5    6   8

A. Levy, Esq.

  5    6   8

R. D. Clunie, Esq.

  2  13   8

B. Henriques, Esq.

10  13   4

Thomas Warr, Esq.

  5    6   0

John Ewart, Esq.

10  13   4

Ralph Cocking, Esq.

  2  13   4

Mich. Sharkey, Esq.

  2    0   0

Edw. Clouston, Esq.

10  13   4

Peter Campbell, Esq.

  2    0   0

G. M. L. Wood, Esq.

  2  13   4

Cha. McInnes, Esq.

  2    0   0

William Midleton, Esq.

  3    0   0

John McPherson, Esq.

  5    6   8

James S. Lane, Esq.

  2  13   4

James Grant, Esq.

  5    6   8

Thomas Parry, Esq.

  2  13   4

Alex. McIntosh, Esq.

  2  13   4





After the Presbyterian Church in Kingston was opened – ‘two schools were established’ – under the care of the Minister of the Kingston Kirk.   


From ‘The Annals of Jamaica’, by Rev George Wilson Bridges, A.M., Member of the Universities of Oxford and Utrecht, and Rector of the Parish of St Ann, Jamaica – in two volumes – Volume 2 , 1828 –


The apprehensions of those who perceived in the establishment of the Kirk the commencement of an annual charge upon the island treasury, were confirmed by the event.  A clergyman had arrived from Scotland, and, with laudable diligence, two schools were established under his immediate care: yet neither the private subscriptions, nor the public donations, could support the heavy charges.  The Assembly was, therefore, applied to for its assistance, and the votes were decided by a majority of one; but that one was adverse to the interests of the church of Scotland.  So substantial a proof of the number of  inhabitants who adhered to its forms of worship, justified, however, its future support by the country; and five hundred pounds have since been annually contributed to an establishment which does credit to its managers, and has conferred important benefits on the island.*


* Note XLIX


The report of the committee, appointed by the assembly in the year 1825, to inquire into the management of the Kirk, is so creditable to the sister establishment of our church here, that I shall be pardoned for inserting it.

“A part of the committee visited the establishment, and, after hearing Divine service, were witnesses of the examination of the scholars of the Sunday-school, and were highly gratified at the discipline and regularity with which it was conducted, and the great progress that had been made in the education of all classes of the scholars, very honourable to the exertion of the reverend Mr. Wordie:

“The school was first established during the past year, and in the short period which has since elapsed, the number of children has gradually increased from seventy-two to three hundred and twenty, an increase which must afford satisfaction, as it at once furnishes a proof of the estimation in which the school is held and of the desire for religious instruction which prevails among the poorer classes of people in the city of Kingston.  It is also satisfactory to consider the gratifying conviction it affords of the diligence, steadiness, and zeal of the different teachers initiated by Mr. Wordie:

“The only funds for the support of the establishment are the annual sum of £321 currency, being the interest of a sum of money lodged in the public chest of this island, and a small rent upon pews: It possess no means for the occasional repair of the buildings:

“Upon the whole, the committee are of the opinion that, without public support, this valuable institution will be lost; that it ought to be encouraged and upheld, and recommended that a bill should be brought in to grant to its officiating minister for the time being a permanent salary or stipend.”



Jamaica planter J Stewart, in his book first published in 1823, mentioned that – ‘Some narrow-minded person in the assembly opposed any grants of the public money being voted in aid of this church (Presbyterian Church of Kingston), on the grounds of its not being recognised by the constitution, and its having no better claim to such support than other dissenting establishments’.


From ‘A View of the Past and Present State of the Island of Jamaica with Remarks on the Moral and Physical Conditions of the Slaves, and on the Abolition of Slavery in the Colonies’, by J Stewart, late of Jamaica, 1823 –


Chapter IX.  Government – Legislature – Laws – Parochial Regulations –

Ecclesiastical Establishment.


There is in Kingston a Presbyterian church.  It was established, about seven years ago, by the Presbyterian inhabitants of that city, who are numerous, opulent, and respectable, assisted by some grants from the assembly.  This establishment is recognised as a branch of the church of Scotland, and its pastors are appointed by the presbytery of Edinburgh.  Some narrow-minded person in the assembly opposed any grants of the public money being voted in aid of this church, on the grounds of its not being recognised by the constitution, and its having no better claim to such support than other dissenting establishments: they forgot that the Presbyterian is the established religion of an integral part of the British empire, and that the British legislature sanctions and assists three Presbyterian establishments in India.  The fact is, that the establishment in Kingston had become absolutely necessary; for, from the greatly increased population of that city, the parish-church had become insufficient to contain the inhabitants; and that circumstance, and the natural desire which men have to worship their Creator after the manner of their forefathers, suggested to the Presbyterian inhabitants the propriety of building a church for themselves.

There is a Roman Catholic chapel in Kingston, several meeting-houses belonging to Methodists, Moravians, Anabaptists, &c and a Jewish synagogue.



In January 1824, Rev George Blyth, from the Scottish Missionary Society, sailed for Jamaica.


From – http://books.google.com – The History of the Christian Missions of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, containing …………………………., by the Reverend William Brown, M.D, secretary of the Scottish Missionary Society – third edition ….. with continuation brought down to the latest period – in three volumes – published 1864 – Volume II – Propagation of Christianity by the Scottish Missionary Society – Section IV – Jamaica –


In January 1824, the Rev George Blyth, who had lately returned form Russia, sailed for Jamaica with a special view to the instruction of the slaves on the estates of Hampden and Dundee, on the north side of the island, a few miles from Falmouth.* He was followed in subsequent years by the Rev John Chamberlain, James Watson, Hope M Waddell, John Simpson, John Cowan, Thomas Leslie, and Warrand Carlisle, who commenced stations in various parts of the island. 


* This was not the first mission of the Society in Jamaica.  In February 1800, the Rev Joseph Bethune, a minister of the Church of Scotland, and Messrs William Clark and Ebenezer Reid, catechists, sailed from Leith for that island; but scarcely had they arrived at Kingston, when the prospects of the mission were completed overclouded.  About eight days after their landing, Mr Clark was seized with a malignant fever, which at that time raged in Kingston, and died after a fortnight’s illness.  Mr Bethune was seized shortly after with the same fever, and died after a week’s illness.  Mrs Bethune died on her passage home, and not long after their only child followed them into the world of spirits.  Such were the mysterious dispensation of Providence toward this infant mission.  

Mr Reid, who was now left alone, began to hold meetings with the Black and Brown people in Kingston and the neighbourhood; he also opened a week-day school for teaching children reading, writing, and the principles of religion.  He was, however, materially restricted in his labours, in common with other missionaries, in consequence of the persecuting acts of the legislature of Jamaica.  For some years he was little expence to the society, and at length he accepted the situation of teacher in a respectable school in Jamaica. – Miss. Mag.vol. v. p. 91, 357, 360, 528; Brief Account of the Edinburgh Missionary Society, 1819, p. 2. 

The mission of Mr Blyth was undertaken at the request of Archibald Stirling, Esq of Keir, the principal proprietor of Hampden; and he was joined by William Stothert, Esq of Cargen, the proprietor of Dundee, these two excellent gentlemen having engaged to bear one-half of the expences of the mission.  In this way they were afterwards joined for several years by William Sterling, Esq, one of the proprietors of the neighbouring estate of Content.  Mr Archibald Sterling, and other members of the family, also contributed with great liberality to the Port-Maris mission, with a view to the instruction of the slaves on his estate of Frontier in that neighbourhood. 


The following table exhibits a view of the principal stations occupied by them: –
















          Green Island.


          Port Maria.

          Carron Hall.



          St James’.




         St Mary’s.




Besides these stations, there were a number of out-stations in connection with the Society, and various estates which were visited by the missionaries.*


* Rep. Scot. Miss. Soc. 1824, p.27; Ibid. 1828, p.20, 24; Ibid. 1830, p. 25; Ibid. 1833, p. 33, 35; Ibid. 1843, p. 22; Ibid. 1846. p. 27. 


On commencing the several stations, the missionaries were generally well received by the people, who appeared very desirous of instruction.  Considerable congregations were raised, and it was interesting to witness the eagerness and attention with which they listened to instruction.  Missionary stations among the slaves, however, frequently gave, in the first instance, much promise, which subsequent experience did not fulfil; many fair buds and blossoms never ripened into fruit, and even what seemed fruit often withered and decayed, or, at least, never came to perfection.*


*Rep. Scot. Miss. Soc. 1825, p.8; Ibid. 1826, p. 17; Ibid. 1827, p. 14; Ibid. 1828, p. 21, 24; Ibid. 1829, p. 21.



Note – Rev George Blyth – Presbyterian missionary in who arrived in Jamaica in 1824 – see


-          http://books.google.com – ‘Reminiscences of Missionary Life, with suggestions to Churches and Missionaries’ by Rev George Blyth, thirty years a missionary in Russia and Jamaica, published 1851. 


On 27 November 1824, the Jamaica Royal Gazette published an extract from a letter written by Rev George Blyth soon after he arrived in Jamaica.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 27 November 1824 – Sup, page 12 –


The Rev Mr Blyth.

(From the Glasgow Courier, September 7.)


From the last number of the Christian Instructor, and under the head Religious Intelligence, we select, with much satisfaction, the following extracts from the communications made by the Rev Mr Blyth, Jamaica, a Clergyman lately sent out to that Colony by (we believe) the Scotch Missionary Society.  The communications are equally honourable to him, to those who sent him, and to those to whom he is sent, and it is a pleasing part of our public duty thus to bring forward, from unquestionable and honourable testimony, such a complete refutation of the numerous and base calumnies circulated through certain channels against the population, free and bond, or our Colonies.

On the 10th June last, he writes the Society – “I am receiving greater and greater encouragement every day.  The Attorney gives me every facility, and with the negroes and other people on the estate embrace with the greatest interest and pleasure the opportunities they now enjoy of receiving Religious Instruction.  Many of them are truly grateful that I have come among them.  I married three and proclaimed eleven couples yesterday.  I formally conversed with them, and was satisfied that they understood the nature and obligations of the marriage relation.”  Of his prospects on another estate, he observes – “Here, too, I have every facility granted me by the Overseer and Attorney, and every encouragement from the people.  All who are able attend, behave with the greatest order, and listen with much earnestness.”  To the Proprietor Mr Blyth writes: – I have received every attention from your Manager that I could have desired; and, in some instances, more than my feelings could well bear.  Your negroes are truly grateful to you for sending them the means of instruction, and many of them have desired me to express their gratitude to you in the warmest manner.  They are certainly a fine looking people, and orderly and decent in their appearance.”

Mr Blyth sees no whips, tortures, chains, poverty, and misery within the sphere of his observation.  No!  He adheres to truth – he fears not to express it!  From him no condemnation or accusation proceeds.  I receive every assistance – I am welcomed and treated with respect and kindness, is his language.  How different from our Elliots, our Smiths, and our Coopers!  The reception which Mr Blyth met with will, we aver, be the reception of every one in every part of the West-Indies, who are sent by honourable characters, and who teach the Slaves Christianity – not rebellion.  There is one part of Mr Blyth’s conduct we advert to with the greatest satisfaction, and which shews him to be a true servant of the Master he professes to serve, namely, that when the Managers of some estates forbade the negroes to assemble at night meetings well knowing how the idle, the profligate, and incendiaries would mix with such meetings to the danger of the peace of the community, Mr Blyth readily advised the negroes to obey the orders of their superiors in this matter.  He will have his reward!  



In August 1830 ‘The Anti-slavery Reporter’, quoted from a letter written by Rev John Barry, a Methodist missionary who had recently returned from Jamaica, who refuted claims made in a pamphlet by Jamaica planter Alexander Barclay, including – ‘……Mr. Barclay, in a note, refers to the Scotch Kirk for proof that the colonists are not unfriendly to the religious instruction of the slaves; but does he forget that in Kingston no slaves attend the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Wordie; at least I have never seen any.’


From – http://books.google.com – ‘The Anti-slavery Reporter’ by Zachary Macaulay, printed for the London Society for the Mitigation and Abolition of Slavery in the British Dominions – June 1829 to December 1831 – 20 August 1830 – Wesleyan Methodists and Colonial Slavery – Mr. Barry’s Exposure of the Calumnies of Mr. Barclay –


But besides the publication of the Methodist committee, on which we have been led to dwell at so much length, we have before us a pamphlet, published by Mason, 60, Paternoster-Row, of the Rev. John Barry, a Wesleyan missionary, recently returned from Jamaica. It consists of a letter addressed by him, on the 30th of June last, to Sir George Murray, in refutation of many foul, false, and calumnious charges made against the Jamaica Missionaries generally, in a letter also addressed to Sir George Murray, by the well known Alexander Barclay, written with a view to accredit colonial slavery generally, and to justify the persecuting enactments of the Jamaica assembly.


Mr. Barry confines his exposure of Mr. Barclay chiefly to his falsifications of fact in regard to the conduct of the missionaries.  In common with the Assembly he accuses them of the foul crime of rapaciously extorting money from their negro converts for their own selfish ends.  We need not say that not only is this charge not established, but that it is fully disproved.

Mr. Barclay had strenuously defended the colonists from the charge of being opposed to the religious instruction of the slaves.  Mr. Barry willingly admits that several proprietors and managers are friendly to that object. But, he asks, “is this the general disposition of the colonists?  Is the fact of their friendly disposition towards negro instruction proved by severe legislative enactments, – by the imprisonment of three missionaries, for no other crime than that of preaching the gospel, – by the punishment inflicted on slaves for attending our chapels, by attempts to prevent the possibility of their attendance, and by the efforts of several courts of quarter sessions to assume illegal power, and subject the missionaries to the necessity of receiving their licenses to officiate in every parish, without which they were not permitted to preach? – The last, I am happy to say, has been set aside by the decision of the Supreme Court.”

The tendency of Mr. Barclay's pamphlet requires that at this time the truth should be told; and I regret to be compelled to say, that no such general disposition exists, and the facts above adverted to, with the actually neglected state of the vast majority of the slaves, sufficiently establish the conclusion.  Mr. Barclay, in a note, refers to the Scotch Kirk for proof that the colonists are not unfriendly to the religious instruction of the slaves; but does he forget that in Kingston no slaves attend the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Wordie; at least I have never seen any.”



In 1831 ‘The Quarterly Review’ quoted from Alexander Barclay’s – ‘Effects of Colonial Policy’ – ‘no clergyman who has done more to promote religious instruction among the slaves, and among the population generally, than the Rev. Mr. Wordie, of the Presbyterian church in Kingston’. 


From – http://books.google.com – ‘The Quarterly Review’, Vol. XLV, published in London in April and July 1831 – The West India Question – page 232 to 233 –


 ……..  It is the interest, therefore, as well as the duty of the colonist to see that it (Christianity) be fully taught, it will induce the slaves to be careful, diligent, and honest, unseen and unwatched, and insure obedience and sobriety where rod and fetters prove equally unavailing.  But when we speak of religion, we mean that which, however ardent and active, is in all things kept under the control of prudence and discretion; and without desiring to think or speak uncharitably of a single individual among the missionaries who have left their own country to do good in the West Indies, there is room for questioning whether all which they there teach and preach answers to this description.  However this may be, there can be little doubt that a persuasion prevails among the planters, that too many of the Methodists not unfrequently extract more money from the slaves than they can well afford, induce them to meet for public worship at unseasonable hours, and interfere in other injudicious methods; or that these teachers are viewed generally with suspicion and distrust, in consequence of the false or incorrect statements they are in the habit of transmitting to those societies in England which have long been regarded as the determined enemies of the colonial interest.

It is extremely unfortunate that this feeling should have taken root among the planters, as the treatment they have lately received from the government at home, coupled with their present depressed condition, can hardly fail to have caused it to extend far beyond those bounds which the acts of the missionaries alone could justify.  On the other hand, it was extremely injudicious in the missionaries and their friends to circulate letters or papers of any kind which they might have foreseen would certainly create alarm, and consequently interfere with their own usefulness.  Two classes of persons are thus set in direct opposition to one another, whose united efforts would, after all, have been inadequate to communicate that religious instruction which the slaves demand.


‘I will add,’ observes Mr. Barclay, ‘that I do not think the means of religious instruction which have been pursued sufficient for the growing wants of the people.  When the parish churches in Jamaica were built, the accommodation of the white people only could have been contemplated, as no attempt had then been made to induce the attendance of the slaves.  But the case is widely different now; and although in the parish in which I reside (St. Thomas's in the East) two chapels of ease have been erected within the last ten years, the increasing number of attendants still require more, and the aid of the benevolent in the mother country to provide these would be thankfully accepted, if offered in the spirit of peace and charity.  Unfortunately kindness to the slaves is by too many mingled with enmity to their masters.  The benevolent and pious, therefore, whose single object in contributing their money is to promote the religious instruction and happiness of the negroes, would do well to send it through channels as little as possible connected with party.  They greatly err if they suppose the colonists inimical to the objects they have in view, however much they may occasionally have been irritated by the conduct of anti-slavery missionaries.’

‘On this point I appeal to the ministers of that church of which I am myself a member.  In the island of Jamaica, there is certainly no clergyman who has done more to promote religious instruction among the slaves, and among the population generally, than the Rev. Mr. Wordie, of the Presbyterian church in Kingston. His zealous and unwearied exertions in founding and rearing up Sunday schools in that city, which are now attended by three hundred boys and girls of all colours, have been the theme of universal praise and admiration throughout the island; and yet in none of all the religious tracts or reports I have seen in Great Britain, is the circumstance so much as noticed.  Two other Scotch churches have been established in Jamaica within the last five years, one at Lucea and another at Hampden, and there is one now building at Port Maria.  Have any of the ministers of these churches said that they found the colonists opposed to the religious instruction of their slaves?  I am sure that they will testify to the contrary; and here is one channel at least, through which, unconnected with political objects or party, Christian benevolence may be safely and beneficially directed.’ * 


* Barclay's Effects of Colonial Policy, p. 37.


We have inserted this passage entire because it embraces every topic we were anxious to inculcate on the subject of religion, and contains suggestions well worthy of the attention of the benevolent public, the colonists, and the legislature.  We had understood that the ritual and service of the Church of England were so much preferred by the slaves to every other as to insure them almost exclusive possession of the West India colonies; but these colonies are possessions, not of England, but of the British Empire, in which two Protestant churches are by law established, and a very large proportion of the planters and managers in the West Indies are of Scottish origin, and if the truth be that the Church of Scotland, by the zeal and unoffending conduct of her ministers, is calculated to do so much good, where so many assistants in the vineyard are still wanting, we are sure the Church of England will rejoice in meeting with such a coadjutor in her labours.  Whoever they are who teach sound doctrine and practice, and are willing to devote themselves to the edification of the slaves, should be received by the colonists with all welcome and encouragement.



Rev Peter Duncan, a Wesleyan missionary in Jamaica from 1821 to 1832 – told the 1832 House of Commons Select Committee on Slavery, that he – ‘never saw a slave’ – in the Kirk in Kingston. 


From – http://books.google.com – ‘Report from the Select Committee of the Extinction of Slavery throughout the British Dominions; with the Minutes of Evidence, and general index – ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed, 11 August 1832’, reprinted and published, London 1833 – extract from Rev Peter Duncan’s examination –


1501.  Is that your reason for arriving at the conclusion you have just stated? – It is; as it regards the established Church of Scotland, there is only one in the island, and I have attended that frequently, but I never saw a slave there yet.

1502.  Do you mean to say that Mr. Wordy, of the Kirk of Scotland in Kingston, had no slaves in his congregation? – I mean to say that I have attended there frequently, and I never saw a slave there.



Captain J E Alexander, on his visit to Jamaica in 1831, visited the Scotch Church in Kingston – and in his book published in 1833, he wrote – ‘The Scotch is a neat circular building, but was what they call “a whistling kirk,” that is, had the advantage of an organ’.    In Scotland a church with an organ was nicknamed a ‘whistling kirk’ – from – kist o’ whistles = chest or box of pipes.


From – http://books.google.com – ‘Transatlantic Sketches, Comprising Visits to the Most Interesting Scenes in North and South America, and the West Indies, with notes on Negro Slavery and Canadian Emigration’, by Captain J E Alexander, 42nd Royal Highlanders, F.R.O.S. M.R.A.S. etc, published 1833 –

I visited the English and Scotch churches in Kingston: from the steeple of the former, I had a most delightful and extensive prospect of the city, the plains around it, the amphitheatre of mountains, and the magnificent harbour.  It is a useful memorandum for travellers, on first arriving in a town, always to mount to the highest point in it, so as to have a general idea of the topography; and afterwards to visit the theatre, if there is one, to have a general idea of the inhabitants.  The English church in Kingston is handsomely fitted up – gilding and scarlet in profusion, with marble monuments.  The Scotch is a neat circular building, but was what they call “a whistling kirk,” that is, had the advantage of an organ.  Some of my puritanical countrymen think this a scandalous innovation, and that musical instruments of any kind are an abomination in the church service, forgetting at the same time that “it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto his name upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the psaltery, and upon the harp with a solemn sound.”



At the United Presbyterian (Secessionist Presbyterian) Synod in Scotland in 1856, the Mission Secretary said – ‘he had learned only on Friday last that there was an organ in the church at Kingston’.  It is not clear if the ‘church at Kingston’ referred to the Presbyterian Church opened in 1819, or St Andrew’s Kirk in Kingston, founded by Rev Thomas Callender in 1848. 


From – http://books.google.com – ‘The United Presbyterian Magazine’, published 1856 – Proceedings of the United Presbyterian Synod, May 1856 –


Deliberations on Missionary Business


As usual, on the forenoon after the Annual Missionary Meeting, the Synod entered on the consideration of the reports from the Home and Foreign Missionary Boards.  ……………………

A question having been put as to whether an organ was used in one of the mission churches in Jamaica, Dr Somerville, the Mission Secretary, said, he had learned only on Friday last that there was an organ in the church at Kingston.

Dr Joseph Brown. – Is the Synod at Jamaica under the control of this Synod?

Mr Sterling, Mearns, said this is now the time to settle the matter of the organ at Kingston.

Mr Johnstone, Kirkaldy, said they must take a wider view.  The question must be enlarged by the introduction of all the Evangelical Churches of France.

Mr Watson, minister of the church referred to, in Jamaica, expressed himself ready and willing to communicate to the Synod any information which they might desire.

The matter was here allowed to drop. 




The first Bishop of Jamaica, Christopher Lipscomb, who arrived in Jamaica in 1825 – was reported as saying – ‘the baldness of Presbyterianism has no charm’ – for the Negroes. 


From the British Library – ‘A History of the Diocese of Jamaica’ by E L Evans B.D., M.Th. formerly Suffragan Bishop of Kingston and Bishop of Barbados, published 197? –


………………………   The Negroes, he (Bishop Lipscomb) said, were fond of organs and Psalmody – they preferred a strong sonorous voice and always ridiculed “the shrill notes of a Buckra…  They are fond of Ceremony and the baldness of Presbyterianism has therefore no charm for them …………”



In 1832, following the Christmas 1831 Jamaica slave rebellion, Rev Watson, one of the Presbyterian missionaries, got caught up in the row in Jamaica over allegations that Baptist and Methodist missionaries had, by their preachings, encouraged slaves to rebel.  In 1832 the Jamaica Royal Gazette published an article from the Jamaica ‘Courant’ about Rev Watson and Scottish missionaries, ending with – ‘We would say in conclusion to them, in their future Reports to use greater moderation of language, and avoid every thing like Methodist and Baptist exaggeration’. 


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 1 September 1832 – PS, page 22 –


The Rev Mr Watson, of Lucea.

We have heard from several of our correspondents, relative to the observations which we felt called upon to make on Mr Watson’s letter in the Scottish Missionary Chronicle, and we are now perfectly satisfied that Mr W. in his letter, had no intention whatever to raise a prejudice against our Community, or to misrepresent the public feeling and testimony in favour of the Presbyterian Ministers.  That some strong expressions had been used against him individually we believe to be true; and being hurt by these, as unfounded, and injurious to his usefulness, he was betrayed into a rash, and two general expressions of his feelings.  We are well assured that Mr Watson would consider it not only unjust, but inconsistent in him to designate the Community in which he lives generally, upon whose friendliness to the cause of religion he has often warmly expressed himself as hostile to that object.  His letter to his Society written at a time of great excitement, and a crisis of awful danger, must necessarily account for any misconception or inaccuracy.  His prompt, frank, and explicit explanation, is indeed proof of this.  We are ready to bear our testimony to his diligence, fidelity, and conciliatory spirit; and we are induced to notice his letter, not from any personal feeling, but to prevent it from being twisted by the Sectarians to serve their evil purposes, who cannot endure the Scottish Missionaries, are ready to speak evil of good itself done by others, if these others follow not with them in their clamours and calumnies.  In the Sectarian reports there is a remarkable disregard of truth, and an endeavour to disparage the success of other Ministers.  They detract from their members, load them with undeserved and injurious imputations, and envy, and rage in their features, point the public to themselves alone, saying – Look at us!  Look at us! 

The conduct of the Scottish Missionaries is their best eulogium – honest, diligent, and blameless.  We would say in conclusion to them, in their future Reports to use greater moderation of language, and avoid every thing like Methodist and Baptist exaggeration. – Courant.



Following the Christmas 1831 Jamaica slave rebellion, the Presbyterian missionaries refused to join the newly formed Colonial Church Union, and were then, like other missionaries in Jamaica, branded ‘Sectarians’.  


From – http://books.google.com – ‘Twenty-Nine Years in the West Indies and Central Africa: a Review of the Missionary Work and Adventure, 1829-1858’, by Rev Hope Masterton Waddell, (Scottish Missionary Society), published 1863 –


The “Colonial Church Union” was a combination of the planters and others, formed immediately after the insurrection was extinguished, for the purpose of expelling all “Sectarian” missionaries from the island.  ……………… Comprising the greater part of the white population, throughout the western half of the island, and having sympathy of many others, of whom better things were expected, it began to acquire a dominant influence in public affairs. 

The “Unionists” tried to draw the Scottish missionaries into their schemes.  Owing, perhaps, to the number of Scotchmen in the colony, and the fact that our Missionary Society was in part connected with the Church of Scotland, they exempted us from the term “Sectarian”, and professed a design to erect “Scotch kirks” in all the parishes, as a new branch of the island Church Establishment.  But we disapproved both of their objects and their offers.  We had no desire to separate from the great missionary cause; nor to be allied with the only representative of the Church of Scotland (Rev James Wordie of the Kingston Kirk) in the country, or with the Established Church of the colony.  Then the blandishments became curses, and pretended friends real enemies.  We were denounced as “Scotch Sectarians,” worthy only of being treated like all the others.  ………………………………………………………………………………..………



On 13 October 1832 the Jamaica Royal Gazette published an account of Rev James Wordie being invited to St Thomas in the East by – ‘several Gentlemen of influence, and who are anxious that their people should receive religious instruction from a Clergyman of the Church of Scotland’.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 13 October 1832 –


 Another Scotch Kirk.

We are glad to learn that another Scotch Church is about to be erected in the Parish of St Thomas in the East, in the Blue Mountain Valley District.  The Rev Mr Wordie returned on Saturday from that quarter, having been invited to visit it by several Gentlemen of influence, and who are anxious that their people should receive religious instruction from a Clergyman of the Church of Scotland, who have been always equally distinguished for their rational and scriptural sentiments, their loyalty, their diligence, and zeal.  They are hard-working men, free themselves from enthusiasm, and able to keep their hearers free from it.  We do not know how benevolence to our labourers, or patriotism to the community, can be better shown, than by contributing to raise Kirks in the different Parishes of the Island.  The Scotch Clergy will have the confidence of the proprietors and managers; they will be the friends and guides of the poor, a companion for the higher ranks, and a comforter for the lower. – They are too well informed to push forward improvement by great and rapid strides; they know that men acquire new habits by imperceptible degrees; and that any sudden change may just be as reasonably expected, as it would be to expect, that a child put to bed at night should rise in the morning a full grown man!

It is but justice to the inhabitants of the different parishes where Mr Wordie has been, to state that they have applied to him of their own accord, and requested him to direct them in procuring Clergymen of the Church of Scotland.  Such have been his efforts, and such the public confidence in his character and abilities, that he has made a tour round the island, and put into operation no less than six new Churches, built and building solely by private subscriptions, in the short period of about two years. – Ibid.  (Courant of Tuesday).



In December 1832, the Jamaica Royal Gazette published a subscription list – ‘for the purpose of building a Kirk in the parish of St Thomas in the Vale’.


From the Jamaica Royal Gazette, 22 December 1832 – PS, page 19 –


The Kirk.

Subscription List for the purpose of building a Kirk in the parish of St Thomas in the Vale.


Edw Clouston

£   50  0  0

R D Clune

£    16  0  0

John Ewart

     25  0  0

P Blackburn

        5  6  0

Wm Allanack

       5  6  8

John Williams

        5  6  8

John Munro

       5  6  8

Rev R Steer

        5  6  0

J Heighington

       5  6  8

Alex Gilzean

      25  0  0

J L Kerr

       1  6  8

Cocking and Daly

      20  0  0

D H Moncrieffe

       5  6  8

Thomas Clowes

        2 13 4

J N Bonito

       2 13 4

James Gilzean

        5  6  8

William Palmer

       5  6  8

John Davis

        2  0  0

W J French

       5  6  8

James Milne

        5  6  8

T O Benwell

       2  0  0

Thomas Hooper

        5  6  8

W H Clarke

       5  6  8

George Rees

        1  0  0

Alexander Kerr

       1  6  8

Robert Baird

        1  6  8

James Dunn

       1  6  8

Chas McDonald

        5  6  8

Charles Gordon

       2  0  0

N P Hinshelwood

        5  6  8

Alex Hunter

     10  0  0

P H Lally

        2  0  0

Alex Anderson

       1  6  8

John Anderson

      30  0  0

T H Burgher

       1  6  8

Wm Duncan

        2  0  0

Robert Roach

       2  0  0

Adam Rankine

      10  0  0

W G Russell

       1  6  8

Edward McCaw

      10 13 4

William Ross

       1  6  8

Francis Gordon

      10 13 4

W McKenzie

       1  6  8

Alex McInnes

      30  0  0



G W Hamilton

      21  6  8




H Lowndes

      16  0  0



£ 141 13 4


    243  6  8

    141 13 4


£  385  0  0



Note – for accounts of the continuing story of the Propagation of Christianity in Jamaica by the Scottish Missionary Society – see –


–        http://books.google.com – The History of the Christian Missions of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, containing …………………………., by the Reverend William Brown, M.D, secretary of the Scottish Missionary Society – third edition ….. with continuation brought down to the latest period – in three volumes – published 1864 – Volume II – Propagation of Christianity by the Scottish Missionary Society – Section IV – Jamaica –


–        http://books.google.com – ‘Reminiscences of Missionary Life, with suggestions to Churches and Missionaries’ by Rev George Blyth, (Scottish Missionary Society), thirty years a missionary in Russia and Jamaica, published 1851 –


–        http://books.google.com – ‘Twenty-Nine Years in the West Indies and Central Africa: a Review of the Missionary Work and Adventure, 1829-1858’, by Rev Hope Masterton Waddell, (Scottish Missionary Society), published 1863 –


The Presbyterian Church in Kingston, opened in 1819, was badly damaged by the 1907 Jamaica earthquake.  Following the earthquake the Church was only partially rebuilt, and is now known as St Andrew’s Scots Kirk. 



From  St Andrew’s Scots Kirk United Church of Kingston, Jamaica –


St Andrew’s Scots Kirk – formerly the Scots Kirk – Kingston, Jamaica


-          On Friday, February 4, 1814, the design of James Delaney (?Delancy) was accepted.  It called for a gallery going all around, supported by twelve solid mahogany pillars of Ionic design, and above them another twelve pillars of Corinthian design to support the roof.


-          In 1848, St. Andrew's Kirk, located at the corner of John's Lane and East Queen Street was founded by Rev. Thomas Callender.  In 1939 this building collapsed.  The congregation of St. Andrew's Kirk was joined with the Scots Kirk to form St. Andrew's Scots Kirk.


-          The earthquake of 1907 made the upper part of the walls so unsafe that it was decided to reduce the height of the original building. The high central pulpit above the communion table was also removed.


This page was written by Mary Mill and contributed to this site.

© 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.