Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library



FROM 1655 TO 1790



Kingston, Jamaica, 1896



In a work of this kind, I am not attempting to write a history of Jamaica; I am only trying to give the origin of things Domestic, as well as Political in this Island.

Jamaica, as is well known to us, was discovered by Columbus, according to some writers, on the 3rd. of May, and, according to others, on the 5th. of May 1494.

The Island remained in the possession of Spain until the year 1655, when it was conquered by the British under Penn and Venables. It was then ruled by a Military Government until Colonel Edward D'Oyley was Commissioned as Governor of Jamaica, by Charles the Second, on 8th February, 1661.

Colonel D'Oyley was then directed to form a Council of 12 persons, 11 to be elected by the Officers of the Army, Planters and inhabitants, and the Secretary of the Island was to form the 12th member.

Richard Povey Esqre was on 10th January, 1660, appointed Secretary of the Island, and was ex-officio a member of the Council.

I have not been able to trace the names of the "Eleven persons" who were thus elected as members of the Council.  In fact no entry of any such election appears on the Journals of the Council, or in the Calendar of State Papers; the inference is that Col. D'Oyley himself appointed the members of the Council. This conclusion coincides with the opinion of Bridges, as stated in a note to the first volume of his annals, that the Governor was at liberty to name the members himself. ( Vict. qrly.)

The first meeting of the "Council of 12" was held at Port Royal on the 18th June, 1661, at which the following members were present:-
General Edward D'Oyley, Governor and President.
1 Col. Samuel Barry
2 Col. Philip Ward
3 Col. Richard Wilbraham
4 Lt.-Col. Henry Archbold
5 Major Thomas Fairfax
6 Major John Cope
7 Capt. William Valet
8 Capt. Thomas Ballard
9 Capt. Cornelieus Burroughs
10 Capt. John Harrington
11 Capt. Humphrey Groves.
12 Richard Povey, Island Secretary.

"Each man" of the Council was appointed a Justice of the Peace in all parts of the Island, and was authorized to choose three or more constables in his quarter.

Eleven of the foregoing members were evidently Officers selected by General D'Oyley from the army as they all bear Military titles.

In the Commission to Sir Thomas Modyford Governor of Jamaica, dated 15 February, 1664, he was authorised to choose to himself a standing Council of "12 persons," or to continue the Council he should find already established by his predecessors, and to alter augment or change the same as he should see fit.

Sir Thomas Modyford arrived in Jamaica on 4th June, 1664, and in answer to enquiries by the King's Commissioners, in October of the same year, said "His Majesty's Council consisting of 12 persons 'Chosen by the Governor' is the only Council of this Island, who meet as constantly, and as often as the Supreme Court sits, which is usually once in two months, or oftener, if His Majesty's affairs require it."

It will thus be seen that the Council of 12 persons ceased to be an elected body ( if ever it was) and became a nominated one.
On the 20th August, 1671, Sir Thomas Lynch Knight, Lieut. Governor, reporting on the then state of the government of this island, said "His Majesty's present Lieut. Governor is Commander in Chief, and has, according to his instructions, a Council of about fourteen of the best men in the Island viz :-
1 Major General James Bannister
2 Colonel Sir James Modyford
3 Col. Thomas Modyford
4 Col. John Cope
5 Col. Thomas Freeman
6 Col. Thomas Ballard
7 Lt.-Col. William Ivy
8 Lt.-Col. Robert Byndloss
9 Lt.-Col. Charles Whitfield
10 Lt.-Col. Thomas Fuller
11 Major Anthony Collier
12 Captain (Sir) Hender Molesworth.

"whom I found in the Council; and Lieut. Colonel Robert Freeman, and Mr. John White, the one a Secretary, the other a Chief Justice of the Island, have been added, since by me."

As regards the first House of Assembly which was elected in Jamaica, the following Ordinance was made by Sir Charles Littleton, Knight, Deputy Governor, and Council, on 23rd of October, 1663:-
Forasmuch as the Governor, and Council have seriously debated and considered the great good and content it will be to this island, and to all the good people thereof, as well the Merchant as Planter, to have an Assembly chosen and elected by the votes of the inhabitants of this island; and that no person or persons whatsoever should be dissatisfied therein, it is hereby enacted and ordained that there be an Assembly chosen, consisting of 30 persons all freeholders, and they may be all fairly and indifferently chosen by the votes of the inhabitants of the several precincts of this island; and Lieut. Colonel Thomas Lynch Provost Marshal of this island do cause the same to be effected at or before the 20th day of December next. Dated at Point Cagua this 23rd day of October 1663.
The Assembly which was thus elected, composing of "Gents," and who all made their personal appearance, met at the Town of Saint Jago de la Vega on the 20th of January 1664, and exercised the right of adjourning.

For Yakallah, Robert Freeman, Speaker.
...........Richard Lloyd
For Saint Jago, Edward Walrond
...........Edward Mullens
For Old Harbour, John Colebeck
...........Humphrey Freeman
For Angells, Lewis Ashton
For Cagua, William Beeston
............Samuel Long
............Robert Byndloss
For Seven Plantations, Anthony Collier
For Guanaboa, William Clee
............Thomas Freeman
For Withywood, Richard Homer
For Morant, Barnard Barker
For Liguania, William Valette
............Richard Bryan
For Dry River, William Ivy
For Port Morant, Southwell Adkins
For Northside, Abraham Rutter.

Although the Ordinance called for 30 persons, only 20 were elected, under a subsequent Ordinance.

The first.Law which was passed by this elected Assembly, was one for dividing the Island into several parishes, and precincts. The Law, (13 Charles II. ) is not now to be found on the Statute Book.

The following were the parishes established under the Law viz:-
St. Katherine
St. John
Port Royal
St. David
St. Andrew
St Thomas

St. Katherine derived its name from the Queen of Charles II, and Clarendon from the first Lord Clarendon (Sir Edward Hyde) the then Lord Chancellor of England. (Vict. Qrly., Nov. 1889.)

At the next election which took place in the same year 1664, the following were the parishes in which members were elected:-
Saint Andrew
Port Royal
Saint John
Saint David
Saint Catherine
Saint Thomas

At the next election in 1672, the name Bluefields was omitted, and Saint Elizabeth substituted, and at the general election in May 1673, the name "Northside" was left out, and the following other places added :-

Saint Ann, and Saint James
Saint George, and Saint Mary,

In the year 1681, the Island was then divided into 3 Counties viz. Middlesex, Surry, and Cornwall; and into 15 Parishes. This was afterwards confirmed by the Statute of 33 Chas. II Chap. 18, Sec. 12. The names of the 15 Parishes were as follows:-

1 Saint Catherine
2 Clarendon
3 Saint Dorothy
4 Saint John (1-8, County of Middlesex)
5 Vere
6 St. Thos. Vale
7 Saint Ann
8 Saint Mary

9 Saint Andrew
10 Port Royal
11 St. Thos. ye East (9-13, County of Surry)
12 Saint David
13 Saint George

14 Saint Elizabeth (14-15, County of Cornwall)
15 Saint James.

The following other Parishes wore established from time to time.

16 Kingston, A.D. 1694. After the Earthquake which destroyed Port Royal, 1692.
17 Westmoreland, A.D. 1704.  Separated from Saint Elizabeth.
18 Portland, A.D. 1723. In honor of the Duke of Portland Governor of Jamaica.
19 Hanover, A.D. 1724. So named as George I, was son of Elector of Hanover.
20 Trelawny, A.D. 1774.  It was at first proposed to name the parish as Brunswick, but on the 3rd reading the bill was lost, and eventually called Trelawny after Sir William Trelawny Governor of Jamaica.
21 Manchester, 1813.  So named in honor of the Duke of Manchester, Governor of Jamaica.
22 Metcalfe, 1842.  Also named in honor of Lord Metcalfe, Governor of Jamaica.

Thus stood the Parishes in this Island, 22 in number, down to the year 1870, when Sir John Peter Grant, Governor of Jamaica reduced them to 14 Parishes, which the Island now consist of viz :-
Saint Catherine
Saint Mary
Saint Ann
Saint Andrew
Saint Thomas

Saint Elizabeth
Saint James

In compiling this work I have taken advantage of the information contained in the Journals of the House of Assembly: and I was also greatly assisted by a valuable work entitled "Archers Monumental Inscriptions", published 1875, which was kindly lent to me by Mr. George F. Judah, of Spanish Town.  It is a most elaborate work, and being an expensive one, must be in the hands of very few persons in Jamaica. Indeed I know of only two copies in Jamaica, viz. the one above mentioned, and another copy in the Jamaica Institute.

In the prefatory remarks to the work, speaking of the early settlers in this Island Mr. Archer says;-
" It may not be unworthy of note, that those; early settlers were, as a rule, men of great energy, with moderate political opinions. They belonged to the same class from which the titles aristocracy is, for the most part, derived, and many of their numerous descendants are to be found in the present Peerage and Baronetage, holding posts of honor under the Crown.

"The higher class of planters or proprietors almost invariably educated their children in England; and although in those days, the voyage was so much longer and more difficult than at present it is surprising how frequently those colonial gentry made it; and many of their adventures might, even now afford subject of interest for the novelist.

"There was towards the close of the seventeenth century another element in the social condition of these colonies-namely the white slaves-an institution perhaps suggested by Cromwell's government, but only carried out to its full extent by James II. while disposing of the unfortunate adherents of Monmouth."

Mr. Archer also said that another principal object of his Monumental Collection, was to preserve records which in the course of a few generations, would otherwise be destroyed through neglect, spoliation, the effects of climate and other causes.

In the same work he gives an extract from a lecture delivered by the Honorable Mr. Richard Hill, in 1865, a reference to which will be found of great interest.

The Chapter on the Peerage &c. in Jamaica will doubtless be found an interesting subject. It is compiled from copies kindly lent to me by Mr. H. W. Cody, Mr. H. E. Upton, Inspector P. H. James, and Mr. Lewis Phillips.

In conclusion I have to tender my thanks to the numerous Subscribers who very readily responded to the circular issued by me, and also for the very gratifying opinions expressed by many of them.

Cottage Grove, Franklin Town,
Kingston, Jamaica. 31, March, 1896.

M.A.-Member of Assembly.
S.T.-Spanish Town, Cathedral.
M.C.-Member of the Council.
M.I.-Archer's Monumental Inscriptions.
K.P.C.-Kingston Parish Church.
St. Andrew's P.C.-St. Andrew's Parish Church.
J.B.H.B.-Jews Burial Ground, Hunts Bay.
O.B.G.H.W.T.-Old Burial Ground beyond Half-Way-Tree.
P.R.C.-Port Royal Church.
M.B.C.-Morant Bay old Church.
V.C.-Vere Church.
D.S.P.-Died Sine Prole.
Coll. Cons.-Collecting Constable, now known as Collector of Taxes.
Law of Disabilities.-An old law of Jamaica (1761,) entitled "an act to prevent the inconveniences arising from exorbitant grants and devises made by white persons to negroes, and the issue of negroes, and to restrain and limit such grants and devises." This law, of course, was only in force during the time of Slavery.


To read the text of the chapters dealing with individuals (all of which are in Members' pages) please use the following links:-


A - B, Abernathie to Byndloss
C - E, Cadogan to Ewers
F - I, Fairfax to Ivy
J - M, Jackson to Mutus
N - Q, Napier to Quarrell
R - S, Raby to Sympson
T - Y, Taafe to Young


To read the text of the chapter dealing with "the Peerage etc. in Jamaica" (which is in Members' pages) please use the following link: Feurtado's Peerage (M)


Lists of those holding the following offices in Jamaica from 1661 to 1895 (not all years for all offices):-
Governor and Lt. Governor
President of the Council
Speaker of the House of Assembly
Chief Justice
Attorney General
Island Secretary
Provost Marshal General

Please use the following link: List of Governors etc. (M)


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