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Lying on the North Coast between the historic stretch of sugar lands extending from Falmouth to Montego Bay, the old Success estate flourished from the late seventeenth century until the close of the nineteenth century, when it became absorbed along with several other famous plantations in the area, by The Northern Estates Co. Ltd.
According to Joseph Shore in his book "In Old St. James", Success was originally settled by George Robinson circa 1672, and Shore goes on to say that a small landholder named Hamilton who owned a parcel of land adjoining Success, apparently married Robinson's daughter and eventually became the owner of the estate. This he further illustrates by saying that the brandmark for the estate was S over G R H meaning, Success - George Robinson Hamilton.
This statement however, seems to be somewhat inaccurate, for from the Givings-In in the Jamaica Almanacs from 1812 to 1845 (nearly two hundred years after Robinson settled the estate), we receive the following information. "In 1812 the owner is given as G.R. Hamilton, deceased", and the property then had 95 slaves and 17 head of stock. It therefore seems strange that the same initials - G.R.H. - should still appear after nearly two hundred years.
Further, Cundall, in his "Historic Jamaica", states that Robert Scarlett (1737 - 1798), owned Success at one time, Scarlett Hall not far from Rose Hall, being the old family seat. My theory is that the brandmark referred to by Shore is of more recent date, unless it is from coincidence that the initials - G.H.R. - continued for several generations, but even so, one cannot account for the period when it was allegedly owned by Scarlett.
In Feurtado's manuscripts at the Institute of Jamaica, we find one George R. Hamilton listed as J.P. for Trelawny, 1782, and J.P. for St. James 1785. This man I think is one and the same person as the G.R. Hamilton who owned Success.
In 1815 we see from the Almanacs that Success was owned by the Heirs of G.R. Hamilton, but in 1818 the estate had passed to Lady Mary Hamilton with 89 slaves and 100 head of stock. In 1820-22 the owner is given as Lady Mary Walker, then in 1824-45, when the records ceased, Success reverts to the Heirs of G.R. Hamilton.
I have discovered who Lady Mary was, but the odd thing about the entry is that there seems to have been some confusion in the Almanac, for Lady Mary died in 1816 yet she is listed as the owner in 1818-22. All I can think is that she was the heir referred to from the beginning, and it was only later that her name was recorded.
In the Dictionary of National Biography we see the following 'Lady Mary Hamilton (1739 - 1816). She was a novelist, born in Edinburgh, the youngest daughter of Alexander Leslie, fifth Earl of Leven and Melville, by his second wife Elizabeth Monepenny. Lady Mary married first Dr. James Walker in 1762, second Robert Hamilton of Jamaica. They settled in France with their two daughters before the Revolution. After her husband's death, Lady Mary lived near Amiens in France and died in 1816.' One wonders whether she ever visited Jamaica, and saw the lovely canefields of Success estate, swept by the trade winds, or whether she was an absentee proprietress like so many other property owners of her day?
In 1838 Success is listed as having 79 apprentices working there, and in 1848 the plantation is stated as comprising 775 acres.
From the book "In Old St. James", written about 1910, Shore states that there was once an old Spanish Fort on Success estate, but he says that the superstructure had long been demolished, 'while the guns today guard the wall - corners of the estate -'. He continues with a strange tale to prove his point regarding the Spanish associations of the Fort: Many years before he compiled his notes, two Spaniards visited the estate armed with a plan, said to have belonged to an old Spanish family, which detailed an area on the estate where secret documents were reputed to have been buried. Having received the permission from the Owner, the Spaniards started to take measurements using the walls of the old Fort as a starting point.
Finally, the site of the buried documents was located in the center of the mill-house. The Spaniards then asked permission to carry out excavations, but were refused, the owner of the estate having become skeptical about the whole affair, doubting the promise made by the gentlemen to restore the premises in case of damage occasioned by the search.
However, this was not the end, for Shore tells us that years later when foundations for a new mill were being dug, an old well was discovered, filled up with soil, and it was then thought that this was the hiding place where the Spanish military had buried either papers or other valuables at the time of the English conquest.
My interest in Success estate was greatly stimulated recently, when the son of one of the more recent owners of this property loaned me the estate journal cover the period 1849-56, where from the entries over those seven years, a picture of the estate life of those days is vividly portrayed. I do not know to whom the plantation belonged at that time, but is was possibly still in the hands of G.R. Hamilton's heirs, since up to 1845, as we have seen, it was still in their name.
The journal is in a wonderful state of preservation, and the entries written in delicate script, give the names of the workers, their occupations and the wages paid to them. Contained in the entries, the following pertinent references appear which with very little imagination, conjure up the day to day working life of a busy sugar plantation: "Minding and watering pasture stock, watching canepieces, digging and planting cane holes at 2/7½ per 100 holes, cutting copperwood (wood used as fuel to boil sugar), mending walls, catching rats (this work was always carried on by one James Forrest who was also a watchman); the rate paid for destroying rodents was 5 rats for 3d. Carpenter working on mill, five days at 2/- a day, repairing fire place and coppers, potting sugar, burning and loading line at Long Bay, repairing estate musket for shooting hogs. Suddenly the weekly entry for catching rats ceases, and instead we see the following: "Getting oranges to poison" and below, another entry for 4/- worth of arsenic; there is also an order for paper, quills and ink.
In Feb. 1854, we see them engaged in carrying shingles and sawing lathe for shingling the Success house. (There was once a very fine great house on the property, but I believe this has now been demolished). The entries continue: 'Boys to Dunn's Hole wharf with sugar and rum, gathering cane tops from neighbouring estates (Rose Hall, Cinnamon Hill, Palanyra, Spot Valley), picking long cane tops to thatch trash house, etc., etc.
There were two sections on Success one called Court House Piece, and the other, Commodore Piece. These names are very thought provoking, and one wonders what the significance here might be. Could the latter refer to some naval reminiscences concerning the Fort?
Prior to 1895, Rose Hall and Cinnamon Hill were owned by one George Robertson, and it is possible that this gentleman also owned Success, since later, all these estates were incorporated into the Northern Estates, then into Rose Hall Estates.
The spot where the old Success plantation once stood is now owned by Mr. John Rollins of Delaware, USA, and should this gentleman decide to try and locate the old Spanish well on the property, he may yet be rewarded by finding a valuable treasure trove.
In the persons of Edward Barrett and his wife Judith Goodin of Cinnamon Hill, Jamaica, the Hon. Richard Barrett shared common grandparents with Edward Barrett (afterwards E. Moulton-Barrett), father of Mrs. Barrett Browning, Edward Moulton Barrett and Richard were, in fact, first cousins. Edward was the son of the union between Elizabeth Barrett and Charles Moulton, while Richard was the son of the said Elisabeth Moulton's brother, Samuel Barrett.
Later, these two branches of the family were again to unite in closer bond with the marriage of Alfred Moulton Barrett (Mrs. Moulton's brother) to his cousin Georgian or "Lizzie" Barrett, niece of the Hon. Richard Barrett.
Richard Barrett's father Samuel, styled of Portman Street, London, was a captain in the Horse Grenadier Guards. Later, he came to Jamaica and was a member of the Assembly. He died in Spanish Town in 1794 at the age of twenty-nine. The cause of death was given as a "Putrid Fever". It is not certain, however, whether his wife and children were in Jamaica at the time of his demise, neither can any reference be found regarding the exact date when Richard actually came to Jamaica to take up residence. The Jamaica Almanac, however, sets him down as the owner of the property called Barrett Hall in St. James, in 1817.
The other property, Greenwood, also in St. James, which he later acquired, is listed as belonging to Barrett and Morris in 1825, and presumably the Barrett referred to was Richard Barrett, for as we shall see, he married into the Morris family.
By 1811 he was an ensign in the St. James Militia, and engaged to his second cousin Elizabeth Barrett Morris. They were married on August 5, 1811, and in 1812 their child Elizabeth was born. This only child of the union died thirteen years later in London. Despite Richard's reputed good nature and common sense, the marriage was not a happy one, leading finally to estrangement.
Although Richard was himself a slave owner and was chosen to represent the Jamaica legislature before parliament on the emancipation issue, at heart he seems to have been an abolitionist. He had ever been kind and considerate to his slaves and in 1826 had used every effort in the Assembly to abolish the use of the cart whip in the chastisement on the slaves.
He also petitioned that the flogging of women be discontinued. He once said that he never punished his people for running away while he was away from home, for it was the only protection they had against the overseers, some of whom treated the slaves brutally.
The Rev. Hope Waddell of the Scottish Missionary Society who arrived in Jamaica in 1830, had many kind things to say about Richard Barrett. On being approached by Waddell in regard to having his slaves instructed in religion, Richard immediately consented to the minister's desires, which concession Waddell says aided his missionary work immensely, coming as it did from a man of Mr. Barrett's position in the country. He added also that Richard was always faithful to his promises. Later Richard granted Waddell the use of the unoccupied overseer's house at Barrett Hall to conduct religious meetings.
In 1837 Richard purchased two properties in St. Ann, Albion and Rio Hoja, but was to retain these only a short while before death struck him down unexpectedly one Saturday morning in May 1939. He had gone to do business in Montego Bay after breakfast and had become violently ill at the store of Messrs. Dewar. He was taken upstairs to the lodging of Miss Catherine Shaw, where he expired shortly after. Foul play was suspected, but nothing whatever was proved.
The Falmouth Post of May 12, 1839, gives the following information: "Two inquests were warned by the Coroner, but for reasons unknown the jurors were not sworn to view the body, nor did they investigate the cause of death." This knowledge came to the ears of a magistrate of St. James, who wrote the Coroner telling him that if he would not proceed with the inquest, he the magistrate would consider himself justified in taking action. The Coroner refused to comply, and a warrant was issued by the magistrate at 10 p.m. on the Saturday night, ordering the jurors to assemble at 9 o'clock the following morning. The constable was also told to inform Miss Catherine Shaw that an inquest was to be held at the hour already mentioned.
When the jurors assembled next day they refused to be sworn, but finally twelve "just men" were found, to whom the oath was administered. In the meantime it became impossible to inspect the body, since in violation of the order of the constable, it had been removed during the night and taken to Cinnamon Hill for burial in the graveyard there.
Briefly the verdict of the jurors was as follows:
Due to the removal of the body, they were unable to state how Mr. Barrett had come to his death. They added that they did not hesitate to assert that the course pursued by Mr. Barrett's friends "aided by the covert assistance of the Coroner of St. James, who it seems lent himself a willing tool for the apparent object of smothering the legal enquiry," and the stealthy manner in which the body was conveyed away at midnight, "are calculated to leave an impression on the public that Mr. Barrett's end was associated by unfair means."
The Falmouth Post ends: "The jurors did their duty, and we now wait with anxiety to see what course 'the higher powers that be' will adopt to clear up the mysterious circumstances connected with the death of the late Speaker of the Jamaica House of Assembly."
Evidently the "Higher powers" saw fit to do nothing, for the mystery still remains unsolved, and the dead keep their secrets well. With this tragedy, Jamaica lost a man who during his life had played an important part in the management of the colony: Member of the Assembly, Custos, Judge of the Supreme Court, and three times Speaker of the Assembly.
Richard left considerable property, both real and personal, to a great many beneficiaries including his slaves. These consisted in part of the properties of Barrett Hall and Greenwood in St. James; Ramble Pen, Carlisle, Bigams, Howes, Tydenham in St. Ann; a house in Spanish Town, furniture, plate, table linen, books, wines, horses, carriages, and watch chains and seals.
Resting near Richard Barrett's tomb at Cinnamon Hill are the graves of two of his brothers, Edward Barrett and George Goodin Barrett. Both had served gallantly in the Peninsular War, and Edward, despite the fact that he had been wounded, was again present as a captain at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He retired soon after and returned to Jamaica. He was only 27 years old when he died. George Goodin, his brother, also sustained wounds at Toulouse in France, but outlived all his brothers, dying in Jamaica in 1854. George Goodin had three children, Edward, Richard and Georgiana.
With the marriage of Georgiana to her cousin Alfred Moulton Barrett in 1855 at the British Embassy in Paris, the two families were again united in even closer bond.
According to the "Falmouth Post" of March 4, 1840, Samuel Goodwin Barrett, another nephew of the Hon. Richard Barrett who owned Spring Estate in St. James, and who acquired Greenwood, was host to the Governor, Sir Charles Metcalfe when he visited Falmouth. The entry runs in part:
"His Excellency accompanied by his secretary proceeded to Greenwood, the elegant mansion of S.G. Barrett, Esq. In the evening Mr. Barrett gave a princely entertainment to a select party, and on Friday morning His Excellency repaired to the town of Falmouth where he arrived soon after eleven o'clock in Mr. Barrett's carriage drawn by four beautiful and spirited horses... "
Recently, I spent a week with friends who live near Montego Bay in a new residential area on the hills above Coral Gardens Villas. This locality, steeped in 18th. Century history from the days when the Lawrences, the Irvings, the Barretts, and the Palmers owned land in the area, is still full of romantic reflections for me and as I lay in bed that first night, the hollow sound of the waters rushing in at Dun's Hole on the coast, took me back in thought to those far off days of Jamaica's Colonial era, days when sugar was king, when those pioneer families who had experienced untold hardships, had somehow managed to build a small empire, in what had been a veritable wilderness.
It was exciting too to realize that only a few miles away, the ghostly mansion of Rose Hall, reared its mighty walls against the moonlight flooding over the hills; and that near by, Cinnamon Hill Great House, now elegantly restored, still stood, a living memorial to Edward Barrett, the Great Grandfather of Elizabeth Barrett Browning of Wimpole Street fame. This was the house in which Elizabeth's father and his sister Sarah Goodin Moulton, the little 'Pinkie' immortalized by the famous portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, were born and played as children, before they were sent to England.
Poor, frail, delicate, "Pinkie', dying at the age of twelve, and destined never to see Jamaica again! Below the house, in the little walled-in cemetery, shaded by flowering frangipani, generations of Barretts lie buried, including two of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's own brothers, who came out to Jamaica in the 19th. Century to manage the estates.
Memories . . .
All these thoughts passed through my mind, as I waited for sleep, yet I was not disappointed that sleep eluded me, for the memories were full of the inescapable romance of those far off days, concerning which I have studied so ardently over the last few years. When I finally fell asleep, I did not dream, but was awakened in the morning by the voice of the oriole singing in the forest above the house. The voice of this lovely bird, so seldom heard in Kingston, was enough to set the mood for more romantic dreaming.
I hastened to the window to look out upon the sea, pale blue, and shimmering in the early sunlight - the fishermen's boats, like discarded toys, lying on the calm water. Southward, the uneven limestone hills with their forests of hardwood trees, virtually untouched today, stood as they must have done centuries ago, when the Arawaks built their settlements near by.
Truly this stretch of coastland lying between Falmouth and Montego Bay, is a happy hunting ground of thought, for those interested in Jamaica's past.
My friends too, shared this joy of history, and we went visiting many of the old sites in the area.
At Ironshore, the aqueduct and sugar mill are still in a wonderful state of preservation, and could easily be converted into a tourist attraction. We journeyed through the new sub-division highways of the Rose Hall estates, beautifully laid out with flowering shrubs and stretches of natural forests, then on to the main road again, and up the hill to the Rose Hall mansion.
The restoration work here seems to have been discontinued for the time being, but a great deal of work has been done. I was rather disappointed in the restoration of the magnificent arches which support the terrace at the front of the house. This work has been constructed in soft, chalky stone, which apart from their vivid whiteness, which does not blend in with the original cutstone, will never, I feel sure, stand up to exposure of the weather.
Leaving Rose Hall, we drove further up the hill, past the Barrett cemetery, to the Cinnamon Hill Great House. Here visitors are not allowed, but the view of the house through the tree-flanked gates, is a truly rewarding sight. This is a beautiful house, the proportions are exquisite, and it stands in an admirable setting commanding a full view of the coast.
Continuing, we took a narrow road leading down the hill, where we discovered a lovely little waterfall, so delightful in fact, that my artist friends were all for getting out canvas and brush straight away to capture the scene. However it was getting late, and so we drove on down the narrow road passing the ruins of the old aqueduct and trash house constructed of round stone columns.
This was the site of the Cinnamon Hill sugar works, and was built by Edward Barrett in 1784. I was informed later, that a tablet near the road bears the initials E.B. together with the date. We soon arrived at the main road, near to the Little River Police Station, and as we drove homeward in the fading light, the cluster of thatch-palms below the Rose Hall turning, once reputed to be the burial site of the murdered legendary lovers of Mrs. Palmer, stood out in silhouette against the sunset, silently speaking of the past.
It has been a rewarding afternoon, yet somehow the best was yet to come.
Next day, we went back along the Rose Hall subdivision, and there we discovered a charming old sugar works building, set in a small decline, just off the road. The windows in particular drew my attention. They were elliptical in shape, picked out in dark red bricks. I have never noticed this particular design before, and feel that this was something quite unique in local architecture. I hope that this lovely specimen will be spared, for above all, it will add immensely to the interest of the area.
Just as we were admiring this building, my friend noticed a derelict roof top peeping over the trees on a hill above. Going to investigate, we discovered a small, very bad road giving off the subdivision, and calculated that from the direction it should lead to this abandoned house.
Our surmise was correct, for barely a quarter of a mile up, we parked the car against what must have been a part of the lawn.
It is an interesting house, two storied and built of cutstone, the plaster work on the interior, reminiscent of that used in the old Rose Hall house, before the recent restorations. It is a small house as Great Houses go, but still quite imposing. Outside, we saw the remains of the old kitchen with the brick ovens still intact.
Both my friend and I agreed, that from the type of construction, it was built in the 18th. Century. Obviously this seemed to be the Great House which was associated with the ruined factory we had previously inspected, and I was most interested in find out something about it. We know that there were many estates situated in the hills behind Rose Hall, which over the years have been absorbed by Rose Hall. The Barretts, the Scarletts, and the Lawrences, to mention a few, all owned estates in this area in the past, and all these estates had separate names, and their own Great Houses and factories.
Having made several inquiries, I finally discovered that this was the Great house and factory of Spring Estate, originally belonging to Ezekiel Lawrence who married Elizabeth Barrett in 1739. Spring finally became the property of the Barretts of Cinnamon Hill.
This was truly a rewarding and enjoyable holiday for me, when for a little while I left the chaos of city life to dream awhile.
On Sunday, June 14th., 1970, the Jamaica Historical Society arranged a field trip to Iter Boreale Great House in St. Mary, which is situated only a short distance from the town of Annotto Bay on the main road to Port Antonio.
The party, which consisted of about seventy persons, met at the square in Annotto Bay during the mid-morning where they were joined by Mr. T. A. L. Concannon the leader of the excursion. Here, while waiting to set off for Iter Boreale, some of the members had the opportunity of inspecting the rather lovely Metcalfe market with its pleasing facade which was built in 1896.
The short journey to the Great house took only a few minutes, and before reaching the gateway one could see glimpses of the house nestling amongst the towering royal palms in its hillside garden. Because of the number of cars, it was thought best to park on the flat lawns just within the gates, instead of driving up the narrow road to the house. The steep climb to the Great House was well worth the effort since one was literally walking through the lovely garden all the time with its flowering shrubs and crotons splashing vivid colours on the deep green lawns.
The double flight of stone steps at the entrance to the Great House is characteristic of many Great houses in Jamaica, and the view of the open sea which one gets from the small portico at the top of these steps is reminiscent of that which ones gets from a similar location at Rose Hall in St. James.
The party were welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. N. Donaldson and conducted to the back lawn where under a spreading ficus tree, the members were offered a refreshing fruit drink. Here, in the pleasant surroundings of the large flat lawn, so different from the undulating gardens at the entrance, Mrs. Donaldson gave a short talk on the history of the Great House, and its first owner, Edward Broughton.
Broughton, we understand, was evidently a staunch Royalist, who after the Restoration of Charles II to the English throne, was given land in Jamaica by the King. This estate Broughton called Iter Boreale, which translated means: "By way of the North," evidently after the poem of that name written in 1660 by Robert Wild, to commemorate the victorious march of General George Monck from Scotland in the North, to London in that year. This poem became extremely popular, and obviously influenced Broughton in the naming of his property. Monck, it might be recalled, was largely instrumental in restoring Charles II to the throne, and was rewarded by his Sovereign, and made Duke of Albermarle.
We do not know exactly when Broughton established the Estate, but a map in the British Museum of 1675 shows Iter Boreale, and another map by Edward Slaney dated 1678 shows Iter Boreale River.
Mr. H. P. Jacobs, one of Jamaica's historians, told the gathering that some years ago he had learned that Edward Broughton was born in France, which suggests that the family were Royalist exiles residing in France after the execution of Charles I of England.
The site of Iter Boreale was originally in the old Parish of St. George, and the Feurtado Manuscripts in the Institute of Jamaica gives the following information on Broughton: "Edward Broughton was a Member of the Assembly for St. George in 1679-88. For St. Mary (which was then the adjoining Parish) in 1695, and Receiver General in 1696."
The Jamaica Almanac for 1811-1812 states that Iter Boreale estate was owned by R. McKay & Co. with 278 slaves and 74 head of stock. In 1832, the property was still in the hands of R. McKay & Co. with 262 slaves and 119 head of stock.
A paper preserved in the Great house, gives one Monro Spens as owner in 1796, but this note is followed by a question mark, which one presumes must indicate the uncertainty of the date. This paper also gives U. L. Hosack as owner from 1882-1927. The Estate now forms part of the Gray's Inn Central Factory. Mrs. Donaldson explained that the really old part of the Great House is contained in the cellars, which the late Mr. Charles Pringle said were built by Broughton - the [missing word] of the house dates from before 1881, and was erected over the old foundations and the cellars.
The party were then conducted on a tour of the house, with its spacious living and dining rooms furnished with period furniture and pictures, and decorated with bowls of delicate crape-myrtle blossoms. The bedrooms too are full of old world charm, including two particularly lovely examples of carved Jamaican four-poster beds. The cellars have been converted into a charming bar, reminiscent of an old English tavern, with its dark raftered ceilings and rough stone floors, dominated by a copy of an early print of King Charles II. Here weary travellers are invited to refresh themselves, and should prove popular with our many visitors who travel this coast road on their way to Port Antonio.
Undoubtedly, the Iter Boreale site is full of historical significance, for apart from its early English settlement, an Arawak Kitchen midden has recently been discovered on a small hillock adjacent to the back lawn of the great house. Here pottery and other typical midden material have been discovered, and Mrs. Donaldson mentioned that it was hoped in the near future to build a small hut on the site to house some of these artifacts. With this new evidence of Arawak occupation at Iter Boreale, one wonders whether this was not in the general area of the Arawak settlement at Mellila where Diego Mendez, Columbus' faithful follower, went to procure food from the Arawak cacique to feed the Admiral's men while they were marooned near St. Ann's Bay.
Mendez in his account tells us that he journeyed thirteen leagues from where Columbus' stricken caravels lay "and came to a great cacique name Huareo living in a place which is now called "Mellia." From this point Mendez journeyed further Eastward to the end of the Island, where he met another cacique. It seems clear from this account that the North Eastern coast of Jamaica was also occupied by the Arawaks and so it should not surprise us to find an Arawak midden (at) Iter Boreale. It seems strange therefore that this site was not discovered before, especially since it lies so close to the Great House, which has been lived in for a great many years.
It is also interesting to note that it was from Mellila that Ysassi and the remnants of the Spanish forces after their defeat at Rio Nuevo, finally left the shores of Jamaica, and as Mr. Taylor tells us in his "Western Design", "Using as sails the blood stained sheets in which the hunters wrapped the carcasses of the cattle that they had killed."
On the Jamaican map of 1678 already mentioned, there is a Christopher's Cove, (later referred to on other maps as Don Christopher's Cove) just a few miles down the coast to the West from Iter Boreale. This Don Christopher's Cove is believed by many historians to be the same place as the Spanish Mellila, and was evidently renamed for Don Christopher Ysassi, who as it will be remembered left the Island from this point.
Further evidence that this area around Annotto Bay figured prominently in our history from the Spanish period, is found in William Goodwin's books "Spanish and English Ruins in Jamaica" where he tells us that the site of the present day Gray's Inn Sugar Estate was reputed to have been one of those plantations which the King of Spain and his Governor for Jamaica, Francisco de Garay, owned in the 16th. century.
In many ways this was a most rewarding field trip and the Society thanks Mr. and Mrs. Donaldson most sincerely for making this memorable visit possible.
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