Important Events in Jamaica’s History

  1. Pre-Columbus – Arawak indians  inhabited the island perhaps from 800AD.
  2. 14 May 1494Christopher Columbus landed on the island on his second voyage to the new World. Adopted the Arawak name Xaymaca for the island.
  3. 1509, the first Spanish  settlers arrived in island led by Juan de Esquivel. He founded a town, Sevilla La Nueva (new Seville) on the north coast of the island near St. Ann’s Bay. A small group of Africans slaves accompanied these settlers and basically started the African bloodline.
  4. In 1530, Jews of Portuguese-Spanish ancestry first landed on the island.
  5. In 1534, the Spanish settlers moved to a new  site they named Santiago de la Vega. The island was administered from this town  and was later renamed by the British to Spanish Town. The  indigenous Awarak population was decimated over this period due to disease, enslavement and attacks from invaders. Map of Jamaica in 1528
  6. 1605, Jamaica plundered by Sir A. Shirley
  7. May 10, 1655, Jamaica it was captured by the British during an expedition led by Admirals Penn and General Venables. The Spanish retreated inland.
  8. 1655, More Jewish settlers arrrived in Jamaica from places like Amsterdam. All Jewish settlers had to be naturalized as British citizens and as such they were entitled to own property.
    English Invasion of Jamaica May 1655.

    Adopted from Wikimedia Common

  9. 1655, The British started shipping Irish labourers from Barbados and Ireland to get the island up and running under British rule.

    Exploring Origins of Irish in Jamaica


  10. 1656, Oliver Cromwell abolishes 1200 Scottish prisoners of war to Jamaica. Spaniards flee the island to Cuba leaving their slaves who later become the Maroons.
  11. Sept, 1657, Settlers arrive from Nevis and Barbados.
  12. 1661, Island divided into 12 parishes.
  13. 1662, 200 settles arrive from the Windward islands
  14. Aug, 1662, Several extensive grants of land. Liguanea, Kingston divided between  Col. Archbould, Major Hope and Sir W. Beeston.
  15. 1664 the British joined forces with the Buccaneers against Spain and Port Royal became a buccaneer(pirate) base.
  16. 1665, beginning of the the First Maroon War, lasted until 1740.
  17. 1675, Census taken 7768 Whites and 9508 Negroes
  18. 1678, Sir Henry Morgan died in Spanish Town.
  19. 1688, First Insurrection among slaves
  20. On June 7,  1692, an earthquake struck Port Royal and toppled it into the sea.Image of changes to Port Royal lanscape after earthquake in 1692
  21. 1700, Jamaica has many sugar plantations and Jamaica’s population was comprised of 7,000 English to 40,000 slaves.
  22. 1703, Fire destroys Port Royal.
  23. September 8, 1712 Hurricane hit Jamaica and kill 400 people and destroyed many homes.
  24. 1722, Port Royal  was devastated by a 16-18 foot storm surge.
  25. 1733, Nanny of the Maroons dies.
  26. 1734, Coffee introduced to the island from St. Domingo by Sir Lawes.
  27. 1739, British-Maroon Treaty
  28. 1742,Dozens of Coromantees in St. Ann’s Parish conspire to revolt.
  29. 1745,Hundreds of Africans plan a revolt in St. David’s.    1760,Tacky’s Rebellion.
  30. 1778, 108 Immigrants arrive on the island
  31. 1765,Coromantees in St. Mary’s rebel.
  32. 1766,Westmoreland slaves revolt.
  33. 1768, Census taken – 17000 Whites, 167,000 Negroes.
  34. 1776,Africans and Creoles in Hanover Parish plan a large rebellion.
  35. October 3, 1780, Hurricane struck the west end of the island.
  36. 1783, first Baptist missionary arrives, a freed black slave from the USA and an ordained minister.
  37. 1791,Many rebellions in the year following the Haitian revolt.
  38. 1795,Jamaica’s Second Maroon War which ended in 1796 between the Maroons of Trelawny Parish, Jamaica and the British.
  39. 1800, Slaves outnumber their master’s by 2:1.
  40. 1806, Several slaves in St. George’s Parish caught planning a rebellion. Slave Trade abolished by the British. Kingston made a city.
  41. 1808,Mutiny of the Second West Indian Regiment.
  42. 1815, Under Ibos, hundreds of slaves rebel. Port Royal destroyed by fire July 13.
  43. 1822-1824,Unrest in Hanover is widespread, and hundreds rebel.
  44. 1831, Rebellion lead by Sam Sharpe
  45. 1834, Slavery Abolished. Apprenticeship begins.
  46. 1836, Compensation for Slaves.
  47. Sept 1839, Completed Emancipation begins
  48. May 1845, first East Indians arrive as in Old Harbour Bay as indentured workers.
  49. 1849, the Jamaica Baptist Union was founded.
  50. 1865- Morant Bay rebellion, staged by freed slaves in response to acute hardship. Rebellion led by national heroes Paul Bogle and William Gordon. Oct 23, Gordon executed.
  51. 1866, the Jamaican legislature renounced its powers, and the country became a crown colony.
  52. 1869, Dis-endowment of the established Church – New system of judiciary introduced.
  53. 1870 – Banana plantations set up as the sugar cane industry declines in the face of competition from European beet sugar.
  54.  1872, the capital was moved to Kingston.
  55. April 1, 1878, Civil registration of births and deaths began.
  56. 1880, recording of marriages began.
  57. 1884 – New constitution marks the initial revival of local autonomy.
  58. 1921, arrival of indentured East Indians ceased.
  59. 1938, sugar and dock workers around the island rose in revolt. People’s National Party formed.
  60. 1944, First election held under under universal adult suffrage.
  61.  August 6, 1962, Jamaica gained independence .