Jamaica National Heritage Trust -  Pedro Bank - Jamaica

Jamaica's History


The Pre-Columbian era represents the period during which the island was inhabited by the Tainos. Traditionally, Tainos were called Arawaks. Analysis of prehistoric languages and cultures has revealed that the Tainos and the Arawaks were two different groups and that it was the former group that resided in Jamaica.

From the view given by the Spaniards it would appear that the Tainos lived a primitive life but recent studies have shown that their lifestyle was organised politically, economically and socially. Politically, the Tainos had an elaborate and well defined form of Government with a Chief or Cacique as the head who was supported by a group of nobles. In addition, islands were divided into districts and in some instances regional chiefdoms...read more


The arrival of the Spaniards in 1494 marked the beginning of drastic changes in the lifestyle of the Tainos as they were forced into servitude. On Columbus' fourth voyage to the New World in 1503, he sought refuge near a Taino village called Maima in Jamaica. This was due to his ships being in a state of disrepair. He remained on the island for a year before returning to Spain. In 1508, Colombus' son Diego was appointed Governor of the Indies. Diego later appointed Juan de Esquivel, Governor of Jamaica....read more


It was not until 1655, however, that the Spanish were driven from the island by Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables. The Spanish were forced to flee the island but not before freeing the slaves who took to the hills where they remained a constant thorn in the side of the English. In an effort to settle the island Cromwell issued his famous proclamation, which granted land to British citizens who were willing to settle on the island. In 1656 approximately 1,600 immigrants arrived and settled around Port Morant. Although the Spaniards were driven out they never gave up hope of recapturing the island of Jamaica and in 1658 another Spanish force landed but was defeated at the decisive battle at Rio Nuevo....read more


Like the rest of the world, Jamaica in 1929 began experiencing a depression in its economic growth. This resulted in a continuous decline in social conditions. By 1938, the workers in an effort to improve their situation went on strike and related upheavals ended with the death of a few workers. The 1938 labour riots was another turning point in the history of the people of Jamaica....read more


Ever since the capture of Jamaica by the English from the Spanish in 1655, the need for fortification became immediate because of the...



The Morant Bay Courthouse, which was destroyed by fire on Monday, February 19, 2007, is an important part of St. Thomas's history.



Built in 1885 of masonry and timber, the Simms building exhibits a combination of Gothic and Georgian features; the projecting...