Monday, November 25, 2013

Slaves Marooned in Port Royal

Port Royal Jamaica 1692
In 1657 Don Cristobal de Ysassi led two expeditions from Cuba in an attempt to take back Jamaica for Spain but he was defeated.  In 1662 Lord Windsor became the Governor of Jamaica and brought with him a Royal Proclamation declaring that all children born of English subjects in Jamaica were henceforth free citizens of England.  There were then 4,205 free persons in Jamaica at that time.  The English captured Santiago de Cuba in 1663 and sent an expedition from Jamaica to attack the Spanish town of Campeche in Central America.  But that same year there was a major rebellion among the natives and escaped slaves on the island and the English had to leave some forces in Jamaica to suppress it.  The escaped slaves were called maroons from the Spanish word cimarron, meaning ‘wild’ were descendants of the former slaves of the Spanish. 

In 1664 the Jamaican House of Assembly was called together in Spanish Town and passed 45 laws for the government of the colony.  Sir Thomas Modyford arrived from Barbados with a thousand settlers and became Governor. Modyford encouraged agriculture, especially the cultivation of cocoa and the sugar-cane. During this time a large number of slaves were brought from Africa to Jamaica to work in the fields.  Another slave rebellion took place and was suppressed. Some of the slaves were executed while others escaped to the mountains where they joined the Maroons in Port Royal.