Europeans in Jamaica

Page 1 of 4

Europeans in Jamaica

By | September 2010
Page 1 of 4
When did they come?
Jamaica was first colonized by a native group of South American origin who, in the early history of Jamaica, called their home a paradise of wood and water. The Arawak were there to greet Christopher Columbus when he arrived in Jamaica in 1494, beginning a long period of European colonization there. The history of Jamaica as a European outpost saw the island under Spanish rule for 150 years, during which the city now known as Spanish Town was established and flourished as the colony's economic hub.

In the 1650s, Jamaica was captured by the British. Despite turning Jamaica into a profitable colony, continued harassment by a group of ex-slaves - brought over throughout the Spanish period and set free during their retreat - and their descendants dogged the British until they relented and granted emancipation to all remaining plantation laborers in 1838. The Maroons, as this small army was known, are still revered today as some of the most brave and noble figures in the history of Jamaica.

Why did they come?

On May 10, 1655, an English expedition, commanded by Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables, landed at the present-day coastal town of Passage Fort, in the southeastern parish of Saint Catherine. This expedition, which had failed to capture Hispaniola, proceeded to claim the island of Jamaica for England. At the time of the English conquest, the Spaniards were unable to effectively resist the invasion because only about 500 of them were armed with weapons. The English ordered the Spanish colonists to deliver all of their slaves and goods and leave the island. Some followed these orders, but a group led by Don Cristabal Arnaldo de Isasi remained and put up guerrilla resistance to the English. Isasi freed the slaves, many of whom retreated with the Spanish rebels into the hills. From there, the Spanish and the freed blacks who had joined them frequently raided and waged guerrilla warfare on English settlements. Isasi,...