Journals of the Assembly of Jamaica: 1664-1826

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .J3A8J6
Category: Jamaica
Creator: Jamaica. Assembly
Description: 7 microfilm reels of textual records (14 volumes) ; 35 mm.

During the period of these records, Jamaica was Britain’s largest and wealthiest West Indian island built on sugar dependent on enslaved West Africans for labour. The franchise was limited to a small group of white elites made up of planters, merchants, and professionals who satisfied the property qualifications. The house of assembly first met in January 1664 to initiate legislation; the appointed council acted as the upper chamber and revised bills (it had the right to initiate its own bills until the 1770s), and the governor, representing the crown, accepted or rejected them. The governors, previous to 1783, usually took on a proactive role that required contentious management of the assembly through local allies and interest groups. A more cooperative legislative relationship developed thereafter.

 Legislation was initiated by individual members of the house on behalf of their constituents or by order of the house prompted by petitions or advice of committees. If a bill passed first and second reading by the house, it usually was debated and sent to a committee to be further considered and amended; after further agreement, it was engrossed, read a third time and sent up to council for discussion. Once council was satisfied, it was sent to the governor for assent, and at the end of each session, the acts were sent to the British secretary of state and then the Board of Trade to be reviewed. Thereafter the privy council was advised on whether to confirm, disallow or let it lie without any further action. The privy council increasingly exercised its powers judicially and mainly in the areas of trade, defence, slavery and the rights of individuals. The records reflect the growing political power of the assembly and an upsurge in demand from local interest groups.

            The Journals contain printed or published editions of the minutes of the Jamaica House of Assembly from its first meeting on January 20, 1664 to December 22, 1826. In Jamaica the members of the assembly set the legislature agenda. Bills mainly arose from petitions laid before the house by the advice of standing or ad hoc committees in the assembly or by members on behalf of their constituents on a wide range of matters. The types of documents found in the minutes include state, account, or description of various aspects of the island; instructions; bills; accounts; reports; messages; petitions; acts; complaints or grievances; letters; and returns. Major themes of legislation pertain to private legislation, local history, Black history, slavery, Indigenous people, women, defence, government administration, revenue and taxation, law and order, the military, society and social history, trade, immigration and settlement, religious groups, maritime matters, commerce, industry, the economy, infrastructure and transportation, agriculture and technology. Broader geographic areas are the British West Indies and Caribbean.

Drilling down into those major themes, much of the bills related to fiscal matters, such as, land, poll, deficiency, stamp, rum, and customs taxes, and bills regulating the militia and martial law, drawn up and helped through the house by a standing committee named the commissioners of public accounts who handled the financial policy in response to directions of the house. Other long-standing, recurring issues concerned the powers of the assembly, patents, the needs of the parish vestries and local government, and the reform of courts and the law in response to grievances from colonial planters and merchants. Legislation helped to regulate economic matters such as drainage, livestock, retailing, credit and currency, and weights and measure, or dealt with rivers, harbours and wharfs, or patterns of trade. Roads were a constant concern to planters. Social issues included labour relations, charitable donations, poor relief, immigration, schools, hospitals, and prisoners, as well as improvement of towns. Private matters included dissolution of marriage, complex estate settlements, manumission of individual "slaves," and the grant of limited civil privileges to "free persons of colour."

Arrangement: Records are organised chronologically by session met.

Reel 1, Volume 1, Jan. 20, 1664 – April 20, 1709 (470 pp.)

Topics taken from the index include the African Company; crime; wills and estates; complaints or grievances; appointments; land titles and sales; christening and freedom of “slaves”; named places and local matters; British government agents; morality; public and private debts; embargo; fees; ferry; fire and fire ships; French fleet and prisoners; security; settlement; Jews; militia; “negroes” – outlying Spanish "negroes," better governing of, and importation and exportation of; parishes; parties or military groups to suppress rebellious “negroes” and runaways; pirates; poor and workhouse; privateers; prisoners; breach of privilege of the House of Assembly by an individual; quit rents; rebellious “slaves”; roads; servants; Spanish trade; taxes; troops; and war.

Appendix Arrangement:

Commissions and Instructions to Governors: Richard Povcy, Edward D’Oyley, Lord Thomas Windsor, Sir Thomas Modyford, Sir Thomas Lynch, and Lord John Vaughan.

Statistical Papers:

  • Condition of Jamaica at Lord Windsor’s departure, 28 Oct. 1662 - (very brief).
  • Account of inhabitants on Jamaica as of Lord Windsor’s departure, with arms, and acres of land planted in their several precincts – table with totals for men, women, children, “negroes,” and arms for each specified area.
  • Establishment allowed for Jamaica beginning Dec. 1663 – table totalling amount of money per year for each of the following: governor, major, officers, and soldiers keeping ammunition secure in fort.
  • View of the condition of Jamaica, Oct. 1664.
  • Governor’s answers to inquiries of His Majesty’s commissioners, 1670 – subject matter includes nature and makeup of government; courts; legislative and executive powers of government; statues and laws in force; military forces; castles and forts; number of privateers; strength of neighbouring islands; arms and ammunition; commodities; salt petre; rivers and roads; numbers of planters, servants and slaves; immigrants; rates and duties; trade and shipping; government revenue generation; and government instruction in Christian religion.
  • List of trained bands taken June 1670 – regiments and total numbers of officers and soldiers for each company within.
  • List of ships under command of Admiral Morgan, 1670 – table with each ship’s name and commander, tonnage, guns, and ammunition; includes French vessels.
  • Summary of ships and vessels arrived in Port Royal harbour, 1668-Jan. 1670.
  • Survey of island, Sept. 1670 – table showing totals for acres patented, families, and persons for each parish.
  • Commodities produced.
  • Revenue of Jamaica and necessary disbursements for support of government, 1670.
  • Propositions to Privy Council concerning affairs of Jamaica from Governor Modyford.
  • Present state of Jamaica under Governor Thomas Lynch, 1671.
  • Account of the number of Christian men, women, children, and “negro slaves” in several parishes, March 1673.
  • Observations on the present state of Jamaica, 1675.
  • Account of government by Lord Vaughan, read 1679.
  • State of Jamaica under Sir Thomas Lynch, 1683.
  • Account of “negroes” and cattle in Jamaica, 1734-1740, 1745 – for each parish.
  • Account of the number of “negroes” in Jamaica in 1762, with proportion raised by each parish for expedition against Havannah [Havana], Cuba – total numbers for each parish.
  • Governor Lyttelton’s answers to heads of inquiry relative to the state of Jamaica transmitted 1764 – subjects include trade, shipping, seamen and illegal trade; manufactures; produce; mines; number of inhabitants and growth (Black and white persons); militia; neighbouring islands; government revenue and where it comes from; constitution of government, and courts; and the civil and military establishment in government.
Index Arrangement: Table of Assemblies. Shows when the assemblies met. Accounts and Papers. Examples include – state of the receiver-general’s accounts; account of the ordnance; ammunition, etc. in the fortifications at Port-Royal; scheme for improvement and good management of the Scotch colony at Caledonia and report of the committee of grievances thereon; account of the losses sustained in the late war; account of the officers ordered out to this island at His Majesty’s charge; articles exhibited against Colonel George Ivy for high crimes and misdemeanors; account of the servants, “slaves,” cattle, and sheep in the island; petitions of certain merchants for remission of duties on goods which perished in the fire at Port-Royal; and letter from Admiral Whetstone relating to French prisoners. Addresses (to His/Her Majesties and to the governor). Elections. Includes a table naming the member replaced and returned for each parish. Forts, Fortifications, and Public buildings. Governor. Organised by governor chronologically. Public Money, General Matters. Public Money, Grants, – forts and fortifications (sums granted for erecting and finishing fortifications at Port-Morant); troops (sums granted to Lieutenant-Colonel Handasyde for having lain so long at his own expence; for supplying the troops under the command of Admiral Graydon with fresh provisions; to make good the fund for an additional subsistence for officers and soldiers, and to Lieutenant Mayheux for subsistence to his company for 6 weeks); Sundry services (examples of services paid for by government include sums paid to Mr. Scambler for his sermon, the party employed in the northside against the rebellious “negroes,” and Doctor Le Guard for attending the French prisoners at the northside). Miscellaneous - alphabetical subject index. Reel 1, Volume 2, March 1, 1710 - Feb. 19, 1731 (766 pp.) Topics found in the index include: Admiralty Court and the condemnation of the sloop Kensington; named towns and local issues; disposition of wills and estates under individual names, sometimes for women and children; public and private debts; fixing the value of currency; deficiency – provisioning troops, relieving widows and orphans, and assessing taxes; land escheats; foreign trade – encouraging Spanish trade, trade to Hispaniola [island today includes Haiti and Dominican Republic], fraud and abuse prevention; free people – complaint of insult by, rendering more useful, respecting white servants; free schools; grievances – by merchants, and by others about prizes, militia, Lord Archibald Hamilton, courts, impressment, late president perverting justice, and conduct of the provost martial; island security – general security, and suppressing rebellious and runaway “slaves,” and encouraging settlement; island sloops; state of the island; martial law; papists; parties (military groups); piracy and prize goods; prisoners of war; quit rents; revenue; roads; “slaves” – inveigling of, and rebellious; South Sea Company; tradesmen – Black apprentices; troops – provisioning, mustering, irregularities or complaints, and allowances; white people – encouragement to settle; and trade – regulation, state of, reports of, and petitions against certain imports. Index section arrangement: Table of the Sessions, p. 1. Shows when the sessions began and ended and the names of respective governors. Accounts and Papers, p. 2. Examples include – accounts of receipts and dispositions of public monies (ordered and presented); list of officers and soldiers under pay in the island (message to governor for, and presented); books of entries, bonds and accounts relating to duty on prizes for which bonds have been given ( ordered and presented): account of all seizures for breach of the acts of navigation (ordered and referred to committee); list of white persons come in or brought over on the encouragement of the act for the purpose (ordered); list of justices of the peace now in commission or have been for 10 years past within their several parishes or precincts (ordered); account of sloops and other vessels trading about the island since 19 Feb. 1719 to 29 Sept. 1720 (presented and to lie on the table); journals and accounts of 2 sloops in the country’s service (message to the governor for); state of the revenue in 1700 and for 4 years before and in the year 1720 (ordered, presented and entered); journals of Captain Barnet, late commander of the island sloop (sent per message and to lie on the table); estimate of the annual revenue, according to a medium of several branches computed in 7 years (sent per message); account of public money due from several parishes and from particular persons (message to council for and presented); list of persons to whom money was paid or due for repairing or building of His Majesty’s houses at St. Jago de la Vega (presented); lists of several inhabitants of different parishes and of their respective number of “slaves” (ordered); proceedings of a court martial on the captain commandant of the late windward party or any officers under his command (ordered). Addresses, p. 3. Includes addresses to the Queen (Anne), the King (George I), governor, and president. Examples of topics include – duties on prize goods, African Company’s obtaining exclusive trade to Guinea coast, peace, state of the island, revenue laws, vessel of war needed, liberty to send produce to foreign parts on payment of duties, defence and security against rebellious “slaves,” island security and need to hire sloops for coastal defence, providing for troops, redress of public grievances, hospital for seamen at Kingston, low state of trade, increase of pirates and suppression of them, defence of Port Royal, fortification improvements and regulation of militia, barracks for independent military companies, agreement with Mosquito Indians, encouragement of settlement, building of jail, Spanish depredation and restitution, payment to owners of sloop Cocoa-Nut, suspension or removals from public office, “negro” travel or trade without tickets, windward lands to be surveyed and surveyors to be protected, use of Mosquito Indians to help suppress rebellious “slaves,” public funds, and building of soldiers barracks. Elections, p. 8. Table shows name of member returned and for whom he replaced, and the respective parish. Forts, Fortifications, and Public Buildings. Governor, p. 11. Public Money – General Matters. Public Money – Grants, p. 15. Sub-divided under the following headings (with example of each): 1. forts and fortifications (under three columns shows description of work, proceedings, and sums granted; example - carrying on fortification at Port Antonio, resolution, page 696, £3000); 2. troops (shows nature of the service, proceedings, and sums granted; example – Independent Company house rent, petition, referred to committee, page 33, and resolution, page 38, £200); and 3. sundry services (shows nature of the service, proceedings and sums granted; examples of services – Spaniard bringing English prisoners, surgeon for curing two persons in the country’s service, disabled seaman, reception of white people, commander of the parties (military groups) for losses, late attorney general due him, cure of wounded seamen, Captain Barnet and company for taking pirate Rackam, transporting Mosquito Indians to island, duty on exportation of 200 “negroes” lost in late hurricane, “negro” executed, money lent to men by officers of parties, surveyors’ services, Ralph Rippon for losses by rebellious “negroes,” purchasing provisions for poor, and Captain Bridge of His Majesty’s ship Spence and his lieutenants for services). Miscellaneous (subject index), p. 20. Reel 2, Volume 3, May 4, 1730 – July 13, 1745 (707 pp.) Topics found in the alphabetical subject (miscellaneous) index include: accounts (works of committees); adultery; names of men and women requesting bill to entitle family members to the privileges of English subjects born of white parents; names of towns relating to various local matters; charitable donations; credit and debts; deficiency (bill to oblige inhabitants to provide themselves with a white person or pay certain sums in case they should be deficient); foreign produce; free people (making Black persons, Indians and Mulattoes more serviceable); grievances (complaints by citizens); named persons requesting to be able to dispossess land or vest estates; hawking and peddling; Indian settlements and trade (Mosquito); Island settlement and encouragement; named male petitioning for marriage dissolution; manumissions (purchasing freedom); maroons (articles of agreement with Captain Quao, their taking up runaway “slaves,” disturbances at Trelawny Town, better regulation of, raising companies of in Black towns and encouraging them to reduce rebellious and runaway slaves); martial law and establishing it for a certain time; mulattoes and freedom; “negro huts” and remedying inconvenience of them about the three towns; parties or military groups (rebellious “negroes,” conduct of, raiding parties, raising of, non-compliance of parishes, petition of commander, provisions for persons maimed, measures for prevention of desertion of “slaves,” allowance to “slaves” in parties, provisions for sick and wounded, detained Black persons contrary to law); prisoners of war (Spanish); named persons requesting bill to establish last will of deceased; rum (retail of, duties on it and other spirits); “slaves” (raising of in His Majesty’s service, prevention of purchasing horses, overview of laws regarding, more effectual punishments for crimes); rebellious “slaves” (better means of suppressing and reducing rebellious and runaway Black people, state of affairs, town barracks to stop access to gunpowder, those jailed, deserted settlements due to, use of Indians for reduction of, treaty with, and further regulations, runaways and the law, small pox; tradesmen and prohibiting employment as; and those vested in the Crown - using them in the barracks and cutting roads); tickets (preventing abuses by carrying off soldiers, white persons or “slaves” belonging to inhabitants without tickets, and for better regulating servants; trade (state of, and with Hispaniola); troops; vagrants; and white people (encouragement to settle). Index Section - Arrangement is the same for all volumes except vol. 1; examples of content in the public money subsection are noted below. Public Money - Contains subheadings of forts and fortifications, roads, troops, and sundry services. Examples under forts section include petitions relating to these services: troops quartered at Port Antonio, regimental chaplain’s allowance, and Independent company’s house rental. Examples of sundry services and money requested for these relate to the military, such as these - Capt. Thomas Peters for expences of a voluntary group, bounty money, Black man for his services, Capt. Lee’s widow for support of herself and children, surgeon for medicines, wounded men allowances; as well as, compensation for losses sustained by rebellious “negroes”; medicines supplied to Spanish prisoners of war; and gratuities to four Black “slaves.” Reel 2, Volume 4, March 18, 1746 – Dec. 22, 1756 (722 pp.) Examples of topics found in the subject (miscellaneous) index include assaying (determining the value of gold and silver); requests from named persons (for “usual privileges” of white inhabitants, patents – machine for grinding sugar canes, ability to sell estates or land, and property relief as for Paradise in St. George); cattle (foreign); currency; debts (parishes - state of accounts, and deficiencies); deficiencies (obligation of inhabitants to provide themselves with white persons or pay sums if deficient); flags of truce (Capt. Sennott imported French sugars in); foreign produce (importing French and Spanish sugars during war); free mulattoes (opposition to granting certain privileges to); gaming (prevention of gaming and suppression of lotteries); horses (encouraging good breed and large size); Island (state of, and distresses due to additional duty on sugars); Jews (rights and privileges); justices of the peace (qualifications); law suits (high cost as one reason for decrease in numbers of white inhabitants); maroons (lands – settlement at Scot’s Hall [Scott’s Hall], laws for better order and government of in “negro-towns”, parties or military groups – raising companies in “negro-towns,” and encouraging them to reduce rebellious and runaway “slaves”); militia (state of, encouragement of “slaves” deserting enemy, and better regulation of); newcomers (permission to sell land, complaints patents not made out, request to exchange land); pilots (laws respecting, and Black pilots taking charge of vessels); poor (relief and better regulation of); roads; rum (duty on wines, rum and other spirits); named towns pertaining to local matters; “slaves” (request to be employed on men-of-war, mutilation - enforcement of laws against masters mutilating their “slaves” and punishments on persons killing them, punishment, rebellion - rewarding certain “slaves” for conduct in rebellion raised in Port Royal, those condemned for late conspiracy, payment to those whose “slaves” were killed or transported in rebellion in windward parts, further punishments on runaway “slaves” and those that entertain them, and hiring out “slaves” by owners); toll on “slaves” (better for securing title of slaves under tolls made in parishes); troops; water (rendering springs and rivers more beneficial to inhabitants); and white people (encouragement to introduce into the island). Index Section - Arrangement is the same for all volumes except vol. 1; examples of content in the addresses subsection are noted below. Addresses, p. 3. In relation to addresses to the King, most of the topics cover the following, “distress of the island arising from the additional duty on sugar, the duty on molasses spirits, the paucity of white inhabitants, and the danger they are exposed to for want of a sufficient force to defend their country.” There is also concern about the intercourse and commerce between the French of Hispaniola and Rhode Island, and the obstruction to trade by the Spanish. Addresses to the governor concern predominately the promoting of trade to Havana [Cuba], poor state of economy due to decrease price of island commodities and new charge on sugar, relationship of prosperity to increase in white inhabitants, fort completion, weak state of fortifications, improvements made at several “negro towns,” and preparations for war with France. Addresses to the lieutenant governor deal with divisions in the country, illegal acts by a magistrate in St. Elizabeth, and suspension of Philip Pinnock as chief justice. Reel 3, Volume 5, Sept. 27, 1757 – Sept. 12, 1766 (663 pp.) Topics in the miscellaneous or subject index include absentees and how lands will be forfeited and regranted; articles of war and establishing and declaring rules for; devises to “negroes” (practice of devising large properties to mulattoes and “negroes” and to prevent inconveniences arising therefrom); dogs (restraining the numbers in towns and taxing); individual requests to take up water for turning mills for grinding sugar canes, such as the Hope River for Hope Plantation; individual requests for land; grievances or complaints (abuses of the act for the better order and government of “slaves” - with list of “slaves” taken up and advertised, for being detained in jail, against deputy marshal of St. David’s for abusing duty of office, and about soldiers quartered on Mr. Orgill’s and Mr. Bayly’s plantations in Parish of St. George); Indians (bringing them away from Mosquito Shore and selling them as slaves); island and division of; named towns concerning local matters, such as at Kingston pertaining to riots, streets, taxes, lamps, and markets; mahogany (duty on it imported from foreign colonies, and encouragement to cutters and dealers); manumission requests for specific individuals – Sarah, Jemmy, Jack, Jack Pearson, Cato, and York and Cuffee; maroons (petition of Mr. Hardyman re. settlement on his land in St. James, directions for planting a piece of ground for those settled on Mr. Hardyman’s land, ascertaining boundaries of Trelawny Town and Accompong’s Town, disturbance amongst, bill for better order and government of in several “negro-towns,” and encouragement to “free negroes” and mulattoes to take up runaway “slaves”); martial law (report to board of trade relative to martial law being proclaimed, and prevention of indebted persons departing island in time of martial law); enquiry into state of and better regulating of markets and price of meats, turtle and fish; “negro-huts” and remedying the inconveniences arising from number of them built in and about three towns; parties or military groups (inspections of laws relative to fitting out parties, scheme offered by William Hynes for raising voluntary party to suppress rebellion in leeward parishes, drafting a party out of the regiments of certain parishes, and inquiry into conduct of voluntary party that destroyed party of rebels in Parish of Clarendon); poll tax and taxes (raising tax by poll, and on trade, supercargoes, masters of vessels, and on certain wheel carriages); poor (bill for relief and better regulation of poor, and to oblige masters of ships to indemnify several parishes against expences of supporting disabled seamen); provost marshal (laws for regulating office, and bill for remedying and preventing frauds and abuses in office); roads; secretary of the commander in chief (petition respecting his trouble in signing certificates of freedom); James Short petition to enable him to carry into execution his new invented hydraulic machine; “slaves” (further and better governing and regulating, prevent concealment of, to be raised for expedition, amend acts against persons inveigling them, remedy evils arising from irregular assemblies of, abuses relative to those unclaimed, and relative to rebellion). Index Section - Arrangement is the same for all volumes except vol. 1; examples of content in the addresses and public money subsections are noted below. Addresses, p. 3. Examples include addresses to the King pertaining to requesting military companies on African coast and on Mosquito Shore to join their regiments in Jamaica and also to get another regiment; commerce carried on by some within French colonies requires a remedy; need for supplies of brass field pieces and mortars; misconduct of William Lyttelton and removal of; request for increase of forces; grievance concerning ill-management of provost martial office; damages by subjects whose “negroes” sent to Havana [Cuba]; hardships of inhabitants due to high duties on importation to Great Britain; oppression sustained by people by persons in patent office; and conduct of William Lyttleton. Addresses to the Lieutenant Governor and governor include prosecuting Thomas Ivy for election perjury; supplies for subsistence of troops and support for reinforcement of troops; scarcity of currency; prisoners of war and insufficient funds for; establishment of cartel; examination of laws relating to militia and attention to motions of foreign enemy; request that certain vessels and cargo condemned on flour act in court of vice admiralty to be delivered to receiver general; provisioning of troops; completing barracks; and defence. Public Money, Grants, p. 11. Subheadings include forts, fortifications etc., roads, troops, and sundry services. Under heading of troops, regiments named include 49th, 74th, 36th, and 43rd. Shows money requested and granted for subsistence, lodging, removing family from Mosquito Shore, wainage and boatage, damage of arms, maintenance of “negroes,” baggage taken by enemy, contingencies and hospital charges, and necessaries supplied the sick solders at Port Royal hospital. Examples under heading sundry services include petitions for money for families settled under act to encourage white persons, for running lines and boundaries of land appointed for maroons, losses sustained during rebellion, signing certificates of freedom, compensation to Mr. Stark for 4 “slaves” carried away by French privateer, Anthony Rodriguez commander of vessel taken from him by crew, and loss of 9 “negroes”; as well as, compensation to James Smith for land included in Accompong’s Town, expences incurred by exchange of prisoners of war, maroons of Trelawny and Accompong Towns for their services in rebellion, pay for freedom of 3 “negro” men for their services to public, for value of “slave” shot in engagement with rebels, pay of windward town “negroes” whilst employed in parties (military groups) during late rebellion, return of His Majesty’s vessel Amistadt and cargo condemned in Admiralty Court, Wolmer’s free school rent for 3 years, purchase of previously freed “negro” named Cato, and accounts and petitions presented and referred to committee on state of the island pertaining to provisions and necessaries supplied for public service during rebellion. Reel 3, Volume 6, Nov. 18, 1766 – Dec. 21, 1776 (700 pp.) Subject matter taken from the miscellaneous index (p. 11) includes taxes (bachelors and meat); establishing and running ferries; individual requests (change in family surname, disposition of estates, “usual privileges” of white inhabitants, purchasing spring and land for chalybeate water re. spa, to carry into execution new inventions - grinding sugar canes, pulping and cleaning coffee, sawing boards, and method for preparing vegetable soap); enabling justices, etc., of certain parishes to raise money for providing churches and burial grounds; coffee (granting premiums to persons producing certain specified samples of coffee, and smuggling of); regulating “slaves” in wills; dowers (regulating in what manner dower of widows shall be assigned); under fishing boats (regulating fishing, registering the boats and canoes, and to appoint convenient times and places for trials of slaves); inquiry into the number of free “negroes,” mulattoes and Indians; free schools (inquiry into the effect of acts establishing them); jails (enabling justices and vestry of remote parishes to raise money for, regulating allowance given to prisoners and the granting of additional allowance to the jail inspector for support of “negroes” in); John Henderson (petition for a right to land on part of “negro town” of Charles Town, and another request to enable to make proper accommodations for a bathing place at the Salt Pond Hill in St. Catherine; Indians (conduct of Joseph Davies, master of a schooner at Kingston, in carrying them off from Sambla country, and recovering and extending trade with Indian settlements in America); island and state of; Jamaica spa (surveyor to lay out land for); John Lindsay (petition or request respecting his collection of drawings of animals, birds, fishes, insects and plants of the island; lunatics and idiots (prevent marriage of them); manumissions relating to York and Cuffee, Will, and Attea; maroons (lines of land granted them in Trelawny Town, better order and government of them in “negro-towns,” and petition of Col. Gray and other maroons of Charles Town respecting an exchange of their settlement in that town for a tract of land on Spanish River); individual requests to enable to take up water for turning mills for grinding sugar canes out of named rivers, or requesting a mill; provisions (distress which threatens people from want of); rangers (raising and subsisting certain rangers or companies of free mulatto or “negro” men in the parishes); roads and highways; “slaves” (additional duty on all imported, prevention of and names of those deserting or running off, prevention of being harboured, punishment for stealing or killing horses or other cattle and to prevent them possessing any, prevention of enticing them from possessors, refraining the manumission of and regulating manumissions, obligation of owners to make provision for them, those not claimed, order and government - ascertaining punishment of those killing them, instruction of “slaves” in the principles of Christianity, and more effectual punishment of crimes committed by them); taxes such as the transient tax; troops (number of effective men in two regiments, additional allowances to troops, providing houses for officers, allowance for lodging, petition of Major Coates of 66th Regiment respecting weekly pay bills with letters from commanding officers of the 36th and 66th regiments, allowances to widows and children of officers and soldiers who shall die, memorial of the captain commanding the 1st battalion, 60th Regiment relative to dearness of provisions; and workhouses (establishment of for reception of runaway “negroes” and other disorderly persons). Index Section - Arrangement is the same for all volumes except vol. 1; examples of content below. Table of Sessions, p. 1. Accounts and Papers, p. 1. Examples include accounts relative to the commissary for Scott’s Hall, maroon town, and fitting out parties; state of Fort George at Port Antonio; List of judgements obtained in the court of common pleas for Kingston, from 1766 to Sept. 1767 and expences relative thereto; account of monies granted and expended for Chesterfield Plantation road; state of fortification fund; account of free school in Spanish Town; account of money paid on account of quit rents; account of names and brand marks of “slaves” vested in the crown; account of expenditure of money granted for use of poor at Bath; accounts and estimates respecting revenue and expenditure for 1772-73; plans of fortifications examined by assistant engineer; account of monies paid on account of jail fees, and on account of support of “negroes” vested in His Majesty; return of maroons for year 1773; account of expenditure of monies granted 1771 and 1772 for repairing certain forts; account of monies arisen by virtue of act for relief of transient poor; accounts and papers relative to the public hospital at Kingston; and annual accounts from Jan. 1702 respecting importation and exportation of “slaves,” and duties arising from them. Addresses, p. 3. In addresses to the King, topics include planters on the north side feeling in danger due to “slaves” getting off the island and taking refuge in Cuba; protection for the north side of island; weak and defenceless state of island and further military force protection needed; difference between Great Britain and colonies; and great want of guns, mortars and all kinds of military store. Addresses to the governor relate to provisions for troops; repairing fortifications; smuggling coffee and every other illicit foreign produce; suppressing insurrection of “slaves” in the Parish of Hanover; famine; regulating and improving militia; works and repairs at Fort Charles and Rock Fort; debased coin and consequences of its having been too successfully introduced, and great injury of credit and trade of island; and removal of some companies of soldiers stationed in Spanish Town to other needed areas. Elections, p. 5. Forts, Fortifications, and Public Buildings, p. 6. Includes barracks, forts, jails, King’s house, admiral’s and governor’s pen, arms and gunpowder, and public hospital. Governor, p. 8. Public Money, General Matters, p. 10. Public Money, Grants - forts and fortifications, roads, troops, and sundry services, p. 10. Under troops section, regiments of foot include 43rd, 49th, 74th, 66th, 36th, 50th and 60th. Under this section, the nature of services for which sums are requested and granted for the 66th Regiment of Foot includes petitions for lodging money, chaplain’s allowance for his children, officers’ wives and children, provisions lost in coming from Kingston to Port Maria, passage money, and accounts for maintenance and clothing of “negroes.” Examples of the reasons for requests of money under the section sundry services include attending white prisoners in Kingston jail for five years and medicines; Dr. Anthony Robinson for his invention and discovery of the method of preparing vegetable soap; loss during confinement; overseer of Bath “negroes” for increase of slaves; superintendent of Trelawny Town on behalf of “negroes” for preparing a certain piece of land; coroner for St. Catherine for inquisitions on “negroes”; deputy marshal for St. Catherine and Kingston for jail fees etc. of the king’s “negroes” for three years; commissioners of Bath for purchase of female “slaves”; superintendent general of maroon towns; Edward Woollery for a piece of plate for his improvements on mills for grinding sugar canes; surgeon of Bath for support of poor that frequent it; running division lines and boundaries in St. James; attending sick in St. Jago de la Vega jail for five years; attending sick “negroes” of Trelawny; John Reeder - to assist him in carrying on his iron foundry; purchase of land for botanic/botanical garden (established to foster diversification of agriculture on the island); Wickes Skurray for his expence in new invention for grinding sugar canes; attending sick white prisoners in St. Jago de la Vega jail; surveying maroon lands of Charles Town and Scott’s Hall; coffee premiums for three best samples; Wolmer’s free school as a donation to the corporation; expence of maintaining two Samblas Indians; Hanover parish for disbursements on intended insurrection of “slaves; and sundries supplied militia on march to and from Bath. Reel 4, Volume 7, Oct. 21, 1777 – Dec. 23, 1783 (663 pp.) Under "new settlers" in the index, is found the subject of the bill to exempt from taxes for a limited period His Majesty's North American subjects as from motives of loyalty relinquished their possessions to live on this island, and the process through to its assent (1782). In the address to the lieutenant governor (1782) is mention that the loyalists from Georgia recently arrived will receive every "favour and encouragement." Reel 4, Volume 8, Oct. 19, 1784 – March 5, 1791 (663 pp.) American loyalists are found in the index under the term "new settlers," with the following subjects: report from the committee on the state of the island concerning land in St. Elizabeth Parish allotted for American loyalists (1784); petition of loyalists concerning same thing referred to committee, several examinations reported, and resolutions on same; bill to repeal act exempting from taxes certain loyalists ordered, presented, and rejected. See also under section called Public Money - Sundry Services where amounts are shown for petitions from Kingston for payment for expenses in care of poor loyalists - 1786, 1787, 1788. Under "America, North" the subject of trade restrictions is found, as well as under Lord Penrhyn, to whom the committee of correspondence is to write to gather advice and support for the British agent for Jamaica regarding soliciting intercourse of trade with America (1784). Black history is covered under different index headings - "slaves," slave trade, Maroons (message to the governor concerning the boundary lines of Accompong Town and of Trelawney Town; and bill for better order and government of Maroons in several "negro" towns), manumission, petitions, gaols (jails) allowance and request for increase due to expense of maintaining black prisoners, and committee of correspondence who are to write to the British agent for Jamaica on many issues including ships going to the South Seas to bring bread fruit for sugar colonies, and on the slave bill which passed the House due to measures concerning the slave trade. Reel 5 Volume 9, Oct. 25, 1791 – August 4, 1797 (657 pp.) Volume 10, Oct. 31, 1797 – June 23, 1802 (677 pp.) Reel 6 Volume 11, Oct. 19, 1802 – Nov. 28, 1807 (647 pp.) Volume 12, Oct. 25, 1808 – Dec. 22, 1815 (834 pp.) Reel 7 Volume 13, Oct. 29, 1816 – Dec. 15, 1822 (691) Volume 14, Oct. 1, 1822 – Dec. 22, 1826 (761 pp.)
Archival Ref. No.:
Finding Aids:
            Indexes on microfilm available for each volume, excepting volumes 13-14, 29 Oct. 1816-22 Dec. 1826. Indexes are arranged under the following categories: table of the sessions, accounts and papers, addresses, elections, forts and public buildings, governor, public money – general matters and grants, and miscellaneous (subject index).

Electronic  -

1. Detailed content for two periods available – 1782 February 26-June 12; 1795 November 27-December 18.

2. Subject indexes for volumes 7 to 12. See Electronic Finding Aid section for both finding aids.
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Detailed Contents - Vol. 7, 1782 Feb. 26-June 12.pdf
Index, Vol. 7, Oct. 21, 1777-Dec. 23, 1782; Reel 4.pdf
Index, Vol. 8, Oct. 19, 1784-March 5, 1791; Reel 4.pdf
Index, Vol. 9, Oct. 25, 1791-Aug. 4, 1797; Reel-5.pdf
Index, Vol. 10, Oct. 31, 1797-June 23, 1802; Reel-5.pdf
Index, Vol. 11, Oct. 19, 1802-Nov. 28, 1807; Reel-6.pdf
Index, Vol. 12, Oct. 25, 1808-Dec. 22, 1815; Reel-6.pdf
Detailed Contents - Vol. 9, 1795 Nov. 27-Dec. 18.pdf

Related external material:

Online: Jamaica, and C. Ribton Curran. The Statutes And Laws of the Island of Jamaica. Rev. ed. / [Kingston, Jamaica?]: Government Printing Establishment, 1889. Volumes 1-12 are available through HathiTrust and the breakdown for the first few volumes are: volume 1 (1681-1836), volume 2 (1837-1847), and volume 3 (1847-1856).

Journals were printed by Alexander Aikman, Jamaica, 1811-1829 in 14 volumes. The National Archives (TNA) in England holds the minutes in print (TNA CO 140).

Microfilm published by Scholarly Resources, Inc. and microfilmed by the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

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