Home ° 2017


Caribbean Ports: ° Anguilla ° Antigua and Barbuda ° Antilles ° Aruba ° Bahamas ° Barbados ° Cuba ° Dominica ° Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo) ° Grenadines ° Guadeloupe ° Haiti ° Jamaica ° Martinique ° Netherlands/Antilles ° Puerto Rico ° Saint Kitts ° St. Lucia ° St. Martin ° St. Thomas ° St. Vincent and the Grenadines ° Tortola ° Trinidad and Tobago ° Turks and Caicos


Like so many tropical islands around the world, Jamaica's dramatic landscape is breathtaking, as are its forests, poinsettia trees and waterfalls flowing into warm turquoise water. Jamaica is the third largest Island in the Caribbean behind Cuba and Hispaniola, and it is the largest English-speaking island. It is approximately 4243 square miles in size and approximately 51 miles wide by 146 miles long. Kingston is home to the seventh largest natural harbour in the world. The port area is a hive of activity and all too frequently the source of hair-raising reports alleging intrigue, corruption and smuggling.

Map of Jamaica.

Jamaica was a prime for the development of shipping trade: It has the seventh largest natural harbor in the world.

By the time Columbus sailed into Jamaica on May 4, 1494, the mountains were heavily forested and inhabited by Arawak Indians. Spanish rule (1509-1655) began with his arrival, the peaceful Arawaks were eliminated. Early Spanish settlers established their hatos or cattle ranches at the foot of the Blue Mountains on the southern coast at Liguanea, the Yallahs Valley and around the Morant Bay area and brought large numbers of African slaves to the island.

A British force invaded the country in 1655 and began clearing the lower slopes of the Blue Mountains for farming, and the forests were harvested to meet the great demand in England for Jamaican hardwoods.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the slave trade was greatly expanded to accommodate the needs of the huge plantations.

July 30, 1818, New Times, London, Middlesex, United Kingdom



The Island of Jamaica. 1800s.
James Hakewill

The Island of Jamaica. 1800s. James Hakewill.

Arrived at this port a few days back, the Pirate vessels Decrubador brig, of 18 guns, 87 men, and La Conche schooner, of five guns and 50 men, captured on the coast of Africa by his Majesty's ship Cherub, G. W. Willis, Esq. Captain; the former having plundered a Portuguese brig the latter for plundering the English ships Diana and Nimble of London. Ln Concho, when captured, lost two men killed and several wounded Cherub none: the brig made no resistance, her crew being very sickly; the whole of the Officers dead (supposed murdered).

They had 570 slaves on board when taken. These vessels left Sierra Leone on the 1st May, in company with the Cherub, which has gone down the Coast in quest of another Pirate, called the Caraquina brig, of 16 guns, 75 men, for plundering the brig Eliza, Hill, of Liverpool. Previous to their departure from Sierra Leone, they report the arrival there of Governor M'Carthy, from a visit to our forts in the Gambia. The expedition to the interior was going on very slowly; they have no hopes of its ever succeeding. During the Cherub's stay at Cape Coast, she was visited by the Prince of Ashantee, then on a visit at the Castle, who was highly amused and gratified, it being the first he ever was on board of.

The Cherub's prizes, on their passage to this island, off St. Domingo, fell in with the Independent squadron, consisting of 25 sail (different descriptions), under Admirals Brian and Aury. They report them to be in no sort of order or discipline; indeed, they were informed that the reason why they did not attack the Spanish fleet, seen a few days before, was that they could not place any dependence on each other. The Independent cause is losing ground every day. Their famous General Bolivar is taken, and long ere this shot; the whole of his army are exterminated.

The vessels under the Venezuelan and Mexican flags appear to be very cautious in not interfering with any other flag but that of Spain, those of Buenos Ayres are not so particular; it is to be hoped his Majesty's ships will have orders to detain all vessels under that flag. You have heard, I suppose, of the capture of our Brazil packet, with a large quantity of specie on board, by two of them; one, we are informed, was for sinking the packet with all hands, that the affair might not be known; the Commander of the other, being more humane, overruled this, and was contented with robbing her of everything on board.

The abolition of slavery began in the 1830’s and was completely abolished by 1839. By 1840 indentured laborers were brought in from India to replace the newly freed slaves many of whom relocated to free settlements in central Jamaica.

Jamaica’s population grew from the African blacks brought in during the years of slave trading and from East Indian, Chinese and European merchants, who early established trade routes through the islands. This mixture has resulted in the Jamaican motto: "Out of many, one people."

Atlas, London, United Kingdom, March 28, 1857


The intelligence from this island is to the 27th alt. The general health was good. Mining industry was progressing favourably. Business was somewhat dull. Great complaints were being made with reference to the continued activity of the slave trade in Cuba, and the injury and wrong which the British colonies are thereby receiving.

The weather, which has been serene in Kingston and vicinity, has been truly dreadful in some parts of the island. In St. George the "coming down" of the various rivers caused places of worship to be closed for several weeks--neither pastors nor congregations being able to ford such formidable torrents. In the parochial town of Buff Bay, during that time, fresh beef was not tasted, and the stock of salt, sugar, butter, and other articles was exhausted, without the possibility of replenishing.

At Barbadoes the attention of commercial men was occupied with a project started by the "West Indian, North and South American Telegraph Company," to lay down a line of submarine telegraph, connecting the West Indies with the North and South American continents, the line then to be placed in connexion with the transatlantic line which is about to be laid down.

July 2, 1858, New York Daily Tribune, New York, New York

The British Government and the Slave Trade

London, June 18, 1858

In the sitting of the House of Lords on June 17, the question of the slave-trade was introduced by the Bishop of Oxford, who presented a petition against that trade from the Parish of St. Mary in Jamaica. The impression these debates are sure to produce upon every mind not strongly prejudiced is that of great moderation on the part of the present British Government, and its firm purpose of avoiding any pretext of quarrel with the United States. Lord Malmesbury dropped altogether the “right of visit,” as far as ships under the American flag are concerned, by the following declaration:

“The United States say that on no account, for no purpose, and upon no suspicion shall a ship carrying the American flag be boarded except by an American ship, unless at the risk of the officer boarding or detaining her. I have not admitted the international law as laid down by the American Minister for Foreign Affairs, until that statement had been approved and fortified by the law officers of the Crown. But having admitted that, I have put it as strong as possible to the American Government that if it is known that the American flag covers every iniquity, every pirate and slaver on earth will carry it and no other; that this must bring disgrace on that honored banner, and that instead of vindicating the honor of the country by an obstinate adherence to their present declaration the contrary result will follow; that the American flag will he prostituted to the worst of purposes. I shall continue to urge that it is necessary in these civilized times, with countless vessels navigating the ocean, that there should be a police on the ocean; that there should be, if not a right by international law, an agreement among nations how far they would go to verify the nationality of vessels, and ascertain their right to bear a particular flag. From the language I have used, from the conversations which I had with the American Minister resident in this country, and from the observations contained in a very able paper drawn up by Gen. Cass on this subject, I am not without strong hope that some arrangement of this kind may be made with the United States, which, with the orders given to the officers of both countries, may enable us to verify the flags of all countries, without running the risk of offense to the country to which a ship belongs.”

September 7, 1885, The Gleaner, Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica


The Alabama at Port Royal. 1863.

The Alabama at Port Royal, Jamaica. 1863.

The issue of this work for the current year has just reached us, and it is a most creditable production both as regards contents and appearance, and the fact that it was not published till the middle of the year has been taken advantage of to include the latest available information. In our next issue we hope to notice the work at greater length, and in particular one or two papers therein, which have a special interest for tropical planters. In the meanwhile we commend a perusal of it to anyone meditating a trip to the "Pearl of the Antilles," or intending to settle there. It will show Jamaica in its true light, and not in the mists of prejudice and ignorance, which have maligned not only the climate, which is not pestilential but salubrious, but the people, who ate progressive and proud of their land, and even the fair face of the island, which will compare for beauty and fertility, with the fairest spots on the earth's surface. That Jamaica is "awakening" may be shown in many ways; but the success which has attended the extension and improvement of the railway service since the railway service since Government bought the railway in 1878 will exemplify the progress of the colony, and, at the same time, the wisdom of the late Governor, Sir Anthony Musgrave. Instead of a dilapidated track, over which trains ran at irregular and spasmodic intervals nod with peril to the safety of the passengers, the railway service is now organised m a complete manner, and yields a very appreciable sum, after paying all expenses, to the revenue of the island. When the new agricultural enterprises, which are being gradually taken up in the island, are fully developed, the advantages of the them will become still more apparent. Among the special features of the hand book we may notice a careful history of Jamaica, a very excellent description of the island by Mr. Harrison, the present surveyor; a chapter on cinchona culture by Mr. D. Morris; a paper on meteorology, by Mr. Maxwell Hall; one on the thermal springs of the island, by Dr. Phillippo; a chapter on the relation of Jamaica to the Panama Canal, by Captain Markwell; and another on the shells of the island, by Mr. Teudryes, besides a large fund of information of local; and more than local, interest.

Planter's Gazette.

Ruins of the Fire at Kingston, Jamaica, 1883. Ruins of the Fire at Kingston, Jamaica
The Illustated London News, January 20, 1883

August 25, 1890, The Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica.


Now, if ever, is the flood-time in the history of Jamaica, which, if taken advantage of, will lead on to fortune. There are men shrewd enough to recognize this and with energy and prudence we see no reason why their ventures should not prove successful.

One of these men is Mr. Edward M. Earle who is well-known to our readers as a practical naturalist of great ability, and one whose sincere desire it is to develop the natural resources of the island. With no lack of common sense, or sound knowledge of the subject, Mr. Earle's efforts to introduce new industries have not met with the success they merited owing to the want of that capital and backing without which no enterprise, however promising, can achieve satisfactory results. In the hope of finding men more willing to embark on such undertakings than our local capitalists seem to be, Mr. Earle proceeds in a few days to the United States where he will endeavor to form a syndicate, or two or more companies, to work and develop certain industries in Jamaica . . .

The Colonies and India, June 18, 1892, London, United Kingdom

We ran through the Cay of Port Royal and through the ship channel leading up to Kingston, without a pilot, at full speed, and dropped anchor at 4 P.M. A few minutes later Sir Henry Blake and his staff were on board and gave us a cordial welcome. The large and important island of Jamaica is beginning to rally from a long period of depression. The exports from Jamaica have increased from 1,280,000Z. in 1886 to 1,903,0002. in 1890-91. While the export trade to the United Kingdom has remained nearly stationary, the development has been rapid in the trade with the United States, especially in fruit. In 1890-91 the exports of oranges and bananas exceeded half a million sterling in value. Jamaica is fortunate in the variety of its products, which include sugar, coffee, ginger, rum, and dye-wood.

The prosperity of the island is abundantly proved by the increase in the imports from 1,326,000 in 1886 to 2,189,0002. in the latest returns. Of the import trade of Jamaica 56 per cent, is with the United Kingdom... Having dealt with sugar, allusion may be made to new sources of wealth which are opening out. Coffee is an article of growing importance in the productions of Jamaica. In value it is in advance of sugar, and the quality produced is of high standard. The fruit trade with the United States has advanced by leaps and hounds. Sir Henry Blake has sanguine hopes that a large vegetable trade in early potatoes and tomatoes can be developed. There is no reason why the cacao should not be successfully cultivated.

Turning to the relations between this Colony and the Mother Country, it is gratifying to know that among the colored population the feeling is decidedly against secession to the United States. They do not like the inferior social position which the black people occupy in the great Republic. In religious matters in Jamaica it is interesting to notice the success of the Moravians. Every minister in this sect works with his own hands, thereby setting an example of industry, and imparting a dignity to labour. The ministers, who are sent out from Germany, must all be married men, the wives being selected, not by their future husbands but by the governing body of the sect. Thrift among the Moravians is universal. Their schools are admirable.

On March 5 we made an expedition by railway to Balaklava, a distance of 75 miles. The difficulties which the engineers of the line have surmounted may be appreciated from the fact that Balaklava, distant 75 miles from Kingston, stands at an elevation of 1,800 feet above the sea. We reached our destination in three hours and a half. On alighting from the train we were received by the leading people of the district, headed by the episcopal clergyman. The party then proceeded to the market-place, where several thousand people had assembled. They had come in from the surrounding districts, dressed in clothes which a stranger might have supposed were their "Sunday best," but which were the costumes of every day. The negress loves the gayest prints that can be supplied from the looms of Lancashire, and the mixture of colours was rich and harmonious. More delightful still it was to see the upturned faces of the crowd when singing "God save the Queen," or listening breathless to the Governor's address. Not a scowl or a sign of discontent was to be seen. It is impossible not to like these amiable and simple people. It should be the pride of England to retain the affection of the race she has emancipated from thraldom. If little of material advantage can be gained from the connection, there is a moral greatness in keeping people who need it under our protecting care. To the black race, leaders are essential. If you wish to see how low they will fall without the helping hand, go to the neighbouring island of Hayti.

The experiences of the constructors of the line to Balaklava exemplify the uniformity in the cost of labour all over the world. The pay of the navvy in Jamaica ranges from one to two shillings a day. To the labourer of the same class in the United States six shillings a day would be paid. And yet the cost of construction is approximately the same in the was observed, with equal generosity and wisdom, by the President of the railway, that it was highly desirable that by gradual steps wages in Jamaica should rise from the low standard of one shilling a day, which, though sufficient to provide the bare necessities of life in a genial climate, will certainly hot secure to the labourers decent dwellings or any of the benefits of the higher civilisation of the age in which we live. Sir Henry and Lady Blake have much at heart the establishment of a marine biological station at Jamaica. Nothing of the sort is at present in existence in tropical latitudes, and the constant current of the Gulf Stream will, it is believed, bring to the station at Jamaica a rich treasure of specimens of the marine life of the Atlantic in low latitudes. The project will, it is hoped, be liberally aided by the Imperial Government and by personal contributions. It has been warmly commended by Professor Huxley, Professor Ray Lankester, Professor Flower, and Lord Rosse. It has been warmly taken up in the United States.


Our cruise in the West Indies was brought to a conclusion with visits to the beautiful harbours of Port Antonio and Ocho Rios. We may now appropriately ask ourselves how far has England been successful in performing the duties which a wealthy and powerful country owes to dependencies in the state of advancement which we have found in the West Indies. Our first duty is that of giving protection from external foes. For this purpose the Imperial fleet is the most effective instrument. There have been intervals in the past when the public was imperfectly informed and too little concerned as to the state of the Navy. Those were days when the Government and Parliament were tempted to seek an ephemeral popularity by cutting down expenditure. Economy was carried far beyond the prevention of waste. The main elements of naval power were seriously curtailed. In recent years a firm resolve has been taken to preserve our naval supremacy, and to keep our dependencies secure under the guardianship of powerful fleets.

Come the three corners of the world in arms, And we shall shock them.
Nought shall make us rue,
If England to herself do rest but true.

December 21, 1895, Colonies and India,, London, United Kingdom


There is evidently an agitation springing up in Jamaica for a reduction of the Governor's salary. Two of the leading journals at Kingston recently drew attention to the matter, in a very marked way, in favour of the cutting down. Of course Sir Henry Blake's tenure of the office he now holds will soon be brought to an end, and, says the Post "in view, therefore, of the shortness of the period that must elapse before his successor is appointed, it is clear that there is no time to lose in seriously considering the amount of the salary which this colony is prepared (or rather is able) to pay to all future Governors. Jamaica pays a salary to its Governor which is proportionately much larger than any paid by any other British Colony. Although the revenue of Barbados is not so very much smaller than that of Jamaica, the Governor's salary there only amounts to half the sum which our Governor draws. And And British Guiana which is quite as important a Colony and a much less healthy one than this island pays the Chief of State 1,000 pounds per annum less than Jamaica does. When we go to other parts of the British Empire, the disparity to which we have alluded is even more pronounced. The important Colonies of Queensland, South Australia and New Zealand only allow 5,000 pounds a year to their Governor; and in at least one of these the subject of reducing the amount is being gravely considered. Why then should Jamaica continue to pay 6,000 pounds to Her Majesty's representative? The present opportunity, therefore, to effect some retrenchment, however small, should not be allowed to pass by unimproved."


The capital and largest city in Jamaica, lies on the southeastern coast of the island. Kingston is one of the leading ports of the West Indies, it exports sugar, rum, molasses, and bananas. Other industries include tourism, oil refining, shoe and clothing manufacturing, and food processing.

After nearby Port Royal was destroyed by an earthquake, Kingston was founded in 1692 and became the capital of Jamaica in 1872.

Port Royal destroyed by an earthquake 1800s.
When Jamaica is devastated by an earthquake
the Royal Navy brought in food and supplies

The Blue Mountains, near Kingston, rise dramatically more than 7200 feet from sea level. Some of the finest coffee in the world is grown on the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, making it one of the highest grown coffees in the world.

Coffee Mill. Jamaica.

The island's size, varied terrain, rich soil, high rainfall and good drainage allow for a diversity of growing conditions and as a result an incredible variety of crops are grown on the island. Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee has been famous for more than two centuries.

Coffee found its way to Jamaica in 1728 when Sir Nicholas Lawes, Governor of Jamaica, imported Arabica seedlings from the Island of Martinique. The new home was a natural and coffee production expanded. Government support and instruction in the art of cultivation allowed the industry to develop in reputation and quality.

September 12, 1894, Kingston Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica

Kingston Benefit Building Society

September 6, 1894


On Wednesday, 26th September 5., 1894 under Mortgage to the Trustees of this society the following properties --

  • No. 101 Duke Street
  • No. 40 Mark Lane
  • No. 36 Princess St. Mortgaged by Henry M. Thomas.
  • SPRING HILL, a Coffee Plantation in that portion in the parish of St George now called Portland containing 778 acres or thereabouts more or less, save and except thereout the several pieces of land comprising about 100 acres more or less mentioned in the schedule annexed to an indenture dated the 1st day of August, 1891 recorded in the record office of this island. Lib. N.S. 18 foilo 113 and together with the above name property, the following comprising the machinery, vis. Turbine Water Engine lead pipes, etc. Ceylon Coffee Pulper, Gordon's Breast Pulper, Separator Fanner, and Grinding Mill, mortgaged by the Rev. Joseph Seed Roberts, will be sold by Public Auction on Wednesday tbe 26th day of September, 1894 at 10:30 o'clock a m. at the Auction Store of Mr. Barnet Stiens, No. 8 Port Royal St., Kingston.

Spring hill is one of the best situated properties in the parish for the purchase of coffee.

By order of the Directors
J. M. POLSON, Secy.

The New York Times, October 9, 1898
New York, New York, USA

Troops and Police Ready to Suppress
Any Further Attempt at a Rising.


When the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish in the late 1600s, many of The Maroons, who were enslaved by the Spanish during the 1600s, retreated to the mountains throughout the mid-seventeenth century, unaware of the impact they would make on British and Jamaican history. The word "maroon" comes from the Spanish word "cimarrones," which meant "mountaineers."

With a vast knowledge of the uninhabited Jamaican mountain side, the Maroons were able to wage war against British planters and eventually contract a peace agreement with the British. Through the courage of fugitive slaves and the leadership of Cudjoe and his colleagues, the Maroons became a people whose history exemplified the driving force of freedom.

The Proceedings of the Governor and Assembly of Jamaica in regard to the Maroon Negroes.

On March 1, 1738, the articles of pacification with the Maroons of Trelawny Town signaled to Jamaica that a new era was emerging. The English planters had feared the rising power of the Maroons, and therefore tried to subdue them. This proved to be unsuccessful, consequently causing the English to realize that making peace with the Maroons was the only possible solution. This treaty was the first of its kind and it demonstrated that a group of rebellious ex-slaves had forced a powerful class of planters to come to terms. This was an unlikely event during the eighteenth century, given the dominance of the planter class across the Caribbean. Yet the fact remains that the treaty did not solely serve the planters interest. For example, article three of the treaty states that the Maroons were given 1500 acres of crown land, a necessity for the Maroons to maintain their independent way of life. In addition, it made a boundary between the Maroons and the planters, which was to avoid future conflicts.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, October 8

Quiet prevails among the Maroons, who have retired to their reservation, but the entire police force remains concentrated, and troops are ready to be moved at a moment's' notice. The authorities do not altogether trust the situation, although they took the bold and politic step of releasing the ringleaders on bail, subsequent to the rescue of five others, when the Maroons repulsed Police Inspector Maunsell's posse at Fyfe's Pen on Thursday.

The Maroons who are now making trouble belong to the Nannytown, or Eastern Reservation, and are not connected with those of the Accompong, or Western Reservation who in July threatened to break the treaty and blood-oath and precipitate most serious trouble. But, as in the event of further disorder the Maroons of the latter reservation may support those of Nannytown, measures have been taken to prevent any communication between the reservations.

There is little public excitement, owing to the absolute confidence felt in the Government's ability to cope with the situation.

Montego Bay

Once colonists broke from Great Britain and built their own ships from the fine forests along the Eastern Seaboard, Caribbean islands became an important part of sea trade routes. A newspaper article from 1774 indicates that rum and molasses were picked up at Montego Bay, Jamaica and sailed up to Newport, Rhode Island with a bill of lading indicating:

"Shipp'd by the Grace of God, in good Order, and well Condition'd by Sam. Vernon in and upon the good Ship called the Freetown, whereof is Master, under God, for this present Voyage, Edward Fare, and now riding in Anchor in the Harbour of Montego Bay, and by God's Grace bound for Rhode Island, to say, Twenty Puncheons of Rum, & fifteen cask of Molasses...to be delivered in the like good Order...at the...Port of Newport, Rhode Island, (the Danger of the Seas only excepted) unto Samuel & Willm. Vernon..."

To preserve our international legacy, UNESCO safeguards hundreds of natural and cultural World Heritage sites. Plan a vacation to these irreplaceable sites and learn how to contribute to conservation efforts through Expedia. By thoughtfully interacting with people and places, we can help protect our wondrous heritage for future travelers.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

Kindly Kindly Donate.


DALevy @


Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.