Subscribe for all my updates and don't miss a thing! Sign me up!

Court Houses In Jamaica

Sharing Is Caring! Share this awesome content with your friends now.


New! See the real Jamaica in VIDEOS!
Click Here and see why over 140,000 fans are raving about my YouTube Channel!

Courthouses In Jamaica | Morant Bay CourthouseCourthouses In Jamaica | Morant Bay Courthouse

by Kesha Stewart | Associate Writer

If you are in the mood for a little bit of history, you are browsing at the right place. Jamaica boasts some of the most beautifully appointed historical buildings with a colonial background that is deeply ingrained in our culture.

New! How much do you love Jamaica?

Join our growing list of well-thinking Jamaica-loving folks who are demonstrating what a friendly, helpful and fun Jamaican community looks like. Click Here to learn more.

And, if you ever need a trustworthy and knowledgeable local guide, consider booking a private tour with us!

The Jamaica National Heritage Trust carefully preserves these edifices from our past. Not only that, many of these buildings have been in use up to now and offer a connection between the past and the present.

One type of these buildings is our court houses. While these are not the only sites preserved by the Trust, they are certainly some of the most regal and historic and whatโ€™s more they have a deep connection to our past for it is in some of these very buildings that some of the laws which dictated the course of our history were enforced. Here are some of our historic courthouses.

Black River Court House

Watch Video! LIVE From Blue Lagoon In Portland

You'll find the historic Black River Court House in the equally historic town of Black River, St. Elizabeth which was featured on our YouTube channel recently.

Unfortunately, the precise date of the courtโ€™s construction is not available. I do think though, that it is possible to make educated guesses as to the period in which the court was built.

From whichever angle you approach the building even if itโ€™s from the sea, it presents a striking if not imposing appearance. The attractive building is painted white.

Before the court being in Black River sessions were held at Lacovia - the former capital of the parish. An โ€œact dated December 6, 1788โ€, led to the court being transferred to Black River and sessions have been held there ever since.

Falmouth Court House

Court Houses In Jamaica | Falmouth Court HouseCourt Houses In Jamaica | Falmouth Court House

Of Georgian design, this courthouse was erected in 1815. Among the beautiful features of this building are its fanlights, shingled walls and jalousies. Despite being destroyed by fire in 1926, it was rebuilt.

The Old Court House - Montego Bay

Court Houses In Jamaica | The Old Court House (Now The Montego Bay Culture Centre)Court Houses In Jamaica | The Old Court House (Now The Montego Bay Culture Centre)

This is the Court House where the infamous trial of National Hero Sam Sharpe took place in 1832. Today it is known as the Montego Bay Cultural Centre and is the home of the National Art Gallery West, a museum space for the performing arts and a bistro.

Montego Bay and the wider parish of St. James in general, have a history in the heart of the city as this building was constructed in 1774. However, it was opened on October 6, 2006, as the Montego Bay Civic Centre. The rebranding took place in 2014.

This is the Court House where the infamous trial of National Hero Sam Sharpe took place in 1832. Today it is known as the Montego Bay Cultural Centre and is the home of the National Art Gallery West, a museum space for the performing arts and a bistro, Montego Bay and St. James in general have a history in the heart of the city as this building was constructed in 1774.

However, it was opened on October 6, 2006, as the Montego Bay Civic Centre. The rebranding took place in 2014.

Morant Bay Court House

The Morant Bay Courthouse is where Paul Bogle, one of our National Heroes, and some men of Stony Gut marched in protest over the oppressive economic and social conditions which prevailed on October 11, 1965.

Unfortunately, it escalated into a riot instead of a protest and the subsequent violent confrontation set the stage for the loss of life and property. The Custos and members of the militia were killed and the courthouse was burnt. Martial law was declared by the sitting governor, and Paul Bogle, who led the rebellion, was hanged on October 24, 1865, and his friend George William Gordon also a National Hero, was executed on October 23, 1865.

Monday, February 19, 2007, the courthouse was razed by fire leaving only the foundation and the statue of Paul Bogle which was installed on the grounds. The Courthouse was the venue for the St. Thomas Parish Council meetings and the sitting of the Circuit Court in St. Thomas

St. Andrew Parish Court

In 1807, The St. Andrew Parish Court was built with the approval of the Parish Vestry Committee. Among the members of the Vestry were Hon Joseph Gordon and his son George William Gordon. A storm came 2 years later and caused some damage but it was repaired in 1882.

The building was unscathed by the 1907 earthquake. Due to the wear and tear of time and use the court house has had some repairs since and is now being administered by the parishโ€™s Municipal Corporation.

Port Antonio Court House

In 1895, the Colonial Secretary gave the directive that established the Port Antonio Court House. The two-storey structure has an upper front and rear verandah. William MacFarlane and Company of Glasgow, Scotland did some of the detail on the structure. โ€œIt is fenced round by an ornate iron baluster and is supported by columns of cast iron work.โ€

One of the walls within the building displayed a plaque bearing the message to โ€œthe Governor from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated November 16, 1918, after World War I.โ€

Georgian architecture is displayed in St. Mary at the Port Maria Court House. Its original construction was in 1821. It now houses the police station until a fire damaged it in 1988. It was restored and renamed, The Port Maria Civic Centre in 2000.

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) together ensured that the building was restored to reflect its original Georgian style.

Savanna-la-mar Court House

The Savanna-la-mar Court House was built in 1925 at Norman Square on Great Georgeโ€™s Street. It is protected by the Norman Square Act, which protects the lands surrounding the courthouse. Only Mandeville has a similar provision for its public square which surrounds the courthouse there.
This Court House was built in 1817, again the Jamaica Georgian style was used and features โ€œtwo storeys, the top floor having columns, louvres and sash windows.โ€ Additionally, there is a double spiral staircase which transports you up from the lower storey onto a portico and the top storey.
One interesting thing I learned is that Limestone blocks were used to build the courthouse. So far the design of the structure has not been tampered with. The authorities created supporting offices on the premises.

A few interesting facts about the Mandeville Court House as supplied by the National Heritage Trust:

  • This courthouse is the oldest building in Mandeville Square, having been erected only two years after the town had been incorporated in 1815.

  • Slave labour was used in the construction of this bastion of justice.

  • The lower storey was used as the first schoolhouse during the early days of the town. In 1955, while on a tour of the southern parishes, Princess Margaret was officially welcomed to the parish of Manchester, at the courthouse.

The dent in the public purse for the Georgian building erected to house the Spanish Town Court House was โ‚ค15,700. It is built on grounds that used to be a cemetery but at other times have been a chapel and armoury.

Unfortunately, as the National Heritage Trust shared, the building was destroyed by fire on March 18, 1986. Even up to that time it was still in use. Indeed up until the fire, this structure that the architect Mr. James Delaney designed was multitasking as a court โ€“ Resident Magistrate, Circuit and Petty Sessions- as well as concerts and similar events on its upper levels

Court Houses were erected in the major towns of each parish across the island. Some structures housed a police station or vestries/parish council offices on the lower level of the building.

Some prominent Jamaicans were tried at these locations, namely two of our National Heroes, George William Gordon at the Morant Bay Court House and Sir Alexander Bustamante at the Port Maria Court House.

You might like these

Sharing IS Caring! Please help me get the message out by sharing this article with your friends on social media (links below). Thnx ;-)

If you found this page useful, please consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter, to get even more

It tells you each week about the new information that I have added, including new developments and great stories from lovers of Jamaica! 

Return to Jamaican Historical Sites from Court Houses In Jamaica
Return to My Island Jamaica Homepage from Court Houses In Jamaica

References & Sources For Court Houses In Jamaica

  1. 2022. Jamaica National Heritage Trust - Jamaica - Historic Court House. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2022].
  2. 2022. Court Locations | Ministry of Justice. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2022].
  3. 2022. The Parish Courts | Government of Jamaica | The Parish Court. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2022].

Court Houses In Jamaica | Written: September 09, 2022

Back To The Top Of This Page

New! Get My Latest Book๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿฟ


You asked, I've answered! You no longer need to save for months or years, to enjoy paradise!

JAMAICA On A Budget is your passport to experiencing what I call 'The Real Jamaica' on a budget!

I spilled the beans! sharing my top tips on finding cozy accommodations and secret gems, only the way a native could! Click Here to pick it up on my e-store and start saving now!

See The Best Of Jamaica - In Videos!


My channel reaches over 140,000 subscribers worldwide and has leveraged over 11 million views, sharing, what I call 'The Real Jamaica'. Subscribe today and join our family of viewers.


Read More ...

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

New! Experience The REAL Jamaica!
Book Your Private Tour here and experience Jamaica the way we (locals) do!

P.S. Didn't find what you were looking for? 
Still need help?

Click Here to try our dependable and effective Site Search tool. It works!

Or, simply click here and here, to browse my library of over 500 questions and answers! Chances are someone already asked (and got an answer to) your question.

Back To The Top Of This Page

Like My Site? Please Click Here To Share It With Your Friends

Home   |   JOIN US   |   Site Search   |   Have Your Say   |   Archives   |   Old Archives   |   Contact   |   Disclaimer   |   TIP ME!   |   Link To Us

Do like I did! Share your passion
(about your city, hobby or experience) and make a living from it. Click Here to see how

By Wellesley Gayle   |   Copyright ยฉ 2007-2024   |   All rights Reserved.   |   Privacy Policy