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How many parishes were in Jamaica in 1844?

How many parishes were in Jamaica in 1844Click To Enlarge

Answered by Aneisha Dobson, Associate Writer

In 1844, Jamaica had 22 parishes, but how was that?
Follow me for a quick explanation.

Looking at the current map of Jamaica, you will recognize that the island is divided into 14 divisions. We refer to these divisions as parishes.

And may I add that all of these, every single one, in some shape or form, capture the history, culture, and beauty of Jamaica.

But each of them possesses individual characteristics that make it unique. For instance, St. Ann has been hailed for its numerous waterfalls and lavish vegetation, while Montego Bay is known for its many sandy beaches and exciting nightlife.

So essentially, someone can visit Jamaica multiple times, in different parishes, and experience something new and different.

So currently (2018), there are 14 parishes in Jamaica:

  1. St. James
  2. Hanover
  3. Trelawny
  4. Westmoreland
  5. St. Elizabeth
  6. Manchester
  7. St. Ann
  8. St. Mary
  9. St. Thomas
  10. St. Andrew
  11. Kingston
  12. Clarendon
  13. St. Catherine
  14. Portland

These parishes, as we now know them, were established on April 23, 1867. But, what about prior to that point in time?

For example, how many parishes were in Jamaica in 1844? Was it always fourteen?

No, not at all. Jamaica didnโ€™t always have 14 parishes. In fact, back then the number of parishes almost doubled the amount we have now!

You'd never guess, right?

Well, to fully answer the title question, we need to take a step back (actually more like 3 centuries back) into the 17th century.

After garnering control from the Spanish in 1655, the British patterned the English form of local administration by dividing Jamaica into seven (7) parishes.

The parishes were formed mainly in the mid to south-eastern region of the island.

These seven parishes were:

  1. Clarendon
  2. St. John
  3. St. Andrew
  4. St. Catherine
  5. Port Royal
  6. St. David
  7. St. Thomas in the east (This is St. Thomas that we know now.)

However, this structure did not last very long. An additional 8 parishes were added to the set.

  1. St. Dorothy
  2. St. Thomas in the Vale
  3. Vere
  4. St. George
  5. St. Mary
  6. St. Ann
  7. St. James
  8. St. Elizabeth

So by now, Jamaica would have had 15 parishes, right?
Good! I realize you are still with me :-)

As years went by, seven more parishes were created from the lands of the other existing parishes.

Between the years 1693-1702, the parish of Kingston was created with land separated from St. Andrew. The same occurred in 1703-1722 when Westmoreland separated from St. Elizabeth.

In 1722 the parish of Portland was created from St. George and St. Thomas in the East, in honor of The Duke of Portland when he became Governor.

In addition, during this time Hanover was created with land separated from Westmoreland.

The parish of Trelawny was created in memory of Edward Trelawny, the Governor between 1738 and 1752. Trelawny was created with land separated from St. James.

The parish of Manchester was created from the land of the parishes St Elizabeth, Clarendon, and Vere. The parish was named after the Duke of Manchester, who governed Jamaica between 1808 and 1811.

Lastly, before Sir Charles Metcalfe, a Governor of Jamaica, left office in 1842, the Metcalfe parish was created from St. George and St Mary.

And that was it! No more parishes were created after this time.

Therefore, if you followed me with the math, you would calculate that we had 22 parishes by 1844.

You may be wondering where all these parishes disappeared to. Well, eight of these parishes were absorbed/merged into the parishes that now exist.

  • The parish of Port Royal was divided between the parishes of Kingston and Saint Andrew
  • St. George was divided between St. Mary and Portland
  • St. David was melded into St. Thomas
  • Metcalfe is now part of St. Mary
  • The parish of St. Dorothy is now part of St. Catherine
  • Vere is now part of Clarendon
  • St. John was absorbed into St. Catherine &
  • St. Thomas in the Vale has been combined into the parish of St. Catherine

A mouthful of history isn't it? I welcome your comments below.

Be sure to read more on the 14 parishes in Jamaica here. Remember to also subscribe to get even more interesting facts and stories from and about Jamaica.

See also: Why is Jamaica divided into parishes?.


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Comments for How many parishes were in Jamaica in 1844?

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Jun 14, 2021
My Beautiful Jamaica.
by: Wayne D'bar

Thanks so much I always loved and is fascinated by history globally. However I didn't have a clue that our beautiful Jamaica land we love had so much that I wasn't aware of. I'm so excited words cannot express how joyful I am this morning.Wow 22 parishes at one time is just amazing.I truly appreciate this and I hope my fellow Jamdownians will come to realize that we still have at our disposal a "GOLDMINE" of beauty and we must protect everything about it. One Love. ๐Ÿ’˜

Sep 24, 2018
Parishes in Jamaica
by: Seneta

This was very interesting and informative...thank you
Keep up the good work

Sep 24, 2018
How many parishes were in Jamaica in 1844?
by: Sonia

Hello Wellesley

You are correct, I didn't know that bit of history of Jamaica.
Thank you for this very informative and interesting piece of writing.

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