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Why were free villages created in Jamaica? And Where Are They Located?

It's an important, but often forgotten, topic in our history, that's the purpose and background around the free villages in Jamaica.

Well we just 'freed up' that issue. Here below is the question, follow by our response.

Why were free villages created in Jamaica? And how did the missionaries help with the setting up of these free villages?

ANSWER: Contributed

After the abolition of slavery in 1838, the plantation owners made a vow not to sell any land to the newly freed slaves in a bid to force them to remain on their former owners’ properties as agricultural workers.

The passing of the Ejectment and Trespass Act further reinforced this, as it stated that persons could be ejected at a week’s notice from the homes that they lived in as slaves, with the police allowed to capture and imprison any person found in their former home after receipt of a notice of ejectment.

This forced the freed former slaves to work for whatever wages the plantation owners chose to pay (regardless of how minimal) and perform whatever work they were given (no matter how much it was), if they wanted to remain at their former residence at whatever rent cost the owner dictated (regardless of how steep).

In a bid to circumvent these restrictions and provide a chance at decent living arrangements, missionaries from the Baptist, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist denominations raised funds in Great Britain to buy land (through land
agents in London) that were then sub-divided into lots that were either rented or sold (with title) at a reasonable cost to members of their congregations.

These Free Villages were founded around a church, with the missionaries also forming schools in the settlements.

The first registered Free Village was founded on the 10th of July, 1835 in Sligoville, St Catherine, by Reverend James Phillippo (the Baptist Minister at Spanish Town).

The settlement was named after Jamaica’s Governor at the time: Howe Browne (2nd Marquess of Sligo), with the first plot of land being purchased by Henry Lunan, a former headman at the Hampstead Estate.

The second registered Free Village was Sturge Town (also called Sturgeville) in Brown’s Town, St Ann, which was actually the first settlement started.

This village was named after the English abolitionist, Joseph Sturge, who founded the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society and supported pacifism, working class rights and the universal emancipation of slaves.

More Free Villages were formed island-wide, under the leadership of ministers such as: Reverend William Knibb and Reverend James Phillipo.

These are listed below by parish:

  1. Free Villages In St Thomas

    Airy Mount (Mount Airy),
    Bachelor’s Hall,
    Bath Castle,
    Leith Hall,
    Pigeon Hill,
    Spring Mount,
    Stony Gut
    and Unity Valley.

  2. Free Villages In Portland

    Belle Castle,
    Cedar Valley
    and Happy Grove

  3. St Andrew


  4. Free Villages In St Catherine

    Clarkson Town,
    Kitson Town,
    Sturge Town,
    and Victoria Town

  5. Free Villages In St Mary

  6. Free Villages In St Ann

    Happy Valley,
    Pleasant Valley,
    Salem, Brown’s Town,
    Sturge Town,
    and Wilberforce.

  7. Free Villages In Trelawny
    Albert Town,
    Clark’s Town,
    New Cargen,
    Stewart Town
    and Time & Patience.

  8. Free Villages In St James

    Irwin Hill,
    Mount Carey,
    Salters Hill,
    and Sudbury.

  9. Free Villages In Hanover

    Mount Horeb
    and Sandy Bay

  10. Free Villages In Westmoreland

    Bethel Town,
    and St Leonard’s Gurney

  11. Free Villages In St Elizabeth

    Ballard’s Valley,
    Cairn Curran,
    Commer Pen,
    and Springfield.

  12. Free Villages In Manchester

    Maidstone (Nazreth),
    Vale Lionel (renamed Porus)
    and Walderston.

  13. Free Villages In Clarendon

    Farm Colonel’s Ridge,
    Halse Hall,
    Howell’s Content,
    Mitchell’s Town,
    Nairne Castle
    and Rhyme’s Bury.

Over the years, some of the original villages have disappeared, while others have evolved into residential communities, or contributed to the informal establishment and growth of new communities.

Whatever has become of these however, it is an undeniable fact that Free Villages In Jamaica forms an important part of our history and heritage.

Be sure to read more on in our articles on the history of Jamaica and the important events in Jamaica's history.

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