Jamaica – Historical Context

British Colony

Oliver Cromwell: British Lord Protector

Through the actions of Admiral William Penn in 1655, Cromwell succeeded in capturing the island of Jamaica from the Spanish as part of his religious and economically motivated ‘Western Design’.

Oliver Cromwell: British Lord Protector

  1. A typical buccaneer, illustration from Howard Pyle‘s Book of Pirates.
  2. Oliver Cromwell: British Lord Protector (1653-1658).
  3. Jamaican Maroons. Maroon negroes by H. H. Johnston, 1908-09 © Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).
  4. Sugar Industry Stamp, courtesy of Charlie Phillips Archives.

Sugar was King

Jamaica, being the largest of the British Caribbean island, was the Jewel in the Crown as they produced the most sugar.

From the 18th Century the British Industrial Revolution prospered through slavery.

Maroons The Spanish settlers escaped to Cuba with their valuables, freeing many of their slaves, who took to the hills. These were the earliest Maroons, who were mostly African born, or of mixed African and Taino blood. The Maroons spent years fighting to maintain their freedom, forcing the British to acknowledge them as a formidable enemy. They communicated their defiance and celebrations through traditional African drumming and use of the abeng.

Oliver Cromwell
Jamaican Maroons

Sugar Industry Stamp


Buccaneers and pirates reigned supreme throughout the Caribbean. Sir Thomas Modyford, appointed governor of Jamaica in 1664, organised the buccaneers into a fighting force to keep the island of Jamaica safe from the Spanish. He enlisted the captainship of Colonel Edward Morgan, uncle of the infamous Henry Morgan.