Jamaica’s Disappearing Colonial Heritage

Jamaica's Colonial Heritage
The Barque Woodmansterne calling for a Pilot upon her arrival at Port Royal, Jamaica, at the end of her Maiden Voyage in 1829. From an Oil Painting by John Lynn, 1829. Private Collection.

Here’s a post written by Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins from Jamaica Colonial Heritage Society on Jamaica’s disappearing colonial heritage:

I am showcasing three rare and historic 19th century maritime paintings of British warships and merchant sailing ships at Port Royal, Jamaica. They range in date from 1810 to 1829. All three of these important 19th century maritime paintings of Jamaica were in a private collection in Bermuda and they were just recently sold at auction by Bonham’s in London last month.

It is a great pity that some person or institution with the necessary funds couldn’t have been found in time to purchase these paintings for donation to either the Institute of Jamaica or the National Gallery of Jamaica.

So many wonderful 18th and 19th century paintings of Jamaica come up for sale every year at auction houses in Britain, Europe and the United States, yet sadly very few of these paintings ever make it back to museums or private collections in Jamaica.

Jamaica’s magnificent 18th and 19th century colonial heritage is vanishing right before our eyes and very few of us are doing anything about it. Please don’t let it disappear completely.

Do something to help save and preserve Jamaica’s colonial heritage today. Buy an 18th or 19th Century painting of Jamaica and donate it to the Institute of Jamaica or the National Gallery of Jamaica. You will be doing a great service for all future generations of Jamaicans.

Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins

H.M.S. Pickle off Port Royal, Jamaica. Fort Charles and the Old Naval Hospital at Port Royal can clearly be seen in the background to the left. From an Oil Painting by William John Huggins, 1841. Private Collection.
H.M.S. Pickle off Port Royal, Jamaica. Fort Charles and the Old Naval Hospital at Port Royal can clearly be seen in the background to the left. From an Oil Painting by William John Huggins, 1841. Private Collection.

All photos courtesy of Jamaica Colonial Heritage Society. See their facebook group for more info.

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  1. June 20, 2016 at 10:31 am — Reply

    These three books and pamphlet link all of the Archambeau-Thomas family books from one Jamaican family. 1. Untrodden Jamaica 1890, 2, Something about Obeah 1891-Pamphlet, The story of a West Indian Policeman-47 years in the Jamaica Constabulary 1927, and A Struggle to Walk with Dignity-The True story of a Jamaican-born Canadian 2008-by the grandson of the late Jamaican Police Inspector Herbert Theodore Thomas. The total family story is preserved & Archived also available on the Digital Library of the Caribbean-University of Florida, and in The University of York-Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections Toronto On Canada. Dundurn. com is the publisher of the last family book, by Author Gerald A. Archambeau, preserving his family history.

  2. August 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm — Reply

    This is the latest update; on my Jamaican grandfather’s contribution to his country Jamaica. Herbert Theodore Thomas 1856 to 1930, he wanted nothing more than to put Jamaica on the map through Education, Law & Order and respect with humanity for all it’s people regardless of ones race or ethnic origins. It is now revealed that as a 3rd generation white Jamaican, he married twice in his life. First to his Jamaican Jewish wife Gertrude Thomas (nee) Nunes, then to my black Jamaican grandmother Leonora Thomas, which was kept quiet for decades. She gave him four daughters who became some of the best educated black women in Jamaica. See all the facts; in the “Digital Library of the Caribbean”University of Florida, by entering his full name in the box above. Also all my family history and books can be found at York U. Carla Thomas Archives & Special Collections Toronto On. Canada. Look for the “Archambeau-Thomas famaly Fonds” Inventory #F0612. Free downloads available on Genealogy & Books. Sadly nothing remembered in Jamaica, and his grave site has been vandalized at, St. Ann’s Catholic church in Kingston.

  3. June 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    For the benefit of your readers; all of my grandfather’s History & Genealogy of his contribution to his country Jamaica, I am very pleased to say is now Archived & Preserved at York University Toronto On. Canada in The Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections- Scott Library. Also in the The University of Florida- Digital Library of the Caribbean: Just enter his full name “Jamaican Police Inspector Herbert Theodore Thomas” and you can also down load his books on Jamaica. With my thanks to all who helped. Gerald A. Archambeau- author.

  4. August 23, 2014 at 9:51 am — Reply


  5. July 13, 2014 at 10:32 am — Reply

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  6. June 24, 2014 at 6:08 am — Reply

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  9. February 16, 2013 at 10:28 pm — Reply

    It is sad to say that Marcus Garvey in his time had some good ideas to escape the racism that was mainly in the U.S.A. However if you read the truth about his history you will see that his own black partners stole the funds which would have made his back to Africa project successful. The black American today have been the most successful in the world, with out there own country like Africa to day. Forget the past, and move forward.

  10. September 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm — Reply

    To see all the facts on Jamaican Police Inspector
    Herbert Theodore Thomas, a mam who loved his country through his contribution of 47 years of service: Google-User Pages (Info on Jamaican Police Inspector Herbert T. Thomas) now revealed to the public for the first time. Gerald, his grandson.

  11. April 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm — Reply

    According to John Stuart Mill,philosopher and ” abolitionist”, Jamaica, in its “glory days” of the 18th century, can only be regarded, not as a country, but as a place where England finds it convenient to carry on the production of sugar,coffee and other tropical commodities.” (1783).This philosophy/attitude/policy was carried through the 19th century and most of the 20th century affecting all colonies in the Caribbean.It was not until independence in 1962 that Jamaica became a “country” and there is still doubt in some quarters, even AFTER 350 years of total subjugation of the people we now call Jamaicans. As Marcus Garvey once said,” it is far better to govern or mis-govern yourself than to be governed by any one else.” And why was this so, ad- infinitum, it seems. Bryan Edwards,the foremost historian of the West Indies colonies and English planter in Jamaica at the time-(end of the 18th century),celebrated the success of slavery as the bedrock of imperial wealth and power when he wrote: “His majesty’s dominions in the West Indies are become the principal source of national opulence and maritime power”—end of quote.Those were the “glory days” of which many who yearn for the colonial days, speak.No doubt they wanted it to continue forever. SEE for a different interpretation of our history and where we are now 50 years after becoming a “country”.

  12. March 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm — Reply

    It is amazing how much of Jamaica’s Colonial History has been erased, and forgotten by Jamaican
    historians. It is as if Jamaica never had a Colonial past, regardless of the benefits that Jamaica did inherit from the British. Such as Street Lights, Education, Public Transport, Banking, Hospitals and training in all aspects of a modern society, which Jamaica can be proud of today. When compared to other countries in the world. Curry-goat politics, Patois and Obeah will not help Jamaica to move forward. As an example Singapore has done very well for it’s citizens after the British left. Preserving Jamaica’s true and total history will only help the people of Jamaica to apply their energy to build a better future for themselves. Rather than to moan about the past. Gerald.

  13. March 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm — Reply

    It is good to see a website like this one, preserving Jamaica’s past Colonial History. As the author of “A Struggle to Walk with Dignity-The TRUE story of a Jamaican-born Canadian” I had to reveal the facts about my family life, that was of a mixed race background. My grandfather was a white Jamaican Police Inspector,Naturalist,Lecturer,Explorer & the
    author of three books:”Untrodden Jamaica”1890, “Something about Obeah”1891 & “The story of a West Indian Policeman”1927.His name is;Herbert Theodore Thomas 1856 to 1930, and he served Jamaica & the British Empire for 47 years. In my research I found that his contribution has been erased, until I got help from UK Genealogist Alan Greveson & Madeleine E.Mitchell in the US. All is now revealed if you Google User Pages & his full name, and scroll down to;Links to Jamaican Genealogy. My
    thanks, Gerald.

  14. […] H.M.S. Pickle off Port Royal, Jamaica (above) – Fort Charles and the Old Naval Hospital at Port Royal can clearly be seen in the background to the left. From an Oil Painting by William John Huggins, 1841 […]

  15. November 7, 2010 at 10:40 am — Reply

    Sad to hear and very desperate. However, I must let you know that The Jamaican Georgian Society here in the UK of which I am a member do a wonderful job raising funds to preserve those beautiful crumbling 18th century buildings which are disappearing fast and highlight those desperately in need of funds.

    They are, afterall, a part of our history.

    Jenny Mein

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