St James is a parish in the the north-western section of Jamaica. It is located in the county of Middlesex,bordered by Trelawny to the east, St. Elizabeth to the south and Hanover and Westmoreland to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the north.
Land Area: 591.2 sq km (228.2 sq mi)
Capital Town: Montego Bay
St James was one of the second group of parishes formed in Jamaica and is said to have been named by Sir Thomas Modyford in about 1655, for the Duke of York (who later became James II and was the reigning monarch at the time). It was, however, much larger at the time as it included what are now the separate parishes of Trelawny and Hanover.
Remains of Jamaica’s original inhabitants, the Taino, have been located along the coastal area of St. James. These “early natives” are now affectionately referred to as the “Fairfield people”, in honour of a site near to Montego Bay where characteristic examples of their pottery have been found.
One of the main roadways used by the early settlers (from Oristan in Westmoreland to an area around the Martha Brae River), also passes through this parish and many legends have been handed down about supposed treasure left behind by the Spaniards.
After the English conquest of the island, St. James remained somewhat sparsely settled as the interior was inhabited by the Maroons (of whom the settlers were terrified) and the parish was some distance from Spanish Town – the then seat of Government.
Additionally, the parish capital of Montego Bay was witness to the final act of slave uprising in the island prior to emancipation. Known as the Christmas Rebellion of 1831-32, it began at Kensington Estate and engulfed the entire western section of Jamaica. Led by Baptist preacher and leader Samuel Sharpe this rebellion provoked two detailed Parliamentary Inquiries, which arguably contributed to the 1833 Abolition of Slavery across the British Empire.
Main Towns in St James:
- Montego Bay