Jamaica's Timeline

A historical timeline of Jamaican events

This timeline of Jamaica's history is filled with a number of events, both big and small. Each item is itself a link to an article where you can read more about the event.

While most articles' events are grouped together, some articles have overlapping chronologies. If there is a particular time period you're interested in reading more about, you may find yourself reading several in-depth articles.

Year (A.D.)
First Arawak Arrival
Second Arawak Arrival
Columbus departs on second voyage
1494 Columbus arrives in Jamaica
1502 Columbus' fourth voyage departs
1503 Columbus lands at St. Ann's again
1504 Columbus leaves Jamaica
1506 Columbus dies
1508 Diego Columbus is appointed Governor of the Indies
1510 First town founded on Jamaica (Sevilla la Nueva, New Seville)
Motion to move Jamaican colonists to Cuba
1520 A plague kills many Arawaks
1524 New Seville abandoned
Moved to Villa de la Vega/St. Jago de la Vega, now Spanish Town
1555 Chased away French ships
1580 Portuguese and Spanish monarchs marry, many Portuguese Jews immigrate
1581 Brother Francisco Marques de Villalobos became the first abbot on Jamaica
1597 Sir Anthony Shirley landed and sacked Spanish Town
Fernando Megarejo becomes Governor
1598 Governor Megarejo proposes a reservation for the Arawaks, it is rejected
1624 Britain begins colonizing the Caribbean
1640 Spanish crown took control of the colony
1643 Captain William Jackson plunders Spanish Town
1644 Jamaicans send word to Spain about frequency of attacks
1653 Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England, plans Western Design
1654 Admiral Penn attacks Santo Domingo on Hispaniola
1655 English capture Jamaica at Kingston Harbour, Arawaks have been wiped out
1656 Governor of Nevis Luke Stokes moves to Jamaica with colonists to Port Morant
1658 Cromwell dies, Charles II ascends to English throne
Spanish forces attempt to reclaim Jamaica
1660 Spanish combatants flee to Cuba
1661 D'Oyley becomes first civil governor of Jamaica
1662 D'Oyley leaves Jamaica, unhappy with the government policies
Lord Windsor leads for 10 days
1663 Offer made to Maroons of land and freedom in exchange for surrender
1664 Sir Thomas Modyford appointed Governor of Jamaica
Began sugar cultivation
Jamaica ceded to England officially in the Treaty of Madrid
1677 Charles II puts Jamaica under Poyning's Law
1678 The Earl of Carlisle arrives to put in place the new law
1690 Slaves in Clarendon rebel and join the Maroons
Cudjoe begins to organize First Maroon War
1694 Buccaneer du Casse from French Hispaniola attacks the island
War of the Spanish Succession causes heightened defenses in the Caribbean
1713 Peace treaty between Britain and Spain signed
1717 King's Pardon offered to pirates who surrendered within a set time
First printing press in Kingston
1718 War between Britain and Spain broke out
1720 Calico Jack caught off the north coast of Jamaica
1721 Treaty of Madrid ends war between Britain and Spain
1722 Hurricane destroys much of Jamaica, including Kingston Harbour
1728 Planter Lawes introduces coffee at Temple Hall estate
1729 Revenue Act passed by the Assembly, ensuring Jamaican self-government
1734 Captain Stoddart attacks Maroons at Nanny Town in the Blue Mountains successfully
1738 Colonel Guthrie offers Cudjoe of the Maroons peace terms
1739 Colonel Guthrie and Cudjoe agreed to peace, giving Maroons freedom
War of Jenkins' Ear between British and Spanish
1741 Quao of the Maroons makes peace with British
British attack Cartagena, Colombia
1744 France joined Spain in the war
Hurricane and earthquake hit Jamaica, Kingston
Accidental introduction of guinea grass to Jamaica
Unsuccessful slave conspiracy
1748 War ends with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
1754 Moravian missionaries arrive in Jamaica, teach slaves Christianity
1755 Governor Admiral Knowles attempts to transfer capital from Spanish Town to Kingston
Seven Years' War between France and Britain
1758 Spanish join French in war
1760 Tacky's Rebellion, Jamaica's most serious slave revolt, began
1763 Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years' War
Britain gains Dominica, Grenada, Grenadines, St. Vincent, and Tobago
Spain regains Florida and Havana
1765 Slave uprising in St. Mary
Britain passes the Stamp Act
1766 Slave uprising in Westmoreland
1768 Slave uprising against Kingston discovered and stopped
1775 Fighting begins in American Revolution
Jamaica writes bill slowing the importation of slaves, crown does not pass bill
1777 Slave uprising in Hanover and Westmoreland stopped before it could begin
1778 France joins the North American colonies against England in the war
Ackee plant brought to Jamaica
1779 The American Revolution shifted to the Caribbean
French fleet arrives in Haiti
Spain declares war on England - not siding with America
1780 Nelson goes to fight for Lake Nicaragua, returns with fever
Admiral George Rodney commands the fleet
Hurricane devastates Jamaica
1781 British capture St. Eustatius
Another hurricane destroys much of Jamaica
1782 Battle of the Saints takes place, Jamaica remains in British hands
Mango brought to Jamaica
1783 American Revolutionary War ends
1784 Jamaica devastated by hurricane
1785 Jamaica devastated by hurricane
1786 Jamaica devastated by hurricane
1787 Captain Bligh goes to Pacific in search of new foods for Jamaicans to grow
1789 French Revolution begins
1790 Haitian blacks begin revolting on Hispaniola
1791 Assembly decides to support cultivation of foodstuffs
1793 Breadfruit brought to Jamaica by Captain Bligh
Louis XIV killed
Britain wars with France
Jamaica's Governor ordered to suppress the Haitian Revolution
1795 Trelawny Town Maroon uprising and Second Maroon War
General Williamson takes command of troops on Hispaniola
1796 Second Maroon War ends, Maroons deported
1798 Brigadier-General Maitland made terms with Toussaint L'Overture to end the fighting
Black troops left on Hispaniola
French settlers evacuated from Hispaniola
1805 Martial law declared with news of a French fleet on the way
1807 British Act of Parliament makes importation of slaves illegal for British subjects
1808 Duke of Manchester arrives as Governor
Law passed declaring slave trade unlawful in Britain
1812 American War of 1812 increased trade with Jamaica
1815 French Revolution officially ends
1823 Anti-Slavery Society founded in England
1827 Law passed charging slave traders as pirates, with punishment of death
1830 Law passed giving mulattoes equal rights with whites in Jamaica
1831 Sharpe's Rebellion Christmas week
1833 England passes the Abolition of Slavery Act, providing for emancipation the following year
1834 Jamaican act restricting voting
Date set by Emancipation Act for young slaves to be freed and apprenticeship of older slaves
Second act on Jamaica restricting voting; both acts disallowed in England
1838 Date of full freedom for non-field slaves; later re-scheduled date of all slaves' full freedom
Indian immigration begins
1839 Parliament passes the West Indies Prisons Act
1840 Africans encouraged to become indentured servants on Jamaica
1846 England passed a law equalizing sugar tariffs
1850 Outbreak of Asiatic cholera
1852 Parliament steps in with the Assembly
Outbreak of smallpox
1853 Second outbreak of cholera
1860 Chinese immigration begins
Edward John Eyre becomes Governor
1865 Petition sent to Queen Victoria for help; Queen's Letter received
Morant Bay Rebellion occurs
Jamaica becomes a Crown Colony
1866 Sir John Peter Grant arrives as Governor
1870 Rio Cobre Irrigation Works began to irrigate lands near Spanish Town
Captain Baker works to expand banana exports
1872 Capital transferred from Spanish Town to Kingston
1879 Baker begins widely exporting bananas to the U.S.
French begin work on the Panama Canal
1883 Sir Henry Norman brings improved constitution to Jamaica
1889 Sir Henry Blake became Governor
1907 Earthquake destroys Kingston
1914 WWI begins
1915 First Jamaicans sail to join in the war
1917 Conscription Law passed
1918 WWI ends
1921 Commission sent to examine Jamaica's government
1927 Marcus Garvey returns to Jamaica, works to improve the situation of blacks
1929 Jamaica Banana Producers Association forms
Great Depression causes sugar prices to drop
1936 Jamaica Banana Producers Association becomes a private trading company
1938 West Indies Sugar Company estate workers strike
1940 Britain leases air bases to the U.S. for WWII
Colonial Development and Welfare Act passed
1944 New Constitution ends the Crown Colony status of Jamaica
1953 Constitution modified to create the position of Chief Minister and 7 others
1955 Norman Manley elected to head Government
People's National Party (PNP) wins majority
1957 More constitutional changes creating Cabinet Government
Federation of the West Indies forms with British colonies
1961 Jamaica leaves the Federation
1962 Jamaica becomes independent
1965 Bustamante retires
1969 Norman Manley dies
Michael Manley takes control of PNP, cultivates Democratic Socialism
1972 PNP wins control in elections
1974 PNP under Manley affiliates itself with Castro and socialism, begins government control of businesses
1980 Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) wins in elections
1989 PNP wins in elections
1992 Manley retires; Patterson takes his place
1997 Patterson re-elected
2002 Patterson re-elected

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