Columbus: Pieces of the Past

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Excerpt from Rebecca Tortello’s Pieces of the Past: A Stroll Down Jamaica’s Memory Lane

Upon landing in 1494, Columbus is said to have declared Jamaica one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen.

Some 150 years later, in 1664, the Spanish had relinquished control of Jamaica to the British, Sir Thomas Modyford subdivided the island into 7 administrative units known as parishes. These were located mainly in the mid to south-eastern end of the island: Clarendon, St. John’s, St. Andrew’s, St. Katherine’s, Port Royal, St. David’s and St. Thomas in the East.

Within 25 years, the number of parishes numbered 15 with the addition of St. Dorothy, St. Thomas in the Vale, Vere, St. George’s, St. Marie’s and St. Ann’s and St. James and St. Elizabeth’s. In 1692 earthquake survivors fled across the harbour and Kingston was formed a year later.