History of Trelawny

Trelawny – Famous Personalities

Usain Bolt, World’s Fastest Human

Without a doubt, Ambassador the Hon. Usain Bolt is the fastest athlete the world has ever seen. His athletic prowess and world record breaking performances in both the 100 and 200 metres sprints has raised the standard in athletics to a new level, and left the world in awe.


Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer (May 18, 1923 – July 5, 2004)

A well-known politician.  Was born in Martha Brae on May 18, 1923.  He was a trade unionist and president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union.  Upon the death of Sir Donald Sangster in 1967, Mr. Sheaer was appointed Prime Minister of Jamaica.  He was also a member of the Senate, a delegate to several international fora including the UN and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.  The Jamaican $5,000 note bears his image.  A monument in his honour has been constructed at the National Heroes Park in Kingston.http://www.opm.gov.jm/about/prime_minister/past_prime_ministers/the_most_hon_hugh_lawson_shearer


Professor Rex Nettleford (February 3, 1933 – February 3, 2010)

Rex Nettleford was born on February 3, 1933 in Bunkers Hill, Trelawny.  His life was one of distinction as he was a cultural ambassador, international scholar, dancer, teacher, orator, critic, mentor and national patriot.  He was a Rhodes Scholar, the founder of Trade Union Education Institute at theUniversityCollegeand the National Dance Theatre Company. Among his numerous awards were the Order of Merit (1975) and the Order of the Caribbean Community (2008).


Grace Jackson

Grace Jackson is an Olympic 200 m silver medalist.  She came in second in the 1988 Olympic event in Seoul, Korea.  She has remained active in sports administration.

Veronica Campbell-Brown

Born May 15, 1982, the much-decorated Veronica Campbell-Brown is a five-time Olympic medalist and the second woman to have won two consecutive 200 m Olympic events. She was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2009.



Rev. William Knibb

William Knibb was a Baptist missionary, who came to Jamaica from England in 1824, and became a well-known abolitionist associated with the end of slavery in Jamaica. He has been credited with the establishment of many Baptist churches in Jamaica. He was posthumously awarded the Order of Merit in Jamaica at the 150th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in 1988.

The Rev. Neville DeSouza

Lord Bishop of Jamaica. He was born in Jackson Town. In September 2000, Bishop DeSouza retired after serving as Diocesan fro 21 years.

Mrs. Greta Fowler

Born in Sportsman Hall, Jackson Town, Trelawny to Mr. & Mrs. Uttenn Todd, Planter and housewife, Greta Fowler was a teacher and was Foundation member of Jamaica Federation of Women, co-founder of the Little Theatre Movement and organizer of Jamaica Pantomime. She was educated at Hampton High School, Harvergal College (Toronto). Fowler dramatized the first Anancy story to be produced on stage in the form of music. She was married to Henry Fowler, founder & headmaster of Priory School & co-founder of Little Theatre movement.

(Women of Distinction in Jamaica by Henry Guy & Lavern Bailey 1978)

Calendar of Annual Events
Hague Agricultural Show.  An agricultural show that showcases agricultural produce and livestock in the parish.

Trelawny Yam Festival includes yam farmer’s competition, culinary competition, Best Dressed Donkey & Goat Competition and live entertainment.

Trelawny – Places of Interest 

Other sites of historical interest include:

  • Arcadia
  • Barrett House at 16 Market Street in Falmouth
  • Bryan Castle
  • Georgia
  • Good Hope
  • Green Park and Grave
  • Hampden
  • Mahogan Hakk
  • Orange Grove
  • Stewart Castle – Ruins
  • Windsor
  • The Parish Pillars between Trelawny and St. James
  • The Kiln at Water Square in Falmouth
  • The Persian Wheel in Martha Brae
  • Orange Valley Ruins is the location for a view of a typical Slave Hospital, Factory and Kilns.
  • Fort Balacarres in Falmouth
  • Fort Dundas, Rio Bueno
  • Clock Tower in Duncans
  • Glistening Waters – Oyster Bay.

Falmouth Presbyterian Church
Located on the corner of Rodney and Princess Streets.  Known as St. Andrews Kirk, it was constructed in 1832 by prominent Scotsmen in Trelawny.

The Dome
This is a cone-shaped structure, which was constructed as an iron foundry around 1801.  It is located in Falmouth at the corner of Thorpe and Upper Harbour Street.  The foundry was mostly used to repair sugar estate machinery.

Monument erected to a slave
Located in the old slave village on Hyde Estate.  It was erected in honour of a slave woman called Eve, in 1800.  She was said to be in charge of the children of those slaves who worked during the day.  Legend has it that she drowned in a pond on Hyde Estate.  Her master, Henry Shirley, apparently erected the monument.  This monument is unique, in that it is rare that a monument was dedicated to a slave in Jamaica.

Hampden Great House, Sugar Factory and Rum Distillery were built in 1779 by a Scotsman.

Rafting on the Martha Brae
This is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island.

Windsor Caves

Situated near Falmouth and continue to the foothills of the Cockpit Mountains, 28 miles/45 km from Montego Bay.  They attract archaeologists as well as tourists who find the underground explorations attractive.

Good Hope Great House
The oldest building in Trelawny of Georgian structure was built in 1755.  It is a heritage tourist attraction, with a Great House and 2000 acre estate.  It is said to be the best advantage of a working Jamaican estate. The Martha Brae flows through the property and irrigates the land.  Produce grown there includes papaya, ackee, citrus, anthurium flowers and coconuts.

Falmouth Court House
The original structure was built in 1815 but destroyed by fire in 1925.  Present building was constructed in 1926.  It is a replica of the original Palladian style building except for the roofline and windows.

Falmouth Parish Church
The Anglican Church of St. Peter is situated on Duke Street.  Built in 1795 it is the oldest building in Falmouth and the oldest church in the parish.  The church was enlarged in 1842 with a western extension, which now forms the nave.

Falmouth Police Station
Built in 1814 on Rodney Street.  Occupies the former Cornwall District Prison.

Trelawny – Culture 

Much of the social activity is related to religion. Upper Trelawny has been known for revivalism and pocomania. Martha Brae was noted for the revival festival in which groups from all over the island participate. This revival activity usually lasted for one week.

Yam and Cassava

Trelawny is known for its production of yam and cassava. There has been much interest in yam following the outstanding sprinting performances of triple World Record Holder Usain Bolt who was born and raised in the parish. Local and international scientists have been conducting studies to determine the impact on the consumption of yam in the diet of athletes may have on their athletic abilities.



The Ministry of Agriculture has also been encouraging the production of cassava through technical, financial and information support.  Currently, the most popular cassava product is bammy. Trelawny has pockets of rich culture indigenous to the parish. Wakefield in North Trelawny is the home of the Tambu, Gerre and Mento Band. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) has taught these traditions to children in several schools –Duncans All-Age and Granville All-Age. Drumming is also a part of the rich culture and was one of the teaching activities of JCDC. The Bamboo dance is practised in South Trelawny. In 1997 the Albert Town South Trelawny Environmental Agency started the first yearly Yam Festival where yam products were exhibited and methods of production displayed. Several items such as ‘yam punch’, ‘yam cakes’ and ‘yam fresher’ were displayed. Refuge in North Trelawny is known for cassava products including ‘cassava pone’ ‘cassava cake’, ‘cassava bammies’, ‘cassava couscous’ and ‘coconut curls’.

Trelawny – Main Towns

Martha Brae
This was the parish’s first capital. Its history dates back to the days of the Spanish occupation and was supposedly the site of an old Spanish settlement. The town got its name from the Martha Brae River, which today is used for rafting and is a source of water for the north coast.

Clarke’s Town
Ten miles from Falmouth, it is an important trading centre for produce from the rich fields of Ulster Springs. It is the second largest town in Trelawny and was named after 19th century estate owner, G.M. Clarke, who gave the land for its establishment.

Stewarts’s Town
This town is near the eastern border of the parish, and like Clarke’s Town is an important centre for provisions brought from the interior. The town was named after James Stewart, a former custos of the parish. Stewart’s Town is also home to Westwood High School, a famous Jamaican girls’ school.

Rio Bueno
It has one of the deepest harbours in the island. Once an important shipping haven, Rio Bueno is today a sleepy little village.

A coastal town that does well as a trading centre.

A small interior town located between Low River and Settin and borders Green Town. Comprised of 5 districts, it is known for fertile farm lands, and yam and strawberry production. The folk tale behind the peculiar name is as follows: Many years ago when most travelling was done on foot, a group of people were exploring the area.  On reaching a point called Litchfield, that overlooks Wait-A-Bit and its surroundings, one of the men said after viewing the scenery, “wait a bit, wait a bit, tan ‘an si all side ‘gainst me!”

Trelawny – Main Towns – Falmouth

Falmouth is located in North Trelawny, bounded on the east by Retreat Heights, on the west by Salt Marsh and on the South by Martha Brae.  It is a coastal town with mainly flat lands rising to 300 feet above sea level.  Soil type is mainly limestone mangroves along the Rock and Martha Brae main roads. In the 19th century it served as the shipping port for sugar and other produce from the many estates in the parish. The town was built on the estuary of the Martha Brae river and was the centre of the Baptist Ministry.  Falmouth was also the first town in Jamaica and the Western Hemisphere to receive piped water.  Williamsburg in Virginia in the United States was recreated based on the layout of Falmouth. At night, Oyster Bay, which is also known as Luminous Lagoon, glows as it contains the largest concentration of bioluminescent micro-organisms.  As a result, the water glows green and moving fish appear “like the trail of a falling comet.” Falmouth is renowned for its beautiful Georgian architecture, which is characterized by colonnades, wrought iron and balconies.  On August 21, 1996 the town was declared a national monument.  This was done in order to preserve the many historic buildings in the town, which hitherto were falling into disrepair. To this end, the Falmouth Restoration Company and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust have been working together to encourage owners of privately owned historic homes to apply for grants to repair them under the Falmouth Development Plan.  This plan also includes the creation of an Interpretative Center and Museum on Slavery.  The town also has the reputation as being one of the best laid out towns in Jamaica.

Trelawny – Electoral Divisions

Trelawny Northern
Falmouth, Duncans, Sherwood Content, Wakefield, Martha Brae
Number of Polling Divisions 129
Member of Parliament – Dr. Esmond Vernal Patrick Harris

Trelawny Southern
Number of Polling Divisions: 102
Lorrimers, Warsop, Albert Town, Ulster Springs

Member of Parliament – Marisa Colleen Dalrymple-Philibert

Trelawny – Multipurpose Stadium

There is a buzz of activity at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Staduim.  The facility hosted four Cricket World Cup 2007 warm-up matches and was the site for the grand opening ceremony of the tournament. Since then, there has been difficulty in attracting interest in the facility; however in January of this year, the site became the venue for the highly-acclaimed Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. Now plans are being effected for the University of Technology to use the facility on a continuous basis. The government has approved the use by UTech of three rooms in the complex for pre-university classes starting in the upcoming school year. This follows negotiations to lease the Stadium for full use. The university has been offered lands adjacent to the stadium on the Florence Hall complex. The Trelawny Multi-Purpose Complex is managed by Independence Park Limited which also manages the National Stadium Complex and falls under the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports. It was built with a US$30 million loan from China.

Trelawny – Tourism – Artisan Village 

The Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier is a US$220 million investment into the development of the town of Falmouth to ensure Jamaica is established as the premier tourism destination in the western world. It was developed by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) in partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited (RCCL). The pier is the largest the region has the capacity to handle at least two mega ships at the same time. It hosted the world’s largest ship, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Oasis of the Seas in 2010. When the project is complete the pier will boast state-of-art facilities including a terminal building to house port security, customs, immigration, as well as a transportation centre and retail shops.

Trelawny will be the site for the construction of Jamaica’s first artisan village. The village will be located adjacent to the new Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier. The Ministry of Tourism plans to use Artisan Villages to enhance the craft shopping experience in resort areas. The Villages will be developed as thematic attractions with each Village expected to showcase elements of a Jamaican cultural experience including art and craft stalls, Jamaican cuisine, entertainment, music and other aspects of local culture. The Villages will also facilitate the training of craft producers in new and techniques in the production of craft items, to allow for increased range of options to visitors as well as products geared towards low and high-end niche markets. The land on which the Artisans Village will be established is being donated by the Port Authority of Jamaica.

Trelawny – Tourism – Captain Hook Adventures

Captain Hook Adventures is among Jamaica’s latest tourist attraction. Located at the Falmouth Pier in Trelawny, the attraction is an exciting, authentic pirate dinner show. The attraction, which is part of a thrust by tourism stakeholders to expand the tourism offerings available in Jamaica, features live cannons, sword fights, and dance with Jamaican flavour.

Trelawny – Tourism – Outameni

The highly popular Outameni attraction, located in Cooper’s Pen near Falmouth, Trelawny, allows visitors to experience Jamaica’s rich culture and indomitable spirit of the Jamaica people. The ‘Outameni Experience’ is 90-minute interactive tour that takes visitors through phases of Jamaica’s history through music, art, dance, film, drama and Jamaican cuisine. Aspects of history highlighted include the Tianos, Spanish, the African slaves, and the English landowners.

Trelawny – Tourism

Trelawny is being marketed as a tourist destination alongside the two major tourist centres of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. There are major resorts in the parish including, Braco Village Resort at Rio Bueno, Pebbles Resort and Starfish Trelawny.  In addition to these traditional tourist attractions, heritage tourism attractions include a museum, historic Georgian structures dating back to the mid 1700s, tea rooms and ginger bread houses, William Knibb Baptist Manse, the Courthouse, St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Good Hope Great House and the Barrett Browning Building. In the colonial era sugar became ‘King’ in the island’s export-agriculture based economy although there was also significant production of coffee, tobacco, cotton, indigo dye and domestic food crops. Over the last century however, a massive diversification process has been under way. Jamaica’s most important modern economic activities are tourism, bauxite mining, agriculture and manufacturing.  The country is also one of the world’s major producers of bauxite and alumina, from which aluminum is made.  Limestone, gold, sand, gypsum and marble are other minerals mined in significant quantities.

Trelawny – Housing & Water


The housing situation in Trelawny is typical of many parishes with both urban and rural locations. The capital, Falmouth, boasts Georgian structures which were in vogue during the period of construction in the early18th century. Several of these structures have fallen into disrepair and plans have been developed to refurbish these structures ensuring that the Georgian architecture is retained.


The water supply in the parish is boosted by Dornoch water supply that came into existence in 1926. In 1927 this was the best water supply in the island. This supplies lowland areas with domestic water and is considered the largest domestic supply outside the Corporate Area. In 1970 the water supply system was revised and wells were dug in the Queen of Spain Valley adding to the supply from the Martha Brae. Several rivers including the Dornoch River, the Cave River, Quashie River and the Martha Brae contribute to the water supply although for the parish on the whole most of the water is supplied by the National Water Commission.


There are 18 health centres in the parish

Trelawny – History 

The first capital of the parish was Martha Brae.  However, this had to be changed for several reasons. By 1780 lack of room for expansion was a problem.  It was also felt that a sea coast town should be the capital, a town from which sugar could be shipped to England and it was felt that a sea coast town would have a more pleasing climate.

By 1790, the Parish Council had purchased lands at Palmetto Point from Edward Moulton Barrett (father of Elizabeth Barrett Browning).  It was here at ‘Barrett Town’ that the council built and created the new capital, which became known as Falmouth, the best laid out town in Jamaica.  St. Peter’s Anglican Church was built on a plot of land in the centre of the town.

In its heyday, Falmouth was booming with the backing of sugar, at one time supporting five newspapers.  The first Jamaican derby was run at Cave Island Pen in the parish and the Athol Union Lodge built the first Masonic Temple of the Scottish Constitution.  However, with the decline of sugar, so followed the decline of Falmouth.  With the advent of steamships, Falmouth’s former sea traffic was diverted to ports that could accommodate these larger ships.  As a result, by 1890 Falmouth was almost deserted. Trelawny originates out of St. James, which was a large parish on the northwestern coast of Jamaica during the early 18th century.

In the 1730s the wealthy property owners began to demand their own capital, as they complained that Montego Bay, the capital of St, James was too far away for them to conduct business.   After several years of lobbying the authorities, Trelawny was finally created in 1770. The new parish was made up of the area from Long Bay running south up to the northern boundary of the Maroon or Accompong Settlement of St. Elizabeth.  The decision to form the new parish was not ratified by the British parliament and so commissioners were appointed to run the affairs of the parish in the interim.

The first choice of name for the parish was ‘New Brunswick’ but the decision was taken to name it after the then governor, Sir William Trelawny, who served from 1767-1772. During this period, sugar was the main economic activity in the parish.  Trelawny had the most sugar estates and sugar factories in the country.  At one time there were as many as 100 estates and no less than 40 sugar factories.  It also had the most slaves with 25,830 listed in 1825.  By 1927 the number of estates had fallen to 16, but nonetheless, the parish still produced more sugar than any other parish in the island.

Trelawny – The Cockpit Country

The Cockpit country is found in southern Trelawny, a rugged region, which is formed from white limestone with elevations and depressions characterized by deep sinkholes and steep-sided circular arenas.  This dangerous terrain makes approximately half of the parish uninhabitable.

Of the 353 sq. miles, 166 are about 1000 feet above sea level, 135 between 1000 and 2000 feet above sea level and 32 between 2000 and 3000 feet above sea level. Most of the parish is flat with wide plains.  The highest point is Mount Ayr, which is 3000 feet above sea level.    These high and low areas are the reason the parish is divided into what is called Upper and Lower Trelawny.   Most of the communities of southern Trelawny lie to the east of the border of the cockpit country.

It is covered with ‘virgin forest,’ a wide range of tropical species.  Trees such as the broadleaf, mahogany, silk, and cotton and Santa Maria may grow as high as 60 ft.  between these trees are shrubs, orchids, ferns, mosses and lichens.

Trelawny – Rivers

Many rivers in Jamaica begin in a central mountainous area but the limestone areas of the cockpit country allow them to rise only a few kilometres from the coast.  The main river in Trelawny, the Martha Brae, is one of these rivers. It is 32.5 km long and has its source in the Cockpit Country. It rises near Windsor in Trelawny and flows out to the east of Falmouth.  The Martha Brae is a major tourist attraction.

Rafting on the Martha Brae River

The trip covers 3 1/2 miles in about 1 1/2 hours from Rafter’s Village to Rock east of Falmouth.  Overhanging plants shroud the raft as guests float down the river past fern groves, bamboo, bananas and sugar cane. Martha Brae one of the largest rivers in the country and one of the 12 year round rivers in Jamaica. The Rio Bueno which has a large supply of water some distance up river is used for shipping.

Trelawny – Climate

Trelawny is located on the north coast of the island and experiences temperatures averaging 79 degrees Fahrenheit with nighttime temperatures ranging from 66 degrees to 78 degrees. Rainfall averages 95 mm.  It rains mostly in February.

The climate is tropical with warm trade winds and northerly winds, which are typical of the northern half of the island.  There are two wet seasons, which run from May to June and September to November.  During the November to March period, cold fronts migrating from North America cause rainfall.

Winds are affected by the Northeast trades combined with the sea breeze resulting in an east northeasterly wind at an average 15 knots.  These are the weakest in November.  Sunshine in these areas is approximately for eight hours daily.  Relative humidity occasions little or no discomfort averaging 84% when temperatures are usually in the mid 70s.

Trelawny – Caves

A feature of the limestone regions of Trelawny are caves.  These are home to large colonies of bats, which produce cave phosphates.   The caves in Trelawny are also of  great archeological interest. The largest and more accessible cave is Windsor Great Cave. It can be easily navigated for about a mile (1.6km), but beyond that, an underground stream impedes progress except to experts.  This cave is tunnel-shaped with grottos and vaults, which are adorned with dripstone formations.  The mouth is located at the foot of the upper Cockpit Country near Windsor House 45 km from Montego Bay and 25 km south of Falmouth. Several other caves are located near Pantrepant and display Taino carvings on their walls.  Another large and beautiful cave can be found in Carambi, in upper Trelawny.  This cave is also known for its phosphate deposits. In addition to caves, there are several conduits, which are accessible during low water periods.  One of the longest is 15 miles long and can be found near Stewart Town.  Also, there are several interestingly named potholes such as Devil’s Staircase and God’s Well.  There are 48 smaller caves in the parish containing phosphate deposits.

Trelawny – Location & Geography


The parish of Trelwany is located on the northwestern part of the island.  It is bordered on the north by the sea, on the south by the parishes of St. Elizabeth and Manchester, the east by the parish of St. Ann and on the west by the parish of St. James.

Geography & Environment

Trelawny is 353 sq. miles or 874.6 sq. km.    The southern section of the parish lies in the Cockpit country.

Trelawny – Overview

The government is moving to effect the development of the historic district of Falmouth towards the goal of transforming the town into a heritage cruise tourism port. According to the proposal, the development of Council lands will be integral to the implementation of the Greater Falmouth Redevelopment Plan. Key elements of the development include the preservation of open space, building of new roads, more social infrastructure, and public transportation centres. Five areas within the town are earmarked for development under the proposed plan. The development is expected to proceed orderly in a manner that takes into consideration the economic and infrastructural pressures facing the town. Work is advanced in having Falmouth declared a declared an Urban Development Corporation (UDC) designated area and in the interim UDC, in consultation with the Mayor, has decided to expedite some aspects of the plan specifically as it relates to properties owned by the Parish Council.