Jamaica History

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Jamaica was discovered in 1494 and settled by the Spanish in the early 16th century. In 1655 British forces occupied the island and in 1670 gained formal control. Two elements, sugar and slavery, made Jamaica one of the world’s most valuable possessions for over 150 years. After a long period of direct British colonial rule, Jamaica began to achieve a semblance of local political control in the late 1930's. Jamaica attained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. It is a member of the British Commonwealth.[1]


Local Histories

  • Beckford, William. A Descriptive Account of the Island of Jamaica. London: Printed for T. and J. Egerton, 1790. Digital version at DLOC - free.
  • Edwards, Bryan and Arthur Broughton. The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies. Dublin: Luke White, 1793. Digital version at DLOC - free. Principally a history of Jamaica.


  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: West Indies,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1999.