St. Thomas, Jamaica

Saint Thomas is a parish that is situated at the south eastern end of Jamaica, in the county of Surrey. It is the birth place of The Right Honorable Paul Bogle, one of Jamaica’s seven National Heroes. Morant Bay, its chief town and capital, is the home of the Morant Bay Rebellion, of which Bogle and George William Gordon were leaders.

saint-thomas

A Brief History of St. Thomas
Saint Thomas was densely populated by the Tainos when Christopher Columbus first came to the island in 1494. The Spaniards established cattle ranches at Morant Bay and Yallahs. In 1655, when the English captured Jamaica, residents from other British colonies were invited to settle here. About 1600 colonists, mainly from Nevis -including the Governor of Nevis, his wife, children – settled there. In a short time, however, two-thirds of them died of fevers.
In 1674, the French Admiral Du Casse, sailed from Santo Domingo and landed at Morant Bay on June 17. For a month, he wrought havoc on the settlers there, killing many and carrying off their slaves. Later, bands of Maroons settled in the mountains of St Thomas and they eventually joined with the Maroons in Portland to form the Windward Maroons.

Georgraphy of St. Thomas
Saint Thomas is located at latitude 18°05’N, longitude 76°40’W, to the south of Portland, and the east of St. Andrew. With an area of 742.8 square kilometres (286.8 square miles), it ranks as Jamaica’s ninth largest parish. It is a very mountainous parish, and the ranges include the Port Royal Mountains, stretching from above Newcastle in St Andrew, to Albion in St Thomas; the Queensbury Ridge, between Yallahs and Negro River; and to the extreme south, an isolated ridge called Yallahs Hill, with its highest elevation 2,394 feet above sea level. Its northern border is the Blue Mountains.

There are large wetland areas, which include the coastal area between Morant Bay and Hector’s River. There are also many cliffs and beaches.

There are three main rivers in the parish; the Yallahs River, 36.9 kilometres (22.9 miles long, the Morant River, 21.9 kilometres (16.1 miles), and the Plantain Garden River, 34.9 kilometres (21.9 miles) long. The latter is the only one in the island to flow eastward. One of the two famous spas in Jamaica is at Bath.

Saint Thomas has many deposits of gypsum and marble. Talc and asbestos are also present in the Bath area.

Historical Perspective of St. Thomas
The Capital of St. Thomas is Morant Bay and was an important port during slavery and in the subsequent years after the abolishment of slavery.  In the post slavery years many of St. Thomas plantation owners began a policy of subletting land to freed blacks to sharecrop.  They would arrange for the contract to be up right at the time when crops were about to be harvested and thus they would keep the entire harvest, leaving the sharecroppers in debt and beholden to the land owners.  This policy and other repressive acts lead to unrest among the black farmers/sharecroppers in St. Thomas. The unrest resulted in the Morant Bay Uprising of 1865.  The uprising led to the hanging of Paul Bogle and William Gordon, the supposed leaders, and to the death of over 500 black people, 9 whites and then the removal of the Governor General of Jamaica.  Since the upraising there has been an unofficial policy by the English Parliament to punish the parish of St. Thomas by giving little or no funds to further develop the parishes infrastructure, education or industry.  The current Jamaican Parliament has consciously and unconsciously continued this policy of neglect even today.

There has been limited economic, educational and infrastructure development of this parish for decades.  Jamaica is considered a third world nation with a GDP of $3,900 per capita income and 19.7 percent of the Jamaican population falls below the poverty line. Along with Jamaica economic situation comes internal political conflicts, crime, unemployment, brain-drain, deteriorating infrastructure and recent natural disaster.

Population of Jamaica    2,680,029
GDP Per Capita Income St. Thomas    $3,900
Population Growth Rate     .56% per year
Birth Rate (per 1000 people)    17.14 %
Fertility Rate (Babies born)    2.05
Infant Mortality Rate per 1000 babies born    13.17
Population Female 0-14 years    380,864
Population Female 15-64    859,174
Population Males 0-14
Population Males 15-64
Literacy Rate Female    89%
Literacy Rate Male    80.80%

St. Thomas Parish Jamaica
St.Thomas Population    92,447
Labor force    39,700
Unemployment Rate (Oct 2003)    12.8%
*Statistical Data provided by Statistical Institute of Jamaica

Local Wildlife

Birds of St. Thomas, Jamaica and Founded on the Source Farm
Compiled by Rhadiek Hall and  Virginia Phillips

Jamaican Name & International Name
Yellow Belly – Jamaican Oriole
Banana Sqits – Bananaquits
Blue Belly Sqits – Male Orangequits
John Stewite –   Female Orangequit
Galling – Cattle Egret
P Dove –
Ground Dove – Common Ground Dove
White Belly –
John Crow – Turkey Vulture
Pichary –  Gray Kingbird
Fool-Fool-Memi –  Jamaican Elaenia
Nighting Gaul – Northern Mackingbird
Wood Pecker – Jamaican Wood Pecker
Jumping Dick – Jamaican Lizard Cockoo
Chicken Awk – Kestrel
Black Bird –  Jamaican Crow
Bally – White Crowned Pigeon
Robbin-Red Breast – Jamaican Toddy
Pato – Jamaican Owl
Doctor Bird – Black-billed Streamer tail
Humming Bird