contributed by member @heinz2010:
In 1770, the wealthy planters in St James and St Ann succeeded in having sections of those parishes become the parish of Trelawny as they were too far from administrative centres. Trelawny was named after William Trelawny, the then Governor of Jamaica. The first capital was Martha Brae located two miles inland from Rock Bay.
Trelawny is located at latitude 18°15’N, longitude 77°46’W. It has an area of 874 km², making it the fifth largest parish on the island. It has a population of 74,000. Most of the parish is flat, with wide plains such as Queen of Spain’s Valley, 750 feet above sea level, and Windsor, 580 feet above sea level. Most of southern Trelawny is around 750 feet above sea level. The highest point in the parish is Mount Ayr which is 3,000 feet above sea level.
Falmouth is the chief town and capital of the parish of Trelawny in Jamaica. It is situated on Jamaica’s north coast 18 miles east of Montego Bay. It is noted for being one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian towns. Founded by Thomas Reid in 1769, Falmouth flourished as a market centre and port for forty years at a time when Jamaica was the world’s leading sugar producer. It was named after Falmouth, Cornwall in England, the birthplace of Sir William Trelawny the Governor of Jamaica who was instrumental in its establishment. The town was meticulously planned from the start, with wide streets in a regular grid, adequate water supply, and public buildings. It even had piped water before New York City.
During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Falmouth was one of the busiest ports in Jamaica. It was home to masons, carpenters, tavern-keepers, mariners, planters and others. It was a wealthy town in a wealthy parish with a rich racial mix. This was the heyday of King Sugar. Within the parish, nearly one hundred plantations were actively manufacturing sugar and rum for export to Britain. Jamaica had become the world’s leading sugar producer.
All the above made Falmouth a central hub of the slave trade and the now notorious cross-Atlantic triangular trade, with its economy largely based on slavery. In Falmouth Harbor as many as 30 tall-ships could be seen on any given day, many of them delivering slaves transported under inhumane conditions from Africa and loading their holds with rum and sugar manufactured by slave labour on nearby plantations.
Falmouth has a number of interesting historic buildings in the Jamaican Georgian architectural style which are in need of preservation and restoration. One organisation that has taken an interest in this work is Falmouth Heritage Renewal, a United States-based non-profit organizationBuildings of note include:
St Peter’s Anglican Church is one of the largest in Jamaica. Its supporting columns are of solid mahogany and its floor is inlaid with crosses of mahoe and mahogany. Falmouth All-Age School is housed in a former army barracks, Fort Balcarres.
Greenwood Great House (which once belonged to the Barretts of Wimpole Street, London) now houses the largest collection of rare musical instruments in the island.
The construction of a multi-million dollar cruise ship port for berthing of the newest and largest class of cruise ships, the Oasis Class, which is now under construction and seems set to enble Falmouth to attain its former glory.
The following is from a pdf of a publication by The Gleaner:
The History of Falmouth Boom Town Of The 19th Century By Dr. Rebecca Tortello
Named for Falmouth, Cornwall, the birthplace of then British governor William Trelawny, it became the capital of the parish of St. James (of which Trelawny was once a part), in the 1790s, thus taking over from the town of Martha Brae in a move sanctioned by the Vestry (or Parish Council). Falmouth was created from seaside land owned by famed English Romantic poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s grandfather, Edward Moulton Barrett, in 1790. Barrett sold portions of land off to planter friends, kept the waterfront and donated what remained for the building of a courthouse, church and public gardens.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning thought often of Jamaica even though her lifelong battle with frail health rendered a visit impossible. She expressed her desire to see Jamaica, as she expressed many of her desires, in her poetry:
My dream is of an island place
Which distant seas keep lonely
A little island on whose face
The stars are watchers only
In the 1830s, Elizabeth was cut off from her family as a result of her relationship with fellow poet Robert Browning. Her favourite uncle Samuel, who resided in Jamaica managing the family property, bequeathed her the family’s Falmouth holdings, giving her much needed financial independence. Not surprisingly, she asked that her wedding announcement read “…of Wimpole St. and Cinnamon Hill, Jamaica” (Kritzler, 2003, p. 117).
THE SHAPING OF THE TOWN As Falmouth took shape, government offices were moved and churches such as St. Peter’s Anglican Church, located in the town centre were built. Today St. Peter’s, after an 1842 extension stands as one of the largest Anglican churches in Jamaica. Its supporting columns are of solid mahogany and its floor includes crosses inlaid with mahoe and mahogany. Graves spanning over 200 years grace its cemetery.
Falmouth was carefully laid out with narrow streets named after 18th and 19th century British sovereigns and heroes: King St., Queen St., George St., Rodney St., Charlotte St., Pitt St., Victoria St., as well as Wellington, Stanley and Albert Streets (Buisseret, 1996, p. 95). This was the heyday of King Sugar and Jamaica’s fortunes were on the rise as the world’s leading sugar producer. Planters flocked to Falmouth, their slaves in tow.
In the late 1820s there were some 25,000 slaves in Trelawny alone. Merchants such as Delgado, DeSouza and Lindo were fast on the heels of the planters so that shops and homes, many in the form of two and three-storey townhouses, were built almost as if over night. Some merchants even built shops beneath their homes. Most houses were built in the Georgian style said to be the finest known outside of Britain. Some had stone built lower floors and wooden upper floors, with wrought iron balconies and verandahs supported on wooden columns, reaching out over the sidewalk (Gravette, 2000, p. 235).
One of the most famous is the Tharp House, a one-storey building built by wealthy planter John Tharp. It is similar in style to Good Hope Great House, which Tharp also owned. Tharp owned three additional Falmouth townhouses and had his own ships and a wharf which today lies in ruins. Tharp House presently serves as the office for the Collector of Taxes.
Sources: Buisseret, D. (1996). Historic Jamaica from the air. Kingston: Ian Randle, Gravette, A. (2000). Architectural heritage of the Caribbean: An A-Z of historic buildings. Kingston: Ian Randle, Kritzler, E. (2003). “The poet and the preacher Falmouth’s curious heritage” in A Tapestry of Jamaica The best of Skywritings, Air Jamaica’s inflight magazine. Kingston: Creative Communications Ltd. in association with Macmillan Publishers. pp. 115-117. “Falmouth,” “Walkabout” and “Trelawny” in The Jamaican, 2001. Kingston: Deeks Designs. http://ww.silver-sands.com/falmouth-history.html